Permaculture Student- Our Design

The design principal in permaculture was the first thing that drew me in. Everything in life can be designed to suit the needs of those involved and as an old time homeschooler that’s starting in with the first grandkids I’m wanting to design a homeschool plan more in tune with nature. The nature around us and the nature of children.

So, here’s our design for using The Permaculture Student by Matt Powers – I hope you can gather some fun and useful ideas and then design a process that works for those around you.

Now that we’ve finished up chapter 1, and when I say “finished” I really mean that we’ve scratched the surface of the concepts taught in chapter 1 while trying to get out and do each activity. That’s taken us about a month of working in the garden, group class time on Wednesday nights, watching videos and assorted other work. Our group is 3 to 78 so it might look a little different than yours.

Here’s our four starter families:

1-Two cute old people who are enjoying thinking differently about the garden they have and adding the layers to their just over an acre property.

2-Our family that has a great start on permaculture thanks to the years my mom invested in trees and mulch on our one acre.

3-The Pond family – they left the big city a few years back and now have a garden and ducks swimming in their pond!

4-The Soon to Be family – they close on their six acre property any week now and man do they have swales to work with! Already paddocked sections, out buildings and water run many, many places! We’re all very excited for them.

I’m working on a lesson plan that’s a little sketchy at the moment but we’ll adapt it as we go since the plan is to cycle around through the course repeatedly until one of us is ready for the official PDC! We’ll be taking many weeks to work through each chapter.

Here are a few items we’ve got going:

1-Having a family time on Wednesday night with a potluck from our abundance which at the moment sometimes means fried chicken from the drive through window because we’re just starting out 🙂

2-Have a weekly game, activity, coloring page and watch a video together or just part of one since our little guys have a short attention span as do I.

3-On Wednesday night we’re having about 20-30 minutes of kid focused time, then they go complete an activity.

4-The adults will have a similar topic from the “Introduction to Permaculture” text by Bill Mollison w/Reny Mia Slay as we learn more about permaculture.

5-We’ve set up a work day each month where we’ll got to each family’s property and help them knock out a labor intensive job.

6-We’ll have ongoing permaculture projects at our own homes each week. Like checking our soil samples.

As we cycle back around through the curriculum, we’re planning on adding some other fun science elements: Fall -Chemistry/Physics, Winter – Anatomy, Spring – Flying Creatures. We’ll be using resources that we already have in the Apologia Young Explorers Series. But this time when I use these textbooks I’ll have a much clearer application for each topic right in our yard!

It’s never to late to change up the design or begin a design of your own.




While I don’t quite understand Zoe in the syntactical, historical, grammatical sense completely I do like the idea of what I think I know about it. That it’s the God breathed eternal and abundant life that is in us when we are in Christ.

Don’t go all Greek Ninja on me I’m not a Greek scholar but I can still think my simple thoughts about the word zoe.

How does one find it, capture it, hold it in their hand? My sense is it’s in the relationships, those two basic rules of love God, love your neighbor. Super hard because I’m super selfish and I’ve got it planned so I really don’t need help from God or my neighbors so I can love them from a distance and keep on with my plan.

Except when my plan falls apart and I know that I want that zoe, that abundant feeling of friendship, community, and connection with God. A God centered life.

How do you do that without being all religious and dogmatic while driving people away instead of the John 13.35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” kind of walk?

1-I’m pretty sure it’s not driving out of your garage in the morning to go to work and retreating back into your garage at night. SO it might look like having your neighbors over? The weird part is we’ve been inviting our neighbors over on the first Friday of the month for a year now and aside from the Christmas party at my mom’s in December with a big turn out, it seems that most of the neighbors, including my good Christian neighbors want to retreat into their own hole all wounded and forlorn. Or they want a special invitation every single time. Really? How am I supposed to do that when I can barely get it together to have my house clean and food ready once a month with all the other stuff I’m doing? Deep breaths, because it’s okay, the people that want to be there come and we have such a great deep conversation about real things and I love it! I’ve learned so much from them every time we’re together.

2-I’m pretty sure it’s not spending all your time at church “helping” those in need and ignoring your own family. In Mark 7.9-13 Christ warns against not caring for your elderly parents and saying it’s all given to God. Samuel and Eli neglected their children and God struck them dead. That doesn’t sound very abundant and zoe like to me. So, taking care of your own family is loving God and your neighbors for that abundant life?

3-So when your neighbor shoots your dog and their dog attacks your other dog . . . urgh! That kind of jabs a stick into the zoe bubble and when the other neighbors opinion of this couple is, “oh it’s just him, she’s really nice.”  I have to say, what kind of nice person lives with someone like that? Someone who’s previous wife had the sheriff come out and rescue her and the kids from his abuse?

4-Working in my garden and growing food, I really feel like that is pleasing to God that it makes him smile. It’s where it all started out. Well, aside from the part about “before the foundations of the world were laid,” but I’m sure you know what I mean. It’s where man started out, tending the garden and caring for the animals. Then if you spend lots of time there you have an abundance to love your neighbors with!

So, I’m at 3 out of 4 turning a problem into a solution to create a zoe life here on the edge of the Zuehl tarmac. The list is longer but the point is we need to start thinking about the first two rules more and how we can apply them right where we are.

I listened in to a group of young men discussing Genesis and it was really interesting because of the various denominations they came from and the assurance that each felt about his piece of information. It reminded me again that it’s really about loving God and loving your neighbor. Not that understanding the historical, grammatical and syntactical Word we’ve been given isn’t important but that it rests on that love.

Well, I’ve got to go to bed so I can love my neighbors tomorrow in the form of a very awesome old fellowship that meets at our house on Sunday mornings. If you’re in the neighborhood come on by, breakfast is great!

Tending the Garden


Permaculture Student by Matt Powers picture


Was it perfect in the Garden of Eden? I always thought so until recently, well actually I didn’t think about it I just assumed so. Does that make sense? Heaven was perfect, Eden was perfect, it was all perfect until Eve ate that non-botanically specific piece of vegetation. Right?

It’s not that we haven’t had some excellent teaching along the way but until recently we didn’t have the chance to have a Dr. Dr. Dr. who reads his New Testament in Greek to talk to about these questions.  So, heaven wasn’t perfect, Satan got in, the garden wasn’t perfect Satan got in there and the two people sinned.

This is really about my actual garden and that I grew up in a garden that was in tip top very tidy shape with all the weeds removed. Like I’m sure it would have looked in Adam and Eve’s garden where everything was perfect. Except why did Adam have to work?

Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

Are weeds new or did they occur in the garden that Adam tended too? In this great documentary called “Back to Eden” the guy has some cool thoughts about this subject and great thoughts about the weeds in my garden! If I manage my garden like God manages the forests and things man doesn’t tend then the closer I get to the natural processes of growing the easier it will be, which means I’ll have weeds but I’ll outgrow them with good seeds!

I’ve been avoiding my yard since my mom moved out. For almost nine years she tended the garden in our yard then she abandoned me to marry this adorable old neighbor of ours! I kept calling it her garden and telling her it was going to die but then I came across this really awesome concept of Permaculture which reminded me of the Back to Eden video and I realized I should take some responsibility for MY garden.

We’ve got a pretty busy life with kids, adventure  and community so I couldn’t see how I could get out there every single day but with the Permaculture Design I think we can make it happen.

There are some excellent Christian principals in the concept like Care of People, Care of the Earth and the Return of Surplus. There’s also something amazing about spending time in the garden that touches my soul and makes me happy, tired but happy. Our youngest three kids have really been loving it more than all the other things we’ve done so the hope is we’ll soon have an abundance to share with our friends and neighbors.

We also found a great resource Permaculture Student by Matt Powers that is about Jr High level, unless you’re actually getting out in the garden and doing the work, then it’s much harder! If you’ve been thinking about tending a garden with your kids this is a very encouraging resource.

Now if I could just get rain every day like they do in Jamaica it would be so much easier!


Love Hate Relationships

It’s all of us, not just you! Your spouse is super awesome and you’re on a high of happiness then they do something totally selfish or stupid and you have to ask yourself, do I let go of the anger and remember all the good or do I hold on and become a bitter person? I’m kidding we don’t actually stop and think about that do we? We just react!  Let me recommend forgiveness since you’re no rainbow farting unicorn yourself. In case you haven’t figured it out this isn’t just your spouse or your kids, your sibling or your parents. We’re all imperfect with no hope for perfection so get used to it and get used to forgiving people if you want the favor returned.

We all want a magic pill that our spouse, kid or parent can take so we can take them a little easier. Again, ditto

Relationships are hard work everyday. Some days all the hard work seems to be paying off and others you’re floundering in guilt wondering what you’ve done wrong, how can you fix it and the whole time it was just a simple communication issue or a change you need to make yourself.

We were married in 1985 and it’s 2016 so my husband’s story goes like this, we’ve been married 29 wonderful years. Then he waits to see if the listener can do basic math then says, 29 “wonderful” years, there were two that sucked. Really awful almost over, that came down to me sitting on my packed suitcases by the phone (you know when it was plugged into the wall) while my husband said he’d call the pastor and go for counseling and I was saying, “Do it then.”

And he did, but I want you to know that I hated him and contemplated his demise. I have a tendency to over think so I came up with a brilliant option. That he’d get hit by the Budweiser truck and the driver would have been drinking Miller light at the Shell gas station near our house. I know you’re thinking that’s genius!

Today he can still annoy the crap out of me at times mostly because we’re slower, older and loosing our hearing but we’re old enough to know that misunderstandings are normal and we can laugh a whole lot more because we understand the foundation of marriage isn’t about us but about the calling of Christ from Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

If we didn’t understand that we wouldn’t be able to walk through the dark days of adoption or when the doctor told Michael that he didn’t have to have the surgery but he’d be dead in two years if he didn’t and then that he could die during surgery. Not funny, but I’ve got to tell you the hot flashes are hilarious!

On that fateful day when Michael called the pastor for counseling and my sister watched our three little people, we sat on the couch and Michael’s opening line was, “My wife is crazy, I hope you can fix her.” We learned something amazing that night, that it was all Michael’s fault!

Okay, not really, but it sure felt that way to both of us as we drove away. Lucky for me Michael really went to work on being a better husband and father but the crazy thing about his awesome improvement was it started making me look bad. I mean I can’t blame him for everything now can I?

For ten years this pastor and his wife looked after us, encouraged us, listened to us, laughed at us, no seriously, when you’re in your twenties you say some stupid stuff. They taught us great skills that Rick’s written down in a book for you to use too! 5:21

Twenty nine wonderful years later I have that book on my shelf and can pull it out and hear his voice. It’s so simple and not grand or elaborate with seven magic steps but a deep abiding truth that has seen us through many hard times.

Then there was the time, I can’t remember when that we went for counseling at our church for just one annoying thing. Problem solved. Then we went again 9 years ago and the pastor, who’s our age and a friend kind of laughed when we all sat down and said something like what are you doing here? Your the healthy family. BUT we were building our house at the time, like literally hammer and nails, not hiring contractors and we were arguing alot and we just needed a refresher course because we seemed to have forgotten how to be nice. It was awesome to be reminded!

We thought we’d seen it ALL by then, closing in on 25 years of marriage (23 wonderful years) but then we came in close contact with “social services.” Talk about a nightmare! What does a nice family do that’s successfully raised/raising kids  when they’re feeling really blessed? They decide to take in more kids! Michael and I had talked about this  before we got married and here we were doing it! Oh my God we’re awesome!

Pride goes before a fall is an understatement when it comes to my less than awesome moments in this process. We couldn’t have done it if we didn’t have the support of awesome friends who’d done it before us and truly understood the hardship that comes with social services. One friend described “social services” as a group of people who are in charge of the children but usually don’t have their own children, are very young and know how to best raise children even though they don’t want any of their own, but they know exactly what you should do. It took it’s toll.

But we came up fighting on the same side! Even when things look dark and they’re down, you have to let love win, forgive, accept and keep moving forward together.

We’re so blessed right now to have a large group of older couples in our lives each with their own amazing story most over 70 with a lifetime of pain, loss and sadness behind them but still joyful in their journey because they have someone to love. For about half of them it’s a new love because the old one passed away or they were divorced along the way but because they learned how to love they can find a new love. One of the guys in his 80’s jokes that his current wife of 10 years wouldn’t have married him if his first wife hadn’t trained him because he was trouble back then.

Life comes at all of us the same. If we want to be in relationship and have healthy happy families we have to start with and as we walk along the way we have to invite people in to encourage, correct and reprove. When you do that with your spouse and they do that with you and you gather other people willing to do that (I’m not saying it’s easy because most people don’t want to be corrected) and you’re a happier person that can invite more people into your life like your own family, your siblings, parents and children. When you learn to address the hurt and forgive you learn what true love is.

Response to Uncle Jack

uncle Jack

Here’s my husband Michael, son Luke, Jack Spirko and oldest son Erick at Jack’s tree planting day. They learned a lot and came home and got stuff done 🙂

For some strange reason our grand daughter Paisley looks at this picture and can name everyone, even “Uncle Jack” who’s not her uncle, who she’s never met and she won’t be convinced that he’s not but the two uncles in the picture don’t get to be called uncle. Who knows how the mind of a three year old works 🙂


On The Survival Podcast January 18, 2016  with Jack Spirko at the 1:08 minute mark he ponders how homeschooling can alter the landscape of the nation. I believe there is nothing else that will and I’d like to convince as many people as possible that the future of our nation hinges on removing as many children from the control of the state as possible. Doesn’t that sound alarming!??

My goal here is to convince every single person reading this that ALL children should be returned to their parents or guardians for their education and upbringing. However in the interest of maintaining my freedom to homeschool I’ll settle for 20%!

While I wish everyone was alarmed at the state of our nation I’d like to remind you of this most basic piece of our history. How a once fierce independent nation of the strongest people who ever existed began this journey:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The political bands of the government school today amount to a straight jacket and any freedom loving person should feel impelled to figure out how to separate themselves from its clutches. Is there one area of your family’s life that doesn’t fall under the control of the school district in some way?

What time you should go to bed, get up, what you should eat, when you should eat, when you should poop for God’s sake, when you should take vacation, holidays, days off, which vaccinations you should get, who you hang out with, and then after hours of sitting in class do you have homework or is it like our local government school that doesn’t send homework home because it’s unfair to the kids who’s parents won’t help. EVEN if your kid doesn’t go to school or you have no children you get to pay taxes.

Then there’s the supposed purpose of government school which is learning, yet they control what you learn, what you think about what you learn, how you learn it, when you learn it and all the political correctness that permeates this massive putrid system. If you want to find out how we got here in less than 100 years there’s a great read, “The Underground History of American Education,” by John Taylor Gatto

At the 1:08 minute mark Jack Spirko says, “We the people that actually want liberty in our lives have to do something, for ourselves and our families.”

The problem is the solution

Problem #1 – Family: Due to the influence and prominence of public school in the lives of families the family system has been broken down over time and people don’t even know it. We have one of our 7 kids who went to government school for 1 year and before he ever went to school for one day he started saying he was a “Bulldog.” I hate sports with a passion, not games like baseball or basketball but the sports mentality that robs people of their personal and family identity and makes them one of the group. I pretty much feel the same way about religion when someone says, “I’m Baptist,” vs “I go to a Baptist church.”

The family is the primary system of any healthy community, city, state or nation. The more we separate families and legislate families the worse our nation will become.  Even at church the government school dominates the calendar. Try having an event at church for the youth on a Friday night when there’s a football game. sheesh! Even the church who you’d think is about family puts the school at the center of their agenda. That’s how controlling we allow it to be.

I hate to say it but even homeschoolers are slaves to the government school calendar when they participate in church, most sports or other events, even our scout group’s calendar isn’t about seasons but about school calendars. Yet homeschoolers largely will tell you that they put their family first.

In the time when families worked together it wasn’t the nuclear family of today but grandparents and other members working toward a common good for the family unit. Family members had to work out their differences to continue to work together because their wasn’t the “all caring state” to look out for them if they couldn’t get along with their family. There are many homeschool families with family businesses that are highly successful as a family and in business.

Then there are the friends and neighbors! We’ve been so blessed with people teaching us and helping us and I can’t say enough about looking around you for people to be part of your community. If your bio family sucked develop a new one! If in the problem lies the solution and the family is the problem, 1-fix your family situation, 2-start by fixing your own issues, 3-can’t fix your family, gather a new one.

We lived for a time with both sets of in-laws and my mom lived with us for 10 years and it was awesome and helpful for everyone involved.

Maybe you went away to college and you love the town where your job is but it doesn’t put you near family that will work with you, maybe you can rethink your location?

The Problem is the Solution

Problem #2 – I Don’t Know How to Educate Kids

The problem is neither does the government school. Not if you’re talking about real learning so that you can continue learning for a lifetime. Not if you’re talking about real skills verses testing and scoring for pay increases.

Think about how you learn new things and you’ll find out how learning takes place. If you don’t know how to fish can you teach your kid to fish? Maybe you can youtube it and figure it out, you can go to walmart and ask the guy behind the counter who loves to fish, you can go to a free state park fishing day. Now repeat that for whatever your kid wants to learn!

Everything you could possibly want to know about learning is somewhere in the vast google universe so the solution here is for you to love learning and pass that on to your kid.

The Problem is the Solution

Problem #3 – I Can’t Afford it

1-You can’t afford to not work to take time to homeschool your kids? Look around you and see who’s homeschooling. More and more homeschoolers are taking in a kid and trading skills instead of funds. I loved Jack’s idea about a group of families who don’t have to work full time pooling their resources. This is a great idea to think about with friends!

Seriously, if your parents will let you move in or you buy a different house together so that you can help each other out do it! We have friends who sold their house and her mom’s house and bought one house together so that they’ve reduced their expenses. Do you have older kids that have moved out that might move home and you guys can pool your resources where everyone wins?

Our 25 year old daughter is getting divorced and lives at home, she goes to work everyday and I watch her awesome 3 year old. I also watch a 4 year old and get paid a bit for that so we can go on fun field trips. Our 21 year old is saving up for a house, has a real estate investment, 401k, pays all his personal expenses, car, insurance, phone etc and lives at home so he can save up AND handles all our IT issues! ALL wins and work because we get along.

2-You can’t afford to buy curriculum?  This is really ironic because the curriculum isn’t the solution you might think it is. I was telling our 28 year old how I was trying a different unschooling Montessori style approach with a Permaculture Student  twist using Matt Powers, Unschooling, with our 8 and 9 year old and while I was explaining the different things we were doing he said, “That’s exactly what we used to do.” That is before we could AFFORD curriculum! Today the inner webs have literally thousands of resources for subjects that are free. Start learning

On a personal level you could work on what Jack talked about 1-enabling ourselves to do more with less, 2-Taking ourselves out of the debt system.

The Problem is the Solution

#4 – I want to but I can’t. If you want to you can find a way. start looking around you for a community of people that feel the way you do. Ask the other parents at your kids school.

Some other topics Jack touched on:

What Binds Us to the System

You’ve got to start by freeing yourself from what you’ve been conditioned to believe learning is and what real learning is. Instead of looking at replicating the government school into your home or small community start thinking about all the free classes that are offered around your area, the public library where the librarian will give you a starting book list at your kids level and then help you develop an entire reading program. They LOVE to help kids read and it’s free. Except for the part about not turning your books in on time.

If you’re thinking, “The only way for me to homeschool is for us to give up one car and I’ll be stuck at home.” Again start looking around you and what’s in walking distance. What neighbor is doing cool stuff? We were a one car family for many years and are again (because my husband traded his car in for a plane) so once a week we take my husband to the van pool have a great adventure and then pick him up from work and all go to our homeschool scout group together. It takes effort, planning and communication but one car works. We have a neighbor that keeps bees and he taught us how, a neighbor that builds airplanes that lets the kids use his tools and gives them little scraps of stuff they made to take home. You’d be surprised and whenever anyone mentions anything close to not really liking homeschooling I remind them that I’m saving the tax payers a minimum of $10,000 per kid and that $10kx7x13 years is alot of savings, and that it’s in their best interest for everyone to homeschool 🙂

If like Jack mentioned, we want to raise independent self reliant thinkers, it’s going to have to start with the grown ups growing up and being independent self reliant thinkers of their own. Figure this out!

On Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

So, you’re in the system and don’t see a way out. Try some civil disobedience inside the system! It’s crazy to me when I hear a parent say what’s wrong with their school but they can’t do anything about it, even when that parent knows there are more people who feel the same way. If there’s a problem stand up! Let’s say there’s a bad 2nd grade teacher and you know your kid is going to have to be in that classroom. Stage a protest and get as many parents as possible to take time off, enlist the grandparents and don’t send your kids to school until that teacher is fired, or principal or whatever the problem is. Just one year of government school taught me that the sacred cow of the system is attendance. You want to make a change? Get a group to not attend for a day or week especially during testing season 🙂 Be sure to let them know and follow through if they don’t listen. Do this over and over again and you’ll start seeing change. Government School is a business and they’re in the business of taking home a paycheck which comes to them by way of your kid showing up at school. As a school teacher my mom would recommend this to parents but they didn’t think it would make a difference. She said if parents knew how precarious every decision was to the whims of change and how much control they really had by just not showing up one day the system would be entirely different overnight.

If you can’t move out, stand up for your kid where you are.

Homeschool Infrastructure

I’ve only been homeschooling for 25 years and all of that in Texas but the idea of a central homeschool location or infrastructure to me is anti what the freedom to be had in homeschooling is about. I’m not talking about true cooperatives but most of the infrastructure is the same controlling overlord type system that school is and it doesn’t facilitate the independent self reliant thinkers and these larger groups are driven by the same, get to college, syndrome as the government schools. In our town we have the only homeschool  501c3 nonprofit with it’s own building that I know of in the country and it sits empty most of the time because the group that manages it has a very narrow view of “exceptable.” Again they’re focused on all the things that government schools are, including testing.

If you’re looking for independent self reliant individuals, it’s going to be up to others like them to join together where they are and use the www to make the learning happen. I’ve learned over time that it doesn’t take a dozen families (my former dream number for co-op) to make it happen 4-5 families can put together a great experience for their kids and focus on things they’re really interested in.

Removing One Child is Better Than Voting

I’ve been a hardcore, you must vote, voter since I turned 18, so 35 years and I can’t believe I might not vote in November! But I do know that removing kids from the system is what’s going to change our nation. When we adopted a 10 year old just after Obama’s first election, this little guy came into an extremely conservation homeschool co-op and said that he’d voted for Obama, that he helped get Obama elected. The other kids just were blinking their little eyes at him . . . . “You can’t vote until you’re 18,” they said. But he insisted that he’d voted for Obama at school and wouldn’t be persuaded that his vote didn’t count.

A few weeks ago while at the children’s museum I was privileged to have a conversation with an Obama voter that homeschools – for some reason she didn’t like my friend and I. We didn’t care at all that she had a different opinion than we did but she needed us to agree with her. She said you couldn’t take all the people that were in “care” of the state and make them self reliant. I agreed and told her I just took three of them.

Where We Are Now

I’m tired. Tired of having a dream of time doing what we love and torn between that and cooperating in the homeschooling community without the government school guidelines breathing down my neck because to many people think their kid can’t “graduate” from highschool unless they have the full four year course load on their transcript. They think their kid can’t get into college unless they have that transcript perfect and pass the SAT. The truth is they’ll take anyone’s money. To get into our local college at 15 our oldest took a math and writing placement test, placed AT the college level so the law says they have to let you in because they can’t discriminate based on age. This thanks to a law suit by some 8 year old’s parents I believe.

We were part of homeschool  co-ops for 15 years on the government system/schedule and 2 years ago I quit and have been pondering how I get back to a community without the “curriculum” eating up all the time for the individual learning activities my kids would like to do. Actual skills within a society of free thinkers. Not 36 weeks on the government school schedule! I want to be in the garden in March and September when the weather is beautiful here! So our 8 & 9 year old can sell basil seeds they harvested at the farmer’s market with my mom and our 16 year old can make quail tractors and work at the local pond builders to learn some skills.

But I know I’ll figure it out and I don’t need a dozen families, just a few friends who want to try something new and different in a community that’s already known for different. My friend Bill tells me I always manage to find a niche in a niche!

You’ll all probably raise children very much like yourselves which is ironic for all the rebellion in the world, so be a better you and start thinking how your problems can become solutions.

Tipping to Homeschooling

Tipping to Homeschooling

Are you for freedom? Are you aware of the gap between the freedoms you think you should have verses what you’re willing to grant others?  Throughout history it seems that freedom comes when the masses rebel against the queen, in our case the bureaucrats, and demand their freedom OR as in the case of Ghandi you simply refuse to participate in the queen’s games. In any case, my freedom depends on the willingness of those around me to allow it. It’s crazy but true! Our neighbors vote our freedom in and out of style in an ever shifting scheme to control people. Well, let’s be honest and say we vote for 4% of the rules while 96% is decided by the un-elected bureaucrats.

I want the freedom to homeschool my children and grandchildren. You might say, “Well, you have that.” What you may not know is, I have that temporarily, right up until one single bureaucrat decides I can’t. Even though the law in my state says I can legally homeschool there are many, many cases where the state has stepped in and removed the children from a family because they don’t like homeschooling. Or a neighbor lies about what’s going on or . . . . . in the freest homeschool state in the union, homeschool parents live in fear of the state.

The state wants to regulate that children don’t belong to their parents and I’ll agree with that if they’ll also regulate that THEY don’t own the children either. We’re ALL wanting to be free 🙂 My children don’t belong to me, they’re a gift and a blessing that I’m responsible for teaching to be a truly productive, thinking, contributing member of society.

Freedom, is it safest when it’s practiced by more people? Imagine if the state of Colorado decides to revoke the freedom to smoke weed. People have moved there to have this freedom so I’m thinking it will be pretty hard to pull that back, even though I believe smoking weed is stupid, I’m for freedom. According to the 80/20 rule from Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” protecting my freedom to homeschool means I have to convince 16.6% more kids to talk their parents into freeing them from the government school and joining the ever growing homeschool movement. Current numbers seem to rest at 3.4% of kids are homeschooled a growth rate of 61%+ in the last nine years which means at the current pace we’d reach the magical freedom rate of 20% homeschoolers in . . . I don’t know that math BUT I do know that if we could double the homeschool rate this year to 6.8% and again next year to 13.6% on the third year we’d break the freedom barrier!

How does one convince 16.6% of the kids to walk away from school? I’m not even talking about the national average of drop outs that’s at more than 25%.  If you really want to know your school’s 9th to 12th grade drop out rate find the number of 9th graders and subtract the number of 12th graders and you’ll get the real number. Some schools are using their “dropout” number from 11th-12th grade. Our local highschool last year said they had a 25% drop out rate but the 9th grade to 12th grade difference was almost 40%.

Actually how do you convince the parents of the kids who hate school to free them? In Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast from Monday January 18, 2016  he asks some great questions at about the 1:04 minute mark and on.

“What do we do as individuals? How do we start making a bigger difference, cuz this is what’s going to happen. The ability of the state to influence our lives is going to do what it always has, it’s going to grow.”

Having been through the state adoption system for our three youngest kids the idea of the state gaining any more control is terrifying. By force of a gun they can take your children and really do just about anything they want without consequence to the actual perpetrator in the state bureaucracy.

In response to Jack Spirko’s podcast, this blog I’ve just been thinking about is going to have to happen if I want freedom for my children and their children. In order for the state to loose it’s grip we have to remove ourselves from their grasp.

Join me in freedom, in the freedom we have in Christ, or of Ghandi’s civil disobedience, Martin Luther King Jr’s voice, Rosa Parks refusal of stupidity and this, this  unknown man

Tianamen square 1

Together, without the “assistance” of the state, let’s figure out how to take back control of our lives and give our children the freedom that all of mankind longs for in their soul.

Clown Training

Clown Learning

Is your child’s school working for them? Do you get the sense that they are safe, happy and loving learning, progressing at a healthy pace of their own, developing their sense of self in a positive way? If you’re answer is yes then you should go back to whatever it was you were doing before you clicked over to this link. This article is going to be about the Clowns and Jokers that run your kids school and you probably don’t need that kind of stress where you might have to reevaluate what you’re doing. These aren’t the articles you’re looking for, move along.

This Steelers Wheel song came out in 1972 Stuck in the Middle With You but it wasn’t until I got older that it seemed to apply to so much of what’s going on in the world around us. There’s a line, “Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” The year it made sense was 1982 when I started what I thought would be a journey to teach kids in school even though I hated school growing up, I was going to be different. I was right about the different part.


Do you have an experience that you can think of and say, “Exactly! This is how it feels right now.”? Clowns & Jokers are running the asylum, and Donald Trump wants in on that too?

When I think of Clowns & Jokers in the area of “education” and learning there’s this excellent example of stupidity in what people consider learning that takes place at the gas pump. While driving through the tip of Oregon we stopped in Pendleton and had to fuel up. The pump at the station looked exactly like the ones in every other state including the pay at the pump card slider BUT I couldn’t slide my card, or pump my gas! A nice young person came out to do it for me. When I mentioned that that seemed pretty stupid he informed me that they had been specially trained to protect the environment. I’ve been pumping gas from all the various pumps that have come along since 1983, before this kid was born but he’s had special training? Really? Since 1885 people have been pumping gas for lanterns and cars but in 2014 with all the advances in technology we need special training to pump gas correctly?

My neighbor has an old time gas pump something like this:

This gas pump is complicated right up until someone explains that you have to actually crank and pump the gas up into that glass tank before it goes into your car. Simple? We’re on driver #5 in our family and we’ve shown each of them exactly once how to pump gas and they haven’t lite themselves up yet!  So, how do you convince an entire state of people that they can’t pump their own gas because they won’t protect the environment? Gas is expensive and I’m guessing not very many people pour it all over the place between the pump and their car not to mention if you’ve ever spilled gas even once you’re careful for the rest of your life because you smell and worry about a spark blowing you up. Sadly I speak from experience.

How do you convince people that things are good for them that aren’t? What it really comes down to is convincing people that they are inept and incapable of doing things so you can “help” them. While I don’t know why people choose to allow themselves to be treated like children I do know that we aren’t children and that the average 11 year old could pump gas if it wasn’t against the law (did you know that?) and the average 11 year old is far more capable than our current society gives them room to be.

It takes time to convince people that they can’t do something on their own and it takes lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of repetition where the empire reminds the children that they’re stupid but all will be taken care of for them.

Here’s a game for you to play. Make a list of all the things you do everyday and next to each one write where or how you learned how to do that activity.

Driving – Michael taught me 🙂

Cleaning/housework – my mom

Cooking – my mother-in-law (my mom makes great salad)

Baking – my mom – I did have a class in jr high but everything they taught I already knew from my mom

Computers – Michael 1983 compact lug-able, currently Greg my 21 year old

Grocery shopping – mom

Gardening – mom

Budgeting – mom

Piano – a few private lessons along the way

Assorted crafts – mom

Lesson planning – on the job

I know you’re going to say but you’re a stay home mom so it makes sense that the things you do every day your mom taught you. Well, I’ve had some jobs along the way and on the job training for all of those. But we’ll make Michael’s list

Van Pool – his mom taught him how to be polite

Computers – 1 computer course in college accounting school and the rest on his own, with friends, learning in community

Communication – through relationships with people

Speaking – a couple years of teaching at a Career Transition Workshop and being Scout Master

Business Objects – online training

Essbase – week class then on the job

Guns – the current fascination 🙂 which requires field trips, online resources, lessons from friends

Selecting, processing and cooking meat – dad

House Building – dad-in-law

Grilling – neighbor Mr. Cargill – best neighbor ever

Car repair – Mr. Cargill

Just since we were in college the world of technology has advanced and continues to advance at ever increasing giant leaps and the “educational” world can’t keep up but the good news is you as an individual can. Unless you want to be a very specific character on the stage, doctor, lawyer, indian chief, you can learn just about anything you want to know on your own, online or from someone who is actually loving what they’re doing. There’s something really exceptional about a lesson from someone with an accidental passion for a subject.

Are you in Clown Training Mode? Are you learning something right now? How are you learning about it? Do you have a choice as to what you’re learning, how you’re gaining that understanding and what the outcome is? If not, that’s very sad, you should find something new to learn. What about your kiddos?  If you want you’re child to be a life long learner, an independent self starting thinker you’re going to have to start by setting an example of being a learner, rescue them from the indoctrination camp and bring them into your camp of how real learning takes place. What do you really wish your child knows? What one thing do you know that they love more than anything?

If you’re kids in the government indoctrination camp try making a list of the things that worry you and take it to their teacher or principal and see how much they listen to you. I understand that everyone can’t train up their own child in the way they want them to go but maybe if you start thinking about what you really, really want for your child you might figure out how to free yourselves into a world of true learning in a state where the people are smart enough to pump their own gas.

If you’re homeschooling and you’ve just stuck school inside your house and are staying on “track” with an expensive co-op that is stressing you out. Stay tuned . . . . .


My Mom Doesn’t Play Games

Having written the title of my latest brilliance on my giant white board, my 16 year old walks past and says, “That isn’t about you is it?” When I responded yes, he looked at me enquiringly??? I said, “Of course it’s about me.” He looks waiting, waiting, waiting. . . Then I had to confess because as a homeschool mom he SEES what I do all day and he KNOWS I play games.

It is about me, it’s about what Troy said to me while I was sitting at my desk fixing to work. Troy is the 4 year old I watch and he innocently asked me what I was doing. I told him I was playing and game and he very matter-of-factly said, “My mom doesn’t play games.” Well of course your mom doesn’t play games! She works two jobs, is going to school and trying to buy a house!

So, once again I deleted the games I liked on my phone (of course leaving the dumb ones for the kids) and went one further and canceled our Direct TV. Take that baby and let’s all get outside and get stuff done! You know just reading that, that we’ve had a much better week this week because I’ve been on my real game which is moving the herd through the adventure of living a real life.

They creep up on you, those games, and before you know it you have a couple you “like” and you start planning your activities to get stuff done quickly while you’re waiting for the next “life” the game will give you. I know, I know, it’s not “life” but I’ll be honest and say I won’t entirely give them up but having this awesome reminder that I’m spending enough time wasting away again in gameville that a 4 year old notices and I get to delete everything and reboot is awesome.

The moral of the story is – if you’re stuck and someone points out you’re stuck be honest and get unstuck so you can play the real game in front of you.

Quote of the day – Mother Teresa – If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.

Designing Life

It’s not genetics or eugenics – it’s about what we actually have control over in our own lives. You and I designing a life we’d love to live. Think about it in this simple way:

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m not saying, don’t pay attention to the global macro world, or that you or your child didn’t end up with a genetic complication that is difficult. I am saying, if you live a thoughtful life; which means actually thinking about what you do based on a firm moral foundation, in light of a continuing understanding of the history of mankind, with a thought for the future of humanity (your children in particular) and the telos, the literal end of your life on this planet, then you’ll be working on the things you can change.

There is however, this thing we cannot change, even though our culture says it’s flexible and varies with the opinion of the day. There are, in life, a set of firm moral principals that humanity has operated on successfully throughout the ages, cultures and as individuals.

C.S. Lewis says it best here:

“The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retained. The effort to refute it and raise a new system of value in its place is self-contradictory. There has never been, and never will be, a radically new judgment of value in the history of the world. What purport to be new systems or…ideologies…all consist of fragments from the Tao itself, arbitrarily wrenched from their context in the whole and then swollen to madness in their isolation, yet still owing to the Tao and to it alone such validity as they posses.”

Can you look around you and see the “swollen to madness” level our culture achieved in a seemingly short time? We seem to have convinced ourselves that we don’t need a moral foundation. When I heard this quote,  “We’ve exchanged morality for psychology.” it really struck a chord with me. It seems to explain why our world is in such a mess! We can’t undo this moral value system and function as a society because the moral foundation isn’t about how we feel. Good and evil aren’t based on my feelings about them, they are what they are. I’ve been waiting to come across someone that says there is no moral absolute, everyone gets to decide for themselves. In my imagination I slap them in the face and tell them I decided that was okay. Which we all know instinctively is NOT OKAY! So, we can’t change genetics, we can’t change basic moral structures, then what is the first thing we can change?

It’s the choice to select the spring board that we use as our moral foundation because out of that flows the abundance of the heart and life of a person. Our family has chosen Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man distinctly NOT satan’s brother, not just a good man or a great teacher but our personal Lord and Savior. Every decision we make comes out of our limited knowledge of the call to follow Christ and to be an example in word, in conduct and in faith. We are not flawlessly perfect and that doesn’t make us hypocrites, just imperfect. We are constantly seeking God for His unique direction for our lives and the main thing we’ve learned is that a God directed life includes inviting people into our lives. Success isn’t about toys, money, vacations, or houses but rather the depth of genuine relationships we share with others.

How do you find those people? As much as I like the idea that I can  “rail against the machine”  I’ve come to the conclusion that there are just too many stinkin’ people who go along to get along and it’s best if I just stay outside the machine, with those who are already there with me, and call others to join us. George Orwell might refer to us as the “grey people” who don’t participate with Big Brother or for the younger crowd here you could say we were born divergent. I think I’m looking for a life designed more after St. Patrick’s ecclesiastical monasteries where people gathered and there was a rich life of learning and teaching about real things.

Designing a Life is a term I’ve heard my brother Les Herron use for a number of years and it’s been rolling around in my brain (a very busy constantly thinking brain) and when I combined that with Dr. Larry Hunt’s lessons on Greek, Hermeneutics, and Homiletics I realized what we were doing and what we wanted to be doing weren’t the same thing. Not that we’re doing bad things per se but we weren’t heading in the direction we intended to go because we were allowing the daily choices to overtake the end goals.

It’s not that we haven’t constantly adjusted our lives based on jobs, locations, interests etc., just not with the end in mind. As we gather speed toward that end we’re rethinking the design. Our very first grandbaby is 2 1/2 so one of our main changes is based on the idea that we want to be around for her for a long time. We realized we had a very serious design flaw in our life which was eating too much junk and not staying fit, which leads us to a series of other questions about how we do life.

How can we eat better? Organic and clean food is expensive! Yet once we decided to do that we started comparing and you see that if you cut your food intake in 1/2 you can afford the 20% increase in the price of better food. You realize that one 12 oz clean soda for a treat is actually cheaper than the 32oz coke at What-a-burger. So you start exchanging those things. Do you see that? Designing the daily choices to fit into our Life Design.

Are you like us? Thinking this wasn’t the life you intended, too fat, too in debt, too lazy, too . . . . Not that it’s all bad, you’re just not as good as you wanted to be, you don’t have the friendships you wanted to have, you’re not enjoying what you do have. . . . . .

Join us as we continue through the process of Designing a Life We’d Love to Live