"Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better. " King Whitney Jr.

I wish you all a happy, healthy new year filled with challenges that inspire you to make life better! :)



Glitter Graphics, Myspace Graphics, Dress Up Games, Cartoon Dolls from Dolliecrave.com

I hope your holidays are filled with the warmth of love, family, and friendship!



You Are Surrealism

Dreamy and idealistic, you've created a world that is all your own.
It's very likely that you've either dabbled in drugs or are naturally trippy.
You are always trying to push beyond the boundaries of your culture and society.
You believe that art, love, and freedom can change the world.


What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz




"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." Albert Einstein

"The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men." Martin Luther King, Jr.

I want to scream sometimes when I hear someone say, "Scientists say....", or "The latest studies show....," to justify some point they're making, when they really have no idea about the research behind what they're talking about. It's as if science is viewed as infallible, the new "God" to which some people look for all their guidelines for living. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, science still has a long way to go. There is still so much left to be discovered, so much of life that has not been measured and labeled and quantified. And maybe it never will be.

In the meantime, I will continue to grow spiritually and think critically about religion AND science, with my eyes wide open.


Have A Cuppa, For Free?

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article from The American Spectator:

Of course, anyone actually advocating a "public coffee" monopoly would need round-the-clock police protection. We all understand that it would be a terrible idea. But we need to acknowledge is that it is also a terrible idea in the far more important area of education.

There is no question that education has an important public dimension, but that does not mean that it is best provided through a government-run monopoly. On the contrary, it's time we realized that the consumer choice and market incentives that have made America a coffee-drinker's paradise over the past decade would do wonders for our children's education, as well.

Grab yourself a cuppa, and read the rest of the article "Centralized Cappuccino here:
http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10623 .

It's pretty clear how easily the freedom of choice is taken away from children, but would is considered ludicrous in the "adult" realm. .............. Yet another reason that I'm grateful for the freedom that our unschooling life affords our children.



I recently discovered this wonderful site: http://www.enjoyparenting.com/. The man who runs the the site, Scott Noelle, is an unschooling parent who helps other parents in trying to achieve more joy in their parenting. One way that he does this is through a brief e-mail that you can sign up to receive every day, called "The Daily Groove." Here is the text of one of my favorites so far:

The Daily Groove
Relieving Time Pressure
by Scott Noelle, posted on 2006-11-03

You enjoy parenting most when you feel expansive and flowing — the way you feel when you're not under any kind of pressure.

One of the most common pressures of modern life is time pressure: having to be somewhere or do something by a certain time. Young children naturally live in the moment, not by the clock, so subjecting them to time pressure usually leads to discord.

To reduce time pressure in your daily groove...

Decide that geniality (feeling good) is more important than punctuality (being 'right').

Don't agree to be on time — build flexibility into your agreements. ("I'll be there around 7:00-ish.")

When you really want to be on time to an appointment, give yourself LOTS of extra cushion time — just accept that life with kids is less "efficient."

Don't rush when you're late — call and renegotiate! For all you know, the person you're meeting may be late, too.

When you can get away with it, don't make plans at all! Enjoy living spontaneously!

Enjoy your parenting more, check out this site today!


Art Appreciation

I love art. I could go on and on about it, but instead here's some of the recent art I've enjoyed on my refrigerator.

These were created by my youngest son and daughter using Magnetti strips, flexible magnetic strips. They are so much fun, and so inviting. Many guests have been tempted and have created their own masterpieces when they come over to visit. I highly recommend getting your own set of Magnettis. They are guaranteed to provide hours of open-ended creative expression, or ART, for all to enjoy!




Inspiration comes in many forms, from many sources, but most often in my life it arises from personal connections. It seems that I have had a year of inspiration focused on joy and gratitude. My gratitude has been ever more focused on the gift of simply being alive. I'm frequently reminded of a song by one of my favorite groups, Reliant K, in which they sing, "It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive."

Most recently, I was inspired to create some art for a "Day of the Dead" art trade, for a wonderful on-line group that I belong to. This group, called the "Imagination Tribe", exists to support and inspire its members in their creative pursuits, and does it ever! Anyway, I started with a rough draft, which depicted a little view of what I think a Day of the Dead(DOTD) celebration might look like in Mexico. I never made the final piece of Art for the trade, however, because I was inspired to do something else.

The DOTD celebrations coincide with the Catholic church's celebrations of All Saint's Day (Nov.1) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2), so I decided to incorporate all the "celebrations" to create our own family tradition. We made small skulls out of clay and decorated them brightly, similar to the sugar skulls made in Mexico. There is one for each member of our family as a symbol of our own mortality; to remind us that life is precious. and that death is a part of life. Then I made a folio with a saint's story and picture for each person in our family. I chose a saint with the same or similar name to each person, and we read their stories on All Saints Day. My daughter said, "My saint rocks!" after hearing the story of Saint Angela de Merici. :)

On All Souls Day, I set up our own "altar" with the saint folios, the skulls, photos of deceased family members, and something memorable about the family members in the photos, as well as a candle for each person we were remembering. There was also an honored guest on the altar, Hannah. Hannah's mother, Diana, has so graciously shared herself and her daughter with so many. We did not know Hannah before, but I am blessed by the life that she lived and amazed by the joyous effect she continues to have in this world. I am so grateful to be a part of her continuing journey.

The altar was set up on our dining room buffet, so that during dinner, the candles were lit and we shared stories and memories about our loved ones who were gone from this life, but still with us in our hearts. We remembered how their lives inspired us to be, or not to be. ;) I found myself feeling thankful for the time we had with our family "back then", and even more grateful for this minute....with our family right here..... right now. It was a night of inspiration, connections, and gratitude.




Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything. — Floyd Dell



One of the most rewarding, and sometimes most difficult, things to do as a parent is to say "yes" to our children. Society makes it easy for parents, encourages parents, to say no to children. Limits are seen as necessary and desirable. I am so glad to have learned that "yes" is not a dirty word to shelter my children from. In fact, the more creative I am in finding ways to say yes to them, the more I find that I am really saying yes to myself and to life itself.

I recently read a poignant letter in one of my favorite catalogues about this very idea. It is titled, "Say Yes When It Matters," and you can read it here: http://www.femailcreations.com/girl_talk.aspx . I think it is a good illustration why saying "yes"as much as possible is vital to a full, joyful life for ourselves, AND our children. I believe that when you're a parent, every "yes" matters.



This bright orange type is a reminder of the bright orange conference shirts from this year. They were so cheery and bright. You're sure to see a few in the following pictures. Here is just a sampling of some of the fun:



It has been several weeks since our family returned from Albuquerque, NM, where we attended the 5th annual Live & Learn Unschooling Conference. It was much anticipated, and will be long remembered, just as the 3 previous conferences we attended were. They have become the our "re-fueling" pit stops along our unschooling journey. At the end of each conference, we are energized by having been surrounded by so many others who "get it".

There is no other place where our whole family can go and each person finds activities and companions to meet their needs - all at the same time!!! (Not the whole time mind you, but a large portion of the time.) Other times, we are more comfortable than anywhere else to just "Be". We can be our true selves without fear of misunderstanding, or judgement, or criticism. Without needing to "defend" our lifestyle choices, we can more open to learning about ourselves, others, and everthing around us. The conferences are like an explosion of learning in all those areas. With all the funshops, the conference talks, the socializing, the sharing, it's like at least a month of living all rolled into just a few days.

The most wonderful thing about the conference for me, is seeing all the REAL LIFE unschooling families interacting with each other, seeing the ideals I value being practiced in reality, with awe-inspiring results. I get to see the living proof that I am not reaching for some unattainable dream with my family. I see that living a life free of school, a life where children are given the respect they deserve, a life of conscious choices towards peace and happiness, is not only possible, but is being very successfully LIVED TODAY. And there are as many ways to live such a life as there are families. Being around all those different families helps broaden my (and my husband's) perspective on what the possibilities really are. There are more ways to make unschooling work in your family than it might appear at first, just like anything else. I think this is where the creativity of unschoolers really shines, in how each family goes about making this lifestyle choice work for them.

I recently read an essay by Gloria Steinem on the NPR website entitled, "A Balance Between Nature and Nurture". http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4805246&sc=emaf&sc=emaf I was surprised to find out that Gloria Steinem had been essentially "unschooled" herself, never attending a formal school until the age of twelve. She gives a poignant description of the effect of school on her life. But the reason I bring this article up here is the following passage:

"But the real answer is a balance between nature and nurture. What would happen if we listened to children as much as we talked to them? Or what would happen if even one generation were raised with respect and without violence?
I believe we have no idea what might be possible on this "Space Ship Earth."

When I read this, I immediately thought, I have an idea of what is possible, and the reason I do is because I was just at the Live and Learn Conference. I saw hundreds of children who are being raised with respect, who are being listened to, who are being raised without violence as a family dynamic. The results are just as wonderful as one would hope: kids of all ages peacefully playing and hanging out together; kids and adults joyfully hanging out together; kids and adults learning from and with each other, enjoying being together in all types of activities; "packs" of happy teenagers who are comfortable conversing with adults; people who KNOW their are many possible solutions to every challenge. This is just a glimpse of what is possible, so I guess I don't really know the full extent of what is possible. But as unschooling continues to flourish, count me in!



I tried to teach my child with books;
He gave me only puzzled looks.
I tried to teach my child with words;
They passed him by, often unheard.
Despairingly, I turned aside;
“How shall I teach this child?” I cried.
Into my hand he placed the key;
“COME,” he said, “PLAY WITH ME!”

Author Unknown (to me, at least)



Food plays a huge role in the learning and living at our home. Part of this is due to having a dad who is a pastry chef. His expansive knowledge about food and creative genius in the kitchen is a joy to behold. We are quite lucky that he enjoys sharing his passion with us. There have been countless times, from when the kids were toddlers even, that they have participated in preparing meals and desserts. Along the way, they have learned about different ingredients and how they react with each other, measuring, different cultural favorites, different preparation techniques, and soooo much more. I can't overemphasize the amount of creativity involved in many of these endeavors either.

I am also surprised by some of the foods that my children are willing to taste, things that I never would have at their age. They have eaten duck, lamb, sushi, pate, gizzards, asparagus, brussel sprouts, tofu, edamame, and much more. Some things are quickly dismissed, but others have become favorites. I love that my children can choose from such a wide variety of foods to find their favorites. I know of families who have a fairly set dinner menu, with the same items for certain days of the week, every week. How boring!!! I try to buy at least one totally new item each time I go food shopping. It is through our culinary adventures that we have discovered so many new things about the world and ourselves.

Another benefit of our food consumption, is the way in which we consume. We tend to have family dinners together. It is a bonding time for us, and a time for sharing tradition too. We do have some traditional meals, like almost always tomato sauce on Sundays (the pasta varies), turkey and fixings on Thanksgiving, roast beef and spaghetti alioli on Christmas eve. Birthday dinners are always the choice of the birthday person, and from a young age, our kids have had pretty expensive tastes! Our six year old has had crab legs for the last two years, but had lobster the year before that. (You can just imagine our food bill.)

Our latest food "lessons" have come from visiting the newest Whole Foods Market near us, making our own pizzas, and making and sharing Amish friendship bread. At the Whole Foods Market, we were fortunate to be there on a sample day, and we tried many delicious organic items, including frozen yogurt, chips, veggie chips, and an "energy" drink. We also got to make our own almond butter, peanut butter, and honey-roasted peanut butter-mmmmm! In making our own pizzas at home, Dad showed us the secrets of tossing the dough, and we got to top it exactly as we wanted (not too much sauce). The friendship bread we have been making came from someone at Dad's work. They gave us the "starter", which is basically sugar, milk, and flour. We have to "mush" it every day for a few days, then "freshen it" with more flour, milk, and sugar, and then in a few more days, we can divide it up into more starter and bake with it. It makes a delicious cinnamon bread, and we saw how fermentation works, and what can be used instead of yeast in bread! Cool, huh?

Most recently though, meaning last night, my daughter decided that she wants to try being vegetarian, like her one of her good friends. We told her that would be fine, as long as she makes sure to learn about it, and take good care of meeting her nutritional needs. A little while later she came running in to me saying she printed up several pages of info. all about being a vegetarian and what she has to eat. She had looked it up on the internet, and found information specifically for teens (my daughter is 9 years old). So I guess that's where the food curriculum is taking us next - nutrition and vegetarianism! I'm hungry for more!


My View of Wannado

(the simulated fossil dig)

Yesterday we went to visit Wannadocity(http://www.wannadocity.com/) , advertised as the placed where kids can "do what you wanna do". It is like an entire city, scaled down to "kid" size, and made so that kids can participate in all the "adult" activities, like working at various jobs, having a bank account, shopping, etc. I liked the concept in that it provided opportunities for things that most kids will never get to try because of age restrictions (such as having an ATM card, and practicing an appendectomy). But some things about the place were really upsetting to me.

For most of the activities, the kids had to wait in line. Each activity was set in a prescribed, scripted way, with little room for extra exploration or questioning. It was like, "Here it is. Be amazed. Have fun. Now move on." Also, the kids went by themselves with the guides behind closed doors much of the time. They would state, this is for "kidizens" only. When I pressed an employee, saying I wanted to take pictures of what they were doing, he said he would call me in once things were "set up". Basically, the kids get a little intro first, then they get to do something. I was called in, and the young man working there said that they keep the parents out because they want the kids to be doing it all, they don't want the kids to get distracted by the parents or running to the parents. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't like that attitude. It reminded me of all the articles I've read lately that demean involved parents of school children by calling them "helicopter parents".

The atmosphere of the whole place was very much like a themepark, right down to the piped in music. You know the kind, with the dramatic building up to a climax, leading the listener to thinking, "This is gonna be great!!!!" There were even fake bird whistles in the trees. It was driving me crazy. I was literally covering my ears trying to drown it out at one point. In general, the noise level was equal to that of a fair, or theme park too, making it difficult to communicate at times. Of course there was the obligatory gift shop /exit, too.

At one point, my 6 year old wanted to be a detective. He went in to the "Detective Agency" get the details of his case and came back out, not quite sure of what he was to do. I think it would have been more beneficial if I could have been there to help him. I followed him around. We found one clue......I think. Then when we went back to the "crime lab" we were instructed to go on the computer and put in our info. Having no idea what that meant, I went on for my son, took a guess at who the criminal was, and was told I was right. I wonder if the computer says every guess is right.

Some of the activities were pretty cool, like: getting to ride on the firetruck and put out a simulated fire with firehoses; the rock climbing wall; the simulated surgery. But other activities were just plain lame. At "The Cookery", kids waited in line, then paid 20 wongas (Wannadocity currency) to decorate a sugar cookie. The women cut and baked the cookies right in front of everyone. Then one cookie, with a dollop of frosting , and a teaspoon of various sprinkles were put on a paper plate for each child. The kids filed in, sat at the cookie bar, decorated their cookies, ate them, and that was it! I know that schools do this all the time. This is called a cooking activity, but it has very little, if anything to do with cooking! The pizza making activity was pretty similar, except you had to pay $5 (real money) for the pizza, and the kids got to choose their toppings. These are activities in which the real-life experience of my children far outweighs the simulations of Wannadocity.
(Proud display of personally-made pepperoni pizza)

That is, I guess, my main problem with the place. I think kids should be allowed to do and experience as many of these things in the real world as possible. Understandably, some things aren't possible, but far more are possible than people realize. If a child wants to see a surgery, there are lots on TV now. Sometimes it is possible to view surgeries at university hospitals. If you know professionals in fields that your child is interested in, they might be able to give you more insight and/or access than you would imagine.

It was also disappointing how Wannadocity supports the division between adults and children. By preventing the adults and children from experiencing the activities together, they help to widen the rift between the "adult world" and children's worlds. Some adults, like myself really like to play along side our children, and learn alongside them too. But sadly, many adults have difficulty remembering how to play, or even interacting with children at all. Maybe they would learn to play and have fun with their children in a setting like this, that is more "adult". The division between the adult and child worlds was overemphasized, where it could have been an opportunity to unite. I even became a little nervous at one point when some kids were running around and getting kind of "rough" in their roles as police taking in a criminal. They were really relishing the message that was touted all over the place, "Kids really are in charge." I had visions of "The Lord of the Flies."

HOWEVER, despited all my misgivings and negativity towards the place, my kids really enjoyed it! I guess I successfully kept my opinions to myself, and allowed them to experience it fully on their own terms. I thought they would like the firetruck, but they didn't even want to try it! I thought they would be unhappy with the supermarket experience when they didn't get to be the cashier, but they liked it! It just goes to show that we really do need to let our kids experience the whole world without the overlay of our judgements. And sometimes, we just need to throw out some of our judgements and look at things again with new eyes, the eyes of our children, and just enjoy the view.



What is an unschooling carnival, you ask? Well, it is a place where someone (in this case her name is Joanne) gathers a bunch of blog posts from all different authors, all commenting on one topic of interest, in the same place at the same time. The second installment of this carnival can be accessed by the following link:
The question of the month was , "Do you extend the principles of unschooling to other areas of your child's life?"

Check it out!

Thank you Joanne for putting this together. It's awesome!



Your Hair Should Be Orange

Expressive, deep, and one of a kind.You pull off "weird" well - hardly anyone notices.


Okay, I Admit It, I LOVE Spongebob!

When people dismiss television, and cartoons especially, as a mindless waste of time, I can't help but feel sorry for them. I think how much joyful bonding they could be having with their children. I think of all the laughs they could be having, if they just let themselves, if they just allowed themselves the 'unproductive' time to just sit and watch, they would be pleasantly surprised. I think the biggest surprise for some would be how much can be learned from cartoons.

My favorite cartoon for the last few years has been Spongebob Squarepants. Our family has enjoyed so many laughs and learned so many things from watching that show, that it would be hard to list them all, but I'll give you just I few examples why I think Spongebob is so awesome.

The character of Spongebob is like an eternal optimist. He rarely gets discouraged, but when he does his other emotions are just as huge as his happiness. He has passion for life! He approaches everything with enthusiasm. Even at his job as a frycook, Spongebob strives to be the absolute best he can be, and he takes satisfaction in a job well done. He is truly happy with the simple things in life, like friendship and bubbles. Numerous episodes show his disregard of money. Spongebob is a generous and loyal friend, kind to everyone, even the 'evil' Plankton. He is able to see the good in everyone, and often brings out the good in everyone, whether they like it or not (like Squidward).

If all my kids learned from watching Spongebob was how to be enthusiastic, optimistic, kind, loyal, generous, or a conscientious employee, that would be pretty good! BUT, they learn so much more. There is the content of each storyline, with the references to things in real life that we discuss that add even more depth to the value of this cartoon. Just today, they were quoting one of the characters, Patrick, saying, "The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma." Quite a mouthful, huh? Of course, I couldn't let that go by without talking to them about it, and after the discussion, the humor was appreciated even more by them. (After saying this, the cartoon shows a carton of milk spilling on a table inside Patrick's head. )

One of my daughter's friends told me that there was talk at her school about trying to have Spongebob banned! I want to cry when I hear talk of banning anything in this day and age, but this cartoon? I couldn't imagine why. When I asked the girl, she said it had something to do with an episode where he ripped his pants. Well, I've seen the offending episode numerous times, and the moral is "Be yourself if you want people to like you." Spongebob got a laugh the first few times he ripped his pants, so he kept playing practical jokes until he went too far and everyone had enough. At the end, he sings a corny song realizing his error, and everything is all better. How that is offensive is beyond me.

What offends me, quite frankly, is the look I get from some people when I tell them I love Spongebob. I want to tell them to just grow up, I mean loosen up, I mean wise up, I mean --- just watch it, maybe you'll like it.


Betcha Can't Guess What This Is!

Betcha Can't Guess What This Is!

No, it's not a clementine crate painted white, lined with a dish towel, holding an empty oreo tray, filled with broken comb teeth that are floating in water! Good try, though. It's Angelica and Joseph's "baby pet fish". It's a little hard to tell from the picture whose side is whose, but there is an "A" on one side and a "J" on the other, just to keep 'em straight.

I am constantly amazed at how my children turn the ordinary things in our lives into props for their imaginary worlds. Anything and everything has a potential use for them, therefore, I have to look very carefully at everything around our house before I even think about picking it up or throwing it out. My older son's stray paintball was given a carefully crafted toilet paper nest, and surprisingly a few days later it had BB babies! Tiny cut scraps of paper that were obviously leftovers, were not. They were money, or food for horses, or snow (once they were mixed with water and put in the freezer).

I enjoy and celebrate that my children have such creative abilities. I also think that the amount of free time and access to things that they are allowed, fosters their creativeness. We have had friends over whose parents won't let them build forts with all the blankets and the kitchen table, who have their kids do "crafts" at school because they don't want the mess at home, and who don't let their kids play in the rain. Their lives are all about order, and schedules,and control. They are not free to create.

I pray that my children will always keep their creativity, and the joy they receive from creating.

40% nORMAL?!

That's what the results of the quiz said. I guess that's pretty good. Isn't it?

I mean, for a woman who stays at home with her children full-time and doesn't work outside the home, who is a practicing catholic married to her high school sweetheart, who keeps her children out of school and lets them direct their own lives.......I am surprised I scored any points for normality. <:o



You are 40% Normal

While some of your behavior is quite normal......Other things you do are downright strange. You've got a little of your freak going on, but you mostly keep your weirdness to yourself.
How Normal Are You?



I am so grateful for my life, for being able to use my body to walk and swim and jump and dance and sing and climb stairs and sooooooo much more.

I am grateful for the gift of faith which has carried me through difficult times and given me the courage to change and grow.

I am grateful for my husband, whose devotion to our children matches my own. I am grateful that he is willing to work hard and yet knows how to play. I am grateful for all that he has added to my life, all that I have learned from him, and for the opportunity I have had to be there for him.

I am grateful for my children, without whom I cannot even imagine what I would be doing now. I am grateful that I am able to live and learn alongside them everyday, and for who I am becoming by being their mother.

I am grateful that my children are alive and healthy today.

I am grateful that I live in my own home, where I feel relatively safe, and I can sleep each night without fear of losing my life or belongings.

I am grateful that all our basic needs are met as a family, so that we are able to share with others.

I am grateful to have friends whom I know I could call in an emergency.

I am grateful that our family has made it safely through 3 major hurricanes in the last 2 years!

I'm grateful for my past, even the bad stuff, because all of it led me to where I am today.

I am grateful for having worked in the field of occupational therapy. I was fortunate to work with so many amazing people, who showed me that every life is valuable, no matter how compromised it may appear.

I am grateful for having worked with Hope, who survived a botched abortion.

I am grateful that I haven't "arrived" yet. I am glad to still be on a journey, still learning and growing.



"No human right, except the right to life itself, is more fundamental than this. A person's freedom of learning is part of his freedom of thought, even more basic than his freedom of speech. If we take from someone his right to decide what he will be curious about, we destroy his freedom of thought. We say, in effect, you must think not about what interests and concerns you, but about what interests and concerns us.
We might call this the right of curiosity, the right to ask whatever questions are most important to us. As adults, we assume that we have the right to decide what does or does not interest us, what we will look into and what we will leave alone. We take this right largely for granted, cannot imagine that it might be taken away from us. Indeed, as far as I know, it has never been written into any body of law. Even the writers of our Constitution did not mention it. They thought it was enough to guarantee citizens the freedom of speech and the freedom to spread their ideas as widely as they wished and could. It did not occur to them that even the most tyrannical government would try to control people's minds, what they thought and knew. That idea would come later, under the benevolent guise of compulsory universal education."

excerpt from John Holt's "Escape From Childhood"

The 4th of July has become an increasingly significant holiday to me. I have come to recognize and appreciate more fully with each passing year how much freedom we really have in our lives, and how precious it is. This day is one in which I am filled with gratitude for the all the freedoms that most Americans are celebrating, but even more so, I am grateful for the freedom I am able to offer my children.

As unschoolers, my children have more freedom than most children their ages, freedom to pursue their own interests. Their time is not dominated by school. They truly are free to think and learn in the most natural and efficient way possible, as a by product of all their delight-driven activities. The wonderful bonus for an unschooling parent is that I get to be witness to, participate in, or provide the catalyst for all this fun, AND I get to learn right along with them!

God Bless America!



It has been an entire year since I started this blog, and I managed to post a whole 4 times. Wooohooo!

I'm taking it as a good indicator that my life has been so full that I haven't had much time to post. Yeah.....that's it.

Let's see, how can I sum up this past year?

Well...........here are some highlights since the last summary of "happenings" in Sept. '05:

****In September and October we had lots more first-hand hurricane education via Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.----We felt so awful for the Katrina victims. We had to do SOMETHING, so the kids and I made "Health Kits" to send to the victims, that contained essential toiletries in individual zip-loc bags. We hoped it would help some people feel better. Then we had our own experience evacuating to Grandma's again, this time for Hurricane Wilma. We lost power for about 5 days, but fortunately had little damage to our home and we were safe. We went through the FEMA help lines to get water and food the first few days, and got to experience MREs, which Angelica & Joseph thought were really cool and kinda good!

****We attended the annual Live&Learn Unschooling Conference in St. Louis in early Oct. It was extra special this year because we had friends from home join us there as well, AND we were the winners of the raffle prize for free registration for next years conference! Angelica and her friend performed a ribbon dance to a Green Day song in the talent show, and Joseph showed some of his newly aquired Karate moves to the always appreciative crowd. We also saw some amazing sights in the St. Louis area, including the St. Louis Zoo(www.stlzoo.org), the Cahokia Mounds(www.cahokiamounds.com), the original Big Foot truck(www.bigfoo4x4.com), an awesome skatepark in nearby St. Charles(www.historicstcharles.com), and the unbelievable City Museum(www.citymuseum.org).

(the St. Charles Skate Park)

****We celebrated both Angelica's and Joseph's birthdays in November, since we didn't have our power back yet for Angelica's birthday. Tom had completed building his half-pipe in the backyard and was skating it almost daily. We went to see "Break! The Urban Funk Spectacular" at the Kravis Center with Grandma. That spurred quite a bit of dancing around here.

****December was dominated by Christmas preparations and celebrations. Angelica went on her annual trip to NYC with Grandma and her cousin. She loved ice skating at Rockerfeller Plaza. One of the most exciting gifts this year was the 14ft. trampoline from Grandma & Grandpa in NY. It has been well used and enjoyed ever since we got it. We spent Christmas eve at Grandma and Granpa's house and the kids performed with some friends, as is our tradition. This year MAGIC was the thing. Joseph performed a bunch of tricks from his new magic kit, and Angelica did 3 tricks which she learned from a Christmas Magic book from the library. Then there were the usual songs and jokes, and Grandpop telling "The Night Before Christmas".

****January was spent enjoying all the new toys and gadgets from Christmas. We also went to a local Greek festival, where the kids learned that they really like gyros and greek pastries. It is also the month of my birthday, the month when I received my new laptop computer that I'm typing on right now! Yippeeeeee!

****Hmmmm, what was notable about February? I can't really remember. I think I was probably on the computer whole bunch, LOL. My daughter had been introduced to www.whyville.net, and by Feb. everyone in the house had an account except DH. Then we started with www.piczo.com.
I'm learning alot about computers by just following where my kids lead and helping when they ask. It's been a blast.

****In March, Tom was confirmed in the Catholic Church. It was a rocky road to get there, with his first teacher resigning, and Tom unsure if it was what he really wanted. The Bishop's talk at the ceremony was so awesome. He told the teens that "......from the beginning of time until the end of time, there was no one else exactly like them." (not sure if that's word for word) He told them that they should not feel inadequate by looking at others, because they have shoes that no one else can fill, and if they try to be like others they are giving up what is so special about themselves. Also in March, Tom and Joseph went to Maine for snowboarding and skiing, respectively. It was Joseph's first time, and he loved it. He came back saying he wants to go to Utah skiing because, "that's where the best skiing is." "How would he know that?" I asked Grandma and Grandpop. :)

****May - this is getting too long.

****June-We went to CT to visit Grandma and Grandpa's at their new house. We also got to see our new nephews/cousins, who were only a month apart in age but so different yet both adorable. While visiting, we went to the CT Children's Museum(www.TheChildrensMuseumCT.org), The Rainforest Cafe(www.rainforestcafe.com), Dinosaur State Park(www.dinosaurstatepark.org), UConn's Dairy Barn at Storr's Campus, the Fish Family Farm, and we made our own soda at Avery's Soda Factory(www.averysoda.com). We spent a day in NYC, and visited the Museum of Television and Radio(www.mtr.org), St. Patrick's Cathedral(www.stpatrickscathedral.org), Colony Music Center(www.colonymusic.comCenter), the giant Toys-R-Us in Times Square, the Hershey Store, Beard Papa's Sweet's Cafe - specializing in cream puffs(http://www.muginohousa.com, and Ruby Foos.

There you have it. A summary of the some of the most noteable. Now I will try to keep up with the more mundane, yet often more meaningful things that happen, or happen to cross my mind. ;)



This is certainly an ideal most of us would admit to striving towards. Who would honestly want to use people?! But, alas, who can help but falling in love with their "things"? (Especially with the nearly limitless number of wonderful "things" to own in this day and age.) It is so incidious, however, that most people don't even realize that their things have become more dear to them than people.

As a mother of small children, I frequently get to witness how much more value "things" hold than people, especially if they are little people. The things take on even more importance if they are threatened by the little people. People feel hurt and disrespected when their "things" are not respected and "loved" by others as they think they should be. The owners feel that this gives them free license to disrespect the offending child, and the child's feelings are irrelevant.

My children understand about being careful with other people's property. They know that they are responsible for fixing or replacing something of someone's if they break or lose it. They do not purposefully set out to damage other people's property. So, if in their energetic youthfulness they accidentally damage something, I will not berate them for it. I will help them find a way to remedy the situation and to avoid a recurrance. I don't expect them to respect other people's "things", OR to respect other people who DON'T respect them.

If someone loves their things more than my children, even though they profess otherwise, my kids can see right through their actions to their heart. They will ask to leave places when they know they aren't respected and valued as much as the furniture, and I can hardly blame them.

This is yet another one of the MANY ways in which the simple wisdom of my children is re-educating me daily. Their unpretentious honesty keeps the heart at the heart of ALL matters.



Ask my 14 year old son on any typical day what he's doing, and he's likely to tell you, "Nothing." What causes him to say this, in my opinion, and what aggravates me, is the pervasive disregard in this society for things unseen and unmeasurable.

My son spent 6 years in school being told what he should learn, what he should be doing each minute of the school day, and even with time when he went home. As he did those things, he received feedback that what he did was more or less valuable as noted by grades, praise, criticism, and the like. What he also received was the message that anything unrelated to school was not valuable. It wasn't worth the time, wouldn't garner others' praise and prizes. It wouldn't raise his status in the artificial peer hierarchy of the academic world.

The message of what is valuable was also taught to my son by our consumerism, and the general value of work in our society. Work that doesn't bring in lots of money is poorly regarded. There is little evaluation of the personal fulfillment that work brings, or the moral ideals that it might futher. The greatest example of this is motherhood. Full-time mothers provide one of the most important services to humanity, but their work is often the most disregarded. Don't even get me started about the pay! LOL

Let us not forget the media's role in giving value to our lives. The more media play something gets, the more spectacular it seems, the more status it receives. On a smaller scale, that which is visible is valuable. When someone builds something, or creates something, it's easy to "see" it's value. But what about the things that go unseen? What about washing clothes that will be dirty again in few days? What about feelings? What about ideas? What about practice? What about the internal dialogue that we constantly have that propels us through life? What about the mistakes from which we learn to do better, or differently the next time? Most of these things are not visible to others and might go unnoticed. They could hardly compete with the larger than life promotions of media greatness!

I am fighting against all these messages to prove to my son and the world that the only life worth living, the only valuable life is one in which you are true to yourself. Follow your own interests. Value your own time. Don't let others steal that away from you. If others don't value what you are doing, they are missing out. When I confront my son and tell him all the things he has actually done, he smiles because I think he really knows he is not doing, "nothing". He is doing something, just what he wants to do, and that is SOMETHING.


Boundaries and personal responsibility have been my personal course of study lately. I am letting go of the responsibility I felt for other people's happiness, and holding them responsible for mine. I am learning that setting my own boundaries may make other's uncomfortable, but they are necessary for self-preservation. How someone reacts to my "no" is their responsibility, not mine.

This is especially true when dealing with family. Naturally, my desire is to make them happy, to give to them out of love, but at what cost? Maybe "self-serving" shouldn't be such a negative phrase after all. We serve others all the time. Knowing oneself and one's limits is key, I think. Defining those limits, those boundaries, is what I'm working on.

You would think at 41 years old I would have figured this much out already. Anyway, thankfully I'm still learning. I'm glad to still feel like I'm on a journey instead of stuck at my final destiny!!!