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.

Posted in Attachment Parenting, lessons for adults, Spirit and Soul, Unschooling | Comments Off on Finding My OWN Style of Living

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Back To Blogging, Facebook…Its Been Fun

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Giving-Up Feels So Good.

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Port Aransas Vacay Highlights

Lurkers and Trolls and Mean Moderators

There is a reason I haven’t made much of  a presence in online groups including the unschooling ones. I was reminded why the other day.. The trolls. I see them a lot on FB groups who are pretty extreme in a particular belief. You’ll have your people dissing Ron Paul on a libertarian group, I see vegans condemning meat eaters on Paleo sites, I’ll see anti-breeders on parenting sites, people flagging pics on breastfeeding pages that promote extended breastfeeding, and strict schooley types on unschooling sites. You’ll even see moms bashing other moms for believing a slightly different way-like those who vaccinate and those who don’t on natural parenting sites. Sometimes the trolls are even people you know-old friends or family who believe a different way. Or people who just like to argue and think they are playing devil’s advocate but really are just being difficult. Sometime you can ignore them and they will go away. If you are real friends you might even be able to say butt out of this conversation. But sometimes the trolls are actually the moderators and other seasoned commentators. One particular group is especially irritating to me. Its partially irritating because I want to like it, I want to be a part of such a well-intentioned group and I actually even like many of the people involved in it. I avoid it for long periods of time and then for some reason I check in. Maybe because I’m seeking answers or a little support. But every single time I go on I see the same thing. The main leaders are completely picking apart, like vultures, something posted by another person. There isn’t the support or kindness I was looking for. Instead of offering anything helpful they are busy posturing or giving what they call tough-love. They claim to be doing it for quality and I understand the importance of moderation and streamlining information. I like proper grammar and spelling, I’m not a stickler for it but I think  a fairly decent use of it is important to make your point in writing. I also adore words and try hard to choose the right ones even when posting a comment on FB. But I also understand from experience that people use FB partly because it allows for quick conversation. I don’t have to write out a big letter or spend hours on the phone to communicate with someone. I can make a quick scan for  a few minutes while I’m eating, and make a few replies before someone in this family of 5 needs me to do something else. Sometimes my comments are typed one-handed with improper caps and punctuation because I’m holding a child. Sometimes, because I only have a few minutes, or from lack of sleep, I do reply with as few words as I think necessary to get my point across but after reading later I realize its not enough for another person to understand. And sometimes I just write how I think or how I talk and unless you know me, the personality of those words can be misconstrued. For instance I’m matter-of-fact and without much elocution when I speak. I’m not easily offended or dramatic but if you read those words with a whiny voice or a defensive tone in your own head, then the words take on another meaning. I think many people who communicate on lists and pages fail to see this. They don’t put themselves in the other persons place and they don’t look at it from other perspectives. They are quick to judge and quick to attack. They read it with a voice or personality that doesn’t fit the poster at all. Instead of asking for clarification they assume. I’ve seen them use the excuse that they’ve been there done that. They are experienced in their “field” and I appreciate their knowledge. However I do not think they’ve experienced it all and sometimes fail to answer with compassion.  Its especially annoying on parenting sites when parents of older children, one child, or evenly spaced children think their advice should apply to a parent with twins, or young children. Even though they’ve had young kids sometimes they seem to forget the particular struggles and ways to communicate with younger  children. A “this too shall pass” does not help. Worse yet when a parent writes for advice or support and the other parents attack that person and get irritated at them for having that sort of problem. For instance I do not always handle my stress well. But if I went on certain sites and asked for advice or just to vent I’d be attacked for having those feelings in the first place. If I suggested a technique to someone struggling I’d be told that techniques are wrong and to just be kind. I know because I’ve seen it. And if I tried to clarify, to explain my circumstances, or yadayada, they’d find more to pick apart and say I was changing my story. (I’ve seen that too) But sometimes stories do change because we’re writing them when in a high emotional state and sometimes we say things we don’t mean or in a way that we don’t mean to say them. I think its wrong of them is because these are sites by unschoolers and attachment parents who proclaim giving children support but they can’t even offer that to their fellow parents. All I usually need to get over the funk, is to tell a good friend about it and bask in her unconditional love, sometimes listen as she gives her perspective and I not only feel better but I can better approach the situation. And sometimes I do think a technique is just a way to practice so that kindness become part of being. I wish these sites could be more like a true support system because my local one isn’t always available. And I know some haven’t yet found a local support system and go online for the help they need. For now, I just avoid them. I’m not going to make a name for myself in any online community because I don’t want to be constantly dealing with conflict. I prefer to spend that time actually being with my kids instead of writing about them. (It takes me weeks often to write a blog post because I am busy being in the real life world.) Sometimes I wish I could expand my circle to include friends from all over the world. From lurking, I certainly know there are a lot of people out there that I like. But for now, I remain silent and now you know why.

This is a reminder to myself as much as it is advice to others…This isn’t to say they aren’t useful or that others shouldn’t and couldn’t gain from them. Just be careful. Lurk a long time and learn the moderators “rules” before contributing. And if you don’t feel the love move to another group. Don’t stay there and be attacked, or feed the trolls, or become one yourself. If looking for certain advice, trying searching past posts for discussions similar to your need. Often instead of these groups I’ll go to ctual websites that have a ton of advice for a ton of issues without all the petty bickering. Remember you’re looking for support not to be bashed.

Sites I really find useful:

Parenting and Unschooling:



Authentic  Parenting

Peaceful Parenting


Food and Nutrition:

Robb Wolf

Primal Blueprint

Weston Price Foundation

Nourishing Days

Divine Health


Politics, History, Economics: (still searching for some)

Learn Liberty

Mises Institute




Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Lurkers and Trolls and Mean Moderators

Unschooling a Teen part 2

Part 1  is my Facilitate Plan that I decided to make in order to expose my teen to “subjects” I want her to learn. I also explained a little  about my role in her unschooling journey. In part two I explain some of my teen”s learning history and one subject I feel is important for my teen to understand.  In part three I’m going to talk about more subject and why these “subjects” specifically.

A short rundown of my action plan: I’m going to send my teen links to articles, books, and videos I want her to check out. I also send her reminders to do them as well as reminders to do other predetermined chores or activities, like unload the dishwasher or practice her singing. And I’m going to talk to her about the links I send, the books we read, the shows we watch, and her other interests. I already do this on a small scale but want to get more involved.

I don’t really think this goes against our unschool lifestyle. I’m not forcing her to learn a set of facts or demanding she write papers on what she’s learning. Neither is it entirely child-led. But my definition of unschooling might be different then more radical followers. I do think its important that a person has a certain amount of knowledge in order to function in society-and I do think its important to function in society. I believe its my job as facilitator to expose her to those things and make sure she has at least a basic understanding of some of them. I also respect that she is an individual but believe she chose to be born into a family and needs to learn to respect other members of the family and contribute to the unit as a whole.

My teen has not been an unschooler her whole life. From homeschooling  half way through grade K we then morphed into unschooling. It took a long time to get the hang of unschooling and is not without its obstacles still. As a baby I thankfully did instinctively attachment parent her. However during her toddler and preschool year she was not parented as extreme as I parent now. Instead of providing a safe environment for her to express her feelings, I forced her to bury negative emotions and maybe even some positive ones-this was also done to me somewhere along my childhood. Much healing and trust is still being established after some poor parenting skills. While learning about unschooling, attachment parenting and gentle discipline I was also exposed to Montessori and use some of those techniques, which line up nicely with unschooling, in guiding my preschoolers. With Adeline  I missed out on guiding her through learning skills when she was ready for them. So basically her learning style is more challenging because I didn’t foster an early love for learning or a mutual respect for each other from her early childhood. We are also hindered in our journey because she meets opposition of unschooling from her other set of parents. Sometimes she questions what is important to learn and feels ashamed of her mental abilities and capabilities.

I tell the above for two reasons. First, she has two toddler sisters and a couple siblings on the way. Often she is annoyed and frustrated with them and with me. I think this is partly due to my parenting style being different from her to them. In some ways I think she feels resentment (maybe only subconsciously but its there). My hope is that by exposing her to article about child development, attachment parenting, and peaceful parenting then she’ll better understand them and better see why I parent them that way. Perhaps she’ll even be able to find the tools to help the emotions that she struggles to express. I also talk to her often about the mistakes I’ve made with her and with them. This in itself builds trust and respect between us. So, one of the main subjects I feel is important for my daughter to be exposed to is gentle parenting and the affects of the child and parent. This will benefit her family life now and maybe later.

As far as late start to life learning goes, it means sometimes I have to push her a little more then someone who’s picked up learning skills earlier in life. Yes, even unschooling takes certain skills. It takes ambition for one. It also takes observation. Neither of which I was very good at fostering in her when she was younger. So while I believe that if a person loves to learn, she will be motivated to seek out the information she wants, I do think some people need to re-learn to learn. Sometimes that takes encouragement from someone else. Because we do talk-its not all online communication-I know that she wants me to remind her to do things. I even have to remind myself to do things. If my day is not schedule I often wander around and can’t focus on a task-or I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. When I take the time to write out a list of stuff for me to do then cross things off the list as I don them, then I feel more accomplished and I feel like continuing. Lists are my external motivator and for now, I am my teens external motivator. Honestly I don’t know if this is a trait that is learned or if its just a teen thing.I also think that for the negative feedback she’s received- she needs double the positive encouragement. While I send her links of things I want her to be exposed to, I also send her links to things I know interest and entertain her. I also like to show her examples of other successful unschoolers and entrepreneurs.

This situation may not apply directly to you or your teens. In part 3 I’ll write about subjects that I believe everyone should at least be exposed to.


Posted in Attachment Parenting, Baby Cubs, lessons for adults, Uncategorized, Unschooling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unschooling a Teen part 2

And I Turned Out Just Fine

Spanking has been a hot topic on various FB pages lately. I have my definite opinions on the matter but I like to see what others have to say-never know when a new perspective is going to present itself. I haven’t found an argument yet that has deterred my way of thinking about it. So I thought I’d write some of the arguments and phrases I’ve heard/read and what I’d say in response. I refuse to actually argue the matter -especially over FaceBook-but I do make it known what I think about a subject if I’ve formed an opinion. I see no purpose in hiding what I believe. I also feel that if someone is looking for more information on a topic I feel strongly about then they know to come to me for information or support.

Spanking and Hitting are different. Uh, in what universe is that true. True, not all hitting is spanking. But a hand, paddle, or any tool used to strike another person/object is in fact hitting.

Swats to deter from danger are okay. No, no they are not. The kids aren’t learning the actual consequence. They are still learning that if they don’t do what you say they get hurt by you. Its your job to simply keep them from harms way until they are old enough to see the danger. I don’t let my kid run into the street, I watch her and grab her if I must. I firmly say “danger” or “cars” or something because eventually she will see the correlation. Sometimes I let her get hurt…a little. I tell her the consequences. When she’s young I say a simple one or two word warning. For instance when she’s close to the stove I say “hot”. And I even let her slightly burn her hand on a hot but not scorching casserole dish while saying “hot” and promptly putting her hand under  cool water. She learns what hot means and listens when I tell her something is hot. If I can’t keep a close eye then I use gates or put her in a secure chair until I can use my eyes and hands to guide her to a safer activity. When she’s older I say something like, if you keep hitting, your sister won’t want to play with you. Action->Consequence +communication

Spanking done in anger is wrong but cool, calm, calculated spanking with an explanation of why its being done is okay. WTF? If enough time has passed that you’re calm enough to purposefully dole out a spanking then your calm enough to use your brain to figure out another way to discipline your kid. Maybe the kid is  too young to even make the association between what he did wrong and why he’s being hit. And if he’s old enough to make the connection then probably he’s already made some connections between his action and the consequences and its your job to help him think about those and find a better behavior for next time.

Cause the Bible says its okay. The whole spare the rod spoil the child thing. Well I don’t really buy into the whole Bible being infallible thing so using that as an argument really doesn’t jive with me. One, its written by a bunch of men, in a certain political and social and cultural climate that doesn’t necessarily apply to or translate well into this modern world. Second I just don’t see how a God who’s supposed to love unconditionally would allow us to raise our kids to believe that love IS in fact conditional. And spanking is conditional. You are telling your child that unless he behaves a certain way he will not be treated with love.

We’ve all heard someone say it. It usually refers to being spanked as a child. “I was spanked as a kid and I turned out just fine.” Well did you? Did you REALLY? Then why do you think its okay for one person to hit another person? Usually the person hitting is several times bigger and significantly heavier. Usually the person hitting is supposed to be the person that little person trusts. Usually the person being hit doesn’t even logically understand why he’s being hit. Trust is lost. Usually the person being hit learns that hitting others, especially ones smaller and weaker, is an okay way to either express anger, humiliation, or control. The little people grow up and have problems trusting people, or they’re afraid of confrontation, they might not feel as close to their caregiver as they’d like. They begin at an early age to start bullying or being comfortable as the victim and those labels stick.  Psychological issues are being beaten into kids.

Stop crying, whining, throwing a fit, etc or you’re going to get a spanking.  I don’t think fear is a proper motivator. Sure it does accomplish its goal of shutting that  brat up. But I want my kids to feel like they can feel. I want them to be able to work through that emotion instead of bury it. The better they get at it the shorter the fit is because they are learning to regulate their emotions. And really, you’re  going to hurt your child and make her cry or scream in order to make her stop another annoying sound? That’s just silly. And if the physical pain isn’t bad enough, making a child feel shame and inadequate for having feelings is equally bad.

One lady on FB  asked me (if I don’t spank then) how do I gain their respect and obedience and is it was working. This is how I responded: The short, very surface answer that I could write books about if they’d not already been written: I respect them by giving them respect. I don’t demand obedience because I believe they have the right to their own bodies and thoughts and to make decisions for themselves. I keep them safe by watching them, being with them, talking openly with them about consequences, and letting them experience some consequences. I observe my children to learn their limits, their needs physically and mentally, and their interests and what they are naturally driven to learn. I listen patiently and validate when they express their feelings and offer alternatives to behavior that could harm them, others, or just gets on my nerves. I give up the notion that my environment has to be controlled because while we’re each individuals, we’re at the moment a family unit that has different personalities and needs and interests. I say “no” less, because to a young mind it becomes background noise-when they ask “why” I really ask myself that too and try to answer-if there is no “good” answer then I say, “your right, there is no reason why you can’t do that”. I try not to shame, yell, frighten, hit, or manipulate my kids into submission. I see my kids as equal however needing some guidance as their minds and experiences develop into adults. I have a teen and two toddlers. It is working for us and the goals I have for me and my kids- my kids are free to express themselves, they are learning to regulate their own emotions and behaviors instead of me demanding they be happy, we are all kinder and more respectful toward each other, and we all have a close trusting bond with each other. We are happy, and even though its a challenge sometimes, it usually means an adjustment of my own attitude, a slightly different approach to accommodate a different situation or personality, or it means I need to help fulfill someone(sometimes my own) need for rest, creativity, or hunger. I would not hit anyone, especially someone younger and smaller, in order to bend them to my will-to me that is not love or respect. I will never ever agree with spanking in any situation and refuse to argue it.

And yes, every child is different. But there are a thousand and one different gentle ways to discipline, set boundaries for, and respond to the needs, of a child. Put on your big girl/boy hat, do a little research, and find a way that honors the child and creates more peace for everyone for the long term.

Do you wonder if I was spanked or my husband?I remember a couple times. I remember feeling confused. Did I turn out just fine? No, I have issues that I work on an so does my husband. When stressed I’m easily frustrated, angered, and annoyed. I often feel/felt shame, insecurity, and embarrassment. These are not just from spankings. I have other experiences that have shaped me. The way a caregiver treats a child doesn’t entirely do the shaping of the child, but it plays a humongous part. Eventually I’ll be able to work though my issues because I choose to-I’ve worked thru many already. I’d like to give my kids the benefit of a healthy physical, emotional, and mental life from the start.




Posted in Attachment Parenting, Baby Cubs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on And I Turned Out Just Fine

Unschooling a Teen part 1

Here’s a message I sent my teen daughter about my plan to facilitate more in her learning experience. Part 2 will talk more in detail about the subjects I hope to expose to her and why I think its important.

I’ve come up with a plan to take a more active role in your education. The purpose of unschooling is to let the child discover her own passions and encourage her to learn as much as she can about those passions. The parent guides the child by introducing her to experiences and subjects. The parent assists the child by providing her with tools, books, lessons, and other sources of learning. When we first started unschooling it was a learning process and most the “rules” I have about unschooling were not yet formed. I was a little concerned at first because you weren’t going to be learning things in the same order that school kids your age would be learning them. But I learned that’s okay, there is no set time line to learn certain things. Given enough ambitions anything can be learned in a relatively short time. For instance the child doesn’t need multiplication on its own but if she wants to, its fairly easy to learn them and commit to memory for either a short time, or longer if she is using the tables on a regular basis. While learning about unshchooing I also liked the idea that you’d be learning subjects as they intertwined with each other. You wouldn’t be learning History on a timeline but rather as it pertained to other areas of interest. For instance while watching Doctor Who you’ve been introduced to historical characters and events. Researching those further has given you a better perspective of history at that time then learning it from a textbook. As we’ve grown in unschooling we’ve grown as a family and we’ve grown as individuals.

This is a great way to learn, to learn to love learning, and really excel at what you love. If done right the child has the opportunity to learn more and in a deeper capacity then a schooled child. Even though its child-led it is parent fascilitated. Its my responsibility to expose the child to many things, observe what excites, communicate about further learning, and help find resources to learn more. However, I’ve been lacking for the past few years in my part of being your guide. I’ve been preoccupied with other responsibilities and the places my own life has taken me. Sometimes life happens though and the path we expect to take often turn into new paths. Having one little one to take care of is challenging enough but add another one that’s close in age and the difficulty doesn’t just double, it quadruples. Because I’ve been busy just trying to maintain some order and take care of two busy little ones, I’ve left a lot of your learning to you. This isn’t exactly bad:You’ve taken it to some interesting places that I would never have expected. I’m proud of the things you’ve learned, the progress you’ve made, and the relationships you’ve made. Even though I haven’t been able to focus entirely on you I’ve helped in little ways here and there. We have had experiences and I have exposed to you many things without expectation, Steampunk for instance. Now that I have more opportunity, its time to start facilitating your learning more. I’d like to be more active in your learning. Even with a new baby, I’ll still be able to help more since it won’t be two toddlers with little self-control that I have to constantly monitor. Plus we have a few months to implement some habits and somewhat of a schedule.

Here are my suggestions so far. Each day I’ll send you a message with an “assignment”. This just means that I’ve found something to read or watch that I think might interest you. It will be something that doesn’t take up much time. But it is something I want you to give a chance. Read/watch it and think about it. It might be something that pertains to our lives now or just something that I think could interest you in the future. It will also be something that interests me-something I am learning or something that I think is important to know to function in the world as an individual or in a group. At some point in the week, or a couple points, we’ll talk about the assignment. As with most things that  interest you, you’ll continue to explore the things you want to learn more about. Talking about it with me will give me more of an idea if I should help you in further study and in finding more information on it. However there are things that I will send you to read/watch that I just believe are important to at least be exposed to. I’ll talk more about them in another message. These are things that you need know because it will help you function either in this family or out in the world. Of course all your learning isn’t done by reading but it will help you better understand certain things. For instance I will be sending you info on child development. With that information you’ll better be able to understand your siblings and how I’ve chosen to raise you and them.

I think its important for me to do this because you are the age where you do need to start learning a little more about the world, how it works, how it should work, what makes people tick, how you can be happy in any situation, how to function in group settings, and how to be a strong individual. Of course none of these things are actually learned strictly through reading or watching. Most learning is done through experience. But I can learn a little more about where to guide you through exposing you to ideas and subjects. You do learn a lot of  things from the stuff you already watch and learn. But the stuff I send you might be from a view point that you are not often exposed to through regular media. Especially when it comes to history and economics and politics. Most media is slanted a way that I prefer not be stuck in your head. So I’ll be sending you lots of links of a more honest history and a government as it should be.

I know that you are also the type of person that needs some prodding and encouragement to begin things as well as carry them through. I’ll do my best to gently remind you to do these things. We can talk about and decide what you’d like me to do to  help you on  your learning journey.

Posted in Attachment Parenting, lessons for adults, Unschooling | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Unschooling a Teen part 1

The Lost Balloon

*This is a re-post form my previous blog. The emotions of children have been on my mind lately and something I plan to address more in following posts”


One of my favorite segments I found about improving a relationship with your kids:
‎”There is nothing wrong with wanting to be your child’s friend. Do what it takes to earn their friendship – be supportive and kind and honest and trustworthy and caring and generous and loyal and fun and interesting and interested in them …and all the other things that good friends are to each other. Be the best 40 year old friend you can be (or whatever age you are). People use “I’m the parent, not a friend,” as an excuse to be mean, selfish, and lazy. Instead, be the adult in the friendship. Be mature.You’ve BEEN a five-year-old and your child has not been a forty-year-old, so you have an advantage in terms of long-term and wider perspective. Use that advantage to be an even better friend. You know how to be kinder and less self-centered and you know how beneficial it is to put forth the effort.”

“ALL THE THINGS THAT GOOD FRIENDS ARE TO EACH OTHER” That is profound. Whenever I catch myself feeling the need to say something catty to my kids I try to remember that we parents have the opportunity to be our kids’ first really great friend. A friend who trusts, respects, and is honest yet compassionate.

ZoraJane experienced her first truly great loss. She was emotionally attached to a blue balloon. She took it outside and away it went. To me it was just a balloon: unworthy of my love and easily replaceable. At first I wanted to shrug my shoulders and blow it off-tell her that that’s what happens when you don’t hold onto your balloon. But I am 30 something. She is two and a half and her pain was very real and very deep. I reminded myself how I want to be treated by a loved one when I am grief stricken. I held her as she sobbed, listened to her and validated her sadness, “I know, your balloon went bye bye, and it makes you sad.”. And only when she was done crying would I tell her she could play with her sisters balloon, or that we could buy more balloons and this time keep the weight on it, or direct her to other toys. Throughout the evening, between her times of calmness and play she’d remember the agony of losing her balloon. She’d break down in tears. I let her go through the mourning process with compassion. Sure I was getting tired, I wanted her to realize that the balloon wasn’t coming back and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I wanted her to be over it. Yet I also felt her sadness too. I listened to her heart instead of my nagging inner voice. I let her feel.

Some parents want to distract their kids to stop the crying. That seems a little more compassionate then my response. But its still stopping them from letting the pain dissolve. I don’t want my kids to learn that their pain should be stopped with shiny new things or a dulling high. I don’t want to fix all their problems. In fact, I want them to learn to come up with their own solutions. Though, as with any good friendship I want to provide them with possible solutions that they can choose for themselves whether or not to implement. I want to help them see other perspectives yet follow their own inner guide to do what they feel is right. And I certainly don’t want to shut them up because its inconvenient to me or I’m sick of hearing their wails.

Or a parent may want them to be tough, take it like a man, or to cowboy-up…this is more along the lines of my initial reaction to my child’s hurts. Those parents are going to have to live with a kid who buries the negative feelings. Feelings that will probably resurface in another form sooner or later. Or they have to deal with their kids not trusting them when they get into a tough situation. I can’t stand the thought of my kids feeling like they have to suffer alone. Or worse that they shouldn’t experience pain at all. Pain is part of the human experience but its also a spiritual one as well. It helps us relate to and feel compassion for fellow humans, it makes us appreciate the good times, and it often opens our eyes and leads to new paths and new friendships. Being able to cry releases the pain and helps us move on and a parent who lets their kid cry will build trust.

And why is it that my first response is one of meanness? What happened in my own development? Where along the line did I loose my freedom to express my emotions without shame? I’m pretty sure my mom didn’t give me mean reactions to my suffering? I’m not sure I need to know but I am pretty sure I need to shut that nagging voice the hell up so that I can react in a way that allows my kids to trust me and trust themselves.

I can see how my relationship with my oldest is changing too. I’ve always been open arms when she is sad. And as a child she’s had her physical and emotional hurts. But only recently have I let her experience anger, frustration, and angst without shaming her or telling her to get over it-Or just as bad, trying to impart some great wisdom that took me years to learn-like “only you can choose to stay in that negative place” or “why don’t you think of some positives about that situation”. Instead I’ve been practicing validating her as well. As a little kid the adults in her life would often control or manipulate her to get a behavior out of her that was more to their liking-myself included. She hasn’t had the same freedoms to express herself that I’ve learned to give the babies from an earlier age. Adeline has spent many of her kid years being reprimanded and being shamed into being nice and respectful. Or made to feel inadequate in her ability to learn things on her own. Or stupid for not learning the things at the same time and in the same manner as schooled kids. Basically she’s spent a lot of time feeling like she’s not had any control or freedom.
I’ve been learning to let her find her power. And she’s getting it back. This doesn’t mean she’s always nice or in a good mood. It means she feels like she has the freedom to truly feel what she is truly feeling and to express it without being made to feel bad. Instead of telling her to be nice I tell her kindly if she hurts my feelings and I practice being nice to her and other people. I am encouraging her to make more decisions but talk to her about what I need from her as a member of this family. I’m being more active in helping her find the answers to her questions. I’m just listening when she needs to vent about something-sometimes I offer suggestions for possible solutions, but only when she is in the mood to converse rather than just too vent. And I’m trying to provide her more opportunities to explore her interests-without judgment or expectations. And I’m trying to learn from her too- to actually listen , ask questions, and understand when she tells me about her interests. I’m modeling a desire to learn instead of telling her she needs to learn. And I am learning: About her, about myself, and about all sorts of things I wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.

I want to provide my kids an environment where they can express themselves. Where they can let the feelings move freely through them instead of getting stuck only to resurface later-possible in another form like anger or bitterness that their mother was not compassionate. And I want to provide a home where my kids respect others. This starts with me giving them respect and actively giving others respect. I know its possible and I know it starts with me.

Posted in Attachment Parenting, Baby Cubs, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on The Lost Balloon