Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year, Solstice, and I'm back

I had planned to share about our Solstice celebration a long time ago but after I rested up from not sleeping well the longest night of the year and helping the kids put together things they got for Solstice I got a kick me in the pants cold. All I wanted to do was snuggle on the couch, rest and watch movies. So that's what I did. Then after I got a bit better we were on our way to celebrate Christmas in Columbia with Stephen's family. Then I got distracted with my new toys from the holidays: decorative scissors, a wire art kit from Jade, and money for yarn! I have been crocheting lots now that I feel better...that could be a whole 'nother post:)

Our Solstice night was pleasant. The kids made s'mores by the fire while Stephen and I made dinner. We had a lovely meal of butternut squash soup(although not my favorite), cornbread and pizza for the kids to remind us of the sun. After dinner we played a few new games together: Whoonu and Farkel. Then we were all very tired so we made up a big pallet on the floor in our family room to snuggled in a wait for the suns return. Stephen told us a bedtime story about winter and the suns return. The story put me to sleep I was so tired. I didn't sleep well which was good because I had gifts to put under our Yule tree from the sun and to fill up our stockings.

Soon the kids were awake and ready to wake up the sun. Although before that the kids dug into their stockings.

Waking up sun! Wake Up! (I think it worked.)

Corbin got a Lego Dino Attack helicopter from one of his grand dads. While I helped Corbin build the helicopter Stephen go to work on breakfast brunch: Gingerbread Waffles with mulled maple syrup (real maple syrup) and whip cream with some sausages on the side. The sausage weren't the tasty which could have been because we substituted pork instead of using chicken. I think if we have this meal again I will buy premade sausages. The Gingerbread Waffles were fantastic. I wouldn't mind some right now. We made this hot cocoa a few nights before Solstice which is also divine. I plan to have some tonight while we finish the last of the gift giving season celebrating New Years Eve at my moms.


The Sun is Back



Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Memorial

My Aunt Eleanor passed on recently. It was expected, she was getting old. Yet it's sad because she was the last to die of a large family of strong women. Sad because I never really got to know her very well or her sisters. Sad because now all the wisdom about their lives is gone. Many of my family were small time farmers and from them I could have learned how to garden and how to take care of chickens. Not that information is not available to me in other forms either from books or a friend. There is something magical to learn from your family. I see that now as an adult, it's unlikely I saw that as a child.

I have fond memories of a few of my Aunts or maybe it's fond memories of there homes. My aunt Eleanor always had cookie dough in her freezer ready to bake a few cookies at a time. Her house always smelled like freshly baked cookies. Another time I smelled a house like that was when I was across the Atlantic, I went to my Danish boyfriend's grandmothers house for a Christmas dinner.

Eleanor lived in the same house she grew up in. About 3 years ago it was sold to someone else. Yet another passing. I got to see it just before it went on the market. Stephen and I considered buying it because of the history and the connection to family. I wanted to keep it in the family but we didn't.

I enjoyed going to Aunt Do's lake house in the Ozarks to swim and raft. We would all play cards. Sometimes it was penny anti poker. I must come from a lost line of Amazons women. At the lake it was a house of women. I grew up in a house of women because my mom never remarried. Whenever we got together with the extended family it was almost always women. I never really noticed how much my life was lived among women.

As I sit here I am trying to recall their images, my Aunts, the women in my life. I remember smiles and laughter. I saw Eleanor and Do, for the last time, when Jade was 6 months old. I have pictures of her with Eleanor and Do at the house they grew up in. There I was with Jade, my mother and my two of my Aunts in the house they grew up, three generations of women.

Eleanor will be missed. They all will be missed.

A Decadent Chocolate Cake

I had to brag for a bit because I just made the most fantastic Chocolate Mousse Cake for Winter Solstice this year. Often I make cakes and they taste fine but don't look so good. This one not only tastes delicious it looks beautiful. I decorated the top of the cake with a red flower fairy and silk leaves around the edges to cover up the messy cardboard the cake is on.

A birds-eye view

We want to eat cake!

Getting ready to sing a song for the sun

Not bad...But not my favorite

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tie Dye in the Snow and more

We did Tie Dye for family gifts this year. I just couldn't wait to share them. So here they are. So if your family and you read my blog you get a sneak peek.

I'm really happy with the results. I want to do more. I had them hung up in the house last night too and it made the house seem so festive and swirly. I think I will make some tie dye blankets to have around the house to brighten things up on dreary days.

We have been busy preparing gifts. I am in the end of the year get prepare for more things coming into the house mode. So I am clearing out the old to get ready to receive the new. I have put lots of unfinished projects on freecycle and things we haven't used in years.

The kids opened a few of their Solstice gifts early. Corbin has been busy playing Shadow the Hedge Hog on the gamecube and Jade and I enjoy playing Battleship.

I have sent out my holiday cards. Now that the shirts are done I need to get them all packaged up and ready to mail.

I have been having fun creating and doing this this year for the holidays. I have fun every year yet I do get a bit stressed out if things are running late like this year. There is something about the holidays and all the things we are doing for it that gets my creative juices going and I want to learn how to do things.

I had so much fun making my holiday cards. I want make more cards like that with all the seasons in mind. I am also wanting explore more art with collage doing Art Trading Cards and bigger projects. All the snow flakes and Santa boots I have been doing has inspired looking into origami. I want to share with the kids how to use a compass to make designs.

I have this idea working to make some kind of Soltice banner to hang up in the house to honor the sun, the night and trees. I'll probably sew it and maybe dye lots of the fabric myself.

I have a crochet blanket I want to finish too. So much to do and learn...So little time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

What does Monopoly have to do with History, Math, and more...

I am often surprised but maybe I shouldn't be anymore after unschooling for almost ten years. Or maybe my surprise is just delight on how we touch upon so much from unexpected places.

I was reading the 2nd book in the Outlander series when the heroine said "Go to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect 200$ ...." The heroine at the time was in the mid 1700's in Scotland. She wasn't from that century she time traveled (quite by accident) from the mid 1900's just after WWII.

Anyway, I was curious was Monopoly that old? So looked it up and it was created in 1935. Since Monopoly is a favorite new game I shared with the kids what I was learning about the game. The history touched about WWII and the depression. Then we started surfing the Monopoly game site and found a place so you can print of your own Monopoly Money.

When Corbin found out about the money he wanted some $500 bills especially. So the money lead to counting large numbers. If you click around the site you can find out strategies to play the game and some other fun facts.

Not only that, our holiday decorating touches upon geometry and holiday stories with reading. This year Jade has gotten over a reading struggle and is mastering picture books with some ease. The origami and snowflakes is showing patterns with folding and the cutting to get the shape you want. (If you click on my categories to the right you can find some links to make snow flakes and both five pointed and 6 pointed stars.) While baking cookies Jade thought it would be fun to read the Gingerbread Man and make some Gingerbread cookies to go with it.

Homeschooling can just be all about the food and we did bake cookies today which lead to science and food coloring, baking, and reading the labels on the decorating sugars.

Have a yummy virtual holiday cookie

Now Corbin needs help writing a letter because he found some envelopes. Learnin' we can't escape it in this family not even during the holidays.

If you need something seriously silly to do here but don't hit Santa.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Sledding

Sledding Again

We just can't seem to get enough of the sledding. I'm glad we got a chance to sled as a family. Stephen was able to get some pictures of me sledding too.

Mom and Dad cruise down the slopes

The kids still have fun sledding.

Today the snow is melting. No more sledding until the next snow.

Friday, December 9, 2005

Dashing through the snow

We had a great time sledding yesterday. The snow hasn't melted so the kids want to go again today. So that's the plan so far. Corbin is already up with is snow books on. I've got my coffee made and shoveled the front porch. I also retrieved all the snow gear left in the car. It will need a toss in the dryer before we leave or the kids will be wearing frozen stiff gloves and hats.

Jade heads down the hill. She crashes, she burns.

This is fun. Let's do it again!

I went out just in case anyone came to our homeschool groups MNO but the weather held many back so I was alone. My consolation was quiet time, reading, a cappuccino and some cheesecake. Even better when I got home Jade had baked a heart shaped chocolate cake for me. It was an I Love You Cake. Just before bed we were talking she said that Dec. 8th is a special I love you mommy day. She even sang me an I love you song just before we cut the cake. That sure lifted my spirits. Although we had a good day overall. I was on occasion a bit snippy with the kids with the stress of shoe shopping and sledding. Hopefully things will go more smoothly today. Maybe I will get another cake too:)

Thursday, December 8, 2005

More Sledding

Going down is such a blast.

If you want to go down, you have to go up too.

We stayed for about 2 hours. I sledded as much as the kids. I was feeling a bit weary at the end. So were the kids. So maybe I'm not old after all, I was just tired. If there is snow tomorrow there are plans to go again and Dad's coming too. I'm so glad we homeschool. We have this opportunity to do what we want when the weather is perfect for sledding or making snowmen and creating our family holiday. We have are having fun making things celebrating now rather than waiting for a break. We are lucky, very lucky.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

A Winter Wonderland

Some paper crafts I did yesterday and the kids helped some. I have been having fun learning how to make more complicated snowflakes. I really like how the coffee filter snowflakes turned out. I plan on filling up the green fabric with more snowflakes. So we will have a winter wonderland inside our house and outside too. I'm also fascinated with the snowflake geometry. I think I'm having more fun than the kids.

I took these pictures this morning. My favorites are the plants that used to be cosmos flowers and the the snow hats on the pumpkin and the trash cans. Snow can even make trash cans look beautiful. I also like the patterns of the snow on the green hammock.

The kids had lots of fun playing in the snow. Corbin likes to go outside and roll in it so he is covered in snow. He also went a bit crazy yesterday and ran out to get the mail with no shoes. They do have snow boots but we did go out and get some new boots that fit better. I got some too. So we are going to go sledding and snow boarding.

Insomnia or why I am up at 1 am

I really don't think I am suffering from insomnia but I am still awake because finally the house is quiet.

Very, very, quiet.

It seems we have all been doing, doing, doing lately and talkative and playing and more doing and I just need QUIET (that's for emphasis I'm NOT yelling because QUIET remember, I NEED it.)

I think moms might ultimately suffer from insomnia or an inability to go to sleep at night or maybe wake up after their kids are asleep because they are trying to get the solitude they are craving. That's what I am craving and why I am still up at 1am. I want solitude. I want peace. I want a chance to think my own thoughts.

So I have done that. I've soaked in the quiet making some snowflakes, all by myself. I have thought my own thoughts, like how moms need solitude, peace, and quiet.

Now, I am tired.

I hope I won't regret this in the morning.


There is always coffee. Coffee is good. Coffee AND solitude even better. I better set my alarm.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

My computer has been hijacked

I haven't been able to post recently because my computer has been hijacked by the kids to watch dvds. Jade bought (with her own money !) a set of Astro Boy Anime. She was a bit disappointed to find out they were we not the 1960's Japanese black and white originals but they were the original 1980's versions done in color. We did learn that Astro Boy was the precursor to all Japanese animation and why most Japanime has the surprise eyed look. Jade hopes we will be able to get the 1960's originals eventually and do some comparisons. For now they are only available in Australia.

Later today we will be watching Star Wars because we are doing a Star Wars theme day. I came up with Star Wars day because I have been feeling a bit guilty not finding things to do with Corbin. Jade likes to take part in lots of what I like to do so we get connection time and talking time. Corbin likes more active and action figure type play that I just don't have the patience for but I can get into some imaginery play for a day.

We started the day coloring some Star Wars pictures and Corbin dressed up. We may get to making some TIE fighter ornaments. We are taking a break to play Monopoly. Too bad we don't have a Star Wars Version. (Just in case you were wondering...I won.)

We have been playing more games recently. I have been enjoying that especially when I am in a game playing mood. The kids most of the time enjoy playing for playing sake rather than for winning. And it's fun to see what they know from games like how they add and subtract large numbers.

We have also been busy doing things for the holidays too. I have finished my holiday cards. I need to get some mailed off soon. Jade and I made some snow flakes and some other paper ornaments. I made some paper cranes and some Santa Boots from Paper Gifts And Jewelry (The Paper Magic Series) by Florence Tomenko. I just found some more snowflakes ideas and some you can make with coffee filters.

Now on to Star Wars and doing our best to stay warm in bitter cold Kansas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


The kids had fun with the bit of snow we had yesterday. They got all bundled up and even got out their bikes. When they got cold they came inside and made some homemade cocoa.

I got some organizing and cleaning done then got out our craft supplies to get started on our holiday cards. I am so glad I like to thrift store shop because some of my past finds have come in handy this year: old stamps, old Christmas cards, gold and silver fabric paint, ribbon and more.

I am having so much fun this year making cards for friends and family, maybe even more fun than the kids. I just didn't want to stop. I started making cards around 11am and Jade made some with me for a few hours. Jade made a list of all our family getting gifts from us and made gift cards for each person. She wrote the list with ease (last year this would have been frustrating for her.) I kept making cards with breaks in between to help Corbin make brownies, eat some lunch, and play a few games of Go Fish until Stephen got home around 7pm. I took a break for some dinner and to connect with Stephen then got out some Shrinky Dinks to make some stars for some of the cards.

I am really pleased with what I have created so far that I'm tempted to keep all of them. I think I understand why my kids want to keep many things they create.

The kids are ready for more doing and creating today. Jade wants to make some melt and pour soaps. I want to make more cards.

A great day, creating, playing, listening to music, talking, and making plans. Today looks like much of the same.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Gratitude - Thankfulness

Gratitude - Thankfulness

A few of my gratitude entries from last night.
I tend to do a simple list and write down
as many things that I am thankful for.
In my journal I write things
sideways and angled and change colors too.
When I'm inspired I plan on adding drawings or pretty doodles.

I'm pleased that I remembered this journal. I love using colors.

It was a joy to listen to Jade and Stephen cook our yummy pasta dinner.
I enjoyed a glass of wine too.

Stephen brought me home some chocolate.

Stephen and I got to snuggle some and I got a backrub too.

The TV was rarely on today so it was quiet and soothing.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More on Thankfulness

Sometimes I can get into a negative cycle of what’s wrong. When will I get better at keeping my routine, write with greater ease, stay calmer when the kids are frustrated, keep a cleaner house. Or I ask myself when will the kids keep their rooms clean, do more for them selves, contribute to keeping the house in order, talk quieter.

When I focus on all of these negative thoughts I miss so many of the good things like the cool projects the kids are working on or their excitement with a new game. There is even beauty behind all of the things I am frustrated about. My kids are loud because they are happy and excited about life.

In July I bought a journal and some fun colorful pens. I wrote what I was thankful for at the end of the day but sometimes I wrote down things at anytime. A few of my old entries from July:

I love riding my new bike and the new baskets.
Now, I can bike to the store.

Harvested some green beans from my garden.

It was hard at first because I would come up with reasons to discount my thankfulness. “You harvested those green beans but you didn’t cook anything with them yet.” “So what if you’re happy with your new bike you have counter full of dirty dishes in the kitchen.” When I turned off the little devil on my shoulder, it got easier and I got more peace and joy.

But I have gotten out of the thankfulness habit and I have gotten out of sorts. I haven’t written anything down since July. I know if I keep up with the thankfulness I feel better and more optimistic. I can see that I am getting things done, rather than all the things I’m not getting anything done.

I want to get back into being thankful again, everyday. I just might add some thankfulness to all my posts. Maybe that’s all I will post about some days, what I am thankful for. Thankfulness journals are like an emotional insurance policy for the days that everywhere I turn I might see pile of laundry to fold, legos strewn on the floor, or the kitchen counters covered with dirty dishes.

When I’m thankful, I can tackle those dishes with much greater joy. I can ask the kids more calmly to turn down the TV or find something else for us all to do that would be quieter. More importantly, I can see more clearly the joy in our house and the smiles on everyone’s face.

If you want to start a thankfulness journal consider reading Buddha Never Raised Kids & Jesus Didn't Drive Carpool: Seven Principles for Parenting with Soul by Vickie Falcone or Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal and A Daybook of Comfort and Joy both by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Or just do it. Find ways to make it fun for you, maybe that's fun pens or using the computer.

Don't forget to tell the devil on your shoulder to keep quiet.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Good and Lazy Day

I started the day with quiet, coffee and my current book, The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon which I am enjoying so, so. It's kind of a slow starter but it could be that I am distracted with the holidays.

I got ready to go thrift store shopping. I love to shop at thrift stores although office supply stores, fabric stores, yarns stores, and craft stores come in at a close second. I love thrift stores because I can often get many things I like: yarn, misc craft stuff, fabric, and office supplies at a bargain.

Today I scored:

* Old fashioned Christmas wrapping paper, shiny mirrory paper, ribbon and some holly looking leaves we will be use to make our holiday cards. Our cards will be inspired by Art Trading Cards. I haven't quiet decided yet but the cards will either be the size of ATCs or we will mount them on larger card stock.
* A rock candy lab kit appropriately wintery but I would have gotten it anyway.
* I was hoping to find a used Monopoly game but found Payday instead. Jade and I played a game when I got home. She was a wiz at adding and subtracting money as the banker.
* I also got some mugs for melting wax to make some colorful candles and some glasses to used as the molds.
* A green backpack purse for Jade.
* A red hooded sweatshirt for Corbin. Red is now Corbin's favorite color, it use to be blue.
* My most favorite score today were two purple and green, my favorite colors, Christmas stockings for Stephen and me.

After I got home we got some cleaning up done in the yard. The kids played in the sand box. It was a glorious day outside. The kids made "cat poop" with mud and sand to try and fool their dad. Corbin made some mud drawings. We got hungry and since we didn't have much food in the house and a dirty kitchen too, we decided to go eat at Sonic. While the kids were getting cleaned up a friend of Jade's dropped by so we took her with us.

On the way home I saw several people walking their dogs. It made me a bit wishful for one. So Stephen said "Should I head to the animal shelter?" Corbin was definitely for it. I thought we should really think about it a bit and be more prepared too.

So when we got home Stephen and I googled dogs we might be looking for. Jade would like the dog to be not too big. I do not want a teeny, tiny yip-yip dog. I like big dogs myself so we are hoping for a medium sized dog. Ideally the dog we get will have a fairly mellow temperament. I am probably asking for too much but I can hope.

Stephen cooked up some amazing smoked turkey. Delish! Jade headed over to her friends house to play some more and now Stephen is heading out to the game store with Corbin so I am alone. The house is VERY quiet.

A good day. Gorgeous weather, thrift store shopping and good food.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving - Giving Thanks

I feel thankful for:

* My good health
* My house
* A toilet that flushes :)
* Money in the bank
* My children's smiles
* Snuggles with my kids
* The yummy meals Stephen cooks
* My mom friends
* Mom's Night Out with my homeschool group
* My homeschool group
* The sun when it's shining
* My backyard garden
* Good books to read
* Thrift stores
* Doing things with the kids

Maybe a bit late for the holiday but it's good to be thankful year round. A few books about giving thanks and a few for fall crafts. A few different versions of the Iroquois thanksgiving Address: here and here

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Killing Monsters: why children need fantasy

Because I value peace, I have had a guarded trust that my son Corbin's desire for toy weapons and action figures is valuable for his emotional growth. When his action figures and toy weapons inspire “let’s kick some butt fantasy play” my trust can wane but Killing Monsters: why fantasy matters by Gerard Jones has inspired greater trust in my sons fantasy play. I see more clearly why all children and teens are drawn to toy weapons, graphic video games and gangster rap.

Jones helped me look past the fear mongering about violent looking fantasy play and see the child’s side. When he spoke with Adults who as teens explored the dark side of life through Goth culture, punk music or games, so many said the violence in a movie or a song reflected the feelings that they experienced and offered them solace. They felt heard and understood so then they felt better and calmer. He debunks that children are drawn to the violence because they want to be violent. They are drawn to it to understand it and get passed it.

Although Corbin has considerable freedom he has several obstacles to overcome such as learning to swim, learning to sleep by himself, and to read fluently before he can be a more independent person. I can see more clearly that his fascination with toy weapons or super heroes is an expression of his need to be in control of his own destiny.

So a few days ago I let go of my inhibitions, judgments, and concerns to play "kill the bad guys" with Corbin. We made guns and knives from K'nex. We were a secret police force that didn't play by the rules. My son said "There are rules but WE don’t play by them." So we went on an imaginary killing spree to get rid of the "bad guys" in our house. I could see a son who was so happy enjoying the power in him self. Then I remembered how I felt when Sara Connor kicked the Terminator’s butt, I felt strong and powerful. I felt safe.

Monday, November 21, 2005

How does it look...Unschooling?

I keep getting this question and I keep stumbling on it. It's like I'm a deer caught in the headlights and I can't move but in my case I just can't make coherent thoughts. It was bothering me so much I woke up in the middle of the night pondering.

After lots of thought I figured it out, I'm confused because I'm still defining what "we do" as "what we don't do" and I don't want to do that anymore.

So what does a typical day look like? Well in reality there are no typical days in our house. It is ever changing related to the kids interests. The following are snippets from many days and a few years of homeschooling in our family.

  1. Last night was my daughter's 10th birthday party, everyone had left and then Stephen wondered outloud. "Why do we do cakes on birthdays? When did that start?" So I googled it. Jade was curious too and listened to what we found. With this simple question we covered a bit about religion/spirituality of other cultures in history, why cakes are round, and when cakes as we know them started.
  2. When Jade was about 5 years old Stephen took her to a library program where she learned how to make a circuit. She thought that was so cool I bought things to put together our own circuits. This exploration lead to taking apart an Operation game to retrieve a buzzer, fixing some walkie talkies we bought second hand that didn't work so we fixed the circuit, taking apart a light saber to explore how the mechanisms worked. We made our own temporary flashlight.
  3. About a month ago I sat down to do some Art Trading Cards. As soon as I did Jade was in there making them with me. This just didn't cover art it covered reading and writing because I was putting quotes on my cards so Jade wanted to put some on hers too. Then Corbin came in and wanted to make a small book. So then I transcribed a book for him. Now he likes to read his book before bed sometimes. He wants to make more books like this. So more reading and writing.
  4. Jade listens to lots of books on tape and often comes in to tell me about something that intrigued her. She also talks with me about the TV shows she watches and what she learns form them.
  5. Jade learned some early American History from Liberty's Kids. She likes to do things on the website too.
  6. Both of the kids enjoy watching Cyber Chase which shares math concepts through stories.
  7. Jade actually likes to do flash cards and test herself with her math skills. We recently picked up some books by Greg Tang that gives hints through rhymes how to add/subtract or multiply large groups of numbers/thing more easily. Some day I will describe how Jade gets the correct answers. She thinks differently than I do.
  8. Corbin has been challenging himself to count to fairly big numbers. A few days ago he counted to 300.
  9. Corbin has learned some about history because of his love of knights. We have researched weapons in history and explored some physics with catapults.
  10. Corbin explores with electric circuits using this snap circuit kit. He has been using this kit since he was 6 years old.
  11. They both love to play Zoombinis a game that through play explores patterns and logic. They also like Math Arena.
  12. We have made marble runs from toilet paper tubes.
  13. We have made rock crystals from kits.
  14. We make our own play dough. The kids explore cornstarch goo how it's hard and gooey both.
  15. Last year the kids came home from a Magic School Bus Live show at the Lied Center to make their own silly putty. They had an easier way to do it than we had done before and spent lots of time making some. It required mixing glue, water and borax.
  16. We have blown up balloons with vinegar and baking soda
  17. We have played with magnets. Corbin made a screw driver magnetic with other magnets we had. He was probably inspired by Popular Mechanics for kids.
  18. Both of the kids enjoy watching Zoom, Popular Mechanics for Kids, Mystery Hunters which has led to trick picture taking, magnets, biodiesal cars (Jade would like us to have a biodiesal car for a our next car), and more..
  19. Corbin explores how fast his cars go down ramps he makes. He notices some cars go faster and we talk about why it could be.
  20. On Halloween we talk about pumpkins, seeds, plants, growing.
  21. Last year each of them planted their own gardens. We weeded and watched the seedlings grow.
  22. We listen to books as a family.
  23. Corbin writes songs.
  24. We make up our own rules for games.
  25. Superman has inspired Corbin to write small books.
  26. A few days ago Jade picked up a homes maintenance manual and figured out how our bathroom tub drains.
  27. Both of the kids like to tell jokes and riddles which leads to how words sound (phonics) and definitions of words.
  28. Corbin creates robots, cars, and planes with legos which requires observation of patterns and shapes. He also makes guns with K'nex.
  29. Jade has taken Spanish classes at the library and through parks and recreation.
  30. Jade and Corbin both get an allowance which has helped learn to add, subtract, and save their money.
  31. Jade has learned proportions and science inpired by her love of baking and sweets.
  32. Stephen is an amature naturalist so they learn about plants and animals along with him. A few weeks ago Stephen found a racoon and Corbin watched him skin it.
  33. I'm learning how to crochet, spin, and felt wool and the kids are learning along with me. We talk about the fibers and why they felt and why they bind together.

So we learn from everything, all the time, together as family.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Memory Lane

Memory Lane

So how does it feel to have a 10 year old?

I feel


I feel amazed she was ever so little, so tiny, so fragile. My 10 yearold is solid and strong. I still see her smile and joy in her face as a baby and now as a child but a child almost as big as an adult.

In some ways I do feel sad she is growing up because I wish I had more time to enjoy all of her stages and all the transitions. And I feel excited that she is getting older. Looking through old photos I was reminded of the little toddling Jade and now I get to know the big grown up Jade.

Looking through the photos I am reminded of the miracle of life, of birth, of growing, and learning. It's just damn amazing.

So go kiss your kids and smell that baby smell if you still have a baby. Give them a hug. Enjoy their exuburance and their passion for life.

Have a Wonder Filled Day!

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's my first baby's birthday today

Today, my daughter, my first baby is 10 years old. I can't quite believe it. She is growing up so fast.

We have a busy day planned today with cleaning for the family party tomorrow, the Harry Potter movie which has most luckily come out on her birthday for a few years, and a sleepover with a good friend of hers.

You can wish Jade a Happy Birthday on her blog.

Just for kicks I looked up what happened on her birthday in history. On November 18, 1928 was the first showing of Steamboat Willie and the birth of Mickey Mouse. We made Mickey ears to celebrate. We may do a Mickey theme next year and watch old Mickey cartoons for her birthday.

Have a Happy Day.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I'm into lists these days

Some random things about me:

1. Nervous habits - chew on nails occasionally
2. Are you double jointed? - Nope
3. Can you roll your tongue? - Yep
4. Can you raise one eyebrow at a time? - Nope. But I can wiggle my ears.
5. Can you blow spit bubbles? - Sure can
6. Can you cross your eyes? - Nope
7. Tattoos - Small bouquet of roses
8. Piercing - Ears but I secretly want to get my nose pierced. I don't because of fear of pain and worry about getting a job in the future
9. Do you make your bed daily - Average of 3-4 times a month or when company comes over. Generally speaking why bother? It will just get messed up again.

10. Which shoe goes on first? Left I think
11. Speaking of shoes, have you ever thrown one at anyone? Thinking...Trying to recall...Don't think so...Maybe...Probably
12. On the average, how much money do you carry? - Rarely any cash
13. What jewelry do you wear 24/7 - Earrings
14. Favorite piece of clothing - Currently my favorite clothing items are some things I tie dyed and low-water immersion dyed

15. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it? - I'm a twirler who has been know to cut on occasion
16. Have you ever eaten Spam? - Yes on a hiking trip in the Grand Canyon. I was so hungry it tasted like ambrosia. I tried it again when I got home and it was disgusting. So I figure anything taste good when you are hungry and hiking.
17. Do you use extra salt on your food? - Sometimes
18. How many cereals in your cabinet? - One - Nature Paths Heritage Flakes
19. What's your favorite beverage? - Coffee in the morning, coffee when out with friends, beer in the summer mixed with lemonade (super yummy), red wine to relax with in the evenings, water all the time, rootbeer with pizza
20. What's your favorite fast food restaurant - I eat fast food only as a last resort or if the kids want it - If we do fast food I do like onion rings at Sonic with a cherry limeade and french fries at McD's with a chocolate shake
21. Do you cook - Sure. But dear hubby does more cooking.
22. How often do you brush your teeth - I plead the fifth...Oh okay I'll confess try for twice and definitely do it before I head out to hang with friends...But if we don't go anywhere I do it before bed...
23. Hair drying method - Air dry - We do own a hair dryer that I bought second hand so we could do a science experiment and it's also great way to get crayon markings off walls...
24. Have you ever colored/highlighted your hair - Yes

25. Do you swear - Yes sometimes
26. Do you ever spit - Only when having spitting contest with the kids

27. Animal - Cats
28. Food - Guacamole because it's holy, babaganouj, chips and salsa (esp.. salsa my husband makes, black bean burritos
29. Month - No real favorite
30. Day - Friday because dh is done with work(and Saturday and Sunday for the same reason) and MNO on the 2nd Thursday of the month because I get to hang out with an awsome group of homeschoolin' moms
31. Cartoon - I don't like cartoons anymore
32. Shoe brand - What I find at the thrift store for the most part but I do own a pair of tangerine converse, and I do like Berkinstocks but I don't own pair right now.
33. Subject in school - school yuck ick yuck
34. Color - Green and purple
35. Sport - ice skating..I like to watch...
36. TV shows - Weeds, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City
37. Thing to do in the spring - get the garden going
38. Thing to do in the summer - weed the garden, plant, harvest, swim
39. Thing to do in the autumn - play in the leaves
40. Thing to do in the winter - make snowman if it snows, bake cookies, and this winter blogging
41. In the CD player - Adrienne Young
42. Person you talk most on the phone with - Not much of a phone chatter lately
43. Reading - Currently reading TheTea Rose and Killing Monsters
44. Do you regularly check yourself out in store windows/mirrors- Nope
45. What color is your bedroom - bluey green wall paper
46. Do you use an alarm clock - Rarely
47. Window seat or aisle - Window
48. What's your sleeping position - Back, Side and Tummy
49. Even in hot weather do you use a blanket - Maybe a sheet
50. Do you snore -Yes or so I've been told
51. Do you sleepwalk - Nope
52. Do you talk in your sleep - Not very often
54. How about with the light on - Must have darkness
55. Do you fall asleep with the TV or radio on - Nope
56. Last interesting person you met - I have lots of interesting friends...but I can't think if anyone new right now

Sunday, November 13, 2005

What's happenin'

  • Our back yard is getting dug up because we need an easy way for the guy to root out our pipes so we can flush the toilet again, do the dishes, take a shower, do the laundry, etc... I'll post a picture eventually so check back.

  • This kids helped fill in the big hole they dug up.
  • We have been living like the old days here as far a bathroom duties go: Think chamber pots and composting toilets.
  • Jade and Corbin created a habitat for a wooly bear caterpillar.

  • Looking at the globe I brought home yesterday
  • Playing some on the gamecube
  • More lego building
  • Singin' and dancin' to the moosebutters Harry Potter song the British version is our favorite, singin' along with Sandy Denny - Ballad of Easy Rider, and air guitar with Janis Joplin - Take another little piece of my heart now baby...
  • Coloring
  • Reading
  • Cleaned rocks they found in the sand
  • Feeding the caterpillar

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Things are good but busy this weekend

Despite our busyness this weekend especially today. I like days like this because although active they just flow. Days like this are just more fun, more connecting, and more vibrant.

Things were wonderful today because:

* We listened to music by Adrienne Young and we sang along. You can see a video of one our favorite songs Home Remedy here you will need to scroll down to the Plow to the End of the Row album, find the song, then click on video.
* Jade got up this morning and started crocheting while Corbin and I were reading about dinosaurs.
* The kids played together, built with legos, and did some drawing.
* Corbin and I had a great time together picking out Jade's gifts.
* While we were gone Jade and Stephen found a larvae in our apple wood. They looked it up and decided it was a borer beetle larvae
* Stephen got our grill going to cook us up some pork and he made waffles for breakfast too. Yummy.
* I made some time to blog this.
* I got out by myself for a bit and did some shopping for solstice. I stopped by my favorite restaurant to get myself a quiche.
* I brought home a globe and the kids were excited about it.
* Stephen and Jade are on their way out the door to grocery shop. So it's time for Corbin and I to bake some cookies and listen to some music.

Monday, November 7, 2005

Why Base 8? and other random thoughts...

Why base 8? Some say the Yuki Indians used base 8 because it made more sense to them to count the spaces between their fingers instead their ten fingers. But for some reason base 8 boggles my mind and I keep seeking out how it was used before computers. There is a plethora of information out there about base 8 and computers. So does this mean that computers were meant to be? I'm probably thinking too hard but I like knowing the why of things then the how of things makes more sense to me.

Number bases are like another language and my preferred number language is base 10, thank you very much. I can count by fives and tens. I can use all my fingers. Yet, some think base 12 makes the most sense. I kind of agree. Base 12 makes sense because there are 12 months in a year, 12 eggs in a dozen eggs, 12 hours in the day and 12 at night. Ultimately number bases are just a way to name the patterns we observe such as phases of the moon in the sky and the length of a day. Except base 8 doesn't make sense to me because I didn't grow up with it. I didn't live it. It's like I'm culturally clueless with numbers.

So I've decided that to be less clueless I must believe: Some things are the way they are just because they are. There is no grand scheme to it all. The Yuki Indians used base 8 because they saw the spaces between their fingers, the Mayans used base 20 because they saw all their fingers and their toes too, and "we" likely use base 10 because of the ten fingers on our hands.

Someday I will count, add and do things in base 8 to comprehend what the Yuki Indians did and maybe then it will make sense. Someday I will do this because I can, if I want to. Someday, just because.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Last night was good...

Last night we left computers, games, TV, and more important the dirty dishes behind to eat pizza out. We went to Rudy's pizza our favorite pizza place. It's the best pizza around next to Slice of Life which is in Sebastopol,Ca. Since our jet's in the shop we decided we would dine in town last night. (Okay, we don't have a jet but I am trying to be funny...did you laugh?)

Before we headed to the pizza place Stephen and the kids went into the used game store to find some "new for us" gamecube games. I headed over to our local book store to see what was there and I picked up a Book Sense flyer to get some book ideas for my bookclub. I found out Anita Diamant who wrote The Red Tent has written two more books which are now on my to read list. I headed over the game store to collect my family so we could eat some pizza. I was getting hungry.

While we waited for the pizza Stephen and I sang along with the Tom Petty album playing in the background. We imagined others were groaning listening to those geezers who grew up in the 80's..."Man they must be old."
The kids came prepared to keep busy with a game of go fish. We all must have been hungry because the pizza disappeared quickly and we didn't have much to take home with us. I washed my several pieces down with rootbeer my drink of choice with pizza although red wine is good too. It was heavenly. I forget how good pizza can been when you get it fresh from the oven.

We got home and the kids ran to the gamecube to try out their new games. I worked some more on my LibraryThing Book List and edited my profile there to define my tags for your browsing convenience and curiosity. Then I snuggled under the covers to read The Widow Ginger by Pip Granger which is the third book in a "series" of books set in the Soho district of London, England just after WWII. The books are chalkful of British slang that makes me smile. Sometimes I need to look it up to make sure I get the meaning. I read for a short while then Jade joined me and wanted to watch a movie. So I put my book down to spend some time with her.

We looked up some family and kid friendly movies and found Around the World in 80 Days staring Jackie Chan. I made some popcorn and Jade shared some of her Halloween candy with me. One of my favorite junk food treats is to eat chocolate or m&ms with salty popcorn. Yum. Watching the movies was slow going because Jade kept thinking about things and asking questions. We talked about the time period the movie was placed. I told her a long time a go I read a book by the same title which the movie is loosley based on. About half the way though she fell asleep, so I saved the movie and we will finish the movie some time today.

All in all a good day. Some reading time and especially some fun time with my family.

Friday, November 4, 2005

gods in Alabama

I picked up gods in Alabama on the hold shelf at the library. I started reading it and it was difficult to put it down throughout the day to help the kids and get the house cleaned up bit. It completely took my mind off the book I left at homeschool group that I even forgot to call about getting it back.

So read gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson, you won't regret it. gods in Alabama is a story about taking care of your own, racism, the deep south, and love. The main character Arlene made me laugh out loud, at the same time she was real and vulnerable and I was worried about her. I think I fell in love with Arlene but maybe I just fall in love with books and this book especially. Because I feel about this book as I do about so many. I want more. What will happen with Arlene and Burr, Arlene's boyfriend? Will they get married? Will they have children? When you get a chance, mosy on over to the author's blog because she can write.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

It's official...

I think I have worked out the glitches so all the links should work now. Thanks....

I have become a full fledged blogger GEEK. I found this really awesome site that I can organize books I have read in categories no less.

So now I am trying to remember books I have read this year, read in the past, and figure out appropriate categories for them all. I did say I was a GEEK right? It's a work in progress right now. So categories may change as I get a feel for it. Take a look: my reading history list for this year,some parenting books, and some about love.

On the side bar you can click on My Reading History and this will take you to my book list and see other categories. You can surf other public book lists on the site too. If you like to read it just might be a dream come true.

I am aslo adding books about unschooling, my kids favorite books, craft books, drawing books and more.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

I love my husband!

I did cheer up on Halloween. We had a good day although there were a few stressful moments. When we got downtown to trick-or-treat I just didn't feel comfortable in the crowds this year. I keep forgetting that I really don't enjoy the crowds. I keep thinking I want to enjoy it because I do like Halloween and want to be there with the kids. I started getting stressed out. Would it be better if we were going the other direction? Corbin kept dropping his trick-or-treat pumpkin. I was nagging.

Then Stephen said: "Why don't you wait at the car while I take the kids trick-or-treating." I sighed with relief and think I heard angels singing overhead. I didn't go to the car, I don't think he really meant that. I went to Borders Books and ordered a mocha. I enjoyed an hour of peace and quiet sipping my mocha, seeing books I'd like to read and wishing I had my current book to read. Then I thought, "Hey maybe I could find Into the Wilderness and read some of it here." I found out it's a Romance Novel! I feel embarassed.

I admit that I have become a bit of a reading snob. I haven't read a romance novel, that I am aware of, in years. I did find out that In to the Wilderness is the first in a series of books so I get to find out more about Elizabeth's life. I will still miss her when I am done as I will mourn when the Harry Potter Series is finished. When I read the characters become friends and I want to know more about their lives and I miss them when I'm finished. I wonder who will Harry marry? Will he have children?

Back to Halloween

After the kids were done downtown we headed home. I took the kids out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood while Stephen stayed back to hand out candy. We got ONE trick-or-treater and she arrived just before I headed out with the kids. We didn't have the candy ready so the kids gave her some of their candy they got downtown. So Stephen got to relax and get a few rows of knitting completed. He's knitting a Slytherin scarf for Jade.

The kids and I came home with pumpkins overflowing with candy. Jade sorted her candy and they did some trades. Then Corbin helped Stephen start a fire. We turned out the lights then Stephen told us the story of Persephone and we ate some pomegranate. Jade wouldn't try any but Corbin said he liked it. Then Jade curled up in my lap and fell asleep. It isn't often my almost 10 year old snuggles in the like that. It was wonderful.

I put her to bed then snuggled into bed with Corbin. We had fun with the multi colored changing lights I got for our pumpkins. We watched the changing colors of light on the ceiling then we turned them off and went to bed. The next day was filled with candy eating, relaxing, and reading.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I built a roller coaster

I built a K'nex roller coaster a few days ago with a little help from the kids. The best thing about this K'nex kit is that I bought it for $2 at a local thrift store. I love to shop thrift stores for cool things for me and the kids. It's hard for me to resist a good deal.

This roller coaster was a perfect addition to our unschooling life. Unschooling is a style of homeschooling that trusts learning happens all the time. Our family learns when we build K'nex roller coasters, building with legos, playing games, playing with friends, reading books, watching TV etc...

While we were building the roller coaster the kids compared K'nex parts from the roller coaster set with parts from older K'nex sets we have and watched how I was putting it together. My daughter said "Hey, you're using triangles that's the strongest shape."

The kids keep going into the playroom to explore and play with the roller coaster. It has been one of the best $2 I have spent. And what a bargain!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant offers a story for Dinah that the bible doesn't tell us. Dinah narrates the story of her life and the lives of her mother and her aunts of the "red tent." The "red tent" being the place the women of the story retreat to on their menses. I wish I had that option a few weeks ago.

When I lived in Washington State I had a "red tent" to retreat to. A woman who lived in a yurt on a retreat center had a dream that she should turn her yurt over to the women of the community. Women from the retreat center and their friends were able to use the yurt when they menstruated. I retreated to it once for day before we moved back to Kansas. Sometimes I joke that I will turn the kids tree house into my hut. I still haven't recreated the menses hut but I do try and slow down during my period. The kids and I snuggle and watch movies or I relax when I can with a good book. I try to do only the absolute essential around the house. Of course, I eat chocolate and drink a glass of wine or a hot cup of raspberry leaf tea to sooth the jagged nerves.

If you are curious about menstruation and its rituals in history (or should that be herstory?) you might like reading: Blood, Bread, and Roses by Judy Grahn. I don't believe it is completely accurate but I still enjoyed it. Her Blood is Gold by Laura Owens encourages women to pay attention to their bodies and slow down during their period. She goes so far to suggest that for some women to *not* slow down can be physically debilitating. I liked them both because they helped me honor my cycle. I think that is why I enjoyed the The Red Tent so much because it gave me a picture of that time what it might have been or still could be.

But a felting class I attended last night reminded me that The Red Tent is not just about menses it's about birthing, childrearing, and daily life duties. The Red Tent described enjoying the company of women, learning how to move past jealousies and be there to support and love one another. I really enjoyed myself at the class because I was in the company of women. We introduced ourselves and shared bits and pieces of our lives as we felted wool. We were all mothers who valued our children, one mom was a doula, one mom was pregnant. Our discussions flowed from the women we know in the community, labor pains, our children, body piercings and tattoos. This class and the book makes me thankful for the new women-mom friends in my life because I really enjoy the company of women. I look forward to discussing this book in my bookclub of women-mom friends soon.