Category Archives: Very very Unschooling

The Wandering Market Family is Expanding. This is the beginning.

Yesterday I stared into nine month old Aayla’s potty of her morning excrement. A bright pink balloon was staring back at me as if saying to me again “what are you doing?”.
Even though we were careful, she had somehow found and eaten and thankfully pooped out a balloon.
It reminded me of the video I watched of The Midway Project where they photograph carcasses of birds decaying, exposing their insides full of plastic. This video really affected me as I thought about all the plastic trinkets we have had at birthday parties, festivals, camping and on and on. A party often feels like an exception to be less mindful as we bring out the plastic toys and disposable cutlery to celebrate the event.
I think a lot about discontinuing my use of plastic as a way to support the earth. I know others are doing it and I could too but I haven’t yet.
But this post isn’t about feeling guilty. It’s about finding what inspires you to be better and do better as it leads towards our ultimate fulfillment.
Stick with me.
I have been sitting with these feelings for a while. I ponder them as I haul out massive garbage bags to the back to magically be taken away and be buried into the earth. I can see the overflowing dump from the edge of town. It is surrounded by fields of food growing around the massive heap. Garbage that has flown in litters the wheat and peas and barley and we see each other at the post office and smile as if it doesn’t exist.
This is only a small drop of polluted sand in Saskatchewan compared to the other problems like the chemical runoff into fresh water which is also the water we drink.
My neighbour doesn’t live there anymore but she comes back once in the summer to douse her yard on a windy day with chemicals. It’s just a few feet away from where we grow food. What are we doing?
I’ve sat with this for a long time, waiting to feel empowered by love and not my anger.
The time has come.
I love watching my children playing with such easy joy in the sand. We went to the lake yesterday. I sat with Aayla while she slept. I watched our future unfold as Michael walked around picking glass and other garbage out of the earth where they were playing. I noticed the children begin to follow him around and Nova even began to help him pick up. She came to me curious about things that biodegrade and things that don’t. She began putting various collected garbage in water to see what would break down.
These events inspired in me the thought

Continue reading

Filling the need, finding your purpose.

My life began to change once I started asking the right questions. Even without answers they were powerful reminders and directions to follow. I still ask a lot of questions and try to wait with an open mind and heart. I could feel myself lifting up out of despair and purposelessness when I asked myself things like “What wants to happen in this moment?”. The simplicity of it was profound enough to pull me out of my own beliefs of what should be happening and it allowed me to start listening, watching. Other questions I’ve asked during complete uncontrollable chaos is “What is being expressed right now? What wants to be expressed?”. I have discovered that the point for me is to be of service; to see the need without my own ideas and beliefs. To be available to fill that need with glasses of water, a warm hug, a bowl of soup or an ear to listen. We are all needed, so much more than we know. And it’s not about being a slave but rather being so clear in our purpose that we can be an incredible support to others and ourselves. Maybe what this moment is needing is a warm bath or a good cry or a nourishing bulletproof coffee for yourself? It is about doing small things with great love and purpose. And I get that it’s not always way and that it’s constant work. I’ll never be done opening myself up to what wants to come through. I wake up every morning having to re-commit. What is it like for you?

20140130-094111.jpg

20140130-094128.jpg
I’m playing with new soup flavours. This one is creamy sweet potato, carrot with ribs.

Lying to my children about food.

One day I decided to stop lying to my children about what they were eating. I would always try to sneak in a little hemp hearts or cod liver oil or whatever my newest fad food was at the time. I started to wonder if this practice may have been hurting them more than helping. I thought about this deeply and realized that it didn’t feel honest and authentic to me. By lying about their food I was sending them the message that I didn’t trust them to want to nourish their bodies. I was also creating a relationship of distrust in such an intimate way. Food is something that we put inside our bodies. How could I be all gung-ho for food labelling yet not allow my children to know what they were eating?!?!? I’m amazed by my own level of narrow minded thinking but we grow and learn better, right?
Another thing I thought about was how powerful it is to associate what we eat and how we feel. I wasn’t allowing my children that opportunity to make the food/body connection because I assumed that I knew best. I assumed they wouldn’t want to do the best thing for themselves. That’s crazy talk (or thought). All humans want the best.
So, I swallowed my fear and clenched my butt a little, when I said ” there’s hearts and livers in that chili.” and “Yes, I added some raw egg to that”.
When I first started being honest they would often decline to eat because I had trained them that health foods were to be hidden and mistrusted. Things are much different now.
My oldest son was sure that he HATED kombucha because I didn’t tell him that I added into jellos and soups and other things, but once I started telling him, then he knew he liked kombucha and was more willing to try stuff. Everything, he was more open to trying everything!
We are actually coming to a place where the previously hidden ingredients are now prized treasures. My daughter often asks if something is good for her as she knows the value of it. My son looks up recipes for new healthy things to try. He can be heard saying such things into google search as “heallllthy marshhhhhhmalllllows.”. I believe that this honesty has improved our relationships (and our lives) in so many ways. I feel like I can openly talk about what I am fermenting and making with it and they are interested and happy to try it, most of the time. They are still human though and sometimes I wonder when I will have gone too far. The boys did try the authentic headcheese I made last week even after seeing the “ingredients”. 😀

20140123-132443.jpg
Beautiful headcheese. I was told by a food historian, author, professor guy (Ken Albala) that I nailed it. It’s so exciting to take something that would otherwise be garbage and make food.

20140123-132646.jpg
Happy Kombucha SCOBY. We don’t eat these. Yet.

Do you sneak foods into your kids?

My goals for my children. What are yours?

20140120-124214.jpg
WARNING: Rambly and inspiring post.
We all have different priorities when it comes to parenting, when it come to life.
I think a lot about what I want my children to learn, to know when they are adults. It’s often met with curiosity and concern when I tell people. Most just don’t get it and that’s ok. It seems that my goals are quite different than what most people think about. If you’re still reading, hooray! I’ll tell you more about me…
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually regardless of circumstance.
What does it mean to me to be able to take care of ourselves physically?
To me this means that as humans we can produce, source and prepare our own food locally. This sounds like an incredibly daunting task but it doesn’t have to be especially if you can connect with other people interested in this. (I will be blogging a lot about how to do this in the very soon future.) My children have followed my lead to real food and take great interest and pleasure in growing and harvesting food, going out to farms, hunting, butchering our own meat and being in the kitchen with me. I see a great value in being able to provide nourishing and convenient foods for yourself. If your food is hurting you, all other areas in your life will be harmed. It’s amazing what people that are well nourished can accomplish. It improves morale, motivation and energy for life. Many, many people do not know how to feed themselves anymore. One of the saddest things I experience is when I go to the grocery store and see elderly people or busy parents with grocery carts full of processed convenient foods. I don’t feel judgmental (anymore) but rather I see what they are missing out on; Flavour and harmony within their bodies. It feels amazing to be nourished by a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew. It’s something that I wish for everyone. If you’re in need, come over to my house for a bowl and a cuppa. With eating well, we are more aware of our bodies and our needs and it leads us to be able to access alternative forms of health care with great success. It also means that we trust when we need medical advice/help from a doctor.
What does it look like to take care of ourselves mentally? To me this means that a person owns and takes responsibility for their life. They don’t blame and they don’t go looking for external things to make them anything; happy or sad. That’s right, people do that, I do that! I go LOOKING for situations to make me upset so I can limit the good in my life because I’ve hated myself so much. No more. I’ve been saying no to that now and it’s working.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually to me means having purposes that remain a touchstone in our lives to bring us back from our own despair. I often need to re-commit to the process of growth, of love, of good food, sustainable living, peaceful parenting and all the other new age hippy cliches. It’s wonderful to remind myself and rediscover the beauty and the magnificence of my purposes after a spell of momentary mommy insanity. It’s sweetness in action.
Are my actions coinciding with these goals? I ask myself that all the time and often it’s “no”. But I move on, growing and getting closer and seeing the beautiful results. More importantly, I’m enjoying this one life. What else is there to do but enjoy and take it all in?
What are some of the things you think about for your children?

20140120-125805.jpg

20140120-125818.jpg

20140120-125901.jpg
A jade in my kitchen sprouts roots hoping to create more life; abundance is everywhere.

Parental Guilt Anyone?

Five children and thirteen years later, I feel like I’m just starting to get it. There’s been school, spankings, homeschooling, AP, general hippyness, Unschooling and then there is radical Unschooling. What does it all mean and which one am I? We’ve experimented a lot with which labels best define us and I really feel done with that. The uncertainty has been fading or it’s being met with an acceptance of the uncertainty. I know the flow of ups and downs, happy and sad, ok and not ok. It’s all encompassing in this life and one bad moment does not negate a life of beauty. That bad moment is transformed by my state of mind into the beauty itself. I find myself able to enjoy being a parent while tantrums, poop messes and unbelievably extreme unhappiness are occurring. When you’re a parent without expectations and stories, it opens you up to just enjoy being guardian to these tiny beings. It allows you to be an amazing support to your child and to think reasonably about solutions that are loving and patient. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience myself yelling and frustrated. I noticed the other day as out slips things like “what the fucking fuck?!?!?”. But I forgive myself immediately and move on. Does that make me a bad parent? I use to think (unconsciously) that guilt made me good. I thought it meant that I wanted to be better and I should feel bad for being such an ass of a human being to such innocent beings. What a waste that was. Moving on makes me better and ready for what’s next. I’m addressing the stories I’ve told myself. Turns out that I don’t need to worry about raising illiterate criminals who abuse the welfare system and I also don’t need to worry about what other people think. How many times have you told yourself not to, and then went and did it anyways? Times are changing and worry be a fadin’. Now I look and see what is next…what is mine to do?

20140117-133316.jpg
If you tell yourself one story, let it be that healing happens.

What do Unschoolers do?

20131022-083803.jpg

People are often curious about what we do all the time. If we don’t go to school and we don’t homeschool, then what do we do? Let’s take a look at what the kids are doing…
This is my oldest son, Michael. He is twelve and has been mostly at home for his school years except for two months when he wanted to try out school and kindergarten in an alternative, open concept school. (which he loved, by the way.)
I’m absolutely astounded by the things that Michael is doing and that it is self initiate and directed. It is showing me that when people are given the space and the freedom to explore their passions, they can create and accomplish amazing things.
Michael made this outfit of the character Ezio off of a video game. The pieces are all sewn from material; made from scratch. It looks quite complicated from the creation of the hood to the red reverse appliqués (a term from Grandma) on the tunic. He also made the hidden blade with a combination of springs and other things. I see the way he gets an idea and follows through with planning, research and then production. His sense of self is developing as he finds the things that give him great joy. He is thinking about ways to use these joys as a means to support himself in the future. As a parent, the main thing I aim for is for my children to develop a life that is based on doing what they love. I hope they will never have to work jobs they hate simply to make ends meet.
Michael is also teaching himself to play piano and plays some beautiful and complicate songs from composers like Beethoven and Pachabel.
It turns out that I can let go and I can trust them to live their lives, gathering the information and the skills that they need to survive.
And this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
What amazing things are your children doing?

20131022-085957.jpg

How to feed children: food freedom vs. food restriction.

I still haven’t totally found my ultimate position on how to feed children. The main dilemma for me is what to allow them to eat or to give them total food freedom like a good radical unschooler. This morning really proved my lack of a stance on the position when I felt explosive rage over Mr.Noodles and brightly coloured slushies. I had been practicing a lot of food freedom before this, with occasional reluctance and sighs of grief.
Gentle parenting, attachment parenting and especially radical Unschooling talk about empowering children through letting them make their own choices. Not only do radical unschoolers let them make their own choices as to what to eat at home, but they bring the food that they want into the house. The idea is that if we control their food, they will sneak it, want it more and wind up being adults that will binge on all the bad stuff they were deprived as children.
I get that. I also get that they need to listen to their own bodies, but what if their body screams for more chemical induced food highs?
I also get that they are children and in the same way that I don’t want their minds manipulated by religion or school, I don’t want them altered by chemicals and neuro toxins.
Those words: neuro toxins. They kept flooding me this morning as I thought about the Mr.Noodles. In my rage, I tore out the little package of death inside; the flavouring. I hid it in my pocket and dwelled on how different the children act when eating these foods. I very lightly touched on the other reasons, in my thoughts, that radical Unschoolers give their children complete food freedom… Is my distaste for certain foods just mybelief? Should I investigate it? Am I not trusting them? Will it make them want it more? The thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t getting the philosophies and faking it to be in a certain category was not going to work.
What I did know for sure was that if I could just get to a place of love and connection and have a decent explanation for the kids, that things would be better. But I wasn’t there and I accepted it.
I continued with anger directed towards companies that use ingredients banned in other countries.
Neuro toxins. MSG. Trans fats… I was beginning to get dizzy thinking about it all.
And as I asked “WHY would people make this and why would people eat this?!?”, I only got angrier. My mom asked what I needed. I thought. I told myself that it’s ok and it will teach me something later. What I need is not apparent.
Well, it’s later and what have I learned?
Do I believe in food freedom?
Do I want to control what they eat?
Does it feel good for me?
I left the house, alone, for an appointment and I continued to ask these questions.
I discovered that I didn’t have the answers; that I only knew and breathed this moment.
This moment asks of me,
What is the highest good that can happen?
What is the positive side of it?
What calls me?
I let the slushies and Mr.Noodles wash over and out of me. I drove to the grocery store and bought all their favourite healthy snacks. I was focusing on the good. I stood at the cash register with my palms open and let the love flood through me to the cashier who had lost her daughter to cancer. I knew she was hurting despite her hard work and friendly attitude. She even asked me how I was. I let it come through and I realized that I didn’t need to form an opinion. I didn’t need to plan the perfect article with all the perfect advice on how to feed kids. We have it all inside, we just have to be open for it.

20130903-132037.jpg

20130903-132048.jpg

20130903-132126.jpg

20130903-132144.jpg