Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Economics of Unschooling

Great article by Ren here. A couple of my favorite sections:

Food should be a celebration of life. Ideally, it is a source of pleasure and connectedness, not stress. Even with a smaller budget, approaching food and nourishment with an attitude of abundance will do so much for the level of calm and peace in a family. Portioning and worrying and talking about what one does not have isn’t going to help children feel the warmth or joy that a family exploring food with an open mind can create.

Peace and joy are more healing than any food of which I know. Healthy relationships, in which all members of the family are respected and given choice, create enough harmony to overcome any ill-effects of the “junk food” so many parents worry about constantly.
For instance, when Jalen is passionate about a movie and all the toys or characters that go with it, all I have to think about is the cost of preschool. The monthly school fee is far greater than all the desires he could have in a month. His world is expanded to a much greater degree by having his choices supported than by being sent to some institution.
Natural learning does have a cost attached to it. So does school. In choosing this unschooling path, we are choosing to put our money into people, into interests, into passions, into the things that really matter for each of us. I look at myself as an investor. I invest time, money and creative energy into helping my children explore their world more fully. I am investing in them as human beings. Human beings who have the potential to affect change in this world. Human beings who aren’t crushed by school thought and the paralysis it can bring. Human beings who will have the ability to see their passions as the most important path in life and who possess a deep inner knowledge that learning is a life-long endeavor. Along the way I am also investing in my own passions and interests alongside them. My children know what it means to honor those inner urgings because they see it played out from day to day as we all learn together and apart.
I think she's brilliant!

Oh, and I have a few posts labeled inexpensive fun...if you're interested. :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mutlu Yıllar!

(That's Happy Anniversary in Turkish) mom and dad! They married in Ankara, Turkey (dad was Airforce, mom was Civil Service) 45 years ago today. They had to have 2 ceremonies (one with Turkish officials, one with US, if I remember correctly...) so they actually have 2 anniversaries -- today and tomorrow. Double the fun!

This photo is them standing in front of the apartment they lived in when they were first married. They took a trip to Turkey with my brother Steve and his wife Linda last fall...good times!

We love you!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm a winner!

So you know those people who always win raffles? Yeah, not me. I never win drawings. I mean, really. NEVER. I buy the raffle ticket(s) write down my name and contact info, and just forget about it.

OK, now that I really think about it, maybe I won a thing or two at one of the Life is Good Conferences, but then again it might have been Bret or Sabine or Vivian's names on the ticket...usually I stick with things that I can semi-control like silent auctions (out of my way, I have a pen and will use it!!!).

But as of tonight, I'm a winner! First, I got out of the house with minimal mommy-clinginess from Vivian. (Granted she was upstairs in the bath when I left and Bret was talking to her, so maybe I just didn't hear the screaming.) Then, after a blissful 15 minute drive where I got to blast the radio and sing loudly to the station of my choice without another soul in the mini-van asking me to pick up the water bottle that fell under my seat, or what snacks we have in the car, or telling sisters to please stop antagonizing each other (so, not every car ride is like that, but you know what I mean), I arrived at Bolt Fabric Store for Amy Karol's book signing for her newest work:

I just bought the book tonight, so I can't comment on it, but I'm thinking it's going to make me more than a little distracted from packing! Must...concentrate...on...filling...boxes!

I have had her first book

for several years, and have found much inspiration from it. While the projects and patterns are great, I think the best thing about it is the attitude that ANYONE can sew, and that there's no need to be perfect...It feels like you're working alongside one of those nice friends that is supportive/funny/kind and wickedly creative.

Did I mention how deliciously wonderful Bolt is? I found it a few years back during a visit to Portland when I bought another sewing book (Sew What Skirts) at Powells, and the cashier asked me if I'd been to Bolt (nope). I wrote down the name, and lo and behold it was down the street from the Community Cycling Center which was on Bret's to-see list, so it was a win-win.

(Confession, I still have the fabric, washed and everything, that I bought that day to sew a skirt from the book...fortunately, I still love the fabric, and really will make that skirt someday...)

Anyhow, we were talking about me being a winner, right? So the time for the drawing arrives (this is after I've asked Amy to sign my newly purchased second book, and my first book, found in the house out of its Dewey decimal order on the bedside table and we've had a nice chat...she's just like she comes across in her book -- very warm and sweet -- wait, that sounds like I'm describing a Krispy Kream donut...never mind...), and my name is drawn. Mine! Me! Wahoo!

This is what I won:

It says on the outside: This bag contains very important craft supplies and
possibly some chocolate. Yes it did! Two packages of iron on fabric transfer paper, a copy of Bend the Rules Fabric (which I had Amy sign for Kat -- she needs a nice surprise, right?) two bundles of sweet fat quarters, a box of Amy's new labels (they have just the amount of sarcasm that I love!), and indeed, some chocolate (shhh, I didn't tell the girls, though Sabine read it on the bag...I tried to gloss over it...). It was such a nice treat to win, and just what I needed at the end of this week.

I also got to talk with several interesting women -- many of whom are teachers of classes at Bolt (did I mention that Bolt is about a mile from our new house?) And that they have not only an amazing fabric selection, but also some amazing classes? And there's a solar waffle cart across the street? Oh yeah.

Oh, and when I got home, Sabine presented me with this creation (the photo does not do it justice):

Bret has made some lovely little sculptures with copper wire (dog, cat, flowers...must take some photos...) and Sabine got a hold of a little wire, a bead and a button. Sweet little flower. Creating things is so wonderful, as is receiving things that have been created by hand.

All right, this ended up being a much longer blog post than I intended...but it may be the last one for a bit. Tell me to go back to packing if you see me here again in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


...sweet friend Catalina.

We had our mobile vet euthanize Catalina yesterday at 1:30 at home. She had been having a tough time off and on for the past few weeks (vet suspected cancer of the spleen, but figured x-rays may or may not confirm it, and at her age (2 months shy of 16 years) and in her condition, the x-rays might have had a negative impact on her health). As some of you know, she also went through a rough bout of vestibular syndrome this summer, when we thought it was the end.

Apparently, having "Cat" in her name made her think she had 9 lives. :)

She ate a chicken dinner on her last night, and Bret had slept with her on the floor a few nights before (when she was having a tough time...but she "bounced" up in the morning to have another coulpe of good days). She got to take a some good trips to the coast this summer, and always had a wag in her tail and an excitable bark. Espeically when playing in the sand. She will be missed, and joins many of her dog (and cat) friends beyond.

Interestingly enough, our mobile vet was also the vet for Cynthia Rylant when she lived in Portland, and he euthanized one of her old dogs. She is the author of Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven -- beautiful books about losing a pet -- and numerous other books. Now I just need to find where I put my copy of Dog Heaven...

Monday, November 2, 2009


Had a great time trick-or-treating with the girls -- last year I stayed home to eat, I mean pass out candy, but we only had 3 people come by (2 of which were our neighbors) so this year we all went out.

Ronnie was down here to take her girls to the teen-unschooler-portland-party, and so joined us for the evening of fun.

Made yummy easy veggie chowder (with butter instead of margarine) with bread from Little T, then remembered at about 4pm that we still had a few pumpkins to carve, so whipped them out...

(Bret's alien pumpkin)

Then put the finishing touches on Sabine's costume:

from here. (Worth every penny...we use this daily...)

Then facepainted Sabine:

And then took some photos of both girls with Catalina -- Vivian was a PIXIE, by the way, NOT a fairy. :) She picked out the costume at Goodwill (thank goodness...as she said it was itchy and wanted to cut the sleeve off of it when we got home...go for it girl!)

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the night...some folks went ALL OUT on decorations/costumes...very fun.

Not sure if you can see them very well, but I made treat bags for both of the girls from fabric they picked out (when we went to the fabric store to buy elastic to fix Vivian's wings...). Sabine spotted the zebra fabric, and we knew we had to do something with it (besides sew a zebra costume...that's what masking tape is for!) and Vivian picked out a very cute blue owl print. Just right for a pixie.

Sabine and Vivian have been generously sharing their "loot" with the grownups...we're all almost candied out. Bring on Thanksgiving.