Our Home Is Not Broken

Since this topic is back in the news again, I thought I’d weigh in. When things go awry, people tend to point fingers somewhere. Often times families like mine get pointed at.

My son lives with one parent (me) and hasn’t seen his other parent in seven years. Society would have me believe that this somehow means that our home is broken, and worse yet, that my son is “at risk.” Luckily I don’t believe this.

One of the arguments is that because single parents have to work full-time outside the home to support their family, that they have less time to devote to parenting. I suppose I’ve circumvented this by choosing work that allows me to homeschool and spend all day with my son. I work as a nanny so we’re together ALL THE TIME. I might make more if I chose another profession and sent B to school. However, I feel the quality of the time we spend together far outweighs a beefy bank account.

There are also plenty of beliefs about income levels and their contributions to risk that is likely to be a side effect of broken homes. In order to make ends meet, many single parents must work multiple jobs and long hours. It has been postulated that this leads to tired, neglectful and/or absent parenting. Although, from personal experience, I’ve seen very well off families be just as guilty of these. Your income doesn’t necessarily equal how present you are with your child, how well you truly know them or how loved they feel. Many wealthy families substitute things for time spent. They’re not equal and good parents, regardless of socioeconomic status, know this.

Two parent families aren’t some magical salve for turning out healthy, happy adults either. I was raised in one so I can attest from that point of view. My two parent household was often a place for fear and abuse. We were never well off, although both of my parents worked full-time. We weren’t neglected, had all our needs for food, shelter, medical attention, etc. met.

There was physical and mental abuse though. I grew up believing my mother’s mental illness was my doing, that I was inferior because I was born female, and that I was ugly. I listened to my parents fighting, verbally and sometimes physically, more often than I care to remember. I was watched like a hawk and seldom allowed to leave the house so I certainly never got into any “trouble.” (If you read that last sentence as a good thing, you’re doing it wrong.)

My childhood wasn’t some anomaly either. Households of all kinds can turn out fully functional adults or very disturbed/ dangerous people. Some of us do well in spite of our upbringing, others because of it. Each family and person is unique so lumping all low-income or single parent households together is just another way to pass judgement. It’s just a continuation of society’s way of demonizing those seen as less. Perhaps if the finger pointers turned those fingers back around toward themselves, then we’d get to some actual roots of the ills of civilization. Another soapbox for another day…



Are You a Boy or a Girl?

B used to get asked that question a lot when he was younger. He watched the movie Tangled, when it came out, and decided to grow his hair out. It was long for years and he loved it. Other people always had lots to say about it though. It finally became so uncomfortable, that it informed his decision to cut it.

I just finished reading a book about gender and why it’s not terribly helpful that every piece of paper we fill out, forces us to check a male or female box. We’ve mostly been conditioned to believe that there’s some sort of necessity to clear gender binaries. To be fair, back when people used to question B, I told him it’s not his hair that determines his gender, it’s what equipment he was born with. I’ve since learned that there is more fluidity to that.20180128_160540

Since gender has often been a big topic for us, it’s lent itself to talk of bodies and how sometimes people are born with a body that they don’t feel matches what they were assigned at birth. We had a transgender neighbor that gave us cause for learning more about how some people choose to transition to another gender. We’ve also learned about people who don’t prefer either gender binary label for themselves. I say we, because I’m learning right alongside him.

I’m grateful B has had some first hand experiences with people who don’t fit a mold. He’s been exploring himself as a person and how he fits into the world too. From an early age, he’s often bucked gender stereotypes and been the first to point them out. I believe it’s because he’s had the freedom to do so. I’ve never said that’s for girls, that’s a boy thing or you need a haircut. That’s all garbage we pile on kids. They don’t need it. There are things they do need but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I don’t know if he’ll be trans, straight, gay, cis, non-binary or a firetruck when he’s an adult. I do know, he’ll be free to be whoever he is and it matters not to me.

I was raised very differently from how I’m raising B. By all accounts, I should’ve wanted to be a man. My parents made no bones about telling me throughout my childhood that I was the first pancake. If you don’t know that expression, it means (in this case) they were trying for a boy. They had me instead. So they tried again and got my brother. He was a Jr., named after my dad and favored always.20180128_163847

There are times I remember hating being a girl. But I wasn’t thrilled with the alternative either. I just wanted things to be equal! I didn’t want to hear, “That’s not ladylike!” when I sat with my knees far apart. I still remember responding rather indignantly, “who said I wanted to be ladylike?!” Part of me is curious who I’d be if I’d been raised by parents like me, who loved me unconditionally, like I do B, and let me be exactly what I wanted to be.

People might argue that since I’m an adult I can do precisely that. It’s funny though, when you grow up in an environment where you’re molded to be a certain kind of way, it destroys parts of you that can fully judge your own authentic self. Self doubt and insecurities take a long time to overcome, if it’s even possible. There was never anything ‘wrong’ with me as a person but when you hear something enough, you tend to believe it.

So, I’m glad I get to do things differently. I feel fortunate that I became a mom later in my life and had time to grow and heal as a person. Parenting, in its own way, is a sort of rebirth. You really look at yourself and who you want to be for this tiny person who will reflect it all back to you for years to come. I most want to be nonjudgmental. To be confident that B grows up fully supported as his unique self so he can do the same, in regards to gender or anything else.

Check out this video that talks about some of the things I’ve mentioned.

Why Don’t You?

Two years ago, when I started my blog, I thought up a name for it that simply stated who I was and what I was doing. Seemed easy enough. It’s still true and it’s still the name I’m using.

Because I thought I had things to say and a unique perspective, I made social media pages to go along with it. Same name. Easy peasy.

I would’ve never guessed that something so simple would get some of the “attention” that it has. It’s become painfully obvious to me now that men (mostly) around the world type in single moms and go internet fishing. Some want sexual partners, some want wives, and some want an easy mark for their next scam.

I’ve shared screenshots of a few conversations on my social media sites. I try to make light of the ridiculousness that comes at me. Laughing about it seems healthier than getting hopping mad about it every time.

In my attempt to invite humor, I’ve found another interesting side effect. Repeatedly, I get asked (by well meaning people) to do something differently; change settings, change privacy, etc. This chaps my hide even more than the unwanted advances. Why? Have I done anything wrong? No. Am I just being myself on the internet? Yes. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THAT!

That’s the thing. It’s never appropriate to come at someone with requests for sexual gratification, pictures of your body parts they haven’t asked to see, or proposals of marriage. That is entirely on them! They own ALL of that behavior. I don’t.

This is what I’ve been raising my son to understand. It’s my own modern day Berenstain Bears lesson. “See what these men are doing? Don’t do that.”


You Are Fabulous

Dear checker, Thank you for boldly being your unique self. My son needs to see as many people like you as he can.

I chose your line on purpose. It wasn’t because you had less people waiting. It was because you were you. You were a handsome young man wearing a stunning amount of makeup.

See, I have a son who asked for 50 pounds of makeup for Christmas. He’s already bought some and hesitantly worn it at times. But I see his face light up as he strolls past the makeup section in the stores.

Society, in it’s subtle and not-so-subtle ways, tells him everyday that makeup isn’t for him. That he shouldn’t be colorful or sparkly or beautiful. But you were all of those things. So thank you and your glittering red eyeshadow.

I saw my son stare at you as I paid for items. Hopefully, you weren’t offended. He wasn’t being rude. He was studying you and taking in all that you embody for him.

When you wished us a fabulous day, you couldn’t have possibly known what you’d just done for making that a reality. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing my son to see one person who’s not letting anyone dull their sparkle. You showed one little boy that he too can be uniquely and unabashedly himself.

Get Qurious

We were very fortunate to be asked to do a review for this new product and were happy to oblige. Get Qurious sent us the Explorer Box , which is one of two boxes currently available. The box comes with materials that will be used with the free augmented reality app available for devices with ios v10 and above. It’s geared for ages 4-8.


B tore into the box when it arrived!


He was eager to try on a silly mask before we ever got the app. 

We brought the box to a friend’s house since our devices wouldn’t support the app. It was super easy for the kids to access the app as soon as it was downloaded and they got right into things! Both kids colored a treasure hunt card and loved moving around in their 3D worlds, inside the app. It was fun to watch them moving around the house as though they were there! B loved that he could even look under the world.


Figuring out the app was super easy.

Then they moved through the Build a Story and Build a Spaceship cards. The Spaceship flight had B up and moving again which I love to see with digital games, especially since most kids love to move and enjoy gaming. What was difficult, even for my nine year old, was sharing the device and materials. It was that new and that much fun!


We found out gel pens and colored pencils weren’t the best options for coloring their treasure maps, because of the glossy paper. The directions recommend markers or crayons, but this 9 and 11 year old wanted to try other things.

The last thing these two big kids tried out were the masks and they were laughing at the silly things they could record themselves saying as well as the speed control on the voice. Probably even more fun because they were together and love to crack each other up. That’s what friends are for!

So, all in all it is a very simple app with durable, bright materials that easily gets kids engaged. I look forward to seeing what the company does with developing the two new boxes they have coming out in 2018. Those of us with android devices would also love to see the app become accessible to us!

Graphic Photos of Unschooling Home

You may be shocked by what you’re about to see. Or, if you unschool, as we do, then this may all be very familiar to you. There is some amount of ‘mess’ that you’ll need to be comfortable with (or try to be) in order to allow your child the time and space to fully delve into an interest. As someone who needs order and neatness to have peace of mind, I understand how difficult this can be. Bear with me.


This mess demonstrates a new found affinity for art and body building. Many bags of various drawings, art supplies, projects, dumbbells and hockey gloves filling in as boxing gloves. On the floor you may even notice a bin of Lego that had spent an afternoon outside, on a tarp,  with a friend. Yes, this lay here for days being added to and subtracted from. No one sat on the couch but no one died.


This lovely piece is still a part of our kitchen, weeks later. This is what’s left of a soap carving, liquid soap making, multi part project. As you can see there are leftover pieces of two different types of soap that were used, as well as a tiny carved heart soap in the foreground. B shows his love for me with these heart shaped offerings. The baggies are my attempt at containing chaos to suit my needs.


These are the gutted remains of a computer take apart program that we did at our library. After they came home, they spent a week or more on the living room floor, being further explored and shown to neighbor friends. Some pieces were used to make craft projects. Some were tucked away into our basement workshop for future use. Not to be outdone, the cat also likes to leave his mark on our home by scratching the rug to shreds.



Finally, this grainy gem shows the aftermath of some exciting cooking projects. Just a few dishes for me to hand wash and put away, just in time for the next cooking session/ kitchen science experiment. As you can see, it was dark outside, which means it was nighttime and I was too tired to do those dishes so they sat there until the next day. Again, no one died. The duct tape and electrical cord running out the window are a bonus look that you can achieve by trying to keep your pet chickens from freezing to death during Wisconsin winter.

So, if you’re new to unschooling, this is what you have to look forward to. If you’re a seasoned unschooling veteran then here’s a high five. Keeping house this way is not for the faint of heart. It is for the fully invested parent of a child who gets to thoroughly explore topics as they become interesting and/or fade from interest. This is real life.

I Won’t Discipline My Child

Not the way most people mean that anyway.

This past weekend I had an irate parent show up at my door. The outcome was that she forbade her son from playing with mine and screamed at me to “discipline your f@#%ing kid!”

I felt all of the emotions at once; doubt, sadness, anger, embarrassment, hurt, and heartbreak. It was hard to take in the situation without becoming reactive. I did my best. I talked with my son, I cried, I fumed and I called a friend whose parenting style is most like mine.

Once I was calmer, my brain could begin to break down the situation. I questioned my own parenting because of one angry person. But only for a while. What is hard about doing things differently than collective society is that you will be challenged. Ultimately, I’m at the point where I know that’s a good thing!

If my beliefs about how I’m raising my son were done with no more thought than following herd mentality, then maybe I should be swayed. But I’m not. I’m confident, even if that confidence was momentarily shaken, that what I’m doing is what’s best for my family.

The kind of discipline she would have me use requires physical punishments with a belt, grounding my son from play and instilling fear. Her goal is compliance. So no, I won’t “discipline” my son that way.

What I will do is spend time with him, listening to him and speaking to him as an equal. This is how respect and trust are gained, through relationship. If I see him doing something “wrong,” then I’ll talk to him and help him make it right. This is how he’ll learn consequences for his actions. If I see him acting out, I’ll find ways to build him up. This is how he’ll learn to better himself. This. Is. Discipline! Time consuming, thoughtful and often exhausting discipline.

Reflection after shaken faith led me to be even more steadfast in my goal of raising a good person. I have no doubt that he’ll turn out to be a good person. You know why? He already is!.

When Everything Falls Apart

I almost had to enroll my son in school. To most people, that’s not a big deal, it’s the norm. For us it would’ve been devastating. B has never been to school and thrives with an unschooling environment. He’s free to choose how he spends his time and what he wants to learn. That freedom is something I always want for him.

This summer was beyond challenging for me. My nanny job ended when the family moved, I tried to launch an Etsy shop, worked a couple of part-time babysitting jobs, but nothing was coming together the way I needed it to, financially.

I applied for full-time nanny position after another, only to be turned down because I wanted to bring my son. My qualifications and references are amazing but people get hung up on that one aspect. I guess it seems hard to believe that I could manage their children/ household as well as my own, while homeschooling. Funny, when I write it that way it does sound superhero-ish. It’s just the way it’s needed to be so that I can give my son what I believe is best for him.

So, we were broke this summer and muddled through with some help from dear friends. I kept applying for jobs, crying when I’d get turned down, and sometimes taking to my bed for a couple of days at a time. Depression is hard to stave off when you can’t provide for your family.

The part-time babysitting job I had for September, was for a single mom like me. She’s trying to work full-time and go to college full time. When she was suddenly laid off, we were both left floundering.

The little I was making, was now gone and desperation setting in, I had to give a lot of thought to enrolling B in school. It’s so painful that my child, in this society, could be an obstacle to gaining employment. So many feel forced to put children in school so they can work to support them.

Luckily, at the final hour, I got an email from a family who had originally turned me down. They had reconsidered the arrangement and wanted to give me a try. They have one baby who will be my only responsibility. While he naps, B and I can spend one on one time. Most importantly, my son gets to continue learning in the way that suits him best, while I earn a paycheck and support B in his self-directed days.

I start full-time on Monday and I’m looking forward to it. Some of the bills that I’ve gotten behind on can get caught up and I can reduce the weight that’s been on my shoulders.

Use this as a reminder to take nothing for granted. You never know how much worse your situation could be until you’re there.

Last Camping Trip of the Season

We have a standing yearly camping trip every Labor Day weekend with friends. They’re so close, we feel like family. Their children consider B a cousin. It’s a lovely tradition.

Watching our children, their three and my one, grow and change every year is my favorite part. We’ve done this several years and it becomes less labor intensive and more relaxing each time. The children have matured and have more freedom/ autonomy.

B has always enjoyed fishing at this campground. I don’t fish. Never did enjoy it, even as a child. My father and brother did but I preferred playing in the river. I don’t have to enjoy it, to make space and time for B to do it, though.

IMG_5246.JPGHe brought a trowel to dig for worms, needle nose pliers to replace hooks or lures, and his pocket knife. That comes in handy for sharpening sticks into spears. Spear fishing is something B had to give a try, even if it was just for a few minutes. The only success any of the kids had this year, with catching fish, was in B’s butterfly net that he’d packed for attempting to catch minnows. They caught a baby catfish instead!

2016-kayakSomething new B and I got to try this year was a tandem kayak on the lake. So much lighter and easier than a canoe, which we also have done. B could paddle and steer the kayak fairly easily and hopes to go solo next year.

Around the campfire, we all join in rounds of Mad Libs. They seemed much funnier and more popular this year, than in the past. I love this nerdy little version of stories around the campfire.

The kids also play games, make shops of found items, craft things from nature, get dirty and bond for a weekend. It’s a tradition that I believe is good for body and soul. B has a harder time with the goodbyes, each year, at the end of the weekend. However, we come home tired, content and happy we get to do it all over again next year.

He Knows

Santa Claus and the tooth fairy have recently died. Who knows who’s next. My son and I are okay with this. He asks honest questions and I give honest answers. He knows this. So, I know he was ready when he asked.

Funny thing about our society. I never told him these things exist. Yes, there were presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Yes, there was a shiny coin under his pillow after a lost tooth. I played along with what he already believed.

He’s getting older and questioning things even more. I think as adults (not just parents,) we tend to hold onto these magical childhood concepts because we don’t want to see the magic go out of their childhoods. Perhaps it’s like killing a part of our own inner child.

I explained to B, since he has announced to a few adults that he’s in the know, that it’s part of the magic and fun to keep it going for generations of kids. There’s nothing malicious about it, although it may seem deceitful.

He’s asked me for all the details about things and I’ve asked him if it will ruin the fun of it or if I should stop playing my part. He still wants to know but is trying his hardest to wiggle a tooth out at this very minute. He’s a practical boy. He still wants the payout, regardless of where it’s coming from.