Apr
13

This Small House

I’ve been obsessed with alternative building for years. Cob, straw bale, and rammed earth set my heart racing. I’ve read books and watched documentaries on tiny homes and the idea of living in a smaller foot print is so appealing to me.

I’m happy to say we are finally in our home. The home that we have been working towards for the last two years. We’ve conquered road block after road block and have come out the other side triumphant. It is not the alternative home I have always dreamed of, it is certainly bigger than a “tiny” home. But it is ours….our small house. At just over 700 sq ft it has everything our family of four needs and nothing more.

The home was build in 1946 and has had decades of renters come through its doors. Honestly, it would have been easier for us to tear it down than to renovate it. Definitely a sweat equity project for us, but our hard work has now paid off.

Welcome….

DSCN1484We really wanted to make our home as efficient as we could within our budget and restraints of the house.  We stripped the walls and added insulation and we also wrapped the entire home with two inches of styrofoam before we sided the exterior.  We added an energy efficient ductless heating and cooling system, and added energy efficient appliances and a heat pump hot water tank.  We would like to add solar panels eventually…once it becomes cost efficient in our part of the world.

DSCN1486With such a small space I designed the house to have the best flow possible.  We analyzed every space and tried to create as much dual function as we could.  Since we could only fit one small couch in the living room we made built in benches that doubled as a media counsel and shoe storage so we could maximize our storage and seating options.

DSCN1496We added built in storage whenever we could on the interior walls where electrical and plumbing were not in our way.  We think it turned out beautifully and gives us spots to store and display our precious items (like lego and VW cars!)

DSCN1572Now all the items we have collected along our travels have their own homes in our house but are still out of the way so as to not create clutter.

MusicWallPlywoodAll the walls in the house are made out of finish grade poplar plywood which makes it very easy to hang things off of them.  We have created a music wall for easy access to instruments and just having them in reach of the kids has inspired impromptu music throughout our days.

DSCN1573The look I was going for with our house was earthy-arty and I feel we have pulled it off nicely.  The plywood walls, painted tongue and groove ceiling, and original fir floors give it a beautiful effect that feels warm, bright, and intriguing.

So far we are feeling that the space is perfect for us.  700 sq ft sounds small but it is so well laid out that it feels ample.  One thing I have noticed is that I have zero tolerance for clutter, as soon as there is a mess the house feels chaotic to me.  Luckily with such a small house it is a cinch to clean!

We’ve come a long way since we started the reno as you can see from our before pictures.

There you have it, our new-to-us home that we will live in when we are not traveling.  What do you think?

Jan
05

Raising Your Own Pigs

As with most endeavours on our small farm, we seem to jump into new projects feet first without much forethought or research.  It seems as though that is the best way for us to learn…if we knew what we were getting ourselves into we might be too intimidated to try!

This is how we found ourselves buying four pigs.  I’ll state for the record that although I had been pushing the idea of getting pigs all summer long, I wasn’t the one who brought them home in the back of a truck one day.  No, not me.  My husband had stated emphatically that we were NOT getting pigs…that if I got pigs he would divorce me (joking of course….kind of :))  So it was to my great delight that it was my father (the one who just can’t pass up a good deal) who came home with two full grown pigs in the back of a truck and two more baby pigs on the way in a few weeks time.  And just like that we were pig farmers and I was blameless in the grand scheme of things.

The day the first pigs came home we had no shelter for them, no bedding for them to lay down in, no food for them to eat, and only my fathers knowledge of pigs from the time he raised three of them in the early eighties.  Mike and my dad got to work converting a structure we had erected to shelter the chickens from the hot summer sun into a makeshift pig house.  We fed the pigs chicken food and scraps, and we bought a few bales of hay from down the road for their bedding.

The kids named the first two pigs “Porkchop” and “Bacon”.

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Porkchop and Bacon were ready for butchering within two weeks.  We tried to instil  in the children the sense that these animals were not pets (luckily they were aptly named!) and although they were pretty cute and quite friendly, when it was time for slaughter the kids were quite nonchalant about it.  Indeed, my oldest son watched from start to finish and got an amazingly in-depth and up close lesson in biology.

Although we killed, skinned, and gutted the pigs ourselves we decided to take the carcasses to the butcher for processing because we really don’t have the facility or tools to properly cut a 250 pound pig.

The next set of pigs we raised from weaned babies.  This was a whole other experience for us.  Pigs are smart.  Freaking smart.

My parents were away the first time the pigs escaped from our yard.  We found them across the slow flowing river that borders one side of our property.  The brush on the other side is too thick for us to get into so we ran around trying to scare them, corral them, and push them back across the water.  We chased those pigs for hours.  Finally in desperation I phoned my father to ask for advice.  Lure them in with food he said.

Not ten minutes later they were back in their pen.  A little bit of slop is pretty darn enticing to a pig.  With a ladle and bucket I scooped out dollops of food every ten feet while I called to them.  It was a little bit like a Hansel and Gretel story.

Over the next few weeks they escaped almost every day.  Every day we enticed them back with food (I wonder if they escaped just for the promise of extra slop?)  Everyday we beefed up the fencing and extended plastic fencing farther and farther into the water that makes up a natural fence on one side where we had them pastured. Finally we realized that the pigs were not walking across in the shallow places….they were swimming across!

Unfortunately for those two smarty pants pigs we had no choice but to fence them into a smaller pen.  No more roaming for them.

We learned that pigs will eat anything.  They are omnivores and not selective in their food choices.  We learned this by discovering that our pigs were killing and eating our chickens!  When we first brought the pigs home they free ranged with the chickens and we had no problems.  But something must have happened after we got those pigs penned up that gave them a taste for chicken meat.  Maybe they stepped on a chicken and upon investigation they discovered it tasted good…maybe a chicken died close enough to their pen that they could drag it in…..or maybe they were just chicken killers.  Whatever the case may be we found them twice, halfway through their meals.  Crazy right?

Despite all the craziness of raising our first pigs it was well worth it.  We try to eat only ethically sourced meat and now we have a freezer full of pork that we raised ourselves.  We know where it came from, how it was raised, what it ate, and how it died.  We have a relationship with the meat on our plate, a relationship that most of the first world has lost with its grocery store, factory farmed meat.  We get great satisfaction in sitting down to a meal where almost everything on our plate came from our property.

Another  satisfying aspect of raising our own meat animals is in the education of our children.  They were involved in every step along the way.  They fed the pigs the apples we got for free from our local packing house, they got down on all fours and acted like pigs to get close enough to touch the huge beasts, they watched how quickly they grew, they learned about humanely raising them, and to me the most important part was they witnessed their deaths and gave thanks to them for giving their lives for us.

The last two pigs are now at the the butcher shop.  This time we are getting the butcher to make most of it into ground pork and we will be attempting to make our own sausages with it.

Next up on the list (after I convince my husband) are meat chickens this spring!

Who wants to come for dinner? :)

Dec
20

We Have A Home

Eight months of fighting.  Eight months of uncertainty.  Eight months without a clear direction.  Eight months of stress and anxiety.

Our fight is now over.  After throwing a ridiculous amount of time and money at our housing problem the powers that be have approved our rezoning application on our property and our little 732 sq ft house is now considered “legal”.  There is joy, relief, and celebration in our corner of the world today!

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What does this mean for us?  It means we can continue on the renovation we started on our little house almost two years ago.  It means our original goal of creating a home base for our family is going to happen!  It means we will be able to live in community on our property with my parents, farming in the summer months and traveling over the winter.  And in the future, I hope it means inviting another family into our intentional community. (Just putting that out there to see what the universe unveils for us!)

What does this mean for our travel plans?  Well, we have decided that for this winter it is more important for us to get into our house than it is to travel.  We won’t be able to do both this year and we feel that having our home base ready is more important right now.  We plan on working our butts off to get into our home which should take between two and three more months of work as we are doing all of the work ourselves.  Once we are in the home we will be working hard to save up our funds for travel next winter.

How are we feeling?  Although the situation we found ourselves in this year was a bureaucratic, ridiculous mess that threw us for a loop I do feel that because we had to fight so hard for our unique living situation we now appreciate it all the more.  It didn’t come easy for us, we had to dig deep, and through that trial it made us realize how badly we wanted it.  We are joyful, grateful, and relieved.  We finally have direction again.

Big Thanks.  Big thanks to our community who have supported us throughout this turbulent time, offered us places to live, let us housesit for them, listened to our stresses and complaints, and given us words of encouragements.  Hugemongous thanks to my parents who have let us turn their home upside down for us to have a place to lay our heads once it got too cold to live on our motorhome.  We are grateful.

Oct
02

Plan? There Is No Plan.

We thought we had a plan for this year….that was before our world got turned upside down with our housing issues.  You may remember that we were renovating a home on my parents property when we got shut down.  We are still fighting for the right to live in our own home and I am starting to worry that we might not get to.  The deal now is we need to be here until at least the end of November in order to attend a public hearing and that is if everything goes well!

We are trying our hardest not only stay optimistic in a ridiculous and unfair situation but also to trust that the universe knows what it is doing.  Trusting in the universe has helped me through difficult situations in the past and in those situations everything turned out in the end.  Could it be that for some reason the universe has different plans for us?

So, for now, we have no plan for our travels.  We don’t know when we will travel this year, if we can travel this year, or where we will go when we do.  It is very hard for me to live with uncertainty…I’m a planner.

We are still living in our motorhome.  It is starting to get cold and slightly uncomfortable but we will stay in it as long as we can.  My community has pulled through for us and we have a three week house sit for friends in November and an offer from another friend to move into her basement suite.  We are getting lots of love and support and for that we are grateful.

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As far as destinations we are thinking of, Bali is calling to our hearts.  We would LOVE to spend six months there…rent a house, put down some roots, hang with the very cool families we know who live there, and take the time to follow some of our passions…..time that we thought we would have on our last trip but we didn’t end up manifesting.  However, as far as our bank account dictates, Bali is really out of our league financially this year.  It costs so much to get over to Asia from North America, not to mention the cost of getting a social visa.  So if our bank account gets its way we might just drive our motorhome down to the desert in Arizona and eat a lot of beans.  Both options have their merit.  Or we might do neither option.  Maybe an opportunity will get thrown at us that we just can’t pass up.

There you have it.  Our plans… or our un-plans…

Sep
08

Finding Community

I’ve said it here before.  I love my community.  I love the community I have here at home in Canada and I love the community I have when we are out in the world traveling.  But the fact of the matter is, I didn’t just stumble upon community (although many serendipitous moments led me to it).  Finding community is something I have had to work towards and it takes effort to build and maintain.

It seems as though, more and more, community is hard to find.  It is a symptom of our times when we don’t know our neighbours and we turn to Facebook to satisfy our cravings for interaction.  By nature we are social creatures, even those of us who are introverts, but it can be hard to find true community in this hectic, scheduled world.

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How do we create community?

  1. Become.  A few years ago I was lamenting to my cousin about how I felt a lack of true community.  Her advice to me was to become the person I wanted to be and in so doing I would attract those of like mind.  Our lives are an evolution in and of themselves.  If we don’t take the time to ask the questions of Who am I? and Who do I want to become? then our lives can easily become one of stagnation.  I asked myself what kinds of communities I wanted to belong to and then found it was easier for me to identify the qualities in myself that I wanted to nurture.
  2. Search.  The people you need to find are out there, you just have to make an effort to find them, and to be found.  Ask around, ask your friends, attend classes and make connections, search the Internet….You will not find your community if you sit in your house!
  3. Create.  Sometimes you have to create it yourself.  My first year of homeschooling was lonely.  I didn’t make the effort to search for community…I think I just hoped community would find me!  My friend gave her advice to reach out and create my own community.  I started a facebook group for homeschoolers in my area.  It started off with just myself and two other homeschoolers I knew and has now grown to over 70 families.
  4. Connect.  Once you have found your people you have to actually do something!  We meet with other unschoolers twice a week, meet with other homeschoolers throughout the year, attend a monthly locavore dinner party potluck, I sing in a full moon singing group, we meet up with other traveling families when we are on the road, host other traveling families when they are in our area, and meet up with them in their homes or in places where we are traveling through.  This year I plan on starting a monthly cook out with a handful of women (think making big batches of springrolls, perogies, and wontons for the freezer).  All of this takes a bit of effort but the connections we make along the way are worth their weight in gold.
  5. Maintain.  It is easy to get caught up in our own lives.  Life is busy.  Making time to get involved takes energy that we might not feel like we have.  But even when I don’t feel like making the effort I understand that the connections fill my cup, balance me, and actually give me energy in the long run.

How have you created community?

Aug
03

Busy

This has been the busiest summer of our lives.

It has also been one of the most stressful.

Some days it seems like we have bitten off more than we can chew and I have to stop to remind myself that everything that is keeping us busy has been a choice.  That all our choices are things that we want in our lives, things we are manifesting, things we enjoy.

Our house renovation has gone terribly wrong.  I can’t go into great detail because I don’t want to have anything in writing but basically the renovation has been stopped by our local government body and we are in a fight for the right to live in our home.  This has caused us a tremendous amount of stress and heartache and it seems like at every turn we are dishing out more money for applications and fees and we have now had to hire professional help.  We are still hopeful for a positive outcome but we feel like we have been thrown through the ringer.  Our plans are now up in the air and completely dependant on the decisions of a board.  Not fun.

Our house, half way through renovations.

Our house, half way through renovations.

Our chickens are continuing to cluck along.  We have a small but thriving business in egg selling which brings me a surprising amount of satisfaction.  We still only make enough money to cover our costs but in the meantime we are getting eggs from our backyard without cost to ourselves.  It also feels good to be a contributor to the local food scene instead of just a consumer and my passion for local food is growing and growing.

Our chicken whisperer.

Our chicken whisperer.

Our garden is in full swing and our food preservation is now in high gear.  We are making jams, canning vegetables, drying fruit, and freezing our bounty.  I’m doing something in the garden every day and, although I easily feel overwhelmed by it all, I do love the feeling of satisfaction I get from getting dinner from the backyard instead of the grocery store.

The first broccoli harvest.

The first broccoli harvest.

For me this summer has been about learning.  I’m unschooling myself in yoga, taking two to three classes a week, starting a home practice, and reading books.  I thought about taking a teacher training course but decided to learn on my own for one year and then reassess as the courses seem to run about $3000 here.  I’m learning about permaculture and making some big plans for our land.  I’m learning about how to make my own soap.  So far I haven’t found the time to actually make any but I am hoping I will be able to slow down enough to try it this fall.

Mike had been working everyday on our house renovations until that came to a screeching halt.  He is now working outside the house but is being more selective on the jobs he is choosing which has been a good thing.

The kids are free ranging on our property, playing with their friends, building continuously with lego, and generally just enjoying the stationary life.  Somedays I feel like I don’t have enough time to devote to them with all of our projects and I am thankful they are at an age where they can play independently.

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We are looking into the feasibility of getting meat chickens to raise this fall.  I have a friend who raises them and I was invited to see what was involved in the slaughter.  The idea of having a freezer full of chickens that we raised ourselves is very appealing to me and we would be able to sell many of them to cover the costs.

To top it all of Mike and I have started an online business.  We have been working on it since we got home from Asia and we just launched about two weeks ago.  We have invested a huge amount of time in it and a good chunk of money.  It is an idea that I had about five years ago but at the time I lacked the skills and confidence in myself to follow through.  Meeting all the amazing families throughout Asia who make a living online gave me the push I needed.  The website is a hyper local one, highlighting our home town, all the things to do, the events, local food, farmers and businesses. We hope that eventually we will be able to make a small income from the new website by selling advertising to local businesses.

We thought we knew where we were going this winter but with our house situation we are in limbo.  If all goes well we will find out in September if we will be allowed to carry on with our renovation at which point we will be able to either firm up our plans for travel or to stay until the renovation is completed.

That’s what is happening in our lives.  The busiest summer ever.  How is your summer going?

Jun
19

Saying Goodbye to Shampoo

And now for something completely different…..

About two years ago I was on a voluntary simplicity kick.  I read every book in our library about the subject and I incorporated a lot of the things I learned into our daily lives.  One of the the ideas I incorporated was going No-Poo, as in, I stopped using shampoo.  This lasted for about a year until I found a beautiful, natural, shampoo bar that I fell in love with.  I packed a bunch of those shampoo bars for Asia but once we ran out I went back to using shampoo.  Now that we are home I am re-focused on eliminating unnecessary products in our lives and I have kicked shampoo to the curb once again.

It is possible to stop using shampoo completely without replacing the shampoo with anything other than water.  Since your hair is used to being completely stripped of all of its natural oils every time you use shampoo, your hair constantly overproduces oils.  Once you stop stripping your hair, the oil production will level off to a level that won’t make you look like a grease ball.  This can take a month or more so you are going to look greasy in the adjustment phase.

While some people swear by using no products at all on their hair, I found that even after the adjustment phase my hair looked “blah.”  So I now prescribe to my own hair washing routine.

My hair washing routine:

I’ve opted to replace my shampoo with a two part system.

I mix about two tablespoons of baking soda in two cups of water and use this mixture instead of shampoo.  I give the mixture a shake before pouring about 1/4 cup into my hair.  I then scrub my scalp thoroughly and rinse.  The baking soda absorbs the oils and dirt and the water washes it away.

Next I use a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar.  I spray about six sprays around my head being very careful not to get it into my eyes.  If you do get it into your eyes your family will come running to see why you are screaming swear words in the shower!  The apple cider vinegar cleans off any build up in your hair and gives you some shine.  Don’t worry, you won’t smell like a pickle!

Although I shower every day I only do this routine every second day.  On the alternating days I give my hair a scrub using only water.

Short hair vs long hair:

Yes, I do have very short hair which may or may not play a part in how well this works.  When I followed this routine two years ago I had a shoulder length bob and it worked fine then too.  I can’t say how it would work with long hair but hair is hair right?

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My lovely head of hair that hasn’t seen shampoo for two months.

Reasons to cut out shampoo:

  • There is a whole lot of crap in shampoo.  From endocrine mimickers to carcinogens, shampoo is filled with chemicals.  Even most of the  the “natural” shampoos contain some version of Sodium Lauryl Sulphate.  One of my favourite books on the chemicals we add to our body is “Slow Death By Rubber Duck”.  See if your library has it!
  • Everything you wash down the drain eventually makes its way into our ecosystem.  The more we simplify our product intake the better it is for our environment.
  • Shampoo is expensive.  Save your money for something else, like a block of really nice cheese!

Have you given up a particular beauty product and were you satisfied with the results?

Jun
09

Sacrifices

I was chatting to a friend the other day about our lifestyle.  The usual stuff that I chat on this blog about….homeschooling, traveling, becoming more self-sufficient.   She commented to me about how impressed she was, that I had sacrificed so much for this lifestyle.  I nodded and agreed, not having time to form an opinion on the matter.

I knew what she meant by this well-meaning comment.  I’ve sacrificed a life outside the home.  I’ve sacrificed pursuing my interests.  I’ve sacrificed the feeling of satisfaction one gets from having a career.  I’ve sacrificed the most beautiful feeling of taking time out from being a mother and a house wife and instead having time to be myself without children hanging off of me.  I TOTALLY get it.

But when I started to ask myself the question, “What have I sacrificed for this lifestyle?”  I didn’t have too many answers.

Before I had children I worked in the accounting department of a large company.  I liked my job, I got a good wage and fantastic benefits but I was never passionate about my job.  I didn’t hate going to work but I didn’t love it either.

Once we had children it simply made no sense economically for me to go back to work.  Even with my good wage I would not be earning much above the cost of daycare for two children and the cost of commuting 30 kms to work.  Financially, it made more sense for me to stay at home.  If I had a different career, one that filled me with joy, I may have made a different decision.  But the fact is I have yet to find that one thing I am passionate about that would also earn me a decent living.

When I first became a stay-at-home mom I definitely sacrificed my sense of self and my sense of community.  There were days when Mike would come home from work and I would be so DONE with being a mother I would retreat to the bedroom and cry.  In those early years I had a few good friends that certainly helped to make me more sane but I had yet to find the community that I have now.

Two babies within a year and a half.  Busy, busy, busy.

Two babies within a year and a half. Busy, busy, busy.

But the kids are older now, its been a long time since they have been attached to my breasts and have needed me every second of the day.  We all have time to do our own thing throughout the day.   Even with our homeschooling I still get time away from them.  I get out to yoga classes a few times a week which really helps to recenter me.  We have family close by (ehem…next door!) and the kids love to go to grandma’s for a day or a weekend, which really helps to recenter Mike and my relationship.  I’ve found the most beautiful community a homeschooling, granola mom could ask for and I feel supported and honoured within it.  No sacrifices there.

Even though I don’t bring in much money into our household I contribute a heck of a lot.  I grow, cook, bake, and preserve much of our own food.  If I can make it from scratch I do and that saves us a huge amount on our grocery bill.  I shop at thrift stores and garage sales for most of our purchases.  Our lifestyle is conducive to saving money so that we can afford to travel.  So even though I don’t have a job, I do.  Even though I don’t get a pay check I still contribute to our income by working hard to make our dollar go further.

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Pumpkin from last year’s garden. We still have some in the freezer for baking, pancakes, and soups.

I’m passionate about our lifestyle (can you tell? :)) The homeschooling, the travelling, the community bonds, the amazing people we continue to meet, growing our own food, raising our own chickens, renovating our own house, living small so that we can live large.

All of this, everything we do, comes back to our primary passions of travel and letting the world educate our children.  Giving up our dream, that would be the sacrifice.

Exploring in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Exploring in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What are your thoughts?  Have you felt that you have had to make sacrifices in your own lifestyle design?

May
15

And Then We Were Chicken Farmers

My father cannot pass up a good deal.  If he has a need for something, can foresee a need for something in the future, or thinks that maybe one day it might come in handy, he will buy it if the price is right.  That is how our vision of having a dozen hens in our backyard that would supply our two families with a constant supply of fresh eggs turned into our new reality of having NINTY ONE chickens in our backyard and not only supplying our family with fresh eggs but also selling them to our community.  There was a good deal on chickens that my dad just could not pass up!

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Yes, we now have 91 chickens free ranging on about an acre in the back half of our property.  We’ve gone from starting a chicken hobby to full on chicken farmers within the space of a few days.  It has been a steep learning curve.  We started with very little knowledge of chickens and now my dad and I have read through numerous books learning the ins and out of raising chickens.  Let me tell you, it is not just a simple matter of waking up to fresh eggs every morning.  Chickens have needs, can develop bad habits, can get infested with pests, and need just the right mixture of food to lay those beautiful eggs.

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It was a lot of hard work at first, getting their coop and run set up and learning all the many things we needed to know about chickens. Now, three weeks in, we have a fairly good handle on the situation.  My father and I split up the chores (Mike and my mother just roll their eyes at us because they were never fully on board with the chicken plans).  I fill up the watering pails every morning, collect the eggs a few times a day, wash and store the eggs at the end of the day, and sell the eggs.  My father lets them out of the coop in the morning, fills their feeding pails, cleans their roost, and shuts them back into their coop at night (we have coyotes around!)

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So how do I feel about raising all these hens?  I must say, it feels pretty fantastic.  This is the first time I have ever felt a real connection to my food (other than fruits and veggies I have grown).  It FEELS good to go out to grab fresh eggs, it feels good to eat those eggs, and it feels like I am doing a good deed in my community by selling those eggs.  Eggs from happy chickens are the bomb!!!!!

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I never want to eat a store bought egg again.  Now that I am learning about what it takes to raise chickens and all of the rules about selling eggs I am beginning to understand that any eggs bought at a super market pale in comparison to farm eggs (literally).  We have figured out that with selling our extra eggs we will just make slightly above what it costs us to raise the chickens.  Basically we are eating free eggs and getting a bit of pocket change.  If someone were to do this as a business you would need thousands of chickens to make it profitable and you would need to cut corners wherever you could.  In my mind I had pictured the chickens laying those “free range” eggs I was paying $5 in the grocery store for as happy chickens frolicking on a farm.  Now I know that “free range” only means they have access to the outdoors.  It does not specify how much outdoors or if they have access to grass.  And if you are raising thousands of chickens to make your business profitable, just how much space could you offer your chickens anyways?

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My children have become little chicken farmers.  They race at the chance to take the compost out to feed the chickens, they come with me to collect the eggs, and we have nicknamed Kayden the Chicken Whisperer as he has an amazing ability to get the chickens to stop for him and let him pick them up.  Yes, my youngest son loves to cuddle chickens!  We have hatched our own chicken eggs, had lessons in death (not all of them made it), have watched the baby chicks grow bigger and bigger, learned the skills of a chicken farmer, and have taken a giant step in becoming more self sufficient.

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Apr
23

The World Is Our Teacher

I always get the question, “How do you TEACH your children?”

I never know how to answer.  I stumble and mumble and feel so inarticulate.

I try to explain the philosophy of unschooling but I never do a good job of it.  I don’t think I am convincing anyone.  I try to explain that when my boys are interested in something I help them to pursue the interest.  The Internet is our best tool for learning, as are books, and mentors.

Truth be told, I all too often ask myself if we are doing the right thing.  Not sending our kids to school is such a radical path.  Am I doing them a disservice?  Am I good enough to pull this off?  Am I giving them a well-rounded education or am I just winging it, hoping they turn out all right in the end?

Sometimes I have doubts.  Sometimes I think I need to do more.

But then sometimes my heart and soul burst with pride for my children, for our lifestyle, and for our choices.  Sometimes my children amaze me by their grasp of a concept or their insight into a culture.  Sometimes my self-doubt is slain in a moment where I know that despite any of the parental mistakes we have made we are doing a kick-ass job of raising two amazing human beings.

Today was one of those moments.  Our family sat together at the breakfast table and took turns telling each other about all of the things we have learned in our six months of travel in Asia.  We went round, and round, and round the table, describing our favorite things, our most intense memories, and our most surprising discoveries.

Here is a glimpse into what we have learned about this year:

  • We have made friends with some of the most amazing families on the planet.

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  • DSCN7484We ate and enjoyed food that we were unaccustomed to.

  • DSCN4856We learned bits and pieces from other languages.

  • We rode on buses, planes, trains, songteows, tuk-tuks, bicycles, motorbikes, long-tail boats, subways, skytrains, and taxicabs.

I could go on and on and on, but then this post would get too long!  And for the doubters whom I know are wondering, there was also a whole bunch of reading, writing, and arithmetic mixed in there as well.

The point is, we have learned SO much in our six months of travel, much of which is not even quantifiable.  All of our lives have changed because of the rich and amazing experiences.

How do I teach my children?  The world is their teacher.

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