Monday, November 28, 2016

My Favorite Things

For those of you who need them, here are some gift ideas - my very favorite things:


Seven Dry Shampoo
I have tried a dozen dry shampoos at this point, trying to find one that doesn't leave my hair white and my scalp itchy. Seven's Dry Shampoo is expensive, but it is so much better than all the others I have tried it's in a league all by itself.



Vivo Barefoot Shoes for kids over 5
The shoes Anders wore after he was 5, again the focus is on healthy food and body development

Hanna Anderson Moccasins for kids under 5
Shoes that don't harm developing feet, the only shoes Anders wore until he was 5

Dress Up Shoes for Boys

Rain Boots
Western Chief Firechief 2 Rain Pull-On Boot

Children should never wear clothing that would hinder their body's natural movement. Many of today's jeans prevent proper bending and sitting and encourage slouching, for example.

Kids Sun Hat

World History Time Line

Evolution and Classification of Life Poster

Art Classes
Because beauty is objective



Everything on my top 9 reading recommendations list

and all the five star books on my bibliography page

All the Books in Red on this List


Nourishing Our Children
Our Daily Bread
The Future of Food
The Business of Being Born
Terry Jones documentaries
Babies (the documentary)
March of the Penguins
More Than Honey


The Wedge that has helped to change how my body bends
and the book

Vivo Barefoot Shoes
I still love Vibram five fingers, but I like these better because they are easier to put on and I get to wear socks.

MSM Shampoo and Conditioner
Over the last five years I have switched natural shampoo and conditioner pretty much every other month, going through many brands searching for one that would meet my needs to soft, shiny, hair and toxin free ingredients. This is the first one I have tried that I would recommend to other people.

LoveStock Tallow Balm
We are animals, not plants. Why would we rub plant oils on our bodies when we need moisturizer? Best lotion/chapstick I have ever used, no contest.


Blinc Mascara I tried over a dozen mascaras looking for one that would not leave shadows under my eyes. This is the only one I have ever found that does not.

The Wet Brush
A post-shower revolution!

Fashion Academy Personal Colour Consultant 
A handy little book about the size of a checkbook that has your best colors in it. (Beauty is objective. There are colors that maximize your attractiveness potential and colors that kill your attractiveness potential. The more attractive you are, the more likely you are to get what you want in any situation. Maximizing your attractiveness potential is not a superficial thing to attend to!) I have one of these books for me, my husband, and my son. I keep them in my purse when I go clothes shopping.
Carolyn did our colors in seconds using pictures of us on Facebook. I sent her a check in the mail, and she mailed me our booklets. and send her a check


Williams-Sonoma Veggie Chopper
The kitchen tool I use more than any other, chop onions without killing your eyes!

Williams-Sonoma Nutmeg Grinder
Easy fresh ground nutmeg

Pure Beeswax Candles


Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir Grape Juice

Roederer Estate Rose Sparkling Wine and especially their L'Hermitage Rose

Honey Patties (for stockings!)

Maple Candy (for stockings!)

The Apple Farm's French Plum Chutney

SeaSnax Organic Roasted Seaweed Snack Grab and Go, Toasty Onion

One Degree Organic Foods Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour

Any of the classes offered at Culture Club 101

Any of the classes offered at North House Folk School


The Sunrise Alarm Clock
I loved this thing back in the days when I woke up by non-child alarm clock and lived in a city where I was deprived of the darkness and light that regulates my sleeping at our farm in Nicaragua.


Women's Pajamas



Firefly & Serenity
The Matrix
Into the Wild
The Incredibles
The Iron Giant
The Lego Movie



ANYTHING THEY SELL AT I have never found any other company to be as knowledgable as these two about things like air and water purifiers, mattresses, and other home goods. A person answers the phone and will tell you the whys on all of their products. I highly value customer service like theirs! (for those of you with a politically incorrect sense of humor)

Friday, November 11, 2016

In Search of a Good Family Model

*This post is a follow up to the much more thorough post discussing this idea

Happiness is loving the people with whom you share your life and feeling that your life has meaning. (Or rather contentment. "Happiness" as the goal is out.)

I have long been disturbed by the destroyed families created by the educational system and the current cultural myth that there is One True Job for each person and we ought to leave the place we grew up and the people who matter to us and pursue that One True Job.

I am especially disturbed by the myth that a man who takes over his father's company instead of being a pioneer in something new is "not his own man." Rather than the world envying him for being part of a successful, united, special family he is seen as lesser to the pioneer man who leaves his family and grows more and more distant from them over the years and eventually repeats that process with his children.

Not that having a family business that gets passed down doesn't have drawbacks. But unless one is truly called to leave their families and do something else, I currently see the family business as a more ideal way to raise children than the current model in which families go their separate ways and spend their lives rather lonely for an idea of family that doesn't exist for them.

One of the most exciting things I have stumbled across so far in this research is the following:

Families that have had the same business for 200 years--

Education on the special challenges of working with family--

I am planning to read many more books on this subject and will report back to you once I have a more firm conclusion. In the mean time, here is a review of an excellent book on the subject that I just finished!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Things I Got Right and Wrong: The First Five Years

Before I had Anders, I had worked with kids for over a decade and had read hundreds of books on raising children. I had developed many hypotheses that I didn't get to fully put into practice until I had my own family. (And perhaps, if you have read the same books I have read, you have similar expectations.)

Here are the things I got wrong and right in my little n=1 study.

As Henrik grows I will update this list. If it says x2 it means I had the same results the second time around as well.


-By eating a high fat, med protein, low sugar diet I won't get morning sickness: RIGHT x2. (But pregnancy was still horrible.)

-By having my baby at home, where my subconscious brain feels safe, I will have a complication-free birth: RIGHT x2

-By having my baby at home I will have a peaceful birth: WRONG. Birth is horrific (in my opinion). It doesn't matter where you do it. *Learned this with Anders

-A water birth will make birth suck a little less: WRONG. Birth is horrific on land or in water. *Learned this with Henrik.

-By having my baby at home, and by studying birth psychology (hynobirthing, reading Baby Catcher), I will have a fast birth: RIGHT (3.5 hours for Anders, 6 hours for Henrik)


-By not using artificial light in the first two weeks, I will have a newborn that effortlessly learns night and day. RIGHT x2

-By eating a WAPF diet I will have a baby that does not spit up. RIGHT

-By eating a WAPF diet I will have a baby that never gets cradle cap, eye infections, or other illnesses. RIGHT

-I don't need to hire a lactation consultant as breast feeding is natural and easy. WRONG (I had actually always planned on having a lactation consultant as everything I had read told me that if I wanted to be successful at breastfeeding, that was the way to go, but then my mother put in her two cents and, well, I took her advice. Terrible mistake. Anders didn't get enough food for his first week.)

-By eating a WAPF diet and nursing Anders until he is three, he will not get cavities. WRONG (Well, we were traveling and not eating the WAPF diet when he got the cavities, and we arrested the cavities by returning to the WAPF diet... so this one is a little inconclusive).

-By following Dr. Mendelsohn's advice in How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, I will avoid needless (all) trips to the doctor and the emergency room. RIGHT (after his well-baby, Anders went to the doctor only twice before he was five, once to retrieve something he put up his nose and once for diagnosis of impetigo rash. I did fail to avoid his getting an unnecessary chest xray by following bad advice from a doctor friend of mine.)

-By following Baby-Led Weaning I will have a baby that does not choke on food, regardless of the size presented i.e. I will not have to cut anything into baby-sized portions. RIGHT

-By putting my baby in cloth diapers, I will have a baby that never gets diaper rash. RIGHT

-By following RIE techniques I will have a secure and respectful relationship with my child. RIGHT

-By following RIE techniques I will have a self-confident baby. RIGHT

-By following RIE techniques my baby will develop good communication and cooperation skills at a very young age. RIGHT

-By following RIE techniques my baby will be able to entertain himself for long periods of time. RIGHTISH Anders could entertain himself longer than standard babies, but not as long as I had hoped for.

-I don't need to be "consistent;" babies are smart enough to understand why we do things this way one time and that way the next time and explaining these things to them makes them better decision makers. RIGHT


-By feeding my child whatever I am eating, I will have a child with an expansive palate, who enjoys flavorful food, including fish, sushi, and spicy foods. RIGHT

-By never having an opinion about whether or what my son eats when meals are presented to him, I will raise a "good eater." RIGHT

-By raising my son with RIE techniques he will be a safe climber and never get a hard hit to his head or break a bone. RIGHT

-By raising my child in reality--and therefore never giving him floaties or help that will give him an artificial relationship with the water--he will teach himself to swim at a young age, and be safe around pools and other bodies of water RIGHT (this means I sat in a chair near the pool while he crawled over and explored the water, not that I let him play near the pool while I went and made dinner).

-By inviting my son into the bathroom with me, discussing what is interesting about poop and pee, and allowing my son to spend time naked, I will have a child that is a) not afraid of toilets b) not afraid of pooping c) potty trains himself with ease. RIGHT

-There is no super-defiant "no" phase for respectfully raise children. RIGHT

-Because I don't chase after him or control him, because it is "our" goal to not lose one another, I will have a toddler that never runs away in stores or parks or other places. RIGHT

-By giving him information about safety around cars but not being controlling about it, my toddler will make safe choices in parking lots and around cars. RIGHT (He requested to be held or hold my hand.)

-If I use NVC, the woods good and bad will never be necessary. WRONG (concepts exist because we experience them, not because the words create them. It's important to be cognizant of what we are trying to express, but good and bad are fine, useful concepts.)

-If I create a respectful relationship with my son, he will give to me when I ask, for example, we will not struggle over him getting into his carseat. RIGHT (Anders was forced into his carseat against his will only once in his life.)

-By raising my child respectfully, he will not throw tantrums. RIGHT (though he did experience some strong emotions sometimes)

-By never hitting my son, I will have a child that never hits. WRONG

-By focusing on creating a secure attachment and respecting his needs, I will have a child who never protests when I drop him off somewhere or have a sitter come. RIGHT (I never once dropped him off and let him cry, or hired a baby sitter and let him cry. It was always his choice, and he chose to give me time off when I asked for it.)

-By not engaging in helicopter parenting and having a secure attachment, my child will choose to sleep in his own room RIGHT (though he went back and forth, and then at age 3 1/2 he stopped having a room of his own, so he slept with me from then on. Except at hotels when we have a suite. then he has the opportunity to have his own room and he takes it, and sleeps in it just fine.)

-By inviting my son to life with me, I will have a child quite advanced for his age in the study of real life. RIGHT (Note this is where RIE and I part ways. RIE does not invite children to life with their parent, but rather puts them into daycare.) Note what Anders could do when he was two:


-By eating a WAPF diet, we won't get colds. WRONG. (Though none of them have been serious. Anders has never been on antibiotics.)

-By eating gourmet, adult food from a young age, I will have a child that does not like the classic kid foods like pasta, pizza, hot dogs, and french fries. WRONG (He does like these foods, but also they are not really on his radar. He never requests them like he does steak, fish, and sushi.)

-By eating adult food from a young age and having absolute authority about what goes in and what does not go in to his mouth, I will have a child who is an "adventurous eater," willing to try new things. RIGHT (But though he has happily tried oysters, iguana, and testicles, he will not try most jellos, puddings, mashed potatoes or anything of that consistency.)

-Children allowed to freely choose will choose to wipe their noses. WRONG *Was happy to wipe nose on shirt starting at age 4, finally started using tissues at age 5 1/2

-Children allowed to freely choose, will choose to bathe. RIGHT

-Children allowed to freely choose, will choose to wash their hair with shampoo. RIGHT/WRONG (He started washing his hair with shampoo at age 4 1/2.)

-Children allowed to freely choose will choose to clothe themselves around the age of 5. RIGHT

-Children allowed to freely choose will share when it feels good for them to share. RIGHT (And they will not share when it doesn't feel good.)

-By making him largely responsible for his own safe choices, my son will make safe choices. RIGHT (I have been continuously impressed with his ability to judge whether something is safe or not for him to do.)

-If I use NVC with my son, his pretend games will have NVC. WRONG (Ish, he uses more non-NVC communication in his games than he does NVC, but he does use a little NVC.)

-If I am not violent and threatening, my son won't play games in which he uses threats and pretend violence. WRONG

-By focusing on creating a secure attachment, my child will not exhibit the nervousness, eye-twitches, and stuttering that are common at this age. RIGHT

-By teaching my son that his needs matter, and taking them seriously, I will have a child that does not whine--not because he is told not to whine, but because it would never occur to him to whine. RIGHT

-By treating my son with respect and empowering him to make his own choices, I will raise a child who is not obsessed with power (like dinosaurs, police, anything that represents being big and powerful to a child). WRONG (My conclusion here is that small, powerless people know they are small and powerless, even if you treat them otherwise.)

-If I raise my child in reality, my child will not get nightmares. RIGHT

-If I raise my child in reality (no night lights) and spend time with him looking at the stars, my child will not be afraid of the dark. RIGHT

-Because we don't watch other types of television, my son will enjoy documentaries. RIGHT

-If I homeschool my child, he will confidently converse with and make friends with people older and younger than he is, including teenagers and adults as well. RIGHT

-If I homeschool my child and we are television free, he will happily play with girls in addition to boys. RIGHT

-If I homeschool my child and we are television free, he will not care about the current popular toys or clothes. RIGHT

-By opting out of preschool and bringing Anders to life with me, I will get along with him better, have more in common with him, and like him more than other parents with children the same age. RIGHT (This is completely subjective of course.) I expect this to be even more true at 10 and 15 than right now.

-By not entertaining Anders from the beginning, I will have a child that is able to entertain himself. RIGHT (By this age, Anders can play by himself for hours at a time, and entire days when we are at the farm.)

-By never dropping Anders off anywhere against his will or hiring a babysitter and leaving him against his will, I will have a child who is not clingy, happy to go to camps and have babysitters, and who is an excellent judge of those caring for him. RIGHT *Anders is also generous with me. Sometimes the babysitter available isn't a great one, but I tell him I really need a night to myself, so he says he can do that for me.


-It is not necessary to read to a child before he is three years old in order to have a child who loves to read and can read at a young age. RIGHT

-Raised with information and freedom, young children will choose to eat healthy foods in addition to unhealthy foods. RIGHT

-Raised to see their bodies as their responsibility young children will take good care of their bodies. RIGHT (Anders doesn't take as good care as I would like him too, but he does a very good job.)

-Children can be exposed to reality (including death and violence shown documentaries) and it will not make them anxious if they have competent parents and a secure attachment. RIGHT. (Though Anders did sometimes reject certain books or documentaries by saying they were too scary, he was happy to try them again later. He chooses his tolerance level.)

-Children raised in reality are focused on their futures from a young age. RIGHT.

-If brought to life with their parents rather than put in a room with other people their age, young children will act more mature than their peers. RIGHT (Though the most noticeable difference is in how he speaks. People constantly comment to me about how advanced his vocabulary and ability to communicate is.) By constantly I mean every time we go out at least once and often more; everywhere we go people comment to me that Anders speaks incredibly well.

-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun. WRONG. Despite the success of most of my hypotheses, parenting in this way is not easy and is completely exhausting. And being so different from the mainstream is stressful.

-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun if I live on a farm. RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT SOOOOOOO RIGHT

-By doing the above, parenting will be easier, less stressful, and more fun if I live in an office complex like the one I describe here: I WAS NOT ABLE TO TEST THIS ONE


-Diet makes a big difference. When Anders does have a lot of junk food, he can become quite emotional and obnoxious.

-Cavities that don't hurt don't (usually) don't need to be filled. Honest dentists do exist.

-Topical medications can cure impetigo if you are dedicated; internal antibiotics are not necessary despite the doctor dramatically insisting.

-Despite efforts to not prop Anders and other efforts to encourage core development, he still did not retain his ability to squat nor does he bend from the hips. I am currently unclear on why this is.

-Four-year-olds are competent to follow a complicated route to a store a mile away from home without help (if they have traveled it before).

-Four-year-olds are competent to purchase items on their own.

-Even the youngest of children are competent with sharp knives, provided they are supervised and taught proper chopping techniques.

-Homeschooled children can be quite advanced academically compared to their pre-schooled peers, despite spending very little time each day doing school work.

-Anders's threshold for pain is higher now. He doesn't cry as much when he gets hurt, and many times he says, "It's not a big deal," and doesn't cry at all. But otherwise he has retained his ability to cry when injured. I saw him question this when we moved to Nicaragua as the children he hangs out with are extremely stoic. He started to try to be stoic too, but after I explained to him how crying releases stress hormones and is very good for us, he made a conscious decision to allow himself to be different from his peers in that way.

-Saying "No" to things Anders asks for is not a big deal. People gawk at me refusing to buy Anders things in the grocery store and him just accepting it like it's no big deal. If it is a big deal, he lets me know, but that is the exception not the rule. In general, it just isn't a big deal to him. My own inner child can barely handle it. "How can you not care about not having candy! You have to care! What's wrong with you?!"

-I am also surprised by just how influential I am, how many instances Anders simply defers to whatever I think is best. It's hard to explain because Anders is a very opinionated and strong willed little guy, yet ... he's also very compromising and reasonable and easy to get along with.


-By eating a WAPF diet and having him take cod liver oil every day, I will have a child who has a broader palate than he would have had otherwise i.e. a child who does not need braces despite the fact that both his parents wore them. (This wont be entirely conclusive with Anders as I did not start eating the WAPF diet until right after he was born. WAPF says you have to eat their diet for two years prior to conceiving to have a child who does not need braces.)

*I am sure there will be a lot more surprises! I just don't know what they are yet...

Monday, November 7, 2016

Notes on Anders's "Education" age 5

At  5


We stopped doing the 100 Easy Lessons program at lesson 90 (so close to the end!) because when we went to the Kumon center (for math) in June, Anders insisted on starting their reading program and doing two different reading programs proved to be more work than he wanted to do every day.

Though we don't do 100 Easy Lessons anymore, Anders still insists that it is his favorite program. I continue to be unimpressed by the Kumon reading program. Their math program is great, but their reading program is more interested in kids memorizing words than in kids learning to sound things out. And they also have a social agenda going on that I don't appreciate. But Anders wants to do it, so for now, that's what we are doing.

We have not had a lot of time to read before bed lately. Anders has so much he wants to do outside during the day that he races out in the morning and only comes in at dark, passing out in seconds. Despite this, we did recently finish Little Men, Escape the Rat Race: Learn How Money Works and Become a Rich Kid, and we are half way through Beowulf, which Anders really likes.

Note: I don't buy the dumbed-down, children's versions of classic books. A big reason I read classic literature to Anders is to expose him to vocabulary to which he wouldn't otherwise be exposed. The dumbed down versions of classic books, the "kids versions," don't add anything to Anders's vocabulary.

Moreover, the kids versions all sound the same. Reading different authors and time periods requires listening to very different voices and ways of communicating; it's like learning to speak different languages. Anders is at a crucial age in which he can absorb these voices and languages without resistance. With enough exposure, his brain will remain open to them and later he won't find books by Dickens or Shakespeare overly foreign or intimidating. (Or at least, that is my hypothesis.)


On his most recent visit to the Kumon center, Anders worked for an hour and fifteen minutes without stopping, doing over 100 pages of work. He made it to level 3A in Kumon math. 3A is adding 1, 2, and 3. It is the hardest level for young kids and generally takes six months to a year to pass. (Kumon doesn't pass a kid to the next level until they are flawless and fast at their current level.)

I am a big fan of the Kumon math program, but also the Montessori math program (Kumon for the repetition and required excellence, Montessori for concretizing mathematical concepts). This is why I looked into Montessori summer programs and found one in Santa Barbara that Anders was excited to attended. He stayed after the camp for an hour three times a week for a private math lesson. He liked these lessons so much that he requested to do them every day! His Montessori teacher reported to me that when she got him he was very advanced in math, right on par with her students who are about a year ahead of public school students. By the end of her six weeks with him, she said he had done the entire upcoming school year and was now two years ahead of public school students.

In one hour, three times a week for six weeks, a kid can do the work of  an entire school year. I think this is the most surprising thing to me about homeschooling: It takes so little time.

Anders's favorite games these days are: the Montessori Pythagorus Board, the Montessori Stamp Game, and Memory. But we have not been playing games all that much as Anders has been so busy working on the farm.

Anders's Work

What is Anders so busy doing on the farm all day? Well... it all started when the kids dug the hole for the fountain one week. I was so blown away by their work, that I offered them more work, but Anders declined. He didn't want to work on my projects anymore, he wanted to work on his own, he said.

Anders negotiated with me and Tom for land. Despite his initial attempt to use the argument, "You guys have so much land, and I don't have any, so it's fair," we eventually reached an agreement, and about 1/8 of an acre--from the jocote tree to his treehouse--was deemed his.

So, Anders and his friends (whom he was referring to as his workers) spent weeks digging holes underneath and around the tree house. Then off to the nursery they went and took three dozen plants. The gardener, German, went with them to make sure everything was planted properly and now near his tree house Anders has "a farm" that includes many flower plants, an aloe vera, and some young teak and mahogany trees.

Next Anders, German, and the local kids spent a few days digging a trench that extended from the jocote tree to Anders's tree house. They put rocks in their trench and Anders announced, "This is the fence to my property." For a while he had everyone asking permission before they set foot on his land. Several of the children tired of this game and stopped coming over every day. 

When there was nothing more to plant, Anders and German worked hard cutting down shrubby guacimo trees to allow in enough light for the young rainforest trees they planted to flourish. Anders is now really good with a machete:

I am not sure when Anders will tired of this game. For now, he says it is very important to get his current acre successful, so that he can have a second acre of land.

Social Skills

Anders continues to be confident, outgoing, authoritative, and bossy. He is often compassionate. He is a ridiculously good negotiator.

Anders is very interested in girls right now as he wants to find a partner/wife. He often makes art projects and saves them "to give to his partner" when he finds her.

Anders continued to lie about his age until about a month ago. He stopped telling people he was 13 or 19 around July as he found no one believed him. He started telling people he was 6. This confused a great many people. After September the excitement about his birthday took over, and he started telling people he would be 5 on October 20.

Anders values being a person who sticks to his deals, but he is currently not quite truly capable. Which is, developmentally speaking, totally fine. He has incredible perseverance to accomplish his goals--as long as they are intrinsically motivated.

Anders tells a lot of tall tales. Often they are benign lies that are things he wishes were true. "No it wasn't me that did that, it was Moises." I might say, "I think you wish that was the truth." Often he agrees that he wishes that were the truth. Other times he becomes offended and says he is not lying. Again, developmentally speaking, lying is not a big deal at this age. I want him to understand the concept of truth, but I don't want to make it a moral thing. I tell him truth is helpful, and truthful information enables us to make better decisions, but I don't make a big deal out of it. Though I never laugh, it is extremely difficult as his tall tales are immensely entertaining.

Anders's changing phone skills: When he was younger and he was done with a call, he would just hang up. Then, as he learned the social customs associated with telephones, he would interrupt whatever the person was saying, and say, "Bye!" and hang up. In the last year he began allowing people to finish their sentences before saying, "Okay bye!" and hanging up. Recently he has started waiting until they finish their sentence sand saying, "Well, I'm done talking now. Are you done?"


Anders's favorite food these days is jocote leaves. They taste like spinach, and the kids like to climb the tree and snack on them. I am having a hard time convincing them that they need to be washed first.

Anders commented to me the other day that the men who work at our farm chew with their mouths open. Though we read the book Manly Manners, it's not like I have ever told him to close his mouth while he eats (though, come to think of it, he does).

Personal Care

Anders showers every night before bed as always. He currently takes great care in washing his body, shampooing his hair, brushing his own teeth and water-picking. His motivation for this self-care evolution is that his future partner will want a man who is nice and clean.


Anders's main interest at the moment is dinosaurs, space, and airplanes.

He loves building with his legos. Currently he builds airplanes and methane factories. 

He loves all arts and crafts projects, and especially loves my pens and markers. He does not like his much larger collection of Crayola markers, colored pencils, and crayons. He says my markers (sharpies, nice art markers, painting-pens) make much richer colors. He also prefers the thick, nice paper that I like to use to the standard printer paper that I buy him. 

Anders has watched almost no documentaries lately. He is just too busy all day. Tom brought three new Families of the World DVD's from the library in LA for us to watch, and we had to really make time to watch them.


About six weeks ago, Anders got so busy with his farm project that he stopped doing his Kumon entirely for about ten days, after which we had a conversation something like this:

Me: Anders, I notice that you haven't done your Kumon work in over a week! Do you want to keep doing the program or should we stop doing it?

Anders: I want to do it, I just don't have time right now.

Me: That's fine. Maybe we can do it again later. It's just important for me to know because it costs money every month, and if you are not going to do it, I need to cancel it, so that we are not spending $260 a month on a program you are not doing.

Anders: No! Don't cancel it! I want to do it!

Me: You may want to do it, but you are not doing it. How about I wait until the end of the month to cancel it? If you start doing it again, I won't cancel it, but if you still aren't doing it, then I can cancel it. Is that good?

Anders: It's great! But I'm going to do it!

Me: Okay. (Totally non-committed, not having an opinion one way or the other.)

But the next day he did four days worth of pages (which I did not suggest, that was all him) and the following day he did two days worth of pages, and after that he has stuck to doing his daily pages.

Average day in Santa Barbara:

7am wake, dress, eat
730am walk to camp
8:00am camp
2:30pm math tutor
3:00pm swim in hotel pool, play 
5:00pm dinner and Kumon
6:30pm get ready for bed, read
6:45pm I start reading, and by the end of the first page Anders is asleep.

Average day at the farm:

5:30am wake, get dressed, rush outside to work with German

7:00am breakfast
7:10am back to work with German
11:30am lunch, Anders runs to the dining room when the lunch bell is rung; we talk about what we are up to; he eats very fast and rushes back out
11:45am back to work with German 
2:00pm swimming
3:00pm Legos
4:00pm dinner and Kumon
5:00pm get ready for bed
6:00pm Anders gets into bed with paper and a pen and plans his day for the next day
6:30pm I start reading and by the end of the first page Anders is asleep.

Notes on Anders's "Education" age 4 2/3

At  4 2/3


We stopped doing the Hooked on Phonics program (somewhere in the second half of first grade) and now we do solely the 100 Easy Lessons program. We have made it to lesson 80. Each lesson includes practicing a series of words and then reading a story that has those words in it. After lesson 70 or so, Anders started reading the story first. That way he would know which words he didn't know and needed to practice. Then we would go back and do the lesson, practicing just those words that he didn't know in the story and skipping the rest that he (rightly) found to be needless repetition. I continue to be impressed with his ability to direct his own learning and make whatever program we are doing work for him.

Though we no longer do any of the Hooked on Phonics lessons, Anders still likes to read the little books to himself.

In the last few months, we have read a lot of fairy tales. I am quite disturbed by them. Almost all of them seem to teach a "poor person" philosophy: Success in life is based on luck and magic; good people are people who do what they are told and never try to better their lives or are altruistic to a masochistic degree; good people are rewarded for their goodness by some benevolent, magical power. The only other path to success in life presented in Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales, is to be cunning, and trick other people out of their money. No one in these stories finds success in life because of consistent, dedicated hard work and moral behavior toward others.

I cannot recommend these stories for anyone's children.

A little research, of course, revealed that fairy tales ARE poor people stories! According to Ken Mondschein, Phd, who wrote the long introduction at the front of my 652 page Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales:

"Fairy tales are, after all, a form of folk tale. They were works of low culture – very unlike the stories of valiant knights and holy saints that the rich paid poets to compose in the Middle Ages.... For centuries, fairy tales were usually considered outside the bounds of refined taste. ... The Grimms intended their work to be the psychic bricks and mortar of a new Germany. This was a product of their time. ... The Grimms portrayed themselves as recording the authentic German spirit and culture, which they believed was not in the hands of the literary and sophisticated elites, but was instead unconsciously manifested through the words and deeds of the common people."

Despite my dislike of the values taught in fairy tales, they are part of our "cultural knowledge." References are made constantly to the them, especially in children's games, so knowing the stories is important. I would rather Anders's references to the fairy tales be the stories than the Disney movies based on the stories that teach the same terrible life philosophy but in a far more manipulative way.

So, I did decide to read the fairy tales to Anders, but with a lot of care and conversation, as if I were reading him statist propaganda. We talked about what values each story was selling, and what the hero would have done if he thought like a successful person.

After the fairy tales we read a book of Norse myths, which I liked a lot more. The gods in the Norse myths are very proactive at achieving their goals. I also enjoyed using the picture of Yggdrasil to start talking to Anders about how our brains work. (Yggdrasil is the best concretized picture of human consciousness I have come across.)

After the Norse myths we read a book of Greek myths that included a kids version of The Odyssey. It is insane to me that today an intellectual education includes having read The Odyssey. Like the fairy tales, this is not a work of high literature. This is the trashy super hero comic of its day. In ancient Greece, the intellectual class considered the Iliad and Odyssey stories for common people. Uncommon people read philosophy to their children.


Anders is still very into his Kumon program. When we were in LA, he stopped by the Kumon center and took tests and did work for 45 minutes straight. He has made it to level 4A in the Kumon math program. This means he is still counting to 100, and not yet doing addition--though he can definitely add. We have a Montessori adding game that we play, and Anders can add 1, 2, and 3 to even big numbers pretty effortlessly. (Big numbers mean numbers like 55 or 117, numbers less than 120.)

Anders loves the games Go Fish, Monopoly Junior, and Set Junior. All of these I think help with math. He still shows very little interest in doing puzzles.

Social Skills

Anders continues to impress me with his social skills. At his spring break camps you would have had no idea that this kid was being homeschooled on a farm in the jungle. He made friends easily with everyone and shocked me with his ability to line up and follow orders.

He still has no problem playing with girls. He chooses his next reading book based on whether the plot sounds interesting, not the gender of the main character. This is interesting to me as four-year-old boys I was a nanny for would never have let me read them things like Anne of Green Gables or The Secret Garden.

According to his camp counselor, Anders introduced himself to the other campers as Tree Thomas Anders Ragnar Wolf Balto Garrett. He also told them he is 13 and from Europe.

One behavioral change I noticed after Anders attended camp for four weeks was that he began to constantly report, throughout the day, on whether he was a good boy or a bad boy and on whether I was a good mom or a bad mom.

Anders likes to walk into restaurants with which he is familiar all by himself. He tells me I can come in five minutes. He gets the table and asks for waters. Sometimes he even orders. Only then am I welcome to show up. He likes playing "ladies and gentleman" at the restaurant, and putting his napkin on his lap, but thinks ladies should pull out chairs for gentleman and not the other way around.

When Anders has a babysitter come he opens the door and tells the babysitter what the plan is for the day. He sees himself as the boss in that relationship. If he does not enjoy being with a babysitter, he tells me when I get home, and I never hire her again. Interestingly, though I always tell him he can call me if there are any issues, he never has. He just waits until I get home and tells me he didn't really like the sitter. When I asked him why he did this, he told me that he wanted me to have my time off.

The most common form of play in Nicaragua involves some scenario in which the kids run around shooting each other. If they ever pretend to shoot an adult, the adult generally pretends to die a very dramatic death. So before we went to the US for spring break, I warned him people in the US are obsessed with kids not pretending to shoot at them. He experimented with pretty much the first adult with whom he came into contact in the US. He pretended to shoot her; she got very upset. Having discovered that what I had warned him about was, in fact, true, Anders didn't attempt to shoot anyone again the entire time we were in LA. The minute we got back to Nicaragua he started shooting people right and left. I always thought the "consistency!" parenting myth was bunk, and now I am sure it is. Children are fully capable of learning all the different if-then situations adults are.

Another example of this: Anders knows if someone in the US pats his head or pinches his cheek, he can tell them not to touch him, and they will apologize immediately. He knows this does not work in Nicaragua and asking adults not to touch him will make them laugh and touch him more. Likewise, when you get hurt in LA, everyone comforts you. In Nicaragua if you get hurt, the other kids laugh at you.

Anders asked me why this was, and I explained that I am not sure, but I believe that the people we hang out with in Nicaragua (the workers on our farm and other farmers and their children) are lower class and the people we hang out with in LA are middle class and upper class. My understanding is that lower class people are toughened up. Pain is something you laugh at. Upper class kids are trained to be sensitive and empathetic. I always tell him it is good to know both ways, so when in Rome, you know what the custom is. Then I asked him what he wants the custom to be in his family, and he said that he likes to be comforted.

One final example of children's ability to compartmentalize correct social behaviors for varying situations is with "bad" words. I use the words: ass, shit, damnit, fuck, asshole, and jerk. And though I make an effort not to swear around people who are bothered by it, I don't give a damn the rest of the time because I don't really buy into the idea that some words are "bad." Anders knows these swear words, and though he rarely uses them, when he does, he uses the them correctly.

Before our recent trip to Los Angeles, I explained to Anders that some people think of certain words as "bad" and will get upset with him for using them. I told him what the bad words were and just like that he stopped using them for the entire trip to LA. Unlike the shooting example, he did not feel the need to test my veracity.

Because bad words are not "bad" to Anders, when he wants to say something really mean to someone, he calls them silly, or a silly bunny, or a foo foo. When he says these words, he has such a sneer on his face, it is clear he is trying to be mean. Insults are so much more about tone and the expression than the actual word!

One last note: "Ass" is frequently used in the book The Wind and the Willows and "cock" is used in all books before the 1900's. These are relatively new "bad" words.


Anders spends a lot of time pretending that he is writing a book.

He also plays with Legos a lot. One time I overhead him playing a game with his Legos in which bad guys knocked down fences and stole cows.

He never plays games in which he has magical powers or is a superhero. When he wants to pretend he is very powerful, he pretends he is very rich or "the government" or a really good fighter.


Anders continues to be very easy to feed. He went on a mustard kick for a while, putting mustard on everything at every meal for about two months. About once a week he requests "something junky" which is generally juice, chips, or cookies.

We continue to talk about nutrition and health whenever it comes up. Anders enjoys the story I tell him about his body fighting a war on his teeth and how eating sugar gives weapons to the bacteria trying to attack his teeth and make holes in them, whereas eating kefir arms the good bacteria and eating sardines and milk make his teeth stronger and harder to attack.

Personal Care Skills

There is no bath at the farm, so Anders showers. Sometimes he stays in the shower for thirty minutes, sometimes thirty seconds. Either way he showers every night before bed. Sometimes I ask him to shower (so that he smells good when we cuddle!) but everyone who says children raised without coercion won't bathe is just ... afraid of all the wrong things.


Anders became very interested in whales, dolphins, and orcas recently and has watched about six documentaries on them. He knows more about them than I do and uses words like "archeoplast" that I have to Google in order to understand what he is talking about.

He is also very interested in rich people and poor people, bosses and employees, Nicaraguans and Americans, farms and construction, and cars and advertising. Which is to say, he is interested in the world to which he has been exposed.

His favorite activity (in my opinion) is going through my stuff. He goes through item by item and wants to know what everything is for, and then he plays a game with it.

He loves to pretend to cook and makes a lot of "meals" out of things he picks from all over the farm.

He has completely taken over paying the workers. I hand him a stack of envelopes with eighteen different names written on them, and he takes it from there.

Anders still enjoys Ted Ed videos, especially those about the human body. He also likes animal and space documentaries, and any show about construction. His full moon fiction movies have included: Sleeping Beauty, Winnie-the-Pooh, Zootopia, Ratatouille, and Anne of Green Gables.

Other Notes

Anders knows all the days of the week, and in the right order. No idea how he learned this.

When he grows up, Anders plans to take over his father's company, Garrett Associates. He is quite firm in this. He was interested in being a writer like me, a fireman, and a rock scientist until he found out how much money his father made comparatively.

It fascinates me how he seems to design his own preschool program--painting, drawing, mazes, gluing, cutting, sculpting. He finds something interesting while going through my stuff (scissors!) and develops an obsession with them for a month or so. Recently it has been cutting and glueing. Before that it was painting and mazes. Before that it was sculpting things out of this clay-like mud he found. I never said, "Let's sculpt things out of clay!" or "Let's cut and paste!" He just finds these things and starts doing them.

Anders's Average day at the farm:

7:00am wake, cuddle, talk about our day, get dressed
7:30am have breakfast, say "hi" to workers, give instructions
8:00am-12:00pm Yesnir and Jesslyn come over; they all watch the workers and check out progress on the building. They build toys out of scrap wood, run around, swim, play in tree house, dig in the mud, sculpt things, pick something from a tree and eat it, crack coyol nuts
12:00pm lunch, Anders and I check in
12:30pm Anders heads back to playing with his friends, or perhaps he is bored with them and joins German for a few hours of chopping away the jungle or planting something. Anders has gotten quite skilled with a machete.
3:00pm the kids sit down and ask for their workbooks
4:00pm they swim
5:00pm we have dinner
5:30pm the kids play tag or hide and seek
6:00pm get ready for bed, read, cuddle, talk
8:00pm go to sleep

Anders's Average day attending camp in the city:

7:00am wake, rush through breakfast and dressing
7:30am leave the hotel, walk or drive to camp
8:00am-2:00pm Camp
2:00pm walk or drive home
2:30pm decompress with quiet, alone play
3:30pm do an errand, swim in hotel pool
4:30pm kumon
5:00pm dinner
6:00pm get ready for bed, read, cuddle, talk
8:00pm go to sleep