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.