Monthly Archives: April 2013

What the heck is Unschooling?!?!

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We have only been home a week from our trip to the Radical Unschooling Conference Life Rocks! and the popularity of it has exploded since then.
There’s very recently been a huge surge of interest in Unschooling. The group on fb “Whole Life Unschooling” has grown from a few hundred members to thousands in just a week. It could be due to the Radical Unschooling Martin Family making an appearance on Wife Swap. Whatever the reasons, this seems to be some sort of tipping point for the life we are calling Unschooling.
What is Unschooling, so many want to know. They hear of a life that is so different than their own and they want to know more. It opens a whole world of possibilities and it can also attracts a lot of opposition. To many people it is just unfathomable. How can we not send our children to school AND not homeschool?!? Many are genuinely curious while others become outraged and angry at the idea of “Children doing whatever they want”. It brings up a lot of fears for people.
We Unschool. We never set out looking at the definition of it and then followed those rules. No. We set out to design our lives in a way that felt free and joyful to us. I was tired of living my life from meaningless destination to destination. I was sick of being stressed out over trying to meet what I though should be done in regards to child rearing and life in general.
It turned out that no forced learning or curriculum were what we needed to feel joyful and passionate about the world around us. It wasn’t until we were already Unschooling that we learned that what we were doing had a name. I’ve always been the type to stay away from labels as they felt so restricting and defining for me. I was looking for something totally different than what I had already experienced.
In my discoveries, I found that I also liked the term Home Centred learning and World Centred Learning. But you know what? I’d rather ditch the labels and call it life. Because that’s what it feels like to me. Unschooling is living. We live without rules and written regulations. Rather I look within to regulate myself. I search for what feels good for us and what is around us. I ask “What does this moment need from me?”. The answer is never curriculum or text books. It’s always listening, patience, guidance or to allow me to be guided.
What is Unschooling?
The answer to that is so personal to each individual that I can really only answer it with more questions:
What would you do with your life if you were free to explore your passions?
How would you live if each moment were allowed to be experienced in joy?
What if you had weeks on end to enjoy your children and live as you pleased?
What you do?
What would your children do?
Could you begin to let go and trust that life is yours to create?

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Chaz’s Nourishing Creamy Tomato Soup (super easy and possibly probiotic!)

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Chaz and I developed this amazing tomato soup when he expressed his desire for Campbell’s.
About our recipe, he says ” It tastes just like store bought but its good for me!”.

Chaz’s Creamy Nourishing Tomato Soup:

1 tomato paste 250 ml
2 cups of homemade broth (we use chicken)
1 cup of milk
1 cup of organic, grass-fed butter (yes!)
Sweetener (1-3 tbsp sucanat, coconut sugar, maple syrup or a few drops stevia)
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Melt butter in saucepan.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until hot.
3. Enjoy!

Try adding cheese! Or a dollop of homemade yogurt, sour cream, kefir or creme fraiche.
What about some herbs like fresh basil or rosemary? Garlic?

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Life Rocks Unschooling Conference 2013: Supporting one another.

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It’s been a week since we left Life Rocks. I’m feeling ready to start writing about it more in depth. Everyone has been asking me about it. I’ll break it down into topics and moments when they strike me.
While driving home, I have been repeatedly asking myself:
What has impacted me the most?
The answer is clear and easy.
It’s how much we need each other.
The week at Life Rocks was not only fun and inspiring and joyful, but it was healing. I could feel myself opening up and releasing fears and deep seeded beliefs in such a free atmosphere. I felt like I could walk up to anyone and ask them for help. I felt supported to express my flaws and dysfunction, and I did! I saw many other people go through this as well.
For many, the usual fears would come up surrounding our children’s behavior. There were a few “fights” in the beginning between children. I could sense within me that old feeling of “I should leave. Disconnect. Feel shame.”. Life Rocks proved for so many to be the perfect place to work through these. There were many inspiring speakers who touched on this and morning mom’s groups where it could be discussed freely with a person designate to keep the group on track. It was said repeatedly that freedom is NOT treating our children in a way that is intended to change their behavior. That’s a hard one to learn, especially if your child is aggressive.
But what do you mean? Do we accept their bad behaviors? Oh, it’s so much deeper than that. It’s about acknowledging where someone is at and loving them regardless. It’s about being our authentic selves regardless of another’s actions. It’s about offering clear and open support for the child, or anyone. Forcing someone into joy or peace is NOT freedom. I learn to live this mostly with my acknowledging words and with silence. I am loving being there with my child and understanding and I can say peacefully “You really wanted to smash that window with a rock.” And he looks at me and nods and cries.
I don’t feel that I’ve totally developed these thoughts. I mean what do you do when there is danger? You stop it. You change the outcome, right? I’ve learned that I don’t really need rules or guidelines. I can take each moment at a time and ask it “what do you need from me?”
These revelations come when in an open and beautiful coming together of love and freedom. It happened. It felt so natural. It felt safe.
I told people things that I’ve never spoken and they did the same. We had moments of tears and stress and releasing “what do I do now?!?” Because it is not always easy or comfortable to take children from home and put them with strangers and foreign foods and activities. We worked through it and it created bonds that will continue to grow and last a life time. We know how we are all going through a lot of the same stuff. It’s not easy to be different. Or rather, it hasn’t been easy. But we’re working to make freedom and joy easy. Future generations won’t have to fight for it because it will be common and feel natural.
These Life Rocks feelings have translated into all of life as we journey home. We’ve been meeting people along the way and I am continuing to share wonderful connections. We’ve stayed with two Unschooling families. One which we met at the conference an another that I met online. I’m so in awe of their generosity and openness.
As I write this, I am seeing a mom point to one of those huge, chemical ridden hotel make-your-own waffles and she tells her child “Eat this or you’re not swimming!” And “People won’t like you if you talk like that.”
I breathe and smile at her. I can appreciate the journey it takes and I can see her pain and fear. I can also see her kind intent and human nature.
It really makes me think about how much we need to fully support and love one another.

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Big Family Trip: Many Days Passed…

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It’s been days and days since I’ve last documented our trip. Mostly just because I didn’t feel like it. And I don’t do what I don’t feel like.
“It’s kinda like stopping in the middle of amazing sex to discuss how good it is.” Says Michael.
And We’ve been tired. So tired in such a good way. We pass out face down on hotel beds while the kids jump on the other bed and explore hotel hallways and open doors.
We left the conference and went to Quebec; Old Quebec. We took many walks, swims and frequent naps. I love Old Quebec. I feel the nostalgic presence of canons going off, people walking in streets, children around the corners and the smells of real food wafting from windows. I bet they had fresh bread and hearty soups. And there would be horses. There’s horses now! The thing that struck me the most about Old Quebec was the gigantic stone wall I drove under to enter the “city”. They’ve kept it so old. A restaurant on the corner was a house built in 1627 and they serve wild game. $60 a meal and we didn’t eat there but I sure enjoyed taking in the aromas and the menu posted outside. Sometimes a menu is enough. It fills my heart and crowds out my belly, especially when they use words like “slowly roasted wild boar”.
We stayed at the Chateau Frontenac in all it’s glory. It’s mighty glorious with the cost to match. I knew the hotel would be a bit more but what I didn’t factor in was how expensive it would be to sustain ourselves in such a place. Parking, valet, eating are all a lot and everyone needs a tip. 🙂
The pool was nice with its free apples and loving acceptance of our child with the anarchy symbol spray painted on his chest from a Life Rocks Dance past. Michael danced so hard with that symbol and no shirt that he injured his neck. I love it all.

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This was where they use to train all the horses for war.

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Big Family Trip: Radical Unschooling Conference, day three and four.

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So ya we ate bugs. The silkworm went on and on in my mouth. I had to lick some of it out of my molars. Water would have been a good idea. Most people really enjoyed the bugs. Nobody puked. Emmett came to me at one point with little legs and parts all over his stuck out tongue and fingers.
It’s late and it’s Thursday. Nova is drifting on while sounds of drums beat right outside the window. Children’s laughter and adult conversation are below us. I love this. I love going to the townhouse and people are there. People who were strangers a few days ago. I’ve shared more with them than I have with anyone. It’s amazing how collective consciousness can open us up to what wants to come through. I cat really distinguish the last two days so I will speak about individual events. Yesterday seemed emotional for everyone. I was ok but I felt a Heaviness that I just sat with. It would be so easy to spiral down and ind things to blame. Instead I located the pain as a pounding heart and chest under pressure. I focused on that while breathing and not allowing any thoughts to come through.
I love to observe. I see many children without shoes, even outside. At one point I saw a child crawl on top of one of those push cars and stand. Lots of freedom going on here and no one has died.
The talent show tonight was very emotional for me. A girl with a dancing ribbon had me teary eyed. By the time the hula hooper came on, I was full on choking back tears. I’ve never seen children so in their elements doing what they love and everyone cheering them on even if they are tone deaf. Passion is what counts.
The bigger thing I’ve noticed here is that there’s no divide between teenagers and parents and everyone else. Here’s a video of a family singing, the boy is very obviously close to his mother.

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This girls performance was so heart touching and uncommon as you can see her older brother in the blue cheering on.

This is Chaz’s new friend, Crewe Recroad. What a cool name. He says he doesn’t know any more of the song, watch what happens…

Big Family Trip: Unschooling Conference, Day one and two.

Hello! I’m going to attempt to write this tired and unmotivated. Hehe.
I actually already wrote this blog entry but it got deleted, so here is my chance to say it again. 😀
We got here disheveled and dizzy after six days of traveling. I had the shakes and I also felt so happy to be here. It was so intensely surreal to actually be driving up to the conference which I dreamed of going to a year ago. I had seen the photos from the previous conference and I thought “Ah. That’s for me.”. I mentioned it to Michael and he was totally on board. Preparations began. And now we are here. I want to soak it all up and make it last, it’s that good. Let’s start at the beginning…
Sunday night we arrive and start getting settled in. We waited for our house mates to arrive. We offered to share out townhouse when people were asking and to save money. I wondered what it would be like to live so closely with strangers. I wondered if it would be weird. It was not. The minute they walked in, I felt a sense of community and friendship. The first morning I got up to make coffee and I was greeted by coffee! Made! Since then it’s been meal sharing and wonderful food. There’s an amazing health food market down the road with grass-fed meats and dairy products and they even say grass-fed on the package. The butter was 8.99 a lb, chicken 2.83 a lb and the grass-fed cream was $2.99 for 500 ml. Not bad! Especially for a touristy, mountain area. Oh, and New Hampshire is beautiful. I know lots of people are wanting to know what the conference is like. It has the possibility of being very intimate and personable. There’s always someone around to speak with and on a deep level. I’ve loved hearing about other parents experiences and their passions. It feels so familiar.
The conference has many activities going on which the kids have enjoyed. An encounter with some unique wildlife, crafts, nerf guns. Mostly, I notice that they just love hanging out. There’s many kids dressed uncommonly, kids running, laughing and picking their butts and noses freely. Not compulsively and constantly or anything, but freely. I saw a parent push a child across the room ON TOP of one of those ride around cars. On top! I haven’t seen any parents stop children from climbing or jumping and it feels so safe. It’s not reckless. I’ve also noticed that the children share the only car and the only train ride thing that goes down a ramp. Some have even developed systems of sharing and pushing each other. The first day my children had some fighting over the car but they’ve worked it out. I have never felt so free to trust the process.
When we support one another, amazing things come out of us. This is the perfect place to express your fears as get some real answers as help.
The conference has various talks going on about many different topics that are based on the people’s interests. Yesterday I listened to Dayna Martin tell her experiences of “Ditching the fear and rocking the love.”. It was so real and so inspiring. I can’t wait to come home and share what I’ve learned and heard here.
I’ve had fears about the conference that I’m not good or real enough or whatever. I’ve decided to not believe it and just fully embrace it all.