Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nablopomo -- March

Here's my newest project. Doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November was very successful and it kept me writing every day. My husband did complain a bit -- no date nights, no laundry done, no dishes. Don't get me wrong, he totally supported me doing it, and he chipped in and folded laundry and made dinner and such ... but he just noticed the level of my participation dropping. :D

So, in an effort to get me writing every day again (but with far less words I'm guessing), I pledge to write every day on this blog. (Here's hoping that the other two don't suffer. snort. Or that I don't cross-post too much.)

IF I DON'T post everyday, my self-imposed consequence will be not allowing myself to buy ANY books that month. From any source. For any amount of money.

There. It is done.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Un-schooling and Not.

I dislike posting without a game plan. (Or even having written it ahead of time and just typing it here after I've edited and spell checked.) But here I am, stealing moments before my son gets up to write.

Otherwise, I fear, it will never happen. And then a month goes by without a post, and any readers I do have will stop coming back and .... well, you get the picture.

So, here I am.

I was lamenting to my husband -- though I fear (there's that would again) that he just rolls his eyes when I talk about stuff like this -- this morning about not having enough time with Aubrey.

She's getting up later and later in the morning so that I don't see here at all -- she's showering and dressing while I'm making her a to-go breakfast, packing her lunch and getting her coat and shoes by the door. Then she's gone all day while I'm home with Robert, living! , and when she gets home, she either: plays with Robert because they haven't seen each other all day, or she's so fried from the day that she just relaxes with a book or checks her emails. Which I totally respect and want to give her room to do.

This frequently means that when I put her to bed at night (when I do ... I'm gone to writer's meetings at least two times a week, more if I'm doing something else like date night), she wants to talk and connect, BUT ... I'm fried. I don't do evenings well. It's my time to relax and read, take a bath or watch a movie with popcorn. And so I rush it and try to get out of talking at the end of our bedtime ritual (which is fairly long as it is.)

All this means is that I miss her. I really want her home with me. I know that she will drift away the further into adolesence she gets, but I can't help but feel she won't if she's at home with me. We'll stay connected, at least.

When Aniela was, geez, twelve? to sixteen, she hated us all and went out of her way to show it. So much so that even though she hasn't lived with us for over a year and I miss her, and I admire where she's gone with her life, Paul still thinks I'm afraid of her. And we still don't have a good relationship with her; we still don't know each other; we still don't really talk to one another.

I don't want that to happen to me and Aubrey. Or Paul and Aubrey. That would be too much to bear for him. And me.

I already see the signs of adolescence approaching and so I feel spurred into action. I want her home with me during the day. I know that she wouldn't struggle so much with the unimportant (to the real world) stuff like: being singled out with assigned seating, feeling unworthy for getting circles for her incomplete work, or feeling different from the other kids.

I want her home with me.

But Paul doesn't. He doesn't even think Robert should be home, truthfully. At least that is how I read him. I feel in my bones that un-schooling, sometimes called student-lead or natural learning, is the right course of living for us. And Paul is afraid of this.

I keep trying to get him to read and research some of the things I'm finding about unschooling and he procrastinates and doesn't do it and still feels uncomfortable with what Robert and I do all day.

To me this is just irritating. To the point that some days I just feel done with talking about it. If he's uncomfortable with it, he can research it. I'm comfortable with it, I think it's the right course of action, I want it to be this way, and I'm the one with the time to do it.

I really would like the trust from him to do this. His blessing. (He says he supports me in my decision, but doesn't like it. That's not a blessing. Is it?)

I talked to an unschooling acquaintance of mine last month about this, and I loved her response. She said that sometimes her and her husband come up against this, too, but she reminds him that she doesn't advise him about selling or buying their stocks. It would be foolish. She doesn't know enough to. She can express concern over certain attributes ... the cost, or a particular company she doesn't like and doesn't want to support ... but she doesn't say, "Buy now."

Same with the "schooling;" he doesn't tell her not to do it (though he can express concern about certain things and they can talk about it -- just like the stock decisions) because she's the one that does all the research. She's the one that lives it every day. She's the one that dives into the living and learning of her children every day.

So, I guess it is time to have another talk with Paul about all this.
I don't want him to feel nagged, or that his opinion doesn't matter (which is what he told me), I just want my opinion to count, too.

And now my son is awake.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Beehive Mountain

For my friend, Cathy, of Poohsticks, who wanted to know where Beehive Mountain was:

It's at Lake Louise just outside of Banff in the Canadian Rockies.

Thanks for reading!


I've discovered a neat game during my daily blog-surfing-while-not-doing-the-dishes.
It looks neat, pass it on!

It goes like this:

You take your sixth folder of pictures, and you choose the sixth picture in there and then write something about it. Then tag six blogs. (I'm cheating a bit here, as I have not been personally tagged, but it looked fun anyway!)

So this is Banff. Our family took a vacation there right before school one year. Both kids were in public school at the time. We drove a big (borrowed) camper van up with Paul, me, the two kids and Anna (Paul's mom).

This wasn't the most interesting of Banff pictures, so I've broken the rules again to show you more (or maybe I can re-frame that to: I've become inspired to share more of my memories with you!)

This is right at the same location as the first picture. Paul and Aubrey gazing at beauty.

Aubrey, on a hike up Beehive Mountain.

Once again, Aubrey. (Robert wasn't into pictures this year.)

Paul, at the top of Beehive Mountain. We spread the rest of his grandfather's ashes up here. A special place for him.

My turn in front of the camera.

And here is one Robert finally allowed us to take. I'm behind him and Aubrey is half there, too, in the blue coat.

TAGGED ... You're It!

Depression and Anxiety Are My Special Needs Children

(I try not to cross-post too much, but, well ... )

Movies I watch can inspire me to write or paint or sculpt.

But some only create the longing for it, and not the release – like the nightmares where you can’t scream but know that if you try with all that is in you, you could make enough noise to cast your voice out among the billions who also trudge this land.

There’s an ache – when I feel unable to create my art -- a loneliness that wiggles inside my brain so that it hurts, and my throat so that I cannot communicate.

My fingers are frozen at the page, clamped desperately around the pen. My breath stops as I wait for the timid kernel of inspiration to share itself through me – but alas, it is not Inspiration or Idea or even Plot Device that appears … it is: Clamminess, Brick Wall, Pettiness, Fatigue, and Not Good Enough.

The metallic sour taste of lethargy and self- judgment sit with me when the longing to create art is strongest. I’ve sat with and asked these soul-sucking companions why they visit. I sometimes get a response and sometimes not.

I wonder how to get rid of them – like they are the slugs on my sugar snap peas that eat holes before I get a taste.

But perhaps I should simply share space with these evil shadows of myself and honor their place in my house. What if I extended love to them, accepted them and knew there was an ancient lesson they came to teach me, if only I would listen -- like the hundreds of thousands of families with special needs children?

Depression and Anxiety are my special needs children. I court them, suckle them and find their triggers to tantrums. I sit with Depression and rock him to sleep with haunting music lilting from the iTunes across the room; I coax Anxiety out to play -- break out the glue and treeless paper and collage until she is more grounded.

I discover their strengths and weaknesses and take time out for myself when they become too much for me to bear alone. I nurture myself with popcorn and movies under the feather blanket, hot tea with a friend, or an afternoon alone at a coffee shop with my laptop and latte. And I think. I take time to Feel.

When I do this -- when I give myself permission to emote -- only then am I open enough to welcome ideas and plans and as-of-yet formless characters into the sacred circle I have created for them. Only then am I able and willing to give birth to their stories.

But that’s not right either. I am always willing. That yearning and longing to write and to create are always there. But maybe the readiness is not.

Maybe I must coddle my children, Depression and Anxiety before I can create. But … I don’t believe that one must be depressed or suffer anxiety attacks in order to create art. Art lives in us, we breathe it as air and it binds to the molecules within us. We bleed our art. We are art.

Perhaps I don’t need to be depressed to create art, but that if I am struggling with it at some particular time, I must sit with it first before I attempt to express an emotion I do not yet understand. Only if I take time to nurture myself, to Think, to Feel, to ask Depression why he had another nightmare, to ask Anxiety why she cried today when the house was a mess – maybe then I can unfreeze my fingers and find my voice and let it roar with all the passion and longing and creativity I have.

And then, I can create. I can write, paint and sculpt. I can communicate and breathe and love myself again. All the parts of me. Even the shadowy parts.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


BEFORE smile.

They first took out the spreaders that were between his back molars to make room for his appliance. This nifty device is called a "spreader." It is going to spread his upper jaw apart at the suture to make his pallette wider to make more room for his teeth ... and so his crossbite will correct.

This funny lookin' things are cheek spreaders. (Lots of spreading going on here.) You gotta make sure the teeth are nice and dry before you start gluing things on.

This was the coolest picture for Robert to see later. The fancy shmacy blue light is to cure the glue behind the brackets.

Then the appliance got glued in the same way (blue light and all); next came rubber bands and wires and springs, oh my!

And here is the AFTER smile. (He chose four different colored rubber bands to make his braces different colors.)

After the space between the two front teeth is closed up, there will be room for the other teeth (I don't remember if they are the lateral incisors or the canines) to finally come down. When they do, he'll get brackets put on those two teeth also.

The trick to not having Robert puke and cry and worry and cling and have the other patrons whisper to one another, "What are they doing to him?", was to have the assistant write down EVERY SINGLE STEP for me to go over with him individually prior to the appointment. Whew! Then it was no problem ... old hat ... no puke. (Of which we were all grateful.)

Also, not feeding him banana pancakes right before the appointment helped.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Family Dinner

It’s not so much the cooking I hate, it’s the THINKING OF WHAT TO MAKE. Also, the “What’s for dinner?”"I HATE that! Yuck! I’m NEVER eating that!” completely de-moralizes me and I defend myself with bitchy behavior and snappy comments — which every parent aspires to do — so that I just want to crawl under my feather blanket and eat popcorn for my dinner and let them fend for themselves.

But I knew if I did that, they (the 7 and 9 year old) would satisfy themselves with macaroni and cheese or top ramen for the rest of their lives. So I mentally drag myself from the blankets and make veggies and rice or quinoa, and put on a raincoat to their hurtful comments; the kids complain through dinner and my husband threatens to make fish heads for dinner next time.

Ahh. The family dinner.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What Creativity Does To Your Table

Making our own valentines this year was fun (though it was me that did the majority of them, rather than Robert --
he lost interest after one.)

But then, of course, your table looks like this when you are done ...

... and you don't get the laundry folded.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February Blues

I'm feeling weird and pensive and out of sorts.
I don't know what's up with me today.

I'm tired. The sun from yesterday is gone. My front lawn is ugly with leaves. My unfolded laundry is piling up on the love seat and at the foot of my bed. The dishes need catching up on. I still can't seem to write a query letter. My theater writing group is meeting tonight and I can't think of anything interesting to write about. I haven't looked at my manuscript in what feels like ages. I haven't even started a sewing project meant to be done by next week, nor have I started making Valentine's or cookies for the swap that is tomorrow. And even at this late date, I am still wondering and concerned about how to home-school Robert. Everything I want to try seems to conflict with something else I've tried. Or want to try.

I'm tired of my own inconsistencies.

But most of all, today, I'm thinking of old lovers. Missing them. Wondering if I made a difference in their lives; if they still think of me, as I do of them.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

SpiralScouts Cooking Badge

Our hearth is working on the Cooking Badge right now and so the scouts have been accepted to a very prestigious cooking academy taught by the fameous Chef Rolando Mustasfo Chardonnay.

The kids made fruit salad and Silk smoothies last time, and this time they made Vegan (and gluten-free) Tortilla Soup. Slurp!

Enjoying the result of their labor:

Whups! I didn't get a picture until the bowl was half eaten.
Oh Well. At any rate, they all enjoyed it. And one scout had three bowls.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Spring is Here, Blue-Tongued Skink Boy and Shaving Cream Fun

I just noticed the xmas lights still wrapped around the upper branch. (Um. I think that was there from Christmas 2007.) HeeHee.
... in honor of one of his favorite types of lizards.
This is a "shaving cream blizzard."

Quote for the Day

"I better hurry and pick up the paste!" ~Robert, age 7

He told me I missed some of his sculptures, so I was obliged to take another photo.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Moving the Car With No Reverse

So I’m in my robe and hard-bottomed moccasins. It is late morning and I’m lounging with my mother-in-law losing Scrabble to her. She’s up from Roseburg visiting for a couple days. This is the only time we play word games -- when we are both together. The game closet spills out Scrabble, Boggle, Scattegories … any writing game.

Through the window I see a huge truck pull up in front of the house and a man with a clipboard and white beard down to his heart walk up to the door.

“I got some leaves here. You ordered some leaves to be delivered?” He points to his clipboard.

I am dumbstruck. Leaves? My roommate said something about cardboard and leaves a day or so ago. We’re going to kill our grass and plant food instead. Food Not Lawns.

I look at the clipboard and there’s Roomie’s name. Yep.

“Just dump it in the street, I guess.” I tell him. I mean the place that would be curb-side, if we had a curb.

“Oh no.” He shakes his head . “I can’t dump ‘em in the street! No ma’am.” He seems both appalled that I’d suggest such a thing and sorry that he can’t perform my request.

“Well the yard then. Just dump them on the grass.” I look up at him, wondering if there will be an impediment this time. “Can you do that?” I am worried now, wondering where else I could suggest he put them.

He stared at me for the briefest moment.

“I’d need ya to move your car.” He is solemn now, like I’m slow and he needs to spell it out to me.

Maybe in my pajamas, I do look slow.

“Ok, I’ll just tell her!” And I turn to run in the house, because -of course – it is my mother-in-law’s car, only he doesn’t know that.

In the house, I quickly explain to her and, as she’s moving especially slow to find her shoes, I offer to move her car for her. Remember, I’m still in my robe and slippers.

I’m driving up the street to turn around. I’ll just park in front of my house across the street. I pull into the neighbor’s driveway, brake, put it in reverse and … it goes forward. My face wrinkles in concentration. I know how to drive a stick shift.

I try again. Up all the way and left all the way. That’s what the diagram says. I apply the gas. Nope. Forward again. And now I am completely flummoxed.

Up all the way, left all the way. Gas. No. I shake my head. My eyebrows are closer together now, though this is not helping me get into reverse.

Up all the way, left all the way, gas, No. Up all the way, left all the way, gas, No.

I look towards my neighbor’s window. A woman is leaning over her kitchen sink, peering out the window, straight into my mother-in-law’s bright yellow hatch-back.

Up all the way, left all the way, gas, Shit!

I chuckle to myself, in a sort of self-preserving way. This really must look entirely inappropriate.

“What is this woman in her pajamas doing in my driveway, revving her car?”

There is nothing for it. I must run home and ask Anna how she puts her car in reverse.

I leave the hazard lights on, hoping this will send telepathic messages to the neighbor that I am not permanently parking my car there and will be back soon.

I trot across the street in my blue fuzzy robe and slippers, laughing, hoping not too many people are looking.

I burst in the door.

“How do you put your car in reverse?!”

“Oh,” Anna says. “There’s a ring on the stick shift. You just pull it up while you shift.” She demonstrates with, under other circumstances, and with other people in the room, a gesture that might possibly be considered suggestive.

I trot back.

Now my neighbor is hovering out her front door.

“Do you need any help?” she says, in quite the same way the man with the leaves was speaking to me.

I almost laugh when I have to say,

“No. Thank you. I just didn’t know how to put the car in reverse. I’ve got it now!” And I scuttle inside to hide my blue robe. Just in case she didn’t see it through the windshield, or when I ran home, or when I ran back to her front yard.

I maneuver through the five car traffic jam caused by the leaf man’s truck in front of my house, successfully putting Anna’s car into reverse two more times. Walking to my door, I pretend the leaf man and the high-schooler’s walking to school don’t see my blue robe and I try to remember if I’ve brushed my teeth yet that morning.

Though why freshly brushed teeth would make my robe less conspicuous to the pedestrians walking down the street, I don’t know.

I hand Anna her keys and tell her a condensed version of my antics, panting from the trotting I’ve done and the laughing at myself.

“Did you lock the car?”

My mouth stops in mid-word and flaps open.

I hold my hand back out for her keys and go to expose my robe to the leaf man one more time.