Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Knits Finished on a Busy Day

We were on the run all day today.

6:45am - I was up (I know, shocking, right?) to finish the laundry and prep for the day
8am - Got the kids up and everyone was getting ready
8:30am - Out the door, stop at McD's for breakfast, on the freeway, kids doing some schoolwork
9:45am - Reach our homeschool meeting place (15 minutes late, heavy traffic, boo)
10:45am - Meeting finished, head back home for piano lessons
11:30am - Piano lessons, knitting time for me (I finished the bamboo stitch bag project), and I even squeezed in some reading on my Kindle (Night Circus - an amazing book)
12:45pm - Head back home...

And we spent the afternoon each involved in our own activities. I read Night Circus, just wanting to finally finish it. I did, but I won't post the review until tomorrow. The kids mostly were outside since it was a gorgeous spring day.

Late afternoon, we were off to Mr. M's Little League game. He plays better every time. He got three hits and made it on base each time, scoring twice. He's such a boy, a kid, not a baby anymore. Sigh. I was knitting throughout the game and finished this cute hat.

I've been very productive with my knitting this month. Yarn is good. I only have one item listed so far in my Etsy shop, but I'm trying not to feel the pressure to crank products out for the sake of posting more. I don't want to live off my knitting, just make something beautiful and practical for someone to enjoy. I'm more of a process knitter, I think.

So, here we are, back at home. I have my feet up and my new InStyle waiting to be perused.
Good day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Girl Scout Cookies Can Bring Us Together

Today was our turn, mine and Princess O's, to do our three hour shift outside the grocery store selling GS cookies. Did you catch that, FOR 3 HOURS! We did this last year a couple times, so we knew what to expect. If it had been a normal day weather-wise. But it wasn't. It was freakin' windy and even more freakin' cold! And guess what smart person wore flip-flops? That's right, me. I was the fool standing outside in freezing wind for three hours wearing flip-flops. I was trying to hold on to a grocery cart full of cookies that was being blown all over the place, keep my jacket close to my neck, and my curly hair out of my face. Didn't work. (I finally twisted my hair into a messy bun, a bummer because I was having a great hair day.) Thankfully, I can feel my face now, but my feet are still cold.

Here is a picture of the lovely Princess O, and she really rocked the sales today. I'm so proud of her! Also, she didn't sell quite enough through her family to meet her goal, so hopefully the sales today will bump her up. I hope. I hope, hope, hope! Otherwise, it's turning into a door-to-door thing, and none of us wants that. Really.

The funny thing about GS cookies is how personal they are. These cookies have been around forever and everyone remembers which one is their favorite, even if it's just, "the coconut ones" or "the mints". Every person we sold to today knew exactly which cookies they preferred. And that wasn't all! A lot of these people had stories to go with the purchasing.

We got a lot of people buying, "just one more box" because they "already bought a ton" from "my neighbor/co-worker's daughter/granddaughter". We heard a couple very personal stories from women for whom buying GS cookies brings up memories of a mother who has passed away, a daughter who doesn't live around her, or a granddaughter who has the same name as one of the cookies. I was touched, moved by how open these women were to a stranger (me) selling them a $4 box of cookies. Maybe next year we could set up a table and chairs, let these women chat amongst each other, finding empathy, sympathy, healing over a box of thin mints and some hot tea. GS cookies are an emotional icon for these women.

On the other hand (because you know this has to happen, too, right?) I don't understand why so many people couldn't be bothered to at least acknowledge these cute, little girls. The girls were polite and smiling as they asked people coming out of the store, "Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?" So many people, men and women, old and young, simply passed by without a word! Without a smile! Purposely looking the other way! I swear one lady was pretending to talk on the phone. (I can't prove it though. Since I've done that myself, I'm not judging her too harshly, although now I see how incredibly desperate it is.) These girls aren't supermodels or millionaires. They're 8. They're raising money for a worthy cause, not clothes and video games. Really, these people can't be bothered to at least say no thanks? Boo.

One man was so incredibly rude to my shyest Girl Scout, passed right be her twice without even looking at her even though I know he heard her sweet little voice. I wanted to shout, "HEY! What? You're rushing home to cure cancer? You had to buy some Wheat Thins for a great emergency you have to run off to? You're words are so precious you can't spare one for this little girl?!" Sigh.

I just kept smiling, and so did my little Girl Scout. One lady, a really short lady, was walking really fast into the store, and she actually put her hand up and said, very sternly, loudly, "NO. I don't want any." She looked funny because her legs were moving really fast and putting her hand up threw her off balance a little bit. She almost fell because she couldn't bother to be polite. Wow! That's crazy!

The people I most enjoyed watching were the ones who saw us, and went to the other door. We did have another table there, but they couldn't see it. (ha, ha!) Then there were the excuses. "I'm on a diet" was the most common. To which I replied, "The best reason to break a diet, GS cookies!" The second most common excuse was lack of funds. I totally understand this. Who really wants to pay $4 for one box of cookies? I wouldn't! But the money is for a worthy cause, and that is the real reason to buy those cookies.

Altogether, I loved hanging out with the girls. Third graders are fun and funny, not too serious yet, so we got to joke around a lot. My daughter specifically asked me to stay with them, and that felt good. I just wish it hadn't been so cold and windy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

I am spending this St. Patrick's Day cozy at home as the rain pours down outside. I can almost imagine I'm in a cottage on the Irish coast. No, I'm not wearing green clothing, but I have a glorious shamrock tattoo on my back with plenty of green to avoid a pinch.

This is my favorite tattoo of the four I have.

I just finished reading Jurassic Park this morning (#9 of 100) and, wow, it was a thrilling read.  I am now an official Michael Crichton fan. I know he is a popular author, which is not really something I look for in a book, but I got this book for $1 at the prison bookstore thinking I would try it. I'm so happy I did! This is a great book and a quick read.

I am getting ready to pick up my bamboo needles and work on a strap for a beautiful white bag I knitted last month. I'm hoping to line it and get it listed on Etsy this weekend. Knitting on a rainy St. Patrick's Day makes me feel more in touch with my people.

Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday is Acting Like Monday

That's it for me. I'm putting up my feet and just letting this day run its course.

Does anyone else have family members that drive them crazy? I love my mother, and today she is dancing on my last nerve. We started the day with a terrible phone conversation and it's just hanging on me, weighing me down. It's so hard to let things go, especially where my mother is involved. I want my relationship with her to be sugar and spice and everything nice! It's work, like any relationship. Right? Someone needs to write a book about mother-daughter relationships and how to keep them healthy. Some kind of guilt-free, heavy on the love plan. There is a buffer zone of hundreds of miles between us! We should be able to have a splendid time on the phone at least. I've decided not to answer my phone before I've had my mornjng coffee. That's a start.

I spent the rest of the day working on projects for homeschool, always fun. We transplanted the cotton plants and now most of them are limp. Ack! Do plants go into shock? I'm hoping they bounce back. Otherwise, I guess our experiment will need a new hypothesis: "If you try to grow cotton plants from seeds, they will die." We'll see.

My chihuahua tried to attack the postman for a second time. Dang. We had the dog outside with us and Professor X had just checked for the postman, but suddenly he was at the gate and PB went ballistic. I know she's small, but I don't blame the guy for being scared. He was covering his ankles with my Better Homes magazine! I'm sure I'll think about it later and laugh, but im worried we might get a citation. It was pretty funny, though.

So, after mother issues and limp cotton plants and an ankle-attacking chihuahua, let's put this Wednesday to bed, shall we? I've got a lasagna in the oven and a fresh mug of coffee by my side. My feet are up and my knitting bag is within reach. Aahh. Yarn therapy, just what I need.

Well, I'm Upset!

(This is going to be a rant, btw, you are forewarned.)

You know, I thought I had found a great homeschool group to join here in our new area. The moms seemed pretty cool, no knitters in the group, but you can't have it all, right? My kids made some friends who were fun to play with and normal-appearing as far as homeschoolers go. I had already figured out the weirdos to avoid. (Every group has at least one.) So, we headed to park day today, our fourth, and had a good time. I'm not bonded into the group, like no one saves a spot for my chair or anything. This doesn't bother me. I can sit in the sun and knit while the kids are off playing. I don't need to make friends, it would be nice, but it's not necessary.

This group advertises itself as accepting of all homeschooling methods. The group is Christian-based, so there is that, but otherwise, they pride themselves on having homeschoolers of all methods as members. Really. I just visited the group's website and what do I find but a newsletter article written by the president of the group (I really like this lady, btw, it's too bad) and she is condemning charter schools and praying that families who homeschool through a charter will prayerfully reconsider their choice. And at the end of her article is the obligatory, oh, but, we still don't judge you if you belong to a charter school! Oh, great, yeah, thanks for saying that after your incredibly judgmental article. I feel better. Argh!

We homeschool through a public charter school and we love it. We are unashamed! We love our charter school! I would never judge someone for how they choose to educate their child. I use a charter, maybe you file an affidavit as your own school, whatever. "Do your thing" should be the motto of homeschooling! (Unless you are claiming to educate when there is actually no educating going on, but that is a different post.)

You know, a lot of what she said was her opinion, an uninformed, ignorant opinion, but I'm sure I have some of those, too. I'm not judging her, ha ha. I just can't understand why this group would claim to be nonjudgmental and then the president of the freakin' group publishes this horribly slanted opinion for everyone to read! This article was posted on a forum and, of course, the replies  were all in support of the president's opinion. I was livid. I was angry. I was offended. I wrote an answer.

Here is a small piece of my reply.
"As a Christian family, we make sure our children see our faith lived out in many ways, incorporating that in school every day, too. While we can't turn in work that is religious, much of our conversation and schoolwork reflects our Christian values. We simply turn in other work samples. If we didn't homeschool through a charter, our children would be in a public school classroom. There is no way we could afford private school. This charter has given us the freedom to keep our kids at home and still work within the system. We are incredibly grateful for that because this is the lifestyle we have chosen.

Our motivation for choosing to homeschool through a charter was the desire to give our children an education that was the best it could be. Our charter school is helping us fulfill that goal. Our children might be enrolled in a public charter school, but as parents, we have still retained that control over our time, points of study, and methods of learning that honor our Christian faith and lifestyle.

We have never regretted our choice to homeschool through a charter school. We believe each family chooses what is right for their family and lifestyle and we have great respect for that."

Right? Right? Damn right. I don't mind being judged, but let's call it what it is! Tell me that you don't want charter school families in the group! That's the choice of the group. But don't say one thing and do another. Don't tell me you accept me and then condemn me.

We'll see what the replies will be to what I posted. I almost don't care. It's so disappointing. I'm feeling the urge to get some friendships going out here, for myself and also for the kids. Back to square one. Bleh.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Zumba Rush - I'm a Zumba Rocker!

My current attempt at weight loss is motivated by some family members visiting next month. I haven't seen them for a while, maybe a year or more, so I'm not sure what I looked like when they last saw me. Add to that the fact that I'm totally sick of myself right now, and I am really making an effort to lose this weight.

I am carrying a couple bags of potatos around my middle and upper arms. So gross. I feel like an overstuffed pillow, you know? So I started diet and exercise, two dreaded words when applied to lifestyle.

My diet is the hungry diet, only eat when you feel hungry. I made it up for myself and I usually revert to this when I think I'm not eating right. I made sure I had some healthy food that I like in the house, like oatmeal and salad, and, sigh, I'm on coffee and water only. So far, it's been a week or so, I feel better. No soda, easy. I rarely drink it anyway, but water is not my favorite thing to drink. Thankfully our lemon tree has been producing, and I bought some strawberries, too. Strawberry ice water is delicious, try it.

Exercise has been tough. This hill (shudder) is seriously kicking my butt. I love to get out and run, but just thinking about going up that hill prevents me from getting out there! So, I have joined the Zumba craze that is sweeping the nation, and I love it! Tonight I had sweat dripping down my face while I Zumba'd. It was awesome! I'm using the XBox Kinect so I get to see my results. Zumba Rocker, that's me. I just have to laugh though, because I swear I'm just moving my arms and legs like an offbeat, energetic dancer, not even close to the pro I'm following! I forbid anyone to watch me! I want to just get up there and let myself go and not worry about what I really look like. Right?

So, Zumba is good. Diet is good. Hopefully the weight will drop. I have four weeks. Let's see what I can do.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday, Monday

I've begun to dread Mondays. We've been having busy weekends, fun weekends, weekends that are a great mix of getting things done and spending family time together, but they always end on a Monday. Back to work, back to the routine, and always, always, a sink full of dishes. Bleh.

I always have high hopes for Monday. I have decided to be more realistic. I let myself sleep in. Today we all got up at 10:30am. Thank God we homeschool! I don't know how regular school families do it. The kids would be exhausted all the time, or, and this is more likely, we wouldn't get to do half of what we like to do. Homeschooling is good.

For example, the weather was pleasant today so we worked on the Ag Fair dioramas outside. I prefer this to painting and gluing indoors. Right? The kids got most of the background finished and tomorrow I think we will go shop for the props, plastic animals, all that fun stuff.

I taught the kids how to use the glue gun. I was really nervous about this idea, but no one burned their fingers or anything so I guess my instincts were right. Professor X is working on a Native American scene. The shiny foil is a river and he glued rocks along the edge. He's planning to put an Indian fishing there. Creative thinking! Remember doing dioramas for school? I do! I made scenes from books for book reports and some biospheres for science. I'm enjoying these projects.

After school, the kids went down the street with their friends for a couple hours. DH and I actually had some time alone which was nice. Princess O said the other day that it was weird that we didn't know her friend's parents. It is, only because all their other friends are the children of our friends we've known since before we were all married. Interesting. They do have lots of contact with other kids in classes and park days, but these kids on the street go to regular school and so it's different. I'm glad we're getting this experience. Of course, now I feel like I need to go meet the other parents. Sounds like a good way to get rid of some of the GS cookies we have in the cupboard.

This Monday was more relaxed and went by so fast since we barely got started by noon. Maybe every Monday should start at noon!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

IKEA is My Favorite Place

We spent so much money at IKEA yesterday, I almost can't think about it. But everything we bought, we needed.

Dinner has been eaten on tv trays since we moved and we are all sick of it. So we bought a dining table and chairs, with red cushions. I love it!

DH also got me a chair and footstool I've been lusting after for a very long time. Finally a special chair of my own! I foresee lots of knitting being done while nestled in it.

Of course, DH has to put everything together. That's not my talent or inclination. I can never follow directions to put things together. So he's hard at work and I'm his lovely assistant.

Good times!