Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ever since I got my new phone I have stopped blogging--- it's easier to post directly from my phone to facebook or Twitter. But I miss the blog. And I still get a lot out of reading other blogs so I want to be able to blog from my phone. I will work on getting photos on here........
I'm trying to send a picture to my blog from my phone--- it's not working ....
Hello blog! Are you there?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Saying YES to Life

Say YES to life (and even though I am tempted to say the universe and everything---that's not what I mean.)
Saying "YES" more......
an unschooling concept deceptive in it's simplicity. It doesn't mean say YES to everything all the time. It also doesn't mean be irritated with your kids for asking permission because, after all, aren't they suppose to be free to make their own decisions. It doesn't mean you have to say yes and feel like a martyr.
Saying YES has become increasingly challenging for me. I don't have resistance saying yes to more cherries, another Popsicle, a trip to the park.
Can I use the camera?
Let's watch Mork and Mindy.
Can we go to the pool? Well....actually I did rail against this request early in the summer when the temperature had not yet reached the necessary 80's for me to enjoy being sopping wet. I did not want to go and the more I thought about it the more I was mad that I "had to go". Then as I was grumbling about not wanting to go, Xander and XuMei said, "you don't have to go Mom."
And all my pissed off resentment melted away and I felt free and light as I walked up to the counter and said "2 kids and one adult".
Saying yes----not HAVING to say yes-- wanting to say yes.
SO this brings me to the things Chris and I have been saying No to.
Can we get chickens?
Can we get a dog?
No and NO.
It's complicated. My Mom lives with us and is in the last stages of her life. Hospice helps tremendously. But the emotional work of helping a loved one die is ours. And really we are not helping her die-- I am standing on the side of the living helping her live as fully and richly as she is able. It is the greatest privilege second only to welcoming new life.
As I wrap my head around this process I hold my breath waiting, wondering when it will happen, when will she pass? Will I have any warning? Who will find her? Can I really go on living around her? How to squeeze every moment out of the time we have left without seeming to be saying "good bye" every time I leave her presence.
So I keep saying no to bringing more living creatures into our family because it just feels like more work.
More food, more clean up, more stress, more worry, more expense, more more more......
more laughter, more fun, more smiles, more learning, more love.
More life.
All this time I have been saying no to life.
No more life! Dammit! We are trying to die here! We are trying to not be stressed and not be messy and die.
I am not saying that we should bring into our family indiscriminately any scruffy mutt, or squawking meat ball with legs that happens our way----but I am making strides toward expanding our brood. I am reading books, web sites, asking people about their experience, and softening my heart to the idea of a dog.
I am a quintessential cat lady. So a dog is a big stretch for me. And ultimately, like a lot of things about parenting, a tremendously healing stretch for me. I used to be afraid of dogs. I have learned that my fear is not of the dogs but of the owners.
And I don't HAVE to get a dog. I am making a choice. I am choosing to say YES...
to life!

To us and our good fortune!
Be happy, be healthy, long life!
And if our good fortune never comes,
Here's to whatever comes,
Drink la kayim, to life!
~~~Fiddler On the Roof

or this one from Diana:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Just testing this text feature....
Testing 1,2,3

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Life is Good and the amazing Schuyler Waynforth

I started this blog about a year ago in response to attending my second Life is Good Unschooling Conference. I saw that blogging was a good way to communicate with other unschoolers and family and friends about this path we are on. It seems fitting to revisit this idea after returning from the 3rd Life is Good Conference.
The thing about Life is Good and Unschooling is so many other people have already said what I want to say and better that I just want to link their blogs and be done with it.
But there is something pressing me to be able to express this amazing transformation in my life and my children and my family. I am not trying to proselytize--it's been said before (I credit Sandra Dodd) and I'll repeat it here:
Not everyone can or should unschool.
But if you can....if you can see it as a possibility, if it calls to you at all.....I invite you to jump in!
The water feels great (and to my neighbor who has twice told me she thinks I joined a cult--the Kool-Aid is delicious!)

Last year I attended a circle chat called Peaceful Partnerships led by Beth Fuller who also moderates a yahoo group of the same name (click here) The question was asked, "Do you assume your partner is doing the best they can?"
WOW....I had to admit I didn't ---I often assumed the worst intentions of this man I loved. And then the question that really rocked my world, "Do you extend the same compassion to yourself that you want to be able to give to your children and partners?"
I came away from that conference learning, growing and changing. Also kicking and screaming and gnashing my teeth as I inevitably do whenever self-growth is the agenda. In the weeks that followed Schuyler Waynforth posted this profound bit in response to a poster having difficulties with her husband, on the Peaceful Partners Yahoo group:

"At the Life is Good conference Beth Fuller led a circle chat on Peaceful Partnerships. In it she asked who among believed that everyone was doing the best they could with what they had in any given moment. So, I'm going to ask you that question: Do you think your husband is doing the best he can with what he has at any given moment? It is a really important question. Or, maybe not, maybe it is just a question that really resonates with me. I don't do it, I don't believe it, or I didn't. I wasn't among the hand raisers. That question has been sitting with me for almost a month now (has it really been that long?), can I give people the benefit of the doubt to believe that they only and always are responding with the best they have in any given moment? Part of it is that I can't quite give myself that benefit of the doubt. Well, maybe that is all of it. Maybe if I could believe that even in those moments where I am the least of what I want to be, I am doing the best that I can with what I have, maybe then I can extend that trust to other people. " Right now, in front of the television, there are a slew of oragami papers and markers and paper dolls and other bits and bobs from Linnaea crafting one or another thing. As I peer closer I can see a bird she made and drawings she's drawn and planes she designed as toys for the kittens. I will probably go over and tidy it up in a little bit, to keep the pieces safer from folks walking around and to make sure that there isn't food for the ants. It takes only a moment to turn what you describe as rubble into a series of activities, of joyous moments. They are still lifes waiting to be interpreted. I can see the shadow of her sitting there and doing and making and talking and turning to Simon to show him or running to fly the plane she made in the hallway to see if it would fly well enough to engage whichever kitten it was designed to amuse, or calling to me to come and interpret whichever fold the origami book was describing onto the paper she was folding. It isn't rubble, it is her life. I've gotten in social hot water for being to forthright about my feelings about parenting and food, largely. The potential cost for my social faux pas was to Linnaea and to Simon and not to me. Because of that I've worked really hard to change my perspective and thus my approach. One is to recognize that I'm not all that concerned about the parenting, more about the child. That means I can be generous to the child without worrying about what their parent is doing, or at least not so much. It may not seem to make a lot of difference, but it kind of cuts them out of the picture. It allows me to worry less about the parenting and just be the adult I want to be when interacting with the child or children. The other thing that helps is to recognize how lucky I am that I get to do this life. I know that it's not just luck, it's a lot of work and thought and reading and breathing and patience and curiosity and exploration. But I have a life where I can be home or out and about with Simon and Linnaea in ways that so many other people I know just don't seem to be able to manage. And while I am sure if this life was something they really wanted they could achieve it, it is still because of all the wonderful gifts in my life that I am able to do this. It helps a lot to see my life as this wonderful joyous trip that I'm on. Sometimes I screw up, some moments I suck and grouch and say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Who am I to throw stones at glass houses? I get to live with my choices and so do other parents. I try and limit my expression of opinion to appropriate forums. Here is great. Here I'm asked what I think and for help and advice. In other people's homes and lives and company I don't have to be on call as an advisor. And when I'm asked for advice, I need to take it with a grain of salt, and be prepared not to have anything that I say be taken more as a momentary conversation.

I wrote her this bit:

I met you briefly at Life Is Good and then again at Mary Gold's house and went bowling with you and your family. My name is Renee. I come with Xander, XuMei and Chris (spouse).
I want to tell you how much your words (quote from Peaceful Partnerships) meant to me this morning. They are perfect and I needed to hear them (again).
I have been reading several message boards/unschooling groups for the past year and I know you from your posts. Thank you for putting yourself out there, for admitting that sometimes you are "the least of what you want to be" (this is so helpful to me right now as I am being the least of what I want to be). And reminding me of the key element I came away from the conference knowing----I must extend the same compassion to myself as I expect to extend to my partner and children. Somehow in the jumble of life I forgot.
Thank you Thank you Thank you.
Renee Cabatic

And she wrote back to me:
Oh, yay! Of course I remember you. I was just, today, sitting upstairs on the bed looking through the Life is Good directory and seeing you thinking about Chris' dance mat gliding. And wondering about your secret blog. And thinking about your fantastic smile and how you danced at the barefoot boogie and your recharge time. Many things, all at once. I'm glad that what I wrote meant something to you. It means a lot to me to get to write it. It makes it feel more concrete, more directed, more future making of the now, if you know what I mean in my lack of clarity. Let's try again, if I write it, somehow, it becomes a truth that I want to maintain. There we go. By saying it aloud, by telling 196 (or how many members there are of Peaceful Partnerships) folks how I feel, I become obligated to try and make my words and my reality coincide. I like that sort of accountability.
Thank you for writing.

So that brings me back to the reason I want to be able to write about unschooling. Even though I am on a path and changing and questioning all the time, "if I write it, somehow, it becomes a truth I want to maintain." I want that sort of accountability too!

Xander finding electrical wires in the floor of the Hotel lobby at Life is Good. Connections, making connections.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's a BrickHouse!!

and a brick apartment complex:and a brick castle:and a brick roller coaster:
and a brick marimba playing robot:
and a brick massage lounge chair:
and a brick orchard:
and a brick work of art:
and a brick space needle:
and a brick city block:
and a brick bonsai tree:
and brick cartoon characters:
and a brick Taj Mahal:
and a brick Eiffel Tower:
and tired Brickfest attendees:
Everything made from Legos. Except the people...unless they are Lego people....:)
I usually build simple square car like things with 4 wheels and then race them across the kitchen floor. I never even considered building a massage lounge chair.....I better get started!
What is the coolest thing you've made from Legos?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Backwards Blog Post

Just a hint of Brickfest--more on that later. Because before I tell you that story I have to tell you this story:*
Grammie Pam and Grandpa Brian got Xander and XuMei an incredible experience for their 8th birthday,
Spending the night at the Oregon Coast Aquarium!
We learned plankton is any animal or vegetable that can't move against a current (so technically speaking that means I am plankton!:)
Using toothpicks, sponges, silly putty, beads and rubber bands we attempted to make a neutrally buoyant object:
Exploring the aquarium at night:
My Family behind the flounder tank:
Thrilled to pieces:
Somewhat skeptical of the prospect of sleeping in the tunnels of the deep shark tank:
We ended up not sleeping in the tunnel, which turned out to be good because it was super cold in there. We were in a conference room adjacent to the tank so got to experience the sharks without the cold.
Before that we started a bunch of seeds:
And before that we made a lemon battery:

And before that we had lunch at Sunny Side Up with our friends Shelley and Kara and Shelley's girls Lauren and Sara.
Shelley and I are training for the Portland Marathon in October and Kara is a tri-athlete so she is graciously helping us with ...well...everything (especially motivation). XuMei took awesome pictures of all of the restaurant,and all of us.
Here is Kara:Here is Sara:
And a very happy Lauren:
Before that we had a few warm dry days and I bought a bubble machine--which I SERIOUSLY LOVE A LOT. It makes me sooooo happy. It is like looking at a crackling fire or a lively fish tank. Mesmerizing, relaxing, and beautiful. The kids alternately try to catch the bubbles, whack the bubbles, shoot the bubbles and mist the bubbles. Here they were whacking with badminton rackets.
Before that we had The Incredible Hessel Family over to play. We had been watching a Food Network show called Chopped, where chefs compete to create the most delicious dishes using 3-5 ingredients of the judges choosing. I chose marshmallows, whipped cream, graham crackers, tapioca pudding and bagels.
Team Noah and XuMei and their creation:
Team Willow and Xander and their masterpiece:

Before that we had been reading these:
And so interested in chemistry, we made polymers:
Mad scientists negotiating:
AND Before all of that, the two most amazing people I know turned eight:
We had a pokemon party and ate Pikachu cupcakes:
Making the cupcakes was great. It was an assembly line. XuMei cut out ears, Xander colored them, I frosted faces and Xander put the ears on.
Before that I discovered my 2 sweet cats who pretend to hate each other cuddling in private:
And before that XuMei got glasses:
*Thanks to Dave Pilkey and the Adventures of Captain Underpants series for inspiring my extra crunchy backwards blog post .

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sushi making with cousin Sara

Sara is back from Japan and the whole family converged to celebrate her and all things Japanese. Especially food. And candy. Lots and lots of candy.
Xander made a Fire Nation roll:

Beautiful and delicious.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What we are up to:

Tissue paper spring flowers.

Nerf dart modification and bullet making resulting in epic dart wars:
Come on down to the Marble Cafe:

Marble Cafe food wrapped To GO.
Making money. Notice the 100$ bill dude is less happy than the 1000$ dude. You should see the facial expression on the googolplex bill!!

XuMei made rainbow gift tags, Xander wore it as a bracelet.
Cascading dominoes on the kitchen floor:

The sun came out so out came the magnifying glasses:

"I got smoke!!!"--Xander

and fire!
After fire there is carbon (with a little addition of some artist's charcoal) they did finger print dusting:

CSI: Corvallis
XuMei and I are working on a song that follows the 6teen theme song only it's about being 8 and being unschooled: