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.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

5 Great Questions

I often sense that the way I handle difficult situations for my children doesn't work well for them.  Usually I have no plan, I just start talking.  Here's something I'd like to try:

Five questions for you to ask your child to help him or her deal with problem situations:

• What happened?
• How did that make you feel?
• What did you say or do when that happened?
• If something like that happens again, do you think you will
deal with it the same way?
• Would you like me to do something?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Rite of Passage

Today Theo got older.  He did something that seems big to me: mature and capable.

He made chocolate chip cookies.  By himself.  He found the recipe, read it through, got out all the ingredients, measured everything, and mixed it all up.  Then he put the dough on the cookie sheet, put the sheet in the oven and set the timer.  After I took the cookies out, he spatula-ed them to the cooling rack and set up a new batch. While the first batch cooked, he put all the ingredients away and wiped down all the counters.  He even let his sister help a little along the way.

In that small, sugar-focused boy I saw a man who would some day be able to take good care of himself.

Welcome May!

Today officially ends my 2nd successful NaBloMoPo.  In a 30 day month I posted 28 days, and I'm proud of myself.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

This month holds big projects for me. Adoption paperwork.  Find a new health insurance plan and complete+turn in all forms by May 10. Something else Big that escapes me (wow, is that scary). 

Word on the street says that May 1 is the recommended start day this year for getting plants in the ground.  So lots I plan to get lots of dirt under my fingernails in the next few weeks. Plus, the calendar already brims with get-togethers, a Star Trek date with Hubby and lots of homeschool doings.  

I love all the promise of a new month. What are your plans?