homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Loaded Questions #3

Only the second time I've done them, but the third installment of the meme. Courtesy of this nice person. (Yeah, someday I'll bother figuring out how to link her chicklet and be all cool about it. But not today.)

Hypotheticals: If you could ask the president of the country one question, what would it be?
"Do these pants make me look fat?" BWAHAHAHA!
Okay, um, seriously? I have no idea. I don't think I'd have any questions, just accusations, attacks, and perhaps some spitting and rude gestures. And that wouldn't be nice.

Anything Goes: Fill in the blank: ______ stole the cookies from the cookie jar.

No-Brainers: What do you consider to be the most dangerous creature on Earth?
Humans. I know, I know, but really. We threaten the safety and survival of damn near everything, including and especially ourselves.

Personals: What have you tried in life, and simply were not good at?
Hatha yoga, water skiing

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Good idea

Seriously, I love this one. It's free for the taking. In fact, I hope someone DOES take and use this idea. Locally. So I can benefit from it.

As a mother of two veryyoung kidlets, I find it damn near impossible to get any focused exercise. Oh sure, there's the housework and some play and the schlepping of family and groceries, but as someone who used to spend hours in the gym and full days on the bicycle trails, I need more. Not just for my physical health but also for my sanity and emotional well-being. DAMN IT I NEED A STRESS OUTLET!!

Um, where was I?

Oh yes. But unless you have very well-behaved children who self-entertain (maybe even in another room!) instead of trying to climb (you, if you're doing some sort of aerobics; or the machine, if you're lucky enough to have any fitness equipment) or a really reliable babysitter to give you a physical time break from your offspring...well, your options are sadly limited. I can't tell you how many well-meaning husbands have offered us housewives helpful suggestions like "Go on a walk with the kids!". Um, yeah. That's a great way to bond with the children, teach them about nature and whatnot, but when you are pushing a stroller and perhaps lugging a backpack carrier and you're stopping every 4 feet to examine each interesting insect or leaf or piece of litter, well, you won't be getting much of an aerobic workout. Trust me on this one.

So here's my solution for How To Get a Workout With the Toddlers. It's so simple. I propose a public area, like in a park...where there's a fenced-in, eighth-mile walking track with a playground in the center lawn. Would that be perfect or what!?! Mom can do her laps, the kids can't wander far, and everyone is within reachable distance should disaster (loneliness, skinned knees) strike.

Okay, so who's up for it?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

You sure are smart!

Here's some food for thought. A recent article in New York Magazine explores the fallout of praising your kids. The twist? It's not about how much you do it, but how you do it. It's interesting reading.

“Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

In follow-up interviews, Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort.

Oh, this sounds sooooooooo familiar. I was labeled at an early age, primarily because I was an early reader. I don't think I *tried* very hard on anything throughout my schooling until I got to college, and only when absolutely necessary there. Yes, I was in the advanced classes, but I aimed for mediocrity. If something I attempted didn't come easily, I was convinced that I couldn't do it. I had, and still do in many ways, an extremely low work ethic.

Damn. It really makes me rethink a lot of things.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Loaded Questions

What the hell, I'll do a meme. Sounds like fun. I picked an easy one; Loaded Questions.

Hypotheticals: If you could bathe in a vat of any drink or food item, what would you choose?
Chocolate Pudding. Mmmmmmmmmm.

Anything Goes: What world-changing event would you like to take credit for?
Damn, that's hard. Um...moveable type?

No-Brainers: What song do you keep hearing over and over again?
Volcano by Jimmy Buffet. Never teach a song to your toddler that you don't want to hear ad nauseum!

Personals: What are you most proud of?
That's the no-brainer. My children.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The gift that keeps on giving

A friend of mine sent an unexpected surprise for Christmas: a $15 gift certificate to

As a die-hard bibliophile, it would be easy enough for me to spend that without even blinking. But since I've left the paying work force, I've become almost fanatically frugal. So I sat on it for a week or so, and shopped carefully. I finally found exactly what I wanted: a subscription to a magazine.

The cover price on this magazine (12 issues annually) is $5.99 per issue. The cheapest deal that the publisher offers is just around $24 for 12 issues; a pretty decent savings. But I knew I could do better. Indeed, they offered it at for $14.95 and I placed my order.

I forgot to read the small print.

Apparently the offer at was $14.95 for "subscription with $5 bonus". What the hell is that? Well, I just found out. It is a $5 rebate in the form of a voucher code that just showed up in my inbox.

So in the final analysis, I got 12 issues of my favorite magazine for around 83 cents per issue. A savings of over 86%. Yes, I think this calls for a WOOT!

And it wasn't even my 83 cents.

And now I have $5 to blow, which means I'll also be getting a gently-used copy of a really good homeschooling sourcebook I've had my eye on.

Damn, I love a bargain.

Friday, February 16, 2007

a beautiful mess

I was babysitting my friend’s 1-year-old today. He has some pretty dramatic separation anxiety. Seriously...he did that scream-so-hard-you-gag thing for an hour straight. So I was giving him a lot of focused attention. In the meantime, I heard my two laughing themselves silly in the kitchen. My 10-month-old in particular was giggling hysterically, with those lovely baby belly laughs that make life worth living. I came out to see what was going on.

And found a kitchen full of rainbow confetti. What? Oh. My three-year-old had gotten into a bag of rainbow-colored Goldfish crackers. He threw handfuls of them onto the floor, and was doing a silly dance, stomping them to smithereens. This amused the baby to no end. Then he started skating around in the dust, while the baby scattered it everywhere and tried to eat it. Both still busting a gut. I said, slowly, “What do you think you are doing?” and my toddler answered, “Dis is big fun, Mommy! Whoa! It’s swippy, though!”

You know me. Of course I let them play in it a while longer while I took pictures. The baby was in a Onesie, so the crumbs stuck all over his skin until he looked like a birthday cupcake with sprinkles. Oh man, what a mess.

But you know what? Hearing that laughter and seeing my boys have a moment of such pure joy was totally worth it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Good Pancakes

Well, not quite.

Somewhere along the line, my three-year old confused the words "pancakes" and "cupcakes". And let's be honest, it's a fine line between cupcakes and muffins. So, although he will call them "muddins" if I press the issue, around here muffins are typically called "pancakes".

Anyhoo. We tried out this recipe yesterday. They are indeed "good pancakes". You should make some, too.
Libby's Mini Pumpkin Muffins
You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Radical? Me?

I plan to keep my children at home for their education. But it doesn't stop there.

I say "homeschooling". But I mean "unschooling". The difference? Hm. Well, for the most part, "homeschooling" conjures visions of "school at home", where Mom hands out worksheets and assigns reports. UNschooling, on the other hand, is a much less structured, much more learner-led experience.

I could give my whole "reasons for my choice" sales pitch, but that would make for a verylong post and it will all come in time. For now I just want to focus on the coming out.

It's hard enough to merely shake up the paradigm. People tend to act suspicious, or defensive, or even angry if you dare to do something so outside the norm. Gracious, I haven't even told the grandparents yet...just a few close friends who I already know to be friendly to the notion. We have a lot of teachers on both sides of the family, several of whom are sure to take this as a personal insult. So I'm treading carefully. Someone else said it better:
This reluctance to evangelize unschooling has a number of causes. Part of it is sensitivity to conventional skepticism or even hositility toward homeschooling in general; if the general public doesn't approve of parents teaching their own children at home using conventional methods, what are they likely to think of unschooling?
(Mary Griffith, The Unschooling Handbook)

So, yeah. That.

What's in a word, though? I mean, my oldest is's not like we're under any scrutiny yet. Does it matter what we call it? Well, sure. To me it does. My goal is not to do the same job in a different environment. It's to do something different. And, we hope, something far better. Again, I'm going to rely on someone a bit more eloquent to explain. Yeah, I'm a copout with the quotes tonight, but my friend Patty really nailed it when she said:
I completely understand why people feel a need to use curriculum and be more "schoolish". It's just not so much in my nature to be so structured - that's just me...It's more than academics in my mind. It's about nurturing his essence, his being, and allowing him to BE. I have faith that the learning just happens as long as he has the freedom, nurturing, and resources available to satisfy his curiosity about the world.

He's more my teacher than I am his. It's an amazing journey.
You can say that again.

Friday, February 9, 2007

O no!

I say "omost".

Not "ALmost". O-most.

OMG how did I not notice this until now?

I can't even blame it on regional dialect, 'cause it's not listed on the official Pittsburghese website.

Damn it. Now every time I hear myself use that word, it grates on me. It's like "ax" for "ask".


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Dear Diary

Bear with me; I'm feeling melancholy this evening.

I've often lamented that I'm a writer who doesn't write. This is becoming much more painful to bear now that there's something at stake. That is, I'm losing their infancy.

It sounds overly dramatic, I know. Let me explain. I've always intended to journal regularly, if only for me. Once I welcomed my sons into my life, it became even more important. I want to record all of those fleeting moments. I know that I won't be able to rely on my memory for a clear or complete picture.

This evening I had a nice warm and fuzzy moment just listening to my three-year old talk; enjoying the timbre of his voice, his lisps and mispronunciations...and I mused at how his voice, vocabulary, and use of language have changed in the past year. Then it hit me--I can't really remember how he sounded a year ago.

This kills me. I have moments like this constantly. How can you spend almost every waking second of your life with another person, and yet the details of the experience fade from your consciousness so quickly? It's like the old Doors song: "I can't see your face in my mind". Those aren't just words, sister. Neither is the platitude that every old lady in the grocery store invariably tosses toward young parents: "They grow up so fast!" Yeah, yeah. Then it happens to YOUR baby, and you're left wondering what the hell happened.

But back to that journal. I don't do it. I have one. It has ONE entry in it; from when my three-year-old was 9 months old. The truth of the matter is, I'm so busy LIVING this that I don't have as much time as I'd like to sit back and REFLECT on it.

What I do have, though, is stolen moments where I'll type out brief reports, stories, and anecdotes in blogs, on bulletin boards, or in emails to grandparents. I'm trying to remember to avail myself of that copy-and-paste functionality and keep backup copies of those snippets for my own records.

It's not much, but it's better than an empty baby book.