Sunday, September 30, 2007

Raising Children as a Spiritual Practice

I got this from Zenmommas garden.

Raising children as a spiritual practice.

1. Try to imagine the world from your child's point of view, purposefully letting go of your own. Do this every day for at least a few moments to remind you of who this child is and what he or she faces in the world.

2.Imagine how you appear and sound from your child's point of view, i.e., having you as a parent today, in this moment. How might this modify how you carry yourself in your body and in space, how you speak, and what you say? How do you want to relate to your child in this moment?

3. Practice seeing your children as perfect just the way they are. See if you can stay mindful of their sovereignty from moment to moment, and work at accepting them as they are when it is hardest for you to do so.

4.Be mindful of your expectations of your children and consider whether they are truly in your child's best interest. Also, be aware of how you communicate those expectations and how they affect your children.

5. Practice altruism, putting the needs of your children above your own whenever possible. Then see if there isn't some common ground, where your true needs can also be met. You may be surprised at how much overlap is possible, especially if you are patient and strive for balance.

6. When you feel lost, or at a loss, remember to stand still and meditate on the whole by bringing your full attention to the situation, to your child, to yourself, to the family. In doing so, you may go beyond thinking, even good thinking, and perceive intuitively, with the whole of your being, what needs to be done. If that is not clear in any moment, maybe the best thing is to not do anything until it becomes clearer. Sometimes it is good to remain silent.

7. Try embodying silent presence. This will grow out of both formal and informal mindfulness practice over time if you attend to how you carry yourself and what you project in body, mind, and speech. Listen carefully.

8 Learn to live with tension without losing your own balance. In Zen and the Art of Archery, Herrigel describes how he was taught to stand at the point of highest tension effortlessly without shooting the arrow. At the right moment, the arrow mysteriously shoots itself. Practice moving into any moment, however difficult, without trying to change anything and without having to have a particular outcome occur. Simply bring your full awareness and presence to this moment. Practice seeing that whatever comes up is "workable" if you are willing to trust your intuition. Your child needs you to be a center of balance and trustworthiness, a reliable landmark by which he or she can take a bearing within his or her own landscape. Arrow and target need each other. They will find each other best through wise attention and patience.

9. Apologize to your child when you have betrayed a trust in even a little way. Apologies are healing. An apology demonstrates that you have thought about a situation and have come to see it more clearly, or perhaps more from your child's point of view. But be mindful of being "sorry" too often. It loses its meaning if you are always saying it, making regret into a habit. Then it can become a way not to take responsibility for your actions.
Cooking in remorse on occasion is a good meditation. Don't shut off the stove until the meal is ready.

10. Every child is special, and every child has special needs. Each sees in an entirely unique way. Hold an image of each child in your heart. Drink in their being, wishing them well.

11. There are important times when we need to be clear and strong and unequivocal with children. Let this come as much as possible out of awareness, generosity, and discernment, rather than out of fear, self-righteousness, or the desire to control. Mindful parenting does not mean being overindulgent, neglectful, or weak; nor does it mean being rigid, domineering, and controlling.

12. The greatest gift you can give your child is your self. This means that part of your work as a parent is to keep growing in self-knowledge and awareness. This ongoing work can be furthered by making a time for quiet contemplation in whatever ways feel comfortable to us. We only have right now. Let us use it to its best advantage, for our children's sake, and for our own.

Excerpted from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting. Copyright

Friday, September 28, 2007

Goal setting

Unschooler style :)

The last few days Kieran and Brennan have been trying to accomplish specific tasks on Runescape. They are working together to collect stuff to sell in order to make a specific amount of money to buy what they need.

Kieran has been making lists of items and money at night for what he wants to do when he wakes up.

There is no need for me to list all of the learning that happens from playing this game or any other, I see it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

disappointed kids

Not mine, LOL!

A new example of parenting that I do not understand nor can I do anything about.

Picture it, tonight dinner is done and the neighbor kids are here. Many times we tell them that the kids are gonna eat and then will come out to play, many times we have plenty and offer it to them.

Tonight we made homemade pizza, a big sheet of it, I was getting it to the table and Brenny asked if W could eat over. I said it looks like we have plenty so sure he can. They left and were gone for several minutes, in the meantime his little sister was here and I gave her a plate.

We were all eating when they came back, I asked what took so long. W said that his mom kept asking him questions and are you sure they have enough. The jist is he was told that he could not eat here all the while his sister was here at our table.

I asked him a few questions and he was so upset, just sitting there watching us eat.
I apologized to him, I did not say anything about what his mother said. Some of you know me and know how hard I bit my tongue.

He also told me that the other day his sister got in trouble for eating a brownie we gave her because she didn't have dinner yet. It was like 7:00pm the kid was hungry, we told them we were making them and they got called to go home and we sent them home with a brownie.

I felt so bad for him and within 5 minutes the phone rang and it was his mom asking us to send the kids home, Jason said she sounded snippy.

You have no idea what we have done for these kids, they are here almost everyday, I feed them I listen to them, I am the lady with the paints and markers and games. They get off the school bus and are at my house within minutes.

I feel bad for them and I feel like I really have no place to confront the parents, you have no idea how many times I wanted to. I'm afraid they would get banned from here, so I just do what I can and hope that we are a light for them.

I really want to smack some parents upside the head, this particular family has so many stupid rules I can't keep it straight and sometimes it infringes on my life with my kids who don't have stupid rules. If you are interested I could compile a list just from what I see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Budding artist

This is a rocket taking off at sunset.

These are guys in suits, the bottom one is in the rain with his boots on.

This is Darth Maul.

Jared has just started to draw and paint and write, it is so cool. Lots of times he gets mad because it didn't turn out right and he throws them away. These are displayed on the fridge, I had to take pictures just in case he threw them away.

After the fun

I probably should have posted this in reverse but you get the picture :)
This didn't last long that is why I had to take pictures.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Cassie's room


Silly girls playing around and having fun.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Unprocessed Child

I have finished The Unprocessed Child and just thought I would tell you what I thought of it.

Overall it was a good book, easy to read, straightforward and to the point. I have said many of the things she writes so I really agreed with her take on most things.I realize that Valerie F. was pretty much giving an overview of their lives and in that respect she did a nice job.

It is a good read to give to someone who would like to unschool and parent respectfully.

I do believe it was pretty simplistic in many areas and I would have liked her to go more in depth but I suppose then the book would be 4oo pages long.

She had one child and the dynamics of a one child household is much different than a 4 child household.

My kids have the freedoms that Laurie had but when we have to take turns and be flexible and mediate and respect everyones needs it takes on a whole new dynamic.

"Unparenting" revisted

I know, I know, been there done that... How many times am I supposed to see someone claim they are an unschooler but NOT an unparent????

I honestly believe that people who say this are NOT unschoolers! In order for someone to say this they must have some preconceived notion about how unschoolers parent in the first place.
From what I see unschoolers are very mindful parents. They are respectful parents. They work hard at parenting, well I sure do.

I have 4 very different, very individual children, to parent them blanketly and arbitrarily would cause them undo harm.

I have stated many times before that I parent my ass off and it's true, I can't sit down cause it hurts, no cushion there, LOL!

Really in order to unschool completely you must parent completely. Making arbitrary rules for the sake of convenience or trying to uphold some sort of notion you have about how kids should act and how you should parent is wrong in my opinion.

Kids are people and deserve to be treated as such,actually just yesterday Jared asked me if kids were people, what a question from a 5 year old.

I will tell you it is pretty damn easy to sit high and mighty and make rules and punishments and take away *privileges* and make up bedtimes and cut out video games and whatever else parents do to make their kids obey.

To truly parent in the spirit of your children takes a huge paradigm shift away from authoritarian and move towards respect and partnership. It is beneficial to parent individually and not make up stupid rules for everyone to follow and punishments when they don't.

It makes so much more sense to discuss things and find the root of the issue or behaviour and to LISTEN to your child.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Do you ever look at things in the past and remember goals or plans and think how different things turned out?

Let's go back 20 years, ouch that hurts, okay I'm 36 now I can handle it, I think...

I was very career oriented, I had career goals, I was going to manage and then own a Hotel. I love hotels, big beautiful glorious ones of course, I used to watch the TV show Hotel, I know it was cheesy but I loved it. I have been to some beautiful ones just as a tourist and I have stayed in a few really nice ones. I went to college for Hotel Management, didn't graduate, I decided that having a baby was more important :)

My goals never involved kids, I was going for the career, I had to be in charge, I had to be the boss, working for someone else was never my goal.

Well, here I am the mother of 4 wonderfully made children, I don't own a hotel but we own a house and I manage it :)

I'm not the boss though, well maybe just a little, I am the facilitator of this establishment and all who live in it. I am the go to girl, the answerer, the researcher, the finder, the mom come here, the game player, drawer, colorer, cooker, cleaner, player, reader, how do you spell this, what does this say, mom can watch this...and so much more.

How different things can turn out from how we thought they would.

We are fostering an independence in our kids, my hope for them is to be who they are and not take heat from some authority figure. I hope they will be independent thinkers of their own free will, non -conformists, entreprenuers. Whatever they decide I just want them to be happy with themselves and the choices they make.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No More Sweets

Today my friend brought over some doughnuts, she asked me first. I said it was ok, I can unclench my sphincter on occasion :)

On top of that Jared really wanted cupcakes, now he doesn't actually eat the cupcake just the frosting. So I made chocolate cupcakes some with vanilla frosting and some with chocolate.

Brenny and Cassie kept coming in for another plus eating the frosting out of the bowl. I honestly do not know how many they ate. Brenny asked me if he could have another and I said sure.

In the past I have usually said something that would deter them from eating too many but tonight I said nothing.

A little while ago I was in the kitchen and I heard Brennan say *That's it, no more sweets for me tonight* and Cassie chimed in and said *No more sweets for the rest of my life*

A little later Cass was on the couch crying that her tummy hurt, I tried to be sympathetic and offered her mint tea, I did not say anything demeaning at all, she knew why her stomach hurt.

Why am I posting about this? Well this was a major deal for me, I kept my mouth shut, I didn't limit and I didn't say well duh of course you have a stomachache. This was a major turning point for all of us.

Cassie is fine now and eating again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I love Unschooling

I don't know what is is but I am so jazzed when I see others embracing unschooling. I have been reading blogs from those who went to the Live and Learn Conference and Life is Good and Rethinking Education. It is so awesome to see so many people ditch public school and embrace real learning, life long learning, it is so exciting to me.

I have never been a public school advocate, I went there, for God sake I can't fathom why any sane person would send their child there against their will. I see people sending their kids to an institution every day without thinking twice about it . I really believe that most people don't think about it and just do it because they believe that is what they are supposed to do. I used to call it free babysitting but really all of our tax dollars fund public schools whether our kids attend or not so it really isn't free.I was reading Shell's blog and her latest post was called Who is school for? My link brain isn't working, in my blog bar she is Oh the thinks you can think. She talks about how kids learn everything and anything without school so who is school for. Very good question and I agree with her answer that it is for parents not for kids. If kids had a choice I believe that they would want to be home with their parents.

Not sure what to call it

Ok... I don't know what I'm posting about, random thoughts I guess.

So much is going on, so much happens everyday, so many questions asked by the kids.

Today my friend was here briefly and she said I was so calm and tranquil, back up a few phone calls ago, she told me she was getting sleepy talking to me, I'm like what am I boring or something? She said no there is a calm in your voice that is relaxing me. This is funny because I am pretty uptight and impatient but I TRY not to be some days it doesn't matter how hard I try. Sunday was a bomb it was like a bad day of PMS even though flo just ended. I'm on a new remedy and it is messing with my hormones as we try to find the right dose.

So today she is like you are so calm as Cassie is having a thing, all the kids are outside you know, swirling hooks and shovels, you are so calm as you talk to them. Look at how you picked up those legos... It's so funny but she is right today, I was calm like not my usual uptight self, I was tired though I'm not sleeping well. It was just funny to me because I'm not usually like that but I want to be like that, I want to be peaceful even when things around me aren't.

I'm reading The Unprocessed Child and was trying to explain that to her, I will do a seperate post on that when I finish the book.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Musings from Jared

Last night while trying to go to sleep Jared kept talking and asking questions two of them stand out in my mind.

Mom W has black skin and J has brown skin, why do they have dark skin? Is their skull black too?

If the TV glass was broken and we turned the TV on would the people come out of it?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So called friends

There is a little girl that lives near us that Cassie liked to play with. She only sees her once in awhile if she is out because it seemed that she was never allowed to play. How a child cannot be allowed to play is beyond me.

Lately Cass has been telling me things that this girl says, well for one she told her that she doesn't like brown people. Cassie happens to be friends with some brown kids that live near us. Our kids have never even noticed skin color before and we don't make it out to be anything. So that brought up a discussion that no matter what color we are, we are all people and God created all of us.

Last night Cassie's tire blew out on her bike, we had one spare tire on an old bike that was still good, so Jason swapped them. Cassie was a little upset because she now has one white tire and one black tire. We told her that is all we have right now to fix the bike and she could decide if she wants to ride it or not. It only took a few minutes for her to start riding her bike and it worked.

Tonight the kids down the street were out and Cassie went up to play with them. She wasn't up there very long she came home and said they were still out but she wanted to come home. A little while later she went out and played here at our house then she came in and told me why she came home early. The little girl told Cassie that her bike looked stupid with different color tires. I told Cassie that real friends don't treat each other like that and she said, I know. We talked a bit and she is realizing that she doesn't want to play with this little girl.

It is really sad but it's also a testament of kids being cruel and not caring dare I say it... I dare... Typical Public School behavior, these are just the recent examples. How about one more, last week she called my son and his friend (the brown boy) losers, she said goodbye Cassie, goodbye loser and goodbye loser's friend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Unschooling friends

We have been blessed with real live unschooling friends. We are getting to know each other, spending hours at each others houses, hours that go by like minutes. The kids are having so much fun playing together.

Even after we go home the kids are talking on the phone for hours, playing computer games together.

It is just so cool to sit down and talk to someone about all sorts of topics and get to know each other. The really neat thing is that the way we parent is in the same line of thinking as well.
I really believe that in order to unschool successfully we do parent differently, more in tune with each child, more respectfully and mindfully than mainstream top down rule oriented thinking.

I'm trying to be vague with descriptions and names but I am just so thrilled to actually know people who get us and don't think we are from another planet :)

Tonight Cassie was on the computer and on the phone with her friend pretty late, I was in the tub but it was between 1-1:30 am. How cool is that? The really cool thing was that the mom was playing on the computer too with the kids. She is cool!

My point is we are having a blast with our new friends and we are loving the freedoms that unschooling entails.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kid intuition

Cassie came to me last night while I was in the tub and asked me if I ever saw stuff when I closed my eyes. I asked her what she meant, like a dream or a picture or a scene? She said she closed her eyes and saw herself running out of her room crying because Caramel (our guinea pig) died.

I told her to go pet Caramel, she hasn't been acting right for a couple weeks now and she didn't eat last night.

Well Caramel died in her sleep and so everyone is a little sad right now. We got her in December and we didn't know how old she was. I believe she was just old and it was her time to go, Jason is going to bury her in a bit.

Cassie knew that she was going to die, she sensed it.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Accepted Quote

You know what? You're a criminal. 'Cause you rob these kids of their creativity and their passion. That's the real crime! Well, what about you parents? Did -did the system really work out for you? Did it teach you to follow your heart, or to just play it safe, roll over? What about you guys? Did you always want to be school administrators? Dr. Alexander, was that your dream? Or maybe no, maybe you wanted to be a poet. Maybe you wanted to be a magician or an artist. Maybe you just wanted to travel the world. Look, I - I - I - I lied to you. I lied to all of you, and I'm sorry. Dad, especially to you. But out of that desperation, something happened that was so amazing. Life was full of possibilities. A - and isn't that what you ultimately want for us? As parents, I mean, is - is that, is possibilities. Well, we came here today to ask for your approval, and something just occurred to me. I don't give a shit. Who cares about your approval? We don't need your approval to tell us that what we did was real. 'Cause there are so few truths in this world, that when you see one, you just know it. And I know that it is a truth that real learning took place at South Harmon. Whether you like it or not, it did. 'Cause you don't need teachers or classrooms or - or fancy highbrow traditions or money to really learn. You just need people with a desire to better themselves, and we got that by the shit at South Harmon. So you can go ahead, sign your forms, reject us and shoot us down, and do whatever you gotta do. It doesn't really matter at this point. Because we'll never stop learning, and we'll never stop growing, and we'll never forget the ideals what were instilled in us at our place. 'Cause we are SHIT heads now, and we'll be SHIT heads forever and nothing you say can do or stamp can take that away from us! So go!

I loved the premise of this movie and this quote by Bartleby Gaines at the end was one of the best.

Learning happens

In an environment conducive to learning while living, learning happens as a natural progression, you can't stop it.

Here's the latest example from last night. Cassie and I were playing tic-tac-toe in her room and Jared came in and started playing with his doodleboard. He asked me what 100 and 4 make so I told him 104, he proceeded to write 100+4=104 on his board, he then kept asking me questions and writing things down and many he figured out on his own.

He has exploded lately with reading, writing, spelling and now math, major learning spurt happening here. I looked at Cassie and I said *See, I don't ever want you to believe that you have to go to school to learn anything* You know schooled friends can fill her head with stuff...

She just smiled so big and said *Hurry give me a book he reads better than me*

Friday, September 07, 2007

Safe Haven

It seems that wherever we have lived our house is a safe place for kids and pets alike.

In CA we used to joke that there was a sign out front that only lost animals could see. We took in so many strays I lost count, we always found them a new home. We have some wild tales about some who stayed awhile, just for one we had a coonhound pup stay for a few months. We had 4 beagles and really didn't need any more pets. Our males were fixed but our females were not, we didn't even pay attention to when they went into heat. So.... we found a home for the coonhound but he left behind a legacy, he got both of our dogs pregnant. The puppies were cute though, our one dog had problems and almost died during delivery. We found good homes for all the pups.

Anyway then in PA, we were a safe place for the neighbor boy who had a miserable home life. He was at our house a lot and I would watch him afterschool and stuff. His parents have since divorced and they are doing much better emotionally.

Now here the kids 2 doors down have spent many hours at my house. A few times last year they got home from school and nobody was home and came to my house. It has happenend twice in the past week, last week and today. Both parents work and one has to leave work and come get the kids to take them to grandma's and go back to work. I just can't imagine my 8 and 5 year olds getting off the bus to no parents... Actually I can't imagine mine ever getting on the bus but that's another story.

When I was a kid that happened a lot to me or my mom would arrange for me to be dropped off at someone else's house until she got off work. That was actually when my parents were still married. I grew up with a single mom who had to work 2 jobs. I just think that so many 2 parent workers could do it differently if they really wanted to or knew how. There are so many advantages to being home with your kids and after all is said and done the second income doesn't amount to much.

I guess we have always been the *go to* place wherever we are, it is something sensed by kids and animals, they know we are a safe haven.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cassie question

Mom, what is it with all these parents not letting their kids out to play?


I don't know... maybe because they go to school all day and then have chores and homework and no time for play because they have to go to bed at 8:00pm so they can get up and do it all over again.

Cassie says I have one homeschooled friend, when will I see her again?

I'm working on that :)

African Elephant

My friend in the U.K. recently went to Kenya and she saw the elephants up close. She sent this picture to me and I love it, look at that gorgeous creature.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


New friends bonding over Runescape. The boys had a great time together today while the girls were off to a girl scout meeting. Lots of gaming going on, they are always playing Runescape but now Cassie and Brenny started Club Penguin too. With only 2 computers and 6 people it's getting a little tricky. Jared didn't even get on today to listen to his music.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


That word doesn't look right but I don't feel like looking it up and spelling is my strong suit, LOL!

A really hot bath and wine is such a huge help for me to relax. I don't really relax otherwise, you know me I'm the type A, compulsive, control freak with ADD who can't sit still to a name a few :)

There is a key to this though I must take care of everyone's needs first or else it will not be relaxing. In a house full of kids there are always interuptions, actually Jared was named *the interrupter* but then they all were. Babies have a sixth sense if someone is near their nummies, LOL! I wasn't intending to post about that!

I don't usually get into the tub until 2am because you know those crazy unschoolers keep odd hours...

My other therapy session is vacuuming, I love to vacuum, no really... but I have to turn it off every two seconds because someone HAS to tell me something. You can think I'm weird because I am but my friend likes to mow the lawn, now that is weird!

Monday, September 03, 2007

New friends

We met new friends today, we had a great time visiting and eating. Today I met R(I didn't ask her if I could use her name) and her kids K and L. Our kids all hit it off, I asked Cassie what she thought after they left and she smiled from ear to ear and Brennan was telling me all the things that he and L had in common.

Our other friends came for dinner too and we all hit it off. It was a great day, good food and great company.

I can't believe how fast 6 hours went by, nobody wanted it to end.

R knew just how to charm me, she brought me a bottle of wine :)

I know we will be seeing a lot of each other, as soon as they got home the kids were talking on the phone. It is so awesome how we found each other, God is good!

We had fair trade organic coffee too, just for Valerie who doesn't have time to read my blog but was appalled that I only had one post about coffee, LOL!

I could say a lot but I'm getting tired...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Like father like son

Here is JW1 and JW2.
It is rare for Jared to be sleeping but they both fell asleep on the couches tonight.