Sep 16

Q & A – Algebra, Geometry, and Essays… Oh My

algebra

 

Every Tuesday, I’ll choose a question or two to answer here on my blog, as long as the questions last. Want to ask me about unschooling or parenting or anything else I write about (which is, uh, pretty much everything)? Send them here, or post on my Facebook page.  

Here’s today’s question, and it’s another one that I get a lot:

 

How do unschoolers learn advanced math like algebra, geometry, etc, and proper writing like essay writing, MLA format and the like? I’m starting my unschooling journey in a few months and my hubby is concerned about these things.

First, I need to start out by asking:  Do you use advanced math in your daily life?  Because I don’t.  I use very basic math and algebraic concepts for things like shopping, baking, figuring out tips, etc.  For many, many people, that’s the only math they will ever need.  Even my husband, who went into a math-related field largely because it was a strength of his and as such was always pushed as a career path, rarely uses more than the basics.

If something is a must-learn in an individual’s life, it will present itself… and along with it, an opportunity to learn it in  a real and applicable way that makes sense for the learner.  If it’s not necessary in life, and it doesn’t present itself, why would you need to learn it in the first place?

If an unschooler wants or needs (for example: for a certain chosen career path, a college plan, or just an innate desire) to learn an advanced math, there are a literally unlimited number of ways for him to do so.  There are free websites such as Khan Academy.  There are online courses.  There are family and friends and mentors.  There are college classes (lots of unschoolers choose to take classes well before they are “college age”).  There are books. There are DVDs.  There are moments of play and discovery and epiphanies with calculators and other tools.  Just try and stop an interested and engaged child from learning about math! Can’t do it.

Likewise, “proper” writing like essays is something with a very limited application that not everyone is going to want or need.  I haven’t written a proper essay since college, and I’m not ashamed at all to admit that I don’t even know what MLA format is.  I’ve made it forty years on this planet without that knowledge, and I’m doing okay.  ;)  But just like with math, when or if a child (or an adult for that matter) wants to learn something writing-related, the answer is never more than a click or a Google search away.

And it’s not that I’m minimizing the importance of learning certain things, because yes - absolutely - some people are going to need to know advanced trigonometry.  Some people are going to need to know how to write a killer essay. Some people are going to need to know what MLA format is.  But what I need to know as a mom, a writer, and a yoga teacher, is going to be vastly different from what my husband needs to know as a budget and payroll director.  Which is going to be vastly different from what our oldest, who’s studying small engine repair, needs to know. Which is going to be vastly different from what our fourteen year old, who’s interested in computers, needs to know.  Etc.

No one knows what knowledge, skills, or tools are going to be useful for another person on their particular life path. And the beauty of unschooling is that you don’t have to know!  Your job as an unschooling parent isn’t to impart a certain set of “must-know” facts.  Your job as an unschooling parent is to help provide the people, places, tools, and experiences that enable them to learn what they need to know, when they need to know it.   Your job is to nurture and foster their natural and intrinsic desire to grow and learn, so that when they DO need or want to learn something – whether it’s geometry, writing an essay, or baking a cake – they can do so.  Easily, naturally, and in a way that makes sense for them.


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Sep 15

Hitting is Hitting is Hitting

spanking-hand

 

On March 27th, 2014, an NFL player named Ray Rice was indicted by a grand jury for third-degree aggravated assault on his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer.  This past week, the website TMZ released footage of him punching Palmer, which led to the Baltimore Ravens terminating his contract.

Also this week:  Adrian Peterson, another player with the NFL, was indicted for child abuse when his child’s mother noticed whipping injuries on their 4 year old son’s legs, and took him to a doctor who contacted the authorities. Peterson was benched by the Minnesota Vikings, but was reinstated three days later.

Like most people, I’m angry and saddened and frustrated by these stories of violence in the news.  In this instance though, the disparity of the public’s reaction to these two similar cases has left me particularly cold.  I would say I was shocked, but sadly I’m not.  This is 2014, and children are still seen as second-class citizens.

While few are defending Rice – people overwhelmingly, and rightly, realize that it’s not okay to use physical violence against your partner – many are rising up to speak out in support of Peterson, who was just as violent, only against a small child.  

“He should be able to discipline as he sees fit.”

“That’s just the way people are raised in the South”

“People need to butt out and let him parent however he wants.”

“I don’t get why he’s in legal trouble for disciplining his own kid.”

“Someone explain what Adrian Peterson did that was considered child abuse?”

“I don’t see what the big deal is.  I got my ass whooped as a child, and I turned out fine.”

Let me be very, very clear when I say this:  There is NO defense for what he did.  There is no defense or justification or excuse for hitting a small child, ever.  What he did was wrong.  It pains me to have say it out loud, but that doesn’t make it any less true.  It is wrong.

And to the people who are out there saying, “Yeah, he took it too far.  There is a difference between spanking and beating.  There’s nothing wrong with spanking/some kids need it/they have to learn, etc,”  I humbly offer that you are indeed part of the problem.

Stop.

Stop making it a game of semantics.  Stop pretending that it’s okay to hit children if you add certain qualifiers.  Stop refusing to see spanking for what it is.  Stop believing that children are lesser beings than other humans.  Stop perpetuating the cycle of violence.  Stop ignoring the fact that if you’re still advocating for hitting people smaller than you that you are not fine.  Stop equating DISCIPLINE with PUNISHMENT.  Stop defending people who hit their children, and start speaking out for the people who can’t speak out for themselves.

And to my fellow Christians?  Stop using misinterpretations of the Bible as an excuse for hitting children.  It’s an unending conversation, and I’m not having it anymore.  I will no longer publish, acknowledge, or respond to any comments that claim the Bible commands us to spank.  Read Jesus the Gentle Parent.  Read Gentle Firmness. Read Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me (this one is a free download).  Read the words of the people who have put in the time and the research and the study that shows that the Bible just doesn’t say what you think it says.  Don’t let ignorance be an excuse.

As a Christian (and just as a caring human being), I believe that relationships should start from a place of love and respect.  I believe this to be true of ALL relationships, but especially the relationship between parent and child. Hitting has no place in any loving relationship.  Our children look up to us.  They learn from us how to navigate the world.  How to solve problems. How to get along with others.  How to deal with conflict.  Hitting our children, for any reason, raises them to be people who believe that hitting is a reasonable, acceptable way to interact with others.  It raises them to be people who, unless they fight to break the cycle, will hit their own children.

It raises them to be individuals who defend people like Adrian Peterson.

Stop the justification and the word games and the Bible-verse-slinging.  Spanking, swatting, switching, popping, tapping… paint it any color you’d like.  It’s all hitting, and it’s all wrong.


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Sep 08

An Explanation

So, last week I vanished from Facebook.  For a few days I even pulled down my blog.  And while I admitted that the whole thing made me incredibly sad,  it also felt extremely liberating. Just the idea that I could do it – that I could walk away if I wanted to, that the option is always there – made me feel infinitely better.

It was a fairly easy decision to re-publish my blog itself, if for no other reason than the fact that keeping it down made entirely too much work for me.  I was getting a ton of emails, people were asking me about individual posts, I was wanting to share things that I could no longer share, and I’d created a whole bunch of broken links all over the place.   The rational thing to do was to bring it back, a whopping three days after I’d announced that it was down.

The Facebook page is another matter altogether though, and I feel at peace about taking a good long break.  I never gave any sort of explanation for that…. partly because I don’t feel I owe any explanations, but also because I didn’t yet really have an explanation, other than that I knew I needed to step away.

Today though, I have an explanation, and I thought I’d share it for the people who are still wondering.

First, I’m sure there’s an appearance of something akin to a child’s playground tantrum:  “That is IT.  I’m taking my ball and GOING HOME!”  And sure, that’s part of it.  I mean, I was hurt, and frustrated, and burnt out, and had had it with everyone and everything.  Given the timing of my exit, a lot of you assumed that I left because of the last couple of conversations we’d had on my wall, but that really wasn’t it.  I’d been a hair’s breadth away from making this decision for months, and that just happened to be the impetus that pushed me over;  not the reason itself.   I was not feeling heard, and that’s really one of the worst feelings in the world, isn’t it? Don’t we all just want to be heard?  I verbally vomited shared a little bit of that in the Things I’m Not Saying post, and while it was a very true representation of how I was feeling at the moment, in hindsight the full truth is a little bit different.

I received another email this morning wondering what had happened to the Facebook page.  It wasn’t one of the sweet ones, telling me she missed me, and that she hoped everything was okay (and absolutely, I got those too, and they were appreciated.)  No, she was almost…. indignant.  Angry.  And she wasn’t particularly nice about it.  Why did I leave?!  Why didn’t I tell her what was going on?!  She was wanting to share a specific post, and she couldn’t find it, and what was she supposed to do now?!

I literally read it as I was walking out the door.   I was frustrated because I was supposed to be playing Minecraft with Tegan, and I had to postpone to go the doctor.  The surgeon’s office had just called to tell me that they’d had a ton of cancellations (half of the valley is flooded right now), and if I could come in right then, they could get me a cortisone injection, as a way to sort of cross every t and dot every i before we decide that a revision surgery is the right next step. Spencer wasn’t feeling well, so I was doting on him;  I felt bad for bailing on Tegan; I was off to get what I knew would be a painful injection that would render me out of commission for the rest of the day; I had a million little things to do when I got home…

and all I could think about was a stupid email from a random stranger.

I realized at some point during the 8 minute drive to the doctor’s that the issue was NOT the email.  It was not the other person at all.  All this time I’d made it so easy and convenient to blame others for what had been happening, when really it was my own issue all along. Somewhere along the way, I’d failed to set appropriate and healthy boundaries for myself.  It wasn’t that I simply got the email (and others like it), it was that I’d allowed them to take up any space in my head.  In my day.  In my life.

I allowed that to happen.

Every day I went to my own Facebook page, and I’d read the comments and while I KNEW intellectually that I’m the same me no matter what; that what others say to me reflects on them, not me; that I don’t have to give any attention or weight to any negativity;  that I don’t have to even blink an eye about not living up to anyone’s expectations but my own… while I knew – and KNOW – all of that wholeheartedly, I was letting it creep in.  Letting it create that tiny dark spot on my day.  Letting it make me tired.  Letting it get me down.  And over time, it all just got to me.  But it was ME, and not the “haters”.  People are allowed to think whatever they want about me. People are allowed to call me whatever they’d like.  People are allowed to email me. People are allowed to expect too much of me.

And I’m allowed to protect me.

So that’s why I took down the Facebook page, and why it will stay down for the time being. Because of what I’ve allowed it to do to me. When I figure out what I need to do to stop the negativity from digging its way in (and to be clear, I’m not asking for advice),  I’ll be back.  And I’ll be glad too, because I do miss it.   A lot actually.  But I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t been really really nice to go a whole week without being called names.

I’ll figure it out, and I’ll come back.

In the meantime, I’ll be nursing a shoulder and playing Minecraft with my girl.  Because priorities.


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Sep 05

The Missing Boot

When I was around Tegan’s age, I had a little Strawberry Shortcake doll.  She was one of my all-time favorite toys.  That was back when Strawberry Shortcake looked like this:strawberry-shortcake-doll

Instead of like this:

strawberryshortcake2

I loved that doll!

One day I realized that one of her shoes had gone missing.  Total devastation.  And the worst part was that I had no idea when I’d lost it.  Was it at church?  In the car?  In the house? In the backyard?  At the neighbor’s? I mourned.  I mourned for a shoe.

A couple weeks later, after having given up all hope, I was walking across the street to meet a friend to play.  And there it was, lying in the middle of the street.  It was dirty, and had clearly been run over more than once.  BUT IT WAS MY STRAWBERRY’S SHOE.

I immediately picked up the shoe (I probably squealed while doing so) and turned around and started running back for home, not wanting to wait a single second to return it to where it rightfully belonged.    My friend stood in the middle of the road yelling after me, “Hey, what is that?  What’d you find?  Where are you going??”  In my excitement, all I could answer was, “I’ll tell you later!!” over my shoulder as I ran away.  Interestingly, I don’t remember anything that happened immediately after that, but I do remember feeling badly for leaving my friend standing in the lurch in the middle of the road.   Funny the things we remember with 35 years of hindsight.

I was thinking about this yesterday, because Tegan has been desperately looking for a missing Barbie boot. She has about a million Barbies (maybe not that many.  But a lot.  More than 20), but she has some definite favorites. This one had come in a set with a horse and saddle and everything, and had been a gift from mom and dad a couple birthdays ago.  And she was missing a boot.  And my girl was sad.  We’ve been having random search parties, and making a valiant effort, but, well… as I mentioned yesterday, our house has been a little bit disorganized lately, and it truly could have been everywhere.

Well, yesterday I was picking up and getting some things organized, and the boot magically appeared (in a place that had already been checked multiple times, no less)  My heart leapt.  I called Tegan, hid the boot behind my back, and said, “I found something that’s going to make you happy!!”  Said in the voice of Rachel from Friends, when she finds Chandler’s missing Best Buds bracelet from Joey, because I can’t seem to say it in any other way.  Anyway.   Tegan definitely DID squeal, and hugged me so hard she knocked the wind out of me.  She played the rest of the day with her happy Barbie and her two matching boots.

This to me is one of the absolute best parts of parenting, and also the worst.

The best because I don’t just remember what it was like, I feel what it was like.  I’m connected with her in that moment.  I’m Tegan… and I’m me… and I’m the 6 year old me finding my Strawberry Shortcake shoe in the street. I know,  I truly know what she’s feeling, and I know how big and important even the “little” things can be.

And the worst because sometimes you DON’T find the shoe.  I don’t just remember what it was like, I feel what it was like.  I’m connected with her in that moment.  I’m Tegan… and I’m me… and I’m the 6 year old me missing my Strawberry Shortcake shoe. I know,  I truly know what she’s feeling, and I know how big and important even the “little” things can be.

My hope and prayer is that I never forget.  That I never lose sight of the childhood me, and that I never lose that commiseration and connection with my own kids.

Six-year-old me is one of my greatest parental teachers.


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Sep 04

Ruminations Over Coffee

coffee

My to-do list is lengthy.  For every three things we cross off the conference list (shirts, programs, attendee bags all went to print this week), another dozen new details are added. With 21 days to go, we are down to the wire.

There are four over-flowing baskets of clean, unfolded clothes in my bedroom.  It’s been too long since I’ve really cleaned… anything… around here, and it shows.  We’ve been running around like crazy people lately, and the house is clearly bearing the brunt of the collateral damage.

I miss my blog (if a blogger writes, but no one can read it, did she really write?  Obviously, I also need more sleep), and am in an actual state of mourning.  It has become such an important, personal part of me, and it is frustrating to realize that no matter what I do, it won’t go away.   Stepping away did not make me happy….I so loved the community!   But the daily stress and negativity did not make me happy either.

I came across this quote today, and it called out to me:

“If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.”

 ~ Flavia Weedn

This website is currently that broken dream.  I don’t know what its future holds anymore, and that makes me so unbelievably sad.  But I’ll eventually pick up a piece or two and move on.  Is there ever any other option?

I will figure it out.  But I don’t have to do it this second, or today, or even this week.

For now,  I’ll just drink my coffee.  Drink my coffee, make cinnamon rolls with my girl, and trust that no matter what happens, every little thing’s gonna be alright.  If Bob Marley said it, it has to be true, right?

(Seriously, I need more sleep.)


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Sep 03

Things I Am Not Saying

(Note, mostly to myself, so I’ll remember later:  This is the first day my blog has been offline in many many years.  At the moment, I’m writing this not knowing if or when I’ll make it public again.  I’m essentially writing for an audience of one.  If that doesn’t make for more honest writing, I don’t know what does)

I hate back-to-school season.  I really do.  I mean, on the one hand, it doesn’t even affect me.Our life doesn’t follow a school schedule, so it really doesn’t make any difference to me what time of year it is.   And then there’s positives of back-to-school time, like the fact that the parks, zoos, museums, etc are all quiet again.

But there’s a whole host of things I observe this time of year that just stress. me. the. heck. out.  Which means I piss more people off this time of year than any other.  And it doesn’t matter how I temper my words, doesn’t matter how diplomatically I try to speak, doesn’t matter how good my intentions.  People are on edge and defensive and deduce that it’s all my fault for having an opinion.  Or voicing it.  Or existing.

And the thing is, I’m cool with respectful disagreements.  I’m cool with discussions.  I’m cool with passive aggressive, I-disagree-with-you-but-don’t-want-to-get-into-it comments like, “Hm. Interesting.”  The thing I will never be cool with (and in fact the thing that ultimately pushed me over the edge into believing a good long break was my only option) is the people taking me to task for THINGS I NEVER SAID.

And I get it, I do.  Emotions are high, we all have our own crap to deal with, and we’re defensive.  We read something that creates cognitive dissonance for us, and we react. Doesn’t matter at the moment whether or not what we’ve just read actually does say what we’ve projected onto it.  We’re pissed off and we’re gonna let people know it.  The problem – for me – is that you then spew at me and you feel better and go about your day.  But I deal with not just your anger, but the anger from the 50 other people who felt the same way.  And the next day, when the 51 of you have all moved on, there’s a new batch of people angry, or hurt, or crying about the fact that they’re disappointed in me.    It never stops.  It literally never stops.  My own blog has become a veritable source of “Let me tell you why you suck.”  I can’t apologize to the world every day.  And I WON’T apologize for being me.

What I can do is provide you with the following handy little chart.  The next time you read something I write and are about to hit “send” on your little diatribe telling me what a horrible person I am, you can double-check the chart and see if I REALLY said what you’re so sure I said.  If I didn’t… well, say what you want, but it’s a reflection of you, not me.

Unless I expressly say these words (hint: it hasn’t happened yet) the things I write DO NOT MEAN any of the following:

_______________________________________________________________________________________

You’re a terrible parent who hates her kids.  It seems ridiculous to even have to expressly write it, but my sharing an opinion on something related to parenting is not exactly the same thing as calling someone a terrible parent.  Or accusing her of hating her kids.  It is the grossest of leaps to make, and yet it’s something I see, verbatim, over and over and over.  I’m not calling anyone a terrible parent.

I’m a better parent than you.  The other day I went to the store with the two little ones.   It was four in the afternoon.  Tegan says to me as we pull into the grocery store.  ”I’m starving.  I haven’t eaten anything all day!”  A few minutes after that, as we walked into the store, I gave Everett a verbal list of about 5 things to remember.  I’d forgotten the (relatively short) list at home, and didn’t have anything to jot it down on.  He looked at me with a deadpan expression that could have come from his 14 year old brother and said, “Geez. Forgetting to feed us, now making us remember the grocery list.  You’re the worst mother in the world.” They keep me humble.  It should go without saying, but the truth is, I’m as perfectly imperfect as the next parent, and would never pretend otherwise.

Homeschooling is the only answer.  Of course homeschooling isn’t the only answer. Obviously, we’ve found it the best and right choice for us, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it. Everyone should be confident in their own choices!  But happiness with my own choices is not the same thing as condemnation for your choices.  And I don’t care where your kids go to school.  Really.

People who send their kids to school don’t love them.  Some of the best, most loving parents I know send their kids to school.   Wonderful and loving parents do all KINDS of things that I’ve chosen to do differently with my own family.  These differences are what make life interesting.  They do NOT make me, or them, any more or less loving than the next family.  It’s ludicrous to suggest that someone who does something differently than you doesn’t love their children…. and equally ludicrous to accuse me of the same.

Wanting a break/getting tired/having struggles makes you a bad parent.  Want to know a secret?  Every time I go to the bathroom, I take at least an extra minute longer than it actually takes to use the toilet and wash my hands.  An extra minute to breathe.  An extra minute to pray.  An extra minute to put on some lotion/smell some essential oils/refresh my lip gloss.  An extra minute to just BE.  Parenting is hard, and we all have our struggles. I get that.  I GET THAT.  It would get a little redundant (and obnoxious) if I prefaced everything I wrote with, “I understand that parenting is hard….” so let me just state for the record, once, that I DO understand that parenting is hard, and I AM aware that we all – all of us – have our struggles.

I AM JUDGING YOU.  Oh sweet baby Jesus, the JUDGING comments.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been called judgmental, I would be writing this in an upscale cafe in Tuscany… NOT on my old and stained couch in my sweatpants and holey t-shirt in my middle middle class neighborhood in Phoenix.  First, a definition of “judgement:”

an opinion or decision that is based on careful thought. : the act or process of forming an opinion or making a decision after careful thought

We all judge, every day.  When you’re pointing your finger at me, and crying about how judgmental I am, you too are engaging in the “act or process of forming and opinion or making a decision.”   Thanks for the nice dialogue, pot. I’m the kettle.

Beyond that though, is this pernicious idea that I’m always filtering everything through a veil of Homeschooling is best / I’m an awesome parent / You’re a terrible parent / You must hate your kids.  Guess what?  I’m not.  I get that it makes you feel better to think that about me when I tick you off, but that doesn’t make it any more true.  And of course the great irony here is that your little snips to me about my needing to have more grace for others, more understanding, more support, and yes, less judgment, should go in both directions.  But they never do.

Yesterday I got a big speech about judging someone for not homeschooling….. on a post that had literally NOTHING to do with homeschooling.  Homeschooling wasn’t even in the back of my mind.  I think that was the point that tipped me over into the realm of, “I give up.”  Truly.  I cannot currently handle even one more comment judging me for  - ironically enough – judging something I’m not even judging.

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If this had been a “real” emergency blog post, I would painstakingly craft a suitable ending that would tie it all up in a neat little bow.  But I just realized (with a sudden blinding burst of wonderful freedom) that I’m no longer writing for anyone but myself.  So I’m just gonna stop writing.

Let the healing begin.

 


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Sep 02

Naked Pictures and Private Lives

Every Tuesday, I’ve been answering questions I’ve gotten about unschooling and gentle parenting.  I’ll return to that next week, but today I needed to write something else.  

I’ve been sharing about my life here on my blog for over 9 years now.   I’ve always sort of prided myself on the fact that I’ve been fairly transparent, and have not portrayed something that I’m not.  I’m the same person on my blog as I am in my day-to-day life as I am on Facebook as I am when I’m teaching yoga as I am when I’m at church.  I’m simply me, and I have no desire to be anything or anyone else.  It feels disingenuous to me to filter parts of myself based on who happens to be reading.

Some people don’t like social media, and/or would never have a public blog (which is of course their choice to make) in part because they value their privacy.  But that’s truly never felt like an issue for me, because I’m always in control of what I’m sharing.  I share a lot at times, but I don’t share everything.  I still have my goofy, inside jokes with my family and friends.  I still have quiet conversations with the people I trust.  I still have sacred experiences, and photos, and writings that have never left this house, virtually or otherwise.

I still have a private life.

This past week, there was some kind of breach, and a bunch of personal, nude photos of certain celebrities were accessed from personal phones/storage/accounts and shared around the internet.  There is a resulting big, global conversation going on right now…. but much of it is the wrong conversation.  I’m seeing comment after comment disparaging these girls (girls who were victimized and VIOLATED, just to be clear.)

People are allowed to have a private life.  Let me just start there.  Someone who’s famous can indeed expect to give up their anonymity.  They can expect that people are going to be interested in their lives. They can expect to be stopped at Starbucks by their fans.  I even think it’s reasonable to expect that they should be gracious and respectful with their fans, provided said fans are gracious and respectful towards them.

They should not have to expect to give up their private life.  Private lives are just that. Private.  These photos that are out there are PRIVATE PHOTOS.  There’s nothing wrong with taking private photos.  There’s nothing wrong with sharing something private with your spouse or partner.  There’s nothing wrong with being sexual. There’s nothing wrong with expecting that your own private photos, on your own private devices will remain…. private.

But there’s a hell of a lot wrong with stealing, distributing, sharing, and gawking at those photos, and then blaming the person who shot them!!

What’s happening right now is disgusting, and the people who are to blame (the ONLY people who are to blame) are the ones who committed  - and continue to commit – these acts of violation.

I don’t have any naked pictures of myself on my phone.  This is about as naked as you get:

But if I did?  If my phone was full of intimate pictures intended for myself and husband, and those pictures got stolen (please understand what has happened here… those pictures that are out there are stolen) and shared and distributed again and again?  The fault would lie not in me for taking them, but in the people who did the stealing. The people who did the sharing. The people who did the looking.

To say otherwise is to – once again – blame the victim.  Shame on anyone who is still contributing to that cycle of abuse.


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Aug 29

A (Sort Of) Weekend Getaway

I’ve always wanted to go to Seattle.  We’ve lived in Arizona for going on nine years now, and it somehow seemed more likely that I’d finally get to go.  Arizona’s on the same side of the country at least.  But nope.  We’ve driven back across to the east coast twice now.  Gone to Florida.  Gone to Chicago.  Went to the San Francisco area once, San Diego a handful of times.

But no Seattle.

Well, because life is funny and ironic (and/or because God has a sense of humor), the husband and I are going on a last-minute trip to Seattle tomorrow, in the midst of a million other things that we have going on …. and we’re going to be there exactly long enough to sign all the paper work and pick up a car we just bought, and get in said car to begin the 20+ hour drive home.  No more, no less.  My first instinct was to have it shipped, because it wasn’t a super great time for a road trip  - even from someplace fun like Seattle – but it turns out that having it shipped would cost a good $500 more than flying up and driving it home ourselves.

So, yay?

My new ride.  Tegan has already named it Cinnamon.

My new ride. Tegan has already named it Cinnamon.

It’ll be a little adventure, and adventures are always a good thing.  And I DO get to see Seattle, however briefly. Mostly though, I’m happy that once we get the new car home we can put this particular stress to rest, and get on with our lives.  Ever since the accident, and all the accompanying…. stuff… to take care of, I have felt completely tapped out. The final little placement on the house of cards that made the whole thing crumble.

Now though, I’ll be able to cross something big off that ever-present cosmic to-do list, and move on to the next: In this case, tying up the 345 loose ends for the conference that is coming in less than four weeks, whether we’re ready or not; and getting my surgery scheduled for October so I can start praying that the second time is the charm.

And so it goes.

I came across this quote this morning, and found it rather perfect:

 

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path, and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~ Author unknown

 


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Aug 28

Fourteen Years

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This guy turns 14 today.

Since I’ve written about the kids on their birthdays every year for awhile now, I know so much of it’s already been said:  the horrific pregnancy; the perfect birth story; the non-stop screaming for the first 3 years of his life; the level-headed calm (which came later) that is so, so beyond his years; the wonderfully sarcastic smart-ass sense of humor.

Today though, I’m thinking of 14 year old me, and 14 year old Paxton.  They don’t compare.

I was lost at 14.  Scared of everything.  I had no self-confidence, making me too susceptible to peer pressure, and I had no earthly idea who I was or what I stood for.  Those were things I didn’t reconcile until I was in my 30′s.

Not Paxton.

He KNOWS who he is.  At 14!  He is one of the most authentic people I know, hands down.

He is kind, and loyal, and steady, and true to himself and true to his friends.

In two weeks he’s getting on an airplane all by himself (making him the first of all four kids to fly), and headed to Michigan for a couple weeks to visit a good friend.   In typical Paxton fashion, he’s honest about the fact that he’s a bit nervous at the prospect of traveling alone … but also very, very excited.  I’m thrilled for him that he’s getting to do this, and have no doubt that he is going to handle it beautifully.

He’s 14 going on 30:   One foot still firmly in teen-hood, and another in a place of maturity and self-awareness that I didn’t even know existed when I was 14.

I admire him, not just because he’s my son…. but also for the boy that he is, and the man that he is becoming.

Happy, happy birthday Paxton.  Once again, I’m so glad I get to be your mom.  Your cupcakes will be ready by the time you get up.

 

 


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Aug 27

Book Review: 100 Days of Real Food, by Lisa Leake

100 Days of Real Food cookbook

I have been so looking forward to receiving and reviewing this book.*  I’ve reviewed many different things on my blog, but this may well be my favorite to date.  It’s a book, and it’s about FOOD!  Two of my favorite things.

The first thing that you need to know is that this is just a really lovely book.  Visually stunning.  It is big and heavy (I love that!) and filled with gorgeous pictures.  Particularly in this day and age of e-books and digital recipes, I truly appreciate a bound, paper book that I can hold in my hands as I flip through the pages.  I may have even smelled it in order to inhale that “new book” smell.  The layout is clear and organized, the pictures of the recipes are mouthwatering, and the pictures scattered throughout of Lisa Leake’s family and children provided a really nice, personal touch.

Leake family at farmers market

As for the content itself:

The first third of the book is an introduction to get you started on your journey to ditching the processed stuff, and eating and cooking with real, whole foods.  What is real food, you ask? She covers that, as well as outlining the changes you can start making to improve your diet. She even includes 14 weeks of challenges for a step-by-step approach to making slow and gradual dietary changes.  Week 1′s challenge is to include two fruits or vegetables with every meal.  Pretty doable, right?  She also gives detailed tips and information on shopping, meal planning, budgeting, and getting the whole family on board.   This section is invaluable, especially for those who are just starting out.

Following the introduction are the 150+ pages of recipes and their accompanying beautiful photos.  They are organized by type of recipe – breakfast, lunch (including a whole section for lunch box ideas), snacks, dinner, desserts (desserts!!), and homemade staples such as salad dressings and sauces – so it’s easy to quickly flip to and find the section that you want.  The recipes themselves are simple, clear-cut, and easy to follow.  They don’t call for any crazy or hard-to-find ingredients, and they don’t ask you to do anything that’s intimidating for someone who’s new to cooking from scratch.  The recipes use food as their ingredients, and give you an easy step-by-step plan for preparing it, no matter who you are or how experienced (or inexperienced) you may be in the kitchen.

Cinnamon Raisen Quick Bread2

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread with cream cheese. I love these lunch box ideas!

Another nice touch is the inclusion of the list of recipes organized by dietary need in the back of the book.  You can quickly and easily find all the recipes that are, for example, gluten-free, vegetarian, or dairy free, without having to search through the entire book.  Leake truly thought of everything, and as such has succeeded in making one of the most user-friendly cookbooks I’ve ever read.

If you’re someone who is wanting to get back to basics and start eating good whole foods with simple ingredients,  get this book.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if I have everything I need to make the mini chocolate truffles….

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to leave a positive review, and all opinions are my own.*


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