Thursday, November 26, 2009

Guess What!

Guess! No really, what might it be?

Give up?

OK, I'll tell you.

Another homeschool conference presenter has dropped out who was also going to do five workshops. Ha! Cosmic joke on me.

Could be worse--could be rainin' (Name that movie)

When you have 10 workshops all lined up, don't be jaded and take that for granted--it could all go away like this *snaps fingers*. Appreciate what you have. Be thankful.

Because it's Thanksgiving, here's Alice's Restaurant.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and don't get busted for litterin'...

PartI



Part II



Part III

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Appropriate Song

OK. I'm trying to do my part for the upcoming homeschooling conference. I agreed to be on the Children's Workshop Planning Committee so that I could help arrange presenters. I will be rewarded with a hotel room and free admittance to the conference for my entire family--this goes a long way. We will all appreciate it and enjoy the conference. That is good and I am glad for it.

However...

Of the several workshops I lined up, a full five have recently been dropped because one of the presenters realized he couldn't do it--after agreeing to months ago. FIVE workshops to be replaced! Arggghghghghggh!

And, another presenter hasn't returned phone calls or e-mail. That represents another FIVE workshops. I'm still hopeful about that one, but where's the communication? "Where are you wonderful presenter who agreed to do it oh these many months ago?!" Do you guys hear me yelling? That is because I'm feeling anxious and desperate and frantic.

You can't always get what you want...



Monday, November 16, 2009

Riddle Me This Batman

I just spent a ridiculously long time cleaning out my sock drawer in my dresser. Waaaay in the back I came across 6 unopened packages of white pantyhose.

Why?

How?

When??

I am boggled.

Somewhere out there there may be some need for a pair of white pantyhose and so the good folks at Goodwill or The Salvation Army will receive all of them as part of a donation.

In the meantime, I am left wondering how there was such a white pantyhose black hole in the back of my drawer.

I am boggled.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Is There Life on Mars?

Is there? Is there life on mars? Maybe a stray amino acid or some other unknown life building block? It could be there frozen in the polar ice, couldn't it?

It's all a bit wistful.

Still, a good song.

Enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Long Time No Post


Hello cyber friends! Hello internet folks! Hello pixel readers! How are you?

I said I wasn't going to post here much because of the homeschooling conference work I'm doing. It is now ramping up with database entry and hounding workshop presenters to return contracts and working out all of the details. And, you know what? I really, really hate that kind of work. I do! There is no joy in this. It's not exciting figuring out what workshops there could be for the kids at the conference. It just feels like a lot of work and responsibility and pressure.

I do not like that. Plus, I can't procrastinate like I would like--there's a deadline! I can't really wait until the last minute to have someone just sort of wing it. No. This is a well thought out, well planned, well executed endeavor that I somehow am involved in. Yikes...

Have we been buying new things while I've been away from the blog? Sort of a mice will play while the cat's away thing? Me, not accountable to you compact watchers? NO! HA! We have not bought new things--well, not much any way.

My daughter said she would like new clothes. Not the nice ones I'm able to find her from Goodwill or The Salvation Army, but honest to goodness, brand new, fresh from the giant container shipped over from China clothes from Target. So, you know what I did? I got her some nice, cute clothes from Target and she was happy. Also, although I was able to avoid it for many years, I got her some American Doll stuff for her birthday. She already had a hand-me-down doll from one of her cousins and she wanted some outfits for her.

Here is my thinking. The Compact was all my idea. The kids willingly agreed to it two years ago at the tender ages of 9 and 7. They have been very thoughtful and understanding about things and wanting things and the value of things and the need vs. want of things. So, when they've really wanted something, I have seen how they value it and have gotten it for them.

We're not going for monastic here. We're going for relevance and self control and to try and avoid choices that are dictated by popular culture or peer pressure.

My kids still (still!!) have fun with a cardboard box. They have fun with sticks in the yard. They have fun with leaves and bugs and tape and yarn and cool new clothes from American Girl for my daughter's doll.

You know what else? If my daughter wants to play with dolls at the age of 9, I'm going to support that for as long as it lasts. If my son is happy making faces and noises and playing tag and hide-and-go-seek at the age of 11, I'm going to also support that for as long as it lasts. These are my little kids who are behaving like little kids.

Yes, they have occasionally mentioned other things. My daughter, out of the blue and with all seriousness and some contempt, asked my why couldn't she have an i-pod?! Hmm? Why?! (Her 12 year old friend had just gotten one). My son has asked when both kids will get a cell phone... Um, that would probably be a "never" from me, but who knows what the future holds? My husband doesn't even have one. Partly it's because he doesn't need one, and party it's because that would presuppose that he would want to talk to people more, and on the phone.

My husband once pointed out to me the silliness and ridiculousness of my sister and I talking on the phone when we were only one room away from each other at a hotel. It didn't seem silly at the time. My son has also jumped on the point-out-ludicrous-things-when-you-see-them band wagon. He asked me why I gesture wildly with my hands when I'm on the phone...

What's your point son?! And, what's it to ya?!

We also bought a new car! Whoooo! A new, used car that is. It's only three years old and has four doors--decadent! Our old car was fourteen years old, had two doors and was on its last legs. We held out and didn't make any little repairs on it because we didn't want to put any more money into it knowing that we would soon buy another car. So:

  • The horn was broken (the fuse not replaced, I should say)
  • The cloth ceiling liner shredded and my husband just took it out so we had a metal ceiling
  • The air conditioner was out
  • The emergency brake didn't work--how often does that come up, really?
  • The driver side door handle had come off and the only way to open it was by lifting one of the two nubs (automatic theft deterrence)
  • The driver seat was ripping
  • My tall 5' 10" body could barely fold into the passenger seat and I was unbelievably cramped and uncomfortable for long rides
Our new car has four doors! Great gas mileage (30, 34)! Room to easily hold a canoe on top! Air conditioning! Is only three years old and will accommodate our growing kids and a friend in the back.

We got a Scion xb. Aren't we cool? We are so inherently cool that we can drive a boxy, unstylish car with impunity.

Here is our cool car, 'cause that's how we roll.




Yeah, that's right. So cool, it's exponential cool and the sum is greater than the parts. It all adds up.

Enjoy your weekend and enjoy your ride, whatever that might be!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mary Travers

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary fame died yesterday. I think I've known their songs for all of my life: Puff the Magic Dragon, their versions of If I Had a Hammer , Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Leaving on a Jet plane and Blowin' in the Wind.

I loved the way she sang so passionately and with all of her heart and soul. Her voice was strong and warm.

She will be missed.

This Land is Your Land (sung in concert in Japan)




And When I Die as the circle of life turns on and on.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Houston, We Have a Problem


Me: What's the difference between a meteor and a meteorite? The meteor is glowing in the sky and the meteorite is the rock once it's landed? Is that right?

Husband: Yes. And if it lands on the other side, it's a meteorleft...

Big yucks.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Great America Homeschooling Day

My kids don't "go back to school" because we homeschool. We don't have a start to the year and just keep doing what we do all year round. We do however have a homeschooling day at Great America while other kids are at school and it is still nice out. Great America gets a whole lot of cash that they wouldn't otherwise and the homeschooling attendees get a whole lot of rides because there are no lines! It is shocking how short the wait is for the rides. Some rides had no wait at all and because of it the kids were allowed to go again without even getting out of the car.

We ran into some friends and the kids went on some of the rides with them. We also peeled away to do our own thing sometimes. All total my kids went on rides 17 times. They went on roller coasters, water rafts and spinning cups called the Fiddlers Fling. They dropped from towers, were flung upside down, spun sideways and defied gravity in other interesting, dizzying ways.

I only went on the water raft because I am lame. I am not ashamed to admit that and readily accept how it mirrors my own mother's behavior from my childhood. "We mock the things we are to be!"

My husband went on almost all of the rides with the kids. They all loved it and no one got sick.

While they rode, I sat on a wooden bench in the pleasant shade and read a book and enjoyed all of the other homeschooling kids walking with their friends and their parents and siblings going from ride to ride.

How is it that I am now exhausted?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Things Only a Republican Could Believe

I know not all Republicans believe these contradictory things. I do know this. There are plenty of Republicans who simply want less government interference in the daily life of Americans and want lower taxes. Really, I do know this. I don't think of all Republicans when I read the following list... However, I know there are plenty of Republicans who do believe these contradictory things and who paint our public life in broad strokes and don't see any dissonance in their reasoning.

So with that said, here we go:



Things Only a Republican Could Believe:

  • Parents who don't want their children to pray in school are Anti-American zealots -- parents who don't want their children to listen to a speech by the President of the United States telling them to work hard and get good grades are noble patriots.

  • Peacefully demonstrating against the country starting an international war is treason -- showing up with automatic weapons to protest healthcare reform is democracy at its finest.

  • Any government official with a desk job should have every action scrutinized -- any government official with a badge and a gun should never be questioned or disrespected. At all. Ever.

  • Questioning the legitimacy of an election because the "winner" was selected by the Supreme Court is sour grapes -- questioning the legitimacy of an election because the winner (by the largest number of votes in American history) is really a Kenyan born Muslim despite all evidence to the contrary is being a vigilant American.

  • Lying about a blowjob is an impeachable offense -- lying about a war is no big deal, really.

  • Investigating a shady land deal involving the First Lady is a matter of National Identity -- investigating the use of torture at the direction of the Executive Branch is a partisan witch hunt.

  • Executing Japanese officers for waterboarding prisoners during WWII shows that we have the moral high-ground on human rights -- waterboarding prisoners of our own shows that we have the moral high-ground on human rights.

  • Sitting two rows in front of Jane Fonda in a 1970 anti-war rally is an OUTRAGE! Shaking Saddam's hand in 1983...meh, not so much.

  • Anyone who questions the president during a time of war is giving aide and comfort to the enemy and should be deported...unless the president in question has a (D) next to their name in which case you should undermine them at every turn even if you have to routinely make shit up to do it.

  • Socialism, Marxism, Communism and Fascism are all interchangeable words that mean pretty much the same thing.

  • Anyone who abuses drugs should be locked up indefinitely...unless they are a popular Republican radio host in which case they need your prayers as they recover from the illness of addiction.

  • Health Insurance companies have your best interests in mind and anyone who thinks otherwise is trying to turn America into the Godless heathen nation of Sweden where EVERYONE in the country dies (eventually).

  • Obama is an atheist communist muslim who attended a radical christian church.

  • Believing that human activity could impact the global environment is crazy talk -- believing that an invisible man in the sky personally told George Bush to invade Iraq to fulfill Biblical prophecy is logically sound.

  • The verdict is still out on evolution -- but Jesus Christ returning in our lifetimes is pretty much a given.

  • The media are unquestionably biased against Republicans -- Talk Radio, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, Rightwing Blogs, Fox News and NewsCorp are not part of the media.

  • The government should have no part in regulating multi-national corporations as they make decisions that impact the lives of millions of people -- government should regulate individuals by determining who they can marry, what kind of intercourse they can have, what they can smoke, how to manage their pregnancy and how to proceed with end of life decisions.

  • Communicating with hostile nations is a stab in the back to our great nation -- Reagan communicating with the USSR during the Cold War was Political Genius.

  • Iran is a mortal threat to our nation and anyone who attempts to talk to them is traitorous scum -- selling weapons to Iran and then funneling the money to start wars in South America is clearly in our National interest.

  • George Bush kept the nation safe after 9-11 (NOTE: the Anthrax attacks, the DC Sniper and Hurricane Katrina don't count. Also, the fact that 9-11 happened on his watch despite receiving a security briefing specifically warning of the attack doesn't count either.)

  • Social Security, Meidcare, public schooling, public libraries, fire departments, police departments and the US Military are as American as Apple Pie -- universal healthcare is ZOMGDEATHPANELSOCIALISM!!

  • George W Bush is a regular 'ole Texas rancher just like you and me despite the fact that he was born in Connecticut, attended two Ivy League schools, bought the Crawford ranch just before running for president, sold it immediately after leaving office and is terrified of horses.

  • The two guys at the center of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals are trustworthy voices in discussions of current national policy and should be taken at face-value.


    (I did not write this but found it on numerous sites. I didn't see who the author is or I would give him/her credit. It is good isn't it?)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

In Light of the Health Care Debate

This has been floating around for a while, but I just saw it for the first time recently.

August 29th, 2004 9:38 pm
Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican

by John Gray

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark)

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.

He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.



Friday, August 21, 2009

That Highway

If I was going on an adventure, I might go down Highway 61. As it is, we might just go to Park Day instead which involves no highway travel... this time.

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Just Bought a Bunch of Stuff!

I just bought of bunch of stuff! We are still mostly not buying anything new. But, I've completely rationalized it all to myself that that does not apply to things for the kids' education. We are Unschoolers first, Compactors second, after all.

So, I went to Fun Books and perused the Math section and the Writing section and grabbed a bunch of stuff that the kids will love--I think. That's the idea any way.

I got:
  • Murderous Maths (it's British so it's wonky--"Maths" not "Math"... not to say that all things British are necessarily wonky--sorry my British friends!)
  • A couple of Draw-Write-Now books We'll see if the kids like them or if they're too smarmy. My kids do not suffer smarmy lightly, so I hope these will just be fun and not too pointedly teachy.
  • The Stunning Science of Everything from the Horrible Science series which looks like a nice overview of everything--basic ideas any way.
  • A couple of David Macaulay books because it is so interesting to see his exploded diagrams and cross sections of buildings and machines and underground tunnels. He is a brilliant illustrator and the kids love his books.
That was a very satisfying internet purchase.

Because we're Unschoolers, and the kids are "doing school" all year round, there's really no great impetus for me purchasing all of those things right now except that it's Back-to-School-Time and I got caught up in the fervor. I plan to go get paper supplies too.

Although I won't get any more glue sticks. I don't know why I always get them, the kids have never really used them much and just use Elmer's glue or now a glue gun for projects.

I think I'm a sucker for school supplies... I will try to keep a lid on it this year.

Have you gotten school supplies yet for your schooled or homeschooled kids? Whadya get?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mercury Exposure is Unhealthy? What?!

What?! Mercury exposure is unhealthy? It is a known neurotoxin and it may cause problems in little children and pregnant women? Who knew?

And yet... I think lots of people did know and would question the healthfulness of having amalgam fillings and vaccines filled with it. I know I questioned it and now the FDA is finally doing the same, albeit after much foot dragging.

This, from a recent Newsweek article:

The reason, of course, is that mercury is a known neurotoxin, especially dangerous to developing brains. For decades anti-mercury activists have pushed the industry to develop substitutes (so-called composites, or resins, are now available), and even to persuade people to have their fillings ripped out, but have made very little headway.

Now they have won a big one. In a legal settlement signed last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has changed the information on its Web site about amalgam fillings to say that they “may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetus,” and that pregnant women “should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner.” Previously, there was no such warning. The FDA also agreed to decide by next year whether mercury fillings need more regulation.

The FDA had been dragging its feet for so long on mercury in dental fillings that even the judge, Ellen Segal Huvelle of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, castigated the agency: “This is your classic failure to act,” she said. (The case is Moms Against Mercury et al. v. Von Eschenbach, Commissioner, et al. The “et al” plaintiffs are other consumer and environmental groups, as well as state officials.)



Where else might exposure to mercury be unhealthy? *cough, flu shots* What about aluminum, another known neurotoxin? *cough, cough, in every single vaccine, cough* Hmmmm...

Monday, August 10, 2009

When You Know You are Right...


Because we sometimes have strong feelings about what we know to be right, I offer this comic relief:



Ha, ha, ha, hee, ho, ha!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Let it Bring You Down

Feeling down? It's only castles burning. Find someone who's turning...


Que Sera, Sera

I didn't like reading The Hobbit. I know that is sacrilege for lots of people. And, how is it even possible?! What's not to like in the twisting, turning plot of tiny Bilbo Baggins and his little Dwarf compatriots as they come under attack from goblins, spiders etc? It's high adventure I tell you--how can I not like it?!

Yeah, except I don't.

I liked reading about Julia Child's time in France in her book coincidentally titled, My Life in France. My mom knew I would like the book she gave me because we had spent many a half hour watching The French Chef together during the 70's. From a very young age I knew how to flute a mushroom (although I can't do it very well), how to take a giant mallet and break up bones (although I haven't done this either... but, I could if I had to--that's how clear Julia's instruction was on her TV show), and had a basic understanding of what wine to pair with a cassoulet or a lobster bisque.

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's hilarious book, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. His writing is soooo good. Read this excerpt where his son warned him off of embarrassing him when purchasing backpacking equipment for his upcoming trail hike:

My first inkling of just how daunting an undertaking it was to be came when I went to our local outfitters, the Dartmouth Co-Op, to purchase equipment. My son had just gotten an after-school job there, so I was under strict instructions of good behavior. Specifically, I was not to say or do anything stupid, try on anything that would require me to expose my stomach, say, "Are you shitting me?" when informed of the price of a product, be conspicuously inattentive when a sales assistant was explaining the correct maintenance or aftercare of a product, and above all don anything inappropriate, like a woman's ski hat, in an attempt to amuse.

Oh my God. I can reread that passage over and over again and still have tears streaming out of the corners of my eyes it is that funny to me. Simply hilarious, and I hope I have the good grace to recognize the humor in my own life when my children are teenagers and are filled with not a little contempt for how queer my husband and I are to them. 'Cause it's going to happen on some level somehow. The whole homeschooling we-are-such-an-intimate-family-so-close-knit lifestyle that we have will not preclude our kids from seeing us as fools from time to time, I'm sure of it.

These are the books I read and thoroughly enjoy. I do see, however, how someone could like The Hobbit. I get that. And I think it's great that my own son has recently discovered it and is devouring it as I would have devoured fluted mushrooms with my mother if I could have held the paring knife correctly.

He loves it. He finds it compelling and exciting and thrilling. What more could one want from a book? He really doesn't understand how I could not like it. It's a mystery and will probably contribute to some bit of contempt in his teenage years.

Oh well. Que sera, sera.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Poppies!

My daughter planted seeds back in the spring. In our living room, we had a table top full of seedlings in egg cartons and black plastic trays. The seedlings were full of hope and energy--so earnest. Snow was still on the ground, but inside our house they were pushing their way up through the loose soil and leaning into the light.



And from these hairy, drooping looking plants came...


Poppies!


Poppies and more poppies!












Aren't they beautiful? Nice job daughter. Thanks for growing these and tending them and planting some of them into pots near your shed/wood shack/playhouse doorway--pretty!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Random Thoughts...

Here are some thoughts I've had over the last week or so. No real link between them all except that some might recognize a bit of absurdity--and who doesn't love the absurd?

  • President Barack Hussein Obama is a United States citizen. No--he really is. Perhaps some of the frenetic, hysterical energy questioning his citizenship is a wee bit misplaced and could serve people in a more positive way. Maybe a protest against mountain top removal, strip mining, injustices around the world. I don't know, get creative.
  • Three single servings of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (two cones and a sundae) at Great America really shouldn't cost $19.78. The ice cream guy's smile, as I looked shocked, told me that he commiserates but what's one to do?
  • I have all of my Mel's Mix material sitting in the garage--just when do I think I will actually put in a garden? Perhaps at the end of the season, just to be contrary...
  • Honey not only helps heal skin lacerations received from a nasty collision with a fire hydrant, but a little dab will heal zits too! Not that my skin is ever anything less than perfect, I'm just saying that I've heard this...
  • I want my dryer fixed so even on rainy days and when it's cold out, I can wash our sheets and towels. I think it's allowed, even on The Compact. Husband, do you hear?!
  • Are we really using more water by hand washing rather than using our dishwasher, which is also broken? This is what I've heard, but I don't quite believe it. Maybe we have to get that fixed too.
  • For our 12th anniversary, my husband and I gave each other a high five. Consummate romantics aren't we? Neither one of us made time to get a card or a gift. It's OK. We love each other and know it.
  • Laura Ling and Euna Lee are free which is amazing! But, what of the women they were trying to investigate? North Korean women are lured out to China for a better life and then are captured by traffickers and used both for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Does this story ever get covered now? You know, I'm really sick of the world mistreating women, kids, minorities, certain ethnic groups and so on.
What's new with you, cyber people? What are some of your random thoughts? Please share if so inclined.

Your cyber pal,
Laura


Monday, July 27, 2009

So Long Suckas...

It isn't always this easy. People don't necessarily get these kind of small, but important domestic victories that embolden the spirit, that make you feel triumphant.

Back when our dishwasher was working, I once tried out a "natural" dishwasher detergent. I was to use only a teaspoon, and I did, and it didn't work. At all. Egg yolk was still encrusted. Tomato sauce still clung to plates. Awful.

I can report here, however, that our diatomaceous earth get-rid-of-the-giant-black-ants-invading-our-kitchen method WORKED! They are g-o-n-e gone. Long gone. We haven't seen a scurrying black squiggle ever since I dusted the baseboards with an ample amount of the powder.

IT WORKED! The natural nontoxic method worked. Ha!

Take that petrochemical, polluting, better-living-through-chemistry, mainstream paradigm!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Because I hated Disco and Listened to The Loop

There are some groups that bring me right back to the late 70's early 80's and remind me of the Chicago music station The Loop which played: Journey, The Who, Rush, REO Speedwagon and not anything pop. Well, not too pop. It was very anti disco. As Steve Dahl said, "Disco sucks!"

My kids love to sing YMCA at distant in-law cousin weddings though... My disco-hating young teenage self would be aghast, but my 40's kid-loving self thinks it's cute. Standards, schmandards.

Let's enjoy some Journey, shall we? The lyrics are fun to follow along with too. "SONG BREAK" Hilarious. Somehow, every group from that time reminds me of Spinal Tap...




Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who Are You... Put Your Hands up!!




I've never had to supply the police with an ID in my own home, have you? And, if I did, I really wouldn't expect to be handcuffed and arrested after supplying two forms of ID, would you?

If you had just come home from an impossibly long flight from China, you might not be too agreeable especially if you just had to nudge open your sticking front door. It might be frustrating if you normally walk with a cane and are not that strong.

Is being loud in your own home a crime? Is nudging open your own sticking door a crime?

If you're a black internationally known Harvard professor in Cambridge, it might be an issue.

Ridiculous.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What a Surprise--I am Procrastinating

I should be calling people. I should be getting them to commit to hosting one of a jillion children's workshops that I am responsible for setting up for the homeschooling conference that is in March.

March is right around the corner, people--it is not that far away! Besides, we need to get contracts sent out and returned, signed, so we can hand it all off to the people who will print up brochures and get it all entered in the database for the conference site.

If I don't post here for a while, it is because my attention is turned to organizing workshops for little children to enrich them and illuminate them and expose them to the big beautiful world out there.

Or, I am procrastinating...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Golden Years

Remember when you were young and you really had no sense how fast life goes? Life hadn't touched you in the ways it has since. Maybe you had less regrets, fewer mistakes, loftier goals.

"Nothing's going to touch you in these golden years."

That's OK. There are still happy times ahead--a whole lifetime.

No regrets--whatever past you've had is what got you to here now.

Maybe the Golden Years are still to come.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fire!! Or, What do You Kids Think You're Doing?!

The other day, we met some friends at our local pool. It is so fantastic--right down the street from us--and the kids love going there with their friends or just with us the family. They don't care--being at the pool under any circumstances is just great.

Our friends left a little bit earlier than we did, so I enjoyed my own space on a chaise lounge as my kids continued to play that they were swimming in the ocean, evading giant octopuses or whatever they were doing that cracked them up. I'm really glad that they enjoy each other the way they do. In between the frustrating times they have with each other, there is some genuine camaraderie and admiration for one another. They're buds.

I saw that it was just about time to wrap things up so I gave a 5 minute warning, heads up, and went to gather our towels and bag and other going-to-the-pool detritus from near the fence where I had left it in the grass.

I saw four older boys, they were maybe 13 or so, kicking at the chain link fence about two feet up from the ground. They were near where I was headed and I think they thought I was coming over to them, because they seemed a little bit nervous looking over their shoulders as I approached. When I was fairly close, some of them sort of ran behind me, away, and I saw that the fence was on fire... What?!

An 18 inch by 6 inch fire was melting the coating on the metal fence and was feeding the flames that the kids had been trying to kick out. I could see even then that it was dying down--it wasn't going to progress.

I told the boys what I thought, "Oh! That is SO uncool!" A last stricken boy, looking me in the eye as his other friends had run away behind me, and so therefore is the bravest in my estimation, seemed paralyzed as I spoke.

Me: What did you use to light that?!

Stricken, panicked boy: Why?

Me, livid: Why?! WHY?! NO. What did you use to light that?!

Scared-out-of-his-mind-boy: A lighter. I won't do it again!

Me: You DON'T light fires! You just don't!!

I gathered up my things and went to a lifeguard to let them know that their fence was on fire and that those boys did it. She saw and went over to them. As she did, I pointed it all out to my kids who were bundling up in their towels and I quickly explained what a bad choice the kids had made and that they were foolish to play with a lighter like that. You don't light fires!

My kids were horrified. "They'll be in such trouble with their parents!" "What were they thinking?!"

I don't think the parents will ever know. I think the lifeguard, who was only slightly older than the pyro-boys, gave them a good talking to, but I don't think she took their pool passes or anything. The boys left as we were leaving and all avoided eye contact with me.

I know these boys were bored out of their minds. They were also all hyped up on each other's testosterone squirting out in between all of the acne and hearing each other's cracking voices. It's hard to manage all of that energy in ways that don't get you in trouble.

Still--YOU DON'T LIGHT FIRES AT THE COMMUNITY POOL!!

I felt a little like Barney Fife; kind of indignant and silly at the same time. "Not on my beat you kids! Oh no! You're not going to get away with it!" I also felt it was important for my kids to see that if you make bad choices, if you don't even think of the consequences something bad happens--always. And really, how'd that conversation go? Hey, let's take this lighter and light the fence on fire, in broad daylight, surrounded by little kids, parents and lifeguards! Yeah! That's a perfect idea! Totally doable--let's!! *high fives or terrorist fist jabs all around*

I know my kids are going to make all sorts of stupid choices too. I did...

As we were walking down the street home, I wanted to impress upon them that just because you get a wicked, cool, outrageous idea, like lighting the community pool fence on fire, that does NOT mean that you have to act on it!

Lesson learned... for now. *crosses fingers as I imagine the hormone onslaught/brain shut off to come in my kids*


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Because We Have Charisma...

My sister and brother-in-law are coming over today for a rousing, lengthy game of D-n-D... or is that D & D?... Dungeons and Dragons.

It's a game I never played as a kid when it came out in the 80's because I was too busy being mad at Ronald Reagan and staring at my not-model-shaped nose in the mirror for hours at a time.

It's hard being a teenager, isn't it?

My kids have the basic idea from my husband who did play the game in the 80's. He didn't care what Reagan did and he didn't obsess about his body and different features on his face. He just went along wearing his army jacket and pretending he was a half-elf/fighter/thief/cleric/magic user who always carried the bag of holding. (It has more space on the interior than you would suppose... kind of nifty for taking stuff that doesn't belong to you, or for carrying rope and grappling hooks, 'cause you never know.)

I'm making all sorts of finger food. So, today will be a time of eating and pretending--two great past-times, I think.

Do you have charisma? Oh yeah? How much...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer in the City

It hasn't been that hot around here for a while. We did get up into the 90's at some point, but it's been relatively cool around here, for Chicago.

Still, it is summer in the city.

Remember dust on records? And, it didn't even matter...


Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Kids Right Now... Marching Cadence


Inspired by my son's book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead by Max Brooks, my two kids are marching in unison (nice formation) through the house chanting at the top of their lungs, "I don't know but I've been told: zombies smell like stinky mold!!"

I warned the kids that that might be a very provocative thing to yell around zombies and they informed me that they can't be insulted. My son said, "It's like insulting an insect--they won't notice. They don't think like that."

Oh. Well, all right then--carry on.

We might find something more productive to do today, but it will probably not be nearly this fun.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Literary Classic... a Fun Book From My Childhood


I remember being so entranced with particular books during my childhood. Either the words grabbed me or the images. They all possessed some sort of magical quality and I would read them over and over to myself.

I have searched for some of these books to share with my kids, and was finally sold Giants Come in Different Sizes by Jolly Roger Bradfield at the local library book sale. Well, the library wasn't selling it, but the guy who managed the sale had it at home and sold it to me--he had two copies or he would never had parted with one. He loved it too.

I love when you talk with people and you get happy outcomes--all because you were forthcoming.

I had searched the internet for the book and it had gone out of print, so the only copies that were available at the time were those that people were selling on e-bay for about $90. Amazon now lists that book used for around $27 in not the greatest condition. My kids would never have the joy of that book unless the library sale guy had been willing to part with his for about $5. How nice is that?

Jolly Roger Bradfield also wrote The Flying Hockey Stick which I also adored when I was six. It was also out of print until recently and it is now available again.



The boy in the story creates his own flying machine out of a hockey stick, tape, a fan and a lot of extension cord. My kids will love it although they are fast approaching the age where they will no longer be so captivated by picture books. They aren't such little kids any more and they are both great readers and are both reading large books to themselves.

They are not too old, thankfully, to have me read to them and they will also delight in Barnaby's exploits of creating his flying hockey stick just as I did when I was a kid.

If you can get your hands on any of Bradfield's books for a reasonable price, consider yourself lucky and enjoy the good read with your kids--no matter their age.


Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Make Raw Milk Yogurt


A while ago, I took my Viili Yogurt Starter I got from Cultures for Health and made raw milk yogurt. It turned out! It was delicious and easy to make. I'll show you.



I followed the clear instructions sent with the yogurt starter.


I opened the packet up and poured it into a bowl... (At this point, please note how literal my pictures are. Do you really need to see how I open the packet? No? Well, that is how I illustrate with photos and I will show you every step. I'm sorry, you'll just have to deal with it.)


I poured the Viili starter into a bowl, so I could measure out what I needed.


As you can see, I needed 1/2 teaspoon of starter to add to the 1/2 cup of scalded (and cooled to room temperature) milk.


I sprinkled it in.


I reserved the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of starter to have in case I ever need it. 1 teaspoon per packet--very helpful.


I transferred the starter with the milk into a jar where it would sit out on top of my fridge for about 24 hours or so.


Not using the lid here, rather a cloth held on with a rubber band.


This is the pure, treated starter. The master starter. The main starter. From this, I take a tablespoon and add it to one cup of raw milk, let it culture on top of the fridge for about 12 hours or so, and then put it in the fridge for 6 hours and then voila: RAW MILK YOGURT!!

I would show you a picture of the raw milk yogurt I made but, I ate it... I ate it with raw honey and the kids drank it in a smoothie.

I still have the treated starter, so I'll add a tablespoon of that to some more raw milk and make more raw yogurt. I'll make sure I leave a tablespoon of the starter to add to a new batch of scalded, cooled milk to make another round of pure starter. Then, from that I'll make more raw yogurt.

It's not difficult. It is delicious and so healthy and good for all of us.

We are pretty durned cultured around these parts. Are you and yourn cultured too?

What yeh waitin' fer? Go git yeh some culture!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Loves a Parade?

Yesterday morning, we dropped off our kids to march in their first parade. They marched with their dance studio, and I don't have a single picture of them. I'm quite the photojournalist, aren't I? I do, however, have photos of the other participants.


Lots of emergency vehicles making lots of noise. Who are those guys behind the vehicles?


They're Revolutionary War guys! Hello Piper!


Then there were a bunch of scary clowns. (Not to disparage clowns--I'm sure they're lovely people... but, don't they seem a little creepy somehow?)


Marching bands!




Cheerleaders!


Another marching band!


Hello District 15 Space Shuttle! Coo-el.


Check out the power--look at the rocket booster bottoms thingies.


The Jesse White Tumblers showed up. They are fantastic--a really tight tumbling team. See the floor mats on top of the van?


They set up too far from us! Come back, we can't see you!


Why, hello Harris Bank mascot, Harris.


Is that a steel drum group?


Yes it is.


What fun music. Where are they from?


Ontario, Canada? What?


Cute dogs that were part of something that I didn't really catch...


Another cute pup.


Here's the parade piece de resistance: a church combining their idea of God with uber patriotism... Thankfully, there was only one parade participant like this.



Did you have a good 4th? I hope you had fun whatever you did.




Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Fourth

The Fourth
by Shel Silverstein

Oh
CRASH!
my
BASH!
it's
BANG!
the
ZANG!
Fourth
WHOOSH!
of
BAROOM!
July
WHEW!


Happy 4th of July everyone! Enjoy your freedom. Enjoy your families. Enjoy the loud fireworks and the corn on the cob and the grilled something or other.

Hold on tight, as you spin too fast on the tilt-a-whirl. Try not to hear the tinkling sound of nuts and bolts being jerkily shimmied out of rides at the carnival... Some of those are redundant any way. It's fine!

Hey, are we ever leaving Iraq? What do you think?

Because of the nuclear threat, must we really recognize the corrupt Ahmadinejad in Iran and continue to speak to him, thereby legitimizing his fraudulent election victory?

Life is complicated.

Let's just have fun today and enjoy our kids marching in parades, or watching parades and enjoy the summer fun of the 4th.

Happy 4th everyone!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Please Don't Let Me be Misunderstood

You know who likes The Animals? My Mom ! I don't think she knew of them in the 60's--she was too busy raising kids. She likes them now.

I understand Mom. You are not misunderstood...

So, here's a fitting song.


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