Losing My Religion: My Journey Away From Christianity

About 6 months ago, I came out on my blog, on Facebook, to my parents, friends, and family as an atheist. My post was rather sparse. And, I've never felt the need to expand further until recently. Recently, a friend shared a completely mis-informed, atheist-bashing post riddled with mis-information on Facebook. It breaks my heart to hear a old, once close and dear friend refer to me as "the enemy". I assure you I'm nobody's enemy. I'm the same person I have always been. In fact, had I not come out on my blog, I don't think anyone would have know I was an atheist. in fact, I doubt anyone could have told you that 3 years ago I stopped believing in God.

I think it's time to share more about how I went from a devout Catholic to an atheist. Here's my journey. And, for those hesitant, know that I explain the process that led to my deconversion, but I leave out all ideas that have led me to where I am. Those interested in the ideas that drew me away can access the same information through the links I provide.

My Religious Roots
I spent the past 33 years as a Catholic. I was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant. I went to church every Sunday with my family. Did I like going to church? Well, not really. I don't think any kids really enjoyed going to church. It was just something we did because we had to. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. As a young girl, I wanted to be a nun. There was nothing more that I wanted to do than be good... to be with God, and to go to heaven. In fact, there was a portion of my life where I actually thought I might be Mary. Getting to heaven was my ultimate goal... a contest of goodness to me, and I was destined to win it.

My Love Of Religion
In high school, I was a regular at all of the "youth group" outings and events. It was a ridiculous amount of fun, and I loved being around the more religious people in our Catholic school. But that still wasn't enough for me. I even took extra theology classes outside of the school - just for fun. Well, it indeed was fun. I LOVED those classes. And, we did learn some "secret" info in those classes as well. It was here I was introduced to the fact that there was more history to my religion than simply what was in the bible.

Attending college was my first secular school experience. However, I didn't that deter me from continuing to learn about religion. I was used to religion class on a daily basis, and school without it felt strange. So, at this time, I had begun to take a comparative religions class. I did it mostly to make sure I was following the "right" religion. Well, as it turns out they don't teach you the "right" religion on those classes... but just a lot about different religions. I was bummed not to know for sure what the right path was, but I did enjoy learning about different religions. Little did I know, learning about other religions on an equal playing field was where the first cracks in the foundation of my faith had begun.

Life After College
Soon after graduating from college, I got married on the beach in The Bahamas, without realizing how bad it was to do such a thing in the eyes of the church. After I got married, I didn't go to church, but still felt I was a Catholic. Based on what I had seen, that's how Catholics do it. You go to church when you're a kid, and when you get old, but take those middle years off to give yourself a break from it all.

As a college graduate, I began working, and listening to many audiobooks during my long commute to and from work. One of which was The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. It was with this book that I truly began to question my faith. It presented many facts. A few that stand out to me today is how religion started - as a way for people to deal with the fact that they were killing food in order to eat. Having a god to thank made them feel better about taking the life of a living creature. Also, it stands out to me that all people who worship God all worship the same god... no matter if they decide to call him Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah, Allah, God, etc. In a nutshell, the author feels that religion makes people feel good, so we should tolerate, as a hard-wired characteristic of our species, the fact that we like to make up stories about the meaning of life and our place in the universe. Not exactly what I was hoping to read in a book titled The Case for God.

Unbeknownst to me, more cracks were forming in the foundation of my faith, but I had no idea at the time. I was left in shock and awe of this book, but still a firm believer.

Indoctrination 
Upon getting pregnant, and decided that I wanted to have my child baptized in the Catholic faith. I was still a firm believer in heaven and hell, and in no way wanted my child going to hell. As hard as I had worked to get to heaven so far, you better believe I was going to make sure my kids where there with me in heaven. So, I went through the appropriate classes to have my marriage recognized by the Catholic church. Apparently, I wasn't allowed to have my son Baptized until I was "married in the church". My husband (an atheist from birth) thought it was silly, but he went through with the whole thing because it was so important to me at the time. I wanted my son to be baptized, for fear if he didn't he would go to hell.

Cracks Become Canyons
When my son was around 2, we cancelled our cable and started using Netflix to save money. It was upon watching The God Who Wasn't There on Netflix that I first decided that God, in fact, wasn't there. The cracks that had been slowly forming since my freshman year in college had become canyons. It was when I decided in my mind that everything I had learned and practiced my entire life was nothing but a big waste of my time. It's when the fairy tale of God and religion ended for me. After that, a few religion documentaries on Netflix (Zeitgeist, Lost Gospels or False Gospels?, Religulous, and a few others) sealed the deal for me. Combine that with a few visits to http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism , and there was really no going back for me.



The Man Behind The Curtain
I never chose to stop believing in God. Rather, it was a side-effect of the knowledge I had gained. It's really similar to when I find out that my parents were really Santa. Once you find out, there's no going back. There are just some things you can't un-learn.

Remember in the Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulls back the curtain, revealing that The Great & Powerful Oz was just a regular guy creating an illusion of something more? It's like that. She didn't want to know the truth about the Wizard of Oz, but she accidentally did. That's what happened to me. I never wanted to find out God wasn't real, but I did. And, once I did, there's simply no going back.

 

Accepting Atheism
I've been considering myself an atheist for about 3 years. I really identified with the deconversation videos of Evid3nc3. He really put my thoughts and my personal experiences into words. I really couldn't say it any better than he had.



I also have grown to greatly appreciate the beautiful, poetic, politically incorrect work of Tim Minchin.







So, that's the story of how I became an atheist. If you are personally convinced that any gods exist, what personally convinces you? Leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one.



Reading, Writing, Golfing, Painting, and More!

Phoenix, Ariana and I have been quite busy lately. Not in that too-busy way, but in that doing-fun-stuff kind of way. Here's a little snapshot of what we've been up to over the last 3 months! :)  

Zevia Zero Calorie Soda Giveaway

I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms MeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetsSM blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.


Zevia is the original naturally sweetened, zero calorie soda with no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. This tasty treat comes in 15 familiar, favorite flavors including Cola, Black Cherry, Cream Soda, Grapefruit Citrus and Ginger Ale. Consider it the smarter soda go-to for you and your family. Zero calories, naturally sweetened and delicious; Zevia is the soda trifecta of awesomeness.

Just the facts

• Zevia Zero Calorie Soda is sweetened naturally with a unique blend of high purity Stevia (grown right here in the US!) and Monk Fruit.
• Zevia comes in 15 different flavors, including Ginger Root Beer, Strawberry, Cherry Cola, and many more.
• This soda contains no calories, sugar or artificial sweeteners.
• No worries! It’s totally Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten-Free!
• The retail price for a 6-pack of Zevia ranges from $3.99 to $5.99.

Our Thoughts

First, I gotta say that I'm obsessed with diet pop, and tend to have one a few times a week. I'm also getting pretty hardcore with my workouts and diet in preparation for my upcoming Spartan Race, so a zero calorie soda fits in perfectly with my lifestyle.

Creme Soda - This sweet, creamy soda is one of my favorites. I'm not sure how they get soda to taste so good with zero calories, but I'm a true fan. This is the one that has officially replaced all the other "diet" sodas in my home... this is the one that will become the new staple in our home.

Dr. Zevia - Ken said had the taste of a strong Mr Pibb, and loved it.

Strawberry - Crisp, clean, and refresshing that smells as good as it tastes.

Cola - The perfect cola that can easily become your new favorite.

Ginger Ale - Delicious ginger ale flavor that packs a delicious punch.

Grape - Phoenix says it tastes like his cough syrup, and he's right... in a good way. This flavor is everything you expect from a grape flavored soda.

Ginger Root Beer - While this is called ginger Root Beer, you'll most likely call it root beer. There's no strong ginger taste, just the root beer flavor you've grown to know and love.

Take the #ZeviaStyle Challenge!

Zevia wants to celebrate your unique voice by discovering what makes you an original! They’re hosting a style challenge designed to highlight your calling card, whether that’s kitchen wizardry, a killer fashion sense, or just being an all-around super mom. Zevia will be rewarding their community (and yours!) for winning style with $100 Target gift cards, oodles of soda, t-shirts, swag and so much more, every day for 22 days! The contest runs from Aug 14 - Sept 5. The best part? It’s super easy to enter! Simply post your original style pics to Instagram (@zevialife) or twitter (Zevia), tag Zevia and #ZeviaStyle and you’re done! For complete details, head over to zevia.com/stylecontest and don’t forget to include #ZeviaStyle in your posts to be sure your unique voice is heard! Need inspiration? Check out their #ZeviaStyle boards on Pinterest!

Learn more online

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Where to buy Zevia?

Chances are, there's a store selling Zevia near you. Check http://www.zevia.com/get-zevia to find out where to get your Zevia.

Win It

Five lucky readers will win a 6-pack of Zevia to try! just enter using the easy Rafflecopter for below. :)
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Ariana's 3rd Birthday Photos!

Today when I was looking over old posts, I realized that I never posted photos from Ariana's 3rd birthday! Gah! *slams palm to forehead* I suppose this is where I write about how big Ariana is getting, and how I get all teary-eyed when I think about her getting older, but to be honest, I don't. I feel thankful to have been here for her and watch her grow for the past 3 years. I've been a present, positive figure in her life, and I wouldn't change a thing about how the past 3 years have unfolded. Okay... that said... let's bring on those photos! :)









Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate and respond to each and every one. :)


Our Minimalist Bedroom Makeover Plans :)

It just occurred to me that it's been quite a while since I've had a what's-going-on-in-my-life post... so here it is. A bit of a glimpse into my day today.

Ken and I have been looking on and off at getting a bigger house, as we tend to do a few times a year. In fact, we recently fell in love with a beautiful home that was a bit too far outside of our comfort zone as far as price goes. And, sure, while a new, huge house would be a lot of fun, the payments would mean sacrificing a lot. So, after much thought, we recently decided that it's in our best interest to stay in our current cozy home, and just make upgrades so it feels like those posh homes we tend to like so much. Ideally, we'd like to remodel the entire house, and turn it into our dream home, but for now, we're starting in the bedroom.

I've been following the minimalist movement for a while now, though we've yet to do more besides decluttering up until this point. (Having kids makes it a bit difficult to limit possessions too much.) Right now, the plan is to keep our bedroom very clean, modern, and minimal. I've been eyeballing a bedroom set/computer desk at Ikea that I'm pretty darn sure we'll be getting. 

MALM Ikea Bed - With Storage Drawers Underneath
SEVIO Ikea Chest/Dresser

Linnamon/Alex Ikea Computer Desk

We'll be painting the trim white, and have picked out a pretty grey that should go very well with the white furniture. They grey is Glidden's Medici Grey, aka Pebble Grey.


Oh, but these are big dreams. Right now, our bedroom is looking pretty rough. Okay, pretty rough is an understatement. If you happened to stop by our home today, this is what you'd see if you were to peek inside of our bedroom.






I'm really hoping that our bedroom makeover will give the room a nice, peaceful, serene, and clean look like the photo below. Wish us luck.. we'll need it! ;) 




What about you? Do you love your master bedroom, or would you like to zhush it up a bit? Feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate and respond to each and every one. :)

Spanish Learning Songs & 6 Tips for Ensuring Second Language Learning Success for Kids

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

With the official start of the new school year approaching, I'm finding myself yet again to finding how to incorporate fun and learning together in our home. I'm also working on getting a bit of a daily routine together, complete with lots of time devoted to fun things!

The first thing on our new homeschool routine is 8am music time. For us, this will be simply listening to music. I like to mix it up with a variety of kids music, which keeps things fun for Phoenix (5½ years old) and Ariana (3 years old). One of the newest cds I'm glad to have in our music collection is "¡Sabor!". The kids really enjoy listening to this fun, festive music, and I love that they're experiencing songs in Spanish. As an English-speaking family, I've found that language immersion through cds like this are the best way to familiarize my kids with other languages.

About ¡Sabor! Spanish Learning Songs


Get ready to shout "¡Sabor!" That’s what people call out in Spanish when they hear great music. Once children sample these playful original songs and beloved family favorites, they'll want to sing and dance to them again and again (and they’ll be learning Spanish as they do!)

From the producers of the award-winning CDs Cha, Cha, Cha and A Bailar! (Let's Dance!), comes this festive new collection of interactive Spanish learning songs with the emphasis on active, whether it's making animal noises, playing games, calling out responses, singing, or dancing.

Internationally beloved singer-songwriter Jorge Anaya and keyboardist Didier Prossaird are your musical guides to this fabulous fusion of world music styles, including cumbia, calypso, salsa, and merengue, that keep the Spanish language-learning party going. From “Uno, Dos y Tres” and “Mi Día (My Day)” to “En El Rancho de MacDonald (Old MacDonald)” and “Cuando Sea Grande (When I'm Big)”, each lively song introduces Spanish vocabulary for words and phrases children use every day. A Translation Guide is included, providing an easy reference for parents and teachers who are first-time learners of Spanish. Get ready to be immersed in irresistible rhythms and pulse-pounding beats, and get ready to shout, "¡Sabor!"



Recommended for children of all ages, ¡Sabor! retails for $14.99 and is available on iTunes and Amazon.com

You can also click here to listen to song clips for FREE.

For those looking to add more Spanish lessons, there are a variety of educational packages and resources available to meet your needs at http://www.whistlefritz.com/spanish-programs.html including. You can even download FREE lesson plans at http://www.whistlefritz.com/homeschool.html.

Six Tips for Ensuring Second Language Learning Success for Kids

Learning a second language in early childhood offers a lifetime of benefits for a child. Research shows that learning a second language at an early age has positive effects on a child's intellectual growth and cognitive development. It sharpens a child's overall literacy skills and helps the child develop a greater sensitivity to language, a better ear for listening, and a stronger appreciation for other cultures.

To ensure early second language learning success, parents and teachers should:

1.Expose children to a second language early when the brain is most receptive to language development. Research shows that a critical "window of opportunity" for language learning occurs in early childhood. During this period, children can learn a second language just as naturally as their first and with native-like fluency.

2. Skip the translation! While parents may be tempted to translate words into and out of English when teaching a second language, translation can actually delay a child's acquisition of a second language. Skipping the translation stage is the key to fluency. Children can achieve fluency more quickly and more permanently by learning words directly from images and context.

3. Teach children a second language using "immersion." Leading language experts have demonstrated that complete immersion in the second language (i.e. speaking and hearing only the second language for a period of time) is the most efficient and effective way to get children thinking and speaking a second language.

4. Expose children to a second language as spoken by native speakers. Children who are exposed early to a second language can develop a native-like fluency that adults and older children can never match. Parents who are not native speakers themselves can expose their children to the sounds of a native speaker through language classes, DVDs, and CDs.

5. Repetition is the key to language learning. Children need to be exposed to words repeatedly to gain mastery of them. Ideally, children should be exposed to similar words in different contexts (e.g. through songs, skits, poems, and stories) to build and reinforce the vocabulary.

6. Offer an immersion program that is compelling and kid-friendly! Whether introduced in the classroom, at home, or on DVD, a good language program should be able to entertain and educate young learners with themes, songs, stories and characters that are uniquely appealing to children. Captivating children's interest is essential to creating an environment that promotes an enjoyable and effective learning experience for children.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate and respond to each and every one. :)


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Super Savings On @Huggies #SnugandDryPlus At Costco! #MC and #Sponsored

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies® Brand. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

The cost of having a baby can add up pretty quick. One of the biggest costs is diapers, and that's why it's a huge help to seek out great diaper deals. For the month of August, when you buy Huggies® Snug &
Dry Plus Diapers and Huggies Natural Care® Plus Wipes at Costco, you'll get an instant savings of $6 off diapers and $5 off wipes! This is the perfect time to stock up on diapers of all sizes - you'll need them!

Not sure what size to stock up on the most? Both Phoenix & Ariana spent around 6 months in size 3... so I'd go with those. :)


Costco Members - Click HERE to register for a FREE sample of the Huggies® Snug & Dry Plus and Huggies Natural Care® Plus Wipes. Hurry and register now, there will be a limited number of samples each day while supplies lasts, so try back tomorrow if you aren't able get a sample today! You must be a Costco member to get a sample and limit 1 sample per household.

Be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest from huggies by following them on Twitter - @Huggies!

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment below. I appreciate and respond to each and every one. :)




LOTEDA: Gently Used Clothing - Perfect For Back-To-School!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Loteda for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
"Welcome to Loteda...our 4th baby. We've been fortunate to have three wonderful children in three years' time. As you can imagine, everyday is a new adventure and we look for any opportunity to save time and money.
One of the biggest challenges we’ve had as new parents is keeping up with our kids' clothes. They grow so fast and we're constantly shopping to keep up. We know we're not alone. Since free time and extra cash are things of our past, we sought a better way. We decided to create a marketplace that helps busy parents like us, save time and money.
With that, Loteda was born. It's a place for you to buy and sell your children's gently-worn clothing by the LOT. And by LOT we mean...a season's worth of clothing - one listing, one transaction."
- Anna & Josh Fendley, Co-founders 
Loteda is a new marketplace concept where parents can buy and sell Gently-used children’s clothing - by the lot. Save time and money by buying and selling an entire season’s worth of clothes in a single transaction. 
Sizes Newborn - 5T/5
How To Buy - Just go to Loteda, browses the collections, and buy your wardrobe in one simple transaction!
How to sell (DIY Option)
  1. Organize your outgrown, gently-worn clothing into lots. 
  2. Take a pic of each item, fill out a listing form, and Loteda will upload your lot.
  3. Once your lot sells, Loteda will send you a prepaid shipping bag.
  4. Drop it in the mail & recieve a check for 90% of the sale price.
How to sell (Full Service Option)
  1. Request a free prepaid shipping bag
  2. Fill it up & send it back. 
  3. Loteda will organize, photograph, and ship your lots for you.
  4. Once your lot sells, you'll recieve a check for 60% of the sale price.
Loteda photo 31a75b93-73d8-47b0-b610-ba4affb1519f_zpsbeea4f95.png
COUPON CODE: 20% off your total purchase. Use code: Summer20. Expires 8/31/2014
FUN FACT:
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SELLERS (i.e. those who have a bin of outgrown clothes sitting in the closet)
1. Earn more money:
Most consignment/resale shops and sites payout 10-40% of resale price 
At Loteda: 
Sellers who list themselves (i.e. self-service), earn 90% of resale price 
Sellers who have Loteda list for them (i.e. full-service), earn 60% of resale price
2. Convenient: 
Loteda takes the hassle out of selling online: 
Pricing - Loteda will calculate a competitive resale price based on the original retail value, condition/wear, style, season and number of pieces in each lot 
Transaction - Loteda will take care of accepting payment from the buyer and will quickly cut the seller a check once the buyer receives their lot 
Shipping - Loteda will send a prepaid shipping kit once the lot sells. All the seller has to do is fill the bag and set it out for their mail carrier
3. Save time: 
For those parents who don’t have time to list themselves, Loteda will send out a free, prepaid shipping bag. Stuff it full of your children’s clothes and send it back for Loteda to list for you.
SHOPPERS (i.e. those who wish they knew someone giving away a bin of outgrown clothes)
1. Save money: 
Every listing is 70-90% off retail price (thanks to economies of scale (i.e. buying in bulk)) 
Shipping is included in the list price 
2. Save time: 
Buy all of next season’s clothes in one transaction 
Don’t spend hours sifting through overstuffed racks at local resale shops, consignment sales, etc. 
3. Convenient: 
Photo, brand name and the condition are provided for each item in the lot 
Returns are easy if you feel the seller misrepresented the quality/condition of the clothes
I'm VERY excited to try out this and get some new fall clothes for kids! Who would you like to surprise with clothes from Loteda? Leave a comment below. :)
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Random Outbursts Of Science

This story was originally posted in September 2013.

Right now, since Phoenix is 4½ and technically still in preschool, my main goals are to work on reading and math. Everything else is very casual... and it seems that casual has been working great. Today, he blew my mind with two random outbursts of science. The first was when he told me that if there's a fire, you can put it out by putting carbon dioxide on it. Apparently it was something he had learned on Bill Nye The Science Guy earlier that day.  Was I impressed by his ability to recall the name of a chemical compound he heard mentioned on tv earlier? Absolutely! And then, later, while we were reading a book about elements before he went down for his nap, he pointed to a picture of fireworks and asked, "Mom, is that a supernova?" "No, those are fireworks," I told him. "But do they spread elements like a supernova?" he asked.


  carl-sagan-star-stuff

My jaw hit the floor. Months ago, I explained to him that supernovas were stars that had exploded... and that is where the stuff that makes up everything in the universe comes from. When they explode, they send elements out into the universe that end up turning into things... planets... and people. I explained how we are all made of stardust, and that the stuff that makes up his right arm might have come from a different exploding star than the stuff that makes up his left arm. Complex for a 4-year-old? You bet. But, he's a bit into science and astronomy, so I figured there's no harm in introducing some pretty cool things to him. What blew my mind is that months after explaining this to him, it was fresh in his head, like I had just told him yesterday. The boy has a craving for science like nothing I've ever seen, and I'm looking forward to making sure he learns everything he wants to. Oh yeah, because that bedtime book about elements? That was a specific request of his.


PS - For those interested in learning more about how we're all made of stars, check out "How the Universe Works ". It beautifully tells the story of how stars were made by the universe and they then went on to engineer everything else in that very universe. Stars changed the Universe by spawning further generations of stars, then planets and eventually the building blocks of life.

The Coolest Scientist In America Has Some Terrific Advice For Parents

I absolutely adore Neil deGrasse Tyson. He's an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, the author of Space Chronicles, Pluto Files, Inexplicable Universe, the host of the StarTalk Radio podcast, and has been on tv a ridiculous amount of times on shows like NOVA, and The Jon Stewart Show. If I had to ask him one question, it would be, "How do I get my kids interested in science?" Well, it turns out that many parents want to know the same thing. His answer couldn't be more perfect. :)

   
I think this advice is perfect - and really speaks to me as a parent in general, but especially as a homeschooling parent. In fact, it's what seems to be echoed by nearly every book specifically about unschooling that I read. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to let go as much as unschoolers do, but perhaps it's something I need to focus a bit more. :) Love this post? Share the love on Facebook, Pintrest & Twitter. :)

That's all for now. :) Feel free to leave a comment below. As always, I read and respond to each and every one. :)

The Unschooling Unmanual {Book Review}

This article was originally published in 2013. With school time right around the corner, I thought this would be a perfect time to revisit this article.

Ever since deciding to homeschool, I've learned quite a bit about homeschooling in general. I listen to podcasts, read blogs, and have even read a few books about the subject matter. Part of the reason why I wanted to homeschool was to tailor Phoenix's education to his learning style. I didn't want to replicate the school environment at home. I wanted to do something different... but I had no idea what that something different was. Well, that all changed when I discovered a new homeschool method called unschooling. What Is Unschooling? It's different things to different people. To me, it means allowing Phoenix to learn at his own pace about things that interest him in ways that interest him. It means I don't sit him at a table to do workbooks. He doesn't enjoy learning that way. What he does enjoy is being read to, talking to people, exploring his world, using his imagination, and watching television.

Yes, despite this relaxed learning method, he is learning more than ever! The other day, while we were eating dinner, Phoenix said, "Hey Dad, Jupiter is a planet with a lot of storms. They crash and bash, and there's big lightning." I looked an Ken with a big smile and asked, "Impressive, huh?" "Uh-huh," was his reply. I was shocked he wasn't more impress with Phoenix's random burst of knowledge, so when I asked him about it later that night, he said that he didn't know if Phoenix was just saying things, not really knowing what he was talking about. I told Ken he knew a bit of what he was talking about. Certainly he knew that storms existed... and that they can happen on other planets. After a bit more prodding with Ken, the truth came out. Ken didn't know about the storms on Jupiter, so thought Phoenix was just talking jibberish. But, it wasn't jibberish at all! This was stuff Phoenix knows... even as a 4-year-old. How? Well, I read to him from Atlas of the Universe. We have an Outer Space Science Kit he likes to play with. He also has a solar system placemat. We've also been to the planetarium once. I don't force him to learn about this stuff... I just surround him with opportunities to learn, and he takes what he can from them. To me, that's what unschooling us about.
Recently, I read The Unschooling Unmanual, and found it to be very inspirational as a new homeschooler. If you're considering homeschooling, unschooling, or if you're around children on a regular basis, I highly recommend it. At only 88 pages, it's an easy read that will certainly change how you look at how children learn. The book can be summed up in this quote by John Holt:
"Little children love the world. That is why they are so good at learning abut it. For it is love, not tricks and techniques of thought, that lies at the heart of all true learning. Can we bring ourselves to let children learn and grow through that love?" - John Holt
This book isn't your typical how-to book. It doesn't give you activities to do or things to try. It gives you eleven bite-size bits of inspiration in various categories. It covers how it is natural for children to be with their families, and it's natural for families to want to teach their own children. The book really emphasizes how children are truly natural learners, and I've already seen this myself. It's not uncommon for Phoenix to bust out some addition or subtraction figuring out how many people there are at the dinner table. He's always testing out his reading skills and memorization skills when we're in the car.

This book also me confidence. It gave me confidence to follow my heart & choose my own path for my family. It gave me confidence in knowing that just because most people send their children to school at age 4 doesn't mean that I have to. It gave me the tools to see that, yes, despite not going to school, my son can still learn! In fact, he learns more when he's not being forced or bribed to learn. He learns more when he doesn't think he's learning. Maybe I'll unschool forever. Maybe it'll only last until tomorrow. Either way, I feel confident in knowing that it's what's right for us today. At age 4 & 1½, I think the most important thing to do is just meet the needs of my children's interests. I'll read to them, take them to library story times, go on nature walks, go the park, meet with friends, etc... and enjoy life with my children every minute along the way. :)

  I love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Leave a comment letting me know. :)

Phoenix's Stop Smoking Campaign

So, Phoenix isn't a fan of smoking. It's nothing we've ever really preached to him as parents. He figured out it was pretty bad on his own. After all, every time we walk into a building, there's a No Smoking sign on the door. Today, he told me he wanted to get everyone to stop smoking. So, I fully encouraged him, and even videotaped the message for his stop smoking campaign. You're never to young to start making a difference, and I fully want to support him in what he wants to do.

Here is his video. He's planning on making signs that will be available for download soon. So, please share this, and help make his dream a reality. :)


 
"Stop smoking please. You're spreading germs and diseases."

- Phoenix Brown 




$50 Costco Giveaway! #SnugandDryPlus #MC #Sponsored @Huggies

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies® Brand. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Do you love Costco? Well,you've come to the right place! I'm giving my readers the chance win a $50
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Of course, as an official Huggies Costco Ambassador, I suggest trying out the Huggies® Snug & Dry Plus Diapers and Huggies Natural Care® Plus Wipes which are only available at Costco. I love that the diapers have a SnugFit waistband and unique Grip Tabs for a secure fit. And the wipes? Phenomenal! They're thick and durable enough to tackle any mess. With products like these, Costco really is a great place to stop for all of your baby needs. I've tried quite a few baby wipes over the years, and I can say without a doubt that Huggies wipes are by far the best baby wipes I've ever used.

Costco Members - Click HERE to register for a FREE sample of the Huggies® Snug & Dry Plus and Huggies Natural Care® Plus Wipes. Hurry and register now, there will be a limited number of samples each day while supplies lasts, so try back tomorrow if you aren't able get a sample today! You must be a Costco member to get a sample and limit 1 sample per household.


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What Losing 12 Lbs Really Looks Like

Ever since Ariana was born 3 years ago, I've been struggling to get my body back into shape. I'll admit that weight loss isn't easy after having two kids, but I'm finding out that it is possible.  I've been working out at the gym for the past year, around 4-5 days a week. I had also spent the past 5 years as a vegetarian, which has given me some results, but nowhere near what I wanted to be. So, recently, I made a few major changes, and they seem to be working.

First, I started going to a trainer once a week. I think this has played a pretty significant role in getting into better shape. You can read about what exercises to do in what order, but until someone shows you how to do them properly, you're really not getting as much out of your workout as you should.
I also recently started eating meat again in an attempt to add a healthier variety of proteins to my diet while cutting back on grains and grain-based products like bread, cereal, pasta, crackers, chips, etc. Ideally, my goal is to eat 100 grams of carbs a day, though I'm not quite there yet. I've found to be nearly impossible to stay under 100 grams of carbs a day while on a vegetarian diet. 

I've officially been working with a trainer for about 10 weeks now, and I became an omnivore two months ago. Today, I had Ken take a progress picture of me, as I try to do every few weeks. And, while scrolling through my ipod, I just so happened to find an old progress picture taken just about a year ago. I've only lost 12 pounds, but my body has certainly become leaner and stronger. A year ago, I felt hopeless. Now, I feel strong, fit, and proud!



I'm not yet where I'd like to be, but I'm certainly proud of the long way I've came so far. :) 

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