Last weekend, we went to the zoo. Everett (age 9 at the time of this writing) asked me if he could take a picture. I handed him the camera and asked if he wanted to be the official photographer for the day. I shared some of my – limited – tips on using the camera, and he snapped away. These are some of his best shots.
Last weekend, we went to the zoo. Everett (age 9 at the time of this writing) asked me if he could take a picture. I handed him the camera and asked if he wanted to be the official photographer for the day. I shared some of my – limited – tips on using the camera, …View full post
I’m very excited to bring you another awesome giveaway, this time from Spark of Amber. Spark of Amber sells beautiful, natural amber teething necklaces and bracelets for children, as well as jewelry for adults of all ages. They have a huge variety of unique products, and their shipping is always free. From their website: Baltic …View full post
I always wanted one of those maps of the United States that you can stick pins in to mark where you’ve gone or where you’re going to go, or where you dream of going. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to look them up online, and was shocked to see that they cost $300+. …View full post
Day 10, Friday: Most embarrassing moment (s). Spill. So this will be brief. I’m already sweating. I like to tell people that my most embarrassing moment was the time I fell off the ski lift halfway up the mountain. It WAS embarrassing, and it makes for a funny story, one that’s easy to tell. But that’s …View full post
Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words) Today we took the kids to the local aquarium. It was a good time (it always is), as was the nice Mexican dinner we went to afterward at a little delicious hole-in-the-wall place that we hadn’t …View full post
I’m very excited to bring you another awesome giveaway, this time from Spark of Amber. Spark of Amber sells beautiful, natural amber teething necklaces and bracelets for children, as well as jewelry for adults of all ages. They have a huge variety of unique products, and their shipping is always free. From their website:
Baltic Amber is a fossilized resin. Europeans greatly prize this beautiful stone for its claimed 100% natural anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and calming properties. The healing oils of the Baltic Amber are said to relieve teething pain, tame baby’s irritability and relieve inflammation in the throat, ear, and stomach.
The calming properties of Baltic Amber may go a long way towards a calmer, happier child. The toddler years are full of turmoil, with lots of growth and change, so the natural analgesic of Baltic Amber is a wonderful gift!
(*Please note: necklaces are not for chewing or sucking*)
I recently had a chance to receive and review a pair of one-of-a-kind amber earrings, and they are beautiful! Rich, deep, natural colors, and high quality hook and findings. I especially love that the hooks actually clasp closed so I don’t fear that they’re going to slide around or fall out of my ears. And on a personal note, when there was some sort of error within the post office and the original package didn’t make it to me, Julie sent me a new pair, no questions asked… even though it wasn’t her fault. The very best kind of customer service!
Today, Spark of Amber is giving away one teething necklace to one lucky reader. There are several styles to choose from, and the winner may take their pick.
Want to win one? You can receive up to four entries:
1. Simply comment on this post for one entry.
2. Tweet the link to this giveaway.
3. Share the link to this giveaway on Facebook.
4. Visit and “like” Spark of Amber on Facebook.
- Come back and leave ONE comment letting me know which of the above options you’ve done.
- Sorry, giveaway is only open to those readers in the United States.
- You can follow along and learn more about amber jewelry and Spark of Amber on their blog, their twitter account, and their Pinterest.
- The giveaway will remain open for one week, and the winner will be drawn and announced on Wednesday, May 22nd
Thank you to Spark of Amber for donating such a beautiful product, and good luck!
I always wanted one of those maps of the United States that you can stick pins in to mark where you’ve gone or where you’re going to go, or where you dream of going. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to look them up online, and was shocked to see that they cost $300+. Now, I know people who pay that much money to put things on their walls, but I’m not one of them. I don’t really have 300 extra dollars, and even if I did I wouldn’t spend it on a map, just on general principle.
I do however, love a project! So after some looking around, I decided I’d make my own, and am thrilled with how it turned out! It was simple to do, and the whole thing was hung and ready to go in a matter of hours (and most of that time was just waiting for the glue to dry) Total cost: around $35, even less if you already have the adhesive. Want to make your own?
Here’s what you need:
- A large, good quality map (I chose this one from National Geographic. It’s nice to look at, came rolled neatly in a tube, and includes all the national state parks and everything. Cool.) $12
- Spray adhesive. 3M brand worked well. $8
- A sheet of styrofoam insulation. We got ours at Home Depot, and could only find a huge 4 by 8 ft sheet, so we cut it down to size. $7
- Some sort of trim to serve as the frame. Also from Home Depot. $5
- Finally, super-strong glue to glue on the trim and hold it all together. We used Gorilla Glue. $5
First, use the spray adhesive to glue the map to the foam board. Make sure to smooth it all out with your hands to get rid of any air bubbles. If the board is bigger than your map, trim it down to size. Tip: make sure the blade you use to cut it is super sharp, otherwise it tears through the strofoam and makes a big ole mess in the process.
Next, cut your trim down to size. We used a mitre saw, cut them to the length and width of the map, then angled them at 45 degrees so they would fit together like a frame:
Once the trim was cut to size – and we made sure it all fit together – we glued it all down using the Gorilla Glue, and laid it flat on the kitchen table with several books weighting it down while the glue dried.
Finally, we got it ready to hang. First we drilled two holes in the back, and strung it with wire (which may work just fine for you), but we weren’t totally happy with the way it hung against the wall, so we ultimately decided to screw it through all four corners directly onto the wall.
And voila… a pinboard map, ready to be pinned and enjoyed.
So this will be brief. I’m already sweating.
I like to tell people that my most embarrassing moment was the time I fell off the ski lift halfway up the mountain. It WAS embarrassing, and it makes for a funny story, one that’s easy to tell. But that’s not my most embarrassing moment.
Or sometimes I’ll tell about the time I got so nervous during an oral report that I was suddenly nauseous and so light-headed that I had to sit down with my head between my knees. Not my finest hour. But that wasn’t my most embarrassing moment either.
No, my most embarrassing moment, in hindsight, was the most embarrassing simply because of when it happened. Sometimes (or often) when you’re a shy 14 year old freshman, life is embarrassing. Going to school is embarrassing. Doing anything is embarrassing. Add to that a crush… a giant crush. The kind of crush that.. well, HURTS. And make it on a senior too, just for good measure. A popular, athletic senior. One who was loved by jocks and nerds alike.
I didn’t know him. Never even talked to him. But I stood near him once, in close proximity. That’s when I….
Seriously, is it hot in here?
So, I had a crush on this beautiful, beautiful boy, and one night we were at the same party. I remember NOTHING else about the night… who I was with, where we were exactly… just that I was there and he was there. And oh, he looked so good. And was so relaxed, and so happy, and so friendly. And I was desperately trying to be “cool,” and not be awkward. And not be embarrassed. And not be nervous about the fact that he was OH EM GEE suddenly standing right next to me.
That’s when I farted.
I’d like, would LOVE in fact, to be able to say that more delicately. But oh no. It was a fart. A loud one. Loud enough to make everyone (I think it was 3 people, might as well have been 137) turn and laugh, and prompt my friend to say, “Jen that’s disgusting!”
You know how people say they wish the floor would swallow them whole? I’m pretty sure the person who coined that expression had gas of some kind, because a more fitting description there never was. I stood, frozen, not able to look at anyone. And when I finally looked at him – was it 30 seconds later, 3 minutes later? – he did nothing but offer up a polite smile, which somehow made the whole thing even worse.
The good that came out of it? It very abruptly cured me of my crush, as it’s pretty hard to maintain a proper crush on someone that you carefully avoid so much as looking at for the rest of your high school days. He quite literally ceased to exist to me after that day, and for all I know he forever remembered me as The Fart Girl.
And we both lived happily - and separately – ever after. The end.
P.S. If you’re in the mood for a far, far better fart story, read this: The Fart That (Almost) Altered My Destiny
Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)
Today we took the kids to the local aquarium. It was a good time (it always is), as was the nice Mexican dinner we went to afterward at a little delicious hole-in-the-wall place that we hadn’t been to for years. Neither of those were the best part of the day though.
After our early dinner, we had to wait around for a call from the shop that was working on Mike’s Land Cruiser, to let him know it was ready. We’d gone down in two cars in the morning, and dropped it off before we headed to the aquarium. I guess the kids and I could have gone home without him, and let him wait on his own, but that’s not the way we roll. Plus, we were way down in Mesa – a good 45 minute drive - and it seemed a shame to waste so much of his day off by driving apart when we didn’t have to.
So we found a nearby park with a playground, and settled in to wait. Now, I take the two little ones to the playground all the time, but I can’t remember the last time we were at a playground with all four kids… at least not when the boys weren’t off on their own with friends. Hanging out at a playground as a family was a treat that didn’t go unappreciated. Tegan played on the slides and jungle gym till she tired of it, Everett pretended he was doing a “Survivor” style obstacle course on some of the equipment, we all took turns on the swings, and we eventually retired to a shady spot in the sand where we buried the kids and chatted about everything from haircuts to summer vacations to starting your own business. The shop finally called to tell him the truck was done (and, bonus: at $100 less than estimated! When does that ever happen??), and we slowly made our way out. On the way, the kids decided to stop at those bouncy animals, the ones on giant springs, designed for very little kids. Paxton, who’s nearly 13 and already six feet tall, started riding on one and laughed so hard he almost couldn’t breathe. Everett joined in on another one, and not being able to resist, I hopped on the last one – a squirrel – to see what the fuss was about. Instant laughter as I flopped back and forth. Paxton nearly fell off his dinosaur.
And we headed to get the truck and start for home… tired; happy; with dirty, sandy feet; full bellies; and full hearts. Now that’s a moment.
Day 8, Wednesday: A piece of advice you have for others. Anything at all.
The word ‘advice’ kind of makes my skin crawl. I know, I know… we all give it, we occasionally ask for it, we sometimes find it helpful. We sometimes find it darn near life-changing.
But I hear the word, and I think unsolicited advice, which makes me crankier than a cat getting a flea bath. Advice that you asked for? Awesome! Take the good with the bad, keep what works for you, and be grateful for the effort. But advice that was just unceremoniously foisted on you? Another thing entirely. And a wretched thing at that.
So, my (uh, unsolicited) advice for the day – for you, for me, for everyone – is this: Whenever you’re about to offer up advice, ask yourself, “Was I ASKED for advice? No seriously, was I?” If the honest answer is “no,” and it’s not a matter of life or death, don’t do it, no matter how difficult it may be to refrain.
The world thanks you.
Me? I’m scared of everything! I’m scared of what I saw! I’m scared of what I did! Of who I am! Most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way that I feel when I’m with you.**
Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you’re most afraid of.
I try really hard not to live in a place of fear, and for the most part, I succeed. It’s interesting, because I see a lot of fear coming from those new to unschooling and gentle parenting…. everything from the fear of television rotting their brains, to the fear of them never learning what they “need to know” to be successful in life, to the fear of them not learning to respect authority if they’re never punished.
I don’t share those fears, but I’m not without my skeletons.
In no particular order:
I’m scared of something bad happening to the people I love the most. Once you let your heart walk around outside of your body, the thought of something happening to that heart …. I don’t even have the words for it.
I’m scared that my shoulder will never heal properly, and that I’m going to be in chronic pain for the rest of my life.
I’m scared of heights, but not like a normal person. I LOVE the idea of things like hang-gliding and parachuting and sky-diving, and would love to try any of the above one day. But looking over the railing of the fourth floor of a mall? Terrifying. I actually find places with railings far more scary than those without, mostly because I think about what it would be like if I was balanced on top of the railing… or if I accidentally climbed over it (which for the record, has not happened once). My husband thinks I’m weird.
I’m scared of cancer. Too much of it in my extended family.
And finally, I’m scared of birds… and really, any flying creature much bigger than a housefly. Butterflies and birds are lovely and everything, but have you ever noticed how unpredictable and FAST they are?? One minute they’re sitting all sweetly on a branch, and the next they’re darting and diving and zigging and zagging. And don’t even get me started on bats. They look like mice with fangs, and they FLY?? It’s just…. wrong. I was attacked by a rooster once as a kid. That may or may not be related.
And finally (I said that already, didn’t I?) I’m terrified of motorcycles. I witnessed an awful and gruesome accident once that I’m sure played a role, but I’m pretty sure I was scared of them even before then. I get and respect that other people love them, but the idea of being on a vehicle that’s going that fast, with NO sort of protection around me? I’d rather hold a bat. Balanced on top of a railing. On the ninth floor balcony of a hotel room … which, by the way, is the floor we were on in Florida. And I actually sat out there to drink my coffee every morning, thankyouverymuch.
There may be more, but those are the handful that always come to mind when I’m asked. Some of my biggest fears.
And this is the part where you make me feel better by telling me you can relate to at least one or two.
** I’m having a giveaway next week. First person to name the movie that quote is from gets an extra entry. **
(Photo by Doug8888)
Day 6, Monday: If you couldn’t answer with your job, how would you answer the question, ‘what do you do’?
Last month when we were in Florida, we took a day-long tour of the Everglades. Shortly after we got into the van with our six fellow-vacationers, our guide (a fun and enthusiastic Floridian by the name of Rick) asked us to go around and introduce ourselves to the group. Mike and I were sitting in the very back seat, so I was the last to go. As I listened to everyone pretty much give their resumes, I wondered what I would say. They were all talking about jobs, and I hadn’t worked for an outside job in over 16 years. Even when I did, I was never really defined by it. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to mention it when I introduced myself, even back them. So what would I tell them? I would tell them I was a mom, of course, and maybe even that I taught yoga – mainly because it’s still relatively new, I worked hard for it, and it still gives me a little thrill to say it out loud. I like to think of myself as a writer, but I wouldn’t tell them that.
Mom and yoga teacher. That would be fine.
And it was. They all appreciated that I was a mom, especially when I said that we had four kids, and that we homeschooled. The yoga was a hit too, as it launched Rick into a funny story about how he took a yoga class to impress a former girlfriend and that it hadn’t ended well.
But are any of those things what I do?
THIS is what I do:
I make mistakes, and I hope to learn from them.
I laugh, often at myself.
I cry, just as much happy as sad.
I make grand plans, and I dream big dreams.
I start things I never finish, and finish things I never imagined.
I sometimes struggle and sometimes soar and sometimes sink and sometimes swim.
I breathe, in and out. I fall down, and I pick myself up.
I do real.
I do love.
I do LIFE.
Really, isn’t that what we all do?
Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member.
Just like with the quotes, I had trouble narrowing this one down. So many awesome blogs by so many awesome blogger friends! I ultimately decided that while I could wax poetic about some of the bigger blogs that you already know and love, it’d be more productive to introduce you to a blog that you might not know about yet. And if you don’t know about it yet, you’re missing out!
A few people readily came to mind (and I’m sure I’ll share them all, eventually) but for today’s post I chose Karen of A Radical Path. What makes her great? She just rocks. She’s a loyal friend, an awesome mom, and an all-around stand-up person. She’s a fellow Christian radical unschooler, and in addition to having a rather brilliantly named blog, she’s Australian and has passed on such important wisdom as sayings like “crikey” and “bloody hell.”
She writes boldly and honestly about radical unschooling and gentle parenting, and about walking this radical path we’re both on. From her “about me” on her blog:
The path through life is often broad and wide, well travelled and unquestioned.
This blog is about our journey along a more radical, less travelled path. It is about thinking differently, questioning the status quo, getting off auto pilot, breaking free from unconsidered traditions, and forging a way through a wilderness that is just waiting to be discovered! It is about daring to be different, rethinking assumptions, and facing the future with hope and courage.
Join me as we undo the laces of the smelly old shoe that doesn’t fit anyway, dip our toes in the crystal clear waters, wash away the dirt and dust, and walk (even run!) barefoot in the green grass of freedom….
If you like my blog, you will love hers. Go follow her on Facebook here. You’re welcome.
Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it
Quotes are one of my very favorite things, so asking me to choose a favorite is like asking me to choose a favorite child. I haven’t shared this for awhile though – and I do so love it – so I thought it was worth sharing again. Plus, it came from an Apple ad (and I pretty fiercely boycott all Apple products) so the irony tickles me.
Why do I love it? No explanation necessary, as it completely speaks for itself. I’m the proverbial round peg, doing my best to always celebrate my round-pegged children, in all their misfit glory.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify and vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as crazy, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”