May 30, 2014

Acceptance and Unconditional Love

My last post on Gender Creativity got an OVERWHELMING response. (including a reader in France who reached out and offered a kind supportive email).  Who knew that people around the WORLD were reading the ramblings of a Northwoods Minnesota Mama???

Crazy huh?

If you missed it, read it HERE.

Most of the response was really, REALLY good.  People telling me it warmed their heart and that I was such a good mom.  All of which made me feel really good about myself.  However, the bigger message in my blog was not individual to Tanner, or me, or even my parenting style.  As I go back and reread my own words, I see that it is really about acceptance and unconditional love.

It is about supporting ALL of my children in the choices they make and finding their true selves.  Their happy place.  A place to not only thrive but SOAR. Accepting who they are and helping them do the same for themselves.

Each day, I find a new pocket of my heart that wasn’t there before.  A place that used to be filled with sass and wild oats to be sewn. A space that is now being replaced with the sort of love that brings tears to my eyes.  I think THAT is what they call unconditional love.  I will love you no matter what, through everything, because of everything and despite of everything.  THAT kind of love.

So, if my post made anyone on this planet think a little deeper about accepting those who are different and loving them through it, then I am happy.  If it made someone think twice about how we love our children, about how simple it is to choose love and acceptance over fear and shame then I am full. Then one more of those unknown pockets of my heart just got filled with a little more love for humanity.

So thank you for your love, support, acceptance and understanding.  It surely goes a long way in this world.



May 22, 2014

Gender Creativity

Those of you who know me know that I live my life out loud.  I share a lot of photos and activities that I do with my family.  I do this for a couple reasons: 1)I generally love my life and have a tendency to share and gush about things that float my boat 2)I live in a fairly isolated part of the world (unless you count bears and the occasional porcupine?) I like to share my days and children with family and friends in an effort to stay connected to them.  I love that my in-laws can share in my children’s lives even when they can’t be right here.  It is the wonderful side of using social media.

DSC_0486See what I mean about the porcupine??


I have realized that there is one aspect of my life that I haven’t particularly addressed and that is Tanner’s gender creativity.  We obviously aren’t hiding it, a fact that is quite evident in the 650 photos I post annually to Facebook.  As he gets older and continues with his non-conformist ways, I find myself fielding more questions or WORSE encountering well-intentioned moms and friends who decide to not broach the subject for fear of offending me or not saying “the right” thing.  I’m here to answer ALL your questions, in one handy dandy blog post.


*Side note:  I’d like to preface my Q&A with the fact that I FIRMLY believe we live in a society that misguidedly forces gender roles on to their children.  I don’t think we are doing it with ill-intention.  However, I feel that promoting the individual by listening to and promoting likes and desires will get you MUCH, MUCH farther than putting our children into either a pink or blue box and ALL that entails.**


Let’s start with the doozey I get asked: Why does he wear dresses, leggings, “girl clothes”?

I don’t know.  Why are you wearing jeans?  It’s really just that simple. He likes them.  They are comfortable him and make him happy, which is the general purpose of fashion isn’t it?


What does Paul think?

Have any of you met Paul??  He has been bending the rules of what is “normal” for YEARS.  From his long hair, to his speedo um….I mean choice of swimwear, Paul is a born rule-breaker.  He asks the question why not?  He follows his heart and speaks his mind in gentle, respectful way that I can’t help but be in awe of his charisma.  So, in short, I can’t speak for him but I can guess that Paul would say something fabulously simple to convey his unconditional love and support for all 3 of our children.


Does he dress himself?

(This seems silly but I have gotten asked this.) Yes, both Emmy Lu and Tanner get to pick their own clothes and get dressed themselves EVERY day. (And I have started practicing with Hattie too) If we have a place to go, I might make a couple suggestions but the final choice and task of getting dressed is left to them. (With minor help from me with buttons, ties, etc)  It is an important part of development for children that fosters independence and creativity so yes, I don’t only “let him” dress himself, I basically make him.


Are you a boy or a girl?

Tanner just got asked this on the playground yesterday by another child. “Girl,” he said.  “Ok,” said the child and they continued off playing.  Right now Tanner identifies more with being female, he calls himself a girl.  While pretending, he prefers to be the princess (mainly Elsa), or mommy vs. being the prince or daddy.  Again, we don’t tell him that either is right or wrong, only that he can be whoever he wants to be.


Are you raising all of your children without gender?

No we aren’t. Rather than having all gendered or all non-gendered activities/toys/etc, I just try to focus my attention on individuality.  Each person is unique with a set of likes/dislikes, interests and passions.  Each of my children express their own interests that I try to cultivate.  None of us fit into just one predetermined category, which is why I am a juxtaposition of happy housewife circa 1950 and raging feminist. 


Is he gay?

He’s 4.  His sexual preference is not even on our radar yet.  Our main goal is to raise happy, loving, well-adjusted people.  However, if in the future, any of our children feel in their heart that loving a person of the same sex is important to them then they will have a family who still loves, supports and encourages them.  Again, it’s really that simple.


What do you (Heidi) think about it?

As a mama bear, I can’t help but want to shield all of my children from hurt and harm.  I realize that individuality isn’t always valued and celebrated by others as it is in our home.  I worry about him encountering unkind or ignorant children and adults. However, I find comfort in the fact that I can build my children’s self-esteem and give them tools to deal with any of the struggles they may face in their lives.  It is why I pour so much of myself into parenting.  I am not raising children, I am raising future adults (hopefully REALLY cool and likeable adults).


Is this why you decided to homeschool?

I’m not going to lie and say this had ZERO influence our decision to homeschool but it actually had very little.  I want to homeschool for a variety of different reasons and because it resonates with my heart and soul as the right direction for us to try right now.  You can read about that here.


Lastly, How should we treat him?

Obviously, people don’t ask this question but I can tell that some people are uncomfortable or unsure with how to react when he talks about being a girl, etc.  My advice is to treat him like the smart, articulate child he is.  He is very special, but not because he wears dresses.  He is special for a million other reasons.  He has ability to read people and situations like no other.  He is kind and sweet.  He is easy to laugh and tells ridiculously confusing “knock-knock” jokes. He has taught me so much about myself and smiles every single time I tell him that he was the first one to teach me how to be a mommy.  As my sister said, “I think Tanner is just so special.  He is going to teach all of us so much about life.  He already has, and he’s only 4!”

He’s just a boy (or girl) who likes to wear dresses (or not).  It’s just that simple.


If you have any questions please feel free to ask or e-mail me @


Also, there are TONS of resources out there for gender creative kids or gender non-conformist kids.  It’s easy to individualize an issue to a particular family or child but there are literally THOUSANDS of families with little boys and girls who don’t fit in the gender boxes assigned to them by society.

May 12, 2014

Week in Review- Preschool Unit: Spring

Last week marked out first week of mini school.  I chose the very fitting topic of spring since it is just beginning here in the northland.  We are still working on our daily routine but this past week, we’ve been starting our school time at 9:00 am with a circle time.  That seems to be best.  We tried, 8 am but that was just a little too early to have every up, fed and dressed before we began.  We did lots of activities from painting pet rocks, to looking for worms, to dancing to some new spring songs, to reading about the seasons, to playing “slap a letter” on our new alphabet board from dollar tree.  As part of my weekly goals, I like to do activities that cultivate different types of learning.  This week we did math, science, art, reading/writing along,  and creativity/music movement.  The kids seemed to love it and we were able to fill our mornings with “school work” and afternoons with adventures related to our topic. (We were even able to cut out TV or screen time on a majority of our days).

I used some  spring printables from 3 Dinosaurs.  There are LOADS of free printable activities.  I just picked and chose what I thought we would use. It is an AWESOME resource. Check them out if you are looking for some free preschool and tot  themed printables.


Here’s is our first week of school in pictures.

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Since I have a major volunteer commitment this week with our local ECFE fundraiser, school is going to be a little lighter this week.  We are continuing along the lines of spring and doing a Gardening Unit. We kicked off this area of learning with a visit to a local green house on Saturday and planting some of my planters for the front of our house. This week will be picking a new letter of the week, planting seeds, and talking about how plants grow.  My little nature lovers will hopefully love it!!



May 6, 2014

Spring Flowers Craft

This week the kids and I started mini school.  What is “mini school” you ask??  Well, I wanted a way to ease the kids into a new routine and get a feel to where they were at developmentally.  So before jumping into the deep end of homeschooling this fall, we are getting our feet wet with themed learning each week.  This week’s unit is “Spring has Sprung” (which by the way is totally debatable here in the Northwoods.  I still have a snow bank in my yard!!). 

I’ll give an entire week in review on Friday but I wanted to share a quick craft with you; foam flowers.

I picked up some foam sheets at my favorite dollar store, Dollar Tree.  Seriously, this is like the mecca for awesome homeschool supplies for CHEAP!!


Here’s a run down of what I did:

I drew some leaf, petal and center stencils on cardboard, then traced them onto the foam.  I then cut them all out.  Both Emmy and Tanner, enjoyed making combinations of flowers and creating their little foam gardens.  Super easy, super cheap and it seemed like the kids enjoyed it.  We will definitely be playing with these again this week and possibly gluing them down on Friday to make some flower foam art to hang on our fridge.  It is a great quiet time activity that requires them to use fine motor, representation and symbolic thinking, and learning and problem solving.  Who knew you could get all that for $1.00?!?!?










Aren’t they cute?

This was mine.  Of course, I forgot to snap pictures while the kids were playing with them.  I’ll try to get some tomorrow.

May 2, 2014

First Day-May 2014

First off let me say, PLEASE visit Nicole’s blog and send her your positive thoughts, prayers, etc.  She had a rather unexpected first day which ended up with a hospital admittance for her son Gabe.  The girl is humble as can be but I assure you that she is nothing short of amazing!!!  Thinking of you Nicole!!


Now onto our First Day!  Enjoy!





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^^^He DOES exist!!!  And he does dishes!!!! ^^^


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With Paul’s work schedule, he doesn’t have much time for projects OR with the kids.  We put Hattie to bed and let the oldest two come outside with us while we did some chores.  They walked back in the woods to see how full our ponds were and listened to the frogs and birds settle in for the night.  They were happy as can be.  Sleep can happen any night but these memories with their daddy are priceless!!


I hope you all had a wonderful first day too!!!