Sunday, January 31, 2010

life, life, and more life

Things have been going well here in the big red the way, I called this blog "Big Red House" because when we moved into our big old house almost 10 years ago, the kids started calling it the Big Red House (it's big and Unfortunately, because of it's age, and the expense that would be involved in refurbishing the wood exterior, we've begun the process of putting siding on, so it's no longer red (well, half of it isn't). This makes us sad, but, c'est la vie. We still love our house and will always think of it as the Big Red House.


We've gotten into a sort of comfortable flow, I think. The girls pretty much do their own thing, occasionally asking me for help with something, money for something, etc. We often hang out in the evenings, after little James is in bed, which is nice. Things are just kind of nice. There's a kind of an easy, comfortable, free vibe going on. Just like I like it.

Adam and I exploded his volcano, Mount Moon, for the first time on Friday. That was lots of fun. He plans on building a town beneath it so that we can then watch the town perish. mwahaha.

James is into everything Robots right now. He's all about robots and tanks. We spend many hours talking in "man" voices, fighting, battling, then being friends, then shooting things up, etc. I love to listen to him play and to play with him when he is tired of playing alone. He's got the best imagination. I don't think I've ever met/seen a 3yo quite like James!!

I, personally, am thinking about getting back to doing some sewing for my store. I've taken a break since before Christmas and am feeling ready to get back into it. And, I feel like since we have created a free, open space for learning and living together, now there is room for me and my creativity. Before I felt like it was something I could only do after I "did what needed to be done with the kids." Now I feel like it's all a part of the flow and like I do have the time, whenever I want to make space for it.

Amber also wants to start learning to sew, so we'll be doing that soon.

There's just so much we can do! Every day is free and open and just waiting for us to create it and live in it! I love not having the pressure to get this lesson done, or sign in to a cyberschool, or get in our hour of lessons, or whatever. Each day I am trusting more and more and seeing with OPEN eyes what the truth is about life and learning. It's not about a 2yo saying the ABCs or keeping up with other kids, or whether a kid can say his multiplication tables. Connecting on a daily basis, hearing, listening, talking, BEING, laughing, creating, snuggling, feasting on food for the SOUL....THAT is what it's all about.

Today will be beautiful and full of surprises and's all open and waiting space, to be filled with what we choose to fill it with! That's just so awesome!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

creativity abounds!

Adam likes to play with fire (who doesn't, really?). He's allowed to use fire in our backyard in the fire pit when he wants to. My only "rules" are that he has to keep the fire in the pit and he isn't allowed to burn plastic or other materials that would be toxic when burned and he can't add gasoline or lighter fluid, etc. He does a good job and I totally trust him to be responsible. He's already learned a lot just by doing, like: reaching into the fire to pick up something isn't a good idea, grabbing onto the handle of a cast iron pot that's in the fire (with bare hands) isn't a good idea, and when you throw in a plastic action figure to see what happens it produces a black toxic smoke that isn't very good for you or the environment (he just couldn't resist...he is 10 afterall). "Playing" with fire, for Adam, is also a good lesson in focusing and being present. There's a very quick and sometimes painful consequence when a fire-tender is not present and mindful.

Amber has been teaching herself to play the guitar for several years. She started out on my sister's old acoustic and then 2 years ago got a new guitar of her own for her birthday. She did take lessons briefly in the beginning of her learning but quickly decided that she'd rather go it alone and teach herself. She's done amazingly well and plays daily. Sometimes she takes her guitar and sits down in our town somewhere, playing. She has written several songs and has video taped herself singing/playing.

James discovered yesterday that he can cut with scissors all by himself!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Did I mention that Adam is so happy and free these days? He just seems so much more relaxed. He's working on the new RPG creator program that we downloaded, he's enjoying friends, reading, playing his Lord of the Rings game, building forts outside and in his room, hanging out with me and his sisters, reading a book with Jamie, and more! He's just generally happier and I haven't felt much anger coming from him, either. I'm so happy for him. I'm learning a lot about WHO he is, I'm enjoying listening to him and hanging out with him while he explains his different games and things he's doing. He loves to share what he's doing with everyone. And this shift in my own attitude has allowed me to just really be open to that sharing. It doesn't matter if it's something I'm in to....HE is into it and being present to him while he shares that with me is a real gift. I love to listen to him (and this boy sure can talk) tell me about what he's excited about, nervous about, worried about, happy about. He's so much more important then ANYTHING I might "need" to get done at that moment. And because he is getting this attention and he knows I am present to him he is more himself which is a sweet, loving, compassionate, generous, funny kid!

Erin and I had time to talk some this week. We connected about friendships and just different things going on with her. Again, it was awesome to hear her thoughts and opinions on things. Erin is more quiet with her thoughts and takes more time to get them out in a conversation. So, when she feels like sharing, I really want to be present to that. She's so insightful and brilliant. I really have to quiet myself and allow her room to express what she has to say.

Amber is really growing and maturing. She's so wise. More wise then I was at 17. It's such a joy to see her grow; I really look forward to seeing what she does next. She has decided that she's not going to go to college right away. She wants to travel, and I always knew she would. She feels like she wants to travel while she's young and really has thought it out. She has felt pressured to go to college and has felt like it's what's expected (not by me). She's absolutely right when she says that she feels like she'd waste her time and talents MORE by GOING to college right now. I so respect her ability to see things another way and look "outside the box." When so many people still think that there's only one way to success; I'm so thrilled that she knows that this is not so and that success means something different to her. She's open to college in the future but just has no desire to do that now. And, I TRUST that she is creating her own experience in an amazing and insightful way.

What an awesome journey we're on together.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Week in Review

What a wonderful week this has been. We are slowly remembering what this life together is all about and are embracing it. The kids have naturally moved back into the way it should be. It's taking me a little longer, but I'm getting there. What great lessons my kids teach me. Amber has been amazing. She helps me to see and to understand. I am learning so much about myself and about how my own issues effect my children. I am letting go of some things and just working to really trust and allow our days to shape themselves and evolve. I do not need to control...things don't have to be in order...a project does not have to be done a certain way and it is beautiful just how my child creates's ok if the plan changes. There are things that I thought I had let go of and worked on, that have resurfaced and need to be worked on again. It has been a really eye-opening week. The most important thing I learned this week (thanks to amber) is that the beauty and joy is in the experience and the creation, not in the outcome...the outcome is not important and I have to allow the experience to just happen and go in different directions and just follow the beautiful, creative minds of my children without worrying about the "product" or the end result. My OCD does not like this lesson is very freeing for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

wow. how did i get so far away from center? i'm having such a hard time just letting go and trusting. life has been lighter, and more full of joy for the past week, but in my own head i am still worrying and feeling the need to "manipulate." asking the kids what they want to do. suggesting projects. feeling like i should be doing something. i've got to get to that place of trust and presence and just BEING.

our success is not measured by the chalkboard painted on the wall, the beginnings of projects that are "unschooly." now i feel like i'm preoccupied with "am i unschooling? is this unschooling?" and i know at my core that i'm obsessing and that obsessing is another way to control.

somehow i have become full of fear. so a week later i still feel like crying and still feel like i'm "doing it wrong." and i know it's not something i should be DOING but just BEING.

i'm a pretty intense person. i analyze and philosophize and discuss and want to do things right. it is hard for me to just let go. granted, i have connected more with my children in the past week then i have in the past year. the laughter and joy is back in the house. cyberschool is out the window. adam is like a different kid. i have to remember all of those things. all of the other stuff is just in my own head. i question myself, beat myself up.....somehow i have lost my self-worth and self-confidence.

so, my PLAN is to let go of the plan, let go of the control, and just really try to trust and BE. i KNOW that this lifestyle of unschooling is the way....the proof is in my oldest, Amber, who has been unschooled for a long long time and is bright, amazing, confident, wise, and herSELF. i need allow my other kids to get there....i AM allowing it....but i want to allow it for myself too, i want to feel that freedom again. i know i will. it's just hard to get there sometimes.

Monday, January 11, 2010


today was just one of those of those days that is just, good. i feel like i connected with my kids. had a great conversation with my oldest, Amber, about what she wants and the direction she wants to take, now. hung out with all of them in different moments. smiled with all of them. we had a nice dinner together that was more filled with laughter then this house has been in awhile. then we watched a movie together and the house is quiet now, everyone kind of doing their own thing. jamie is reading to adam and both girls are cyber-socializing (lol, i just made that up). nothing extravagant happened, no big plans, no big events, it was just good.

i like these days. i'm so grateful to be living this life with my family. it's good and it's exactly as it should be.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

detoxing myself

I've been spending the past few days detoxing and just immersing myself again in writings and wisdom from other unschoolers. I am remembering slowly what this lifestyle means and am I feel like I'm re-learning it myself. It comes so naturally to children (which is a real testament to it in and of itself) but can be so hard for us grown-ups to get it. It's funny. I've been looking at wonderful websites and blogs created by unschoolers and in the back of my mind I've been thinking, "Ok, so if I can just find someone to tell me how to do it!" LOL Um...right. My mind still wants someone to give me a recipe, a structure for success, a checklist for what to do. And then I remember and laugh at myself and just take a deep breath.

Probably one of the best websites I'm reading is Joyfully Rejoycing (thanks Anne!). It is fantastic and just so full of information, encouragement, answers, etc., etc. AND, it also discusses unschooling and parenting which is just so awesome. Because unschooling isn't separate. It's not like "school" vs. "home" or "homeschool" vs. "family time" or whatever. I actually don't even really like the name unschooling because it has "schooling" in it, which it isn't, so it's kind of a misnomer....but.....anyways, this site is just amazing. Go there. Now. (well, not RIGHT now, finish reading here first) :)

I've also joined a yahoo list that looks like it's going to be awesome, where a new friend of mine is list owner. I'm just so inspired. And, get this......when you join this list, and are approved for membership, one of the suggestions is that you take some time to just read and feel the energy of the list and get to know how it works, etc., before you post anything yourself. I think it said something like two weeks time to do this. I think that's a fantastic idea. Because often we (I) just want to jump in with my voice, before hearing others and getting a feel for the atmosphere, etc. It's pretty cool to just be listening. But, at the same time I'm DYING TO POST! lol So then I was like....did they really mean to wait 2 weeks or was that not literal and they want you to just take a few to feel out the place, etc. So, now I'm stressing on WHEN I should post my first post.

Gosh, I need help.

So, there's just so much living to much fun to be I heard myself ask Jamie, "would doing 'x' bring you joy?" she answered "yes" and i said, "then lets do it." That's what I want our life to be about. Joy. Love. I want so much and am just feeling so excited about this path we're on. And I'm grateful that we're on it together. I can't wait to have another day with my kids. After being stuck in such trauma and difficulty over the past several months, I feel like I'm looking at my kids for the first time in months. And what joy I feel. I'm so grateful that they are so patient with me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I sometimes feel as if I've gotten off the path, and that I need to get back on. But then I realize that there is no ONE path. Whatever path I'm on IS the path for that moment. Sometimes life requires that I take a turn, possibly moving off of the chosen path, and when that happens I sometimes get lost. It can take awhile to get back to where I was, before life happened. But, everything that happens, as I circle and veer, is important and valuable and will only serve to enrich my self and make my chosen path richer when I return to it.

Over the past couple of days I have found myself back where I want to be, longing for living the way I want to live; helping my family to create an experience that is rich and beautiful. We have been through a very difficult year, which is why I think we veered into living in a way that I'm unhappy with. The difficulties aren't completely over, but it is time to reclaim our selves and our lives and get back to joyful, intentional living.

Two days ago, as I laid awake trying to figure out what was out of balance, I got a clear picture of my children in my mind. My beautiful, bright children who have been waiting for me to "come back" and live life with them. I felt sad to know I have not been as present as I want to be, but it is understandable considering the curve balls life has been throwing at us lately. I realized that I had forgotten what living and learning is all about. I had a 10 year old in Cyberschool, a 14 year old who is bored and craving interaction with me, and a blossoming and in love 17 year old who is readying herself for her life as an adult and needs me to be emmersed in that with her. I cried for awhile, feeling guilty and like a failure, and fell asleep.

The next morning I sat with my coffee, reading facebook, and from a friend's profile page came a beacon and the flicker of hope and memory was ignited to full flame. I saw a link to her blogs and decided to look at them.......and then I remembered. I was flooded with memories of a messy kitchen table, full of craft supplies, random bits and pieces, and our family around the table creating. I had visions of little hands holding paper against a tree, making rubbings of the bark with crayons. All of these visions of joy, togetherness, warmth, learning, experiencing, and LIVING came back to me. I cried, again, but this time with hope and relief. This could be our lives again, this is what we want and need.

When my son Adam (10) woke up, we sat and talked and I apologized to him. I told him that I know I have not been present, that I am sorry, that I want him to experience learning and living the way I knew it could be. I told him that he can create his life, that he can have choice and freedom and not be burdened by the mundane and unimportant. I told him that if Cyberschool is what he chooses to continue to do, then I would support that and that I would not be negative or critical of it. I told him that these are his choices, but that I did hope he would be true to what he REALLY wants and not what he thinks he SHOULD do. He asked for some time to think about it and I said "of course."

Later, I went up to Erin's room (she's 14). She was still asleep, but I crawled into bed next to her and just laid there quietly. She kind of looked at me, sleepy, wondering what I was doing there. I just sat quietly with her for awhile, as she woke up, and then apologized to her too. We talked a bit, I told her what was going on with me. She's so wise and loving....she told me that I shouldn't beat myself up, that life has been really hard for awhile and that it's ok. I cried and she let me.

Adam came downstairs in a bit and handed me a tiny piece of folded up paper and said, "The jury has spoken." (lol) I opened it and it said, in big letters followed by exclamation points, "UNSCHOOLING!!!!!!!"

After spending the day just kind of regrouping (I was pretty emotionally drained) and just being together, talking, playing a game, and just being, I felt as if everything was going to be ok. I felt like I had my self back and my children's selves back. Last night, while Adam and I played Rummikub, I just looked at him and saw his laughing and thought how much I missed him. But, it wasn't him that was gone. I said to my partner later, "Did you see how happy Adam was today? How relaxed and good he seemed to feel?" She had noticed too.

It's amazing how we find something that really works, that is just natural and right and good, and we still can forget and get away from it. But, life has a way of doing that, I just have to learn what I learn from all of my experiences and try to stay true to myself and to my children. I still feel a little guilty, but here I am, excited and ready to live joyfully, mindfully, intentionally; present to each beautiful moment as it happens.

This blog is a reflection of our lives as: unschoolers, artists, family, revolutionaries, inventors, scientists, philosophers, and everything and anything else that we come up with. It feels so good to be back!