A new helper around the house

My sister and her family are in the process of moving back to Ohio from Seattle! We are all so excited to have our family back together again. The journey to Ohio is happening in stages. The first person to make the trip is my nephew BJ, or as I hear he now goes by William. He got in Wed night and we have already put him to work on the house.

There was one section going into the kitchen that still needed that dreaded plaster and lathe board knocked down. In an effort to not cover the kitchen in black dust I put up tarps on all 4 sides of the space and I was hoping the boys could just stick their arm in the sheets with a crow bar and pull it all down.

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That worked, kind of…they managed to get a bit of the plaster to fall down.

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But eventually BJ just had to climb in and really go to town on it.

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Yeah it was really that dusty. But he did have a breathing mask and goggles on.

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This is only about half of the debris, I cleaned up half way through to try and keep him from stepping on any nails (that didn’t quite work he did step on a nail that I had to pull out of his shoe, oops. He was a trooper he never even complained.)

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Here’s the finished area, all the plaster down and ready to be dry walled….

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I love having some fresh blood to help around here. I think we’ve worn our own kids out. Poor Daniel never even comes to visit anymore for fear that we’ll put him to work. Will this renovation ever be done?????

Just a little bit of Ginger…

At the beginning of 2009 I decided to make big changes with the food we eat, the cleaners we use and the products that we put on our bodies; and the rest of the family has had to come along for the ride no matter how much they’ve complained about it. One of my favorite changes has been to quit coloring my hair with chemicals and to use only natural Henna.

In the past 2+ years I have hennaed my hair (with the help of my mom) many, many times. I’ve also slowly brought on some henna converts. My sister 1st hennaed her hair when she was out for a visit and now only uses henna. I also had a group of friends over that were curious about hennaing. A couple were brave and let us henna their hair while the others watched and laughed at the mess we made.

I started with Rainbow Resources henna which I can buy at Whole Foods, it’s convenient and inexpensive, but recent readings about henna have got me wondering if my all natural henna is maybe not so all natural after all. After reading the free eBook How to Henna Hair I’m wondering if there is maybe a better product I should try. I’ve since switched over to Light Mountain Natural Hair Color. I like that it doesn’t make my hair quite as brassy red as it was getting with the Rainbow Resource henna.

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Yes, it does smell just as good as it looks, much like a barn.

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So that’s what I would look like with dread’s, hmm….

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Once you start hennaing you’re kind of committed to it since there could be a reaction with other less natural coloring. I do sometimes miss being blonde but I don’t miss the chemicals, the expense and having to deal with the constant grow out.

***Hmm I just realized I’ve used these pictures before in my post about the first time I henna’d, I guess it has been awhile since my hair was quite that long and I guess I’m due for some new hennaing pics.

The end of an Era

It is a sad, sad time in the little town where I live. The local Caribou coffee shop is closing it’s doors. A neighboring restaurant is taking over the space. I’ve spent so many hours of my life in that homey little shop. Not only did I love the coffee but that has been a meeting spot for friends and family.

Back in 2005 after finishing massage school I spent every morning for weeks (maybe months, it seemed like forever) over there studying for my State Boards. I would meet my friend Paulita and she would work on writing her novel while I studied human anatomy. I think a lot of time was also spent talking but we really tried to stay on task. She also laments the loss of this landmark in her blog.

When my Aunt was still living in town, my mom, Aunt and I would meet on Friday nights to play Mahjongg on one of the big tables.

For years my mom and I would meet for coffee on Sunday mornings. Eventually my dad started joining us and sometimes Dan or Paulita would also stop by. It was a nice way to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning.

There are a few other coffee shops within walking distance, and I guess until May we will have to try them out. But in May down just 2 doors from Caribou, will be a new coffee shop opened up by one of our favorite Caribou barista’s. The Grandview Grind will hopefully be our new hangout. It will be much smaller than what we’re used to. All of the Caribou regulars are already heading over to claim their seats (even bringing their own coffee to sip on while the shop is still just an idea on paper.) Paulita thinks I need to show some of my art work in the new space so maybe I will bring over some of my stained glass windows and see if they are worthy.

I’m excited about supporting a local small business instead of a chain. I think this will turn out to be a good thing. I just hope I still get my .50 off for bringing my own cup!

A good day

Yesterday was a good day. One wouldn’t think having 2 back to back Dr. appointments spanning over 6 hours could make for a good day but they were good apts.

The first one was with an awesome Naturopath. It was our first time going to a Naturopath and I thought it was a great appointment. Her name is Jennifer Ball and she practices at the Center of Naturopathy in Victorian Village. She took a very thorough history and explained her plan to help us get to a healthier more balanced place. I think it is going to be a wonderful addition to the other treatment options we’re looking at.

The other appointment also went well, we liked the Dr. a lot. But I’m not sure that their level of care is exactly what we’re looking for. We still have 1 more place to look into. I already know that I love the last place. I have been going to family meetings there for the past several weeks and it is a very serene healing environment. I know that is where we are going to see the biggest turn around.

The change has already started, the secrets are all gone and that takes away their power. The healing has started and the desire to get better is there. Its going to be a long uphill battle but at last we are all on the same page and we can work through this together. Yesterday there was a glimpse of the life we used to have. The normal things that you don’t think about until they’re gone. Something as silly as watching a TV show together or stopping at Wendy’s for a frosty. Those are the monumental events that make me so happy now.

just a breath

Sometimes it hits me out of nowhere. I’ll be walking across the room, making dinner, sitting by myself or driving; it happens a lot when I’m driving, alone…It takes away my breath, literally. I actually have to stop and catch my breath, consciously remember how to breathe. It’s the memories of what is happening in our life, right now and for the past several months. Sometimes I forget, I get busy and it’s not in my thoughts. Then it returns and it takes away my breath. How did we ever get to this place? How could this be happening to our family? We practiced attachment parenting, we let our kids sleep with us, I nursed for years, we had a homebirth and we homeschooled. If they went to school it was their choice and they were free to leave school at will. We eat organic, healthy food as much as possible. I shop at CSA’s and food co-op’s and Whole Foods. How did this happen to us? Didn’t homeschooling and living a child-led life protect us from the darkness? We’re liberals, not just democrats but far left wing liberals, aren’t our kids supposed to be well adjusted? They’re loved and accepted for who they are. We don’t care if they’re gay, in an interracial relationship, with someone that actually has a religion. Our only expectation is for them to be kind to others and happy.

But then it returns and I can’t breathe. If I stop and think about it I can’t stop crying, so I don’t think. I let it wash over me, I remember how to breathe and I try to move past it without thinking. But every time it takes away my breath I’m surprised. Surprised that a feeling, a memory can do that. There are worse things happening in the world but there have not been worst things to happen in our family. How did this happen? When did we let down our guard and let in this darkness? We were happy I know we were, I think I can remember, it couldn’t have been that long ago. But it feels like a distant memory.

I want that life back, that time before, before all this was a part of my thoughts. Before I would just lose my breath.

A Day in Cleveland

On Friday we left the house at 6am to meet up with some friends and drive 2 hours north to spend the day in Cleveland.

Our first stop was The Playhouse Theatre to see Red, a Tony award winning Broadway Play about the artist Mark Rothko. This show was amazing! If you have a chance to see it, I highly recommend it. It is pretty intense and there is some bad language, it is meant for older kids and adults. Besides the show being completely amazing two other things I took away from this were always go early for the preshow talk, it gave so much more insight to the production and really helped the kids (and myself) better understand what was happening. And always stay after for the talk with the performers. It’s so interesting to see what they have to say about their experience doing the show.

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Next stop was lunch, we thought we would eat at the Westside Market, but instead we just picked up dessert. As Thomas said it was all meat, cheese and pastries…It did remind me of a cross between the North Market in Columbus and Pike Place Market in Seattle, not quite the same as either of them but the same cool market vibe.

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After buying our desserts we headed back to a little Mexican place, Ohio City Burrito, we had passed on our walk to the market.

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After lunch we spent the rest of our day at The Great Lakes Science Center. Since the kids volunteer at COSI they spend a lot of time at the Columbus science museum, it’s fun to see other science centers and compare them to COSI.

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The kids had fun in the Goosebumps exhibit, learning all about fears. Thomas does not have a fear of falling…

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But he does have a fear of clowns.

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Thomas and Molly struggled to build the Canterbury Arch. Poor Molly she is just a little too short to reach the top…

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Hmm Kristen wasn’t too much help, they definitely needed Thomas’ height to get to the center up. Thomas claims that he can do this by himself at COSI, I’m not sure how that would be possible.

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I loved the view of Lake Erie from the museum.

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Such a pretty walkway down to the water.

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It was a whirlwind day, 14 hours of driving and exploring. We had so much fun on this little road trip. This is what homeschooling is all about. The flexibility to take a day and go explore. I love our homeschooling life!

You can see more about this trip on Kristen’s Blog.

Plenty of field trips

Besides all the shows we’ve been going to it’s also been the season for field trips. Luckily we hang around with some highly motivated people that plan all kinds of cool things for us to do.

In the past 2 months we’ve…

gone ice skating during the lunch skate, it’s the best time to go if you can. Only $4 and the rink is practically empty.

A lock-picking class at The Columbus Idea Foundry, apparently Thomas is a natural. He often has his lock-picking kit with him, so if you’re ever locked out of something and he’s around, he can probably get you in.

Learn how to solve the puzzles provided by common pin tumbler locks and wafer locks, defeat security mechanisms, and generally enjoy the intrigue of popping a lock open without the key. Locks are just puzzles waiting to be solved.

OHAYOCON 2012 at the convention center. Ohayocon is a 3 day event that focuses on the art, culture and community surrounding Japanese Animation.

Hockey game with friends.

A tour of the The American Whistle Corporation and then a tour a the The Flag Lady Store in Clintonville. Two field trips back to back, way to pack it all in to one day!

American Whistle Corporation is the ONLY manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States! For approximately 45 minutes, we will show you a thriving, small, American manufacturing plant and entertain you with interesting information about whistles and fascinating machinery—some state of the art, some dating back to the beginning of the company. Best of all, everyone leaves with a shiny new “American Classic” whistle!

I am so glad I wasn’t driving that group of kids home, I hate whistling!

A visit to the Franklin Park Conservatory along with a class about the importance of environmental knowledge about personal energy consumption and conservation, the global carbon cycle, and the carbon sequestration power of trees and plants.

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After the class the kids got to watch the butterflies being released.

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Then we went to the playground for a picnic and some time to play in the waterfalls.

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During that same week (man we’ve had amazing weather in March) we went on another picnic at The Topiary Park in downtown Columbus, then a visit to the Columbus Museum of Art.

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The art museum now has a kids area complete with a space to climb on and in. I’m surprised by the lack of rules surrounding climbing on the structure. There are no signs saying not to climb up on the play house and it is even set up to make it look like they want  you to climb to the top.

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And, of course, our trip to Niagara Falls. The grand-daddy of all field trips!

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The life of a Homeschooler

Columbus is a great place to homeschool! There is so much to do and see and you can do most of it pretty inexpensively. At the end of last year when Thomas and I did our “year in review” we realized we didn’t see as many shows as we normally do. That was one thing Thomas wanted us to do more of and I think we accomplished that goal.

Just in the past month we have seen:

Bill Blagg’s The Science of Magic at the newly remodeled Lincoln Theatre.

For centuries, magicians have used scientific principles to make people levitate in mid-air and vanish in the blink of an eye. Illusionist Bill Blagg’s one-of-a-kind educational experience takes you on a rare, never-before-seen journey “behind the scenes” of the magic world.

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African Adventure: Safari in the Okavango, Documentary, on the big screen at COSI.

Tornado Alley 3D, Documentary‎, on the big screen at COSI.

Dressed, a documentary film at the Wexner Center. This was not only a great film but the designer Nary and the producer were there to answer questions after the show and we even got a free lunch. All for free!

Unfolding against a backdrop of the Fashion Industry in New York, “Dressed” is the inspiring story of young clothing designer, Nary Manivong, who defied the odds amidst a broken childhood, homelessness and the fiercely competitive world of fashion to pursue his ultimate dream – a show of his collection at Fashion Week.

Two of our friends posing with Nary:

Four Score and Seven Years Ago also at the Lincoln Theatre

After escaping slavery in Georgia, life in Gettysburg is everything young Lemuel dreamed it would be. However, his ideas about the North and the South, as well as what it means to be a free man, are challenged when he unexpectedly befriends a young Confederate soldier named Jacob.

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Nearly Lear at the Thurber Theatre put on by the Wexner Center. This show was AMAZING! and I think it was free also. The Actor/ writer/ producer, Susanna Hamnett, stuck around after the show to answer questions and chat with the small group of students that were there..

A one-woman version of the Shakespearean play. Actor Susanna Hamnett plays nine characters in this laugh-out-loud retelling, dubbed “a tantalizing introduction to the lifelong pleasures of seeing and reading Shakespeare.” 

Here’s our group of friends before we went in to the show.

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Sleeping Beauty, the ballet at the Ohio Theatre. This was the most expensive show we saw but it was still only $10 per person, which is a GREAT deal for a full ballet. It was also senior day at the theatre so all the homeschoolers were seated in front and center surrounded by the seniors. All the other school kids were in balcony. We had great seat!

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And on Friday we’re driving up to the Cleveland Play House to see a play about renowned painter Mark Rothko.

In this Tony-winning play, Master American painter Mark Rothko has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art. But when his young assistant gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the possibility that his crowning achievement could also be his undoing. “As much as any stage work I can think of,” Ben Brantley of The New York Times wrote, “Red captures the dynamic relationship between an artist and his creations.”

That is a crazy amount of shows to see in 1 month.

Blogging break

Besides yesterdays blog about Niagara Falls I haven’t blogged for about 2 months. I wanted to blog during that time. Thomas did a ton a cool things that I wanted to share. But during the past 2 months our world has fallen apart. The mental energy it took to compose a thought and type it out was more than I could handle. The things that I really wanted to blog about are too private to share. So instead I have these blogs roll around in my head with everything I want to say but can’t and there they stay, in my head.

Right now there is a calm between storms and I can write again. I’m going to go backwards and share some of the fun things that went on even in the midst of chaos, because life does still happen even when it feels like everything should just stop. I did pull back when things were really bad, I didn’t spend time on Facebook or even the internet unless it was researching ways to make things better. Being online lost all of its appeal.

But I talked A LOT! Thank goodness for all my friends that have had to listen to me talk and talk and talk about stuff that none of us ever imagined we’d be talking about.  The library also played its part, I brought home stacks of books to learn about this darkness that had come into our lives. When you’re reading books all day and night the internet takes a back seat. Then I realized that the internet was actually feeding part of the darkness that had descended upon us. How to get rid of its influence in a world that seems impossible to navigate without it. I’m still trying to figure that one out. I would love to exorcise the internet from our house but I don’t think that’s possible.

So for now while there is a calm I will write blogs about all the fun homeschooling adventures we have had. But when the storms return, and unfortunately I fear they will return, I will again take a break, circle in and focus on what’s really important.

Just another Homeschool field trip…

To Niagara Falls! Thomas and some of his friends have been doing a environmental science class where they briefly discussed hydroelectric power, but that was enough for us moms to jump at the chance to take the kids to Niagara Falls for a fabulous field trip. It was a whirlwind 2 day, 1 night trip but even in that short amount of time the kids learned so much more than they ever could have from just reading about the falls and the power plant in a book.

Our first look at the falls. Both Thomas and Ros said it wasn’t as big as they thought it would be. I didn’t realize that the falls were split by Goat Island. 

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This is Niagara Falls but the mist in the back is from the Horseshoe Falls.

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After our 6 hour drive we took a little break at the falls to play some Frisbee and eat our lunches. It was a beautiful, warm day who would have thought it would be like that in March. When we made the reservations we were worried about snow.

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We even got to see a rainbow at the falls.

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When did Thomas get so much bigger than me?

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Thomas and friends doing OHIO. After we left the observation area of Niagara Falls, we walked across the bridge to Goat Island.

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We are lucky to have such a great group of friends! These kids are amazing, they are so not like the stereotypical teenager that everyone worries about. They are sweet, kind, polite and a joy to be around.

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Thomas’ favorite part of the hike was the side trek to Three Sisters Islands. These rocky formations were originally all under water so the rocks have been worn smooth. It was a great place to just sit and listen to the river.

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But it was an even better place to climb around and explore. Of course, I was always in the background yelling for Thomas to get away from the water, which he ignored. We were upstream from the falls for heavens sake, so if you slip in over the falls you go.

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Ironically he got in trouble from a park ranger for climbing down to the water on the shallow, calm side of the rocks.

he's very contemplative

But it was perfectly ok for him to sit on the edge of the rocks by the deep rapids. What is wrong with these people?

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After we exhausted ourselves exploring the state park we headed to our hotel to finally check in. We ate a quick snack and the kids were off to the pool. While they were swimming I took one of the other moms across the street to check out the casino. As part of our Groupon Deal each adult got a $25 voucher to use at the casino. Both Laura and I left the casino with a little bit of winnings from our free money.

Then we were back to the falls to see it lit up. It was very pretty but it was so cold outside once the sun went down and it took a ridiculously long time for the colors to change, at least 15 minutes for each color.

the falls at night, man those colors change SLOWLY! each color lasted about 15 minutes

We just stuck around for the pink, white, back to pink then orange. By this time it was 9:30 and the kids were hungry again, I guess the snack we had before just didn’t cut it for dinner. We also got vouchers for the TGI Fridays at the hotel so Laura took the kids to eat while I took Tracie and her mom to the Casino so they could use their free money. I seem to be the only person in our group that gambles so I was the tour guide for this part of our trip. Tracie was the big winner leaving with almost $60, which she generously used the next morning to buy everyone breakfast. After 2 trips to the casino I managed to stay $20 ahead which I planned to use the next morning at the casino while everyone else was asleep.

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After all of our morning dalliances while most the kids were still asleep (Laura and Ros walked back to the falls, as did Tracie and I returned to the casino) we fed the kids, checked out our hotel and were off. First stop the Daredevil museum, which was closed. So we got a pic in front of the sign and headed to our next stop…

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The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, this was a homeschool field trip after all.

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We had a very entertaining and informative tour of the power plant, then we watched a 20 min movie that explained again how the water was diverted from the falls and showed how the plant was built (all in only 3 years.) Then we were left to explore the facility…

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and the observation deck

observation deck over the gorge

The kids have a great story they can share about a fighter jet that was on fire that turned sideways and flew through this bridge while it was being constructedIMG_6709the American power plant on the right and the Canadian one on the left

This is the Canadian power plant right across the gorge.

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After our time at the power plant we were ready to head home. It was a great trip with a great group of friends. And we decided that our next big homeschool field trip would be to Williamsburg in the fall!