The blogging faucet has been turned back on

For the past couple years I haven’t been writing much on my personal blogs.  I have still been working online, creating content for client’s websites and maintaining my own niche blogs, but I have been avoiding hitting the publish button on my personal blogs.  I’m done with all of that.  I’ve still been writing in the interim and maybe one day I’ll decide to back-publish the stuff I simply saved as a draft.  But right now, I’m moving forward and I’d like to invite you to hop over to my personal blog at http://GypsyMom.com and subscribe there, please.  I’m sharing personal transformation stories, unschooling and homeschooling helps, parenting insights and other things in my brain.  I hope you enjoy the other website and that your life is increasingly more awesome each day.

 

Dreams are coming true…

I’m not sure how many of you are following my new blog already. I started writing GypsyMom.com when I became consumed with the idea of taking an extended road trip; actually I want to LIVE on the road indefinitely. That’s not happening yet but we are in the midst of our very first RV trip ever ( a 12 week practice run) and we are having the time of our lives.

You can read the entire process of the journey at Gypsymom.com, or you can just go over our adventure so far. The day we started our adventure, I was so excited I thought I’d explode. Everywhere we’ve been has been awesome. It’s not exactly the trip I fantasized about, but in many ways it’s been better than I dreamed possible.

In Rapid City, South Dakota, we had fun taking our picture with statues of US Presidents. Then, we visited Mount Rushmore and enjoyed the hospitality of our very first RV Resort. After that, Betty the Beaver (Yes, we named our motorhome) decided to show us an adventure in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And finally, our stop in Monroe, Utah, at Mystic Hot Springs has been my favorite so far.
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I’m writing this in my sleep

I told my kids I was going to bed a few hours ago, and I did, I swear. I was up early and it was time for my body to rest. They tried to make me stay awake, but I needed to lay down.

Times like this make me so glad that I know I can just go to bed instead of forcing myself to stay awake while tending to the house or the kids. I can not imagine what it would have felt like to stay awake and try to be nice while reading bedtime stories or otherwise ignoring my body’s needs.

We live in a very old house and unless it’s locked, my bedroom door pops open spontaneously. The light and noise rush in and I lay there patiently. If I get up, they’ll see that I’m “awake” and have something important to tell me. If the light or noise bothers me, I can throw a blanket over the top half of my head. Without me having to ask, eventually one of the kids will come shut the door for me. Sometimes they’ll tell eachother go do it. Someone else always volunteers if they disagree. But I know that eventually someone will come and slam the door shut. It won’t shut at all if it isn’t slammed.

So I’m not catching any deep REM sleep, but it feels good to “check out” even though I can still hear their little-voice conversations and I love that they’re “taking care of me” by shutting the door and yelling at each other periodically to “Be quiet, Moms sleeping.”
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Can we grill them?

Grace loved her little brown turkey

I just found 5 dead baby hens and a turkey on my living room floor.

I woke up this morning and thought I saw the dog laying by a rather large mouse. We get teeny little field mice in the house and she loves to catch them, but this was HUGE.  When I got closer, I realized it was a little black chick. In my 4am mind-fog, it took me a while to look around the room and see that the floor was covered in lifeless little chicks. I was sad for the birds but mostly sad for my girls. I wanted to wake them up and tell them.  I wanted them to sleep all day so I didn’t have to tell them.

Chicks like crushed corn

They took the news rather well, and started arranging the funeral right away.  A hole was dug. Flowers were picked. Chairs were arranged in rows around the grave. We had to wear black (luckily my pajamas were black). At the service, there was a solemn procession of dead baby chicks, each laid in the ground gently and called by name. There was debate about which song should be played, but in the end Maddy sang a little song of tribute to all the pets we’ve lost over the years (2 dead rabbits, 1 dead duck, 2 dead turkeys, 3 dead dogs, 5 dead chickens, a parakeet, some fish and now…. all these dead chicks….). Evelyn said a few words “I love you and I miss you,” which the kids tell me is her standard funeral speech) and Grace chose not to speak, she just cried and said “I loved my turkey.” I apologized to the birds for not making sure the dog was locked away last night. None of the kids turned to me and said “So it’s your fault.” Continue reading

Flower Wars

Flower wars

Maybe I’m just easily amused, but every single day my kids give me cause to rethink something, or learn more about myself and this world.

On this day, we had friends over for a backyard BBQ. It was an all-day affair to celebrate my husband’s birthday, with a bonfire, marshmallow roasting, a giant wild salmon to grill, hula hooping, hackey sacking, tree climbing, chickens, sprinkler play and all sorts of other treats.

Evelyn chasing Maddy with flowers


Madelyn (7) enlisted the help of our friend’s 14 yr old daughter to collect a wheelbarrel full of flowers to dump on the lawn so she could lay on them. When the “bed of flowers” was finished, she called us over to share her moment. It was really sweet. After a while, the kids began picking up the bunches of flowers and throwing them at one another, like a snowball fight, only with flowers.

My friend and I were calling it a “flower war” and enjoyed watching the kids having so much fun.

 

Evelyn came and sat with us at one point, she’d been enjoying the flower game with the other kids and needed a little break. One of us mentioned the “flower war” and she looked confused. It’s not a war, it’s called “flower catching” and we were struck by the idea that we’d chosen the word “war” whe she was choosing the word “catching.”

My drink caught a flower

To be truthful, when the 14 yr old girl pinned her big brother down and stuffed his mouth with flowers, the word “war” might have been a little more accurate, but it’s all about perception, right?

Life Rocks Conference Recap

If you’ve never been to an unschooling conference before, you’re missing out on one of the most life-changing, empowering experiences EVER. This life attracts some of the most dynamic people on the planet. Being in their presence has been invigorating, exhausting, exciting, inspiring…

I think I’m running out of adjectives.

Maybe you know the feeling. If you’ve ever bared your soul to a friend, sharing hopes & dreams, your deepest secrets, and hearing theirs… Maybe if you know that no matter what you say or do, you are loved and the world is right and magical people are sprinkled all over the place(except for last week, when many of them converged upon the town of North Conway, New Hampshire).

I can think of ten thousand amazing moments that I want to share, here they are in no particular order:

– I loved meeting and hanging out with Amy Steinberg (the rumors about her being phenomenal are absolutely true, plus I love her). On the last night of the event, she gave a concert. I loved watching her sing Exactly and looking around the audience to see that everyone really was exactly where they needed to be… nursing babies in arms, toddlers on the dance floor, dads hula hooping, and moms arm-in-arm basking in the glow of the moment… it was so powerful. In a way, I was where I needed to be, too.  I was also lucky enough to take her on a Thai food lunch date and ride with her back into the airport and I kinda feel like I’ve known her forever. Actually, I had that feeling quite often during the conference. It was more like a reunion, in that way.
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Please do NOT read to your child for 20 minutes a day

I always thought the “20 minutes a day” guideline was lame. How many books take precisely 20 minutes to read? If a children’s author is pitching their new book, would they have better luck if they wrote it so that it could be read in 20 minutes? Maybe with a built-in timer or something… What’s a parent to do at the end of that 20 minutes, if the book isn’t over? If they decide to finish the book and end up reading for 23 minutes tonight, then do they only need to read for 17 minutes tomorrow?  If reading is such a wonderful thing, why are so many adults “forced” into doing it? What does it teach children to have their teacher at school sending home a tracking form to monitor their parents?

Unschooling reading
Kids can learn to read from books, not from reading lessons

Where did they come up with the 20-minute figure? Maybe it’s because they once did a study of families whose kids were great readers and averaged out the length of time each family spent reading to their kids and decided that a standard of 20 minutes was the bare minimum.  Now, everyone is striving for that minimum.  I’m just guessing, I really don’t know the origin of the 20-minutes-a-day reading guideline.  All I know is that it’s difficult to lose yourself in literature when you’re watching the clock.

I think the root of the issue was originally that families were “too busy” to read to their kids.  How on earth they’d ever get them to bed, I will never know.  Reading to my girls is often just the elixir they need to hold still and relax long enough to drift off to sleep.  I don’t read to them every single day and I’m not sure how long we read because we don’t look at the clock. Ever. I read until I find myself skipping words or spacing out between sentences.  Sometimes, if I’m falling asleep while I read, I’ll accidentally add random words to the story (the kids love this and it’s usually their laughter that wakes me up).  We read until everyone’s story has been read. The younger girls usually get their stories first. If a chapter book is chosen, it’s usually last and we read one chapter before deciding if we want to go further. Sometimes it takes us months to finish one chapter book, sometimes it only takes days. Sometimes we never finish and that’s OK.
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Room for Two

So 17 years without spending the night away from home (sans Russell Sprouts) Can you believe it? It was the first time my husband and I have EVER EVER EVER in the course of our marriage spent the night in a hotel without our children. Ever. Imagine that, after being married over 17 years.

Something had to change.

An important part of Plan C is the fact that he and I need to get to know each other. We’re supposed to be filling our recent memories with happy things; making daily deposits to the love bank (which is not a* euphamism, it’s a Dr Phil thing, I think). Over the years, We’ve grown up together, we’ve learned how to be parents, learned how to be grown-ups, learned how to be a family and now it’s time for us to learn how to be a couple. And we both have a habit of doing things on our own timeline, so this is perfect. Perfect timing for a weekend away.

We drove all of 45 minutes, to get to the Tri Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco & Richland) . I know it’s not an exotic location, it might qualify as a staycation, but to us it might as well have been a second honeymoon. The drive was nice, I crocheted a baby blanket for a friend, we chatted about the landscape, argued about life a little, shared our very different memories of the same situations and relished the lack of interruptions.
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Plan C, I guess

I went from being a kid in my parent’s house, to being a wife & mother within a year, I was 18. It never bothered me while I was growing babies, I was THRILLED to set aside myself (whoever that was) to provide warmth, space and love for a baby. My body is yours, sweet little one. I know I’ll get it back later. Plan A said “my mind belongs to you, who enjoys Barney and sleeps erratically. My personality is… a result of my mood and whatever entertains you, sweet little monkey of mine… There will be time for me later.” Now I wonder sometimes, if putting their needs ahead of my own was a bit of self-defense. Having never BEEN a woman alone, to sort out my own identity, it was easier to just be a mom. There were books about being a mom.

Perhaps I should have predicted that the decision to stop making babies would result in some kind of identity crisis, right?

Crisis is the wrong word, it sounds like a bad thing. I don’t feel like I’m in crisis. I feel like I’m an explorer, with a map in my hand, looking out at a great expanse of wilderness, knowing that wherever I step, a path will unfold in front of me and it will be MINE and it will take me somewhere amazing, because the world is filled with amazing and dammit, I want some.
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