Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: unschooling Page 1 of 2

The Freedom to Say No

How to do I put this? Hmm…

I loved and hated this book at the same time? No, that’s not right. I agreed with some, disagreed with other parts, sure. I agree on the problem, but not the solution, maybe.

freedom to say no
Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash

While reading the essay Disobedience as a…Problem, I kept thinking about how we raised our sons. The answer “no” was always an option. When I tell people that, their response is usually, “Sure but there are consequences, right?”

Depends on what you mean. Punitive ones? Like, “You have said no, so now you’ll be ostracized or punished?” No. I wouldn’t have asked if you weren’t allowed to say no.

I don’t ask you not to hurt me. I tell you not to and I enforce that. If there is no other option at the moment, like I must stop at the post office and you cannot stay in the car, I don’t ask if you want to come inside with me. Those commands are few and far between.

Just about everything was optional in our family, negotiable. We worked together as much as possible toward a common goal, living in the same house and being happy and comfortable. And they learned to be more and more reasonable as they grew up into adults.

In most families, this isn’t so. Everything is a command from above, in every situation. We raise children as slaves to adult lives, until they are “of age” and then kick them out into the world and expect them to act as reasonable adults without any practice. Like putting a person in jail for 18 years, dictating every move, and then setting them free and saying, “Now continue on your own.”

And most of us do. What we need is to act like independent, reasoning, masters of our own lives, but we don’t have those skills. We only have slave skills, and they don’t serve us well at all. When things aren’t working, we look to government to solve the problems for us, just like our parents and teachers taught us to do.

Seems like a job security thing for politicians and other so-called “leaders.” Independent humans aren’t easily controlled.

In my experience, acting as an adult human is frowned upon. You’re a fool and treated as such, especially if you encourage others to take the reins of their own lives.

Disobedience is the answer, not the problem. We shouldn’t be “obeying” anyone.

I haven’t even quoted this book or presented his ideas to you. I’m not sure how. The book is so short, 91 pages. If I pull any one line out, I’d have to pull the whole page, and then…why not read the book?

There were four essays in this book, all of which I agreed with the premises of, except the last on “Humanist Socialism.” Why? Because I love the goals and principles of socialism, but I don’t see it working well anywhere in the world. And I don’t even have the words to describe why. That’s one of the reasons I keep studying it.

When my first reaction is, “Wonderful fantasy, but how do you get there from here?” I’m reminded of the reactions to my family’s choice of lifestyle and education. They can’t see what we are doing from their vantage point. Is that my problem when I look at socialism? Maybe.

My thoughts always go back to, “If this is so wonderful and perfect, and able to be done without the use of force and coercion, then why doesn’t someone build a working community like this on their own? Why do we have to have it as a form of government?”

Start with your own family, your own community. “If you build it, they will come.” If a socialist utopia works, more people will want to be in it, and it will spread. Right?

I’m not sure, only because of my experience with my sons. Sitting in a karate class, the teacher tells me, “Your sons are focused and dedicated. I can tell you strict with them, no backtalk and video games.” When I told him that our lives are quite the opposite, that we live without rules and they are treated as equals, play video games all they want, and are quite adept at “backtalk,” he just scoffed and walked away.

It feels insane, like everyone around me is seeing the world they want to see, not reality. Am I any different? I don’t believe I am.

To me it seems the best thing any of us can do is live our own lives and leave everyone else alone to do the same. That’s crazy talk to everyone else. When I started this book, I thought the author was headed down that road, but then the last chapter is how we can start a socialist utopia by taking all the power away from whoever has it now and redistributing it.

Whoa…it’s Tolkien’s Rings of Power. I’ll take this power to set things right and then give it back. But no one ever wants to give it back. The power corrupts, always. There is no utopia, socialist, capitalist, industrial, agrarian, or otherwise.

A side note: If you’re curious about the concept of unschooling (life without school instead of school at home), I highly recommend checking out Pam Laricchia’s work. And I’m always open to conversations about our experience, through email or over the phone.

Wild Flowers: Life Without School

Life without school is a bit different than what people traditionally think of as “homeschooling.” It’s a lot like tending a field of wild flowers.

I’m enjoying this weekly repost idea quite a lot, my dear reader. It’s like reaching back into the past, pulling an event or idea forward, and looking at it again from a new perspective. It feels healthy.

Today I’m bringing back a homeschool post from June, 2016…nearly six years ago. At the time, my sons were 14 and 15 years old. We had been racing dirt bikes for a couple of years and loving it, but it took a lot of my time and energy as well as theirs. I didn’t have as much time left to connect with my friends or other homeschooling parents as I used to.

I was blogging about our journey and working on a website to help share our experience with others. Ultimately, that site failed. I have my suspicions but I’m not sure why I couldn’t make it work. Flooded market? Lack of patience on my part? I still contemplate putting my thoughts together in one place, creating a way to connect personally with parents considering homeschooling on their own, but I just don’t know. Maybe it’s another part of my past I need to let go of to move forward.

My kids are 20 and 21 years old now, and still living the wild lives they’ve cultivated for themselves. Just last night, at a neighbor’s party, a friend of ours with younger kids commented in a conversation that they envy ours. “They’re adventurous. They just DO things. Who does that?” In my mind I wanted to say, “People that are treated as individual human beings with rights to their own lives from birth. Ones that aren’t enslaved.”

Experience breeds confidence, maturity, and ability. Nothing else. Guide, advise, assist, but ultimately, it’s their life. They call the shots. Unconditional love and emotional support is a…pain.

Yeah, that’s me being dramatic again, but honestly, it’s how I feel. Maybe that’s why my home education advice falls of deaf ears.


June 10, 2016

Yesterday I had coffee with a friend while my younger son was at Crossfit.

I’m totally going to keep doing that. I feel like I’m “holding court”. I posted to my Facebook homeschool group that I would be there at a certain time and day every week, so anyone was welcome to join me and yesterday, a member of our group that I hadn’t seen in months came. We’ve only met once before, but it was great to sit and talk and get to know each other.

My only regret is that I talk SO STINKIN’ MUCH! I swear I’m trying to turn it down. Work in progress, you know.

I had an epiphany while I was explaining my sons’ passion for motocross racing. The truth is that I’m not a fan of the sport. That’s not quite right either. I’m not a fan of THEM doing it. If I had my way, they’d be musicians and rocket scientists! But that’s what my big thought was about.

A lot of people think they can find a way to educate and raise their kids that will make them into the people they want them to be. They want to mold and shape their kids into their version of a good person. One of the biggest problems I see people have with the concept of unschooling is when they ask the question, “How do I get my kids to…?” or “How do I stop by kids from…?” while using unschooling principles. The answer is that you can’t. That’s the whole point. You aren’t there to make them into “good people” or “educated people”. You are there to support them and help them grow into the people they were born to be. That might be something entirely different than what you had planned.

Kids aren’t like a cultivated garden. You don’t plant a row of these here and a row of these there and then train them up into what you want. It’s a lot more like a wildflower patch. Yes, they will grow on their own but if you tend it a bit, water it here, throw some mulch there, and watch what comes up, you’ll have a beautiful natural place for birds and bugs to live. You’re supporting what’s already growing. That’s what unschooling is like.

I may not have made the choices my kids are making. I may be able to see the path that those choices will lead down from my perspective. But that would be through my experience, my eyes, my life, not theirs. Their experience with the same world might be totally different for them because they are different people. And who am I to tell them or hold them to what my version of the world is? I’m here to support them, maybe not with all my money and time, but at least with all my heart and mind. I may not like their choices. I may think it would be better for them to do something entirely different. And if there was a way to get them to do what I think is best, they may never find what it is they were meant to be. I don’t want to be that wall in their way.


Unfortunately, I never met another homeschool parent for a coffee like that. I have met a few others over the years, people that called me through my old website, a listing on a homeschool page, or through a social group. They were mostly wonderful talks and I felt great being able to pass on my confidence that homeschooling their kids could be done and be an amazing, life-changing adventure.

This morning, re-reading that post and then sitting with a cup of coffee and a couple cookies, I realized something and wrote it down in my journal.

“I, myself, am simply another flower in that wild garden.”

No one is cultivating me; pruning, tying off, or walling me for protection. I’m out in the field, struggling to survive, wild. Sometimes it really sucks. And then I remembered that I’m not totally wild. I have family and friends, not to mention books and readers, that send help every day. They support me with kind words of encouragement, a hug or a drink, and a chance to talk things out and laugh at myself.

Things are changing, I’m growing again, and I’m not sure what will happen next. I do know one important thing, though. I’m not alone. I hope I instilled that in my kids as they grew into the men they are now. We may be wild and free, but we aren’t alone.

Want to read more posts about our homeschool/unschool journey? Try “We’re Still Learning by Living” and “5 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Easier.”

Leading The Movement of the Masses?

A government of any kind only wants to control the movement of the masses to attain its own interests. Yeah, I guess I’m an anarchist at heart.

movement of the masses
Furry Book Rest

The following quote from Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution is something that just…grr…

“Their motives were very clearly expressed by one of the Menshevik leaders in Moscow: If the socialists enter the government, there will be nobody to lead the movement of the masses “in a definite channel”.”

I’m starting to see (yes, rather late in life) that everywhere, in every time, fights, wars, political struggle is always about power and control, even personal and local arguments.

Why do we insist that the whole world move “in a definite channel?” Why must we believe that everything, everywhere must be controlled? Someone has to hold the reins. Someone must be in charge.

What if we let go of that idea completely and just let things be the way they are?

What if we controlled ourselves alone, held our own reins?

What if we left everyone else alone?

It brings to mind the reaction I often got when I was asked to explain how we were educating our children. We chose “radical unschooling” as our philosophy. In reality though, it chose us, or we evolved into it once we let go of the reins.

The horse analogy works well here. The reins are used to control an animal, along with a bit and saddle. The horse does not do what it naturally would do. You’re using it as a means to your own ends. That’s fine for an animal, to most people. But it’s not for humans. Any humans.

I’d explain that we supported the children, loved them, played with them, worked with them, and helped them to develop and attain their own goals, whatever they were. We offered insight and an introduction to the world around them. We made them safe and comfortable. We answered questions and added our own experience to the plans they made. And then we got out of their way.

The next question I was usually asked was, “How do you make them…?”  Insert thing you want your kids to do: math homework, read, chores, etc.

I don’t make them do anything.

Then, “How do they get a job, go to college, etc.?”

They just do because that’s what independent humans do naturally without control.

Sometimes, often, the kids would want to do something far outside our comfort zone or our ability to provide. We worked through it together, without force from either party. Once they became legal adults, they had the right to walk away from us and do as they pleased without negotiating with us.

If my children decided to live a life completely separate from mine, never to be seen again, I’d be sad, but it would be their right as individuals. I cannot force them to stay and live like me. I cannot force them to take care of me when I can’t take care of myself. I have to negotiate a relationship that facilitates that the best I can, and let the rest go.

What if we all lived that way with each other? What if no one controlled anyone else? What if we didn’t “lead the movement of the masses ‘in a definite channel’”?

The Way Back Machine – An Origin Story

You know about the “Way Back Machine,” don’t you?

The Way Back Machine
Set the Wayback Machine to…

When I did a search for “way back machine,” looking for Mr. Peabody and his boy, I found out that others are using the same words to refer to internet archiving. Internet Archive Wayback Machine is just one of them. The fascinating things you learn when you simply type a few words into an internet search engine!

It all started when I didn’t think I’d have anything to write about today. I thought, “You know, I should go back to my old blog and look around, see where I’ve been.” I did, and I found something interesting. I decided to use some of it as a post here, so I copied and pasted a few things together. It wasn’t that long ago, only 2015, that I started that blog. It wasn’t my first.

My first was pre-social media and consisted mostly of what my kids were doing, where we went, what we were reading, etc. I’d read in a homeschool forum (you remember forums, don’t you?) that blogging was a great way to document the journey if you weren’t using a traditional curriculum of textbooks and written tests.

It certainly was that and a great way to show friends and family what we were up to since we didn’t have school functions to go to or report cards to brag about. I enjoyed doing it and it brought me much peace of mind in those moments when I felt like we weren’t really DOING anything. I just scrolled back through those posts and could see all the places we’d been, all the books we had read together, and the conversations we’d had.

As the kids got older, and Facebook took the place of my blogging, I used that to communicate more often and lost interest in blogging. Most people these days don’t read anything more than a few words anyway. Paragraphs on Facebook were a waste of my energy. I posted pictures and quips instead, to document where we’d been and what we were up to.

But then something else happened. My sons were growing up and moving on to their own lives, undirected by me. With all that spare time, I began to broaden my own education, reading and studying more myself, and I felt like I needed a place to share more of that journey instead of my kids’ homeschool one. I decided to go back to blogging. That’s when I started Roadrunner Musings.

Here’s my first post from there.

April 29, 2015
What am I doing here?

Simply, it is this. I read a lot. I think a lot. I don’t get a chance to talk a lot. I use my personal Facebook page as a scrapbook and have it printed at the end of each year, so I don’t want a load of political and philosophical ramblings all through it. Besides, sometimes I’d rather not know if my friends and family disagree with my thinking. I think I’ll just post it here…sort of anonymously…and see where it goes.

I’m not much of a writer but I do have somethings rolling around in my head that I’d like to get out to the world, not just in my journal.

Let’s see what happens.

And here we are over six years later and not much has changed. Well, yes it has. My new blog, the selfhosted one you are reading now, was started in 2018. At first, I continued with the theme of “random thoughts,” but it quickly evolved itself to focus on the books I’m reading, and my thoughts and ideas connected to those books. I wouldn’t exactly call it a traditional book blog, but that’s the general idea.

I still enjoy writing about what I’m reading and sharing it here. It helps me keep on track, remember what I’ve read, and connect those books with other ideas. I feel like I’m become better at it. And I’m beginning to get better organized at posting. As a retired homeschool mom and housewife, it makes me feel more connected with the world. And before you start to think, “You should actually connect with the world, Michelle. Get a job, join a club, something.” That’s just not my style. I’m happiest and most productive with fewer group activities, less social obligation. It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept that and I’m not going back.

One more positive outcome of the Covid pandemic is that more people are accepting of my decision to stay at home, away from people. That reminds me that I need to write a post about THAT! “Top Ten Positives about the Covid Pandemic (no matter where you are on the political scale)” That will have a link next week. I promise you that!

Using the way back machine (my old blogs, journals, photos, etc.) has helped me make a little sense of where I am right now. It’s put some things into perspective and eased my heart and mind a bit.

What’s up for the next half of 2021? I’m not sure. For now, I’ll keep posting about My Precious, I mean my reading. And I think I’ll be going through and sharing old posts with some commentary updates in the future as well. It’ll be a combination of the old and the current. Maybe it will help me evolve into the next iteration of this blog.

Like the Buddha says, “Nothing is forever, except change.”

Can More Faith in Yourself Lead to More Faith in Others?

faith in yourself quote with background image

“Only the person who has faith in himself is able to be faithful to others, because only he can be sure that he will be the same at a future time as he is today and, therefore, that he will feel and act as he now expects to.”

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm

Find the book on Amazon, HERE!

Loving others starts with having faith in yourself.

We simply lived without school. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t learn. The outcome proves that.

My sons are both out on their own, living productive lives. One traveled Europe, and now has a good job with potential for growth, along with his own car and apartment. He’s 20 years old. The other has been at community college here in town for two years, working, and has his own car. He’s transferring to university next semester and will be leaving the state to live in the dorm and focus on his studies for the next couple of years.

What did we do instead of school?

Our faith in our own drive to learn led me to believe my children had that same drive.

We lived and learned together. We read books, watched movies, built things, went places. We talked and laughed and loved together. We cried and fought, worked things out as best we could so that everyone had their space and got as much as they wanted without stepping on anyone else’s toes. I rarely said no to things they wanted to try out. I spent a lot of time searching for new experiences, and then making it possible to do them. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

I had faith in them from the moment they were born. I knew myself and so did their father. We didn’t need an authority to guide, protect, and direct our lives. What we wanted more of growing up was less direction and more support, so that’s what we gave our kids. We knew they would find their own unique way to adulthood if we gave them a loving and supportive home, if we led by example and followed our own interests, served our own needs, without sacrificing anyone else’s lives in the process.

I had faith in them because I had faith in myself.

And I have faith in others because I have that faith in myself. I know that others can take responsibility for themselves and their families if they want to. I’m not special. My family is not special. We are not more intelligent or lucky than anyone else. The only thing that is different is that, for some reason, we have faith in ourselves.

Real love starts with you loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking responsibility for your own life. And no one can give that to you. I believe all of us have the ability, but somewhere along the line we have lost the knowledge of it.

I’m telling you that you have it. Start using it.

If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on the book, “The Art of Loving,” check out the following links.
Where Did Our Words For Love Go?
We Cannot Give What We Do Not Have
Learning to Concentrate by Being Alone
How to Parent by Respecting the Individual

You can find “The Art of Loving” by Erich Fromm at Thriftbooks.com.

Have you read this book? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what you think.


“Four Reasons a Newsletter is Better Than a Social Media Feed”
Bypass the social media algorithms and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Each week will give you a rundown of my favorites posts, podcasts, and few funnies. Read what you want, when you want, without getting sucked into the endless scroll mode!

Why Do I Get Up In The Morning – Episode 6

What the heck?! Where have I been? Was there NOTHING to be joyful about? Nothing to share? No reason at all to get up in the morning?!

(That’s me, creating drama!) No, nothing like that at all. I’m just inconsistent with my writing habits. In fact, inconsistency is my mantra, my whole being wrapped up in one fine word! So here I am starting up again, picking up where I left off and waving a big hello to you. I’ll wrap you up in a big hug and sit down next to you, maybe under a tree on a park bench, or across from you in a restaurant over tacos.

Sheesh…I just scanned back and realized that I haven’t talked to you since late August. Two whole months! Instead of boring you with a long list of what I’ve been up too, because honestly, it’s a lot and pretty wild and crazy and…oh who am I kidding?! I’m talking to friends here! You know me. The wildest I get is maybe one too many glasses of tequila and a very loud game of pool on the back porch, but that’s what life is for!

I’ll just pick one thing that I’m extremely proud of at this very moment and tell you about it. My oldest son is off on another adventure today. He’s packing up his car and heading out into the world again. This time, he has a new job in a new state and a new car. And he’s very excited (and I know probably pretty nervous too).

The “pandemic” brought him back to us back in April. He had two jobs, one online and one at an airport, but when the airport laid him off and he wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, he decided that it was probably best just to head home for a bit and regroup. I’ll admit…I kinda pushed in that direction. I was worried and wanted as much of my family together as possible. I’m not always as strong and cool as I make myself out to be. Control is my go-to when I’m not sure of the outcomes, and I grab for anything I can. So here we are, six months later, and after a long and strenuous job search, he’s found work and is on his way.

Me? I’m not so much worried about him leaving as I was in the past. I know he’s a more than capable adult. I just know I will miss him terribly. I realized earlier this week that I was pretending like the day wasn’t coming, just going through the week like usual. I hate dwelling on what’s coming. I hate mooning over “This the last workday. This is the last grocery trip. This is the last beer we share.” Just typing that makes me choke up…stupid to sit and ruin those “lasts” so I pretend they aren’t. It’s ridiculous anyway. He’s not dying or moving to another planet. All kids grow up and move out. Sentimentality is not my strong suit. My husband on the other hand…poor guy.

While I wish he loved the desert as much as we do or could find work closer so that he could be here on weekends to visit, I’m happy that he loves adventure and follows his own heart. I’m happy that he’s not afraid to try new things and create his own world. I’m proud that we’ve created a strong enough foundation for him that he just jumps without worrying about what he’s leaving behind. I wish I were more like him. I think he’s going to love it there once he gets settled and I have a feeling he’ll find some new friends there.

One more thing before I go! His brother is not far behind him. He’s on his way to University in January and when I looked on the map I found that they’ll be only six hours apart. They’ll be able to spend some weekends together camping and hiking, maybe even racing sometime. I know they’re crazy different people and that they each have their own worlds to create, but something about knowing they at least have each other close enough to visit if they want to makes this Mom heart happy.

See you next week!

Really. I promise.

We’re Still Learning by Living

A bug I found in the yard reminded me of our homeschool journey. Learning by living, or unschooling, is what we have always done naturally. Embracing it and walking away from traditional school was the best choice we could have made.

This was written six months ago. Life changes a lot and very quickly.

learning by living watching bugs

This sweet bug! I found him strolling across the porch this morning, just as I was coming out to water my plants. I ran inside to get a jar and picked him up, running around the house showing it to my son as he was on his lunch break from work, and my husband, even though he was not on a break. My younger son was still sleeping so I decided to make a video to show him later. Never. Ever. Wake up a teenager to see a bug.

He was only about an inch and a half long, so put him down on the ground and plopped my camera alongside him so that I could get a good shot of all those legs moving along the sand. He looked like a monster from a Godzilla movie until my cat walked into the frame and sniffed it!

I knew he was a millipede and not one those nasty centipedes I have found in the yard before. I wasn’t sure if he would bite, so I Googled him and found that he didn’t. I posted my video of him to Facebook so my friends could share in my discovery.

When my younger son got up, I showed him the video and we decided he looked like a long pill bug! If my kids were younger, they would have wanted to keep him a while. They’d have gone out to the laundry room and dug out the terrarium they had saved, put some yard sand in it and a few twigs and leaves, and deposited Mr. Millipede so that they could watch him over the next few days.

They’d look up what they eat and how they get water. Would it need shelter? A rock to hide under or a few leaves to eat? They’d take pictures of him, talk to him, draw cartoons of him growing into a monster and taking over a city, and then get bored of him and set him free in the yard again.

I would have written down “natural science, bug collection and species classification” in the log I kept for education. That’s how we homeschooled their whole lives. Everything is interesting. Every day an adventure. Sadly, those days are gone. They’re grown! (insert mom sniffle here)


We homeschooled the boys through the private school option out here in California. At first, I tried to imitate the public school model that I grew up in. I had paid $500 for a pre-packaged curriculum for the year and a lesson plan all set up.

I quickly fell behind the planned schedule with a preschooler and a kindergartener. I just couldn’t see taking time out to learn about something from the prescribed book when we were already spending the day at the zoo or the science museum. I couldn’t figure out how to get them to sit and write letters on paper when they were busy climbing at the park or digging holes in the back yard. So many more interesting things were happening every day, that I couldn’t bring myself to follow the curriculum. I gave up using them after the first month of our first year of homeschooling. They were learning so much already.

At the same time I was stressing myself out over how we were going to afford curriculum for both the boys and stick to it, I went to a local homeschool conference and learned about unschooling. What they described was what we had been doing since they were born, what had worked to get them to the level they were at already, and what we were trying to throw aside to make room for a pre-packaged state-approved curriculum. My worldview changed drastically that day. I was not alone.

From then on, I kept a log of what we did every day. We focused on experiences and following their interests. There were no tests. There were no grades. I spent the week finding fun things to do around our area. We went to parks, museums, libraries, and zoos. We watched tv shows. We read books. We drew pictures and played. We ate when we were hungry, and we napped when we were tired. Somewhere among all that they grew up and started looking outside of what I could give them and eventually started doing things for themselves.

It’s been fascinating the last few years, watching them move out into the world, start college, get jobs, and make friends. They come home each day and have so much to share with me, so much to teach me about the world as it is now instead of how I remember it.

I’m starting to see less and less of them every day and that’s ok. There were days when they were little that I would have sworn that the needs would never end, that they would never make a sandwich on their own or ever be able to help with housework, but here we are.

My sons are rapidly becoming self-sufficient and it brings me a lot of pride to see my life’s work take off before my eyes. Soon, they’ll be completely on their own and I’ll see them and eventually their own families on holidays and birthdays.

And the amazing part? Never at any point did I need to force them to learn anything. There was no lesson plan for our life. No sitting down to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. No chores and consequences for not doing them. No making them eat things they didn’t like or going places they didn’t want to. We just lived together as peacefully as growing people can.

It’s Friday! Oh…wait…

And…it’s Saturday morning that I’m finally making myself take a moment to sit down and at least do my Friday post. I’ve been feeling a bit like a teenager, hormonally pulled and exhaustedly lazy at the same time. I think I’m ready for a vacation. Luckily for me, that is exactly what’s coming up for us!

So, let’s get to this!

Thing I learned: I thought that I was over being affected by other people’s opinions of me, but then found myself trying to behave in ways someone else believed is the best way to behave instead of being myself and accepting that some people will not like it and those people are just not my people. Wow. That’s a damn long sentence! Self, you are you, and you need to be ok with the fact that you are not everyone’s cup of tea! That doesn’t mean they are bad people, just not YOUR people. Keep being you in all your crazy, talkative, open and honest ways, and the people that like that will be attracted to your orbit. It’s going to take time. Some of those bodies are way out in the galaxy!

Thing I’m reading: This is dumb but I’m kind of a book snob. I tend to reject books that everyone else is reading just because everyone else is reading them. Not cool, I know. What does it take to get me to read a popular book? A cute boy told me to. That’s what I was talking about earlier, teenage behavior. I’m about three hours into the first Game of Thrones book and I’m really liking it. It’s enjoyable, easy to read, so it goes fast, and it has a lot of feeling. I have hopes that it will prove a bit of depth as I read it, but it’s ok if it doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with an exciting adventure that you don’t necessarily want to experience again!

Thing I heard: My oldest son came home from his vacation in Germany this week and we’ve been catching up. We spend a lot of time talking, that boy and I. He’s very intelligent and I love his take on the world around him. We homeschooled and we live rurally. We’ve been home-centered, I’d say. This past year, since just before his seventeenth birthday, he has been out in the world gathering experiences on his own in big ways. Funny thing; he’s always been one to jump into things with both feet. He goes from knowing nothing of it to moving comfortably in it, no matter what he tries. It’s been the same for him leaving the nest. It’s like talking to a worldly man, a young, optimistic, and proud man.

As we sat at the table, sharing a cup of coffee and a bit of toast and cheese (Euro Breakfast), he told me something profound. “Mom,” he says, “someone told me a few years ago that if I had gone to school, I probably would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s of some kind. I did not agree at all, but the more I talk to people and work with people, I’m starting to see that I really do think differently. It isn’t that other people are dumb or that they don’t know how to do things the ‘right way’, it’s that I just see things in a different way. And that’s ok. They do it their way. I do it mine. We can help each other.” I’m paraphrasing here, of course. It was a long conversation. All our conversations are long. We love to philosophize over breakfast. I just about cried. This was exactly why we wanted to homeschool the way we did. I wanted my kids to grow up naturally. I wanted them to grow up secure in who they were as individuals, doing things the way they felt was best for them specifically, within a family that loves them. The theory works. He is not sheltered and afraid of the world. He does not hide away. He does not go with the crowd unless he wants to. He’s a wonderful young man and ready to take on the world.

Thing I want to do: Do less. I need to take some time to make a list of essentials. We’ve all heard the saying, “Time is money.” Here’s the thing. We can waste money if we like because we can make more, but we can’t make more time. I only have so much time in each day. I cannot waste it on unessential things. We cannot do everything. We cannot be everything. It’s time to take stock again and pare down. This time it might be painful. I’ve done it before and thought I had it down to the bare minimum, but I don’t. Since we’re going on vacation, just the two of us, my husband and I, in a couple weeks, I think I’ll use some of that time on the road to do that work. Without the regular distractions, I can focus on what I want to accomplish. I’ll treat it as if we’re going on one of those fancy retreats! We’ll “go dark”! Yes!

And the photo of the week is…

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A baby bird! We saved him! My husband saw him flopping on the porch so I picked him up. He couldn’t even stand in my hand, so tired. He sat in my hand for a minute, I put some water in my hand to see if he’d drink it, he closed his eyes a bit, and suddenly looked more alert. He flapped and flew up to a creosote branch. I looked him up on the internet and found he was a Bushtit and most likely a fledgling from nearby with his mom waiting to feed him.

Have a good week everyone! Don’t worry! I’ll get this writer’s life more under control pretty soon!

Run For Your Lives! Teens!

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I can’t really say that I feel qualified to write with authority about young adults just yet, but I can write with confidence about my current observations and how we are coping with the transition from teen to adult in this house.

Recently, something strange happens when I talk to people about my kids. When I talk about what they are doing, their new girlfriends, their jobs, etc., people get weird. I can’t put the right word on it. They act “worried” for me or them. They act as though we are all standing on a precipice and at any moment the wind could blow and knock one of us off. As if right now is the most dangerous part of our lives. Anything can happen! Our lives could be ruined with one poor choice. It takes all the fun out of relating all the cool things my kids are doing, how they are changing, and how I’M changing to my friends and family.

I say “kids” but what I’m talking about are my young adults, full grown people that live in my house more like roommates than children these days. They have jobs, cars, and girlfriends. They go to college, pay taxes, and go on adventures without us. My youngest is under 18 and races motocross, so we still take him in our truck, since he doesn’t have one, and sign documents he isn’t legally allowed to sign but other than that, they pretty much take care of themselves.

And I don’t mean they always do it well or completely on their own. They mess up, as we all do all our lives. That’s how we learn. I try to help where I can. I offer advice when they ask, and sometimes when they don’t. They also make choices I would not make and that make me nervous. I do my best to stay out of it but sometimes my mom heart feels compelled to jump in and ask what in the world they are thinking. My belief is that they will be better at living with their own families if they can live this way with us. It isn’t easy and sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.

Some day I think maybe I should be more “strict” like people say and tell them how it is around here. If they want to do things their way they need to move out and not involve me. But that breaks my heart. I want them to be able to bounce ideas off their Dad and I and know that we aren’t going to make them do anything or ridicule their choices. They should know that they can take our advice or leave it and we’ll still be there to love them.

And I want them to know they will always have a stable base to fall back to if their plans go awry.  We may not be able to buy them new cars or pay for college, but we can offer them a place to stay and food to eat. That’s a lot though, if you think about it. It won’t be luxury but at least they won’t be homeless. That doesn’t mean they have free reign to run off and be reckless. I’ve always wanted them to feel free to give things a try, to not be afraid of failing. Trying something and failing is different than doing something really stupid and paying for it. Our lifestyle of radical unschooling was supposed to show them the difference and so far, it’s been working.

Honestly, I think most people see their children begin to be adults and think, “This is where my life went downhill.” That’s when they begin to try and stop them from making the “wrong choices” they themselves made. As if there is a certain age that people get to and begin making rational “good” decisions instead of learning by living through the age and getting to the other side.

I see my young adult children differently. I think, “This is where the fun began, the adventure!” I smile in anticipation of all the glories they are about to discover. And I’m proud that we’re able to support them as they grow and be a part of their lives, even if it is from the sidelines.

Just Hiking with the Guys

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Life has become complicated lately. “Become.” I laugh as I write that, as if life is ever not complicated for anyone. Interesting though, that whatever you’re going through at whatever age or stage of life, you feel as if you are the first and only person to experience it…but then maybe you are. Only you can experience anything your way.

My sons are almost grown. One foot out the door, as they say. It’s a complicated feeling for me. I’ve spent the last 18 years being a Mom and not just any Mom, a hands-on (or, more precisely, hands-off) radically unschooling mom. I’ve attempted to be their supporter and experienced friend instead of an authoritarian and I feel like just when they’ve grown to the point of being great friends to have around, they are beginning to do what all young adults are born to do, drift away to find a place of their own.

It’s bitter sweet, both harsh and rewarding to see my life’s work come to fruition. And when my heart behaves itself, I can see how life will progress. They will establish themselves as free and independent adults, capable of handling life without a parent to support them, and then they’ll come back as strong equals. They’ll be better friends to me than they ever could be now.

It’ll be wonderful and I look forward to seeing the men they become. But transitions are complicated. It’s two steps forward and one step back. There are days when I’m amazed by them and days where I wonder where I went horribly wrong.

In the long run, I know where it will end up. Their Dad and I will be gone, and they will have families of their own to continue into the future. Life.

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