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  • Shelley Furlong

Into the woods



There was a child went forth every day,

and the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,

And grass and white and red morning glories, and white and red clover,

and the song of the phoebe-bird.

And the Third-month lambs and the sow's pink-faint litter,

and the mare's foal and the cow's calf...

-Walt Whitman



After visiting Zeke on the job site, we took a hike into the woods at the local Wildlife Refuge. I feel so lucky that even though we live in the heart of the city, we are so close to this nature preserve. Woods, ponds, hills and valleys' for miles. The constant swishing of the cars on the freeway is still audible if you focus your attention, but with a switch of the mind, you can hear it as the breeze blowing through the many trees. We practiced closing our eyes and listening further than we could see. Breathing steady and opening our ears to sounds most often ignored. Amaya is so curious and appreciates those delicate details of life so much when she is able to calm her energetic body. She enjoyed putting her attention on them and was excited to show them she cared.


In these places, we let her lead. Show me where to go Amaya! There's definitely no telling her that twice- jaunting off faster than you can say 'Explorer'.


Milo gains so much from watching Amaya explore. Already I can tell the difference between having an only child, to a younger sibling watching his brave older sister explore with (nearly) no bounds. Seeing her confidence, I think, is helping nurture a zest for exploration, and we are already seeing so much of it from this tiny little body on my back.


When you share with someone that you are homeschooling your kids, the responses seem to be either very supportive or full of insinuations. "Wow, that is so wonderful!" or "So, Amaya are you reading yet? What is 3+4?" as if quizzing us to see if we are where we "should" be or not. With so many ideologies out there, it is hard to not wonder whether you have made the right decision or not. Am I doing a disservice? Am I giving the best option possible? I am only slowly learning that convincing everyone you are doing what is best for right now, is not a reality. Everyone has their own story and are basing their feelings and thoughts on what they believe is best. I am starting to take the negative responses with appreciation; people express concerns when they care about a situation, and if someone cares about the education of my children, then I appreciate that immensely.


Being in tune with them is what will make our education experience successful. This last year has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns, high-speeds and stillnesses. It has been like the flowing path of water. A winding river. And we are learning to embrace the fluidity of the constantly changing water. Why fight nature when you can embrace the changing motions and experience all of its beautiful cycles? This is how we are beginning to take our learning experience. The last six months we've drastically decreased the amount of time we spend sitting and studying out of her schooling books because I was finding resistance in her rather than excitement or curiosity. On a whim, I started bringing her books with us on hikes the last two weeks and Bingo! Rejuvenated excitement to learn. I read them aloud while she darts here and there like a little squirrel, exploring with all her senses. She asks questions about each bit she hears and is remembering the content. I remember my college biology professor telling us we would be graded on a two part scale;

1) Tests

2) The depth of the rut worn into our bedroom floorboards from pacing in a circle while we reviewed our notes from the daily lectures.

He explained the important role physical activity has in retaining information, as well as keeping the senses alert enough to absorb more information than when we are learning while sedentary. This holds very true with Amaya and I am excited to see how this helps her grow- body, mind and spirit.




"Those who contemplate the beauty of earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.:

-Rachel Carson



Hello you



Taking notice of the most often unnoticed


I'm not going to lie guys, reading out of her books aloud, while swatting mosquitos off Milo as he's perched comfortably on my back with all of our hiking gear (food, water, books, diaper supplies) and hiking down then back up a steep hillside in 89 degree weather was not all pretty. But it was beautiful, because there is beauty in the raw, in the comical, in the hardship, in the interactions between parent and child, and in the absolute stinky sweaty.

We took on the challenge and accepted it for what it was and tried (which was very easy) to enjoy every moment of the adventure. Amaya was full of declarations, like: "Mom, this is the best day" "I'm having so much fun" and my favorite, "Can we just carve out a little cave and live here?" I think that hints towards signs of a successful day.



As we neared the top of the hike again, we came across a mouse sitting in the middle of the path. It sat there for a good several minutes even as Amaya closed in and began talking to it. It felt poetic as we had just focused so much on being aware of the small details, that this mouse seemed to come out and say "Hey guys, I see you seeing me..." and let us be with him for a few moments before he skittered off again into the hidden.

I am grateful for the moment that mouse gave us.


Be well. Be thankful. You are loved


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