Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wrapped Emotions - My Ritual: A place of trust

Looks like I'll be able to knock out 2 birds with one stone, so to speak, this week. Although, if you know me, you know I'd never knock out a bird! I love birds and I love my garden. Which brings me to the theme this week for Picture This Thursday, and Wrapped Emotions theme; Finding a place of trust. Both referred to this beautiful post by Jen Lemen in which she shares a meaningful ritual she created to let go of some of her fears. I'll let you read the post to see how she portrays this. It's really creative and spiritual, and I admire her and thank her for sharing her idea. It obviously touched a chord with many as you can see through this week's themes.

FUTAB on a Sunday morning

A ritual for me, since being able to stay at home with my girls is that I often get up earlier than they and therefore am able to have some quiet, reflective time in the mornings. I often get up, put the coffee on, then go out and fill the birdseed dish, fill the finches thistle seed sock, and feed the bunny. Often times, they are waiting anxiously as I hear them up in the trees and the bushes twittering, hungry and ready for the day, Max comes hopping over to check out his treats.

Swinging Turtle

I enjoy my garden, and the little menagerie of garden friends I've collected over the last year to sit amongst the flowers.

Twig birdhouse

I enjoy the creations such as the little birdhouses my father has made me, garden ornaments the girls have made, and mementos of memories that share the garden (Sassy's roses, resting place for Speedy our bird and Jack Sparrow our tadpole)

Sassy's yellow rose

The garden is frequented by our beloved friends that have left us, Sassy is a yellow finch, Abby is a butterfly, and Sweetpea is a dragonfly. We have lost several cats over the years, but they visit us her in our sanctuary.

Max in the garden

sometimes I'm joined by Max the bunny or

Domino in my garden

Domino, Violet's cat, a rescue cat our dear friend Renee gave to us.

I'm also joined recently by two black kittens, that we rescued from the back of a liquor store. I had them spayed and shots given. They are still too shy of me, but know that I feed them, and have been coming around closer to me as they come to trust me.

I sit, and enjoy my coffee, often with my favorite cup, my dream cup a dear friend gave me several years ago. I enjoy the start of a new day. I enjoy the beauty of the universe. Thankful that I have the life that I have. I get to spend everyday with my girls. Learning new things with them, seeing things new again, through their eyes. Thankful to my husband for giving me this. I never asked for this and yet I have been given so much.

Back to the challenge.....Finding a place of trust, letting go of fears. Many fears of my past have already left me, or at least lessened. There have been new fears to replace them, but they are not as intense, and I don't let them rule my life. They are natural fears that I either have no power over or if I do, I do my best to not let them control me and to do what I can to avoid them. I haven't performed a ritual to let go of the ones that I have, but I feel they are healthy, reasonable fears, and have no need to let them go right now, as they do not rule my life. I think that perhaps because of the life I'm living now, the choices that I've made, I know that everything is going to happen exactly as it should. For now, I am quite content with that.
If you'd like to participate in Wrapped Emotions, or just read some of the other interpretations just click below.
Wrapped Emotions button

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The British are coming, the British are coming!

Uncle George and Olivia
Actually, they're already here. Uncle George (my mom's brother) and Aunt Jan are visiting from England at my mom's house for 2 weeks. We got to visit with them one day last week, all afternoon, and the girls really warmed up to them (as they always do!) and enjoyed talking to them. We had one of our poetry readings after dinner and read from Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, also some Roald Dahl. Uncle George did a wonderful reading that the kids (& we all) really enjoyed! Especially, being told with an English accent! He acted out the parts, inflecting lots of emotions with the characters, and the kids absolutely loved it!
Little Usher
Olivia played usher, and showed everyone their seats.
Violet as the host of the poetry reading
Violet played host, and presented the readers.
Violet's announcement
She made a sign for the poetry reading and called it Poetry at Vivi's House.
Violet's turn
Shel Silverstein is one of Violet's favorite authors. Some time ago, Violet told Nana that one day she would like to meet him, and Nana told her that he had died....Violet was really saddened by that.
Olivia's turn
Olivia's turn with a little help from Violet. The kids never get enough of this, and just kept reading more and more until it was time to go home.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Livie got mail! - BSM

I got mail
Olivia got this ginormous letter in the mail the other day! Wonder what it is?????
About a month ago, we entered A Little Perspective photo contest for kids. Olivia won an Honarable Mention for her photo "green swing". Check out all of the other amazing photos that the kids entered here.
A Little Perspective

Club Mom
She won a Club Mom water bottle
Green swing - Photo by Livie
Her photo "green swing".

She also won the best prize ever, her favorite cereal! Cheerios!!!!
Best prize ever
Which is my pick for Best Shot Monday over at Picture This, go see more there!
The contest was hosted by Picture This, Snapshot Chronicles, & The Little Zygote that could. Thanks ladies for making my little girl smile!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wrapped Emotions: Necessary Bindings

I created an art journal for my Wrapped Emotions projects I started participating in last week. This week we were to create a book to put our projects in. This is what I came up with.
I found a scrapbook for a great price so figured that would work out fine. First, I painted the outside with an acrylic paint in purple, which is my favorite color. Then I stamped it with a French script stamp with gold ink, but it came out kind of light so I just smeared some of the gold ink directly from the pad to the cover. I then stamped the title Mandy's Unwrapped Emotions (now, I'm not sure if I should have put "Wrapped", but really, it's the feelings that we are "unwrapping" that we are documenting so I guess that's okay). I wasn't sure what else to do to it, but knew it needed something. I ended up putting some flower diecuts on it with some petal eyelets, some purple sticky netting, and some tile embellishments. I get a lot of my embellishments at Big Lots, which has great deals on them, which is also where I got the scrapbook for $5. I inked the edges with an eggplant ink. I'm not completely happy with it, but not sure if it needs more, or if it's because I just really didn't have any clear idea of what I wanted so I just went with the flow and followed them as they came up. But, I like the idea of having all of the projects in the same spot so that you can reflect back on them. My daughter Violet wants to do one now to, so it'll be fun doing it together. While I was finishing it up this afternoon, they both hung out and worked on atcs and making cards, but mostly (Olivia) just cutting paper and taping it back together ; ) (and trying to cut yarn with whole punches.......)
To see my first entry, you can go to this post with was very interesting and challenging for me.
Wrapped Emotions button

Friday, September 21, 2007

The End of Summer Concert Series

As promised, some funny pictures that were taken out in the barn the other night when we were playing Rock Concert with the kids with Violet's toy electric guitar. We took turns being the "Rock Star". Sorry, none of the kids (Violet took the photos), but here's one from another entry some time ago of Violet.
Ready, set........
Ready, set.......


He coulda been a rock star!
He coulda been a rock star!!!!
Got the rocker hair going on
to be fair, you gotta see Rocker mom with the rocker hair!
I hope Dan doesn't kill me when he sees these! Sooooo, enjoy while you can. He's gone this weekend, so enjoy them until Monday! hehe!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Picture This: Freedom

For us, freedom is:
Freedom from school
Freedom to learn naturally
Freedom to be with one another and enjoy each other
Freedom to chose our friends
Freedom to read what we like
Freedom to watch what we like
Freedom to play
Freedom to eat when & what we like
Freedom to go to bed when we like
Freedom to imagine
Freedom to create
Freedom to come and go as we like
Freedom to form our own opinions
Freedom to learn about things that are important to us, things that interest us

Freedom, for us, is the unschooling path that we've chosen
and so much more..................

written for Picture This' theme this week, which is "Freedom".

More photos from yesterday. We celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day by dressing up and playing pirates on our "ship" in the backyard.

Talk Like a Pirate
Our pirate flag, on our pirate "ship"
Shiver me timbers!
Captain Livie

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What does Manga have to do with writing, anyway???

Olivia's manga knight
Manga knight that Olivia drew
Mini Manga
a really great how to draw Manga book we picked up at the library
Olivia's favorite page
Olivia's favorite page, the knight. I helped her with the steps to drawing it.

Olivia drew this mini-manga knight by looking at a how to draw manga book that we checked out recently at the library. Both of my kids love drawing and writing. I have come to believe that the drawing and writing skills are closely tied together. By encouraging the drawing from an early age they learn to manipulate the pencil or crayon effectively, so that later when they are ready to learn to write, they have mastered control and it is much easier, and less frustrating for them to learn to write. Olivia's been drawing for about a year now, so I think that she was just progressively ready to learn to write. They both love to write letters, make lists, describe or name their pictures, and Violet likes to create story lines, make invitations and announcement posters, as well as many other things that she does where she is writing. The learning of grammar & spelling comes naturally when they ask me how to spell something or ask me to read something that they've written. I merely point out spelling errors and it often turns into a discussion about how same words with different spellings are used for different meanings. Olivia has been asking me a LOT lately how to spell words. Some of the letters she knows and some I show her how. I had an alphabet chart up on the garage cupboards from when we (shortly) tried to do "school at home". So, I thought it would help since she is so eager to learn letters right now, if I brought it inside. When she asks for a letter I would show her which one it is and she would look up and copy it. I love that they are learning naturally, on their own time, when they are interested and ready to learn it. That they are not being forced to do busy and repetitive work that the schools require. Thus, becoming work, not something that they enjoy. As well as all the homework that they require these days (I feel so sorry for those little 5 year olds I see carrying HUGE backbacks home from school everyday! What is up with all that homework???) I think it helps when you provide enriching materials for them to use. I always have pencils, pens, crayons and paper readily available for them. We pick up books that interest them at the library, as well as all the books that I have on hand that I've picked up at library sales, thrift shops, and garage sales. I also think that Olivia is learning to read through writing. Violet was reading first and then writing, but Olivia is a very tactile learner and therefore that is why she is writing first. I think that it is helping her recognize words through writing them. It's such an interesting process to watch and to be a part of . She already recognizes quite a few words as well as writing her name and family member's names on her own.
Writing the alphabet
Olivia writing the alphabet
Following the chart
Looking at the chart
Olivia is a night owl. She has been staying up until 11 or 12 at night. But, I'm finding that this time of night (8-12) is when she is most alert mentally and thirsty to learn. Another reason that I don't enforce any bedtime. Think of all we'd be missing if I forced her to go to bed at 8, as well as all the energy it takes! So, even though I'm getting pretty tired by then, I encourage it and am just thankful knowing that we get to sleep in the next morning!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pinball Wizard

Last night we were hanging out in the barn, which Dan had remodeled to be our playroom and my photo studio. We did some artwork, Violet & I took some photos in the studio, Dan & Livie played some pinball and some air hockey. We also had a mini-concert, starring Violet, Olivia, Dan & myself where we all played some mean electric guitar (will share some photos later!) Livie was having a lot of fun on the pinball, until......she lost the ball. But, I quickly showed her she still had some balls left (after taking a photo first! Hehe!)

She's a pinball wizard!
Doesn't she have some cute little cheeks? And, she always wears her Superman undies backwards, so that she can see Superman in the front when she looks down. Pretty smart, wouldn't you say?
She plays some mean pinball!
Didn't ya know? Sticking out the tongue always makes for a better game! Also, she decided to wear some orange ink on her face!
Darn! Lost the ball!
"Darn! Lost the ball!"
This last one is my favorite for Picture This, Best Shot Monday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Livism: Wake Me Up When September Ends

As Livie was going to bed the other night:
Me: Goodnight, Livie
Livie: Goodnight, mommy
Livie: Mom, wake me up when September ends.
Me: Mmm, (chuckling to myself) okay
Livie: because September ends in 5 seconds.

In case you're not familiar:
Wake me up when September ends by Green Day

My other favorite Green Day video: Working Class Hero

Check it out!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

October 24-Historical Meme

I read this historical tag post at From Under the Clutter and it sounded like fun to join in. Here’s the deal. Go to Wikipedia, type in your birthday without the year. Then post 3 events, 2 births, 2 deaths, and 1 holiday that occurred on that day. So here goes:

October 24th

1593 - Alleged teleportation of Gil Perez. (we could have taken a few pointers from this guy here)
1857 - Sheffield F.C., the world's first football club, is founded in Sheffield, England. (included because I was born in England)
1861 - The First Transcontinental Telegraph line across the United States is completed, spelling the end for the 18-month-old Pony Express. (thought this very interesting!)
1936 - Bill Wyman, English musician (The Rolling Stones) (Yeah, Rock and Roll)
1947 - Kevin Kline, American actor (Love this guy!)
1972 - Jackie Robinson, baseball player (b. 1919) (love that he's the 1st black American to play major league baseball)
2005 - Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (b. 1913) (what can I say, amazing woman!)
United Nations Day (charter 1945) (cool, huh?)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wrapped Emotions - Unwrapping Emotions

Mandy's view
This week I decided to participate in a challenge over at Wrapped Emotions where the goal is to unwrap your emotions though various challenges. I picked a tough week to enter, as this challenge was very uncomforable for me!
Here is the challenge as written on Wrapped Emotions:

With your digital camera in hand...and I know you have one because I see the photos you post on your blog...step forth into the world. A public place, not your living room or Aunt Bessie's kitchen. Think of places you frequent...a park, a museum (where cameras are allowed), a store, a playground, but do not be limited by my suggestions. Find an object or objects that you have seen objects I mean anything from buildings to poles to poodles to garbage trucks, anything. Lie on your back on the ground or floor and snap at least one photo from that vantage point. Relax. Unless you choose to lie on the floor of a public restroom, you will not die from an onslaught of bacteria...remember we are unwrapping the mind of such binding thoughts. Hold on to the emotions running rampant through your body as you do this and use them in finalizing your creation.

I carried my daughter's Power Shot around with me this week because it was smaller than my Nikon D70 and I knew that it would be less conspicious (what does that tell you right away!). We went several places this week and there were several opportunities, but alas, I chickened out. We went to Michael's (craft supply store), a Halloween costume shop, a pool supply shop and even the park, and I either (conveniently) forgot to take it into the store, or to take the photos when I did have the camera with me.

As the week wore on, I kept thinking about it, and was thinking about what was holding me back. No big deal, right? But, I really had this fear inside about what people would think, how stupid I would look, and that I would have to explain myself to others. This really turned into a much more difficult task for me. I am really quite an introverted, shy person, and don't like to have attention brought to myself.

Today, we had plans to go by the pool store again, then the library and then I promised the girls that we'd go by the thrift store. So, I thought for sure I'd have an opportunity, again.
First we went to the pool store. It is a small store and there were several customers, some who knew the shopkeeper and/or each other. So, I knew I would feel really uncomfortable doing it there. Next, the library. I thought for sure, I could probably lie down in the children's book area and take one from there without appearing too conspicuous. As we walked in, we noticed there were crafts going on. So, we headed over to the craft room where the girls were invited to make tamborines. Interestingly enough, instead of following the samples that were made, both girls made alternative crafts with the supplies. The samples were of a hexagon shaped tamborine with the bells around the edges and designs on the top, a star shaped tamborine with bells around the edges and designs on top, and a circle, the same. Violet decorated hers by gluing the applications to a star and also gluing the bells on the topside and declared it would be a tree topper for Christmas. Olivia decorated her hexagon shaped tamborine by gluing the applications both on the top and the inside of the the tamborine and making a face out of the applications and gluing the bells all over it.

The reason I point this out is that I can clearly see how creative, out of the box thinkers my girls are, completely uninhibited by what others think about their projects, uninfluenced by how the other kids were doing theirs (following the samples exactly) and yet I was struggling with even attempting to do my project.

We picked up some books we had on hold, checked out a few more, and proceeded to leave. I didn't even think about the project again until we were walking out the door (again, conveniently, or perhaps subconsiously?). As we were walking out, I thought, I really should do this. What am I fearful of? So I asked the girls if they wanted to help me with the project. They instantly said "sure!" No hesitation at all!

The library faces a square grassed courtyard area. There is a sheriff's station to the left, a vaccination clinic to the left, and a courthouse directly across. Small, and not very busy, however, still a public place, and still a bit intimidating to one who does not like to draw attention to oneself!

I had to gradually get to the point where I was brave enough to do it. And, I think, had my kids not been there, I probably would not have done it at all! First, Violet did it. She lay on a bench in front of the courthouse and took a picture of the shade covering and the sky. Next, I took one as I layed on a bench and pointed the camera toward the sky. Then, Violet layed down on the ground next to the flag pole and took one straight up. Olivia was running around the flag pole and would look down at Violet as she took her shot (btw, great picture, see below). At this point, there were people looking out the building from a counter that was in view. I really felt quite silly, but just proceeded to ignore their looks and proceed with the challenge. A rather rough looking guy came out and sat down next to where my purse was sitting on the bench and lit up a cigarette and started chatting on a cell phone. Violet quietly told me she didn't like the smoke. So I walked over and got my purse and the books and moved them a little closer towards the sheriff''s station. There were some crepe myrtles that were beginning to lose their flowers standing over the grass area and the flag was limply hanging above. I decided to really do it (not just lie on the bench, I felt that was cheating!) so I layed on the grass and pointed the camera up towards the flag and crepe myrtle and took my shot! Mission accomplished!

On my way home, I thought about why it was so hard for me. My girls have no problem with creativity and doing things that others might judge or think strange. Is it only kids who feel this way? Do we lose this at some point when we grow up? Or, is it taken away? My children have never been to school. They've never felt judged by peers. They've never felt that they have to act a certain way to fit in. Was it school that changed me? I'm not really sure. But, I'm really glad that I decided to go through with this challenge and I hope that it "unwraps" some of my fears and insecurities through doing things that I'm not used to doing.

Olivia's view
Olivia attempted it too!
Violet's view
And, I love this one that Violet took!
If you'd like to see more entries for this challenge, go to the link below. Be sure to let me know you did, I'd love to read yours!
Wrapped Emotions button


For MamaSaysOm's theme this week which is Ambivalence, I thought I'd share some photos which portray Violet's love/hate relationship with my camera. Sometimes, she's lovin' it, sometimes she's hating it (usually when I'm going camera crazy! Can't help myself!) . She actually took the second one of herself. And, you can tell, she's really lovin' it!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A new Do!

Olivia loves to cut!!!!!
Lately, Olivia loves to cut any and everything. Even though the girls got cute haircuts a couple weeks back, Olivia decided she needed to cut her hair again, because apparently, she "can do it better" than "that haircut place"!!!! She also decided to cut up a birth certificate a few weeks ago! I really have to keep an eye on what she cuts up! I try to provide her with fun stuff like magazines and coloring books, etc. to cut, but I don't always catch her in time, like now!

note added (after commenter Anna's question):

You can kinda see it in the museum post (2 posts down) She had an A-line cut, long in front and short in back, but now there's a few short strands in the front on both sides. She's a tomboy and always calls herself a boy, so maybe she really does want to go shorter (she once claimed she wanted a buzz cut "like dad's").....she still likes me to put a pony tail in the back, even though it's short and pretend she is Shang from Mulan (a Chinese warrior)

Back to the future in our good old living room!

Time Machine
The other day Violet told me that she wanted to make a time machine and asked if it were really possible. I told her I didn't think it was possible to go back in time, but that there were many things that have been invented over the years that people thought would be impossible. So, she decided to make a time machine. We called a neighbor for a cardboard box, then she used a small Whiskas box with a pencil in it (the gears), a mini-globe (to show where we were going), a slime detector (mini-lava lamp), a little action figure (when you hit the top of his head you could talk to people-you could interpret their language in a minute) and a pillow and goggles for the operator of the vehicle. And, one more thing, Olivia! She was the operator. The girls got inside and we shut the box, and vrroooooom went to other times! The went to Ancient Egypt, Rennaisance England, early American (Cowboys and Indians). When it got dangerous, they hopped back in their time machine and came home! PS, the dog toys in the picture were their food! Yummy!

A Night (or rather a Day) at the Museum

Little China girl
I asked the girls if they wanted to go the Natural Museum the other day, but they really didn't feel like going out. So, we decided to make our own museum. It was a mix of Natural museum, art museum, and a music museum. Violet and I took turns being the tour guide and Olivia dressed up and pretended to be a young Chinese tourist. We have fun dressing up and walking around with a fake British accent (guess we picked that up from Night at the Museum!) and sharing what we knew about the various pieces in the museum such as the Egyptian pieces, fossils, dolls from around the world, kimono, to name a few. We also had a music museum with many different instruments; marachas, drums, flutes that were for the "kids" who visit the museum to play with.
Our Natural Museum
The fossil and Egyptian table
Natural museum
some fossils
Art gallery
the art gallery