Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Family time

Here is our family spending time together. For a long time I thought spending time together as a family was sitting around a dinner table eating. It's a fun way to spend time together, and certainly the media sure tries to push that message upon us. However, it's not the only way to spend time together. In our family it certainly isn't even the ideal way to spend time together. We do generally eat together, but usually not all of us at the kitchen table. I love my kitchen table, so I probably eat there more than anyone else. Our meal preperation is so odd sometimes that often someone is eating at the table while food for another person is being prepared. Generally though, we eat at the desk or at the coffee table, or a combination of those. Eating together as family time is overrated in my opinion.

Our house is really small. The office and the living room are really all in the same room. The couch is new to us after not having one for a couple of years. Ever since we brought it home, Chamille spends all her time on the computer in the living room with us instead of by herself in her bedroom. She has a cozy spot on the couch all set up with her stuff surrounding her. Even the dog likes it (as you can see in the picture of Chamille on the couch)!

The rest of us prefer a more traditional desk style. Margaux is sitting at my computer, but she has another one to use if we all want to do something on the computer at the same time, like a really cool RPG. It is nice to find stuff and share it with each other. We are all sharing music finds and videos to watch that we think each of us might like. Chamille has built a really cool Myspace and we like to check it out and watch her videos. It's really cool to see what she's done with that blank computer canvas. John is recording and remixing music that his band has made.

We have IM set up on the computers so that we can easily copy and paste cool stuff to each other. Although these pictures portray a typical evening, our evenings don't always look like this. Sometimes we actually do other things...

Monday, January 22, 2007

My kids and their friends

Today is a beautiful sunny day. There is still a huge pile of snow where our cave used to be. The girls had a tremendous time smashing it! John and I watched, both secretly wishing that we could've just watched it slowly melt, but hey, snow doesn't come very often and smashing things is sooooo much fun!

Yesterday Margaux spent almost the entire day over at the neighbor girl's house. She's in one of the snow pictures, all in pink. She's one of the more creative players that we've had at our house and her and Margaux just get along tremendously. I couldn't ask for anything better for my girls. They each have a wonderful girl friend living right across the street. I never had that growing up, it was always a hit and miss with wether there were any kids, let alone, nice ones living in our neighborhood.

Chamille's friend is having a hard time in school right now and I feel so bad for her. She sees how free of a life her friend has, and knows that she can't have it. She's tried to convince her dad to homeschool, but he is not willing to do it because he works full time. That's hard. Her dad came over the other day to talk about E. and Chamille. He's never done that before. It turned out to be a very nice conversation. At the core of it, E. listens to Chamille. He was hoping that Chamille could use that influence and encourage E. to go to sleep if she starts text messaging her at midnight. I didn't even know they were doing this. I guess they do it almost every night. I'm okay with it for Chamille because she doesn't have to get up and struggle through classes sleepy. I guess E. is having a hard time staying awake and focused in school, and is suffering in school requirements because of it.

I talked to Chamille about it and she says that she actually has done that before and it only works sometimes. When she sleeps over, Chamille has to insist very strongly to get E. to let her sleep and do the same for herself. In those instances E. will listen.

I loaned the dad the book "how to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk". It came up in conversation, some of the very things this book addresses, so I suggested it and he was very open and receptive to it and actually wanted to read it. It's a good book for parents with kids in school, as it seems all the examples are of kids in school and dealing with homework and chores and the like. The same principles apply even if the kid isn't in school. I really like that book. I wish that I had read it when Chamille was little. A lot of the things mentioned in the book, I discovered on my own or with the help of reading unschooling message boards. Still there were things in there that I learned even after I thought I had it all down! Isn't that just the way it is! We never stop learning and changing and growing!

I took the opportunity to find out if Chamille and E. could go on walks and bike rides without parental supervision. Their family has been pretty strict about this and Chamille has been very much wanting to do these things. He was totally okay with it and actually thought this was a good idea, so long as he knows where they are going to be and when they are getting back. I'm okay with that too. He also said he would love it if Chamille and E. would go over to their house once in a while instead of always being over at ours. I can understand that too. I know why they don't go over there though, and it is mostly because of the older sibling there.

I'm happy for Chamille, she's a great kid! I'm happy for Margaux, she's a great kid too!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just one more pix

Well, just one more all right? Me and hubby in snow cave.

I just had to add some more pictures of my wonderful girls! Margaux is still trying to figure out how to swing, and Chamille is showing off her Naruto head band. She was a bit disgruntled about the other snow pictures of her. I told her that if she would stop putting her arms and hands in front of her face when I take a picture, that I could actually get a good one of her instead of trying to sneak one. So, she agreed to cooperate with me and pose nicely for this picture.
This is at the elementary school that is 1/2 a block from our house. It leads into a greenway with a few miles of trails and wildlife. It is the saving grace of living in the burbs after living in the city amid the action and bustle that comes with it. In the picture of Chamille, there is a house in the background, you can barely see it (upper left hand corner). Just on the other side of that house is the cul-de-sac that we live in.
The greenway also leads to a couple of grocery stores, restaurants, and a business area, where my hubby, conveniently, works. Sometimes we walk over there and take him lunch, usually in the summer when the weather is nice. There are little playgrounds throughout the greenway, nicely placed as a little kid would be tired of walking. The actual trail goes for many miles, but you have to cross roadways to continue. In the summer we bike for a few miles and end up at a really cool meadow with an awesome playground. Usually, though, if we are walking, we just stay within our greenway area. Within that area there are 7 small playgrounds not counting the school. Some of them are just swings and slide, but some have jungle gyms or basketball courts, and one tennis court. There is even an old horse shoe pit, but I've never seen anyone using it. I wonder if anyone knows about it?
Yesterday when we were out trudging through the snow we, or rather I, saw a blue heron fly right over our heads. I honestly don't know how both the girls missed it! It was huge and RIGHT there just a mere few feet over our heads. There is so much wildlife there, including coyotes. The entire greenway system follows creeks and rivers all the way to the Willamette River and the Tualatin River, but we haven't figured out how to do it yet. It would be a pretty long trek.
Today, the snow is still there, but it is melting a little because it is above freezing. The weather forecast says that there is a chance of more snow.... We shall see.... We've all got our fingers crossed!!!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snow Day

Well, here's a few pictures of our awesome snow day! It was the perfect snow, nice and powder, about 4 inches think, so that even after building our cool fort and snow man, there was still snow covering the ground!
We were out all day long, the weather was sunny and beautiful, cold, but tolerable because there was no wind. It was one of those snow days that everyone dreams of having and hope for all year long! Now, as I'm posting, it is the next day and the snow is still there. It is starting to melt a little but the temperature is going to drop again tonight and everything will be sheets of ice tomorrow. We are all getting ready to go out again to spend the day outside in the snow before it's gone.
I will post more again later, after we get cold and come in for a while....