"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Friday, March 26, 2010

The History of Compulsory Schooling

Six Minutes. Watch.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Story of Ice Cream

I think it's important to know where your food comes from. This blog is to tell you where our food came from, specifically the ice cream we had two nights ago.

A few weeks ago, Everett asked me for ideas to work on his letters and reading. He likes books and websites, but he wanted to try something new; something that would be different every day. So we started writing letters on our chalkboard wall, and on our french doors with window markers. When the boys and I think of words that start with that letter, we write them on, and/or draw pictures. We think of things to bake that start with that letter, and think of games to play with that letter. Everett has loved this, and it's been a fun little project.

This week, the letter on the wall was "I". He'd been asking to make homemade icecream, so we surprised him and picked up some cream.

We got it started right after dinner. The beauty of homemade icecream is that it is just a few ingredients, and is so much better than anything you can get at a store!

We got it all mixed up and commenced the rolling in the family room. You do it in 15 minutes increments.... 15 minutes of rolling, open and scrape (and taste!), 15 more minutes of rolling.

We decided we needed some music after the first 15 minutes, so we cranked up a playlist (Bon Jovi, thank you very much), and the kids immediately turned ice-creaming making into a regular break-dancing, hip shaking, jam party.

Tegan grabbed a microphone.

We laughed. A lot.

And the final product was delicious.

And for good measure, the kids made these this week too:

The idea came from a book from Yaya, and the finished product came from the same place as the icecream: the hearts and creativity of some pretty cool kids, this time during a play date with new friends.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Future Street Sweepers (or not)

So many people seem to view parenting as if they are workers on assembly line, trying to churn out a quality product. That envisioned end product would vary from parent to parent I suppose, but at its core it is the same thing: something the PARENT deems worthwhile. They want a child that grows up to be some of version of "successful." They want good grades, they want an athlete, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. They want to be able to brag about honor rolls and dean's lists and signing bonuses. And they've got them on a conveyor belt long before that! It's a race to see who can walk first, talk first, read first. Sleep through the night, tie your shoes, do long division. MUST TURN OUT A QUALITY PRODUCT.

Everyone is so concerned with how their children are going to "turn out." My issues with this are multiple, but among the top few are: Who decides whether or not they turned out well? WHEN do they decide they turned out any way at all? When they're adults? What's an adult? 18, 21, 30? What are they until then, ingredients? Are they just a part of a whole, not really a person until they've grown up and checked everything off some mystical checklist? Who decides what's on the checklist, and why would that person be more qualified to do so than the child himself?

I'm not interested in raising cookie-cutter children.

My kids are people now, people deserving of respect, trust, and freedom. I'm not concerned with how they're going to turn out; I'm concerned with their happiness RIGHT NOW, right in this moment. I want them to know that they're valued and loved for who they are, not who they may or may not be "someday." I want them to be joyful, fulfilled, engaged, learning, exploring. I want them to be who they are.

And the future? None of us is guaranteed a future. But if I'm blessed enough to watch all my children grow up? I want them to be happy. I want them to be joyful, fulfilled, engaged, learning, exploring. I want them to be who they are.

My hope for all of my children is that they find what they're passionate about, and they DO IT, and do it well, no matter what it is. My hope is that they wake up each morning excited for life, and excited to follow their own particular dream. They will decide what path they'll take, and they will decide what makes them successful. My job is to provide, support, encourage, and get the heck out of their way.

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm not Irish

I'm German, so I started and ended my St Patrick's Day with German apple coffee cake, not corned beef or cabbage or beer. The girl however, is fully in touch with her 1/4 Irish heritage.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Baseball and Barbeques

Yesterday was Everett's opening day. It was also produce basket day, which meant that we got two lovely containers of fresh blueberries, which meant that I was compelled to make muffins for breakfast... which meant that we dawdled, were late, and had to rush to get Everett there in time to line up with his team. Despite the self-imposed craziness, we made it in time, and Everett got to join his coaches and teammates for the introductions on the field.

After the opening ceremonies, there was a carnival, complete with a bouncy house, little carnival games and food. Tegan was tired and unhappy:

So we took her and the big boys home to snack and rest, while Everett stayed to enjoy the carnival with friends. When we returned for his game a little while later, she was rejuvenated and happy to play on the playground next to his field, and Everett was thrilled to play his first official game of the season. He hit two live pitches, made a couple of great plays out on the field, and kept his little Everett grin all the while.

After the game, we headed right back out to meet up with friends at Hogs N Heat, an outdoor barbeque at a great little cafe (known for its insanely delicious pies). There was music, dancing, karaoke, and campy little Western shows... complete with sheriffs, gun fights, and "ladies of the night." Fun. It was great to just sit, relax, and laugh for the evening. The kids ran around - and around and around - and just generally enjoyed the night. Of course after they chowed down on some pulled meat, and got their faces painted...

The night ended with us watching the kids laughing as they threw and played keep-away with someone's football, wrestled (playfully) on the ground, and eventually beaned each other with a plastic water bottle.

They were sufficiently worn out by the time we made our way back out to the car, and were happy, tired, and thankful for a lazy and rainy - oh so very rainy - last day of the weekend.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Letting Go

I've decided, again, that I need to do some letting go. Not of the past, or of the stress of the toxic and negative people in my life (though of course, those are worthwhile pursuits of their own) but of the little things, and of the pressure I put on MYSELF.

Like lots of people, I have a to-do list that doesn't end. While I love the feeling of crossing things off my lists, I do not like the feeling that at times life has actually become nothing more than a giant to-do list. Housekeeping lists, lists of assignments for my classes, lists of playdates and practices and appointments for the kids, lists of projects I want to do, stuff to research, things I want to blog about, emails to answer, bills to pay.... surely something is off-balance there! Life is to be enjoyed and savored, not just broken down into a series of tasks to check off a list.

One week ago today, we took Tegan to the zoo to celebrate her birthday. It's been on my list of things to blog about, because she had such a great time, and I got some really cool pictures. But I haven't had time to do it, and it still remains on my to-do list... and it's stressing me out. Which is CRAZY, because I love to blog, and something's way wrong if I allow it to become a source of stress. Life is filled with enough things that we have to do, without adding silly self-imposed deadlines to the list. So, there will be no blog about the zoo. We went, we enjoyed, I took some pictures. ;-)

There, I'm crossing it off my list. And life will go on.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Let there be Light

A few days ago Everett asked me how electricity worked. We were in the car at the time, so I gave him my own - limited - explanation, and told him that we could look it up when we got home (and that he could talk to his Pop, an electrician!)

Yesterday I was putting some things away in a closet, and right in front of me was this:

If I was aware that we had it, I'd completely forgotten about it. I brought it out for him yesterday, and we worked through the first few projects in the book, learning about the loop of electricity, and powering a light, a buzzer, and a little engine. He can't wait for Tegan to take her nap today so we can do some more.

Love it.

My New Vision Board

A vision board, or dream board, is basically a visual representation of goals, dreams, and wishes. The concept draws on the Law of Attraction which states that like attracts like, and that whatever you focus on will manifest itself in your life, whether positive or negative. I love this idea and have always made myself various version of vision boards since long before I knew what it meant.

Most of what's on my current board is pretty self-explanatory, from building my faith, to getting out of debt, to continuing my natural health studies, to furthering my yoga practice, to hiking and exploring more of the earth. My favorite part though is the big blue picture of the family right in the center. I love the picture, and I love that it's a family of six, with someone to represent each one of us. No matter what the year brings, at the end of the day, it's going to begin and end with my family.

Monday, March 01, 2010

He who spareth the 1/4 inch plumbing supply line...

Four years ago, a 4 year old little boy by the name of Sean Paddock died when his mother wrapped him so tightly in a blanket that he could not breathe. This month, another young child, 7 year old Lydia Schatz, died after being "disciplined" - repeatedly hit with a plumbing supply line - by her parents, until her organs had shut down. Her 11 year old sister was hospitalized in critical condition for the same reason. The common thread between the two? Both families followed Michael and Debi Pearl's books and methods for Christian child "training". Both were Christian families who subscribed to these barbaric teachings because they believed them to be biblical, and both will have to live with knowing that their children died at their own hands.

Supporters of the Pearls (and sadly, there are millions, based on the number of books they sell) will tell you that these cases are different, that these parents had a propensity towards violence, or took things too far, or weren't following the teachings correctly.

And surely, these loving Christians, the Pearls, wouldn't advocate something as heinous as beating a child with plumbing supply line? In fact not only do they specifically recommend 1/4 plumbing inch supply line, but they also tell you where to get it (easily found at Home Depot, for your convenience), and instruct you to buy it in bulk so you can keep a length of it in every room of your house, and even keep one around your neck to serve as a reminder. They advise parents to whip their children until they have "no breath left to complain."

Michael Pearl has responded to criticism with this statement:

"We do not teach corporal punishment, nor hitting children. We teach parents how to train their children, which sometimes requires the limited and controlled application of a spanking instrument to hold the child's attention on admonition. Over one million parents have applied these biblical principles with joyful results."

Besides sounding like a page from a cult leader's mission statement, Mr Pearl's words are egregious lies. Applying any kind of spanking instrument IS HITTING! Any adult doing the same thing to another adult could, and should, be arrested for assault. And "limited and controlled?" Until a child is out of breath is limited and controlled?

"No, officer, you don't understand. Yes, I beat him repeatedly, but it was limited and controlled."

"Oh, well in that case, carry on."

IT'S ALL HITTING, AND IT'S ALL WRONG. How anyone can reconcile hitting a defenseless child, in any fashion, for any reason, as being acceptable is something that I will forever fail to understand.

Possibly the most disturbing part of Mr Pearl's statement is the final line, "Over one million parents have applied these biblical principles with joyful results" I don't believe that any part of what the Pearls preach is biblical, and in fact I think their message is decidedly anti-Christian, as I blogged about here. A single, often misquoted, taken-out-of-context scripture about "sparing the rod" (which was used to guide and protect sheep) does not change the gentle, loving spirit of a Jesus who would never hit a child. I want to be very, very clear when I say that I love God, and I love Jesus... but that if calling someone a Christian associates this kind of parenting in your mind, please! feel free to call me something else.

And finally, as to the "joyful results." I think Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz would disagree, as would the millions of other children who are being shamed and hit and forced to be fearful of their own parents every day. I pray that Sean and Lydia are now experiencing the peace that they never received in life, and I pray that the Pearls will be exposed for what they are before another innocent child has to die.


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