Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blog Talkers

Flowers. Do you like flowers? When is the last time you received flowers? When is the last time you sent someone flowers? Do you think purchasing flowers is a waste of money? Do you garden? What is your favorite flower?

So to answer the question of the week. I do love flowers, and have several flower beds around my home. When we first moved in that was my focus, creating that wonderful space around our home, with flowers. It just feels so alive, so fresh, so "homey". I love watching everything come alive in spring, walking around the property counting all the new buds, new blooms, such a joyful experience. DH also sends me flowers, I can count on a dozen roses for mother's day, and Valentine's day, also a bright addition to our home.

The past few years we have not focused on planting new flowers, our focus has been on planting an ever growing vegetable garden to take us through the winter. But we have flowers there too. Can't beat the purple in the Red Velvet Okra blossom, or the orange of the Zucchini plant. Plus you have the additional benefit of wonderful produce. A new addition this year has been some fruit trees and bushes, we have planted more apple trees, peach trees, raspberry plants and a few more blueberry plants. Also wonderful blossoms with a rich fragrance.

We have 12 acres and are surrounded by lovely flowers from Spring until Fall, many different varieties, all delightful, unique, and bring joy to our lives.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Teaching Unschooling?

There has been some talk lately about teachers of unschooling. Can you teach someone how to unschool? Is it somewhat of an oxymoron to even say that?

I have been unschooling for 14 years now, never even knew it had a name until I stumbled upon the Live and Learn Unschooling Conference. I have to think back, was I taught about unschooling? Well not unschooling certainly because I had found my way to natural learning very naturally myself, it seemed like just an extension of who I was, who my children were and how we were living. They seemed to be learning all they needed to know all along, without any "formal instruction" so why put an end to that.

There are people I really appreciate, for letting us into their lives, showing us how they live and learn together, share what has worked and not worked for them. Some of these unschoolers were unschooling when I was still in diapers myself. Such a zest for life, living, and sharing the world around them with their children. These people were unschooling before unschooling conferences, and before the internet. Many still choose not to engage in much internet activity, they prefer to be out there living life. Does that make these people pioneers in the area of unschooling (or even homeschooling for that matter). I believe they would say no. These people would say, there were families unschooling before the creation of schools. People were living, no thought was given to the learning part, it just happened. It didn't happen because they lived as if schools didn't exist, it happened and schools didn't exist.

So can anyone say they are pioneers of unschooling because they have better communication tools now? Certainly it makes it easier to connect with people who are more like minded. That didn't seem to stop the people I know. They searched and found people of like minds. Now all we have to do is "log on" and "google" to find what we are looking for.

When my children were younger I thought a lot about the words teach and learn.

–verb (used with object)
1. to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in: She teaches mathematics.
2. to impart knowledge or skill to; give instruction to: He teaches a large class.
–verb (used without object)
3. to impart knowledge or skill; give instruction.

–verb (used with object)
1. to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience: to learn French; to learn to ski.
2. to become informed of or acquainted with; ascertain: to learn the truth.
3. to memorize: He learned the poem so he could recite it at the dinner.
4. to gain (a habit, mannerism, etc.) by experience, exposure to example, or the like; acquire: She learned patience from her father.
5. (of a device or machine, esp. a computer) to perform an analogue of human learning with artificial intelligence.

The word teach, to me, is something done to another person. It is teacher driven. A teacher teaches, does that mean a learner learns by what the teacher is teaching? Just because a teacher is teaching doesn't mean learning is going on. I can attest to that, LOL. I try to live a joyful life, myself. My boys see that, have access to everything I can share with them, and experiment with the world. They learn, I do not teach. In that same token, those "radical unschoolers" who started 30 years ago, were they teachers, did they teach me about unschooling? No,there was no effort placed on imparting unschooling information. They lived a joyful life, and allowed me a glimpse into that, they shared everything they could with me, but in the end I had to experiment with the world and find my own path to life and living. No teaching was going on, just lots of living.

So I personally don't feel that unschooling is something that can be taught. Everyone is so different in their own personal journey. I share my life with those that are interested, but they have to go experience the world for themselves and find what fits and is right for them. My "right" is not their "right".

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Water for Elephants

A friend, Anna, and I were discussing the book Water for Elephants last night. It is funny how our minds are attracted to different aspects of the book. She was intrigued by the descriptive explanations of how the circus was run and how things are so different today. While I was drawn to the elderly version of himself, in the nursing home and it kept bringing me back to my younger days when I worked as a CNA at a nursing home, working my way through college, one of a couple of jobs that provided the much needed money for my nursing career, lasting until I was blessed children.

It reminded me specifically of one woman I cared for in the nursing home, and honestly I can't remember her name today. She was a petite woman, very thin. With the most beautiful silver hair that hung like silk to her shoulders. I worked weekends and usually was assigned to her section. She did not have anyone come to visit her and she did not talk, and could not do but the most basic of care for herself. She sat most days and cried. I did not know anything about her past but wondered what wonderful life she must have lived, looking at her silk clothes hanging in the closet. A reminder of what the nursing home laundry does to clothing, yuck. They obviously were beautiful in their day. She had bottles of perfume that must have been mailed to her by friends or family. They just seemed to appear, but no documentation anywhere of any visits. She had jewelry and powders and make up.

It was her day to have a shower on Saturdays so I would always take her to the shower, assist when she needed it, then take a little extra time to put her hair in soft rollers, put her make up on her and her perfume, dress her in nice clothes. And by the end of my day her hair would be dry and I would brush out the beautiful curls. So lovely. I never knew if she appreciated it, or not, or even knew what was going on at all. I would make up stories in my mind that she was an eccentric, wealthy woman who traveled around the world collecting wonderful treasurers to remind her of her travels.

Of course in the last years she was in a small nursing home, in a small town, unable to communicate, unable to care for herself, and alone. That memory stuck with me always and as I worked as a nurse in other capacities and hospitals all over the county I would always remember that woman and how I really believed that no one should die alone. With the different jobs I have had, working with newborns in the NICU to the elderly with terminal illnesses, I would always stay by their side in their dying moments if no family was there, cause no one should die alone. I know it sounds morbid, but just to have someone there in those last breaths to acknowledge that these people were here, are valued, and made a difference to someone, I felt was important. Hold a hand, provide comfort.

Having had loved ones of my own die, I know that death is very real, and when I pass a cemetery with a freshly dug mound of earth, or read an obituary, I always wonder who they left behind, who is grieving for them, and say a brief prayer and thank the creator that this person had graced the earth with his presence. And I think back to my days in the nursing home. Wonderful people, no past that they could speak of. And know that someday, someone will be holding my hand, and thanking the creator for my presence here on this earth.

OK more than any of you wanted to know I am sure. And it was more about my feelings of death than it was about the book, but the book reminded me, once again, of these feelings, and memories.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


My youngest, Phillip, had a couple of friends over yesterday late afternoon, and they were having trouble thinking of something to do together, that everyone wanted to play. So here is what they came up with, they called it playing spiderman. Phil has done this a lot in the past but it was such fun to watch him share this with other friends. They even made spiders, Black Widows of course, for the web, and had such fun. Just a day in the life, of creative, uninhibited children.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Since the February thing a day I have been doing more knitting. Maybe it was the inspiration of the Thing a Day crowd, maybe it is because it has been chilly and I have been inside more. But knitting seems to be my interest right now, and of course I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment. So I knitted a couple of hats. This is a pattern a friend gave me and it is pretty easy to knit but looks so funky that I LOVE it. I knit one in a children's size and one in an adult size. They will make it to my etsy store one of these days.

Now I am working on a sweater for my oldest son. It has been a challenging journey as he is very tall and also very thin. Most patterns as they get longer also get wider. So I ended up taking a pattern in a size 10 and then making the body and arms longer, hopefully it will be thin enough for him....we will see...

Here is a picture of the hats:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Daily Soul Retreat

I enjoyed today's Daily Soul Retreat so thought I would share. It started yesterday when a friend sent one of those fill in the blank "get to know your friends" e mails. This friend rarely forwards anything so I thought I would take a few minutes to fill it out and send it back to her. One of the questions was "who do you miss the most?" Of course that one was easy, MY MOM. I think I have blogged about my mom several times before. I have dreams about her on occasion.

OK how does that tie in with the Daily Soul Retreat....well in there was something my mom used to say all the time:

"Things will work out the way they are supposed to." and I hung onto that phrase so tightly when my mom died, just repeating it to myself over and over. Knowing that I was supposed to glean something from this whole event in my life. Although I am still not sure I have learned everything I am supposed to from her death.

So today's daily soul retreat, Moving Forward:Using "Trust" as Your Life Preserver by Sunny Schlenger, says in part:

"Several years ago, a series of unexpected events tossed me out of Life Cruise mode, and into the cold rapids of Uncharted Reality. A good friend counseled me to grab onto the only thing I could--my faith that things would work out the way they were supposed to--and just hang on. In other words, use trust as my life preserver.

I’ve never forgotten this advice, and fortunately haven’t had to use it too often. But every time I do, I’m both amazed at and comforted by its power to get me through whatever requires navigation.

Crises test our beliefs, and I’m pretty sure that they occur when they do as a way of showing us what we’re made of; they make us walk our talk and demonstrate how far we’ve come since the last time our foundation was shaken. We’d much rather do without them, of course, but handled correctly, they can lift us to the next level of our growth..."

So maybe I am supposed to have my mom on my mind today. Thinking how I miss her. Maybe I am supposed to think of her words today, maybe not. We will see as the day rolls along.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Driving Along

Today was such a beautiful day in so many ways. The boys wanted to go to Books a Million today. It seems that they have a better selection of Dungeons and Dragons books than any of the closer books stores. So we piled in the car and headed off, it is about an hour drive away. Not too far, but we really need a whole day for this excursion.

The day was so nice, just perfect for driving. Clear, sunny (with the sun at my back going to the store). And so peaceful outside. The boys were quiet in the back seat just taking in the beautiful scenery. For the first 50 minutes of the drive it is mostly country side.

A shadow caught my attention as we drove along. It was the shadow of a tree, with just a few leaves on it. The shadow was just the perfect reflection of that tree. Not blurry, but so still, and meticulously outlined as if it were penciled on the road. I looked at the shadow thinking to myself how this one point in the life of this tree would never be the same again, not the same leaves, not the same sun shining on it's back, not the same shadow...never....ever again. And that my life would never be in exactly this same point again. That our paths crossed at just this particular, beautiful moment so I could drink in the beauty of the tree, and the amazing shadow it cast. The tree will never know that in that very moment my perspective of the world was changed forever.

I started looking at things differently on my drive. Watching the cows grazing in this lush green field. Thinking to myself how warm the sun must feel on their backs. The boys and I caught sight of a hawk of some kind. Large bird, sitting majestically on the branch of a leaf bare tree. High above the road looking down at all the cars racing by.

Just such a wonder filled drive today. Excited children in the back seat, anticipating the hours we would spend pouring over books, looking for just the perfect book. Warm sun wrapped around us. Joy at every turn.

Life is Good!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Saga that is Spore

OK my boys have been reading about Spore for at least two years now. I have listened each and every time there was an update, a new bit of information a new projected release date, for the high tech computer game.

The other day my oldest was searching for more Spore facts on the web and ran across a couple of sites that said it would be released today. So we have been counting down the days to "Spore". So excited, we jumped in the car for the 30 minutes drive to Best Buy, as soon as we thought the store would be open this morning. And yes they were up early today, no alarm needed, just pure excitement.

They took some time to talk with friends before we left, and share their joy, yell and be excited.

All the drive there it was so wonderful listening to the joy in their voices as they talked about the game, then turned their conversation onto talking about their excitement. What the excitement felt like physically, emotionally, spiritually. How their stomach felt like it had butterflies, their legs were like spaghetti when they woke up. How they just felt like they wanted to yell, as the excitement was beyond containment (and actually let out little yelps here and there in the car).

I was amazing to hear them analyze all of this, how well they know their bodies, the joy in their hearts.

OK so we get to Best Buy and it is not on the shelves, OK find a person in the all to familiar blue shirt that identifies the individual as someone who works there and might know the story. And low and behold, it is not out yet, can reserve a copy, will be out September sometime, although he didn't seem to know any more details than that. Not satisfied the boys wanted to venture to Game Stop, those people know the scoop, true gamers at heart, they will have the answers. Although this person at Game Stop did know the answer, it was not the answer the boys wanted to hear. The game will indeed be out in September, yes this year, September 7 to be exact. And it is to be the "game of the year". So we reserved two copies.

The boys were so disappointed all the ride home, and even talked about how that felt like a little, although that was certainly not as fun to talk about. They were quiet when we got home. Settled in to play some of the Spiderwick Chronicles game, while they decompressed. We did plan to have a "Spore" party right before the "real" release, must have a party for the "game of the year". And talked about what they wanted to include in the party. Posted the reserve receipt on the refrigerator, so we don't lose it and can look at it often.

After a few hours both boys were back in the swing of the day, not letting this upset keep them down for long. Phil went outside to play with friends. Dallen back to planning his own game, watching youtube videos about Spore, and talking about what creatures he wants to create.

So many emotions in one day. The freedom to experience each to it's fullest, for as long as they wanted, and talk about it if they choose. The time to process information. A mom willing to be there for them in any way they want. Life is GOOD!