Monday, November 30, 2009

So Cute it Hurts

Oh my god, this is probably the cutest thing ever on the face of the entire earth. Someone tweeted it as "possibly the best 17 seconds of you life." I think they might be right.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How White I Am

I've been thinking about my own personal race and class privilege a lot recently. So I'm starting a new blog category, "How White I Am."

Here's a little something to get the ball rolling. From Wikipedia:

Whites constitute the majority of the US population with 75.05% of the population.[1] Whites are regarded as the socially and demographically dominant racial group in the United States.

Happy Reading Days

I'm on a reading tear recently resulting in a few books I'd like to recommend. Somehow I don't seem to come across bad/useless books anymore. Maybe this is because I get such high quality recommendations from ya'll or perhaps my tolerance for shlock is so low the mediocre books never make it out of the library. This month I've hit 2 inspiring non-fiction books and a set of entertaining junior novels.

From the land of inspiring:
The New Global Student by Maya Frost. From another UPS alum, this book is all about why and how to take or send your child abroad. Super inspiring for me. It is the ideas behind books like this that steered us towards homeschooling in the first place. The specifics of how we can experience the world with our children at many ages has me in an international frenzy.

The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. In desperate search for relief to some of the conflict going on around here, I picked this one out of a rather large pile of "behavior" books at Barnes & Noble. I've just started implementing the ideas from the book and we've already seen a reduction in screaming/tantrums or at least their duration. We'll see if the strategies hold for the long term, but I have high hopes.
Someone asked why I chose this book over the many others out there on the subject.
1. it deals directly with the brain and its pathways - there is actually some scientific basis for the theories behind this book
2. it treats the children (and parents) with a great deal of compassion and respect. The solutions have to do with understanding our children and coaching them to grow the missing pathways rather than manage, rewarding or punishing (which I know from experience just do not work with my child)
3. at a glance, I recognized that mastering the strategies recommended by this book would help me be more the parent I want to be, whether I have "explosive" children or not.

From fun land:
Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. This is a series of 4 books full of stereotype breaking princesses, witches and dragons. With lots of action and clever conversations, Theo and I have been competing for turns at them as each title rolls in from the library.

I've got a new stack from the library, hopefully something that will inspire me to share again, soon. In the meantime, what are you reading? Anything I should add to my list of must check-outs?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Not Your Normal Homeschool Day

There seems to be an ongoing thirst in the homeschool community for a peek into other people's "normal" day. Today was far, far from one of our more typical days.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought taking today off from school work and getting ourselves ready for tomorrow and the onslaught of busyness that early December brings seemed like a most realistic plan. This, in my mind, is one of the huge advantages of homeschooling. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a day off and catch up to create more space for peacefulness.

Sitting down to breakfast I started a list, with family members adding in important tasks. Here's what we came up with:
- make pies (2 cherry, 2 pumpkin)
- take out Rosie's braids
- PCC run
- make Theo a double-sided light saber
- send out newsletters by 5pm
- 3:00 Lily here for hair

With all the buy-in from little people we got morning routine and chores done quickly. The work on the double-sided lightsaber came next. When we found ourselves stuck with one blade full of wet, sticky spray paint, we opted to head to the grocery story before facing the second blade.

PCC was a zoo, but our list was fairly short. In and out, we came home to unpack groceries and discover that paint dries slowly in Seattle in November. Rosie talked me into some computer time (SheppardSoftware and Starfall) while I took out her braids. Theo occupied himself by making a whole flurry of paper snowflakes. We finished the lightsaber and started on lunch.

Instead of rest time today, Rosie and I spent a peaceful hour folding, labeling and stamping the newsletter. When Lily arrived to work on hair, Rosie was first in line. She drew pictures and cut out snowmen for a while before moving onto a movie. I finished up the newsletters and Bill ran them to the post office. Theo danced around the house showing off some nice double-bladed lightsaber moves.

Rosie's truly fancy braids compete, she yielded the computer to Theo who played 15 minutes of CloneWars. It is possible he doesn't actually know Lily trimmed his hair, but it looks great. I took a turn in the chair and got my sexy-mama trim and a light scolding.

Bill had dinner ready for us just as the hair fun wrapped up. After dinner the kids raced to the bath because they thought it sounded like fun. There were clean, dry and tucked in right around 8.

After a few missteps and a quick trip back to the PCC, the pies are in the oven and I'm feeling very pleased about how peaceful, creative, connected and fun the day was.

The art of it all, I think, is to figure out how to capture small moments from today and insert them into our "regular" days. My dream would be for each "normal" day to carry pockets of magic and connection that my children and I will remember and treasure our whole lives. Without too much refection, I'm guessing these are the touchstones that for me represent my children feeling loved, important and invited to be who they really are in the world.

What about you? How does your ideal day look? How often do your "normal" days fulfill your dreams for the values you hope to pass on to your children?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Y'all know...

...that when my blog is quiet here, life is full over here, right?

I realized today if I did one of those stress surveys where one checks boxes for all the major events in one's life, I'd pass with flying colors.

Something I'd like to figure out in my spare time is how much is safe/appropriate to share about our lives on-line. Every hour of my day seems to be linked to someone else's existence (and privacy).

How do you mind the line of personal and private vs open? How do you get support for the intimate of your lives? How safe do you feel on the internet?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In the Dog House

I was going to post pictures of the lovely caramel apples, decorated with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips, the kids and Jana made yesterday.

But the dog ate them.

After our school work this morning, I set the apples artfully aside and ran off with the kids to guitar and choir, promising myself pretty pictures and a happy mouth this evening. We came home to empty sticks in the middle of the floor.


We don't actually have a dog house, so the kids are keeping her on a short leash in a boring place until their anger subsides.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anticipating Holiday Cheer

Once November starts, our family moves into holiday mode. We all love the colors, sights and smells of December. Today, looking forward to the season we started hyacinth and daffodil bulbs to be ready for Christmas.

I put Theo in charge, which he loved. He and Rosie scooped polished pebbles and placed a bulb in each glass. Theo watered them just enough, and we happily fussed over their placement in the windows.

My goal this year is to keep the holidays joyful and simple. Today is a promising start.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update on the Gentian Dog

Remember the purple fiasco?

Besides greatly entertaining the kids and I and creating a multitude of violet spots from one end of our house to the other end of our mini-van, nothing seems to have happened. The dog still itches. It's off to the newest vet on my list in hopes of a new, effective solution forever banishing the yeasties.

Send Maggie your best yeast-free vibes. And vote for Bill this year when he comes up for sainthood.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What Would You Do?

From StuffWhitePeopleDo, a link to ABC New's Primetime "What Would You Do?"

A staged racist interaction in a TX bakery, and we get to see what people do. The scenario is extremely powerful and find I'm at a loss to write anything that might add value.

So watch it and show your kids, too.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November Lotion

All the cold and rain is drying out Rosie's knees, my cuticles, and Theo's elbows. Another batch of lotion to the rescue!

Over the summer I tried using honey in a batch. I didn't notice any improved moisturizing properties, but I did notice an irritating stickiness and an increased tendency for the dog to follow me around trying to lick me.

Back to a more conservative mix, here's what is on the stove today:

2 TBSP beeswax
3/4 c grapeseed oil
1/4 c jojoba oil
2 TBSP coconut oil
1 c olive oil
1 c water
6 drops sweet orange oil
6 drops rosemary oil

This recipe makes enough to fill my 16 oz pump, with about 4 ounces left over. First person to post in comments gets a sample. I love to share!

Here's a trick I've learned to getting the lotion into the containers: when the lotion is mixed and cooled, I spoon it all into a gallon size ziplock bag. Once I've zipped the bag, I cut a tiny corner off on side and easily squeeze the contents of the bag into the small hole of the receiving containers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Price of Stinginess

One of the things I really appreciate is a good hair cut. A good cut makes my curly/frizzy hair look great, is easy to manage and grows out well. I feel so much better about myself when I like the way my hair looks.

On the other hand, one of the things I really hate spending money on is haircuts. Somehow it just pains me to shell out $75 for these things. So I tend to go 6-8 months between shearings.

Herein lies my problem. The overall cut grows out well, but the bangs, well, they just grow. So rather than pay the $7 for the bimonthly bang trim, I often do it myself.

Remember the aforementioned curly/frizzy hair? It dries much shorter than it is wet and has liberal cowlicks around my face. So really, only a professional has any business working with it. As a punishment for my $7 stinginess this week, I am sporting a bang trim that comes half way up my forehead and is much shorter on the right side than the left.

I look like a hot mama from the back and a sneaky five year old from the front. But at least I can laugh at myself (month after month after month).

How about you? Do you cut your own hair? How much do you pay for a cut? When was the last time you had a really bad hair day? Have your kids whacked their own hair yet? Any volunteers to come over for tea and a trim in about 6 weeks?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wanna Peek at my Bookmark Bars?

My internet browser, Safari, lets me keep my favorite websites in two places: the bookmark bar for the sites I use often and a bookmarks page for the bunches of important sites I must remember not to forget.

I'm guessing what's on our bookmark bars says plenty about us. You know - revealing information about age, profession, interests and values just waiting to be over interpreted.

Here's mine:
Draw3D - 10 minute drawing lessons I do most days with Rosie. Super fun!
SHG Multiply - Multiply site that is supposed to be great for connecting with other homeschoolers, except I never click to it.
Google Reader - all my favorite blogs via RSS feed (click here if you've not yet been introduced to the beauty of readers). I try really hard to only go here a few times a day. Sigh.
Source: Sara - yes, a link to my own blog so I can easily start a post and obsessively check for comments.
H@OH - the amazing History at Our House conference call program that the kids do. This gets us to the materials for the day, class notes and book recommendations. Used daily, at least.
Google Maps - 'cuz I gotta know how to get to park day, field trips and appointments. Clicked at least 3x a week
Wikipedia - 'cuz I gotta know. Used probably every other day.
Thesaurus - I use this almost every time I write a blog post since I figure y'all don't want to read the same few words over and over and over and over
SPL - Seattle Public Library. Gets many hits from me in a week.

What's your list?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

more Adoption Awareness Month

ThirdMom wrote a lovely post about November. With college-age kids her thoughts on adoption are matured and clear.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Walking the Fine Line

Suddenly, it's November. How did that happen? Wasn't it just April??

One of November's distinctions is that it is National Adoption Awareness Month. And boy, howdy, am I aware. Aware every time the phone rings that it could be the agency calling to say we've been matched with a mama/baby. Joy.

And, I'm aware of my continued ambivalence about adoption. Here is my post from last year, which still expresses how I feel about the idea of "celebrating" adoption. Heartache.

Let's walk the fine line together this month in creating awareness about both faces of adoption.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black Infant Mortality Rate Crisis

Did you know that African American infants die at 2x the rate of white infants? In our country now, today. They die at a greater rate than Latino or non-US born black families. The statistics hold across educational and socio-economic lines as well as race.

Tonya Lewis Lee, who co-authored one of my favorite baby books ever, just released a 30 minute documentary about it. Checkout the compelling article at ColorsNW.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We're Approved!!

Our homestudy is officially complete and approved!

Moving on to stage 2: agency choices, medical forms and family portfolios.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Eat a Duck

Last week, Bill came home with a frozen duck. Sigh.

I put off baking it for 7 days because I find duck difficult to do right. Finally, though, it was defrosted long enough that I had to do something or else throw its $20 self in the trash. After reading through most of my cook books, Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners offered a recipe that sounded easy and good enough to try.

By the time I had it in the oven I was salivating and wishing the 2 hour cooking time would hurry by. In the end, the house smelled great, the meat pulled away temptingly from the bone and the skin had a flavorful crunch to it.

Go Jamie! His book also includes my favorite ever recipe for roasted chicken.

A poem to honor our happy duck eating moment!

Eat a Duck

Eat a duck, quack-quack,
eat a duck, quack-quack,
when you're hungry and you really need a snack, quack-quack.

When you've fizzled and you're knackered
and they're calling you a slacker,
there's nothing like a quacker on a cracker.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gentian Dog

Maggie the delightful, patient, frumpy, labradoodle suffers from an on-going low-grade yeast infection on her doggie bottom and chin (or as Rosie says, "geesed"). We've pursued may solutions: herbs, homeopathics, high quality raw foods, tons of probiotics, plenty of supplements and all the accompanying visits to several highly recommended holistic vets.

Having other things to do besides worry about my dog's back end, time passes between various solutions. I can watch her itch for only so long before I'm once again spurred in to action to find another vet who might come up with the final answer for Maggie's discomfort. Last week, reviewing all our thus far failed solutions and thinking about what relief might look like for the dog, I came up with a new idea.

When Rosie was wee, she and I developed thrush. It's a sort of yeast infection in the baby's mouth and mama's breast. Hoping to avoid pharmaceuticals for our baby, we treated it very effectively with gentian violet. What's gentian violet you ask? says:

Gentian violet is an excellent natural remedy. It can be found in health stores. The yeast protocol for gentian violet is application once a day for 4 to 7 days. However, if the pain is gone, the mother should stop using it on day 4. If pain continues, she may use it until the seventh day, but it should not be used for longer than that. It is important to note here that gentian violet has a deep purple hue and it will stain everything it comes into contact with -- skin, clothing, etc. Mothers are clothed and can hide that aspect of it, but babies will have purple mouths for a while.
Drunk on my my moment of brilliance, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it out on the dog. It's non-toxic and applying it to the rear end would insure it's spread to the licking end. Maggie wasn't keen to having it painted on (not that I can blame her), but it was quick and relatively easy. I figured doing it right before bed would allow for it to dry overnight while she slept.

What I hadn't counted on was the after-effects. Remember the line "it will stain everything it comes in contact with"? We now have bright violet spots on the carpet. Spots on the dog bed. Spots on the sidewalk out back. Spots on my jeans where she tried to wriggle away from me.

Today we got smarter and applied it in the morning - outside - and then left Maggie to dry, and lick, for several hours. This afternoon she's looking smart in a pair of underwear that cover and embarrass her simultaneously.

Hopefully 4-7 days of this will end the persistent yeast. In the meantime, we're really enjoying our gentian dog.

(if you're reading this on an RSS feed, you really have to click-through to the picture!)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Pugs Run?

Rosie and I have a love affair with pugs going, due in great part to the neighbor's dog Pickle. Today she announced that when she gets a dog, she's going to get a pug. And that she's decided it will be complicated because we'll have to walk 2 dogs.

Not that there is even a remote chance that we'll be adding a pug to our household anytime soon, but could we really take a pug on our morning jog?

I'm not sure I've ever see a pug run.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Almost Waiting

As we get closer and closer to actually being in "waiting" status for our new baby, I find my emotions around the event ratcheting up. Because honestly, if we're this close it means that out there right now at least one woman/family is in total crisis, and I'm about to benefit hugely and delightfully from what may be the most heartbreaking moment of her/their lives.

To be part of that system saddens me. Oh to have a magic wand with which I can set everything in the world right RIGHT now. Wouldn't it be lovely if suddenly there were no babies left needing families? Really. Still here we are with babies needing families and our family wanting to welcome more children into our home.

I found it affirming this morning to find the same idea already written in somebody else's blog. Issycat expresses it coming from a different point of view and a different emotion, yet the idea and the problem are still the same.

(PAP stands for prospective adoptive parent)

2. ADOPTION is not natural. It isn’t. A person giving their child to an agency to be given to complete strangers to raise. Not natural. PAP’s wriitng “Dear Birthmother” letters trying to pimp themselves to women in crisis pregnancy situations in the hope of obtaining said baby… not natural.

You know what is natural? Babies going home and being cared for by the mothers who carried them in their bodies. That is natural. Anything else is just a little sad.

Lunch Thought for the Day

Santa Barbara brand olives taste like the smell of my grandparents' horse corrals.

Happy memories, but not in my lunch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sustaining Thought

My sustaining thought for this week (and maybe the entire year) comes from a lecture I heard this summer by Holly van Gulden at Pact Camp. Holly specializes in attachment and adoption. She is a vibrant and expressive speaker and one of my heros.

The reason children keep doing IT is because they don't have the capacity to STOP doing IT.

My interpretation of this is that my kids aren't doing IT (scream, hit, smack while they eat, argue with everything I say) just to bug me. So if I want my kids to stop doing IT, I need to help them grow their skills, their attachments, their brains or wait for the next developmental stage.

And take lots of deep breaths.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Great Deal on Great Map

So you know those maps that we've all used in schools and work since we were small? Like the one hanging on my dining room wall?

They're wrong. Well, they aren't wrong exactly, but they are optimized for navigation, mainly naval and arial navigation. Turns out my National Geographic map no where near accurately reflects the relative size of countries. Or their locations.

Our standard American map is the Mercator map and it inflates geographic size as we approach the poles. The Peter's Projection Map claims to be an area accurate map of the earth's surfaces (Wikipedia says it's not, either, because when you lay a globe out flat something is going to get distorted). But it does more closely approximate relative size of countries and their actual location in relation to each other.

Seems Peters wasn't the first to point this out, in 1973, and do something about it (he may have "borrowed" the idea from a man named Gall who lived about 100 years before him). And there were others before him. This map thing is a on-going hundred years argument. About 10 years ago, though, all sorts of internal cartographer controversy and bickering lead the major map-heads to issue a rather pissy sounding resolution:

WHEREAS, the earth is round with a coordinate system composed entirely of circles, and

WHEREAS, flat world maps are more useful than globe maps, but flattening the globe surface necessarily greatly changes the appearance of Earth's features and coordinate systems, and

WHEREAS, world maps have a powerful and lasting effect on peoples' impressions of the shapes and sizes of lands and seas, their arrangement, and the nature of the coordinate system, and

WHEREAS, frequently seeing a greatly distorted map tends to make it "look right,"

THEREFORE, we strongly urge book and map publishers, the media and government agencies to cease using rectangular world maps for general purposes or artistic displays. Such maps promote serious, erroneous conceptions by severely distorting large sections of the world, by showing the round Earth as having straight edges and sharp corners, by representing most distances and direct routes incorrectly, and by portraying the circular coordinate system as a squared grid. The most widely displayed rectangular world map is the Mercator (in fact a navigational diagram devised for nautical charts), but other rectangular world maps proposed as replacements for the Mercator also display a greatly distorted image of the spherical Earth.

Basically, get out your globes, people!

All the same, I like the Peter's map for giving me a more accurate idea of the size of land masses. Which means it shows us what size Greenland really is. Alaska, too, as it turns out. I'll hang it up next to my National Geographic map, and keep the globe on the living room table where small children finger it daily.

Enjoy here with me my buddies CJ and Josh absorbing the shock of the Peters Projection Map.

Want to learn more about Peter's Maps? Go to their site. And check the wikipedia article for balance.
Want to get a great deal on a slightly blemished Peter's map, go here and look for the $5 deal!

Happy geography, everyone!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Soccer Mom For A Day

Today I fear I was the stereo-typical soccer mom. Lots of driving for a game that's walking distance from our house - in our minivan, with our designer mutt in tow.

Theo's game started at 1:30, Rosie's game at 2:00. All other Barnacle adults are out of town. And somehow I signed up as snack mom for Theo's team for today.

We did our morning stuff, packed soccer bags and around noon drove to the grocery store (5 blocks from our house). We loaded up on snack bars, apples and string cheese, then drove to Theo's game (okay, at least this is 2 miles from home).

I watched for a few minutes (long enough to see his team score 3 goals), then hopped in the car and headed back to drop Rosie at her game that is 3 blocks from our house (long enough to totally geek out about how cute 6 year old soccer games are).

Then back to get Theo. His game finished, his team was still hanging out in the field kicking the ball together. Turns out they'd won 5-1 and apparently weren't over the high yet. I handed out snacks, peeled Theo away and drove back to get Rosie.

We cheered for the last few minutes of her game and enjoyed the cupcakes (?!?!?) someone had brought for snacks. Rosie reports their team won 12-2 (Theo and I are skeptical).

Finally we drove the 3 blocks home.

To make up for the earlier part of the day, I plan to sit on the couch and read samari novels until dinner.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Sayin'

I've been really aware these past 2 days how much help I get over the course of a day from my dear hubby and delightful housemate. Having them both gone and trying to do the work of 3 adults seems like a big load.

I'm not complaining or whining here, just noticing...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spelling Fun

Trying to keep the spelling fresh, Theo made a crossword from his list today. I dished out the letters after he spelled the words, then he arranged them. Boy, was it hard for me to keep my hands to myself and let him have the fun.

Now I need a bananagram fix and 2 of my favorite opponents are out of town. Yikes!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Never drive...

...while trying to eat a chocolate dipped ice cream cone.

It won't turn out well. Especially on a hot day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Jitters

During our 5 day camping trip with the homeschool folks, Bill and I hosted a coffee tasting. We tested:
- Starbucks Via VERSUS Nescafe Instant
- Starbucks blend VERSUS Seattle Mt Roasting Co
- French Press VERSUS Brikka

Drinking various coffees over the course of several hours with friends rates high on my fun meter. 6 cups of coffee later, though, I was seriously buzzed. My agitated self engaged in conversation with several people about the strengths of various brews. Some of the numbers seemed skewed to me, so I looked them up. They weren't.

Shockingly, my innocent cup of drip is the most jittery of them all. Here's what I learned about the punch behind some of my favorite drinks.
Starbuck's* drip (12 oz) 240 mg
Starbuck's decaf drip 12 mg
Starbuck's single shot (1 oz) 89 mg
Starbuck's decaf shot 8 mg
Brewed black tea 40 mg
Hot Cocoa 14 mg

*I use Starbucks as a random category because amount of caffine varies greatly depending on everything from type of bean to which farm to roasting techniques.

On the occasionally consumed soda side:
Diet Coke (12 oz) 45.6 mg
Barq's Root Beer (12 oz) 23.0 mg

Back to the coffee tasting, the winner for me was clearly french pressed Seattle Mountain Coffee. In the caffine ratings, French press as a "brewed" coffee has a smaller amount of caffine than drip (about 1/3 less-ish). Which puts it at about 170 mg. Or a double shot of espresso. Yee haw!

In the instant competition, the Via tasted good. Next to it the Nescafe was painful, and I tossed it in the bushes after 2 sips. I'd definitely take the Via traveling with me, and I'm looking forward to trying the Via decaf when they release it.

Currently, I'm sworn off caffeine all together. When I choose to indulge again, I'll be well prepared.

In researching caffeine numbers, here were my favorite sources:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting Regular

In the spirit of getting back to regular life, I'm starting up our kombucha after a few months off. I like the rhythm and routine of it, plus it does keep bodies around here operating smoothly.

During a pause in the summer I brewed up a batch and even took notes in hopes of reproducing it if it tasted good. The results were lovely - mellow and sweet as kombucha goes. So I'm sharing them here with you (and so I can find them again in a few weeks).

Kombucha mix from 8/11
- 1 bag licorice tea
- 3 bags green tea
- 2 bags black tea
- 1 cup nettle tea (strong)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back in the Swing

Tomorrow we're officially supposed to be back in the swing of regular life.

With a good sense of where we're going with our schooling this year and the ideas and information my kids are about to consume, I'm excited too watch them enjoy and grow. Still, I'm feeling a little cowed by the wall of "normal" that is all supposed to kick in tomorrow. I know last June this was all easy, fun and done by noon. I just can't remember how we got there! Baby steps and ice cream, probably.

Dribbled out in bits over the next few weeks, here's what I hope our mornings will look like by the end of the month:

Theo (about 3.5 hours)
independently: morning routine, chores and grammar
with me: guitar, handwriting, math, spelling, writing
with Rosie and me: history, geography, poetry

Rosie (about 3 hours)
independently: morning routine, chores and HeadSprout
with me: guitar, handwriting, math, reading, Draw3D
with Theo and me: history, geography, poetry

I'm still working out where to fit in our running program and some sort of science, plus the latin program Theo really wants to do.

Wish us luck! We're going to cap off the first day with the Not Back to School Day potluck with a bunch of our buddies from the Seattle Homeschool Group. It'll be a blast.

ps. I don't recommend searching google images for "woman with ice cream." Results can be a little raunchy. Shocking, really!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Somone reminded me at the park yesterday that I am supposed to be blogging everyday this month. Guess I forgot.

Putting a reminder in my Things now.....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Regret Management

Often in making decisions Bill and I like to ask ourselves this question, "Is this a choice we'll regret having made 20 years from now?" We try to peer into the future in a attempt to understand the long-term implications of our actions, hoping to think clearly about all aspects of the choices we are making. We call it "Regret Management."

Sometimes it seems like a useful perspective for decision making, sorting the true mountains from the mole hills. Recently, though, I've been noticing that life isn't that tidy. Hindsight isn't really 20/20 because we can never clearly see what might have been on the road not travelled.

Will I ever regret being married to Bill? No. But having the phd in Medieval French Literature and teaching at the college level might have been really cool.

Will I ever regret the 9 month RV trip around the country with my husband? No. But the long-term investment of that large chunk of change we frittered away buy to the rig and support ourselves for that 9 months would come in handy right now.

Will I ever regret having kids? No. But living the free, easy and adventuresome life of a childless couple could have been very fulfilling.

Will I ever regret moving south to a neighborhood that looks more like our family and supports who each of us is? No. But I sure miss the lovely custom remodeled home and the ease of living in it that we left behind.

Will I regret adding a new baby to our family? I can't possibly think so. But life with our almost big kids is getting to be so fun and easy and full of possibility.

I don't know how to choose what's next because I don't think there is a "right" answer. Heck, I'm not even sure there is a best answer. What if just possibly I could live to always long for the life I didn't choose?

Maybe regret isn't something we can ever manage just learn to be friends with.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Frame It!

This evening, getting out of the car on a quick run to the grocery store, I noticed 2 twenty-something guys walking through the lot. He and his friend both watched me help Theo out of the car (we were pretending we were thieves come to get secret hidden jewels aka ice cream).

A few steps past our car, Theo and I ran into someone I haven't seen in quite a while and stood in the lot and chatted. After a while (or a lifetime, if you asked Theo), the child and I managed our way into the store in search of the promised ice cream.

The 2 twenty-somethings were just checking out, and one guy stared at me again. I spent a few seconds wondering if I was supposed to know him and then moved on to choosing ice cream flavors.

When I got back to the car, guess what I found slipped through the window onto my passenger seat?

(actual phone number changed)

What a HOOT! In red sharpie and everything! I can't remember the last time someone made a pass at me, never mind slipped me their phone number. And this is a first from someone who probably started preschool the same time I graduated from high school.

I think I'm going to frame it and hang it in my office.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August NaBloPoMo: Tomorrow

This month's theme for NaBloPoMo is Tomorrow. Sounds interesting. And I don't plan to travel this month. Let's give it a whirl!

Tomorrow Theo participates his first baseball camp. At Rijo Athletics, it comes highly recommended. Of course, that always seems to mean far from our house. I'm sure we'll enjoy the hour long commute there talking all about the funny facts of baseball. And back, too.

Tomorrow Rosie, chauffered by Bill, will delight in a morning of other children for her second week of sports camp at Arena Sports (which is also highly recommended, but surprisingly only 15 minutes from our house). She's thrilled.

Tomorrow I'm working on the list of things that I've been feeling anxious about: detailed planning for the Not-Scouts Camp I'm hosting for some of our homeschool friends in a few weeks, processing the 108 messages languishing in my in-box, seeing where we're at with our homeschool budget and maybe reading a book!

Tomorrow afternoon we may just make it to a planning meeting for a babysitting coop. Wouldn't that be a great topper to the day?

What are you doing tomorrow?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great Piece on Cake

This made me spit tea on my computer.  

I'm crazy busy this month, so I'm leaning towards NaBloNOPo (National Blog NO Posting) this month.  

Enjoy the cake, I'll see you in August!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Electronics Bust

Our neighborhood suffered a recent rash of break-ins.  Hopefully we'll be seeing less activity for a while. From the SPD Blotter.

Stolen electronics located in Rainier Valley

 On June 24th, a South Precinct patrol officer stopped a vehicle occupied with known burglary suspects. The officer observed several electronics inside the car. The occupants denied ownership of the items. South Precinct detectives interviewed one of the occupants who admitted to committing four area burglaries. He also stated that he and other burglary suspects would routinely sell their stolen laptops to a computer parts business in the 7600 block of Rainier Avenue South.


On 6/25/09 South Precinct Detectives served a search warrant on the business looking for a specific stolen laptop computer. The detectives found hundreds of laptop computers lined up on bookshelves, several hundred hard drives along with numerous digital cameras, I-Pods, games systems, cell phones and other electronics. The detectives ran the serial numbers or owner applied numbers on ten of the laptops. Seven of the laptops were reported stolen in area burglaries. The business had no paperwork, receipts or other documentation commonly found in a retail business. The business was secured until the warrant could be amended.


On 6/26/09 South Precinct Detectives served an amended search warrant on the computer parts business, the owner’s home and his storage unit. Over 600 laptop computers were seized along with hundreds of other electronic equipment. 


The South Precinct Detective’s Unit will be cataloging each of the seized items over the next several days.  Some of the victims of these burglaries have already been contacted and told about their recovered property.


The precinct requests that other potential victims wait at least a week before contacting the unit to see if their property was among the found items.

Monday, June 22, 2009

True Love

I know my husband loves me because he bought me the mug I've been obsessing about for several months now. It's white and orange ceramic with a silicon band around the middle. Beautiful and so fun to hold.

Gifts are one of the Five Languages of Love. I think it might be my primary language based on how loved and understood I'm feeling right now.  Also, I'm still high from the electric toothbrush he gave me about 10 years ago. 

The book is highly religious yet I've found the concept it proposes - that others can feel the love we are offering them best if we speak their "love language" - works well in my family.  Of course there is still the small matter of remembering to be mindful of it. But days like today remind me how effective small efforts can be.

Doesn't the orange look great with my coffee in it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What I Learned Today

Several years ago my aunt showed me how to cook bacon quickly and easily in the oven.  With many bacon lovers in the house, this saves me gobs of time as I can lay out a couple of packages of bacon and have the whole shebang ready in about 20 minutes.  Without all the splattered grease.

BLTs were on the lunch menu this afternoon and we were expecting 2 guest.  This calls for even more bacon than I usually prepare.  I filled a second pan with strips of the salty stuff. After about 20 minutes I learned that the same bacon, baked in separate metal and glass pans, will cook at different rates. 

My advice - judge the doneness of your meat by the progress of the metal pan not the glass pan. To wit:

Baby Stealing Isn't Just a Foreign Issue

Elle at Shakesville passed along an example of one reason why I focus so much on the integrity of the agencies "helping" with child placement. And my place in the system/business that is adoption in our country.

Baby stealing in the US is not a thing of the past.  And it is so sick and wrong it makes my stomach hurt and my heart ache to read about these injustices.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

In response to my annual disappointment at how cold and rainy "early summer" is here in Seattle, I've chosen this year to regard June as "late spring." After the 4th of July we'll talk about "early summer."

In celebration of the Seattle late spring, look what I picked in the garden today!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ancient Rome (in less that 10 minutes) by Theo

There was some debate Wednesday over whether or not Theo actually paid attention during the day's history lecture - the final summation of Ancient Rome.  

To prove that he intently listened and understood, Theo insisted on giving me the rundown.  I had the presence of mind to get the video camera out.  He was concise, fairly clear for an 8 year old, and so animated and cute it made my mommy toes curl.  

I'm not sure everything is 100% correct, but he still knows 99x more about ancient history than I do. I know it's long, but check him out!

edited to add:
This is Theo's version of what he learned.  And I want to call out that his ability to hold onto all this information is in huge part due to Scott Powell's clear and engaging presentation of the material.   


The day after the elections in Iran, I asked Bill if he'd been following the news reports.  He replied that he was, and I commented that I found the whole thing shocking.

Bill countered that he found it many things but was in no way shocked on the outcome of the political process in Iran.  We've seen their system in action for many, many years and nothing is surprising about the current turn of events. Which is true.

And I still find the whole thing shocking.  I'm always shocked to see police beating people in the streets.  I'm always shocked to see adults lying and stealing. 

I am shocked and saddened to see people grabbing for power not matter the price instead of choosing to behave in a manner that is consistent with all they believe to be right and true, striving to learn and understand more about themselves and others in the process.

I still find the whole thing shocking. Bill says that is one of the things he likes about me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Me, too

An elegant post from John Raible.  There is nothing I could add to his writing.  My response thus is short - me, too.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Naked With Socks On

Naked With Socks On rates at the very top of my blog list. 

First of all, the man knows how to put words together on the page.  

His ability to explore a huge range of subjects and his willingness to be authentic amaze me. Recently he's written pieces questioning if he's racist, where's he's at with religion, a letter to his sister and a mind-numbingly sexy bit.

NWSO is the only blog I regularly click through to from my Google Reader because the comments from his community of readers are thought-provoking and entertaining. And he's got great art. 

Super writing, great material, good conversation and lovely pictures.  What more could a dedicated reader ask for?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beatles Rock Band

New favorite video, made apparently for the Rock Band game. As always, love the music. And wow, the images are stunning.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reading Ideas for Ancient History

This post comes mostly from an email I sent to the mother of another child in Theo's amazing homeschool history class. When I type so many words, i think "oooooo, this feels like a blog post."  

For the record, Scott Powell of History At Our House regularly makes me swoon with educational admiration. You really ought to check his program out and sign up for next fall.


What is working for us right now is for me to check out essentially ALL the books from our public library on whatever subject Mr. Powell is exploring.  For instance, I requested about 85 juvenile books which met the search topic of "ancient rome".  I ended up checking out 67 of them (the others really didn't look compelling).  Then I brought them home and stacked them on the coffee table (well, actually most of the flat surfaces in our living room). Theo sifted through them and the best ones floated to the top of the pile. The obvious rejects I returned quickly to make more visual space for him to discover those that are left.

Theo's a pretty good reader at this point, yet some of these books seemed out of his reach.  I don't worry about reading level. I figure even if he only gets 40% comprehension out of the book, that's a ton more than he's going to get NOT reading. My sense is that for this first level of history we're really trying to create a foundational love for the subject and learning in general. Plus, he completely stunned me with some of what he'd retained about the various Emperors, and I know that information was in several of the more advanced and dry-looking books.

Several people have commented recently on how many books he seems to be reading - I think he's at about 180 books since September.  I've been wondering why he reads so much.  I think part of it is that he really does like to read, part is that his parents are obsessive readers themselves and part of it is that he doesn't have a lot of other choices. He has very little screen time in a week, comic books are only for weekends when all of the week's school work is done and we have 1 hour enforced quiet time everyday. He also wakes up at the crack of dawn has 2 choices: play with toys or read library books.  After his fingers go numb from the legos, he turns to the library books.

Something I learned from Lisa Vandamme is to read the first bit of a book out loud.  Theo is often nervous about a new subject and was worried about the Flavia Gemini series, so I read the first chapter of the first book to his sister while he was nearby. Rosie and I took a break to do something else and the next time I noticed him, he was about half way through the book. He essentially didn't stop until he finished the last of the 9 books. Once he was into the story and idea of Ancient Rome, he really enjoyed the more factual books that we had sitting around.

I did this library binge for Ancient Egypt and it worked well, too.  Ancient Mesopotamia apparently isn't so historically sexy, so we only ended up with 5 or 6 books. I think Theo's level of enthusiasm and knowledge between the 3 cultures Mr. Powell has covered over the year is clearly reflected in the number of books our library holds on each subject.

A few of the books I noted he liked about Ancient Rome:
All of the Flavia Gemini series by Lawrence (Thieves of Ostia, Fugitive from Corinth, Assassins of Rome)
"Tiger, Tiger" by Lynn Reids Banks.
"Heroes, Gods and Emperors from Roman Mythology" by Usher
"How To  Be a Roman Soldier" by National Geographic
"Tools of the Ancient Romans" by Kickinson
"Julius Caeser: Conqueror and Dictator" by Therme
"Augustus: The First Emperor" by Forsyth

Oh, and once he'd read through most of the stack, I went and got out the Astrix books!  But I kept them well hidden for a long time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What Would Who Think?

I'm been thinking about one of my posts from March pretty much since I hit the "publish post" button.

Here's the part that has been bugging me:
And, I find I'm a little afraid to talk about our choice, especially on-line.  Really, honestly, in my mind I believe that in a functional world, all babies belong with their first mamas.  Yet here we live in this way less than perfect world and I'm about to reap this amazing relationship because of someone else's huge loss.  What are people who really know and understand adoption going to think/say?  
Worrying or even wondering what other people are going to think about me and my decisions isn't really something I do. 

So writing and publishing it has sat wrong with me.  After long periods of thinking it over, I've decided I'm not really worried about what some of my adoption world heros think of my choices, I'm worried about what I think.  Does this choice resonate with my personal integrity?

Here are the questions that really gnaw at me, and I don't know how to answer.
- How do I ever justify being part of a system that takes a baby away from its mama?
- What am I doing to change this truly messed up world?
- What about all those lovely children in foster care who need homes?  Do I have responsibility for them in some form as a member of this broken system? Am I a wuss for choosing not to take on the challenges the foster system (not the kids, the system) presents me?
- When I adopt an infant, am I preempting the cycle of neglected child to foster care to eventual adoption?  Or am I essentially stealing someone's baby?
- Now that I know so much more about the challenges of transracial adoption, how do I justify bringing another black child into our very white home?  Am I deliberately robbing another black child of its culture? Or is our home a reasonable choice in this crazy world?
- Would the world be better off if I just produced more white kids and stayed out of the TRA world?

I'd love to hear what you think.

ps.  Let's all pause before moving on to laugh about how self-absorbed it is for me to spend over 2 months thinking about my own blog post. Whew!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

No Email

It has been 2 full days since I've received any email.  Yesterday I told myself everyone was out enjoying the beautiful sunshine.  But when I found an empty inbox this morning, I knew technical troubles were afoot - FlyLady never misses my morning reminders.

Usually this sort of thing ends up being a server issue resolved only by magical actions (and vocabulary) by my hubby.  He's on a plane right now, on his way back from NYC.  I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to catch up.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garden Day

The weather rates beyond lovely here today.  Warm sun, a slight cool breeze.  Just perfect for playing in the dirt.

The stars aligned for me this afternoon as Rosie scored playtime with a nearby neighbor and all Theo could think about was building lego star ships. So the shovel, the seeds and I headed out to the garden.

In the past month or so Bill and I ripped out 6-8 of the huge and invasive (and ugly to my mind) bushes in the yard.  This cleared up more space for plants we want and path for sunlight, yet most importantly it seems to have cleared visual space for me to think about the garden.

One of my favorite features of our garden is the teepee Theo and I made last year.  We raided the "lost woods" behind our house for large sticks and tied 6 of them together with string.  It looks great.  The peas reach about a foot up it now.  We've also seeded morning glory, zucchini and beans at the base of it to see what happens.

Our gardening boxes are easy to maintain - the soil is rich and not at all packed.  Getting them ready requires a little turning of the dirt, a handful of compost and viola! The planting boxes now boast 6 tomato plants, 6 marigold plants, tiny sprouts of scallions, basil, more marigolds, carrots, radishes, chard, lettuce and spinach.   

Today I took on the task of the garden beds. Turning up hard packed dirt with a shovel is a lot like work, and these beds were mulched several years ago with hazelnut shells.  Man, are those shells hard to push through. I got nice and shiny with the effort, but eventually turned up the 4x10 bed. Rosie and I added compost, mixed it all up a bit and then planted beets, leeks, cauliflower and broccoli. 

Another of the beds came pre-planted with loads of strawberries, which have really spread this year.  Many little green pre-berries were spotted today as I weeded the patch.  Last week I mulched the blueberries and strung some of the taller raspberries.  By August, I figure we'll be eating berries hand over fist.

Our new frontier this year is the space against the fence.  It is south face with lots of hot sun, so we planted pumpkins and sunflower seeds.  9 pumpkin sprouts peek through the dirt, however the squirrels got to the sunflowers and only 2 of the 10 we planted came up.  I've bought more red pepper flakes to ward off the little critters, so we'll likely plant again in the next few days.

Since I really know very little about gardening - just what I've read in 1 or 2 books and what I copy from my amazing gardening neighbor - I'm always a little unsure of what our results will actually be. For the next month or so, I anticipate peaceful watering, plenty of weed pulling, a little more squirrel chasing.  Wish me luck!

Friday, May 29, 2009

How Do Your Books Stack Up?

With all other adults out of the house since Wednesday, I've been left to manage the work of 3 which isn't going very well this week.  Which means the house looks like it has been hit by a tornado. As usual, due to the large amount of books in our home.

With really no desire to clean up, I finally talked myself into taking on the task by calling it a survey.  As I picked up each book, I set it it one of 4 piles based on the images: mostly People of Color (PoC), about 50/50 PoC/white, mostly white people and animals. The stacking got so interesting, I ended up pulling all the books off the shelves and trolling other rooms for other books.

So, here are the numbers for my piles:
People of Color: 36
About 50/50 PoC/White : 17
White people: 100
Animals: 81

This count excludes the shelf full of early readers (90% which feature white kids) and shelves and boxes of comic books (99.9% of which feature white people).

Turns out our Barnacle collection is heavily slanted to books with images of white people, even though I try to be very purposefully about culture and skin color in the books I buy.  A few other observations I had as I was stacking:
- Many, many of the animal pile are really human stories, using animals instead of people.  I get that bunnies and tiger cubs are cute. It turns my stomach that They (authors? illustrators? publishers?) put so much time and energy into producing books with animals and so little into creating books that tell the same story including children with not-white skin. And that I seem to spend so many resources supporting Them.
- Looking over the animal stack, I started wanting to put many of them in the "white" pile. Sure tiger cub is orange and black, yet everything about him conjured images of white culture to me.  Am I the only one that thinks this?
- My "white" stack is much taller than the other stacks, in large part due to the thickness of the books.  All our reference type books have very few pictures of people of color.  So if you're smart and want to learn about how the world works, you must be white?  Ick.
- I really could die happy if I never saw another Bernstein Bear book again in my life. Sigh.

So, how do your books stack up?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lotion Brag

Last week's batch of lotion turned out so well, on the very first try, that I'm all puffed up with lotion pride.  It is smooth, it pumps perfectly, it smells nice but not too nice.

Dr. David Williams, one of my pushy holistic newsletter obsessions, recently sent me email letting me know about a series of fantastic skin care products out of New Zealand.  Several of the ingredients that he called out included honey and rosehip seed oil.  I'm wondering what these do and if I should incorporate them into my mix.

Until I know more, I don't plan to mess with a good thing.  Here's the current list of happy ingredients:
2 TBSP beeswax
3/4 c grapeseed oil
1/4 c jojoba oil
2 TBSP coconut oil
1/2 c sunflower oil
1/2 c olive oil
1 c water

Monday, May 25, 2009


On Saturday, Bill and I spent most of the day at a friend's office downtown so we could have our quarterly Barnacle Offsite.

For various reasons we drove instead of taking the bus. As Bill purchase our parking meter time, some woman with her grandkids in tow brusquely volunteered, "you don't have to pay for parking on weekends." 

Mostly out of shock I quickly replied, "yes you do." "Trust me, I live here," she snapped at me.

As Bill and I stared at each other in disbelief she arrived at her car and cried out, "Oh!  I got a parking ticket!"

I love me some instant karma.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quiet, but busy

Well, it seems that once free of the pressure of April's NaBloPoMo, I went radio silent.

I have been very busy, though.  Making kombucha and lotion.  Working on the yard and garden.  Homeschooling the kids.  Writing, writing and more writing for the homestudy.  Fill out plenty 'o forms for said homestudy.  Enjoying visitors.  Practicing my guitar.  Evaluating and applying for a new health care plan.  Trying to squeeze every last benefit out of our amazing COBRA health plan before it expires at then end of the month (read, going to a heck of a lot of appointments).  Thinking about friends in crisis trying to find ways to support them.  Talking, planning and hanging out with hubby. All this while trying to keep up the house and feed all the living beings inside it.

It is often hard to choose between going to bed at the end of the day so I have enough sleep to gracefully move through the next one or write about how things went and what I'm thinking. Sleep has been nice, but I think I'm getting ready to write again.  

June NaBloPoMo, anyone?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Last night I dreamed that all the while I've been eschewing Facebook and Twitter, they were not avoiding me.  Somehow in my dream I googled "sara cole twitter" only to find people had been twittering about me for years.  The only tweet I remember from the dream was, "wow, she can really put away some food."

My imagination never ceases to amaze me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Messy Homeschool Day

Since February, our homeschool days have been what I would consider "successful."  Mostly in that we do all the things on my list of must-do's. 

Today was not one of those.  Rosie and I woke up really late only to discover Bill, Theo and the dog MIA.  My head ached terribly, so I talked Rosie into going for a run.  When we got home Bill was already at his computer.  While I felt much better, nobody had eaten any breakfast and the house looked like a tornado hit sometime in the night.

I thought I'd be clever and set Theo up with a history lecture while I got myself cleaned up so we could jump start our day. Rosie occupied herself with an art project. One lecture turned into to two and still no-one had eaten, craft supplies littered what tiny part of the floor was previously visible and everyone was grumpy.

After a few deep breaths, I convinced everyone to eat a big snack, do a 15 minute clean up and watch a language video. So, now it is noon and we've finally achieved our normal 8:30 state. I'm ready for a nap.