Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I try to focus on the positive here, in our house, our unschooling life, and on this blog.  But this world we live in hands us plenty of thistles along with our wildflowers.  So, here's my confessions :)  My house is perpetually messy, dishes stack up, I have left clothes hanging on the line for days.  We sometimes enjoy a fast-food drive-thru.  The weeds in my garden are strong and healthy, and I consider a romp in the rain a perfect substitute for a real-live shower.
Ayla enjoying a sudden rain shower while my clothes on the line get an extra rinse.

My house is not media-free by a long shot.  After a long day, we have been known to have an iCarly or Mythbusters marathon, on Netflix.  Usually with 1-3 girls climbing all over Papa's lap and shoulders.  The girls are free to watch Netflix or play on the computer or Wii when and how long they like.  A good antidote to the "what if they do nothin' but veg in front of the TV" fear, is to provide lots of other, more exciting, things to do,  and also to look at what they are learning from what they are watching / playing.
 planting lavender, currants, and climbing roses.  (Gotta love a princess that isn't afraid of hard work, and even one that is ;-)

They are also free to eat when they are hungry and what they are hungry for.  And, contrary to what one might expect, they don't gorge on candy and sweets.  Given the choice between a hard-boiled egg, frozen strawberries, sliced kohlrabi, dried pineapple, popcorn or candy, Camille's not likely to choose the candy because she loves all of those other foods better.  When something is freely available the need to gorge is not there, because the fear of "not enough" is what causes over-indulgence in the first place.  Also, plenty of fresh, healthy, appealing food from the garden and CSA farm share make "eating well" irresistible.

This goes for adults as well.  I had coffee and a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie cookie for breakfast, and a garden salad with pan-roasted beets and freshly fermented kimchi for lunch.  A balance, of sorts.

Despite my original intentions, some of our toys are plastic.  Some of them light up and make noises.  Some are in the shape of a water gun, or foam sword.  If they create joy, they are welcome here.
Ayla loves her car that lights up, chimes, and sings "bright and merry, I'm a magical fairy."

Sometimes we yell, cry, get grumpy, say unkind words, slam a door, but throughout it all we love, live, forgive, and accept each other in all of our unique ways, with all of our glorious imperfections.
And for that, I am ultimately grateful.

When given the choice between fear and limits, or joy and abundance, I choose the latter. 


  1. A lovely post which really resonates with me. We have only recently realised that our chosen path of 'only natural toys, no media, no sugar, only wholefoods' etc, was causing conflict and disconnection within our family, So, now we are letting go and opening up and becoming more freeflowing, We watch films together, marvel at wildlife documentaries and have both natural and plastic toys, all of which stimulate creative, joyful play. Such an amazing unschooling journey for a whole family! Food I struggle with the most as I do think some foods are harmful for our bodies and yet I do want to offer my children the complete autonomy...still working on this one!
    Thank for sharing such an honest thought provoking and for me, timely post xxx

    Gina xxx

  2. I also love it when other families are open about mess! I worry about mess so much and yet I know that an unschooling family home should be messy and noisy, but it is easy to feel that we have to live up to some impossible standard. So again, thanks for sharing, especially as our washing is currently getting and extra rinse on the line right now...
    Gina xxx

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Gina. I started moving slowly towards a radical unschooling lifestyle by simply saying "yes" when possible. I've been really impressed with the choices that my kids make when given a lot of trust and a wide-range of choices. As far as food goes, I make, introduce, and offer lots of healthy fresh food, and some organic treats, and beyond that I have decided that some sugar or whatnot isn't as horrible as I used to think :) And I found a lot of encouragement and inspiration through the AlwaysLearning yahoo group, especially the idea of looking for what actually brings more honest joy into our lives.

  4. Sounds like your girls have an excellent partner to walk with them on their journey!

  5. Yes. :) Balance. Experience. Trust. Love. Life. You got it all covered!

  6. Beautiful, Nikole—I love your thistle confession. Though I have to say, those don't seem much like thistles to me :) They seem more like the colours and stitches that make up the blanket of you, some of them a bit knottier, some a bit tangled, some of the colours clashing, and maybe a bit of spaghetti sauce from when you used it as a picnic blanket, and a hole here, and there! But all of these "imperfections" (which to me are beautiful) are from LIVING, wholly. With your big, pure hearts, your openness, your readiness to risk all, jump in, discover, be amazed, delighted, surprised, sad, angry, and everything in between.

    I love your your life of Yes, Nikole. It does bring so much happiness, doesn't it? I love where your Yeses take you, and I love seeing your journey from over here. I am so happy for the way you live and the light it gives me.

  7. my house is super messy and it's bothering me! i'm not a neat freak i swear! my husband always gets on me about the house being messy, and he's right. i feel better when it's at least a little clean. we don't have many plastic toys, because i find my kids are much better behaved when there is much much less. however, my kids do eat what they want and they do watch tv. tv is my savior at times. they also go to bed when and where they want. there is a lot of yelling in my house which i try my best to get a hold on, but it's not working! oh well though, right? we do our best and our best is enough. great post!

  8. Hi Niki D, that's what life is all about...living, learning, and changing views and opinions of stuff along the way! I feel sorry for those that don't have that flexibility in their lives, cuz they're missing out on much that is great in life! mamacita

  9. We are just relaxing into the unschooling way of life here too. Cheap plastic toys from the charity shop do bring so much joy, even if they go back to the charity shop a month or so later!
    And I am with you on the food choices too, i have discovered that generally the boys do make the healthier choice just because I haven't said no to the unhealthy choice. Making it forbidden just makes it even more exciting!
    Great post x

  10. ..and i'm totally with you on the shower.

  11. Kids don't remember piles of dishes or dirty fingernails. Kids remember the summer of cake for breakfast, swinging with mom so high she almost threw up, stopping at the junk store on the way home and finding the perfect glass bead. Kids remember feeling content, seeing their parents and siblings happy and joyous. As parents, we are oh so very lucky to get to make it all happen in joy--along the way we get to eat cake and swing and play too! Rockin' post mama!

  12. I love Jen's comment! As always. That Lynch lady is a smart cookie.

    I read this post several days ago, and loved it, but didn't comment at the time.
    What I just should have said, and still smile over and feel, was



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