Tag Archives: 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

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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”. 😀

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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.

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Happy Kombucha SCOBY. We don’t eat these. Yet.

Do you sneak foods into your kids?

My goals for my children. What are yours?

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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?

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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?

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If you tell yourself one story, let it be that healing happens.

What do Unschoolers do?

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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?

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Successful Unschooling

For me, I have had the most success with Unschooling by setting up certain situations for my children. By success I mean happiness and peace which always involve learning.
I imagine that this would look different for every family and even every child.
For us it has turned out that my children are most successful when I find nature spots to take them to and bring lots of good snacks. Rivers, playgrounds, trees and paths are what they enjoy most. I pack homemade chocolate chia pudding, fresh fruit and veggies, soaked almonds, kombucha, sauerkraut, boiled eggs, sandwiches and homemade preserves like canned fruit and pickled beets. And lots of water!
They love packing a few snacks and some water and then hiking out to the unknown. I’ve noticed that usually the oldest follows and quite often with the next in age line and the youngest at the end. I’m always amazed at how they stick together and how at ease and in joy they are in these settings. They develop games out of seemingly nothing, I don’t bring toys. They are so happy to just be. They are so in harmony like this and camping with them is the best! I can Honesty say that there’s no fighting or arguing when we are out in nature.
Now that the weather has warmed, it has been a lot easier to provide this for them. They have not yet enjoyed siting for house with crafts or Lego.
What is part of creating your family’s bliss?

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Giving Children Freedom: How To Begin.

My children don’t test me. They don’t push my limits, and that is because I don’t have any. They push their own limits, physically, mentally and spiritually. There’s nothing to rebel against but gravity and all the other laws of nature. 😛
I see many parents chasing after toddlers (and older children) dashing out this way and that dangerously among traffic and sharp pavement. I feel the stress and I’m sad for them. Maybe I’m sad for you… I have noticed that children that run carelessly often are only children who have been heavily controlled and helicoptered. I know it is with the best intentions and maybe I’m just lucky that neglect come natural to me (kidding), but I feel for them. They work so hard at parenting only to have it be more work and not fun. Outings and special events turn into nightmares of children frantically searching for their independence and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be this way. But how do we change things when we’ve trained children to run away from us?
Baby steps. Ask yourself what you can let go of that doesn’t harm their physical well being?
Can you let go of the need to dress them a certain way when they would like to look another? So they won’t wear a coat in cold weather? Just silently bring one along, my kids always end up grateful I did!
Can you let go of monitoring what, when and how much they eat? It could be hard, you may need to look the other way or leave the room. They won’t starve themselves, for long… And they will begin to heal their stress-induced aversions to eating. I’m sorry you are going through this. There’s another way…
I’m not saying your kids need to look like mine (outside in a pack, all muddy on bikes with enormous smiles and hair in the wind).
What does your happy child look like?
Now here’s some hard ones but they are not dangerous, hopefully:
Can you let go of the need to tell them what to say and how to act? (Pleases and sorries). I mean it. Let their intrinsic kind nature show through. It takes longer and it’s sometimes harder to see but it’s worth it. True words from a child are so so so special. More than a million forced pleases and thank yous.
What else can we let go of that will add to our happiness? Can we let go of the stronger urge and desire to do laundry? I like to pick through and just do a load or two of what we need. This works!
Can we let go of needing to constantly clean up after kids? They make less messes if we are involved. Sometimes that means just sitting with them, observing.
The less we regulate our children, the more they will be willing to cooperate. Eventually children just begin to tune out the constant direction. Think about what wants to come out of them. They do want to be safe. They do want to be healthy and happy and human. This is their journey and they will make mistakes and get hurt and we will be there to comfort and never say “See! You should be more careful!”. They know. They’re learning. Enjoy it before it is gone. You can’t get your child back once they are gone and even more importantly: You can’t give back their childhood once it is over. Let them live it. 🙂

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That is my two youngest boys, making and eating their own sticky, messy jam. They’re so proud and happy about it and its about 10:00 at night. I was happy too.

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