Monday, November 15, 2010

The cost of unschooling

Those of us that unschool our children do so because we love them. It is not to cloister them or keep them from the real world, but to have them LIVE in the world. We for the most part, do not have a lot of money and seek out those opportunities for our children that are free or at a low cost. Some folks are lucky enough to have a support system where you can barter and trade for services with other like-minded folk.

My husband and I live in an urban apartment setting with our sons (even though we dream of a house w/yard) contrary to the idea most people have of homeschooling families. As if only rural settings are conducive to allowing one the freedom to school your children yourself. I work during the day while my husband and the boys seek adventure and then in the evening, my husband ventures out to play his music. It is difficult for him sometimes as the artist in him wants to roam about freely and our sons are still at ages that require attention.

We have suffered some personal setbacks this year, but as a family we try to be honest about each situation and work together without pointing fingers at one another. Our boys are amazing people and have adjusted through all these situations. They have learned a great deal about money during these financially difficult times and have come up with hilarious and surprisingly well thought out ways to make money themselves.

One thing that we have all learned from these experiences is that it is not the amount of money that you have or that you spend, but the amount of love and effort that you put forth that shapes our children into the people they need to become. They are each unique and intelligent. It is our responsibility to give them the keys to the world, teach them respect for themselves and for their fellow beings, and let them know they are loved!

They will find their path...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We joined the Carnival!!!

I am very excited to announce that our humble family blog was selected for the current Carnival of Unschooled Life - October blog!!! Yeah!!!! There were some amazing posts from other families making personal educational strides, so make sure to check them all out. I was especially moved by the Tenament Museum in NYC...incredible way to see how history lives.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hard Lessons to Learn

Recently, I introduced my sons to Houstonopoly, the Houston version of the classic board game. My children are 4, 6, 7 and 8 which has them at different stages of viewing world situations. They are great at asking questions and think very sincerely as they consider life around them. BUT it has been amazing to watch the different characteristics of each child as they learned and played the game.

I did modify the rules a bit to simplify things by taking out the house/hotel factor, but I left everything else in order to give them a realistic experience. W8 was very precise with how he put his money and properties out in front of him and D7 sorted his money, but stacked his properties. E6 decided he wanted to watch and J4 stacked his money, sorted his properties and enjoyed holding the stack of money in his hand when it was his turn. W8 and D7 quickly picked up the idea of buying properties to receive rent payments when people land on them. J4 was not interested in giving his money away and was very unhappy to find out that he was expected to pay his brothers anything when landing on their properties. He was very intent on buying a property called “The Strawberry Patch” which was a Houston landmark restaurant for many years and I thought it was cute because he wanted it because it had a strawberry on the picture. J4 is a highly determined boy and he did end up with that property. In the end D7 became frustrated with “landing in jail” and left the game and his opportunistic brother E6 jumped into his place.

D7 insisted that if E6 won that it was a shared victory since “he played for most of the game”. There was a time limit placed on this first game, because as the banker, I had no intention of an 8 hour game the first time round. So at the end of our time limit, we added up all their properties and money and the winners turned out to be D7/E6, J4 and W8. W8 was perplexed as to how after spending a great deal of his money on properties, how he could possibly have lost. We talked about how you never know where the dice may have you land and that buying a lot of properties doesn’t necessarily mean that people will land on them.

They came up with a collective idea of creating a board game that was more peaceful. We’ll see what that looks like and I look forward to watching them work together to create it!

Peace & Blessings!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Unschooling is the new REAL SCHOOLING...

The more that my family gives in to the love of life learning, the more we learn about ourselves.

The "economic downturn" is just another excuse for those who have, to discriminate against those who are trying to emulate their lifestyle. As a one income family, we have found that "affordable housing" is not really affordable and those places that are in our range are usually purposefully crap.

It is times like this when we start to hear suggestions of putting the boys into public school so hubby and I can spend our days working in the grind while our sons are ground up in the system. Sounds great? Not!

As artists and activists, we are painfully aware that fighting the good fight doesn't come with luxury housing and 6 figure incomes, but it builds the kind of people that change their communities and potentially, the world.

That's what I want for my boys. Real world schooling. Socializing with elders and youth to make a difference!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not back to school

So today was back to school for a lot of youth here in Houston. Glad that we are part of the growing movement of families choosing to take education power back from the institution and empower the individual!

We bought a cake and had it for breakfast on Saturday morning to celebrate our new unschool year. W8 and D7 want to focus on science, math and reading while E6 also wants to include history. J4 just reminds us all that he does NOT want to go to school.

Tonight, all 4 boys began working on building a boat out of cardboard/chipboard boxes using staples. Pretty creative buch of pirates! The oldest 2 and I also played Yatzee in between building and they are getting really fast at adding, multiplying and counting in multiples.

I am looking forward to all the learning ahead for them and myself. Hopefully husband and the boys can check out the Not Back to School party on Friday. Enjoy the journey...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guerilla art show

Guerrilla art show

Tonight I tried to engage the youth at the playground with some painting time. There was one color and paint brushes, chopsticks and plastic caps (and dirt) to create a full fledged art show on the playground. All the kids participated and posed next to their art. Even if it is torn down by morning, it will be something they can remember.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Building community

SO the complex we live in is looking like it's seen better days. But what has me disappointed and ticked off is that the playground where the younger kids play is under siege. The PVC pipe that surrounds the area is kept in place by rebar and the pipe can be easily removed from said rebar. It is a hazard as teens have chosen to move the pipes around with no thought that a small person might get hurt.

Today the someone that gpt hurt was my 6 year old. Needless to say, I was angry and went down to that playground with my husband and we put the pipes back where they belong. Then I noticed how trash was mixed in with the leaves and upon closer inspection saw glass was mixed in as well. So my 4 boys and 3 neighbor children started cleaning up. Between us, we collected 7 bags of trash (including nails, odd bits of metal, glass of all colors). The kids took ownership and I hope that sense of community becomes instilled with them and it's something that they will practice. I also hope I don't catch anyone messing up all that hard work. It was a joy to know that the kids had a safer space to play in this afternoon!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Enjoying the day...

What a beautiful day in Houston! Took the boys swimming for a good 3 hours and had a blast while dear husband got a chance to work on some music. After arriving back home, I finished the mashup shirt for my 4 year old. He had a 2T shirt that he refused to give up, so I cut around the zebras, found a piece of contrasting fabric and sewed it to a tshirt like it was a patch. Good times...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Education

As a youth, summer was my favorite time of year when my days were my own. Being a parent now, summer is such a different animal especially as an unschooling homeschooler. We moved into a large apartment complex (new experience) in May before public school let out and were used to being the only family of school aged children roaming the neighborhood. Since the school year ended, it has been a non-stop onslaught of having every conversation I didn't think I was going to have to have with my boys until they were at least a few years older.

There is such a negative culture being instilled in our youth and it is a bit frightening to witness. I have heard some very uniformed conversations by teens and tweens and it is unfortunate that they do not have adults that they can talk with about serious issues. The younger children are enamoured by the teens and are taking what they say as gospel. So there have been lots of questions from my crew and I have had to tell the truth...a lot. And I have had conversations with neighboring youth about certain words they use and their origin. It hasn't stopped the words, but hopefully it will sink in. One day.

I do not look forward to sending bright eyed youth back to their public school fate, but I do look forward to the quiet the Fall brings.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Busy with life...

Life has been throwing curveballs at an excellerated rate since my last post a little over a month ago. It is always easier to be negative and see all the things going wrong and never the things going right BUT I am working on keeping my mind focused on the positive. It is the best way to show the boys how to deal with adversity. Burying your head in the sand and/or playing the blame game only delays problem solving. Precisely why we teach the skills of creatively solving problems and making the best of life!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Important lessons

Today I got to do something hilariously fun with my kids and husband. We got up extra early to stand in line at Ikea at their grand re-opening!!!! The first 100 kids got a free heart pillow and the boys couldn't wait to get in line. Not face painting, mimes or a clown on stilts would sway them from getting out of line. We had free breakfast and won some prizes in addition to just having quality time. The boys got their heart pillows and were sooo happy! The important lesson this morning was to take some time to do something out of the ordinary. Those are the moments they remember.

Tonight while eating dinner, 7yo said he wanted to be president so he could make sure that everyone in the world had food and water. He said the police would carry around food and look for people who were hungry. I told him that it is greater to help people in your own community and the only title he needs is Human. He then went on to say that when he gets his license, he is going to have a van that he can carry food bags and water to hand out to hungry people. 8yo suggested that he should also think about giving away money too.

I looked at my husband and said that it is times like these where I know we are on the right path with exposing the boys to real life. They will be better prepared to be leaders in their communities.

Peace & Blessings to all & good night!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New day, new name & new intentions

Today the boys decided that they wanted to head to the library after dropping me off at work. They are excited about the summer reading programs and S7 says he is determined to read 100 books this summer! They got to watch the stage being built for this weekend's Free Press Summer Fest. I was told by my husband that it is a sweet setup. Later they did an art project suggested by dear dad to describe the Ancillary sphere downtown. They all turned out some nice pieces of artwork.

As non-public schoolers, the subject of school names comes up when you are filling out different forms, newsletters, etc. We have kicked around a lot of things with the boys and I have my personal favorite, "the wildcrafting school of overstanding". Even if everyone decides on a different name, I think I'll stick with this one for the blog.

Every day we should get up, thank the creator, greet the sun and walk with positive intentions. This can be easier said than done, but must be a necessary step in our personal development. We have been talking to the boys about speaking with intention as the spoken word is powerful. You can't take back words once they have left your lips no matter how much you may wish you could. Rastafarians speak Ital and it is a perfect example of trying to leave negative words behind with an "overstanding" of a situation as opposed to an understanding. So I must think before I speak and help teach the boys to do the same.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Group efforts

Leaving the house with 2 adults and 4 boys has always been a challenge. But infants are a lot easier to dress since they can't talk back...yet. Typically we all are responsible for ourselves but there are those times where timing is important and that's where teamwork becomes critical.

I will help the oldest two get ready and then ask them to help the younger two while myself and the big man get it together. Mostly foolproof plan, but today we just couldn't move faster than snails on vacation. Oh well...

Monday, May 24, 2010

As they grow

It's amazing to watch the little ones changing into beings that can rationalize and reason. Even if it makes you cry.

A simple conversation with my 4 year old about him treating himself better so he can be around for a long time, brought up the subject of death and dying. So now I have a 7yo who is crying and telling me about his happiest memory of cooking while clinging to me; a 6yo who is crying and hugs me while whispering he doesn't want "you and Daddy to die" and then the 4yo old looks up at me with tears pouring down his face saying, "if you die, we wouldn't have a mommy anymore".

Try not crying through all that!!!

Not just because it was sad, but that they are processing humanity.

Of course 8yo has to put it all back into perspective as he lets me know that he will cry when I die, but that's not right now and that his brothers are probably crying because they are picturing what I will look like dead. I quietly whisper to him with a hug, that he should keep that nugget of info to himself because I didn't think his brothers had even thought of that and that might make them cry more. What a day!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Food Network fun

We have been watching a lot of Food Network lately and it has spawned some hilarious evenings of creative entrees and dessert options made from Playdoh. All 4 boys have become "chefs", both head and sous. Last night was sushi pizza, sushi lasagna, tacos, milkshakes and strawberry pie. They have also learned a lot of food history from watching "Good Eats" with Alton Brown. Hopefully we will get a chance to get all the boys into the kitchen or out on the grill this summer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Unschooling in the News

Well, whether we unschoolers were content with staying out of the limelight or not, the past 2 days of reporting on Good Morning America has put us all out there. The show yesterday of the Biegler family was so slanted it was scandalous! And did Juju yell at the son when she questioned his judgement at 7? There was enough controversy to invite the family back on this morning's show where the attitude was a bit more subdued. It was nice that the family was able to answer some of the questions posted on the ABC website, but it was still such a tiny view of the vastness of unschooling.

Swiss Army Wife has written a wonderful post on the subject that I recommend. and another must read from Lee Stranahan "Unschooling : How "Good Morning, America" Got It All Wrong"

I confess that I was compelled to leave a comment on the GMA website as well (kjrp68).

I am just happy that was not my family under the microscope as life has been difficult enough. I do take strength from the fact that the judge made it clear to the folks living in the house we are planning on buying that they must be out by tomorrow...or else. Our unschooling lifestyle has been under major scrutiny by all our relatives that we have stayed with (on both sides of our families). It is always hard to "pretend" to fit into the boxes others live in. BUT not much longer!!! We will be able to have our OWN HOME BASE with which to learn and live and love life! Can't wait!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Unschoolers Unite!

Rethinking Everything is an annual gathering of unschoolers from around the world. It is an amazing sight to see youth empowered and parents getting a chance to share with other like-minded folks. I highly recommend getting your registration in early and check their website at

It is an experience that will change your life!