Monday, December 24, 2007


This past weekend we went to the Ice sculpture display at Opryland. This year the theme was The Grinch. The best part was my brother's family came to Tennessee to visit, so the girls got to hang out with some of their favorite cousins. Here they are: A.J., Naomi, Allison, Jayda, and Lauren.

The girls and Grandpa!
Aren't they soooo sophisticated!

Naomi and A.J., so happy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December 11th and 73 degrees in Nashville, TN or Fannie Mae Dees Park Review

Well, we took advantage of global warming today and enjoyed a beautiful day at the park. Fannie Mae Dees Park, that is. I'm thinking about doing a review of all the area parks from the perspective of a 7 and 11-year-old. . .

Jayda's comment about the Fannie Mae Dees, aka "Dragon Park" is, "It was pretty awesome." Naomi's comment is, "It is awesome before 3:00 [when all the school kid's get there], and don't go in our secret hideout!" The girls barely played on the playground equipment, most of their time was spent at the secret hideout, a cluster of shrubs on a hill that have paths weaved through them and form a roof with their evergreeness (I made up that word). It reminded me somewhat of the "Bridge to Terabithia" minus the tragic death!

The reason Fannie Mae Dees Park is called "Dragon Park" is because of a giant mosiac sea dragon sculpture. You can see some good pictures of it here (follow the link). Here are my pictures of it, my camera is not capable of adequately capturing its expanse.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Unschooling and Mindful Parenting

This conversation was on one of my yahoo groups, "unschoolingbasics," it really is a great example written in response to someone learning about the philosophy of unschooling. The person responding is Joyce Fetteroll who also maintains the site . Thanks, Joyce, for letting me use this!

What do you do when the kids want to watch TV and play video games all day?

Either they're watching TV because that's what they really want to do, or because it's the least boring thing available.

It's important to honor and value what they are passionate about. If it's shows, watch with them, find games on the internet based on the shows, find tidbits about the shows that they might find interesting.

It's also important to have rich lives so that they have opportunities within reach. As is often suggested, rather than trying to subtract something from their lives, try adding to their lives so
they aren't choosing one thing because nothing appeals to them more.

I think it helps to see getting the kids out to places to see new things *not* as the most learningful parts of unschooling. (Though the kids are, of course, learning.) See exposing them (whether taking them to something or bringing something to them) as exposing them to potential new interests. They can't know they're interested in superhero comics or the Taj Mahal or Dixieland jazz or skateboards or Shakespeare or sushi or Spongebob if they've never been exposed to them! What they pull in to them because it's interesting to them is when real learning happens.

I find that without giving them something to do all the time my kids will bicker and argue over everything.

Mindful parenting is about being with your kids. That doesn't mean 24 hours a day sitting in their pockets ;-) but it does mean physically being with them enough that you're aware of their wants and needs and moods. Strive for being aware enough to bring them food before they start the slide into deterioration from hunger, pulling one aside to do something with you when things are getting tense. That doesn't eliminate all problems but it will help a great deal. Mindful parenting and unschooling is not hands off parenting! It's very aware parenting.

Rather than giving them something to do, engage them. It's a mind shift and a different dynamic. Rather than seeing yourself as their protector and molder, see yourself as their partner. They already have interests and needs. You be there to help them explore and meet
them. You be there to open doors for them to give them access to new things they might enjoy.

How do they get exposed to things beyond daily living around the house with mom? Honestly, I think in my daily life as a SAHM, I do not do more acedemically than the average 4th grader as far as math, reading and writing skills.

By not seeing schoolish activities as learning. They *are* learning by playing video games. They're learning when you support their interests, helping them get what they're reaching out for. They are learning when you go to the store with them. (Try focusing on how they're seeing the world rather than getting the task accomplished.) They are learning when you bring a movie home you think they'll like (or go out to one!) They're learning when you go for a walk, talk about their favorite things, help them hook up with friends, read to them, listen to books on CD, engage them in conversation, listen to music from your childhood, look at old photos, visit a grocery store you've never been to.

School learning is about cramming in skills and knowledge into kids that they might need one day. In the process they're so turned off by the method that it bleeds into and colors the skills *and* anything that uses the skills with a wash of boredom and dullness. Unschooling is about acquiring the skills *as a side effect* of exploring an interest. Kids don't decide to learn English because it's useful. They pick it up as a side effect of using it to get what interests them. That's how unschooling works for everything.

Unschooling isn't about weekly trips to museums. It's also not about TV for hours. It's about bringing the world to your kids and helping them explore the parts that interest them. So for some families it *will* look like weekly trips to museums. And for some families it will look like TV for hours. Neither of those will last forever! :-) Your kids will grow and their needs will change.

And here are some more links!

Just have to inflate my self esteem a little!

cash advance

Saw this on another blog. Don't know where they get the idea that this blog is genius (maybe it was the Venus of Willendorf). . . oh well, I'll just enjoy it!

Cash Advance Loans

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Spirit

I'm feeling completely overwhelmed by the consumerism of Christmas. I feel like it has evolved to a completely materialistic holiday, and am feeling quite dismayed and trapped by that and I'm not sure what to do about it. If anyone has any suggestions, books, etc., please let me know! So far I've checked out a book from the library called "Hooked, Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume" and I'm going to try to find a community service project to do before Christmas. So. . . in contrast to those feelings, the girls, especially Naomi, are really excited about Christmas so we have already put up our Christmas tree and lights. They also helped their Grandma put up her Christmas tree and decorations and have made some homemade ornaments. My suggestion of celebrating Hanukkah instead of Christmas this year did not go over well! Here is our tree this year, we did homemade garland, popcorn and construction paper, plus we have lots of homemade Christmas ornaments. Naomi also checked out a book on Origami Christmas ornaments, which is her specialty (origami, that is).

Some very scary acrobatics and feats of insanity on the roof of the house rendered us some outdoor lights (thanks Daddy!):

In other news, Naomi is feasting on the quantity and requestability (sent to our branch two blocks away!) of manga that is available through the Nashville Public Library.

And last but not least, I am feeling increasingly like the Venus of Willendorf thanks to a combination of PMS and cold symptoms so I am going to bed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life's a Fieldtrip

We went to the Parthenon today. It's a replica of the one in Athens, Greece built in the Athens of the South aka Nashville.

The coolest part about it is the statue of Athena inside. For those of you not in the "know," Athena is the patron goddess of Athens. During a competition between her and Poseidon over the patronage of Athens, they agreed they would each give the city one gift and the people of the city would decide which gift had more value. Poseidon struck his trident down and out sprung a spring of salt water, Athena struck her spear into the spring and out emerged an olive tree. The people of Athens decided the olive tree was more valuable and Athena became the patron deity of their city.
The statue is breathtaking. It's built by by Alan LeQuire, and I realized on the drive home that we go right by his studio on Charlotte, LeQuire Gallery. The girls are now in love with Athena and I think I am too!

Naomi: I'm Athena. . . Jayda: No, I'm Athena!

City livin' and Art History 101

We were by the Frist Center last night and decided to stop in to get a brochure. Guess what? They let us in for free to see Societe Anonyme, a modern art exhibit. Which went along perfectly with a documentary we are watching, "How Art Made the World" a really good series about art and humans. For those of you who have netflix and like art, I recommend.

These are pictures of the girls on the giant balls out back of the Frist.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Yes, we're in Nashville!

Here it is, Elise and everyone, the front of our new house in Nashville.Here's the backyard. Small, but nice, killer neighborhood:
This is the alley way that runs beside our house. This neighborhood has alleyways between the main roads which is kind of nice, most people's backyards face the alleyways instead of each other. Great place to walk dogs, off the beaten path. In our alley, it's the side yards that are divided by the alleyway. Pretty cool, so we just have to push our garbage and recycling cans a few yards to be picked up from the alley on garbage day!
I think it's going to be cool for me to live here. Hopefully it will work well for everyone else. The reason for moving is another post, which I don't want to get into right now, I'll save that for another time, hopefully.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Rejecting a pre-packaged life.

Had to share this article to those of you reading. From Sandra Dodd's site, "Rejecting a Pre-packed life." Go ahead, changing paradigms is an option!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cocoa Loco

The cocoa loco party rocked!!! We played a game where the girls had to open a chocolate bar wrapped several times in wrapping paper with a knife and fork while wearing a hat, scarf, and mittens! Very challenging and hilarious. . .

Also some word scrambling games!

And finally, thanks to Elexa, we had a chocolate explosion, which made the night complete. She was playing with the chocolate fountain and lifted up the top which caused chocolate to spray everywhere. . .

The next morning Naomi had our traditional family birthday pancake in the shape of number eleven. Here's to an awesome eleventh year of life, Naomi! Love ya!

And now for the little sisters!

This post should be after the next post, Naomi's BFF's, so read that post first, and then this one!

Adria's 'lil sis, Elexa. . .

Naomi's 'lil sis, Jayda. . .
Rebeca's 'lil sis, Casey. . .

Naomi's BFFs

We had a slumber party at our house last Friday night. These girls have been friends with Naomi since first grade and come to her b-day party every year. We had a "coco loco" party. Naomi has a slumber party theme book, "Snooze-a-palooza" that she got a lot of the ideas from for her birthday party both this year and last year. The mini edible flower pots the girls have are courtesy of the book "Tiny Treats," another book from the American Girls collection. Naomi is a big fan of these books and has almost all of them.

Here's Lindsay:


And finally, Naomi:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

11 on 11/11/07!

My eldest baby turned 11 on Sunday! For those of you who don't know her well, she is a very interesting, sweet human with a great sense of humor and lots of talent. She is a very good friend and a great daughter. I love her and am so proud of her!

Trying to get caught up on blogging. . .

When I should be studying!!!!

This Halloween, we had a Charm School Witch, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

And a devil/vampire (isn't he mysterious looking)!

Lot's of candy was had by all.

Poor Maggie even dressed up!