Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Here one has believed all one's life that there's just one use for a silver tray, and then it appears to be still better for quite another purpose."
-Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
Today I am especially thankful for--
washing machines
excedrin migraine
krazy glue's gel formula
our lush green yard
two DVD players
baby ravens calling outside

Eva running at park! Hurrah!
After a lovely discussion on wasting time with my friend Lisa she sent me this Rumi poem and I wanted to post it here-

A Small Green Island

There is a small green Island
where one white cow lives alone, a meadow of an island.

The cow grazes till nightfall, full and fat,
but during the night she panics
and grows thin as a single hair.
What shall I eat tomorrow? There is nothing left.
By dawn the grass has grown up again, waist-high.
The cow starts eating and by dark
the meadow is clipped short.

She is full of strength and energy, but she panics
in the dark as before and grows abnormally thin overnight.
The cow does this over and over,
and this is all she does.

She never thinks, This meadow has never failed
to grow back. Why should I be afraid every night
that it won't. The cow is the bodily soul.
The island field is this world where that grows
lean with fear and fat with blessing, lean and fat.

White cow, don't make yourself miserable
with what's to come, or not to come.


Monday, April 27, 2009

more on time

Not-wasting-time as it relates to unschooling-
"Unschooling, by contrast, starts with the realization that you 'own' your time, and have the opportunity and responsibility to use it in ways that are meaningful and stimulating for you (emphasis mine). When you have this opportunity, you just naturally learn a great deal, about things you care about, things that will inevitably be useful to you in making a life and a living. Your learning environment is the whole world, and you learn what and when you want, undirected by curricula, textbooks, alarm clocks and school bells. You develop deep peer relationships around areas of common interest, once you're allowed to explore and discover what those areas of interest are. And the Internet and online gaming allow you to make those relationships anywhere in the world, to draw on the brightest experts on the planet, and to communicate powerfully with like-minded, curious people of every age, culture and ideology."

More found here on the How to Save the World blog, An Unschooling Manifesto.

Also found here is a new book 101 Reasons Why I Am an Unschooler by PS Pirro.
drat these thoughts that come and go in my mind, disrupting my silence and demanding action for notions that to be honest are just thoughts going round and round, worries, nonsense, stories that part of my brain uses to fill in the gaps. it is designed for that you know, our left brain is designed to fill in the gaps of what we don't know in order to have a coherent and flowing story from beginning to end. all of those taking-things-personally, guessing-at-others'-thoughts, images-of-times-gone-awry, all the left brain's attempts at uniformity, story flow, let's face it- ease. it is easier to go over and over the same grooves than to make new grooves. it is easier to worry when the pieces are all filled in. and to be honest, there's nothing at all wrong with that, with our left brain doing what it does best. it's when we only do what our left brain does that the problems start, the dysfunctions, the stories take over our lives, what would be our lives.

reading through more of My Stroke of Insight and she talks about scheduling her left brain's thoughts, stories, on-and-on's from 9-9:30 am and 9-9:30 pm and if it misses those slots, too bad. I have tried this and had some success and realized too that there are some real concerns that we can't schedule and when those pop up they must be given attention. perhaps that is where the left brain really shines. for the others, I do find that letting them go, moving on to other thoughts that are uplifting, even and especially to silence and presence, is preferred and brings with it amazing results. this I have found opens up time and space to now, which is after all where we all are anyway. behold the flow of life when we are actually here!

whoops here comes another story line, another thought.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

berries please!

Blueberry plants blooming out front and strawberries blooming in the back! We're ready!

~No one could accuse these plants of wasting time (well they could but that would be silly, wouldn't it).

what a waste

We were listening to a song on the radio that talked about wasting time (something by Morrissey no less) and Eva turned to me and said, "You can't waste time." I thought for a moment and was curious about what else she had to say and said, "No? What do you think?" and Eva said, "Time moves with you. It will always be with you. You can't waste it." Good point. So astute these children. So wise. Uncultured really. Thankfully.

The implication in- "You can't waste time" is also "You can't waste you". Isn't that what wasting time implies? That we are somehow wasting ourselves? That if we were doing what we should be doing, using our time more effectively, it would be better for us?

Out in the garden I got to thinking about how so often we want to be where we are not. These are the very situations in which we believe we are wasting time- our time- as though there were never enough time and by doing what we are doing now (if we want to be elsewhere), we are making poor use of what little time we have. This goes for anything else. Wasting food- not using it the way it should be used. Wasting lives- not doing what we should be doing. Wasting away- again with the not enough.

I think what struck me most when Eva said we can't waste time because time moves with us is that we are inherently OK no matter what we do. We can't waste time because we are already fine and no matter what we do with our time, with ourselves, we will still be fine. In fact nothing that we do can make us not OK. Imagine that. Of course we can't waste time. The next time you think you are wasting time, imagine that whatever you do, you will be OK- you are OK- and choose what you want to do from that place, from the place of being OK. Watch time move with you and see where you go.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deep down in the compost pi-ile
there are lots and lots of bugs
You'll find webs and trails and gooey flecks,
spiders and
flies and
Don't go near the compost pi-ile
acting like some thugs.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

After all that. After all that! I went out this morning to mow the lawn and who do you think was waiting? Waiting! Momma Yellow Jacket of course. She flew right into the shed just as I opened up the door and flew all around inside, all chaotic and haphazard, this way and that. She checked out her old nest site. She sat in the shade. I tried reasoning with her. Pointed out other sites. When I thought she had flown out of the shed and I had the lawn mower, I checked inside again and closed up the door. I looked around- no Momma Yellow Jacket. Perhaps while I mowed the lawn she would see that this place with the open and close doors where she could not reliably return was not the place for her nest. Of course how patient she had been to think that after all that time it was still the place for her. I know. I've been there.

After I finished up with the lawn I went to return the lawn mower to its shed. I opened up the door and out flew Momma Yellow Jacket. Good grief! How on Earth...Was she stuck in there that whole time while I mowed the lawn? This, I thought, might be a good thing. Not only was the shed not a place she could get into when she wanted, it was also not a place she could get out of. She had flown off with such force when I opened the shed and I looked around to see if she was anywhere to be seen? I closed the doors to the shed and knew this time she wasn't inside.

Of course you know the ending right? I stood watching the shed door for a few moments and wasn't surprised to see her flying back over to the door. She flew around a bit and then went over to a small opening where the sliding door met the wall and in she walked. Right inside the shed. What's a girl to do? She apparently has her heart set on this shed and I guess as long as her nest isn't right over the lawn mower I am Ok with sharing space with her after all. I thought about the many ways of surrender as I walked back to the house.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today I

-agreed with the placement of some yellow jacket nests and did not agree with others.
-knocked down the beginnings of a yellow jacket nest while the queen was off gathering materials to make it bigger.
-closed the shed door as tightly as possible so that she cannot start another nest literally right in front of where the lawn mower is.
-explained to a yellow jacket that there were other...better...safer places where she could build her nest, places where she would not have to share space with me at all. She was not convinced and gave me a seriously hard stare every time I came by to chat.
-felt concerned that she would either build her nest in exactly the same spot or fly around dazed and saddened that her first nest was taken down. It is her life's work after all and to be honest, I could do without mowing the lawn. Such is life. I can't resist checking on her...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

unicorn with tulip and purple necklace

on Barbie's earrings...

Eva and I spent some time today scouring a part of our backyard looking for a missing Barbie earring. I would like to recommend to the Barbie people that if there is one thing they could make not-removable it would be Barbie's earrings. And maybe the necklaces. And the shoes... Eva said she was sorry that she had ever found out the earrings could be taken out. I didn't probe her about why she had taken the earrings out in the first place, outside no less, by the kiddie pool. It was part of the story. Earlier Eva had shown me another part of the story- about one Barbie trying to be like the other Barbie and finally realizing that she could change the way she dressed or did her hair but she could not change who she was- she would always be herself. Such a proud Momma moment. Eva smiled and said, "I knew you would like that story." I did.

I wondered several times as I stalked along how they expected me to find one of those earrings in the grass in our backyard. Eva told me I needed to crawl along the ground like she was. Then she said she was going to tell those Barbie people that she needed another earring now that this one was gone and did I think we would ever find it? I said it might turn up when I mowed the lawn. I am ever optimistic about these sorts of things and I swear things do turn up. I do wonder if they have a replacement policy though. Lego has a replacement policy. The first one is free and after that they charge you but it is very reasonable and frequently so worth it- like when that red Bionicle mask fell down into the sewer and even chewing gum on a stick, stuck down over and over again could not bring it back up. I blessed the Lego lady that day you can be sure.

As we were walking back up to the house, Eva stopped and picked a few hyacinth-like flowers and said, "I know it is no time to be picking flowers, but here are some flowers Momma." I held out my hand and smelled them and was about ready to say...

And then, so cute, Eva turned her head and said to me, "And it is definitely not the time to be saying 'gorgeous' about those flowers, " and she walked away sighing loudly and shaking her head. I was thinking gorgeous...or lovely...or beautiful...or some such flower-y word. She is onto me that is for sure.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Our dog Jack really likes it if I open up the sliding glass door just enough for him to stand in the doorway and look out, smelling the fresh air, taking in the view without the glass in the way, knowing that if he sees something, he can react immediately- rather than waiting for me to open the door after he has seen something. If I wander away and then he wanders away, the door remains open and I hear Samuel yell, will someone please close the outside door? It's cold! That's the thing, dogs don't usually remember to close the outside door.

Eva asked me today which I wanted more, a real live penguin or an aromatherapy bear. This is not something I have thought about before and I told her I wasn't sure- I would have to give it some thought. She said she would rather have a real live penguin because, after all, she already had an aromatherapy bear. How true!

After watching Peep this morning, Eva told me that during the show, Quack had made a snow duck. He was so excited to show everyone the snow duck. Sadly, no one was able to see the snow duck before it melted and became a water duck, as it were. At the end of the show, Quack had reconciled this and was singing a song about how wonderful it was to have so much water for a duck. Ducks love puddles! After telling me the story, Eva was so pleased and said, "Quack was actually showing how you can be happy even if you don't get to do what you wanted to do." How very unconditional!

Today the kids are having "Animal Day!" This means they have a game set up outside with several dozen stuffed animals, Santa is playing the keyboard (jingle bells, twinkle twinkle, that sort of thing), and Samuel is trying to prop up Water Baby near the pool so that she can be hit into the pool. I confess that when I walk by a kiddie pool filled with wet floating stuffed animals it is hard for me not to assess the situation in terms of laundry, as in- how much laundry will there be today...For now, though, they are having fun and I am going to finish the first sleeve for Eva's cardigan! Eva is eating her second batch of asparagus. Life is good.

I just checked out Animal Day and it looks good- there is a little something for everyone. Jousting, music, sandwiches, a cafe, seating by the pool, dunk 'em games...

You can see from this photo that someone is going to be pushed into the water. Just a matter of time.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Momma wait up

I have a worm in my hand after all.

Eva carried the camera on the way there and a worm we found dying on the cement on the way back. We put him in our garden dirt, rich with compost, and hoped he would find his way. He did not find his way into the dirt. Eva found him today, still under the flower petals, resting on the dirt, not in the dirt, nearly dead. It must be better to die on the dirt than on the concrete. It must be.

rocks and flowers

In my bag

On the way to the park
Eva's shoes
flower wallet
band aids
lip balm

On the way home
flower wallet
band aids
lip balm
two female mallard duck feathers
one magnolia flower
one rose
Oregon grape petals
one dogwood flower
one lucky rock
one seashell (found with some rocks...)
one small stick

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

smoothie and a big bowl of pasta

There are people who would consider a smoothie and a big bowl of pasta (or at least the big bowl of pasta part) not at all the thing to eat, for various theoretical and experiential reasons. Of course others, those studying other food theories, would consider these foods to be just the things to eat (even the big bowl of pasta). Right now I am feeling that we are required to spend too much time thinking about what we eat- not in the sense of what we enjoy eating, because who doesn't love that, but in the sense of what we should be eating. Things have gone so far that I have to ask what happens if we don't spend time thinking about what we eat, about where our food comes from, about what exactly is in our food? I'll tell you...

The other day I was at the grocery store and I was in a hurry and I had a few dollars and I rushed over and grabbed some juice for my kids. I had gone in for a quick pick up of some sort and while there I remembered we were out of juice and because I wanted to spend very little money and because I wanted to get out of there before my kids lured me into the toy aisle, I grabbed some juice and ran. I am a chronic purchaser of organic products, natural products, local products and usually spend very little time perusing food labels because what I typically buy either has very few ingredients or I have long since looked over said labels and I know what is inside. Mostly it is tried and true, lots of produce, lots of whole foods, that sort of thing. I buy very few highly processed foods and the ones I do buy, like the occasional bag of Doritos for Samuel, well we all know mostly what is inside those, right?

So to be honest I was surprised when I looked at the label of the juice (once I got it home and my kids were oohing and ahing over it in a particularly um un-natural way) and saw that the first ingredient on the list was high fructose corn syrup. It was like this ah ha memory for me. Oh right, I forgot. They put this stuff in everything and this is why I buy the foods that I do, time after time after time. I had become habituated to the foods I normally buy and forgot that if I buy other unknown products, I need to look at the label or else end up with words like high fructose corn syrup or MSG in my mind, in my home, in my kids' bodies. Oh right. This is why I think about what I eat, why so many people I know think so long and so hard about what we eat, what we all eat. Because when we don't, we end up with fake whatsits in our cupboards, taking up space in our stomachs, space that other real foods might have occupied.

A little high fructose corn syrup here and there isn't going to hurt anyone, not really. Throw in a few nights of roasted kale, some local strawberries, maybe a little scrambled egg, and really it is just a blip, a short story. It is when it becomes the primary source of energy, the main flavor of our experience that it becomes something to be concerned with. I am happy for my recent juice experience. It helped wake me up a bit and remind me what it is I am doing, once again, when I think about the foods I eat, the foods my children eat, where they come from, what they are made of...It also gave me a little perspective and that also is a very good thing. It's not the pasta and smoothie or salmon and kale or tofu or eggs. It's all that other stuff they are trying to pass off on us as food. That's where it all started. When they stop trying to sell us unfood as food maybe then we can relax a bit about what we eat because we will know that when it says food- it really is food. Until then? I for one am going back to making sure that when I buy food it really is food- again.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What a dog won't do

I just found our dog Jack sitting in the hallway with two half-chewed-on marshmallow peeps (these were of the rabbit variety, so what my kids calls screeches- because that is the sound bunnies make. Peep is the sound chicks make.). The bunny peeps were gooey with dog drool and wrapped in a couple of pieces of Easter grass, blue dye dripping onto the carpet and my hand. I am betting the Easter grass is part of the reason they were still sitting there in the hallway and not in Jack's stomach. When I showed him the screech Jack turned his head. He didn't want to talk about it. Bad memory.

And yet...not ten minutes later he was sniffing around in Samuel's Easter basket {again}, checking out the peep chains and wondering (I can only imagine) how to remove them from the basket without the Easter grass this time.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Samuel's thunder egg and robot egg

Eva's flower egg, Samuel and Eva dying Easter eggs, the whole egg ensemble

Friday, April 10, 2009

leaf car

Eva made her doll Maya at the homeschool market last Sunday. One of the booths had all the fixin's for doll making- clothespins, cloth, fancy tapes, pipe cleaners, yarn... Eva added a jacket of her own at home and an acorn hat so she was warm enough. She rode around in her leaf car while Eva snapped photos of flowers.

We were strolling along

and Eva took 100+ photos of flowers around our neighborhood. We posted several to her blog and I couldn't resist some of them for my own. Here is the disclaimer- if you are tired of photos of flowers {egad!} then now is the time to look away! We are gaga for flowers around here!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

flowers on my mind

Let's ponder for a few moments how incredibly amazing it is that we get to share space with flowers!

daffodils...daffodils...forget-me-nots (of the usually pulled variety)

trillium...wood violets...dandelions

daffodils (did I mention I love daffodils!)...pansies and ranunculus...hyacinths

Eva on her hippety hop!

ever optimistic...

Spending time with plants over the last couple of months has reminded me over and over again of just how optimistic life can be. I was working in a friend's garden recently, pulling up unwanted plants (a.k.a. weeding, but I dislike that word and haven't found one to replace it with- it is so presumptive!) and I marveled at the apple tree putting down roots in a path of gravel, making use of what little nutrients she could find mixed in with the gravel. Dozen of lilies had managed to spread into the gravel as well. Think of the plants popping up around rocks or peeping through a crack in the path, growing in a teaspoon of dirt, collected near a patch of moss...When you pull up one plant, another is bound to take its place.

Today I stopped to check out a gathering of ants, wondering what had drawn them into the patio and was amazed, as I always am, at how optimistic ants are! They were gathering together to pull a piece of dry cat food down into a crack in the concrete. The cat food was considerably larger than the crack and I still had no doubt that they would eventually dismantle it and haul it, every last piece, down into their colony. Perhaps they would start jumping up and down on the cat food, forcing it down into the crack. Or- they will get through what they can and move on to the next morsel...

One of my favorite Daily Grooves came through today and exemplifies this optimism very well-
:: No Regrets ::

As you progress and become a wiser parent, you may at
times feel regret that you didn't "know better" when
your children were younger. You may even feel guilty
for "damaging" them. If so, let Mother Nature inspire
you to a more hopeful perspective.

Have you ever explored a wild forest and appreciated
the awesome way in which Life springs forth from the
chaos? Then you know Mother Nature never regrets. She
learns as she goes and always makes the best of things
as they are. She never looks back.

When a tree takes root in the shadows, Mother Nature
doesn't regret giving it a "sub-optimum" start in
life. She trusts it will bend toward the Light and
find a way to thrive. And in doing so, the tree
creates its own unique beauty.

She knows that no storm, flood, or fire can stop the
endless Flow of Life through her children.

Feel free to forward this message to your friends!
(Please include this paragraph and everything above.)
Copyright (c) 2009 by Scott Noelle

Monday, April 6, 2009

squirrels in the yard, oh my!

This quote is from Oprah's site-
"Take up knitting. According to research at the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, the repetitive motion and focus of needlework can elicit what's known as the relaxation response—a calming meditation-like state that slows heart rate and causes blood pressure to drop. In addition, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests that knitting is associated with a lower risk of dementia for those 65 and older."

Samuel took this photo today of the squirrel who is bold enough to build a nest! in our yard. Her nest is situated close to the cracked corn and the bird feeder. She can jump from the cracked corn to the tree and be up into the branches before Jack can reach the edge of the patio. Jack is, needless to say, very confused about this turn of events. Not only is there a squirrel in his yard, she is living there!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gosh hmmm there is a lot going on and then also sort of the same things going on. For instance we are making chocolate chip cookies but the twist is Samuel made them and Eva just learned how to take them out of the oven. So a little same, a little different.

We are currently getting ready for the homeschool market tomorrow. Eva is planning on doing body art and tattoos and Samuel is selling cookies, cupcakes, handmade hattifatteners and little guys with eyes.

I am loving the book My Stroke of Insight and wondering what to read when I finish.

Portland is lovely right now with flowering trees and daffodils everywhere. The sun came out today and as usual when the sun shines here everyone came outside to play...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Samuel was telling me earlier that he was having an awful day, a really hard time. My first reaction was one of surprise. Sometimes I think he is enjoying himself and then he tells me he is most definitely not and I feel confused. Frustrated. Annoyed. Tired. Or he tells me that the day is awful and I remember seeing him at some point smiling and playing. This time I let these thoughts come and go in my mind and I said to him, "Do you want to come and sit on my lap?"

At first his eyes lit up but then he sighed and slumped forward. "No."

So I asked, "Is there anything we can do to help you feel more connected?" Samuel replied that sometimes there was just nothing I could do to help him feel more connected. Maybe he didn't even want to feel connected. How about that?

OK- I can relate to this. I don't want anyone messing around with how I am feeling sometimes, trying to convince me to give up my frustration for cheer when I am not quite ready. It is a fine line between stuffing emotions and letting them go when you are ready. At the same time I felt I had hit on something with Samuel and wondered if he was needing some time to connect and what would happen if he got it. So I sort of stuck around. I went into the kitchen and made a snack, puttered around with picking up, busying myself but not become too busy that I wouldn't want to be interrupted. I was available but not obtrusive.

In came Samuel. When I turned around in the kitchen at one point he had set up several groupings of his bionicles who he has been playing with the last couple of days and he started asking me questions- which ones did I like best, why, did I want to hear what they were all about, what their story was? Are you kidding? Or course I wanted to know! Tell me every single detail about what that guy does and how you built him. Where does he live? Who does he fight against.

An hour later, Samuel is definitely having a better day. Smiles. Enjoyment. Inspiration. Connection! And check it out- I have time to blog, check my email, make dinner, knit...
My friend Julie sent me some surprise books in the mail today! One of the books was the book of poems The Niagara River by Kay Ryan. I opened the book up to the poem Rubbing Lamps and wanted to share it here-
Things besides
Aladdin's and
the golden cave
fish's lamps
grant wishes.
In fact,
most lamps
aren't lamp-
shaped and
happen by
accident: an
ordinary knob
goes lambent
as you twist
or a cloth turns
to silver mesh
against a dish-
so odd and
filled with promise
for a minute
that you spend
your only wish
wishing someone else
could see it.
This reminded me so much of when I was younger and I wished I could somehow hook my brain up to a friend's to show them exactly what I felt or perceived or saw, so that they could understand me, see where I was coming from, connect with me over my point of view. How I wanted to see how they saw things, what they perceived, how their understanding was different, when their feelings felt the same. So much of life is sharing our thoughts, perceptions, inspirations with others...connecting with them where they are from where we are. Meeting one another, sharing what we love.

leatherman tour

The kids and I took a tour of the Leatherman factory today. I have to say it was amazing to see the tools being cut and polished and put together into the final product. Samuel of course took his Leatherman and was excited to compare his with the different pieces we were shown along the tour. I had no idea Leatherman made pruning shears! I would say the highlights of the tour for us were the robotic arms and the polishing stones- they put different metal pieces in these large metal vats. There were different types of stones in the vats, depending on the type of polishing being done. The large vats were shaking up the rocks and polishing the pieces of metal found inside, like giant rock polishing machines!

Truly amazing what the robotic arms could do- moving pieces over and over, polishing, cutting, shaping. Our guide told us humans used to do the jobs the robotic arms now performed. I couldn't imagine. She added that the humans doing those jobs usually lasted just 3-4 years until their joints were worn out from repetitive stress.

Of course the skilled workers who assembled different parts of the Leathermen were amazing as well- assembling eighty Leathermen per hour- think of that! Eighty! Our guide told us that she could assemble one Leatherman, possibly, in an hour, and poorly at that. Imagine! The thing I marvelled at while watching them assemble the Leathermen was that they appeared calm in their assembly- they were not rushed or harried seeming at all.