Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm focusing on Connection

My friend Caren over at Open-Hearted Life shared this today, which led me to choose a word to focus on for 2008. It seems like a great tool for growth, and that is one thing I strive for continually.

Through my GUTS work, I've been more connected to my future self (the one with all my answers), and so when I'm up against a challenge like choosing a word to focus on for the year, I consult her. For some reason, she always gives me answers very quickly, and so it was with choosing "Connection" for my word of the year.

Connectedness in one of my 10 future self values, and one of the weakest ones. Normally I'm a "focus on your strengths" kind of gal, but I really want to be more connected to those around me.

In focusing on connection, I will try to connect with my sisters (we are not close, in fact, I haven't talked with my middle sister for over a year, not because of any big deal or anything, just haven't picked up the phone).

I will try to connect with my dad and his wife - he has always been on the outskirts of my life, more like an uncle I see every once in a while.

I will try to connect with my in-laws. We've had some uncomfortable times the last five or so years. I always get the idea that they don't think very highly of me, and at the same time, it feels like my MIL is intimidated by me. Then throw in the fact that Bekka hasn't been getting along with them (and it feels like they blame me at least partly for that), and we are definitely not connected.

I will try to connect more with my husband. Communication has never been our strength and I will try to work more on that.

I will try to connect even more with my girls. They are such amazing people and I'm so blessed to have them in my life. It's always been easier for me to relate to Bekka than to Steffi (because her brain works more like mine - I never know where Steffi is coming from), so that will be my primary focus.

I will try to connect deeper with other un/homeschoolers in our area and try to help create a better network.

I will try to connect with others in the community and in the greater community as well, by listening more and not judging.

I will try to connect more to the greater unschooling community by writing more and putting myself out there more online.

Wishing you growth and peace for the new year...

I am... not obligated...

Yes! See that button down on the right side of the page - "Blogging without Obligation"? Well, posting a picture a day for the rest of December, or, dare I say it, the rest of the year, was a challenge I gave myself. I managed to get 19 posted, including today's, and really, that's more than I thought I would be able to do. Before I started this little challenge, I had a total of 30 posts on my blog. I've added 26 just this month (24 since starting the photo challenge), so I'm feeling very successful and pretty darn proud of myself.

And speaking of being proud of myself, in the last couple of days I've had a few other successes. The first being, I have successfully made sourdough crackers! They are not only edible, but really, really GOOD! Now if I can get the bread to both look good, and taste good!

The other success is that I mostly finished the 10 things I set out to accomplish in 2007 with my accountability group. The last of the items being to create my own room - a sanctuary for myself that is both a place to write and rest, but can double as a comfortable guest room. Well, I still want to paint and recarpet, but we did get it put together for the most part, and even had guests sleep in it last night! And it's so beautiful (looks much better in person)! I've been collecting the things for it since July.

I have to tell you a little about the day bed. More than 20 years ago I spent a summer in Germany, staying with a family. The room I stayed in had the greatest bed - a twin day bed (this one was built in) that was a typical slatted platform bed with two mattresses stacked on top of each other. This bed converted to a king-sized bed by pulling the front of the frame out - every other slat pulled out - and flipping one of the mattresses onto the just-pulled-out slats. Well, I've been looking for one of these for years! In July we went to the brand new Portland Ikea and found one just when I was ready to buy one for this new room! I've searched the Ikea website to post a link to this fabulously innovative bed frame with no luck. I believe it's called the Hemnes Day Bed. It even has three drawers in front for storing all the extra linens.

Of course, this project didn't involve just assembling the bed - we had to relocate our (very, very heavy) office furniture to the basement to make room. (Did I mention that it was heavy?) And of course, this involved lots of electrical equipment relocation that isn't quite complete, which involved getting a more powerful wireless router, which involved, well, you know how these things go!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I am... a little ticked off!

Today I got an email from Basic Rights Oregon about the Federal Judge ruling in favor of gay rights opponents. You can read the Oregonian article here.

I just can't understand how he could say, "attorneys for opponents showed that the rights of voters may have been violated if their signatures were wrongly rejected". Does he not see the irony in this statement??? If the world were the way in SHOULD be, the greater right would prevail, in this case the right of gay couples to file joint state tax returns, inherit each other's property, make medical decisions for each other and enjoy most of the other state benefits and responsibilities that married residents receive.

One thing about this that really irks me is that the plaintiff, Alliance Defense Fund is based in Scottsdale , AZ, and has branch offices in California, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Kansas, and Washington, DC. So, what the heck are they doing fighting an Oregon State law??? It just doesn't seem like it should be legal for an out of state group to be able to create this kind of havoc.

I totally don't understand why people see gay rights as something that impedes on their own rights. To me, the only way gay rights affects me is that it creates more happy people, people who don't feel quite so trampled on. Now, I know that this law won't make gays feel completely safe, but it is a huge step forward. Allowing gays to enter into domestic partnerships certainly doesn't weaken my marriage, or anyone else's marriage.

I was planning on volunteering at the courthouse on Wednesday to help out with the domestic partnership filings, but I guess I'll be protesting instead. Let's hope for descent weather!

I am... a Mom!

Well, so much for posting a picture every day! Sometimes (many times) being an unschooling mom means that I choose to do things that my kids want to do instead of doing things that I had planned to do for myself. This time it meant watching the Friends DVDs that Bekka just got, playing games, making good food, going to the celtic jam downtown, hanging out with friends at Borders, hosting game night... you get the idea.

I got pretty side tracked from updating the blog every day because, one, I was busy with the kiddos and two, when I wasn't busy with kiddos someone had my computer! So I decided to take a few days off from the blog.

We had a great Christmas this year. We snacked, played lots of games (we even finished a game of Monopoly with Steffi winning!), made some treats for our fabulous mailman and had enough to deliver some to a few of our friends, and went out for Chinese food on Christmas day (this is the third year in a row).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I am... a Friend

Here I am back in October at my dear friend, Carole's birthday celebration with our friend (and coach) Reggie. These two women are just so inspiring to me - they are the kind of friends who I just feel so honored by. And it always surprises me that these people who I respect so much respect me just as much. How cool is that?

Moving as much as I have, I've never really figured out how to balance spending time with friends with not being too needy. So I tend to lean heavily to the "leaving people alone" side and don't connect as deeply as I dream of connecting. I hear stories of families having other families that they just do everything with - sharing dinner together at least once a week, having fabulous unschooling adventures together, helping each other out, working on projects together, but I've never achieved that. First off, I've yet to meet a family with kids who both my kids mesh with (I think part of it is that they are 4 years apart) - usually a family has a kid that one of my kids gets along with well, but the other is not at all interested in.

I really have moved my entire life, so I didn't have this modeled for me as a child, because my mom was always in the making new friends mode herself. Now that we've settled down permanently, I would love to figure this out.

So my wish is for an unschooling family who has kids my kids like to hang around with, who likes to help out and be helped out and likes to do projects together. And, of course, some basic agreements as to shared values would be a must. Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I am... distorted

But honestly, aren't we all sometimes?

Today Steve's sister and her family are here and we are celebrating my nephew's 13th birthday. It's always great having them around because they are also radical unschoolers! It is so much fun for my kids to hang around her three kids. And I love hanging around all of them. Oh, and I gave Marie (my SIL) the socks that I finished a couple of weeks ago - she has them on right now.

So, another short post due to birthday celebrating! Happy, happy days!

Friday, December 21, 2007

I am... Joyful Wise One

Part of the GUTS program is to use your "future self name" - mine is Joyful Wise One. I didn't actually think a lot about this name, I just let it come to me very quickly. One of my favorite activities in the GUTS program is a future self visualization. It is a guided meditation that allows us to converse with ourselves 20 years in the future. The idea behind this is that we all have all the answers we need inside ourselves, we just have trouble accessing them sometimes.

During the GUTS retreat in October, we were to dress as our future self. In all the visualizations I've had with my future self, she has been wearing long skirts and layers of natural fiber clothes. I try really hard to purchase only fairly traded clothing, so I felt strongly that my future self would be wear clothing that, if new, would be fairly traded.

Right after the retreat we went to Calistoga to celebrate my dear friend, Carole's 50th birthday. Just after the party she and a couple of friends went for a swim in the geyser-fed pool. I stopped by to take a few more pictures (I'd been photographing the entire party for Carole). I handed my camera (my Nikon D80) to Carole (floating in the pool after celebrating all day and an unknown number of glasses of wine) and she snapped this incredible shot - the steam coming off the pool, the full moon over my shoulder, and me in my future self garb.

So, here I am as Joyful Wise One. Every day I get better at living as Joyful Wise One. I know where I'm going, and that is more than half the battle!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am... a Nature Girl (not)

Central Park near downtown Corvallis has some fun sculptures - the ballerina, the one I pictured in yesterday's post, and sitting on one of the benches, this cute little squirrel.

I like the idea of being outside and being all outdoorsy, but really, I'd rather watch a good movie (or even a bad movie), read a book, or surf the internet than do anything outside. Even here, where I love the weather, it seems the weather almost always provides a great excuse to stay in - too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am... a Wife

Isn't he adorable? LOL Okay, this isn't my hubby (duh) - he's much shorter than this statue and doesn't wear hats - but I did want to do a shout out to Steve today to say, "Happy Birthday"!

We've been married 21 years - hardly seems possible to be old enough to have been married for that long!

Busy with birthday stuff today, so you, dear reader (all two of you!), are spared a long post today.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hey! I'm a Canna

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Here's what it says about me: "You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

Boy, doesn't THAT sound right on the money? As with all such surveys, I was wishing for some different choices on some of the questions, but it certainly turned out right! I think the first question is my favorite - "How many books do you have in your home?" I'm not sure I know anyone who has fewer than 100 books in their home!! And I liked being asked about moving help, because we are always happy to help friends move - we've moved SO many times, and while we had hired help for almost all of them (provided by the company Steve worked for), we still have a great understanding for the hassle that is moving.

So, what flower are you?

I am... a Lover of Cats

Okay, ladies! If I can do this photo challenge of posting a picture of myself every day through the end of the month with the WORST hair-cut I've had since 7th grade, you can let your family take a few pictures of you during the holidays, right??? (At least it only cost $6!!)

Speaking of hair - I've also taken on the challenge of going "no-poo". I think I'm on day 5, and I'm really loving it (although it is taking longer in the shower - go figure!). I'm one of those people who get really greasy if I skip even one day, and I'm not greasy at all. My hair is starting to have more body, and I haven't used any product. I first heard about this a month or so ago on the Consensual Living email group, and more recently saw it on one of the random blogs I read last week. Now if I can just get a decent hair cut!!

So - to the kitten on my neck: Lyra has totally captured our hearts. (She is one of the foster kittens from our first batch.) Yesterday, she laid across the back of my neck as I did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen! She would rather be with us than anything else, so she sometimes rides in the car when we go places. She loves to fetch crinkle balls and small stuffed animals. She also loves to get and give kisses (she puts her mouth up to our face and kind of opens in and closes it again - it's pretty funny).

Almost every time we are in the kitchen she comes and sits at our feet and meows the tiniest little meow until we pick her up. Then she climbs up on our neck right away - I think it is so she can see. She always goes up my right shoulder and comes around and looks over my left shoulder. She was the runt of the litter, so I'm hoping she stays small, 'cause a 15 pound cat on my neck would be pretty uncomfortable!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I am... a Painter

So, guess what I did today! I painted our kitchen, all by myself! (And I managed to snap this picture of myself without getting paint on my camera, too!)

Bekka was gone all day, and I got so much done. I got a dinner in the crock pot, made sourdough crackers, and painted the kitchen. I even watched A Prairie Home Companion (Bekka put it in our queue, but once it got here, decided she didn't want to watch it) and The Shot (which I'll probably end up watch again with Bekka later).

The kitchen was already yellow, but not the shade I like, and the walls had lots and lots of cracks (and spider webs, too), so I got a richer shade - more orange and filled in all the cracks (and took down all the webs).

Isn't it pretty? It's so nice, we decided to put the love seat in the "breakfast nook" instead of the desk that was there.

And here is proof of both the crock pot dinner and the home made crackers.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I am... Me

This is the first picture of me that I've taken while holding the camera myself that I've ever liked!

And to expand this post - this post about me, I'll share a bit more about myself. (I don't guarantee that I'm not repeating myself from somewhere else on my blog!)

I value connection (even though I don't always know how to achieve it - moving all my life as I have), joy, love, peace (wow, this is really original, huh?), belonging, fun, spontaneity, the environment, resourcefulness, respect, health, growth, thrift, balance, honesty, strength, wonder, and change.

I believe that children should have the same rights as adults. At this point in my life, I do not believe in god, but I do believe in the strength of the human spirit. I believe that love energy sustains us. I believe that everyone is good, but not everyone believes that they, themselves are. I believe a lot of strange things happen to people as they are parented and many, many traditional parenting practices work to break down the good in people - the belief of self that people are born with.

I am working hard to become the person I want to be - the person I was born to be.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Google Image Meme

I've been spending quite a lot of time on the computer the last few days, and thought this looked like fun.

Here's the deal: Type the answer to each question into a Google image search, and then pick an image from the first page of results.

1. Age At Next Birthday: 44.

2. Place I'd Like To Travel: Austria

3. Favorite Place: Our adopted home town - Corvallis!

4. Favorite Object(s):

My laptop:

My Camera:

and my Car:

5. Favorite Food:

Peanut Sauce:

and Chocolate:

6. Favorite Animal: Kittens!

7. Favorite Color: Autumn leaf colors - plummish purple (what's up with all the unschoolers loving purple??), golds, greens, oranges.

Here is the purple:

I don't love this picture, but it was taken on my birthday last year, so what can I say?

and here is what I came up with when I googled "autumn leaf colors":

8. My Nickname(s): Everyone's always thought Joni is a nickname, but no, it's just the name I've always had. So I guess I'll see what happens when I look for my online name, Galavanter.

Well THIS looks like fun!

9. Town I was Born In: Biloxi, MS - haven't been there since I was two months old, though! I picked this image because it was taken on my dad's birthday last year.

10. Bad Habit I Have:

Talking with my mouth full - yuck! I had to pick the ugliest of the images, since it's so gross!

Wanna play? Go right ahead!

Okay - somebody who's done this - please tell my how to get the images so they are clear and not all pixilated!!!

PS - and to kill two birds with one stone, I Image Googled my name and came up with, Ta Da!:

ME! From the Live and Learn Conference website

Friday, December 14, 2007

I am... not a ballerina!

Bekka was anxious to get out of the house and DO something today, so we took the camera and walked downtown. This picture was taken at Central Park.

I had slept in really late this morning - we've been staying up really late (or should I say early, since we haven't been going to bed until well after midnight) and I just couldn't make it out of bed at my normal 9am this morning. (If you don't know, I'm a night owl, and we are radical unschoolers, so we don't have to get up early - well, we really don't HAVE TO do ANYTHING!!) So, anyway, I hadn't realized that Bekka didn't really eat lunch before our outing and she ended up getting really hungry (and as an extension of that, really grumpy). When she gets like that, she can't figure out what to eat - nothing sounds good and she just gets more and more frustrated.

My old, traditional parenting self would have gotten a bit frustrated too, but today I just stayed calm and started taking pictures of the interesting stuff around us while she took the time she needed to work through being frustrated. We stood on the street corner downtown for what felt like half an hour (but I'm sure wasn't), then sat at a local restaurant, then walked over to the bookstore, and THEN she decided that I needed to tell her what to eat! So I took her to Zia, which is a New Mexican place that just opened up. She became much happier, and decided to stay downtown while I walked home to get the car to pick her up.

She's still in a bit of a funk, and I'm still happy! Life as a peaceful parent is, well, peaceful!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We have clean clothes!!!

And I didn't even have to go to the laundromat!

See, our super-duper washing machine has been "not working" since just before I got back from the GUTS retreat. Steve narrowed it down to "not the fuse" and I did an internet search and found out all about motor brushes (they look nothing like brushes and do something really important so that, when they get too short, the motor doesn't work at all). Then I ordered the parts and fixed it all by myself!

The reason I'm so proud about this is that most people call a repairman and most repairmen, when faced with "the motor won't work" will install a new motor to the tune of $300 plus labor. But, we aren't most people - we are UNSCHOOLERS! And we think, "How hard can this be if a skilled laborer can fix it?" So, our 11 year old Asko washing machine, which I do believe to be the BEST washing machine ever made, is now happily spinning away with all the laundry that's been piling up and I'm doing the "I saved at least $400" happy dance!

Surfing the Blogosphere or Where did the last 5 hours go???

Okay, I've been indulging myself and surfing some new blogs (not that I need any new blogs to read - I don't even keep up with the ones I already KNOW I like!). I just can't believe how much time I can spend on this!

You really do find some pretty cool people by surfing the unschooling blog ring, but why, oh why do people join this ring when they don't unschool??? I swear, every other one is blogging about school, or curriculum, or making their kids do this or that! Maybe I need to stick to the LIFE is Good and Live and Learn rings. Yeah, or maybe I need to get off the computer and DO something!

Last night I got all caught up in the HBA controversy - and why would I even care??? It's all Caren's fault - she linked me to this really great blog, which linked to some blog award thing, which linked to more blogs, which I ended up following to "the controversy" (which I won't bother linking to).

Now tonight I have my super cool, eco-friendly paint from Your Green Home sitting here staring at me, along with the dingy kitchen walls and the cracks I have yet to fill, and I'm surfing the unschooling blog ring! Yikes!

I am... a Cook

This is a very candid photo of me - Bekka, being the intelligent person she is, figured out, after the first day that I needed her help with my daily photo, so she picked up the camera while I was making home-made mac n' cheese last night. It makes me laugh 'cause it looks like my arm is coming from somewhere other than my shoulder!

I resisted the urge to get a better picture taken. Hey - they can't all be good!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am... Virtual!

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

Here I am as a Meez - it's surprising how much you have to define yourself when making a virtual version!

While my hair is currently much shorter, it WILL grow! The rest of the style is all ME!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am... Someone who knows her desires

One of our GUTS retreat homework assignments was to decorate our Desire Box with magazine cut outs that we brought to the retreat. It was so interesting to see our desires manifest on the outside of our box!

Here is the top of my box - it says "Gathering" and has a picture of child with a ginormous bunch of sunflowers. On the side of the top is says, "Art of Living" and on the side of the box is this thought, "I want to see our communities get more and more localized, with more local food produced and consumed,more local goods bought and sold. I want to see local entrepreneurship and craftsmanship encouraged. I want a renaissance of the hands, so that we use fewer electrical gadgets and motorized tools."

On this side of the top is says, "we chose the liberating joy", and wrapped around the corner, "self-portrait as revealed by" and a picture of sunlight through the storm clouds.

These quotes are, "Capturing the character" and "Whether we be heads of state or directors of organizations or worker bees or armchair cheerleaders, we in the choir are leaders and role models. We, of all people, have to show that life can be lived differently, and that the reimagined life can be beautiful, functional, and overflowing with rewards none of us expected."

This last side is serene - a picture of a candle in the window with the quote, "transform the way we live" and on the top, "Are we being change, or are we just talking about change?

I love my desires box! Someday soon I may even share what's inside the box!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I am... a baker

We've gotten into a baking kick lately. Not the normal holiday baking, no! Yesterday we made Sourdough Crackers (that didn't really turn out) and Mint Chocolate Cheesecake (which isn't done yet - it bakes for about an hour, sits in the oven for about an hour, sits on the counter for three hours, and in the fridge for 24 hours!).

Today it's Streusel Coffee Cake. It's currently in the oven, but it smells wonderful!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I am... a knitter

In an attempt to picture myself this month - here I am, knitting one of the pair of socks I'm working on. These are cotton/bamboo - so great to work with!

Friday, December 07, 2007

We saw the Golden Compass!

It was one of the best book to movie movies I've seen in a long, long time. The casting was perfect - especially Lee Scoresby and Mrs. Coulter. And we all loved Lee's daemon, Hester.

The only big variant from the book was the end, and I don't want to say too much as to not spoil the movie for those who have yet to see it.

As with all movies based on a fabulous book, they had to cut out lots and lots of potentially great scenes, and I think they did a great job with their choices.

Bekka was, of course, disappointed with what got left out, but even she was happy with the movie. She finished rereading the book as we were walking into the theater!

GUTS Homework - I am... a blogger

On our GUTS support call yesterday, Reggie challenged us to get at least ten pictures of ourselves in December. The thought behind this is that most women (especially middle-aged moms) don't have many pictures taken of them - lots of the kids and pets and other stuff, but they are usually absent in the photos (I'm usually taking ours). I decided that I would try to post a new picture of myself on my blog every day for the rest of the month.

This is really for my own amusement, trying to capture myself in different roles.

I thought this first one should be me, writing my blog, so that if some poor soul is actually reading this, they can see what I might look like right now, typing this out. (Bekka's comment, it's not very exciting.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Bekka skins the hazelnuts
Last week, Bekka and I decided to roast the hazelnuts that Steve picked up in the hazelnut orchard a while ago. This required lots of hand-shelling - ouch!
We had shells going everywhere. Would have been hard to find the shells all over the kitchen if it weren't for Lyra - she would dash over to the latest errant shell so I could pick it up before she tried to eat it.

Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts
Once they were roasted, Bekka asked if we could dip them in chocolate. Yum!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Yea! I have SOCKS!

About a year ago, Steve and I went to Ashland for our anniversary and I did a lot of shopping while Steve geocached.

I love to wander around cute towns poking in and out of fun little shops by myself and they have one in particular that I've always wanted to check out, but my kids and Steve were never interested in at all. And I would SO rather be alone than with someone who doesn't want to be there!

So I wander into The Web-sters, which is pretty much a yarn shop with these really wonderful woven items on display in the front window. While looking around, the Magic Loop display caught my eye. It is a way to make socks on one long set of circular needles. I was intrigued. I asked the very nice sales girl about it and whether a true novice could knit a pair of socks. (I had knit two of three scarves and that is all the knitting I've ever done!)

She warned my about second sock syndrome, which I could completely see myself suffering from (where you knit one sock and forever have only one sock because you can't bring yourself to do the exact same thing over again to knit the second sock). So I purchased my size 0 (about the diameter of a tooth pick) Addi Turbo 40" circular needles (because I'm the Princess and the Pea when it comes to my feet and the smaller the needle the tighter the sock and the less you feel the bumps of the knitting), found some beautiful soft wool yarn from Lorna's Laces and way too much money later, I'm on my merry way.

I went back to our room and started working on my socks. I got them cast on (four or five times), knit two, and then, uh-oh! I couldn't remember how to purl! The yarn shop was closed by this time so I switched to reading the Yarn Harlot and laughing 'til I cried! The next morning I returned to the yarn shop for a quick tutorial and a basic knitting book and I was on my way.

On and off knitting (more off than on) and LOTS and LOTS of help from some very wonderful, and very generous knitters (thanks Nan (helping start the heal), Monique (general oops control and sock anatomy understanding), Anne (helping me rip out too many rows - wow - that was scary!), Ginger (heal shaping and into the gusset), Sheila (teaching me how to unknit), and Amy (early help and toe and finishing help), have resulted in a finished pair of socks!!

My first pair of socks!

I'm so excited and ready to start my next pair (toe up, two on the same magic loop, self striping)! There are many who think I'm crazy!