Thursday, January 31, 2013

let's talk allowances

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Allowances - do you give your kids one or not?  How much?  Do you make them save part of it or donate part of it to charity?  Do they have to do something to "earn" that allowance, such as chores?

I actually find it hard to talk about this with other parents.  It's probably because it's just hard to talk about money, but I think it's unfortunate that we can't have the conversation.

I give my kids an allowance.  I've always given them an allowance.

Pros:


  • When they want something, they don't beg us for us.  They ask if they have enough money "in their allowance" to buy it.
  • The kids are learning how to save, how to manage their money, and how much things really cost
Cons:

  • The kids are more plugged in to being "consumers" and like to go "spend their money"

Last year it drove me crazy.  It would come to "allowance day" and they would "NEED" to go spend their allowance that day.  Even if they didn't find what they wanted in the store, they'd just buy Something, because they couldn't stand to not spend their money.  

So six months ago I called a family meeting and asked if we could all agree to save up for a trampoline.  The kids would go six months with putting their allowance into a savings account, and we'd match it and buy a trampoline for the family by Christmas.  They agreed, and saved for six months, and we got the trampoline.

And - it was long enough to break that addiction to shopping!  

This month they got their allowances again.  (I give them their age in dollars a week).  I asked them each to pick a percentage of their allowance to give to a charity of their choice, and they both chose how much they'll give.  

Carbon identified a few things he wanted to buy, and he has been careful about shopping around for a good price and discussing what his priorities are.  He's bought a couple video games this month, has a bit of money still in savings, and donated $6 to the YMCA.

Hypatia has gone a different direction, and has decided to save her allowance up to go to Paris.  A huge goal, and we've talked about how long it will take, but she's still determined that she's going to get a big trip somehow.  She doesn't want to buy anything, but is going to Save, Save, Save!

I'm so happy we took the break, and I'm happy with how they're handling their money now.  It's working really well so far. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Children's Museums

My kids are still enjoying the local Children's Museum.  I know my son is aging out of this stage, so I'll just enjoy it while it lasts.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seven Fun Things From Church Today

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1. A class of 3rd and 4th graders who build their vision of Solomon's Temple out of Duplos and then are so excited to show it to me and get me to take a picture of it.  Features to note: a water slide, a book open for the Priest to read from, and out of the camera shot, a rainbow standing over it all.

2.  Four year olds who sit on the rug in their classroom alone while I have to run out looking for a teacher after a volunteer doesn't show ... and when I get back without anyone and realize I have to cover this class myself (along with supervising the six other classes going on) the kids say "we were Statues!".  Darling little ones practically ran their own class today.

3.  Getting to pop in and watch 5th and 6th graders do a little skit based off "clues" for the Cain and Abel story, and see them create a whole new scenario.

4.  Holding hands with good people in the High School group gathering.

5.  Having great advisors come in and enrich the Middle School lesson so much.

6.  Getting to introduce a new little one to our Nursery.

7.  Arriving in time to find my daughter is the last one in her class of 1st and 2nd graders and is valiantly still trying to hold their model Ark of the Covenant up "because all my friends left me when they heard there were cookies!".

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Buy Nothing New Pledge

I decided to personally (as opposed to talking my whole family into joining me) take the Buy Nothing New pledge for 2013.  My primary motivation is that I think our culture is all about making us consumers, and that there is just too much stuff being produced in an unsustainable and exploitative way.  And yet, we are well-conditioned to keep consuming and I think I need a break to be able to really examine my relationship to consumerism.

So far, it's been a bit harder than I expected.  I actually dream about shopping, about new dresses, new shoes, new purses.  My slippers are wearing out.  I really want a new purse.  And I'm discovering just how much shopping is related to envy, low-self-esteem, and boredom.

These are all good reasons for why I need to stick this out.

But I need to find some time go thrifting soon!

Warning: plenty of explicit language

Friday, January 25, 2013

A mixed view of legacy

The theme of the 30 Days of Love this week has been "honoring the legacy".  I've been getting the daily emails, the reminders to think about Martin Luther King, Jr., the 40th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, how proud Caesar Chavez's grand-daughter feels of her grandfather, and asking folks to nominate heroes and justice-seekers.  I should feel inspired.  I wish I felt like writing posts about my heroes.

But all this talk of "legacy" (and also, the field trip the kids and I took this week to hear about living Native Traditions), has me thinking about another kind of legacy.  The legacy of privilege, prejudice, and racism.  I think it's fair to say that I'm a 1st-generation justice-seeker.  And when facing the question of "legacy", I have to be honest and confront the legacy I inherit from my family.

My family aren't particularly prejudiced.  They are good people.  But no one has ever marched for civil rights, either.  And, as European Americans, we inherit the legacy of white racism and privilege.  Yes, a few generations back many in my family faced discrimination (No Irish Wanted, etc and my german-American family had a rough time of it during WWII), but then there is also this:

When I was in Army training, there were many other young soldiers with the same last name as I have, but I was the only white one.  One of the guys asked me how I got this last name .... told me I was the first white person with this name he'd ever met, that he'd thought it was a black name.  My name is from Wales.  However, this name has a long history in America - a whole county in Virginia was the original plantation-land of this family ... and they owned many slaves.

That is an awkward conversation to have with your fellow-trainees (all 18 year olds and what did we all know about how to talk to each other about this stuff?).  A couple hundred years ago, white people with my last name probably owned your great-grandparents.  I don't know how my branch of the family is related, but in all likelihood those were some of my great-grandparents who were slave-owners.

I'd love to be writing a post about my heroes.  We need heroes, we need to embrace our heritage of justice-seeking and honor those who came before us.  But we ignore the icky bits of our heritage at our peril.  How can we move forward to build the community and the world we dream of if we haven't dealt with the baggage of the world we inherited?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Farewell, Recreational Reading Time

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I just returned this delicious pile of reading to the library, realizing that I just don't have time to read it right now.  Not when my current To Read list is all about the Liberal Theology course I'm taking this semester.


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But I did manage to read the one book I got as a Christmas gift.  The Jane Eyre Affair is silly, brilliant, tongue-in-cheek, pure fun.  It's unabashedly nerdy, and enjoys a good (bad?) pun or two.  If you like Terry Pratchett, Hitchhiker's,  and the canon of English literature, you'll probably love this.  On the other hand, if Pratchett's humor sets your teeth on edge (like it does my husband's), avoid this book.

Ah, I will miss reading just for fun.  But there is always summer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Field Trip Day

Our homeschool meet-up group had a field trip to the Art Museum today to learn more about living Native traditions.  We saw canoes and kayaks, heard about the canoe journeys and other Native American traditions, and then after the presentation the kids were led through a necklace beading project.

Having access to school field trips and group activities like this is a cool little extra for our homeschooling life.



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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Day in the Life When We Stay Home

Some days are busy days, and some days are Home Days.  Monday is a Home Day.  It is my one day off work each week, and it's been hard to figure out what that means - to have your "Day Off" be a day your husband goes to work, a "School Day", and a day that most people are already jumping into their next week, looking ahead, contacting me, wanting and expecting me to be available.

I call Monday my "Sabbath".  I've written it on the calendar, on every Monday, to remind myself not to schedule anything else on Mondays.  And I've adopted a few rules for my sabbath: no work for pay, no commercial activity or shopping, no driving.  So this is what a home day ends up looking like:


Wake up whenever I wake up. (7:45)  I don't set an alarm clock on Mondays.  My husband has already left for work.

Putter about cleaning up the house and kitchen.  It's always a huge mess on Monday, because on Sunday I work all day and my husband usually doesn't clean up after himself.

The kids wake up whenever they wake up. (8:15)  Yesterday the girl was up first, and wanted me to read to her.  I was going to take a bubble bath, but since she wanted to do some schoolwork I delayed that.

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8:30

We read a bunch of books off our library stack.  Some of them were for "school" or were related to subjects she is studying right now, and others were just for fun.  Olivia and the Fairy Princesses was for fun (I loved it - perfect for my not-quite-a-princess daughter), and it inspired us to look up YouTube videos of Martha Graham dancing.

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9:30

I decided to go take that bubble bath, and let Hypatia go ahead and watch a video while I was in the bath.  I read my liberal theology text while I soaked.

10:00

I got concerned that Carbon hadn't got up yet, and went to check on him.  He was lying in bed playing DS.  I got him up and out doing his animal chores.

Then he watched a DVD about Inventors while Hypatia did some math and language lesson and read to me.  He was inspired by the DVD to sit for awhile with a notebook and sketch some possible inventions of his own.

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Somewhere in there while he was doing that, Hypatia did her violin practice with me.

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Then, once they were ready to do something together, I set up the art table.


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This is Hypatia's tribute to Starry Night by Van Gogh.

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Other morning activities: watching a TV show episode and cleaning their rooms.

12:30 I serve lunch, and my husband gets home from work (it is a holiday afterall - but alas he is still not done and locks himself in the home office/schoolroom to keep working).

1:00 Hypatia and I do her Spanish (silly games using the spanish words for parts of the body) and I read her history chapter to her.  Meanwhile, Carbon does math and language lessons.

1:30 Carbon does his Writing Strands and practices piano while Hypatia is off playing by herself.

2:00 Everyone is done with school work and I let them watch some more TV while I head off to lock myself in the bedroom and try to finish that chapter of the liberal theology textbook.

Afternoon of unsupervised play and screen time, and I study and do chores.

5:00 Dad comes out of the study and plays some board games with the kids.

6:00 I serve nachos for dinner - yep, I wasn't really feeling like cooking.  Outside chores are done to put the animals to bed.

6:30 Dad lets the kids talk him into downloading a new game onto the Wii and they all spend time playing it together.

I read and do the dishes and mop the kitchen floor.

8:30 We read bedtime stories and put the kids to bed.

And that is what our Home Day looks like usually!




Monday, January 21, 2013

Mother-Daughter Bible Study

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On Saturday my mom and my sister and I got together for our first Mother-Daughter Bible Study.  We discussed Genesis and Exodus, and traded little bits of research, understandings, questions, and impressions we had gained as we each read those books over the last month.

I've never read the Bible all the way through.  Most people I know have never read the Bible (perhaps at all).  My mother grew up Presbyterian and was a studious child and youth, so she actually has a background in Sunday School lessons and youth group Bible Study, but already she's noticing that they focused on "just the easy bits".

It's not a requirement of the Religious Educators Credentialing program, but as I was working on the Jewish-Christian Heritages section of my portfolio it occurred to me that I wish I had read the Bible.  I wish I had a better understanding of the primary text, and not just the interpretations that other (more conservative) religious people have put on it.  I wish there was a liberal-leaning Bible Study group out there.

I looked online at other area church websites and on Meetups, but all the Bible Study groups were clearly more conservative than I would be comfortable with.  I didn't want to start one at work, because then it would be "work", I'd have to convince others of the reason to do it, and I'd end up cast in the "expert/leader" role when I really want to be in the learner role right now.

During a phone call with my mom where I was complaining about the lack of liberal Bible Study resources, she said she'd love to do it with me, and the Mother-Daughter Bible Study was born.  My sister joined in, even though as a college student she doesn't really need any more studying to do - but we're a homeschooling family and this is the way we roll.

It's delightful to have a reason to get together once a month, a deadline that pushes us to keep up with our reading, and a discussion group that shares a similar way of looking at the subject matter, so I'm really happy to take on this project.  But this is going to take us a long time, if we only read two books of the Bible a month!  A long-term project, fitting for life-long learners.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

30 Days of Love Day One


Today is Day One of the 30 Days of Love.  You, too, can sign the pledge to focus your next 30 Days on Standing on the Side of Love.  Just head over to their website.

Too Much To Do

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There's just a bit too much "stuff" on my To Do List right now.  Trying to find rest and recreation, reflection and renewal time, is getting more and more difficult.  And although I know I need to let some threads go slack, and come back to pick them up later when I have more time, it's so hard to prioritize what is vital to do and what can wait.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Day in the Life of Work and Homeschool

Yesterday was one of my busy-type days.  Here's how those kind of days go down:

6:15 the alarm goes off.  This is so that I can have some time to do yoga or read.  Yesterday I hit snooze a few times, though, so no morning spiritual practice for me.

7:00 I'm up and getting ready to go.  I slept in my work-out clothes and packed my gym bag the night before, along with the kids' swim bags.  But the cats had left me a little surprise by throwing up on the love seat.  So what I needed to do in the morning was:

  • clean up that cat vomit and remove the slip cover from the love seat to wash
  • fold the laundry on the drying rack
  • get the kids up - but then their dad cooked them breakfast
  • start a load of laundry in the washing machine
  • pack lunch bags for each kid with snacks to get them through the day
  • I should have unloaded the dishwasher and reloaded it, but I had forgot to actually start it the night before so I just started the machine going
  • Check and respond to email
  • Pack up my work stuff
8:00 We're ready-ish to go, and the kids decide that rather than pack their schoolwork to do they'd rather just bust it out at the dining table.  They each did math and language lessons.

8:30 We left the house headed down to the gym.  We listen to Tom Sawyer on audio disc.

9:00  The kids start their PE class, and I head down to the elliptical machines.  I did 30 minutes of exercise, while reading a liberal theology book and listening to music on my phone.  That left me with 15 minutes to stretch and drink water.

9:45 The kids get out of PE class and we go through the locker rooms to change (them into swim suits, me into my outfit I had packed the night before in my gym bag).

10:00 Swim Lesson.  I knit and chatted with another mom during it.

11:00 Another transition period as we get the kids back through the showers, eat a snack, and drive from the gym to their music teacher's place.  More Tom Sawyer.

11:30 Violin and Piano lessons.  During Hypatia's lesson I knit, and during Carbon's lesson I read some more of the liberal theology book I'm studying right now.  

12:30 Another transition period as we hustled from the music lesson, went through a fast food drive thru (I should have packed sandwiches, but dropped the ball), and drove to church.  More Tom Sawyer.

1:10 I arrived ten minutes late for a meeting of the Adult Education Committee at church.  The kids hang out in my office and watch videos while I'm in the meeting.

3:00 I'm done with my meeting and do 1 hour of general administrative work at church.  The kids are playing with the toys we keep in my office.

4:00 Another transition, driving home.  More Tom Sawyer!

4:30 Arrive home and do:
  • take that load of laundry out of the washing machine and hang it on the drying rack
  • sweep up the living room
  • clean the two bathrooms
  • cook dinner (spaghetti with some of the meatballs I made and froze a week ago)
  • Sit and eat dinner with my family
  • Read some blog posts from my Google Reader
6:30  Head back to church for a meeting.  With no kids in the car, I listen to NPR.

7:00 A meeting with the high school youth advisors at church.

8:30 Back home again.  

9:00 Put the kids to bed, kiss the husband goodnight, and settle down to read.  I listened to some classical music, drank a glass of wine, and read my Bible (I have mother-daughter bible study on Saturday and we're going to discuss Genesis and Exodus.  I'm not done with Exodus yet.)

9:30 I switch to making a powerpoint of pictures for the story I'm going to tell on Sunday in the worship service

10:00  I read some more of the liberal theology text.

10:30 I fell asleep while reading.  

And that was my day!  Not every day is like that, thank goodness, but typically that's life about twice a week for me.  




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

one of the problems with working from home ....

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Sometimes cats are really not helpful when one is trying to get some work done.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting Dad Involved

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My son has been obsessed with Minecraft for a few months now.  It's not a bad thing to be obsessed with, as it has many creative aspects as well as technical computer knowledge that my husband tells me is a form of basic simple programming.

But ...

I still don't like to see him get totally swept out of the real world and into the virtual.  He told me at one point that "when I'm playing Minecraft it's hard to remember that's not the real world".

So I was trying to think of a way to inspire him to be that creative and inventive, but in the Real World. I thought - maybe a unit study on Inventors.  Hence, the Thomas Edison for Kids book.  I've been impressed before with the For Kids series, which all incorporate non-fiction text with lots of hands-on activities.

The best part so far has been getting his dad involved.  I'm realizing more and more how important it is to recruit the Dad (or the less-involved parental-unit) into the homeschooling enterprise.  The kids love when he does homework with them.

This weekend, he built a steamboat with Carbon, based on directions in Edison for Kids.  It was a bit frustrating at times, and took them far more time and far more money on copper tubing than it should have, but they got it to work. And it was cool - it even made a little "putt, putt, putt" noise as it moved about the bathtub.

A great father-son experience. A great way to get the less-involved parent in on the homeschooling adventure.  A great way to show our son that creative invention could happen in the real world.  And a great way to delegate some of the homeschooling to another adult and ease up this Mama's work-load.

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Tonight I set him to working on a Real Science Odyssey lab about the water cycle with Hypatia.  And they made up a silly song about the water-cycle together to help her remember it, and she loved getting to do that with her dad.

Don't shut the other parent out of the adventure, just because this is "your job" or your primary task.  Don't be a gatekeeper, or insist on being the expert to such an extent that the other parent can't do anything right.  You're in this together, and you should let them help you, let them participate as much as they can.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make-Ahead and Freeze

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I've been waiting to get this cookbook from the library and try it out.  When I had my daughter, some kind and forward thinking soul gave me Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook as a baby gift.  That book has been a huge help to me in balancing my need to feed my family with my need to sometimes be doing something other than cooking at 4pm on an afternoon.

Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook  seems to be equally useful.  On Saturday I got together with a friend and we cooked up double-batches of the Lentil Dal, Multi-Bean Chili, Butternut Squash Soup, Quiche, Enchiladas, and the Nacho Cheese Bake.

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A fun way to fill the freezer with good food for my family this month.  Doing this about once a month would be a great idea, if I can keep it up.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Doing Church



I get up very early on Sunday mornings to get to church in time to set it all up.  Part of what makes that actually pleasant is that I listen to eTown which airs from 7-8am on Sunday mornings here.  In a lot of ways, eTown feels like church to me.  There is good, soulful music that frequently has a social or uplifting message.  There is conversation with the artists, usually focused on what inspires them and what their mission is.  They also honor someone every week with the "e-chievement award" and discuss the justice or environmental work that person does.

This feels like church to me.  I'm uplifted and inspired, moved, challenged, comforted.  So should I just get up and listen to the radio in the morning and then go home?

Of course not (even setting aside that not showing up to work would be a bad idea).  It wouldn't be enough, because passively listening to the radio is not Doing Church.

Listening is part of Church.  But, in much the same way that going into nature alone is not Doing Church either, listening and not having to give something back to those around you is a completely different experience and only half (or less) of the equation that is Church.

When we Do Church, we take our place in a community.  It means interacting with other people.  It means being open to experiencing the jagged peaks and valleys of other peoples' lives, as they bring into the church their greatest Joys and Sorrows.  It means passing a tissue to a woman who is crying during the sermon, even though you have no idea why she has been moved to tears.  It means singing the Birthday Song for the 6 year old and the 98 year old at the same time.  It means signing up for cookie service and for the march on the capitol building.  It means that new ideas will challenge you.  Sometimes you will change your mind, sometimes you will just have to agree to disagree.  It means offering to hold the baby for a little bit, or holding the door open for the elder with a cane.  It means being challenged to explain what you think and believe and who you are to other people, who are also engaged in thinking about what they believe and who they are.

Listening to the radio on my way to church is important to me, but it cannot be the whole experience.  For me, as a Religious Educator, the radio show replaces what I missed in the worship service.  But all the rest of it ... all the unpredictable, messy, human parts of it, are the real heart and soul of Church for me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Here I sit

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Here is the compliment to my previous Here I Sit post (maybe I'll make a thing of doing these sorts of posts).  Here is my space in my office at church, a place where I sit only slightly less than I sit at my desk at home.  Here, you can see that I am eating my lunch at my desk.  I'm loading updates on my computer software, getting a quote out of Everyday Spiritual Practice, referencing my calendars and my Little Book of Things I Need to Do.  This space is frequently covered in craft supplies, binders of curriculum, attendance sheets, registration forms, and catalogs.  Here I like to sit and sort it all out, file it, keep the wheels rolling and the balls in the air.  This space is less for contemplation and more for the ministry of administration.  I sit here three afternoons a week, and then it is the dumping ground for all the things I don't have time to attend to on a Sunday.  On Tuesday I come in and shovel it all back off and file it, respond to it, get it back under control.

Here I sit.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Living with the Time We Have

I don't have enough time!  I'm so busy!  There's never enough time!  How often do we say all those things?

I've been thinking a lot about time, and how we choose to use it, lately.  I'm not the only one thinking about it, either.

Anne Lamott wrote about Time Lost and Found

And Lori at Project Based Homeschooling wrote about Learning to Use the Time You Have

Both are good posts, both encourage us to realize that we have more time to do the things that are truly important to us than we think we have.  But, no promises that it will be easy.  No myth that you can do it all.  We have to make choices, we have to choose to use the time we have in ways that fulfill us and build the life that brings us joy.

I think I'll have more to say about this sometime soon, but for now I just bring you these words of others.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Following the learning opportunities

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My daughter, and to a lesser extent my son, have been enjoying The Avengers a great deal recently.  The Avengers features Thor as a superhero character, and a great deal of Norse mythology gets thrown about.  Since she had that introduction, I thought it would be good to see if she was interested in learning more, and it's proven true.  Both kids are very much enjoying D'aulaires Book of Norse Myths.  A few years ago we read D'aulaires Book of Greek Myths out loud, and this one is done just as well.

As a homeschooler, heck as a parent and a human being, I find it very important to just pay attention and to look for the ways to go deeper into whatever is currently of interest or of use.  Pay Attention.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reading as Spiritual Practice

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Reading and journaling are one of my (almost daily) spiritual practices, the most cognitive of my practices.  (If you're interested, I'm currently trying to do daily: read and write, clean something with mindfulness, show love and care to another human being or to nature, stretch/yoga/mindful engagement with my body, and sit in silence.  Each can be very short, and many are things I might be doing every day anyway.  The difference is in approaching them as a spiritual practice meant to further my own spiritual development as a calm, loving, and enlightened human being.)

In my mind, reading counts as spiritual development when I'm reading the sort of book that brings me closer to engaging with the transcendent mystery and making meaning of life.  There are many different types of book that do that:


  • Literature.  Not all literature, and it is hard to guess what is going to be a spiritual read and what isn't.  Just because a book says in its blurb that its "a journey of discovery" or something like that doesn't mean that it will move me.  And then books that didn't seem like they would be transformative at all will surprise me.
  • Sacred Writings.  While these seem like an obvious starting place for reading as a spiritual practice, I find the primary documents of most religions don't easily move me.  There are too many issues of translation, context, different cultural norms, etc.
  • Writings about religion or spirituality.  I almost always am moved and provoked to reflection by the words of someone else who is thinking about or explaining religious ideas.  
  • Personal memoirs.   These all depend on the person who wrote them, and whether I can relate to this person and "like" them.  
  • Essays.  I love books of essays, whether they are Emerson, Kingsolver, Berry, or anthologies such as the one pictured above.
  • Poetry. I like poetry, but I find it difficult to find material I will like.  I'd like to branch out more in this direction.  
  • Psychology books.  There is a very wide spectrum of quality in the psychology for the layman section of the library.  "Pop" psychology can be awful, or it can be fantastic.  I just have to give a book a chance, no matter what the cover looks like and how many "Ph.D"'s the author has, and hope for the best.
  • Meditation manuals.  There are actually books that have been put together specifically to be short reflective reads.  They can be really good.  Look in that section of the UUA bookstore if you're interested.
And so I set time aside to read every day, and live surrounded by books. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Here I sit

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I spend so much time sitting at this tiny desk.  I tend to flit from thing to thing, responding to an email, reading a chapter of a book, suddenly being inspired to write a blog post or journal entry, checking my email again and finding out that there is someone who needs my attention or just my prayers, noting them in my Cares journal, knitting for a bit while I think, then returning to studying again, or perhaps going to warm my coffee.

I like to listen to Pandora on my headphones while I sit here.  I have a lamp above this desk that I keep meaning to get a full spectrum light bulb in so that I get more good light.  In a house full of shared space, this is my space.  This is where I sit.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A new year, a new organization for our homeschool

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Staying organized as a homeschooling mom, while also working full-time, is a challenge.  Last year I primarily utilized a big whiteboard for daily To Do lists, and I came up with the list each day from a weekly list that just said what subjects we would study each day.

Not planning further ahead made it kind of hard to have the right supplies on hand, and I had to invent that To Do list from scratch every day.  So I started off 2013 with a new schedule - a month's worth of daily assignments.  So far, this is much better.

I also realized that the kids don't ever seem to want to do their work in the same place in the house twice in a row.  Sure, we have a "schoolroom", but they don't use it.  One day they work at the dining table, the next on the sofa, the next outside at the picnic table, and then the next they might take their work to church with them.  So I packed all our current supplies into canvas bags for each of them, and they can just haul those bags to wherever they want to work that day, then put the bag back in the schoolroom to store until the next day.

This let's Carbon's "school day" look like this:

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

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A New Year dawns.  (Actually, this picture is of the sunrise on Monday from my back yard, but today's wasn't nearly as pretty.)

I've been thinking of goals and resolutions for 2013, and I haven't come up with anything too exciting.


  • Fiscal Responsibility.  We want to be all out of debt by 2015
  • Social and Environmental Care.  I want to be making choices and taking actions that always keep my values in the forefront, rather than reflexively trying to "keep up the with Joneses" or fill time with more distractions.
  • Finish my Credentialing Portfolio.  It's due in November for review, so that's a big one for me this year.
  • Enjoy my strengths.  I realized recently that I spend a lot of energy shoring up my weaknesses, and trying to be a different person than I naturally am.  Instead, I'd like to enjoy my natural strengths and just be myself.
  • A modified version of The Compact (the pledge to buy nothing new for a year).  I personally aim to buy nothing new this year.  But my family isn't joining me in this, and there are loads of exceptions I can already think of, so it's a pretty lax version of the Compact for me. 

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We went out to the cabin today and the boys took a quick dip in the chilly Sound.  Diving into the new year!