Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NaBloPoMo Final Thoughts…

So I've completed the month of blogging daily.  I have to say, many of my friends snickered at the thought of me doing this.  Something about saying, “I wrote about that in my blog,” is an immediate turn-off for many.  I know, I know.  They probably know that I’ll write about something they disagree with. And their typical reaction would be to interrupt me or point out my flaws…and blogs don’t let a person do that. They make you wait your turn until I hand the microphone to you.  That’s what comment sections are for.  Most of my disagreeing types don’t bother to comment, heck, they probably didn’t even bother to read it!  But I’m not blogging for them.

I thought, at first, I was blogging because there were PRIZES! But I won one...a drawing on Sunday. And it was exciting to know you won out of thousands of blogs.  But remember, it was simply a random drawing. And you know what it was? A book called, Let's Panic About Babies.  Um, no, I guess I don't blog for the prizes either.

I blogged for myself. I blogged to try to get a little focus on what's going on in my life. And I blogged to get back in the habit of daily writing. I've done Julia Cameron's Daily Pages, but I don't have unlimited time to dedicate to writing. NaBloPoMo seemed a little better.

I never used the NaBloPoMo Writing Prompts that were offered each day, until today.  The prompt is

What did you learn from doing NaBloPoMo?

I learned a lot about myself and about blogging. Even though I obviously love long rambling posts, I also love lists.  So here’s mine.
  • I learned that blogging can really connect people. You can get a glimpse into people’s lives in a way that Facebook or email lists don’t often provide.
  • I learned that people can really hear what matters to you. Sometimes it's something really important, and sometimes it's a mundane daily life thing; but blogging gives you an opportunity to share from a deeper level.
  • I learned that Blogging allows you to really explore a topic or an idea. You don’t have to explain something in just enough characters to fit the box
  • The Blogging Everyday aspect turned out to be more important than I though. When you're going to only do a blog here and there, you really want it to say something profound. But when you commit to daily, you don't put that kind of pressure on yourself. You just crank out something. At best, it WILL be great, at worst, it will be okay or so-so.  But you don't immobilize yourself, frozen in fear that you might suck at this. You just keep writing and see what's there.
  • I was reminded that typos can really make you look stupid. Even when you’re not. But when you’re trying to make a deadline and dogs are barking or someone is talking to you and you’re trying to finish a though, typos happen. Regrettably.  So I learned that my habit of moving pieces around in a blog post requires at least two passes of self-proofing.  And hopefully, I'll make time for it!
  • I learned that I like telling stories that are from the Present but reach back into the past.
  • I learned that participating in NaBloPoMo more than tripled my page views (which does kind of embarrass me about the typos, but what's a girl to do?).
  • I realized that in order to blog, you have to be okay with looking dumb or looking like you took the wrong position. You’re putting your ideas on paper…in writing. No fence-sitting. Unless that’s what you blog about – the ambivalence you feel about issues.  Maybe that’s why it’s easier to do at 50, you start to care less about those who differ with you, and more about those who can relate.
  • Another reminder: writing takes up a lot of time – if you’re trying to write articles or well-thought out ideas. But getting in the habit of writing daily has been great.  (Admittedly, Alyssa and Josh wanted me to watch a show with them and their only request was that I NOT bring the laptop into the room and I actually WATCH the show! Ok…)
  • I had never heard of before and I really like some aspects of their website. I don’t know if there are others blog networking sites out there like it, but I like reading in the different categories.
  •  Back everything up! I learned by watching my friend Carol's blog arbitrarily disappear, for some Google reason I don't know. She got it back, but it was a reminder that we are not really in control of our words at our blogs. 
  •  I didn't know this, but I'm really addicted to Comments. If someone writes a comment to my blog, first I’m elated! Then, I race over to see what they said. Comments offer some kind of validation, some way of saying, “I hear you.” I like that a lot.
  • Because of my personal addiction to Comments, I try hard to comment on my friends’ blogs now. I am probably just projecting and they are much less codependent than I am, but just in case we’re similar, I comment.
  • Lastly, I learned that I have a lot more to learn about blogs. And here are my questions. If you know the answer, please tell me!
o   I often announce my post on Facebook, just to let people know I wrote something. Then my friends read it and comment on my FB Wall.  And that scrolls away. Is there a way to transfer comments from Facebook to the blog?
o   Does blogger group posts by category or do you only have the label/tag bubble to use to find things. Besides the search box.
o   Some people have really cute fonts at their site, how do they get those and incorporate them.
o   Is there a way to expand the center section of my blog without changing the template?
o   Whenever I update my post, usually because I found another typo, does it notify my subscribers? (All 5 of them!)
o   Is there a way to see who looks at your blog?
o   Is there a way to see who is having email notifications sent to them if I post something on the blog?
o   If you post something at the Blogher website, how do you encourage people to go back to your blog instead of just reading it there?

So, I’m not going to do the next NaBloPoMo Challenge for December. I have a book that I really need to finish. I could still use some more survey comments from young adults or teens who were homeschooled during their teen years. Here’s a link to the website with the survey.  

My goal is to have this book completed by Spring. So that’s what I want to focus my writing on.  Still, I have thoughts that cloud my brain, so I’m sure I’ll post blogs to clear them out of the way, so to speak.

But thank you to for hosting NaBloPoMo! It was the jumpstart I needed. I will definitely continue to write daily. Whether it will end up on my blog remains to be seen. And thank you to everyone who came over to listen to me ramble on about my life. If you decide to blog, be sure to let me know! I'll come over and comment!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Piano

Katie always wanted to play the piano. She and Alyssa both have taken lessons. Initially, we had only an electric keyboard. That's not good enough when you're really starting to play least if you're trying to learn how pedals work.  So when we moved to Wichita Falls, and we had the space, and we thought we were done with moving around, we decided to start looking for a piano.

Wow! There's quite a price range for pianos! I had no idea. I had great memories of my cousin's piano. She was playing Christmas carols and everyone was gathered around, singing along. And then another friend with a huge room, had a baby grand piano. It was gorgeous. More like a furniture piece, than something to play. Although you could allow your thoughts to drift over to Dean Martin and his cocktail party guests gathering around for a little song. Not that that was happening in my house - or anyone else I know - but it gave me a warm Bing Crosby feeling.

So the quest for Our Piano continued.

Alyssa's interest in piano waned, but Katie's continued. She really enjoyed the teaching style of Mrs. Mahurin, who lived in Charlie, just a few miles from our house.  Mrs. Mahurin had been in that community for a long time and she knew a lot of people. She understood bargain shopping - even for pianos; and she knew just the one at a nearby church.  They had upgraded to a much nicer more modern piano/organ and this one was relegated to a dusty basement. The church told her they'd part with it for $100.

She called. We confirmed. That was that. Added bonus: we were just 3-4 weeks away from Christmas!

The church agreed to hang onto it for us. The plan was to pick it up on Christmas Eve. I don't really remember how this all played out. I must have taken the kids off somewhere and Ron orchestrated the ...not sure what to call when one tries to sneak a piano into a house!  But he threw a few blankets over it, adding some packing as if to disguise the shape.

When we returned, the girls were whisked past the wrapped "disguised" piano.  All was well.

One of our Christmas Morning traditions is that the kids can't go into the room with the Christmas tree until I'm ready for them. This means, turning on the tree lights, starting the Christmas music, making some coffee, adjusting the video or the camera - whichever we're using to record their reactions. I know, writing all that makes me sound a little...controlling? obsessed? nuts? Whatever. Don't judge.

So while they're waiting to emerge, Pete the Cat walks along the piano keys. I shoo him off there, but not before Alyssa shouts from the other room, "I knew it was a piano!!"

This piano. What it lacked in formality and even good tuning, it made up for in charm. One key really struggled to hold its note. The wood on it didn't match. Swaths of paint graced the front and the sides, probably from a tight fitting doorway during one of this piano's many moves. We were always going to sand those off and it could have looked wonderful, but we just didn't take the time to do that.

Plus, as a friend of mine in California told me, "Flat surfaces do not stay vacant for long in your house!" The piano quickly became the base for family pictures and knick knacks, a lovely desk lamp that cast a yellow glow into the room, a candle or two, and the obligatory metronome. Who am I kidding? Looking at it now, there are also matted photos from Ari that still need to be framed, some ear muffs, headphones, a wall hanging that fell and hadn't been rehung, some mail that never made it to the flat surface where it belonged.  Yeah, that piano could hold a lot of stuff.  Even the small piano bench would bulge over the years with Alfred's Basic Piano, or All-in-One music books. Plus, all the loose music that Katie would stuff in there from vocal lessons, musicals, or from her piano teacher.

But this is yet another blog post about time marching on.

Katie's moved to NYC, and the piano sits and gathers dust.  All the stuff still sits on it, but now it gathers dust too. Years before, Our Piano had been moved to a little front room.  It was crowded, but cozy.  Katie could sing really well, but she was often quite loud. A great thing for the stage, a little much for the living room. Unfortunately, she was often drawn to the piano when everyone was sitting around trying to watch television. It's hard to focus on CSI when Katie is belting out songs from Phantom of the Opera!  In retrospect, moving it to the other room, meant that she didn't play it as much.  I guess it was a line of sight kind of thing. And now, as I sit in this very quiet house, I miss the cacophony of kids - video games, television, laughter (and yelling)... and that piano.

But keeping the piano won't bring all that back. And, just as I've had to do with lots of the kids' "things" that I was hanging on to... I needed to find a way to let the piano go too. I called it cozy in that tiny front room, but that's really a stretch. It's overstuffed. (Have you seen The Hoarders show? The kids kept making me watch it over the summer. They reassured me that I was not there yet, but they could see if coming if I didn't get a hold of myself!)

Anyway...back to Our Piano. We considered selling it. But looking at that old piano from an objective buyer's standpoint, it wouldn't make us much money. They wouldn't see all the stories that are associated with it.  I sent an email out to my friends to see if anyone would want Our Piano. I was so happy to hear that my friend Cydney did! SHE would understand the stories that come with the piano. She would appreciate the history. She described the shelves that she'd like to build around our little piano to showcase it (and all of her other great art work). Perfect. She'd have to convince her husband that they really need a piano, especially since no one plays piano there, but I was confident she could do that.

After a little coordinating, we scheduled the movers to come on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

So as I wait for the movers to come pick up the piano, I have my moment in my crowded little front room with Our Piano.  I think about listening to Katie's voice through the years.  It got stronger as her range grew; I knew that by listening to her work on music at that piano.  I think about when Katie would play it if I was sick. Her voice and the music would waft up the stairs.  And I could just lay there and listen to her and her piano.  It was beautiful. That was my favorite.

I think of  my friend/her piano teacher, Marilyn Mahurin. She was such a wonderful life-line for me when we were surrounded by a community of people that really didn't like us much. Here she was, the minister's wife, sharing her books and ideas, commiserating when people were mean or judgmental.  We were connected with her for five years through piano. We watched her kids grow; we followed her when she moved into town. That piano she found for us reminded me that good people exist everywhere -  even when the loudest want to push them out of the picture.  You just have to get calm, look around, and find the Marilyn Mahurins. They're out there.

I'm happy Our Piano is going to go live in someone-I-know's house.  And I'm happy that we have such wonderful memories.  So the movers arrived and tilted it onto the dolly. I walked with them as they rolled it up the ramp and into the truck. They looked at me kind of funny when I wanted to take one last picture of Our Piano moving away.  Kind of like how I took pictures of Katie and Michael at the airport when they left.

They say it's our resistance to Change that makes it hard. So even though some little tears are squeaking out as I'm telling you this weird story about Our Piano, I'm trying not to resist all the Changes that are happening around me.  Really. I'm trying.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Garden Greenhouse

We've done a lot of work in our yard this year. With the onset of the Texas Drought, we had to make some serious changes. Add our three dogs to the mix and the grass in the backyard had to go. So we enlarged the patio square footage and put down pea gravel.   This meant that most of the gardening had to be done in pots. Another reason for this decision was the propensity of Gracie, the Siberian Husky to dig. I was tired of going out to find that she had dug up a bush and was gnawing on it in the corner of the yard. Anyway, we have a solution for the winter!

I got my Greenhouse! 

It's 8' x 8' - not 12'x12' like I wrote in a previous blog. But it's plenty roomy! I have two shelves on the sides and a small folding table in the middle toward the back. I'm able to slide 2 rubber maids full of potting soil under the table.

It's just off the deck, so the electricity is handy. I'll be able to put grow lights out there to warm it up when temperatures really start to drop (Not by most other states' cold temperature standards, but Texas standards. We freak out if the double digits go to the 30's!)

So last night, the cold front came in. I don't even know what the temperature was, but the wind was blowing so hard, it was making it so much colder. I brought all the plants into my new greenhouse! There was PLENTY of room! Shelter from that wind! This is going to be soo much better than dragging them into the bathtub and setting up a grow light in there. Or worse, letting the plants stay out just a little longer than they should, and then pulling in their nearly lifeless stalks.  Only to worry about watering them in the house and overflowing to the floor, or letting them just pile up near the doorway in a cluster of dying leaves.

Not this year!

I even pulled up my now flowering green pepper plants and repotted them. Hopefully they'll produce a little with this protection.

And my little cacti are going to be so happy in there!

This morning, when I went out to check on them...I unzipped the door and it was nice and warm in there; the sun was shining through the plastic walls.

Yep, this will make a nice winter home for my plants.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whatcha Drivin'?

For my mom, it's all about the cars.

I've never met a woman more into cars than my mom. At 81, she is still busy looking out the window identifying cars she likes and dislikes as I drive her to the grocery store or church.  In fact, when she turned 80, she bought 2 cars! Paid cash. Test drove it with all of us watching or riding, biting our nails, then driving it off the lot to her senior living apartment complex. But things have shifted a little now. And she's not happy with me.

The first car I can remember isn't even really a memory for me. It's a photograph. I think it's a 1958 Hudson. It could be an Oldsmobile. My dad's not around anymore to tell us. My mom isn't really a reliable historian anymore.. We were a one-car family so my mother didn't drive it unless my dad was at home. Just trips to the grocery store.

Next it was a big black Chevrolet, probably from the late 50's. My only real memory of it was it sitting in the garage. I must have been under 4. My mom called it Big Blackie.

The first car I remember riding in was specifically my mom's - a blue Corvair.  My little brother was only 2-3 and he could start in the back seat, but he'd end up standing straight between the 2 front bucket seats. My mom really liked that car. She'd smoke her Chesterfields and turn on WHB, the local music station. We sang along to Beatles songs and trekked off on carpools to school, ballet, or Mimi's house. Corvairs had motors in the back and made a little humming sound when you drove. I always felt like we were on the back of some big bug, zipping along.

Times were good for a while so then we became a 2 car family. My dad bought a baby blue Cadillac. There was so much room!! I only remember riding in it to Mass on Sundays, so I'm guessing kids didn't ride in that car much. I was so impressed that it had a cushioned armrest that I could pull down in the middle of the backseat. A perfect divider for my brother and me...he could stay on his side, and I could stay on my side. Why that mattered, I don't know.

So a few years passed and the tide turned, as it so often does. A man was in our garage buying the Corvair. My mom was sad to see it go, but she shuffled us away, quoting a line from her favorite Doris Day song, "Que Sera Sera."

Then they came for the Cadillac. They were coming for the furniture too, but that's another post entirely. We moved in with Mimi, my mom's mom. And my dad took a bus to Dallas to find work where my aunt and uncle lived.  Before he left, he went to his cousin's used car lot. He came home with the car we called, The Pink Buick. No A/C and the heat only came out on one side, but it had a radio. That's all we cared about. We sang along to Nancy Sinatra...she couldn't really sing - but neither could we!

Later that year, we'd take that Pink Buick to join our dad and start our new life.  It's normally a one-day drive from Kansas City to Dallas, but the Pink Buick could only go 45 mph.  So my mom, brother, and our Siamese cat, and I piled into a hotel room in Atoka, Oklahoma. The only thing I remember about it is that we had to cross Hwy 69 on foot to get to the restaurant to eat, and our cat, Tang, chewed her way out of her cardboard cat carrier. We left it at the hotel and endured her yowling under the seat (as only Siamese cats can do!) for the rest of the trek to Dallas.

My mom continued to drive the Pink Buick for another year or so. Knowing now how much she loves cars, that must have been a really hard thing for her.

Times improved for our family, and we were back to our buy-a-newish-car-every-4-years plan. We had mauve Cougar, a Lincoln Continental, sporty Subaru, the gold Nova, and a Chevy Chevette.

I guess because I was young and somewhat self-absorbed, I didn't pay much attention to my mom and her car fascination. Maybe she didn't speak about it to me. I didn't really care about cars, as long as I could have somebody's keys on the weekend. My mom told me a story about when she was a teenager. She was the youngest of three and she desperately wanted to drive. So they pushed the car out of the driveway, silently, and started it up down the road where her father couldn't hear. I don't remember if she got away with it or not, I just remember her face glowing with pride as she related this crazy story of sneakiness and defiance. I thought, why are you telling me this?? But her love of driving superseded all parental reason! ha!

When I was a teenager, my mom had a job later that would require that she drive a lot. That was her reason for why she wanted to get a new car all the time. And once my dad died, she did.  I lost count of how many cars she traded.

Then she started to have trouble with her driving. Initially, she was having angina, and would have to pull over to the side of the road to let the feeling "pass." We were raising kids all over the country, and I'd ask my uncle to check on her. She'd downplay the whole event, and I let her.

Then she had a fender bender that wasn't her fault. Next she was T-boned as she entered an intersection without really noticing the oncoming traffic. Then she backed into a neighbor's parked car. Finally, she put her car through the garage wall, stopping only because of the kitchen stove and counter. And, actually, the insurance rep took me out to the garage when he was assessing the situation. He showed me burned rubber marks on the indoor-outdoor carpet that she had in her garage. (I know, only she would have carpet for her car!) The skid marks indicated that as her car was slamming into the kitchen wall, she was pressing on the gas pedal instead of the brake. She panicked and pressed the wrong pedal.

You'd think this list of "problems" would have caused a lot of alarm for us. And it did, to a degree. But we didn't live in the same town and she was a really good bluffer.

Fast forward to 2009. My mom moves to Austin to be closer to us. Her health is so-so, and it's clear she is more forgetful. She comes with her Chevrolet Trailblazer. She wanted to give it to Alyssa for her 16th birthday and buy a new car for herself.

So in February 2010, that's what happens and she bought herself a Nissan Sentra. By the end of the year though, she's not happy with how low she is to the ground. She wants to trade it. But after riding in the (now Alyssa's) Trailblazer, she doesn't like the sound of it. She wants Alyssa to have the Nissan and she wants to trade the Trailblazer for something else.  We trek over to CarMax again.  We scour the lot, she knows what she likes.  She opts for a Honda CRV. Great car. The scenario I gave at the beginning? That was what was happening when she was test driving the CRV.

We rationalized that it was okay to let her drive because, a) she really only drives a few beaten paths - church, WalMart, my house, Walgreens; b) she sounds really confident about driving; c) she's had no little crashes, or car incidents since she moved to Austin; and, d) she loves cars.

We joke about my mom's mom, Mimi, driving. She was only 5 feet tall and she drove until she was about 88.  She'd have 2-3 small fender-benders per year. Visualize this: tiny woman, sitting on a pillow to see over her '66 Chevy Impala steering wheel, bending down to reach the lighter to light her cigarette. Her foot would slowly come off the brake and she'd roll into the car in front of her.  This happened 4-5 times! One time, she got sick - her annual pneumonia hospitalization because whose lungs can withstand anything after smoking for 80 years?!  While she was in the hospital, my mom, her brother and her sister, sold her car, packed up her apartment, and moved her from Kansas City to Dallas.  She never was specific but I think losing the car was the hardest thing for her. She was a quiet woman, and she'd just say to me under her breath, "they never should have taken that from me."

I think that really affected me. I was very sensitive to the fact that I didn't want to take my mom's car from her before it was time. I wanted to learn from Mimi's experience.  She and I would talk about "when the time comes that she has to give up the car..." And years ago, we set the age at around 80.  As 80 approached, she wanted to push it further down the road.  After all, she wasn't as bad as Mimi.  And, did I SEE some of the old people MUCH worse than her driving in the apartment complex?

Even though she didn't have any wrecks, it was clear that she was having difficulty. She'd get lost. She'd weave in the lanes. She was really unsteady on her feet, and she managed some of her balance issues with the steering wheel. She'd have trouble figuring out if the lights were on.  She was pulled over for speeding in her neighborhood. Her judgement was slowing, her reaction time even slower.

Still I wrestled with what to do. When you're the only one making the decision, it's a lot of pressure to get it right. I can't blame a relative saying I had to do what they wanted. It all comes down to me.  I was explaining to Ron that it's so hard because you can't see where The Line is. You want to be able to let her get as close to The Line as possible, without going over it. But you're in the dark!

Alyssa seemed to understand that I wanted to take in Grandma's feelings. But Ron and Josh kept telling me that it was time.  And the worst part about The Line? What if the way you know you crossed it is that she runs over some kid darting out in the church parking lot? Or what if she's like that elderly man who slammed on the gas, thinking it was the brake, and ran over people in a California Farmer's Market?  We already knew she had done that before - maybe 5 or so years ago. And she was worse now than then. So...

I talked to her about taking the keys to the CRV. I talked to her about what we were seeing. I talked to her about the potential crises that could occur if she DID have a problem. She agreed that she was close to being of age to stop driving, but the time was not now. No, I could not have the keys.

Great. :/

Because my mom is really sexist, I knew I'd have to bring Ron into this. He went with me after work, and this time HE did the talking.  He was soft spoken and explained to her that it IS the time. And it's really one of those things that you simply have to trust that your family has your best interest at heart. She agreed with that.
Although she semi-jokingly cut over to me saying, "I know you just want my CRV," then chuckled.
Ron reminded her that she knows I'm not a "car person."
"I was just joking," she said.
A few more things were said about how we'd pick her up and take her wherever she needed to go. She didn't argue with him. He reached for the keys and took the car key off her keyring.

For a month now, we've been driving my mom wherever she needs to go. She comes to our house to eat every other day now. We're finding out that she's been bluffing a lot in some of decisions about bills and her apartment and her medications.  I'm confident that we did the right thing, and I'm so very thankful that we didn't have to have any "car incident." She still won't sign the title over to me though. I asked her if she was just waiting to get mad at me and then call the police saying I stole her car?
She laughed saying, "No, I just know you'll get tired of coming to get me for everything and you'll give me the keys back."

We both try to laugh about it. We know none of it is really negotiable anymore. We've made a decision where The Line is, and there's not really any going back on it.

And, just when I thought she was adjusting, she told me this weekend, "I'm still very depressed about the car situation.  I keep waiting for this feeling to pass, but I cry a little in the mornings."

"Really? What makes you cry?"

"I look out the window for my little black car in my usual parking place under the tree, and it's not there." She pauses and adds, "I was talking to my dog-friends at the apartments. They all think you shouldn't have taken my car. My friend Martha said, 'these kids! They think they know everything!'"

"What did you say to her? How about 'My family cares about me so that's why this happened?"

"No. I told her 'yeah. And mine's the worst!' Then we watched this tiny little old lady get into her great big car and drive off."

"Oh, mom.  How 'bout I take a picture of the CRV, and we tape it on the bedroom window pane?"

Mom glances into the distance, "Maybe I should get a mini-Cooper. I like those cars. I think you're too big for that car, so maybe you wouldn't take THAT away from me. I could just go to the bank and withdraw money and buy it outright."

"Yeah, but you'd have to have me drive you there - and that's not going to happen!"

Aging, it's not for wimps.

May 2012 - There's a Part 2 to this that I haven't written yet. Mom's friend Martha took her to the Car lot and they bought mom a car - paid cash, didn't tell me until a couple of days later.  Sheesh. I'll write about it soon.  Maddening!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Always Something

On Thanksgiving, the sliding glass door broke. The wheel inside, that runs on the track, simply broke off. We had been talking about getting it replaced with French doors, but other "House Projects" were ahead on the list. Like the greenhouse I've been wanting for some time now.  Ron bought it a week ago - probably because he didn't want to go through another winter with plants in the bathtubs and Grow Lights strategically mounted on the windowsills.  We went for an inexpensive (relatively speaking) portable model - 12' x 12' . We haven't brought plants in there yet, because we still need to get shelves and lights, but hopefully soon. We were distracted because a couple days after it arrived, the pump on the hot tub broke. It was making some funny sounds, then it just stopped running altogether. The repair man was scheduled to come out the day after Thanksgiving.

On Thanksgiving, we were in luck; the weather was pleasant. We left the sliding glass door stuck in the open position. With 3 dogs at our house, plus another one when Grandma comes, we open and close that door a lot! And it's too heavy for me to lift, so I have to keep calling Ron or Josh to do it. That got old for them, so they left it open for the day. That just meant I had to battle flies in the kitchen while I fixed Thanksgiving dinner.  So Josh and Alyssa did Round One of Thanksgiving with his parents, then Ron went to pick up Katie at the airport. The kids picked up Grandma on their way back to our house for Round 2, and then Scott and Pam arrived. Michael joined us on Skype and we all met everyone in his new host family. Afterwards, Katie's boyfriend came to pick Katie up for a little bit, Pam & Scott left, I took Grandma home, and Ron started the dishes. Lots of coordinating that day.

So the repair man DID come the next day for the hot tub. The motor had gotten wet and a bunch of parts had to be replaced. $650 worth! Then the guy came to measure the door.  Estimate: door plus labor $1200. Cha-Ching! That went quickly!  Ron had been planning to sell Katie's car, so it seemed like a good day to do that!  He cleaned it out and took it up to CarMax. Her little Sunfire - that had been Michael's when we first moved here - was traded in for $3000. That's twice what Ron had expected! I think we only paid about $4000.  She had had several wrecks in it (the girl was never a great driver!), the speedometer didn't work and the interior was pretty shabby.  So when they gave Ron the check, he called me to pick him up, "Hurry, before they change their mind or say that it was the price for someone ELSE's car! hahaha"

So that covered the expenses for the larger items. And the front of our house looks less like a car dealership.

Even though I wasn't going to go shopping on Black Friday, I realized that Katie needed some winter clothes for NYC. I may not have mentioned this, but evidently, I gave away all of her winter clothes to Goodwill last September. She had 2 bags - one for Goodwill and one to be sent to her later. I was really procrastinating about moving her and Michael's things. It just seemed like too much was happening too fast when they both left within a week of each other.  If you missed what that was like, look at Hurricanes on Multiple Fronts.  So within a couple of days of their leaving, Ron was redoing the upstairs floor.  Katie's furniture came out to put new flooring in.  Bastrop's fire victim families needed replacement furniture, and Katie wouldn't really need the bedroom set again. Josh was going to move in at the end of his lease so he'd be bringing his own bed,  a much better one for the room.  So Ron and Josh were pushing for me to make decisions about the bags of stuff....what's trash? what's goodwill? what's storage? In the commotion, the "what's going to be sent to Katie later bag, was whisked away.  The day after Thanksgiving, I went out to storage to see if *maybe* it had been socked away in there somewhere. Nope. Our little displaced Texan faced a New York winter with no cold weather clothes. So we went shopping. And Alyssa, who never misses a sale, joined us. Everyone got new winter clothes.

I know, this is a somewhat mundane story.

But it just seems like...

        's always something!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Go Barefoot!

I've recently found a physical conditioning program that I'm really enjoying. It's called Nia.  It's a combination of Tai Chi, yoga, modern dance - plus a few other techniques.  The first time I participated in a Nia class, it was early in the morning, and Julie Wylie incorporated more yoga and stretching.  The technique is an integration of mind, body, and spirit - a whole-body experience.

We discovered that Julie Wylie lives down the street from my friend.   And, lo and behold, she offers a class in her house twice a week. So we thought it would be a good stress reducer to go.  Initially, I liked it as a stress reducer. But after Class 2, I realized I really worked up a sweat!

Tonight, I brought Katie to a class called "Gratitude: Dance of the in Between." It was scheduled on the Astronomical New Moon (aka Dark Moon). The music of choice for the night? Definitely a  little Pink Floyd.  The class was much larger than I'm used to in Julie's home. There were all kinds of fitness levels and quite a variety of "personalities" enjoying the class.  I tried hard to simply practice Nia, and not people watch!  Katie, of course, loved it. This has always been her nature - a more free-styling natural dance.   Julie is going to send her the names of some Nia instructors in NYC, so Katie can continue with Nia.

I'm going to continue going to Nia classes at Julie's home on Austin's East Side with my friend. And we'll probably pick up some extra classes when Katie gets back to town over Christmas.

        I really liked the theme for tonight:

Between stimulus and response there is a   s p a c e . 

In that  s p a c e  is our power to choose our response. 

In our response lies our growth and our freedom. 

And if you'd like to know a little more about's a great You Tube presentation!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


So much to be thankful for!
First, Katie's safe arrival home for Thanksgiving!!!  And I'm thankful that she is able to grow and learn in New York City.  And, I'm thankful her grandma is able to help us with that!

I'm thankful that Alyssa has found this program that she likes and excels at. I"m thankful that she'll be able to make a good living with a flexible schedule NEXT MAY! I'm thankful that she was able to simply turn her back on drama and realize that she doesn't have to have it in her life. I'm thankful that she has such a good heart and is such a hard worker.

I'm thankful that Michael is having a great time in Nicaragua. I'm thankful that he finished his degree and learned that he really was smart - in spite of lots of doubts he had. I'm also thankful that he's going to be able to put the Journalism degree to work by writing for the Peace Corps magazine. I'm thankful that he's on his path of figuring out how to be employed AND travel the world AND get to know and help other culture in need
I'm really thankful that we could Skype with him while everyone was here.

I'm thankful that Grandma lives close and is coping with this lack of independence she's facing. I'm thankful that she is generally cheerful even though she's incredibly forgetful. I'm thankful that her house sold quickly and she was able to get to Austin where we could take care of her.

I'm thankful that Ron was NOT as sick as that kooky doctor thought he was. I'm thankful that he did not die on that hiking trip he went on in the fall.  I'm thankful that he continues to endure his job so we can all continue to have fun.

I'm thankful that Pam and Scott were able to join us for dinner. I'm thankful that Scott found such a nice person that brings out the best in him. I'm thankful to have them in our lives.

I'm thankful that Josh got on at the fire department and starts on Monday. I'm thankful that he's open to listening to ideas and suggestions from us. I'm thankful that he's so sweet to Alyssa. I'm thankful that Josh was able to experience a real Thanksgiving Dinner with "all the fix in's"

I'm thankful for my family.

And I am thankful for my friends - some I stay in touch with often, others not as often. But I still feel so very lucky and grateful to have them in my life!

Before I wrote all my "thankfuls," I was thinking about past Thanksgivings. I may come back in if I remember more. But here are a few that stick out in my mind...

Funny memories of Thanksgivings Past...
  • Laura Derrick and I, huddling in the pantry, picking weevils out of the flour so we could make gravy for the 20 unsuspecting guests in the next room
  • Patty Nielsen's family and ours, having a "one course at a time" Thanksgiving on the year we had no husbands for Turkey day and 7 kids between us. We just cooked one thing, everyone sat and ate it. Kids went back to playing until the next thing we felt like cooking was done. This went on all day.
  • Scott Copeland and I in the kitchen, my phone on speaker. I'm making food, he's watching his granddaughter, and my mom, her brother, and her sister are on the phone arguing with me about directions from their hotel to our house. Scott thought it would was funny enough to sell tickets.
  • At the ranch, kids riding horses in laps around the house. And watching Zachary bounce so hard on  Gilly that his wallet fell out in the pasture.
  • Mema deciding that we had to make Ron and Scott's favorite chocolate pie in the middle of my fixing Thanksgiving dinner for 20 with the tiniest oven. Then when the meringue didn't "set," it was all my fault for letting egg yolk get in it.
  • Hannibal wearing chaps, and all of them wrestling the goats to the ground to trim hooves.
  • Jennifer turning up her nose at the green bean casserole, saying it was not like her mother's. I told her she could get her mother to help her make it for next year and bring it. Her response, "yeah, if she's out of prison." That marriage ended soon afterward.
  • Leslie Beam and I were cooking Thanksgiving for Walt and Betty. We were furious because we thought they jipped us out of turkey giblets. Only to find we had cooked the giblets in their little sack IN the turkey!
  • Playing touch football with my cousins in Aunt Marilyn's yard. Losing a gold bracelet and in spite of hours of searching, realizing that the yard just swallowed it up
  • The toilet backing up at my parents house just before everyone started arriving.  Always some major catastrophe like that at the holidays.
  • The year my dad had cancer and my mom got the flu the night before we held Thanksgiving at her house. Probably 30 people. So my cousin Steve and I did the dinner together. We figured it out. I remember Natalie coming in say, "Why don't I know any of these people?" about Ron's side of the family. 
  • When Kirby was suffering terribly from his diabetes, he always made jokes about it.  One year, the house was so hot inside from people and cooking, and he kept going out front to lay on the cool concrete sidewalk. Some of the kids came in to tell me what was going on.  Finally, someone told me, so I went out to get him. It must have looked strange to the neighbors. Gosh, he was a sweet cousin!
  • The year we couldn't get the smoker to cook the turkey because it was too cold. We ended up bringing it into the garage and wrapping it with blankets.  It tasted good, but we ate LAAATE!
  • The year we cooked on the smoker and somehow it cooked up the turkey so much it reminded us of the turkey in the movie, Christmas Vacation
  • Every year that Grandma says something silly and the kids launch into lines from the same Chevy Chase movie. "Play ball!!"

Happy Thanksgiving, Ya'll!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Thanksgiving Facts

Infographic at

This is a really cool graphic that I would have loved having as a poster when the kids were little. Here's the info, if you can't see it clearly. (It's clearer at their site; the embedding seems a little small for 50-year old eyes to see!!)

A Little History...

  • 102 People Sailed on the Mayflower. 
  • The journey took 66 Days
  • The first Thanksgiving lasted for 3 days at Plymouth Colony, somewhere between September 21 and November 11, 1621
  • In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving.
  • 5 deer were eaten at the First Feast
  • No Turkeys were eaten; but lobster, seal and mussel was on the menu
  • No Pies or cakes at the first Thanksgiving. :( 
  • 1924 - First Macy's Day Parade (Snoopy has been there since the first one!)
  • 1934 First Pro-Football game on Thanksgiving

And Now...
  • 248 million turkeys are raised in the U.S. in 2011; 1 of 5 of these are eaten at Thanksgiving.
  • Minnesota alone is expected to produce 46.5 million turkeys this year!
  • 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in 2010
  • 2.4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes were produced in 2010
  • 750 million pounds of cranberries are expected to be produced in 2011
  • 42.2 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving last year

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving: The Patterson Plan

I could post about so many other things! 
Like the reprehensible actions of the Davis police department on pepper-spraying college kids peacefully demonstrating. 
Or I could post about how my friend's blog was arbitrarily deleted in the middle of NaBloPoMo. (Now it's back but still it makes everyone a little nervous). 
Or I could post about how the homeschooling community often gets derailed with other issues like political candidates or abortion, or feminism. (I mean, really? Do we want to go back to PRE-feminist days??)  
Or I could post about what's it's like to be in "the sandwich" generation - caring for kids AND an elderly parent. 

But I said I'd only talk about Thanksgiving this week. So! That's what I'm going to do!
Respect the Bird!! lol

Here's our plan:

We'll be up early to start the food, per usual. Alyssa will be the only one around to help, so hopefully, she'll be eager to learn (as opposed to eager to sleep-in!)

Katie's flight comes in at 3 p.m., so Alyssa will go to get her. She and Josh will have already eaten at his family's for Round 1 of Thanksgiving. Scott and Pam will have Round 1 in Georgetown with her family.

Michael's new Nicaraguan host family has WiFi at their house! So I'm thinking he might join us for dinner over Skype. :)

This is what Round 2 looks like.  We'll be serving around 4 p.m. - as soon as Katie gets here! :))
(Well, for us, it's still Round 1, but whatever.)

On the Menu:

  Brie En Croute
  Deviled Eggs
  Olives, pickles, celery with CheezWiz :-D
  Cranberry Fizz Coctail
  Hot Toddies
  Sparkling Apple Cider

The Feast!
  Turkey...cooked "in the bag"
  Spiral Ham...from HEB
  Dressing...Pepperidge Farm, not sure what I'll add to it this year.
  Dressing...Cornbread, small amount, since this is what Scott likes
  Mashed Potatoes
  Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows
  Green Bean Casserole
  Quinoa with fruit and nuts
  Ambrosia with coconut and colored marshmallows

The Dessert
  Pumpkin Pie
  Pecan Pie
  Chocolate Pie
  Mincemeat Pie
The Great Pumpkin Cake


Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Monday's Cool Video Day - is a video card from our family to yours!

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  Love, The Pattersons!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Favorite Things

Cue the music...

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...

Ahhh... My Favorite Things.  So here's a list of some of my favorite things about Thanksgiving:

The old standbys...
The smell of Turkey in the oven
Crisp November air
Roasted turkey skin
Just right marshmallows on top of my famous Sweet Potato dish
The Wishbone
Dressing chock full of apples, raisins, nuts
Using leftovers for the fantastic Turkey Salad (curry, grapes, almonds, pineapple...mmmm)
Elastic Waistbands

New Thanksgiving favorites:
Pinterest - with all the great ideas
The quinoa recipe from Toci that I'm going to use this time
My new wreath
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
The look on Katie's face when she comes home and smells turkey cooking

If you come by and read this...what are some of your favorite things?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Poor Thanksgiving :(

Don't you kind of feel sad for Thanksgiving? It's a full-fledged holiday, but it's stuck in there between Halloween and Christmas.  A second thought for most people - unless you're hosting the family get together!

But the stores don't care about it at all! People don't spend tons of money on Pilgrim or Native American outfits unlike Halloween. People spend a LOT of money on costumes for their kids - and even their dog! We did!

I saw Christmas decorations already out at Garden Ridge when I was looking for Halloween decor. And last week at Hobby Lobby, when I was gathering items to make wreath for Thanksgiving, I was relegated to two very picked aisles of Fall Holiday items, while the red and green aisles of Christmas were absolutely overpowering.

I keep reading about stores that are going to be open ON Thanksgiving! Those poor workers! I remember in years past, only one store (probably WalMart) would be open for just a few hours in the morning. I knew that, because I always was forgetting some ingredient for the big meal, and I'd have to send Ron or Michael out to grab it quickly. "What? We're out of ground ginger? How can I make the famous sweet potato dish without it?"  Glancing at the clock, we'd make a mad dash to the store. We'd openly chat with the cashiers, thanking them for saving the day for us.

Now, they're probably required to be there just like any other shift!!

Maybe it's a psychological thing. Lots of people have trouble getting along with relatives, and this is just one big old glaring example that you haven't worked out those grudges yet.  Certainly that might be why they all choose to go SHOPPING for said grouchy relatives - instead of actually spending TIME with them on Thanksgiving.

The reality is that once stores got wind that we really were considering shopping for Christmas way early, they were there to appease us.  It wouldn't happen if we didn't go shopping. But we do.

We have an upscale outdoor mall, the Domain,  in Austin. Tonight they lit their chirstmas tea! BEFORE Thanksgiving? Really????

So I am going to dedicate this blog to writing about Thanksgiving for the rest of the week.

Black Friday can wait until....FRIDAY!!! No more encroaching!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Family Updates!

Here's an update with what's happening in our world....

Michael has been in Nicaragua for nearly 3 months. He was in La Paz with a warm loving family. He had lots of classes, lots of supervision and it was all prep for the assignment.  But tomorrow he is moving to his new permanent location on the eastern side of the country, the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).  This portion of the Nicaragua has been notably separate from the rest of country. Michael described it as "cattle country" and said it looked like scenes from an old western movie - dirt roads in town, saloon, old buildings.  That was when he was on a week-long visit to the new location. The elections are over, Ortega (a Sandinista) is still in power, and so maybe it will stay calm while he is there. It's VERY possible he will be the only white guy in town, definitely the only American. His Spanish still needs more work, but he'll get plenty of practice. Most of the people around him on this side of the country do not speak any English. And his original host family found it improper to correct him, so he's not getting it as fast as he had hoped. That will probably change! I think his biggest lesson might be to learn to not speak up when he sees oppression and political problems. He already told me that in the elections, there were sometimes more votes cast than there actually were people in the town. hmmm. (Michael, shhhhh!)

Katie has been in Manhattan going to acting classes full time.  Her roommate is from England, so that has been interesting for her. She takes special coaching classes now to help her with tightness in her body that she didn't realize she had. This weekend, she has tickets to see An Evening with Mandy Patinkin and Patty LaPone at the Ethel Barrymore theatre. She will LOVE it!!  And she comes home for Thanksgiving next week. Tickets were half price to fly ON Thanksgiving Day, so she will be breezing in just in time for a 4 PM feast! Poor child has been living on Lean Cuisines and street vendors!

Alyssa is wrapping up Phase 2 of Avenue Five's Cosmetology program. She has been on the salon floor for 2 out of 5 days per week. Phase 3 moves into 3 of 5 days per week.  She has several aesthetician friends that are graduating (there program is 1/2 as long) and she's a little sad about that.  But she's on track for graduation in early May.  She has a 104% attendance rate (she clocks in early in the a.m.'s). This strikes me as funny because I think she had about a 64% attendance rate when she went to Pflugerville High School.  So I'm meeting her for lunch and we're doing a little shopping at Cavender's - right across the street from her school. "Mom, it's a Miss Me Jeans sale!!!"

Ron has been trying out different campgrounds each weekend. But THIS weekend, we're putting together a greenhouse for the backyard! No more lugging plants into the bath tub with a grow light for the winter! Now they will have their own winter home and that makes me happy!!

I'm trying to spruce up the house for Thanksgiving. Ron's brother Scott and his wife Pam are coming for dinner.  Alyssa and Josh are going to his parent's house at 1 p.m. and then back to us at 4 p.m. I might send them to pick up Katie.

Gracie...back inside, comfy on the couch!
*1 more update! Gracie escaped this morning! I heard barking and I thought it was the dogs barking out the front window. But the door wasn't shut all the way when Alyssa left for class and there was Gracie, sniffing around in the yard. It was sending Buddy around the bend, he knew it was ALLL WRONG!!!  So, one quick, "Hey Dogs! Treats!!" and she was right back inside. As Josh would say, "that's a trained dog!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nicaragua...really? For HOW long?

What's a mom to do when their child grows up and wants to go somewhere a little....dangerous? Learn to meditate is one option. But I'll have to save that for another post. Accept that always talking about our lives in terms of "adventures," actually sunk in. And so Michael wanted an adventure when he graduated from college. He wanted to join the Peace Corps. And they wanted to send him to Nicaragua.

Initially I was going to write about how it's been for him over there. And I will. But I'm still a little wrapped up in MY experience of it all. Suffice it to say, it's hard. I'm coming into a Holiday season without my first baby.  For the last 21 years, I've celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas and his birthday and Easter with him. Not this year. And not again until 2013.  So I try to breathe through it. Lean into it. Whatever other little phrase that helps me get through the moment.  It comes in waves.

I can distract myself, there's plenty going on. Three dogs in the house, a greenhouse going up, Alyssa's cosmetology school, Katie (who IS coming home for Thanksgiving and I am absolutely THRILLED about that!), Josh (Alyssa's boyfriend) starting full time at the fire department at the end of the month....there's lots going on here. But even as I'm typing, two little tears squeak out of the corners of my eyes.  There's an incomplete feeling. And I think I just have to face it.

Do I put up his stocking? Will it just make me cry more?  He's just gone for two years, why am I making this so hard? I'm really not the dramatic type.

He has been with a really loving family in La Paz. And I'm really not bothered by the fact that he calls her Mama. (Yes, I heard him say that to her when I was on the phone with him a few weeks ago.) I actually am reassured that someone is there to be a Mama to him.  I know he'll do fine.

I, on the other hand...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning to Yield

I don't Yield well.

I was noticing that as I was driving home from my friend's house last night. Actually, I've been noticing it for longer than that. When I could see Alyssa's boyfriend, Josh, cringing in my rearview mirror as I was changing lanes, it was clear something was amiss. Why I was looking at him and his reaction anyway, instead of the lane I was merging into…well, that's part of the problem, isn't it? So it seems that I look into my rearview mirror, and sometimes look at my driver side mirror, but seldom do I actually turn my head to see if someone is in my blind spot. I just turn on my blinker, do a quick check in those two places, and start slowing but steadily moving into my new lane. Occasionally, I encounter someone who doesn't want to give me space, they honk and I move back.  But most of the time, people seem to accommodate me.

As I drove home, I thought about the past weekend. We did lots of introspective work. And one of the things we talked about was personality types. You've heard various takes on the personality type categorization, but for this workshop, there were four: Controller, Pleaser, Isolator, and Distractor.  The more we talked about it, the more it became clear to me that I  fall into the Controller category.  My fellow workshop attendees were somewhat surprised to find me in this category.  I don't come across as a bully or as an authoritarian-type.  And, I'm neither of those things.    But I do control *situations*. I create containers for people to be able to have experiences that I think should happen.  I clearly want to get my way, and most of the time I do.  While I don't think I do it consciously, my Controller type often looks like a Pleaser, but I'm really still just trying to get things to go the way I want them to go.  Maybe it's just a Southern Thing. 

Because I often have a kind of "flight of ideas" when I'm on the road,  I started to think about how this affects people's driving. My driving habits seemed to line up with these personality patterns. I was just just rolling over into the lane I wanted, without a lot of checking as to whether it was already occupied. My turning signal AS I WAS MERGING was really just a token nod to appear as a Pleaser. But all the while, definitely a Controller. Pleasers were all over the road, carefully driving, merging safely, motioning for someone else to go ahead of them. Isolators are represented on the highway as well - at least those who actually left their house. They're the ones driving with their music loud or headphones on. They tune out the rest of the world, and just drive their isolated bubble down the road. The Distractors are mainly on the service road. There are so many stops along the way, they just never make it onto the interstate.

Controllers, Pleasers, Distractors, and Isolators...all over the place! And there's nothing inherently right or wrong about any of these descriptors. There are positive and negative aspects of each of these categories. The key is to recognize what your dominant response is, and try to choose your actions with that in mind. Make more conscious decisions instead of "knee jerk" decisions.  Look more compassionately at those with other dominant traits. Everyone is really just trying to cope with the world.

Maybe I'll start with just learning to "Yield" a little better...on and off the road. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For MY Trivial Pursuit Partner, I Choose....

Over the years, I've listened to lots of people talk about various educational paths for their child.  We ended up on the fairly radical end of the unschooling continuum, but others opt for a very rigorous formal academic program.  One program is called, "The Well Trained Mind."   When I listened to what their lives looked like and the goals they were choosing for their child, it always made me think of correlations.
  • You could dance with your family - or you could do a dance marathon.
  • You could swim and play at the pool with your kids - or you could make them train for the Olympic swim team.
  • You could go for evening walks after dinner with your family as a way to have healthy exercise incorporated into their daily routine for life - or you could train them to run in the next Boston Marathon.
  • You could read to them every night before bed, snuggling and immersing yourselves in the story - or you could create a booklist of classics and require your child to read a new one per week for years.
There's nothing wrong with The Well Trained Mind.  Just like there's nothing wrong with running the Boston marathon.  It just depends on what your goals are.  And how you want to spend your time.  And what kind of role you want to play in your child's life. 

Nurturer or Taskmaster?
Guide or Enforcer?
Model or Authoritarian?

These are all your options as a parent. 

By the quick look at the yahoo groups, it's clear that thousands of homeschooling parents disagree with me. And at the risk of saying too much or pushing too hard, I would ask these people a couple more questions.

If you find you are drawn to The Well Trained Mind, why is that?
Are you excited at the prospect of creating Super Smart Homeschoolers? 
Or do you feel learning the classics is the "correct" education? 
Do you wish you had learned this yourself? 

As parents, we have to be careful to check our egos at the door. Kids are not extensions of us. We cannot wear their accomplishments on our lapel as if they are OUR badges of honor.  And if you feel you have to outshine the neighbor's kids, think again. Someone else's kid will always do better, look better, seem better. As humans we want to compete. But resist the urge. Your child needs you to love them for who they are - not who you wish they would be. You don't really need to have that bumper sticker on the car professing your child's academic prowess.

For those looking at the "correct" education, by whose standards? And at what price? You might be interested in a peek at my idea of What Should They Learn? . It might be a little startling to those who like the Trivium. But there will be little time for these ideas if you are engaged in such a formal education at home.

If you wish you had learned it as a child, what's stopping you now? Realistically, I think this is the only answer that has any merit. If you enthusiastically take on learning  "The Classics," you will be able to share your enthusiasm with your children and they will learn a great deal of information they might not otherwise. 

Of course, all this might do is make them a really good Trivial Pursuit player.

And that would be a terrible trade-off! As a homeschooling parent, you have the opportunity to create a space for your child to love learning, to become who they were meant to be, and to get to learn and live right beside them in love and enthusiasm.  If you turn your world in to a high stress battleground, you forfeit all of that. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

MCVD: Earth!

I think I'm going to make "Mondays 'Cool Video Day,'" MCVD.  Sure, I have a lot to say, but there are some really cool videos out there on the web. And, maybe everyone is a little tired of all I have to say!!

This is a 5 minute video that shows the earth from the satellite. It is so impressive with the Auroras and the lightening flashes. I kept finding myself wanting to  identify which part of the world I was looking at...unsuccessfully though. Then I went to the website and found the list. I added it below.


Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Shooting locations in order of appearance:

1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just a little wallowing....

What a weekend! I know blog posts aren't necessarily just a journal of the day, but with NaBlPoMo, I'm trying to come up with something!

And right now, I'm kind of in "Wallowing Mode!"

Turning 50 has been a pretty momentous year for me. It's the year 2 of my 3 kids moved away. Not just down the road to college but AWAY. Katie to New York City, home only for holidays. And Michael, to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps, home in 2 years. Probably not before that. My baby ended her high school experiment and started in Cosmetology. What that means FOR ME, because I'm guessing by now you realize that I'm only focusing on what all this means FOR ME! When she went to high school, she really was just going for the experience, I think she had about a 60-70% attendance rate. If she was tired, she stayed home. If we wanted to go out to lunch, we did. If she wanted to leave early, I picked her up. Suffice it to say, our heart was not really "into" that experience.  But now that she's in this cosmetology program - something she really cares about - she has something like a 104% attendance rate!  I know, how can you have more than 100%? She goes early and clocks in. So she is there Monday through Friday 8-5. Plus one weekend per month of extra classes. How that all translates for me is that she's never around.  And when she is, she is with her boyfriend. And I love that for her because they both make each other happy, but I'm missing her.

I am missing all of them. So much. You don't even know. But if you were with me this weekend, you might have a clue by my red swollen eyes.

When I brought my kids home to homeschool, I knew I was going to be incredibly involved in their lives. And as they approached their teens, I knew that it would only be for a finite number of years.  So I set up some gardening, started some writing, even restarted NHEN.  And these are  all good projects, but I'm noticing that they don't keep my attention the way doing things with my children did.

This has left a pretty big void in my life. And I want to be careful about what I put to fill the void. I don't want to just fill it with any ole thing. Still, I'm looking for what that will be.

This year also, I made the decision that my mother was too old to drive. She was not happy with the idea. I'll write another post later about what led to that decision and how hard it was to make. But not here. But that means I drive her around a lot. And she's very forgetful. And repetitive.

But this my 50th year, I'm able to say that my friendships are good. I have been able to reconnect with those who are far away from me, and keep in touch with those locally. I'd like to do this a little bit more.

I've joined a gym and tried to do more vegan recipes. I have a daunting number of pounds to lose in order to get healthy. But I'd love to be able to do more hiking and outdoor activities. And I have a huge learning curve for figuring out how to cook in a healthy way. Tofu sits for months in my fridge staring at me, daring me to try a recipe. The bag of quinoa from Whole Foods, just gets pushed to the side of the counter. I know it's good for me, but what the heck do I do with it???

And today, at my workshop, we talked about many things. Lots of old griefs were stirred up. My eyes are very tired from some of the crying I did. But I'm so happy with the group of people at the Toci center. Even though they are all so different from each other and from me, being there, listening to them, sharing with them, showed me lots of insights. It was a good thing.

I'll be back to regular blogging tomorrow, but for now, this is me.