Unschooling ~ The Secret Ingredient to a Happy Childhood

A couple of months ago we went on our very first road trip with David, our two year old son. It was soooo much fun! While on the road I was able to listen to recordings of Eckhart Tolle and read a couple of books, one of which is called the The Unschooling Unmanual, a valuable little book generously given to me by Jan Hunt, who is the editor and contributing author. Her book has 11 essays and 8 different authors ranging from unschooling parents to philosophers, allowing you to receive a wide perspective on the subject. I knew, even before David was born, that I was going to do my own version of unschooling with him. I decided this after meeting my best friend Courtney and several other wonderful people who were unschooled as children and live very happy and fulfilled lives because of it. Unschooling, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, is a style of education which allows your child to direct his/her own learning. Unschooling takes place outside of a school setting (unless the child chooses on his/her own to attend school), and differs from homeschooling because there is no set curriculum. That is the basic definition of unschooling, but in reality it is so much more. Unschooling is a way of life, a way of interacting with and thinking about children which is respectful, loving, and kind.


Bird nest we found on our land with three baby cardinals

Reading The Unschooling Unmanual really helped me to understand, in a deeper way, my reasons for choosing to unschool my child. While watching David run naked on the beach, forage wild hickory nuts near our hotel, ride a trolley in downtown Savannah, and nap in our comfy hotel room bed, I felt pure joy in the moment and excitement about our future unschooled life, filled with lots of freedom, travel, time in nature, and family fun! I truly believe unschooling is the secret ingredient to a happy childhood. Inspired by the stories and information contained in The Unschooling Unmanual, I have made a list, in true Rose Goddess style, of the top 10 reasons why…

1. Respects Basic Human Rights. Unschooling is all about respecting and trusting your child. The fact that parents conceive and give birth to their children often leads them to believe they have the right to control them. Being able to pursue our own education and interests is something we take for granted, yet many children have had this right taken away from them due to their size and age. In my opinion, the relationship between parent and child should be viewed as a partnership. We protect them and help them navigate this physical existence while they teach us the meaning of life, love, and spiritual purity. Our job as parents is not to tell them what to think, learn, or do, but to help answer their questions, obtain information, and provide a peaceful and positive environment for them. Creating a positive environment is a very important part of being an unschooling parent. If your children have free access to junk food and video games in your home, for example, then the addictive quality of these things might rule their time. However, there is still learning that can happen from these things. Like an acorn that has all the information on how to become an oak tree within it, you do not need to force your child to grow, learn, and sprout. You help him/her become all s/he can be by providing the right environment, healthy soil, sun, water, attention, and love.


David eating a tomato from our garden last year

2. The Power of Now. School may teach children many things, but one underlying principle it teaches all children is to live for the future. Children will think what they don’t want to think, sit where they don’t want to sit, read what they don’t want to read, and learn what they don’t want to learn, all in the name of preparing for some bright and happy future. The only problem is, the future does not exist. There is only NOW. When the future comes, it will also be NOW. On top of that, all this schooling doesn’t necessarily mean a child will be happy and successful in life. Look around you. How many people do you know who are truly happy? People who live with passion, joy, enthusiasm, love, and a sense of adventure? How many people do you know who wake up in the morning grateful to be alive? Not many. Most people are continuously thinking about the past and future, and as a result are missing the precious, blissful NOW. Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”(Matthew 6:34) Life is not something to prepare for. Life is to be lived. This, of course, does not mean you never set goals and take steps to achieve them. It does mean, however, that your goals and plans for the future should never prevent you from enjoying the present moment. Children who grow up with the freedom to follow their passions know how to live in the present moment. By allowing your child to live in the present moment you can be sure s/he will have a happy future, because s/he knows how to have a happy NOW.

3. Healthy Children. Most school systems are not set up to promote health. For example, children are required to eat on a set schedule instead of being able to follow their bodies’ signals for hunger (not to mention the lunch food available is mostly junk food filled with preservatives.) Children are cooped up inside for 6 hours a day instead of being outside, receiving life giving fresh air and sunshine. They need permission to go to the restroom instead of being able to follow their bodies’ cues on when to urinate and defecate. Also, children are made to get up early in the morning in order to be on time for school instead of being allowed to get a full night’s rest. This issue of sleep is way more important than some might think, especially for teenagers, whose brains release melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy) about 90 minutes later in the evening and morning than adults and prepubescents. (Yes, there is a biological reason your teenager stays up late and sleeps in.) This fact puts teenagers at risk during the drive to school and pressures them to fall asleep during first period. Learning this information convinced a few school districts to change their high school start times from 7:25 to 8:30. The results were amazing! Higher SAT scores, lower depression, and increased motivation. Despite this, changing start times is not a “convenient” thing to do for most schools so they opt to keep their early hours and sleep deprived moody teens. (NurtureShock)

Unschooling allows your children to get all the rest they require for optimum health and brain development. Your teenagers will be more of a joy to be around, as will your toddlers, who will never require to wake up early from a nap in order to pick up big brother or sister from school. Keeping your children at home also allows you to set up a beautiful, relaxing morning ritual for them. You can talk about their dreams and help them with interpretation, set intentions for the day, read a special quote or affirmation, give them a loving back rub and put on some uplifting music. This can be difficult to do if you are in a rush to get your children out the door on time.


David sleeping in the car on our road trip

Nananda Van Gestel, another contributing author to The Unschooling Unmanual writes that when her son was attending school he was coming home with one virus after another. “The whole family had trouble staying balanced because we all had to hurry, hurry, hurry just to keep up with the school schedule. And I believe that we are all more prone to illness when we’re emotionally out of balance. Now that we’re unschooling, we can set our own schedules. We’re free to listen to the subtle signals our bodies are sending us, those ‘inner voices’ that tell us how to stay mentally, emotionally, and physically fit. Illnesses like the flu and colds remind us that we need to slow down.” Nananda goes on to say “It’s natural for children to listen to the signals of their bodies and to live according to their own rhythms. If we encourage them to trust these feelings, they will be happy and healthy, and will learn in the most natural way.”

4. Strong Family Bond. John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, said “Between schooling and television, all the time children have is eaten up. That’s what has destroyed the American family.” School separates parents from their children and siblings from each other for a large chunk of time each week day. Although some parents find this enjoyable, many children do not desire such a long separation from their family, at least at first. I myself asked my mother to home school me when I was young and again asked to be home schooled when in high school. I was a very sensitive child and really desired to be with those I loved and who I knew loved me. I intuitively felt schooling did not help me focus on my emotional and spiritual growth. This was important to me, but since I had to go to school anyway I decided to focus on boys instead. Studies show that during middle childhood and adolescence, peers become a major influence in a child’s life. However, they are not as strong an influence on the child who has a close relationship with his/her family, who work and play together on a regular basis. The more time you have with your children, the more time you have to make beautiful memories together and get to know who they really are.

Unschooling helps us truly enjoy children because the way we interact with them is completely different than the way most people in our society interact with their children (not to mention that the school system is a big contributor to the problems we have with our children.) There is no need for yelling, punishing, bribing, and struggling to make them the way we think they should be. Instead, we are allowed to watch, observe, admire, and stand in awe of their brilliance.


Bryan and David exploring caves at Eisenhower State Park

5. Positive Values. Have you ever noticed that a large percentage of parents who choose to keep their children out of school do it for religious or moral reasons? In order to not offend anyone, God and prayer has been taken out of school. It is a taboo subject there (unless attending a religious or new age type of school.) Every day children are under a high degree of peer pressure to fit in and do what the “cool” kids are doing. As a parent you can never be sure what kind of values teachers are subtly conveying or the attitude they have toward your child. (I have heard some very mean comments from teachers about their students.) If children are allowed to grow up in a peaceful home environment they can focus less on pleasing their peers and fitting into the system and more on building core values and developing a strong connection to their divine nature.


David contemplating bugs and flowers

6. Love of Learning. The theory behind schooling is that children go to a specific place at a specific time to learn. Attendance is required and topics and books are selected. Frequent tests are given to determine progress. Bribes, rewards, and punishments are used to “motivate” children. This type of system is based on the belief that children need to be compelled to learn. Unschooling, on the other hand, is based on the belief that children are natural learners. Any parent who has a toddler knows how curious and fascinated they are with the world around them. Unschooling parents know that nothing special needs to happen at the age of 5 to switch on learning. They are already doing it. They are already living fully and absorbing massive amounts of information. At school children begin to learn that if it’s educational it can’t be fun and if it’s fun it can’t be educational. As Albert Einstein said, “It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”

For unschoolers, learning is an integral part of life and play. Learning is fun! These children are able to retain the same enthusiasm for learning they had as toddlers. As Jan Hunt wrote, “Jason has learned much of what he knows through play, and has the same love of learning he was born with. He learned about money by playing Monopoly, about spelling by playing Scrabble, about strategies by playing chess, Clue, and video games, about our culture by watching classic and modern TV shows and films, about politics and government by watching ‘Yes, Minister’, about grammar by playing Mad Libs, about fractions by cooking, about words by playing Dictionary, and writing skills by reading P.G. Wodehouse. He learns about life through living it.”

7. Maximum Information Absorption. All of the grown unschoolers I know have a keen ability to absorb and remember large amounts of information. Their minds are not occupied with information that is meaningless to them, and they have not learned how to forget. Many children who attend school and are required to learn things they are not interested in will typically develop the habit of storing information in their head for a short period of time in order to pass a test or exam and then quickly forgetting it. This is an unproductive learning habit most unschoolers do not have. Because everything they choose to learn they are motivated to learn it is absorbed and integrated into their minds and bodies quickly and easily. Dr. silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley says “When a child gets to choose, they presumably choose activities they’re motivated to do. Motivation is crucial. Motivation is experienced in the brain as the release of dopamine. It’s not released like other neurotransmitters into the synapses, but rather it’s sort of spritzed onto large areas of the brain, which enhances the signaling of neurons.” In essence, the motivated brain signals faster, operates better, and learns more. (NurtureShock)


David drinking raw coconut water and “reading” scriptures

School removes responsibility from children. They are told what to do and what to learn and are subjected to the control of someone else’s schedule and curriculum. Children who are unschooled learn to take responsibility for themselves. They are sovereign. They are motivated to learn. Instead of learning how to memorize information, unschoolers learn how to obtain information. This is a skill that will serve them throughout their entire lives.

8. Free Thinkers. In school, children are taught to think and calculate in a specific manner. These methods and ideas are often inferior and in many instances become outdated as science discovers more and more about how the universe really works. For example, Scott Flansburg, also known as “The Human Calculator,” is a math genius. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for adding the same number to itself more times in 15 seconds than a person can do using a calculator. On the day his school teacher was explaining how to add multiple digit numbers, he was not paying attention. His teacher realized this and called on him to do a math problem in front of the class. Looking at the problem he figured out the answer with a completely different method than the standard “carry the one” way children are taught. Even though he came up with the right answer, his teacher told him he didn’t do it correctly because she didn’t see him “carry the one.” Scott tells us now that he is glad he wasn’t paying attention in class that day, because it started him on the path of thinking and looking at numbers in a whole new way, a way which has made him faster than a calculator!

Unschoolers are free thinkers because they are allowed time and space to be creative and come up with their own conclusions about life. As Sal Gentile writes in a post entitled Is a liberal arts degree worth it?, “once artificially intelligent machines like Watson take over jobs in even advanced fields, like medicine, the jobs that will remain will require creativity and problem-solving, not just the rote memorization of specialized knowledge or proficiency in technical skills.” Unique thoughts stem from a well developed imagination. They stem from fantasy. Jan Hunt writes, “Fantasy requires time, and time is the most endangered commodity in our lives. Fully scheduled school hours and extracurricular activities leave little time for children to dream, to think, to invent solutions to problems, to cope with stressful experiences, or simply to fulfill the universal need for solitude and privacy”

9. True Wisdom. There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge, in essence, is information stored in our heads, mere thought forms and ideas on how life works. Wisdom, on the other hand, is a deep knowing of truth. It is felt and understood in every cell of our bodies. The way most children are taught in school involves a lot of sitting still and theorizing. They can receive knowledge this way, yes, but not wisdom. Unschoolers learn through play and hands on experience. As Einstein said, “play is the highest form of research.” It allows us to gain true wisdom.


David’s first snow man

10. Fulfilling Their Divine Mission. In my opinion, every child comes to this planet with purpose. As Florence Scovel Shinn puts it, “There is for each man, perfect self-expression. There is a place which he is to fill and no one else can fill, something which he is to do, which no one else can do; it is his destiny!” Our children come into this world fully equipped with all the information inside of them they need to activate and fulfill their divine mission. Truth is not found in school. Truth is found by looking within. Who are we to judge what they need to learn, do or think? We do not know what the world is going to be like in 20 years. Did our parents realize the important role computers would play in our lives today? Not likely. As Kahlil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with his might that his arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He Loves also the bow that is stable.”

I realize there are circumstances where parents are unable to unschool their children, even if they really desire to. If this is your situation I recommend looking into alternative holistic education for your children such as Waldorf education, the Montessori method, and forest schools. Even though I am primarily unschooling David I have looked into these modalities and am applying my favorite aspects from them to the way I raise my son.


David and I at the Rethinking Everything/Unschooling Conference in 2011

If you can and do choose to unschool your children I highly recommend surrounding yourself with positive resources and influences. Because of the society and mindset many of us grew up in, it may seem “wrong” to trust our children so much. Questions and doubts may swirl around in your mind. If I trust my child to learn on his own will he read or write? Will he be able to get a job or go to college? What about my child’s social skills? Will they be able to fit in? How will I be able to get anything done or have my own personal time? How will I handle criticism and judgement from others? These questions can be answered by reading good books on the subject, such as The Unschooling Unmanual, or visiting Jan’s education section on her website, and reading authors such as John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Grace Llewellyn, Sara McGrath, Veronika Robinson, Dayna Martin, and many more. I also recommend joining meet-up groups or forming your own group of like-minded parents. People who will support you as you upgrade your consciousness and learn one of life’s greatest lessons… To breathe and to TRUST.

Culture: friend or foe?

Life Examined – No. 1

Culture is a common word with many meanings. In the field of anthropology, culture has been described as “the full range of learned human behavior patterns.”[1] Under this definition, culture includes everything from tooth brushing to wedding ceremonies, and culture runs even deeper than that. Might it be the case that the vast majority of our thoughts and actions are just a performance of the “learned behavior patterns” called culture? This calls into question whether we make our own choices or are simply imitating what we have seen others do. Drawing on the work of anthropologist Edward T. Hall, Thomas Elpel goes as far as to say, “our perceptions and decisions are dictated by deeply embedded scripts mimicked from parents, peers, and culture…our choices in life are not necessarily ours, and the perception of freewill is an illusion.”[2]


Photo by Michael Vito

If culture is so pervasive within our lives, if it determines so many of the actions we take, our first reaction might be to regard it as harmful. We may think that culture is robbing us of our free will, but perhaps there is some value to it. Since culture includes all learned behavior patterns, that means it includes skills such as acquisition and preparation of food and also spoken language. It is easy to see the utility of these skills, and the fact that language is an element of culture sheds light on one of culture’s primary benefits. Within a society, culture provides a shared framework for communication and mutual understanding. It is easy to imagine the misunderstandings and conflicts that would arise amongst even small groups of people without some elements of culture to moderate our interactions.

The concept of a meme helps explain how elements of culture take root within society. The word “meme” was coined in the mid-1970s by analogy to the word “gene.” Just as genes encoded in DNA are passed from organisms to their offspring, a meme is “an idea, behavior, or usage that spreads from person-to-person within a culture.”[3]

If there are ways in which culture exerts a positive influence on people’s lives, are there also ways in which culture has a detrimental effect? Consider the ancient Chinese practice of foot-binding. For those unfamiliar, this was a process wherein a young girl’s feet would be broken, folded under themselves, and tightly bound. Over time, repeating this process resulted in deformed feet that were very short in length and conformed to an aesthetic ideal. The practice was widespread in China until it was outlawed in the early 20th century. Here we have culture at work: an ideal (the aesthetics of short feet,) coupled with a technology (foot-binding) for achieving that ideal. Both spread as memes throughout a large society. Looking back on this practice it seems brutal and insane, yet within the cultural context of that society, it was seen as reasonable and beneficial. In fact, it is often the case that the peculiar aspects of a culture are invisible to those who have grown up in that culture. Edward T. Hall noted, “culture hides much more than it reveals, and strangely enough, what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.”[4] In the case of a harmful behavior like foot-binding, the concept of meme might take on a more nefarious metaphor, that of pathogenic contagion, a virus sweeping through a population causing infection, in this case an infection of the mind. Could it be that within our own culture there are practices we take for granted, that others might regard as brutal and insane?


Author unknown

One might wonder if it is possible to be free from culture altogether, or at least free from the undesirable aspects of culture. At the very least it is possible, if perhaps difficult, for an individual to eliminate harmful behavior patterns, but how can one become aware of all these patterns. If culture hides itself “most effectively from its own participants,” then perhaps an effective way to examine one’s culture is to make a conscious effort to not participate in it. Nineteenth century author Henry David Thoreau describes in his book Walden his “experiment” of living in a cabin in the woods for two years. He stated that he “did not wish to live what was not life.”[5], indicating, in a sense, the desire to strip away as much culture from his life as he could. It is debatable to what extent this is possible or even desirable. Nevertheless, this experience certainly sharpened Thoreau’s ability to examine the culture of his time. Could this be the same for each of us? Might we, by simplifying our lives, gain insight into the culture in which we live. Certainly, there is much to be learned simply by observing one’s own actions and the actions of those that surround oneself. Furthermore, there is the option of consciously choosing one’s actions rather than allowing the subconscious mind to replay learned behaviors. This is, of course, is easier said than done.

If we are able to identify elements of our culture that can be changed or improved upon, is it possible to effect a change throughout a society? If culture spreads by way of memes, then, of course, each meme must originate somewhere. In this way the actions of a single individual can begin to change the culture in which he or she lives. As a set of related memes spreads into a portion of a society it can create a subculture. Doubtless, we see many a subculture in the society in which we live. These subcultures may revolve around something as simple as a hobby or sport, a kind of music, or a style of dress. Subcultures are seen most frequently amongst people in pre- or early adulthood, individuals for whom the prevailing culture of their society has not become so entrenched. Often an element of a subculture reaches a critical mass, and so becomes a part of the mainstream culture of a society. Of course, once something becomes a part of the mainstream culture, it does not mean that it will always be so, as can be seen in the case of so many fads. Still, we are left with the question of whether we can see widespread improvement in our culture. The experiences of one troop of baboons in eastern Africa offer some intriguing insights.


Photo by Katie Hunt

First some background on the typical culture of a baboon troop: within the troop there is a group of dominant males. The remainder of the troop consists of females and non-dominant males. The dominant males severely harass and abuse the others in the troop, whereas the females and non-dominant males usually treat each other with respect and compassion. Neuroscientist Dr. Robert Sapolsky has observed troops of baboons in Kenya throughout his career and, in particular, monitored one troop of baboons for over 30 years. This troop was quite similar to any other troop and displayed the typical baboon culture of abusive dominant males. One day this troop encountered a large quantity of human food that had been thrown out, which was contaminated with harmful bacteria. The dominant males, as usual, were able to eat much more of the food to the exclusion of others in the troop. As a result, all of the dominant males died, whereas many of the other troop members who had eaten much less of the contaminated food survived. Some of the non-dominant males became the new leaders of the troop, yet they continued to exhibit benevolent behavior. It is normal for male baboons, when they come of age, to leave their birth troop and join another troop. As time passed and young males from other troops joined this troop, these young males would attempt to act out the abusive behaviors they had learned in their birth troops. When this happened, the formerly passive males, now in charge of the troop would make it clear to these troublemakers that such behavior was not acceptable. Soon these young males would abandon their abusive behavior and behave benevolently, as the other males in the troop did. Over 20 years later, in stark contrast to other known baboon troops, this troop continues to be free of harassment and abuse.[6] What lessons can we draw from this example? Is it possible that we can change our culture if we make a concerted effort to do so?

-Bryan


[1] O’Neil, Dennis. “What is Culture?” 2006. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm>

[2] Elpel, Thomas J. Roadmap to Reality. Pony: HOPS Press, 2008. p. 27.

[3] “Meme.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.

[4] Hall, Edward T. The Silent Language. New York: Doubleday, 1990. p. 29.

[5] Thoreau, Henry David. Walden: Or, Life in the Woods. Mineola: Dover Publications, 1995. p. 59.

[6] Stress: The Portrait of a Killer. Dir. John Heminway. National Geographic Video, 2008. DVD.

I’m Dreaming of a Raw Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! A couple days ago I strained my shoulder while doing yoga (I pushed myself a little too hard… big no no), so this Christmas Eve I will be laying in bed with an icepack and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. It is actually quite nice. As many mothers know it is a rare treat to be able to lay in bed for 24 hours while your lover pampers you and takes care of your child. See, something good always comes from doing yoga ;) Now I have time to share with you a few of my favorite raw Christmas recipes. You can use these along with any of my Thanksgiving recipes to create a beautiful, festive, delicious and healthy holiday meal.

Carrot Nog
I found this delicious recipe in Mimi Kirk’s book Live Raw. If you are a lover of foraging and wild foods you can also try this hackberry nog. Yum!

2 cups fresh carrot juice
4 cups almond milk (1 cup soaked almonds blended with four cups water then strained)
8 dates, pitted
1 big scoop ice
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 vanilla bean
Pinch salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Serves 6.

Portobello Steaks
This recipe is taken from Everyday Raw. Mushrooms are an excellent food to serve on the holidays and as a meat replacement. A few years ago I showed up to a family Thanksgiving dinner with mushrooms covered in a raw gravy sauce, kale chips, cranberry sauce, and salad. For some reason the turkey was not prepared and it was going to be a couple hours before their Thanksgiving dinner was ready to be served, so my family sat down and enjoyed my raw meal for Thanksgiving. Everyone loved it and raved about it for weeks afterward! Usually I only bring one or two dishes to family gatherings but that year my intuition guided me to bring lots of extra food! Now I know why ;)

4 portobello mushroom caps, stems removed
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Gently toss portobello mushrooms with remaining ingredients. Spread on Teflex dehydrator sheets and dehydrate for 1-2 hours, until soft. Serves 4.

Cauliflower Mash
This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Matt Amsden’s book RAWvolution. It tastes similar to creamy buttery mashed potatoes. My husband doesn’t like cauliflower but he thinks this recipe is pretty good!

2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, ground
1 cup macadamia nuts, ground in food processor
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 small clove garlic, peeled
Freshly ground pepper to taste

In food processor, combine all ingredients except the pepper and process until fluffy. Top with pepper. Serves 3-4.

Ginger Bread Cookies
These are simply amazing!

2 cups almonds, soaked
1/4 cup minced ginger
1 1/2 cup pitted dates soaked
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
Pinch sea salt

In food processor finely chop ginger. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add a few Tbsp. date soak water to achieve cookie dough consistency. Cut into cute Christmas shapes. Place on nonstick sheets in dehydrator and dehydrate at 108 degrees for 12-24 hours. Flip cookies over to dry the underside and return to dehydrator without nonstick sheets for 1-2 hours. Store in airtight container in cool dry place, in the fridge or freezer. Make 2-3 dozen.

Have an Amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love,

Raw Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is here! What an awesome holiday! I love everything about this day (getting together with family, eating a big meal prepared with love, and reflecting in gratitude on all the blessings we have) except for maybe the traditional foods served. That’s ok though because I always end up bringing my own dishes to family gatherings. I love sharing my creations and seeing people’s faces light up when they realize healthy food can be tasty food too! Today I have recorded my top four scrumptious raw and vegan Thanksgiving recipes for you to try if you feel inspired…


Sugar Pie Pumpkins from our garden

Raw Cranberry Sauce
This recipe is praised by everyone who tries it. In fact, my sister’s husband specifically requested that I bring my cranberry sauce to our Thanksgiving feast. ;)

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup dates, stoned
1 apple
2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. lemon juice
pinch of high quality salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Wild Rice Stuffing
This is technically not 100% raw, but it is still super duper healthy. Filled with vitamins, minerals, protein, and omega 3 fatty acids, it is an excellent replacement for the usual stuffing we see during Thanksgiving. It is loved by adults and children of all ages. My son and brother in law gobbled this one up!!

1/2 pound wild rice
1 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. high quality salt
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried sage
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp. lemon zest

Soak wild rice overnight. Cook according to package instructions. Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Arugula Salad
This is not your ordinary salad. It is has a very gourmet feel to it. Everyone who tried it loved it!!

4-5 cups chopped fresh arugula (preferably from your garden)
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup pomegranite seeds
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1-2 pears, chopped
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Splash of fresh squeezed orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, making sure to coat leaves fully with oil. Serve in a beautiful bowl.

Raw Pumpkin Pie
In the past I have made the pumpkin pie recipe from Raw Food/Real World which is absolutely delicious! The only thing is it doesn’t actually have pumpkin in it. So this year I tried making my own. The following recipe came out pretty good if I do say so myself ;)

Crust:
2 cup pecans, soaked for a couple hours
1 cup dates, stoned
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Process all ingredient in food processor until smooth. Grease a 9 inch pie plate with coconut oil then press crust mixture around bottom and edges of dish. Put in refrigerator while making the filling.

Filling:
4 cups cubed raw pumpkin. I recommend using small, soft meat pumpkins, such as sugar pie pumpkins.
1 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup coconut nectar (or your favorite raw sweetener)
2 Tbsp. raw cashew butter
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
Pinch of high quality salt

Blend until smooth, adding a little water as needed to obtain correct consistency (I added about a cup). Pour into crust and smooth with a spatula. Chill in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Making this pie a day or two ahead of time will save you some prep time on Thanksgiving and will also give all the delicious flavors in this recipe time to meld together. Yum!

In Love and Gratitude,

Living in the Flow

Today I made a video (while David was napping) talking about affirmations, abundance, and living in the flow! On it I share a song I wrote this summer which I sing nearly everyday to remind me that miracles can happen at any moment and how important it is to be receptive and ready for them.

Remember, we are all beautiful, loved, and powerful beyond belief! We are all precious children of God and as such have the seeds of Godhood encoded in our DNA. If we purify our thoughts and emotions, learn how to direct and strengthen our imagination, and follow our intuition, we allow grace to enter our life. Living in grace is living in the flow. Joy, bliss, beauty, love, fun, synchronicity, and awe inspiring moments abound!! Below I have recorded the lyrics to my song…

Flow
I woke up this morning
with a smile on my face
I knew that I, was in the right,
my perfect divine place

Life is a magical journey
and today is filled with light
I feel God’s love from up above,
and surrounding me in my life

Something Amazing and Wonderful
is happening to me now
In perfect ways, on this perfect day,
it’s happening to me now

All of my desires
are comming to me today
Today is the day, of my salva,
my Salvation!

I choose my life worth living
my life worth dreaming about
I choose to feel, I choose to heal
and transmute all my doubt

We are all Gods and Goddesses
if only in embryo
We’re here to learn, we’re here to grow,
and create life beautiful

Something Amazing and Wonderful
is happening to me now
In perfect ways, on this perfect day
it’s happening to me now!

All of my desires
are coming to me today
Today is the day, of my salva,
my Salvation!

Yes! all of my desires
are coming to me today
Today is the day, of my salva,
My Salvation!

Raw and Wild Persimmon Thumbprint Cookies

The one thing that I really missed about living in the city after I moved out here to my beautiful home on 17 acres of land was the park behind my apartment complex. For 5 years this was the place I would go to meditate, think, and play. Every day I would come to my special park. If I needed guidance or a listening ear I would sit my back against one of the huge oak trees and receive clarity of mind and restoration of soul through my connection and communication with nature. To me it was more than a park. It was my friend and my piece of heaven in the midst of buildings, cars, busy people, and concrete. I still miss her sometimes and I know she misses me too.


Persimmon trees

The most amazing thing about this particular park is it is surrounded by 20+ persimmon trees which would make an abundance of delicious fruit for us every autumn. Many days that, along with wild dandelion leaves, would be all we had for lunch, yet we would feel completely satisfied and nourished. This year, after sending out my intention to find wild persimmon trees closer to where I live, mother nature gifted me with the discovery of a beautiful thicket with dozens, if not hundreds, of persimmon trees within a 7 minute drive from our home!! Talk about easy and abundant manifestation!!


David trying to be like Daddy and shake ripe persimmons off the tree


Me collecting persimmons


Snack time

With all the abundance of persimmons we have at our fingertips, way more than we can eat in one sitting, we decided to create some recipes which would allow us to preserve their yummy goodness (they become overripe quickly, within a few days). One way to do this would be to make persimmon fruit leather by dehydrating the pulp. Another way would be to make these delicious persimmon thumbprint cookies.

Persimmon Thumbprint Cookies
1/2 cup persimmon pulp
2 cups soaked almonds
1 cup coconut flakes
1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw honey or coconut nectar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
seeds from one vanilla bean
pinch salt

Make persimmon pulp by placing wild persimmons in strainer or colander and mash them into a bowl placed underneath. This will filter out the seeds and skins. Set aside.


Wild persimmons and persimmon pulp

In food processor add soaked almonds, coconut flakes, coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Process until smooth.


Be aware of little hands

Roll dough into balls, flatten between your hands and press thumb in middle. Add 1/2 teaspoon of persimmon pulp in each indentation. Enjoy immediately. If you like your cookies warm or crispier, dehydrate for a few hours. If you have leftovers, store in an airtight container in fridge or freezer. They probably won’t be in there for long :) Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Variation: Take dough and form into tart shells. Fill with persimmon pulp and top with pecans. Yum!!

Live, love, laugh, and enjoy the best food ever!


Bryan shaking a persimmon tree

A Day in the Life of a Blissful Mama (6/12/12)

I’m back!! I must say, taking a vacation from blogging was an excellent idea! If you are a blogger I highly recommend taking a few weeks off from time to time. It is so rejuvenating and refreshing to unplug from the matrix and focus on what is real, connecting with nature, family, and friends. This summer I learned how to juggle, wrote a few songs, and ate lots of food from our beautiful garden. I also had my blog redesigned (if you didn’t notice) by the sweet and talented Amy Tuggle. Below I have recorded a sample day of my relaxing, stress free summer. This one is from June 12th, 2012, when my son was 19 1/2 months young.


Watermelon from our garden

6:15 am: David wakes up to nurse. I feel well rested because I went to sleep at the same time he did last night. Although I like my personal time in the evening to do yoga and write, sometimes I really enjoy getting 10 hours of sleep :) I look out my bedroom window to see clouds, sky, trees, and morning sun blending together to make a gorgeous, vivid, and colorful scene which looks more like a painting than real life. I breath deeply and try to take in the magic of it all.

7:10 am: Bryan comes in because he hears David. He has been up since 5:30 am to get a little work done before we woke up so we can enjoy more time together today. He is such an amazing man! We go outside so David can pee. Our garden is AMAZING!! It rained last night so I don’t require to water today. I thank God for doing it for me. We take our compost out, pee on our garden and play with Chula (my sister’s dog who we are babysitting for a few days).

7:30 am: David requests kale chips for breakfast. I do my 5 rites while he eats. David brings me his ring sling and asks for a “horse walk.” I put him in his sling and we go outside to see the donkeys, horse, and birds flying and landing super close to us. I have a deep connection with birds. Many times they fly near me, look at me, communicae with me, or land on my head when I am in a particularly high vibrational state.

8:00 am: Bryan goes into his office for his work conference call. I give Chula breakfast. I add a couple raw eggs to her food, which she loves. David plays in Bryan’s guitar case while I eat breakfast. Honeybush tea with lemon and apple slices with tahini, lucuma, salt and honey. David comes in and asks for cookies so I give him raw super ginger cookies made out of ginger, sesame seeds, date and coconut. I also share my remaining breakfast with him. David runs outside to go pee. He is fully house/potty trained. Yay for Elimination Communication!!

8:45 am: David tells me he needs to poop. He goes, I wipe him, and throw his poop in our compost pile. We have been composting his poop since we read The Humanure Handbook. David then asks to play with our hose so I turn it on for him and go inside to soak sweet potato leaves from our garden in olive oil and lemon juice. I go back outside to play with David. He giggles joyfully whenever he sprays me. We take a snuggle milk feeding break and then observe the grasshoppers, ants and roli polies together.

9:45 am: Bryan comes out of his office to start a load of laundry. He seems tense. I ask him about it and he says he has a lot of pressure to get things done today. Most of the time his job is easy for him. Many times he only requires to work 6 hours to complete what is required in an 8 hour work day. Other times his job requires a high amount of mental focus. His company relies heavily on his problem solving genius. I give David some goji berries and chlorella tabs to munch on (as a distraction) while I bring some raw chia crackers and hummus to Bryan’s office and give him a head massage with valor essential oil. I do energy work on him while he works.

10:00 am: David looks sleepy. I push him on his tree swing while I jump on my rebounder and say my daily affirmations. Mother, thy name is multitasking.

10:15 am: David is asleep. I take him out of his swing and to our bed. I drink water and coconut kefir as I write in my book for 45 minutes and then meditate for and hour and a half. Meditation is essential for blissful mothering. It helps me to be happy and present in each moment with David.

1:15 pm: David wakes up and nurses. Bryan comes out of his office and takes David outside to potty. I go out into our garden and pick basil. David picks a cucumber. I prepare lunch. Basil pesto (pine nuts, olive oil, lemon, basil, salt) on soaked sweet potato leaves, avocado, tomato and cucumber from our garden. We eat outside under our hackberry tree. Bryan and I have a New Earth raw treat for dessert.

2:00 pm Bryan answers some work e-mails while I read with David. I love watching his language develop and seeing into his unique thoughts. We take a walk with Chula and check our mail. I find a package by our gate! It is my sunorganic order with rose hip oil, macadamias, and lentils. I love shopping online. It feels like Christmas every time I get a package! David feeds Chula organic treats we purchased for her at Whole Foods.

2:45 pm: David snacks on some leftover goji berries and chlorella while I read. He brings me his Ergo carrier and asks me to wear him. I put him on my back and go outside to work in the garden. Soon he wants to get out and play with sticks and push his wooden wagon around our yard. I get a lot accomplished. I am only interrupted temporarily by a snuggle milk feeding and a few bugs David tells me I just have to see.

3:45 pm: Bryan takes David for a walk while I do some writing. I eat raw ginger cookies, drink water and beet kvass.

4:40 pm: Bryan and David come home and tell me all about their walking adventures. I lay on my hammock with David and nurse him while Bryan and I talk about our dreams. David gets up and goes over to Chula and pees on her fur. Chula looks up at David like “what just happened?” I cover my face to hide the fact that I am laughing hysterically while Bryan calmly tells David it is not appropriate to pee on animals. I wash Chula off with our hose. Poor doggy. We give her treats to make up for it.

5:00 pm: From our garden we pick peppers, squash, ground cherries, and ripe strawberries. We cut up raw squash on a plate with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Delicious! David looks completely blissful. There is a cerain love that flows through when you eat food you have grown yourself with your hands while snuggling outside with people you love. More snuggling on our hammock, breastfeeding, and talking with Bryan ensue.

6:00 pm: Cleaning party! We play dance music to make it fun. David even joins in by sweeping our broom across the floor. He stops to snack on pumpkin seeds and mango superfood icecream (mango, ice, blue green algae, amla berry, hemp, lucuma, mesquite, honey)

6:45 pm: We take a family walk. There is so much to discover in nature, especially in the eyes of a 19 month old boy. We pick and eat greens from our garden. I watch David run around our yard with a stick. I could watch him for hours. He is so beautiful, strong, vibrant, confident, and comfortable in his environment. David poops in his little potty. Bryan wipes him and takes his poop to our compost pile.

8:00 pm: We pull laundry down from our clothes line and Bryan and David take a bath together.

8:30 pm: Bryan plays Teach Your Children Well on his guitar while I dance with David. He laughs and laughs when I spin him around in a circle. I take David into our bedroom and nurse him to sleep while Bryan serenades us with Ave Maria and Oh,Holy Night. I caress David lovingly, putting good thoughts and vibrations into his head while he drifts to sleep.

9:15 pm: Bryan lights some candles and we take a long, sensual, and relaxing shower.

10:00 pm: Bryan finishes up his work while I do yoga, then we both prepare for bed.

11:30 pm: Snuggled together with our son we quickly fall asleep.

Summer Vacation!

I am taking a summer vacation! No, I am not actually going anywhere (except for a couple camping trips). I am taking a vacation from blogging. I have several fun projects I desire to accomplish and a stong commitment to making this summer the best one yet! I will be filling my time with swimming, gardening, dancing, friends, fireworks, and lots of watermelon eating :) Bring on the heat! I am so excited!


Butterfly on our summer squash leaf

All I ask is that you please remember me. I will be back in the fall, I promise. Maybe I will kick things off with another 10 day Fall Equinox juice feast. I also plan on writing another Day in the Life of a Blissful Mama post, because being a mom to a toddler is different than being a mom to a baby. By popular request I will be providing a detailed description of my Elimination Communication experience and how awesome it is to have a child potty trained so early. I choose to write about the effect language has on shaping our consciousness. This is very important to me right now because David is learning English and it is my duty to teach him conscious language. I will be posting my thoughts on dairy consumption and the effect it has on our physical and spiritual bodies. I will be providing raw and wild food recipes as usual. Lots of fun posts to look forward to so be sure to stop by at the end of September!

For now you are welcome to join me on my facebook page. If you are bored (ha!) you can also read all my previous blog posts and share them with your friends ;)

Lot’s of love to you! Your comments, stories, and advice will be missed. I hope you have an amazingly blissful summer!!

Parenting Made Easy ~ 3 Ways To Make Raising Children Fun!

Motherhood for me is deeply fulfilling and rewarding. My heart smiles in warm fuzzy bliss every night before bed when I reflect on the joyful day I had, playing with and raising my cosmic son. At times motherhood can also be challenging, pushing me to go deeper into my heart and mind, healing unconscious patterns and tapping into an endless spring of patience, love, and understanding. Being someone who has done a lot of inner work (breath work, meditation, raw foods, yoga, traveling, journaling, space clearing, emotional upgrades, dancing, power of now, decrees, conscious language, etc), I can attest to the fact that motherhood is one of the most powerful transformational tools available. Ram Dass states, “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” Our children are our biggest mirrors. They bring to our awareness anything inside of us which is less than light and love. Because their emotions are so raw and uncensored they bring up our own buried primitive emotions in a way nothing else can. If we are conscious about it we can transform our deeply buried pain into joy and wholeness. If we resist or unconsciously react we only strengthen our limited patterns. By being a parent we not only have the opportunity to re-parent ourselves, healing negative generational patterns and altering the course of our DNA for eternity, we also learn what truly matters in life. To love, explore, play, grow, laugh and have fun! Having fun is important. It keeps us inspired, alive, and beautiful.


17 1/2 month old David

For the last week or two I have been feeling challenged with my 18 month old son. I find myself annoyed at him frequently. I am resisting his behavior and focusing too much on what others think than looking within and upgrading my own attitude and viewpoint. At times like this, when I realize I am not having fun, I take a deep breath, connect with my core, and ask myself how I can enjoy this moment fully. Today I desire to share with you the answer to my question. The following three principles are what I use to help make motherhood as easy and fun as possible.

1. Eat, Sleep, and Be Merry! Motherhood is most challenging when our children are grumpy, sick, and fussy. Agreed? A large percentage of this behavior can be attributed to hunger, tiredness, and environmental toxins. By feeding your child a whole foods organic diet, helping him/her create healthy sleep habits, and eliminating as many pollutants from your life as possible, you will be surprised at how happy and healthy s/he can be. First, let’s talk about food. My son, David, has never been sick once in his 18 months of life (only a few runny/stuffy noses from teething) and I attribute a large part of this to his healthy pure diet, and the fact that I still breastfeed him, which gives him extra immunity support. There is a lot of information on nutrition today. It is not for me to suggest what is best for you and your child, however, there are a few basic principles everyone should apply if they desire truly healthy children. Avoiding sugary and processed food is a must. Eating a diet rich in organic or homegrown fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, soaked and fermented whole grains, herbs, and superfoods is highly beneficial. If you do choose to consume animal products it is vital to hunt for it yourself or purchase from organic farms you can trust. We purchase our veggies from Paul, one of our friends at the Mckinney Farmers Market who does not use any type of spray on his produce. We purchase our eggs from a Mennonite family who we know treats their animals well. Sadly, even organic produce is sprayed with “approved” pesticides and animals who are raised “organically” are not necessarily raised lovingly. It is important to make sure your child is well hydrated and eating regularly (hunger can mess with your child’s hormones and cause unwanted behavior). Offer him/her fresh spring water, fresh squeezed veggie juices, and herbal teas frequently. Sometimes a child’s moodiness or inability to sleep or concentrate is related to allergies. You can either avoid common foods which produce allergens (wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and sulfites) or get your child tested for his/her specific allergies.


14 month old David enjoying raw superfood cookies made out of hemp seeds, coconut, lucuma, mesquite, and honey

The concentration of synthetic hormones, pesticides, heavy metals, and food additives in conventional food is truly outrageous! Children are particularly vulnerable to these toxins because their brains and bodies are still immature. Certain food additives reduce levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, resulting in hyperactive behavior in sensitive children. Many parents have attributed autism to heavy metals which disrupt bodily function. I recently watched a documentary called Homo Toxicus, which talks about the affect chemicals have on our bodies. In the Arctic, where they consume large amounts of raw fish (contaminated with mercury) there is an epidemic of ear infections in babies and deafness among Inuit youth. So much so that teachers must wear microphones so their class can hear them. Aboriginal families living beside chemical factories in Sarnia, Ontario, are suffering from infertility, miscarriages and a dramatic decline in male offspring. Farmers exposed to atrazine, 2,4-D and dinoseb, which are common pesticides used on crops, show high risk of infertility. Sperm count is low among many and some are unable to produce male children. Male frogs and fish around these agricultural sites don’t fully develop into males. They behave as females and can even be impregnated to produce male offspring. Bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastics, is easily absorbed in our bodies, mimicking our hormones and causing thyroid irregularities (especially in pregnant women), neurological changes affecting memory and mood, and earlier onset of puberty. These plastics can be found in water bottles, liners of tin cans, plastic dental fillings, polycarbonate camera bodies, thermal receipts (such as those printed at the gas pump or ATM), plastic toys (another good reason David doesn’t play with toys unless he is around people who own them), etc. Our entire planet is contaminated with thousands of chemicals and toxins. There is no where we can go which is 100% pure and protected. The best we can do to ease this burden on our children is feed them healthy food and pure water and live in a clean and green way.


15 1/2 month old David picking and eating juniper berries

Consuming a healthy diet and reducing toxic exposure will go a long way in helping children enjoy deep restful sleep. It’s also important to create a peaceful daily rhythm, give them plenty of sun, fresh air, and exercise, and soothe, nurse, or read them to sleep so their dreams are peaceful and serene. Contrary to popular opinion, the “cry it out” method does not create healthy sleep habits. I know several people who have insomnia who were left to cry it out as children. I am not saying this is necessarily related, I am only saying that it obviously doesn’t create long lasting results. It is a heartless technique created by “logical” men and not by woman’s intuition.


Sleeping blissfully next to mama

2. Wide Open Spaces: Children need space and freedom to explore, to get dirty, to connect with mother earth, to touch, taste, hear, smell, see, and think without someone constantly over their shoulder telling them what they can and can’t do. A young child’s brain system structures concepts from his/her direct sensory interaction with material things and the workings of the world. Parents who keep their children in confined spaces and restricted from physically interacting with their environment stunt their growth and go against their natural instincts. This creates inner conflict in the child’s emotional body. On the one hand he/she desires to keep the bond with his/her parents and on the other hand he/she has a strong inner drive to find out what this world is about. I love this powerful quote from Magical Child, by Joseph Pearce, “The parents (of the magical child) do not subject the child to situations in which arbitrary boundaries block his/her biological thrust toward exploration. They do not take the eighteen-month-old into a public restaurant for a few leisurely hours, because they know that s/he cannot interact with such a world for long. They know that s/he has no logical machinery for grasping the subtleties of a blocked situation, that s/he has only intent driving him/her. They know that situations blocking intent produce anxiety, so they do not tempt him/her with situations offering frustration. They are responsible for their child, and they recognize that his/her physical setting is as vital as the quality of his/her food.”


13 1/2 month old David exploring our land

Recently we visited some of our friends for a fun community event. They own a lot of things which are off limits for David to touch. Instead of enjoying my friends I spent the whole time following David around, telling him not to touch this or that. Obviously he did not like this treatment and within an hour or two he was being fussy, restless, and defiant. Realizing David required some fresh air and freedom, we left their home and went to the nearest park. When we got out of our car and placed David on the grass barefoot, he looked around, smiled at us and started clapping! In essence he was thanking us for understanding what he truly needed. When I think of how important it is for children to explore their world in a very physical way, I relax about him eating unripe blueberries off our bushes, picking up dried horse poop on our walks, playing with bugs that could potentially sting or bite him, and pretending to clean our toilet with the toilet brush. Who cares?!! He is learning through experience and that is what matters most :)

We are very fortunate to live on 17 acres of land with a big fenced-in yard which is completely safe for David to freely roam around. Many days I lay on my hammock and watch him play with bugs, pick up rocks, quietly contemplate nature, and make up games using sticks, flower pots, and water. This is ideal. Second best would be having a small yard which you transform into an interesting forest garden play area. Third best would be to enjoy long daily visits to an awesome park.


15 1/2 month old David playing on our land, wild and free!

3. R.E.S.P.E.C.T: Respecting your child means viewing and treating him/her as a sovereign being, sent to this planet already equipped with a blueprint for how to fulfill his/her divine mission. It means using clear communication with him/her and allowing him/her to make as many of his/her own decisions as possible. Picture this… You have in your arms a beautiful newborn baby boy. He is absolutely perfect! Well, except for the fact that he wants to be held 24/7 and nurse all day and night. He also requests to be rocked to sleep for all his naps and before bed. He even prefers for you to sleep with him at night because he doesn’t sleep as well when you are not close to him. When he starts crawling he gets into everything, touching and putting anything he finds in his mouth. He doesn’t like you to dress him and actually prefers to be stark naked and diaper free. As he grows older he wants to be tossed in the air, twirled, pushed on the swing, and taken on walks one hundred times a day. He tells you no and hates being in the car seat. Instead of eating a good solid meal he snacks throughout the day. He is stubborn and desires to do everything himself, from putting his clothes on to helping you around the house. This makes getting things done take 10 times longer. He talks incessantly and asks a thousand questions a day. As he grows older all he desires to do is play, play, play. He hates going to school and asks you to read him a story for an hour before bed. When he becomes a teenager he becomes obsessed with playing his guitar and “hanging out” with his friends. He rebels against school and authority figures because he just cant understand how the things he is being taught will apply to his future.

How do you feel about your perfect child now? Is he still perfect or in need of serious discipline, shaping, and correcting? In western cultures, especially, the common thing to do with a child like this is to train him, show him who the authority figure is, ignore his desires, and teach him that life is full of disapointments and he can’t always get what he wants. They do this because they feel it is “best for him,” but in fact, every single thing I mentioned above, every behavior and desire this child had is vital to his optimal physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.


Am I still perfect Mommy?

Some advanced societies actually view their children as a type of deity. Jesus said, “Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We as adults have in many ways forgotten our connection to life and the divine. Children can see through our lies and social niceties. They live life in a non-judgmental and joyful way, following their heart and intuition. We would be wise to allow our children to influence us more than we influence them. I have so much more I could write on this subject, but since this post is already super long, I will just say that good things come to us when we take into consideration our children’s feelings. For example, when my son was 11 months old he HATED being in his car seat and going on car rides. He would scream inconsolably most of the way to and from our destinations. I finally stopped resisting his behavior and took a deep look into what my son was experiencing. He had just taken his first steps 2 months earlier and was really perfecting his walking skills. With his new found freedom and range of motion, being strapped in the car seat was the last place he desired to be. Bryan and I decided to go on a 2 week car strike. We didn’t take him anywhere and allowed him free play inside our car every day. This was the very first time I went grocery shopping on my own! After our car strike we slowly started going places again. To our delight and surprise, he was calm and content in the car seat! Those two weeks saved us months of torture!


14 1/2 month old David calmly enjoying hackberries in his car seat

When it comes to raising children, a step back may be a step forward. Studies show holding your newborn all day and sleeping with him/her at night makes him/her more independent in the future. Allowing children to engage in rough and tumble play actually develops higher brain functions and the ability to handle strong emotions when older. And giving them more choices as a teenager enables them to be more confident and make better choices when they are adults. When we honor what our children ask from us, we not only make our life easier because we are not resisting or fighting against their will, we are also giving them what they truly need to become the intelligent, happy, and amazing people they are meant to be.

P.S. To learn more advanced parenting techniques click here for books and information on how to raise a super being.

Peace, Love, and Mulberry Soda

Last Tuesday we enjoyed an evening with our friends at White Rock Lake, picking and eating mulberries off the abundance of mulberry trees which can be found there. Reportedly all fruits have small amounts of MAO inhibitors. We have a hunch that mulberries have a little extra because we always experience a joyful “mulberry high” after a good foraging adventure.


World peace on mulberries!

Mulberries are in our top three favorite wild fruits, wild persimmons being number one of course. While most berries went straight from hand to mouth, we did save about a quart of them to bring home with us. Half of this quart was gobbled up by my son and the other half was used to make a deliciously refreshing soda, inspired by Euell Gibbons, using only 4 ingredients! (Check out Euell Gibbons’ book for excellent mulberry identification information)


Ingredients for mulberry soda

Mulberry Soda
2 cups mulberries
1 lemon
4 tsp. raw coconut nectar
Sparkling spring water

Juice the mulberries and lemon. Mix in coconut nectar thoroughly. Fill glass 1/3 full with juice and fill the rest with sparkling water. Add ice if desired and enjoy!

P.S. While you are enjoying your soda I decided I would provide you with entertainment. Here is a short video clip and some more photos from our foraging adventure…


Bryan, David, Dan, and Me picking from a tree branch which was lowered to the ground by Isaac sitting on it :)


Bryan climbing a tree with David on his back


Cute mulberry face :)


Mulberry lips


David playing with butterflies. There were hundreds flying around this tree!


Plumber’s crack :) This man will carry my son and my pink hemp backpack at the same time! What a man!

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