Tuesday, April 24, 2007

American Idol

Yes, I have to blog about it. Jordin is my girl. I tried to maintain faith in Lakisha but she just hasn't been "on" in weeks and instead Jordin has blown me away for the past few weeks. Melinda is starting to bore me, especially tonight. She seemed to be singing more "back-up" as opposed to front singer tonight. The boys are the boys... none of them are going to win. I'd like to see what's his name with no hair go home soon.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Simple Pleasure #2

Lavender in particular is one of my favorite perennials. And, perennials are definitely one of the better simple pleasures in life. Nothing is better than investing one's time in planting a seed or start and being rewarded with it growing, blooming, dying and regenerating the following spring. Seeing the little shoots of green spiking out of the ash gray growth from the previous year brings tangible proof of that spring is a time of renewal.

Today I started weeding my garden which is a laborious project especially due to my healing broken ankle. Turning the soil over went faster than I expected, though, due to the fact that last year a group of friends helped me prep this garden.

Good friends. Really good friends are another simple pleasure.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #4 (a day late)

Thirteen Artists and Writers Who Inspire Me...

1. Constantin Brancusi: My favorite sculptor ever. He was an Abstract Expressionist. Here's a photo of some of his works:

The marble "Bird in Space" is my favorite because the surface is imperfect yet the form is graceful. Brancusi was able to capture the viewer inside the space of his sculpture. Seeing his birds in person does not compare even slightly to viewing them online.

2. Peter King: Great Architectural Ceramics... http://www.peterkingceramics.com

3. Laini Taylor: I recently found her blog, www.growwings.blogspot.com She is an artist and writer and has just finished writing her first faery tale, "Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer", which is due to come out this July. I plan to blog about her more in the upcoming weeks. She does some great artwork and the first few pages of her book are posted on her book's website and I look forward to reading the whole book.

4. J. K. Rowling: Need I say more?

5. George MacDonald: I appreciate his thoughts on theology and look forward to reading his faery tales.

6. Gustave Klimt: His paintings have always spoken to me.

7. Ellen Raskin: Raskin was absolute favorite author during childhood. She wrote a book called, "The Westing Heirs", about sixteen "heirs" to a fortune who have to solve the mystery of their benefactor's death. I loved how she wove clues throughout the book. My second favorite book she wrote was "The Missing Disappearance of Leon (I mean Noel)". Her books always contained quirky characters and puzzles to be figured out. I just read a review of her Leon book on a different site and found out that not only was she a extraordinary writer but also a graphic designer and book designer. After reading at that site, I now know that I need to revisit these books to find out if they really are as good as I remember.

8. Madeline L'Engle: I loved her whole "Wrinkle in Time" series as a child. Last year I read her book entitled, "Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith and Art". I wrote down more than a few good thoughts to ponder from that book.

9. Isamu Noguchi: Although I don't specifically like all of Noguchi's work what I do like is his vision. He was born to an Irish American teacher mother and Japanese poet father. Due to his cultural upbringing, his artwork combines the aesthetics of the East and West. His sculpture also reflects his desire to make utilitarian things objects of beauty as well. This can be seen in the following photo. I absolutely love that this sculpture is a slide at a playground.

10. Hayao Miyazaki: The best director/animator/story teller in the world currently in regard to anime. I am saddened that Disney has bought the rights to distribute his movies in the US because they are slow to release his movies and more importantly they changed the dubbing voice of one of his main characters in "My Neighbor Totoro" and I can't stand the little girl's Americanized voice now. Hmmph! He is able to convey his stance against war and the destruction of the environment and the pain of post-war Japan through his movies although not all of his movies have such heavy themes. There is an official website for his studio but it's written in Japanese so here's a fan site in English instead.... www.ghibliworld.com

11. Julia Child: My sister and I used to watch her cooking shows on PBS when we were little. Little did I know then what her book, "My Life in France", would mean to me. She didn't pursue or even learn to cook until late thirties/early forties but when the spark ignited in her to learn the craft of fine French cooking she pursued learning with a passion. The fact that she didn't achieve success or direction in her career until mid-life gives me hope. I've spent the last fifteen years since graduating from art school having babies and loving them to the tune of five wonderful children. I am ready to pursue my own passions... to finish my faery tale and to create new sculptures and to follow wherever my rabbit trails of learning lead me.

12. Jane Austen: Master of the art of conversation. I've read all of her books and enjoyed each and everyone.

13. My friend, Tia Graham, over at Living Deliberately, www.sixredheads.com, is a true inspiration to me as well. She is in the process of writing her first book on how to live within your means and will be having a party very soon to celebrate being debt free.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Danny Mansmith (again)

Here is my favorite quote, so far, from his website:

"don't be so hard on yourself mistakes are good-i think they help use to see
it's so beautiful to see someone who has made something and didn't quite know what they were doing but did it anyway-when you can really see the fire was under their feet and they had to make it or else"

I want that fire to create back. Sometimes I feel a spark here and there but it fizzles out easily.

You can find a few of his pieces on sale at etsy.com by going to www.dannymansmithscrap.etsy.com

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Homeschooling...

This is going to be a freewrite or I may never do it. I literally fell into homeschooling after long drawn out battles while pregnant with out first child over whether or not he would go to public or private school. We ended up homeschooling because we were living in Philadelphia and couldn't afford one alternative and weren't about to consider the other alternative when he became school age. I don't know if I would have even considered homeschooling if I hadn't had a chance encounter with another Mom at McDonald's due to us bonding over breastfeeding which led to me attending a Bible study with her which led to me meeting a whole group of homeschoolers. That day happened almost thirteen years ago and since then I've homeschooled all of my children except for my youngest for at least part of their education. My youngest, dearest Bounce, will most likely not be homeschooled at all. I've never believed in kindergarten, let alone full day kindergarten. Sending her to full day kindergarten goes against almost every educational philosophy that I agree with BUT, and here's the big BUT, philosophy is only philosophy. I am strongest when I research the best everything for each of my children and am weakest at implementing those best things. All while homeschooling I had a vision in my head of how I wanted things to be but that vision never matched the reality of the situation. For years, I homeschooled, nursed babies, was pregnant and helped run a business on and off all while living with extreme fatigue and not knowing that it was related to iron deficiency. My thought level didn't match my energy level. When you live for everyone else and try to maintain your sanity by reading or chatting on the internet late at night in silence in order to feed your soul, someone gets the short end of the stick. In my case, my husband got the short end of the stick and my homeschool never was what I wanted it to be and I rarely did things which inspired me or sparked my creativity. Sure, I'd get inspired reading the teaching methods of Susan Wise Bauer or Charlotte Mason but they also set a bar for me that seemed unattainable. My lack of energy really did affect who I was and I was convinced I was that person. I don't know if I'd still be homeschooling if I had gotten my iron deficiency under control sooner. I tend to think that even with more energy I still might have most of my kids in a charter school because they do learn quite a bit there from the other students and the other teachers. I guess my ultimate idea of education would be a three day charter school week or charter school only in the mornings with the afternoons left for individual pursuits. So, back to full day kindergarten. Philosophically every cell in my body is against it. I don't think a child that young needs to be in a school for 6 hours a day doing structured activities but the charter school has a nice mix of unstructured and structured activities. And, I like being just "mom" to my kids and not "mom" and teacher. I miss the teaching part, don't get me wrong, but I don't miss trying to motivate my children to learn. What I have observed in homeschooling vs. the charter school is that some of my children do seem more motivated at school as opposed to how they were at home. I was convinced one of my son's had a writing disability but he started writing more legibly within a week of entering the school. The projects and writing assignments stretch my children in ways that I didn't stretch them at home. Following their interests, though, is less easy within the charter school atmosphere. The teachers definitely do take into account what each student is interested in but obviously can't meet each student's individual interests daily. Each year the charter school has each student fill out what topics they'd like to study and it took until his third year for my middle son's topics to finally be addressed... Medieval Times and Electricity. What regular public school takes their students interests into account in such a detailed way, though? None as far as I know so I am happy with the compromise between the charter school and homeschooling.

Back to Bounce, though, she has no idea what homeschooling is because she is too young to remember me homeschooling her siblings. When I mention the idea of homeschooling her for kindergarten she is not interested in the least bit due to this lack of knowledge. My husband isn't really interested in the idea of me homeschooling her either for a couple reasons. He really needs help with his business or we at least need additional income and he feels the charter school would be best for her. Bounce is very similar to our oldest son who is strongwilled and has always had a problem with authority. Dh and I both think that our oldest might have learned to respect authority more if he had other teachers from an earlier age. I definitely don't think this is true of all of our children or even all children in general. And, I am not sure if I am even right because it may be that his problem with authority stems purely from how we parented him or from his own unique personality but I guess we are going to try something new with Bounce to see if there is a difference.

Simple Pleasure #1

Via my one of my favorite blogs www.sixredheads.com I am going to post a simple pleasure each weekend. This weekend's simple pleasure is related to my recent broken ankle injury and can help anyone with a cast... for a dollar or less invest in a plastic ruler to reach those places inside your cast that itch which you have no possibility of itching without the help of a tool. The ruler must be plastic so that it can bend slightly. Be careful so as not to break the ruler inside the cast which did happen to me but I was able to retrieve it. Of course, the doctor's office will tell you not to itch at all so I must add *try at your own risk*. Having the simple pleasure of a plastic ruler to reach my ungodly itches was marvelous.

Oh, and rulers are also good for measuring things! ;)

Check Out This Artist!

The artist's name is Danny Mansmith and here is a link to his website http://scrap-dannymansmith.squarespace.com
I'd describe him as a multi-media fiber artist. If you do visit his page be sure to read his story in the "about me" section. He encourages other artists to pick up whatever tools lying about or easily attained and start creating what you want to create without worrying if you are using the right tools. I find his outlook fresh, inviting and inspiring.

So often I feel stifled by lack of skills and lack of focus. I need to just start making things and I plan to do just that by this summer. I want to work in clay again but I may also dabble in other things. I do need to make money so I'll probably do handmade tile work and such.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3

1. I am really going to miss Bounce when she goes to full day kindergarten next year. I am beside myself already and there are months separating that day from now.

2. I miss my other kids who are already in school.

3. I don't know how to connect with my teenagers anymore to have meaningful conversation. It only happens occasionally. Is is in part due to the fact that they are boys?

4. I'm back with little time to finish... let's see what I can pull out of my...

5. Interesting reading found on the internet this week which was totally unrelated to what I was googling for:
Sympathetic Vibratory Physics. Here's a quote from the website http://www.svpvril.com/musicuni.html

"The universe consists solely of waves of motion." relates Walter Russell in chapter 31 of A New Concept of the Universe. Another way of saying this is: "There exists nothing other than vibration." In Russell's statement lies the base for his next blast at orthodoxy's belief in a material universe: "Any theory which cannot find a fitting place within the wave has no other place for it in Nature." Hard words for sure but can they stand up to scrutiny? Is it possible to create a paradigm of nature that is structured entirely on wave or vibration theory? Investigating the pioneer work of John W. Keely's Sympathetic Vibratory Physics2 would lead us to believe this is so."

6. According to my Mom, who of course has read a libraries worth of books. the stars used to make music before humans messed up the atmosphere. I haven't explored this theory with her beyond this statement.

7. When I was little I used to have a very hard time shopping in stores because I would hear a high pitched noise in most stores that I would enter which I now think must have been created from the flourescent lighting. I think I must have slowly acclimated to the noise and no longer hear it even though it's probably still there.

8. Speaking of childhood quirks, when going to sleep at night as an adolescent I used to get the words to commercials stuck in my head and would make myself repeat back the entire commercial with perfect diction before I'd allow myself to fall asleep.

9. I also used to worry about knives coming through the wall when I would go to bed at night... don't ask me where that fear came from. Now my bed doesn't touch any wall except at the head of the bed which was never a concern.

10. The summer before 10th grade a boy not much older than me held a knife over my head supposedly "kidding around". I was lucky to get out of that situation and I had a different kind of fear of knives for some time after that incident.

11. My kids are waiting for me to put them to bed. I am having a hard time cramming this list.

12. Going back to quirks, I used to be really sensitive to textures especially things like velvet and newsprint. ONe of my kids has this same problem. My fingers would always feel too dry when touching those textures and I'd lick them if I had to touch things like that... try imagining having the pleasure and pain of reading a book with that condition. It was painful. This is another case where although textures still bother me, I don't have to lick my fingers anymore (it's called hand lotion) and I can read a whole newsprint book without shuddering.

13. Bounce is nagging me. So, I'll leave number 13 as this: My #2 son has the same sensitivity to textures that I do. #1 son used to have major texture issues but with different textures... seams in his socks, shirts and underwear. He didn't wear underwear until he was almost 12... at least not regularly.

Phew! Done!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


His Besame Mucho performance tonight CRACKED ME UP! Between the camera men and his "sultry" looks, I am sure every 10-14 yo girl in America was peeing her pants. Randy had it right... he definitely was the smartest contestant tonight.

I thought Blake played it pretty smart, too, and he sang well.

BTW, I much prefer Andrea Boccelli singing Besame Mucho.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #2

1. I really don't like assembling photo albums. I am trying to rephrase what I say in my mind... "This is better than delivering newspapers or this is better than working at Walmart."

2. When I lived in Hawaii my sister got to attend the private school in 6th grade and Japanese was one of her classes. I wanted to learn Japanese, too, but I went to the local public school where we were taught a little bit of the Hawaiian language along with Greek mythology and the usual subjects. I liked school and can still remember how to ask someone if they speak Japanese thanks to my sister.

3. When I lived in Iowa we lived in a very Dutch community... so Dutch that the Tulip Festival was celebrated there every year and traditional wooden shoe Dutch dances were taught as a part of the public school's PE class and each class performed for the public in the street in wooden shoes during the Tulip Festival. I liked learning the dances and wearing the traditonal dress, pointy hat (which name I can no longer remember) and wooden shoes. I liked performing in front of the crowds. One year a poem I wrote about the Tulip Festival was chosen to be posted in the City Hall during the Tulip Festival along with other student's poems.

4. I was only in third grade when I wrote that poem but I specifically wrote it about the Tulip Festival in order to increase my chances of having it chosen to be displayed.

5. In 6th grade, I experienced the awakening of the awareness that God really did exist and I felt incredibly guilty about all of my previous sins which included stealing.

6. I have no idea why I stole things but over the course of 3rd and 4th grade, I regularly stole candy from the Five and Dime in our town and I even stole a wooden shoe charm, I think, from a street vendor at the festival. I am thankful that I eventually felt guilt over my sticky fingers.

7. I am hungry and don't feel like thinking of six more things but I will plug on.

8. When I was in kindergarten, I can remember the 1st or 2nd grade girl next door reading stories to me. I can also remember waking up in the middle of the night regularly to find that my Mom wasn't in the house. I'd go outside and yell her name. One time I walked through the entier neighborhood. Inevitably, she'd be inside a neighbor's house chatting. It probably wasn't as late as thought at the time.

9. During that same year, my sister and I held a wedding for our younger brother, John and his love interest, Ray Ray. They married and left on John's big wheel. They were only 3 years old.

10. When I was little I hated getting shots to the point that the doctor and nurse and my Mom would have to chase me around the examining room until they caught me and held me still. Hehehe.

11. I had a cyst removed from my neck when I was 2 or 3 years old. I can remember riding a tricycle in the hallway of the hospital or somewhere on my way to my room.

12. When I lived in Hawaii, I used to walk down to what I guess was a local seamstress shop or something and trash pick fabric scraps out of the their trash to play with. I wonder now if it was a seamstress or if not, what kind of shop would have fabric scraps in their trash. I might have to call my Mom to find out.

13. Also while in Hawaii, my Mom allowed me to cross the highway to do some of the family grocery shopping at the grocery store across the street. I have a hard time envisioning letting any of my own children do what I was allowed to do at that age.

Oops: I had to edit number 3... I had said when I lived in Hawaii, but I was actually talking about Iowa in #3.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

American Idol- Can I EVEN go there???

I didn't watch the results show but found out the results just now... I can't believe Gina got sent home. I thought she sang better than most last night. Hmph! That Hayley girl needs to go. I've given up on Sanjaya ever going home. Ugh! Oh well, it's only a show but seeing the clip of Gina standing next to Hayley crying stunk.

Maybe the final show will be a run off between Hayley and Sanjaya.

As for the rest of the show, I found it rather boring. I missed Blake's performance so I can't comment on him.

Initial Thoughts on Autism...

I am reading a book that Ampersand loaned to me written by a man with high functioning autism. I am finding that I relate to some of how he processes ideas, words, sounds, images, etc. It really makes me want everyone to write out how their thought processes work because I think it would run the gamut. Anyway, one thing he writes about is how noises surrounding him can make him reach the point where he feels like his head is going to explode. I have definitely felt that way and normally feel that way by the end of the night. Another thing he writes about is getting lost. He has an encyclopedic brain yet gets lost very easily. Me too. If I drive the same route for a year but quit driving that direction for another year, I have a hard time remembering the route minus routes that I have taken over and over again for the past 15-20 years off and on. I still have to question and think to myself everytime I take the turnpike to my husband's parents house which direction I should go. I panic before that "y" where there is no turning back.

Well, I have more thoughts on the book but have to go for now.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Funerals and Fathers...

Funerals for a person that you didn't have a close relationship or next to no relationship are just plain weird. Yesterday, we attended a funeral for my step-grandmother whom I hadn't seen in probably ten years at least. Before then, I rarely saw here anyway... maybe for Christmas here and there. My stepfather "left" us right around the time I graduated from highschool. Yet, I've maintained a relationship with him and my Mom has never divorced him. In the meantime, he apparently had a girlfriend the whole time he was married to my Mom and it was that girlfriend that he attended yesterdays funeral with. My younger sister, his biological daughter couldn't attend the funeral because she is in her last few weeks of college before graduating and doesn't live nearby. It was a weird day. I met my stepfather's cousins that I've never met before in my life. And, his girlfriend thought it was appropriate to carry on multiple conversations with me. I've only met her once before in my life. I can't say that I felt any sadness and I wondered what I will feel when my stepfather passes away. Will I be sad? Will I miss him? Or, will I only feel greed and wonder what he's left to me? It feels awful to type that out but I can't predict how I will feel. I attended my biological father's funeral two years ago and that was also weird because I didn't have a relationship with him either. I felt guilt more than anything because he had tried calling me once or twice a couple days before he died and I hadn't returned his calls. I was always uncomfortable having conversations with him on the phone because there was so little to talk about and I had always had a hard time deciphering what he was saying due to his thick Midwestern accent and the fact that he may have been drinking before he called. So, here I have two separate men, both fathers in some way. One that has always showed that he cared through gifts and financial support and one that never showed he care except for the random, out of the blue phone call. Neither provided emotional support.

The plus is that I have a father in heaven that one day when I prayed and told him I have no father, I opened my Bible to the exact page where it says, "Abba- I am your Father."

Thanks for the direct message, Father. I still remember it.