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!