Friday, April 30, 2010

Photo Friday: Sexy

Sexy Diptych

Striped socks, tie-dyed shirts, and long flowy skirts make me feel sexy... ^-^

Monday, April 26, 2010

Please Help!

Faerie Gardens Family is not walking this year, but we still want to help support Mykel like we did last year!

Mykel says, "I am walking in the 18th Annual AIDS Walk/Run on Sunday, June 6 at Beaver Lake Nature Center. This event is a 5K walk and 10K run that benefits AIDS Community Resources (ACR) - a non-profit agency that serves nine counties in the Central, Northern and Mohawk Valley regions of New York State. 100% of the money raised from the AIDS Walk/Run stays right here in Central New York to pay for youth education programs that teach young people how to stay safe from HIV and STDs."

Your donation is tax deductible, and donating through First Giving is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to make a contribution to Mykel's fund-raising efforts. Just click the banner below and thank you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another Quote

If health were our real concern, it would be dieting we question, not weight.
~ Sally Tisdale

The FAQs of Me: What is Unschooling?

Growing up, I didn't know there was any other thing but school. When I hit high school, I knew there were some people who were able to test out of grades, etc. and graduate faster. I tried but my principal told me it wasn't possible. So I just dropped out, eventually got my GED, and eventually went to college to become a teacher. By then I had learned a little about home schooling and heard the arguments against it, but was still not convinced that it wasn't a good thing.

Then I met Jacqueline, and through her, many other families, who unschool their children. Usually when I tell people that my children are unschooled, I get puzzled looks and they want to know more, or they don't fully understand and assume I meant home schooled. (Truthfully, a lot of times, when strangers ask about the kids' education, I'll use the term home schooling just to avoid a lengthy discussion.)

But what does it mean to unschool your kids? What does it look like?

Well, what does it look like to send your kids to school? Let's see, fight to get the kids up in the morning, fight to get them dressed & fed appropriately, then send them in a stranger's vehicle to a place where they aren't *really* heard or seen, where they spend more *quality* time with their peers than with an adult. They are forced to sit still, ask to get up, even for something as private and unpredictable as using the bathroom, be quiet, listen to someone *teach* them things they might already know or have no interest in, then regurgitate the information as expected or face the consequences. Then they are pressured by their peers to have the right clothes and accessories, listen to the right music, watch the right TV, look and act the way they do... or be teased unmercifully. The battle continues after school when they are required to do homework and bring it back the next day - yes, even some of the kindergarten classrooms I've been in have this expectation! Then you need to get them into bed at a reasonable hour so they can be well rested to do it all again the next day.

But this is what we're all used to, the status quo, the norm.

Home schooling is better, but still not perfect. The kids can sleep later perhaps, they spend their quality time with an adult who loves and cares for them, they don't have to leave home and be with strangers all day, and they probably don't have to raise their hand to ask questions, wait for *more appropriate* times to use the bathroom, and may even be allowed to sit or stand however is most comfortable. But they still need to do *lessons* and have someone *teach* them things they might already know or have no interest in, then regurgitate the information as expected or face the consequences. They still *do* school, but not in that cold uncaring environment.

So to unschool, there is no school. Our kids do what they want, when they want. But it's not like they're running willy-nilly with no guidance. We're still there to discuss things with, to bounce ideas off of, to encourage and support them in all their endeavors. Yes, there are times when our son (17) is on the Wii for eleventy-million hours at a time, but when he tires of whatever new game has enthralled him, he grabs his skateboard and heads outside, or picks up his guitar and practices, or creates some new gadget with leftover parts from some machine that broke. And if we need some help, there's no argument before he comes and helps, because he knows he has the freedom to say "no," or "in a minute," or even "in 3 hours," because he knows no one is going to punish him, or even be mad, for doing what he thinks is most important at that moment. We are reasonable with our requests, respecting what's important to him (and our daughters), even if we may not see it as so important. To them, it is.

The same for our daughters. They've all fallen into different sleeping patterns, with our eldest at home (16) being a night owl; she gets up and has dinner with the family and then stays up all night. She draws, watches movies, chats with friends, learns about different cultures, dances, and is even teaching herself how to speak, read, and write in Japanese! No, we don't worry about what she does because she is *so* open about it all, even things other teens would be sure to hide. (Even her friends are open with us!) In the morning she has quiet, alone, connection time with Jacqueline, when she shares what she's been up to all night, gets advice on problems, and just hangs out before heading to bed.

Our middle at home daughter (13) is a morning person, like her mom; shortly after her sister goes to bed, she gets up and has *her* alone, quiet time with Jacqueline. Then she spends some time chatting with online friends, writing stories, singing and dancing, teaching herself French, and taking many long walks outside, even in the winter! She loves to cook, and spends a lot of time helping in the kitchen and around the house. When her younger sister wakes up they play elaborate role playing games, with many characters each and different voices and personalities for them all!

The youngest (12) sleeps until about noon. She loves to do everything her siblings do and is the most outgoing of entire family. (She is the one who, when we moved here in early November years ago, convinced the her siblings to go caroling with her to all the neighbors' homes!) She stays up late with her night owl sister for a few hours after her morning lark sister goes to sleep, so she can have quality sister time with them both. And all through the day she connects with her mom and brother and me. She draws, paints, makes jewelry, writes stories, spends lots of time bike riding and walking with her sister, and likes to make sure everyone in the house is happy. She wants to be a doctor and for the past year or so has been studying a lot of "body" books for children and teens.

But what about Math, or English, or Science, or [fill-in-the-blank-with-your-subject-of-choice]? Well, about you, in your life? Is it all neatly compartmentalized into different subjects? Not really. Sure you might do math at specific times, like balancing your checkbook, or making a budget, but do you think about sentence structure when you read? When you bake a cake, do you need to remember the chemical formula for the ingredients? When you see a painting, do you need to know the color theory to appreciate it? When you watch the news, do you need to know the history of Eastern Asia to know that war is bad? No, you just do it. And if something piques your interest, you look into it more. Do some research, google some things, read some books...

No, we didn't even give them lessons on that. Reading is a big part of our lives; we read constantly. We always have easy readers in the house (We like pictures books! We're artists!), and we're always there to answer questions (What's this word? How do you spell...?), and don't always send them to the dictionary or make them sound it out; that only leads to frustration. Our son taught himself to read by playing a video game; it had words and he needed to know what it said. So he figured it out. Our morning lark & night owl did the same for different reasons. (I believe it was the Harry Potter books.) The youngest figured it out later in life than the most children, and she got some teasing from the kids in the neighborhood because of it, but now, she reads and spells better, and has a bigger vocabulary than they do. All of our kids do.

But surely they aren't socializing like other kids, you might think. Well, no, frankly they're not. They're not forced to play only with children their age. They don't have the constant pressure to fit in and be like everyone else. They can develop better friendships, with whoever they get along and share common interests with, whether older or younger, male or female. They aren't forced to change their interests because their friends think whatever they *really* like is "stupid" or think they should be into something else. They all seem to get along well with anyone, but they choose for the most part not to hang out with the local kids too much because of the drama the other kids create: smoking, drinking, doing drugs, dating too young, petty arguments, lying, stealing... Our kids don't understand it. They don't like how "illogical" and "stupid" so much of it is.

Unschooling isn't for everyone and it doesn't look the same for all those who do it, but one thing I do feel certain of is the fact that respecting our children and their needs and desires, just as much as we do each other's needs and desires, has led to less *battles* and feelings of guilt and shame (on both sides!), and more love and joy, which sounds really trite, but it's true. It's not easy to go against the flow of mainstream society, and change decades old thought patterns, but it is *so* worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

FAE Exhibition: April Showers Bring FAE Flowers

As Aquariann said, our exhibition has blossomed! She's gathered together some of the best of the FAE Team work, and created a lovely exhibition. This month's theme is April Showers Bring FAE Flowers...

Click the banner above to see the full exhibition, but here's a little sample:
Buy Handmade

Etsy Blogger of the Month: MagdaleneJewels

Whoa! Can't believe I let so much of the month go by without sharing April's Blogger of the Month!

Magdalene Jewels

And she's got a second shop!

Magdalene Knits

Here are some of my favorites from her shops...

This necklace is so pretty!

And such a cozy neck-warmer! But hopefully I won't need one for a few months! ~_^

Don't forget to check out her shops and blog, and see what's there that might be calling to you...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turn up the Volume!

Even with all the legal precautions in place, the county treated these men like chattel, not citizens, nor even as human beings. I am shocked and saddened. Please spread the story...

Elderly Gay Couple Forcibly Separated, Abused, Robbed By County Officials in California
posted by DAN SAVAGE on SUN, APR 18, 2010 at 11:09 AM

This is shocking and outrageous:
Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.
One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes. Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property.

Clay is now suing the county, the auction company, and the nursing home. This story should get as much attention as Constance McMillen's story. More attention. There should be protests outside the hospital and county administration buildings. And I think another phone call from the president is called for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Phenomenal Woman


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

BlogCarnival: Easter Tradition

RainyDayArt gives us the topic: Easter is April 4, what family traditions do you do for Easter?

Ever since we moved here, we've had a big Easter egg hunt with the kids. We fill nearly 100 plastic eggs with candy (sometimes coins), and before the kids wake up, Jacqueline wanders around our 3 acres to hide them all. As the kids get up, they have to find their baskets in the house, which usually have a few unwrapped candies (jelly beans) and things too big for eggs (a bigger chocolate bunny, some peeps, and webkinz this year).

Then when they're all up, they gather in the kitchen and we give them the low-down: how many eggs they each can find (used to be 25, now the packages of plastic eggs don't come with so many in them so it's down to 21 this year...), where they might be (in the woods, in the house...), etc.... Some years, we've given the younger girls a 5 to 10 minute head start; this year they all took off at once!

Some years, there has still been snow on the ground (as you can see in the photo above), and one year, the snow was so deep, we postponed it until June! XD (It was the earliest time we could find the time when the weather was nice enough!) This year was perfect for it! ^-^

Friday, April 02, 2010

Stupid Anxiety *kicks*

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted here...

I'm not perfect. No one is. I am trying my best though. And that's true of everyone. Sometimes it gets hard to remember that. That everyone is doing their best. We all have past experiences that affect how we react to things. We're all doing the best that we can with what we've been handed in life. Sometimes things don't turn out how you planned, and you deal with that as best as you know how.

I know things went wrong with my plans: Married by 22, baby at 24, a housewife, maybe more when the kids went to school, but... well... the man I wanted to marry didn't see me as good enough to marry (or at least that's how it felt), then I couldn't have children with the man I did marry... It took me decades to get my bachelor's and after 3 years of subbing, I'm not sure I want to teach. But all the student loans... I need to pay them back somehow...

I don't know how I pictured my relationship with my family, but I am sure the way things are right now is *not* it. All the strained conversations trying to read in between the lines and figure out what they really mean and why they're not just saying it. None of it is made any easier with my social anxiety.

Yes. There. I said it. The phone, it makes my hear race, my hands shake, and my body fills with adrenaline. Making a call, or expecting one... I hate going to work. Sunday nights, or the night before work after a bunch of days with no calls, I can't sleep. That first day I come home and practically fall right into bed to sleep until morning because I am so worn out from dealing with controlling the panic in school. Stupid, isn't it?

And now, I dread talking to my dad, or grandmother, or aunt because of all the miscommunication - or non-communication. Conversations seems polite on the surface, but it feels like things are being left unsaid, like I'm being judged for doing or not doing things the way they expect and assume I should. And I feel like it's all my fault because I can't pick up the phone and have a normal conversation. Or go visit regularly.

But I am doing the best that I can. And I only *feel* this way. Unless it's been said to me, I shouldn't assume anything. Everyone is just doing the best that they can. No one is intentionally out to hurt anyone. I just wish I could remember that and stop panicking all the time...