Monday, September 7, 2015

A Life of Simplicity

This blog has fallen back on my heart in an undeniable way. I am excited to write again. I hope you feel welcomed.

If there were ever a word to describe this season for our family it would be "simple", which is ironic since it's just about the most complicated year we've ever faced; not bad, just complicated. We're building our dream house, a 3,000 square foot modern farmhouse just north and a ferry ride away from our current city that will sit on an acre, with parents next door on 2.5 acres. Maybe I sound too casual about such a significant thing, but I assure you I'm not. We really can't understand why God has chosen to bless us with this wild gift, but He has, and we're choosing to accept the abundance with joy and thanks. A quote came across my Instagram recently that helped me reflect on my feelings about this:

"It's scary to allow life to be good, especially if you have been through a lot of hard. It's scary to let go of our worries and fears and resentments and anxieties and to celebrate the goodness that is now, that is here today. But if we believe abundance is a trick and the bad thing is just around the corner, then we will let the darkness win. Personally I want to offer myself permission to look for the light." Leeana Tankersley, Breathing Room

When I consider our new life I have a very strong and clear vision of what's to come, the most paramount being: simplicity. So what better time than now to start evaluating our life, family, and existence in light of this? The funny part about this is that I'm not sure by our modern culture's definition of the word that our life reflects simplicity.

What is simplicity to me? A simple life is quiet, yet full of the giggles and squeals of children. Simple means keeping a garden that is large enough to sustain our family through summer, and preserving the leftovers for winter. It means homeschooling our kids in a way that flows with our natural rhythm; no running around or rigid schedules to keep to. Simplicity is in the seasons and being aware of our natural surroundings; celebrating them in our learning, cooking, senses, and home decor. A simple family prioritizes sleep and sees it as sacred, eats nutrient dense and uncomplicated food, and uses the plants that are native to our area to support our bodies. A simple existence means we have time and space to listen to and commune with God, which I hope will reflect an attitude of grace in our home.

Simplicity looks like having time and flexibility to welcome expected and unexpected visitors into our home for physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment. And last, a simple life observes the natural world and embodies what it sees naturally occurring—peaceful rivers flowing freely and confidently, plants and animals working hard and then resting, mamas lovingly taking care of their children without complaint, the nourishing darkness of night, along with the brightness and hope that comes in the morning. Simplicity doesn't mean being free of hard work, quite the opposite, really. To me it means blocking out the distractions so I can be free to see what truly matters, like stewarding the earth God created in a way that is honoring to him and the generations that will follow me.

But first...we must build our house. I feel like the roller coaster of what's to come is just cranking it's way up a giant slope and about to launch us into a fury of loopdeloops, corkscrews, and sheer drop-offs. Nothing about building a house is simple, but I'm praying that God will show us how to live simply during this season of transition and hard work. Some practical things I've been implementing in the interim:

- Eating simple, nourishing foods like boiled meat and vegetables, bone broth and meat stock, fresh and dried herbs, and seasonal fresh produce, and completely avoiding sugar, grains, and gluten.
- Listening to and respecting my body (if I'm craving sweet, I eat whole sweet food; feeling tired, try to get rest; feeling incessantly hungry, eat lots of healthy fat). The same applies to the children.
- Getting adequate sleep and rest (which doesn't always happen with two children).
- Kindly saying "no" and not over-planning.
- I've filtered my Facebook so it only shows groups and pages that are interesting and helpful to me, along with a very small handful of immediate family and friends. Instagram is similar.
- I use Pinterest frequently to keep my ideas organized. I've recently begun to ruthlessly go through and delete irrelevant things. It makes finding something much simpler, and much less cluttered.
- We treat our home similarly; anything that doesn't benefit our immediate life gets given away.
- Practicing deep belly breathing.
- Keeping our garden going into the autumn. The kids and I all find joy and peace in caring for the garden.
- Celebrating the busy season by documenting it, practicing thankfulness, and dreaming of what our new house will be like (especially with the kids).

I look forward to sharing more about this journey toward chickens, goats, muddy boots, and simple days to come.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

We Are Unschooling Our Kids

This is such an exciting topic to me. I can't wait to make this a regular series around here. First off, I never, ever, ever thought I would home educate my children. It wasn't until actually having children and beginning to face the prospect of how they might be educated that it became so blindingly clear how little was to be desired from a conventional education.

We've both always been concerned about the political state of the world and our country (USA), lack of quality education, increased need for people who specialize in specific trades and industries, bureaucracy of the education system, lack of focus on the arts and practical life skills like cooking and home maintenance, having our kids be separated from us and their siblings, and our own sub-par educations and lack of love for learning until recent years. Though despite all of this, I just couldn't see a way around conventional public education.

I somehow came across a couple blogs and Instagrams of families that practiced something called natural learning and quickly became so sure that this was the best fit for our family. I approached my husband hesitantly, unsure of how he would react, but to my surprise he agreed wholeheartedly without an ounce of trepidation and that was that. Over the past couple years he would occasionally mention homeschooling, but until I saw it practically applied in a way that made sense to me I just brushed it off as an unrealistic and foreign idea.

Truth be told, I didn't know much about homeschooling before my big revelation. I figured it just looked like bringing the classroom home—school work, lessons, math, health, dedicated school hours—which really didn't appeal to me. And often that is what homeschooling looks like. We, however, have decided to follow an almost entirely different path called Radical Unschooling. I love using the "radical" part—makes it sound so badass. But, really, it kind of is!

Unschooling is child-led learning. It's about learning through natural life experiences like play, reading, lots of time in nature, cooking, art, and pretty much every other component of a typical day-to-day life. It's not about me offering my children workbooks and teaching them through subject lessons, it's about exploring things that interest them. Natural child-led learning is primarily about letting the child decide what they are interested in and giving them full freedom to explore it as shallow or deep as they would like. My role as their parent is to support their interests by providing them with proper resources to pursue whatever is on their radar, as well as jumping in and learning right alongside them.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.” —Maria Montessori

I think it's also important to note that I don't view myself as a teacher. I am their parent and facilitator. I'm not concerned about not knowing everything because I don't need to. My role is to help them find the information they need to continue pursuing whatever it is that they're into for that moment/day/week/month/year(s). My ultimate goal as leader of our pack (with regard to home education) is to cultivate individuals who are life long learners and who love to learn. One of my favorite quotes is by a pioneer of unschooling, John Holt:

"Since we can't know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever must be learned."

Like he says, who knows what the world will be like in two decades when my children will enter the working world. I'm not concerned about calculus unless one of my kids is. And if she/he ever is, we'll figure it out together.

Even though I have little kids right now (29 months and 8 months), learning in our home takes place from sun up to sun down. There aren't school hours, and likely won't ever be. Unschooling starts at birth and ends when you leave this earth. For many of us unschooling parents, it's also a slow process of shedding the idea of what children "should" learn, how they should learn, or what our own educations looked like growing up. It's a lot of letting go and trusting that our kids will naturally learn what they need to learn if we encourage them to be curious and adventurous individuals.

For our family, this looks like moving out of the city to live the farm life. God directly led us to this move that we'll be making next year, and we couldn't be more grateful for the chance to raise our kids with chickens, mud, and lots of land to explore. Though this lifestyle isn't necessary to unschool, we feel it's the best environment our kids could possibly be raised and educated in.

We've got a long and exciting haul ahead of us, so I've yet to know all the details, but I'm excited to share and take you along on our adventures. If you're interested in reading more in the meantime, I recommend these fantastic blogs and links: ( on Instagram)


Thursday, April 9, 2015

As Life Goes

Hello, old friends. I'm here. I haven't much had interest in blogging, as I feel that blogging is best suited for unique information, not photos or anecdotes of my life. And I just haven't had anything worth sharing. However, I'm ready to talk again and believe I have some insightful things to talk about.

I would say my heart, focus and design sense have shifted quite a lot in the last year. I'm sure some of you have sensed that who follow me in other ways, like Instagram, or on my Facebook page. I feel like I've finally come into my own. I am becoming more confident in who I am and what I believe in, which is such a wonderful feeling. I suppose that's part of 'growing up'. My 27th birthday is this weekend, which simultaneously feels old and really young at the same time. I have a lot of friends who are at least a decade older than I am, which seems to skew my sense of how old I really am, but I digress.

I would love to share about things that I feel are unique to our home. Some of which might be progress updates on the custom modern farmhouse we're building, as well as our transition from city folk to farmers, topics related to our decision to unschool our children, along with peaceful and gentle parenting, my continued postpartum journey, ways in which God is working in our family, children's book and toy reviews, holistic wellness and cooking with kids features, and more.

I can promise you that I will write, but it won't be on any given schedule. I look forward to sharing some of the interesting thoughts rattling away in my head. I will be back soon with a post about our decision to unschool our children and what that means, in case you're not familiar. In the meantime, I invite you to pop over to my Instagram (mrsandmrking) and catch up on my month-long series of natural housekeeping tips under the hashtag #awellkepthome. xo