Tuesday, December 29, 2009

YMCA, paints, snow and funny baby

We checked out the YMCA today, and I was pretty impressed. For the cost that I would expect to spend for one gym membership, we can get the whole family in to the gym, the pool, childcare (which we probably won't use, but glad to know it's there), basketball court, rock climbing wall, and a whole slew of classes. Yoga for me, which I've been missing for the last 2 years. I do it on my own, but it's just not the same as a class. A weight loss, strength training program for D, and a choice of ballet, karate or swim classes for E. There are a lot more classes too, which cost money, but are reasonably priced! So, we're going to start that next month.

I took E to the fabric store to pick up some elastic for some pants that my mom made her. They are beautiful pants and she made a vest to go with them. While we were at the store, E picked out some paint and a plain wooden lady bug. I wish my camera was working so I could show a picture of it. It looks really neat the way she painted it.

We played with playdough today and danced to a pirate cd I got from the library. Hillarious songs! Then it started to snow- we got a few inches and it was enough to make a snowman. The perfect kind of snow for snowman making too! Just wet enough and sticky, but not slushy.

L is really getting a personality. Last night she started saying "FUNNY!" and then trying to do things to make us laugh. She kept jumping off the ottoman, and falling down on purpose. And every time she'd jump up and say "FUNNY!" in this awesome little baby voice. She also keeps saying "fluffy" but we think she means "fly me" because we have been flying her up in the air.

It was a beautiful day- I love these kinds of days, but I keep having to remind myself "it's not about the day, it's about the moment." I'm trying not to write off whole days as "bad days" anymore. Sometimes we have bad moments, but then we have the choice to make the next moment better. (thank you Always Learning list!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hannukah, reading, hamster, playing..........

I haven't posted in a long time.... hhhhmmm where to start? So much has been going on.

I'll start with Happy Hanukkah! This is the first year that I have celebrated the Biblical holidays, and so it's my first time celebrating Hanukkah. Hanukkah isn't actually in the canonized Bible, but it is in the Apocrypha and Yeshua celebrated it. I wanted to get a Hanukiah, but didn't find one that would fit my budget in time. So, all I've really done is a little reading here and then about the holiday and I made challah bread before Shabbot which is SO good and makes great french toast. On Sunday, we're going to a Hanukkah party, and between now and then, I'm going to do some more reading and learning.

E is getting closer and closer to reading. She always asks me to help her sound out words in whatever book we are reading and sometimes on signs and other things. She's got the concept down, but is still learning all the sounds of the letters. She liked the movie The Tale of Desperoux, so I got her the graphic novel. She likes to read the "big words" which are the ones in big enough font that we can point to each letter as we sound it out. So, I read the story and then she reads Oh! Bang! Thump! and the other big comic book words. I'm going to find her some other graphic novels.

She has gotten bored of the kid's anatomy books since we have checked out all the ones our library has. Now we are on to the adult anatomy books and youtube videos of things like brain dissection and angioplasty.

She's really enjoying her hamster and keeps naming it different things. First it was Arala and then Kadias and now she just makes up a new name every day. Poor hamster is going to get some kind of complex not knowing what her name is! lol

I've been strewing in a new way lately. Whenever we are at the library, I randomly pick out a few books without saying anything to E. Then when we get home, I show them to her and sometimes she likes them and sometimes not. When she's interested, we end up reading about all sorts of new things. I got one about faces in art, and it showed everything from stick figures to DaVinci.

L is saying quite a few words now and really coming into her own personality. She's very mischievous and playful! She's always into something, but I find that I am enjoying this age so much more than I did with E. This was the age that I started thinking about "discipline" with E, which really wasn't discipline at all, it was punishment. With L, I can just laugh and pick her up off the table or out of the cupboard or away from the tv or whatever and find her something else to do. Someone commented today on the pen marks on her feet. I remembered that with E, I had made a big deal about "teaching" her to keep the pen on the paper. With L, I've just shrugged my shoulders- she has paper available, she's not hurting anything, she'll outgrow it, it washes off. Not an "issue" that we need to "work on." It frees up so much energy to just enjoy being with them.

And it's great to see E's reaction to her sister- "I know you're little and don't know yet" or "It's ok mom, L will learn. She's a baby." So precious! Not always of course. They fight plenty too! But the better I am about staying calm and working *with* them to figure out solutions, the better E is about asking me for help with her sister and finding solutions on her own.

It's late, my brain is mush, and I can't remember anything that has happened over the last few weeks. I'll try to keep up on posting more often so that I write things down as they happen!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Food, choices and joy

I'm finding it so fascinating to watch E's food choices. Today, I made smoothies for breakfast, and I should have made her something else because I know she doesn't really like smoothies, but I didn't. So, she drank a few sips, then wanted an ice cream. So, I got her an ice cream and pulled out some frozen strawberries for L. As soon as E saw the strawberries she said "OOOHHHHH! We have strawberries?!" and put down the ice cream. I thawed out some strawberries and blueberries and the girls both munched on those while the ice cream sat melting in a bowl on the table.

Yesterday, we went to Trader Joe's and E saw a bag of little onions, and wanted to buy them. I had no idea what we were going to do with them, but it's fun to let her pick out her own food, so I let her put them in the cart. Then she saw a bag of little pumpkins and wanted those. I had the idea that we could do a soup with the onions and pumpkin, and she liked that idea. Then she wanted to buy a bag of cranberries. Now I REALLY had no idea what to do with fresh cranberries, but again it's fun for her to pick things out and I knew we could come up with something. Then she picked out cookies and gum and that's all she wanted.

So, today we made the soup together. We chopped up the onions and I cooked the pumpkin and it was her idea to put the carrots and cranberries in the soup. I've never had cranberries in a soup, but I figured what the heck, let's try it! It turned out really good!

After she ate her strawberries and blueberries, she had a few more bites of the ice cream, then put it down again in favor of the soup. While eating the soup, she went on and on about how yummy the soup was and "this makes my body feel good, mommy!" and she put some blueberries in her soup too.

Then, later, she wanted some of D's soda, and she asked me to mix it with water, which I've never done or suggested to her. So, I did, and she took a few sips and didn't drink anymore.

We went to Whole Foods to do some shopping and on the way there, she ate two bananas. Her special request while we were there was gum, because the gum she had gotten from Trader Joe's was spicy and she didn't like it. She also asked for crackers, but I said that we'd have to buy them somewhere else because their prices are crazy. She was ok with that. I got some coconut milk and coconut oil because I wanted to try out this vegan pancake recipe. I made the pancakes when we got home, and she ate 3 of them with honey.

This evening we were out of the house again, and D wanted to stop at Arby's. We rarely eat out, but he was craving something there, so we went through the drive through. E asked for a milkshake and we got it, and I split it with her. She took a few sips, then wanted some sandwich and ate half of that. Then took a few more sips of the shake, then ate the rest of the sand which. She barely drank half of her half of the shake. Before bed, she snacked on some apple slices.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Typical Day

I haven't written about a "typical" day for a while. I think it will be fun to look back in 10 years and see what our days were like.

So, today I slept in late because I was up late last night working on my ezine (which is almost done!). D got up with the girls and made them breakfast, while I laid in bed and read my Bible. E usually likes to watch a movie when she first wakes up, and this morning she put on Shark Tales. I got up around 10:30, and she was about 20 minutes into her movie. I told her I was going to take a shower and asked if she wanted to take a bath, which she did.

After our shower/bath, she wanted to play "Don't Get Away," which is a game where I hold onto her and she tries to get away and I say "NO! Never! You'll never escape!" but of course she always does, and then I pretend to be sad that she got away, then she comes running back and we do it all over. Or sometimes she runs around me getting just close enough where I can almost grab her but I MISS. Or I pretend that I don't notice that she has escaped my arms and I go ON and ON about how she'll never get away from me, when she's already on the other side of the room. It's a great game for getting out big energy! Then L and D joined in the fun and we had a big tickle fight.

Then I offered to read some books to her, and she said that she wanted to read them to me. So, I suggested one of her "easy reader" type books with big, simple words that I could help her sound out, but she wasn't interested in those. She wanted to read A Snack for Phillip, so we did. She asked me to help her sound out the words on the cover, and then a few words on the first page. Then she wanted me to read a page to her and then she would "read" it after me. She started doing this a week or two ago. It's funny because when I first told people that we were going to be unschooling, someone asked me "so are you just going to wait and hope that some day she says 'hey mom, teach me to read'?" and I said, no, I think it will be a process of slowly picking up on words and sounds and making connections as we go through a word-filled life. I'm totally ok with her not reading until she's 8 or 10 or whatever, but here she is at 3 saying "mom, show me how to read." LOL

So, when she was done trying to read, I read a few books to her and then put on some music. E and L danced while I cleaned up the house. E's been asking for ballet lessons, and I'm not sure how I'm going to swing that financially, but we'll figure something out. Maybe not ballet exactly, but some kind of dance.

Then E fed her rat, and talked to it and both girls watched it. E got out a book about rats that we had gotten from the library and looked at the pictures. Then she wanted to play on the computer, so I set her up with the paint program. When she was done with that, she asked to type and did that for a while. Then she played uptoten.com. She printed a coloring page out and I helped her and L get set up at the table with paper and crayons.

I have a "strew basket" that I put new things in and rotate old games and puzzles and things. While they were coloring, I put the basket out on the table. E noticed her memory game and pipe cleaners and played with those for a while.

I made stir fry for lunch, and E ate just the broccoli and then asked for more. When we prayed, we talked a little bit about Yahweh being God's name. This is a little confusing for her still, because we use "God" and "Jesus" around most people, because they wouldn't know what we're talking about if we said Yahweh and Yeshua. But at home we use their real names, when I remember, since I'm so entrenched in the habit of saying God and Jesus after a life time of Christian church.

Not long after lunch, she told me she was tired and asked me to lay down and nurse her. So, we all laid down for a while. L fell asleep, but E got up and D put on Open Season for her while I read some of my book. I got up after 15 or 20 minutes and then E wanted to play Don't Get Away again, so we did. Then she wanted to hold her rat and watch Little Mermaid. While she did that, I did yoga and we talked about that movie and the rat. The rat fell asleep in it's box and E covered it up with a blanket- so cute!

Little Mermaid barely made it past the previews before D asked E if she wanted to go outside with him. So she played outside while he worked, and I got some work in the office done. When they came inside, E and L played together for a long time, then E took another bath.

The evening crankiness came and went without too much fuss tonight. She's at a point where she usually doesn't take a nap, unless she falls asleep in the car. But in the evening she gets cranky. When I remember that tireness is the reason for it, and don't get bent out of shape myself, it goes pretty smoothly. I laid down with her and nursed her, and then she felt better. I still had office work to do, so D played with the girls for a while.

Then we made a late night decision to go get a redbox movie. I thought the girls would fall asleep in the car, but they didn't. We got The Tale of Desperoux and it was pretty good. I think it's based of a classic book, so now I want to find out for sure and read it. After the movie, D and already sleeping L went to bed, I got on the computer and E watched a few minutes of a Dr. Suess movie before falling asleep in the living room.

All in all, a wonderful day! I wish I would have gotten myself outside though. I need to make sure to go out for a long time tomorrow. I get cranky if I'm inside too many days in a row. I wonder what tomorrow will bring....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I found this website that I thought was cool. http://www.dltk-cards.com/bingo/
It has printable, customizable bingo cards. E has been having fun learning how to play bingo and picking out what she wants to put on the cards. She really liked the sign language option.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mice, ants, grasshoppers, and worms

After the death of Arasa the mouse, E has been trying to find herself a pet. We have promised to get her a pet for her birthday (probably a rat, but she might also choose a fish or hamster or guniea pig), but until then she's been improvising.

She found some ants outside the library, and asked to bring one home. I had a tupperware container in the car, so we put the ant in it. Unfortunately it died on the way home. So, I helped her find another one in our yard and we brought it in the house. Then I accidentally squished it while transfering it from one container to another. So, we went back outside and found a worm. She kept it on the table in a bowl for a few hours- until L got ahold of it. We think she ate it! It was a *very* tiny one. E ate one a lot bigger when she was L's age! LOL

She had a pet grasshopper a few months ago. It rode home on our windsheild all the way from our garden co-op! She let it go in the grass and later found a dead grasshopper on the steps. We don't know if it was the same one, but she think so.

Most recently, she had a pet spider. She asked me to catch it for her and I put it in a glass jar with some little holes poked in the lid. When we went to bed that night, she gave the jar a hug and told her spider goodnight. Then right before we went to sleep, she asked if the spider could sleep in the bedroom with us- so I put it's jar on the tv by the bed. She tried to give it a spider friend, but it ate the friend. She caught a bug for it to eat, but it wouldn't eat it. I told her that if the spider didn't eat, it would die and that it would probably be much happier outside. It would raise up it's front legs and bang on the side of the jar if we bothered it. So, she let it go outside and is hoping it will build a web on our porch.

She said "Mommy, all my pets die! My rat died and my grasshopper died and my worm died and my ant died! I don't want my spider to die!" And every day she asks "Is my spider ok?" and say "I hope so, but it's outside so I don't know. I'm sure it's happy to be outside."

She keeps trying to catch squirrels, which I'm not concerned about because they are way too fast for her. However, I did have to discourage her from catching the raccoon that lives in the creek behind our house. It's half her size and has stood on it's hind legs and threatened D before, so I don't want her near it.

I'm looking forward to getting her a pet- she's going to have so much fun with it!


You never know what you'll learn from watching movies! I got Madagascar from the library for E. While watching it, she asked where the animals in the movie lived and I showed her Madagascar on the globe (which took me a minute to find, because I had no idea where it was). Then she was playing with her cards that have pictures of different types of animals. The backs of the cards tell a little bit about each animal and shows a map of the part of the world in which they live. She was looking at a fish called a Coelacanth, and she noticed that the map showed that the fish lives off the coast of Madagascar. She excitedly pointed this out to me!

Of course, that wasn't the end.... we looked up Coelacanths on youtube which led to other fish, which led to National Geographics youtube page, which lead to their dinosaur video, and so on....

Shark Body Parts

My mom bought this model shark for E, and she's had so much fun putting it together and taking it apart. It has the skin, muscles, spine, brain, arteries, liver,reproductive organs and digestive system. One side is clear so you can see the insides once it's all put together. E thought it was quite interesting that sharks don't have many bones other than their spines and skulls. And they don't have very big brains either.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Catching Up

We've been so busy lately! Trying to enjoy the last bits of sunshine before the summer is over. Walks, parks, fountains, friends and not nearly enough pictures of any of it!

L playing in the sand at the park.

Playing in boxes.

At a new found carousel with friends.

Dressing Up

Playing in the dirt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Arasa the Mouse

One of our residents brought us a live baby mouse today to let us know that they are in his apartment. At first, D was going to kill it, but it was so cute we couldn't do it. We tried to feed it some rice milk in an eye dropper and to keep it warm with a rag in a box. E really liked it, she named it "Arasa" and called it her baby. It looked like it was doing ok for a while. It slept some, and then perked up and crawled around the box. We held it a few times. It was hard to tell if it was drinking any of the rice milk, but I thought it might have gotten a little.

I thought about pumping some breast milk for it, but I didn't make it to the shed to dig out the pump soon enough. It died this evening. I don't know if the breast milk would have helped anyway. The whole day was probably just too much shock and trauma on it's little body. I'm sure it was still nursing, so being away from it's mommy was just too much. Poor little baby! E was a little sad when it died and held it for a while. At first she thought it was going to come back to life. I told her that it's body was still here, but it's spirit is in heaven with Yeshua.

Then she started asking a bunch of questions about it's body, it's bones, it's heart, it's skin. So, call me weird.... I asked her if she wanted to dissect it. A few weeks ago she saw a deer get skinned after being shot, and she did really well with that. I was a little hesitant about the whole thing, but we explained that we only kill animals to eat and that it wasn't in any pain. She was happy to eat the meat when we got home, so I guess she wasn't traumatized.

She said she did want to dissect the mouse, so we looked at it's intestines, skin, bones, heart. For the record, I never even dissected the frog in high school, so this was all new to me. It was slightly disturbing for me, but really fascinating for her. She's been interested in everything about the body for a while now. She's been watching DK Eyewitness movies- the Human Machine and Skeletons- over and over.

Ironically, we had just watched the movie Ratatouille this morning.

This was after it died- it was a lot cuter when it was alive. I'll try to remember to take pictures of the burial tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning to add

She started figuring out how to add. It was so unexpected. We were stopped at a red light, and she noticed that there were two lights in front of us, and two turn signal lights off to the side. She said, "Mommy, look! Two lights and two lights. There's four!" And she put two fingers up from her right hand and two from her left hand and put them together in front of her. So, we've been looking at other things now and then that we can put together. She mostly notices it with the stop lights for some reason. She was also doing it with some poker chips a few nights ago. I've pointed it out 2 or 3 times when I noticed something she was doing that she was adding together, but mostly she's been noticing it herself.

It's interesting because she can't count to 20 yet, and only counts to 10 without a mistake about half the time. Which is interesting in itself because for a while she could do that, but she seems to have forgotten. But I have read that often kids will seem to lose old skills when they are picking up new ones and then suddenly get them back. Anyway, it just goes to show that the "pre-requisites" for certain skills aren't necessarily required.

She will say things like "Look, mom, two and one makes five." But with her fingers she'll be doing two on one hand and one on the other hand to make three. So, she is starting to grasp the concept, but doesn't always have the right word to match with the number of items. So I'll just smile and say "Yep, three!" and she agrees with me like she knew that all along, because that's what she meant after all, just not what she said. Or maybe she really did mean five, but she trusts me when I say three. It's all relaxed and fun and there won't be a test, so it's easy to just make a mistake and then learn something new and move on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Busy, busy

Wow, we've been so busy I've hardly posted lately! Then we were sick last week- yuck!

Let's see... we went to the Janzten beach carousel with some friends. It's beautiful and E had so much fun!

Our garden is producing massive amounts of tomatoes and cucumber. I love both of those, but there's only so many salads and sandwiches a person can eat!

We went to Powell's- the world's largest book store. I only got to browse the kid's section, since D's brother was visiting and I let them do their thing while I watched the kids. When my mom visits, I want to go back and check out the rest.

E found a book there called ALIVE and it's all about the body. I'm hoping I can find it for her at the library. She can't get enough of body books right now. We got a bunch at the library, but they aren't nearly as good as ALIVE. We've been talking about bone marrow, ventricles, cells, neurons, platelets, tibia, radius, ulna, skull, dentricles, carpels, intestines..... I explain some things in simpler language, but a lot of times she just wants me to read the books.

We've discovered some new favorite movies. E really likes Balto since it's about dogs (another current favorite thing), and we just discovered Harold and the Purple crayon. It's cute! She's also enjoying the Signing Time movies. They are sign language movies that show the signs for different themes. And I have the Wonder Pets song permanently imprinted on my brain- "It's Seweus!" lol

She got to see some new dogs too. I cleaned a house for a friend who has two dogs and E came with me. She's always pretending to be a dog complete with howling like a wolf. She calls all her food dogfood, and I'm just waiting for some stranger to think I'm a horrible mother when she asks for her "dogfood" in public. :)

This morning E discovered that one of her coloring books has letters in it that are the kind where the lines are broken up so kids can write over them to learn how to make them. She thought the was really cool and wrote E, H, I over and over. And she got to go swimming today at an apartment building managed by the same company that we work for. We've had an open offer to swim there all summer and D and E finally did it today. We'll have to take her back a few times again before it's too late.

L is cranky every morning until she gets a morning nap. I think she needs more sleep in the mornings, but gets woken up by a wet diaper and the rest of us moving around. Then she's too busy playing to go back to sleep, but too sleepy to really enjoy herself. Not sure how I'm going to help her with that.... for now I've just been nursing her a lot all morning long. Maybe I'll start wearing her more- she's happy if she's in the carrier and maybe she'll fall asleep that way. And she's climbing non-stop. On the chairs, the table, IN the kitchen drawers. Pulling stuff out of the drawers and turning off the tv. It's the age of perpetual redirecting... But she's SO CUTE and so much fun! She has two all purpose words "Ow" and "Ah Oh." She walks around all day "Ah oh! Ah oh!"

So, that's all I can think of that's happened in the last few weeks. I have some new projects in the works, but nothing I'm ready to share yet. Still, they have been taking up time. And I've been doing more meditating and mindfulness practices, which I'm going to do a different post about.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sid the Science Kid

E got a Sid the Science Kid movie from the library. I watched it with her and it made me think of the difference between unit studies and unschooling. The show is all about how "learning is fun!" and "science is fun!" and the scientific method- question, hypothesis, theory, observe, report, conclude. It's a cute show, and of course learning *is* fun and science is cool. But there's something missing...

First, Sid goes to school. He has a good school- 4 to 1 student to teacher ratio, lots of outdoor play time, and a teacher who actually observes what the kids are interested in and caters her teaching to that. So, as far as school's go- while that's totally unrealistic and I'd almost say impossible- that's a nice portrayal of how school could be in theory. I do like how the teacher is very patient with the other boy who is pretty hyper and not always on track with the other kids.

Here's where it goes off track though. 4 kids are not ever going to be interested in learning the same thing every day, let alone the 20 to 30 in a realistic classroom. That's why schools can't really *work.* That's why they have "classroom management" and lots of rules to keep everyone doing the same thing at the same time and grade levels and the worry about being "ahead" or "behind."

But let's pretend for a minute that the kids were all in sync like that. The difference between the unit studies and unschooling is this- unit studies try to fit all the "subjects" into a given interest. They *use* the kids' interest to facilitate the teacher's real agenda of teaching all the subjects, while trying to keep the kids upbeat about how FUN it is. So, in the episode about the bird houses, Sid's questions about birds gave the teacher and his parents a "teachable moment."

Of course, since the show is created to be educational, Sid went right along with everything they wanted to teach him. And it had to "look" educational. A proper amount of hands on, the right amount of sitting at a desk, the questions all followed the scientific method. There was an element for every learning style- visual, hands-on building, drawing, writing, story telling, singing. He came to a complete finish with all his questions answered and it was properly documented in his journal.

Life isn't always that neat and linear though. So, neither is unschooling. And unschooling isn't about using the interest to fuel something educational. It's about the interest being worth something in and of itself- whatever that interest might be. And the joy of following the rabbit trails that teachers fear are getting "off subject," but unschoolers know that is where learning happens. Connections are being made even if it looks messy.

What if Sid dropped the questions about the birds, when he saw the twigs from which the nest was made? What if he started asking about where the bird got the twigs? And what kind of tree was it? And is that the same kind of tree in Grandpa's yard that the dog sniffs all the time? And why do dogs sniff trees? Bloodhounds have better senses of smell than all the other dogs. For what type of work were bloodhounds first used? Where? Are they still used by in police work? What's a K-9 unit? Where do the criminals go when they get caught? How does the court system work?

What if Sid wanted to stay home from school to build that bird house with his dad? His dad bought the supplies while Sid was at school. What if Sid went with him and learned about the cost of the wood, the different types of nails, the name of the roads they drove on to get to the store, and how the economy was affecting the gas prices. The show portrays Sid's parents as "good parents" who supplement his school learning. His mom is "cool, but now it's time to go to school" where it's implied, the real learning happens.

I just happened to run across this link yesterday that gives a real simple list of the difference between schooling and unschooling. I thought it was pretty interesting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What are our bodies made of?

E has been asking a lot of "what is ______ made of?" type questions lately. When I told her that our bodies are made of water, blood, skin, bone then she wanted to know what's skin made of? What's blood made of? and so on. I took an anatomy class in college and promptly dropped it after about 2 weeks once I realized that another science class would meet the same requirement. So, I was stumbling trying to figure out how to take my limited knowledge and break it down for a 3 year old. And she was NOT satisfied with simplistic answers anyway.

I did some google searching and came up with The Body Systems website. It has a compilation of links that show how all the body systems work. Most of the links were too much reading and not enough pictures for her. But a few of them had good animations.

We spent a lot of time last night looking at those links. Then we ended up on youtube watching a video about angioplasty. That led to other youtube videos including some homebirth movies. It was hard to find any good ones though. Laura Shanley's are my favorite, but they are always getting removed for being "too graphic." It's easy to find videos of hospital births where all you see are the doctors and the woman's legs, and hear her screaming and machines beeping and some misguided husband yelling PUSH. C-section videos are easy to find too- like a baby being ripped out of a woman's stomach isn't graphic?! But they take down all the good ones that show beautiful, peaceful, calm births with- Oh My Gosh- Vaginas!

Sorry, rabbit trail.... back to E's questions. She likes watching birth videos. I started showing them to her before L was born, so she'd know what to expect. The other day we went to the library and I found one movie called In the Womb which shows the baby's development from conception to birth. The other one we got is called Living Body. I was surprised how long both of them held her attention. She didn't really listen to anything they were saying, I think because the vocabulary is over her head. But she kept asking me "what's that? Why is it doing that? How does that work?" so I was able to explain it in easier language. We talked about cells, platelets, veins, bones, baby's skulls fusing, ear drums and balance, and all kinds of other things.

It's funny because the whole "where do babies come from?" question is pretty much answered all ready, and it's never been a big deal. The only piece she's missing is how the sperm gets inside the mommy. I think right now she thinks it's already there like the egg. I'll just keep providing her with little bits of age appropriate information as the questions arise.

Tonight she asked "mommy, did someone build my body?" And I said "Yes, God made your body in my tummy." She said, "Oh, that was really nice of him!" Yes, I think so too. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some Pictures

E took this picture of my friend's baby, Akasha.

Berry picking with friends.

Eating lots of berries.

E with the dog she was dog-sitting.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Today with E

Feeding a dog, walking her, playing with her.
Why do we tell her to sit when she just has to get up again to eat?
Does she have a butt? She poops out of her butt. Why is the other dog barking at her? What is she smelling? Is that cat her friend?

Renting a truck.
The truck is dirty. Why don't we wash it? What's a rental?

Looking at books.
What's that picture? Nuclear fusion. What does that mean?

What are our bodies made out of? Skin, bone, water, blood, organs. What's an organ? What are our eyes made from?

What's the fan made out of? Plastic. What's plastic made from? Oil. What's the paper made from? Trees. How do they do that?

Getting produce at the farm stand.
Apples! No, mangoes. What's a mango? Let's buy one! Let's get onions. Those onions look yucky. Can I put on that lotion? That's hand sanitizer. What's that? How does that work without water?

Feeding the neighbor's fish.
What are those bubbles? Air. Why? So the fish can breathe. But I can't breathe in the water.

I wish I could remember the rest!

Sign Language and Spelling

I posted before about E learning the alphabet in sign language. We looked at some videos of a few other signs, but she hasn't really been interested in doing those. But she does the alphabet all the time. She remembers about half the letters, and asks me to do the rest with her. Some of them she knows, but they are too hard for her to hold her hand in that awkward position.

Then one day she did a D with one hand and an O with the other hand. I told her that spells "do." She thought that was pretty cool, so she's been doing it ever since. Another day I did a G and showed her that her D and O with my G spelled "dog." She's asked me to do that a few times since then. I also showed her "to," "so," and "go" since she seems to like doing O's.

We read Go Dog Go a few days ago, and I pointed out all the places where it said "do." I think she's making the connection, and it's so cool to watch!


E has really developed an interest in dogs lately. She is always pretending to be one, and loves to pet every dog we see at parks and farmers' markets. We've gotten dog books from the library that show the different breeds. She's watched at least half a dozen dogs movies over and over. So, I put the word out that she would love to walk and play with a dog if someone would let her. One of our friends just happened to be going out of town this weekend and needed a dog-sitter. Not only did E get to hang out with a dog, she also made some money!

I helped her feed the dog and walk it, and she played ball with it in their back yard. She had so much fun! Today was the last day, and when we got home she started asking when we could go see the dog again. Hopefully our friends will let E walk the dog a few times a week.

I explained to her that they were paying her money to take care of the dog. She asked me if that was like my work, and I said yes. She said "This is MY job mommy. Not your job. My job!" :) She is anxious to get to the store tomorrow to spend her money, and said that she wants to buy the dog a toy, but we'll see when she gets there. I hope she always works at things she enjoys, and never gets bogged down in the rat race.

More on eating raw

After posting a little while ago about my inspiration to go really, truly vegan and maybe even raw, I back-slid horribly. We've been SO busy! Between the chaos, needing to go grocery shopping, and my kitchen being a constant mess with no time to clean, we ended up eating out a lot this week. I tried to do good some days- I got a smoothie and half a sandwich at a cafe, and another smoothie through a drive through. Although, who knows what they *really* put in those smoothies! Probably not a lot of real fruit. Some other days we ended up grabbing granola bars and chips at a gas station and apple dippers and fries at McDonald's. (did you know that the fries there don't have potatoes in the ingredients? yuck!)

Today, I was planning to go grocery shopping, but first I had to run some errands in an unfamiliar part of town. I just happened to see a farm stand and decided to stop. I'm so glad I did! Mostly local, no-spray produce at good prices. I got apples, bananas, oranges, plums, strawberries, peaches, cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, cucumber, and mango. Tomorrow I'll go to the garden to pick peas and beans. Then Wednesday I'll go to the farmer's market and get anything else I'm missing. Raw foods- here we go!

D is getting more serious about it too. He has a lot of health problems, and every time he feels particularly awful for a few days in a row, he vows to get healthy with me. He does well for a few days or a week, and then falls back into old habits. But each time, less time goes between vowing to get healthy, and the fall back isn't as bad. I've always eaten healthier than him, but it would really help me if he's on board. I admire women who can eat well even when their husbands don't. I just don't have that kind of self control when he cooks.

I don't want to make any kind of big commitment that we aren't going to keep. I'm not going to say that we're going 100% raw. I just want our day to day lifestyle to be mostly raw and vegan, and then not stress about it. I just want it to become a habit. But I also don't want to get into a rut of feeling guilty or making food our number one concern. And once we get some health issues cleared up, I'm not opposed to eating local, organic meat and raw milk, as long as we are feeling well. That's the most important thing I think we have to learn- how to listen to our bodies to find out how different foods affect us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monkey Platter

I make monkey platters for lunch quite often. They are a great way to offer everyone a variety of options. It's also one way I present candy, chips or cookies as just one of many options so they aren't a *big deal.*

This one has:
green beans

Some other things I've used are:

orange slices
chocolate chips
celery sticks
peanut butter or almond butter
sunflower seeds
peices of raw bars

Playing in the Fountain

Here are some pictures of the girls playing in the fountain on Saturday.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Some days I do really well with facilitating everyone getting their needs met, and collaborating to find solutions to problems. Other days I just want MY WAY, and on those days I usually get it, but it comes at the price of joy and peace. We did well today, so I thought I'd put it here to read later and remind myself.

This morning, E and I looked at our flow chart and we talked about our day. We prayed and I did my Bible study, then ate breakfast, and then I started cleaning up the house, while the girls painted and colored. I got some of the cleaning done, but not everything I wanted to, before E wanted me to play with her. I looked at my long to do list and my messy house, and almost told her no. But instead I chose to play with her and read to her.

After a while, D wanted me to drive him to the store (he can't drive right now). Sometimes we get in this rut of picking up a few things at the store one day and then needing to go again in a few days. It drives me nuts, because I hate shopping! I want to shop once a week (or less), with a list, get in and get out. Yesterday, he wanted to go pick up one thing, and it led to this big argument. Today, I decided to just go and enjoy it. And I did!

He did most of the shopping, while E and I walked around and talked. A few days ago, she said she wanted brownies. I didn't have the ingredients or the time then, so today I asked her if she still wanted them. She did, so I picked up what I needed. Then she saw a frozen pizza and wanted that. I don't like the ingredients in those pizzas, so I offered to make her a homemade one. D thought that sounded good too, so we got everything we needed. Then E wanted a huge block of cheese. I reminded her that D was already getting shredded cheese for the pizza, but she wanted *her own cheese.* The block was expensive and orange (milk is not orange people, that's chemicals!), so I suggested string cheese instead. She loved that idea!

I had told her when we first walked in the store that she had $1 to spend on whatever she wanted. Sometimes I give her $2 or $3, but the budget is tight right now. So, first she wanted candy from the bulk bins, and after some careful consideration, she decided on chocolate orange sticks. Then after a while, she changed her mind and wanted lip gloss. It was a pack of 10 with no price on it, so I told her that it probably cost more than $1, and we would find out when we went to pay. Then while we were looking at toothbrushes, she saw some lotion she wanted. It was a big $5 bottle, so I told her that was more money than she had, but we would see if they had some little ones. She looked at the travel sized ones, but decided the lip gloss was better.

When we got to the register, the lip gloss turned out to be $7, so I told her we'd have to put it back, but we could find some other chap stick. While the cashier was ringing up our other things, E and I ran back to the isle with the lotions because I thought the chap stick might be there. Instead, she chose a travel sized lotion. We were just about to hand it to the cashier, when she decided she wanted candy again. So, I told her to grab one from the checkout counter, and we asked the cashier to put the lotion back. Right as we were about to pay, she said she wanted the lotion instead of the candy. I didn't want to bother the cashier with voiding the candy, so I said that we'd just get both.

It probably sounds hectic, but really it was slow and full of discussions and questions and answers. It took time and energy, but it's well spent! I'd much rather use that time and energy to help her learn and figure out solutions, while we laugh and play. Otherwise I'd be using the same amount of time and energy just saying NO we can't afford it, NO you don't need that, NO I don't have time, NO I JUST REALLY WANT TO BE SELFISH RIGHT NOW, SO NO!

So, with all this collaboration and choosing to do things for my family, do I ever get what I want? Yep! When we got home, L was sleeping. E was happy with her purchases and had gotten a good fill of my attention between our play earlier and the shopping. D fixed us all lunch and played with her and they watched tv together. I got most of my to-do list done, and then played on the computer. Now she's asking to lay down for a nap, and while she sleeps I'll probably finish cleaning the house.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Feeling Inspired

So much local, organic, seasonal, living food. I'm feeling inspired to get serious about going vegan and maybe even go raw. My friend Annalise blogs about her raw foods diet, and she has been talking a lot lately about how much energy she has. It sounds so nice! My friend Ceanne has also been blogging about some yummy sounding raw recipes.

For a long time, I've tried to stick to eating the foods God made vs. foods concocted in a lab by people in white coats. I do better some days than others, but overall, I don't eat a lot of processed foods. When I do, I try to have things like organic chips, homemade cookies, and sprouted bread.

My biggest struggles are dairy and sugar. I used to have gallbladder attacks, but I haven't since I cut back on eating dairy. I no longer drink milk and rarely eat cheese. I eat less butter and yogurt than I used to, though those don't seem to bother me as much anyway. But sometimes I crave dairy, and binge on it. I bring myself almost to the point of a gallbladder attack before I back off again. I do the same thing with sugar. I don't have any for a while, and don't crave it and feel good. Then I have a little bit as a treat with Damien or on impulse, and before I know it, I'm bingeing on it every day again. That has gotten a little better since we stopped restricting foods with E. Now, I don't feel like I have to hide what I'm eating from her, and I'm allowing myself more freedom from guilt trips. That has helped me to not binge so often and to recover quicker when I do.

So, I've been trying to figure out why I binge on things that I know will make me feel bad, even to the point of the excruciating pain of a gallbladder attack. I realized recently, that I'm a food addict. I eat when I'm depressed. Of course, I could choose to binge on fruit when I'm depressed, but I think there is this self destructive part of me that actually wants to make myself suffer. So, I feel bad, then eat bad food, then feel worse, then eat worse food. It's this horrible cycle.

No one would guess this from looking at me. I'm 5'9" and 140 pounds. I have a flat stomach and wear smaller pants than I did in highschool. My butt is a little flabby, but other than that I'm pretty happy with my body. I think a combination of luck, genetics, a fast metabolism, staying active, and burning about 2000 calories a day just by nursing two kids, keeps me from gaining weight.

I know that I have gallstones that I need to get out of my system. I'm sure I'll feel better once I do that. Then I need to eat in a way that doesn't create more. For me, that means staying away from dairy. I seem to be able to eat meat fine (though I want to stick with local, organic, farm raised if I eat any at all). I feel better overall when I eat more raw. A few months ago, D and I did 2 weeks 100% vegan and 80% raw, and I felt great.

With summer here, and all that wonderful, seasonal, organic, local produce sitting in my fridge, right now is the perfect time to start.

Summer Goodness

I went to the farmers' market yesterday and got a ton of veges. I posted on facebook that it cost under $20, but when I thought back, I think I actually spent less than $10! Spinach, squash, zucchini, lettuce, beans, onions. And apricots too.

We went berry picking today- raspberries, marionberries and a few blackberries. About 10 pounds for $15. They are so good, juicy, sweet, mmmmmm! I'm going to make a marionberry pie with some of them, but we will probably eat most of them raw.

Then I went to work in our garden co-op this evening, and came home with peas and beans.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Refuse to Call it a Schedule

I've never been much of a schedule person. I have my to-do list, and I like to have my week generally planned out. But sometimes I wake up at 7 and other times I wake up at 10. Meals happen when we're hungry. If we get the urge to go to the park or on a hike or to the store or whatever, we just go. Sometimes certain things have to get done on certain days or at certain times- usually work related or appointments. In those cases, I've never had a problem getting them done on time. Other than that, we're pretty relaxed.
I keep reading and hearing about how 3 year olds do better with a schedule. All that stuff about testing boundaries and limits, and supposedly a strict schedule keeps them busy, keeps them on track and reduces meltdowns. I see the logic in this-it's nice to know what's coming next, and while we may have the day loosely planned in our heads, she doesn't know what's going on unless we tell her. And even when we tell her, she's not yet capable of remembering everything and really grasping the concept of the future.
My problem with all the advice for schedules for 3 year olds, is that they are always so rigid and parent-dictated. The parent says "It's most convenient for me to do XYZ at this time and that time, so I'll slot your activties in here and here. So, you'll eat at 8, 12 and 6, sleep from 2-4 and we'll do the park or library at 10. We'll do this consistently every day until you realize you have no control over your own life, and conform to the monotony of the grind. After all, I have to prepare you for a real life 8-5 job. If I fail to schedule you now, you'll turn into a lazy, unmotivated blob who will play video games all day long!"
Ok, so that's a little dramatic and I'm only poking fun at the most rigid dictators (I mean parents). I know lots of parents who have a schedule, but are way more relaxed than this. But this is one reason I have resisted scheduling for so long.

However, I do see the logic in a little one needing to know what's coming next and having some rhythm and flow to the day. So, I finally figured out how to create a flow chart of our activities that is completely flexible, changable, and family oriented.

The backing is foam board. Across the top are the days of the week, and going down from each day are the activities. I used a roll of magnetic tape, cut up into pieces, for the activity slots. So, one side of the magnets is stuck to the foam board. I stuck pictures representing activities to another magnet, and placed them on top of the first magnets. Any of the picture magnets can come off and move to any other slot. So, we can rearrange things when we plan out our week or even during the day if the day's plans change. Changes happen with consideration for every member of the family, and everyone's input. You might also notice that there are no times anywhere on it.
The pictures are for meals, prayer/Bible study, clean up times, my work time, time that I commit to playing with the girls with no distractions, garden, library, football, church, dance group, park, hikes, and blank ones to which I can add special events.

My Birthday

My birthday was the 5th, and we went to the beach. The weather wasn't nearly as warm as I would have liked, but other than that, the day was perfect. We went to Cannon Beach, and played and ate a picnic lunch. Then we explored the town, and drove down the coast for a few miles. We found a little dirt road that led up a hill to a cliff overlooking the ocean. There was just enough room for our car, and barely enough room to turn around when we left. The girls had fallen asleep by that time, so D explored the hillside. I laid a towel out on the ground and did yoga, meditated and prayed while watching the waves. So relaxing!

L kept laying down in the sand and "swimming."

Playing in the sand.

E running around on the beach. As you can see, E was the only one in a swimsuit. In fact, she was the only person on the entire beach not in a sweatshirt! :) She wore it from home, and we thought that once she got there and got cold, she'd put on some clothes. After about an hour, as we were walking back to the car and it started to rain, she decided to get dressed.

D buried E in the sand.

A rare shot- I'm not behind the camera!

Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach looking the other direction.

On the way home, we saw the sign for Cooterville. This is the Cooterville City Hall. Aparently it's also the antique/junk store.

We got a good laugh out of this!

Picnic and Fireworks

On the 4th, we went to a picnic with our church. E and L played with their friends, and went swimming in the river.

L in the woods.

L and her friend A.

E and her friend Y. They were pretending to rescue animals.

Then we saw the local fireworks show- it wasn't that great, but the girls liked it. They were both a little scared, but fascinated at the same time. As long as we were holding them and they could bury their heads into our shoulders sometimes, they were ok.

I think this is one of the pictures E took.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sign Language

Somehow a sign language advertisment got onto our google/dell default homepage. It's here if you want to see it, but basically it's just a computer animated hand signing the alphabet. So, every couple of days, E has been asking me to show her the signs, and we go through them once or twice. I learned some sign language when I was a kid, and I don't really remember anything except the alphabet.

I've been meaning to find her some other signs, but hadn't done it yet. Then today, we went to our Davidic/worship dance group, and they were teaching a new dance with the signs to the words. How timely! E was getting tired by that point, so she wasn't interested in joining in, but we did sit and watch.

Just now, I found an ASL site that shows signs for lots of different words. On youtube I found some sign language students signing the words for the song Bring Me To Life by Evanescence, which is one of my favorite songs, and I can sort of play it on the piano. They do a beautiful job!

I'll show these to E tomorrow, and see what she thinks.

I haven't done very many baby signs with L, and I really should do more. It makes communicating so much easier. She knows the sign for nursing, and is picking up on the diaper sign. I want to at least be more consistant about showing her the signs for water and hungry, since she's eating solids.

Neglectful, Schoolish, or Option C?

I was re-reading my last post, and looking at my dining room, and it struck me how "schoolish" is looks with the flags and the maps and the numbers. It made me laugh, because I just finished reading a homeschooler's blog post where she bashed unschoolers, saying that we are neglecting our children's education and not providing them with any opportunities. So, while the schoolish looking parts of our house are only a fraction of the learning that happens here, I thought I'd share what happened when I bought them.

I was actually helping E look for something to spend her own money on when I saw the map of Europe and the numbers poster at the store. I threw them in the cart without saying anything, and then lifted her up so she could see the higher shelves. She picked out chalk and some glittery lotion. She also thought about buying some chapstick, but she only had two dollars. She decided not to get the chapstick, because we have some at home, but we didn't have any glittery lotion at home. At the checkout, she saw the gum and decided she wanted it. I reminded her she only had two dollars, and she choose to put back the lotion in place of the gum.

In the car, I showed her the things I had bought for her. She was excited and couldn't wait to get home to put them on the wall. When we got home, I hung them up, and she asked me to tell her the names of the countries. I told her a few, and then D walked up and we started talking about the location of Scotland and Ireland and how that affected the land wars between those countries and England. Then E wanted to look at the map on the computer. So, I brought up mapquest, and we looked at the whole world. Then I zoomed in on Europe and said that was the same as the map on the wall. She wanted to zoom in more, and we ended up on Germany.

Mapquest had little picture links to find stores, pharmacies, motels and other places on the map. One of them was to find 4th of July celebrations. She clicked on it, and it said that nothing was available in that area. When she asked why, I said that 4th of July is an American holiday, so people in Germany don't celebrate it.

So, here we have budgeting, math, decision making skills, history, geography, culture, computer skills. I guess the playing in the sprinklers is PE, and the chalk is art. Or maybe writing, since she's writing some letters. Not bad for a day in the life of a neglectful, lazy unschooler with a 3 year old.

Oh, and she could have chosen to watch tv that whole time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Full, Fun day

Today was full, busy, fun, long, tiring, and filled with discovery. We went to Target and Walmart and bought new shoes for both girls. At Target I also found a wall map of Europe, a map of the US puzzle, and a poster of numbers for $1 each.

The maps were a neat find because of E's interest in flags. Seeing the flags is leading to her wanting to know where the countries are located. We have a globe, and we use mapquest, but the wall map and puzzle will be different ways for her to see them.

We also went to the garden today, and saw lots of BIG spiders, a butterfly, and a dragonfly. I haven't gotten a chance to take her to see any bug exhibits, but we've been finding lots of bugs everywhere we go.

When we came home, the girls played in the sprinklers.

And they drew with chalk.

Oh, and speaking of flags- I told my mom about E's interest in flags and she sent these:

The small ones are the American flag, and state flags for Maine (where E was born), California (where we lived for a while, and where grandma lives) and Oregon. Thank you mom!