Monday, April 30, 2007


Today we went shopping on Hawthorne for Daddy's birthday present. I knew exactly what I wanted to get him because it is something I saw when I was down there with Rose and Jim on their last visit. We visited a bit with an artist who was selling some stuff on the street. Orion was really into it.

I was bummed to not have my camera with me today because we saw a couple cool things. The first was a bunch of kids doing a march for justice down Hawthorne. The second was a family of geese that wandered into a street. There were three little, fuzzy baby geese - so adorable. Somebody had stopped their car and was trying to shoo them back into the park.

On another note, Orion has been going through books on his own for awhile and adding his own words, but today was the first time I saw him go through a whole book and remember most of the words as they are written. It is a pretty long book, too, and he went through each page and said almost all whole story perfectly!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Our First Sprouts!

How exciting! I guess you can't really see them in the small picture, but there are 4 tiny little sprouts in all 4 of the end sections. It is arugula by the way. Orion had seen an episode of Little Bear the other day about talking to plants in the garden, so he spent some time today making friends with our new editions. "Hello little sprouts. Nice to meet you. Keep growing." So cute.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Strawberries and Subtraction

I am going to try and get better about blogging my thoughts on unschooling. I tend to just make this a chronicle of "stuff we do", which is unschooling in its own right, but some of the most important things go by unnoticed because I do them without thinking. Like this...

Orion loves strawberries! We had just 4 left in the refrigerator today and decided to pull them out for a snack. When he had eaten 2, he asked how many were left. I realized it was a great opportunity to talk about numbers! I explained first there were four, and then you ate one and there was three, and then you ate another one and now there are two, then when you eat one more, there will only be one, and when you eat that one, there will be zero. Math had begun!

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's Painting Time

I love the warm weather because we can take paints and all sorts of messy stuff out on the patio. Orion has started learning about watercolors, as you can see. This is one of the first times he really made an effort to fill in various spaces with colors in an intentional way.

We also went to a LLL fundraiser meeting today, and I got this shot of Orion and Hattie's boys I just adore:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another great idea from Catt!

Catt had another great playdate idea. The kids painted pots, and then she had dirt and seeds ready for them to plant. I was thrilled to add a few more varieties to things we had already planted.

Busy hands at work

Orion with his pot. He looks a little off in this picture, eh? Sure enough, he started getting warm later that day.

Hangin' out

Orion making a basket with his new friend.

This is Tanya. She made quite an impression on Orion with that hat! She is awesome. I am so glad to have another funky mom in the group! She also has a bumper sticker that says "Bring Midwives Home". I think we will get along just fiiiine.

More Conference Commentary

I keep forgetting to write about something Ron told me happened at the Unschooling Conference. Orion has always had a problem with being rough with other kids at random times. Sometimes I think I see patterns to it, and it will have something to do with fighting over a toy or such, but other times it totally puzzles me. One thing we both noticed at Life is Good was that Orion pretty much had no serious run ins the whole weekend! It was like he was in his atmosphere, among kindred spirits.

One interaction in particular really stands out. Orion was in the toy room when another little girl was building a tower. I always try not to be apprehensive in these situations because one of his favorite games is knocking down towers made by Dad, and he almost always will knock down towers made by other children. Sure enough... kapow. The little girl was clearly not happy, but Ron did not intervene, and Orion kindly offered to rebuild it for her. When he was finished, he said, "Now it's your turn to knock it over!" She told him she didn't want to, and Orion just looked at her like she was crazy and walked away. But the important thing was that he noticed his actions upset her and did something about it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Seed Time

Monday was pretty much a blah do nothing and recuperate day, but I was determined to get some seeds planted today. I have been saving up egg cartons for just that purpose! Orion had fun helping me plant a few of everything that can start this early.

Here is some of our handywork :

And Orion, proud bearer of the watering can:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Home and Tired!

What a long day! It seems weird to think we were at the conference just his morning. When we got up, we had to start getting ready to get out of the room, then we had decided to have another little girl watch Orion for one of the morning sessions. Right after that we had to get all the luggage in the car. While I was making trips with our stuff, there was an American Girls funshop going on. There was literally a horde of girls in the hotel lobby.

And here is Orion in the midst of the horde.

The girl in the green shirt is Jessie, who was his Mother's Helper for the morning. We almost didn't get him out of there! But we did manage to pull him away and get back to Sunnyside Up for lunch. I really wanted to go back and have the breakfast menu and was not disappointed with my yummy Huevos Rancheros. We also wanted to go to the gluten free bakery we had heard about, but it was closed on Sunday! In general, a ton of the downtown businesses were closed, which seemed really odd to me.

We wanted to do a couple more sessions before heading home, but Orion kept wanting to come back to me and seemed in general like he had enough of being away from me, so we decided to head home. That was a fun drive since Orion decided to do all the pooping he had been saving up the whole conference haha. Seriously, it seems like he got into some wheat, or maybe he picked up a virus, because he was going quite frequently, but it was back to the issues he had before we took him off gluten. We had to pull off several times to change diapers on the way home. Fun, fun! And then we decided to go to sushi for dinner! It was OK though. We had been home awhile and whatever it was seemed to be done. We also had no energy to deal with cooking, so it was really nice to go out. We discovered that Orion likes the shrimp in mayo sauce, which is a good thing since he can't have the fake crab anymore.

Now we are all just super tired....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

And Life is Getting Even Better

Another wow day. I am just mad at myself because I have pretty much not taken any pictures. The talks and workshops have been mostly amazing, however, and very affirming.

Orion slept pretty restlessly, but I managed to drag myself out of bed in time to go grab some free breakfast for everybody! It wasn't a bad spread, except the scrambled eggs had ham and cheese in them, which I tried to pick around for me and Orion. Then come to find out later, they make their eggs with cream. Oops. Poor kid is doomed to get alot of allergens this weekend I think. I have already stopped him several times from almost mooching Cheerios and such from other toddlers.

I was scheduled to work at the registration table from 9am to noon, but it was still awesome because I was in the same room where the talks were. That worked out well because I really wanted to hear Scott Noelle speak. We got a few people coming in and paying for the whole weekend just to come to his one main presentation! I started getting his Daily Groove emails awhile ago and agree with pretty much everything he says. I have forwarded them to Ron several times, and I wanted him to get the chance to hear Scott as well. So I was really glad he made it down into the main room right before his talk started. I think there is something more powerful about men hearing things from other men... at least when they turn out to be somebody Ron can relate to, and when Scott started his presentation with Beavis and Butthead jokes, I knew we were on the right track! I had no idea this was going to be the first time Scott spoke in public. He did a great job! He has an internal happiness about him that is really inspiring.
Lunch turned out to be a stroke of good luck. We were planning to head back into town somewhere, but on our way out we passed another attendee who told us the Chinese buffet right in the same parking lot as the hotel was decent. Apparently it took us a few minutes to process the information, because we still got in the car and were thinking we would head out. Instead we drove about 100 feet and parked closer to the restaurant LOL. Dang, that place turned out to be good! And Orion has discovered a love of shrimp.

More good stuff in the afternoon, and some not so good... I loved Diana's talk about When Mama ain't happy.... There have been so many times in my life when I hear something I already know, but somehow it strikes me differently. It is like getting a little reminder. There was a moment in Diana's presentation like that, when she was talking about seeing your child as a new indiviual each and every day. It just struck me as really powerful and deep. It has become like a little internal mantra for me, and I like it so much I want to write it on something and hang it up in the house. It also reminds me to treat myself the same way! I tend to beat myself up for alot of things, but I am working on letting that go.

Jan Hunt did a neat little circle on her Parenting Cards next. We each chose one and went around the circle discussing our topic. I got one about children's work being play - amen to that! At the same time, Ron was checking out the dad's group, and that did not go so well.... He got so upset he left in fact. Part of the reason had started brewing the day before. While this conference is for unschoolers in general, there is a large faction of people that consider themselves "radical unschoolers", and many of them have strong feelings about their way being the "right way". I guess I see myself as middle of the road in this respect. There are some aspects I am OK with, and others I am not.... Luckily, we have met several great families that share our values, so we don't feel like outsiders. And that is the way I would hope it would be for everybody, but apparently Ron said there were a few people that were coming across as very demeaning and arrogant toward anybody who doesn't make all the right "radical" choices.

That really bummed me out to hear, but at least he said there were a couple guys trying to act as moderator. He just hates that kind of thing and got disgusted and left. I am happy to say he still seems to be finding the overall experience quite valuble.

Dinner was Baja Fresh... gotta report on the food! Yeah, we should have done something local, but I didn't want to go far from the hotel. And then we did just a little bit of the talent show, where I ended up getting one of the biggest scares of my life! The stage was raised up and had a skirt around it. Orion discovered he could get under there, and I was thinking it was no big deal. I was pretty sure I was watching like a hawk around all sides for him to come out, but somehow I missed him. After several minutes, I got to thinking maybe I should check on him, and he wasn't under there anymore! I didn't panic at first as I figured he had headed for the toy room or the game room. Nope, and nope. So I started looking around the entire room, which was VERY crowded, and couldn't find him. That was when the panic slowly started setting in. I talked to some folks standing near the door and told them not to let him outside if they saw him. Then I started going over the inside more thoroughly and told a few people I knew to let me know if they saw him. Ron had gone up to the room already because his knee was bothering him, so I called to tell him what was going on. My biggest fear of course was that he had gone outside and taken off. After a few minutes, I figured I should at least look outside, and sure enough, there he was playing on the sidewalk! There were several older kids playing right outside the building, which I think made it look like the cool place to be. Oy, that is an experience I hope not to repeat, but what a relief when I found him!

I will leave you with one lonely picture from the talent show. Most of them came out blurry, but this one was kindof cute. And I can't imagine a post without a picture!

More ETA! This was one of the highlights of the conference, and I didn't even write about it. I was hanging out in the parking lot with Orion while he jumped in a puddle, and then Dad came over and decided to join him. Awwww

Friday, April 20, 2007

Life is Good!

The long awaited unschooling conference is here! I can't even begin to express how happy I was when Ron said he wanted to come. I am hoping he will get to meet other dads who have had successful homeschooling experiences and see how wonderful the older kids are. We got off to a pretty good start today I think....

We managed to get on the road around 9, which is miraculous for us haha. I actually had almost everything packed the night before, so the morning went pretty smoothly. We had planned to stop and see the Tulip Festival, but somehow neither of us noticed when we got to Woodburn! I swear we would lose our heads if they weren't attached! It was all good, though, because we got to the hotel nice and early and lucked out that they let us check in early. One of the first things I noticed were all the cool painted cars in the parking lot. They had slogans on them like, "School's Out! Unschooling is In!" Fun, fun. Should have taken some pictures. :(

I guess it turned out well because there was a volunteering meeting planned in the afternoon which it was good to make it to. I also got a chance to set up my idea for a Mother's Helper bulletin board where people could exchange information. Funny enough, I ended up getting called by the same person I had heard from on MDC earlier. We never managed to hook up in Portland, but it looks like her daughter is going to be able to help us out this weekend.

We decided to have lunch at the hotel since the Friday special was a salmon caesar salad. Um, not such a good idea as it turned out. I ate some of the smaller pieces of salmon, and it was very tasty, but I noticed when I got to the bigger pieces, the inside was totally raw! Like literally still cold. And no, it wasn't a seared type of salad! Somehow I don't think they are serving sushi quality fish here, so I didn't think it was wise to eat it. We showed the waitress, and she offered to bring me another piece of fish. They did handle it quite well, as they did not charge us for the salad AND brought me a big old piece of salmon. Granted, the second one was overcooked LOL, but it was still edible.

Anyway, I am supposed to be writing about the conference! We got to take in a little of the afternoon talks. The setup is great as there is a toddler playroom right off the area where all the main presentations are. There is also a raffle going on, and somebody knitted this amazing scarf:

So the thing to understand is that you cannot see that pattern at all unless you look down the scarf with your eyes right next to it! It is a total trip!

For dinner, I really wanted to check out The Sunnyside Up Cafe, which is owned by the conference planner. I'm glad we did, because there were a bunch of people playing cool oldtimey music. Corvallis is really cute. Even the trashcans are cute.

When we got back it was pretty much time to hang out in the hotel room. Orion had not had a nap and I have to be down at the registration table at the horrible hour of 9am! So it is time to get some sleep and be up in time to get some grub at the free breakfast buffet before heading off to do my volunteer duties! It seems totally weird to be hanging out in the hotel room and have the baby be asleep so early and not be able to do much of anything. I think I will just do some reading before getting some sleep.

I do want to say I feel like Ron is already feeling we have made a good decision to unschool just by being here and talking to some of the other parents. I am so glad we came!

ETA: I am thrilled to have gotten some pictures another mom took. I am pretty sure this activity took place on Friday. It is so cool to see Orion was participating in it while hanging out with Paloma.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Dinner at Grandma Rose's

I realized I had forgotten to ask the doctor about how long Orion might be contagious, especially considering his visit was in the late afternoon on Thursday, and we had a family dinner planned for Friday. I thought it was 24 hours, but called the Health Net hotline to double check. Ron's sister has a baby about a year younger than Orion (Carter), so I didn't want to take the chance of getting him sick. It looked like we would be just out of the full day limit, and Orion seemed to be feeling fine with no fever, so off we went to Ventura!

Just as a coincidence, Rose's cousin Vinnie was also in town with his wife and son, so it turned into a nice little group! Our two groups ended up getting there at right the same time, so we had a bit of time to visit. It was my first time seeing the new place Rose and Jim were living, and it was quite a cute little condo, with an ocean view even! Luckily, Rose has several toys since she watches Carter frequently, so that kindof kept him out of trouble.

We decided on Boston Market for dinner since they seemed to have several gluten free and dairy free options. Chris was nice enough to pick it up on her way home from work. I had never had their food before, and it was pretty darn good! Orion was Mr. Tough Guy with his cousin again, which was totally weird after he had been such a gentleman with Connor. I just don't get why he is so different with different kids. I haven't figured out if it is his mood or just "chemistry".

More with pictures to come....

Thursday, April 5, 2007

My Poor Little Monkey

Stupid California germs. We have been around all kinds of sickness the whole Winter and not come down with anything, but I come to California, and Orion gets sick. I blame the Y! OK, not really, but I did take Orion to their playroom while I took a yoga class Monday night, so he probably did get exposed to something there. It turns out our insurance doesn't have any naturopaths around here, so we had to see a ped. I am now sorry to report he is taking antibiotics for the first time. I feel really sad, but I guess I should be happy he went two and a half years without them. The doctor we saw was self described as "not big on antibiotics", but he said Orion's ear was "red and bulging" and that anybody would agree it should be treated. I just still wish I could have gotten a naturopathic opinion.

The day that started well but ended crappy

It is interesting feeling like a tourist in a town you lived in most of your life. I wanted to go to LA to close my bank account at the University Credit Union, so I figured I would do something fun while I was down there. It was weird thinking like a visitor about what the "LA Attractions" are. I figured the zoo would be the best for Orion and indeed, he really enjoyed it! Alot of the grounds are torn up right now as they are building new habitats for the gorillas and elephants, but the beauty of being two is you are obivious to stuff like that!
For some reason, the meerkat made a huge impression on him, and he has asked to look at this picture several times.

"Hey look at the alligators!"

These critters were quite entertaining, although I am embarrassed to say I can't remember their names.

Hehe I am so clever taking the giraffe next to the height bar.

Orion really liked this pole for some reason. I think he liked it better than any of the animals he saw that day.

So how did the day get crappy...? My brother and I had made plans to go have Indian food that night, so I headed that way after leaving the zoo. When I got to his house, I noticed Orion felt a little warm, and he was complaining about his ears hurting - yikes. He seemed OK overall, though, so I decided to still go to dinner. By the time we got to the restaurant, he was really hot. I was unsure about what to do, but I figured he could just sit on my lap if he wasn't feeling well. Sure enough, all he wanted to do was nurse, and he fell asleep in my lap while I was eating! Poor little bug. He had never done that before - well, at least not since being a tiny baby.

I decided to just eat quickly and head for a Whole Foods on the way home. He was still quite hot at this point and really complaining about his ears. He has only ever had one other ear infection, so he is not prone to them, but it seemed that was pretty clear what was going on. I bought some garlic mullein drops and Tylenol drops in case I really figured I needed them and got the poor monkey back to grandma and grandpa's house.

The first thing I did was have grandpa help me get some drops in his ears. Then I started writing to people I know in the area and making posts on forums to find out if there is a naturopath in the area or a ped who is at least a bit natural minded. I also looked up doctors on our insurance website in case that is the route I need to take tomorrow. After that, Orion fell asleep pretty easily and I got up to see if I had any replies. So far most of the suggestions are not in this area except one doctor there are not alot of details about. I will start making calls in the morning.... In the meantime, I better get to bed as I may be in for a night of not alot of sleep!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Southward Ho

Our little tailgating party made it to Simi after two days of driving on Friday and Saturday. We stopped for the night in Redding, which wasn't quite halfway, so we had a pretty long day on Saturday. We got to my parents around 7, so it wasn't too bad. Orion has continued his love afair with Grandma's walker.

Sunday was pretty much a relaxing, visiting, shopping and organizing day. Of course I had to hit the local Trader Joe's and do some gluten free/dairy free shopping. On Monday we got to spend some time outside. Orion had a great time in his little digging spot.

Then we hit the park next door for awhile. Grandpa pushed him on the swing for awhile until he decided he needed to do some more exploring. A fountain is always no end of fun, especially ones that don't drain! First Orion tried in vain to figure out if he could push the button himself and drink at the same time, but then he realized it was much more fun to just splash the water.

Today we went to visit Taira and the kids, but I forgot my camera like a dork. Christina was sure glad to see Sarah! The boys got to play outside, fight over toys and play with one of the dogs. Actually, I was so happy that Orion did such a great job with Connor, who is about half a year younger than him. Connor was acting the way Orion usually does haha - just being possessive of toys and getting a bit physical about it. Orion would just look at him, and if I said he should give the toy back when he was done, he would just hand it to him most of the time. It was like he thought if it was upsetting Connor, he might as well just give it back. Maybe he is finally starting to settle down, or some of the things I say over and over and over are finally being put into action.