Why Children Need More Freedom

"Keep in mind that it is only when you feel you have the legitimate right to say no that you can say yes with utmost certainty, sincerity, and enthusiasm." taken from Today's Daily Om, "Finding Freedom in NO" (read all of it here)

Wise Reflections from Wild and Precious Ren

I just had to share this wonderful post from fellow unschooler, Ren.

Wild and precious....
A one-way ticket to the grave. That's what we all have. I wrote about it at one of my unschooling lists and then the thought really settled in. Parents of younger children often worry about college, worry about what their children are learning, worry, worry. I understand those heartstrings being pulled so tight you want everything to be perfect for your child. I do.

But I no longer relate to the worry. I no longer understand why college matters so much to some people or judging someone on the kind of job they choose to hold. I don't care if my child makes good money or chooses to drive or not. We've got a one-way pass to the grave people. A pass that can be re-called at any time. In the words of Mary Oliver; "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

(Continue reading at Tea with Ren)


Friday Fill-in

1. I have a history of self-sabotage.

2. The answer is something I wish I knew.

3. I'm eating (or recently ate) peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat toast.

4. I really would like to live my life on the road (for a little while, anyway).

5. So that's it, that's your final decision?

6. Something IS definitely better than nothing!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to making some yummy yellow split-pea soup. Tomorrow my plans include going to Stitch Rock, and Sunday I want to go with my husband and kids to see Zombieland!


Where I'm From

I am from 70's sitcoms, from Popsicles and swingsets.

I am from the cheery pink bedroom with daisy wallpaper, infused with Tinkerbell perfume.

I am from the lilac bushes with their heart shaped leaves and the weeping willow tree that

perpetually shed it's branches.

I am from Sunday pasta and perfectionism, from Judy and Florence and Irma.

I am from the cleaners and the gardeners.

From "You're so lucky," and "Eat something. You'll feel better."

I am from the pure white communion dress and veil, the converted Catholic mother and agnostic grandmother. I am from "God is love."

I'm from Portland, Maine and the hardy New Englanders and the Polish Pennsylvanians, pressure-cooked vegetable and peirogis. From the grandmother who walked miles to work in the shoe factory, the mother who walked as far to bring her an umbrella on rainy days, and the grandmother who worked at Grant's and played Yahtzee until the wee hours of the morning with her mother.

I am from the black and white photos and tintypes in my grandmother's attic. I am from the scrapbooks and photos waiting in my bedroom. I am from the boxes of momentos and cards tucked in my closets. I am from the poems and journals from my youth that are hidden safely away.
If you want to share your story, the template is here.


Friday Fill-in

1. That's a union that's meant to be.

2. Hey all you friends/family visiting Florida; I'm over here!

3. The possibilities include: bagels, waffles, pancakes, eggs, cereal, and hotpockets.

4. Beef stew is one of my favorite cool day recipes.

5. How will you know if you don't ask?

6. If a hurricane passes through, you're guaranteed big winds and a stormy sky.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to being packed and ready for another trip. Tomorrow my plans include flying to Portland, ME and on Sunday I want to start my transformation at Canyon Ranch!


Friday Fill-in

1. I feel so very blessed.

2. Travelling to new places is (almost) always fun.

3. Right now, I can hear these things: guns shooting (a video game) and paper folding.

4. I just found some college friends on Facebook and I'm glad I could connect with them again.

5. The last time I talked to Sue(college friend mentioned above) was about five years ago.

6. I plan to not labor this Labor day weekend.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to my husband coming home after work. Tomorrow my plans include possibly taking my daughter to a new dance school, and Sunday I want to do whatever I feel like doing!


Friday Fill-in

Bridgton, ME August 2009
1. I remember, I remember dancing in the dark of Spit/DV8 in Boston and loving it.

2. Dear Mom, Grandma & Grandpop, Grandmother & Grandpop, Nana & Pap Pap I want you to know that I am so grateful that you were a part of my life and I will never forget you.

3. Is that my ass!!???

4. I'm trying to resist the temptation of ......Who am I kidding? I can't resist temptation. ;P

5. I'm saving a hug just for you!

6. If I made a birthday list a weekly floor cleaning service would definitely be on it!!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to The John Wurm Benefit Concert. Tomorrow my plans include going to my son's Tae Kwan Do belt test, and on Sunday I want to eat some yummy raviolis with homemade tomato sauce.


Friday Fill-in #133

1. Eggs and noodles make a quick and easy dinner.

2. He Speaks to Me is the book I'm reading right now.

3. July brings back memories of being very pregnant and waiting until the 28th to finally deliver my firstborn son (due on the 8th).

4. Her disappointment in me was obvious.

5. They say if you tell your dreams to the universe, they will come true.

6. Give yourself time to think it over.

7. As for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing the laundry. Tomorrow my plans include going to the sale at Plato's Closet, and on Sunday I want to create something.


Friday Fill-in

1. I grew up believing there was a law that prohibited marriage until you were 25 years old. (Mom wanted to be sure I finished college first. ;P )
2. Yahoo was the last website I was at before visiting here.
3. Why don't you just let it go?
4. Acceptance helps me relax.
5. Thanks for the advice. I'll keep that in mind.
6. Insincerity is very off-putting.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to grilled scallops. Tomorrow my plans include possibly going to "It's All About Dolphins," and on Sunday I want to make pasta sauce.


Friday Fill-in

TGIF.... or I might never remember to blog! ;P

1. Home sweet, happy, wonderful, loving home. (from the art in our bathroom ;) )

2. My favorite thing for dinner lately is Anna's Pizza.

3. Jimmy Neutron's robot dog, Goddard, says "bark! bark! bark!"

4. A nice long walk along the beach is revitalizing.

5. We could all use a daily dose of some good news. The Good News Network has it. Check it out!

6. When all is said and done it won't really matter at what age you first learned to read or write, or do long division, or any of the millions of things that schools lead you to believe must be accomplished by a certain time lest you be labelled deficient in some way.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing my youngest son take his first belt test in TaeKwanDo. Tomorrow my plans include going to the Home Depot Kids Workshop with my son, and packing for Orlando, and Sunday I want to visit with family in Orlando.


Friday Fill-in #126

1. It's cold and rainy if you live up north. If you live in Florida, it's usually hot and rainy - weird!

2. I love my little cherry tomatoes.

3. My favorite health and beauty product is a lovely lavender Zum Bar of soap.

4. A DVD player and a few Nintendo DSes in the car make for a nice long ride.

5. Well, first of all good grades are not necessarily an inidication of intelligence.

6. I can't quite remember who were the cast of characters in a recent dream, but it was unsettling.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to some yummy homemade chicken soup. Tomorrow my plans include enjoying my lack of plans, and Sunday I want to enjoy some sunshine!


Friday Fill-in #125

1. Moving on up, to the East side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y!

2. Too many people don't realize they're free.

3. My best quality is patient persistence.

4. I'll come up with the great idea, if you work out the details.

5. In nearly 10 years, all three of my children will be able to drive.

6. Intrinsic motivation is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having some money in my wallet. Tomorrow my plans include buying some new paintbrushes for my mother as a birthday gift, and Sunday I want to enjoy a shrimp boil made by my husband!

Learning All the Time

This was in my e-mail inbox this morning. It describes my view of life and learning pretty accurately. It's a wonderful thing to know that you can learn whenever, whatever, and however you want. The prospect fills me with a joy and excitement that I want to share with everyone. This life of learning is better than any single school could ever be, and the only enrollment requirement is to be alive!

A Life of Learning - Earth School

Life is the province of learning, and the wisdom we acquire throughout our lives is the reward of existence. As we traverse the winding roads that lead from birth to death, experience is our patient teacher. We exist, bound to human bodies as we are, to evolve, enrolled by the universe in earth school, an informal and individualized academy of living, being, and changing. Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.

Earth school provides us with an education of the heart and the soul, as well as the intellect. The scope of our instruction is dependent on our ability and readiness to accept the lesson laid out before us in the circumstances we face. When we find ourselves blindsided by life, we are free to choose to close our minds or to view the inbuilt lesson in a narrow-minded way. The notion that existence is a never-ending lesson can be dismaying at times. The courses we undertake in earth school can be painful as well as pleasurable, and as taxing as they are eventually rewarding. However, in every situation, relationship, or encounter, a range of lessons can be unearthed. When we choose to consciously take advantage of each of the lessons we are confronted with, we gradually discover that our previous ideas about love, compassion, resilience, grief, fear, trust, and generosity could have been half-formed.

Ultimately, when we acknowledge that growth is an integral part of life and that attending earth school is the responsibility of every individual, the concept of "life as lesson" no longer chafes. We can openly and joyfully look for the blessing buried in the difficulties we face without feeling that we are trapped in a roller-coaster ride of forced learning. Though we cannot always know when we are experiencing a life lesson, the wisdom we accrue will bless us with the keenest hindsight.

For more information visit dailyom.com
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Friday Fill-in #124

1. If we had no winter, we would never discover the infinite beauty of snowflakes.

2. Being a mother is a perpetual astonishment.

3. If I had my life to live over, I'd rather not. I'm not done with this one yet!

4. A LOT can happen inside of four and twenty hours!

5. If you've never been thrilled by the clouds, I wish that for you.

6. To be interested in the changing seasons is practical for living on Earth.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to at least 8 hours of sleep. Tomorrow my plans include swimming, and Sunday I want to ride my bike to a local park!


The Wonders of the Internet and Critical Thinking

Our unschooling lifestyle is so intimately tied to use of the Internet, I can hardly imagine life without it. I initially learned about unschooling, and continue to learn about it from the rich resources found on-line. The potential for almost immediate feedback to questions is unparalleled. Numerous times every day, we "look it up" on-line. We seek answers to questions about such varied topics as the current weather forecast, if a certain game is in stock at GameStop, how to build a half-pipe ramp, and why our cat is behaving aggressively. There is rarely a topic for which we cannot find information on-line.

This ease of obtaining information always amazes and impresses me. I love knowing that I can find out what I want to know quickly and easily. However, it is just as easy to add to the enormous amount of information on-line too. That requires us to be critical in analyzing the source(s) from which we gather this information. We need the skills that a journalist typically uses in gathering information. We need to check our sources and utilize multiple sources for verification. I just read about the best real life example that clearly illustrates the need for this diligence. Apparently, a sociology student added a quote to Wikipedia entry which was then redistributed by newspapers as accurate, before it was found in error and removed by Wikipedia. The full story is here. This is just one more example of the wealth of opportunities to learn and develop critical thinking skills from our media rich world.


Mother's Day

This was our first Mother's Day without my husband's mom here. I was missing her so much this week. It is such a bittersweet holiday this year. As sad as I am for not having my mother-in-law and my grandmothers here to celebrate, it makes me even more grateful for my own mother still being a part of my life, and especially grateful to actually be a mother myself. I am frequently awe-struck by the fact that I am blessed with children, and they each are so amazing to me! There is no other gift that could ever possibly bring more joy and meaning to my life than my children have, just by being who they are.

To me, that is what Mother's Day is all about, celebrating the gift of each other. Hope you all had reason to celebrate this year!


In Case You Were Curious

Here's a glimpse at some of what we've been up to since I last blogged here.I got a new car! We went skiing with cousins in Maine.
We visited Grandpop in NY.
We celebrated Uncle Joe's birthday with him in CT.
We went to Dave & Buster's for the first and second time ever while in NY. What a fun place! I wish we had one close to us.

We colored Easter eggs.

We hung out with some of our unschooling friends at the park and Jump-N-Slide.
We got a new orange tree from my parents as a memorial to Chuck's mom.

We enjoyed the bounty of the garden Chuck gave me as a birthday gift. Sweet!

Our unschooling friends visited us from AZ, and we joined them for a quick trip to Disneyworld.
We enjoyed seeing our son's band, Horizons, perform at Hot Topic. Too bad the police came and said that they could only play without amps. They only got to play 3 songs.
We sent our son Tom, his girlfriend and their friends to their prom in a limo!
We continue to lead very full and fun lives here in Florida, and we're looking forward to even more! Wishing you a life full of fun too. ;)


Friday the 13th Flashback

No, not THE movie, but a short made by my oldest son on another Friday the 13th over a year ago. I couldn't get it to embed here, so click the link and enjoy!


Friday Fill-in #111

1. It seems like years since it's been clear. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say it's all right.

2. Turn it off when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you were coming over I'd have changed out of my pajamas!

4. Love is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means another good reason for eating chocolate, yay!

6. God gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a little Valentine's shopping. Tomorrow my plans include enjoying the company of those I love and Sunday, I want to go walking with Nance!


Meet my children's other mother....

Creepy, huh?

My kids had fun at the Coraline movie website exploring, replacing eyes with buttons, and creating flowers, but the button eyes just creep me out! There are also really interesting behind the scenes videos and pictures on the website (which is really quite impressive and worth checking out). I learned what a cool and creative job it is being a "rigger", and how "thinking outside of the box" is such a necessary skill in that line of work.

The movie itself was also quite amazing, especially for stop-action fans like we are. The 3-D effects have become so much more advanced. Now I want to see all movies in 3-D! I don't want to say much about the movie, for those who plan to see it, except that it is not for the faint of heart. It is pretty intense and scary in parts, and it effectively draws you into forgetting it's all pretend. It left a lasting impression that will definitely be on my mind for a while!

Friday Fill-in #110

1. Please don't tell me the gory details.

2. Can you make that a little later in the morning?

3. The color green makes me want to go outside!

4. I have a craving for nothing at the moment, YAY!

5. If my life had a pause button, I'd pause it and keep rewinding all the times I see my hubby and kids all playing together joyfully.

6. Eyes are the best when they're not buttons. ;P

7. And as for the weekend, tonight (actually this afternoon) I'm looking forward to going to see Coraline. Tomorrow my plans include taking my son to make some pottery, and Sunday I want to read the paper and that's about it!


Friday Fill-in #108

1. Oh, I am so missing my mother-in-law!

2. It is so gratifying to be with my kids everyday, seeing all the changes, big and little.

3. During the funeral, I wasn't the only one laughing when my nephew started asking, "Is Pa being quiet? Is Aunt Fran being quiet? Is Uncle Joe being quiet? Is Daddy being quiet?" and on and on..

4. Drive in this ice and snow and traffic everyday; are you kidding me???

5. Right now I'd like to be sitting at the kitchen table having coffee with Mom.

6. My laptop is(was) my favorite gadget.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to being done with laundry and unpacking. Tomorrow my plans include possibly attending the Port Salerno Annual Seafood Festival and Sunday I want to enjoy the warmer weather!



Over 27 years ago, when I was still in high school, I met and fell in love with my husband. But it was clear from the very beginning, that I fell for his family as hard as I fell for him. My husband has a large, loving, loyal, family that loves to laugh. Before meeting them, I truly doubted the existence of such intact, happy families. I thought they only existed in television sitcoms. I am so grateful that I found out I was wrong, and that I became a part of this wonderfully amazing family.

Last Wednesday, we got the devastating news that Chuck's mother, our Mom, had passed away. She had battled lung and brain cancer for over two years. I was so blessed to have her in my life these past years. I learned so much from her, in so many ways, and will forever be better for having known her. I want to write more, but the tears keep coming. When I can, I will.


Friday Fill-in #105

1. The world is wondering what 2009 will bring.

2. "Okay," was the last thing I said.

3. I wonder who wrote the book of love.

4. May there be peace at the end of all things.

5. There's something to be said for taking your time.

6. Right here is where I want to be.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a full fridge . Tomorrow my plans include calling a few friends to make plans and on Sunday I want to take my daughter to the mall and the bookstore, and put away our Christmas decorations!


Open the Door to Joy in 2009!

THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle

:: Is Joy Knocking On Your Door? ::

She knocked on the huge palace door. The peepholecover slid open, revealing the grim face of thepalace guard. "Who goes there?"

"I am Joy," she answered with a smile, "I'm here tovisit the Queen."

The guard shut the peephole abruptly. A few minuteslater, it slid open again and the guard said, "TheQueen is upset because her children are misbehaving.You may not enter until conditions improve."

"But I bring good tidings, and if she would let mein, the children would surely abandon their mischief."

"Sorry," the guard grumbled, "I must do HerMajesty's bidding." Then he locked the door and left.

But Joy did not leave . . . She just kept knocking.

Today, if you feel upset for any reason, askyourself this: "Am I using these conditions as anexcuse to disallow my natural state of well-being?"
Decide that when JOY knocks on *your* door,you'll let it in... no matter what the conditions!

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Feel free to forward this message to your friends!(Please include this paragraph and everything above.)Copyright (c) 2008 by Scott Noelle