Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holly vanGulden on YouTube

Much of my study time is spent working with material from Gordon Neufeld.  I truly love how his attachment-based developmental paradigm explains the world to me.

I have a second developmental attachment hero. Holly van Gulden lives in Minnesota and travels the world teaching about attachment and adoption.  Where Gordon's theories make sense of the world in broad strokes, Holly (and her partner, Claude Riedel) specializes in supporting adopted people and their families. 

A friend recently emailed a YouTube search of bits of Holly's talks.  Holly explains permanence, the ability to take for granted that something exists even when it is out of sensory contact (like my son still exists even though I can't see him across the house in the living room), and constancy, the ability to take for granted that something is the same across various states (Mom is still my loving mommy even when she's mad that I wrote in sharpie all over the wall).

Permanence and constancy fascinate me.  Once at a conference Holly gave us homework to come back the next morning with 5 popular songs that show each concept.  The assignment wasn't hard - which tells me that while the object relations academics put really difficult and fancy words to their model, holding onto who we and those we love are is something that we humans struggle with on a daily basis.

Here is a brilliant bit of missing permanence from the trailer for the new movie The Croods, watch at 1:59m.   Alanis Morisette schools us in constancy in her song I'm a Bitch, I'm a Lover.

Take a look at her videos.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beautiful weeper post: "Love. Joy. Justice."

This post from Tea&Cookies made me cry like crazy.

December 9th is the day gay couples in Washington State were legally able to get married.  Tea&Cookies post does such a lovely job of capturing the joy, beauty and the rightness of the day.  And her pictures reflect all that. 

I'm so grateful to live in the day this important step in human justice and equity became possible.  I'm so grateful that all the people I love get to marry that one that they love. And so grateful to Tea&Cookies for noting it so beautifully.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cross post: On Being Cared For

My December blog post for the Seattle Neufeld Community published last night. Take a look and let me know what you think.

On Being Cared For
Gordon Neufeld’s integrated attachment-base developmental paradigm, and the many wonderful courses he created to share the knowledge within it, is geared to help us make sense of our children.  His aim is to equip us as parents and caregivers with the the necessary insight to raise up children, bringing them to their full potential and maturity.

However, Neufeld’s paradigm is more broadly a story of human maturation and development.  So as I look at my kiddos, I can’t help but notice a few bits about myself.

Nowhere do my personal weakness and lacks show up more clearly than in my marriage.  There’s something about being in intimate relationship with someone and being seen and known day after day for 16 years by that same person that really shines the light on who I am being. And not being.

read the rest of the post here

Monday, December 17, 2012


I've developed a serious obession over here, making paper snow flakes.  Here's my latest batch.

Fortunately for my obsessed self, several people have asked recently for snow flake making tips. Let's start at the beginning, in case grade school was the last time you preformed this craft.

I like to start with an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

Fold it in half. Make your folds really clean, I run my fingernail along each crease.

And then in quarters.

Then fold the side with all the edges over to the single crease side.

Now trim off the excess, you know the bit where one part of the top of the paper is longer than the other. I like to make a snow cone shape, but just cutting it off square along the shorter piece makes for interesting shapes and designs, too.

Next comes cutting.  But before you cut, you need to know that there is part you can't cut.  I've highlighted the edges that need a tiny bit preserved so that your snowflake will keep it's shape.  As long as a few tiny bits remain along the blue edges, you'll be fine.  I've been daring myself to cut more and more away, with delightful results.

Sometimes I start cutting with a plan, sometimes I just follow my fancy.  For special shapes, I find it helps to trace them in pencil first.  If I cut 1/2 of a shape on the fold line, when I open the paper the whole shape will appear.   See the 1/2 tree on the left and the 1/2 heart on the right?

Start cutting. Remeber about preserving a bit along your fold lines.

Cut out more.  I find the more paper I take away, the fancy and more intricate the finished flake looks. There is also the exciting danger factor - cutting away more and more paper without accidentally clipping the whole project in half.

Think about the point of your fold.  If you leave it un-clipped the center of the flake with be solid.  Cut off a small bit or a large chunk for very different looks.  And, if you cut at various angles diamonds or stars will appear. Again, notice the little bits of blue edge I still have showing to keep my flake together.

When you've cut off all you can bear, start unfolding. It can be a little tricky to find the opening after all that trimming and the layers can be pretty stuck together, so go carefully. Here's the first fold.

I love the anticipation of seeing what I have created. Look at this 2nd fold!

And yay!  The full unveiling! I love how delicate and intricate my busy little snippings can be.

I hope these instructions and hints are clear.  Here's to the fun and delight of a simple project!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I haven't posted any cute animal videos in a while...

Forwarded from my dad, who always loves a good chuckle.  I'm thinking if we show the video to Mason enough, he'll figure out this stunt.
Silly, cute, chilly Labrador

From Mark's Daily Apple
Trying To Find What I'm Looking for in the Chest Freezer
The kids kept asking, is someone going to help him out of there.  And I kept replying, no they are too busy laughing and taking a video.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not this crazy....

Mark's Daily Apple rates easily in my top 3 blogs that I'm following right now.  I value the information he shares, I like his tone as he writes and I'm fascinated by all the little tidbits he throws in.  I also really dig the personal testimony stories he runs each week.

In my Google Reader today is a follow-up from a previous personal testimony person, Tim. Mark's introduction includes that Tim is a Shovelglove Master.  Huh?? What the heck is Shovelglove? So of course, my curious parts lead me to click on the link and read a bit about Shovelglove. 

Shovelglove is, as best I can tell, an intense work out done by simply (and carefully) swinging a padded sledge hammer around.  My first reaction - these people are weird and crazy.  At least I'm not that crazy.

And then a tiny part of me, that might have possibly been a little draw-in by the idea of whacking a tire with a sledge hammer, piped up and said....


All bets are off as to whether or not Shovelgloving will be my biggest obsession 5 years from now. If I've learned anything in my life its is that I should NEVER say never. It just dooms me to participation in said activity.

But still, that's crazy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crying over spilt lotion

Homemade lotion has become a staple around here.  I make a big batch every few months and the family uses it for both hair and skin. 

I've been planning for our annual trip to Sleeping Lady.  There can be serious chapping that results from the dry mountain air, all the snow play and soaking for probably way too long in the hot pool. So I thought to make more lotion today.  In fact, I mixed up a triple batch - enough to get our family through the next 2 months plus some to share with our homeschool buddies that will meet us in the mountains.

But disaster stuck! While the Kitchen Aid whipped the lotion to a fine silkiness, the spatula I had carefully balanced on the edge of the bowl slipped in.  Theo howled with laughter as the spoon splashed waves of lotion around the room and I scampered around frantically trying to turn the machine off - of course flipping it to high for a final tsumani-like wave before managing to get to "off."  When I picked the now extremely well-oiled machine up to clean the puddle of lotion from underneath it, I lost my grip and toppled the whole thing, spreading yet more oil around (to the tune of more tittering from the peanut gallery).

At this point, about 1/3 of the lotion remains in the bowl, 1/3 is in the trash and the last 1/3 is in the dog who enthusiastically help with the 2nd round of clean up.

After grumping and pouting around for about 30 minutes, I came back around to the project and added some peppermint oil for a seasonally-appropriate bright smell and feel. 

Turns out this batch is smooth and silky, not too watery or too think. And the peppermint makes it truly delightful.  I don't know whether to be delighted or even more grumpy that I wasted 2/3 of it on the floor and dog. Below are my notes for this batch.  I'm hoping getting it into bottles goes extremely efficiently and cleanly.

Peppermint lotion - normally makes about 48 oz
1/3 c TBSP beeswax
1/2 c grapeseed oil
1/2 c jojoba oil
6 TBSP coconut oil
4 c olive oil
2 c water
36 drops peppermint oil (put only in the remaining 1/3 of the batch)

- Heat the oils and beeswax over the stove until the beeswax melts and the oils are uniform. 
- Transfer hot mixture to Kitchen Aid and add the water (I boil the water so it mixes more easily).
- Run the Kitchen Aid for about 5 minutes to mix oils and water thoroughly. Wait 30 minutes and run again.  Do this a few times until the mixture has cooled.  Color and texture is light colored and uniform.
- Transfer cooled lotion into a large ziploc bag, snip a tiny corner off the bag and carefully pour lotion into bottles.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New bird: Varied Thrush

This morning while standing on the porch talking to a contractor, I spied a new-to-me-bird!  We saw lots of new birds in Ecuador, but I thought for sure I'd noticed and figured out all the names for the birds I see in Seattle.

It sort of looked like a robin-size wren with dark brown and clear yellow markings.  As soon as I'd finished my (now distracted) conversation with the contractor, I zipped inside to get my National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America.  Weirdly, it opened right to a picture of the bird in question - the varied thrush, the female.  It is hard to tell from the tiny map, but apparently Seattle is part of either it's year round habitat or its winter range. 

I don't know how I've managed 20 years in Seattle without seeing this beauty, but what a fun thrill to spot a new bird in my own yard. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a fabulous site about birds with great pictures, information and recordings of their sounds.  You can check out my new Thrush friend there.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Paper Snow Storm

I'm not sure who started it, maybe Theo or Rosie or perhaps me via a story I was telling, but this week we had a giant paper snowflake storm at our house.  The four of us spent hours cutting, chatting and strategizing about how to fold, how much paper to cut off and experimenting what what shapes we could make.




And like any true snow storm, there was some serious shoveling to be done at the end.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Good for public safety, bad for public health?

In the past few months, city workers passed through our neighborhood converting all the old florescent streetlight bulbs to new LED bulbs.

I became aware of this city program because one afternoon I curiously remarked about workers on our street and that night our bedroom was *lit up.* Honestly, seriously bright.  With the curtains closed.  As I moved through the house I realized every room that had direct view to a street light, be it just on the corner or literally the other side of the block, was now bright enough to read by.

This alarms me.  You know how I feel about sleep, already.  A big part of good sleep comes with keeping non-natural light exposure low. Even the tiniest amount of nighttime light impacts our hormonal systems, both sleep related and others.  While I can and will purchase black out curtains for the bedrooms to limit the amount of light seeping in, our city's cost reduction program will inadvertently mess with the hormonal systems of almost everyone in town.

And their dinner.  In 2010 I wrote this post about my concerns for the lettuce growing in a hydroponic farm I drive by. I know it seems silly, but there is plenty of research to show that every living thing needs rest (and dark) as much as it needs light to thrive and mature.  As I look out the window at midnight, each individual leaf of my basil is brightly illuminated.  This just can't be good for my garden.

I wonder, too, about general light pollution.  I know there are guidelines, maybe even requirements, about how much light a streetlight should shed into the surrounding area.  Searching around on the internet, I couldn't find any exact numbers for what constitutes light pollution, but I'm pretty sure illuminating the interior of my house qualifies for "light trespass."  I wonder what the NASA light maps would look like were every city to install these new LED bulbs.

The New Jersey Astronomical Association feels passionately about light pollution and links to some interesting articles about it. NASA is concerned enough about it for their astronauts to drop a hunk of change on biologically adjusted bulbs.  There turns out, even, to be a documentary about light pollution called "City Dark," reported on here by the Huffington Post. This problem of light pollution is not new, but I think it is probably also not on the radar of most public officials. Really, light pollution is neither sexy nor is likely to capture most people's hearts and imaginations.

Still, I have to feel for the City.  Here they've found a great new way to reduce costs and improve visibility for drivers and pedestrians.  They've eliminated the issue of dealing with the mercury from the florescent bulbs (though this may be more my boogey man than theirs).   City leaders are getting props for being cutting edge.

Jet lagged this week from our trip to Ecuador, the LEDs have particularlly been on my mind.  Waking up after hours of sleep, I can't judge based on the light streaming into my bedroom whether I've finally adjusted to the time change and slept in until 7:30 or if it is hours before sunrise.  2:30am LED looks exactly like 7:30am sunshine.

LEDs must be great for the budget and for public safety concerns. And I think they're equally bad for public health. I wonder how it will all work out.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We're back

Our trip to Ecuador turned out to be a great success.

Best of course, was spending of time with my beloved brother/the children's adored uncle, getting to better know his sweetie and meeting her 15 year old daughter, the children's first 1st cousin.  We also enjoyed seeing an entirely different culture and way of life, eating really different foods, 5 days of Spanish lessons (the children may have been horrified to find they weren't fluent at the end of the 10 hours of classes), a bird watching adventure, a week on the beach, staying 2 nights in a 200 year old Spanish monastery come hotel. Oh, and the fun and fascination of participating in a South American wedding that resulted in my brother becoming a married man!

The photo is one of our amazing science moments - straddling the middle of the world!