Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The inspiration behind the salmon...

Just found this while looking for another photo...the bison (there were several) were carved out of a snow bank down the street from us...it was a big snow year...
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas dinner...

...Pacific North West style!

The girls and I went to New Seasons (the grocery store 2 blocks away) and got 3 Dungeness Crabs (it's crab season...for some reason I'm reminded of Elk Season, but I think Crab wins, hands down...). The woman at the counter, Dana, asked if I wanted her to prep them (are you kidding, free kitchen help? Hell yes!) we watched, and the girls asked lots of questions. Vivian was most concerned that the crabs would pinch her, but Dana assured her that they were indeed, dead. She even showed the girls the heart of one of them (did you know a Dungeness Crab heart is about 1" and shaped like a star? I didn't either...).

Vivian, doing her crab impression.

Sabine, preparing to dig in.

The remains...I think I'm going to try making a stock out of them. We're having crab cakes tonight as we had about 1.5 cups of leftover crab. Bret did the dirty work of getting the rest of the meat out while I watched Prince Caspian with the girls the second time that day -- he watched it the first time. It's the 2nd in the Narinia series -- just found out Disney is bailing on the 3rd movie...not enough $ to be made, apparently, so they're looking for other backers...anyone? Great movie, we've also enjoyed the first one -- read the book aloud to Sabine first, and she wanted to see the movie...thought it would be too scary, but no.
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Frozen fun with Bret

These are some things Bret has created out of ice/snow in years past...including a special Pacific Northwest addition

I think this was made for the 2007 New Year's Eve party

This was the Wyoming Igloo...

And now...the Snowy Salmon! It's on the corner - in front of our house...You can't see the roe (small, red snowballs) behind the fish...but they're there!
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You can take the girls out of Wyoming...

But apparently you can't take the Wyoming out of the girls...

Here's Vivian enjoying the back yard snow...

Sabine as Queen of the World...

Enjoying the igloo slide...

The Oregon Igloo (Bret says igloo building goes a lot faster when you use a picnic table and benches for the base).
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Decorating the tree

Vivian's into high heels these days. She can even walk downstairs in them...better than her mama!

Sabine was very happy to get the tree up, even if we bought it off a lot instead of going into the woods with good friends Juile, Shawn, Birch and Axel. And Julie's hot cocoa. It was only slightly mitigated by the fact that we bought it from Cafe au Play at a fundraiser, and they had hot cocoa...but not Julie's hot cocoa.
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It's back...

Actually, it's a new one. We gave the old "peace wheel" to our good friends (and fantastic musicians) Anne and Pete Sibley before leaving Wyoming, so Bret made a new one. It was easier this time 'round! And in Bikeville, USA (aka Portland) it's been well received.
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How to be a good unschooler

This is written by Pam Sorooshian and can be found here. I was going to just post one or two paragraphs, but I couldn't choose which ones I liked the best. They're all good. I'm also posting it so I can go back to it and remember these things on days when I need it.

1. Give your love generously and criticism sparingly. Be your children's partner. Support them and respect them. Never belittle them or their interests, no matter how superficial, unimportant, or even misguided their interests may seem to you. Be a guide, not a dictator. Shine a light ahead for them, and lend them a hand, but don't drag or push them. You WILL sometimes despair when your vision of what your child ought to be bangs up against the reality that they are their own person. But that same reality can also give you great joy if you learn not to cling to your own preconceived notions and expectations.

2. Homeschooled children who grow up in a stimulating and enriched environment surrounded by family and friends who are generally interested and interesting, will learn all kinds of things and repeatedly surprise you with what they know. If they are supported in following their own passions, they will build strengths upon strengths and excel in their own ways whether that is academic, artistic, athletic, interpersonal, or whichever direction that particular child develops. One thing leads to another. A passion for playing in the dirt at six can become a passion for protecting the natural environment at 16 and a career as a forest ranger as an adult. You just never ever know where those childhood interests will eventually lead. Be careful not to squash them; instead, nurture them.

3. Bring the world to your children and your children to the world. Revel in what brings you together as a family. Watch tv and movies and listen to music and the radio. Laugh together, cry together, be shocked together. Analyze and critique and think together about what you experience. Notice what your child loves and offer more of it, not less. What IS it about particular shows that engage your child—build on that. Don't operate out of fear. Think for yourself and about your own real child. Don't be swayed by pseudostudies done on school children.

4. Surround your child with text of all kinds and he/she will learn to read. Read to them, read in front of them, help them, don't push them. Children allowed to learn on their own timetable do learn to read at widely divergent times—there is NO right time for all children. Some learn to read at three years old and others at 12 or even older. It doesn't matter. Children who are not yet reading are STILL learning—support their learning in their own way. Pushing children to try to learn to read before they are developmentally ready is probably a major cause of long-term antipathy toward reading, at best, and reading disabilities, at worst.

5. It doesn't matter when something is learned. It is perfectly all right for a person to learn all about dinosaurs when they are 40 years old, they don't have to learn it when they are nine. It is perfectly all right to learn to do long division at 16 years old, they do not have to learn that at nine, either. It does not get more difficult to learn most things later; it gets easier.

6. Don't worry about how fast or slow they are learning. Don't test them to see if they are "up to speed." If you nurture them in a supportive environment, your children will grow and learn at their own speed, and you can trust in that process. They are like seeds planted in good earth, watered and fertilized. You don't keep digging up the seeds to see if the roots are growing—that disrupts the natural growing process. Trust your children in the same way you trust seeds to sprout and seedlings to develop into strong and healthy plants.

7. Think about what is REALLY important and keep that always in the forefront of your interactions with your children. What values do you hope to pass on to them? You can't "pass on" something you don't exemplify yourself. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. Do you want respect? Be respectful. Do you want responsibility from them? Be responsible. Think of how you look to them, from their perspective. Do you order them around? Is that respectful? Do you say, "I'll be just a minute" and then take 20 more minutes talking to a friend while the children wait? Is that responsible? Focus more on your own behavior than on theirs. It'll pay off bigger.

8. Let kids learn. Don't protect them or control them so much that they don't get needed experience. But, don't use the excuse of "natural consequences" to teach them a lesson. Instead, exemplify kindness and consideration. If you see a toy left lying in the driveway, don't leave it there to be run over, pick it up and set it aside because that is the kind and considerate thing to do and because kindness and consideration are values you want to pass on to your kids. Natural consequences will happen, they are inevitable. But it isn't "natural" anymore if you could have prevented it, but chose not to do so.

9. We can't always fix everything for our kids or save them from every hurt. It can be a delicate balancing act—when should we intervene, when should we stay out of the way? Empathy goes a long long way and may often be all your child needs or wants. Be available to offer more, but let your child be your guide. Maybe your child wants guidance, ideas, support, or intervention. Maybe not. Sometimes the best thing you can offer is distraction.

10. Be sensitive to your child's interest level. Don't push activities that your child isn't interested in pursuing. Don't let YOUR interests dictate your child's opportunities. If your child wants a pet, be realistic and don't demand promises that the child will take sole care for it. Plan to care for it yourself when the interest wanes. Do it cheerfully. Model the joy of caring for animals. Model kindness and helpfulness. Help a child by organizing their toys so they are easy to care for. Plan to care for them yourself much of the time, but invite your child's help in ways that are appealing. If YOU act like you hate organizing and cleaning, why would your child want to do it? Always openly enjoy the results of caring for your possessions—take note of the extra space to play in, the ease of finding things you want, how nice it is to reach into a cupboard and find clean dishes. Enjoy housework together and don't make it a battle.

11. Don't pass on your own fears and hates about learning anything. If you hate or fear math, keep it to yourself. Act like it is the most fun thing in the world. Cuddle up and do math in the same way you cuddle up and read together. Play games, make it fun. If you can't keep your own negativity at bay, at least try to do no harm by staying out of it.

12. Don't try to "make kids think." They WILL think, you don't have to make them. Don't use every opportunity to force them to learn something. They WILL learn something at every opportunity, you don't have to force it. Don't answer a question by telling them to "look it up" or by asking them another question. If you know the answer, give it. If you don't, then HELP them find it. Speculating about an answer often leads to a good conversation. If your child stops seeing you as helpful when they have questions, they'll stop coming to you with their questions. Is that what you really want?

13. When you offer a child choices, be sure they are real choices. Offer them choices as often as you can. Try to limit the "have to's" as much as you can. Frequently ask yourself, "Is this really a "have to" situation or can we find some choices here?"

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy dog

That's our girl, Catalina. She doesn't get out as much as she used to, but sure loved going to the coast and playing in the water a few weeks ago.
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Mosaic class

Here's my mosaic -- still needs to be grouted. It's supposed to be a sunrise (or a sunset?). It's about 5" x 5". Can't wait do do more mosaic, very fun! The class was taught by the woman who made the green and polkadot bag you can see in the Radio Flyer holding our Thanksgiving dinner. I got the bag at SCRAP (one awesome place!), and had it with me at the class. Portland's kind of a small town in some ways.
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Pecan pie inspriation

Bret showed me this after the mosiac class Kristin and I took at DIY Collage.

Do you see it?

Not yet?

How about now?

Sabine helped with the pecan placement. Thanks, Baker Al, for the outstanding crust, and for teaching me the secret to pizza dough...I'll post that soon.
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Channel your inner headband

Vivian likes headbands...her way. I think we need to stop letting her read this.
(PS - thanks Granny Jean and Boopy for the dress from Turkey -- they fit and both girls love 'em.)
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The cutest bananas ever

Ok, so the fruit basket got tugged on and broke, bruising almost all of the baby bananas (so they ended up in a smoothie) but really, who wouldn't want to buy these petite fruits?
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Kristin and I walked the 2 blocks to New Seasons and picked up our meal in the Radio Flyer.

Vivian, finally satisfied with the size of her piece of pie.

Vivian and Acacia enjoying said pie.

Sabine with her table decorations. Move over, Martha.
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What I willed into our house

OK. I know it doesn't look like much. And the pegboard...well, I could always take a leaf of Kat's page and cover it in paper, but hey, it's a book display shelf! As a librarian, I know how much more appealing outward facing books are, and I wanted a better way to strew our large selection of books, as well as ones checked out from the library. I'd been looking at them on various sites, dismayed by their hefty price tag ($150 and up, not including shipping). Bret said he could make one (with Papa G's Shopsmith) if I could figure out the dimensions. But that takes tiiiiiime. And I really wanted this now. But I didn't want to spend the cash.

In steps Portland Craigslist to the rescue! I found a garage sale that said they were moving, and selling lots of furniture. (I'm also looking for an inexpensive art materials cabinet, inspired after reading (well starting) the book The Creative Family.) Bret took the girls to Laurelhurst park, while I drove to the sale. I had to "sneak up on it" as I'd forgotten my piece of paper with the address, thanks to numbered streets and some great landmarks (parks/playgrounds) I didn't get too lost.

The first thing I see is the pegboard display (which, Bret assures me he can modify to have even more display shelves). Did I mention it also has some shelves in the back, and it has wheels? And they were selling it for...EIGHT DOLLARS. I also found 3 bulletin boards for $2 each, and two folding tables for $25 for the set (a 6' one for my sewing room, and a 4' one for art projects downstairs). Dang. I love a good yard sale.

And, I love thinking about something that I'd really like to have, putting it out there, and having it find me. Very cool.
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