Monday, December 29, 2008
I found this puzzle to be surprisingly difficult to resolve. But after much thought I felt that there might be a middle ground. If a child were simply told the "Santa story" about a kindly old gentleman who leaves gifts for children in his make-believe world, but who remains within the fictional world of the story, there would be no need to undo the lie that he is leaving gifts for the child in our world. Parents and children could play the "Santa game" by leaving gifts for each other, just as Santa does in the story. This allows the opportunity for children to learn the pleasure of giving to their parents and siblings, as well as gaining the knowledge and appreciation of their parents' efforts on their behalf - an opportunity that is completely missed in the traditional approach.
Interestingly, we've always told Morgan that Santa was a fictional character - always in the context of one of her favorite characters, like Clifford, that she "plays" with as a sort of imaginary friend. The trouble is, to paraphrase Sartre, there are other people in the world. Other kids wanted to know if she Believed. That threw her for a loop. So we explained more directly this time around about fiction and "the Santa game" and she didn't want anything to do with it. She was pretty offended by the idea of a game where she doesn't have any input into the rules, as well as by the fact that there's allllllll this misinformation out there, aimed at people like her.
On the actual 25th she was rather put out by the lack of snow. All the holiday propaganda shows snow! I've mentioned in the past that it didn't necessarily snow for xmas, but I could tell it was one of those things where she wasn't convinced that I was right. Like tadpoles turning into frogs or corn growing on a plant - she didn't believe either of those until she saw it, either. So this year it failed to snow on Dec 25th and Morgan was affronted. The horror! The world is full of misinformation! Gasp!
This is the part where I get to say something insightful about organic learning and opportunities and not having to teach lessons, blah blah blah. Feel free to imagine I just did that.
We've been having some lovely times. I had five days off and will have another five this weekend. I've gotten a lot of work done on my one commissioned piece, a whole lot of cleaning and scheming, and some carefully calculated lounging around. I even had a few drinks at a party on xmas itself. Ever tried Grappa? We passed some around at the fete and most of the festive gagged over it - I actually liked it! Of course, now I'm going to have to try some of the stuff when I haven't already had a glass of wine and a Cosmopolitan, but I'm sure the opportunity will present itself one day, even if I have to buy some myself.
We've really only begun to celebrate. This week we get to start spending xmas money. New linoleum...ahhhhhhhh. And I'll even have time to put it on the floor, how perfect. We're also going to get another PS2 - ours is fading, and the computer is getting crowded with Everyone wanting to post and chat and play games, too. George is talking about Trains, so we're going to look into that. Mo has enjoyed the one cheapo train set we got last xmas, and she and George need more projects they can work on together. I hope they can manage to work on the trains together, opinionated people that they are!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Every morning around 430 George gets up and makes me coffee. He's sweet like that. Now that it's turned cold, he also builds up the fire in the woodstove. We sit in bed together, drinking coffee for about half an hour, and then its up and breakfast and put a lunch together and find the mp3 player and if its Monday I grab the week's laundry to leave in my locker and its out the door I go, to change into my plaster-covered work clothes in the restroom at work, before clocking in.
This is where I work, if you're interested and/or have a hankerin' for some really fancy crown moulding:
George's sweetness in the mornings carries me through the first part of the day, and often the whole day. Most of my coworkers aren't terribly sweet, so the thought of dear, sweet George at home with the kids is a kind of balm when the negativity starts to peak. Its amazing to me how negative some people can be. I'm not talking about cynicism, per se. Its more of an attitude of "I just don't give a shit". About everything. Today one fellow was complaining that the preacher at his church gave a sermon on "Love" - went on and on about it. The other guys commiserated: "You shoulda walked out." I stood there thinking about George, curled up against my shoulder just that morning saying "I love you" and "Thanks for being nice to me." Sweet.
Sweet was the first compliment I ever gave George. I remember him wriggling and glowing with embarrassed pleasure. He's still sweet. He's been fretting about all the things he can't do now that he's hurt his shoulder again (did I tell you? He slipped and fell on his bad shoulder and its hurting again. Bummer!) and he's kind of fallen into a rut with the kids so I've been helping him and them think of projects and games and activities and just Things to Do Together. Especially indoor things, since its chilly and damp and its a hassle to keep both woodstoves going (house and barn). This week I've come home to sweetness and smiles. Not as many dishes are getting washed, but I'll help him catch up on the weekend. I'll take smiles over dishes.
Okay, to be utterly truthful, most of the time I'll take smiles over dishes. There are days, though, when I come home and shudder. Not that I was a picture of tidiness when I was the at-home parent! But there are days when I'm worn out with Doing - casting and cleaning and patching and cleaning and sanding and cleaning (plaster is messy!) - and the idea of coming home to wade through the detritus of an unschooling day and have to wash my own coffee cup is enough to make me shudder. Some days I sensibly take an emergency chocolate break before I go home, but sssshhhhh! don't tell on me!
I'm glad to have been on the other side, as it were - to have been the one at home. It helps me to envision the happiness that led up to the scraps of pink and yellow and blue cupcake wrappers all over the house, the pile of muddy shoes, the trail of sugar leading halfway to the stairs (or maybe from the stairs), the total absence of spoons. I'm lucky that way. I can piece together the stories from the scraps and smears and random comments.
I'm lucky, too, that I had time to absorb all the sweetness that comes from living an unschooling life. Not that every day was cupcakes. Not that I was (or am) always the sweetest person in the world. But to live in a home where sweetness is valued! To live surrounded by love, sometimes inconvenient, sometimes stuck all over with juice and cat hairs, sometimes grumpy or awkward or just plain tired, but love, nonetheless. It makes it easier for me to go to work, just knowing I'm supporting that kind of life for the kids and George.
Most of the time I enjoy my job, even if I'm not always thrilled with my coworkers. I like being on my feet most of the day, and I like creating things. So much of what I do at work comes down to attention to detail and dexterity - I love that. Its satisfying. I like the fact that so much of what I do teases at the very edge of what I already know - I'm always learning! I love that part. I love the fact that the Ops mgr runs up to me in a panic and blurts out questions like "do you think you could cast xyz in some material you've never even heard of before?" I love saying Yes! to those sorts of questions. So I have no idea what he's talking about! I'll learn!
I really like working for a small business, too. That's something I've done before and it fits my skills and lifestyle and quirky ideology all at once. I certainly can't support small local businesses by buying from them very often! The owner and ops mgr are sometimes amused and nonplussed at my starry eyed idealism. I come by it honestly, though - my parents and brother are all idealists (yeah, I'm on to you, dad) in their own ways.
I love the fact that I can go home to a family where optimism and enthusiasm are part of the daily life. I remember the homeschooling days of trying to shove Ray into learning, and the school days of homework and stress and above all, aversion to learning. That was ugly. That's the kind of attitude I run into with my coworkers! An aversion to learning and trying new things. Even when one of the guys gets excited about learning something new he has to temper it in front of the other guys - shrug and find something to complain about. Now and then one of them will share a little enthusiasm with me. They know I'm safe, in a way. I still jump up and down and clap my hands when I get to try something big and new and impossible.
I miss my days at home sometimes, but I'm fascinated by the new relationships developing between George and the kids. He's still getting his feet under him, in some ways - his troublesome shoulder combined with his guitar making keep throwing kinks in the wheels. But he's figuring out how to do what he does and be a full time Dad, too. That's exciting. In a way, its part of what makes the whole having to go to work thing more than simply a chore I'm slogging through for the sake of the family. We're all learning to do and be differently than we were before. It only looked impossible from the other side.
And then later, walking out to the barn I could hear the lovely sounds of Ray and George playing music together - another ahhhhhh. A brisk almost-winter night, two really bright planets next to the moon, and the sounds of my guys jamming. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Okay, now for the bummer: we cancelled our dish service. We're not 100% satisfied with that, but we haven't found any option we're completely satisfied with. When we finally got serious about this New! Improved! internet connection we talked about a variety of options with the kids.
We're not in a position to afford all the things we want at the same time; in this case dish service, movie rentals, and a good internet connection (no cable anything this far out, not even city water, yet). We figured out we can afford two out of those three, though, and since we've all been dissatisfied with the recent tv show selection and getting sick of commercials we decided to try dumping the dish and getting the movie rentals (Netflix) again. Its an experiment.
So far I'm thrilled to be able to look at pix and movies online, George and Ray are ecstatic that they can listen to and even download music, and Mo is utterly gaga over the Games! Oooooooh ahhhhhhhhh, Disney and Nick and OMG Lego games! Plus we're all enjoying being able to rent movies again - that was the first thing we cut back when the finances got tight, so re juggling the budget and discovering that we could have movies again is a bonus. So far, we're all agreed that this particular way of divvying up the funds gives us the most options.
George is most excited about the music options - that's what ended up fueling the whole push to better interconnectedness. It wasn't even possible to have a Myspace or Facebook page with the connection we had, much less up or download music, and music is important to George. Kinda goes with the whole guitar building thing. Here's a link to his website, where you can also hear a sample of one of his guitars being played:
And oh! look! well, you can't see what I'm talking about so I'll tell you, it took less than a minute for this pic to upload! It used to take several minutes and then maybe it would upload, or not. This speed stuff is really great... er, I mean online.
He has a Myspace page or something, too... actually he has two, one just for music, but I'm behind on all this stuff, so I don't have addresses. I'll get them at some point.
Its Thanksgiving, today, and I've been employed for a year, now. I'm thankful for that, and for having a paid day off and spending it gardening - I got a spectacular deal on end-of-season plants and had dozens of hostas, coral bells and hyssop to get in the ground while its still reasonably temperate. I'm so thrilled - I got to plant borders! I've never planted a border. Usually I plant a couple plants and spread them out over the next few years. Its exciting.
George and Ray have gone to the big "alternative community" Thanksgiving potluck and Mo and I have been enjoying a quiet day home. She got the Whole Day to play computer games without three other people asking "can I have a turn?" so she's pretty pleased about that. So many games! Once I'm done here I'll go make us some coco and we'll likely snuggle up with books or projects - me knitting, her with legos or scissors. We're not the coziest snugglers in the world, I'm afraid. Lots of points and sharp edges. Its nice when George is out or up late so we can take over the bed with our prickly brand of affection. I know I have new pix somewhere - looks like still in the camera - so I'll have to post some soon. Now that I have new internet powers I can do that thing that used to drive me up the wall and have Whole Posts of Nothing but Pictures. Ahhhhhh, this is why they call it a super highway... all this time I've been driving the internet equivalent of a backroad with grass poking up through the middle.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
One of the yahoo groups I'm on is called "Peaceful Partnerships". Its a really lovely, inspiring board and this morning someone started a thread entitled "Recitations of Glee". I love those kinds of threads - I love reading what makes others happy in their lives and relationships and I love writing about the positives in my own life. Sure we're broke and in debt and there's a drought, but Life Is Good! I'd far rather dwell on the joys than the sorrows! So here's my own recitation, and a bit of an update after my recent blogging hiatus:
- Last night I finished knitting my "gauntlets" - elbow length, striped socks for my arms, with a thumb hole so they cover my wrists. My hands and arms were so cozy all night long and didn't ache this morning. I've offered to make George a pair so he can wake up with warm, non-aching wrists, too. Just need to pick colors and measure his hands.
- We're going to get rid of the darn dial-up at last! George has started exploring satellite internet options and the kids and I have been pushing around thoughts about what our wants and needs are wrt tv. We've all been craving a change for awhile, so we're all excited and optimistic about doing something different. The little bit that George needed to push him over the edge? Folk Metal. He was at Ray's mom's house, checking his Myspace and found a bunch of wacky folk metal bands from around the world - imagine guys and gals dressed like characters out of fantasy novels, playing heavy metal music with mandolins and hornpipes (as well as guitars and drums). Its like some kind of dream come true for George, but dial-up is too slow to download music and videos.
- George wants to finish the kitchen this fall. Its been half finished for a few years now - two walls are still bare drywall and starting to look really ratty. No way to clean it. I suggested paint as a stopgap sort of option, and George came back with magic words like "rangehood" and "panelling" and "turquoise formica backsplash". Glee!
- I've bleached my hair again and just tinted it pink, this time, in a sort of swirly pattern. I'm calling it "ludicrous fuschia mist".
- I'm halfway through appliqueeing the peacocks on my winter coat. They are very saucy! I'm also mostly done insetting the skeleton in my love-and-death quilt. Its turning out to be less difficult than I expected, so I'm relieved.
- Its cooler! So I'm cooking and baking this weekend. Ahhhhhhh. Coffee cake for breakfast. I dug and old crock pot out of storage and cooked up a pot of chick peas yesterday, so I'll make patties of them later today. Both kids love those, and they're handy for lunches. There's some chicken left, so I'll make some chicken nuggets for Mo, too. Today the crock pot is full of venison and veggies for George and Ray. I'm excited by the idea of cooking I can walk away from. Why haven't I done this before?
- George got the big work-truck put back together and it seems like the oil leakage is stopped. Hooray! He's been renovating the water system, since we haven't had rain for almost two months. A good time to drain the lines and clean the scunge out of the tank. The big truck lets us haul water in 250 gallon loads from the fire department, so we have water for all our needs, including laundry and hair styling for me and Ray. Phew!
- I'm thinking about grad school. After the show (end of this month) I'll have time to research financial aid and all that. I found a program that, for the first time since I left school (more than fifteen years ago) sounded interesting: historical preservation and restoration. Geeky and hands on with weird creative elements. I'm intrigued and excited about the possibilities.
- Things have smoothed out in a big way at work. I had a conference with Tim and Alex about building team spirit in the shop and then turned around and took some of my own advice. On friday one of they guys said something sweet about my raucous laugh (okay, translated from guy language it was sweet!) and I realized how much I can set the tone in the shop just by laughing at their jokes from time to time. Alex and I are also getting close to making some molds out of silicone and I'm excited about that. Friday I ran back and forth looking at masters and deciding which we should start with.
- Last weekend, at the semi annual mile-long yardsale, we scored a new microwave, and easy bake oven, an old video cam-corder, fifteen yards of flannel and assorted upholstery fabrics, some books and records for George and more, besides. It was a great sale and I think we spent less than $30 all told. At the end of it all, Mo and I walked the whole darn mile back to our car only to realize I had left the keys with George! But some kindly older lady named Martha lent us her car to go get him. That was the house where I got the fifteen yards of flannel and she and I had chatted sewing and quilting - so she knew I'd have to come back for the fabric. It was sweet and kind, though, especially since she was a very proper southern Lady and I was looking my usual eccentric self, which tends to be offputting to small townsfolk in these parts. Even more delightful, when George showed up with us to return the car, he knew her from open mike nights at the local coffee house. So it was a day of fun and loveliness all 'round.
- There's lots of music going on in our lives right now. George is playing more - at the coffee house, at drum circles, at jam sessions. Ray's been going to a lot of those, too. They've been rearranging the music area in the loft - mostly the drums and recording equiptment - so the space is better laid out for everyone. Mo's been playing the drums and also on the piano. She's facinated by the short tunes in each Ladybug magazine and asks me or George to write out the "letters" for the notes, so she can pick the tunes out on the piano.
- What else, what else? Its crisp-cool here in the mornings and warm in the middle of the day. I'm wearing more of my fun clothes and making more pants for Mo. She has a million tops, but few pants other than jeans, and y'know how jeans feel when you put them on cold? She wants warm clothes. So that flannel I bought will be pants for her, and for me and some sheets for her bed and mine besides. I've been digging through my stash for flannels and fleeces and velvets for Mo's wardrobe and sparking new ideas for my own. Mmmmmmm.
- I've just updated my website and its much much nicer. It was a bit clunky, before. It still needs some tweaking, but overall, it looks much nicer and is easier to navigate. I want to set up a page with the items I have on-hand but may wait until after the show. I can't afford to sell anything until then, weird as that sounds.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
My living room furniture was used when I bought it, and after more than a few years of living with children, its in sorry shape. The stuffing is coming out! Its just terrible, and with our current finances I had despaired of finding fabric that was both cheap and stylish, much less finding cheap used furniture I like. My chairs, in particular, have a lovely shape to them... sort of trapezoidal, as you can see in the pic. I like that. I'd just about come around to acceptance of the fact that I might actually have to replace them with something rectilinear, when voila! the perfect fabrics at an excellent price, and happy birthday from Aunty, besides. Oh happy day.
I'm taking a page out of Morgan's book and reinforcing the "decks" of the chairs with cardboard wrapped in duct tape. Mo, of course, is the queen of paper and tape and has, from time to time, branched out into cardboard. Snort! That's like saying I'm a traditional quilter who has "branched out" into less traditional work. She can make anything with cardboard or paper or some combination thereof, provided there's enough tape in the house. George and I are careful to never run out - good heavens, can you imagine if she decided to switch to glue? No, far far safer to keep the house stocked with tape. I nearly had to defend my roll of duct tape while making new chair decks - surely that's for me, isn't it mommy? Superfast diversional tactics involving double chocolate cookies and coco with marshmallows. Whew.
Mo has been playing with the idea of Art lately. It seems that Art is something specific from her perspective. Its something that is produced on demand, for the consumer, as it were. All this glorious construction that goes on in my home all day long isn't Art. She has clearly researched the matter via that ubiquitous gallery of artwork pertaining to children, the refrigerator, both in real homes and via television. According to her research, adults (the recipients of Art) like pictures of flowers, houses, trees and cute animals. So when Morgan makes Art, that is what she makes.
This past Friday, Mo went with George to a photo shoot with our local artists group. It was decided that this year we'd get a professional photographer to shoot all our work for the brochure at once (I was able to have mine shot by the same guy a couple weeks ago, since I needed slides for a show before the group shoot). George managed to explain this all to Mo to her satisfaction, but didn't realize that she expected to have some of her work shot also. Turns out she brought a painting of a bird (adults like birds and since mommy likes red, this bird has a red tail) and was quick to speak up when things were wrapping up and she seemed to have been overlooked. The photographer, happily, was charmed - he was also shooting everything in digital, so taking a bunch of extras of a little girl with her painting didn't cost him more than an extra minute of his time.