Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's A Girl! :)

Hello everyone! I am still in Minnesota visiting my sister, my BIL, and their new little girl, Celia Jeanette. My mother's name is Jeanette and my brother-in-law's great-grandmother was named Celia.

So, after 30 hours of labor starting on Sunday and ending on Memorial Day, all is well. She weighed in at 8 lbs 10 oz (we like to make big babies in this family!) and was 20 and 3/4 in.

I just wanted to give a big, BIG "thank you!" to all of you who have sent such sweet comments and well-wishes our way. It truly means a lot to me and I consider so many of you friends. I have been thinking, "I really need to post on my blog to let them know and to say thanks." Today is my first day that I've had time to sit at the computer, so I'm finally able to post my update.

I have lots of pictures and stories to share. We will be coming home on Saturday and I hope you'll all drop by and say hello. I'll be trying to make the rounds as I can between now and then.

Thanks, again, everyone, and God bless! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heading Out

See this lovely couple? The beautiful, auburn-haired lass is my own baby sister and her darling husband is there with her. This picture was taken this past Thanksgiving Day and she was juuuussst beginning to show the new little life growing inside of her.

Tomorrow, around 4:15 a.m. I will rise in the dark, quietly awaken two sleeping girls (who will undoubtably leap to attention with excitement), load up the van, kiss my own, sweet, sleeping husband good-bye (he cannot make this trip :( ) and head over to Grandma's house and then on to the airport to the plane that will take us to Minnesota.

She is due tomorrow with their first little one! Oh, how I hope and pray that the baby will be born during the ten days I am there. And I will be there. Attending the birth! It will be the third birth - other than my own two children - that I have attended.

If you think of it, please pray for my sister, Lael (LAY-el), and her husband, Mike, and their baby - for things to go well and everyone to be healthy. And prayers for me, Nicole, who just doesn't like to fly, and for my family for safe travels.

I plan to continue to post now and then while I am away. The scheduling may be erratic, but please stop in. I hope there will be a new little face to introduce you to here soon!!

Oh - and please continue with any Bible study suggestions. I am really looking forward to getting some ideas!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Restless - In Need of Blooming

I was feeling a bit restless today, so I thought I'd bring you along on a walk with me. I'm a bit "in limbo" right now: we are almost done with school, which means we just have to read a few more things, I finished the drawing of Eve and the tea party and I don't really want to begin any other big project (such as painting the table and chairs - which are, by the way, Jessica, right now a veeeerrrry light blue and will likely become just a tad darker, because those were my exact thoughts too!), because on Wednesday we have an early flight to my home state of Minnesota for the birth of my sister's first baby (not scheduled... but hopefully we all won't have to wait too long) and we will be gone for 10 days.

I am a project-oriented gal and my husband is the same. My brother one time called us, "industrious." I'm sure the story is similar for many of you. I have trouble just sitting still and relaxing; I like to "accomplish something" every day, whether that be an art project started, finished, or just worked on, cleaning and organizing, cooking a special something for my family, running errands or whatever. And, usually, like most Americans, I have a plate that is too full and I am longing for the days to do "nothing." But... not really nothing, because, usually what I mean is, "do what I want to do" which often has to do with art, or bike riding with my family, or gardening, reading, or the like.

Every once in a while, though, I end up with a day like today. I have finished my books. I have finished my projects. Paul had gone golfing. The girls were playing outside. We took a long bike ride yesterday. I had already made more peanut butter and messed with two blenders because my Vita Mix (!!) overheated and so, I was not interested in going back into the kitchen and making another big mess with cookies, as I had planned earlier. I was a bit discontent (I hate that) and restless.

So, I gathered the girls and called the time for the walk. Even that seemed to be a bit ordinary... um same-old, same-old... okay... boring to me (and I hate that word too). But the grass is always greener, right? So, for those of you who haven't walked up and down my street with me, I thought I'd take a couple of pictures outside my home.

Here are the girls on the way back home. We often just walk one direction and back, because a full loop is a longer walk and we all have to be in the mood for that. The girls are playing with some little dolls riding on animals. They bring some sort of toy for nearly every single walk and are in their own world with them every day.

It is "lovebug" season here in Florida. Those of you in the Gulf states probably know what I am talking about. These bugs emerge twice a year for about a two-week span. They are called "lovebugs" because they are nearly always floating around in mating pairs. They don't bite or anything, but they are everywhere - sometimes and some places, thicker than others. It is usually worse in the country and my guess is that's where this guy had been, because they are usually all over the fronts of cars and trucks and can mess up your paint job if you don't get them cleaned off pretty quickly.

Back home to Golightly Place:

The blue flowering plant (I forget it's name) was just trimmed in March before our family came for a visit. Things grow, um... pretty fast around these parts! :)

The passion fruit vine is starting to take over the corner of the house. I love the flowers, but haven't seen - nor do I expect - any fruit. I do hope it grows up and over the garage. I know it's not the best thing for a house... but it's so romantic. :)

Not the best shot here, but right by the front door, my gardenia that I got last September for my birthday is blooming. Such an intoxicating scent. Even though it is small yet, it packs an aromatic punch!

Around the side of the house we arrive at the back yard. The garden beds are looking pretty pitiful right now. We're going to try solarizing (covering them with clear plastic over the hot, summer months) them to kill the suspected nematodes that are causing us trouble. So I will be living vicariously through all you more northern gardeners these summer months until the fall! For the curious, the tree behind the garden is our very large and prolific orange tree. Tiny green babies are beginning to appear...

Standing at the corner of the house by the garden, you can see that the Jacaranda tree is still going strong in her lavender bloom.

Maia and Eve made a "bug hotel" for the lovebugs here under the tree.

See, there is one little guest under the blade of grass!

Before I go today, I wonder if I could get some suggestions. Seeing as I am at the end (and potential beginning!) of so many things, I was wanting to begin a new Bible study for the summer. Some I have already done and enjoyed are two Beth Moore studies, A Sacred Romance, and Experiencing God. I particularly love Beth Moore's work, but I sense she is more fitted for group studies and seeing as I am not in a group at the moment, I am looking for a study I can do independently - that may include a workbook - that I can start this summer. Any suggestions are welcome!

Finally, for all of you who have trouble just "being" sometimes like I do (though I do work on it), I leave you - and me - with a really beautiful reminder. A poem. A favorite of mine, tacked on my inspiration board in my closet.

Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas opening
into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers' hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you - what of your rushed and
useful life? Imagine setting it all down -
papers, plans, appointments, everything -
leaving only a note: "Gone to the fields
to be lovely. Be back when I'm through
with blooming."

Even now, unneeded and uneaten, the
camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake.
Of course
your work will always matter.
Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

- Lynn Ungar

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I simply cannot figure out why there is no place to comment on my last post! :( Grrrr.

I guess if you'd like to... try here.

Friday, May 18, 2007


On my way to pick up my mother-in-law this morning to take her to an appointment, I drove past these chairs and table sitting outside, waiting for garbage collection.

I am thrilled! I have wanted a little set like this for a long time!! After a little elbow grease and some rust-preventing paint, I'm going to set this set up in my garden somewhere and have a cup of tea! To think I almost passed it by. I saw one of the chairs out of the corner of my eye and just about kept going (not wanting to be late for the pick-up), but then I slowed down and started to back up. Maia, my older daughter, must be used to me and my eagle-eye, curb-hunting ways, because she immediately said, "Did you see something good?" LOL! That's my girl!

This coming Wednesday we are flying up to Minnesota to wait excitedly for the birth of my sister's first child! If I don't get to working on the chairs and table this weekend, I may not get to it until after we return. I will post "after" pictures when I do.

I haven't posted any of the sketching I've been doing lately, because mostly I haven't had a lot of time to do it. Recently, though, Amy, on the Creative Mom Podcast, talked about the idea of drawing your children with their favorite toys. Knowing that even this which seems so integral to our days - so now - so much a part of our every day lives - will some day come to pass, I thought it was a wonderful idea. This is a drawing of my daughter, Eve, from a photo taken of her last summer, having a tea party with all her favorite stuffed animals. It's a circus tea set my aunt and uncle passed down to us when my cousin outgrew it. In the picture is her very favorite, gingham-footed, "Strawberry" bunny, "Lamby" is under her elbow, "Salamander" is at the front, and "Daisy" bunny is on the left in her denim skirt.

In the last post I mentioned that I will be teaching art journaling to the children in our homeschool co-op next year. A couple of people asked me about lesson plans. I do have a lot of ideas, but no lesson plan just yet. I can tell you that we will be using all types of media (drawing, various paints, collage, watercolor pencils, colored pencils, etc.) to do different activities. Ideas come from everywhere, even right in front of you: draw your shoe, paint your breakfast, draw the receptionist in the waiting room, photograph and journal about the cool flower on your morning walk, draw your pets, collage your favorite things, collage what you want to be when you grow up, illustrate a favorite quote or scripture or hymn, prepare many background pages for your journal to inspire writing when inspiration hits, design a calendar page and record a tiny bit of something that happens to you every day over the summer, collect bits of ephemera and stick them in your journal and write about it, collage what the word, "family," means to you... or any other word, draw a favorite picture in colored pencils... then do the same picture in paint, paint a page all in shades of blue and journal in blue ink... then try it in all orange, and on and on. These are some of the ideas that I will be using with the children, but I just have to get them into some sort of sequential form for the year. But really, the ideas are endless... It's always the time that is never enough!

Perhaps you noticed the "Low Impact Week" picture in my sidebar. I don't know why I can't figure out how to get it to link, but... I can't. So, if you are interested in more information about this cool idea, check it out here. Here's one of those easy ideas that I don't think to mention to folks wanting to reduce their impact, but which we do. If you don't already, purchase your butter/margarine in sticks instead of tubs. We like the vegan, trans-fat free brand, Earth Balance. It also comes in tubs, but our area only recycles #1 & #2 plastics and those tubs are #5's and I just like to avoid plastic as much as possible anyway. Use that pretty crock or butter dish and leave it on the counter to keep it spreadable. We always use it up before it ever spoils. We've been doing this for years and have never had a problem.

And finally, we are in business! Such a pretty sight to me!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rain, A Recital, A Co-op and Just News


Finally...we have rain.

And it's lovely

except that we got caught in it. Of course. :)

We ride our bikes to the nearby park every Wednesday for our homeschool athletic day. The girls don't actually participate in the athletics, since we tried that for a little bit and they both decided that they reeeeeeally don't like organized sports. I'm not one to push, because I was the little kid who hid in the stairwell during P.E. when they were playing basketball.

Independent sports we like: running, yoga, dance, the girls & Daddy rollerblade (my rear has not allowed me to do that - ever - again), swimming, hiking, and, of course, bike riding.

Which brings us to today. It really wasn't so bad. I'd brought our lunch and some school work to do under the picnic shelter. We left when it died down... and when I heard the thunder and wanted to get home before anything big happened. Well, we're here now and nothing big happened. But I am thankful for the rain. It's been sooooooo long. Even though we ran the sprinklers today, the rain is welcome and needed. I know the rainy season is only a mere month away (June - Sepetember in these parts), but we were low on the rainfall last year too, so everything really needed that drink.

We thought it might actually rain Monday night, but it held off for us. We had our final evening recital of our first year's Recitation Club. Here is Eve doing a sound check for us in the back yard. The night was really lovely! The children did fine jobs with their recitations. A kindergartener and a third grader (brother and sister) even recited the Getttysburg Address!! Impressive! I took a couple of short, little videos of the girls reciting their poems... and then my memory card was full, so the sound check shot is the only one I have. :(

In addition to our recitations, the children also created displays of their work for the year. We had them all placed on tables throughout my home. I highly recommend this activity for anyone looking for ideas for next year. Each event was very easy to put together and the children had a lot of fun memorizing their pieces and performing them for proud family members and friends.

Monday morning, before the recital, I met with a group of other homeschooling mothers who did their first co-op last year, and we planned for one for next year. I will be teaching art - specifically art journaling throughout the year. It will be work, but fun work and I am hoping the children develop even stronger relationships with some of these children that they do know from the park days, but could get to know a bit better.

One reader asked if we live in front of a river. It looks like that to me sometimes, actually, from the house, but no, it is a big pond (called a "lake" here in Florida, but we folks from Minnesota know the difference between a pond and a lake... and that's no lake! :) ) that runs the length of our back yard. It's a retention pond and there are many, many of them that are interconnected throughout our neighborhood. I am exceedingly thankful for it, particularly because of the wildlife it brings including alligators and even a couple of times, otters!

One might think that the alligators would be a problem, but we've only had two - each at different times - and the current one is just a juvenile at this point.

No, the real problem are the folks who like to try to set up camp and fish here in our yard. It's just weird to me that they think they can do that on private property. The adults (yes, there have been grown men who have either meandered on through, or one that brought his chair and tacklebox!) have been pretty good about it when we ask them to leave, but the teens always give us flack. We finally had the sherriff out here over Spring Break, I think it was, and we haven't seen them since, but summer is just around the corner...

So, you see, there are some downsides to living on the water, but for the most part, I feel very blessed.

The clothesline is UP! Hooray! I'll take some photos later to celebrate this fact in the next day or so. Yes, I know... I know... you can hardly wait! But wait you must. It's Camp Grandma's tonight. We are at my mom's every Wednesday night for dinner, swimming, dog walking, and currently, I must confess - results night on American Idol! This is the first year I've been sucked into it. I find that muting the commercials and bringing along a knitting or embroidery project, one can actually be quite productive. :)

Hope you're all having a great week! Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Oh, My...

Just came across this set of photos done by artist, Chris Jordan. It was linked over at Sara's sight and at Thought Kitchen. I just thought they were too powerful not to share. They are not graphic, by any means; anyone - even children - can view them. They certainly give you something to think about. And even though they are not graphic, they still left me feeling a bit queasy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hazy Days, Guerilla Days

Can it be Thursday already?

Our week has been interesting. Tuesday morning we woke up to a haze that grew thicker as the day wore on. The sun was an unreal, rayless orange disk in the morning sky. It was tempting to stare (a big "no, no"!), but I took a picture instead. You can't really see the color of the sun in the sky in the photo, but the reflection on the pond shows it pretty well.

Our kitty, Charlotte, ran in to greet the girls when I woke them and Eve exclaimed, "Mama, Charlotte smells like a barbecue!"

Yes, indeed. Everything smelled like a barbecue. Presently, there are over 220 fires burning across the entire state of Florida. My understanding is that the larger ones are to the north of us and Tuesday was a particularly windy day, pushing the smoke over 200 miles south to our neck of the woods. By about 10:30 a.m. the sky actually looked clouded over and darkened a bit as if it were going to rain... except that the sky was yellowish instead of gray. Strange stuff, to be sure. I had thought that the smell would literally blow over, but things were not cleared up until about 5:00 p.m. I had left the lanai doors open for a while, expecting fresher air, but had to close things up after it became evident that our whole house was beginning to smell like a barbecue! Fortunately, all I experienced from this was a headache and queasy stomach. Others with respritory problems had it worse. We could certainly use prayers for rain.

Before our hazy day, on Monday evening I practiced a little "guerrilla artistry." I have actually done this many years ago, but had forgotten about it until I heard an interview with Keri Smith on the Hip Tranquil Chick podcast. I think that podcast episode is number 79.

Keri Smith wrote this great, fun book called Living Out Loud: Activities to Fuel a Creative Life a number of years ago. While the book is old, it was very new to me and I had just finished reading it when I heard the podcast. In the interview they discussed two of her new, yet to be released books. One of them is called The Guerilla Art Kit and the other is called Wreck This Journal.

My understanding of Wreck This Journal is that it is for folks who cling too much to the idea that a journal is something "precious" - an idea that ends up blocking someone creatively and therefore freezing them into not writing anything at all. Perhaps you have guessed that I do not grapple with this particular issue... and so...

The Guerilla Art Kit was the new book of hers that really interested me. Smith talks about doing "guerilla art" around her community. Some examples she cited in the interview were to leave poetry or interesting and/or inspirational quotes on sidewalks or leave a note on a park bench that reads, "Look up into the middle, third-floor window in the apartment across the street. There is a beautiful, bright red geranium there for you to enjoy."

I love these ideas and can't wait to get her book when it comes out later this year! I used to regularly write quotes and poems on the sidewalk outside the duplex my husband and I rented before having children. I also left favorite passages from books or quotes on my answering machine too. One day, a couple of years ago, I took SARK's advice and had my children record their laughter on our answering machine.

So, I'd had the sidewalk-writing idea on my mental "to-do" list, but had not yet gotten around to doing it yet, when I ran across this article on Sunday. Do you ever get the idea you're being nudged toward doing something? :)

We have one family in our neighborhood that simply hates living here and lets everyone else know it. They used to be quite friendly until they decided that many around here were not living up to their standards of how the grass should be mowed, where trash cans should be placed, etc. The husband in the family has become particularly mean and nasty with his words - especially since their house has been for sale for over a year now and it has not sold. His house was WAAAAAAAY over-priced to begin with and then, of course, the market has taken a nose-dive, but he is quite sure that it is everyone else's fault that the house hasn't sold and he lets folks know it.

So, the first quote I chose was this one:

"Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and famous preservers of good looks." - Charles Dickens

It was a lot of fun and I even had a neighbor call and thank me for putting it out there. I guess I wasn't too "guerrilla" in my artistry! :) Well, the quote was right in front of my house...

We watered the yard in our once-a-week watering allowance yesterday, so my canvas is blank once more. I'll be choosing a new message to put out there today.

Finally, Andrea asked me to comment more on my pagan/new age past that I mentioned in my previous post. I have given testimonies at my churches in the past and have some things I can cull from in order to share my story here. I intend to do that in the near future.

In the meantime, try some guerilla art of your own today! Spread a little joy! :)

Monday, May 7, 2007

One Day

Randi, over at "i have to say..." is sponsoring a "Let's Get Real Monday". Her theme for today is "One Day."

I tracked my day yesterday, Sunday. Sundays are quite a bit different at my house now than they used to be, since I am not going to church in a building anymore. I am still trying to observe my Sabbath, but as you'll be able to see, I didn't do that completely yesterday!

My morning starts off with this view from my bedroom, which I am looking at right now as I write this piece.

I give thanks.

The Jacaranda tree is in full, gorgeous bloom right now. You can see in the photos that our back yard is scattered with purple blossoms. A close up of these beautiful clusters is on my May Day post, just a couple of posts down. They have no fragrance, but are so pretty and remind me of one of my favorite flowers that all of my northern friends should be enjoying now or very soon: lilacs. Except they're more like lilacs on steroids, because they are huge! :)

I popped in this tape and did about a half hour of yoga. I'm currently doing this every other day and am working up to a daily practice. I love the way I feel after warming up my body and getting it ready for the day.

I know that some Christians are opposed to/afraid of yoga. I am not. I spent 10 years away from Christ as a pagan/new age practitioner. I know what there is out there (certainly not everything, but enough) and I know enough about the Truth to not be afraid. I can take my body through the stretching movements that originated as a salute to or worship of the sun (Sun Salutation), without actually worshipping the sun, because those movements are a whole-body stretching routine that leave me feeling peaceful and invigorated at the same time. Yes, its roots are in something I do not believe, but so are Christmas trees, the name "Easter", and many other things in our culture. Jesus has said, "I am making everything new!" (Rev. 21:5). Most importantly, He knows my heart.

My mom and her beau took us out to brunch after church. Upon coming home, I noticed that even my native plant species were looking droopy. We are sorely lacking rain!

So I watered them and a few others around the front door. I keep my trusty watering cans under my sink in the kitchen and any leftover bits of water from glasses gets dumped in here, so that I do not have to fill the cans as often in order to water my plants. Actually, I think I will put the smaller one in the shower to catch whatever water it can too.

I was feeling a bit crabby. I'm sure it's got to be PMS creeping up on me! :( The weather was beautiful, the day lay before me and I just felt this grumpiness stirring withing me. I took some deep breaths, went outside and cut some yarrow and arranged it for something pretty to look at.

Earlier, I had spent some time with my Bible. Now I picked up my iPod to listen to on the way to Whole Foods. I listened to this week's installment of The God Journey. Excellent and inspiring as always!

I made my way to Whole Foods in downtown Sarasota. They had a couple of guys playing live music outside the store. My mood began to change...

Back at home, I unloaded my bags. Are you using cloth bags for your shopping yet? There are many, many places to find bags on the internet. One idea to try is to post a request on a local Freecycle if you have one in your town here in the U.S. I was actually going to do this, but my friend, Jessica, heard about that and sent me a bunch that she didn't want! Thanks, Jessica!

Don't forget to use your bags at places other than the grocery store. I'm in the habit of buying groceries with my bags, but get so frustrated when I am in Target or a craft store or someplace like that and realize I've forgotten my bags. If I have managable items without a bag, I'll go that route, but I'm working harder at remembering to take them with me everywhere. Incedentally, I don't just leave them in the car, because we also use them for library books and various other things and they are just more handy to have them available inside the house on their trusy hook! I've posted more about my love of cloth bags (and napkins) HERE.

Then it was time to chill for a bit... to take out my trusty supplies, some music, and just sketch for a while...

I took a break amidst my sketching to get up and make some granola.

Back to the drawing board. I was filling in some designs with watercolors and watercolor pencils for my May calendar.

Then it was time for our evening stroll. We walk every evening.

Back at home the girls watched the last few minutes of "Americas Funniest Home Videos". It's one of a very small handful of shows they watch and only one of two they watch with regularity (the rest are cartoons at both Grandmas). It's become a Sunday evening tradition.

While Paul was reading the latest installment in the Nancy Drew mystery to the girls for bedtime, I had a bowl of Mexican rice with black beans for supper (weekend meals are more random here - we do our regular sit-downs the rest of the week) and finished the calendar background.

Then it was a few minutes of a show with Paul and then time for bed!

Thanks for hanging out with me on my day! :) Now I have to get moving on this day! Welcome to the new week, everyone! :)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Why Not...

Image Courtesy of

Hooray!!!!!! It's HERE!!!!! That's right, my clothesline has arrived and one day, very soon, I will be able to post my own photo of it's loveliness. In the meantime, this will have to do. Those of you who know me in person probably understand how I can be such a geek about this, but I have to say that it is something that has made me actually happier about living in Florida.

Florida - at least the area I live in - has attractions, of course. And for my family, all of whom seem to be cold-natured (not in our hearts, of course - hee, hee), the weather is hard to beat. Yeah, summers get long, but winters were longer for us. Anyway, while it has its attractions, it is because of those very things that I feel so up against such a high wall when it comes to the values of caring about the planet. Folks come here for the "easy life" - not the simple life. Many are here for retirement and they're not interested in conserving energy like keeping the thermostat set to a higher degree or two in the summer. Actually, most places are so cold inside that I carry a sweater with me wherever I go. No, most new residents seem interested in playing and, you know, Florida is a good state in which to do that. But because of that, I have met few people who share my values and it's been a really challenging adjustment.

So, getting back to what I was saying, the whole clothesline thing has thrilled me, because it allows me to thumb my nose at the ridiculous deed restrictions that plague more and more people these days from actually living in their homes. I have said before, it seems like folks want to look like they're living in a magazine, instead of living real lives in their homes.

So, I'm excited about one more little thing we can do to reduce our impact. You know, one of the things that I find so compelling about living sustainably is that so much of it is just common sense, and yet because we have been used to living a certain way for the majority of our lifetimes, we often don't figure it out that it can be done differently - even when it might be looking us right in the face, so to speak.

Now that it's getting warmer out why not try turning off the shower while you're soaping up? I wet down, shampoo and rinse my hair quickly, wet my washcloth, and then turn off the water. I put conditioner in and let that sit while I wash and then turn back on the water for a quick rinse. It's a small thing to do... I have never felt the need to try to calculate savings, but I often think of the huge number of women in the world that walk to get their water every day. Water is precious. More and more (and more!) people are moving to Florida, in particular, and there is no doubt in my mind that the sources of our water are being depleted faster than they can be restored.

Another example of an obvious notion came to me in same said shower today when I realized that I did not need the light on. We have a window in our bathroom that lets in plenty of light at the time I shower and it was just one of those things that I just thought - mid-shower! - to try. I've been doing that lately in the kitchen too. It is often habit for me to turn on a light in order to work when I walk into a room that seems darker. But now I see if my eyes can adjust to the room and if I can do what I need to do without light. Showering is definitely one of those things and usually making lunch, if I am not trying a new recipe that needs careful following, is one too. So, why not try leaving the lights off for a while to see how well you can do a task without them? Again, it seems a matter of changing habits more than actually depriving oneself of a need.

Have you tried anything new lately that has led you to going more lightly on God's beautiful creation? And when we think of caring for His creation, we must remember that we are a part of that creation and by caring for it, we care for our brothers and sisters around the world. I get really frustrated when I hear people talk about "the environment" and people as if there were some disconnect between the two - as if somehow we can separate ourselves from the planet. I can see that it is easy to believe that we are separate if we spend all of our time in man-made office buildings, malls, subways, etc., but as the guest on the recent America the Green podcast said today, "we think we can just throw it away, but there is no 'away'!"

So, why not try one new, little thing today? Spice things up. Do things a little differently. Experiment. See what its like to try living in harmony with the world around you, following nature's example of "no waste." The earth, our friends, the animals, all your brothers and sisters and the children will thank you for it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

This, That, and the Other Thing

Whew. I am spent. I keep telling myself I need to get to bed by 10:00, but I continue to push past 11:00 p.m. every night. *sigh* I know I've said it before, but it is that time of year when I am driven to distraction. We are SOOOOOO close to being done with school, and yet there is still quite a bit to do before we can actually "call it a year."

Next week Eve will have her evaluation by a certified teacher next week. The State of FL requires that homeschooled students either take their standardized test (no WAY), another standardized test, such as the Iowa Basic Skills test, be evaluated by a certified teacher, or... well, they have a couple other options if your child has special needs, but I haven't needed to explore those options. This year and last, Maia (pronounced "Maya," by the way, for any of you that may have wondered) took the IBS, just for the testing experience. Prior to that, she had been evaluated by Miss Kim and we'll do that again next year too. This will be Eve's first year, as she is now of the age that her records need to be reported to the school district.

Anyway, the evaluation is quite low key. I probably make it into more than it needs to be. The State also requires that we keep annual portfolios of our childrens' work in case we would ever need to be, essentially, audited, by the district superintendent. This is not likely to ever happen, unless someone were to report a homeschooling family for neglect. I figure I'm a bit too anal to ever have that happen, but the portfolios are ready just in case. Kim always laughs at mine because they are fancier than they need to be, but that's just my style.

So, next week we will be quite busy with preparing portfolios as well as displays for the following week's last Recitation Club recital of the year. This time the event will be held at my house, so other necessary preparations will ensue. I still am not exactly sure when the last day of school will be for us, because we are traveling up to MN for the birth of my sister's first baby. My mom is buying the tickets, though, and I'm still waiting on a date from her.

So, things feel a bit scattered and all I want to do is just zone out and draw. That and do yoga. :) Obviously I need some centering and the end of the school year just doesn't provide that. But it's coming... slowly but surely.

I've been meaning to report back on some ecological foot shrinking that I've been doing. This weekend I made my own peanut butter, so that was great; no packaging required! No one has complained about it or the homemade mayonaisse, so I figure these two things are keepers and a good addition to the package-free items in our household.

Buying package-free and local is a challenging task, I am finding. I knew it would be, but didn't realize how hard it might be. I realize that I will not be able to purchase everything without packaging (though I'm aiming for big reductions), but even the local Whole Foods Market, which sells many items in bulk, pre-packages even some of their bulk items. Whatever for, I wonder? Like the peanuts that I wanted. I ended up having to go to a different healthy food store in order to get those. So, why can Richard's Whole Foods sell the peanuts in bulk, and WF feels like they have to put them in little plastic containers?

So, the biggest challenge for me, it seems, will be finding which places have what I'm looking for and combining all my trips as much as possible.

Happily, I am finding that I can purchase more organic foods for my family and the cost doesn't yet seem to be a problem. How is this? I think the key lies in purchasing the things and eating them as soon as possible. Instead of planning my meals and purchasing ingredients around those ideas, I am trying to purchase what is available and fresh, and make meals around those things. It is different than the way I have been doing things for a number of years, but it seems to be working well. I will continue to track our grocery costs and report back as to the viability of this plan. Trying to buy fresh and as low on the packaging scale as I can means that I'm not bringing as many canned or boxed goods into the house (which weren't that many to begin with) and so appears to be cutting some of those costs.

I also ordered our new clothesline this weekend!! None of the stores sell them in the actual store (only available online) around here, which is a sad, sad statement on our community from a green standpoint. I am eagerly awaiting its arrival!

I posted around the beginning of April that I was going to try using a shampoo bar instead of purchasing shampoo in a bottle. Well, I am sorry to say that the bar has been demoted to regular soap, because my hair just felt plain funky after trying to stick with it for a little over a week. I tried it with and without conditioner and did not meet with success, so I am looking for other options. My next idea is to purchase the concentrated Dr. Bronner's and try that as a shampoo. I have used it for other things around the house, but not as a shampoo, so I'll let you know on that too.

Finally, I just thought I'd share with all of you some of the work I've done in my visual journal of late. The top is a calendar project that is fun to play with all month with ephemera you can collect as you go about your daily tasks. I can't take credit for the original idea. I found it on Flickr HERE. I'm busy at work on my May one and I'm really enjoying them. They are a nice addition to the journal.

The second piece is was just a fun one I did this past weekend. I wanted to do something "from my head" instead of what I saw around me.

The third is something I made from a prompt from the Creative Mom Podcast. It's okay... not my best, but another page nonetheless.

The last picture is dear to me. It is a drawing I did from a photo of my older daughter, Maia. It was taken on the safari boat ride at Disney's Magic Kingdom last summer. She is wearing a beaded crown/necklace she made and her hair is pulled back in a ponytail. We were all having a terrific time with cousins visiting and I just loved her big, happy smile.

Well, a longer post than I intended. Thanks for hanging on for the ride if you've made it to the end of this post!! I hope you're all having a great week... it's almost Friday!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Happy May Day!

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.

Happy May, everyone! It's May Day!!

When I was a child growing up in Clarion, Iowa, this day was celebrated in such a delightful way that it was one of my favorite holidays. It was not elaborate, but it was special.

We made May baskets, of course!

Our May baskets were nothing fancy. I do not remember beautifully designed cones filled with flowers and homemade candies or anything like that. Mostly we used paper cups with a pipe cleaner for a handle. Then we would fill the cups with a few pieces of candy (somehow butterscotch always comes to mind) and mostly popcorn. A friendly tag, denoting the recipient, was all that remained, and then the fun would begin!

After school we would walk to neighbors houses and my mom would drive us to those places that were too far to walk with our May baskets for the exchanges. It would be fun to arrive at someone's home and exchange baskets with them in person (and, of course, there were exchanges, because all of my friends had made baskets too!), but the real fun was if the friend wasn't home! This was likely, because they were out delivering baskets themselves. So, we would simply leave our basket at their front door... sometimes along with other baskets that had been left there. So, you know what that meant...

There were always baskets waiting at home for us! It was a thrill after our deliveries to arrive home to a porch step filled with many different baskets variously decorated with tags bearing our names and a popcorn and candy snack to sit down and enjoy on the front step on a beautiful Spring day.

I have kept this tradition alive with my own children and they love to participate, even if they come home to nothing on their own front steps. Wherever we have lived, we have celebrated May Day. One year, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there were baskets waiting for us at the home of one of our friends! While they had not adopted the tradition of delivering baskets themselves, they did have some prepared for my girls who could not have been more surprised or delighted.

This year, as our Jacaranda tree is abundant with lavender blossoms, I think we will add a few of those to our cups with a sprig of rosemary from the garden. It's a simple tradition that I am happy not to overlook.

One year, May was a particularly exciting month for me. I was overflowing with creativity and feelings of all things... potential. I was participating in a group that was going through Julia Cameron's, "Walking in This World", and was excited to not only have a long-awaited sequel to her amazing book, "The Artist's Way", but also to be working through it with a group - so much more fun than doing it on your own! I had also recently read, "Anne of Green Gables" for the first time. Spring or perhaps Autumn must be the most perfect times to read this book, as Lucy Maud Montgomery's descriptions of these seasons are breathtaking. She was an obvious lover of nature.

As my sister and her husband got us tickets to a nearby theater performance of "Anne of Green Gables" for this month at Christmas, the girls and I have been reading through it again and it is so easy to get caught up in Anne's romance with the whole world. I highly recommend this book if you have not read it, or even if you have. It is pure, springtime pleasure!

Another favorite for this time of year is the film, "Enchanted April." This is a highly acclaimed film of a number of years ago and is one of the few that I own. I am not a movie collector by any means, but this one was gifted to me one year for my birthday, which was a nice thing, because I usually borrowed it every year anyway from the library. If you are having a particularly rainy spring somewhere or if the up and down temperatures are wreaking havoc with your bursting desire to just be outside, rent or borrow this film. I think you'll be happy you did. It is, as Lottie says in the film, "a tub of love."

Finally, one more idea for your Spring. One year we had a "Beautiful Day." Living in Minnesota, as we did at the time, the weather was often fickle, even in Spring. So one morning, when I knew the outlook was going to be grand, I decided not to waste a moment of it. We packed lunches, a few schoolbooks, and art supplies and took a trip to the nearby Arboretum for our Beautiful Day. We dressed in lovely, flowery clothes and listened to classical music on the way. When we arrived, we first drove around the acres of land on the driving tour to see the various trees greening out or flowering. We drove past the crabapple grove and found people on blankets with their own lunches or snacks, sitting on the ground while white and pink blossoms floated to the ground all around them. It truly was a dreamy scene.

We arrived at our own destination and took our books and supplies to the base of a small waterfall where we had our own lunch, read some of our schoolwork, and sketched the flowers and rocks and stream. It really was a beautiful day! I don't think my children, being as young as they were, have remembered it, but it is one that I cherish and I know we'll plan one again... maybe even next week! I think I've inspired even myself! :)

Finally, I would like to share a poem I wrote on May 2nd of 2003. I hope you enjoy it, and hope you have a lovely, beautiful May Day!

Spring’s First Bouquet

The stark winter trees
are bursting forth
like queen anne’s lace
for the hand of God.

Slowly unwinding
origami winter secret
they delight with a crochet
of green.

How lovely is their leafing
in different shades
of hue.
More subtle than the poppy…
more sedate than rose’s grandeur
each a leaf a small miracle;
a complex, intelligent design
changing light into
sunshine into shade.

O, unfurl your pretty fist!
and sit,
cabbage rose upon the twig.
Tiny chartruse blossom,
break open celadon bud!
Your dappled verdancy splashes the landscape…
Spring’s first bouquet.

- Nicole Pivec
May 2, 2003
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