Shame on you for not being Happy

 

Happiness Facebook Status On Cliffs Background

There it is again. Another FB quote insisting that if I’m not happy that it’s all my fault-that happiness comes strictly from within. I don’t find those quotes encouraging, I find them shaming. I’m not blaming the people who post. I’m not saying they shouldn’t believe that or that they shouldn’t post and spread their joy. I’m not saying I wish they’d all just go live on their happy little islands and leave us sad people alone. I know its my own internal shame that makes me feel…well shamed. I was once a full fledged member of the positive thinking club. But I lost my card, didn’t pay my membership dues or something. Maybe I’m just too rebellious to follow the rules and got kicked out. Seriously though, I’ve really tried to figure out why I can’t just be happy. I know it takes a big commitment to take responsibility and be happy from an internal place. But I’m not so sure I believe anymore that happiness comes strictly from inside. I have to wonder, do the people who believe that, have an external motivator? Is there really some loved one who is encouraging them with lovely words and warm hugs? Do those people have a support system in place? Do they get good sleep and plenty of sunshine? Is there gut flora in balance thereby ensuring their hormones are regulated? Are their basic needs for food and shelter being met without too much stress? Basically, is there more to  happiness then simply believing in it?

Don’t get me wrong. I do get it..sort of. I know that a certain amount of happiness comes from our own perspective. There is a lot of power in how we look at a situation and react to the haters, the doom and gloomers, and just plain negative and unsupportive people. We can find silver linings in dark clouds by just shining a little light on them. Sometimes we have to walk around a little, or change the batteries in our flashlight but often with a little work we can get that light too catch on the silver lining and reflect its glorious glow back at us. We can find adventure by being adventurous. We can see beauty by choosing to look for it. We can be a calming influence by practicing staying calm. Yada yada yada.

I’ve attempted to re-examine the times when I was full of happy. Back when I was totally immersed in my happy place I would tell people to find one happy thought, do one simple thing that made them happy and when they were doing it to think of another thing that made them happy and do that-and to keep doing it til they were doing more of things they liked than not-then joy would follow. I’m not retracting my words. But I am saying that it might not be that simple. I’m sorry I wasn’t more empathetic back then. I probably left people to be alone in their despair while I lived it up on the island. I’m not sure if I’m really sorry for that or if that is exactly how I should have lived. People have a right to their happiness, to find it where they can and hold onto it as long as they can. Happy people have no obligation to the ones who are seeking or who feel alone. They may even feel they ARE helping with their joy-from-within quotes. Happy people should not feel ashamed to declare their joy (with those quotes or otherwise) because that is their truth. I’m just saying that I’ve realized, from being on this side of things, that those words are empty and don’t actually do much for helping ME find MY happy place.

So, what WILL help me find my happy place? Well, I’m still trying to figure that out. I know some things that don’t work. I know some that do bring me a certain amount of contentment, excitement, and joy. I know of some external and some internal motivators but no longer believe its strictly internal. And I definitely know its not empty support and encouraging quotes. I’m not hopeless or faithless. I’m not teetering on the brink of suicide. I’m not looking for parentheses (hugs) or less-than, number 3s, or links to Byron Katie and Wayne Dyer. I’m just writing, just trying to figure it out.

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Death of a Stranger

I dealt with the loss of my dad a long time ago so his recent death has not really affected me much emotionally. I never felt emptiness or a gaping hole from his absence. I never had the stereotypical issues that a lot of misguided people say are supposed to accompany a fatherless household-like sexual promiscuity,  behavior problems, and fear of emotional intimacy and commitment. I never felt abandoned though that’s basically what he did to my mom and me when I was a baby. I never knew him but was aware from an early age that my life was probably better for not having to deal with his often cheating on my mom and his many addictions which would also have caused severe financial strain (not that there weren’t financial hard times, they just would have been worse). I know he had his positives. In the brief encounters I had with him I was able to recognize (from an observers perspective) qualities of a creative, talented, and funny human- I will probably always remember his distinct laugh. I didn’t hate him or wish any ill will on him. I never blamed him for anything or held bitterness toward him. My feelings for him were and are basically what I feel for a stranger. I can respect that he was another human, that others loved him, that he had good times and bad, that he made good choices and bad, that he most likely lived and loved and struggled and learned. But I never formed an emotional attachment to him. I wasn’t offended that he chose not to be a part of my life but I couldn’t muster any deep love for him. Growing up I never wished I’d had a dad. I was well loved, respected, and supported by my mom. My home life was stable. Communication was good. I had family and friends and I had faith in something bigger. I grew up knowing his sisters and my cousins and I treasure those people and their influence. I feel sad for their loss- to them he was valued and loved and known. Their memories of him are mostly good. Because of my love for them I am sad for them. I don’t regret not having known him like they did. There is no way I could have known him like that. I know enough about relationships to understnad the dynamic between a parent and child is different than one between siblings  and different between uncles and nieces and nephews and different between mates and different between friends. Neither he nor I ever seemed to know how to begin a conversation because there was always that pesky reality that we were in fact father and daughter. It was always awkward and avoided.

I suppose as an adult I could have reached out more to him and tried to form a bond. But honestly I didn’t want to risk the eventual disappointment that comes from having to take care of a person who chooses unhealthy addiction over anything else. I’m sure a part of me did fear I’d be taken advantage of financially or emotionally because his dependence on drugs (and I’m almost sure depression) always won. Some have the opinion that family is blood and you care for your family no matter what.  Maybe that’s what some people were taught but I didn’t grow up believing that. Maybe that is one thing he inadvertently taught me with his absence.  I may have been his daughter… But not really. He and I were strangers with our mutual family in common and for them I grieve.

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Princess, I Adore You

 

Princess Vivian and her magical creatures

Every once in awhile I will catch a post expressing disdain for  Princesses. Whole blogs saying how princesses are a bad influence. comments from parents who say things like , “my girl is very into princesses but its okay because she also likes building things and capturing bugs.”  I think most the posts and thoughts behind them send a bad message. Not allowing a child an interest in all things Princess is in essence telling your child that the feminine is lesser than the masculine. It’s like telling your child you love her but not that part of her. Or telling your child that it’s okay to dabble in girly things but only if they focus on the better more manly aspects of life.

Many times the hate on Princess is due to the hyper-sexualization of them and their influence on a kids body image and gender roles. I do feel its important to not put all a child’s worth on her looks or how feminine she is. I can see how, if the first thing you say to a girl revolves around her looks ( you look pretty in that dress, your hair is so cute) it can condition her to seek approval in just one area of herself. But I don’t think looks should be dismissed completely. I see nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel pretty. It’s perfectly natural, instinctual, and universal to most species of plant and animal. I see it as my responsibility to nurture my children as they are. Princess merchandise may send a negative body image and sexual message but as a parent I can be a stronger influence.

What I’m referring to is the hate of the femininity of princesses. Some objects, actions, and interests are more feminine and some more masculine. Sometimes things are considered more so because of shape- what looks more like a certain gender body part. Some things are more so based on a trait that is generally associated with a natural hormonal action such as the gentle caring of mother and her baby.  Some are cultural (and really variable) such as Men being doctors and Women being teachers- it wasn’t long ago that healers were often women and teachers or mentors in a trade were more often men. Princesses are feminine. Being a princess goes beyond looks. They are gentle and caring. They are diplomatic and listen calmly. They always present themselves properly with beauty and grace. Princesses are feminine and to dislike that your child likes princesses is like saying you are disgusted by the part of her(or him) that is feminine. A part of your child that is just that, a part of her. And to dislike the femininity in a person is basically saying that it is lesser than the masculine.

I don’t want to act as if a child, boy or girl, is lesser because she(or he) has has strong feminine leanings. Both genders should be allowed to follow their interests and curiosity without being shamed. Feminine and Masculine may be different without being in competition.  I don’t have issues with anyone having more of one trait than another. I feel that all the princess bashing is symptomatic of a society that has come to view the feminine has less than by elevating a woman  (or a man) only when she does something masculine. Or demeaning a man (or a women) when he does something feminine. Many parents are extra proud if their girl children can swing a hammer, climb a tree, catch bugs and snakes, play with trucks, compete in sports, and find careers of high position. All because these are seen as better. If their boy children show an interest in sparkly dress up,  caring for dolls or stuffies,  playing house, or if they enjoy domestic skills and personal grooming, then they are encouraged to grow out of it or labelled with a feminine word (pussy, prissy, girly, or something more crude). It doesn’t matter which gender people still treat femininity it as if its lesser.

My goal is to encourage my kids to follow themselves without assigning them roles that could trap them or make them feel less than. Sometimes it takes breaking my own programming and habits. Yes, being a role model does need some in depth self-reflection and work. With conscious effort, hopefully I can help them see the value in both feminine and masculine qualities. That its perfectly okay to be interested or tend toward one over the other or both. That sometimes in life they will need a little more of one or the other and much of the time they can find a balance.

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Why We Homeschool- We Live This Way Because…

I recently read an article after seeing it popping up everywhere on FB. It’s titled “School is a prison-and damaging our kids” by Peter Gray. This title isn’t the best, it puts people (more accurately those who went to school, have children in school, or work in the school system) on the defensive. But the article does a good job expressing why school isn’t all that great for actual learning. The author has researched further into the science of child development and natural learning. The article outlines many of the reasons we decided to continue to homeschool our children. In part it introduces the growing evidence that children do not learn best in the artificial and often stagnant environment of school.
We also have come to the conclusion that a school, nor a school at home, approach is the best way to educate our kids nor does it lead to the kind of accomplishment we wish for our kids. While many find pride in their kids growing up to get a job that pays extremely well or comes with a certain amount of status, this is not what we see as successful. To us, success means a true inner happiness. We model this search for true inner happiness and believe it comes from within. We’ve found that what aids us in finding our happiness is strong supportive relationships (which we provide our kids from the beginning), a desire for expanding oneself  (in the form of learning and spiritual growth), following our passions (which can easily lead to careers if their creativity and ambition is not squashed), and taking responsibility for emotional well-being.
While we do wish to impart certain beliefs on our kids we also want them growing up with the freedom to explore many schools of thought, philosophies, and religions. However we also wish to keep our kids sheltered from a school system that can be too heavy an influence on both WHAT kids grow up thinking and the WAY they think. We desire a future (and a present) for our kids that is not so heavily influenced by the mainstream. We don’t want our kids to be part of system run by the government who continues to push agendas that normalizes the taking away our freedoms and right. We don’t want our kids to be forced to spend most their childhood in a  false environment and social structure that can’t provide an intrinsically rewarding learning experience. At home we can instill a love for learning, give individual attention, and cater to each their learning styles and personal passions and goals.
The article also talks about democratic schools based on the Sudbury Valley School. This is a fantastic option and is similar to what we want as  a homeschooling family both in our home and through the relationships with other homeschool families.
We realize that our children will have to function in an America that is not brought up with these ideals. However we don’t want them to give into what has become common. We don’t completely shelter them from the rest of the world. We do however provide a strong foundation of support, the freedom to explore themselves as individuals, and the tools for critical thinking so that they can function in the world without blindly and thoughtlessly succumbing to forces that could hinder their happiness.

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We Live This Way Because…No to CIO

Fourteen years ago when A. was a baby her father and I didn’t have much experience with babies nor were we familiar with different methods of parenting. Most of our information came from pop culture. We’d recalled an episode of Mad About You which centered around the parents training their baby to sleep at night by letting it cry alone in a darkened room. I remember how difficult it was for them going against their desire to go to the heartbreaking screams of their child. I remember how relieved they felt when the baby finally settled into slumber. They’d won. In real life, we didn’t win. When we tried it, I couldn’t escape the feeling of horrible guilt, that with every minute, my child was losing trust in me to provide for and comfort her. I’m so glad I lost that battle. What I gained in losing was a deeper connection with my natural instinct and ability to connect with, rather than train my child.

Ten years later when my second child was born, my parenting instincts were more finely tuned. I’d also had some decent science to back up a lot of my decision. Here’s An article on The Dangers of Cry It Out

And here are my personal reasons for not practicing CIO:
I’m not against it so that I have more intelligent, less anxious, and independent children- and I haven’t noticed they are more so. I responded to my babies cries because it felt intuitively wrong not to, because I knew they didn’t understand the world or how to soothe themselves, because I think babies deserve to be comforted not trained like pets to behave, because I LOVE holding my babies anytime day or night, because I felt like they would learn they couldn’t depend on me to care for them and help them thru any situation, because I didn’t want them to grow up thinking they were alone in this world, because babyhood is relatively short and I want to savor every chance to give them the cuddles they deserve, because I had children knowing that it would change me and my routines, because I knew they didn’t cry to inconvenience me but because they needed something and needed someone to provide it, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with a baby who wakes and wants to be with the sounds and smells and movements of its caregiver rather than alone in a quiet room.
Series disclaimer:my answer to anyone who want to argue it or thinks I’m shaming parents who have chosen CIO: Do I think its wrong for you to let your baby cry it out? What the eff does it matter what I think…If what you want for you and your kids is what you are achieving then it doesn’t matter what I think or how I raise my kids. This series (hell this whole blog) is about ME and how I raise my kids, how we live, and what makes us happy.

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Finding My OWN Style of Living

Its been a long time since my last post-a lot of living of life instead of writing about it. In between moving across state I’ve been busy defining and re-defining areas of my life. In my last post I talked about coming up with a new label since that of Radical Unschooler was in too big a disagreement with those who are considered or who follow the gurus of the label. In that time I found this article, at The Living Free Project, very befitting of some of the reasons I’ve, for the most part, abandoned the label.

Instead of just attaching a dogma to my life I’ve been getting to the core of my beliefs and writing my own rules for living. All rules are malleable depending on situation and personalities involved. Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing MY rules and core beliefs. When convenient for me I’ll find studies or other articles that fit in with my subject. For the most part, however, this is how we live based on us living it and finding what works for us. Its in no way intended to be a blue print for you whoever you are. These aren’t one size fits all rules that produce a perfectly harmonious household. Rather its a guide for me to create connection with my kids and people in general. As I continue to question, as my children grow, as I evolve, the rules will probably change. While I remain open to different ideas, I also remain steadfast in beliefs I’ve given a lot of thought (for instance, no hitting, ever).

To start off, here’s my list of
CORE BELIEFS-which may change slightly and be added to over time:
*Everyone is equal and has the right to be respected.

*Rules need to be continuously questioned and formed as they pertain to the situation,  personalities, and developmental stages involved.

*Each person has a right to earn and own possessions/property and use it however they wish as long as it doesn’t cause harm to others.

*Shared spaces and possessions need rules drafted and agreed upon by the majority.

*Everyone has the right to their own body and what they do with it and how its should be treated. There are few exceptions to this-which will be explored in depth later.

*Each person is responsible for their own Happiness…Happiness comes from within and can be felt in any situation. Happiness is a matter of perception. Feelings happen, but you can choose what to do with those feelings and how to react.

*People are not born evil and do not need to be trained to be good. However, children are sponges and will absorb the behaviour and beliefs which are continuously presented to them.

*In order to teach Kindness I must BE KIND.  dot dot dot begets dot dot dot

In later posts I will write about the rules for living I’ve come up with based on those core beliefs.

One of the reasons I wrote out my beliefs and rules and choose to share them here is as a reminder to myself. It can be difficult, under stress, tiredness, or the heat of the moment to live up to my own ideal. Keeping it fresh in my mind helps me to remember who I want to be and know I can be. I also wrote it as a guidebook I can share if I should entrust the care of my children to someone else-they are used to being parented with a certain amount of respect and I wouldn’t allow someone to care for them who isn’t willing to try to treat them that way.

I don’t intend to live this way in order to have perfectly behaved children. Many types of training can produce a well behaved child but I’m not setting out to Train my children as if they were pets. I desire connections with my children and other people. I intend to live this way to build respect and show my kids that I love them unconditionally. I’m not preparing my children to accept the bullying, the biases and isms, and the status quo. I’m setting out to raise my kids to know I love them and will support them in finding their happiness. I am helping my kids to develop deep roots but feel empowered to branch out on their own. I hope to share with my kids the skills to survive in a changing world. I intend to foster the drive to learn and be imaginative. This can get messy, it can seem hectic and chaotic to someone used to a schooled or authoritarian life. It is challenging at times but rewarding too.

Yes, in many ways we can still identify with Radical Unschoolers. Our education is going beyond the walls of a school and set curriculum. We follow our rhythms, pay attention to our passions, and honor our distinctive personalities and learning styles. We differ from them in ways that I won’t go into now. I feel its enough of a difference that I’ve had to put some distance between me and many of them and follow a path that comes more from within. In the following posts I’ll share more of that journey.

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Just Not Radical Enough

Ha! I keep thinking I have it figured it out but then I keep mulling it over and I come to new conclusions. Here is what I have so far:
From certain Radical Unschooling forums, one could very well come to the conclusion that Radical Unschoolers seem to believe:
1. Raising free children means there is no place for passing on a parents ideals outside of unschooling
2. Its okay to be mean to adults while espousing the virtue of kindness to their children
3. Community isn’t all that supportive or communal
4. Raising free children to the Extreme Radicalness means there is no place for parental control

There’s a divide in the Unschooliverse and I think I figured it out. Well I at least figured out why I feel the divide. Just maybe I’m not Unschooley enough.  At least not for the Radical kind. I’m thinking of maybe coming up with a new name, a hybrid -does that imply better because that’s not my intention?  I’ve already established that Unschooling has more to do with a way of life then anything really to do with school. It goes beyond school and has evolved the way I function day to day, how I interact with my kids (from birth, not just school aged), and the way I think. Life learner, world school, natural learning, child-led learning, and a few other terms have been adopted by people. But I’m looking for something else, something that better describes our way of life and not just how we educate ourselves. More on that later.

First I want to talk about why I must not be a Radical Unschooler. It has to do with core beliefs. It took me awhile but I think I’ve discovered that my core beliefs don’t quite jive with that of a Radial Unschooler. I believe children are autonomous but not to the extreme degree that Radical Unschoolers do. I believe children are individuals who have a RIGHT to their own bodies, their own emotions, their own thoughts, their own possessions. and they need to respect that right in others. I do believe that people benefit from having community and that children need to learn to function in a beneficial society-this means from a society as small as a two person family to society in a global sense. I don’t think I own my children but I do feel I have a right to raise them as I see fit. I do feel they can and should make decisions for themselves-to a limit. And that limit is one of the biggest contentions I have with  Radical Unschoolers. I’ve come to realize that what I term “guidance” they term as “control”.

It was over the course of a few days that brought me to that conclusion. I’ve been a member of a couple forums, one of them for several years. They are forums for Radical Unschoolers moderated by well-known figures in the Unchooliverse. I haven’t posted to the groups and I rarely check them. Why? Because every single thread I’ve followed on the forums have left my gut feeling heavy. They’ve rarely sat right with me. For one, the people giving advice seem rude. I understand  they try to maintain a standard of Radical Unschooling Ideal. I get that they push people to question every area of their lives in order to help people with allowing their children the kind of freedoms they think is ideal. I get that. I think there is a lot of value in their words-those on the forums who have websites and books have been a great resource for me and countless others to learn and apply unschooling to our lives. However, and this is a big however… they are mean. They bully and gang up on people. They take things out of context, attack grammar and semantics, and they always tell people to stop writing and just listen. I’ve never known anyone personally who’s been the victim of their criticizing. I don’t idolize the so called experts or get giddy if one happens to notice me. I do have friends who personally know  a few of the moderators and contributors and I am FB friends with a few members of the forums. But basically I have been an unbiased observer of this behaviour and have found it do be horribly rude. I discovered I’m not the only one.

I’d recently FB friended a new member of the Natural Learning Network of SD of which I co-moderate. It’s a site for SD locals to build community, meet one another, find support, and post events. I noticed one person because she found our site through another site I belong to The Libertarian Homeschooler. Her comments on Radical Unschooler showed up in FB feed so I started following the thread. It quickly turned into the same old stuff I’d seen before. Someone posts a question-some good responses-some accusations-some deeper explanations from the original poster-some taking words out of context and more accusations-some criticizing the grammar and the semantics -some twisting words-some telling questioners to stop getting defensive and quit posting-some copying and pasting on other sites in order to make fun of posters (she admitted it)-some blaming the poster for wasting HER time. Basically what I saw was bullying and since I happened to be a FB friend of one of the victims,I happened to see her post that she did indeed feel bullied and it had gone beyond what I could see on the thread. It left me feeling so disgusted that I left that group and unfriended a moderator. I didn’t want to be associated with such mean people and I didn’t want to be exposed to that toxicity. I could fully understand now why some of my real-life friends have chosen to not be a part of online communities.

Not everyone who feels attacked is a newbie to Unschooling. But a lot are. Unschooling is still pretty fringe. Its a difficult concept to wrap ones head around. In order to fully understand it and live it they need to see it up close and personal. People get online and try to find others like them. They want information but they also want the community. They want to be assured that they are doing best for their family because the majority of people in their lives do not support it. So they seek out the people who’ve been doing this awhile. Certain names get brought up and of course newbies go to them. But these particular forums aren’t there to build friendships or play tour guide to newbies. They are militant boot camps meant to push and break. Some  newbies feel so hurt they leave, some fortunately find support from, well from more SUPPORTIVE groups. Some stay and a community is built but its based on abuse and control-the very thing the Radicals promote not instilling in their children.

I’d been mulling the threads around in my head. It really bothered me that the bullys were trying to silence people from explaining details any further. As if circumstances don’t matter. They would insist that the parent was trying to impose her own beliefs onto the child and therefore controlling the child. And there I had it. The Unschoolers were not only being mean, they were attacking people for what seemed to me perfectly reasonable beliefs. These Radicals have a set of ideals they think applies to every situation. Not only did I have a problem with the delivery of their message but I decided I have a problem with the message itself. The very core belief of Unschooling is freedom for kids to follow their own passions and interests when it comes to learning. Sounds great! I believe that. But Radicals tacked on “Radical” I think to take that freedom to a whole level that is beyond me. Not simply, as they claim, to apply it to life outside of education, but also to areas outside of parenting. They want their child to be able to make choices, discover circumstances, and come to conclusions completely on their own. Sounds Radical right? To me it does and here’s why.

Kids’ brains, bodies, and experiences are still developing. They absorb information. They model behavior they see. They believe, often without question, what they are told. They react to their feelings without understanding them. They trust their caregiver to be  right whether their caregiver is worthy or not. I believe they are not yet in a position developmentally to make every single decision themselves. I believe children do need some guidance, some limits, some encouraging. (I think even adults need these things when learning something new.) It doesn’t have to be strict or authoritarian. It is possible to have both limits and plenty of freedoms and choices and to offer them kindly. I think it all can be highly individualized for differing personalities and situations. But its not a one size fits all rule of learning or living. And beliefs do play a part in parenting. Beliefs are going to be passed down, whether its a homeschooling family or not. One reason I chose to Homeschool is because (at least in their younger years) my beliefs are the predominant ones they are exposed to. I prefer those of myself and my circle of friends as opposed to the media and the state run schools.

I would like my children’s developing brain and body  not be exposed to the dangers until they can navigate them. That means after they’ve learned to question and reason, after they’ve acquired the tools to research, after they’ve experienced and  practiced using their own intuition. I can be there to hold there hand literally or metaphorically. I can be there to show them how to do some things and direct them where to learn other things. I can be there to share my own passions and discuss my own beliefs. I can introduce them to mentors that respect children and their developmental stages.  And I can do it while allowing them freedoms to draw their own conclusions. I believe that children need some guidance-not control, not overly sheltering, not void of discovery. I believe that an environment has the potential to affect a developing person both positively and negatively. I don’t wish my child to be exposed to violence, acts of control (physical or psychological) government bias, media bias(socialist and otherwise), strict religious dogma, humor that makes it normal to degrade. And I don’t want to sabotage my child’s physical health with food that does harm.

So if I believe kids will learn what they are exposed to, why would I expose them to danger beyond their comprehension. Its no secret that marketing plays a part in convincing us to be wasteful consumers. Its coming to light that food companies are basically spiking their foods with addictive and harmful ingredients and convincing us its nutritious. The media continuously pushes the messages that I don’t agree with. These are dangerous enough to adult minds- I especially want to avoid it for developing brains and bodies of my children-to start them off not brainwashed to comply. As they get older and can see the correlation between food and feeling icky they can make some choices about what they consume. When they are old enough mentally to talk about marketing and media bias then I will expose them to more of it. Is that control? Yes, I suppose one could call it control and I’m okay with that. I think a certain amount  of control is paramount for the safety of my children.

I don’t think all Radical Unschoolers (or whatever they choose to call themselves) are the same. I have very good friends who identify with that spectrum of Unschooling. What I am referring to is the based on the behavior I see on the Radical Unschooling forums. Do I think these Radicals should change? No. I do think there is a place for it all. I think many appreciate the advice and like the way it is delivered. But maybe those places should be more upfront with what they are about. I know some have info and rules posted but obviously they are not clear enough about it because I’ve been seeing more and more people who’ve felt hurt and bullied after seeking guidance on those sites. I get that different forums are for different things. I personally like Unschooling plus Libertarian because those are some of my interests and I like to see how they connect and how people make it work. But those sites make it pretty clear what they stand for. I’ve left some groups (not just unschooling ones) because I’ve been disgusted by the treatment of others. While I believe there is value to those sites for a certain type of person,  I think it can be really discouraging to people especially those new to Unschooling. Those who are looking for community, information, or just trying to wrap their heads around the concept do not need to be treated as ignorant. Those who practice Unschooling but are not Radical about it should not be treated as inferior.  The internet can be a strange place to navigate social networking but sometimes its the only thing a person has-not everyone is as fortunate as I was to be introduced to Unschooling by real-life non-judgmental and kind Unschoolers.  I’m thankful for all the Unschoolers because it means we’re raising more and more kids who are more connected, free thinking, respected, and with the potential to find their own happiness. I just wish there was more acceptance for the various ideals on the spectrum of Unschooling.

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Back To Blogging, Facebook…Its Been Fun

Also titled: Why I’m getting tired of Facebook

I joined FB because my friends did and I want to be just like my friends. Sort of.. well not really. I actually appreciated such a convenient way to have a community with my friends. Especially since I don’t get to see them very often. People need people and moms need moms. I loved reading nearly daily updates, being able to jump into a conversation, and checking out links that my fellow parents posted. Eventually I started becoming a fan of or liking pages and local businesses. I could see specials from my favorite eateries and check hours without much searching. I liked reminders from parenting sites about gentle ways to raise my kids, recipes and articles from my favorite food blogs, and news biased more toward my political beliefs. I didn’t feel bad for hiding posts from friends and family who I may like but don’t care to see daily updates or comments that go extremely against my own personal beliefs. I still occasionally would check their pages just to keep up on their lives and news. Facebook was a great way for me to keep social, entertained, informed, and motivated.

And I like sharing. I shared tidbits of my life, links to pages I appreciate, pictures, and while I typically tried to avoid arguing I even commented with my opinion sometimes. After a few incidents I did tighten up my friends list and became more discerning about where and what I posted. I talk a little about that here. But it was still fun.

But its not the same anymore. All those pages I like, they post mostly pics with inspiring quotes-sometimes several a day-WHAT IS WITH THE FREAKING OVERABUNDANCE OF INSPIRING QUOTES AND INSTAGRAM-LIKE PHOTOS! I like a good quote and a creative picture now and then but my news feed is covered with them. It takes a lot of time to weed through it all and you can’t just turn it off like with game requests. I would still like to see the articles they link but question the value of it anymore.

And where have all my friends gone? There’s a few still on there but again with the weeding just to find them. I’ve quit weeding my garden, now its to quit wasting my time on FB. Really, FB is no longer the social outlet I appreciated but rather a time consuming bore.

I spend a lot time in my head already. Without friends to communicate with I’ve spent even more time there. A lot goes on up there and to let it out I like write. Since I’m too wordy for FB I’d like to get back to blogging-maybe journaling some. I could even start finding places to submit writing for income. Maybe I’ll even re-acquire some skill and writing creativity that has been put on hold for a while.

Facebook, this isn’t goodbye forever. It’s just…lets take a little time to ourselves.

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Giving-Up Feels So Good.

I’ve given up. Not in the lost-all-hope sense. In the let-it-go sense.
First I fired my domestic help. My teen was getting paid to clean-the basic washing of surfaces was her job. An actual job that required a certain amount of quality and demanded some respect when it came to the requirements of the job. I did my best to write exactly what needed to be done. To praise the areas she excelled and gently point out what needed improvement. I made her a calendar with reminders on the days she had  to do a certain part of her job along with other commitments she’s made. I verbally reminded her and let her choose the times and make adjustments for her own interests.
But she wasn’t doing the job to my expectations, she was grumpy doing it, and finally, after neither of us was communicating with kindness, she told me to shut-up. So I fired her. In fact I ‘fired’ her from any basic responsibility. I no longer require her services when getting groceries, doing laundry and dishes, or helping with the tots-which all in all was pretty limited compared to the rest of her time for herself. I’m tired of wasting my time with the reminding and inspecting and suggesting. I’m tired especially of the struggles with her attitude about it. Like quitting school at home, I’ve relieved her and myself of the hassle of helping at home too.
I’m  8 months pregnant and can hardly bend and tire easily but I don’t care. I’m doing the cleaning myself. I’d already prepped most the house so she wouldn’t have to do any really grimy scrubbing. I’ve been steadily organizing the house to make my life feel better and my responsibilities more efficient.
I asked for help from her and my husband to at least clean up their messes-which mostly consisted of wiping up food messes they make and putting away their own stuff. I also asked but made clear it wasn’t a big deal, for their help in cleaning up clutter while I am big and pregnant and for a short while after the baby is born so I can bond with baby. I’ve given up on that too. They’ve made no effort that I see and I need to feel happy so I choose to just not care. Instead I’ll try to keep up on it myself.
This does mean I’ll have to sacrifice something here and there. My own cleanliness. Play time with the tots. The happy I feel from having a fairly clutter free space. Sleep. Mostly probably it’ll be my projects that bring me joy that I’ll have to dial back on. Fortunately the big ones I wanted to get done before the baby have been nearly completed so I no longer feel overwhelmed or stressed by them.
I’ve given up on feeling approval too. I want so much to feel beautiful. I want my husband to love my belly and delight in watching it move. I want to know beyond a doubt that I’m loved either (preferably with both) by his words and/or his affection. I have neither. And I don’t care anymore. I can’t depend on him for my happiness and I can learn to find love elsewhere. Of course I don’t really not care about not having love. I think its a fundamental need to feel loved. But I have to stop expecting it to be given to me in ways I want it from someone who can’t express it that way to me. I will find love in myself. I will find love from Source. I will find love from my children who freely give it. I will find love from my friends. Maybe I’ll even accept love better from my mom.
That’s not to say I’m not loved. That’s not to say I don’t love and adore my partner. And I do enjoy his companionship and raising our family together. I just don’t feel the love in a way I want to feel loved. But I’m no longer caring.
Not caring can be tricky and can lead to a dark place too. The trick with not caring is to truly not care. It can’t be a defense mechanism. I can’t turn into a hard-ass tough girl and build walls to protect myself. No, it has to be a genuine letting go of wanting what I think I need and accepting I can’t have expectations of others. It has to be real. It has to be me seeking the joy in myself and myself alone. With falling in love with oneself its easier to spot the joy in others and accept them as they are without requirement. To truly not care is freedom.

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Port Aransas Vacay Highlights

Taking pic from surf at Port Aransas beach while Daddy and tots fly kite-Van is right there within easy access

 

Well of course it was worth it :) Traveling is always worth it in my opinion and I do love a good road trip. I think its so important to create memories and expose myself (and kids) to new sights, smells, sounds, etc.  Traveling with kids is easy with a certain mindset and a few tricks. Its important to keep the journey fun too. I’m working on a list of invaluable tools to bring when traveling with kids.

We saw lots of varied landscapes and drove through our first dust storms. I even like to see the different names of common gas stations, grocery stores, and fast food joints a long the way. Never did eat at “Whataburger”. The industry, agriculture, and ranch animals were different from our area. Saw more goats then I’ve ever seen in my life.  One word description of eastern CO, western OK, and northern TX-”desolate”. Not even a cow or farmstead in sight. Just  miles of yucca and shrubbery ridden “pasture”.

The town itself was neat. Loads of colorful houses on thick stilts-ours was yellow. Some of the houses were run down and weather worn but that’s anywhere. Palm trees, sand, sea birds, fishing boats- It was a beach bum/fishing  town more then a cute little town with shops like I had envisioned. But the restaurants were varied and tasty-many of them in shack like structures but that doesn’t put me off. There were artisans around but didn’t really hit any of those places with the kids. Big beach-brand shops with some neat stuff.

Loved the sound of palm trees in the breeze-almost like rain-it was usually breezy but not uncomfortable like the wind here. Nor was it overly humid-the mid day sun was intense even through the breeze but we usually hit the pool or opened up the house and relaxed. Interesting mix of birds-one moment could here morning doves which reminded me of growing up on the farm here in SD and the next a bird which would start with a squeak, morph into a crackle, and end in a shuffle sound. I remember hearing those in Mexico and thinking they were some kind of monkey.

The ocean was kind of rough everyday but the last night, but even the tots would splash around in the surf sometimes. Shelling at low tide was fun-lots sand dollar pieces but A and J managed to find a couple intact ones. It was fun to watch neat little mollusks that would be exposed with the waves and bury themselves back in the sand. Saw a few jelly fish and teeny tiny crabs. The last night the ocean was so calm that we could walk really far out and it would only reach our ankles. The water was warm and as usual the sound of the surf so very mesmerizing.

Had interesting flavors of gelato everyday from a free wi-fi coffe shop around the corner.

There was a pretty big storm the day we arrived-in fact we had to re-route to avoid flooding. So the beach was littered with sea weed. But the city spent the week cleaning it up-just like snow plow and removal cept with sea weed and the smell of it rotting toward the end of the week was a little strong in some places. The beach is long and you drive (like a road), park, and can even camp right on it. If you’ll notice from some pics, our van was never very far from us. It was nice not to have haul a bunch of crap on our backs or with a stroller. Just throw it in the van and pull it out when we needed it. We could always find a private to semi-private part of beach somewhere even when the huge sand castle festival rolled in the last weekend. Flying kites was a breeze, just had to open it up and hold on. The sand was so compacted you could easily drive, walk, push a stroller, or ride a bike on it. Yet you could easily dig it up enough for sand castle building and burying your toes.

Yep, it was a good adventure.

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