Monday, November 27, 2006

Kevin's essay

Kevin, Hope (a friend of Kevin's) and I got to talking about the Green Day song, American Idiot. We had a discussion about being controlled by the media. The following is an essay he wrote that I thought was thought provoking:

Controlled? by the.... Media

The media. Is America controlled by it? Most would say so, and others might argue. But the truth is they do, in a big way. One of the largest ways the media affects adolescents & adults in the US, is by pressuring us into changing our appearance. Perhaps a famous actor or actress has a specific hairstyle the catches the media's attention, if that occurs there is a high chance that will explode into the latest style. But why are we so concerned with it, that we let them control us? The fact of the matter is, everyone wants to be accepted in life, and the media takes advantage of that.

Some other forms of control would be marketing/false marketing ads, (example) where in they convince you to buy something, explaining how great it is, and the reasons you should choose their product over the next. Another example of control would be fear, they instill it in every one of us which causes anticipation of a certain result. And, last but not least, inflating issues. Overstating facts and incidents that have occurred, causing gossip and rumors throughout America. This is the most effective technique, and used more often than any of the previous. This can appear anywhere from PEOPLE magazine, then all the way down to your local newspaper.

In the big scope of things, we may not consciously realize that we are submissing to exactly what they want, but if you look hard enough, you will find that the media attempts to control us in all aspects of our life. All the way from our dressing habits, to the homes we live in. Once you start to realize this is the true, the more you will see it happening day to day... but...

Is this avoidable? That is for you to decide.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Thanksgiving was wonderful and pretty quiet around here. We are used to BIG Thanksgiving gatherings and lots of noise and activity. This year was quieter than usual for sure! Spragues (Martin's sister and family) were sick and Robin and her family celebrated with the in-laws. So it was just Merle and Lois (Martin's parents) and our friends, Kristi and Jeff Hurt and their three kids, Brenden, Maggie, and Lena. Hurts had to leave after a couple of hours because they had some other rounds to make. After they left we watched a special, on the History Channel, about the Mayflower. Lois had an ancestor on that ship who's wife gave birth during the voyage. It was a very interesting program.

It has continued to be rather cold here. Today it was sitting at 9 degrees at our house but it was -1 at my friend Tanya's. I've had the wood stove cranked the last couple of days. I believe it is about 80 degrees in my house................Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Tristan and Calista are busy making "campaign speeches". It never ceases to amaze me the things they come up with and learn through. The two of them have been getting along quite well the last few days. Calista told Tristan today, "When we laugh together it makes me feel really good because it makes me feel like you really like me." Ooohhh!! They are usually at odds with one another so maybe we are turning a new corner here.

The pictures I posted are of the mountains that surround our house. We were on our way home from our errands and pulled over to snap a few. Our home is about 1/2 mile from where we were at.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Unschooling In Action

These are the days that just confirm to me how well unschooling works and how natural learning really is. Calista started a "mail order business" last night and she was having us all mail packages to people. She works on her adding machine and has a cash register when you are ready to "check out". I had a knock on the door while I was doing dishes this morning; a package delivery that I "mailed" last night :). When Tristan woke up, the "mail order business" turned into a video- rental-by-mail business. Tristan decided he was going to be the bank so people could come pull their money out before they paid for the rentals. After a while Tristan says, "Wait a minute, how does the banker make money if the customer puts their money in and makes interest?". So I explained how the bank invests the money so the bank makes more interest than what they are paying the customer.

He wasn't sure how he was going to put that in action as a pretend thing so I suggested that maybe in another area of the house he create a "stock account" and for every dollar that someone puts in his bank he takes a percentage out of the "stock account". That was the best way I knew to do it for pretend.

After a while the two of them started talking about the richest people in the world. Tristan decided that he doesn't really like Donald Trump so he was going to be Bill Gates. He was bragging about all the cars he had and a house made of gold, etc. Calista pipes up and says, "Well, I live in a cottage because I give my money to all the poor people that are hungry!". Way to go Calista!!

It is so fun to sit and listen to the exchange. It so naturally progresses and this is how learning should be. Kevin has been doing a bit out of a curriculum because he wanted to do more like what they do in school. It has been so difficult for me to find a rhythm to it because it is so unnatural. He wants to see what highschool is all about so he thought he would do a curriculum first to work his way into it. It's funny because he says he wants to do it but when we actually do it he has a hard time getting into it too. So much of it is not relevant to his life and it is just NOT natural. When we get into the things that mean something to him it is like a light bulb goes on and he gets excited about it. It will be interesting to see what he thinks of school when he gets there. I have a feeling it won't last very long, but then again, he may love it because he is a very confident kid who knows who he is and doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

So now Calista just came up to my room. She says that my room is now her house because she is using her "cottage" for her store and she needs a little bit bigger of a house. Martin wanted to know if she was still giving her money to the poor and she said, "I'm not giving ALL my money to the poor, but I am giving a lot of it!". Too funny!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quote for the Day (or maybe a week)

We are not here solely to work and produce, manufacture and market. We are here to listen, contemplate and understand.
Michael Lewin, from an article on The Simple Living Network

REALLY Brrrrr!!

Well, yesterday started off with a nice, strong windstorm (they happen fairly frequently in our area during these winter months). Last night we had some very strong gusts, probably up to 80 mph, as was predicted. It felt like our house was going to fall over! We woke up to the house at 65 degrees because our furnace pilot keeps getting blown out, due to improper installation (yet another project for Martin). No hot water for a shower and, because our stove isn't working properly, we couldn't really start that either. I actually broke down and started one here a few minutes ago and so far not too much smoke in the house. The wind must be blowing in the right direction today :)

I got a phone call that kept me on for a while, during which the kids were fighting in the background. I came upstairs to two big forts that take up my entire living room and quite a bit of mess in the kitchen. When I logged on to my e-mail this is what was in my inbox, from my subscription to Scott Noelles daily groove:

:: Life Is Messy... Get Over It! ::In man's quest to conquer nature, our culture has developed an unhealthy aversion to the natural messiness of life.Heaven forbid you should eat an apple that isn't nice and round and free of bug bites. Those get made into applesauce so we never have to see their messiness!And if our high-tech, Star Trek fantasies were real,we could avoid the messiness of birth and simply"beam" babies out of the womb -- without a drop of blood in sight.Even if you're a "crunchy" parent who's not afraid of nature's messiness, there may be other kinds of messes you abhor, like the messy ways children learn,explore, and process emotions. Or the messy way *you*grow through parenthood.Today, whenever you feel bothered about anything, ask yourself, "What 'messiness' am I resisting?" Are you not allowing your *own* process to be messy?Well, get over it! Life IS messy. :-)Let life's messes remind you how good it is to be ALIVE!

Oh, isn't it funny that we receive exactly what we need, when we need it, when we just open ourselves up to it. Life is messy!! Learning is even messier!! How blessed I am!!!!! I have kids that are creative and love to explore. Kids that know how to cook their own meals and love to experiment. Yes, life is messy but how wonderful it is!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Oh golly, it has been cold here!! For much of this last two weeks it has been sitting around 10 degrees and a bit of wind. It is howling out there right now, and my woodstove was never installed correctly, so I can't start a fire or the wind just blows the smoke in the house. We had a couple of days at 35 degrees and then right back to the cold. I've hardly opened the door today. These are the days I really wish we were still on the road! But, I have to say that our lives are quite full right now so I am not noticing the weather as much as I normally would.

Tristan and I have been working on bird feeders and bird houses; painting and making them "pretty". Him and I decided that we are going to make a bird sanctuary outside our dining room window so we can watch all their activity. Much of it will have to wait until spring but we will at least get the bird feeders out there so the birds will come and feed.

The entire family got involved in a tie-dye project and I think we did pretty good for our first try at it. We did some bags, shirts, and socks. Even Martin got in on it. It was so much fun we need to go find a bunch more white stuff to tie-dye next week!!

Calista had a tea party on Friday. She had Rylee and two other friends and they had a grand time. It is nice to see everyone settling into life in our new home. We have had lots of friends over and everyone seems to be quite happy. Martin is so jovial that you sometimes think we won the lottery when he walks through the door! He REALLY loves his job as a realtor!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

quote for the day

The roads less traveled can be lonely and unpopular....and yet so often I am compelled to choose them.

enjoying my teen

I love and enjoy all three of my children TREMENDOUSLY but, for whatever reason, I am really enjoying the beginning of Kevin's teen years. He puts balance into my life and I just really like being around him right now. He has a really good group of friends too and it is so fun to watch them interact with one another; almost like siblings that get along really well. One of his friends has him as her heroe on her myspace and that really, deeply touched me. He seems to touch people all around him with such positive energy! The following is something I pulled off of his profile on myspace. This is why I like him so much. I like to think I had something to do with it but I think he has taught me more than I've taught him.


"I have fewer friends than most. Quality over quantity, nothing against those that do though. I'd just rather have 5 good friends than 20 aquantences. Not that I don't know people, but I consider friends people I want to get to know well, not people I only know. Doesn't mean I won't befriend you though! I'm easy to talk to, so don't be discouraged! It's me that has the issues talking, hah.I'm an accepting person, or I try to be. I could really care less about what you do. And as long as you don't try to push it on me, then I'll return the favour. I try to find the best in people, and go by that. We all do bad things, we're only human. No one person living on this entire planet can honestly say they are clean of doing anything wrong."


Of course I have to add some pro-unschooling comments too. This was written by a child who has had no formal writing lessons. Hmmmm, how do they learn this stuff? Children were born to learn, it is how God made us. They don't need the coercive methods that is so prevelant in school!! Something else that happened last weekend is that he just finished his six week Youth Court class that ended with a "bar" exam. He got a 97%, which was the highest in the class and only one other child got that score. He has never taken a test in his life! Actually, I take that back, he did take state tests when he was 9 years old. When kids are motivated intrinsically, they can do anything!! I guess that nonsense about having to "prepare" kids for tests, college, and the sorts doesn't apply after all!!