Sunday, July 20, 2014

FREEDOM Shopping Challenge!

In the first episode of our new Reality Vlog Series, "The Sparkling Martin's," I challenged our viewers to allow their children to grocery shop for themselves, within a budget. Several families took this challenge, with every one of them having amazing results! Let me know how you all do on this challenge and be sure to watch the episode below and subscribe to our NEW Youtube channel for future challenges and episodes!
"We watched your shopping with the kids Vblog yesterday and loved it. So today I took the shopping challenge with my three little women The had so much fun and were buzzing afterwards,so was I and they made a variety of choices. This way of shopping will certainly be a regular thing now! Some of the food in the trolley is our dinner for tonight." Sandra Porter, Tasmania

Congrats to the Adams Family for taking my challenge!! With a budget of $20 per person, it looks like you all did amazingly well! I am glad you enjoyed the experience and hope you can integrate it into your life regularly!

 More feedback about the FREEDOM Shopping Challenge from "The Sparkling Martin's" episode:
 "After watching Dayna Martins video re the grocery store I couldn't wait until today - shopping day!! We have a large family and a small weekly budget for the 9 of us so I was trying to figure out how to let them choose without taking out of the budget. I decided to let them each have $20 limit to decide what the whole family can share. Some choose breakfast, snack, or dinner items or a combo. Some bought stuff to try new recipes. It was sooo fun!!! If they asked for something the answer was always YES and if it went out of their budget range they got to decide what was more important to them. We came home with a lot of the same foods we buy but also some new stuff. After 2 hours at the store with most kids I had ZERO melt-downs and pretty energized happy kiddos!!! It was great. With the rest of the grocery budget I used for stuff my husband and I like and other household items. It worked perfectly." Shannon Purdie Foust

 "These videos are the best Dayna x My whole family are getting so much out of them. We just did our first "freedom shop" & it really opened my eyes 3 kids all bought a mixture of breads, chips, chocolate & fruits...and they are buzzing from how much fun it was for them! A little frazzling for us as parents due to the amount of people irritated by their exuberance in the market aisles but we just breathed & were there for our kids. I'm loving the shifts I'm having!" Ellie Young

"We did this last week. We gave our 4yo a $5 budget. She immediately spent $3 on organic apple juice and then worked hard to try and figure out what to do with her remaining $2. She finally decided on $2 worth of bulk raisins. Hubby and I decided to make it a regular part of our shopping excursions."
Nada Leona Sheppard
Peace and Happy Shopping to you all!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Our Sparkling VLOG! First Episode!

The Sparkling Martin’s NEW: Radical Unschooling Vlog

Our family has begun a new Radical Unschooling Vlog series on Youtube!  Here is our first episode. Be sure to subscribe to our channel, The Sparkling Martin’s, on YouTube.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Wild Edibles: Eat Your Lawn!

This week, Devin and I took a Wild Edibles class. It was amazing and we learned so much! I thought I would share just some of what we learned with our readers. Please, feel free to share what wild edibles you have on your property!

Ground Ivy - Great for Pesto!!

Cleaver - Awesome for the lymph system! Dry and make into a tea

Germanium: A great antibacterial and antimicrobial
Horsetail: Primitive plant. Do not eat raw, but make into a tea. There are tons of minerals in this plant! Be sure to pick it before June.

This is Sedum and was my favorite wild edible. It is very abundant right now and all over my lawn!

Be sure to see what you have on your property! Get down and look closely at your lawn and see what is really there! It is an abundance of free, powerfully healthy plants just waiting for you to pick and enjoy!

Unschooling on 60 Minutes!

Our family was featured on 60 Minutes, Australia!
(photo: myself and Michael Usher, host of 60 Minutes Australia)
The show was fantastic and showed Unschooling in a very positive light. The 60 Minutes crew flew to America to spend a day with us. They also showed a few other families in Australia and they were all amazing.
In our introduction, Michael described us by saying, “If there were a global headquarters for this free-range education revolution it would be this unassuming home in the woods of New Hampshire in America’s Northeast.”
Michael Usher also says, when introducing me, “Dayna Martin is the inspiration to me.” He and I spent the day together and he was very open to learning about Unschooling.
The shows that we appear on just keep getting better and better in regards to being honest and balanced when sharing about Unschooling. We just keep showing up and saying, “Yes!” and positive change is happening as a result. Follow your heart and when opportunities come to speak your truth, take them, without fear!

Here is one of the ads for the show, featuring Orion and Ivy!

We received a nice Thank-you note from the Network for our appearance on the show. It was a fabulous experience and we are grateful for the opportunity to share about our unique and joyful lives!

Devin's Lodge

Since Devin was very young, he has been building forts an shelters in the forest.  It is a true passion of his. Through his interest in survival and being in nature, this project was born. He researched for weeks before beginning through YouTube, books and various sources on the Internet. The project is coming along beautifully. This is his place to get away, and have a space of his own when he wants to. I have brought him out lunch (organic sausages) for him to cook over an open fire with his cast iron cookery. He loves bringing me out to the shelter to show me his progress. To learn more about being your child's student, check out my article here.
Here Devin is working on his bed. He created a raised bed to enable warm rocks from the fire to fit under it to warm him. This is a practice that he learned through one of his resources.
Devin was showing me various ways to start fires. 

The view of Devin's beautiful Lodge. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ivy Blossoms!

If our children want to make money from doing things they love in life, we want to encourage that and facilitate it in any way that we can. Of course this may include working for someone else in an apprenticeship role to gain more skills to help them toward their goals. Our family was featured on 60 Minutes Australia this week and I shared about the fact that our children have never been conditioned to take orders, so working for themselves would more than likely be their path. I also shared during the interview that IF they did want to work for someone else, it would be because they truly desired to work and gain skills in whatever job they would have. Working, just for the sake of making money in an unhappy job is not likely something they would choose to do, because it wouldn't make sense for them to do this. Especially where they have never been forced to take order nor trained to be, Yes men.

Devin and Tiffany both have their own businesses and have been making money for themselves for years. As organizer of the Life Rocks! Unschooling Conference, one of the highlights of the event is the "Renegade Bazaar." It is a two hour event where attendees of the conference can sell their wares. Children bring their handcrafted items and display them for sale. I love supporting young entrepreneurs and offer a place for them to share their work and businesses with other Unschooling families.

Ivy (9) has started a business called, "Ivy Blossoms." She makes barrettes and jewelry with positive messages of love and peace. She will have a space at Life Rocks! this year to sell her items. Devin is making walking sticks, cutting boards and some hand-forged items. It will be the fourth year that we have held this event and everyone is counting down the days!!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Vision Boards For Unschoolers

Vision boards are tools to help you reach your goals and dreams in life and they are simple to make! Our family has been making vision boards for seven years now. This one is actually my third one, because as your dreams in life come true, you can check them off your list! Eventually, you need to dreams and to create new goals. I found that this vision board was more focused on feelings and experiences than things. Of course, "things" are simply tools for joy, so those are important too!

To create your own vision board:
Tip: Feel your way through the process.

1) Gather up some magazines, glue, scissors and a piece of poster board.
2) Flip through the magazines and see what phrases and pictures capture your attention.
3) Cut out the images that excite and empower you and glue them on the poster board.
4) Enjoy the process of creation and excitement as your vision board comes together. I love to light candles, play soothing music and enjoy a cup of tea while I work on my vision board.
5) Hang your vision board somewhere you can see it everyday. You can add to it as new desires are born within you. 

The theory behind a vision board is that when you focus on and think about these desires, dreams and goals you bring them closer and closer to be your reality. I have found this to be true in my last two vision boards. Although some things came to me even more powerfully and bigger than I had even dreamed!
The idea of a vision board is based on the ideas that what you focus on, you experience more of. What you think and focus on, you attract - good or bad. It is through focusing on what you want in life, you bring it to yourself powerfully by being able to look and focus on them everything through your vision board.

All of my children have made visions boards. They believe in their own abilities to facilitate their own joy in life. They think of this as a tool to assist them in creating their dreams. There are times in which we may not be able to afford to purchase the kids something they want. A vision board is one way to empower them. Although we do all that we can as parents to help our children get what they want in life, I don't want them to think that we are the only resource in their lives. There are so many ways to manifest your dreams in life. By sharing with my children that they could put something on their vision boards, it is pure, "Yes!" energy!

This is Tiff's vision board. She has made several over the years. She has this hung up near her bed to be able to look at it regularly. 

I hope you enjoy creating your own vision board! I'd love to hear how a vision board helped you create the life of your dreams.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Greetings from Portugese Unschoolers!

I love beautiful greetings set to me from all over the world.
Here is one that I received today:

"Dear Dayna! This is our Homeschooling/Unschooling kids club in Central Portugal! 
I'm heavily inspired by your book 'Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun!' Thank you!!
Greetings from sunny Portugal!"

I love this photo!
Greetings Portugal Unschoolers! Thank you for reaching out! Love & Learning to you all! 

Newborn Sparkle Sessions!

Joe and I are working together, merging two of our passions. We have decided to embark on newborn photography as a husband and wife team. Today, we had our first client! Joe was behind the camera as I handled and posed the sweet little newborn girl, Avery.

I've been researching gentle, loving ways to photograph newborns without flashes. Joe has watched dozens of tutorials and will handle the technical side of things. I have many unique and creative ideas that I am looking forward bringing to our clients.

Joe and I working on our first newborn photo shoot together!

The beautiful result of our first pose with little Avery

Here I am snuggling little Avery while Joe changed a few props. I can tell how much I will love this already! I was secretly sniffing her head. You Mama's know why...
I love this super-frilly-pink look. It contrasts so much with the next photo with a more earthy feel.

This is one of my favorite images from our shoot with little Avery today. You wouldn't believe what goes into a photo like this! Joe and I work so well together. He is my best friend and we are quite a team. The focus and flow that we had was natural and comfortable. The shoot today was a lot of work, patience and love, but it was  so worth it! What do you think?

This newborn photography venture is a combined vision and effort. My years of experience in working with pregnant and birthing women, newborn care and attachment parenting advocacy has offered me over a decade of experience in the care, respect and honoring of a newborn's unique needs. Joe's experience as a photographer adds a new dimension to what we are now offering as a couple. To learn how you can book us to come to your home for a Newborn Sparkle Session, visit: 
 Joe Martin Photography here.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Radical Unschooling & Pop-Culture

Tiff and her friend Aliva meeting their idols, "Little Mix"

For years now, we've be part of a sub-culture. I'd even say it is a sub-sub-culture. We gone deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole as the years have rolled on. What happens when a child of "freak" parents wants to pursue learning all about and immersing themselves into pop culture?

Sometimes we first feel our conditioned response of fear, then we relax and embrace. Why is that?

For many coming from a sub-culture perspective, it would be forbidden, shamed and mourned that part of their child's innocence was stolen at the fate of pop-culture. Many naturally minded parents are well-intentioned in attempting to keep their children from the modern world. I have learned, however, that it is through  unconditional acceptance of our children's choices through partnership parenting is walking the sub-sub culture road. To truly connect and continue a strong bond of self-love and trust, we learn to drop pre-conceived ideas and beliefs about everything, including things we may have judged before our children showed an interest in it. We find ways to bring as many resources into our children's lives as possible to learn and grow from based on their interests as the nucleus of their individual learning.

Right now, Tiff is powerfully inspired by the popular band, Little Mix. We found out that they were coming for a Meet and Greet at a mall about two hours away. My friend from New York drove out with her daughter to go with us. Together we brought our daughters to connect with the women whom they love and share their thoughts about how they inspired them. They were nervous about talking with them, knowing that in the moment they may be so nervous that they'd forget what to say. I have the idea to purchase cards and write down how they felt to the band members. The girls loved this idea!
Here we are in line, having a picnic waiting for "Little Mix." 

Here Tiff is giving her card and gift to a Jesy, from "Little Mix."

We waiting six hours and were the first fans there at 10am! You'd think that waiting in line for so long would be torterous, but it was so much fun! I made food to bring with us and we had a picnic and connected with other, "Mixers," (the name of "Little Mix" fans.) It was fun to see the girls connect with other fans and spend hours talking about all that they loved about them.

After meeting the group, Tiff was in tears. She was shaking and so powerfully moved by the experience. She said, "Perrie told me I was 'gorgeous'!" She was soaring!

When I first became a parent, I thought that my role was to keep what I perceived as a negative influence away from my children. I judged those who made choices that I didn't feel were "wholesome" enough. As my children have grown, I have learned that they truly know what is best for them. Many of my past judgements were fear-based. I know that whatever my children are interested in is an extension of themselves and by judging their interests I am judging them. This is not coming from a place of love, but a place of fear. I do not wish this to be part of our relationship.

Radical Unschooling is not neglectful or permissive because we "allow" our children to watch television, play video games or immerse themselves in pop-culture. In fact, it is the greatest example of unconditional love and acceptance that we can have for our children during their teen years.

Thanks for reading! Please share ways in which you have supported your children in their love for something that others, or your past self, has judged as negative.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Capability Through Freedom

a photo of Devin martin who is a unschooler
This is Devin's design! It is the "Utilicloak." 
Devin is sewing his own clothes! He has been modifying his clothes for years now, especially through his creative passion of Steampunk. Now he is actually making them from fabric to garment using his sewing machine. He made these fleece pants this week.

Devin wants one of these types of sewing machine for his birthday. He loves anything old fashioned that were run by man-power, before electricity was so widely utilized.

What I love most about how Devin learns, is his willingness to be persistent and try and try until he gets something right, and the way he wants it. These pants were a great success for him and he plans on making all of his clothes in the future. He gains amazing satisfaction and a sense of pride from learning to do things that allow him to be more self-sufficient. He has a great interest in homesteading right now, and making his own clothes falls under one of the skills that he wanted to perfect to be that much closer to his personal goals in life. 

Children are so capable, when given freedom, time and the tools to learn and grow with their ever-evolving interests. Devin has life skills that very few teens in our culture have today. He knows how to sew, make bread, build a survival shelter, blacksmith, woodwork, and so much more than I could even list here. He truly enjoys mastering crafts that are a lost art.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Honor What They Love

When I was about twelve years old, I would get my allowance of $2.00 a week and walk to the music shop and purchase a new 45 RPM record for $1.35. I had a blossoming interest in music, and with any spare time that I had I would listen to my records or watch MTV. Every Thursday night my mother would come into my bedroom and sit on my floor so she could listen to whatever new record that I bought that week. She would share with me what she liked about the song and listen intently, smiling and focusing on whatever song was playing. I loved when she did this and I have never felt so close to my mother as when she would take an interest in something I loved, such as my music.

When we love something, it is an extension of ourselves and when celebrated by those we love, becomes a source of great connection, acceptance and bonding. 

My sweet husband, Joe, and son, Devin, love the show, "The Walking Dead." They have been watching it since the very beginning and anticipate every new episode with excitement. The second half of a new season starts tonight and as a way to honor their passion for the show, I made a Walking Dead, zombie-themed dinner. I wanted to tap into this source of joy and intensify it for them. Although I do not anticipate ever loving the show as much as they do, I wanted them to know how much I love and honor who they are and what they love. It is through honoring our loved one's interests as an extension of who they are, that we continue to forge strong bonds and unconditional acceptance and love between us.

Tonight I made, "brains," "bloody intestine bread," "zombie fingers" and "eyeball cookies"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Trust the Intensity

photo by Xavia Claire Photography

For years, I have shared about my daughter, Tiff's sensitive nature. She just turned twelve so I wanted to share a few things that I have come to learn about my daughter over the years. I remember when she was only two years old, she used to scream for everything. She worried about so much. She also seemed to be unhappy often, and this was so hard as her mother. She wouldn't let me brush her teeth or her hair and finding clothes that didn't annoy her was challenging. Everything seemed to be such a struggle for my sweet daughter. For years her needs outweighed everyone else's in the family.

I honestly could cry thinking about how difficult and painful it was to parent a child like Tiff in all of her intense sensitivity. Loud noises made her run and scream. Changes were extremely difficult for her, as was not knowing exactly what we were going to do every day. Being spontaneous was nearly impossible because it would throw Tiff into such a distressed state. I would make sure that she knew what was happening everyday from hour to hour. She was a child who needed to know exactly what to expect and I learned how to give her that security.

Tiff also has a gift, although it can be really painful for her. She has the ability to read others like a book. Even if I am slightly annoyed with something, she knows it. She used to ask me repeatedly if I was mad at her. I used to hug her and and share with her that I wasn't upset with her. I was just having difficulty with someone else in my life. She has always been able to feel exactly what I was feeling so strongly that I found myself needing to explain things to her that my other children didn't even notice or care about. She is an extremely empathetic human being and being her mother has taught me more about myself than I ever knew was possible.

Family and friends used to tell me that I needed to have her evaluated, tested, put in therapy and medicated. Parenting a highly sensitive child, your intuition often becomes clouded by fears. I wanted what was best for her and to respect her in every way possible. I knew that if Tiff was put in the system it would forever change her. I knew she would be bombarded by others trying to control her and force her to be someone different than who she was. Instead of the advice from others, I took the path of my heart and continued trusting my instinct and her unique path.

I want to communicate to other parents with a highly sensitive child, that the this is such a short season in your lives. We have never punished Tiffany for the way she voiced her needs. She has never had a time-out, nor have we used any behavior modification techniques. She has lived in partnership with us and our role has been to love her for who she is. We have talked, explained, discussed and connected, helping her to feel safe and secure. I look back on the first six or seven years of her life as profound for me as a person, for my daughter has taught me so much about myself. I have learned the children never need to be labeled, medicated or made to change in order to have a happy, functioning life. Tiff has always been powerfully unique and she is someone who knows how to get what she wants in her life. The very qualities that made it hard to be present with her for those years have since shifted and are now some of her greatest strengths and more admirable qualities.

Today, I look back on those difficult and challenging years with such gratitude. Tiffany is one of the most beautiful, confident, patient and focused people that I know. She used to hate being around crowds and loud noises. Now her favorite place in the world, is New York City. She used to need so much help with tasks that others found easy. Now she helps me with daily tasks that the other kids find difficult. She used to horde food and toys, now she keeps her room spotless and simple. She used to hate itchy clothes and tags, now she wears fabrics that even I find uncomfortable. She has overcome issues that others told me that she would never overcome without therapy and medication. I was fed lies based on fear, yet despite all of the pressure, I never gave in. I loved and supported her through it all and today she is a whole person, body, mind and soul.

Now that she has grown older, she is able to control her emotions more and let me know when she is starting to feel overwhelmed. I help her by giving her coping tools and she trusts me and listens to my advice. She sees me as a leader and her best friend in life. She has taken up modeling and her inner beauty shines through all that she does. She is a success in life, already! She has had her own pet sitting business and helps others find joy in their lives in any way that she can.

Last night Tiffany took her first hip hop class taught by a beautiful, loving teacher who she trusts. As I watched my daughter dance among the other girls, I began to cry. Memories of my sweet daughter flooded my mind. I remembered the worries, the fear and the pain that I felt for her for so many years as I helped her navigate her world. As tears streamed down my face, I couldn't take my eyes off of her as I watched her in her perfection, dancing across the dance floor, smiling with her head held high.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Boy Has Mad Skills!

Devin has been learning and growing so much on his Unschooling path. When a teen has total freedom to pursue what interests them, you'd be surprised what they create and learn! Over the last few months Devin has been perfecting the skill of Blacksmithing. He has used Youtube, books and I even facilitated a mentor to come over to show him a few things. Here are some of the amazing projects that he has been working on.

Devin learned that if you boiled chestnuts you could make a natural wood stain. 

He made me some new kitchen utensils!

Devin made a belt buckle and something called a "crooked awl"

He has also started Blacksmithing and Bladesmithing and opened his own Etsy Shop called, "Willow Ironworks" Here is a knife that he made that he calls, "The Patron."

Here is a necklace with a symbol of protection that he created

I love this! It is a unique fork that he created. 

Here was a special gift that Devin made me for the kitchen. 

I love that Devin has time to pursue his passions, skills and interests. Everyday I am more and more grateful for the free and joyful life that we live. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

~Peace & Love, Dayna

Reuse ~ Upcycle ~ Repurpose!

"Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value."~Wikipedia

I love the ever-flowing inspiration in my life. I have discovered a passion that is challenging, fun and interesting. Upcycling has become my creative outlet for the last few months. Here are just a few of my upcycled creations! I hope it inspires you to reuse and repurpose some items in your life!

I upcycled an old typewriter and am using it as a computer monitor stand. On the wall is an old door that I turned into a gorgeous piece of art. I glued various fabrics to the back of it. 

This old door was in our cellar. I turned it into a coffee table by using old apple crates as the base. They also make abundant storage!

Here is a very old toys box that has been in my husbands family for generations. It is now being used as a display cabinet for the pottery that I made. 

This was a fun project! I used regular embers glue, mixed it with water and dipped strips of fabric into the glue and then put the fabric on the inside of the jars. I used hemp twine to accent them.

Oh, I love this! I found it at an antique shop with Devin. This is an old leather shoe drying rack from a shoe factory in Massachusetts. The owner of the shop told me that it was from the late 1800's. It is now a plant shelf in my kitchen where I grow fresh greens and baby lettuces.
Here I painted and distresses old shutters! I added a mirror that I wood burned "Be Love Now." I also have Joe and my name with a special saying that only we know the meaning to.

Having new passions is part of our evolving and growing selves. I have a new eye of creativity from nurturing this interest and I look at things and wonder what I can turn them into. Upcycling is not only fun, but it is good for the environment and it is virtually free! 

~Peace & Love, Dayna