Wife Swap

I received the following e-mail from the casting producer of Wife Swap. Although I told them my family was not able to participate at this time, I made the offer to pass along the request here in case any of our readers were interested. All the contact information is at the bottom.

Hi Joanne,

My name is Danielle Gervais. I'm a Casting Producer for ABC's Primetime show, "Wife Swap." I hope you don't mind me contacting you, but we're gearing up for a fourth season at the moment and we're currently looking for one-of-a-kind families with plenty of personality! Specifically, we're looking for parents who strongly believe in alternative forms of education for their children. Please feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think would be interested in taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In case you are unfamiliar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the moms switch places to experience how another family lives. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. Then she introduces a "rule change" where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It's a positive experience for people to not only learn but teach about other families and other ways of life. Wife Swap airs on Disney owned ABC television on Mondays at 8 pm- the family hour!

Requirements: Each family must consist of two parents and at least one child between 7 and 17 and should reside in the continental U.S. (There may be other children living in the home who are older or younger than the required age…as long as one child is in the required age range.)

Participating in the show is a very unique experience that can be life changing for everyone. In addition, each family that tapes an episode of Wife Swap receives $20,000 as compensation for their time. Anyone who refers a family that appears on our program receives $1000 as a 'thank you’ from us.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this email and I hope to hear from you soon. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! If you're interested in learning more, please don’t forget to include your contact information.

Thank you for your time,

Danielle Gervais


Fun Monday Submission

I decided to take part Fun Monday this week. The question for this week is:

I would like to know, or see, what's on, in or under your bedside table! So open those draws and bare your soul to us! Is there anything special there that has a story or a memory that you can tell us about? Books that you keep there to delve into from time to time? Trinkets that you don't know where else to put? Let's see!

On both sides of our king size bed, my husband & I have two black, glass top tables. The one on my side has my middle-of-the-night must haves. My skin tends to dry out more when it's winter and the heat is on and I need my Lubriderm and chapstick nearby. Tissues are a must because I'm a sneezer. There's also an alarm clock that I hardly use. lol

My husband Billy doesn't really use his table. Our phone is there and a bear in a wicker chair that he gave me before we got married. That little orange notebook is something that we started over ten years ago. We'll write love notes to each other in it and leave the book in a place where the other will find it. Each entry is dated and it's been really nice to go back and read some of the things we wrote years ago. We keep it on that table until we want to write in it. That white basket underneath holds all the things that have to do with my mothers recent death. It has all the mass cards, sympathy cards, extra prayer cards, etc. Eventually it'll be boxed away but I'm not ready yet.

And for those who may wonder...yes, our walls are red. Our bedroom is done in black, red and mirrors and is, shall we say, somewhat x-rated. lol


New Award and Some Sidebar Additions

Silvia over at Po Moyemu gave us this very cool award! It's new home will be in the right sidebar along with some other awards we've recieved from fellow bloggers. Thanks so much Silvia. :-)

I'm supposed to pass it on to other bloggers. I decided to look for some of my favorite blogs that didn't have one yet, instead of giving it to someone who already had one. :-) In no particular order...

Doc's Sunrise Rants
Wired For Noise
Phat Mommy
Vegan Momma
Another Roadside Attraction
Warts And All
Relaxed Homeschool
Meanderings of a Gentle Gull
Second to the Right
Throwing Marshmellows
11) Learning in Freedom

There's a few other additions to our sidebar...

1) I linked to my post about
Rewarding Children To Learn in the left sidebar under "Posts Of Interest".
2) I added the link my my
sk*rt and Blogging Zoom profiles in the right sidebar under "Also Find Me Here".
3) My girls and are are taking part in the
Creative Everyday Challenge and we've added the button in the right sidebar. I'll try to do a recap on the weekends of the creative things we've done each week. We're looking forward to doing this!


45 Things I've Learned in 45 Years

*~~ Today is my birthday and I'm 45 years old. ~~*

I've always enjoyed gaining another year under my belt. Even the supposed hard ones, like turning 30 or 40, were welcomed with open arms. I wore each year proudly, almost like a badge of honor.

This is the first year that it's difficult, but not because of the number 45. Difficult because it's my first time having a birthday without my mother here with me. (Actually, it's my first birthday without either of my parents, my father passed away 20 years ago).

Throughout my life, my mother & I always had a very strong and close connection. She was my mother and my friend and I miss her so much. I always shared my birthday with her because it was "our" day. I was what they considered a high risk pregnancy and she spent a lot of time in the hospital. I would buy flowers for her on my birthday, as a thank you for having me. This year I'll buy them and place them near her urn. I think that'll make me feel better than not buying them at all.

I've learned some valuable lessons so far and I look forward to learning more in the next 45 years. :-)

45 things I've learned in the first 45 years of my life.

1. Time may heal most wounds, but not all.
2. Love is not always the answer
3. Life is what you make it.
4. Real friends come through for you when you need them the most.
5. The public school system in this country sucks and is getting worse every day.
6. Unschooling rocks!
7. Hurt people hurt others.
8. We are all connected
9. Religion does more to seperate people than bring them together.
10. Hard rock is best served LOUD.
11. Biology doesn't make a family.
12. Chocolate does make things better
13. My mother was right when she said "This too shall pass"
14. People may try to hang their baggage on you...don't let them.
15. When people come together, in the wake of a tragedy, it's a beautiful thing to be part of. (RIP to all the souls killed on September 11, 2001)
16. Change is growth
17. Dogs are great friends
18. Don't listen to the attendant - lift those hands up when you're on a roller coaster!
19. Al Sharpton truly is a jackass.
20. There are times in our life when we just have to move on.
21. Always, always listen to your gut instinct.
22. Take responsibility for what you say
23. Take responsibility for your actions.
24. Sometimes revenge feels good
25. It's a good idea to take a deep breathe before saying something you might regret
26. Some people come in to your life for a short time but you remember them forever.
27. Never gossip about someone in a public restroom.
28. Doctors do not always know what their talking about.
29. DCF/CPS/DSS does not always have the best interest of the child at heart.
30. Learning is everywhere
31. Being the white parent of two brown skinned children, I've found racism in places I wouldn't expect.
32. I am a REAL parent. If you ask me where my kids real parents are, I'm going to slap you.
33. My kids are my REAL kids. If you ask me why I don't have kids "of my own", I'm going to slap you again.
34. People who say #32 and #33 are misinformed about adoption and have no idea what they're talking about.
35. I've never been mainstream or traditional
36. I have met some really cool people through the internet.
37. Being gay is not a sin.
38. New York City is the best place on earth
39. My husband will always be a 16 year old at heart
40. Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission
41. Just because you've always done something a certain way, doesn't mean it's the right way

42. If I don't write it down, I'll forget it.
43. Animals deserve to be treated with respect
44. I feel at home in a book store
45. Life is short - make the most of it


Rewarding (Bribing) Children To Learn

I'm not a fan of bribing children to learn. Even before we removed our children from school, I hated what message rewarding them with pizza parties, candy and money (yes, money), was sending to them. These "rewards" were held out in front the students like a dangling carrot, with the promise that it could be theirs if they learned what the school wanted them to learn.

The message? I believe it's two-fold.

1) If someone had to bribe me to do something, my first thought would be "It must be unpleasent if you have to bribe me to do it". When my middle child was in school, they were always trying different bribes/rewards to make her read more. It wasn't working and the more they tried, the more she hated reading. "But we'll give you candy!". She read for the candy and then stopped when there was no more. "But we'll give you a prize". She read for the prize and then stopped when the prizes ran out. They didn't realise (or didn't care) they were sending her a message that reading is so horrible that she would only want to do it for candy and prizes.

Fast forward four years to right now. The last few years that she has been out of school, she's had the freedom to read if she wants to. There are no bribes. Just shelves and shelves of interesting books for her to read, when she's ready and if she chooses. Nowadays, she reads for 3-4 hours a day, because she enjoys it. Ask her what her favorite activites are and reading is always in the top three. It took about a year of deschooling for her to get to that point.

This past summer, a schooled friend came over and my daughter was very excited to tell her about a book she had just read. Her friend said "You have to read in the summer??" My daughter was confused and caught off guard. Her friend went on to ask "What are you getting for reading that book?" My daughter said that she read the book because she enjoyed it. Her friend looked at her like she had two heads.

2) Food and candy were often used as bribes when my girls were in school. Pizza, chocolate, candy and ice cream were used time and time again to get the students to learn something that the school assumed the students would not want to learn on their own. I believe this sets them up with an unhealthy view of food. If a child has their candy contolled and then used as a reward, how else will they react other than trying to eat as much as possible when they have the chance? You see those kids at birthday paties, standing by the chips or candy, eating as much as possible. I've had children come to my house and finish a whole bowl of m&m's that were meant for everybody. It's sad. Don't schools (and parents who do this) see that their giving that candy or pizza too much power?

Not only do I never use food as a bribe, my girls don't have their food controlled. It took lots of discussions and modeling on my part to get to this point but I now have a nine and twelve year old with a healtheir outlook of food than most adults I meet. When we first adopted them, my middle daughter was that child hovering near the chips at a birthday party. She was the one who gorged herself on candy in fear there would be no more. So when a parent says "If I let them, they'll eat candy all day", I agree because if a child has their candy controlled and doled out only as rewards, yes, they will try to eat as much as they can get. Can you blame them?

If children are given the freedom to learn things as they come up naturally in life, there's no need to bribe them with the promise of a reward to force them to learn something when they're not ready. I believe that rewards motivate students to get rewards, not to learn.

*originally written in 2006-updated in 2008*


Oh My God: Girl Scouts And Religion

If you read this blog with any frequency, you know that both of my daughters really enjoy Girl Scouts. As a matter of fact, Jacqueline (my youngest, pictured below) is a five year girl scout, starting when she was a daisy, she's now a junior.

One thing I appreciate about the Girl Scouts is they don't affiliate themselves with any one religion. Although the word god is in their promise, their policy is "Since the Girl Scout organization makes no attempt to interpret or define the word 'God' but encourages members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs, it is the policy of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. that individuals when making the Girl Scout Promise may substitute wording appropriate to their own spiritual beliefs for the word 'God'."

They go on to say "The Girl Scout organization does not endorse or promote any particular philosophy or religious belief. Our movement is secular and is founded on American democratic principles, one of which is freedom of religion".

Jacqueline and Shawna attended summer camp with the girl scouts this past July and had a really great time. A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing camp for this coming year and Jacqueline told me something she had forgotten about from this past camp.

It seems that Jacqueline, while talking to some of the girls, exclaimed "Oh my god" to something that was said. So what's the problem you may wonder. Nothing, as far as I can see. Except one of the camp leaders didn't approve.

Let me share my letter to our local Girl Scout Council about this matter.

My two daughters are both long time girls scouts who are very active within their community. My nine year old is a five year scout, starting when she was a daisy and is now a junior girl scout.

I sent both of them to the summer camp past summer where they both had a great time. Recently, while talking about her experience, my youngest informed me of a situation that came up that I wasn't aware of before.

It seems that while in a conversation with some of the other girls, my daughter exclaimed "oh my god" to something that was said. The camp leader told my daughter she wasn't allowed to say that, corrected her in front of everybody and told her from now on she's to say "oh my gosh".

I explained to my daughter that she was not wrong and the leader had no right to correct and censor her. I told her that saying "oh my god" is a matter of personal and religious preference and that the leader had no right to expect her to believe in the same thing as her. I told her to speak up if that ever happened again and not to be afraid to disagree when she feels someone is imposing their religious views on her. We talked about how there is no one right way for everyone and that the leader should have known that.

I feel that the camp leader forced her own religious beliefs on my daughter by censoring and correcting her. Those are her own personal beliefs and not beliefs held by my family. Personally, I wonder of she would have done that to me, as another adult but I doubt it. Will this be a problem for this years camp? Are camp leaders going to impose their own personal religious views on my children?

And the reply I got.

Hi Joanne,
I received your email regarding your concern for your daughter and her camp experience from last summer. I appreciate you bringing your concerns to me and I am sorry that your daughter was just now able to share her experience with you. You are correct in your information that you shared about having the right to have her own personal religious beliefs. I appreciate the lesson you shared with her regarding this topic and encouraging her to speak up when a situation like this happens. Particularly if the information is being shared by adults in a impressionable role like a camp counselor or a leader volunteering for Girl Scouts. It is important that all our beliefs are respected. I am really sorry that your daughter had a negative experience. The issue is a training issue with my staff and though I cannot promise that a situation like that will not come up again, I can assure you that the staff will have training on this subject area and will be expected to adhere to the policies of Girl Scouts. I do hope that your daughter attends camp again this summer. If I can assist you in anyway in the future please do not hesitate to let me know. Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.

I'm satisfied with their reply and we looked upon this whole situation as a learning experience. My girls and I had several interesting discussions because of this on topics such as censorship, religion, tolerance and authority. I want my daughters to understand that just because someone is an adult who may be in a position of authority (coach, troop leader, etc), that doesn't mean that everything they say or do is correct and to be followed. It's also important to me to be a role model for my children and by standing up for what I believe in.

Because my children spent a long time in foster care before we adopted them, they had been raised to listen to and not question adults. While some parents may want this type of behavior, I don't want them to blindly follow what someone tells them, just because that person happens to be an adult.


Update For Our Feed Readers

Over the last week or so, I've updated some posts. I don't know for sure if an updated post (as opposed to a brand new one) will show up in a feed reader (it didn't for me and I use google) so you may not have heard from me in a while. :-)

Here's the links to the five posts I updated:

My Five Best Homeschooling (Unschooling) Tips
The 'S' Word
Deschooling For Parents
What Is, And Isn't Unschooling
Talking To An Unschooled Child

I've also updated some links in the sidebars and being you read the posts here through a feed reader, you don't get to see them:

If you want to stalk me around the internet, here are some places to find me..feel free to add me as a friend. :-)

My Bloglog
Maya's Mom

Last year, I created an
Unschooling Lens on Squidoo, for the unschooling community. Drop by and leave your link, share your thoughts. Vote for us while you're there. :-)

Here's the link to subscribe this blog's feed. At last count we had 169 feed subscribers. :-)

*~~~ Have a great day. ~~~*


My Five Best Homeschooling Tips

I've been a homeschooling (unschooling) mama since 2004 and I've made some "mistakes" along the way, but I always tried to look at them as a learning experience. When the Pass The Torch blog asked homeschoolers for their best tips, I decided to share five of my best ones.

1. Give yourself some time to
deschool. Letting go of preconceived notions about school and learning, is a gift you can give yourself, and your child/ren. My own deschooling is a work in progress and the more I see unschooling first hand, the more I question what I once thought about education and learning.

2. Expect a period of deschooling from your child/ren. It's been said that one month per every year of school is common. As I said in this post about deschooling, "your child/ren has probably their natural desire to learn squashed and will need time to recover from that. With a parent's help, they can gain back most, if not all of what they lost and begin to see the world as a place where learning is enjoyable, and all around us".

3. Let your children feel your energy and passion for life. Light a fire within yourself. Let it burn so bright that they see it! What are your interests? Is there something you've always wanted to learn? Do It! Let them see YOU learning and living life to the fullest. Be curious. Be interested.

4. Don't make the mistake of duplicating at home, what you didn't like about school. Sometimes we just automatically repeat the same patterns, without even thinking about it, just because it's all we know, it's what we're used to or it's what we've always done.
Replace school with a full and interesting life. The public school system can not compete with that. They can't even come close.

5. Don't make cookies to teach
math. Make cookies because they taste good. :-)

Originally written in 2007, updated in 2008


Talking To An Unschooled Child

There was a discussion, on one of my unschooling e-mail groups, about how extended family members seem to have a hard time talking to a child when they can't talk about school. It's like the only questions anybody can think of to ask a kid is "what grade are you in?", "what's your favorite subject?" and "how are you doing in school?"

I've found this to be true sometimes, not so much from family but from friends and people that we meet while out and about. I'd like to share the reply I posted on the e-mail group. It's a mock letter I wrote about my youngest child, my daughter Jacqueline...8 when I wrote this, she's 9 now.

Dear Friend,

Please don't talk down to Jacqueline when you speak with her. Your eyes may see only a young child, but I see a person who is interesting and knowledgeable in many areas. If you give her half a chance you may learn something that you didn't know before you met her.

Ask her what she's interested in and she'll tell you all about the Mars Odyssey satellite. Ask her what she did today and she'll tell you how she fixed her grandmothers VCR...after her daddy called her to ask for help. Talk a bit longer and she'll tell you the Barbie story she wrote, and what her next story is going to be about.

Ask her about her life and she'll tell you that she's a four year Girl Scout, that she met an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center and that she has her own plant at her grandmothers house (which is next door) that she waters every other day.

Also, if you're going to ask her why she's not in school, be prepared for her to tell you she dropped out in the first grade. She has her daddy's sense of humor. :-) Don't look shocked. Laugh instead. She's being funny.

Speak to her like a human being and she'll speak to you the same way.

Jacqueline's mommy. :-)

*originally written in 2007, updated in 2008*


What Is, And Isn't Unschooling

Unschooling isn't so much a method, as it is a way of looking at learning. It's seeing the learning in everything. To me, it's much more than just dropping the curriculum, although that's an excellent place to start.

It's changing the way you view learning and education.

It isn't leaving your children to find their own way. It isn't brushing them off and doing your own thing while they're off on their own trying to make sense of the world.

Unschooling is trying to be a present and mindful parent. It's spending time with your children, being involved in their world and inviting them into yours.

Sandra Dodd:
"It's like "just say no." Just say no to school years and school schedules and school expectations, school habits and fears and terminology. Just say no to separating the world into important and
unimportant things, into separating knowledge into math, science, history and language arts, with music, art and PE set in their less important little places.

Most of unschooling has to happen inside the parents. They need to spend some time sorting out what is real from what is construct, and what occurs in nature from what only occurs in school (and then in the minds of those who were told school was real life, school was a kid's fulltime job, school was more important than anything, school would keep them from being ignorant, school would make them happy and rich and right). It's what happens after all that school stuff is banished from your life

Anne Ohman:
"Unschooling is active, not passive. It's only passive in that you don't do school. But it requires an active effort on your part to shift your own perspective and your old definition of learning. You need to work on seeing learning happening in what your children love to do. It requires active effort in connecting with your children as they are right now. It requires active effort in finding things in the world that you think would be of interest to them. It requires active effort in giving them as much of the world as you can and letting them choose from it what they love. It requires active effort in basing your life in Joy and Love."

Unschooling my children is enabling me to see that learning is everywhere. The more they are out of school, the more I see the curiosity and spark in their eyes.

Unschooling my children shows me that learning is fun and enjoyable. Learning is not filling in a bubble on a test. Learning is not being told to memorize a bunch of facts that they could very easily find, in a matter of minutes, online or in a book if they needed it.

Unschooling my children lets me see that their interests and passions are valid and important.

Unschooling my children is enabling me to see them...for all they are and all they can become.

Unschooling my children his enabling me to see that life really is for living and exploring and singing and creating and discovering and trying and doing and being.

originally written in 2006: updated in 2008


Deschooling For Parents

In order for homeschooling (actually unschooling) to work for us, I had to go through my own deschooling process, which was more deep rooted and tangled up than my kids deschooling was for them. Because I went to school longer than they had, and knowing the public school system from both as a student and as a parent, it was harder for me to look at education and school a different way than I had before.

For those who've never heard of deschooling, it's the process one goes through after leaving an institutionalized schooling environment. Your child has probably their natural desire to learn squashed and will need time to recover from that. With a parent's help, they can gain back most, if not all of what they lost and begin to see the world as a place where learning is enjoyable and all around us.
So, what can the parent do to help? We have to work on changing our own preconceived notions about education, learning and school. I hear about many parents taking their kids out of school, recreating the same forced learning environment at home, only to have it come to a crashing halt with the mom feeling like a failure and the kids being miserable. Maybe, if they would have given themselves, and their children, some time to deschool, it would have turned out different for all of them. In a post of my 5 Best Homeschooling Tips, deschooling for parents was #1.

My husband Billy & I started reading
John Taylor Gatto, even before removing our children from school. That was the start of my deschooling. I started to become aware of my thoughts on public school, real learning and education.

And I started to question those thoughts. Thoughts that I had always accepted, without question because "that's the way it's always been done."

I had been a "good" student (except in high school when all hell broke loose), meaning I did what I was told and made good grades. I wasn't picked on, I had friends and got along with the teachers. But it was the thoughts about real life and real learning that I got from school that did the most damage.

I remember having to take a cooking class in junior high school. I hated it and got a very low grade on my report card. There it was, in black & white...I failed at cooking. Surprise, surprise...today, I hate cooking and have no confidence in my ability to cook something edible. (Although this serves me well because Billy does 99% of the cooking-lol). Someone, who never met me, decided it was time for me to learn to cook, and because I wasn't interested at that time and found it boring, I was labeled "poor" in cooking. I never gave it any thought until I started deschooling. It wasn't like it crushed me when I got my report card. Rather it confirmed that the reason I must have found the class boring was because I wasn't good at it.

I began questioning why we, as parents, allow the school system to continue having control over our children when the school day ends. I've had teachers give me weekly lists of things for my children to do at home. I've heard many parents tell their kids "You can't go out (or play) until you do your homework". Suppose I want to do something with my family and homework is interfering with that? Why are they telling my children what to do when they're in their own home?

I questioned why we're expected to live by school policy at home. There had been many times when my children come home, the day before the standardized tests, and let me know that the teacher told the class to tell their parents that they need to eat a good breakfast the next morning. And then hand me a list of what exactly the school's version of a good breakfast consists of.

Why does the school system think they can dictate what parents and children do at home?

Because we let them do it. Yes, WE LET THEM.

Once these thoughts started swirling around in my mind, there was no going back to my old way of thinking. I also started to become aware of other people's thoughts about learning and education.

Soon after I removed my kids from school, we ran into a friend and her son. It was close to the end of the school year and the mother asked if we "take a break for the summer". I explained that we learn all the time and that learning is all around us. I went on to say that it would be like taking a break from breathing. As they walked away I heard her say to her son , "See, they have to do school work every single day, even in summer!".


I recall a parent, of a schooled child, asking me how my kids do P.E. being they're not in school. Who in their right mind would depend on the public school system for physical activity? It's as if physical activity is only a subject, to be taken just at times that the school dictates. Ridiculous!

I also did a lot of reading during that first year of deschooling. My two main sources were the message board at
unschooling.com (now closed) and Sandra Dodd's site. I read almost everything on both sites and I could feel my thoughts and perspective changing as I read more and more.

Although that was about four years ago, I feel like my deschooling is a work in progress. I've learned so much about myself that it became more of a spiritual awakening than anything related to school. School-speak seems like a foreign language to me now. I see what REAL learning is everyday with my children. It looks nothing like school.

originally written in 2004: updated in 2008
This is my submission to
Unschooling Voices.


Homeschooling And Socialization

I have to laugh when someone, after finding out our kids don't go to school, asks about socialization. I'll never understand what one has to do with the other.

Are they saying that when their children are not in school (like weekends or summer breaks) they're isolated from other children? That when they're children are not in school, they have no social opportunities. How sad that they have to depend on a government institution for their children to have friends.

I mean, why else would they be asking?

It certainly can't be because they're concerned for my children. Just talk to any of my unschooled children and they'll tell you about their girl scout troop, gymnastics classes, homeschool classes, neighborhood friends, homeschool play groups and sleepovers, not to mention the time they spend playing with each other.

All that socialization...without school.
Imagine that! :-)

And they do these things with children of all ages.

Yes, it's true.

My youngest child has friends who are teenagers, one of my teenager's friends is nine years old and my preteen age child loves to read to the little ones in our homeschool group. Age never seems to be a factor when determining if someone is a potential friend.

And if that wasn't enough, the really cool thing is...they actually have a choice!

Suppose one of my children doesn't feel like being around other kids. We all have those times when cocooning in our cozy home and being able to think and dream and just be alone in our own head, is what we need. They have the freedom to do that. They don't have to push those feelings aside and spend seven straight hours with other kids (the same age as them) when they don't feel like it. They get to decide when, and how they socialize, and with who. Just like I do. Cool, huh?

And let's not forget the battle cry of teachers across the country..."You're not here to socialize!" I know we all heard a teacher say that at one time or another. So, if school is not for socializing, why are parents of schooled children asking us how our children socialize? We should be asking them.

Yup...when someone asks me the infamous socialization question, I have to laugh. And then a part of me feels sorry for their kids.

*originally written in 2005. updated in 2008*


Some Of The Posts I Enjoyed This Week

Some great posts have been turning up in my feed reader and I wanted to share a few of the ones that I really enjoyed.

Colleen's retrospective post about the first 100 days of her
unschooling was fabulous! She shares the ups and down and doesn't sugar coat it. Here's to the next 100! :-)

Laura posted about a topic that is always being discussed at the unschooling lists;
unschooling and screen time. She talks about how, at one time she gave screen time to much power by limiting it and I love her whole thought process on going from point A to point B.

Lisa at
Do Life Right has some great suggestions for recycling certain items. There were a few new ones to me like donating fur coats to PETA. Her whole blog has a lot of useful information. :-)

Hueina Su at Intensive Care for the Nurturer's Soul hosts the
Carnival of Healing. This is the first time I came across this blog carnival although it seems to have been around for a while. Lots of good stuff to read there.


Unschooling Voices: blogcarnival.com, future hosts & reminder

For some strange reason, I haven't been able to log into blogcarnival.com for a long time. After a few back and forth e-mails with someone, I was finally able to get into my account and start updating the Unschooling Voices page over there.
If you'd like to be included in the current edition, please send it to unschoolingvoices AT yahoo.com, before the end of this month. The more the merrier! :-) Click on the
Unschooling Voices main page for the details.

Unschooling Voices #12 will be hosted over at
Relaxed Homeskool and Kim chose this edition's (always optional) question(s) of the month:

1)Write the unschooling manual for a newbie in 400 words or less- have fun!

2)Take the Unschooling Images Challenge and describe your unschooling experience using pictures. Here's the questions but you can add more or change them at will:
*Your favorite resource
*One field trip they loved and learned on
*The game they love so much they don’t realize it is educational
*What you’ve “strewn” lately
*Everyday task where they pick up lots of info
* A resource you have always wanted to purchase for the children but keep putting off
*What your kids think school is really like
* Best place to unschool

If you'd like to host a future edition, just let me know. :-)


Homeschooling Conversation From The Future

*author unknown*

Two women meet at a playground, where their children are swinging and playing ball. The women are sitting on a bench watching. Eventually, they begin to talk. ...

W1: Hi. My name is Maggie. My kids are the three in red shirts -- helps me keep track of them.

W2: (Smiles) I'm Terri. Mine are in the pink and yellow shirts. Do you come here a lot?

W1: Usually two or three times a week, after we go to the library.

W2: Wow. Where do you find the time?

W1:: We home school, so we do it during the day most of the time.

W2: Some of my neighbors home school, but I send my kids to public school.

W1:: How do you do it?

W2: It's not easy. I go to all the PTO meetings and work with the kids every day after school and stay real involved.

W1: But what about socialization? Aren't you worried about them being cooped up all day with kids their own ages, never getting the opportunity for natural relationships?

W2: Well, yes. But I work hard to balance that. They have some friends who're home schooled, and we visit their grandparents almost every month.

W1: Sounds like you're a very dedicated mom. But don't you worry about all the opportunities they're missing out on? I mean they're so isolated from real life -- how will they know what the world is like -- what people do to make a living -- how to get along with all different kinds of people?

W2: Oh, we discussed that at PTO, and we started a fund to bring real people into the classrooms. Last month, we had a policeman and a doctor come in to talk to every class. And next month, we're having a woman from Japan and a man from Kenya come to speak.

W1: Oh, we met a man from Japan in the grocery store the other week, and he got to talking about his childhood in Tokyo. My kids were absolutely fascinated. We invited him to dinner and got to meet his wife and their three children.

W2: That's nice. Hmm. Maybe we should plan some Japanese food for the lunchroom on Multicultural Day.

W1: Maybe your Japanese guest could eat with the children.

W2: Oh, no. She's on a very tight schedule. She has two other schools to visit that day. It's a system-wide thing we're doing.

W1: Oh, I'm sorry. Well, maybe you'll meet someone interesting in the grocery store sometime and you'll end up having them over for dinner.

W2: I don't think so. I never talk to people in the store - certainly not people who might not even speak my language. What if that Japanese man hadn't spoken English?

W1: To tell you the truth, I never had time to think about it. Before I even saw him, my six-year-old had asked him what he was going to do with all the oranges he was buying.

W2: Your child talks to strangers?

W1: I was right there with him. He knows that as long as he's with me, he can talk to anyone he wishes.

W2: But you're developing dangerous habits in him. My children never talk to strangers.

W1: Not even when they're with you?

W2: They're never with me, except at home after school. So you see why it's so important for them to understand that talking to strangers is a big no-no.

W1: Yes, I do. But if they were with you, they could get to meet interesting people and still be safe. They'd get a taste of the real world, in real settings. They'd also get a real feel for how to tell when a situation is dangerous or suspicious.

W2: They'll get that in the third and fifth grades in their health courses.

W1: Well, I can tell you're a very caring mom. Let me give you my number -- if you ever want to talk, give me call. It was good to meet you.


"Homeschool Is Cool" Video Contest

A couple of days ago I shared an e-mail that was sent to me by Laurel Springs, who asked if I would post about their contest. There have been so many great entries and over the next week, I'll share some here. Here's two that I loved!


The Animal School

This was written by George Reavis, who was an assistant superintendent of the Cincinnati Public Schools.

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a "new world" so they organized a school. They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a "charlie horse" from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceeding well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.


Contest For Homeschoolers

**passing along an e-mail someone sent to the blog**

Laurel Springs School Extends Deadline for Video Contest "Why Homeschool is Cool"

OJAI, CA (PRWeb) December 3, 2007 --
Laurel Springs School, the leader in personalized distance learning education for K-12 students, has extended the deadline to enter its YouTube video contest for homeschoolers "Why Homeschool is Cool" until January 7, 2008.

Laurel Springs School asks homeschool students aged 5-18 to answer the question, "What's Cool about HomeSchool?" through creative and
entertaining videos. This YouTube contest gives homeschoolers everywhere the opportunity to tell their unique story and show people why homeschooling is a creative, exciting, and realistic alternative to traditional education.

About the Laurel Springs "Why Homeschool is Cool" YouTube video contest:
* Homeschoolers may submit their 60-second videos on YouTube now
through January 7, 2008.
* Laurel Springs School will reward the top rated video with a grand
prize of $1000. The grand prize is open to all qualified entrants aged 5-18.

* There will be a first prize of $250 and a second prize of $100 for
each of three age groups categories: Ages 5-9, 10-13, 14-18.
* The contest is open to any K-12 homeschooled student living in any
* All video entries must be in English (no sub-titles).

Visit www.laurelsprings.com/videocontest for more information and Official Rules.

Media Contact:
Chrystal Hopkins
Jones Public Relations
(502) 402-2720


Joyce Fetteroll: Five Steps To Unschooling

This article was a big help to me when I originally removed my children from school (in 2004, when they were in the 1st, 4th & repeating the 5th grade) and began unschooling. The link to Joyce's wonderful website and the original article are at the end.

Five Steps to Unschooling
By Joyce Kurtak Fetteroll

Some people understand unschooling as soon as they hear about it. Others wander about in a fog of confusion, wondering how unschoolers can be so certain about something that seems so counterintuitive to everything we've picked up about how kids need to learn. Maybe a few, well-defined steps in the unschooling direction could lead out of at least the very pea-soupiest part of the fog.

Step One:
To unschool, you begin with your child's interests. If she's interested in birds, you read - or browse, toss aside, just look at the pictures in - books on birds, watch videos on birds, talk about birds, research and build (or buy) bird feeders and birdhouses, keep a journal on birds, record and ponder their behavior, search the web for items about birds, go to bird sanctuaries, draw birds, color a few pictures in the Dover Birds of Prey coloring book, play around with feathers, study Leonardo DaVinci's drawings of flying machines that he based on birds, watch Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."
But DON'T go whole hog on this. Gauge how much to do and when by your child's reactions. Let her say no thanks. Let her choose. Let her interest set the pace. If it takes years, let it take years. If it lasts an hour, let it last an hour.

Step Two:
Second, you need to make sure your child has opportunities to expand her interests. Have books, videos, kits, games, puzzles, music tapes, puppets, nature collections, and other cool things available for her to pick up when she chooses. (Think library, yard sales, and attic treasures.) Take her places as a way to spark an interest. Wander about museums and just look at the cool stuff that interests either of you. (And resist the urge to force an interest in the things you think would be good for her.) Read a book or do a kit even if you're certain it won't lead anywhere. Let her say no thanks if she's not interested in pursuing something right now, or in pursuing something to the degree you think she "should."

Step Three:
Get interested in things yourself. Not interested in your child getting educated, but in learning for yourself. Pursue an interest you've always wanted to but never had time for. Be curious about life around you. Look things up to satisfy your own curiosity. Or just ponder the wonder of it all. Ask questions you don't know the answers to. "Why are there beautiful colors beneath the green in leaves?" "Why did they build the bridge here rather than over there?" "Why is there suddenly more traffic on my road than there used to be?"
Let your child know that all the questions haven't been answered yet and it's not her job to just keep absorbing answers until she's got them all.

Step Four:
Start noticing the learning available all around you. There are fractions in time and cooking and in the relationships between objects. (There are one third as many blue M&M's as there are brown.) Tax is a percentage of the total, some items offer 20% more free, and stores having a sale will knock a percentage off the regular price. There's oodles of science in cooking. Why does heat make the white of an egg turn from clear liquid to solid white? What process turns liquid cake into poofy air-filled solid cake? Don't worry if you don't know the answers. Anyone can look up the answers. Few can ask the questions. As a real-life example, by watching Xena and reading Little Town on the Prairie, my daughter was exposed to three references to Julius Caesar, Brutus, and Marc Antony. She doesn't "know" Roman history now, but she's got a hook or point of reference to build from tomorrow, next week, three years from now: "You remember Julius Caesar. The guy Xena hates." Unfortunately we learned in school that learning is locked up in books and reading is the only way to get to it. It's not. It's free. We're surrounded by it. We just need to relearn how to recognize it in its wild state.

Step Five:
And, finally, forget the linear approach to learning we grew up with. For instance, we learned that the way to learn is to read "all the important" stuff about a subject gathered and packaged for our convenience in a textbook and then move on in line to the next package of information. Sure, sometimes an interest will cause kids to gather up a huge chunk of learning all at once. This is easy to see. And easy to overvalue as the "best" way to learn. More often kids will slowly gather interesting tidbits, making connections as things occur to them to create a foundation. They'll add pieces here and there over the years to build on that foundation. This is not so easy to see going on. And very easy to undervalue. So, if we can train ourselves to see that process we can help it along by valuing the times when they see Thomas Jefferson on the Animaniacs and then later on the nickel and then still later on Mount Rushmore. Those moments will establish a feeling of recognition and familiarity. Then the more tidbits they gather about Jefferson, the more interesting he becomes. And the more interesting he becomes, the more they want to know about him.

It took at least two years and a lot of posts by very patient unschoolers (and a lot of questions by other newbies who were equally confused) for me to finally "get" unschooling. Hopefully, these five steps will make your transition to unschooling easier than mine was!

Link to original article
Joyfully Rejoycing

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Wordless Wednesday

Here's my entry for Wordless Wednesday.

This tiny, two inch vase is holding flowers my nine year old daughter/soul mate/mini-me picked and gifted me with. The vase itself was a gift from a thrift shop owner, whose store I was shopping in. For a while now, I had been looking for a very small vase to hold flowers that my daughters pick for me and I was happy to find one in a thrift shop last month. It wasn't priced so when I brought my load of treasures to the register, I asked him how much it was. He said he wanted me to have it, as a gift, which I gratefully accepted and thanked him for.

It really is the little things that matter.

**If you're participating in this weeks Wordless Wednesday, feel free to leave the link in a comment so we can visit!**


Unschooling Voices #11

Happy New Year and welcome to Unschooling Voices #11!

This edition has 11 participants and 13 submissions. Take your time and stop by all these great blogs. Leave a comment while you're there and tell them we sent you! :-)

Pam Genant over at
Meanderings of a Gentle Gull shares her unschooling journey with us by telling us what brought her and her family to unschooling. She also posted about something that comes up a lot on the unschooling lists, candy and sugar.

Colleen, who blogs at
The New Unschooler whose submissions "shows that I'm learning a thing or two about respecting my child's feelings and taking him seriously. It's about two very similar situations with vastly different outcomes. What made the difference? The first time I fell back on my standard parental response and the second time I applied the principles of unschooling. You can probably guess which scenario produced the happy ending".

Becky submitted a post from her blog
Life Without School and says "My six year old son is learning to read, and I didn’t teach him how!"

Stephanie from
Learning Through Living answers the (always optional) question of the month with her post.

Mandy at
Second To The Right, And Straight On Till Morning also submitted a post answering this months question.

Mary Nix, Editor and Writer for Home Education Magazine (and someone who has given a lot to the homeschooling community) says she wrote her post after being inspired by this months question.

Sally shares a post "about my intention to revisit my January posts from previous years blogging. I find that I'm often revisiting the same issues. However, it is fascinating to find how much you also move on over time, sometimes, pleasingly, toward the goals you hold".

From the
Life Without School community blog, comes a post by Tammy who says "Letting my kids have their own intellectual jam sessions, that's what we are doing when we let them follow their interests. And when I can (which is pretty often), I jam right along with them. And together, we make music."

Also from the
Life Without School Community Blog, Robin submitted a post on a topic that came up recently on one of the unschooling lists...Unschooling As A Single Parent by Becky.

Silvia over at
Po Moyemu updates us on her radical unschooling journey.

Robin from
The Miracle That Is My Life says this about her submission, "We are doing our best to live a radical unschooling life and learn respectful parenting. This particular entry is about my son's transition into toddlerhood and the beginning of the demands for autonomy. Our RU life looks a lot different now that Sam is no longer just a cheerful little soul concentrating all his efforts on putting one foot in front of the other. His undersanding of the world and his place in it grows every moment of every day and he wants to experience everything and has developed a fine and hearty voice of protest. Learning to respect this is both challenging and extraordinarily wonderful to me."

Rounding up the posts is my submission, which is an older one, being I haven't been blogging much these last couple of months. Here are some pictures from a recent day out with our
homeschool group to a nature trail.

There you have it! Thank you to everyone who participated this month. Unschooling Voices is going to be doing a bit of travelling the next few months, starting at Kim's blog, Relaxed Homeskool for Unschooling Voices #12. If anyone is interested in hosting a future edition, let me know. I've posted Kim's question for the next edition-don't forget to send them in before Feb 1st. :-)

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy this edition!

Interesting Posts Around The Blogosphere

Even though I haven't been writing here to much these last few weeks, I have been visiting with some of my favorite bloggers. Here's some posts that turned up on my google feed reader.

Shannon at Phat Mommy blogged about something called The Wheel of Life, which sounds like a good tool for establishing goals in the coming year. I'll think about mine and post it later.

This post from Karen, author of Mamma Zen hit home with me, particularly at this point in my life. As I go through my mothers house, I'm sad to find beautifully wrapped candles and nice dishes waiting for "just the right time" to be used. That time will never come. I made a promise to myself (and a silent one to mom) to use all those candles and dishes NOW, while I'm alive to enjoy them.

A good reminder for a new year from Lisa at Do Life Right in this post titled Choosing Zen.

A great post from Holly at Unschool Days and one that I can relate to. I love the last paragraph.

***** Enjoy! *****

**Edited To Add**

Edition #11 of Unschooling Voices will be out today (or the latest tomorrow morning) but I wanted to let you know that #12 will be hosted by Kim at Relaxed Homeskool!! As soon as I get #11 posted, I'll update the Unschooling Voices Main Page with her question of the month but you check her blog to see if she posted it yet. Submissions go to the same e-mail address as usual. I think we have a host for lucky #13 so if somebody wants to host #14, please let me know! I'd like it to be someone who has at least participated a couple of times. Check back later on for Unschooling Voices #11. As usual, we had some really terrific blog posts submitted. :-)

A New Beginning


Today is the day to begin.

This new year is a blank canvas upon which you have the delightful opportunity to paint. As you do, be authentic. Your greatest accomplishments are the ones that contain the greatest quantity of you.

Be innovative and creative. The challenges you face will melt away when you apply fresh, original thinking to them.

Remember not to take yourself too seriously. You'll climb much higher when you're thoroughly enjoying the effort.

As you move forward, do so with genuine and persistent integrity. That way, the results you create will be results that are actually worth attaining.

Today you stand at the beginning of a grand adventure, with the very real and present opportunity to shape this year into the best one ever. Begin now, take the initiative, and never stop living life according to who you know you are.

-- Ralph Marston Daily Motivator