Friday, December 31, 2010

Adoption Reading Challenge at Munchinland

The Chronicles of Munchin Land, one of the blogs I read, is offering an adoption reading challenge for 2011. Basically, commit to reading a certain number of books about adoption and report back on her blog.

I'm in - what a great way to work through the stack of books next to my desk with others. Based on what my calendar looks like for the next six months, I'm going to join in at the basic level - 3 books.  Now to choose which ones.

What about you?  Are you in?  As she points out, you don't have to be part of the adoption "triad" to benefit from learning more about adoption and people's experience of it. Let me know if you need ideas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Climate Alarmism?

The subject of environmentalism is highly popular today with most parents and educators. While our family appreciates the wonders of nature and revels in the amazing variety of animals of the world,  I have mostly avoided exposing our kids to the current earth-friendly trend. I do this both because I think it is alarmist and likely based on bad science and also I find the messages of the movement are not child-friendly or age appropriate for my youngsters.  

Based on my point of view, I really enjoyed this editorial forward to me from Forbes magazine. Let me know what you think. 

(Disclaimer: I really enjoyed and agreed with this piece.  I know next to nothing about either Larry Bell or Forbes and didn't do any research to find if either the writer or the mag are in line with my general philosophy of life.)

The Bell Tells for You
Hot Sensations Vs. Cold Facts
Larry Bell, 12.27.10, 10:00 AM ET

As 2010 draws to a close, do you remember hearing any good news from the mainstream media about climate? Like maybe a headline proclaiming "Record Low 2009 and 2010 Cyclonic Activity Reported: Global Warming Theorists Perplexed"? Or "NASA Studies Report Oceans Entering New Cooling Phase: Alarmists Fear Climate Science Budgets in Peril"? Or even anything bad that isn't blamed on anthropogenic (man-made) global warming--of course other than what is attributed to George W. Bush? (Conveniently, the term "AGW" covers both.)
Remember all the media brouhaha about global warming causing hurricanes that commenced following the devastating U.S. 2004 season? Opportunities to capitalize on those disasters were certainly not lost on some U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change officials. A special press conference called by IPCC spokesman Kevin Trenberth announced "Experts warn global warming likely to continue spurring more outbreaks of intense activity."

... read the rest of the article here.

(edited 12-29: Hubby informs me it is bad netiquette to post the whole text of an article to my blog - copy write issues and such - so I've deleted all but the first paragraph and added a link to the editorial).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Traditionally Busy

I love the traditions and routines that come with the winter holidays. Of course, this season also presents me with loads of opportunities to become absolutely crazy busy. Crazy is something I've tried to be mindful about this year as one of my on-going goals in my life is to create plenty of space for peace and connection.  Based on this goal, I tried to be mindful of how I planned this December.

Here are some of my favorite moments from the past few weeks in which I got to experience both:
- dipping candles and sharing stone soup with friends to celebrate the winter solstice
- decorating sugar cookies with my family
- chatting and wrapping presents with my hubby
- working with my son frying up donuts for Christmas morning
- sitting quietly by the light up tree while drinking my morning cup of tea

I also created several opportunities to see myself as overworked and under appreciated.  Thankfully, I managed this year to fairly quickly be aware of those moments and find ways to undo them.  Sometimes it simply meant taking a nap. Sometimes a phone call to a friend to express my frustrations or fears helped bring me back to a relaxed, more centered space. Once or twice it meant checking in with others to gauge expectations and then asking for help.

What do you do over the holiday season to feed your heart?  What worked well for you this year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Too Thick

Lotion woes.  The last batch ran like water, way too thin.  In an effort to thicken it, I added lots of coconut oil.  So much we now can't pump it.

Here's the problem recipe:
2 c coconut oil
1 c jojoba oil
1 c grapeseed oil
1 c beeswax
2 c water

In reviewing it, I see I didn't put in any olive oil at all.  Guess I melt it all back down, add plenty of olive oil and re-whip.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Africa is Really Big

For anyone that suffers from the confusion that Africa is a country - as opposed to the truly huge continent that it is - comes this map.

You Have Not Idea How Big Africa Is (But This Map Does)

Pretty amazing and cool.  And interesting when one starts to contemplate the global politics of it all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Quick! Run to Costco NOW!

Costco has the most amazing wrapping paper ever in the history of human kind.  It will meet all your paper wants, needs and deepest desires.

The Christmas wrapping paper comes in big, full rolls.  The paper itself is a nice heavy weight that covers boxes well and is easy to work with.  The designs are delightful without being too cutesy.  But very best of all, it is double sided with complimentary colors and designs on each side. Like peppermint candy swirls back with red and white stripes.  Or snowman and reindeer design with bright HoHoHos on the other side.

Sigh.  True wrapping happiness comes in bulk.  Go get yours before they sell out!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Too Old for a Boyfriend

Here's a great post by NakesWithSocksOn on about the absurdity of the terms "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" when it comes to adults.

The post really resonates with me because I know so many people older than me (and I'm over 40 people) that have sweeties to whom they are not married.  Calling those people "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" seems so wrong to me, especially when we're talking about my mother or grandmother. I really appreciate NWSO's eloquent treatment of the subject.

What do you think of it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blinded by the White?

Teaching my kids history seems like a land mine to me.  History can be taught from so many angles and is, in many ways, very subjective.  As a white person, trained mostly in European history, I lack the solid background I'd like to have to teach my children about the world in a way that reflects both their races/cultural backgrounds.

After several years of agonizing over various curriculums and approaches I really didn't like, I finally landed on the History at Our House program, which I love. It is a Western Civ history course, which I know many people object to, in general. It is taught by a white man (which some people probably object to in general). But I honestly think understanding the history that has created Western Civilization is vital to understanding the world in which we live.  It also provides a relative reference for understanding the history of other cultures. I've listened to all the lectures over the past few years, and the teacher's treatment of sensitive topics has seemed somewhere between delightful and completely reasonable to me.

Imagine my distress in learning recently that one of the other families I knew was using the program quit.  Not just any family, but a family of color whose mother I hold in very high esteem. They were all so offended by the course's treatment of Columbus that they left the class. This was one of the subjects I felt nervous about and after listening the the lectures thought the teacher handled the very well.

I'm pulling out my Howard Zinn books to see what about the subject matter I'm so completely missing.  I'm certainly willing to teach my kids alternative views of this, and any period, of history.  What really concerns me, though, is my own level of awareness.  How did I completely miss out on what was objectionable?

Am I completely blinded by my White education, privilege and self as to not be able to even see the experience of others?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Year Old Birthday Fun

Sharing a few of my favorite pictures from Theo's birthday fun.

Showing off the Nerf gun his sister gave him.  This gun was definitely his most hoped for present and his sister got big points for being the one to acquire it.

Admiring the Nerf vest from his Grandpa, which until this vital moment he didn't even know was part of the Nerf arsenal.  He keeps it fully loaded by his bed at night.

Now completely geared up for birthday fun - what you can't see is the important contraption on his back, a camelback water back pack (from his seriously outdoor geeky grandma), thus enabling him to shoot many, many, many Nerf darts at his friends without even the need to pause for a drink.

And finally the birthday party.  10 boys shooting foam darts at each other for two hours.  Serious, sweaty, wild (and well facilitated) fun.

Watching kids grow is a privilege, but watching them indulge in being the focus of their day is so much fun!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Parenting What Is

Do you ever have the experience where you know something is true, and when that thing is true there is a best way to proceed, but somehow the dots haven't fully connected yet so you continue to do the wrong thing even when you're staring at the right thing?

I'm coming out of the fog of that right now.  For months and months now, I've been telling people Rosie is non-emergent. Emergence, according my nascent understanding of Neufeld's term, is essentially our ability to play alone - to have our own thoughts and ideas come through us. Sometimes he calls it "venturing forth."  Emergence comes from a state of maturity that is a result of complete attachments and a place of rest, basically trusting that we are safe and our needs will be met.

I think.  Right now.  Boy, nothing like trying to explain a concept to help clarify how much still don't completely understand about it.  But I think I'm close.

Anyway, I've known for months that right now Rosie is not is a developmental place to play by herself. Which of course would mean that at all times, she needs some sort of external stimulation/support - me, her daddy, her brother, the dog, a book on CD, a friend - until she moves back into an emergent stage in her growth.

But guess what I've been doing?  Two or three times a week, I've been scheduling work time for myself that assumes the kids will play peacefully on their own. And how's that been going? Terribly.  Theo's off reading or doing legos or creating PVC pipe inventions and having a good old time, and Rosie's at my elbow whining and begging for ideas. Ideas she never takes my up on - because they are all projects for her to go off and do on her own. Duh!

Last Friday my neurological pathways finally connected - if she's non-emergent, scheduling time for emergent play will fail miserably. She'll be anxious and lonely, I'll be frustrated and behind on the work I want to do.  So I stopped asking her to play on her own.  Even before she started whining, I got out some projects we could do together and started working.  I put away my work that required me separating from her and got out things she could do with me or next to me, like cooking and fixing items around the house. I put on a movie for her when I really, really needed to concentrate on my computer for 30 minutes.

She lit up.  She's been so much more happy and relaxed.  There have been lots more hugs and kisses and fewer tantrums and hits.

Now that my experiment has a clear result, I need to figure out what to do about it.  Really, the question always seems to be, how do I meet everyone's needs?  How do I give Rosie the connection she needs and get the personal time that I crave?  Several ideas seem to keep coming to mind.
- Getting help from other adults to watch her so I can have focused work time rather than trying to steal minutes in the day. Daddy?  Housemate? Babysitter?
- Rosie's a very visual learner.  Maybe setting her up with educational videos wouldn't be the end of the world?
- Projects, projects, projects.  If I'm going to be present to her, I need something stimulating and fun to fill our time.  A few nights ago, I printed out 3 lapbooks I think we'll enjoy working on together.  I've also purchased Crafting Fun 101: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids.  The book along with a box of related supplies will make a lovely, busy Christmas present for us together.

I'm feeling nervous that giving so much time and focus to Rosie will keep me from getting the personal time I want.  And yet, I'm confident that meeting her where she is really at right now will create so much more peace and rest in our home.  So I'm going to give it a try. And if kids grow the way they usually do, just about the time I get really good at providing generous amounts of attention for Rosie, she'll grow out of the need for it and long for time to play on her own.

Wouldn't that be sweet?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Up To Standards?

During my visit to Wyoming with my grandmother, the topic of conversation inevitably turned to homeschooling.  She expressed what I interpreted as honest curiosity about how I know what to teach and how to teach it.  Did I take direction from the schools or the state or some other governing board?

Much explaining about Bill and my personal educational theories and standards drew nothing but blank looks, as if I were speaking some foreign tongue to which she had never been exposed.  Finally, I resorted to the fact that each state publishes their standards on the internet, and I could access those at any time.

Ah, a light of understand begins.  And then after a few moments pause, "Each state has their own standards?  How do you choose?" Hmmmmm.  Maybe skip the part about personal education standards this go around, I try the whole, "well I pick and choose what makes the most sense to me."  Gets a nod of understanding.  Encouraged, I throw in, "but there are lots of things in the standards I don't agree with."   Which gets a surprised "like what?"

Now I know I've found my way in with my grandmother.  She loves the fine arts. So I trot out our family's values for art and music, foreign languages and love of learning.  Suddenly she lights up with the possibility of what my children and I can do with our learning time at home.

And in that moment, I'm guessing that not only did her concerns for my ability to teach to various standards set by a state education board relax, but I also met her standards for the life and education that her great-grandchildren should have.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Who's Daughter?

Last night Rosie and I watched Elf together (she watched it earlier in the day with Bill).  Usually, I steer FAR away from adoption movies as they can be such mine-fields.  But Elf is recommended and enjoyed by several adult adoptees I know, so we rented it.

I was pleased.  I think it handled the adoption related issues pretty well, and it created a few openings for conversation about what reunion can be like.  I've read a lot of reunion related blogs, so this gave me an entrance to sharing some of those people's basic experiences with Rosie. I think she needs to hear some of the variety of these experiences right now as I know she's thinking a lot about being connected with her first mama.

Just after we finished the movie a friend called. I entered conversation with her by saying my daughter and I had just finished watching the movie Elf, to which Rosie shouted out, "I'm not your daughter, I'm K's daughter." I hugged her and told her how glad I am she likes that about herself. I also reminded her she will be both our daughter forever, and she will always be in both our hearts. She smiled at me and went to work on a puzzle.

I really am glad to see her shouting out the complexities of who she is to the world.  It will take her far.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I woke up at 5am with the beginnings of a serious migraine.  I spent most of the morning trying to find relief, throwing up and snoozing. Somehow around noon I started to feel better. So no thoughtful blog post today, but all offers of sympathy accepted.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yee Haw! Updated Template.

Look at me!  I updated the blogger template after years and years of the same old thing.

Not that I was planning a new, updated and seasonally appropriate look. The old format was too narrow for us to see the whole Eureka! screen so changes had to happen. I may be a tad on the practice and routine  part of the human spectrum.

Hope your eyes enjoy the renovation. And better Eureka!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pretty Cute

Little update from October...

If I do say so myself, Bill and I made some pretty cute Halloween costumes this year. We carefully arranged ourselves wherever we walked or sat as the order of our tiles pretty well summed up the pair of us.  We really can be pretty full of it.

Happy Halloween, 6 weeks late!

Birthday Wishes

Today, Theo turns 10.  It's pretty amazing to think he's a whole decade old.  The contrast between his relatively huge self and our 10 month old house guest is quite jarring.  Was he ever that small?  How did he get to be so big and competent and full of his own self?

For me the past decade flew by and I'm so thrilled to get to share in the journey of supporting Theo in becoming Theo.

He choose to celebrate his birthday at breakfast. So this morning at 7am we all gathered around bangers and cinnamon toast to fete his new year.  I like end-of-day celebrations, but I must admit it is a relief to avoid the agony of spending the whole day with a small person impatiently waiting for presents.  He's currently happily decorated from head to toe in Nerf gear and playing legos.

Coming home from the hardware store last night where I made my last minute dash out to get my gift to him, I decided either I'm truly weird or cool.  I came home with 5 - 6 foot PVC pipes and 6 different fittings for them.  Theo will transform them into various weapons and structures over the next year.  He recently learned how to use the pipe-cutter so the world is his universe.

I suppose it is a combination of factors  that compels me to buy strange things as presents - my deep desire for my kids to be creative with their world, my strong urge for them not to expect and demand the newest and shiniest item from the store, and my enjoyment of giving them what really tickles them in their moment of developmental growth.

When he turned one, I presented Theo with a huge storage bin full of rice he could climb in and play with.  Rosie got her own rolls of scotch tape when she turned two just for unrolling all herself.  Around Theo's 5th Christmas, I put a box full of random bits and pieces from our local junk/hardware store. I'm considering 6 rolls of different colored duct tape as Theo's Christmas present this year.

Which all works out to the same end - I adore my kids. I love seeing who they are and what is fermenting deep inside their little hearts, brains and souls.  I love helping draw out the fullness of their bright potential.  And I'm so glad to have the honor of being a parent for these 10 years.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Google Maps Fixation

I just spent half an hour entering all my driving routes into Google Maps.

Because I HAD to know if route A or B to the Goodwill was more efficient.  Also, what is the best way to save 2 minutes getting to the grocery store?  Everyone needs to have the quickest way to park day mapped out, right? Turns out, at least from my house, most of the driving route choices are six of one, half dozen of another.

Interestingly, my favorite route to park day is 11 minutes longer than the Google recommendation.  What they don't factor in, though, is the view.  I *like* to go my way because I love to cross the West Seattle Bridge, notice all the big ships and industrial action going on then cruise along the Viaduct so the kids and I can count ferries, Coast Guard vessels and cruise ships.

So now despite the fact that technology offers me the best, fastest, most efficient way to travel, I'm likely to keep on doing what I've been doing. Isn't there some sort of saying about that?


Last year a friend of mine introduced us to a Canadian cartoon about physics.  Both kids loved the program and watched it obsessively for six weeks.  The links are on youtube, and I was (and still am) super nervous about letting my kids click around youtube without serious supervision. So our physics learning went by the wayside.

Last night, awake with Rosie and her fever, it occurred to me that I could post to them from my blog and then have the kids watch from here.  Of course, I figured there were 10 or so of them, but those Canadians were prolific and produced 30 episodes.  Much copying and pasting later, I think all the embedded links are working.  Bonus for you, you get a chance to easily access these highly entertaining and education treasures from the 1970's!

Enjoy and learn!

Eureka! Episode 1 - Inertia

Eureka! Episode 2 - Mass

Eureka! Episode 3 - Speed

Eureka! Episode 4 - Acceleration, Part 1

Eureka! Episode 5 - Acceleration, Part 2

Eureka! Episode 6 - Gravity

Eureka! Episode 7 - Weight vs Mass

Eureka! Episode 8 - Work

Eureka! Episode 9 - Kinetic Energy

Eureka! Episode 10 - Potential Energy

Eureka! Episode 11 - The Incline Plane

Eureka! Episode 12 - The Lever

Eureka! Episode 13 - Mechanical Advantage and Friction

Eureka! Episode 14 - The Screw and the Wheel

Eureka! Episode 15 - The Pulley

Eureka! Episode 16 - Molecules in Solids

Eureka! Episode 17 - Molecules in Liquids

Eureka! Episode 18 - Evaporation and Condensation

Eureka! Episode 19 - Expansion and Contraction

Eureka! Episode 20 - Measuring Tempurature

Eureka! Episode 21 - Tempurature vs Heat

Eureka! Episode 22 - Atoms

Eureka! Episode 23 - Electrons

Eureka! Episode 24 - Conduction

Eureka! Episode 25 - Volume and Density

Eureka! Episode 26 - Buoyancy

Eureka! Episode 27 - Convection

Eureka! Episode 28 - Heat as Energy

Eureka! Episode 29 - Radiation Waves

Eureka! Episode 30 - Radiation Spectrum