Check out this interview with Sandra Dodd and unschooling.  After unschooling made the news, this mom wanted to learn more so she found Sandra and interviewed her for her blog.
Radical Unschooling has been in the news a couple of times lately.  ABC ran a segment on it.  And then Joy Behar ran a segment.

Radical Unschooling is a way of life that I would like to strive for.  It is trusting in your children and yourself that you will learn what you need to know in your lives.  Many people remember how boring school and learning was when they were young and they don't realize that it does not have to be that way.

Think about a time in your life were you needed or wanted to learn about something that you did not know.  For me, one of the first things that I felt I needed more information on was vaccines.  Never before would I have thought that a non-fiction book could be so enjoyable.  I became a sponge, taking in as much information as I could from all different kinds of sources (books, websites, videos, etc.).  I discovered that this is how learning was supposed to work.  Because this was something that pertained to my life now, I was able to learn what I needed to know.  Had I taken a class in school on something like this, back before I needed the information, I would not have enjoyed it, nor would I have retained most of the information.  How do I know this?  Because that is the story of my schooling.

I am now spending my life unschooling myself.  Learning about things that I am interested in and trying to decide what I want to do with my life.  I want the same for my kids.  I want them to be able to use their youth to figure all this out.  I also want them to not always be preparing for some life in the future, but to live life today and learn about things that they are interested in and pertain to their lives today.  I want them to know that they are free to pursue their interests and will not have to learn about some random information that someone else thinks that they may need to know at some future date in their life.  I want them to know that, should that future date arrive where they need some piece of information, that they can spend time learning about what it is that they are needing to know.

My current job is to make sure my children have a rich life.  I want them to be exposed to all sorts of ideas, information, and people.  They will be able to decide what it is they want to learn about and I will do my best to help them to learn what they are needing to know, however that may look.

To learn more about radical unschooling, check out Sandra Dodd and Dayna Martin.
This Discover Rig is really neat.  The best feature is that it generates its own electricity so no batteries are required.  I can't tell you how many batteries we go through here.  I also like that it has a handle that you can attach so you can push it standing up.  Sprig Toys is giving one Natural Goods reader a Discover Rig.  This giveaway ends Friday 4/23/2010, so hurry and enter.

See for more information on this giveaway.
We leave in a couple weeks to go to Jamaica for my sister's wedding.  One of the first things people ask when we tell them we are going to Jamaica is whether we will be bringing our kids.  Yes, is my answer.  We take our kids with us everywhere.  I can't even imagine why anyone would want to leave their kids home for a vacation.  There is so much opportunity for learning on a trip like this, that I couldn't imagine not giving my kids that same opportunity. 

Sure it is more expensive to travel with more people.  The main additional cost was the flight.  We will be staying one night in an all inclusive resort and 6 nights in a home that we are renting.  Both of these the kids stay and eat free.  The rental house comes with a van and a driver to take us around, so all we will have to pay for is the gas and the activities.

Sure it is more work to bring kids along, but it also adds an extra level of enjoyment as they get to see and learn things for the first time.  If they were not with me, I would continue to think about how I wish they were there to see this or that.  I am so excited for my kids that they will get to experience another part of our world and that we will be there together.
The first one is for The Baby Dipper Bowl.  This little bowl looks very study and like it would make a good bowl for feeding my 12 month old son.  Baby Bowl Dipper is giving away one of Natural Baby Goods readers the baby dipper bowl set.  This giveaway ends April 29, 2010.

The second one is for a Pawparazzi Pet Set.  I know my daughter would just love one of these little stuffed animals with accessories.  Pawparazzi is giving away one of Natural Baby Goods readers the choice of Pawparazzi Pet Set and the choice of Celebrity Pet Dress Up Set (Day at the Spa, Winter Holiday, Dream Birthday or Flower Fairy).  This giveaway ends April 30, 2010.

Edited to add other great giveaways:

This one is for FreckleBox Personalized Lunch Box.  My daughter loves to carry stuff around in containers.  They have a princess lunch box that she would be really excited about.  Then to have it personalized with her name, she would take it with her everywhere.  FreckleBox is giving away one of Natural Baby Goods readers the choice of a personalized lunch box.  This giveaway ends May 2, 2010.

This one is for On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seats.  This is a travel potty seat that you can take with you and inflate it when you need it.  This would be perfect to take with me in the diaper bag.  On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seats is giving away one of Natural Baby Goods readers the choice of one On-the-Go Inflatable potty seats.  This giveaway ends May 4, 2010.

Check out or click on the links above to learn more about these giveaways. 
Today I went to my first political rally.  The state of the country has gotten to such a point that, like many others, I have been pulled to start getting involved.  So, my kids and I hung out for 3hrs with a bunch of other people who are tired of this government not following the Constitution and not representing the people.  We listened to a couple of speakers and some singers and had fun being around others who feel passionate about this country.  It was a very peaceful rally, not at all like some would have you believe.   I took some video footage and as soon as I figure out how to get it onto the computer, I will post it.
My 6 year old son has a problem where he cannot go anywhere in the house or outside unless someone is with him.  This has been going on for several years and he has just not been able to get over it.  Lately, thinking that I needed to fix him, I tried several things that others suggested to me.  I didn't like either suggestion but felt like I needed to try something. 

First I tried the monster spray, where I put water and some scent into a spray bottle to be used to spray the room where the monster might be and that was to keep it away.  Next I tried the protector stuffed animal.  I just found a stuffed animal that he had never seen before and told him it was a protector and that he could take it with him anywhere in the house and it would protect him.  None of these things helped.

Then one day I was really frustrated that he wouldn't go into the bathroom by himself and I said that I would let him get something to eat at the movies when we went the next day, if he would go in the bathroom by himself.  Somehow, he was able to turn off the fear and go in alone.  I tried something similar on a few other occasions and it also seemed to work.

I didn't want to have to keep coming up with bribes for him so I came up with a tally system where he could put a mark down each time he was scared and was able to go anyway.  He could get a small toy for 50 marks or forgo that for a larger toy at 100 marks.  It seemed to work well, but a reward system goes against the way I really want to do things so I decided to consult my local online attachment parenting group and see what they thought about all this.

Right off the bat I noticed that others had children with a similar type problem, though maybe not quite so extreme.  Some said my system seemed good since it was putting this in his hands by allowing him to do the tallying and having him be in control.  But another mom commented on how rewards systems do not really work long term since they don't really get to the core of the problem.  You can check out Alfie Kohn and his book Unconditional Parenting for more information on this.

I tried to say this was a bit different because it seemed like this was a mess up in his brain.  But it was pointed out that this is just who he is right now and that he was not broken and did not need fixing.  He needed my unconditional support.  It is okay that he wants to be around others when he moves through life.  Why is this a problem?  And to stop viewing him as broken.  This tugged at my heartstrings which means I knew she was right.  I finally understood that I was not being supportive of his needs.

I have since decided that there is nothing wrong with my son.  If he wants to have someone with him when he goes places, then that is what he wants/needs.  I talked with him and let him know that there are other kids just like him out there that also like to have someone with them when they go places and that it is okay and there is nothing wrong with this.  I do hope that someday he will be able to go places in the house by himself, but until then, he will have my unconditional support.

Of course, he was not happy about not continuing with the tally sheet because he wanted that toy.  Not sure how I will remedy that one, lol.
So, I just saw a census commercial letting us know that we need to fill out our census and send it back.  If you add the cost of that, to the cost of the mailing of the letter that came a week before the census letting us know that we would be receiving the census and then the postcard that came after the census reminding us to send in our census, I think the cost of this census will be quite larger than those in the past (we will just add that onto the cost of all the other spending the government has done in the last year).  I'm sure they figure this will get more people to send in their census, but I am not so sure.  I guess time will tell.

I already sent ours in.  I only answered the first 2 question, one being how many people lived in our household and the other, whether there were any other people staying here that were not accounted for in question 1.  These are the questions that are required to determine how many seats our state will have in the US House of Representatives.  The government also says that it will be used to determine how much funding your community receives, but according to the US Constitution this is not what the census is for.

Frankly, I don't think it should matter to the government the names of each member of my household, our race, whether we rent or own, our phone number, our sex, and our birth dates.   

I do not believe the federal government should be taking money from the people and then giving it back to the people in response to the census.  This is the job of the state and local governments.  They are telling the people to send in their forms so they can make sure everyone gets their money for their communities.  I think this is called pork spending and if most American's thought about it, they would not agree to it.

So, what will happen to me since I did not fill out and complete the whole census form?  I don't know for sure.  The worst that could happen would be having a census worker come by and a fine of $100.  If I were to lie on my form, I could get a $500 fine, but I did not lie on my form.  But from what I have read, they have not gone this far in the past.  We will see how they approach things this time around.  They seem to be taking a pretty aggressive approach so far in trying to get people to send back their census forms, so we will see if they will start trying to impose the fines for people who do not completely comply.

I considered just filling out the form completely and sending it back and just doing what I am told.  But, as the title of this site says, I am a free-thinker and decided to stand up for what I believe. 
In any given summer, my kids and I usually only wear sunscreen 10 or less times.  We save the sunscreen for times when we will be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, like at a water park.  I try to avoid sunblock as much as I can because, even the safer sunblocks could still have unknown risks due to the sun beating down on it.  So, for me, it feels better to avoid sunblock as much as I can and just use it when it is really needed. 

At our house we don't really need sunscreen.  We have these big cottonwood trees that provide shade over a lot of the yard.  So, the kids are in and out of the sun when they are playing outside.  This seems to prevent them from getting burned but also allows for their bodies to get the much needed Vitamin D that the sun provides.

When we are elsewhere, I try to pay attention to whether there is shade provided and how much sun their bodies are getting.  This allows them to play without having to apply sunscreen but helps me be confident that they will not get burned.  I will sometime have them wear floppy hats and clothes that cover their shoulders.  This protects the areas the sun tends to hit the hardest.

I believe that sunscreen is used too often by most people.  We were at the park the other day on one of the first nice days of the year, and I heard a mom yelling at her son, probably around 8 yo, to come and get sunblock on.  I knew he would have to be outside for an extended period of time for him to get burnt in such weak sun, but apparently this mom was afraid of the sun.  I question how often kids today are allowed to play in the sun without sunscreen on.  Are they being allowed to get the Vitamin D that their bodies need and that tends to be lacking during the winter?
I'm trying to figure out which sunscreen I want to buy this year.  In the past I bought Badger which had very good ratings as far as having the safest ingredients, but I wasn't happy about the smell or the thickness when you put it on. 

So I have been researching again and using the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Review Database where I am looking at some of the top contenders for sunscreens.  One I am looking at is Loving Naturals which has good reviews and has some of the safer ingredients.  It is around $10 for only 2oz and $19 for 4oz, so kind of pricey in my opinion.  But so far it seems to be at the top of the list.  I will likely buy 2 of the 2 oz bottles, that way I don't have to worry about it getting taken away when flying.  This one may end up being thick and smelly too, but I think I will give it a go.