Sunday, September 30, 2007

Uncle Steve's Whirlwind Visit

Uncle Steve came in for a quick 3-day visit last week. He took us out to dinner for our anniversary (very nice!), and treated the girls to, among other things, ice cream. Vivian particularly enjoyed hers!

We took a hike to Ski Lake with Catalina - happy dog!

Vivian and Bret in the makeshift hut at Ski Lake.

Steve, Carolyn and Vivian (who slept for most of the uphill hike...on mama's was I sore on Sunday!) happy because it's downhill time.
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The Choc-to-pus

Grandmother Joan, Kevin and Erik got us an Octopus cake pan for our 10th anniversary (apparently tin is the traditional 10th anniversary gift). Sabine was very excited about making a cake, and there was even a nice sounding recipe on the back of the cover...but it was for a white cake, and Sabine wanted chocolate. So, I omitted the cinnamon and replaced it with some cocoa powder, and ta-da! Enter the Choc-to-pus. Sabine helped decorate the cake with very stale colored mini marshmallows, and homemade butter cream frosting.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Whole New Mind

My friend (and Jackson High School art teacher) Meggan told me about this book...I'm only 80 pages into it, but am finding it very interesting and thought provoking. Click on the title of this post to visit Mr. Pink's webpage.

Publishers Weekly says of it: "Just as information workers surpassed physical laborers in economic importance, Pink claims, the workplace terrain is changing yet again, and power will inevitably shift to people who possess strong right brain qualities."

I especially like the story he shares of one of Hallmark's premiere artists visiting elementary schools and commenting on the art he saw in classrooms. When he asked kids in kindergarten how many of artists there were in the classroom, almost all of them raised their hands. When he asked the same question in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. grades, fewer and fewer kids raised their hands, up until 6th grade when not a single hand went up. How sad! But not surprising...

I recall recently a little girl at the library coloring table telling Sabine (who was coloring in a pre-printed sheet with an apple tree on it) that the apples in the tree had to be red, and the leaves had to be green...(I was glad to see that Sabine didn't necessarily follow this advice). I mentioned that sometimes apples are green or yellow, and that leaves on trees change color...but it didn't seem to impress the girl, who I assume has been told in no uncertain terms that apples are red, leaves are green, etc. YIKES!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thrift Store Goodies

I found the following items (all for $5) at Forget Me Not today:

A 1968 dictionary which I plan on cutting up to make Artist Trading Cards.

A BUDDHA BOARD water painting slate (mainly for Sabine and Vivian, but it does have a message on it to "live in the moment" so maybe it's meant for me, too).

Giant pickup sticks (played several times today with Sabine, and she and Vivian made up their own game with them, surprised we still have 4 eyes between them).

Also, (not pictured) a groovy set of retro-colored measuring spoons. We do a lot of baking, and often the 2 sets we own are in the dishwasher when we need them.

Lest you worry that my house will fill up with such bargains, I also dropped off several bags to said thrift store earlier in the week. I figure it's like renting some cheap homeschooling fun.
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My first ATC

I did it! I finally created an ATC (Artist Trading Card), with the help of Sabine and Vivian, of course. So fun to get out my stamps again. I used the 1968 dictionary and cut out the definition of I want to make more, More, MORE! (insert wicked laugh here).

A special thank you to all the folks at Imagination Tribe for the encouragement.

Sabine was looking through all of my stamping supplies (yes, I was an addict!) and asked why I hadn't shown her them before. "I just haven't been stamping much lately, babe...guess I've been busy." To which she replies, "If you have another baby mama, I'll look after the baby so you can do more stamping." Very sweet, but don't hold your breath, anyone!

Now I want to put all of my stamps into the sewing room, where all my other creative supplies are...honey, pass the drill...
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Pinwheels for Peace


In today’s world, peace needs to become more than just a word.

A pinwheel is a childhood symbol – it reminds us of a time when things were simple, joyful, peaceful. A pinwheel is easily made using just about any type of material, from copy paper, to thin plastic, to lightweight metal. The stick of the pinwheel can be as simple as a pencil or as intricate as a carved stick or metal rod. Pinwheels can be made as small as one inch in diameter or as large as desired – limited only by the creator’s materials and motivation. Pinwheels can be minimal or very complex – imagination, creativity (and a mild breeze) are the only variables needed.

I saw this idea on the Holistic Moms Network email loop. Think I may have Sabine and Vivian make some pinwheels sometime soon. International Day of Peace is September 21, 2007.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Expert says, "Learning is in the doing"

Bret found this article (click on title of this post to access the article) by Samuel Western in the September 11 Casper Star Tribune. Apparently Kurt Fisher, the Charles Bigelow professor of education at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, spoke to members of the Wyoming Board of Education the other day and had this (among other things) to say:
Brains cannot be directly filled with world knowledge. It's not just a matter of storage information. It's through action, through doing things. The standard view in brain-based education is that the brain learns to read. No. A child with a brain learns to read.
Shocking! (ha ha.) It will be interesting to see what the esteemed Wyoming BOE does with this information.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Keeping your bookclub happy with Nancy Pearl

Along with Allison (one of the three founding members of our bookclub, the Bluestockings, which we founded in December 1999) I attended the Teton County Library's Bookclub event with Booklust author Nancy Pearl.

She shared some tips for running a successful bookclub, including the following DON'Ts:
  1. Select a story-driven book
  2. Opt to have meetings without a leader
  3. Go around the circle and ask for each person to speak in order
  4. Begin with the question, "Well...what did everyone think of the book?"

Instead, DO:
  1. Select a character-driven story (i.e. books in which the main character has to make a choice, books that have ambiguous endings)
  2. Have a discussion leader at each meeting (she recommends rotating this position) who helps move the discussion along, and makes sure that no one person dominates the discussion, and encourages folks who have not said anything to speak up (i.e. look for body language that says "I have something to say" -- leaning forward, mouth possibly open, even if no words are yet coming out). The discussion leader can say to the quiet person, "It looks like you have something to add to the conversation..."
  3. A true discussion should be a give and take, which does not necessarily happen in an orderly fashion!
  4. A better way to start a meeting is with the question, "Why do you think the author chose to do X instead of Y?" or "What's the significance of the title?"
She also recommends that everyone come to the meeting with one question they want to ask about the book.

On the topic of choosing books, she had several suggestions. First, she mentioned that books on best seller lists commonly are "story-driven" books that are fun to read, but not necessarily good for discussion. One attendee recommended BookSense which is a website for independent book sellers. Our club has also found good reviews at Chinaberry.

Second, she recommends that clubs pick a minimum of 6 months of reading (instead of picking a new book each month). This allows clubs to read "topically" (i.e. for 3 months your topic could be Iran, and you could read Persepolis (a graphic novel), then House of Sand and Fog (fiction), then Persian Mirrors (nonfiction) and find connections between books/authors.

She suggested having one meeting solely for choosing the upcoming 6-12 books. Everyone brings books they think would be good for discussion (she thinks someone should have read the book to make sure it's good for discussion). Instead of having a straight "vote" on books, she offered the following method: give each bookclub member 50 beans (or pennies) and when all of the books have been presented, club members get to vote with their 50 beans. If there's a book someone really wants to read, they can put more beans on it, weighting their vote.

Some books (and opening questions for discussion) Nancy recommended are:
  1. Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose
  2. Ann Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
  3. Toni Morrison's Beloved
  4. Tim O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods (what happened to his wife?)
  5. Anne Ursu's The Disapparation of James
  6. Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine
  7. Jennifer Finney Boylan's She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders
  8. Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex
  9. M. T. Anderson's Feed
  10. Ward Just's A Dangerous Friend
  11. Willa Cather's My Antonia
  12. Russell Banks' The Sweet Hereafter (why did the author choose to tell the story from the point of view of four people?)
  13. Ernest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying (what's the lesson and who learned it?)

To see a list of what the Bluestocking have been reading since 1999, go here.

Stuffed animals, a Wyoming date, frost!

Sabine and Vivian use stuffed animals to get warm Sunday morning.

It's true...we went on a real Wyoming date (a fancy-schmancy party we were invited to) which involved real Wyoming formal footwear (see below). Teri came over with younger daughter Cole and we actually got to have real conversations with each other and friends we saw at the party. What a treat!

I got my boots at a yard sale about 12 years ago, can't remember the origin of Bret's boots.

September 10, frost on the windshield this morning. Not sure I'm ready for winter!
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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

New recipes added

Check out the link on the lower right hand side of the page...the weather's getting cooler here, and I've been trying out some new recipes, and bringing out some old favorites. Bon appetit!

Holistic Moms Network

Kristin and I have our phone interview tomorrow morning at 11 to start a Holistic Moms Network group in Jackson. Wish us luck!

The first day of (no) school

A special thanks to the support of all of our family and friends (especially Kristin, Allison and Nancy here in Jackson) who tell us that we're not crazy for wanting to spend more time with our kids.

For those of you wanting more info on homeschooling, here is a link to answers John Holt gave regarding common objections to homeschooling. Jan Hunt, creator of the Natural Child Project spoke at the LIFE is Good conference, and her book The Natural Child was one of the early influences on our parenting style.

An incomplete list of what Sabine, Vivian and I did today:
Read the Ladybug and Click magazines that arrived in the mail
Cut out the leaf matching game that was in Ladybug
Created a princess story book
Read a Find the Insect book
Went to the bank, Second Helpings and Forget me not -- got suckers, a battery operated pottery wheel (need to get batteries for it), a toy horse (Sabine), a Pooh stuffed animal (Vivian), and an electric ice cream maker (Carolyn), all for under $10
Sabine and Vivian helped me make meatloaf, then used the leftover parsley to make a special dessert (hmmmm...think I'll stick with the ice cream maker)
Sabine read the book Tickle Tickle by Helen Oxenbury to Vivian (multiple times)

All in all a great first day of no school.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Blogging without obligation

I was feeling guilty about my recent lack of posts...and came across this on Mary Gold's blog.