Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time Space Continuum or How Come It's Only Sunday?

As free-flowy as our days are, as unscheduled and non-demanding as we keep our time, I still almost always know what day it is and kind of what time it is. Part of that is the things the girls have going on throughout the week - on Monday, Bekka gets together with some friends, on Tuesday, Steffi plays with music with Suz and Bekka tries to go dance at the Celtic Session, on Wednesday we have GS and Bekka teaches private lessons, on Thursday we have Irish Dance classes and Bekka goes to Out & About, on Friday we go to Homeschool Central at the Boys & Girls Club, Saturday is Teams day in Portland, and on Sunday Steffi goes to RE.

These steady activities form the framework of our week and would help me to remember that today is, in fact, Sunday. But a couple of weeks ago everything just stopped (well, except Bekka getting together with friends). I'm sure it is a welcome change for those who are always running around trying to fit in work and school and more activities than we would ever want to try to do in a week. I'm sure they want a total break from all the craziness for just a few weeks. But I don't like it! We like our regular activities - that's why we do them! We like seeing the people we see at these activities - that's another reason we do them. I miss our friends we see through these activities - and it seems like most of them have gone out of town. Sigh.

So sometime about halfway through the day yesterday, I started believing that it was Sunday, not Saturday. Last night I asked Bekka where her friends were meeting "tomorrow" and she said, "you mean the day after tomorrow". "No, today is Sunday," I reply. Both Bekka and Steffi tell me that no, it is Saturday. I had to look at the date on my computer before I could believe them.

Then, as I was waking this morning, I was thinking of the things I need to do today, as if it were Monday. It wasn't until after my shower that I remembered that today is Sunday, not Monday. I guess I just don't do well without the framework! I feel as if I am just floating through time with no grounding. I'm sure I will need more reminders throughout the day to stay in Sunday and not float off to Monday. It is almost an out of body experience.

I guess I'm not as free-flowy as I thought I was. I thought I had come so far from the CPA I once was who kept track of time in six minute increments. Okay, yeah, I have, but I guess I still need the framework to know where, in time, I am.

Friday, December 26, 2008

“What you remember is not what they think you will remember”

I am currently reading “Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral” by Kris Radish. I’m about three quarters of the way through it. I almost didn’t make it past the first chapter – some crazy banter about a woman morning the loss of her favorite bra – but I’m oh so glad I did. Every couple of pages there is an amazing line, or paragraph, or thought, or reflection. It will make for some interesting blogging, I think.

So for today, I’d like to share this from page 14:
Katherine thinks then for just a moment about her mother and she has the same pangs of regret, of missing, of loss, of suffocating sorrow. She allows herself to slip an inch down the wall, humbled even now, all the months, eight of them, following her mother’s death. The grieving, she knows, never ends, and all that will remain is the miracle of love. And she holds on to that miracle as if to save her life for the time it takes her to steady herself, to smell, without the reality of it, her mother’s scent – a fine mix of Dial soap, some ancient Avon product, garlic and Tide – her mother always used Tide.

“What you remember,” Katherine reminds herself, “is not what they think you will remember. It is often not.”

What memories are we making with the people we know right now, today? We usually think about making memories with the big things – the trips to Disneyland or the monumental Thanksgiving feast each year. But when you think about someone close to you, who you’ve lost, what is it you remember about them?

When I think about my mom, who has been dead for over 14 years, it is all the little things that I think about. Bits and pieces of the woman she was.

When we lived in Germany and we would go to church every Sunday, I remember her smelling of White Shoulders when we would get in the car. She would be dressed in some amazing suit and high heels and smell absolutely heavenly. I remember nothing of church itself, can’t even picture it, but I remember what my mom smelled like.

She was my Brownie Girl Scout leader and when I was in third grade we had a sleepover at the scout camp on base. We got to make French toast in the morning. And I remember her teaching us the songs, Annie May and Sweetly Sings the Donkey – getting down on her hands and kicking her feet up behind her like a donkey. She always did all the motions to all the songs – and we sang a lot of them.

When we moved back to the states and went back to the small town she had grown up in, we went into a store and a few minutes later we hear from the back room, “I’d know that laugh anywhere – that has to be Lois!” She was known for her huge smile and hearty laugh. My friends were always saying that I had the nicest mom, and she was. I attribute my evolution in parenting to her excellent example – I didn’t have much to overcome.

I remember eating green grapes together at the lake house while watching the impeachment of Richard Nixon. And I remember Santa bringing me things that my parents couldn’t afford and wouldn’t buy for me. I fully believed until I was 13 and my sisters finally couldn’t stand it anymore and told me. I still believe.

When my sisters went off to college I remember one time when they came home and we were playing charades. My mom got SO embarrassed because while she was pantomiming, my sister yelled “Boobs”. My mom was red for what seemed like hours!

I remember waking to the sound of her sewing machine, the always full of homemade cookies cookie jar, her playing the organ, and singing or humming hymns all the rest of the day on Sunday. Oh, and the amazing craft closet, full of wonderful supplies.

Bekka & Gramma feed the ducks

When I was much older and had Bekka, my mom moved to Spokane and worked as a live in care giver for a woman with MS so she could be closer to Bekka. She LOVED being a Gramma. She would watch Bekka as often as possible, and we would go visit her several times a week. She made Bekka the cutest clothes. She had had her own business custom sewing since she had retired from the bank, and she especially loved making clothes for toddler girls. They were always comfortable (never anything scratchy), and completely easy care. Cute dresses with matching diaper covers and hats were her specialty. Bekka’s first word was “hat” because she always had one, and it always matched what she was wearing.

We moved to Houston three months before she died of ovarian cancer. My sister called to let me know that mom wasn’t doing well and that we should come early for our visit we were planning. She died while Bekka and I were in baggage claim at the Spokane Airport, and I fully believe that she didn’t want us to see her at the end - that she wanted especially Bekka to remember her alive, not dying. When we got to the hospital the nurse was completely distraught. We ended up comforting HER, because she had lost a favored patient. She kept saying, “I can’t believe she’s gone, she was joking with the attendant on the way down to radiation.” Well, I could have told her ahead of time that my mom would go out joking. It was just not in her to be all solemn and depressed. To her way of thinking there was just no point in it. I don’t really remember her memorial service, but I do remember part of her burial, the part where all the little ones were running around laughing and playing. They were the first to throw dirt in the hole and were so happy to do so. It was exactly what she would have wanted and there is no way we could have planned it, it just happened. Joyful children celebrating life.

Other than maybe Santa and the sewing, I don’t think my mom anticipated me remembering any of these things, but they are the things I remember about her most readily. This makes me wonder, “What do I do that my kids will remember most?”

I invite you to list some of the things you remember about your mom in the comments section.

Oh, and I hope you read this post as a joyful post! We do not morn death, rather we celebrate life on this Journey of Joy.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

So Many Thoughts...

I have so many thoughts swirling around that aren't quite coming together.

Some how, some time, I'd like to develop the following ideas:
Women's relationships with one another
How we in our society deal with the end of life
People who are such loud voices for certain values, but don't actually follow those values themselves
How unschooling affects all aspects of my life and all of my relationships
What does it really mean to support our children when they are in conflict?
Is it me, or is it them?
Is it reality that I see, or just an illusion?
The Five Love Languages and what difference does it make?
Can I be the person I want to be?
Confidence and courage
Am I enough?
How to build community that effectively supports its members
Inclusion, exclusion and is there any way to avoid the trouble these can cause
What really is "in the best interest of our kids"?
And many more...

So far, the ideas just swirl, not really coming together in the way I want. I'm hopeful that sometime in the new year I will be in a place to develop them well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You Draw?

Once again, it’s all Caren’s fault. She linked to Draw My Thing in her blog, and now Bekka and I are hooked! I’ve already wasted over 9 hours on the game – conveniently, the website tells you how much time you’ve wasted if you log in, not that you have to log in. I prefer to enter through I’m in Like with You because it gives you a larger screen and more options than the link from Caren’s blog.

In Draw My Thing, you are given a word to draw and the other people try to guess what you’re drawing, like Pictionary. There is also Jigsawce where you collaborate/compete with other players to complete a puzzle, Blockles, which is a competitive Tetris game and several others.

There seem to be no restrictions, so you get a lot of crudity in some of the matches of Draw. When I find a match that has a)people who actually draw (instead of spelling their words out), b)people who are polite, c)people who are smart, and d)people who are not crude and swearing unnecessarily the entire match, I find it very hard to leave. It’s especially fun to go into the same match as Bekka and play. We do not give each other hints or cheat in anyway, nor do we let on that we are in the same actual room. It’s surprising how many of each other’s words we get quickly just from knowing each other so well. The best one so far was "Kermit" - she drew a kind of a frog man and was just about to erase it when I got it.

If you are into these games, let me know so we can play together!

Birthday Celebration on a small scale

For those of you who are following along, Steve and Steffi drove up the coast yesterday and made it home in time for dinner and birthday cake...

They left Sacramento at 6am and got home about 8:30pm. A quick unloading of the car, dinner, cake and ice cream, and presents and that was the end of Steve's very long, very tiring 47th birthday.

We are very glad they made it home safely with all the crazy, crazy weather.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frozen Morning

We live in Oregon's Central Willamette Valley where it rarely gets below 35 degrees in the winter - at night. Our weather is very moderate, which is one of the reasons we live here. But the entire country seems to be having severe winter weather this week, including us.

Growing up in eastern Washington, I know how to drive in the snow. But, living here we don't have snow tires, the streets aren't plowed and the other drivers aren't experienced in snow driving, so EVERYTHING in canceled for the third time this week. And Steve and Steffi are stuck in Sacramento waiting for a break in the weather so they can continue their trip home from South Texas.

When I woke up this morning the view from the same window as last night was this

Our front yard this morning

Beautiful, isn't it?

Night Wonder

Last night around 1am as I was going to bed, the view out our front window was just so beautiful I decided to try to capture the image... using my tripod and just the available light.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SNOW in the Valley

We got SNOW! We got snow on top of ice, but still, we got snow on Monday.

We didn't have to take Zane and Logan to the train station until Tuesday, so on Monday we went to Phillip's house for an Epic Snowball Fight. I took pictures until I was completely frozen and then stayed inside talking with my friend, Anne the rest of the time...

I love the girls cowering in the middle!

Phillip ready to get Zane with Kayleigh, Bekka and Logan in the background


Monday, December 15, 2008

Going Sustainable on a, um, monthly basis

I know for most people this will definitely be TMI (too much information). But for others, you will either be saying "YES!" or "how come I never heard of this before?"

This post is about menstrual cups and cloth pads. Up until August, I had never heard of menstrual cups before. My oldest sent me a link for the Diva Cup and I was fascinated. Since buying my cup - they sell Diva at our local co-op, so I purchase one on our member appreciation day - I've found so much information. One place to start if you are interested is here. I won't go into a lot of detail, since there is so much better info out there. There is a forum where women from all over the world share all kinds of (very personal) information about using cups and I've learned a lot from them.

I just want to share that I love my cup and I especially love it combined with my new cloth pads. I really like the Lotus Pads, which are made locally in Beaverton. They have pads with fun colors, or organic cotton pads and excellent customer service. These pads are SO much more comfortable than disposables! I used to be just a tiny little bit grossed out by the thought of washable menstrual pads (and in awe of the environmental dedication of the women who wear them), but I'm a total convert now. Of course, anyone with a sewing machine could make their own pads, but I just wasn't feeling industrious and I love how the Lotus pad felt, so I ordered a bunch more. Lots more info on cloth pads can be found here with links for purchasing the different brands.

So there you have it - just one more way to help the environment in an oh-so-personal way!

Great Transgender Site

If you read here often you'll know that I'm not the most active blogger in the blogosphere, so it always surprises me when I get a new follower. When I logged in the other day I happened to notice that my followers number had increased (really - from 1 to 2 - it was noticeable!) and tonight I got curious (as unschoolers often do).

My new follower, Michael has the most incredible website with just about anything you'd like to know about transitioning. He includes tons of links for everything related. I especially love the links for people who have problems with trans people. You just have to go check it out - and if you know any kids who feel they were born into the wrong body, please, please, please send them to his site. Edited to add: Michael mentioned that people should visit T-Vox, it's the resource on the web for all things trans (well, he said it's the trans equivalent to wiki).

Since my blog really is my personal soapbox, I'll step up right now! I have no idea why this issue strikes me so, but it does. This, along with unschooling, peaceful parenting, breastfeeding, and natural childbirth are my "hot-button" issues, and yes, I think they are all tied together with a great big parenting bow. It all comes down to excellent parenting. I believe that no one can be an excellent parent if they do not respect who their child is as they are. And I believe that so many parents do their kids so much harm in the name of "their best interest". How can it possibly be in the child's best interest for their parents to think they should be someone they aren't? How can it be in the child's best interest to have their parents believe they are (insert adjective here - the most common ones for GLBT kids are sinners, an abomination, sick, going through a phase, brainwashed, etc.)? When their kid feels like the whole world is against them, shouldn't it be their parents who are in their corner, assuring them that they are perfect the way they are right now?

One day, about twelve years ago I heard a radio show - a call-in show. They were talking to people who were gay, but for whatever reason were living a straight lifestyle. Most of the stories were the same. There was so much pressure from parents, church, school as they were growing up to be straight (gay bashing is certainly still alive and well in our schools, and these were people who would have been in school at least twenty years ago), that they just never felt they could come out. These are people who are married with kids of their own. Every day of their adult life is a lie that they just don't feel they can straighten out. They said things like, "it would kill my wife to know the truth", "I would never do that to my kids", "my father would have a heart attack"... They feel completely trapped in their life because our straight culture is just so strong. It was one of the most moving things I've ever heard and I never, ever want one of my kids to think any of those thoughts. I don't ever want to push them to date guys. They know they have our complete support for a happy love life no matter what that looks like.

Steve used to have a male to female transgendered woman working for him (she no longer works for him because he is retired). When she transitioned, some of the women coworkers made a fuss about her using the woman's restroom. Ah - come on! What in the world did they think she would be doing in the restroom that they weren't doing??? It has to be hard enough to transition without stupid stuff like that! I was a little mortified when Steffi, all of about five years old looked at our friend, Jennifer and said, "you have daddy hands"! But an innocent observation from a five year old is just so different than a totally biased, knowledgeable complaint about bathrooms from an adult. I imagine it doesn't really sting any less, and if I could have prevented it, I would have, but that is why we need to be sensitive, because not everyone is able to be (like small children).

From what I have heard and read, it is easier, physically to transition from female to male, mostly because the testosterone hormones give people such physical changes - it deepens the voice, makes hair grow in places nobody wants hair, builds muscle, to name just a few. People transitioning from male to female usually are unable to afford the extensive surgeries and therapies that would be required to really pass as female - the voice, hands, hair, etc. don't change just because you are on hormone therapy. And if she started adult life as a somewhat large man, it makes it all the more difficult.

We as a society need to broaden our definitions of normal so that we can all accept everyone for who they are. Currently, most people think of sexual orientation as either gay, straight or bi. But sexual orientation (who you are sexually attracted to) is a full spectrum, from completely gay to completely straight with everything (and almost every one) somewhere in between. Gender Identity (what gender you perceive yourself to be) is also a full spectrum that can be completely unrelated to the genitalia you are born with, and is completely unrelated to sexual orientation. We need to open our minds so that we can accept everyone on both spectra, no matter where they fall on those spectra. This is vital to our children growing up sexually healthy and whole.

And by the way, if you don't think our culture pushes being straight, you haven't listened to music, watched a movie or read a book.

I now return you to my regularly tranquil blog...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chronicling vs Reflecting or Feeding the Masses

I just took some time to read a lot of my earlier blog posts and realized that I've lost my substance somewhere along the way. My intention for this blog is to be my reflections on my authentic journey through personal growth and unschooling. However, it seems I've gotten caught up in reporting (badly) what we've been DOing instead of what I've been BEing.

My nephews Zane (15) and Logan (14 in a few days) have been here since Thanksgiving - we brought them home with us. It's been wonderful to have them here, and as a bonus, Bekka's friend Sophie has been over almost every day. They will all puddle together just hanging out. I've mostly tried to just stay out of their way - I finished watching the entire West Wing since they've been here, and I was on season 3 when they arrived!

The challenge for me has been food, and I just want to vent about it a minute! I'm just not great at figuring out food for everyone all the time. My family fends more often than not - finding something to heat up from the fridge or the cupboard. My nephews just aren't used to finding themselves something to eat. I've been making lots of food so we have lots of leftovers around, but I don't really feed people. When I have gone over the options of things to grab, everyone's like, "yeah, yeah, we know". It's here, they can have it when they're hungry. The problem is they won't do that - they will take some bread and put it in the toaster. Their mom mentioned that they said they were sick of bread the last time they returned from our house - so I don't understand why they are still just eating bread when I have real, honest to goodness, just-as-easy-as-toast food available? The fruit is just left sitting on the counter unless I cut it up for them, the roasted veggies and salmon that they wanted still in the fridge. I know I could cut stuff up and heat stuff up for them and serve them, but whenever I ask if they're hungry they usually say, "no", so what's an aunt to do? (Yes, you unschooling readers know that I have just gone ahead and cut and heated - remember, I said I wanted to vent!)

Tonight I made dinner - a real dinner, spending about an hour and a half in the kitchen. I made everything from real, whole foods - no shortcuts. Beans from the bulk food section of the co-op, brown rice, and a broccoli cauliflower bake. Similar food to what their mom makes. Zane ate his in about three minutes, and I don't think Logan ever did eat. I heard them talking about toast and cereal about two hours after dinner with Logan. I know I don't need to worry about this - I just want it out on the record that I'm providing real food. The fact that they are choosing not to eat it is not my problem! The ole' "you can lead a horse to water..."

Oh - that broccoli cauliflower bake - THE BEST! Cut up the veggies and steam for about 10 minutes. Mix 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar, 1 teaspoon of stoneground mustard, salt and pepper. Stir into the veggies in a baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 375 until golden. Serves four.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


On our way home from the Oireachtas in Phoenix we stopped by Nevada City to celebrate Thanksgiving in a beautiful handmade house. Steve's sister, Marie her husband, Royce and their three kids, Zane, Logan & Andria built their strawbale house over a period of five years. It's not entirely done yet, but it is certainly way cool!

Between Bekka and myself, we managed to get some great photos of the house and all the family this year, at least everyone who was there:

The house - well really two buildings. The one on the left is the active house with the kitchen and living area, and the one on the right is the quiet house for sleeping. The two are connected by a lovely tile patio with laundry and outdoor kitchen (covered up for the weather).

Through the garden is their first "house" on the property - a handmade house attached to a yurt that they rent out to some friends.




And another of Zane



Del (Grandpa)

Berta (Grandma)

Steffi - check out the black hair! She and Andria both dyed their hair black while we were at the Oireachtas.

Bekka (I love the chicken feather in her hair!)

Me - leaning against their gorgeous pantry wall


Kim & Vern (Steve's brother and his friend) standing in front of the shower which overlooks the valley

Steffi & Andria in the active house - Steffi is on the stairs with the pantry wall and dining area in the background. This shot gives a really good idea of the interior of the house.

The evening light hitting the kitchen wall - I couldn't resist!