Friday, September 24, 2010

time wasters

i've spent a lot of time lately thinking on how to get enough time to do things that are important to me...and it occurred to me that i'm REALLY glad now that our tv consumption is at an all-time low. what a time waster tv can be!

there's really not enough time in the day for me to get all that i want/need to get done, done...where in the world would i fit regular tv viewing?

i see computer games the same way but i admit that i still make time for them here and there. well, i think its ok to make time for time wasters here and there...in moderation...so i allow myself to waste time sometimes...but frankly, i just don't have enough time to spend a lot of time on tv or games...there's just FAR too much to be done on a regular basis, i tell ya!

when my life is near its end, i want to know that i spent most of my time in life wisely...and didn't spend the vast majority of my waking hours on senseless activities that didn't really benefit anyone. i do think recreation is very important, but electronic recreation has such a tendency to be so very addictive! before you know it HOURS have passed by.

i personally have a hard time breaking free of it. this computer is forever my time sucker. i'm afraid the iphone may end up making me even more "plugged in", but i'm allowing right now for the newness of it. and its something that i think has much more positives than negatives, so i'll figure out how to make it work. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

the comedy of my life

today i got out of the shower and was heading to the laundry room to find some clean clothes (stark naked, as is normal in our house)...headed to the laundry room after first checking out the front door to make sure no one was heading up to our house at that moment since i was going to be walking by an open window. saw no one but saw a van in front of my next door neighbor i didn't recognize and thought that odd...but headed to the laundry room past the open kitchen windows as the coast seemed clear. got to the dryer, and i'm squatting down looking in it for something to wear when i hear the doorbell ring. WHAAAAAAAAT????

luckily adam was still home, doing some work from home this morning...and maeve came running to me--
maeve: "mommy, someone's at the door."
me: "i know, ACK, check and see who it is"
female voice from outside my open front windows: "its AMVETS"
me, calling: "just a minute!!"
me to maeve: "go tell daddy to get the door, i'm naked!!!" (continue to squat in front of the dryer, since i know i can't be seen through my kitchen cupboards unless i stand up...hastily pulling a towel out to wrap around myself)
pause
pause
phone starts ringing
me: "CRAP!" (and still no adam because he wasn't dressed either)
voice from outside:"i can just leave the card"
me: "that'd be great, thanks!!"
pause
stand up with towel wrapped around myself and answer the phone. its my mom. proceed to tell her the whole comedic story and she laughs her ass off.

great start to my day, don'tcha think? :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

summer's end

ok summer isn't officially over yet. but its feeling nearer to the end. the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter! it was an absolutely gorgeous weekend, in the low to mid 80s! felt like our hellish summer heat was finally over...though i know the temps will soar again this week and continue until we finally get to october, when we'll see fall weather finally. it was a marvelous reprieve.

my mood so much improves when the heat is on its way out. i detest fresno summers. with a passion. i spend very little time leaving our house when we reach the triple digits. not only is it physically more bearable, but my mood doesn't plummet quite so much, as it does when i am forced to get out and endure that hotter-that-hades nightmare. i can't even begin to put into words how much i hate the summers here. thank god the other seasons are so delightful in comparison. even if they are short. winters here are so mild, i don't even own a real winter coat and pretty much never wear gloves, unless we "go to the snow," or walk xmas tree lane at night.

soooo...with the summer's end comes a new school year. as homeschoolers, we are not bound to the public school schedule, but it just feels natural falling in line at least a little with it. back-to-school season in the stores is a bounty of supplies that makes my heart go pitter-pat. how can i not participate in the annual ritual of gearing up for a new year of learning with fresh pencils, crayons and markers and a bounty of notebooks and binders? ahhhh, it makes my heart all a flutter! :)

my goal is to "start school" (not that we ever really stopped...our entire lives are rich with learning! i consciously make sure of that!) this coming week...if all goes well...and get a schedule of the 3Rs at least into a rhythm with both kids. i'm much happier unschooling the other subjects...it is just a joy to go where our interests take us.

this year maeven has decided she really wants to dive deeper into ancient egypt, a subject which we've already spent a good amount of time on (but hey, who am i to say that we can't go back to it again? ancient egypt IS pretty dang fascinating, don't ya think?) and also wants to learn about colonial america.

the problem is that i had been stuck for quite awhile on sticking with a chronological order to history and we had gotten bogged down in the medieval world for awhile and got offtrack with our history stories completely in recent months. (ah well, the hell of summer heat makes it damn near impossible to stick with any sort of routine anyway, so i am just giving up on trying. we do whatever we feel like when its too hot to care about anything.) but i have been thinking for awhile that if i can just get our history timeline off the hall walls (where its pretty much not noticed) and into the new art area (in our newly remodeled "big room", where i think it will get much more attention), we probably will have not problem bouncing around to different historical time periods. as long as we mark them on the timeline as we study them, so we can keep track in our mind as to where the different times are in relation to one another.

personally, i'm looking forward to diving deeper into american history since i remember next to nothing about it from my own schooling. public school is, simply put, HORRID at this subject generally and i always thought the subject was boring as hell as a child (as a typical product of the public school system). its taken many years of adulthood to finally get my joy of learning back. really glad my kids probably won't ever have to go through that process of RElearning to love learning, since they won't get it killed in the first place!

i'm really excited by the new ideas i've discovered from the book: "Homeschooling and Loving it!" which include helping my children set their own goals for their own learning. its a good blend of unschooling and structure. just perfect for me, i think! i had been trying to do something as simple as this for awhile but for some reason hadn't actually thought of this specific route...sitting down and talking with each of my children about what it is exactly that they'd like to accomplish from each subject. of course i also add my own goals to what they've told me (i've never been a real unschooler...just sorta have leanings in that direction). i think it should really be an interesting year.

maeven's main goal is to become a better artist, specifically in drawing. tyren fluctuates between wanting to learn math and wanting to be a better artist, like his sister. he's still a bit young to fully understand my questions, but we'll go with it and see where it takes us. :)

i've written down all the things they've told me for each subject that they would like to pursue this school year, and we are going to build up our daily learning from there. its been pretty exciting, as maeven is old enough now to do so much more to help with the planning and implementing...as is evident of her gently tutoring her brother on how to write his name just this past week.

oh let me tell you about that, this was SO dang cute! tyr learned to write his name quickly in just one short lesson from his patient big sister! he had sorta known how to write some of his name for some time. but really only had mastered the "T", and was hit or miss on the other letters. i have been remiss in teaching him, even though its the one thing that i am a firm believer in my little ones learning at a young age...second child syndrome, i guess, i simply never got around to it. well maeven took care of that problem! not only that but she taught him, as i requested (had to argue w/her about it actually), to write his name with only the first letter capital. i made the mistake with maeven of teaching her all capitals as these are easier for first writers...but learned after the fact that REteaching her how to write her name properly with just the first letter uppercase, and the rest lower, was a big job. i vowed to not make that mistake with my next child. and i didn't! well, maeven didn't. :)

now my baby is writing his name very well after having practiced it just a couple times with maeven! and quite neatly too! i'm so proud!! the next day after the first lesson, she taught him (per his request) how to write his last and middle names too! rock on! :)

just another example of how so many things work themselves out naturally, as so many of the things i have put energy into worrying about have worked themselves out with little or no direct help from me. i tell ya, there's a pattern here that i need to remember! not that i want to leave all to chance...but just to trust a little more will reduce my stress level greatly, i think! :)

anyhoo, about the upcoming week...i still have much to prepare. i have library books to order and a schedule to iron out all the kinks from...figure out a way to make it work so that we can stay on a loose schedule (i suck at schedules, so loose is probably the only way that will ever work for me), and yet still have lots of flexibility to go where our interests lead us...something i put a lot of value in.

i decided i wasn't really digging one thing about charlotte mason education...and that was scheduling specific blocks of time for different subjects. i just don't see that ever working for us. i would love it if it did, but i just can't seem to make that happen. (i still love so much more about her philosophy, though, and will still pursue other aspects) so instead, i'm going to go with what i think will work better, and that is to schedule specific things to be done for the week and day, and we will accomplish them in a way that works for us that day. so, for example, i'm scheduling us to do 5 math lessons a week for each of the kiddos...if they decided they'd like to knock out a couple in one day, then we'll go for it. if they'd rather space them out over the week, that's fine too. so long as we get done what we need to get done for the week. we'll see how it goes. i can see that i may need to tweak things even more as time goes on...but staying flexible will always remain a priority for me anyway.

and of course i'm doing all i can to make sure that the materials i am using are appealing to each of my children as well as myself. i'm not interested in cramming info down their throats. there's no point. not when there's so very many options out there...there's bound to be something that will work if i just can find it! :)  anyway its darn near impossible to force someone to learn if they don't want to. so my life's purpose right now is to make sure that they WANT to learn...by picking and choosing my materials very carefully!

well the time has gotten away from me and i must get to bed if i'm going to get enough sleep for tomorrow's 6.40am walk. toodles!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE

*let me preface this to say i'm not writing about anyone in particular here except myself. this is just me, talking out loud to myself and sharing my thoughts today with anyone interested in reading them.*

today, as with every day nowadays, i got up at 6:30am and headed out for my walk, plugged in to my mp3 player. i listened to another fabulous homeschool podcast and it has me fired up and thinking a lot.

i came home, opened up all the windows in the house to let the nice fresh air into the stuffy house...took a shower, got dressed, and am all ready for another great day!

here's what i'm thinking about today...

WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE

i listened to a podcast from Homeschool.com in which rebecca kochenderfer talked about getting a plan in action for your homeschooling year by getting your kids involved in setting goals. an overall goal and goals specific to each subject. this is an idea that i had not thought about before...having my child think of their own goals and putting them down on paper and doing everything i can to support those goals and help them make them happen. i love this!


the second half of the show made me think deeper about me and my life. rebecca interviewed helice "sparky" bridges from blueribbons.org. helice talks about making a difference in the world through building up other people. she uses the phrase "who i am makes a difference" on blue ribbons to give to people to really drive this message home.

WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE
this just got me to thinking about life and how there are some very different ways to look at and live life.

i was raised by parents that were, and still are (despite a multitude of flaws, which we know we all have), very much full of a zest for life.

i love that phrase "zest for life" because it really does describe it well. i know what that looks like, thanks to my parents. and i cannot imagine having it any other way. i know that's where i learned my own zest for life, and i hope i am able to pass it along to my children.

WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE

i have known people that are so depressing and down on life and really don't have that zest. i used to date a guy like this, years ago...he was so down all the time and all about "woe is me", my life sucks, i suck, feel sorry for me. i mean, he was really stuck in this mode. i did what i could to try to lift him up and help him feel better, but really when someone is stuck in this self pity, depression for life mode i doubt there's much that people on the outside can do about it. certainly someone that was truly close with him might have an influence, but i wasn't that close with him, so it just got too exhausting to deal with him all the time. he brought me down. so i finally drifted away from him and haven't talked to him since. i wonder sometimes what became of him. i hope he found a way past that way of thinking.

what's the point in being alive if you have no joy for living?

i don't understand or have time for pessimism. there just doesn't seem to be any point to it, in my mind. it just brings you and those around you down, so why waste the energy? there's too little time in life, why waste precious time on things that don't make life better?

i hope that i will always think of life this way. there's always time in life to make a difference. i truly believe that.

WHO I AM MAKES A DIFFERENCE

if i'm not making a difference in the world (somehow), why am i here?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tyren's Robot Birthday Party--Pt. 1

Holy cow, Tyren's robot birthday party went REALLY well! Funny because I think I felt the least prepared for this one than any of them. Typically I start planning months in advance and even order a bunch of stuff online...which I wish I had because I couldn't find ANYTHING robot in the stores here locally. (I'll post to some things I found online in another post for those that might want to actually plan ahead.)

I'm going to write up everything we did here so that others can possibly use the ideas for their own robot parties...since I gathered most of the ideas from other sites for US! I couldn't have done this party without all the great ideas on the web...I was really at a loss for my own ideas for this theme, which I know nothing about! So a great big THANK YOU for all the sites out there that put out their own ideas to share...and I'll link to the pages I got the ideas from so that they will get the credit (and the traffic), and hope that others will do the same for ideas they got from me! :)  Also will be uploading the graphics we used for our labels as soon as Adam gives them to me because I was able to come up with some of these things from other people's files that THEY put on their blogs, so I want to share the files with others, of course! :) (My husband made all our personalized ones with photoshop, he's a whiz with that thing!)


Of course, things went badly with the prep for pics/video...we were so hard working on the party that we never ended up getting the camera and video camera ready to go and couldn't find them through most of the party! Ended up finding the video camera halfway through and handed it to Adam and then it was a tape that was FULL! He finally did get a tape and got some footage but by then it was already getting dark. I'll dig that up and post that soon as I figure out how to do it.


For photos, thank god my brother brought his camera! Hopefully he got a lot of great pics because I didn't ever end up finding our camera. I'll add the pics to this post once I have them. Today I finally found our still camera and was able to take pics of some of the things from the party.


SOOOO, without further ado... here's what we did...

Outside the party we set the mood by putting up a sign, which my brother made for us:
Also a bunch of hanging silver stars that I got in a package of silver decor from a party store. Guests had to walk under a big archway robot made out of silver spray painted cardboard box robot (pics of that to come...I know my brother Tim took pics of that magnificent thing because he put HOURS of work into it, outside in the hottest part of the day, in direct sunlight!! He's a trouper!) And Adam put up caution tape in long strips in the sliding glass doorway (don't have a picture of that, as it was torn down this morning when I finally found the camera...but I'm hoping Tim got a pic of the entrance). 


 Inside, we put out toys that Tyren got for his birthday:
Fisher Price Imaginext Robot police sets (pictured to the left...they are AWESOME!!), so those were out to play with (although I don't know if anyone ended up using them). And the toy area of our new "big room" was all set up and inviting to play. Put a sign on the wall above the legos that said "Robot Parts" (right).




The main activity of the party was robot making with recyclables...I had a ton of recyclables I'd been collecting, that we had for The Learning Village that I snagged to use for the party...all of them will go back to TLV now that the party's over. So I put out these big roll-y cart things we have:
labeled "robot parts", which were full of: toilet paper tubes, egg cartons, oatmeal boxes, cartons, foam meat trays, paper towel tubes, etc.

I also grabbed a bunch of the art supplies from TLV (since I had purchased nearly all of them myself and donated)...so for the "Robot Assembly" table (big sign above it that said those words that Maeven made, with pics of robots on the letters.) I put out what I had: colored pipe cleaners, straws, googly eyes, sequins, beads, wooden and foam shapes, colored popsicle sticks, buttons, etc...And I purchased a bunch of large nuts/bolts/wingnuts/washers in various sizes to add to it as well as silver pipe cleaners, rubber bands, paper clips, aluminum foil, and these tiny chinese food container type things that I got at Dollar Tree. Actually a lot of what I bought I got at Dollar Tree. I put out small bottles of white glue, scotch tape, staplers, scissors, hole punches, and hot glue guns.

So the kids arrived and were shown the Robot Assembly area and spent pretty much the entire party working on their robots. And WOW there were some incredibly creative ones made! All ages seemed to REALLY get into this activity! (12 kids came to the party! We invited a bunch of our neighbors because for the first time we are actually getting to know them lately!) Hopefully my brother got pictures of the conveyor belt with all the finished robots, because the kids took them all home and I didn't get pics of them. :(  All I got were pics of what was left this morning...including the awesome robot Maeven made (below).


To set the mood in this area, I put a plastic silver table cloth I got from a party store, on the main table, and on this long/low dresser thing I have in there. Also put a long strip of black burlap that my husband had scraps of from another project. This was our "conveyor belt":

There were also a bunch of small, sectioned lunch trays on the assembly table and a sign above it that said "Fill your tray with robot parts, then move to the conveyor belt." I also had a small round table from outside that I set up in the corner covered in aluminum foil (the top was pretty dirty from being outside) with aluminum foil, and that was the glue gun table, separate from the rest.

In this art/robot assembly area we also have 2 doors (since this is the area of the room w/linoleum that is by the back door and laundry room, which is our designated "art area" in the room.) that are painted in chalkboard paint, so I had my kids draw robots and messages on the doors, and Adam put caution tape across them so no one would open them.

In the kitchen, which opens to the "big room", I had silver plastic table cloths set up on kitchen table and our portable dishwasher. The dishwasher was the drink area, with a label saying "cyber juice" (an idea I got from here.) for the main drink container of lemonade, and I put silver colored cups (which had a texture on them that looked sorta robot-like to me) and silver napkins on there with a bunch of clear colored juices from Trader Joe's out there too (we have new carpet in the "big room" and wanted to avoid stains from colored punch), with an ice chest of ice. I also used my label maker to put the message "please label your cup" (since I had put out a permanent marker) on the table cloth in front of the cups, and "Ice in ice chest below" with an arrow pointing towards the chest.
For the snack table, I asked my brother to make a sign to say "Robot Refueling Station". Look what he came up with!:
And here's what the table looked like:
I'll post the images for the labels when Adam gives them to me. The ideas for these snacks and labels came from here.

Most of the party was just the robot making and playing with toys and eating snacks...We also had a way cool robot cake that my mother-in-law made which I will post pictures of once I get...and of course ice cream and gift opening.

Oh almost forgot...I made a cd that was a mix of robot music I got from itunes and birthday songs I've had for years that I downloaded off the net years ago (plus some I bought). I alternated robot song with birthday song in the middle of the cd, This was playing outside on a boombox for the whole party, and Adam set up his new office (which is inside the "big room") to play another cd of robot-y music that my brother put together for us (THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, TIM!!! YOU ROCK!!!) and a short video Adam had edited of clips of robot movies/shows/etc that he found all over the net, playing on his multiple computer screens at his edit station.

Here's my itunes playlist that I burned to a cd:
  1. Robot Love by Dave Palmer
  2. Robot by Sven Vath
  3. Clean up Time by John Van Tongeren
  4. Wall-E's Dance by Marco Marinangeli
  5. Wall-E and Eve by John Van Tongeren
  6. Birthday (You Say its your Birthday) by The Beatles
  7. Robot #1 by Hi-5
  8. Happy Birthday to You by The Hit Crew
  9. Music Robot by Disco and Co
  10. Happy, Happy Birthday to You by Various Artists (Splashdance album)
  11. Robot Music by Simple and Completo
  12. Happy, Happy Birthday from the Bear and the Big Blue House
  13. Uphill City by I am Robot and Proud
  14. Today is Your Birthday by Solomon Burke
  15. Music (Reset Robo Remix) by Dave Spoon
  16. Blue's Clues Birthday Song
  17. Robby the Robot by Audiomagic Music Studios
  18. The Circuit Bent by Dave Palmer
Somehow all that equaled exactly 1 hour in music! I deliberately put some of the more mellow robot songs in a clump at the beginning (to play as guests were arriving) and then in the middle alternated with more up-beat robot songs and upbeat birthday songs, then a couple robot songs at the end.


Also, the entire big room was decorated with tons of helium filled silver balloons and silver decorations I got in a pack from a party store. Hanging stars and curtains of silver fringe and such. Very cute stuff! We were trying to make it feel like a robot factory but at the same time have that birthday party feel still. I think we succeeded pretty well! :)

The party was at 7pm because its stinkin hot here in the summer until after that time, and lasted til after 9pm. We had borrowed some chairs from family and set up a big circle of chairs outside in the front driveway in front of the house, outside the entrance to the big room. So most of the people ended up hanging out there, as it cooled off (it was hot still at 7pm, til the sun finally went below our neighbor's house)...and we had borrowed 2 robot toys from The Learning Village lending library, a robot dog:
and a robot dinosaur:
I didn't plan at all for these things...we went to TLV to pick up all the art supplies and Tyr wanted to check something out from the lending library and asked for one of them and I was like YES!! OMG YES! Those will be GREAT for the party! So the kids took turns using the remotes for these things (I had to buy new batteries, but it was so worth it!) and they were walking and dancing all throughout the middle of the big circle of people through the whole party. VERY VERY COOL! These are the sort of toys I would never actually buy...but checking them out for free as a member of TLV...PRICELESS!!

Here's a video of the dinosaur robot I made this morning with Maeven:


That's all I can think of or have time for now...More pics to come, as I get them.

Monday, June 07, 2010

where do i start?

oh my heavens, i cannot tell you how happy it feels to have that damned big room DONE! the carpet/linoleum went in today.

here's a rundown of what's left now:
  •  finish linoleum (carpet guy was missing what was needed to properly complete covering the steps today)
  • buy/install can light covers (14 of them)
  • get contractor to plane the french doors (they are snug to the carpet now, but he knew that would happen)
  • buy/get contractor to install new backyard lights (we've been without those nearly as long as we've been without the big rm!)
  • buy/install new blinds for 3 windows/1 sliding glass door in big rm 
  • paint 1 more coat on the laundry room door chalkboard (i had to sand some big bumps off a big chunk in the middle)
  • install the doorknob on the laundry room door
  • buy/install doorknobs for french doors
  • get contractor to install light switch plates since the switches are not lined up properly with the plates
  • install the final 2 outlet covers (we were 2 short, had to buy more...i have them now, just haven't done it)
  • cut small mat out of remnant carpet to use at the sliding glass door for wiping feet
  • get exterior mat for wiping feet (its berry season...our mulberry tree is wreaking havoc on the driveway again)
after that, and after we've had time to pay some on the massive credit card bill we now have....*sigh*

then i want to get started building the window seats and shelves for the reading/play area. not to mention i'm still not entirely certain what i want to do in the art area. working on that. the table i was planning on using is just massive and i'm thinking twice now because the room is small enough. i have little tables i can get new legs for but they are $60 for a set of 4 and i might find something better for cheaper somewhere....something prettier....have to think on that too. hm.

then there's the reading loft i really want to build as well. not sure it will now fit properly in the room where i had envisioned it so that is the bottom of my wish list right now. but still in the back of my mind.

BUT, we can now start to bring furniture into the room and setting stuff up!

unfortunately, the rest of the house is so crammed and trashed right now its going to take quite awhile to get to the point where i am feeling comfortable in my own home again. the kitchen alone makes me want to gag. the floor is beyond disgusting. but since so many people were in and out and in and out and in and out of my house for the past month there didn't seem much sense in bothering to clean it since it would just get trashed again. ok so most were not in my kitchen, but the kids and i were spending a lot of time going in and out watching all that was going on, so probably it most came from our feet. its nasty, don't even ask.

i seriously am at a loss as to where to start. but instead of overthinking things....i'm going to just dig in and do one thing at a time, as my dad taught me. trying not to think of all that needs doing, and just focus on one job at a time. tomorrow i think i will get the kitchen straightened up so that we can move adam's desk through there into his new office. that will seriously open back up the living room again. which will allow me to breathe again, i think. i can't handle the clutter. its really affecting me physically and i am eager to fix that.

tonight i've been looking at all the clutter that i need to take care of...my desk in particular...but now we have a shitload of painting supplies and other things that we've been using for that room that i need to organize and find a home for. *sigh* its going to be a BIG job. i need to figure out where its all going to go!

tomorrow i'll start figuring that out. for now, i need to get my kids ready for bed. and wake up my husband to help.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

just breathe....

i have to remind myself to breathe. i'm getting that worked up feeling where i'm feeling out of control with stress.

after 3 years of having our house in chaos because of the big rm being out of commission and crap piled up in various areas of our house and shed and inaccessible for the most part...we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel....but it sure has ramped up the stress here in this last month of construction and remodeling of that room.

we have a piano and a desk on end piled in our living room, which is our main living space, and for the past month have been having to squeeze past things in other rooms as well, as all the stuff that we had thrown into the unused big rm is piled up elsewhere in the house during construction.

its truly amazing how much your home environment really does affect your mood. the stress level in the house has been darn near unbearable the past month...and i'm at the end of my rope in patience for my kids and them with me. we have all been barking at each other way more than usual, adam & i included, and the kids are fighting so much i'm ready to just walk out (i won't, of course, but that's the feeling i get sometimes when i've had to break up yet another fight between them.)

all this will be worth it, though, as our big rm is darn near done. by this weekend we are hoping to be able to start moving stuff in. assuming we can get carpet installed in the next 2 days.

on top of all that's happening here, maeven has come down with a bug and is miserable and making everyone miserable around her. well it might be she is playing it up, because she's distracted right now and acting normal...but the whining and crying that she does when she feels anything slightly off is enough to drive me INSANE.

right now i'm listening to them fight behind me and i want to just SCREAM!

just feeling out of control today, as i have to find time to go pick up adam's paycheck since he forgot to leave it here with me to deposit and we had our mortgage payment bounce last month and i can't let it happen again...and workers are going to be calling me to meet them at home depot sometime this morning to buy trim...and maeven is whining and crying about her throat and i'm trying to decide if she needs a dr's appt (right now i'm leaning towards no, that she just needs some echinacea and a distraction)...and we have to make a decision on the door to adam's office (paint or stain, and under pressure neither one of us can think straight...and he was rushing off to a meeting so couldn't talk or think)...and i had to reschedule 2 things just now because i doubt we'll be available for them...both were fun things that we could have used but they'll have to wait til next week or month....and i have been sorely neglecting TLV as this project has consumed our lives...and maeven is bugging me about playing on the computer so i need to get off because i need to get showered and dressed and moving on this day.

i just need to breathe. i sure could use a vacation. next week i can have a vacation in our own big rm. gotta keep thinking of that. for now i need to just get to a place where i can relax and breathe and get what needs to be done, done.

it'll all work out...i just needed to vent. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A book to touch your soul


I stumbled upon this book while in the library looking for books on Eleanor Roosevelt. Literally just saw it on the shelf and picked it up because of the name "Eleanor" in the title. That's when the full title grabbed me and I had to check it out and read it.

I literally just put down this book after completing it cover to cover. Its one of those books you cannot put down, its so very well written...but not only that...its the kind of book that makes you feel like you've changed because of having read it.

Everyone knows about The Diary of Anne Frank. Everyone knows about the horrors the Jews suffered at Hitler's hands. Never in my life had I ever considered the horrors the German civilians also suffered because of this war and Hitler specifically.

This story is told from the eyes of a little girl who was born in America to German immigrants. When she was just 9yrs old, just prior to WWII, her family moved back to Germany. Apparently (I had never known this before) Hitler had helped to rebuild Germany's economy after WWI and was enticing German immigrants to come back to the now booming economy with job offers. Eleanor's father received one of these offers and chose to move his American family back to Germany. Little did they know what was to come. 

Prior to leaving the US, Eleanor overheard a conversation between her parents and some friends about Hitler's actions in Europe and the possibility of him taking over Poland. Eleanor's father's opinion was that he would be "crazy" to do that, and he would never do that! Sadly, once on board the ship on its way to Germany, that's exactly what happened. The ship's captain announced "Germany has declared war on Poland" to the stunned passengers. The next day he announced "France and England have declared war on Germany." And the family was stuck on its way to Germany.

It was absolutely unbelievable to me from that point on all the events that take place and all the family (and the entire German civilian population!) has to endure. They tried to immediately turn around and go back to America but they only had Deutschmarks and now no one anywhere would convert them to anything that would allow them to purchase passage back home. They were stuck and it was only going to get much much worse from then on. Especially since the family will settle in Berlin, where the father had been offered a job and where daily bombing will eventually take place for years on end.

The happy ending for this story, and the only real joy out of this horrific story is that the entire family...the parents, the 2 children born in America and the 2 little ones born after they arrived in Germany, do make it out of Germany alive in the end. But after years of chaos and hardships beyond belief and horrors that I cannot even comprehend. And these are people that didn't ever set foot in a concentration camp nor even were aware of what was going on in these camps until after the war!

You seriously need to read this book if you have any interest in history. I am going to purchase a copy and put it on my homeschool book shelves next to a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank, and have my kids read it when they are ready to read about this horrific war. Its particularly of interest to me as I am half German-American. My mother's parents were both full-blooded German-American, and my mom's first language was German. She is 2nd or 3rd generation, I believe (I'm not sure if it was my great or my great great grandparents that were immigrants from Germany. Will have to check on that.)

I cannot even explain to you how well this book is written, and all that you will learn and feel from reading it. It is NOT little kid friendly, I'll warn you of that. I will be waiting til my children are older to expose them to the sorts of things she talks about witnessing and experiencing in this book. But as an adult, I would highly recommend all adults with any interest in history and specifically in WWII read this book. I got my copy from the Fresno Public Library, so if you're local to me...my copy will be back at the library this week sometime. :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

can i just brag on my little girl?

so remember that i made the rule that the kids cannot have any computer time unless they do their chores? well, for awhile they have decided they didn't want computer time. little stinkers! but recently (and i had a feeling this would happen, given time), maeven has decided that she really does want to play again.

so lately she's been doing ALL her chores (completely of her own volition, not any word from me). that gets her one hour on the computer. apparently one hour isn't enough for her, so she created a second list of chores (which i approved) to enable her to get another hour of computer time, and she's been doing that as well! all completely without any adult intervention or urging.

i have to just say that this rocks! she's been doing more housework around here than me! LOL!

what sort of chores, you may ask? a LOT of laundry, for one. she is very good at doing laundry, thank heavens, because it helps me out a LOT! sweeping, picking up toys, cleaning off the kitchen table (which is usually a wreck, but lately its been nearly spotless thanks to maeven!) picking up clothes off floor, cleaning off bathroom counter (another thing that is often trashed, but not lately!) ...she seriously ROCKS!!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

don't forget the little people

just wanted to take a minute to rant about how people treat video crews. probably other service people as well. most of y'all reading this probably won't ever run an event that you'd even need to think of this...but perhaps you have a spouse or family member that you can pass the word along to. or maybe you will have a wedding sometime in the future.

can i just say how annoying it is how often people who hire others to do work for them, like video taping an event, forget all about the needs of those people??? being paid in a timely fashion is one biggie. video people have families to support too, ya know! and they are being kept away from their families to help you capture your special occasion only because of that money they are promised, so PLEASE pay them in a timely fashion!! its truly ridiculous how often people don't pay my husband immediately or even shortly after the job he's done for them!! sometimes its no big deal because it was just a small oversight, and he's really a nice guy and isn't going to make a big stink about things like you forgetting to bring your checkbook (like was the case last night after my husband, father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and a friend didn't get paid after working 2 straight 7 hour days of shooting live to the web at this pre-oscars celebrity gift suite party in hollywood.) ok, mistakes happen...but now here we have 5 people who had planned to leave this morning to drive the 4+ hours to return to their families (and yes, they all have families waiting anxiously to see them after being apart from them for 3 days), that are stuck in southern california, waiting for this chick to return their call. apparently she partied pretty hard last night. SIGH. this is just so friggin rude and unprofessional! and none of those 5 people can do anything about it. they are stuck, or they might not get paid for all their work!! because, who's to say that she'll mail them a check if they leave? they don't know her from boo, so why would they trust that she would do that? UGH UGH UGH.

and while i'm ranting...another issue that is a biggie: FEED THE PEOPLE YOU HIRE!! if you have someone that is working a full day without break, you really need to feed them. its not fair to expect them to fend for themselves. and if you promise to feed them, don't feed them crap!! i cannot tell you how many times my husband has worked at an event where he was never promised food (and never gets a break and can't go anywhere to find food), or was promised food and doesn't get any...OR, they give him some crap that they scraped together in the back kitchen somewhere when all the guests he's shooting are eating the prime rib and other yummy things. talk about discrimination! so the camera crew, who busts their asses to document your event in a high quality manner don't deserve to eat as well as your guests? why IS that, please tell me?? its like they are being treated as lowly servants and are not worthy of even remembering or taking care of properly.

sorry, i'm just really pissed over this whole thing right now. i know adam is a nice guy and would never complain about these sorts of things...and people you hire probably won't either. but please think if that was your husband who was being kept away from you and your children for hours at a time, and no one even thought he was important enough to FEED?? 

and i won't even go into people who just drag out things far beyond when they said they would last. adam frequently ends up working HOURS over when he was supposed to be able to return to his family, simply because the people running the event are not organized nor considerate enough to keep things to the schedule that they said they would! grrrrrr  and sometimes he gets paid extra for it, but sometimes he does not.

now, in defense of some brides/grooms/hosts...there certainly are times when they DO think of them...and adam has at times been saved a seat to eat with the guests. and that's marvelous. but more often then not, no one thinks about him even if they promised him to eat...OR he's forced to eat some crap back in the kitchen!! seriously pisses me off when i hear of these things! and his children are crying at home for their daddy because they miss him dreadfully, and he's not being fed and not being paid timely...all because we need the money and he's busting his ass to provide for his family and the damn hosts of the event don't think he is important enough to remember!!

ok, i've ranted enough. i would ask that you just think about this the next time you hire someone to work an event for you. and now that i'm thinking about it...i am going to make sure that we remember our DJ at our upcoming Discovery Center event because i'm afraid that i may have forgotten them in the past and have to kick myself for that and fix it in the future. see, even i forget. so i needed this reminder too! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Notes from an Oprah Show

I'm going through some old video tapes and found an old Oprah show that caught my interest. It was a show about domestic violence leading to murder. The part that caught my interest was an interview with an abuser that beat all his wives, and nearly killed his current wife...he was a cop and he and his wife managed to get a lot of therapy and help and are still together. What interested me was this quote from the show:

(Oprah) "Now Dwayne says he's had to change his entire lifestyle from what he watches on TV to what he reads. Like what? What do you mean?"
(Dwayne) "Well, before I'd watch, you know, Rambo, or, you know, all these kind of macho men kind of movies. Uh, Cops was something I'd always always watch. Now it's something that I know that, y'know, can fuel domestic violence. It can...
(Oprah) "Feed your aggression?"
(Dwayne) "It can feed my agression...but also, show, y'know, all these different types of shows, how to control. What control means and that it's a man's world and this is how we control...women. And, it, y'know, I have to take that away from myself...because I, y'know, what I want to feed into my heart and what I want to feed into my mind is something where I can be a nurturing, loving, kind person."

This, to me, is REALLY a very powerful statement. That he saw that he needs to stay away from those types of shows. Just makes me feel like...if it affects an adult this way...obviously one predisposed to violence, but still an adult...how in the world do these shows affect developing, impressionable young minds? This just further supports my STRONG belief that these sorts of shows are REALLY not appropriate for children.

Another interesting quote from the show, at the closing, was an expert who listed things to watch out for in a relationship:

"The signs are always, always there.
  • Hyper controlling behavior
  • Jealousy
  • If he identifies with violent characters
  • If he's obsesses with weapons
  • If he's breaking symbolic objects like ripping up your wedding photo
RUN SCREAMING in the other direction or at least call for help."

Just thought these were some interesting quotes and wanted to share.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My dad understands...

"I don't know how you do it all!" and similar comments is something I hear at least weekly from everyone. From strangers, from friends, from loved ones, from EVERYONE. And while I know it is well intentioned, it really wears on me sometimes. Hearing it so much, it starts to make me feel like maybe they mean I am doing TOO much, in which case I am feeling judged. But I know that's just my own insecurities talking...no one really means that, right? Well maybe some of the strangers, but certainly not my loved ones and friends. I know y'all mean well. Its just tiring to hear all the time.

Because honestly, most of the time its not really a big deal to me. I mean, all that I do. This is just who I am, and always have been. I have always tended to do things big. It just exploded in me when I became a mom.

Really, when I think back I can remember the beginnings of this in me. I remember the puppet skit I created to explain the existance of Santa Claus in conjunction to the Christian idea of Christmas when I was like....what?....12? And we did perform that in front of an audience several times, as I recall. And got great reviews! Also became the puppet troupe organizer as I decided what skits to do, in what order, with what puppets in what costumes. I was maybe 11 or 12.

Our family were professional puppeteers from the time I was about 10 or 11 until late teens...we performed Christian skits at church services all over. Complete with a full stage and sound system, head set mikes, script holders, the works. "You're catching flies!" was a frequent phrase we would whisper in each other's ears when we would forget to close our puppet's mouth during a skit. My dad still has all the gear, though it never gets used anymore.

When I was about 13, I wrote a Christmas play and organized the kids (only a handful of us) at the church we were at in practices and acted in it as the narrator (a doll telling a story to other toys) on Christmas eve, guiding the little ones to their spots around me and reminding them what to do.

I also taught Sunday School to preschoolers when I was 13/14, and again in my early 20s, when I also took on Junior Choir and a full-on musical producation of a Christmas play that I found and took 8 weeks to get the kids and everything needed for the production including choreography and found people to build the stage and the sound system and the works.

I guess it started small and just built and built as I got older...now, thinking back, I always was sort of a leader of sorts...Ok, bossy is probably a more appropriate word, as my younger brother (by 2 years) can attest to. (Incidentally, Maeven is the spitten image of me not only physically but personality-wise...guess what's probably in her future? Yup, another leader in the family, you betcha...she's already organizing parties and clubs with her friends.)  I seem to recall always insisting in being the one that guided our pretend play from a very young age. *sigh* Maeven's doomed. LOL!

By the time I became a mom I had already all the above under my belt, as well as organizing lots of other things that I'm just forgetting right now...oh yes, I remember organizing a whole school sing at Harmony Day School for the talent show one year...Not that everything always turned out really great, but I was the brain power and drive behind so many of these ideas that just drove me to move mountains to make things happen. It was fun. Still is.

And SCICON was probably the thing that finally got me the training I needed to do these sorts of things well, finally. Not that anything before SCICON was bad, per se, just not as good as after SCICON. SCICON gave me the training to do it better. Having to get over your fear of standing up in front of over 200 people (mostly 6th graders, but high schoolers and teachers too) and teach them and lead them to sing songs and dance dances every week will do that to ya.

But my dad understands. We discussed it just the other day. My dad is a United Methodist pastor. Was my whole life, except for the chunk of time that he was a Navy Chaplain, but really that's the same thing but with a military twist. So I grew up watching my dad lead. And create and organize. And lead some more. Always leading...songs, activities, charity projects, church services, performances,dinners/lunches/brunches/breakfasts, fundraisers, groups, etc etc etc...the list goes on and on and on. Preachers/Chaplains do a LOT, lemme tell ya.

"You get that from me," he told me just the other day. I do. And I'm damn proud of it. My dad is the most amazing man I know (next to my husband, of course...but in very different ways) and I'm very proud to be just like him in this regard.

But I don't do any of this stuff for anything other than my strong desire for something to happen and knowing that it won't happen unless someone makes it happen...So why not me?

I can't always even really say why I do what I do, but its not hard for me. I am driven like a maniac when I have a fire lit under me about something. A passion that can only be dealt with by going full tilt to accomplish something that makes me happy to be a part of it.

And sure it feels nice to hear others say they appreciate what I've done. Everyone loves compliments and pats on the back. That's not why I do what I do, but I won't deny that's a nice side benefit.

So whether its the Fresno BabyFest or The Learning Village or the Fresno AP Mommies or www.fresnofamily.com or www.mommychats.com or whatever my next project will be...Please don't think that this is a big deal to me, because its really not.

Its just who I am. Ask my dad. He understands. :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

change in our days

well i am happy to say, thanks to my change in our routine, that my kids are not spending hours and hours every day on the computer. something that i was really feeling was a problem. over time, i managed to gradually wean them from that and now they are at the point that they MIGHT get an hour on the computer (IF they do their chores), and some days they just don't get any. and they are finding lots of other things to play.

i've also managed to, for the most part, get us off SO MUCH tv watching. this also took months to get it down to where its at now...and there are still days that they watch more than others. but for the most part, its just not on so much. and when it is on...99.9% of the time (100% for the kids) its on PBS. none of us watch network tv anymore....at least the kids not at all (unless i happen to go check something out quickly, which is rare), and me and adam very rarely. i only watch a couple shows online and haven't had to deal with commercials at all in so long, and i just realized how refreshing that is!

now that's not to say that things won't ever change again...i'm starting to get the hang of how these things go...someone gets sick or have a bad day and the tv or computer can easily be used to help solve a situation. but now that they are not getting much of either, i really don't feel too bad about that. its not like they are in front of either all day and then i put them in front of one of them again. :)

so i'm feeling pretty damn good about this. and i have to pat myself on the back when stuff like this happens that i feel i actually did RIGHT, since i feel so much every day that i think i'm doing WRONG. and there's still so much to work on. but i am feeling good right now so i had to blog about it.

oh and they do watch dvds, but we are careful picking those out and even when we watching something that is, say, disney (something we really try not to do a lot of....but we do watch a few)...we are able to fast forward the parts that we don't like for our kids to see, or that scare them. we've learned our lesson that the movie theater is just not a place for our kids as they got freaked out by "cloudy w/a chance of meatballs" at the end with all the drama in stereo sound blasting at them...so dvds at home are safe and we can fast forward or turn down the sound if it gets too dramatic for either of them. seems to work for us.

anyway, i'm just feeling good about all this and wanted to toot my horn. i know i've mentioned some of this before, but i just wanted to toot again, cuz after the horrid emotions of yesterday, i needed something to feel good about. :)

right now, i should mention, PBS is on and we are watching/listening (mostly listening) to some fabulous classical music. makes me remember that i want to get us to the fresno phil so my kids (at least maeven, tyr may be too young still) can experience live music. that's on my list of things to do this year...get out to see things live. the learning village can make it happen, and in a group setting, so i'm ON it!!

anyway, mama points for me! i am doing something right, for a change! :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

seriously, i don't get it

this is all coming from an email i just got just now, so bear with me as i just need to vent...

i just had someone email me because he says that he knows that i am trying to promote nonviolent games and that he made this video where he interviewed his friends and thought i'd find it interesting.

well it basically is a commercial for the game "call of duty 2", an EXTREMELY violent war game. i'm not going to link to the video or info on that game because i'm not interested in promoting either. the video actually was pretty well made in so far as technical issues, but i couldn't stomach the constant violent scenes from the game and the casual way these young teen boys were talking about how "fun" it was. and how there's nothing wrong with playing these sort of games, yada yada yada. bleh.

i'm guessing he found me via the website i host on the subject of marketing violence to children, the lion and lamb project...which isn't actually my site but a site of a friend of mine that did many years of research and work on that project and was closing it down, when i offered to keep the info up on the web for her. its a fantastic site and i can't see how anyone that read any of the research on there could even argue that violent games, toys, movies, etc are anything but bad for kids.

what gets me is that if you talked to all the many loving, caring parents who think its perfectly fine for their kids to watch violent images on tv/movies/games...if you asked them why its ok, most would probably say "its make believe, its not real." and that their kids can tell the difference between make believe and real...well, ok so then what if it was a game or tv show about a sex act? would THAT be ok for them to watch? its just make believe, right? (i'm not talking porn, i mean actual acting) its not actually happening, its just on tv or a game, right? so why would that be bad for kids to watch? i think most parents would be horrified at the thought (although there would be some that would think that's ok, *shudder*).

so, goodness no, don't show my children anything involving sex, which is actually a normal and natural thing that most children will grow up to engage in...but bring on the killing and maiming, and beating the hell out of another human being.

well then they might say that that's not good for kids because is IS something that they will probably do some day and they don't need to learn about it yet...whereas the violence, the killing, the kicking the shit out of someone, the stabbing and shooting and blowing people up...that's all something they won't ever do, right?

ok so what if its a show or game about a rape? that's hopefully not something that most of their children (although admittedly there will be some that will) will ever do, right? and its make believe, right? its not actually happening, right? so then is THAT ok for them to watch? no, of course not!

but watching (or being the one doing it in a game)...things like stabbing someone in the face or kicking someone in the head, or jumping on someone and stomping them to the ground, or shooting someone in the gut with and explosion of blood...that's ok?

so its NOT ok for kids to pretend to or watch someone beat up and rape another person, but its perfectly ok for them to pretend to or watch someone beat up and KILL another person? gee i think if they did that in real life they usually get a much stronger sentence for murder.

wait...but maybe its because when someone is being raped they are the victim? whereas the violent shows are all about beating bad guys, right? no, not actually. the violence in games and movies/tv isn't restricted just to the bad guys. the bad guys do their fair share of kicking butt as well, remember?

well i'm sorry but i'm not ok with my children pretending to hurt anyone, or getting any kind of enjoyment from watching anyone get hurt. in any sense of the word, be it physically, verbally, psychologically, etc. (to be perfectly honest, i'm not happy about my husband enjoying those games/movies either...but he's an adult and makes his own decisions.)

if you can sit there and understand why its wrong for a child to watch a dramatized rape, why can you not understand why it is just as wrong for them to watch a dramatized assault or murder?
(i'm not asking anyone, i'm just talking to the air, wondering aloud.)

seriously? i don't get it. i just don't.