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Sunday, September 5, 2010

I've Hit the Road- Come with Me!

Due to some technical issues with Blogger, I've moved my blog to Wordpress. There's a new post there already!

Don't forget to sign up to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.

Oh- and it's got a new name- The Unschool Bus. Hop on to hear the rants of the Unschool Bus driver at:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Overhaul has begun

So we have been super busy making changes in our new RV and getting it "Fulltime" ready.  It started with converting the closet in the rear of the RV to bunks, then painting and pulling up all the older flooring throughout.  This first picture on the right is the RV as it is parked in front of our house one of many times as we continue to get it ready

In this picture (left), I ponder how to convert this closet space in the back to bunks for Elijah and Sadie.  Sarah and I wanted to not only have a decent size bunk for them to sleep on, but one that included a storage place for their toys/dolls and a space that would be able to have a privacy curtain as well when they want their own space.

 The build out commences:

Much more has been done since the bunks were completed at this point, but we have been a bit behind in posting the progress photos.  To this point, we just need to add a few finishing touches to the bunks, we have installed the new laminate wood flooring throughout the entire RV, all walls have been painted, old curtain fixtures removed, couch/dinette covered in new fabric, and floor finish work is underway.  The picture below is a view of what it looked like when we got it.  Stay tuned for pictures of what it is looking like now!
Next steps are to configure electronic devices, finish work, and potential Vegetable Oil conversion. New TV's and wireless internet booster antennas for both WiFi and 3G/4G are in scope soon.

So much to do, so little time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Life shift, everything coming into place

So it has been a long time in the making, but I am finally free from the corporate bonds that were holding our family back from being free to a family.  For the past year or so Sadie would ask why I continue to work a job I don't like when I always talk about doing what you love, and follow your interests.  I knew it always felt hypocritical, but all I could respond with is that "daddy needs to work this job in order for us to have the things we have."

We came to realize that I don't need to be a slave to a job I don't like because we found we actually don't "need" all the "things" we have.  Sarah and I started downsizing our possessions over the course of the last year (sold a car, stopped buying the latest gadgets, getting things we needed from free cycle or second hand shops).  I can remember not too long ago when we would just go to the store to buy anything we needed brand new and how much money gets thrown away like that.  We decided in order for us to all be free, and for me to get out of this job, we needed to make changes.  Turns out, it really isn't that hard.....

About 4 months ago, it became clear to me that my job was going to be outsourced, and that my time to be let go by my employer of 12 years was going to come to fruition.  I could not have been happier.  No, seriously....  We put a plan in motion that included selling our home, buying a 39 foot Class A RV, selling our possessions (minus what we are taking in the RV and a car to tow behind it), and finding online teaching jobs at a few Universities to provide income while our family travels the country. 

The day arrived a few weeks ago when those of us who were being let go would be asked to come to an office one by one to be delivered the news.  I had a literal hop in my step as I got the nod because I knew what we had been planning for had come to pass.  My employer made right with a very generous severance package, but unlike most receiving the news, it was exactly what I wanted....more importantly, it was exactly what I needed.  I was burned out, and I need to see and do more with my life.  Sarah and I have decided we are not going to wait until we are old and retired to see all their is to see in this world, and why should our kids have to wait to see it either.  Our unschooling mentality makes this a perfect fit for them as well.

At this point, we have our RV (we are doing constant daily work to get it fully ready for our travels (replacing flooring, painting, building in bunks for the kids, replacing old TV's, etc.).  Our house is under contract, and we are set to have an estate sale shortly as we approach our closing date.  Things are happening just as they need to.  I can't say how many people upon hearing of our plan say "Wow, I wish I could do that..."  To which I say, "Why can't you?"  It's not a question I really expect an answer from because I know most people will say it just wouldn't be feasible for them for any number of reasons, but the truth is people are often just afraid to try something for fear of failing.  We refuse to live that way.  There is nothing we can't do that we can't back out of down the road if we decide it is not working out.  What we know for certain is that if we don't live without trying and experiencing all we can, we will just miss out on the abundant opportunity that is out there.  I'm not willing to take that chance by clinging to a "safe" suburbia lifestyle.

I hope to be more active posting to the blog once we hit the road.  We are sure to have some amazing stops and things to share.  Here are a few pics of our rig parked at a campsite we took the first weekend.  Once we have the renovations done, I'm going to post a lot of before and after pictures.

Be safe all.  Your head will always try to get in the way, but remember to follow your heart.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free from corporate slavery

On an administrative note, I have retitled my blog accordingly. :-)

So this week, my job of 12 years came to an end and I couldn't be happier.  I have longed for this day to come as our family looks to embark on new adventures.  It is hard to describe how freeing it is to know I am not confined to a 6x6 prison cell every Mon-Fri for the rest of my adult life, living for the weekends and the occassional vacation trips.  I have refused to accept this as the "only way" to live. 

Our family has been cutting back expenses and material things for months now and we now just need for our house to sell. (Turns out we don't need a Lamborgini, golden toilet seats, and other excessive items).  Once that is complete we can set sail around the country in our Class A Diesel Pusher Rig and see and do so many new things.  This is not only a great opportunity for our kids to learn about things, it is a great way for Sarah and I as adults to learn about things we might not otherwise have a chance to be exposed to.

For those wondering how we might fund our adventures, it is really about getting creative.  Figure out what you have to offer and how you can do it remotely/online, etc. etc.  For me, I will be facilitating some online college courses asynchronously at a few different Universities.  (On a side note, this is the first time I can actually point to having my Master's degree as having any value other than extra insulation on my office wall).  Sarah continues her hard work on publishing her magazine as well as her Humans Being podcast and blog as other ways to provide enough to cover our reduced expenditures.  Who knows what other creative ways we will find from the road to help pay our way.  It's going to be fun!

The mood around here is one of excitement, although everyone is ready to get started.  And hey, if anyone knows someone in the DFW area looking for an excellent house with an OASIS type backyard, send them our way!  We are highly motivated to sell and strike a deal.

I hope to post more actively once we are on the road and we are out from underneath the weight of home bills.  It will also be a great opportunity to share pictures of our journey and hopefully to meet up with many of you other Freedom loving families.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guess what? Kids are human beings too....

I have been meaning to blog about this for the last few days but my fantastic job provided to me via my Public school and College Education has kept me a little too busy to do more of what I enjoy.

Since the firestorm that started after the Beigler family appeared on Good Morning America Monday morning, there has been a lot of press given to Unschooling.  Other than the first piece that GMA did, most of the press has been much more positive and done in a way to better understand what unschooling actually is.

A lot of the comments from uninformed people responding to these shows has really been comical in many respects.  Two of my favorites:

Q - How will your kids deal with bullies when they get into the real world if they don't go to school to learn how to handle those types of situations?

A - Bullies?  Really?  Maybe it's just me, but I can't remember the last time I had someone picking on me in the office, stealing my lunch, giving me wedgies, or calling me names.  Could be I'm just one of the fortunate ones, or it could be this is one of the dumbest arguments for why kids should attend school EVER. 

Look, I get that there are assholes of all ages and sizes.  As an adult you will and do encounter these people.  However, pranks such as what occur in a school system are not something that happens when you live in the "real" world.  When exposed to a situation where someone is being an ass, you have the ability to remove yourself from the situation.  Unlike in school, I don't have to stay somewhere I don't want when this type of ignorant behavior occurs.  I also don't keep friends that want to steal my lunch, give me wedgies, or call me names.  It's just not my thing.

Q - Without being in school, your kids won't learn how to socialize with others (insert "real world" here again for effect).  How do you expect them to function productively when they get out into the "real world?"  (I want to know where this real world is that some people are living in that my kids are not yet a part of.)

A - This is such an old dead belief regarding homeschooling as a whole.  Going to a public school and spending your entire day with kids your own age and socio-economic status is not socialization, but more like sheep herding.  The one individual that is somewhat different than the other students is the teacher (because of their age), but please don't expect to be able to socialize with them, because they are there to be your superior away from home. 

In our world (which apparently is not the same world that most others live in), our kids spend every single day socializing with kids of varying ages, race, color, economic status in addition to regular adult interaction.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me how amazing it is to watch my kids speak with adults....well I would have left this day job a long time ago....  I mean, imagine that, they actually look the adult in the eye and hold a conversation.  They do this because they are human beings and they have no reason not to expect the same respect from an adult as they would from another child.  I'd love to take credit for it when complimented, but it really just feels normal.  I'll hold off on patting myself on the back.

A common reaction I am seeing from a lot of unschoolers is whether they should be excited about this press or scared?  To me this is absolutely exciting.  Since I know what we do is so right for our family and so many families, how can it not be a good thing?  It is important for us to show our support for what we do because we have nothing to hide.  I will not shy away from telling people I care enough about my kids to not just send them to public school because it is what everyone else does.

Get out there and keep telling people what you do!  There has never been significant change in this world without an individual or group standing up for what they believe in, even when it may not have been the popular thing to do.

Well, got to go for now.  I'm off to smoke a cigarette in the bathroom stall before my boss realizes I left my desk without a hallway pass.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Journey Into Unschooling - Part 4

Now that the cat was out of the bag on our intentions to unschool (homeschool) our kids, we started seeking out as much information as we could get our hands on.  It was amazing the amount of like-minded individuals we found once we were actively looking for them.  As part of the process, we made many connections and even went to some informational sessions with friends who had similar questions and concerns that we did.

If I can make any suggestion to anyone considering unschooling or just getting started with the idea of it, this is it:

Immerse Yourself In It!

The more we learned and the more we sought out, the more we were sold on it.  It is because of this that we started to act as advocates for unschoolers everywhere whether through blogs, podcasts, appearing on National TV shows, and speaking at conferences.  Not that we have all the answers or that our way is right for everyone, but we are just so passionate about it that it just feels right to share with anyone who cares to know.

Our journey ultimately took us to Texas as lower cost of living, more homeschool-friendly state laws, and climate seemed to all fit in well with the lifestyle we were craving.  Since moving, we have found our ability to spend time outdoors has been a great contributor to our ability to see the world in which we live.  Wherever you live, use your environment as your classroom.  Kids and adults alike will learn so much from simple hikes and walks when your mind is open to learn.

As time has passed, we have morphed our life around unschooling to include all facets of what we do.  For us, it seemed strange to let the kids choose how and when they will learn about things, but then restrict them from choosing what food they want to eat that day, or decide when they should be going to bed.  Human beings by nature are very aware of their bodies needs and we have seen this in action by trusting the process with our kids and watching them make healthy decisions.  Of course this doesn't mean they won't ever eat sweets or something not deemed healthy.  It also doesn't mean they won't stay up late some nights and be tired the next day.  I can safely say I have done all of those things myself and still do on occasion (even as the responsible adult).  Equality in the household is what we like to look at it as.  Sarah and I provide the guidance and make sure we have a safe and comfortable environment, but everyone contributes to our daily living.

This is where we are.  Now you know how we got here.  For future posts I will be looking forward to talking about our current adventures as we unschool our way through life.  Stay tuned!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Journey into Unschooling - Part 3

So now the fun part, when you decide you are going to pursue unschooling, but you are feeling anxiety about explaining this to your family. These days, it is easy for both Sarah and I to explain to others what it is and why it makes total sense for us, but when we first decided to try it, not the case. I remember having dinner with my parents and explaining that we would be homeschooling (which was hard enough to get behind when you could feel the tension about the idea). We didn't even really want to get into the dynamic that we had heard about called "unschooling" at this point in time.

These types of conversations went on for quite some time with different family members and friends and slowly the unschooling piece crept out. There was always many of the same questions:

-How will your kids get socialization?
-How will they go to college?
-How are you going to teach them about complex subjects such as Trigonometry, etc.?

**And not to sidestep any of these questions, but it's not the intention of this post to answer those.  If anyone would like my thoughts on answers to any of these questions, or any other questions you might have, I'd be glad to address them.

The more we answered these questions, the more our confidence grew in addressing such fears and concerns about what we were doing. Initially, there was definitely a lot of reevaluating going on in our lives as we continued to reassure ourselves that none of these were things to worry about. As time went on, many family members and friends came to the conclusion that we seemed to know what was best for us and our kids and that if it worked for us, then they would support us in our decision. Unfortunately, there are others who take what we do as an affront to their decision to send their kids to public school, and this includes many family members and friends.

As it turns out, this is largely the reason for starting this blog, as well as the reason Sarah has her blog ( and her podcast "Humans Being". We felt if we could share our journey and thought process on everything from unschooling specifically, and more specifically radical unschooling or whole life learning, it might make the decision and transition easier for those just getting their feet wet.

The best advice I can give those who are new to unschooling and are having difficulty explaining it or "justifying" it to friends and family is this. Don't ever explain it as though it's something that "works for us". The fact is, it really can work for everyone, but like anything else, it's just a life decision you make. That isn't to say that those that don't do it are somehow doing something wrong, but I never liked the idea that somehow this can only work for certain families. Also, stand tall in your conviction that it does work, and don't ever feel pressure to "show" how well your kids are learning by quizzing them on things they have learned. My wife doesn't quiz me on things I learn every day just from being out in the world, and I don't feel the need to do that to my kids either. I can see what they are learning just by paying attention to them. It's a remarkable thing.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Speaking at the Rethinking Everything Conference - Sep 3 - Sep 7

I am excited and honored to be holding a session at the upcoming Rethinking Everything Conference in September.  My session summary is as follows:

My Kids Don't Do Anything They Don't Want To Do

with Chris Parent

And why should they? Independent thought can only be had when one is allowed the freedom to be independent; to succeed and to fail on one's own terms; to own the experiences and information and move forward. As a whole-life unschooling dad, my kids have the freedom to make their own decisions in life. We do not force our kids to eat what we eat, when we eat, or go to bed at a particular time. They decide what learning opportunities they will pursue and even what constitutes a learning opportunity. Our family works as a unit with everyone having input to the decisions we make as a family. When we try to plan out our days (if we try to plan out our days) we take into account what everyone wants to do with their time, not just the adults in the family. By respecting everyone’s needs and desires, we maintain a peaceful environment at home because no one feels out of control or 'less than'. In this session we will explore what it means to support true freedom in our children, how these dynamics work for my family, and how they can work for yours.
If you would like to learn more about this session or the the conference in general, please let me know.  I also encourage you to visit the conference website by going to or by clicking on the banner for the conference on the right hand side of my blog.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Journey into Unschooling - Part 2

So, here Sarah and I were... We knew we didn't want to send Elijah into a school system, but we really hadn't given much thought to other choices until now.  It had always been our plan to follow the societal "norms".  Our kids would go to school as we did, and we would continue to work in our respected fields for which we had obtained degrees in.  So what now?

I have to out myself and say that when the idea of "homeschooling" was first mentioned by Sarah as what she'd like for us to consider I was adamently opposed for a number of reasons.  My first thought was that homeschooled kids struck me as weird.  I don't know what my basis was for this, but I imagine other people who do not research homeschooling often think as homeschooled kids as being reclusive and non worldy because....gasp...they didn't go to a school where the masses went.  Secondly, if we went down that path, it implied one of us would have to be home doing the "schooling" and how was that going to work?  I was working full time on weekdays, and Sarah was still working 24-30 hours a week as an RN at night, while watching Elijah during the day (on no rest).  Something would have to give, and we certainly couldn't afford to do this financially...could we?

We decided to first figure out (finances aside) if we really wanted or even had the ability to homeschool and we needed to seek out more information.  Sarah found that there was a really small homeschooling seminar that was being held for free about an hour away from where we lived at the time, so we set our sights on that to see what this was all about.  At this session, they had a panel in which there were different parents explaining their styles of homeschooling and how a typical day/week went for their kids.

So what styles did we see at this?  First up was the very rigid homeschooling mom who had a daily schedule for everything from what time the kids had to wake up, eat their breakfast, and do their work on a multitude of subjects.  Actually made public schooling look pretty laid back.  Pass on option one...  Didn't feel right and Sarah and I both felt it as we listened to this lady describe this homeschooling prison.  Already discouraged, we listened to the second mom talk about their style.  The second style was similar to the first (although maybe not as rigid in schedule) but it was loaded with religious overtones, which actually made up the basis for why this family chose to homeschool at all.  Again, this wasn't for us... and now I was beginning to think this day might have been a waste of our time.  One more to go on the panel, and I couldn't possibly imagine what they were going to offer up.  To our surprise, this is where we both had the same kind of "ah ha" moment.  This next mom went into detail about how here son's days varied from one to the next and week to week.  He was learning by spending much of his time outdoors exploring, building things, researching things on his own ranging from scientific experiments to building gadgets.  Her son did not do workbooks, although he was certainly free to do them if he chose, but rather followed his passions and they seeked out the information they needed to accomodate whatever he was interested in at that time.

Sarah and I had the same feeling while listening to this mother talk about what her son did to learn.  I can't explain why, but even though we would have never (not in a million years) ever thought to consider something like this, we had the same feeling that this might just be what we want to do.  Neither of us could explain it immediately after, we just knew in our hearts that when she described it, it made sense period.  The session followed with questions from the crowd in which they were asked about how to make sure your kid is keeping up and learning, how they can get into college, etc.  All legitimate questions and ones we had ourselves.  I'll admit that I don't have these same concerns now and I actually don't find those things to be all that important, but at the time it certainly was something I wanted to hear more about.  As it turned out, the unschooled child had actually already been taking college courses at a community college and that a lot of colleges have special admittance programs for homeschooled/unschooled kids. 

We walked out of there that day with a vision and something to focus on for how we were going to approach our schooling needs for Elijah.  It was going to take plenty of research and information seeking on our part, but we knew this was our first step, and a step in the right direction for finding our way to educating our child in a way that made sense to us.

(to be continued)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Post Discovery Health show thoughts

So our family was featured on the Discovery Health Show "Radical Parenting" last night and I would say overall that I am pleased with the way it was presented.  Although I felt the "experts" really had no basis for their comments other than to create shock value for the show, I think it gave a brief glimpse into our lives.  The notion that somehow our kids would not be ready for the "real world" as indicated by the experts and by some comments I have seen on various posts on Facebook, etc. is just not accurate.  The reality is that our kids already do live in the "Real World".  The world I want for my kids when they become adults is not one where you get sent off somewhere every day to be told what to do, what to learn, and when to learn it.  I wound up in that world as an adult because that is all I knew, and now I am looking to get out of it. They also have the ability on a daily basis to associate with people of different ages, races, and backgrounds because they do not spend all their time associating with kids only of like ages, socio-economic status, etc. that they would be exposed to in school.  It's unfortunate our school systems have not gotten more creative with this (or maybe it's just not viewed as being all that valuable in society).

The beauty of this way of life is it provides a lot of motivation to reflect on yourself.  Am I doing what I want to do?  Am I fullfilled?  We are always learning and growing together in our family.

For those interested in hearing more about the show, including one more scheduled broadcast, see the link on the right side of my blog.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our family appearing on Discovery Health Show - Tonight - 3/3/2010 - 8 PM EST

Tonight our family will be one of three featured on a Discovery Health show called "Radical Parenting."  In this segment we attempted to highlight how we live in a freedom based lifestyle where everyone has input on what we do and learn on a daily basis in our family.  We have not seen how it was all put together yet so should be an interesting night!

I have attached a clip of a promo for the show (our family can be seen briefly around the 1:38 mark.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

First blog post

So, here I am with my first post blogging about my life as an unschooling dad. This blog has been a long time coming as I realize there are a lot of fathers out there that have the same questions, concerns, and "fears" about the unknown when it comes to unschooling and all that comes with it. I am certainly no expert on the matter, but I have come from a place of being insecure in this life choice to knowing with all my being that this was (and is) the most important and best choice Sarah and I have made in our lives.

Sarah and I did not have our first child (Elijah) thinking we would have him at home instead of going to public school like the majority of children who reach "school" age. We were always very career focused, and saw ourselves raising our children in what would be a considered a traditional home environment. This changed quickly as we learned more and more about what was truly important to us and what we thought to be best for him.

From a young age we always felt Elijah was extremely cerebral, but not likely to excel in a controlled classroom environment found in a public school. He is not one to try and show off what he knows to others, even when he might know much more than them on a subject or topic. We knew that he would more than likely slip through the cracks because his inner genius would not be rewarded in a school system, but rather be labeled with any one of the many labels we as a society feel we need to put on children that learn differently from others. We weren't sure initially what we were going to do, or the specifics on the best way to do it, however, we knew we had to really think about where we were headed, and what we wanted for our child and our family.