Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I think I may have to take the Nablopomo challenge again, just so I am brought to the computer to post more often.

I wrote every day (mostly) in March. And I think I've posted four times this month and there's only two more days to the month!

Ug. I'm feeling like a failure.

It took Robert and I MONTHS to settle into an unschooling routine of sorts, and now Aubrey is home with us and we have yet to find our place. So that is on my mind.

I'm super into urban homesteading right now and voraciously read these blogs. My housemate and I are planning a trip to the feed and seed store to question the clerks about chickens. We are taking the kids because I want it to be a homeschooly thing. I want them to help pick out the breeds and such. And, of course, to hold the baby chicks.

My homesteader partner in crime, Steve, and I will tackle talking to Paul a.s.a.p. Steve also got a mason bee "home" to put up to encourage pollination. Our garden is waffling. The carrots and chamomile are coming up finally, and the kale in the back garden, but the pests are still chomping the spinach, kale and chard. Poor chard. It looks like a beauty college flunkee tried to re-invent one of those eighties hair styles with the spikey purple parts.

I am learning the knit stitch and am finding more and more homeschooling moms who are willing to share there expertise with me. Hooray!

Yesterday we did Lego Club which was a big hit with Robert (not so much with Aubrey) and today we went to roller skating class and Papa's Pizza to meet friends and play. Tomorrow is park day (more playing!) and also picking up the eggs from our friends' home. (And No Shame night for Paul and I.) Friday is house cleaning and Bounce night for the kids.

Saturday is packed with a Reptile Walk on Mt. Pisgah and then our 2nd annual Firehawks hearth Spiralscouts Vegan Earth Dinner. Sunday is more cleaning (my office has started bleeding recycled paper all over the floor again) and then a playdate of Aubrey's at a new friend's home. The mom raises angora rabbits and sheers the fiber, spins it and sells it -- which I ALL over. I can't wait to see.

Then Monday is the chick day -- we're just checking them out and asking questions, maybe buying some equipment, not taking home any yet -- and the week starts all over again with classes and park days.

So that is what we do all week, in a nutshell. In case you were wondering.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Last field trip

We went to Greenhill Humane Society for a tour and then ended in the cattery for a while.
(I don't know why this is underlining. Sorry for my techno-disability.)

Aubrey found a cat that really liked her and I was tempted for a minute or two to bring it home ... but it had the unfortunate name of "Bubbles."

But they sure looked good together.

And Joey found a kitty that would play with his toy.

The kids enjoyed it. I'm glad we went.

Snapshot Sunday

Saturday, April 25, 2009

hair woes

I hate it when you get your hair cut and then you see yourself in a picture with long hair and think, "Oh. Maybe I shouldn't have cut it." I like the head band with long hair.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Follow The Leader : but who is the leader and which one am I?

I am both a leader and a follower.

Sometimes I can grasp the energy whirling around me and harness into forward momentum. I can gather resources and charge forth with passion and discernment. I know what needs to be done, and I do it. I know where to look for answers and I know what steps to take to get me what I want.

Years ago, a friend said, "You amaze me. You say you want a dog kennel built on the side of the house, and the next time I see you, it's there. You did it."

I thought, "Well, yeah. Why would I say I want something and then not move forward to get
it?" It didn't seem logical to me. That must have been my sowing and reaping time. My leader time. For now I feel fallow. My follower time.

I still feel the energy around me, the potential for the fantastic, but I don't seem to be able to harness it anymore. For now. For now I am the follower. But I don't like that feeling. I don't like that place I have somehow put myself in. Right now I don't feel like I could make a dog kennel materialize.

My housemate and I are building a garden together. Paul doesn't seem to want anything to do with it, except maybe to eat it. Right now it is an embarrassment to him. It looks ugly to him on the front-lawn-that-was. It's just a baby garden without its eyes open yet. All leaves and seeds and piles of dirt covered in plastic. Maybe I don't feel driven to lead in this project because I feel pulled towards Paul's dissatisfaction. Maybe I feel discouraged that it doesn't look beautiful yet.

No. I see its little green potential. I know that growing takes time. I live that knowledge every day. And some days don't look so good, some days I don't want to look around. I just want to close my eyes until it all goes away -- these moments of breathing under water. Where some movement, or song lyric or t.v. show brings me back to the days after my second husband's death. Like time travel.

Two days ago I spent six hours in my garden (following my housemate's lead) so maybe today is just one of those days where I can't lead. I don't have the oomph for it; I don't have the charge.

I remember Saturday mornings in the house I grew up in. I remember sweatshirts and coffee mugs and spiral-topped steno pads with lists; of the stereo on and the windows opened. I remember my mom's challenge to tackle the house and strip it of its clutter and filth, of its resentful and mocking attitude. I would answer her call and we would leap forward with purpose and a destination. We would conquer the negativity that clouded around us and we would then breathe fresh air and lemon pledge. We would see shiny surfaces and spread clean sheets and set the timer for 45 minutes so we could switch the laundry out. And we would have the knowledge that we succeeded. We overcame the Other Entity, the house, that would sometimes overcome us and live its own agenda. Perhaps even trying to drive us out of our own home.

And so today, when I am feeling particularly weak and overwhelmed at my home's 'own agenda,' I desire to capture that same spirit my mom had. To devour the negativity. To banish the stagnant energy and to breathe fresh air again. But my mom is not here. She is living in Washington state and I can't answer her call to arms. I must do the leading today, and not the following.

But I don't know how. The house, the Other Entity, is winning today. Old manuscript pages cover the floor at my feet, dirty dishes clutter my writing desk, books lie on the floor. Baskets, canvas bags, one shoe, a pair of scissors, one of Paul's shirts, and a pair of faerie wings. This is just my office.

Traveling in my front door you would be accosted with: a memory foam mattress pad that needs to be returned to Bed Bath and Beyond, the other shoe, the remains of a bag of kitty litter I needed to spread under the motorcycle that sprang a gas leak yesterday. Two coats and a poncho that fell off the coat rack, a pair of slippers and Joey's flip-flops. Also, a placemat on the stairs.

The living room holds: the vacuum hose still attached to the wall from two days ago and two vacuum attachments lying on the rug. Aubrey's boots. Candy wrappers, an Easter bunny and three books -- one, a Garfield comic book from the library, lying open at where Joey left off. Dirty laundry, clean laundry, a canvas I haven't hung yet from when I finished it weeks ago. Dirty dishes and various remotes, books and trash cover the coffee table. Joey's sneakers, a footstool and a water bottle cap next to a dog-haired fleece lie on the floor.

Walking into the dining room you see art supplies piled in a drawer taken from the broken dresser in the garage that's been there since March 28th. Our video camera bag and my computer bag are also on the floor next to: two of Aubrey's sweaters, Joey's robe, a dog's toy, a folded up easel, a crumpled phone book, a big bag of hamster bedding and two hamster cages from when Aubrey cleaned them out but didn't put them away this morning. Hopefully there is a live hamster in one of them.

Joey's box of birthday gifts is still on the unswept floor -- and then you look to the kitchen table. Yarn, felt, science experiments, cereal bags, books, two clean bowls and the pickle jar opened.

I feel hysteria bubbling up.

The bar has: a swimsuit -- just the top half, though, the bottom fell to the ground -- candles, notepads, a knitted headband, candy wrappers and gardening books. The taxes folder, a pair of bug glasses, a wench costume, a towel and a skirt and my orange vinyl address book.

The kitchen is unspeakable and I'll just leave it at that.

All of our bedrooms and the back patio shall all speak for themselves, as well.

So what do I do?

Where shall I start?

In frustration, I usually start with a list. A plan of action. A room to start in. But without my mom to call the battle cry -- to lead the assault -- I can't seem to get past putting on a bandana and drinking three cups of coffee. I have no one to follow.

And there I stop, for I've nothing else to say.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Up to speed

So Sorry.

I have fallen by the wayside due to: birthday parties, sick children, missing the first performance of our new theater group (due to said illness), Easter bbq, playdates, field trip, and SpiralScouts meetings ... plus a huge 'restaurant' the scouts are pulling off this Saturday that we have to prepare for. And lack of sleep. This is because of insomnia or watching LOST episodes until midnight several nights this week.

I've been trying to hold my head above water.

My daughter's last day of school was Friday and she spent her first day of homeschooling at the dentist getting two teeth pulled and then recovering at home.

I've made a mild breakthrough in my novel and am starting it all over from scratch (well, not entirely) and what else ...

I know there is something else that's happened or is about to happen that I am forgetting.

I'll be sort-of performing my first No Shame theater performance tomorrow night (it's kind-of a test piece). Also am putting together a performance in May for friends and family (with our grand opening piece June 5th.)

That wasn't what I was trying to remember. HA! I almost typed "forget" and then promptly remembered what I forgot: I haven't done my taxes yet and just found out that I don't have my husband's W2's. Did I lose them?!

Yeah. I'd like to forget about these taxes again.


I will be a good blogger and put up some homeschooly pictures of our field trip in a couple days. Please bare with me and PLEASE come back and leave a comment. I love to get comments. It helps with crazy, insane, freaky weeks like these.


Oh yeah. And the slugs are decimating our new baby garden! :( I'm trying to live more self-sustaining and grow my own food, etc., but slurping slugs make it seem pointless. (Sigh.)
I planted more kale and leeks to spite them. And we treated them to a fat buffet of Sluggo. But they still ate the heads off the marigolds!


Monday, April 6, 2009

A Conversation

"I wish I could be an arachnid."

"So you could be a spider?" I said.

"No. Being an arachnid just means you have 8 legs."

"Oh. ... What would you do with all those extra legs? ...... For sports?"


"I didn't know you liked sports."

"I like golf. That takes legs," Joey said.

I smile.

"And I sorta like soccer. If it's not a competition."

"You don't like competitions?"

"I hate competitions."

"Why?" I asked.

"'Cuz it's not fun -- a competition."

Well said.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personality Types: Estp's, Infp's, and Enfj's ... O MY!

I just finished reading a book about different personality types (based on the Meyers-Briggs tests) and how to nurture our kids while taking those personality types into account. For instance, Aubrey is (based on my feeble attempts at 'labeling' her) a "INFP -- introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving".

Therefore, she needs an enormous amount of "constant love, reassurance and protection from a busy high-pressured and sometimes unfeeling world." She can "tend to become moody, pessimistic and negative when she feels unloved or unwanted." She values close relationships and has a great need to have harmony around her.

I'm instructed to "heap on a steady measure of reassurance, love, supportive looks, touches and encouraging comments." Her self-esteem comes from feeling understood and accepted.

A side-bar in the book tells me what "works" for INFP's.

*provide lots of books; read to them constantly.
*go to the library regularly and have own library card.
*expose her to cultural arts.
*speak softly, use gentle voice and maintain physical and eye contact when you correct a misbehavior.
*apologize quickly and sincerely if you lose your temper or raise your voice to her.
*encourage her to talk about her ideas; listen quietly and give her your undivided attention.
*respect the legitimacy of imaginary life
*encourage her to express feelings in words or in drawings. listen and carefully rephrase their feelings to help them clarify them.
*allow her to watch from the sidelines as long as she needs before joining in and give her plenty of time to play alone or simply daydream.
*respect the intensity of her feelings
*support intellectual curiosity and artistic expression.
*help her find ways to keep herself organized and on time; model how to set and meet goals.
*appeal to her feelings and values in times of conflict or disagreement.
*get her ideas and input on alternative ways to solve problems; give her plenty of advance notice about changes that affect her personally.
*help her make decisions by explaining that few choices are irrevocable.

Most of the information was stuff I already felt in my gut, but now had validation or permission to acknowledge. I have always instinctually treated Aubrey with more tenderness and have always been concerned about her sensitivity in many areas of her life. From not hurrying her too much, and acknowledging the absolute fairyness in her play, to asking Paul to not tease her because she took it too personally.

I have wondered if I perpetuated her sensitivity and tender feelings by treating her so gently and looking out for her like that -- Paul certainly believed it -- but now I feel :) vindicated, of a sort. I was right all along.

Joey-Boy is an ESTP (extraverted, sensing, thinking perceiving).

He needs: "plenty of hands-on experiences, crystal clear directions and expectations and more physical freedom than just about any other type." He "rarely take anything seriously, so rules, limits and boundaries just don't affect him." He "likes being naked and dislikes restrictive feelings of some clothing" (like coats and underwear -- my italics). He's drawn to water, dirt, mud and the beach. (yes, this is all Joey. The book has him spot-on.)

I need to: "supply him with enough activities, friends and excitement to keep him from becoming bored, cranky and mischievous." Apparently, "empathy, tact and sensitivity are learned skills for ESTP's." (Lovely.) "Parents need to explain, clearly and unemotionally, the logic of why they (or anyone else) feels the way they do in response to his actions."

They suggest making a game out of chores, to give them plenty of opportunities to solve their own problems, and to try to minimize the number of unnecessary limits. And also to "state values clearly and simply and not over-charge the topic with unnecessary emotion." It works better they tell me.

ESTP's self-esteem comes from trying new things and mastering them on their own. "Helping [Joey] find constructive and useful outlets for his great energy, open-mindedness and zest for living helps him to feel good about the person he is." It may also prove helpful when Joey is an adolescent, to remind him that "there are many different kinds of intelligence and many kinds of achievement."

The side-bar for ESTP's looks like this:

*find unending and constructive outlets for their high physical energy; playgrounds, play with him, wear him out! (this sounds exhausting to me)
*childproof your house!
*show patience with the repeated questions and stream of consciousness speaking; take breaks as needed, but don't give them the wrong impression that they are pests for noticing the world the way they do.
*set crystal clear boundaries and show them what you mean, rather than telling.
*Be consistent in enforcing rules, say what you mean and mean what you say.
*swift action and immediate, logical consequences are more effective than words.
*Be realistic about order, neatness and wisdom of breakables, while child is young at least.
*Rephrase the thoughtless comments they make; repeat back to them a revised and more tactful version.
*model patience, sharing and negotiating skills.
*make chores a game; put on music and clean things up as you dance.
*use fun as an incentive; reward initiative or dependability with trips to the .... (I personally disapprove of this strategy.)
*explain why you or someone else feels as they do; explain the emotional and personal consequences of their behavior.
*use reality based, hands on learning.

So my confession here is that I was exhausted, discouraged and even slightly belligerent while reading about the ESTP's. As a different personality type than my son (I lean toward enfj status), my motivations are ones of love, friendship and understanding. I'm empathic and intuitive and to know that "empathy, tact and sensitivity [will be] learned skills" for him makes me cringe. It sounds borderline sociopathic. In a quirky, fun-loving way, of course.

Most of what I read, again, was stuff I already knew and cater to. I've started up the weekly trips to the park, he goes weekly to a gymnastics open gym where he can run and bounce galore, I try to get in a couple of field trips a month for him, and I home-school him so the "sit in your seat and don't make noise" is at a minimum. Well, gone actually, because we are more of an un-schooling household, as opposed to one with a curriculum based home-schooling approach.

But coming from a person that would much rather sit and read, or write on my novel, or work my arts and crafts ... or travel to exotic lands and learn about alternative lifestyles and cultures (ok, so that one might not fit ... though, truthfully, I don't think Joey would be interested in that either), playing tag in the park doesn't do it for me. His level of need for physically energy-depleting activities creates in me the desire to breathe slow. In a cave of feather blankets. And hibernate.