Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unschooling-Friendly Zines

While supplies last, click on the image of Misfit Zine at the top of the blog to order your very own copy of my unschooler-friendly zine!

This zine has received rave reviews, but unfortunately, I have limited quantities left because I have decided to take my cartooning and writing to a new website I'm building, instead!

If you go to my etsy shop and see that my zines are gone, feel free to let me know and I can sell you some directly over email.


Oh, and P.S. let me know if you know of any other unschoolers who do blogs, please.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Stress, Money, and Unschooling

Well, well, well. It seems that the "recession" is finally affecting us. Not only did my husband have to take an out-of-state job he is totally overqualified and underpaid for, but now he's got a 2-month space between jobs, is ineligible for unemployment, and we have no insurance and a son who likely has Lyme disease. With the upcoming move to Wisconsin almost upon us, I feel like quoting an excellent book I just read, called Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley:

It has been well documented that adversity ratchets up parents' levels of anxiety. Worries about being unemployed, about losing housing, about where the next meal is coming from do nothing good for parental care. To the contrary, the anxiety and depression that trying conditions induce tend to make parents harsh and inconsistent disciplinarians, even neglectful and abusive. (This is not to say that all parents who live in poverty, in illness, or in dangerous conditions react this way). This is precisely the kind of parenting that can enhance a child's stress reactivity, explains Meaney: "The anxiety of the parents is transmitted to the children." Being poor, jobless, or homeless induces a physiological stress response in adults, which is somehow transmitted to the children. Although that "Somehow" remains to be worked out in detail. Meaney's two decades of studies on how maternal behavior in rats influences the temperament of their offspring points in one direction: parental behavior may alter the expression of genes in their children. In this way, says Meaney, "the effects of poverty on emotional and intellectual development in children are mediated by the parent."

Really, I just like this quote because it makes me feel better because a. it makes me feel like it's NO WONDER I'm stressed and crabby with the kids sometimes. And b. it reminds me of why I have no interest in living hand-to-mouth anymore. That was okay for the last fifteen years, but I'm all done with that now, thank you.

Last summer we were homeless, somewhat voluntarily, but it wasn't until the last few weeks, when we really didn't know where we were going to go next, that we suspected it might be affecting the kids in a negative way. Of course so much depends on the perceptions of the parents. I intend to ride this "problem" out smoothly. I've got a good handle on the packing, and although we have not signed a lease for our new place, we have a good feeling about it. And it looks like I'll be going back to work one way or another, and that's okay, too. Kind of exciting, really.

I don't really feel like writing about unschooling today, because first and foremost on my mind is "how on earth are we going to pay rent?" But maybe that's an extracurricular lesson in itself. If I have a good attitude about it, I could even discuss it with my six-year-old. Having read Rich Dad, Poor Dad (with an open mind), I think it might be a fun activity for us to brainstorm ways to come up with the $3500 we think we will need over the next two months. Fun, fun, fun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Blog Won an AWARD!

I won an Honest Scrap Award!!

This is the first award I've won since the 1980s!

I got this award from writer Carrie Pomeroy, of Riding Shotgun and Play School fame! I am so honored!

This award is given to bloggers who:

1) write soul-bearingly, thus exposing themselves to possible ridicule
2) have blogs that are "brilliant" in either content or design


All recipients of the award are asked to list ten honest things about themselves. I think I can do that:

1. I named this blog Unschooling is Dreamy in order to manifest a dreamy life. At the time of its inception, we had just moved into our loft apartment after a summer of homelessness. It was hard enough to exist, but on top of that I had the sudden panic of "oh my god, I just realized I am totally responsible for my child's entire education - what have I DONE??"

Fortunately I quickly got over this, as soon as I realized every parent in the world actually has the same responsibility, ultimately. I'm just one of the lucky few who knows it.

So far, this blog has done its job of helping me keep on the straight and narrow with my positive unschooling thoughts.

2. Most of the time I have absolutely no idea why I am doing this blog. Sometimes when I'm driving in my car, I remember something I wrote on here and I am mortified. Then I come home and delete it. If I remember.

3. I have been paying the library about $100 per year in fines. I used to feel that at least this was a donation to charity; however I was just informed that it goes into a giant pool of taxpayer money, and probably goes to fund highways or something. And I don't even *like* highways.

4. I absolutely cannot stand it when someone hands me an eating utensil with a sticky handle.

5. I love hypocrisy. It just goes to show you how adorable people can be.

6. I also love Tootsie Rolls, candy corns, and Twizzlers. What these all have in common is that they are all solely made up of some kind of sugar, some kind of wax, and some kind of artificial color. Pure poison!

7. I hate having to read blogs online. I did a zine for 8 years because I love to work with actual real, tangible things. I miss zining already! But I don't miss doing all that work and losing money and having nobody read them.

8. My "what I could have been" career is a rock musician. And maybe also a Flamenco dancer. I have no talent or experience in either of these things in my "real life." But that's okay. I'm figuring it out.

9. I used to bite my toenails when I was little. Now my son does it, too. It really horrifies my husband, but actually I get a little misty, myself. He's a real chip off of me.

10. I believe that almost any problem can be solved by a long walk along the water's edge and a cup of coffee. Or alternately, a 90-minute yoga class and a couple of dirty Tanqueray martinis.

Also, I as an Honest Scrap recipient, I must pass the award on to other blogs . I therefore nominate Soulemama, which is an awesome crafts/family/photography/unschooler blog I check in with whenever I need a little inspiration. I think it's brilliant in content *and* design, and I also love how its author, Amanda Soule, is willing to so casually share so much of her family life with strangers.

I also nominate a new blog I found called Unschool Days, which has lots of bad-ass political unschooler attitude woven in and amongst the regular stuff. The best is her letter of resignation from a New Jersey school district.

And now, I'm off to bask in my own awesomeness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ceramics at Last

Well, after 6 years of being without a clay studio, I finally had to break down and let Ezra learn how to do ceramics from *someone else*. He asked to take a clay class, and I had really wanted to teach him myself, seeing as I have 27 years of clay experience under my belt. But was I really going to go dig out all those supplies in some relative's storage unit? Or drive the little breakables all the way to North Minneapolis to be fired? No, fortunately I was saved by Eileen Cohen, ceramist extraordinaire, who happens to live in the building next door and has many more credentials than even I have - which is a relief. I feel that Ezra is in good hands.

As an extra bonus, she gave him some clay to take home early, to "practice" and so I got to be the first one to show him how to make things, after all. First he wanted to do a tiny little mug (we had less than a pound of clay) and then he made a little cat sitting on a stool. Very cute! I feel fulfilled, and now Ezra gets to take a whole class from a real pro.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Being Happy vs. Being Right

The circus came to town last month - and parked right outside our window. I thought it would be really exciting to take the kids to Cirque du Soleil - after all, I've always wanted to go myself, and Ezra has been enrolled in circus classes off and on for a couple of years. (I admit I live vicariously through him - I wish I were a fire dancer!)

Once we saw that the tent was blocking our view of the Mississippi, however (and the view is one of the main reasons we moved into this apartment), and were informed that the music would be very loud, and would last 'til 10:30 p.m. almost every night for 8 weeks, and once we realized that they specially positioned the spotlights to shine right into our bedroom windows all night long. . . well, I thought maybe we should all get tickets for free.

My husband went to a meeting, where he was placated by some superior-types, and told that such a request "sounded reasonable." He was also told they'd adjust the lights.

But no such luck - we soon received word that all St. Paul "neighbors" would receive 50% off the tickets - even people who live far enough away that they are not affected by the noise, traffic, lighting, or view blockage. We had a few days to act on this discount deal. The days ticked by. I had been planning on writing a heartfelt letter to someone - but to whom?

Finally, I realized that holding out for my free tickets could take another month, drive me insane, and end up fruitless. Yes, it's true, I could work on manifesting the tickets, but I tried manifesting big things last summer and I just ended up homeless.

So, I decided I'd rather be Happy than Right. I just bought tickets for myself and my six-year-old. I feel guilty not taking my almost three-year-old, but the children's tickets are $29 each, even with the discount and not including the "shipping" fee (of emailing it to me) or whatever other surcharges they slap on there.

For this I will deprive myself of a haircut, a lot of coffee, and many other things. But I just had to go and see the circus. I might be a doormat, but at least I can look out the window for the next five weeks and have an association with a show, and not just a big, imposing tent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Toy Removal, The New Addiction

First we put a bunch of toys away in our new storage unit. Then I kept sending my husband over with more loads of them. Mind you, it's been 2 or 3 months and the kids haven't even noticed. Now we have so many fewer that we can actually keep them all picked up!! And I'm packing up even more. . . little by little we are returning to sanity and I think there is no coincidence. . .

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mama's Adventures

Hmmm. . . Just found this post in the Drafts.


Well, I already have so many requests for what to post on - but I have to begin somewhere.

I will post someday about the process of unschooling I've been going through since college.

But for now I'm going to describe what's been going on around the house lately - as far as me.

Last fall we moved into an artists' co-op. Partly, I must admit, we did this because the apartments are huge and gorgeous and you can ride bikes in them and hang swings and ladders from the ceiling. But mostly we did it because I felt like I needed to pull myself together as an artist, and the time was *ripe* - now or never, it seemed. And it has turned out to be an excellent decision - one we almost didn't make on account of our children "needing" a yard and a neighborhood, but now I can definitely see how this place, and the people in it, and the experiences they are having living downtown, are just as beneficial. Not to mention that I am *not* going insane, which I definitely would have otherwise.

Anyway, next month is the Spring St. Paul Art Crawl. We moved in just before the fall one, so I did not participate, though I easily could have, I now see! I decided to set some goals for myself for participating in the art crawl as a cartoonist and zinester. I have not participated in any art shows or sales (save one extremely depressing zine show) since before Ezra was born, and my medium was always clay - and now it's paper.

So, I've been sort of frantically trying to figure out what to make, how I'm going to get it done, and how I can possibly pull it off with a 7-year-old Mac, a semi-broken printer that was not meant for artwork reproduction, and a broken scanner (now replaced, thank God!)

The process of zine-making (especially my zine) is extremely time-consuming and crazymaking. And I'm trying out a lot of new "products" as well - t-shirts, matchbook notebooks, greeting cards, little cartoon books, blank books, and whatever else I can crank out before April 24. Fortunately I'm sharing my display space (a.k.a. our home) with my friend Brie from Viroqua - she is going to make "eco-friendly wearables" which will help fill the vast amount of space we have in here.

I feel so wistful. I am going crazy now. What happened? Well, the art crawl was not all that I had dreamed. Somehow the disappointment over not being able to get done what I wanted to get done (only ended up getting done an "almost-double issue" of my zine, and a little book about cats that was ill-received by everyone but ONE enlightened shopper. *Sigh*.

But we have just found out we are moving to Wisconsin. . . so, time to regroup and reassess! I am excited to decide what the next segment of my life will be about. The singleness of purpose (relatively speaking) since moving into this downtown co-op has been extremely invigorating. I can't wait to see what I'll move on to next!