Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gingerbread House

Kim Archuleta had a party on Christmas Eve, and the main activity was assembling a gingerbread house. She made the gingerbread and the frosting and the "glue" (frostening that will harden like sugary cement), and let people go at it.

If you click on the photo you can see several other views. I did the wagon that's slightly visible in the rear to the left, and in more detail below. That started people in on building other stuff for the yard, and it was entirely fun.

I did the miniature paper chain, which is the only non-edible part, because we were making full-size paper chain for the house. I think that might show in some of the photos. Oh, the roof wasn't edible, either. It was cardboard laid over drinking glasses so it could get a chimney and a sleigh.

The candy canes sticking up are Keith's century plant. Marty did a prickly pear with green M&Ms and a cut-up gumdrop for the blooms. The yellow gumdrops are supposed to be farolitos/luminarias.

Good project, fun day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nativity Pog

It's not a tortilla, and it's not a miracle, but among the things Kirby declined to keep forever and ever were hundreds of pogs. Of the many manly-boy designs on those pogs, few appealed to me, but I like the Middle Ages and I like Christmas, and so one pog seemed to have been designed just for me to keep forever and share on my blog. It's medievalish and woodblockesque.

The original is 4cm on glossy but cheap cardboard. Popular art of the 1990s, pretty much, overall.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Snow, lights, moon

Our newish electric back gate has associated electricity, so we could put Christmas lights on the bamboo inserts!

My choices was with a flash or without, but neither makes it look as it does in the real world.

And the moon was out, but not as clear as usual, because of an icy sky.

I love that gate, I love snow, and Christmas, and Keith, and I love this house.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eight things about me

I got this from Circle the World in Big, Jen Lynch's unschooling blog.

My blog has been too serious lately, and I have been so forthcoming with details of my life, I don't know if I can name eight things nobody who reads this will not already know. Probably not. So I'll go with things 95% of readers probably don't know (meaning only one of the twenty who might read this might have known). I'm thinking of really old and really new things.

1) My half-brother, who was born when I was 19-nearly-20, got a three-month chip from AA last week. At the age of 34, he finally stopped drinking (or has for a while). I'm sending him a Christmas package, for the first time in many years. Keith and I had custody of him when he was 13 and 14 and Kirby was born.

2) I could read music before I could read English.

3) I didn't have a pacifier, but I used to suck the nose of a rubber scalping Indian toy I had, and I still have it. It still squeaked until just a couple of years ago.

4) I was ashamed to know a lot of country music songs when I was a hippie teenager, but I played for a little dance once (rhythm guitar and sang harmonies, with a band formed of those present) and was surprised to know so many lyrics. Nobody there knew me but my mom, and we were in Tres Piedras, a little cowboy town in NW New Mexico.

5) In my early teens I really, seriously planned to be a Baptist missionary when I grew up. That plan lasted four or five years. I got a Bible for it, and would be named in church on Lottie Moon day as someone to pray for because I had that intent. (Baptist readers might understand "Lottie Moon day.")

6) I think my mother was brain damaged.

7) My dad had two brothers. They both, separately, after I was grown, confided in me about their sex lives. So did my dad, to some extent. So had my grandmother. People just talk to me. I've gotten used to it. (Those three brothers were names Kirby, Rex and John Quincy. Adams, yeah. They were all born near Rotan, Texas, which is near Roby, which is near Sweetwater.)

8) None of my grandparents or parents finished high school, and now my kids didn't go at all, so my high school graduation was an anomaly in my family.

Well... I don't know if that went very far to lighten the tone of the blog this month. I wish Deb Lewis had a blog so I could tag her and she could cheer us all up! For Christmas, I want Deb Lewis to have a blog.

The inevitable "rules":
* link to the person who tagged you
* post the rules
* name 8 things others don’t know about you
* link to 8 other bloggers

So of actual blog owners I know about, I tag
Miranda Demerest in Las Vegas
Katy Jennings in Alamogordo
Vicki Watkins in her bus somewhere around here
Kelli Traaseth in Bemidji (where I have been!)
Schuyler in Cleveland (not Ohio, in northern England)
De in Ohio (not Cleveland. Well maybe; I have no idea.)
Mary Gold in Corvallis
Madelyn in Georgia

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stress I should NOT complain about

For three months and some I stalled and piddled around about going through the last few boxes of stuff Kirby left. He packed his closet and straightened what he was leaving on the shelves in his room. We told him we'd keep it as it was for a year, as it was, in case he wanted to move back.

Holly commandeered his bathroom, and photographs it frequently for MySpace. The XBox that Marty bought Kirby's share in (Kirby bought a new one in Austin) is still in there, and my computer, recently, but that's changing soon (my computer and the printer are going back downstairs).

Yet in the front room were five boxes of toys and hats and comics and books that Kirby was undecided about. He didn't want them, but he said Holly and I should go through and see if there were things we wanted, or what would be worth giving away.

Each time I started in on that, I felt angst and agitation. I asked Marty and Holly for help sometimes, and then we all three stalled.

But it's done now. Marty pulled out things he wanted a few days ago, I got some advice from both of them, and this morning I finished off the job. There are boxes of things for the thrift store (in the trunk of the car), a trashbag of things not worth giving to the thrift store, half a bag of recycling (better-quality plastic single-substance parts and items), and one box of things I thought might be useful for Halloween someday or for grandkids to dig through in an imagined possible future. There's a small box of parts and pieces to be re-filed with the proper collections or games.

Now I have space in that room and in my emotions for a Christmas tree. Sheeeesh, it wasn't easy. Every thing I touched was something Kirby had touched when he was four, or six, or ten, or fourteen, and then chucked aside when he was twenty-one. His whole life was passing before my eyes.

And another level of anxiety was added to the other (though I was keeping myself calm and amused and happy with happy-thoughts). I was feeling a light sorrow and regret, partly for burdening him with so much junk. Yet every single thing in there was something he played with and learned from and outgrew. That's good! The anxiety I was fighting down involved guilty feelings about my self-pity.

Kirby is alive and well. He sleeps in a warm place. He has a job, a car, and food. He has a roommate he gets along well with. He has an intact family to come home to, and on January 13 he's scheduled to arrive here for a visit

I think it was related to a sort of survivor's guilt, although that states it too strongly. My three children are at magical ages on the doorstep of adulthood. Three pregnancies, three grown to the age of reproduction and independence, without major injury or disease. I wish all moms could have that. And in thinking of those who were not so fortunate as I am, I'm kind of ashamed of my strong feelings about toys and childhood set aside by Mr. Kendall Kirby Dodd who outgrew his need for the nest and moved on into the world.

This mom-job isn't as easy as some people make it look.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

mountain view and radio afterword

This is how the Sandias look from our house today.

There's not a dark smudgy cloud in the sky. There's a cloudy smudge on the outside of the window. I need to clean that.

You might click that smaller mountain photo to see what it looked like last August. The bamboo has its seasonal look. The sky is always artsy.

I was on the Alan Colmes show. I was on in the first half hour of the middle of three hours. My "opposition" was Sandy Rios, another radio show host who's head of some conservative organization that seems designed to tell fundamentalist Christians who to vote for and what to think. Luckily, that didn't come up. She knew nothing about unschooling, and wasn't a homeschooler. She let me know her son was as honest with her as my kids were, even though she used to spank him, and that I was lazy to unschool instead of structuring my children's lives. I think she said that disciplining kids was disciplining oneself (or maybe she said structure was structuring... either way, it was just noise).

Her son won't be honest with her if it involves sexuality, homosexuality, or if he starts getting the wrongheaded idea that people should be able to make choices in their lives. If he looks at porn, he won't share that fact with his mom. That doesn't affect my own family in the moment, though.

I wasn't able to say half of the things I had hoped to say, and even though I had short phrases pre-written to try to work in, I was interrupted mercilessly, so I named the webpage twice, figuring maybe those who wished they could hear me could go there later. Alan, the host, also named the site twice, which was good of him to do. It seems I got a few hundred extra hits from that overnight, according to the week's average. I had 1420 site views yesterday, and this week has been a thousand-a-day week, give or take.

For people who don't know me but heard the program, if you find this post please consider reading here: This is a collection of those "aha!" moments when someone struggling to understand unschooling finally got it. It never happens in a half hour of radio listening, nor even in an hour of reading. It does take a while, and that's a point I was trying to make last night. It's simple to condemn the total misunderstanding of it. It's not easy to breathe out and take in the tip of the iceberg of the reality of it.

I had hoped to say something my husband, Keith, wanted conveyed: "We wanted our children to become thoughtful intelligent, undamaged adults." I never got to say it but I can say it here. I'll add it to my quotes generator. I love that quotes generator. It's here.

Although I rarely write or talk about school, it seemed all the questions last night were about school. "Cookie cutter students" or some such phrase was used, but school doesn't use any kind of template but the overall sorting (literally "grading") of students into gifted, honors, average, special needs, lazy/trouble, failure (and many subdivisions). School creates failures. They know in advance they will, and they must. Then they blame the kids for falling into the category and reality the school itself created and requires. An A average means nothing unless some corresponding number of kids have failed. I'm serious as a heart attack about this, but it must be a topic for another radio show.

I didn't ask to be on that show. I was contacted by a producer who had seen an article. I wasn't proselytizing. I was minding my own business at home. But by being willing to go on there, some people will know unschooling exists and that's fine. If they come and want help to get it, my website, this blog, the connected blogs, Joyce's website, the other authors whose pages I've made... all those people and resources are at their disposal.

A couple of friends of mine wrote to me concerned that the host was too rough on Roger, the first caller. I thought so too, and had planned to defend him with my next utterance, but I was thanked and dismissed at that point. I had hoped to leave Roger a message here, but he e-mailed me, so we've had an exchange about it and I felt better. There were two supportive calls and one fairly negative (but not totally negative). The next hour was about another topic altogether, so it was brief and a little rough, but will probably be positive for lots of people in the long run.

While I was on the phone, Marty and Holly were listening to the show on the computer, with headphones (sharing a set of ear buds). When the first set of commercials came on, Marty advised me to chill—he said I was being defensive. He and Holly coached me and said I was smarter so I had the responsibility to be nicer.

A sixteen year old girl and nineteeneighteen year old boy with the freedom to have been watching movies, playing video games, eating ice cream (to use a repeated example from the show), or to have gotten in the car and left the house were sitting listening to their mom on the radio, and counseling patience and courtesy.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Holly; me on the radio; odd week in review

I love Holly. She's fun to be around. The photo to the right is Holly, by Holly. My baby is sixteen. Wow. I remember being worried when she only weighed five pounds.

On December 11, Tuesday night, I'll be on the Alan Colmes radio show from 9:00 to 10:00 my time (11:00 in New York where the show originates), talking about unschooling. There will be someone to represent "the other side," but I don't know the nature of it yet, whether it will be a structured homeschooler or a pro-school person. You can listen to it online here: Click the box/icon instead of the text. That worked better for me. (Alan mentioned the unschooling debate on the show tonight.)

I've been sleeping extra much and having weird dreams. It's not really bothering me. It's interesting. I don't feel sick, but I'm sleeping as though I were sick. It's been a peaceful week. I was thinking for a minute I hadn't done anything for a long time, but then I remembered that in the past few daysI've been to a movie with Holly, talked to several friends by phone, cleaned the hot tub, worked in the yard, made cookies and several meals, had nearly a dozen people over to play a board game and talk about Shakespeare... Still, it seems "not busy," which is perfect! Christmas gifts are coming in by mail, and I shopped, and I've wrapped. Holly and I are making up a box for Kirby, who's working on Christmas, in Austin. He'll be here to visit in January. Cool!

Maybe I'm sleeping because I need to sew and I'm procrastinating. I put that in writing partly so I can stop pretending I haven't had the thought.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Responding with images

I'm doing this because I enjoyed Kelli's and Ren's so much.

1. My age next year:

2. Place I'd like to travel:

3. Favorite place:

4. Favorite Object(s):

5. Favorite food:

6. Favorite Animal:

7. Favorite Color:

8. My nickname:

9. Town I was born in:

10. Bad habit I have:


That was fun!
And the last image is from my friend 'Zann's blog. How cool it came up there!