Monday, December 31, 2007

Gentle

Some thoughts and musings about the word gentle.

Dictionary definitions

Gentle parenting
- to me, this encompasses ideas I've gotten from books like Unconditional Parenting, Raising our Children, Raising ourselves, & Connection parenting this past year. It means not using punishments, threats or raising my voice. I'm still working on it. It means really considering and being respectful of my children's needs and wants and honoring their agency and choices.

Gentle inward thoughts
- Eliminating or at least being aware of and dealing with my negative self talk that leads to self destructive choices. (Over eating, procrastination, bad attitudes...)

Gentle outward thoughts - Being charitable and loving towards others. Not judging others. Thinking the best of others and being positive and hopeful in my interactions.

Gentle words - A soft answer turneth away wrath (Prov. 15:1). If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. :) The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones (Ecclesiasticus 28:17). Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity. (Jeffrey R. Holland, great talk here.)

I don't want to yell, I don't want to have a harsh tone in my voice. I want a gentle voice full of gentle words. Uplifting words that help and heal.

Gentle life - Being gentle to myself means taking care of myself. Meeting the needs of my body, listening to those needs, just as I try to meet the needs of my children. This really encompasses all of those eat better, lose weight, exercise regularly resolutions people make to some degree, but I want it to BE part of me, not just something I do. I think this part comes more from the gentle thoughts shaping who I am. It also can be about environmentalism and my footprint on this beautiful earth. An electric car is still something we want to buy when we can afford it. Recycling, composting, gardening, using mass transportation, conservation, reusing...

I really feel though that these things have to come from a strong inward change in order to be lasting choices, which is part of living by this word for this year is what I am going to try. I think I will put these things in a sidebar. :) For me, 2008 is the year of becoming gentle.

Lovely Song - This has been a song I have liked since I was a teenager. It is soft and quiet and lovely. If you haven't heard it, I recommend it. :)

Lyrics for Gentle by Michael McLean

Like a gentle wind can blow
The clouds from the sky,
Like a gentle touch can ease
The pain of good-bye,
Like a gentle smile embraces
Empty souls in lonely places,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Like the friend who gently
Builds us up when we’re down,
Like a gentle kiss can turn
Our world around.
We've been hurt by others often;
We’ve been forgiven and forgotten;
We should be as gentle with ourselves.
Life can be hard but we
Need not be so hard on ourselves,
If we will see…

Like the Shepherd leads his flock
With gentle commands,
With his gentle voice that
Only hearts can understand,
One thing we can know for certain,
He has borne the awful burden
So we can be gentle with ourselves.

One thing that I know for certain:
He will bear my every burden,
So I can be gentle with myself.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our new addition


Today our newest family member joined us permanently. :) We have adopted an 8 month old Chocolate lab named Sarge. He is a sweet and playful doggy, full of energy and curiosity. Too much energy for the family at church who offered him to us. L & H are very excited to have a dog, they love to feed him treats and play flashlight tag with him.

We've been visiting Sarge for about 2 weeks now, to get to know him and learn about his care. Today, now that we are totally moved out of our other home, he came and joined us. Isn't he handsome? :)

I've been wanting to get a dog for years, we have put it off until we were in a more stable situation. We would have probably waited a little bit longer if this opportunity to take care of this sweet dog hadn't presented itself.

Moving & the New year's approach

We have spent the past few days relocating all of our belongings (including some inherited ones) to a new home. DH & I are tired & sore. My foot tendinitis is starting to come back and I have cramps in my palm. I am looking forward to getting things arranged to some degree in our new home soon, but its taking some time. It is a little frustrating how much I can't do on my own, and how long things take.

The boys are doing okay. H has started to take all of his bedding, (pillows, blankets & all animals) with him in the car whenever we go anywhere. We went and said goodbye to the old house today and spent some time talking about how everything was at the new house (including the trains!) and I'm hoping that he'll start feeling more secure here soon. L is rather cavalier about it, but this is the 4th or 5th move he remembers now, and I think he is doing okay with it overall.

We do not plan to move for several more years. When asked, DH says 4-5 years and I say 1-2, who knows how long it'll be. :) We really like this house. I need to take pictures and share them, there is a beautiful large oak in the front yard that is wonderful. We have hardwood floors except the kitchen and bath and I love that. DH painted all the rooms some beautiful colors before we moved in and I can't wait to start gardening. We have many plans. :)

As 2007 rushes to its end, I reflect over all that has happened this year. It is amazing what a difference a year makes in your life. After reading an inspiring post, at a friend's blog about another post here, I have decided to choose a word for the new year to reflect on, ponder, and help guide me. I think I have chosen the word gentle. I will continue to muse about it, but the word has been in my thoughts lately anyway, and it speaks so much more to me than other possibilities.

I want to become more gentle toward people, in my own thoughts, in my approach to many things. I think I will write it down and put it places to help me remember it at first, but it is a good word.

What about you? What word will you choose to live by in 2008?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fun stuff with the boys

Here are H & L's Christmas cards for me. We made our cards this year, most were snowmen cards or Christmas tree cards. We did potato stamping, and had a good time. After the paint dried, we then used markers to decorate the snowmen.

I love the 2 they made just for me, I had to share them. H is really improving on dexterity, the face and buttons and arms are so easily visible I think. And L chose to make his look similar to mine, but with his own colors and style. He made about 5 cards before being bored. H's is the first one he made, and then he started coloring all the snowmen all black and blue and saying they were hiding. Good times were had. :)

Tonight L asked to roast hotdogs over the fire for dinner and we did, b/c I haven't really felt like cooking much with all the moving prep and Christmas stuff on top of it. The boys loved it so much! They did need some help getting the hotdogs cooked all the way, but had no problem catching marshmallow's on fire afterwards! I guess we will miss having a fireplace at our new place. :) Wonder what the code is on bonfire's in your backyard... ;P

(You can also see that L got a hair cut this week. He got tired of having his hair combed out when it was wet and tangly and agreed to a trim, and while I didn't do exactly what I meant to, it turned out okay, at least boy hair grows quickly!)

For H's birthday, DH took him on a special trip, to a miniature train display downtown. I think it will be a family tradition, dad taking you on a fun trip for your birthday just the two of you. What I loved about it is that it was all initiated and thought of by him. He is such a wonderful dad! This picture turned out really cool I think. They had a great time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We're moving!

Well we succeeded in helping sell my SIL's home, which means we are moving right after Christmas! What a way to add extra things to do at this fun time of year. I've been thinking about it, and I really love Thanksgiving more than Christmas. There are so many things to do for Christmas and for Thanksgiving I get to focus on cooking a great meal and spending time with loved ones. It's like the ultimate dinner party, and apparently, I love that!

We have been making homemade Christmas cards using potato stamps. The boys really enjoy it, and I didn't yell except for my initial yelp of surprise when H decided to dump out 1.5 bottles of paint on the table, floor and himself. Here is a photo before that happened of him busily painting cards.

H had his birthday this month, which means I deluded myself that I could make a cake look like Thomas the tank engine. He was happy with it, though the photos are much worse looking than the cake looked I think. I've gotten lots of use from my train cake splurge though, so I'm happy about that! I could write a lot about all the things I should have done to make it better, the biggest one though is not procrastinate and spend more time on it! I have so much respect for cake decorators after trying my hand at it! Sheesh!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Santa Pictures

Santa photos.



H is not a fan of Santa, though the Santa at the park convinced him to pose for the one picture.




L loves Santa and tells him all sorts of things. Hugs, christmas presents, lets go play...its fun. :)



This is Santa from our Ward party. L was one of the first ones in line, H was upset to be too close AND too far away from Santa. I think he wanted to observe him from exactly the right "safe" distance. It was fun.



Santa at the park made sure he got photos with everyone. I guess he either loves being Santa that much or wanted to make sure he earned his money.

Either way, it was amusing to watch him negotiate a photo with H.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Ballet


Though the thought of taking very active boys to a normal ballet where you are supposed to sit very still sends me into anxiety attacks, a friend arranged for us to attend a daytime performance aimed at local schools. We were given the front 2 rows for our "homeschool" group. Since it was public school kids, being quiet wasn't an issue. Our kids were amazingly well behaved in comparison. :P

L loved it and thought it was awesome. H wasn't excited to attend and used the camera (without flash) as a toy to keep him amused. So I have a lot of photos of the dark. But he did get some shots of the dancers, though they aren't super clear. Artsy really. :D

Afterward another romp at the park in the wonderful Texas weather completed another wonderful day of fun this week. Did I mention we love Texas? It has so many fun things to do, we've made friends, the weather is awesome...it is a nice place to live. :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Fire Station Exploration

We went on an awesome tour of a fire station this week. They had a cool little museum in their station about the history of fire fighting with all sorts of cool things in it, and they showed us around the station, let the kids climb on the truck, showed us all the cool gear...fun times! L was already to put on the whole fire-fighting suit, but thankfully was okay with just trying on the various small pieces. He approaches life with such zeal, it is awesome.

H played with the camera A LOT during this trip, I deleted over 50 pictures of random feet, floors, etc. but he did take a few good ones and allowed me turns too, there are so many that I decided this was a slideshow set of photos. :) Enjoy!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Good Day

At the end of a day, how do you decide if it was a good, successful day or not? What makes the difference?

I realized the other night that my perception of a good day has changed. It isn't that I ever made a statement of "This is what makes a good day", but I had been operating one way, and that has been changing.

See, it used to be that the more things I got done on my list of things that needed doing, the more successful, better day it was. I accepted that I wasn't going to be super productive every day, but tried to find a balance to not over do the good things so that more days were good than wasted.

Maybe the better question is how do you know if your day was a waste of time or a success or not?

Because that is what is changing. Spending most of the day pursuing my interests and having fun with my kids and helping them explore their interests is a wonderful way to spend the day. It is extremely good and successful, even if looking back, I can't really give you a laundry list of visible things accomplished.

I think I have let go of the notion that I need to be productive in a way that has a visible outcome every day. That production equals success and a good day.

Now success and a good day is measured by happiness and joy, and how much of it we have experienced that day.

We have so many happy days. I hope you are too. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friends

I am richly blessed in my life with many good and true friends. I am so grateful for their support and love. These past few days have been interesting. I expected to be feeling in mourning for our loss for a much longer period, and while I don't believe I am totally done, I have been surprisingly joyful and overall happy the past few days. I know I have been buoyed up by the prayers of those who care for us.

I am so glad to have many people that I know are good friends in my life, including some who get to be related to me. I have a newer friend in my life whom doesn't feel that way. She feels she has been floating thru life, with friends here and there, but not a single one has been around for any long period of time. No friends from her childhood still adorn her Christmas list.

Friendships are a fascinating thing, and I am not a beautiful writer who can expound beautifully on all the parts of friendships and what they provide us with. But I do know that I try to cherish my friends. I don't always succeed as well as I wish, and I hope they forgive me when I am not verbally grateful enough or when I break one of the many etiquette rules that I am always learning.

One thing about friends, is that their physical presence is not easily replaced by a computer or phone. And most of my dear friends are not here with me in my new home state. I hope to find a bosom buddy here, (or multiples!) and have some good candidates that I believe I can call good friends at this point. I don't know how long it takes or what essential ingredient is necessary to make a friend into a bosom buddy, the type of friend you can tell anything to and discuss anything. Because I am blessed with friends and can think of 5 people I can call on the phone and tell anything to and discuss anything with, I wonder if I have reached my limit of real bosom buddy best friends for this life. How much I miss them! How much I crave such an individual now!

Perhaps the thing I crave is a bosom buddy who unschools. Because friends meet different parts of who we are. Is that what it is? My dear bosom buddies I have now are supportive of me in what I am doing, though they are personally not following the same paths.

I think that there is a voice inside of me that laughs snarkily at the changes I've made in my home and family - changes that have made our home a happier, more joyful place - changes that I love - I think that the voice is waiting for me to fail. Waiting for me to give up and revert to what is "normal" and be part of the mainstream again. And I am afraid of that voice. Very afraid. I am continually reading and studying and improving our unschooling home and my own parenting and everything, but that voice...it keeps telling me I will fail, that I will quit, like a thousand other interests that have waxed and waned thru my life. I hate that voice. Where is the new unschooly bosom buddy friend that will somehow help me conquer it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SpongeBob Monopoly

Kids learn from play. Tons. It is really cool to occasionally really see them learning, and I've got to write it down so I remember it later.

For L's birthday recently, I found a brand new copy of Spongebob Monopoly at a thrift store for $5 and quickly bought it and managed to keep it hidden until present time. It was a big hit and we have played a lot of monopoly since then.

What is cool about it is how much he has learned from it, as evidenced by how much he can do himself now, compared to needing help at the beginning. We play by all of the rules. All of them. This includes mortgages and rent and improvements...of course it is in a fun, spongebob theme. :) When he plays with his dad, I think there are slightly different rules, but isn't that the joy of monopoly?

What has he gotten, besides having a lot of fun and quality time with family? Tons of practice counting the dice, learning the values of different monies and how to count them. (Can you say TONS of arithmetic practice?) He recognizes the symbols for all the different cards (reading skills), and knows where the rent information is on the titles. He's learning to deal with not always winning. He's learning about random chance. He's learning to make deals to buy and trade properties.

During today's game, I had to run help H on the computer and when I came back, I asked him what had happened, and he said he'd landed on my property and had to pay me $26 but he didn't have any $20's, and was making change at the bank! :)

To hear him counting the money, see him reaching for the right denominations...be still my math teacher geek heart! :) I restrain myself from giddiness on seeing new understanding. :)

I realized that he learned the names of most of the dinosaurs he knows from last summer when we played Dinosauropoly at Grandma's house. There are many fun variations on monopoly and they are all awesome for learning. (Except maybe the new debit card version. Shun it!)

My favorite game as a kid was "Life". I loved to play it over and over. I'm sure I learned many things from it. I loved it, b/c we would pretend to be having the pretend life that you lived on the board. Sometimes we had tons of kids, other times we "chose" careers over kids. Sometimes we went to college to get a better job, sometimes we stayed single. The end result of the game wasn't the most important part, the imaginative play was much more satisfying and fun.

My current favorite game now is Blokus Trigon. I love the strategy and fitting in the shapes best I can. It's simple and challenging. It's a great game. :)

What was your favorite game as a kid? Why?

What is it now? Why?

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, in case you didn't know. :) This thanksgiving was a whirlwind of entertaining visiting family and taking them to some of our favorite new places in Texas and cooking up a big Thanksgiving Dinner. (Our best yet I think.)

I finally added pictures! :) We have Aunt H1 pulling Aunt H2 on the old plow at the Arboreteum frontier town, manatees having lunch at the aquarium, H riding on Grandpa on the way to the Aquarium (he only wanted Grandpa to carry him most of the way, very cute!), and L & H playing lacrosse with Uncle M & cousin R.

We took my family to the Arboreteum, to see the Chocolate tree exhibit and learn about my favorite food group, and then picnicked at their Texas Frontier Town and explored the garden. Later we went bowling and the boys loved it! I was very surprised.

We took them to the Aquarium (the jungle aquarium according to my kids), which was PACKED (Oh how I hate sharing it with people out of school...its so much more fun to be there alone while everyone else is in school!) but we had a good time. It is an awesome place. The free flying birds were a bit more crazed, maybe b/c of how many people were there, and flew right over our heads several times, causing us to duck. The bird carrying the pretzel bag was amusing too.

Thanksgiving dinner was awesome and when I upload pics I will update my food blog all about it. We had 2 pastured, free range turkeys, one fried and one roasted traditionally (which was the better bird IMO). We had pies, cheesecakes, salads, sides, soups...I really love making thanksgiving dinner and it was great fun this year too. Plus the fridge has all my favorite foods in large quantities in it, so not much cooking for a while!

I have many blessings to give thanks for, and today's lessons at Church on Gratitude were uplifting and inspiring. Thanksgiving the holiday is really about the food feast for me, so I feel better since we should have gratitude in our hearts all year round! :P

Hope your thanksgiving was awesome too!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bad mood

Why I’m in a bad mood currently and will probably stay in one for the next while:

It all starts with a late cycle and a home pregnancy test that was negative at first and another one that is positive 3 days later. Yay! A new baby is on the way! Time to expand the family! What names should we use? The ones we’ve talked about previously are still good, don’t you think? Hugs & Kisses all around! Of course we can’t tell anyone until we’re further along and we have heard a heartbeat, but that’s just a speed bump right? We have two healthy kids; those other two miscarriages last year were just flukes, our turn in the statistics.

The symptoms start to rear their ugly heads. Frequent trips to the bathroom, sore chest, nausea, tired all the time. I joyfully accept them, glad to have the chance to be pregnant with our next bundle of joy.

But then disaster strikes. I wake up and the toilet paper has pink on it. Climb back in bed and pretend it was a hallucination from being tired. Go back to sleep. But the hallucination becomes reality and I am spotting blood, not a good sign. The spotting turns into cramping and a bit more bleeding, no hemorrhaging, no reason to go to an ER. We’ll wait until morning to go to the doctor. But the cramps are bad. It feels like a miscarriage. Hold on to some hope and pray as hard as you can, or cry and accept reality? Which is the best option? Some combination of both.

Go to the doctor this morning, cramping hasn’t stopped, be angry at all the pregnant women you see and at the receptionist who keeps talking about billing throughout the pregnancy. Explain that you are most likely miscarrying and this is a one time visit. Go thru annoying patient history with perky nurse. Tell her you aren’t peeing in a cup, would she like some blood? Wait for the doctor and explain your history to him. Get a sonogram and have him ask if you’re sure on your dates. Yes, I’m sure. I mark it on my calendar every month dummy. It’s not hard to keep track of! Shows me there is nothing there but a thickening of the uterus. Apparently what was to be a baby is already gone or never developed. The miscarriage is almost over. We’ll do blood tests to verify. Don’t forget to pay us $$$$ for confirming your worst nightmares.

Go home and try to be flippant about it. Fail miserably. Decide to not be ashamed or judged anymore. Try not to sound angry. Fail miserably. Why don’t I have more kids? Lucky me, I’ve won the worst lottery ever! I’m now part of the 0.34% of the population who has secondary infertility, which means 3+ miscarriages after successful births. Great, I’ve joined another infamous statistic. I hate being in a statistic. Statistics are unfeeling & unhuman.

Why am I sharing? Knowing that there are others out there who have experienced similar loss strengthens me, and maybe me being open about my loss and pain will help strengthen someone else one day if they should be so unfortunate as to experience it as well.

I don't think we should hide these experiences from one another. Pain isn't as much fun to experience or write about as trips to the park and museums, but it is a real human experience. It is something that shapes who we are.

Want to read an interesting post by someone else that discusses a lot of how I’m feeling? Go here.

Or see my poem I wrote last time we took a ride on the miscarriage coaster o’fun. Here

I'm not asking for pity or words of wisdom. Just sharing. I will take large quantities of chocolate, good ice cream or other food donations though. :P

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Who killed the electric car?


If you haven't watched this documentary yet, stop everything, and go get it. Now. At least put it in your queue for blockbuster online or netflix! You need to see it.

I am fired up and angry after watching this documentary. I have been wanting a hybrid car for several years now, but we can't afford a new car. Now I find out that there were totally electric cars being produced and sold, but not marketed. And then they were all taken back and destroyed to hide evidence of the technology. (The picture is of brand new EV1 cars, after being crushed.)

Before you say, oh, they had short range, watch the movie. They didn't all have short range. Tested models existed that had a 300 miles range. Big Oil & the car companies crushed this technology. It is ridiculous! They lied to us and hid it.

Write your congressmen, your senators, the car companies, and tell them what we want. Blog about it, write editorials! We want the electric car technology put into cars now. We want plug-in hybrids that give the best technology there is!

Letterboxing


Because I don't have enough hobbies in my life... ;)

Well, this is a great one to do with my kids. They love the "secret" treasure hunts, and the STAMPS! I love figuring out the clues and the whole stealth issue.

Letterboxing is following clues from websites like letterboxing.org or atlasquest.com and finding boxes hidden in public places with a hand carved stamp in them. You get to make a stamp of it to show you found it and put your own personal stamp in the logbook to show others you found it. It is an interesting hobby, but the kids love it alot more than I thought they would. Try it!

You get out, walking, exercising, enjoying nature...and having fun without electronics! What a novel concept. :P

Monday, November 12, 2007

Horse riding and other fun things


We went to a park day with friends and also to their house to ride their horse. H wasn't really interested, but L was excited. He was very excited, as were many of his friends.

DH bought me a punching bag on Craigslist, it is a lot of fun. :) What a great way to relieve tension! The boys also like to beat on it, I usually only get short turns.

We were given a train table by a friend, and H loves to play with his trains on it. He is getting to the point where he'll leave them without a fit, but when it was brand new? Woo!

I spent last week doing a Weekend Cookbook challenge, which you can read all about on my food blog: Duff ABC's. During that, we had a minor crises when the microwave rice cooker I have decided to try and start a fire.
Several days of cleaning, spraying and airing out later and the carcinogenic smell is mostly gone (except for the shelf that the microwave was on, and I think it will need repainting. (What the rice cooker originally looked like: here)

I am so excited for Thanksgiving! We are having my family down to visit and DH's sister's family too. I love cooking for a crowd and preparing a big thanksgiving feast! It is a great holiday!

Not just for the food though. I am really blessed in my life with a wonderful DH, amazing wonderful kids, a nice place to live, plenty of food to eat, the opportunity to stay home and be with my kids, a big & loving family, a car, DH's good job, the gospel in my life...when I go to count my blessings, they seem innumerable. I love thanksgiving, for the chance to remember all these blessings and see how great life is.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

October highlights

Things I haven't blogged about yet in October. :)

The Pumpkin Patch in early October was a lot of fun. We went on a hay ride, played with our friends and had a great time.



We spent half the month house hunting, thinking we'd be moving soon, but that isn't the case. But we had a lot of fun in the process.



We went to the Ft Worth Zoo with some friends too. Here is a photo of some friends on the giant iguana statue.











L had his birthday this month,
DH took him to the go cart race track.
L had a blast!











Then we went to several halloween parties
with friends groups. The boys were Buzz & Woody for halloween and had so much fun!

Friday, October 26, 2007

10 weird things meme

I've been tagged by Whimsigal!
I'm supposed to share 10 weird things about me.
Hmmm...Here goes...Hope they're weird enough for you! :)

1. My favorite way to pass the time as a kid on my 45 minute bus ride was to calculate the powers of 2 as high as I could go. I have them memorized to a large number as a result. 2,4,8,16,32,64,128,256,512,1024...

2. I'm left handed, but use scissors with my right hand. I got tired of the left handed scissors in elementary school, decided to learn how to use the right handed comfy ones and now I can't cut with my left hand.

3. My whole room at one point was various shades of purple, and it was the best room ever. I hope to have a purple house at some point.

4. My neighbors will probably hate me someday b/c in addition to wanting a purple house, I hate grass lawns. I HATE them. When I have a home that I can, I'm getting rid of the lawn and putting in xeriscaping/gardens/weeds, anything besides grass. My husband wants a small patch, so maybe we'll compromise, but I really hate grass. And the thought of it ticking off stuffy neighbors just makes me giggle.

5. I am irrationally afraid of muddy water and all the invisible creatures in it. I will not go in it, and if the water (re: the beach) becomes too cloudy, I freak out and scream a lot like a girl. I do not enjoy swimming in lakes, rivers, or anything that isn't clear.

6. I taught myself how to hold a pencil (being left handed with right handed parents) and I hold it in such a way that I have a large callus on the front of my ring finger when I write a lot.

7. I want to move to the country and grow all my own food and at the same time, I love the convenience of the city and my computer, and being near people. I don't know if that's wierd, but I needed more for the list.

8. I'm pretty sure I could live off of dark chocolate and orange juice.

9. I was a cheerleader for one football season in middle school. Then I found out I'm not that peppy.

10. After trying to leave Utah as fast as I could for 8 years and not succeeding, I finally succeeded and now I miss it sorta. (Though I love Texas so far.)

I tag:

Amy
April
Ashlee
Libby
Kristi
Linda
Hope

Have fun with it! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fun Filled Family Weekend

We had a great weekend of family fun. We went to the State Fair on Friday for 5 hours, and had a great time. The Texas state fair is HUGE. But pretty awesome. My goal was to eat alot of fun fried food. I succeeded and we saw neat things and overall had a great time. My boys loved the trains, the car show, the parade, the farm animals, the food. Check out some of our photos!

Oh, and the fried cheesecake was the handsdown winner for us in the fried dessert category. The fried sweet potato pie was pretty good too. The fried cookie dough was a disappointment - just a warm uncooked cookie really. Corny dogs are awesome, and a must have. The fried bbq baloney sandwich was good according to DH, but I didn't want to try it. The fried twinkie was REALLY sweet. If all that makes you sick, consider that we only tried a few of the offerings of fried food at the fair.



Saturday night was family movie night, inspired by a friend's post. We made pizza for dinner (a serious enterprise for my DH), I made Caramel popcorn, and we watched Sleeping Beauty and Herbie: Fully Loaded. The boys showed amazing stamina for a long night of movie watching, and I was tired before they were.

Sleeping Beauty is a classic I haven't seen in a long time. We enjoyed it, L loved the dragon, H liked the forest animals best. Herbie:Fully Loaded was a hit with the boys b/c of Herbie being a bug and it was a racing movie. We play "slug bug" in our family, though we don't slug anyone. But the boys like to yell "slug bug blue" or whatever color it is when they see one. Unfortunately, Herbie the car really is a better actor than the main female lead. Oh well. :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

My garden; my life

I love my garden. It is little, but nourishing plants that can later nourish me with their fruits is so fulfilling. Landscaped plants that look nice aren't really my thing most of the time. I do love flowers, beautiful shiny flowers, but only those that I have really chosen, instead of the generic, looks good in a front yard type.

Do you think your garden can be symbolic of your life? I do. (Of course there are limits to all symbolism, just go with me here.) My garden is young and tender, naive and idealistic, full of goodness, in need of regular nourishment, mostly easily moveable, though it would cause some shock to the roots of a few plants.

Here are a few pictures I took of my little garden a week ago. It is growing wonderfully and is A LOT bigger since then, but if I take more pictures, I may never update.



In other parts of my world, we are house hunting. Yes, it appears we will be buying a home in the near future, a scary permanent commitment and adult like responsibility. Never seemed like a big deal before. But I'm trying hard to find the right home for us right now and for the next few years, on a budget, but quickly. How fun. I feel slightly out of control with the lack of knowledge about my future that I have now and so its been a crazy week.

Today has been good so far. I'm striving to find and maintain peace in our current challenges so that my kids will still thrive in this time of change. It's a tricky thing, but I think I can succeed. :)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves



Ever feel like a kid still? I know I do. I'd say that's a good thing most of the time. How to become a better parent though? That is a question I think most of us think about a lot.

I am doing a book club with some of my unschooling friends here in TX now and our first book is Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort. We met last night for a night of discussing the first half of the book and having fun. It was a relaxing, good time. And I highly recommend the book.

A few months ago I blogged about Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I reported that we had stopped punishments, time outs, threats, counting down, reward systems, etc. And though we slip occasionally, these things are still gone. I'd say its permanent. We are a happier family without them, and our kids are better most of the time. We're certainly not perfect, but life is more peaceful, happier, etc.

So why more parenting books? Well, there are still those moments where I just don't know WHAT to do and I'm losing my patience and control. I don't like falling back on techniques that I know are harmful to my kids. But when you don't have any other tools available, it happens. So we're trying to learn new tools. This book really helps there.

The #1 thing you can do? Bite your tongue and give yourself a minute. Think about what you are about to say. Will it be helpful? Will it accomplish what you want it to? Would you say that to an adult? Etc. She compares it to automatic programs in our brain that start up in situations. She says they aren't necessarily authentically us, but the results of previous experiences. We can hold our tongue, watch the movie in our head and then let it be and turn our attention to our child. Really listen to them and validate what they are feeling. Then empower them to allow them to solve the problem themselves. It is a peaceful approach that involves letting children experience their emotions, and handle them on their own. It really does work too. I doubt I explain it all that well, but I'm still reading and re-reading the book and trying to change.

We need to make peace with the things that were less than perfect in our own childhoods or other relationship experiences. This allows us to not pass on coercive or controlling habits to our own child but learn to love them unconditionally. We can meet their needs, and recognize that their behavior may be the only way that they know to express their needs, and that it can be cured in working with a child instead of doing things to them. In this way, I see this book complementing Alfie Kohn's ideas too.

Anyway, I wanted to share with y'all. What a book. Buy it. It is worth it a million times over.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

San Antonio Part 3


Sea World. The reason for our trip. Do you know they are charging admission to Sea World almost as much as Disneyworld? Thank goodness for Homeschool day and cheap admission. (No rides, but somehow there was enough to do!) Here are a few pictures my friend took for me since my camera batteries died. The kids loved Sea World. The rest of the trip, we played feed the dolphins, sharks, walrus, etc. every night at the pool



The Alamo was our second destination that day. We hadn't gone for new batteries yet, and my friends camera started dying too, so only a few pictures. It was pretty cool. They have lots of gardens, speakers on the stories and history there, a museum of stuff associated with the fights, and more. I was fascinated to go to the Alamo and learn more about it. L & H really liked some of the cool stuff in the museum.

I did manage to get a giant splinter in m fingernail going in the shrine door. When we got it out, it was as long as my fingernail. Unfortunately the picture didn't focus. ;)

Our San Antonio trip was awesome. The relaxed pace to visit 2 things a day, the camping, the swimming every night at the KOA...we had a wonderful time. While it took a few days to clean up and recover from being tired when we got home, I'm already thinking about where we'll be able to go next!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

San Antonio part 1



Sea World, The Alamo, Botanical Gardens Dora & Diego Adventures, The Riverwalk and Natural Bridge Caverns. What a trip! We went camping at a KOA and had a wonderful time with our friends.

There were many more places that looked awesome to visit, but we picked based on preschooler/toddler interest (mostly), and an easy visit pace that allowed us to have an enjoyable time and be happy, sane mothers. (Mostly sane, I don't know how many moms decide to go camping with their little kids without husbands.)

My camera batteries decided to die on Sea World/Alamo day, so I'm still waiting for copies of pics from my friend. But I have tons of pics from camping, the gardens, the riverwalk and the caverns.

I like the slideshow option, it allows me to offer more pics without taking up tons of space. What do you think of them?

Also, did you notice the subscribe option on the sidebar of my blog? Automatic emails with new posts, so you don't have to check 5 times a day for my once a week updates. :) I thought it was a cool idea. What do you think?

I'm only including 2 sets of photos in this post, the camping and the caverns, I'll post again with more...

San Antonio part 2



Dora & Diego's Garden Adventure at the Botanical Gardens was definitely the focus of our visit. But it is a huge garden with lots of other cool things. We saw a chocolate tree (not pictured)! I need one of those...who wants to build the greenhouse? :)



The RiverWalk is in downton San Antonio and is full of restaurants and shopping. Not really little kid territory but we still had fun. Haagen Daas ice cream... mmm.... A boat ride and tour, bridges to cross, things to see, it is really gorgeous. It would make a great couples getaway destination too. :)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Balloon Festival

Picnic lunch and balloons everywhere. What a wonderful way to spend an evening. L & H enjoyed pointing out the colors and running around. We learned a good bit about hot air balloons and had an awesome time.

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