Blissfully Informed Hippie Chick

Encouraging people to think critically about everything.

If the U.S is a Christian Nation, Was Iraq a Crusade?

“If we blame all of Islam for 9/11, I guess we need to blame all of Christianity for the Holocaust.”

This is the best line I’ve read in a long time!

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Our Friend… Our Enemy…

I love this post, and I couldn’t agree more!

FreedomFamily7

I’m only offering the truth…

There is a scene in the movie, The Matrix, where Morpheus tells Neo this:

“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Well, here’s how this plays out in our lives. The last quote by Neo that says: “I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t…

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De-criminalizing Homelessness

A spirited conversation about an article I posted on Facebook has inspired me to write about something I feel very strongly about: ending homelessness. I believe that we could virtually eliminate it. And I believe that it should be our duty to do so. Not as citizens, not as religious individuals, but as humans. In my opinion, no one deserves to be homeless.

But what about the fact that many homeless individuals are drug addicts and twisted sex offenders? Well, who’s going to hire a homeless registered sex offender who’s addicted to meth? You? I think we need to ask ourselves if it’s the homeless who choose to be homeless or the government creating homelessness by the laws that they pass; thereby, making it impossible for a homeless individual to become a productive member of society.

Those registered sex offenders…what was their crime? Did they rape little boys? Or did they just pee on the street while some kid was walking by? Perhaps they committed one of these “offenses”:
http://www.businessinsider.com/surprising-things-that-could-make-you-a-sex-offender-2013-10

Or perhaps they were convicted as a child of a “sexual offense”, and forced to be registered for the rest of their lives:
http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/05/01/12594/report-details-lives-ruined-children-put-sex-offender-registries

The truth is, none of us know for sure based only on the sex offender registries online. Unfortunately, any one of those trivial offenses could make it nearly impossible to NOT be homeless in a lot of cities. This article tells the story of one man who was forced into homelessness by being registered as a sex offender:
http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2004172751_peirce11.html

Furthermore, being addicted to drugs is a precursor to perpetual homelessness in a lot of cases. Conviction of possession leads to jail time, which leads to decreased ability to get a job, which leads to increased risk of homelessness. And all the while, the individual is still addicted to meth. Which leads to another conviction for possession, more jail time, and an even smaller chance of finding a job. Etc, etc. Not to mention, addicts are more likely to commit petty theft in order to obtain more drugs, and some of them are more likely to get into a fight because certain drugs increase aggression in a person. Both instances would likely land the addict in jail yet again. Jail does nothing to actually fix the problem of addiction, it simply makes it more and more unlikely that the addict will ever get clean and stop being homeless.

Instead of criminalizing addiction, maybe we should try something else, like what Portugal did.  Offering treatment instead of sending the addict to jail. It worked extremely well for them, as their rates of drug use have plummeted:
http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html

Or I suppose we could continue down the path of completely criminalizing homelessness. That should solve everything, right?

Instead of fining people who live on the streets, a far more effective approach is simply to give them homes. This doesn’t only help homeless people, who get the stability of four walls and a roof, but also benefits cities and taxpayers. A recent study in Florida found that, after accounting for law enforcement and hospitalization expenses, it costs taxpayers $31,065 per year for every homeless person who lives on the streets. Giving them housing and supportive services, on the other hand, comes with an annual cost of just $10,051.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/10/23/3583327/san-antonio-homeless-citations/

Tiny house villages are cropping up all over the country as a way to end homelessness.

Advocate Tina Lamberts noted that there are several places in the community where people can get meals or stay in a shelter.
“What they really can’t get is a place to call their own, and the privacy and dignity that comes with that,” she said. “Really, the person needs the stability of a roof over their heads and knowing where they’re going to be day after day.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/21/tiny-houses-aim-help-homeless/14411661/

It’s really sad that the majority of our government officials, supposedly representatives of the average American citizen, are working on criminalizing homelessness; while the average American citizens are working to eradicate it by offering these individuals support, rather than jail and fines. To be fair, not all city and state governments are following the trend of criminalizing homelessness. Utah has decided to take a different route:

Utah began giving away apartments to homeless individuals after realizing how much money could be saved. Policymakers realized that, on average, it costs about $16,670 a year to jail a person and $11,000 a year to set him or her up with an apartment and social work. Since a program called Housing First was launched in 2006, homelessness in Utah has decreased 78 percent, despite a recession-fueled plunge in median income. The state estimates that all Utahans will be housed by next year.

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/the-growing-criminalizationofhomelessness.html

Who are these homeless people, anyway? Why should we care? First of all, they are humans. One thing that sets us apart from most other animals is our capacity for empathy. That alone should be our driving force to end homelessness. If that’s not enough, here is a breakdown of who exactly is homeless in America:

While circumstances can vary, the main reason people experience homelessness is because they cannot find housing they can afford. It is the scarcity of affordable housing in the United States, particularly in more urban areas where homelessness is more prevalent, that is behind their inability to acquire or maintain housing.

By the numbers:

There are 610,042 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
Of that number, 222,197 are people in families, and
387,845 are individuals.
About 18 percent of the homeless population – 109,132 – are considered “chronically homeless,”and
About 9 percent of homeless adults- 57,849 – are veterans.

http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/snapshot_of_homelessness

Don’t forget, children can be homeless, too:

There is a common misconception that homelessness is an issue that only pertains to single men and women, but in reality thousands of families a year will experience homelessness.  In fact, 41% of the homeless population is comprised of families. (National Alliance to End Homelessness). Homelessness is a devastating experience for families.  It disrupts virtually every aspect of family life, damaging the physical and emotional health of family members, interfering with children’s education and development, and frequently resulting in the separation of family members. 

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/families.html

So what are you going to do about it? Will you work towards ending homelessness, or will you turn a blind eye to this, the face of homelessness in America?

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Shopping: An Olympic Sport

OK, maybe not for everyone. But you try taking 4 kids grocery shopping and then let me know if you feel like you’ve just run a marathon!

I was going to take the kids to the library. Pulled into the parking lot and realized it’s Wednesday, one of the days the library is closed. *sigh* Well, then, we will just go to the store, I decided. I needed milk, bread, and a couple other things. So off we drove to Target.

Let me back up a bit first. You have to realize, by the point we were in the car driving, part of the marathon had already taken place. I got Natalie, the toddler, to sleep for her nap. Robert, the baby, had just woken up from his nap. I asked Meghan, my 8 year old, too sit next to Natalie, in case she woke up; Elizabeth, my 10 year old, sat next to Robert and kept him happy. I jumped in the shower because I don’t know when I showered last! I had a luxurious 5 minutes alone, then started getting dressed. Crap, I forgot to grab clean underwear. I ask Elizabeth to run grab me some. Meghan informs me that Natalie is awake. Already? Oh well, maybe she’ll go to bed before 9:30 tonight! I finish dressing, put on lotion, start brushing my hair, and head out of the bathroom. I instruct the big girls to put on clean clothes, Elizabeth brushes her hair, I brush Meghan’s and Natalie’s hair. I send Elizabeth to get Natalie’s pants after Elizabeth changes her diaper. I put on deodorant and perfume.  I get the diaper bag ready and feed Robert. Elizabeth gets Natalie some juice to take. Meghan puts her hair in a ponytail. Robert finishes eating, so I put him in the car seat, find my shoes, and we head out. Elizabeth takes Natalie, I take Robert in his seat, and Meghan takes the diaper bag. I grab the double stroller on the way out. Elizabeth puts Natalie in her seat, I put Robert’s seat in the car, then I put the double stroller in the trunk. Everyone else buckles and off we go!

So where were we? Oh yes, on our way to Target! After parking, I have to get the stroller out, put Robert and Natalie in, and we head into the store. We spend maybe 10 minutes looking for birthday presents for my sister, then head to the food section. At about this point, Robert starts fussing. I try to hurry, I really do. But I read labels religiously now. We only buy whole foods; organic and non-GMO, if possible. And I can’t have wheat, soy, or dairy because of Robert’s sensitivities. So grocery shopping is slow-going at times. Robert quickly gets very unhappy, so I pick him up. Now Meghan pushes the stroller while Elizabeth pushes the cart. I have to keep one eye on Elizabeth, one eye on Meghan, and one eye on the food in trying to pick out. Wait… that’s one too many eyes! Oh, right, I forgot about the eyes in the back of my head!  😉  Oh, lovely, Robert is filling his diaper. He can wait until we get out to the car, right?

Once we’re done getting food, after about hurried 20 minutes, we head to the checkout. Meghan wants to buy something she saw in the dollar section, so I park the stroller and cart and tell her and Elizabeth to go quickly get it. I wait a few minutes and realize, they’re NOT hurrying. I wait a couple minutes more, then put Robert back in the stroller, leave the cart, and push the stroller over and tell Meghan to get what she wants and LET’S GO!

Finally checking out. I’m trying to keep Robert from crying while answering the young cashier’s silly questions about healthy cereal and reminding Meghan to wait behind me to pay for her own stuff. The cashier’s age becomes apparent when she compliments me on my Jack shirt (Nightmare Before Christmas) and comments that she grew up watching that movie. Thanks for making me feel old. I remember it coming out when I was like 10.

Anyway, done checking out, headed to the car. Put groceries in trunk, tell Elizabeth to put Natalie in the car, tell Meghan to put the cart away, realize Robert pooped through his clothes. I think a *facepalm* is appropriate here. Lay him on the front seat with a burp cloth underneath. Have Meghan give me a plastic bag to put dirty things in, then tell her to start the car so we can have air (yes, it’s still warm enough for AC in the car here in central California). Use like 8 wipes cleaning up the wiggling baby, praying he doesn’t pee on me. Have Elizabeth take the dirty diaper to the trash. Put Robert in his car seat. Go fix Natalie’s twisted car seat strap. Realize I should have put the stroller in the trunk first. Spend several minutes wrangling it into the trunk. At this point, I’m sure we’ve spent 20 minutes just getting everyone and everything back into the car! I’m sweating and out of breath and grateful the library was closed! 

After we got home, I’m mostly grateful that my husband was here to help bring in the groceries and put them away! Now that I’ve had my hour and a half break while feeding and rocking Robert, it’s time to change another poopy diaper and help hubby make dinner 😉

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Pizza with Cauliflower Base – Gluten Free Pizza Base

OK, this is going to be our next pizza crust!

Cooking Up The Pantry

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It took me quite a long time to get my head around cauliflower as a pizza crust, it just didn’t make sense to me!

However, it does work, amazingly effective and nice and simple to make at the same time as the regular pizzas in our house.

This recipe made 2x30cm pizzas, the photo is deceptive!

Ingredients

1 cauliflower, around 900g, leaves trimmed

1 egg, beaten

100g Parmesan, grated

Method

Trim the cauliflower and, using a food processor, process the stalks first, then add the rest so that you have a very fine crumb.

Pop the cauliflower in a microwavable bowl, cover, and blast for 8-10mins until cooked.

Pour into a fine mesh sieve and allow to sit, draining any liquid as it cools.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Centigrade.

Once cool enough to handle pour into a bowl and add the egg and cheese, mix well.

Line two…

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Lime, Oregano and Smoky Chipotle Roast Chicken

Another recipe to try! I have some Cornish game hens I might try it with =)

Cooking Up The Pantry

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I seem to be cooking with a lot of limes at the moment, maybe it’s with the start of summer and the temperature rising. This chicken is in the oven for longer than normal, this is to allow me to runaround picking up and dropping off the boys at their various playing fields and it makes the most succulent chicken that I pull off the bones and chop, skin and all, and serve with tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Leftovers are perfect for filling quesadillas and the stock from the bones  makes an amazing stock for black bean soup. Serves 8-10. Ingredients 2 x 1.2-1.4kg chickens 3 limes 4 tablespoons oil A handful of fresh oregano 4 cloves garlic 4 teaspoons chipotle chilli powder 2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika 2 teaspoons salt freshly ground pepper Method Preheat the oven to160 degrees Centigrade. Process the zest and juice of the…

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Lime Cookies – Gluten and Egg free

This sounds so yummy! I hope I can make it with coconut oil!

Cooking Up The Pantry

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I came up with these as we were using lime in our dinner, Pad Thai, and I didn’t want to waste the lovely lime zest!

These little morsels are gluten free,  egg free and lovely and crumbly.

Makes 30.

Ingredients

200g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

200g ground almonds

50g coconut flour

zest of two limes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Add the almonds, coconut and lime zest and beat to a smooth dough.

Roll into small balls.

Place on the prepared tray, use a fork to flatten.

Bake for 10-15mins, keep and eye on them.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.

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Breakfast Potatoes

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One of my favorite foods to make for breakfast is potatoes. OK, let’s be honest, my favorite food is potatoes! I’m an Irish girl at heart. I’m like an Irish Bubba Gump =D So here’s my recipe so breakfast potatoes:

-Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with olive oil (I’ve also used grape seed or coconut oil).
-Dice potatoes, about 4 large red ones or the equivalent. I like to mix red potatoes with purple or Yukon gold when I have them. Put the potatoes in the dish.
-Dice one bell pepper of whatever color you like and add it to the dish.
-Dice 2 medium-sized tomatoes of any color and those to the dish. Use your imagination! There are red, purple, yellow, orange, and green tomatoes!
-Mince 3 large cloves of garlic and about 1/8 of a large red onion (or whatever color onion you prefer) and sprinkle those on top of the veges.
-Top with salt and pepper and whatever herbs you like (fresh, if possible). I like basil most.
-Cover with foil and bake at 425 for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

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Breastfeeding on Demand

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I feel like a bit of a zombie. My 2 1/2 month old son has been waking in the wee hours of the morning and not wanting to go back to sleep. This is the 3rd night he’s done it, and the interrupted sleep is definitely getting to me. He will wake and nurse, then just lay there and fuss and wiggle when he’s done, not wanting to go back to sleep. After a little while, he indicates that he is hungry again, so I offer him my breast again. Sometimes, I’ll doze off for a few minutes and wake up to him upset because he’s lost my nipple. This will go on for a couple hours, and then he falls back asleep, generally shortly before my 14 month old wakes for the day. But I know I’m meeting his current needs, so I suppose I just have to let the housework slide for the time being while I trudge through the day.

I believe in breastfeeding on demand. Now that I’ve actually written that statement, it occurs to me how wrong I think it is that I have to have a belief in breastfeeding naturally.

Babies don’t follow schedules. They have no knowledge of time. They don’t know how to read a clock. They don’t know what the moon or sun are and how the earth interacts with them. Babies don’t know have an understanding of years, days, or minutes. So isn’t it absurd to think that a baby should, or even could, be forced to adhere to some arbitrary schedule made up by his parents? But that’s just what happens. Babies are expected to eat and sleep on a strict schedule, sometimes from the very beginning of their life outside the womb. This ends up being a source of stress for most babies, and in turn parents, because it’s simply not natural.
Here is an excerpt from a wonderful article that explains in depth why humans should be feeding their babies on demand:

Human breastfeeding seems designed to operate on an on-demand basis. When babies determine the timing and duration of their feeds, they are more likely to get what they need. Breast milk production increases or decreases in response to the baby’s demand. Breast milk quality may improve.

If breastfeeding evolved as an “on demand” operation, mightn’t babies have evolved the psychology to go with it? It’s speculative, but the evidence is consistent. Feeding reduces pain and stress.

Moreover, a recent study hints that feeding on demand leads to better cognitive outcomes — for breastfed and bottle-fed babies alike.

– See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-feeding-schedule.html#sthash.XYXcJE2G.dpuf

http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-feeding-schedule.html

Although not addressed in this article, I also believe that babies fed on demand are less likely to be overweight later on. Overeating can cause the brain to not recognize the signal that the stomach is full. If a baby is forced to eat at a certain time, whether they’re hungry or not, I think it’s safe to assume that their brain could lose the ability to recognize the “full” signal early on.

Yes, it’s sometimes inconvenient and tiring to breastfeed on demand. But really, being a parent isn’t exactly convenient, and I can guarantee that it doesn’t get much less tiring! 😉

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Why Unschooling? (Part 2 of 2)

Once my husband and I made the decision to disenroll our children from public school, we began researching the legalities and options for homeschooling. Legally, California is one of the most permissive states for homeschooling, thankfully! As for different curriculums and methods, options certainly are abundant. Religious, secular, strictly scheduled, free-flowing, reading-based, hands-on learning, online, worksheets, charter schools… the options really are never-ending! However, a trend emerged that we didn’t really like. All these methods still sought to present information to the child as facts set in stone. This is precisely one of the things we didn’t like about public school. We had encouraged our children to ask questions and seek answers continually since they were old enough to do so. Then I read an article about a school with no grades, classrooms, or teachers. A place where children of all ages could gather and seek information, initiate discussions, and establish their own ideas and theories on different subjects.

…children as young as four and as old as 18 regularly interact. “Young kids learn from older kids. They learn to read by playing games that involve reading with older kids who can read. They play complicated card games with older kids that they could never play by themselves.” Older students benefit too: “They learn how to care, to nurture. They get a sense of their own maturity.”

http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/no-teachers-no-class-no-homework-would-you-send-your-kids-here/265354/

This made perfect sense to me! I wished a school like this existed near us. Because the article mentioned unschooling, and I had never heard of it, I looked that up next. I started with Wikipedia, as I usually do:

Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling

I knew right away that this was it. Nothing I had read made more sense to me. And thus began our journey. The first step was reading lots of different material on how unschooling works. The next step was de-schooling. Shedding the school mentality. This took longer for my husband and I than the kids. I still struggle with the desire to “teach” my children specific subject matter. The rule of thumb that I’ve read is that it takes one month of de-schooling for every year of formal schooling. I think that it can take longer for some people, though. Here is a good article on de-schooling for parents: http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/deschooling.html. And here is one geared toward de-schooling kids: http://unschoolers.org/what-is-deschooling/
The third step was the easiest: start living life alongside our kids. Talk to them. A lot. About everything. Answer all their questions, or point them toward the answers. Encourage them to form and share their own opinions about things. Encourage them to question all answers, including ours!

So what does unschooling look like?

It’s watching documentaries on the Roman Empire from 7-10pm.

It’s going grocery shopping together and reading food labels, talking about preservatives, GMOs, and what organic means. It’s talking about pesticides and their effect on bees and butterflies on the way home.

It’s letting them spend their money however they want, encouraging them to save it, and helping them compare prices of Barbies so they get the best deal.

It’s cooking together and teaching them how to add fractions because we are doubling the recipe.

It’s taking them to the park and identifying trees, watching ground squirrels, and finding goose feathers, which leads to a discussion about quill pens and feather pillows. It’s then plotting a timeline of humans from caveman to modern based on the type of bed they slept on.

It’s listening to them talk excitedly about the books they checked out from the library.

It’s dictating how to spell words while they write a list of things they want for Christmas.

It’s discussing current events around the dinner table and answering questions that might arise.

Unschooling is all these things and so much more! And because I know what you’re thinking, I’ll go ahead and address the most common question…but how will they learn math? First, let me ask you, what do you use math for? Comparing prices at the store? Calculating miles per gallon for a long trip so you can take enough gas money? Measuring a wall to see if the couch you want to buy will fit? Making your monthly budget? Figuring out the price of an item that’s 15% off? Chances are, if you need to do anything more complicated than these things, it’s because your job or hobby requires it. In which case, you want to be able to do that math, so you would have learned it at some point in your life out of a desire to reach an end goal. The math that we use on a regular basis can easily be learned through living life with your children and talking to them about what you’re doing. In case you still have doubts, here are some other opinions on the issue: http://sandradodd.com/math/.

If you have any other questions about unschooling, I would certainly do my best to answer them, or direct you to where you might find the answer! After all, I’m just another unschooler 😉

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