Friday, December 19, 2008

Uggh, sick dog

Just sharing: woke up at 4am to hideous amounts of dog puke. Woke up at 630am to even more dog puke....in fact, so much that it smelled of poo (have you ever been there as an animal owner? EWWWW!). I'm supposed to have friends over this morning and the whole house smells, errrrr, rather poo-ey, to use Littlie's words. Blech.

School is going great. I have taken Henitsirk's advice and we have been working on math using, not the four gnomes, but Santa's four elves, who each count and stack presents differently. Given that Biggie is not a fan of Creative Math (ie, gnomes), this has worked surprisingly well. Oh, and we used graham crackers yesterday to make gingerbread houses.

But for now, I gotta go clean dog mess.

TTFN.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spoiled! My early Christmas present

My mom gave me an iPod Touch. Woohoo! It is even flashier than my husband's, and there is a tiny evil part of me that finds joy/humour in that! Now I am trying to figure out how to use it and, whew, that is tough. Mostly, what I am finding hard is determining what parts of my life I want portable. For instance, I don't want friend and family contact details, and I don't want mobile banking; however, I do really want to use it for homeschooling. I get very distracted when I need the laptop midday, but I can see having my HS day planned in the calendar, with relevant internet bookmarks (projects, ebooks, etc) at hand, as well as websites with project directions for the day, etc.

Do any of you have one of these gadgets? What are your favourite apps (preferably FREE!)? And how the heck can you view Word docs on the iPod (my single biggest challenge so far)? But guess what my first ebook download was: Grimm's, of course. hehehe.

Trying to settle in and get ready for holidays. Tomorrow, we are continuing with the Four Processes*, making these little trees, and hopefully baking some bread. My liver hates me (too much wine!), so I must endeavour to eat/drink better.

(*I needed to cram in some math work and I've embraced the season! Instead of math gnomes, we are meeting Santa's mathematical elves, who much add, subtract, multiply, and divide, to ensure that each girl and boy is remembered on Christmas Day. It's totally workin' for us!! I love homeschooling.)

Back to the gizmo,

TTFN.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Aaah, home. It took us over 24 hours of travel time, the poor girls were as strung out as two littlies could be, but we made it safely home to Dad. On the down side, we all came home sick. (I actually had to debate postponing the trip home, but dosed them with so much goldenseal and echinacea that we made it on the planes!!)

Looking back, I would say that my trip to the States was wonderful (altho' on a day-to-day basis, I'm sure there were some stressors): my mom was an absolute pleasure and the girls LOVED her. I am so grateful for their time together. The house is mostly done, but we took some of the pressure off ourselves and determined that the house isn't going to sell until 2009 anyway, so why work ourselves sick. (In fact, we spent the last four weeks of the trip just having fun, with a little work here and there!) I shall have to post photos, but it's 4am and I am just too damn lazy to do that part of the blog right now!

My little cottage here in New Zealand in full Summertime bloom and it was a glorious homecoming. No TV, to commercials, and the girls were right back outside up the tree, in the dirt, making experiments. Thank heavens. We're not even going to attempt "school" for the next couple of weeks because, well, what's the point of trying to resurrect that schedule just before Christmas?? And about Christmas, I have my mom to thank this year: she bought all of the Christmas gifts for everyone, including me (only, I already know what mine are, because I got to pack em *grin*). But really, without her, this Christmas would have been pretty minimal; I simply couldn't have done much in such a short time frame. HeeHee, my mom is now the new-favourite-person of the local Gymboree manager! When she said that we were opposite season and looking for summer wear, the lady went into her back room and brought out all of her clearance in sizes 6 and 7. I actually had to leave the store because my mom was in such a frenzy (thank you Mom!). Too funny. And, my mom bought Steiner-y stuff for us, too, but I won't get into detail until post-holidays.

Now, fellow Waldorfers, I have a school question: Biggie turned seven in September, but still has no wiggly teeth. While I want to stick to the "change of teeth" model, I am worried that at some point, I just need to go ahead with "formal" lessons. What are your experiences? How long past seven do I wait? The truth is, she reads like mad already, so it's really just math that's not happening. Any advice?

Now, that's all I'm going to write just now, as I REALLY want to read your blogs. It's been so long that I am out of touch with everything bloggish.

Thanks for your kind words and support during our travels.

TTFN.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick Post: Any seamstresses out there?

Just found a box of vintage patterns, ranging from Vogue 1950s to campy 1980s. Some are size 6-8-10, but most are are size 12-14. Any of you ladies sew? Let me know and I'll post them to you.

ttfn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Truly exhausted

I am so very tired.

To explain, it's not as if this is the only house I need to deal with. In order to get this house sold, I have to make liveable two other houses, one in town and one in the country. The house in the country was built in the mid 1800s, and is structurally sound but an absolute mess. The house has been vacant for seven years, and my mom and I have filled hundreds of rubbish bags and have barely made a dent. Everything from canned food that was so old it didn't even have a a best by date, to panty hose that belonged to my great-grandmother who has been dead for 23 years. I threw away a stack of magazines dated 1983 (oh, not to mention ever Family Circle, Southern Living, and BH&G in all the years since!)

Today, I scrubbed seven year's worth of spider webs from a handful of key windows, I emptied closets, I vaccuumed one room only and (the nice part) I sorted through hundreds of my grandmother's handwritten recipes to those that I remember from childhood (including Chess Pie --hey, we're southern!-- divinity, her sourdough starter recipe, and these wonderful muffins made from Swans Down Cake Flour).

I have also accumulated enough vintage kitchen linens (including aprons, woohoo) that I could open my own shop. Isn't it funny the things that makes us happy? Teatowels....who'da thunk it? Oh, and let's not forget the wooden thread spools, which I have hunted down and pilfered from all the houses!! *grin*

My mom and I have been frantically working to make "my" house (the one I am responsible for selling) presentable enough that a real estate agent can come look tomorrow. The sucky thing (is that word in the thesaurus?) is that the market is in the toilet and this is a high-end house. PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for me, because I really need this house to sell (Universe, didja hear that?)

And I simply must share a small irony: my entire life, my grandmother begged me to stop biting my finger nails. Well, here I am cleaning out all of these houses and for the first time ever my nails are growing. Why? because my hands are so friggin' filthy that I won't put them anywhere near my mouth! hahahaha.

Anyway, I wanna sleep. I bought the paperback of Wicked (suitable reading for the Goodwitch, isn't it??), and I can't even keep myself awake enough to read it! "There's no place like home, there's no place like home......."

TTFN.

Now I just feel sad

I don't regret standing up for myself, but I am sad for my mom's husband if I have caused him any heartache. I know that he is not well (how can you be at that size), and he now feels uncomfortable in this house with me. Of course, if he wasn't behaving like such a child, he would simply offer his apology for having said something completely inappropriate (and perhaps even acknowledge the sheer amount of work I have done), but No, he has to be a MAN about the whole thing and simply hibernate in the back room and ignore me.

Thank heavens I am female.

And thank you all (females, each and every one!) for the supportive commentary.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I lost my halo today

Well, today was exciting. Having maintained my saintly composure for over two weeks, today, I let rip on my mother's husband. Now, before you chastise me, let me state that this is the man who has been throwing around racial slurs and watching tv at max effing volume, in his recliner drinking Crown Royal while my mom and I work our butts off. He is 100% supported by my mother, and just loves showin' off his Prada loafers and talkin' like he has anything of his own. The whole time my great-auntie and grandmother were sick, he still sat on his ass and let my mom do all the work. jerk.

So today, he just pushed me too far. We were "out in the country" at the house that has been in my family for generations, a house that my mom and I have spent hours cleaning and he has spent NONE. Our goal is to have them moved out there asap, so we can get the house we're in now ready for viewing (because it's not easy to show a house with him in his bathrobe in front of the TV in the middle of the afternoon). I had just finished cleaning a bedroom for him to use and asked him to please come in and try the bed to see if he could sleep in it. What you need to know is that he weighs 350 lbs and has broken two office chairs since we arrived. The bed I cleaned is put together with steel beams and fairly indestructible. He sat down, said no, that he wasn't going to sleep in this bed, that he was going to sleep in a specific bed because "it's the best damn bed in the house." OK, that specific bed is well over 150 years old, a delicate four poster bed that belonged to my great-grandparents. I pointed out that the bed was covered in clothes (because he's gonna do any work???) and one thing led to another (including me screaming that he was being ungrateful seeing as how he hasn't lifted a friggin' finger to help) and then he goofed: standing in that particular house, he shouted at me to Fuck Off and Get the Hell Out of This House. Oops. Not the right thing to say (not to mention terribly unwise seeing as how he currently resides in a house inherited by moi).

I saw red. Shouting ensued. I told him that he could Get the Hell Out of This House. He stormed off shouting all sorts of obscenities at and about me, proceeding to be a dickhead to my mother, and returned to the house we are all living in. Naturally, we women-folk stayed in the country and continued to work like dogs. He's now staying away from me, but didn't miss an opportunity to bad mouth me to my mother. Again, not terribly wise. (My mom was actually really funny about the whole thing and when I was upset and apologising for making her life more stressful, she just laughed and said that she didn't ask me to mutely put up with his shit.)

So this is my question: what does he think gives him the right to tell me to get out of a house that has been in my family since the Civil War, when he only married my mom ten years ago?? He has absolutely no ownership, legal or emotional, of that house. I am still baffled that he tho't that was acceptable. Fuckwit. AND, why on earth would he badmouth me to my mom? She's been my mom for 34 years; he's her SIXTH husband. duh.

Anyway, the end of the story is that my family has all these houses and my mom is simply going to put him in one of the other houses for the remainder of our visit. Her personal preference would be that he continue to live there, but that's probably not terribly nice.

I do feel bad for causing any additional angst for my mom. She really has enough to deal with sans my fury. It was just one of those moments when I couldn't contain myself.

And how was your day?

TTFN

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Will we be okay?

I need some advice, or at least a few sage words. We have only been in the South for ten days, and already the girls and I are at each other's throats. They are trapped. There are NO playgrounds anywhere, and the land isn't fenced so I can't let them play outside. Plus, it's way hotter than they are used to and Biggie can't stand the mosquitos and fire ants, etc. They simply aren't getting the physical activity that they are used to. This is impairing their ability to sleep (not to mention all the noise in the house 24/7), which is in turn leading to grumpy little children during the day. And the result, one completely stressed out, pissed off Mom. How are we supposed to do this for 2 more months? Will we ever be able to get our old routine back?

The girls are colouring in colouring books, and watching more tv than normal (altho' we have had 3 days with NO tv, thank heavens!). They are bombarded by stuff. I keep thinking, as we given them paper and colouring books, "will they ever remember how to draw properly with block crayons?" Will they still have any sense of wonder after this experience? Hell, will they have healthy HEARTS after two months of southern food?!

To make this worse, I KNOW -- without a doubt -- that this all stems from me. I am unavailable. They are running wild! Of course they are acting up! It's not their fault. So while on one hand I am berating myself for not giving them our normal attention, on the other hand, I am constantly aware that I am here, doing this job, for the future stability of our family. In case you didn't know, I am emptying a house that I have inherited so that I can -- please G-d -- sell it and go home with the money to be 100% debt free and own a house. This is a huge opportunity for my little life in NZ and I am under the gun to get it done asap.

So how do I make everything alright? There is no one but me to do either of the jobs (parenting or house-selling). I keep saying that it's only two months and it's a worthwhile sacrifice. But then, at the end of another day of tantrums and pissed off little children, I just want to sit and cry. Will life go back to normal despite this bizarre two months? Isn't there anyway to make things better?

On a completely unrelated note, I started a fast three days ago. I am doing the Master Cleanse, which I have done before. This is the first time that I have injected spirituality into my fast. I knew this would be a perfect time for it because, well, other than all the shit food I happily consumed upon returning to the place of my birth (aaaah, ribs and catfish and hot sausage, not to forget ben and jerrys and popeye's disgusting but wonderful biscuits.....), I am just so darned busy that I can happily skip meals.

Before I end, I just have to add that I went into our bedroom a moment ago and my girls are happily laughing and telling stories. Maybe there will be just a little bit of waldorf left in them, after all.

Again, thanks for the support. I was hoping to have lots of wonderful treasures to send along to my American friends, but I am discovering that my great-auntie was terribly fond of polyester ( I even found a polyester quilt, if you can imagine!), and the yarn I have discovered is acrylic. (Not to be a snob, but I just can't stand how it feels on my skin). I have, however, pilfered dozens of wood thread spools, a pair of pinking shears (because they're $50 a pair in NZ!) and a variety of fabric. But really, I'm probably most happy about the Diamond Anniversary Scrabble Game that my mom bought for me at Wal-Mart. What a friggin nerd I am.

TTFN.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

OK, who crafts with ties?

I have at least 100 men's ties, in every style/width/fabric/pattern for the past 50 years. Do any of you craft with ties? I saw some wallets on etsy, but I simply don't have the time nor -- currently -- the inclination to make anything.

If you can use them, chime in and I'll send them to you.

I'll let you know as I discover more hidden treasures.

TTFN.

PS, on the upside to all my bitching, I am sending back to NZ a set of Le Creuset. very cool. xoxo.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm tired and dirty

Please, dear G-d, never let me collect crap.

I am a minimalist for a reason, and this trip home has slapped me in the face with the reason. These women (my great auntie and my grandmother) were Depression-era babies. As a result, if something was "On Sale," they bought it. I have bed linens coming out my ears. Some of them are still in wrappers with the price tag on them. So far, I have catalogued 64 Bradford Exchange plates (because those were really going to appreciate in value!), and that's only about 1/3 of the total. I have more sets of china and crystal than ten families need (and decent patterns, too, not junk). There is a certain irony in the fact that my family collected glassware, and I live so far away that I cannot possibly get it home. Fostoria, anyone? I have every piece ever made in multiple colours. My mom was aghast that I am getting rid of aluminum pots and pans, despite the fact that there are multiple sets of perfectly safe, Alzheimer-free, stainless steel cookware.

On the family front, the girls and I are suffering from lack of normalcy. My mom's husband is a retired cop who is deaf in one ear. We are thusly bombarded by police reality shows played at top volume. Our nerves are shattered. The TVs run 24hours a day, whether people are at home or not. Littlie, I have seen, is highly susceptible to the frenetic energy in the house and she is having a terribly time sleeping. She woke up in the middle of the night saying, "the TV's on, I tho't it was morning."

I'm gonna stop with the kvetching because I feel myself spiralling downhill.

On the very exciting plus side, I got to visit a Whole Foods Market yesterday. While I find the prices of some things way higher than in NZ, it felt wonderful to be in a space where I fit in, even minimally. I am praying that the girls stay well while we are here; I am trying so hard to eat right and have homeopathics, etc, on hand just in case. Oh, food story: I bought what I tho't was plain coconut at the market (just coconut, right?). It was one of the only things I didn't think to read ingredients on. I got home with it to discover that, along with sugar and anticaking powder, it contained Propylene Glycol. Again, how do you people live here? Everything is full of rubbish. Shocking. But wait, I veer into the negative again.

I am now going to tackle all the linens and towels. If you need any, please let me know, but beware: they are total little ol' lady linens with fringe and patterns. i can't decide what is retro enough to be likable and what is just tacky!!! If I had the extra energy, I would take pictures, but that may be too much to manage. I am have crises because every time I empty another drawer I find more syringes and pharmaceuticals.....

Thank you all for the ComBox support. I am actually feeling like I really need it right now.

TTFN.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 4/5, and impressions so far

The girls are asleep beside me as we fly, finally, to New Orleans. Seems like a good time to blog.

Let me preface this post by saying that it may well be rife with foul language. I have had a terrible day and, despite my efforts to be Buddhist about the experiences, I am not going to make the effort to control my potty mouth. Let me also state, right here and now, that I have lived out of the country for ten years....my experiences will be coloured by my Kiwi-brain.

Southwest Airlines are fucking assholes. Did I make myself clear on that one?!!?? Today, when we walked up to the Southwest Counter at Orange Co. Airport, there was a sign up stating that "this line is Exit only, please use other line." As as rule-heeder, I did so, only to be told, quite tersely by the asshole behind the counter that I was in the Exit Line, blah blah blah. naturally, I pointed out the sign (with the full support of those behind me in line) and, only after I repeatedly brought the sign to Asshole #1's attention, did she dare apologise. Then, she told me that my bag (ONE, for three passengers) was 4 lbs overweight and I would have to repack or pay. Nevermind that I officially was not making use of my full luggage allowance (because, you know, I do have to manage two children through the airports and multiple bags mean no free hands for holding.) So I repacked.

Next comes my experience with Security (acronym H.S., gift of George W.) The first guy was a schmuck because I simply wasn't moving fast enough (those kid-attachments, again!) and the second guy started off being snarky with me when I asked what I was supposed to do with the plastic buckets. You see, I am not daft, but in NZ, the security people give you the plastic buckets for your crap and you would never think of just reaching out and grabbing your own. The guy was incredulous that we don't spend every day in American Airports; however, he did become quite helpful when I explained that we live in NZ and don't travel through the States that often.

Everything proceeds fairly okay until Phoenix (I will never go to Phoenix again!). We landed for our connecting flight, walked to the open air shitty food stall (becuase, those kid-things do tend to get hungry!) immediately adjacent to the gate, only to get up and discover that the Public Address system does not carry farther than six feet and -- no fucking way -- we missed our flight. I looked up and said, "Where's the flight to New Orleans?", to which Asshole #2 responded, "That's it taking off. Well, there's nothin' we can do. Can't call the plane back." Fuckin' duh. "The PA system doesn't work in the cafe." Well, as I discovered sitting at our second gate, the PA system is barely audible even if you are within throwing distance. WTF?

Getting reseated for a new flight, I meet Asshole #3, who gives me what must have been the very last boarding pass number available. This really just made more work for her co-workers, who had to reseat someone to provide my daughters and I with three seats together. Remind me never to fucking fly Southwest again, except for the return trip, which I have unfortunately already paid for. I will be calling my insurance company and seeing if any story works to get that changed (can I say a kid puked on the plane because the flight was so horrible, or what?)

But Southwest was not my only joyful Phoenix experience. Let's imagine two small Waldorf kids, totally without semblance of normal life, on crappy (best mom could find) food and not enough sleep. Littlie, aka Madame Choleric, threw a complete fucking hissy fit in the middle of the airport. Full on kicking and screaming. I actually had a man come over to lend moral support (he was a Dad and fire-fighter and he stuck up for me telling her that she had to listen to mom). Somehow, I think I was so upset by the time this started that I handled the incident quite well, meaning, I was okay with her public fit and refused to give in. (What happen'd, just to put in perspective, is that Littlie was being physically aggressive with me -- hitting, pinching, etc. -- and screaming disrespectfully -- and intentionally -- at the top of her lungs.)

So now I am finally on a plane. Which will land in Houston before heading for NOLA. Thank heavens the kids are asleep.

That gives me a little time to share with you my impressions of America thus far. I have one word: FAT. OMG, what has happen'd?? And even worse, what will happen in twenty years when all the fat children grow up and are already suffering health problems. All there is on tv are health and diet ads, or ads for crappy food. Let me share with you our most noteworthy D-Land food experience. I was trying to make a decent choice and ordered PB & J sandwiches. We rec'd this thing called an Uncrustable: a pre-made, prepackaged circle of PB&J with, as the name states, no crust (G-d forbid a child eat crust!). The ingredient list was five inches long -- and ALL CRAP. The portion sizes everywhere were ENORMOUS. Honestly, I have so much admiration for you families who are living simply in America today. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it is to go against this system, in which everything is fat, fast or convenient. All the clothes and toys I saw had characters on them. And what's worse, there is the belief that everyone lives that way. My nephew could only talk about his possessions and his video games/tv. He made snide comments about our lack thereof.

Sidebar: I actually suffered a very heartbreaking experience because I showed my sister our Steiner dolls and she laughed at them and made fun of me for having made the dolly clothes myself. I had an argument with my mom because I stated that the living room tv (as opposed to the 3 other tv's in the house) would not be on all day long or else I would go check into a hotel.

Back to the topic at hand....I look around me and I ask if America can be saved. Other than this handful of bloggers, are there any families out there trying to raise healthy, happy creative children? I stood in the lines at D-Land and was astonished at how the Gang culture has taken hold; and I was saddened for the parents who may be trying to raise children away from those influences. I especially felt this for the ethnic communities because, for every 9 families sportin' rap/gang gear, there would be one family nicely dressed, with seemingly well-raised children. I can't imagine how hard it must be for them to keep their children away from such a life. Not to be corny, but it actually brings tears to my eyes.

I want to take a minute and go back to the stories about my mom and sister. Every time I come home, I realise how far DH and I have come in the past ten years; the downside is that we are neither understood nor really respected by our family for those choices. My family still condescends and uses the "you came out all right" rationale. And I keep asking (silently, of course) "Don't you see how happy and healthy and clever my children are?" I just don't understand why these people who are so close to us can't look at our children and see that we have made good decisions. I saw a twelve year old girl smoking in the presence of her father (I assume!). And yet, I get shit from someone because of our handmade dollies (while her son drinks diet coke!).

I am trying so very hard to practice being non-judgemental. I keep saying that each person has their own path. But I am truly saddened by the future of America, and I am hopeful for the wee pockets of families who are making the sacrifices to keep their families healthy in mind, body and spirit. If you ladies ever want to come visit, I'll gladly put you up....and help you find a job, and a school, and anything else you need. I have a new appreciation for New Zealand, and I really miss our climbing tree!

TTFN.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You are what you eat

Thank you Anthromama for this fine blog topic. I am at my wit's end -- for more reasons than I can begin to enumerate -- and this is a worthwhile amusement.

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Below is a list of 100 things that every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/uncategorised/the-omnivores-hundred/ linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61.  S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wow, I guess that's not bad: I scored 59 out of 100 for what I have eaten; there are quite a few things that sound terrific, but yet to encounter; and there aren't that many things I won't try, but I'm not an offal kind of person so that ruled out a few items right off the bat.

I think that DH and I have benefitted from travelling. Here in NZ, we are fortunate to have outstanding Thai and Indian cuisine (did you know Curry is the most popular take-out food in the UK?). It simply does not compare to the mediocre versions we tasted in America. I was disappointed not to be able to say Yes to the 3-star Michelin restaurant. I just looked up our best tasting dinner ever and the restaurant (The Water Grill in Los Angeles) just rec'd one star.

Of course, before I crow too loudly, I should mention that my waistline has suffered for our food indulgences...., alas, ya win some ya lose some.

Gotta go do stuff to get my family on a plane in only 4 days.

TTFN.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Success! The Birthday Party

First, let me admit with shame that --  when it comes to birthday parties -- I have often been that over-doer of a parent, the one who spends too much and has too many people and it's all so big that we don't even have a chance to visit with our friends. Some of this has been as a result of the business, and a need to invite patients who have known the girls since birth; some of this has been my inability to choose just which friends to invite; and some of this has been because my husband and daughter share a birthday and I can never pick just one person as the birthday kid.

But this year, I managed to create a terrific party, if I may say so myself. :-) In attendance were 15 children representing only 7 families (including our own), and 10 adults. Guests arrived while Biggie, Littlie and Dad were a-wandering, and they hid as the birthday girl approached. Boy, was she surprised! Soon thereafter, the fairy arrived to entertain the munchkins for one hour. That was all a bit of a blur as I was trying to play hostess.

Then the fairy left and fun began. Instead of just handing out favour bags, the kids had to solve clues to find their favours. This was designed as a rainbow, apt for a seventh birthday, and these were the findings:

hail to birthday 181

Each item was wrapped in a silk and contained a clue for the next item. I worked to be frugal with this party -- especially given my recent ticket purchases! -- and I really pat myself on the back for being able to come up with alot of stuff from items on hand. The blue bags were burlap from some random project of pre-kid years. The little books are from origami paper that's been hiding on the craft shelf. The silk ribbons were made from our food-colour dyed silk fabric and beads and skewers on hand. The matchbooks were in the house, as was the scrapbook paper which covered them. My two expenses were the agate slices and peacock feathers. They certainly didn't cost a ton compared to traditional plastic doodads (I spent about $40 and have extras left over), and when these parcels were discovered, the children were ooohing and aaahing galore. 100% worth it!

As for the food, for the first time I felt like I had the right amount: fruit plate, pita/veggies and dip, sushi, popcorn, and some lovely sandwiches brought by a friend. Instead of one big cake to cut and distribute, we served dozens of these wee cakes. Biggie had recently picked this pan from the store and fell in love with it, and it proved to be most convenient since all the little hands could just reach for their "piece" instead of my having to use a thousand napkins and such. Pluuuus, the cakes were a nice accompaniment to the chocolate fondue and strawberries that were meant to be for the grown ups but were devoured by wee munchkins.

All in all, we tho't the party an absolute success, and I would be remiss if I failed to mention two important factors. First, the house: it made all the difference! The kids were able to play outside and run and tumble and just be free to be children. We haven't had that option for many years and I am grateful for this opportunity to host Biggie's friends. Second, and far more important, the quality of the families: 15 children and all happy, cooperative playing. No clique-ish-nesh (new word for the occasion), no nastiness, just alot of nice-ness. The older kids were tolerant and generous with the little teeny ones (some of the younger siblings were just toddlers). How fortunate we are to live/think the way we do! For all the days that I am sad for our minority status, today was a day that I was reminded that our way of life produces kind, happy children.

Today was a day that I felt very happy to be a Waldorf mom. Happy Birthday, Biggie!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feeling our Weirdness

I have a thousand things to share, all delayed as a result of no internet connection for the past week. I'll get to those things tomorrow, but for now I had to take a moment and talk about our evening's entertainment.

We attended the local public elementary school's play, supporting a friend who was in the play. Minutes into it, I realised just how different we are, and how our way of looking at the world has changed in the past year. As I watched those beautiful wee children dancing hiphop (suitably attired, of course, in sideways caps and big gold medallions) and rapping about humans polluting the oceans (no shit, the play was a statement about abusing the planet), all I could think was, "Where is the beauty in this?" There was nothing nourishing, nothing touching; it was cold hard facts and lots of loud stereo music. I was actually heartsore upon leaving because these lovely little children are being taught by people who have no idea what children really need. I tho't back to our little Waldorf stories and dramas and the philosophy of education as it relates to soul development....I saw how education of the brain has been removed from any sense of caring for the whole person.

I must say, loud and clear, I fault neither the parents nor the children. I praise those littlies for doing a terrific job at exactly what they were instructed to do. But I am sad that instead of being surrounded by warmth, love and beauty, these kids are being taught like automatons, soulless information machines. I left feeling 100% okay with my choices AND, knowing that the play was written by one of the elementary school teachers, I felt a confidence in my story telling skills as never before. Oh yeah, and I prayed that my kids took in very little of what they had seen.....I don't think I could work breakdancing into our circle time.

Now, I have Biggie's birthday party in two days, so I need to go finish those tasks. I'll tell you all about it asap, but for now, I am patting myself on the back for 1) not spending too much money (yep, I'm notorious for too-big parties), and 2) creating a special quest for the guests, who'll find lots of handmade and natural treasures hiding in our garden. (Funny story: I walked into the crappy two dollar store the other day looking for balloons and the smell of plastic almost made me gag. Hehehe, a sign of change, I am sure.)

Off to construct.

TTFN.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thank you Republicans

Ignoring your crappy representation of the past decade, and the fact that you have completely jettisoned the philosophical underpinnings of your party (can you say Laissez Faire? Foreign Policy?), in your recent utterly-transparent efforts to manipulate minority voters (ahem, Sara Palin, cough cough), you have done ONE GOOD THING! You have ensured radical change for the American Executive Branch. No matter who gets elected, America will now see minority representation at the highest levels of government.

(You know what I think would be cool? Condoleeza Rice as a presidential candidate. I think Ol' Boy America would simply abstain from voting...and that's not a bad thing!!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

poor, but in control

Well, not destitute, but my wallet is quite a bit lighter, as are my worries.

Today, I booked tickets to the States, domestic tix within the States, and four hotel days to visit DH's family and do Disneyland. We'll be doing that leg of the trip prior to arriving in New Orleans. This was partly a ploy because this way I can say that we can't purchase too much stuff because we have to carry it all the was to New Orleans and back, AND because we don't want to spend all our spending money at the beginning of the trip and not have any for fun stuff later. Yeah, I am manipulating my children, but Mouschwitz doesn't need our money and we don't need that stuff----but we loooove the experience (totally unWaldorfy, I know).

I haven't been much of a mom this past week, so I have also tried to do more of our normal things. We went to eurythmy today and the class was FULL, and almost entirely of homeschoolers! I met a lady whom I had spoken with via email -- a new Waldorf mom in the area -- and she has two little girls very close in age to my own. AND, the girls all got along (Oh, thank you G-d!). On the downside, we visited our old teacher in her new kindy classroom and, upon departure, the weeny one cried because she wanted to be in THAT class. oh well, ya win some...

Now I want to go check out etsy and find a couple little treasures to have waiting for us when we arrive.

TTFN.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just a little bit to do....hahaha.

Alrighty, then. My grandmother has passed away. What that means is that I am now the trustee for a property in the US, but there is a slight hitch: I live in NZ! My kids deserve a round of applause because I spent hours on the phone this morning going between American advisors and NZ advisors to ensure that I don't get taxed up the wazoo and that all the legalities between countries is handled before I come to America.

Oh, did I fail to mention that? Yes, I get to fly home. That's normally easy enough and we've done it loads of times before, but this time, I have three US passports expiring in December, one NZ passport expiring in January, and in order to get the most for my money, I need to go ahead and get DH's and my Kiwi citizenship done before we get his new passport, so that we don't have to get his passport "marked" by immigration twice! BUT, (hahahaha, this is why my brain is fried) I have to hand over MY passport to NZ immigration in order to get citizenship and I need to be able to hop on a plane and fly home at any given moment. OMG!!!!

I have no idea how long I will be in the States and I can't even buy a ticket because my mom could call tomorrow and say that she needs me home sooner than expected. (Right now, she's saying October.) AND, I can't even purchase a round trip ticket because I don't know how long I am going to be needed!!!

Wow, brain= mush. This is when people play Tetris, or something.

I'm gonna go see what you ladies have been up to.

TTFN.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This one's gonna be long

This post is a reminder that I blog for myself. I apologise in advance.

Last Friday was my tenth wedding anniversary. I would like to share all the terrific-ness of my courtship and engagement, but I just don't have it in my right now.

To celebrate, my husband took us to Queenstown; for Americans, we went skiing at the Remarkables, where they filmed the snow scenes in LotR (I think). The kids had never skied before and they were, well, Remarkable. Biggie skied for four hours straight and came home with very chapped lips ('cause dumdums mom and dad forgot the chapstick!). Littlie loved it and was so good spirited. DH knows how to ski, which proved to be a good thing because.....Mom (that's me) DID NOT LIKE IT. I was a bit disappointed because I had visions of being such a sophisticate on my skis. Alas, I found the rental boots to be TOO DAMN uncomfortable and the skis were heavy. Sorry, I just don't like being uncomfortable. I've therefore decided to try snowboarding because a) their boots look way more comfy, b) the adults were all enjoying themselves even as they fell over, and c) what's the point in being married to a chiropractor if you can't indulge in some moderately unhealthy pastimes (snowboarders totally tweak their backs). I also spent the entire four days suffering from nausea, much like being pregnant. Since I know pregnancy isn't the cause, I am attributing my illness to Queenstown's heavy fog of diesel smoke, a stench that has never set well with my belly.

Next, we were lucky to leave Queenstown because every other flight was being cancelled due to fog.  And, G-d bless him, DH didn't know that the flight that eventually took us out of QT was a little plane (four seats across) and I spent the entire trip with my head down trying not to vomit on Biggie. Then there was the extra delay at the airport, finally getting home at 11pm with exhausted munchkins, and waking up on Tuesday with the beginnings of a cold.

OOOOOOh, but that's not all.

Tuesday morning, I called my mom to let her know that we returned home safely only to discover that my grandmother died on our departure date and had been buried Tuesday morning. Whoa. Hard start to the week.

Now, before you bust out the hankies on my behalf, I need to talk frankly in a way that may offend. I have spent two days crying over the loss of a life, and over the loss of the last connection to my grandfather, who (whom?) I loved very much. My grandmother is really the last of our family ties to the South, a culture which is a part of me, despite all the ways I hate the South. But what's so sad is that the family is just relieved. My grandmother, even at her healthiest, was not kind. She was never a good mother to my mom and said some pretty hateful things to my sister. She was an old Southern woman, she was judgmental and hurtful. She has been ill for many years now, but her religion wouldn't allow her to simply say, "I'm done."  My mother cared for her for a very long time and in exchange, all she rec'd was meanness. So while my grandmother may have been kind to me (in fact, I was the only family member she was nice to, and only because we had finally learned not to tell her the WHOLE truth about things), I don't doubt that she took years off my mother's life. That having been said, it was a terrible shock to be confronted by both death and burial at the same time.

So perhaps, having talked about that a wee bit, I can find a happier place in my head by forcing myself to share a nice story, about my wonderful husband.

Late in the afternoon on February 14th, 1997, I rec'd a phone call from a friend asking if I wanted to go out on a blind date with a boy she had been trying to set me up with. (forgive the crappy grammar, I'm just not of a mind to fix it). I said, "no friggin way," it was too late in the day and it would take me too long to get home, get changed and get to her house. So after much finagling, the date happened the next night. She and her boyfriend, and this random guy and I went to sushi in Long Beach CA. I was sick as a dog, with black hair (random hair experiment...not attractive  on me) and I had never eaten sushi before. But because I didn't want to look ungracious, I dug in. (I was later told that they only reason there was a second date is because I tried the sake!!!)

The guy was nice enough and I remember saying that there was just no reason to say "no" when he asked me out again. In fact, he was too good to be true and I remember asking on our third date if he was gay (this, after he said he really loved musicals!!!!hahahaha). And, again, more dates and just no reason to say no....

Just before Christmas of that year, we went to sushi at the same place (owned by a family friend) and mid-way through the evening, the sushi chef passed to my fella an ornate sushi sculpture, with flowing rivers of rice noodles and rocks of cucumber, etc. And my guy started telling a story about love and togetherness (with my -- much to my later embarrassment -- heckling him all the while) and then, in the middle of one of the cucumbers, was my ring. I discovered that everyone in the restaurant but me knew what was to transpire that night and that people even stayed in order to see it. And, vain self that I am, I remember that I looked horrible because I had been cramming to take a GRE. Obviously, I said yes.

We did a ton of research and decided on a "planned elopement" in Vegas. We told everyone when we were going and invited them to join us if they wished. We were married at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel on August 15th, 1998. Two weeks later, my mom eloped at that very same chapel; soon thereafter, my sister married there; and we discovered that DH's mom and stepdad had married at that very same place many many years before.

On the following Monday, having skipped the big wedding, we hosted a sumptuous dinner at our favourite restaurant (family members still rave that it was the best meal they've ever eaten *grin*). And six months later we sold everything we owned and left America.

Neither of us still talk to the people who set us up, but I am grateful everyday for that friendship. For all the million little reasons that I adore my husband, right down to him being willing to ask me out a second time, despite the fact that I smoked and drank Diet Coke and had goth black hair. For every goofiness and eccentricity that he tolerates. For daily trips to Wendy's when I was pregnant and there was nothing else to eat at 3pm. For being supportive when I am a bitch, or when I tell him that I've just pulled the girls out of school and we'll be homeschooling. For thinking that I was hot, even when I was so pregnant I couldn't turn over in bed. For just being such a wonderful man. I am grateful. (PS, this IS a Halloween photo...really....I promise!)

girls  headed to US 06 068

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A quick note on the homeschooling front

Despite my lack of routine thanks to the little parasites, I am proud of some of our homeschooling work. A few weeks back, I decided that I would take one handwork "theme" and work with it each day of the week, this sort of afternoon direction being necessary as we have been trapped inside by foul weather. This idea has worked so well that I tho't I would share, altho' it's not as if these ideas are by any means new and original.

First week as Wax. We rolled beeswax candles. We decorated dipped candles with coloured wax cut outs (stockmar). We used our block crayons on hot paper to feel the difference, and then ironed our drawings onto undershirts (Biggie tho't this was the best). We had already made crayons using wax remnants, or else this would have been included as well.

Second week was wool. Day One: Unwound skeins into hanks. 2: Soaked in vinegar and water overnight. 3: Selected preferred colour of Wilton's dye paste and brought yarn to boil/simmer until water turned clear (wow, that was amazing to me. I had no idea that the yarn would literally eat the dye). Left yarn in pot to cool. Note, Wilton's peach, despite it's colour coding, turned out the same colour as their true red. 4: Remove from pot and rinse until water runs clear. Unfortunately, couldn't get the vinegar smell out of the yarn. Any ideas? Left to dry. 5/6: wind into balls.

This is the third week and we are Sewing. Specifically, we are making pouches for the gnomes to take with them underground and carry their stones and gems. What made me laugh about this project is that it came about while I was undertaking the Waldorf-mom task of working on something that she needs to do, not something that she is doing simply so the kids see her doing it (sorry, bad sentence, the eucalyptus smell coming from my hair is affecting my brain). This weekend, I sat down to stitch a few items that Needed to be Done. This turned into forty minutes of threading my girls' needles, etc. There wasn't a ghost of a chance that I was going to accomplish that Needed task. Whatever.

These weeks are helping me learn more about the girls' threshold for work. I am encouraging Biggie to stay a little longer at her tasks and be more precise in her work. I am also having to watch my tendency to get exasperated with the same "mistake" (learning mistake, I know) over and over, such as pulling the needle off the thread. Heehee, makes me wonder who is really being homeschooled?

Oh, before I post, the lice have been responsible for one very wonderful change in our house (other than Littlie now agreeing to put her hair back everyday). I finally embraced ad hoc storytelling, as necessitated by many hours of nitpicking. This is a whole post of its own, but I will say for now, if you haven't tried making up your own stories, please, please, please give it a try. The girls are in love with this story. [of course, there are many elements drawn from fantasy novels and, as I told DH, just think, when the day comes that my girls read Eragon, they will already know that dragon eggs are blue because that's how Mom's story went!!]

OK, time to put the computer away.

TTFN.

To have or not to have????

Aaaargh, I don't know what is worse: thinking that you have lice and not finding any or not thinking that you have 'em and then finding one. Today, as I sat in my bedroom (read: no kid-hair zone), I looked down and saw a dead louse on my hand. So what was my immediate response? Run into the bathroom, grab a nit comb (clean) and run it through the front of my hair....ONLY to see (I guess) a pin-sized bug on the comb. Well, tears, tantrum, etc. -- you see, my hair is the only part of my body that I truly love. I was really upset. But try as I might, I couldn't repeat the experiment. I could find no evidence of nits or bugs anywhere on my head (which of course convinces me that they are there, but hiding!). DH brought home some (mostly-natural, but not-too-bad) lice "stuff" and I saturated my hair with it (mind you, my hair is so thick that the amount in the bottle just b.a.r.e.l.y covered my hair) Still, no evidence of bugginess. I checked every hair that came out while rinsing and no nits.

Now, either I did this all for nothing, or there is bug-ness resident but undiscernible. As I stood in the shower, I tried to get myself to accept that they are just bugs -- in fact, other than the secondary infections that come from scratching, they are totally harmless. We're gonna probably experience them again and they aren't a size of poor hygiene or ill-health. In other words, I wanted to make myself OK with lice....and I just couldn't do it. uggh.

TTFN.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And how was your day?!

Better than mine, I'm certain. Today, I spent hours and hours PICKING NITS (and a few lice) out of my youngest daughter's hair. To which I say effing NZ. (Sorry Kiwis.) Lice is epidemic in NZ, as they must be for my HOMESCHOOLED!!!! children to get 'em. I grew up in California, where children were sent home from school and told not to come back until their heads were clear. In NZ, teachers aren't even allowed to perform head checks! WTF! Plus, I have long hair and my biggest fear is that I will get Lice and who the hell is going to pick 'em out of MY hair.

And, of course, because we are hippies, I refuse to simply douse my children with toxic shampoo, so instead, I covered their hair in a mix of coconut oil and tea tree and proceeded to pick the nits out one-by-one. I will have to do the same thing every day for heaven knows how long. And Littlie is so pissed off at me she doesn't even want to talk to me.....ugh. I think I deserve a glass of wine.

Off to pour. TTFN.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tie my hands behind my back...quick

Oh, no. I am becoming a fabric junkie. Well, actually, I am currently a window-shopping fabric junkie! I have started stashing fabric, but my minimalist side can't mesh with my "buy-now-while-it's-on-sale" side. AND, to make matters worse, I am justifying everything as "for Christmas crafting." Gads. The truth of it is, I love the gorgeous fabrics now on the market, but once I get them, I am so afraid of screwing the piece up that I just leave it in it's wrapping until, one day, the perfect use will come along.

I've spent an hour on Sew, Mama, Sew! Been there? Go see. Hide your wallet first.

I am now going to force myself to close the computer and watch DH play his latest online roleplaying game (if you're a game widow, you will know "MMORPG." This one's called Age of Conan).

TTFN.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Frenetic

First, if this post is riddled with errors, it's Microsoft's fault, not mine. I am trying Windows Live Writer because I don't like composing via the Blogger interface.

I haven't been posting much lately and I have come to realise that my lack of blogtime is symptomatic of a greater "problem" (and I use that term loosely) that has developed over the course of my homeschooling year. I am Productive! This has been very, well, productive; however, the dark side of this is a habitual need to Be Productive. So what am I saying? Well, I have reached a point where it is hard to simply be. During the day, with the girls, I hardly sit down; and if I do, then I always have something in my hands (you know, that Active Kindy Teacher Waldorf thing). I have knitted myself to a standstill because my eyes are strained. If I am not engaged in handwork, then it's art or music or menu-planning, or office work, or ANYTHING but simply relaxing. At by nightfall, I am ready to sit and read, but oh no, can't read rubbish! Must read useful, potentially life altering internet posts, or somesuch inner work book, or Ravelry so that I can find the next big handwork project for me. Somehow, even the things that I enjoy are becoming part of this merry-go-round. I can't help but wonder if this is simply a phase in the Homeschooling experience that all of us must address...."ahh, This too shall pass."

So what does this have to do with blogging? Well, blogging is something solely for me and therefore introspective and not terribly Productive. I have put it on the backburner because my frenetic tho'ts couldn't be reigned in well enough to share with anyone else (I keep thinkin', Why isn't there the internet version of the Vulcan Mind Meld....oh dear lord help me, I just made a Star Trek reference!) But tonight, I have declared that this blogpost is my Meditative Act for the day (what is up with all the Caps? I am feeling German!) and I shall endeavour to give my focus to this one single task.

Here goes:

First things first. For Mamma Mountain Pulse, the hair shampoo is here.

On the homeschooling front, the kids are bursting with creativity. Unfortunately, this came about because I stopped interfering in any of their play (even to the extent that I have been cleaning their rooms so that they could keep storytelling, or whatever) and I have no idea how I will ever bring them back to form. Funny thing is that Biggie, who very much needed to rediscover her creative self, is progressing marvelously in art and music and role-playing. I have had to step back and assess the need for "school" right now as I think she is investing her time exactly where it's needed. I am seeing many aspects of her personality that need Will exercises -- which brings me to the question of first grade readiness. Man, this is a hard one with an academically gifted child! She will be seven in September, she can ride a bike with no training wheels, and tie her shoes, and do so many things that point to readiness for formal learning, and yet she has not had even one loose tooth. I just keep telling myself that these children are learning so much at play that there is no need to even worry...and then the next day I have to tell myself that ALL OVER AGAIN to reassure myself of the rightness of my choices! I do also keep reminding myself that she is an avid reader and so the big thing - literacy - is all ready sorted out.

Which leads me to my current source of amusement: Biggie's potty reading is Edward Lear! I put his Collected Works in the loo, simply because I think the limericks are funny, and the next thing I knew, she was laughing from the toilet and singing "The Owl and the Pussycat" (mind you, she had to point out that the poem has two more verses than the song that we always sing! harrumph.)

Next? Well, our Tenth Anniversary is rapidly approaching and my husband has surprised us with a trip to the snow. Woohoo. Been in NZ for almost ten years and the girls and I have yet to visit Queenstown, so that's where we're headed in a couple of weeks. DH and I can't believe that we have been married for ten years (OK, to put this in context, I am only 33. Some day I'll talk about my totally unexpected early marriage.) My sister, who is single, keeps saying that we should go away by ourselves (she can't believe the girls are coming away with us) and she just doesn't get that, after ten years, we're about as debauched as we are going to ever be...hehe. The only downside to the trip is that we gotta buy clothes for the snow, and I don't like shopping in NZ. I have also made it a habit to travel with only carry-on luggage and I don't think that snowsuits will fit. There is also a certain irony in knowing that I have knitted so much stuff for other people that my eyes now hurt and I will have to go buy something for myself!

Anyway, that's about all I can muster up right now. There are still quiet alot of tho'ts bouncing around up there, but now that I have siphoned these into my blog Pensieve, I should be able to regurgitate those sooner rather than later.

TTFN.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A bit of (semi-) naughty humour.

This can make me laugh at any time! Wanted to share.



TTFN.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lag

Blame it on a cold Winter, blame it on my Libran downswing, blame it on finally being able to check books out of the three-story Auckland Central Library (I'm such a dork) -- I've been a non-blogger for two weeks. BUT, I have been a reader! And I have enjoyed (am still enjoying, in fact) this quiet interlude and an opportunity to go through the blogring and my bookmarks and simply hear what others have to say.

Anything noteworthy in my life? Just couple things that I'll waste your time with.

Girls are at Fairy School this week. It's a week-long program during public school holidays and it's the only "break" I've had since starting homeschooling. Truth is, when they are gone, I miss 'em and don't know what to do with myself.

I have pink hair.....no, really, it's fuschia. (my DH is soooo wonderful. He is a respectable, upstanding, fairly public guy and he has NO problem with a wife with pink hair. How great is that?!)

I recently realised that -- for the first time in ten years -- I have a no-stress lifestyle. FRIGGING AMAZING!

I have decided to throw a surprise party for Biggie's seventh birthday. Just 'cause I love her and she deserves one surprise party at an age when she can be truly thrilled. I wish Anthromama's friend was nearby (hehe, I was just looking at fairy stuff on the internet and your blog googled!). If you have any suggestions for a fairy-themed party, chime in because I am the hire-a-party-planner kind of mom.

Last, but not least, thanks to cookingtf.com menus I have been making dinners consistently for the whole family for about three weeks now. This is a big deal because DH doesn't get home til late and dinner had always been a big pain in the butt for me. Now, I make the kids eat what I serve (oooh, they called me every sort of non-cursing bad name when I started, but it worked!) and DH has a nice dinner after a long day adjusting patients.

Oh, wait, on the topic of making things, I made my own deodorant and the girls are now no-shampoo. (I think Baking Soda may be the single most handy pantry item, don't you?) Again, three cheers for the most tolerant hubby in the world (10pm on a weeknight: "honey, watcha doin'?" "making deodorant." "oh, okay...." back to gaming.) Somehow, I don't think I could sell him on Family Cloths....

TTFN.

Monday, June 30, 2008

On the home front

Well, I am really falling down on the blog these days. I can only attribute it to being busy in real life. But I did have a handful of interesting things to share:

First, I am reading some fascinating books by a fringe Waldorf writer named Alan Whitehead. It was actually Melisa who put me onto the Whiteheads as she refers to them in her kindy syllabus. Alan is very anthro- spiritual in his writings, but he believes that Steiner homeschooling is the best way of teaching in the whole big wide world! One of the things I have loved about his writing, equally one of the things that makes him controversial, is that he says, Skip those bloody Grimms' fairy tales and make up your own stories. Mind you, he is Australian and therefore, like myself, finds that the traditional Waldorf stories often have NO cultural/geographic significance. Now, while I am not dispensing entirely with Grimms, reading Alan Whitehead has given me confidence in my choice to sometime veer away from Waldorf dogma.

Alan also has a different approach to units, his being far more anthro directed than other curric writers. He recommends three three-week units at a time: early morning for head, late morning for hearts, afternoon for hands. This may sound like other writers, but more clearly stated, Alan suggests a three-week unit, for instance, on painting or knitting, as opposed to one day per week. This unit studies option works well for me and my girls and it allows better rhythm to our studies.

One book, in particular, I would recommend to any Waldorf homeschooler, regardless of your degree of Anthroposophical interest (mind you, I am not terribly anthro, but I have read enough to get where he's coming from): Alan writes a book called The Golden Path that outlines handwork from Grade One to Twelve. Great subjects, good breakdown, totally worth the $14!

On the homeschooling front, this week is all about America and the Fourth of July. Because we don't live in the States, our girls don't say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday and they have never been to a ballgame and heard the national anthem. Most years, the 4th falls on a day that we can't even really celebrate it because we have been in school. But not now -- woohoo, it's on a Friday, no school (!!), Dad's home and we are enjoying Independence Day. I horded this book just for the occasion and the munchkins loved it. They are learning the Pledge, "America, the Beautiful", and, of course, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The only problem is that I keep crying everytime I hear the national anthem and I can't explain why -- it's a far more emotional song for me now, as an expat, than ever before. Plus, we're making a giant American flag and indulging in some true American picnic foods: Friday will see us eating fried chicken and potato salad (just like you!) but we'll be doing it in front of the heater with hailstorms outside (I'll never get into these reversed seasons!).

Now, I would be remiss if I closed before talking about Biggie's piano. In short, we found a good Suzuki teacher, Biggie is naturally skilled at the piano and after only three lessons, she performed at a wee Suzuki concert. It was no great piece of music, but she requested of the teacher that she be taught how to perform! (OK, I think this is from too much Gwen Stefani, but, hey, great life skill!). I lurves that li'l gal. :-)

Finally, patting myself on the back, I made squaw bread today! Woohoo, never tried that before. I'm going to be fat and happy this week.

That's me for now. I'm going to read what you inspiring folks are up to, as I listen to the downpour out my window.

TTFN.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ok, Here's the playmat

Well, now I can see why mothers would just keep going with this project. It was fun! And I kept thinking of things that I could have added, had I more time. But for me, the piece de resistance (forgive the lack of accents, I don't know how to do them on blogger) was the felt. The felt water came about when I couldn't create a water stitch that I liked. So the girls and I tried our hand at wet felting: what a task! I first created a template of the area needed, then laid out my wrong-type wool (I had corriedale, not merino) and managed to get it to stick together. Finally, I put it in the wash. The rocks were then invented because I had one little area of felt that wasn't as thick as the others.

The result of my labours:


The corn field, in tunisian crochet, and the piggy's mud, in basketweave.


Grass for the lambs, in a ripple stitch, as well as some lighter greenery around the shoreline. You can also see a hint of our felt in this photo.


The hayfield, which is actually the wrong side of a tunisian crochet. I finished the swatch and tho't this side looked better!

The planting field, which turned out redder in the photo than in real life. It is a clay-ish sort of colour, matching some of NZ's finest soil. This is fashioned with a raised stitch, but you can't see that well with the photo.

More grass, a really fun shag-pile stitch that had me holding a knitting needle between my legs while creating this at my daughters' dance class. (Needless to say, the moms at the dance class were very curious about the end result!)

And, finally, the backing. I found this piece of fabric on the NZ version of ebay and prayed that it would arrive on time. The quilting of the mat onto fabric was one of the hardest parts. In fact, if this were for my own child, I probably would have opted NOT to back it, but I went all out for my friend.
Now, for the animals: I went overboard in knitting the animals! The list included a chicken, mouse, rabbit, horse, sheep, cow, and boy. When time came to package it, I decided that it was actually just tooooo much, so I gave a boy, a sheep, a horse, and a pig. The horse was brown, and therefore impossible to photograph well, but here are the others. These are all out of Toymaking with Children and Children's First Book of Knitting.
Now, what was really funny, not mention indicative of how my circle of friends has changed, is that I went to this very posh baby shower and came home telling DH how mine was the only handmade gift given! Heehee, because in the real-world, nobody actually makes stuff! That only happens in our wacky Waldorf world.

Again, this was a truly enjoyable project that allowed me to work in short bursts and if I goofed up or didn't like a section, re-creation was possible. In all, I think I used $30-40 in materials, including the backing and new wool. We've estimated that it took about 20 hours of work, but that would be lessened if I did it again. It took extra time because I was learning new stitches and figuring out what stitches represented what areas. Also, I discovered that my knitting sped up quite alot, but I've become so accustomed to skewer sized needles (these were created on 2.5-3mm needles) that my regular big chunky needles are awkward now.
TTFN.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gifts for a seven year old

Okay, ladies, I need suggestions! Biggie turns seven in September and as I am notorious for not planning ahead, this year I am thinking about it early. What the heck do you give an "awake" seven-yo? She has all the requisite toys (dolls, play kitchen, sewing kit, etc.) and I don't want to waste money of stuff she doesn't want or need. Any suggestions? What did your Munchkins love? Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a bundle, and

TTFN.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

For Gypsy, about raw milk, and an update

Okie-dokie, Gypsy, here is a cut and paste from an earlier post about raw milk. Since it seems you live in my neighbourhood, I'll let you know when I get my next batch and you can taste some! :-)

"Wow, what an amazing experience we had today! We went to the farm of some friends and purchased raw milk and raw cream. It's beautiful. Now, to put this understatement in context, none of us are milk drinkers. Pasteurised dairy makes me ill (always has), and dh is a soy drinker, so for us to say that this milk is enjoyable is quite a compliment. It has NO smell whatsoever and the taste is clean and sweet. My next goal is to use the cream and make our own butter (yep, even further down the hippie-trail we wander).However, before you run right out to buy your own raw milk, there is something I learned today that I wish to share: not all dairy farmers are of equal cleanliness. Our farmer friend explained how his cows are washed before milking so as to keep the milk tasting nice; BUT (this is sooo yucky), traditional dairy farmers -- those producing for big corps -- do not clean their cows before milking, because pasteurisation will kill all yucky bacteria. So if you're gonna source raw milk, ask if the cows are washed before milking!"

I would just like to add that it is important to check out (preferably by references) the health of the milk-producing cows and the integrity of the farmer. That having been said, there is only one farm near us that is selling raw organic milk, and we know all of the family and can vouch for the high standard of their livestock. (Gypsy, he's in Helensville. Ask your friends and see of that's where they are sourcing their milk.)

I'm still not blogging much, as I am frantically finishing the baby play mat. While it has been time-consuming, it's been wonderfully enjoyable and I would recommend it as a project. Lots of little bits, and nothing too hard. I've learned several new stitches, improved the quality of my knitting and it's kept me busy during the day (and night!). There are a few tricky bits now that I finish the end (such as putting non-square pieces together in such as way as to make one big square), but I will get into those more when I post photos of the finished project.

Homeschooling has fallen into a happy relaxed routine, as have our new piano and dance lessons. My Littlie has decided that she wants to take dance like her sister and this represents a huge step forward as she is slow to jump into new social groups. I am forever plagued by fears about the girls not having enough friends, but I am sure this will right itself over time. (Beware, it's alot harder to move and make new friends when you homeschool....)

That's really all I have time for tonight. I want to finish off a rooster (b'gock!).

TTFN.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Busy, busy

No, I haven't fallen of the planet, but I have been really busy. Here's the brief version:


HS'ing-wise, I introduced a Quality of Numbers block to Biggie, thinking that this would be cake and therefore an easy intro to the "Best Work" into main lesson books. WELL, what an eye-opener! She insists on turning fours around and some basic form drawing is hard for her! I had no idea and I am so glad that the universe put me on this course. Altho' I think the girls have chicken pox and so that'll throw the whole rhythm into upheaval, but for now, at least I feel like we are working on one of her challenges. As for her strengths, this story really made me laugh: we stopped into the thrift store (to buy knitting needles!) and the girls bee-lined for the kids' books box. They kept pulling out pop-up books, etc., asking to purchase and I said "no." Then, Biggie pulled out an ancient copy of Wind in the Willows, to which I said "yes." She proceeded to take it with her everywhere and was upset that she couldn't read it while she walked down the street to the library! What could I really say? I would do the same thing if I could! Too funny.


Crafting: a few weeks ago, I sourced some amazing organic merino wool for $5NZ a skein. Yesterday, I finished a sweater for Biggie. Not as magnificent as the pattern picture, but it was my first sweater, so I pat myself on the back merely for completing it before Winter turns to Spring. I am getting carpal tunnel, however, in my frantic efforts to finish a baby gift three months earlier than expected. My friend is having a miracle baby (she was told she could NEVER get pregnant, and lo' and behold....) and she is holding the shower early! I decided on a knitted farmyard. Well, not-just-knitted. I have crocheted most of the playmat, with one stitchwork wheatfield, and I am knitting the animals. I have been surprised as how enjoyable this project is, because it gives me an opportunity to try a variety of new stitches AND because all the pieces are so small that I don't bored. When it's done, I'll try to remember to take a photo.

Anger Management: my youngest daughter is really making me mad. It may be terrible to admit this in such a public forum, but oh well. you see, Littlie is 1) a Taurus, 2) choleric, and 3) a control freak. She demands to be the centre of attention, which is causing havoc with Biggie's lessons; and she has a need to control every situation. She's 5 years old!!! Tonight, I had a huge, non-Waldorf, shouting match with her because she simply wouldn't be quiet and let her sister go to sleep, something that was REALLY impt since they are both running fevers. We got into it yesterday because she wanted Biggie to play with her and Biggie wanted to practice her piano work. So Littlie sat on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs in time with Biggie's notes. You know, I am trying so hard to not be a nasty, screamy mom and yet this is the child that just makes me mental. She simply does not hear me, or if she does, she just doesn't care, which makes me more angry. She goes into her room and makes an utter mess, then refuses to clean any of it up! You know, as a sane person, I am only willing to subject myself to that so many times. Anyway, I am becoming rantish, so I will simply say, If you have suggestions, feel free to comment. I could use ANY advice right now (boarding school is looking pretty good *grin*)

That's most of the week for me. Oh, except to say that I agree with Anthromama and I know something is wrong with me that, at 33 years of age, I think Shia LaBeouf is hot. (I dear heavens, I comment about some kid who is named after a side of beef.) I did love the new Indy film, and I sat chuckling to myself about Karen Allen, the Steiner Mom and Fibre Artist!

Now that really is all. I am going to sit on my daughter's bed and have a good cry.

TTFN.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Waldorf Moms, a poem

This poem was written by Brianne McPhearson, 7th grader at Shining Mountain Waldorf School. ROFLMAO!

Waldorf Moms

Waldorf moms wear cotton socks
Woolen sweaters, Birkenstocks.
Waldorf moms have long full skirts,
Big silk scarves and layered shirts.
Waldorf moms have fluffy hair,
They’re kind and firm and make you share.
Waldorf moms drive Volvo cars
And talk of fairies, gnomes, and stars.
Waldorf moms love Waldorf meetings
Where they greet with Waldorf greetings.
Waldorf moms make Waldorf dolls
From purest wool and cotton balls.
Waldorf moms drink lots of tea
Which has been grown organically.
Waldorf moms serve fruits and meats.
Veggies, grains, and not much sweets.
Their favorite word is “nourishing.”
They love to hike and knit and sing.
They leave the gluten out of bread
And make you spend twelve hours in bed.
And if you fall and scrape your knee
They give you rescue remedy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

My response to Time

Thank you, Anthromama, for calling my attention to the current Time Magazine article on vaccination. Highly pro-vax, but supposedly fair reporting. While this may earn me that R Rating, I will say, what a crock of shit. Go on, have a read.

My response, neither as succinct nor informative as I may have wished, had I not been so angry, is as follows (I decided that they aren't going to care about our responses anyway, but that I had to stand up for my view.)

"What utter rubbish. Next time, do your own research before selecting such value-laden language for your yellow journalism. Time Magazine should be ashamed of itself for this one-sided, half-assed reporting of the facts."

I would love to see an accounting of Time's advertising....pharma, anyone?

**aaah, interesting to note, I see that CBS News came out on the 12th of May with the former Director of the NIH, who stated that "public health officials have intentionally avoided researching whether subsets of children are “susceptible” to vaccine side effects - afraid the answer will scare the public. " And unlike Time Magazine, CBS provided research to support its reporting.

**note 2: If you are at all interested in this topic, or if you need ammo to back your non-vax decision, may I suggest you goto http://generationrescue.org/index.html. Get past the celebrity, the research is all there and easy to read.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

OK, Mountain Pulse, you inspired me

Well, I posted on the board. I said that I was uncomfortable with the direction of the thread and that it may well be the thread that ends my participation in that board. The response was that I simply should not have continued to read the thread!!! So then I let rip.

Suffice it to say that I may no longer be welcome by that Curric writer, but I have never been known for my calm, quiet demeanor. heehee.

TTFN.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On the HSing front

I did write a post about Al-Jazeera (totally weird subject, I know), but I have deleted that as too OT for today. I wanted to talk a little about Homeschooling (wait, is that what this blog is about???)

I have seen lately that Biggie is in need of more structure and more responsibility, but I didn't know how to address that and still respect her young age. So after much tho't, I instituted a weekly assignment sheet consisting of three tasks: memorise one poem of her choosing, learn by memory one simple song (her choice) on the piano, and undertake one new household task to be performed daily. She is expected to work on these assignments each day, and on Friday afternoon, show her father what she has learned. This assignment sheet is separate from our Lesson, which is currently numbers (more on that later). Wow, this is working really well! (I know, shocker! Now that I have said those words, it'll all go to custard this week.) On Friday morning, before I was even out of bed, she had completed her three assignments and had taken out her Main Lesson Book and chalk board and begun her academic lesson! Woohoo.

The academic lesson is Math. We have been using the chalkboards and manipulatives to work on number ladders, deconstructing the whole into parts. We are doing this slowly, and it has been my goal to use this lesson to introduce Main Lesson Books. The idea is that we practice and practice until we have the lesson in our heads before we put a final draft in our books, complete with appropriate pictures and so on. Biggie already knows her numbers, but regularly reverses quite alot of them, so we have been walking the forms and practicing on the chalkboard, then moving on to our best work. She's doing great, learning discipline (read: "educating the will") and the need to take time and value one's best efforts. I am learning to discard curriculum books. I have chosen not to use traditional number representatives, such as "Two = opposites", "Three = Mother, Father, Child" (*sorry if this doesn't make sense. there's some numberimagery that's pretty standard in waldorf class one.) Instead, I am using number imagery that is about HER, or about US. For instance, in our MLB, two = two daughters and two cats; three = triangle, three primary colours and three females in our family.

I am seeing that my homeschooling is changing, evolving. When I started, I wanted the book that told me what to do everyday. I spent a ton of money on currics. And while I still think those currics have ALOT to offer, I now want to understand the big picture and then make it apply to us. I am stepping away from the prefab stories and I am beginning (very small beginnings, mind you) to create my own. I am also learning when to step away from the Waldorf Way. Not to say that I am not still a Waldorf HSer, but I am trying to get past the dogma and the trappings of Waldorf and embrace the intent of the message.

For instance, I have wanted a gnome cave for our Autumn nature table. Well, I just didn't have anything suitable and I don't know woodworking. But in the back of my brain, there was a solution itching, itching to come out. I just couldn't put my finger on it but I knew that it was there. Lo and behold, the Tinkertoys! While the girls slept, I made the best cave frame out of their red and green and orange and yellow tinkertoys: no they are not natural and organic (-shaped that is), but they are totally open-ended and just plain fun to play with. I draped the cave with silks (see, now they learn that they can mix up their toys) and created an entire gnome world with jewels and mice and toadstools, etc. I even had DH help me make gnomes out of beeswax and acorns! Man, did the girls love it this morning. And I feel like I helped them learn how to create CREATIVELY.

Finally, we had a great experience this week while doing school at the Zoo: we ran into one of the teachers from our old W-School and her little group of students whom she is now hsing. How terrific! My girls were able to see that we aren't so terribly marginalised in our lifestyle -- there were the other waldorf kids doing exactly the same thing that we were. We spent two days at the zoo writing down the names of all the animals we saw. We had time to talk to the zookeepers and stop and just sit and watch the animals. We learned which of the monkeys we can hear from our house (the siamang, in case you were wondering) . We were also able to visit the newly opened conservation centre, which houses the Zoo vets. Yep, we got to learn that the Auckland Zoo has performed the only known Hippo castration, and they were kind enough to keep the poor fella's testes in a jar right out in front for the girls to see....right next to the Gallapagos Tortoise phallus. Aaaah, the joys of hs'ing. Can you even imagine how many questions that raised? She's still talkin' about it! Too funny.

Anyway, I have talked for long enough. I now want to see what you wonderful families are up to.

TTFN.

Just a clarification

The lovely Gypsy brought up a concern: you know, I have no issues with people who choose to live differently than do I. I am not bashing those who make different choices. I guess I am just asking that they grant me the same courtesy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's Daily Affirmation (see right)

"Calvin: People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don't realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world. Hobbes: Isn't your pants zipper supposed to be in front?"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rant

Ok, hope y'all don't mind a bit of a rant here, but (really) how many people in the world would even follow this complaint. The preface is, there is someone on a board I subscribe to, who is voicing her pro-vax opinions. I have contemplated responding on the board, but the response is really more about me than her (because I am never going to change her mind).

I don't know anything about the person on the discussion, but I want to have a go at her for these gross assumptions that the people who don't vax are ill- or un-informed, or out of touch with the real world. This is something that I know I have dealt with (often) as a result of my choices: people who suggest that I am ignorant or neglectful - because the kids aren't vaccinated or because we spend too much to eat organic food, because we HS (because we WALDORF! homeschool), because we drink raw milk, because my kids aren't allowed food colouring...

What I don't understand is this: none of these choices made our lives easier. It's not like I can source cheap raw milk from the corner market, or that I LOOOVE knowing that I have chosen not to purchase a house so that I can give my kids healthy organic vegetables. What? Like I have so much free time to get my nails done because I homeschool? Or because I save so much money now that I have to buy ALL of our own school currics/supplies/books? wtf.

Do people honestly believe that we chose this way of life without having given it ALOT of thought? without having done our research? Moreover, what the critics don't understand is that many of US have once been THEM. I know I started out taking advil and drinking soda, swearing that my kids would be vaccinated, and I would have probably gagged at the milk ten years ago. Shouldn't it be obvious that something changed my mind? What, like Oprah is talking about Waldorf Homeschooling and i jumped on the bandwagon???? I just don't get it.

So I guess my rant, while sparked by the thread, is actually about people in general and their erroneous belief about we who self-marginalise. Yeah, it's probably my own continued pissed-offed-ness since that woman made the crack about the milk. But now I feel alot better *smile*.

Please feel free to be equally insensitive and un-PC in your responses.

TTFN.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Food Porn Meme

Thank you Domestically Blissed for giving me a chance to talk about food....ahhh, how I love food. I'm sort of like Winnie-the-Pooh with his hunny pot, come to think of it. So here goes:

1. What food do you consider the best “date” food? In other words, what meal or food item do you think is sexiest to eat in the company of someone you would like to look sexy around?

Is this like erotically sexy, or like "I would be a fun wife" sexy? Well, I choose the second option, and my answer is sushi. This is both practical and sentimental because my first (blind) date with my husband was also my first sushi experience. Plus, if I were male, I would not want to date a woman who wouldn't eat funky food ( I know ALOT of people who can't get past the raw fish thing and none of them would make me a happy spouse).

2. What well-known person would you like to share a meal with—with or without clothing. (saying whether or not clothes are involved is optional).

DH could answer this one for me, heeheehee. George Clooney. Because not only is he nice to look at, but I bet he could hold his own in an intelligent conversation. (yeah, I'm supposed to say something earth-shattering here, but I shall embrace my shallowness for a moment of hypothetical dining.) Oh, yeah, and that's WITH clothes.

3. What does your perfect breakfast-in-bed look like? (Food AND the details, please. Candles? Music? Flowers? Hot tub? Dancing girls?

Cold morning, rainy outside, warm inside. Sleep late, wake up slowly (not with the kids screaming at each other over my head), NZ latte (sorry, fellow Americans, but USA coffee is ghastly). Spend the rest of the morning watching BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Get up when I want to, not because someone can't reach the lightswitch.

About this answer: I've only ever had one night away with my husband since having children, so I don't really know what that is like anymore. I'm not trying to slight him by not including him here.

4. What do you consider the best application of whipped cream to be?

In my coffee. Truly decadent.

5. Oh-God-No, Biff, the yacht is sinking! You are sent to the galley to retrieve the food. What luxury food items do you snatch first? The champagne? The caviar? Smoked Salmon? Truffles? Chocolate? Or something else?

Good quality bottled water. Both wonderful to drink and highly practical!

I'm not a good tagger, but I would like to see the answers from anyone who is not from the US or NZ. (Poppy, tell your mom that includes her!) All these answers made me thirsty.

TTFN.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Stream of Consciousness

I have so much that I want to blog about that I have decided to do it in shorthand. I hope you can understand where my head is.

~ Need a new chair, as I have no place to sit and read and knit, other than my bed. Where is the fine line between stretching my budget to buy something that will last and saving money on something that I will have to dispose of/replace in two years' time?
~ I'm 33. The weight doesn't just fall off anymore and I suddenly have a belly. I have never been a dieter and don't even know how to begin. Coupled with the fact that I love food, well, more than sex. I know I am not making healthy choices and yet I can't seem to stay on track with the good choices.
~When will I be a confident Waldorf homeschooler? I am still riddled with fears that I have made the wrong choice for my girls, for more reasons than my brain can even coherently hash through.
~ I can't prioritise worth a darn: I would rather read than make muffins and I can't make myself get out of bed early because it is so very, VERY cold right now. Would my days be easier if I spent more time planning in advance, or would I just be horrid and resentful because I wouldn't have time for myself. hmmm.

I've typed this from my kitchen counter as I make dinner. The pasta is almost ready. Time to publish.

TTFN.