Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Eve

It's late; I've done my Christmas-Eve duty, and am about to go to sleep, but probably not for too many hours before kids are up.

Holly is asleep on a futon in my office. She wanted to go to sleep where I was. Earlier we had made her a bed on the couch in the front room, next to the kitchen, because I was working up there. This is Christmas-related, because usually she's up late alone, online, listening to music, drawing, watching TV and such.

She's tired. She went with me, Keith and four of our friends on a carolling trip. I'm glad she went. She sang some, too, when they were songs she knew at all. Some of the things we did were madrigaloid, complex things. Sometimes we did The Holly and the Ivy (she knows that), King Wenceslas (she's getting it), and The First Noel (ditto).

Kirby was playing World of Warcraft online with friends (who were also online, but not here). Marty was at work, most of the time we were gone. He was super tired, after his first four days of work, all at least eight hours, and today was the most hectic of all. He went to sleep quickly and peacefully.

Kirby's still awake, I think, but playing quietly.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning, and I'm looking forward to sleeping too. That's cool--I don't dread either one. Everyone has chosen a time and place to sleep, and I think everyone will be happy to wake up. Good.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Very large children

...or: Young Adults at Christmas

I have no more shopping to do. There's a 25-year-old piece of wrapping paper I intended to have laminated for Holly, but I can do it later. I got it in England in the late 70's and it's a photo of antique keys laid out all parallel to one edge or another, and lots of them. I've pulled it out to look at it many times, and once it was up on a wall. Now it's in a tube.

The gifts... music and movies, mostly. Some clothes. A couple of books. Everything is something at least two people would like (not counting the clothes, I mean--not interchangeable for sizes). There's nothing there that the recipient won't be willing to share with others, so we'll all be rich in music and movies. There are a few toys, but not many. We're getting to that point now.

We were all going to go to some friends' open house tomorrow (Christmas Eve), but Marty got a new job and said "sure" to everything, including "Can you work Saturday?" So it will be all but Marty. At 3:00 Keith and I are going carolling with three other friends we've sung with on and off for a long time. We're going to run through a few things and organize ourselves, and then go look at lights and go to a few homes of friends and relatives. I didn't pick any places. I don't care and want it to be as low-key a deal as possible. I tried to persuade Holly to come with us, but she'd rather stay home.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com That's not a tree. It looks pretty good in the dark (not as good with a flash); it's just lights and tinsel run back and forth between a semi-circular hanging candle holder and some eye-screws put into the plywood platform that once had tile, before an indoor fountain malfunctioned some years back... I had planned to get a real tree, but a couple of the kids liked this thing I'd done for the past couple of years. It is easier, less expensive, and ecologically holier-than-I-am, but I don't get to use my very-many tree decorations and the house doesn't smell piney.

I'm enjoying having older kids. I do miss the excitement and toy-stuff, but each of the kids thought of something very sweet for at least one of the others. Marty has two things for Holly and nothing for Kirby, but he'll probably take him to a movie or something before long. Holly has two things for Kirby. What Kirby ordered for Marty might not be here before Christmas, but it's altogether a peaceful, generous, patient year as this stuff goes.

There is my Christmas info-dump and souvenir report.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Three in armor

Though I'm missing it (by choice), today for the first time Keith, Kirby and Marty are all in armor at the same time, off at a "war practice" in preparation for the Estrella War which is near Phoenix in February. I sent the camera with Marty and will try to link to some photos soon or eventually.

When they're armored up they're not Keith/Kirby/Marty, they're Jarl Gunwaldt, Lord Magnus and Bardolf. For most of my adult life I really cared, and now that I'm not doing SCA myself but just being the supply officer back at the barracks, as it were, I still know a landmark moment when it comes, and today is one of those.

There's a photo of Kirby in his armor which can be seen by those with myspace accounts
http://myspace.com/kirbydodd
(click "view more photos" under his main photo)
and there are photos of both of them in costume, when they were much younger, here:
http://sandradodd.com/duckford/children

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Fifteen years ago

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis week

(Larger images are at flickr.com/photos/sandradodd)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Teenagers

Marty applied for some jobs using online forms at the beginning of December. One was for the grocery store that's out our back gate and a few hundred yards up the alley.

I wrote a letter for the manager, saying he's homeschooled so flexibly that any 180 days can be schooldays, per the state, and so he could work any kinds of days. That's to the store's advantage because of child labor laws. If there IS "a schoolday" they can't schedule him past a certain time the night before, or before a certain time on the day. So real years being what they are, that leaves 185 days that aren't school days.

So Marty went in with this mom-letter to introduce himself to the manager and see what he would need to do to get an interview. He had waited a few days after we learned that the manager was off for a week. So Tuesday the 6th he went in and was informed by someone in the office that in order to be considered he needed "a green" on each section, and he had one red and one yellow. She advised him to do the online application again, but instead of agreeing, to always STRONGly agree. (Sometimes that was going to be "strongly disagree.")

How frustrating. But he came home and did it right away, and then went back up to say he had done so.

He came back about twenty minutes later saying "I got my interview!"

"When?"

"Just now." They were done. He starts next Wednesday or maybe sooner. He said they were already looking at the online report on him as he walked into the office.

The sooner had to do with a drug test and physical (not much of a physical). We did that Wednesday, got him the right pants and some new black boots and he's ready when they are. They're talking about 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., weekdays. It will be the first time (not counting the one week of junior police academy) that he will live on something resembling a school schedule. Also, you might note that it's a fulltime job. He had applied for parttime. But in the swirl of it all, he didn't object and we'll see how it goes.

Holly, meanwhile, is in a more quiet phase than she's been for a while. She's doing a lot of drawing with a big set of gel pens she got for her fourteenth birthday in November. She's fourteen now, and already has reminded me a few times that she can start driver's ed just before she's fifteen but that she'll probably want to wait until she's fifteen. She's ready to drive.

Kirby is working five days a week at Dion's pizza, and learned yesterday that they are going to start training him in pies, meaning he'll be making pizzas, probably, before long. I asked if it paid more, and he said no but it's more prestigious. So in the culture of large-crew pizzerias, he's moving up a notch.

They all three saw Chronicles of Narnia last night at the midnight showing, but didn't all go together. Marty left here about 8:00 for the pre-movie hanging around. Holly went with Kirby and his group an hour or so later. They found each other there, and several other friends. Marty says it was good, three hours, everything was fine.

Meanwhile, back at home, Keith and I had gone in the hot tub with the air outside below freezing, but it was still and the hot tub builds its own steam room. We had heated it from 42 degrees to 106, over four or five hours. We got two cords of firewood yesterday too, and were tired from moving that around. We're wood-rich and happy-kid rich. When they were little we paid tons of attention to them, and now that they're older they're able to pay attention to one another sometimes while we have the night off.

Very nice.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Another article in French

This is Sylvie Martin-Rodriguez's translation of "Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life."
Refuser une vie pré-fabriquée

There's a bio of me in French 2/3 down here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

HOME and the book's done

We're home safely with few problems, after driving straight through from St. Louis on Monday. After seven days of intense activity (counting the travel time) it was quietly and wonderfully peaceful to just be home. That's me and Holly, anyway. Keith went back to work Wednesday, as did Kirby. Marty worked a couple of half days.

This book is finished and for sale at this site: sandradodd.com/puddlebook



Tadaa!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Fifteen moonflowers, leaving town

The moonflowers aren't leaving town; we are. Soon. Driving to St. Louis (which is easier to say and remember than "Driving to a place in Illinois that's basically in St. Louis").

Fifteen moonflowers, which is very exciting, and now we'll miss them for seven or eight nights. Friends of ours will see them, though; part of the benefit of housesitting. (Small but unusual benefit.) And barring any freak early-October freeze, we'll see lots of moonflowers when we come home.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

It's fall!

Leaves are actually falling, as though calendars mattered to my yard. There will be hundreds of moonflowers. I'm kinda stunned. There have been thousands of morning glories and that didn't surprise me. They're in eight different places, and a couple of those places pretty extensive.

We have ten days before we leave for the Live and Learn Conference. I've been doing pretty well this time about being ready early, but by "ready" I mean keeping my last-minute list to a manageable level.

For me, it's easier than for Keith who has to take time off during a pressing project at work. Kirby and Marty have arranged to take off too. That's a lot of people's days off. And we're having two housesitters to share the load here, and they might subcontract to other friends in that group. Sometimes I wish for the ease of just locking up a one-bedroom pet-free apartment and getting a ride to the airport, rather than all the whole-family, four-pet, yard-watering planning. Six pets--forgot the rats for a moment. But in the "at least..." department, at least we're not on the Gulf coast and we don't have milk goats.

The conference details are here, and I'm speaking or leading games or music seven times. Nothing really difficult, just a lot of it.

http://www.liveandlearnconference.org/


Next year it will probably be in Albuquerque! Much less prep if so!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Moonflowers! (and a mystery flower)

Yes, a moonflower bloomed, and dozens more are building up blooming. This one's about ten feet up, so we couldn't get a clear shot (and it's not quite fully open at 9:30, either, but I have hot tub and sleeping-like-a-rock plans because I have a cold).

And then there's a mystery flower came up yesterday and bloomed today. It might be a bulb, but it came up pretty suddenly and without any blades or leaves, just the stalk (about ten inches high) and a freakish, elaborate bloom like the tails of five exotic cartoon birds. Does anyone know what this is!?



Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Book, French and more flowers

I've spent many (many) hours lately working on a book. Keith spent many hours too. Had it not been for my respect for tradition, I'd be long done. Seems to me, though, that each chapter (in this case, each essay) should start on a right-hand, odd-numbered page. Seems simple enough. Only thing is the essays keep coming out to three pages long. Or worse, two and a half. So they need filler. Photos of the kids seemed like good filler. Forty-eight essays. Some don't need photos. Some need more than one.

Luckily, Keith knew some good formatting tricks, and that's good.

And for more international credits, Sylvie Martin-Rodriguez has translated three of my essays into French and you can get there from here: SandraDodd.com/french

My moonflowers are going to bloom. They haven't yet, but when they do I'll bring a photo. And that's the news of August 31. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bush Morning Glories



When researching for my page on morning glories, I read about bush morning glories. I'd never heard of them, but one article said they grow in New Mexico and come from a bulb or tuber or something. I bought some seeds and they just looked like kinda pitiful little weeds and I was afraid they'd never come to anything, but TODAY! Today is the day.

I saw the little furled-umbrella looking thing early today, and 11:30 when I got back from errands it was open. There are five others ready to open in the next few days. Pretty exciting.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Lunch with Carol

My friend Carol Rice graduated with a degree in psychology and art, in May, and though I had intended to go to her graduation party, I missed it by a day and was sad and embarrassed.

I took her out to lunch earlier this week, though. To Garduño's on Montgomery. We talked some about art therapy (which she intends to study in Santa Fe soonishly to get an MA degree), and some about alternative psychology, and some about kids and some about just the little fluffy stuff old friends talk about.

Carol was one of the La Leche League leaders who made such a deep impression on me. When I met Carol she had three children and I had one. Now she has four and I have three, only none are "children," because they range in age from 13 to 23 now. Of those who weren't born yet when we met (Marty, Julie and Holly), they hang around together weekly or so, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer in full-DVD sessions. Renee and Liam (twins; toddlers when I met them) are over here from time to time for parties or games.

When I met Carol, Kirby was an infant and school or not-school was far in the future. By the time Kirby was five, I had seen Carol and her co-leader in LLL, Lori Odhner, and their growing families and their unschooling lives for many years. That's helpful. That (and some other personal experiences and factors) made unschooling easier for me than it could have been, and easier than I know it is for many others, and I've been grateful to Carol and Lori always for the benefit to my family from my having seen theirs. (Kathy Hoag was helpful too, with the early-childhood parenting, but Kathy's kids all went to school and the wedge eventually made the separation too great for the kids to hang around comfortably. I still like Kathy lots when I see her, but can't claim the same lifelong relationship of kids-to-kids.)

Frequently when I've spoken or written I've named Carol and Lori as mothers to whom I'm indebted, who influenced me and gave me tricks and treasures to pass on to other moms, so here's another credit, homage and tribute to Carol Rice. I thank you again, and not for the last time.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Kirby's 19th birthday

Kirby is 19, so I've been a mom 19 years.

When I was 19, my mom accidentally got pregnant, and if that had been me that year, I'd've now been a mom for 33 years or so. This way's better.

Kirby had a costume party and photos of most guests are linked from Kirby's page, but here's one of my three, who went as Casey Jones from the first Ninja Turtle movie, Dr. Strangelove (he had a wheelchair and more props, but this was while he was getting ready, when he was being MeatLoaf) and Addie, from Paper Moon.


Lots of people came over yesterday afternoon and last night, and it seemed to be a really good party with nice people and good costumes. Kirby seemed happy with it all.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Birthday

I'm 52 today. Kirby brought me breakfast in bed. That was sweet. He scared me, though, when he woke me up. And I wasn't in the mood to eat, but none of that kept it from being a really nice gesture. :-)

He stayed and talked a while. He turns 19 next Friday.

Keith and Holly are at an SCA campout in the Jemez Mountains (Lonely Mountain, for those with the need to know). Marty stayed here with us.

This afternoon Marty and Kirby and I are going to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then to eat out. That's my birthday party, and it sounds like a good one.

Last night my friend Ramona took me to Garduño's and tomorrow morning (which is HER birthday) I'll take her to breakfast.

Sounds like my birthday is all about food this year. I didn't think about it until I wrote it all down. Mostly it's about being with people I like, though, in air-conditioned places.

Here's something about birthday cake: CAKE

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Scattery writing

I'm supposed to post once a week to remain a member in good standing of one of the blogrings, maybe both. It's hard to feel like a slacker, as I write about unschooling every day, but it's scattered here and there.

Lately I check unschooling.info, the UnschoolingDiscussion list and AlwaysLearning, and usually leave a story or an idea.

Kirby is applying for jobs. More and more, companies are collecting applications online, and so Kirby's first-impression strengths aren't so useful. It's interesting to see the world change in those ways. I used to work (long-term temp) at a personnel office for a scientific research company on Kirtland AFB, and it was very interesting how the applications were handled. Some of them were never seen by anyone but me and the secretary, but we did the best we could when one of the engineers or managers requested resumes of a certain sort. It's overwhelming to think of it.

Marty's working four days a week making boots still. His boss got another job, doing books and office work at a motorcycle repair shop, and so Marty works alone, listening to CDs. He doesn't mind. I wouldn't last in a non-socializing environment myself.

Holly and Marty have been playing a swimming-pool team sport with a goal and a bumpy ball, designed by their friend. I'm glad they're letting Holly play too. It's been really hot here, and that time of the year when being inside and not moving much seems healthiest, until evening.

There are some new photos of my kids online from when they were little, in an article about medieval children's costumes that I wrote years before the photos were taken: sandradodd.com/duckford/children (Magnus is Kirby, Bardolf is Marty, and Asta is Holly.)

Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Sparkly 4th of July!

With apologies to Canadians and Brits who might wander by, it's hot-dog and fireworks day! And I lived. The swelling is all down and I can lean on my arm now. Good.

Here's a newish photo. Two months old (5/5/5) but as I've been scanning lots of old photos it seems like yesterday.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bee sting

OUCH!!
Thursday morning early, I got the worst bee sting I've ever had. I'm not allergic, but it felt like fire, and deep, so I guess I didn't notice the first stick and he dumped his whole load. YIKES. I took antihistimine, put antihistimine outside. Sleeping helped.

Friday morning, my arm was fat (it's a few inches below my elbow, where I can't see it except in the mirror) and kind of oozing. Gross! I read what I could find, but most sources don't say much if you don't swell up and nearly die in the first half hour. I found some information about delayed symptoms. That night I soaked it in the hot tub and slept hard.

I suppose I could go and spend $50 for urgent care and get a shot. But I'm not sick or feverish, and it's not as bad Saturday as it was Friday afternoon, so I'll probably just tough it out.

I'm glad it was me and not one of the kids.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Life-Learning Interview

Life Learning Magazine arrived this week, and there's a transcript of most of an interview I did for a radio and download site. Actually for a homeschooling family involved in radio shows for homeschoolers to hear first-run or to listen to on the website.

So...
In the recorded one it was edited to fit in half an hour, so it seemed I talked even faster than I really do! That's linked here: SandraDodd.com/radio.

The magazine version has photos the kids and I took of each other. That was a fun day. As I read it I saw some things I liked, some things I wish I had said better, and mostly realized I like writing better than I like to read a transcript of what I said!

Some years back, there was an interview in Home Education Magazine, but that one was done by e-mail, and edited back and forth and discussed on the side, so it was writing, though writing within someone else's template, as it were. Writing with a director. That was fun. And I did the final edit myself, because what the interviewer liked was too long and the magazine editor needed it to be shorter. So somewhere on my computer, I have "the director's cut" and should put that on my website. I hope I have it still. The shorter "official" one that was in the magazine is here, though:

http://www.homeedmag.com/HEM/HEM151.98/151.98_art_sd.html


LATER NOTE: SandraDodd.com/interview
There it is, the full long version, with the three photos that might've gone with it in the first place, IN COLOR! Ta-daaa! My sister took those photos in her yard. Marty and Holly made it in HEM's version; Kirby didn't. Now they're all three restored to their spots, much afterwards, but still... —Sandra, February 2006

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Joy and Frustration

Frustration, thy name is new computer. Glad to have it, but there are those other files and folders to move, and the files that won't open on the new computer, and the wishing that Mac had just stayed Macish, and PCs had not copied Mac's windows, so that Mac wouldn't have been so happy to copy PCs' organizational scheme so that I didn't have to learn so much on such a hot day.

The cool thing, though, was that Keith brought a little THING from work, a USB memory-transfer stick, and that is a HECK of a lot easier than CD-copying. I could've just hooked them together directly and downloaded the whole other thing, only the old one is OS 9.2 so it wasn't old enough. Had to be TEN (X) and have the name of a large jungle cat, or the new one cannot have intercourse with it (social, verbal or cabloid).

I'll probably dream about not finding something that's layers and layers down and trying to get a folder/door to open before a Tiger gets me or something. (Maybe thinking it before I sleep will keep me from dreaming it.) Maybe I'll dream of flying, because I have wireless DSL access now rather than being the last dial-up consumer in the house. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll sleep like a dreamless rock.

Monday, June 20, 2005

"Love" Blog

Love blog, love blog, never quite as good...

Oh wait. Different kind of love. Still about song lyrics, though! If you think of songs with lyrics that describe the total obsession and distraction of being full-on IN LOVE, please go there and name or quote or link your nominees.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

I think I'm getting old






I couldn't figure out what was different about my yard this year. Something's different. But I think it's that I'm different, in relationship to my yard.

I find myself being REALLY HAPPY with the smallest things. Or I have a big warm feeling inside because hollyhocks I put in from seed are taller than I am. Day lilies Keith and I moved outside of Marty's window are going to bloom this year, instead of having a recovery year (which would've been fine and understandable).

At the same time I'm more understanding when a tree dies, I'm happy in a new way when baby trees come up. We've moved a couple of trees from their natural birthplaces to elsewhere in the yard. One was a foot and a half high; one was four feet; both maybe four years old or so. That might not be a big deal for people who live where trees are plentiful, but in New Mexico they're pretty precious and shade is a valuable luxury. Even the free mulch of falling leaves in a luxury, where only weeds, cactus and stickers would be growing otherwise.

Different attitude, different perspective. I like it.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Early June

I was asked how I felt about Holly being in England, and thought maybe the answer was worth repeating here.

At first I really missed her. I'm still restless and I walk into her room and look around, feed her rats, look out her window, wonder what she's doing.

A couple of times I've been jealous, but I'm having a good time here, getting tons of cool stuff done in the yard, hanging out with Marty and Kirby more than I would if Holly were here, and having a good time with Keith.

I'm super happy for her to be having this experience, though. It will give a big boost to her thinking in all kinds of areas--language, geography, history, interpersonals, art, architecture, parenting, the difference between herself at home and herself out and about (if any, and in what ways she might have perceived differences). She'll never forget and these things will be part of her view of herself and the world as long as she lives. Very, very cool.

Kirby and Marty are involved in a role playing game in the next room. They're laughing as hard as I've ever heard them laugh, and having a really great time. Seven guys, I think, ages 16 to 24 or so, cracking up on a Thursday night. They're not drinking, they're not listening to objectionable music, they're not cruising or drag racing, they're not watching TV (my husband's watching wrestling, and this group used to)... Full range of possibilities and a driveway full of cars (ours and visitors') and they're sitting around spinning character stories and interactions for each other and laughing with deep and sincere joy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Wonderfully Peaceful Day

It's kinda wonderful sometimes to have a day when nothing pressing is happening, nobody's worried or anxious or in a hurry. Yesterday was that way here. Marty spent the day in his pajamas, which he hasn't done for a LONG time (but used to do once a week, on a schedule, with a "home day"). When I asked Kirby Sunday night what he had going for Monday, he said, "Watching 24." He and I watch 24 together every Monday, and last night was the grand finale (two shows together) of the fourth season.

Though other things did happen, Kirby went to paint miniatures, people came over later to play video games, someone else came to watch 24 with us, the three of us had a quiet, happy, warm day together.

Meanwhile, in England, Holly's shopping and hanging out, recovering from HesFes. There are a couple of photos at the Holly in England page, and an e-mail from her written yesterday, so that completes my report of the happenings of May 23.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Holly's in England

Holly (13, and my youngest of three) is in England and I don't have a photo yet. Here are some more trip details and her basic intinerary. The house seems empty without her.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Prairie Dogs


There are photos of kids and prairie dogs here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tumbleweeds

I'm selling morning glory seeds to help gather money for Holly to have in England. I was going to put a webpage up (because I had said on the insert paper with the seeds that I would), and when I went to work on that, I thought I should also do a page on tumbleweeds and one on goatheads. Then I thought I should include the Egyptian onions that are multiplying like crazy in my yard.

Well... I ended up working a long time on the tumbleweed page and I really like it. I'm going to follow the growth of two particular tumbleweeds in my yard as long as I can stand to. Maybe by the time I want them gone or they're too close to my baby trees, there will be a good looking one of about the same age and size in the vacant lot behind the house.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Family news late April '05



There's Holly's somewhat-cheesecake-like photo for the gamer profiles site the Halo II players use. Luckily, she's playing Halo II on XBox live. Before that, she was saying "I'm going to ENGLAND!" several times a day, and this is better.

Keith was sick almost from the beginning of the month, and was in the hospital for a week. Very scary. He won't go back to work for a week or two, but he's home and he's getting better.

Kirby went to Sioux City (not around here) for the weekend to play L5R (Legend of the Five Rings, a card game) and got a speeding ticket in Iowa. He paid it online, and it was so easy he declared that he should get tickets in Iowa all the time!

Marty is working so efficiently at his bootmaking job that he often comes home early, having finished all that was left in the shop for him to do. It's good for his free time, but it's not so great for his spending money to work quickly. Maybe he'll get a raise.

Intro & Intent

This is intended as one more way for people to find information on how to live more peacefully with their children and as a place to put trivial and profound family news and stories.