Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A New Beginning

I created this space some time ago with a vague idea of sharing our lives. I did not have the proper focus so I did not follow through. My tendency to over-compartmentalize also interfered. Perhaps the main underlying reason was it was just not the right time.

Well, the time is right now.

This blog is about us in all our quirky glory. I posted recently on Facebook that some days I feel like I am running a commune for brilliant but reclusive, utterly focused introverts. This is the story of our "commune", how we live, how we play, how we educate, and yes, my friends wanting my recipes, how we eat.

Since the children have been born, we have followed a very play based learning philosophy. Little ones are natural scientists and explorers. If they are are allowed freedom and space, they are their own best educators with parents playing the role of facilitator and only when needed. For the early years, this method worked well for us and they thrived. We were often muddy, dirty, tired, and happy.

Somewhere before Hannah turned 7, I had a period of doubt and decided we needed more formal structure for her education. I implemented rather minimal traditional schooling. This decision brought us to a screaming halt. She hated it. Very quickly our mornings became a struggle. I knew she was prone to perfectionism but the fear of even the smallest mistake hung over her like a shadow. Due to the loathing of a limited amount formal school work, her natural learning and exploration ceased almost altogether.

I was destroying the natural joy and desire to learn in my child. It wasn't worth it, not at all. So I tossed the curriculum and resumed our journey of child led learning. Peace and calm returned, at least as far as learning went, to our home.

So what does this look like? First off, the kids have scads of free time to do, well....whatever. All of our art supplies, even my "grown up" paint are accessible for them to use. There are days Logan spends hours working on art. He has raided my pantry to create new mediums in which to use in his projects. His ideas astound me.

There are science activities everywhere. I try to make myself available to play lab assistant/guide. Sometimes I am needed and sometimes Hannah is in her own head pursing whatever idea has taken hold of her for that day (week, month, whatever). Hannah could work with science experiments for hours.

Minecraft is a new addition to our home. Hannah has taken lead on this. She diligently searches out video tutorials to make whatever she has decided she needs in her world. I will admit, I am useless in this. Thankfully her father has experience with online gaming. I love watching her methodically find the resources she needs to achieve her goals, study and learn them, and then implement the technique.

Books are everywhere in our home. I am a voracious reader. Even though I am always looking for ways to simply our lives and embrace a personal form of minimalism, well I will always horde books. We spend huge chunks of time snuggled up on my bed reading literature, myths, fairy tales, a steady stream of science books, and whatever else strikes our fancy. It is one of my favorites things to do as a family. The coming cold of winter and early darkness beckons to us to do this even more.

The last main component contributing to our lives is nature. We spend so much time outdoors. The only thing I don't have is 10 acres of woods behind my house for the kids to explore and lose themselves in their imagination. This past weekend was a  perfect example of how I balance out that deficiency. We tramped through the a local state park searching for geodes to study and boulders to climb.

I love my kids set their own physical boundaries. Trying very hard to not helicopter parent has enabled them to know their own limitations. They tend to push themselves but instinctively, well usually, know when to back off. Yes, we suffer from bruises and scrapes. There is a very good chance someone will end up with a broke something eventually. Nonetheless, the experience is invaluable and will contribute to them being a self reliant, confident, and competent adults.

After a day of running through the woods like the wild heathens we are, nothing tastes better than homemade soup. This Creamy Mushroom Wild Rice Soup was perfect.

Creamy Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

1 yellow onion diced
2 carrots diced
16 oz of mushrooms
4 Tablespoons of Vegan Butter (or regular butter)
40oz of Vegetable Broth
1 cup of wild rice
1 teaspoon of salt
Several twists of black pepper
3 small stalks of Rosemary pulled off stem and run through with a knife
Cashew Cream Sauce (recipe follows)

Melt Butter in large heavy saucepan. Saute onion, mushroom, and carrots with salt and pepper until just this side of tender. Transfer into a stockpot. Add in veggie broth and rosemary and bring to a boil. Stir in wild rice and simmer for 45 minutes.  Stir in cashew cream and heat through. This will thicken very quickly so stir often and keep an eye on it.. Check taste for preferred seasonings. This soup is amazing with a hot, fresh from the oven loaf of crusty french bread. You can slave all day on that or just use the handy dandy take and bake.

Cashew Cream Sauce
1/2 cup raw cashews soak in water for several hours
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 teaspoons of garlic
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
several cranks of pepper

Combine everything in the blender and blend for several minutes until very smooth.

This soup provided a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

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