Overheard.

Hubby: “What’s up? Are you cranky today?”
Me: “No, I just don’t want anyone to talk to me.”
Hubby: “I’m pretty sure that’s cranky.”
Me: “But I feel really happy…when no one is talking to me.”

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Sassy: “MAMMA! COME UP AND WIPE MY BOOTY! I’M IN THE BATHROOM! I’VE GOT POOPS!” (This is a daily thing.)

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Me, explaining the summer book club at the local library: “Ooooh! Look, Golfer! You get prizes and awards for how many hours you read! Cool! And at the end you get a big party. You get SUCH GREAT PRESENTS for doing this!”

Golfer: (looking steadily at me for a while, then finally…) “Knowledge, mom. Don’t forget about knowledge. You know, it’s what I’ll get if I’m reading for that many hours.”

Me: “Yeah, well…uh…..of course. You know, I was just about to say that. I mean…uh…..obviously. It’s the most important thing. I was just, uh, saving that for last.”

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Sassy: “Dad! You know why Mamma has boobies? So babies can suck on them to get milk. I used to suck on mamma’s boobies! Now I’m big. I have boobies, too! (shows them) Can I see your boobies?!”

Hubby: ….

[I’ve found that explaining nursing to kids is so much less awkward when you are actually nursing a child. Which has always been the case for my kids, except for Sassy who is the youngest. You know, one of those, “this is how babies eat…etc.” rather than just throwing the sucky sucky explanation out there and watching their little minds try and get around it.]

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Golfer and I, talking about what he’s saving up his money for:

Golfer: “…and then there’s the ride in the B-29, and the video ipod, and the new Wii game…I have a lot of stuff I want to get!”
Me: “Well, that’s what saving your money is for.”
Golfer: “I’ll be saving for a looong time.”
Me, about to throw out that the only reason a man gets rich is because he saves his money: “You know what they say about what makes a man rich….”
Golfer: “It’s how much love he has, right?”
Me: “Oh…uh….yeah. Exactly. It’s about love, not hoarding money. That’s EXACTLY what I was going to say.”
Golfer: “Then I’m rich already.”
Me: *inward sob*
Golfer: “But that still doesn’t get me a video ipod.”
Me: “Save, buddy. Save. In the meantime, we’ll snuggle.”

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So there it is, folks. A day in my life. Aren’t you glad I shared?

My Garden Likes to Mess With Me.

I don’t know what’s going on this year. I mean, I don’t have a green thumb by any stretch of the imagination, but everything in my garden went SO WELL last year. I really thought I was getting better at not killing off my plants.

I think my bumper crop last year was really my garden’s way of slowly driving me crazy, because this year is the total opposite. They’re obviously playing with my head. My strawberry plants that threatened to overgrow my garden bed last year have been a no show this year. *sob* Not that I ever got to eat the stinkin’ berries, with all the birds around here (Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, and then I gave up.)

There are a whole bunch of things that aren’t growing, that should be. But I’ll focus this little post on all the things that are growing that really shouldn’t be.

My veggies are struggling, all except some stray mutant carrots that I planted last summer. Apparently, they didn’t feel like growing in the heat, and so waited until winter to form their unholy alliance. I have a feeling their plan was to take over the world…and they might have done it if I’d left them for another week. In another week, they would have cha-cha’d out of the garden bed and wreaked their carroty havoc all over the country.

Mutant Carrots

“Dude! We were so close!”
“And now it will never be. Hold me!”

In my flower garden, the columbines that have been popping up in the same place for the last 2 years are missing, BUT it appears they’ve migrated to different places and popped up elsewhere. The hydrangeas that Hubby has been muttering about pulling out due to their complete lack of blooms have magically…bloomed!

Hydrangea Blooms

I bought the wrong hydrangeas a few years ago, so I haven’t been surprised they’ve been bloomless. My plants only bloom from the last year’s old growth, which means they set their buds right in time for the cold and windy Colorado weather to freeze and dry them into non-existence. So do my hydrangeas expect me to believe that the same winter that killed off all my perennials has magically spared them? Well I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. I think they must be in cahoots with the veggies to drive me freaking insane. Just when I think I’m a horrible gardener, and should stop immediately, something grows that gives me hope to keep trying.

And so, I DO keep trying, clinging on to the small joys that manage to grow. And then I cut them down to put them on my dining room table.

Two can play this twisted game of domination.

Sassy with flower 2

Budding Herbologist. Herbatologist. Whatever.

I haven’t talked a lot about my garden this season because frankly, it’s a big fat failure. I don’t know if it was the hail, the surprising freezing temperatures at night, the freak snowstorms in May, the fact that it is possibly holding a grudge from last year, or all of those things combined…but the end result is a sad excuse for a garden.

Naturalist is happy to point out that HER section of the garden is growing just fine. Her beans, rosemary, lavender, basil, chamomile, and potted chocolate mint plants are thriving. When she picked out what to put in her section, she leaned towards herbs mostly because of their various scents. Did you know that roman chamomile smells just like bubble gum?! Also, she was deep in the midst of reading the Warrior book series in which medicine cats feature prominently.

After getting back from Wolf camp, she’s developed this strong interest in what different herbs can do medicinally. One of the camp leaders is a hard core hiker, the likes of which are rarely seen outside of Boulder. The likes of which I think Naturalist will be one day. “Mom, he said that all plants can talk, and we’re the ones that have to listen close enough to hear what they say. And I heard one talk up there at camp. It was a pine tree, and it talked to me” she told me when she got back. I don’t doubt it! I didn’t want to pry, but maybe one day she’ll tell me what it said to her. This camp leader also taught the campers about what different plants and herbs would do if they were ever caught outdoors without food or help.

As we watered our plants she muttered, “Man, I wish I had some Yarrow in there.” Then she retreated to our computer to google ‘mint’, ‘rosemary’, ‘lavender’, and ‘herbs’. When next I saw her, she had applied a poultice to a cut on her leg of mint and chamomile leaves ground together and kept in place by a wetted rose petal.

I :heart: IKEA

When Hubby and I lived in So. Cal. while he was finishing his MBA, we lived a few miles away from an IKEA. As luck would have it, when he did a semester abroad over in Budapest, we lived a metro ride away from another IKEA–this one was bigger and even better. It’s where we got the high chair that we put in our flat for Golfer. If you’d like to know what it looks like to walk around in a foreign country and try to read signs, link over to the Hungarian IKEA website. You’ll see why I got my first migraine after only a few weeks there! Beautiful language. Bitch to learn.

Long story short, I thought IKEA would always be there for me. I took for granted their meatball lunches, and their lingonberry jam, and their assorted bargains in their home decor departments. And then…we moved to Colorado. I didn’t know, IKEA! I had no idea you weren’t in every state.

Fast forward 2 1/2 years, a I hear that Utah has an IKEA (!!!) so I jump on my sisters graduation invitation in Provo so I can load the kids in the car and hit up the best store of all time.

And behold, I did eat the meatball lunch with the lingonberry jam. And I did drink the lingonberry soda, and eat 3 of the delish wheat rolls with butter, and I did partake in the buying of the inexpensive yet swedish made bedding.

my new sheets.

I found a duvet cover, a quilt (reversible!), and pillows all for 1/2 the price of just one duvet cover that I had my eye on. Score! And the kids love to hang out on it because it’s so comfy! Double Score!

just chillin'

And…oh…what’s this? The kids are so comfy on it, they bum rush me in the middle of the night to sleep in my IKEA pimped out bed…one kidlet on either side of me.

sleeping kids are so....quiet!

Triple score! Everyone knows that kid sleeping noises are the most meditative of all sounds.

Eureka!

There have been two things that have bothered me for the past few months. No, not the fact that I can’t cook non-rubbery chicken, or that I had to go up a shirt size when I bought new shirts at the outlet store due to my arms getting fatter (wth?!?), or that my car looks like it’s housing a herd of packrats inside.

No, the source of my discontent has been two seemingly unrelated (but I’ve now discovered they’re so related) photo problems. Firstly, that the photos I upload from iphoto for my blog header are always pixelated and blurry (as I’m embarrassingly sure you’ve noticed). Secondly, the photos I upload from iphoto to my flickr account are smaller and blurrier than the originals.

At first, I thought my camera was to blame. I started yearning for the cool Canon Rebels that almost everyone I know got for a christmas/mother’s day/birthday present. I channeled my inner 15 year old and whined to hubby, “But ALL my FRIENDS have one! It’s sooo not fair! They can all tell that I don’t have one, too, and it’s SERIOUSLY affecting my LIFE!!!” But he just directed me to all the bills I incur on my travels around the country and it stopped me from complaining anymore.

But then I started messing around on flickr, and found a Canon ELPH SD600 group and their pictures were so amazing. So, it wasn’t my camera. It was me. Or my Mac. But in a faceoff between human error and computer error, my Mac wins every time.

So then I started harassing people in the flickr group by leaving them flickr messages like this, “Hi…I can’t think in full sentences, let alone upload my pictures the right way…can you help a sleep deprived mom out?!” and bless the internet, a few people responded and totally fixed my problem!

Apparently, when using a Mac, if you upload pics by going iphoto>data>year>jpg, then you pull up the application data picture which is smaller and blurrier than the original. To get to the original picture you go iphoto>originals (or, ‘modified’ if I’ve used the adjust panel to modify them in any way)>year>jpg. This uploads the original, big, crisp, wonderful, amazing picture as I intended. This also is the case for uploading pictures for the blog header. As you can see, I now have a sharp image in my header. You can almost see the giraffe slobber all over Naturalist’s face! Perfection!

Now that I have that little glitch fixed, I’m obsessing over the 700 inferior pictures I’ve already uploaded and labeled. Just like the mess of a closet that Hubby can’t see but can sense 3 rooms away, I’m haunted by the thought that all those pictures are sitting there, willy nilly, taunting me with their substandard existence. I mean, I have a lot of really important things I could be doing around here…do I really want to take up any of it to reload pictures that I’ve already got up there?

No, no I don’t.

I’ll just suck it, and start uploading them the right way from now on.

But with the smaller, crappier uploads I can’t get a bigger image, like this one I properly uploaded:

Which is nothing like the even larger image you can link to if you click on the picture of Sassy’s self portrait. Can you feel the sass?!

Decisions, decisions. It would help if I could just get 8 more hours tacked on to my 24 hour day. Anyone know how to do that? In exchange, I can tell you how to upload pictures from iphoto into flickr….

Let the dancing begin! Again!

Last September, the kids and I stumbled upon a video of Matt Harding dancing his way around the world. And, he’s done it again!

So, enjoy this video. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be inspired, you’ll beg your husband for a trip around the world….

An Unschooler’s Ode to Joy.

There are times when I wonder just what in Pete’s name I am doing unschooling. Mostly this happens when my kids learning cycles are stuck in the video game/TV mode. For realz, I see them sitting around and think to myself, “Right now there are millions of kids sitting at desks doing some actual writing on actual worksheets in an actual school with an actual teacher.”

It’s not unlike the freak outs I used to have when Naturalist and Golfer were in those schools, doing the actual worksheets for 6 hours a day only to come home and not be able to tell me what they were learning that day, that week, that month, or even that school year. Only, with unschooling, there is no teacher or school policy to blame. It’s pretty much just me and the kids.

So I have internal dialogues with myself where I argue back and forth about what kind of radical freak I am to question the status quo and even worse, gamble the productive future of my children on the faith that they, in fact, are competent and trustworthy human beings.

It’s enough to keep a gal up at night. Or up a lot of nights. But not up as many nights as I was when Naturalist was tormented going to school, tormented at school, and tormented after school. So, there’s always that.

But then, my friends, a night comes along like the one I just had and allows me to sleep a little easier (for the next couple weeks, anyway).

It started with Golfer and I watching ‘National Treasure’ which was spent less on watching the movie (that we’ve seen a few dozen times) and more on Golfer talking about history…where Washington is buried, who the Knights Templar really are, Benjamin Franklin’s inventions, different treasures around the world, the British, the Revolutionary War, why is there no memorial to James K. Polk (*snort*) without whom everyone in Washington, Oregon, Idaho & Montana would be speaking with a British accent…his discussions went on and on and on and I sat there thinking, “Whoa. I didn’t know any of this when I was 8. Or even 18.”

Then Naturalist came in with a book that Hubby bought himself and she started looking through it. She’s currently between Warrior books and looking for something to read. This, by the way, from a dyslexic girl who not only refused to read at school but would yell at me every day in 3rd grade, “I NEVER want to read. I WILL NEVER READ. READING is STUPID and a WASTE OF MY TIME.” Now I can’t keep a book out of her hands.

The book in question is Death By Black Hole and I assumed she was just flipping through it mindlessly until she started snickering to herself. And then snickering some more. And I was thinking, “why is she laughing at some nerdy science book?” so I asked her, “why are you laughing at some nerdy science book?” to which she replied, “Listen to this: ‘The Speed of Light; It’s the Law!'” Then she cracked up. I still don’t get it, but she took the book up to her bed to read another chapter. As she walked out of the room she threw out another quote over her shoulder: “How do you know when you’re surrounded by Carbon Monoxide if you can’t see or smell it?” pause “You drop dead! Hahahahahah!”

She came in a little while later asking about how engines work, which I don’t know, so we went to this wikipedia article and she helped me figure it out. Unhappy with the inefficiency of using gas as a fuel source, she asked if hydrogen would work any better, and if not, why, and what else could be used, and blah blah blah I was still stuck on what part fuel played in the whole thing. She declared, “Give me an engine, and a year, and I bet I could figure out a better fuel to use that would be better for the car and better for the environment.” Her boldness and confidence took my breath away. And honestly, after the hellish aftermath of her public school experiences on her bruised and battered psyche, it brought a little tear to my eye.

In school, her divergent and different ways of thinking meant she was labeled, categorized, and dismissed as anything but the most basic of learners. Out of school, past the labels, pathologizing, and standardizing, she is free to think as out of the box as she can. This distinction burns as bright as a lighthouse on a dark night in comparrison. It gives me hope when I see divergent kids being allowed to support their unique learning styles instead of being punished for them. As Einstein noted:

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

And now I’m finishing my night with Golfer watching a show about the history of Aircraft Carriers. In turn, he’s filling me in on the major battles of WWII and how each country affected the outcome–learned mostly from playing Blazing Angels on the WII and watching The Military Channel.

Tonight, I’ll go to sleep with the words, “I’m so glad we’re unschooling” on my lips.