Lazy Hippie Mama

One woman's attempt to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort

You Can’t Say That! (Part 2)

You Can't Say That (Part 2) | LazyHippieMama.comA few days ago we kicked off “Banned Book Week” with 10 powerful quotes about censorship.

Today I’d like to share with you a few of my personal favorites that have been banned, challenged or censored over the years. 

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn & The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – by Mark Twain

You Can't Say That! (Part 2) | LazyHippieMama.comHuck Finn & Tom Sayer have the odd distinction of being banned by those who felt Twain went too far in promoting the equality of black Americans and by those who felt the books were racist.  I think it comes down to this: They are really great stories about  very interesting little boys written by a man who was offended by the racist stereotypes of his time yet unable to entirely rise above them.  So, basically, he was a human who was, as we all are, flawed.

In a side note, my best friend hates these books with a passion. I have never really exactly figured out why. It goes to show, I suppose, that the appreciation of anything creative is subjective!

Blubber – by Judy Blume

This powerful tale of bullying and friendship is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was written. It was banned because some believed there was too much bad behavior that occurred with no consequence. Kids might get the wrong idea, I guess. I think that’s just life. Too often those who hurt others get away with it.

The Call of the Wild – by Jack London

This story of a dog in the far north is one of my entire family’s favorites. It is beautiful and powerful, sad and exciting. There’s not a page of the whole book that doesn’t hold the readers attention. It has been banned for it’s violence among people and depictions of animal cruelty. A look at the history of the time and place the story is set in shows, though, that London was simply stating the way things were.

Cujo – by Stephen King

The book is terrifying and fabulous. In short, it’s a Stephen King novel.  Does it have a powerful message for the betterment of mankind? Not that I remember. Is it a great read? Every page of it. It’s been banned for all the reasons you’d expect a Stephen King novel to be banned.

Gone With The Wind – by Margaret Mitchell

You Can't Say That! (Part 2) |

I read this book the summer before 6th grade. I was 10 years old. I’d been reading things like Little House on the Prairie and Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory and, now that I was entering the oh-so-grown-up world of Jr. High I thought I should tackle something meatier. I didn’t know anything about Gone With The Wind, except that it was the fattest book on my mother’s bookshelf so I figured it would be the most impressive.

It was the first summer I failed to win the prizes from the local library’s book contest. I wasn’t concerned with quantity. It took me every bit of my vacation to get through that beast but I finished it! All these years later I still remember the feeling of being forced to consider a level of desperation where one would rip the curtains off the wall to make a decent dress or the horror of watching the city you love burn to the ground around you. It’s the first time I remember a novel truly having an effect on my worldview.

The book has been challenged for its glorification of slavery. It’s a story about southern plantations in a time when the south was fighting for the right to keep slaves, written from the perspective of a woman who’s whole world revolved around being a wealthy plantation owner. I’d say the glorification of slavery was inevitable.

The Harry Potter Series – by JK Rowling

You Can't Say That! (Part 2) | LazyHippieMama.comI truly believe this series saved a generation from being semi-illiterate. In a time when people were crying, “books are dead,” kids started reading this fantastic tale of a lonely little boy who is thrown into an extraordinary battle of good vs. evil.  The books are laced with powerful messages about friendship and loyalty, racism, fascism and more. Everyone went crazy for it – myself included. It’s a rare book that I find worth reading a second time but I’ve read this entire series three times and I’m heading into it again this year with my 5th grader.

It has been banned because of the pervasive theme of witchcraft. Because, apparently, magic and fantasy in children’s fiction are frowned upon by some. Hmmm… I wonder if those same people tried to ban every Disney book with a wicked witch or a magical curse.  Probably. *sigh*

James And The Giant Peach – by Roald Dahl

In typical Roald Dahl fashion, this book is dark and creepy and wonderful. It’s imaginative and creative and fun. It’s hopeful and powerful and a joy to read. The Tim Burton movie version is perfect.

Why did it get banned in some places? Because apparently there are those who believe children should be sheltered from everything potentially dark and creepy.

Little Black Sambo – by Helen Bannerman

You Can't Say That! (Part 2) | LazyHippieMama.comIf you’ve never read this book you may be surprised by a few things. First of all, Sambo isn’t really black, as in, of African descent. He’s Indian. Second, it’s not racist. Sambo is brave and clever.

The issue was never really with the text of the story, but with the slew of pirated versions that had very racist illustrations. Modern versions of the tale with more racially sensitive pictures and verbiage in the title have become best-sellers in recent years.

1984 – by George Orwell


Every high school student in every nation on earth should read this book. If you never have, you need to go buy it and read it today. It’s that important. It will challenge everything about the way you think of government and authority; which is why it has been one of the most widely banned books around the world. There are those who don’t want the masses getting ideas about what the government tries to control. So they try to control the distribution of books like this. Oh, the irony.

A Wrinkle In Time – by Madeleine L’engle

You Can't Say That! (Part 2) |

In this powerful fantasy work a reader is forced to consider, among other things, the dangers of conforming mindlessly to the masses. Some say it’s too religious. Many conservative Christians say it twists and challenges religion. Everyone’s been up in arms about it for nearly a generation now.  Usually that’s a good sign that it’s a book worth reading.

Do you have a favorite book that’s been banned or challenged? Share it in the comments!

When you’re done here, I’d encourage you to visit the official “Banned Books Week” website.  You may be amazed by what you find there!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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You Asked For It!

You Asked For It!I’m telling you, right from the start, this post is gross.  It is the nastiest thing I ever wrote and it’s not for the weak-of-stomach. I wouldn’t have written it at all except you asked for it!

Last night I posted this on my Facebook page:


I may have had my grossest parenting moment to date, this evening. I was going to tell you all about it in excessive detail but then I thought, “No. I should spare them.” 

So, if you were feeling like you had nothing to be thankful for, now you can relax and give thanks that I did NOT describe the horror of what I saw tonight. 

You’re welcome.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go wash my eyeballs.

Ya’ll freaked out. You wanted to know.

You’re weirdos. The whole lot of you. It’s what I love most about every one of you!

So here’s the thing:  Everybody knows that parenting is gross. Even the most inexperienced men and women enter this particular adventure armed with rags for mopping up vomit, rags for catching pee and poop and a mountain of disposable wipes for all those things that are, even in this earth-loving-hippie’s opinion, are unfit to be washed and used again.

You know.

But knowing and experiencing are just not the same.

A young friend of mine just had her first baby. A gorgeous little boy. She said the other day, “I really understand parenting now. I got pee on my shirt.”

I smiled warmly and thought, “after kid #4 I wouldn’t even notice pee on my shirt. It dries. What’s the big deal?”

Of course, I didn’t say that. She’ll figure it out.

But I digress…  you wanted to know what happened last night. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. You could stop reading now and spare yourself the horror.

Toddler-saurus Rex was eating rice noodles. If you’ve never had them, they are basically a very thin, translucent pasta; very similar to angel hair pasta.  He had some orange juice. All was well.

About 2 hours later we sat down together on the sofa to read stories.  At just that moment he burped a very big, very wet-sounding burp. Almost immediately he started crying the particular cry he has that means, “Oh my goodness! I hate the taste that’s in my mouth right now.”

Obviously, he’d thrown up in his mouth a little.  It happens to the best of us.

But then he coughed and whatever was in his throat apparently moved upward.  Suddenly the entire serving of seemingly totally unchewed noodles crawled out of his nose, mixed with vomit and snot.  It didn’t fly out forcefully. It just slid out of his face like sour-smelling worms and dripped onto my sofa.

I was paralyzed. I couldn’t help him. I could just sit there, watching this creep show in full color technovision, unfolding before my eyes.

You Asked For It! |

Later, once the horror of the moment had passed and I was confident that I wasn’t going to dish up my own serving of pasta right there on the living room floor I began to reflect.

In the moment, it had seemed to be the grossest thing I’d ever seen but, the truth is that, as child #1 approaches adulthood and child #4 is well into his preschool years I’ve seen some things that would have left 17-year-old me trembling in fear.

There was the time that Crazy Hippie Drummer’s butt exploded in a book store. He was maybe 2-years-old. It was one of those lovely, huge, used book stores with plushly furnished reading nooks placed here and there among the stacks. He was a being so good: just sitting there, looking at pictures and minding his own business, when he started to fuss. One grunt later and the kid blew out like Mount St. Helen.  No diaper was built to withstand that sort of pressure.

An especially smelly stream of poop continued to spew forth from him – UP out of the waistband of his pants. DOWN both legs. SPRAYING across the furniture and leaving a trail across the pretty green carpet as we ran from the store. Not kidding. An actual trail.

There was poop in his pants, his shoes, his hair. There was poop on both my husband and me. There was poop everywhere. So much more poop than could possibly be explained by the laws of physics. He was just a little boy, for goodness sake!

Do you know what there wasn’t?

A diaper bag. No diapers. No wipes. We forgot them.

I have never forgotten them since.

But I’m not sure that is as bad as the time Handsome Hippie Hubby decided to let the boy have as many bananas as he wanted. Apparently, he wanted… oh… maybe 7 or 8.  After eating them he moved to the very center of the room where partially digested banana poured forth from every orifice of that kid’s body.

It wasn’t poop. It was actually mashed banana. He vomited it. He pooped it. He blew it out of his nose. I swear I saw it dripping from his ears and tear ducts.

Something about the fact that it still looked like bananas and smelled delicious made it a thousand times worse.

It was a long, long time before I could eat bananas again.

But at least it was bananas he’d eaten that time.

You Asked For It! |

Kids eat stuff that you can’t even imagine.  Oh, you know that you need to lock up the rat poison and drain cleaner. But you can’t keep them away from everything.

Once we caught him eating cat poop out of the litter box.

Not So Hippie Teenager ripped the head off a preying mantis with her teeth when she didn’t even have enough teeth to fill her mouth. She’s always been in touch with her dark side.

Sweet Hippie Daughter chug-a-lugged the better part of a quart of fermented apple juice, up chucked the whole thing directly into my waist-length hair, and promptly fell asleep for 12 hours straight.

You Asked For It! |

No doubt about it, though, T-Rex takes the gold medal when it comes to eating the seemingly inedible.

We’ve caught him munching lady bugs like pop corn and masticating tree bark. He’s ingested glitter and polyester fluff. At Cocoa Beach he ate sand.

Maybe he didn’t get the memo that the beach is not actually made of cocoa. I’m not sure but he apparently found it delicious because he ate it All. Day. Long.  We stopped him over and over again but, apparently we weren’t vigilant enough. A month later he was having some serious digestion issues and x-rays showed that his little tummy was all full of sand.

The doctor prescribed some especially powerful very fast-acting medicine via the fastest route (which is not the mouth, in case you didn’t have that figured out). I had the pleasure of dosing out that particular piece of pleasantness and, as a reward, got to hold his diaper on (no time to fasten things up) while poop-smelling sand poured out of my child.

Ever try to wipe wet sand off?  Bet you didn’t have much luck. It can’t be done. It’s a physical impossibility.

  My kid crapped wet sand for weeks.  Not days. Weeks.

The same boy decided, not so long ago, to jam a plastic bean up his nose. WAY up his nose. So far up the pediatrician thought he would have to have surgery but, after a bit of serious archeological-style digging she unearthed the snotty treasure.

“He may bleed from the nose over the next few days,” she said. “Don’t be alarmed,” she said.

Easy for her to say.  I walked into my son’s room at nap time the next day and saw a scene from a Peter Jackson movie. He was covered, head to toe in blood. The crib had blood pooled on the waterproof padding. I swear there were splash patterns of blood across the bedroom wall.

You Asked For It! |

Janet Leigh had nothing on the scream I let out that day.

A little peepee on your shirt? Pfffbbbt. I can’t wait to hear my friend’s stories 10 years from now!

No. Parenting is not for the weak.

You Asked For It! |

Still with me? I know from your responses to the original Facebook post that your stories are at least as horrible as mine. Let it all go like your a four year old vomiting downward from the top bunk (Poor Kelly. I think your story beats any of mine.). Dish them up like maggoty soup in the comments. There truly is something cathartic in the telling.

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

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You Can’t Say That! (Part 1)

Each year the Intellectual Freedom of The American Library Association declares one week, “Banned Book Week.”  This year it runs from September 21-27.  You may not think that such a thing is necessary here in the Land Of The Free, but the reality is that even in this day and age books as varied as Harry Potter to the Webster’s-Miriam Dictionary face banning and censorship. Further, while very conservative religious groups often take the blame, the data shows that book banning happens in every state – both conservative, and liberal. Such actions have been initiated by groups ranging from Westboro Baptist to the NAACP.

In this time and place in history, most commonly, censorship appears as a human rights issue. “We shouldn’t allow people to read that because it will stir up hatred against a particular people group, already struggling.”  Sadly, even in a nation where we claim to have freedom of speech, this practice has been held up by the US Supreme Court.

Why would a peace-loving hippie be in favor of a book full of hatred?

I’m not. But I am absolutely in favor of the free, unrestricted exchange of ideas.  I truly believe, with all of me, that only in allowing EVERY person an equal voice will we ever continue to grow and flourish and, in time, come to understand one another in a way that moves beyond hate.

Therefore, in honor of Banned Book Week, I give you 10 powerful quotes about censorship.

You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -

You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


You Can't Say That! (Part 1) -


Come back later this week when I’ll share 10 banned books I highly recommend.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit their website. It’s full of wonderful information and articles!

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

If you enjoyed my blog, it would mean a lot to me if you’d toss me a vote by clicking the link, below. Thanks!

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Imprisoned in a Left Brained Life

Imprisoned In A Left-Brain World | LazyHippieMama.comI’ve become aware, lately, of a strange paradox that exists in our society.

We idolize creative people and forward thinkers. We put artists on a pedestal and become so fascinated by them that we begin dissecting every aspect of their lives. Whether it’s JK Rowling, Angelina Jolie or Lady Gaga we become completely enthralled. We have created a system in which those creative people who are leaders in their field become wealthy beyond the comprehension of the “average” person.

And yet…

We are cutting the arts from schools at an alarming rate. We tell children to stop being silly. Sit still. Listen to the lesson.

Those children get older and they are told, “It’s lovely that you truly enjoy creating pottery, but you need to go to college to be an accountant so you can get a real job and pay the bills.”

The children, of course, take this advice to heart. Pottery, then, becomes a little sideline hobby at best and they spend the entire prime of their lives waking up each morning to face a job they despise doing something they’re only ever going to be mediocre at, and praying for Friday to come so they can have 48 hours of sweet relief from the drudgery.

I wrote all the time when I was in high school. I wrote during classes and during lunch. I wrote at home and in the car and during church. I filled notebooks and scraps of paper and napkins with short stories and poems and ideas. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I took every language arts class, including, of course, creative writing.  No one ever even once said to me, “Do you think you might like to be a writer when you grow up?”

Honestly – it never even occurred to me that there are REAL people who make a living with words until, 20 years after graduation, I stumbled into this thing called “blogging.”

Think about it. Imagine 2 boys, both 15-years-old. Isn’t this an entirely plausible conversation?

Adult: “What would you like to do after High School?”

Boy #1: “I would like to be an engineer.”

Adult: “That’s wonderful! There’s a world of opportunity waiting for young engineers!”

Boy #2: “I would like to be a musician.”

Adult: “Haha! Well, it’s great to learn music but you need a fall-back, you know? You can’t count on music as a career.”

Yet who would that same adult be more excited to meet? The lead engineer from the factory down the road, or Mick Jagger?

Why do we force people into a certain mold?

I’m not totally naive. I do understand that, of all the talented performers in the world, the Mick Jaggers of the bunch are exceedingly few and far between. But being the famous guy on stage isn’t the only way to earn a living playing music. I have a friend who loves music and walked away from corporate America to sing at children’s festivals. He’s happier now than I ever saw him when he was working at “a real job.” There are music therapists and music store owners, music teachers, studio musicians, and so many more options for a person with a passion for music.  If a kid loves music why should he have to give up his dream and spend his life in a cubicle?

Imprisoned In A Left-Brained World | LazyHippieMama.comI have four friends who are in agony right now. Each of these clever, vibrant, creative people are being crushed under the weight of their anxieties. Each of them feels they must “hold down a real job” while every aspect of their being is screaming for them to do something else.

I get it. Really, I do.  Once you are an adult with a family and bills and all the responsibilities that come with being grown up you really can’t just tell your boss to kiss it and step into a new life.  That’s why my husband and I both work outside the home in jobs that give us a steady paycheck. We are working toward creating the life we dream of and we’re beginning to see some real progress in reaching our goals but it’s been a long road and there’s still quite a way to go.

And I’m not putting down the world of cubicles. I’ve known some “left-brainers” who have been perfectly, delightfully content living in their predictable 9-5 world. They are orderly, linear people who thrive in an orderly, linear environment. We need those people! We need ALL people to be the wonderful, unique, individuals they were created to be!  Anything else is akin to a prison sentence.

It makes me feel sad. How many extraordinary ideas are we missing out on because we’ve sold the lie that only those who polish their shoes and work Monday-Friday from 9-5 are contributing members of society? I truly believe we would all benefit by giving one another permission to unleash the passions within (well… maybe not ALL the passions. But you know… the vocational passions.).  What are we so afraid of?

It’s “What Do You Think? Wednesday” and I would love to hear your thoughts about all of this. Please join the discussion by leaving a comment! I really am curious to know how others feel about all of this.

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Using Up The Cherry Tomatoes

Using Up The Cherry Tomatoes | LazyHippieMama.comLast year we had several cherry tomato plants and so many of them ended up being wasted. I made gallons of pico de gallo/salsa (You can see my favorite recipe here) and topped everything we ate with cherry tomatoes for weeks. I added them to sauces and even tried juicing them but, when it was all said and done I just had more than I knew what to do with.

This year we agreed not to plant so many.

But then…

I had a few plants that I’d started from seed and I figured only half of them would take root and produce. But, nope. Every one of those little guys held on and grew. And then someone dropped off more. “We didn’t want to waste them and we have too many.” They said.

I couldn’t throw them away. They were just too beautiful. Into the garden they went.

And now I have cherry tomatoes. Mountains and piles and heaps of cherry tomatoes.

I learned that cherry tomatoes, more so than their larger cousins, freeze quite well and can be used for soups and stews all winter.

I filled my freezer and didn’t make a dent.

My sister told me I should try Ina Garten’s Provencal Cherry Tomato Gratin.  I did and I loved it. It’s just the right combination of soft and crunchy, sweet and savory. It took 5 minutes to throw together from this simplest possible ingredients (not including cooking time) and it was a huge hit.

But I still had more. A LOT more.

Then I discovered tomato jam.


Image from Food in Jars. Click the photo to see the original recipe!

Image from Food in Jars. Click the photo to see the original recipe!

Apparently I’ve been living under a rock all of these years because I’d never tried nor heard of such a thing before. I stumbled across this recipe and resisted at first. I love grape jam and strawberry jam… but tomato?!  Then I read a comment that, “It goes beautifully on turkey burgers but eat it on soft stinky cheese with crackers and it will change your life.”


So I made some tomato jam. And it’s FABULOUS! And so pretty in those sweet little Mason jars. And it’s actually quite easy to make. No peeling and seeding and such. I just put my tomatoes in my slap-chopper and tossed them in the pot to simmer. And it takes 5 pounds of cherry tomatoes to make 2-5 pints of jam, depending on how big they are, how much sugar they contain and other factors. I got 3 1/2 pints from my first attempt.

I’ve got approximately 47 relatives who are getting tomato jam for Christmas this year and I’m not going to have any guilty, “I left them in the garden to rot” feelings. Everybody wins!

Do you have other recipes you love to make with cherry tomatoes?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling & A New Give-Away!

10 Awkward Moments in HomeschoolingAccording to the most recent census about 3% of American children are homeschooled. It’s a growing movement, to be certain, but still far from “the norm.”  Many, if not most, people in this country live their whole lives without even ever meeting a homeschool family. Therefore their perceptions are based on those folks “on the fringe” who end up on the evening news or Dr. Phil talking about how they are proud that their 15 year old has never read any book other than the Bible and they don’t believe in girls learning math.

The reality is that homeschooling families are pretty much everyone else. There are good days and bad. There are success stories and failures. There are some people who are just fabulously cool and some who are truly odd.

Still, when you are approaching such a major part of life in a way that is different than the way 97% of those around you are doing it, there are bound to be some awkward moments.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling

1. The moment when someone knocks on the door, unexpectedly, at 1pm and you realize no one can answer it because the entire family is still in their PJs and/or underwear.

We’ve been learning, I swear! In fact, we were so busy learning we forgot to put on pants.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling |

2. The moment when your child is asked where they go to school and they just stand there, staring at the person like a deer caught in the headlights.

I’m never sure why they don’t just say, “I’m homeschooled.” This, of course, does little to dispel the “weird unsocialized homeschooler” myth.

3. The moment when you’re asked what grade your child is in and you can picture all of their books and lists – 3rd grade math, 9th grade reading, 5th grade science, and a coloring book from 2009 they just won’t give up on until every corner is fabulous – and you realize you have no idea what grade they’re actually in without consulting your records.

This is the parent version of #2.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why the kids can’t answer that question. Maybe they’re thinking, “I go to school in the dining room, the car, my mom’s office at work, the park, the local grange building…”

4. The moment when someone asks your child, “How long did you do school this morning?”

SHHHH! I’m trying to be sneaky over here! We ARE doing school! We’re grocery shopping and she’s keeping track of how much we’re spending. This is math class. She HATES math and doesn’t realize she’s studying right now so please don’t judge me when she tells you, “we didn’t do any school today.”

5. The moment you overhear your child say to a public school student, “What do you mean you’ve never had a single lesson on the science of Star Wars? Isn’t that a required subject?”

We’re nerds and we’re proud.

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6. The moment when someone at the grocery store sees you and your two children and says, “Oh, you homeschool? That’s nice. Are the rest of the children at home then?”

OK, first of all – making assumptions about the number of children any family has is always a fast train to Awkwardland. Just don’t go there.  If you are close enough to me to ask about my choices regarding child-bearing you already know how many kids I have and why. If you don’t already know, you really have no business inquiring about anything having to do with my uterus and/or sexual choices.

Second, contrary to what some people think, there are actually families that homeschool who have only one child. And some that have 3. And some that have 7. If you ask around at public school you’ll find a similar situation.

7. The moment when a public school child says, “This week we studied the feudal system.” And your child responds with, “We just watched movies this week.

They weren’t movies. They were DOCUMENTARIES. Totally different thing.

8. The moment when a friend who is a public school teacher says, “What textbook are you using?” And your child responds with, “We don’t use textbooks. We just look stuff up on the internet.”

We do a lot of learning online. I often direct my child to very reputable sites – everyone from NASA to PBS offers amazing free resources. We’re not just doing random Google searches, I swear. Er… well… not when it comes to the really important stuff anyway. But does my child say, “I’m learning science from NASA right now,”?  Of course not. She just implies that her main source of information is YouTube.

9. The moment when you are trying to assure your family that, as homeschoolers, your children are still getting plenty of opportunity to develop great social skills and you child enters the room walking backwards with a bag over their head loudly singing Elvis’ Greatest Hits.

What can I say? They come from a long line of strange people and big Elvis fans. They get plenty of interaction with other children and adults as well but, really, the poor kids never stood a chance.

10 Awkward Moments in Homeschooling |

10. The moment you look out the window and see a group of kids all wrapped up in their winter gear, waiting in the dark to get on the bus and go to school for the day, while you are lying on the sofa under a pile of giggling kids and fuzzy, tail-wagging dogs as the 3rd episode in a row of The Magic School Bus begins.

Oh, wait. Wrong list. That one goes on 1,001 reasons why I love being one of the 3%.

Share your awkward story in the comments. Life’s too short for us not to laugh together!

But before you go, don’t miss out on this great give-a-way!

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to share a truly amazing book with you.

Tom Rogers’, “Eleven” is a wonderful story about a little boy who turns 11 on 9/11/2001. The book is totally age-appropriate for an older elementary student and engaging enough for any adult.

As the anniversary of that world-changing event approaches, I am having my 5th grader read “Eleven” in the hopes that she will come to understand that people just like her had their lives directly, irrevocably changed in a moment.  If you’d like to read the review, you can do so by clicking here or you can visit

I’m so excited that Tom Rogers has agreed to give a copy of his book to one lucky reader! It’s a read you don’t want to miss.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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90 Days on the Homestead

This week we celebrate 90 days on our little miracle farm. (Click here to read about our miracle.) It has been the craziest summer I’ve had in memory! We’ve celebrated some wonderful moments and wept over more than a few. Through it all we have been wrapped in the love of those around us and I’m pretty sure that, at least once every single day, either Handsome Hippie Hubby or I have sighed and said, “I really love living here!”

Here’s a glimpse at the first 90 days.

The garden grew leafy and green…

90 Days On The Homestead |

And then became slightly wild and overwhelming.

90 Days on the Homestead |

Then it got so big it ate New York like a radioactive monster from Japan.

90 Days on the Homestead |

As the squash has petered out we’ve begun pulling it and putting in a fall planting of lettuce, spinach, radishes and cabbage. Here’s hoping that frost doesn’t come earlier than expected this year!

The weather was weird! Once or twice it was actually cold enough to see your breath at night and it was quite dry all summer.  We’d gotten a late start on the garden anyway, due to ground that was still frozen in mid May and not moving in until June. We had a bit of an issue with blossom end rot and, later, we were attacked by grasshoppers and tiny green worms.  All of that combined to make a fairly weird harvest schedule with squash and strawberries turning ripe at the same time and sweet corn that still isn’t ready to be picked.

The end result was enough to keep this Lazy Hippie up to my elbows in canning jars, though.  We’ve had over 300 pounds of veggies so far including zucchini, cucumbers, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, brussels sprouts, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and more.

90 Days on the Homestead |


While I’m on the subject of veggies, we experimented a bit with container gardening.  We grew our cucumbers in pots next to the chicken run.  They did pretty well… until the chickens figured out how to get to them.  I’m pretty sure they ate more fresh cucumbers this year than we did.

We also grew some sweet potatoes in a container.  No one in my family loves or hates sweet potatoes. Every now and then we eat them. They’re OK.  So it was that I came to have 2 wrinkly old sweet potatoes in my veggie basket.  I’d bought them for a certain recipe I never made and forgotten them.  On a whim I sliced them in half and stuck them in water because I’d seen it on Pinterest. Three out of four of those half moldy old things sprouted the prettiest green shoots!  We pulled the shoots off and stuck them straight in the water and they grew massive root systems very quickly. Curious and with nothing to lose I stuck them in a container and all summer long and this beautiful big leafy green plant by my porch steps.  Finally, we dumped it out to see what we had in there.  We ended up with about 4 pounds of what looked very much like smallish carrots. They are pretty tasty – you know… like sweet potatoes. (Go figure!) The roots and the leaves still looked great so we stuck them back in the dirt for decoration, if nothing else.

90 Days on the Homestead |

A little porch planter probably isn’t what I would recommend if you’re looking for a “real” harvest, but we’ll get a couple of nice side dishes from 2 moldy potatoes that would otherwise have been tossed into the compost, plus a lovely potted plant.

There have been grapes! We were all so excited about the lovely, mature grape vines at this house. When it was time to pick them we had great fun (and full bellies!).

90 Days On The Homestead |

The chickens are getting fat and sassy. When the bugs started becoming damaging in the garden we set our girls loose in there, figuring it didn’t matter if they were a little destructive since we were about to lose it all to the worms anyway. They saved the day! After a few hours they were so full they looked like old men lolling on the couch after Thanksgiving Dinner and there wasn’t a bug within 100 yards of the garden.

90 Days on the Homestead |


A week or two later we got our first little egg. Oh, happy day! We are getting about one little pullet egg per day now. I think only 2 or 3 of them are laying and expect things will pick up over the next few weeks.

90 Days on the Homestead |

One side of the house is a jungle that still needs to be tamed.

90 Days on the Homestead |

I did get part of it all cleared out and I planted 2 blackberry bushes but I got side tracked before I mulched it so now I blackberry brambles surrounded by weeds. Oops.  I’ll put that on the list.

The other side of the house is going to be raised beds. That’s a project that I started and got stuck on so the hubs took over and straightened me out but by then I was on to something else so now I need to come back to it and finish it. That’s on the list, too.  It’s a pretty long list.

I got a compost bin set up. I used an old crib I snagged at a rummage sale for pocket change. We covered the slats with chicken wire and made a chicken wire top, buried the legs a few inches deep and it’s been working out fine. My only concern is that it’s not very big and it’s getting full fast. Time to keep an eye out for some more pallets!

90 Days on the Homestead |

Oh! I almost forgot to share with you! OUR HOUSE IS HAUNTED!

Yes, we have our very own ghost.

We were sitting in the living room one morning. I can’t remember exactly what we were doing but, chances are, if the whole Hippie Family was in the living room at once Hubby was at his desk, reading or watching something on his computer. I was in the recliner, typing a blog or scrolling through Facebook, and SHD was sprawled on the couch playing Minecraft.

All of a sudden we heard a haunting sound…. “OOOoooooo!!!  I a spooky host!” Said the voice from far away.

And then it appeared:

90 Days on the Homestead |

I hope you don’t have nightmares.

So there it is. Our first summer as homesteaders (sort of). Now we get to move on to a whole new season. We’re looking forward to some nice big piles of leaves for jumping in and a few evening around the fire pit (oh yeah, did I mention, “build a fire pit,” is on the to-do list?). The High School Football games are, literally, in our back yard and we can’t wait to cheer on the local team and see the marching band.

Life is good.

90 Days on the Homestead |

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!

I’m very excited to say that this post was featured on The HomeAcre Hop! 





Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We’re Still Homeschooling

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling | LazyHippieMama.comPeople have been asking for a few weeks now, “when will school start for you?”

Here’s the thing. (Shhh! Don’t tell our kids!) School never stopped for us. The formal parts did. We backed off of math lessons and classes like band and theater break during summer but we still kept learning all summer long.

Life keeps going. We keep learning forever. That is a huge part of what school looks like for us.

As for the “formal” parts of school, today’s the day.  In Michigan, most public schools start right after Labor Day. We usually wait a few extra days, just because we can, but this year Sweet Hippie Daughter has opted-in to a number of classes and lessons and many of them kick off this week so we figured we’d just jump right in.

Today that means music lessons from 9:00-2:30 and a volleyball game at 4:00. Tomorrow we’ll be picking up with math and “bookwork” and soon enough we’ll be in full swing again.

When we started homeschooling a friend told us to make a list of 100 reasons why we wanted to do this. “If you can’t think of 100 you don’t want it badly enough. When times get hard you will need to look back at your list and remember why you are doing this.”  It was awesome advice.  We made our original list and promised ourselves we would re-visit it annually to be sure it was still valid. (Our year one and year two lists)

The list is largely the same, but it has changed a bit as our daughter has gotten older.  It has also grown a little and now includes 115 reasons. Some of them are far more weighty than others. Some of them are downright silly. Some apply to our family, living in our town, with the resources available to us and they wouldn’t make sense at all to another family living in another place.

It is important to me to make it understood that this list is not meant as a criticism of those who have children in public school or of the school district in which we live. I thank God that we live in a nation with CHOICES. We can choose what is best for our own families at any given time. For us, for now, that’s homeschool. I feel privileged to live in an area with great public schools. I am humbled by the efforts of the teachers and staff there to help us provide an excellent education for our kids, even after we officially left the district to be homeschoolers. The system isn’t always perfect but no system is and the people working in the schools have shown an extraordinary devotion to the children of this community.

Finally, I wanted to say that I know this list can be confusing to some people who know we have 4 children because it primarily refers to one little girl, just entering 5th grade.   Our two older children live with their mom during the school year and attend a great public school where they are growing and learning and turning into young adults of whom we are incredibly proud.  Our youngest is only 3 so school for him is hanging out in his underpants playing drums on the wall and singing the ABC song. We aren’t big believers in any kind of formal education for kids his age. We read to him every day and color with him. He digs in the garden and watch PBS and sings The Beatles at the top of his lungs and that seems to be enough for now.  We’ve talked about sending him to the same pre-school that his big sister attended next year but, frankly, that’s a whole year away and I’m still trying to figure out what we’re going to eat for lunch today so… one thing at a time.

Without further ado… drumroll, please…

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

100 Reasons (+15) Why We Homeschool

1.  We love spending time with her and would miss her if she were gone all day each day.

2. She wants to be homeschooled.

3. We want her to have the opportunity to explore her passions in great depth.

4. We want to teach her to choose healthy foods and eat them SLOWLY and WITH ENJOYMENT (not gobble down processed lunch during a 20 minute break).

5. We want her to have several hours each day to explore her imagination and play – not just a 20 minute recess where she’s not allowed to run too fast or swing side to side due to liability concerns.

6. We don’t want her to spend so much time comparing her possessions to those of other children her age.

7. We think that 7+ hours of school plus and hour on the bus is too much time for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to sit and listen (as opposed to playing, questioning, exploring, etc).

8. It seems to us that homework, after 7+ hours of school, seems excessive for a 9 year old.

9. We want our family to be free to travel when and where we like.

10. With Handsome Hippie Hubby’s work schedule he would never see her if she were at school until 3pm each day.

11. The one meal we can eat together, as a family, every day is lunch.

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

12. We want to teach her to be responsible to the environment in practice, not just through lessons.

13. We want her to learn practical skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, etc and there is little time to teach her when she’s away at public school all day and such things are no longer a part of the curriculum in school.

14. Sometimes life makes you stay up late and we want her to be able to sleep in or nap when her little growing body needs to.

15. They watch a lot of classic movies in music class and we want to be the ones to experience those with her.

16. They watch a lot of movies in music class and we want her to actually learn to play/sing/appreciate music.

17. The district cut art class but the Homeschool association still offers it.

18. We don’t want her to have to deal with the repercussions of being in a large class with a few “naughty” children that monopolize the teachers’ time.

19. An elementary age child should NEVER be stressed to the point of tears over homework and test scores but she often has been – starting in Kindergarten.

20. Because we hate sending her away to school when she’s feeling sick, but not “sick enough” to keep her home.

21. We hate sending her into a building full of children feeling “a little sick” but not “sick enough” to stay home.

22. We think that Physical Fitness is something that should be a part of a person’s life more than 45 minutes a week.

23. Our child, who is a great reader and writer, should never have to slow down to wait for other children to catch up.

24. Our child, who struggles with math, sometimes needs more time and attention than her teachers can give her.

25. We were unhappy with many of the things we saw or heard about happening on the school bus when she was in public school.

26. We want our child to have a broader, less politicized, view of history than she will learn in public school.

27. We don’t want our child to use anti-bacterial hand soap several times a day.

28. We think it’s unhealthy that our daughter sits in a swelteringly hot classroom in the middle of winter.

29. We live in an awesome community surrounded by awesome communities with a near infinite amount of resources to use as teaching tools.

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

30. The whole family will get to learn and grow with her if she’s homeschooled.

31. We want religion, spirituality, prayer and meditation to be a regular part of our child’s education.

32. We want to foster our child’s differences that she may harness them and direct them to the greatest good of her fellow man. Not just learn to be exactly like everyone else.

33. When REAL disaster/crisis/tragedy strikes (ie – the tornadoes that struck a nearby town a few years ago) we want her to know that it is not only OK but RIGHT and GOOD to drop EVERYTHING and rush to the aid of her neighbor.

34. It will make me feel like the years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars I spent on my own education weren’t a total waste.

35. I learned advanced math. I NEVER used it (I told you so!). And forgot every bit of it. But no one ever taught me how to balance a checkbook or calculate the interest on a mortgage  and I don’t want my child to have that same experience.

36. Homeschooling isn’t marriage. It’s not a life-long commitment. We can opt out if/when it stops working for us.

37. We want to know IMMEDIATELY if our child is struggling with a problem or social situation – not after it has reached a crisis state.

38. We think people learn more by experiencing something (ie. a visit to a farm is more memorable than a lesson about “where veggies come from.”) and it’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to schlep 35 kids all over the countryside several times a week.

39. We think intuition is a valid and valuable tool in the human mind that is suppressed by “institutionalized” learning.

40. Homeschooling forces me to be a more organized person.

41. Seeing my organizational skills, my child will learn to be organized. (It’s a great theory, isn’t it?)

42. Some days, watching the morning news together, and then having the time to discuss it, can be a more valuable education than an entire day in a classroom learning to figure the degree of angles in a triangle.

43. We believe strongly in the implied power in the sciences of noetics and quantum physics and this isn’t taught in public school.

44. We believe a child should have the opportunity to ask every question they can and public school teachers don’t have time to deal with that, so curiosity gets suppressed.

45. One of the smartest, most accomplished scientists of all time said, “imagination is more important than knowledge,” but public schools focus almost exclusively on the development of knowledge at the expense of imagination.

46. We want our daughter, who has a very entrepreneurial spirit, to have time and energy to experience the creation of business and the power of free enterprise.

47. We believe a child should be free to express themselves in all sorts of creative ways through their play and dress and public school stresses conformity. She’ll feel the pressure to conform to society soon enough.

48. With internet and virtual learning, she can learn from a much more culturally, philosophically, educationally diverse group of teachers than she will encounter in a local public school.

49. We don’t like putting our child on a bus every day. But especially on days that are foggy, snowy, icy, etc.

50. Many of the people we respect most in the public school system have told us that, if they had young children, they would not put them in public school.

51. Public school teachers, no matter how good, smart, loving, patient, etc must conform to the state standards no matter if they agree or not.

52. Sometimes our child is “naughty” and teachers have neither the time nor authority to properly discipline her and/or the teachers’ definition of “naughty” and the accompanying discipline are different from what we teach at home.

53. Public school is all about working to get good grades to get into college to get a “real job” but the modern world doesn’t work that way. Ask any college graduate working as a Wal-Mart cashier. Or any high school drop out running a multi-billion dollar international corporation.

54. EVERY study done shows homeschool children achieve higher academically.

55. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children are better socialized (fit into society more successfully).

56. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children have a greater sense of civic responsibility.

Click here for some interesting homeschool stats.

57. We want our child to learn how to use a computer to do more than play games.

58. We want our child to know how to do things without a computer.

60. We feel it’s more important for our child to know how and where to find information than to memorize facts for a standardized test.

61. We never want our child to go through the experience of “feeling stupid” for not understanding something without a little help.

62. Our state offers an amazing option to opt-in to “non-core” public school classes as a homeschooler, so she gets to sign up for public school band, and still keep her homeschool schedule.

63. We don’t want our child exposed to sex, drugs, violence, etc any earlier than necessary.

64. Time is valuable and public school wastes time (bus rides, moving between classes, waiting in line, etc).

65. We think it’s a bad idea to “stop learning” for 3 months out of the year, but a good idea to have lots of fun experiences all year long.

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

66. Some of the most mature, intelligent, respectful, strong-minded teens and young adults I know have been homeschooled since early childhood.

67. We want her to know that being a dancer (painter, musician, house-wife) is just as valid as being a doctor (teacher, accountant, etc).

68. In the event of a crisis (tornado, fire, etc) our child would be with us and we could make sure she’s as safe as possible.

69. We want our child to be able to think for herself and know how to question authority without being disrespectful.

70. Our child is a unique individual and deserves a uniquely designed education.

71. As parents, want a greater say in what she does and does not learn.

72. Some teachers are burnt out and just putting in their time and we don’t want our child to be “just put up with.”

73. We want to put the money spent on school supplies, field trips, etc to go toward those items we believe will be most beneficial for our child.

74. I really hate packing lunches and snacks every day.

75. We want to be the ones to teach her how to appropriately deal with bullying, harassment, etc.

76. Homeschooling gives the whole family the opportunity and motivation to explore nearby (and maybe far away) museums, gardens, parks, historic buildings, etc.

77. By homeschooling we are not doing things the “normal” way but we are teaching our child that there can be more than one good way to achieve a good end.

78. There are sometimes abusive adults in positions of power and we want to protect her from that as much as possible for as long as possible.

79. We want her to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the innocent, magical parts of childhood for as long as she can.

80. We want to avoid exposure to the annual outbreak of lice in the public school system.

81. The world, society, and technology are very different than they were 50 years ago but the style of teaching in public school is much the same.

82. She has excelled in homeschool band and is looking forward to continuing to grow and expand her musical education this year.

83. The government has screwed up most everything they have ever touched, so why would I trust them not to screw up the education of my child?

84. Hitler said, “The State will take youth and give youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this community.” “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the State.”

85. US Federal Judge Melinda Harmon said, in 1996, “Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”

86. Shopping for classroom supplies is more fun when you know you get to keep them and use them.

87. Our child has a passion to be in community theater and their rehearsals run very late at night.

88. We both hated school and did the bare minimum to get through and we don’t want our child to feel the same way.

89. Public schools require “lock-down drills” due to the very real threat of gunmen and/or terrorists in the building.

90. The cheapest time of year to go to Disney (and many other places) is October.

Disney during the school year = gorgeous weather and big savings!

Disney during the school year = gorgeous weather and big savings!

91. Homeschooling is “green.” There is less transportation, less utility use, less paper…. way way way way way less paper.

92. We want our child to understand that learning can be done anywhere, any time, at any age and be self led or assisted. It doesn’t only take place in a classroom with a teacher.

93. We have the feeling that our child has important things to teach us. “Unless ye be like a little child…..”

94. We believe that people absorb the energy of a place and public school, very often, does not have a positive energy.

95. We want our child to have “Bible” as a school subject.

96. One of our child’s favorite restaurants has great Tuesday lunch specials and she rarely gets to enjoy them.

97. Our child’s little brother is growing up fast and we don’t want her to miss it.

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

98. Our family is always happiest when we are together.

99. If we know what our child is learning about, we can integrate that into life in so many ways for a more well-rounded and memorable learning experience.

100. We are pretty sure we’re doing OK with this homeschool thing.

101. Through the homeschool association she can take all kinds of lessons we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

102. Through the homeschool association she has multiple opportunities to visit with and be of service to the senior citizens in our community.

103. Through the homeschool association she gets to participate in spelling bees each month.

104. Our toddler is learning things “ahead of schedule” by watching his sister do her school work.

105. Planting season is before school lets out for summer and harvest doesn’t finish until well after the new year begins.  She would miss both if she was in public school.

106. We are striving for a 100% GMO free diet and that would be virtually impossible with school lunches, snacks, birthday treats, etc.

107. We’ve learned that our daughter puts up fierce resistance to certain parts of schoolwork. No one was telling us that before, but now we can work on breaking down some of those barriers and help her learn a healthier approach to dealing with the less pleasant chores in life.

108. Her base of friends, after 2 years of homeschooling, includes a much wider age range of people. She is learning to interact appropriately with those much younger and much older than herself in a healthy and positive way.

109. Homeschooling has helped our whole family learn to be better stewards of our time and resources.

110. Homeschooling has given us extra opportunities to share some of our favorite books, movies, and music from our childhoods with our daughter.

111. Our child has had great opportunities to participate in classes with people of a wide range of ethnic, racial and regious backgrounds through homeschooling – far more so than in public school in our tiny community.

112. She is already planning on writing her 2nd book in November (National Novel Writer’s Month – visit Nanowrimo to participate with us!)

113. There are no snow days in homeschooling so we don’t need to spend half of the lovely summer making up for classes missed when it was too cold to leave the house.

Year 3, Day 1: 115 Reasons Why We're Still Homeschooling |

114. As a homeschooler she gets to help deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the year and we love that she has the experience of serving her elders in that way.

115. Our youngest child cannot be fully immunized for medical reasons. Homeschooling gives us some (admittedly small) amount of control over what gets dragged into our house.


Do you have other reasons for homeschooling? I would love to hear why other families choose to leave “the beaten path!”

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

Homeschool, Virtual School, Un-school, Co-Op: What does it all mean? (Part 2)


Homeschool, Virtual School, Un-school, Co-Op: What does it all mean? | LazyHippieMama.comIn Part One of this post I talked about what Virtual School is and a traditional method of homeschooling I refer to as “curriculum-based homeschooling.”  That is how our own homeschool adventure began but, in time, we moved on to a more eclectic approach.

Eclectic schooling is taking bits and pieces of everything and creating a unique style for yourself.

I imagine our school year like a cross country trip. We’re in Michigan now. We need to get to California. The goal is to get there by June, but there’s always some leeway if needed. We can drive, walk, bike, fly or sail. We can go fast or slow. Take breaks or do marathon stretches.  We can veer north, south, east and west and visit as many stops as we like along the way… as long as we eventually get to California.

Our “California” is based on the Michigan State Grade-Level Expectations.  We will use some online tools and games, library books, local clubs and classes, Khan Academy has been a lifesaver for us when it comes to math so we will stay with them again this year. Our daughter will continue her music education through the homeschool association’s band and she will also be taking band as a “drop in student” at the local public school (one of those perks of living in Michigan, I mentioned earlier). She’s in a theater class at a nearby college and she’ll do archery through the local conservation agency. Art and volleyball are through the homeschool group. No doubt there will be numerous field trips. Those are always the whole family’s favorite days.

There is a ton of freedom in eclectic schooling. Our daughter drives her own education. We set some parameters and goals for her and provide her with the tools she needs but she figures out how she wants to get there.  If she wants to read, she can read. If she wants to watch documentaries that’s OK too. If she decides halfway through the year that she has a burning urge to learn about the human skeleton she is welcome to follow that bunny trail as far as she would like.  Last year she spent November writing a book (which she actually published!) and then caught up with her other subjects again in December. She hates worksheets.  HATES them. Loathes may be a more appropriate word. So she does her math online and on scraps of paper.  You know what… she can multiply and divide and has a basic grasp of fractions. As long as she keeps moving forward I couldn’t care less if she never fills in another blank for the rest of her life.  Whatever works.

Homeschool, Virtual School, Un-school, Co-Op: What does it all mean? (Part 2) |

My best friend has a wild passion for color coded spreadsheets and 3-ring binders. I’m pretty sure that she would absolutely lose her mind trying to school her child the way I school mine.  And that’s OK.  The joy of homeschooling is the flexibility it provides to create the ideal educational environment for YOUR family.  Keep in mind, as I said in part one, that each state has its own requirements regarding testing and reporting. In some places you may find that the further you move away from the more conventional models the more difficult it is to provide the proofs of education that the state requires.

Our eclectic school definitely has one toe in the unschooling pond, though we are not “true” unschoolers.

Unschooling is allowing your child to learn through living life. Period. You don’t provide a curriculum or lesson plans. You don’t make them sit down and do math lessons.  They choose what to learn and when to learn it and your job is to help them find the tools they need to teach themselves the skills they wish to have.

Homeschool, Virtual School, Un-school, Co-Op: What does it all mean? (Part 2) |

Look at a child from infancy through pre-school. In those 4 years or so a person learns an extraordinary amount of information and they master new skills almost daily, even though there is no formal instruction. The idea behind unschooling is that people will continue to learn in just that way if you don’t put artificial boundaries on them.  As the student grows and develops and their academic needs become more complex, so does their desire to learn and so they will seek out knowledge and teachers and find ways to learn.

It sounds counter-intuitive to everything we consider “normal” in our society but, in 2012, Dr. Peter Gray did a large-scale study*, published in Psychology Today, of grown unschoolers. The concept first became a trend in the 1970s so those children are now adults with families of their own. Of the Unschoolers surveyed, 83% went on to some form of higher education. Most of those who went to college did so beginning at a Jr. College around age 16.  Dr. Gray notes that, “The most frequent complaints were about the lack of motivation and intellectual curiosity among their college classmates, the constricted social life of college, and, in a few cases, constraints imposed by the curriculum or grading system.”

In the same study, Dr. Gray shares that, “we found that most of them have gone on to careers that are extensions of interests and passions they developed in childhood play; most have chosen careers that are meaningful, exciting, and joyful to them over careers that are potentially more lucrative; a high percentage have pursued careers in the creative arts; and quite a few (including 50% of the men) have pursued STEM careers.  The great majority of them have pursued careers in which they are their own bosses.”

These men and women, schooled in an unconventional manner, often went on to unconventional careers. They became circus owners, aerial wildlife photographers, Greenpeace organizers, owners of engineering companies, inventors, community organizers and more.  Interestingly he notes that almost none of them worked in “middle management.”  They earned a living on their own terms. They became creators and bosses, hardly ever “regular” employees.

I’m sharing all of this because, of all the homeschool routes, my experience is that unschooling is the most misunderstood and widely criticized.  There seems to be a belief that it’s just lazy parenting.  The reality is that unschooling parents are just as much, if not more, involved in their children’s lives than other parents. They are constantly aware of the environment they are creating – and that creation is very intentional.  I’ve heard unschooling parents talk about “strewing:”  Purposely leaving something such as a Monopoly game on the table so that the kids will find it and say, “Hey! Let’s play this!”  All of a sudden their children – through their own choice and with no text books involved – are learning to count and add, make change, read and so on.

In it’s most “radical” form, unschooling reaches into every part of life. The child eats what they want, when they want. They sleep when they are tired and get up when they are rested, etc.  They will learn to wake to an alarm when there is an activity they want to participate in that requires them to do so. They will learn to eat healthy when they realize that a carton of ice cream gives them a belly ache.

Again, just as with the other types of homeschooling, those who unschool rarely fall into the “all or nothing” categories.  Most homeschoolers have SOME aspect of their lives that is “unschoolish.”  Only a tiny fraction of unschoolers fall into the “radical” category.  I indicated that my own family “dabbles” in unschooling. Our lack of designated curriculum and willingness to follow the lead of the children’s’ interests are distinctly an unschooling thing.  Forcing our daughter to do math even though she hates it… not so much.

At the beginning of this whole series I made the statement, “Ask 100 homeschoolers what their day looks like and you’ll get 100 answers.”  When trying to figure out what YOUR homeschool is going to look like, keep that in mind.  It’s YOUR homeschool.  You need to make it work for your family.  Does your child crave structure? Test boundaries? Love to be around other people? Thrive under pressure? Crumble when pushed?  What about you? Are you the kind of parent who takes great joy in finding cool craft projects on Pinterest and then sitting at the table and showing your little ones how to re-create those projects? Do you love to dialogue with your kids about what they are seeing or experiencing? Do you enjoy reading to them?

If you don’t find a rhythm that works for YOUR family then you aren’t going to succeed. Also, keep in mind that what works when you are teaching one first grader is probably not going to work when you are teaching 2 middle schoolers and a 4th grader.  Your homeschool will need to evolve as your family moves forward and your children grow.  Don’t be afraid to be flexible and change and “try on” different styles.  You may be surprised what you fall in love with!

* This is the link to the post that I originally read from Dr. Gray. Some of the statistics mentioned came from the other posts he released, based on the same study. All links are available within this article.

Homeschool, Virtual School, Un-school, Co-Op: What does it all mean? (Part 2) |

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Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!