Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Random lately.

Hannah heading out with ammunition to try to make friends with her goat. Chinde was tagging along begging for a carrot. She ended up sneaking one.

Ainsley walking the kitten. I'm not sure why, but that shy kitten (one of the three cats we have) loves to follow Ains around. Hannah's too loud and fast, but Ains, toddler-clumsy and excitable as she is, is fascinating to the kitten. Maybe Desiree knows that Ains won't be able to catch her.

Hannah feeding our bum lamb.

Coloring eggs.

My Dan dog. Love him.

Playing with the cats.

Hannah finally got Desiree.

A childhood ritual - collecting beautiful, special rocks. Only adults would think they're simply gravel rocks.


Playing in the hail.

Ains is now adamant about her clothes choices. One of her favorite choices is wearing one of Hannah's pink sparkly shoes and one of her red sparkly shoes. Don't know why... besides the sparkly, of course. That's self-explanatory.

Sorting coins.

More reading.

Holding Grayson. Lots of holding Grayson.


The weather is nice enough for short swinging sessions. Problem is, Ainsley doesn't believe in short swinging sessions. Thirty minutes is a minimum, but that's much too long for Grayson to be out yet. It's still chilly and windy.

I moved the swingset over so that it's directly behind our back door. Now I can swing the girls for as long as Grayson can take it and then take him inside and come back out and swing the girls. It creates a safe situation that keeps everyone content.

I enjoy swinging, but I can't remember how much I must have loved it as a child, but I think I must have - doesn't every child? The girls enjoy it tremendously.

Non-violent resistance.

This is Ghandi. He has passive, non-violent resistance down to an art.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter bunnies.

It wasn't Easter, but the local country supply store had their springtime supply of bunnies. The girls liked holding them. Ainsley's "thrilled" face in the first picture cracks me up.

Notice how Ains is holding back more than Hannah. She's not scared, she's cautious. Right before I took the picture, Matt had lost his balance and let go of the back legs of the rabbit, which made the rabbit kick its back legs to try to get a grip and feel secure. Ains, unlike Hannah, is very sensitive to an animal's body language and wanted to simply pet it instead of holding it after that. She kept telling Matt to put it back in the pen.

Note how impressed Grayson was with the whole outing.

My girls are braver than I...

therefore they open the refrigerated biscuit cans.

'Tis true. I'm a coward.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A good website.

I had this website recommended to me on an email list. It is fantastic. Hannah and Ains both love it, but I think I like it as much.

It's called Poisson Rouge. There are so many things to discover on this site. We've been playing on it for two weeks and *still* have not uncovered all the fun mysteries.

You get to play with sound, distance, letters, numbers, science, puzzles... just tons of stuff. Definitely worth checking out. One of Hannah's top three sites right now. (The other two are Starfall and the My Little Pony site.)


You did this as a kid, didn't you? Had a spot in your house where your mom marked how big you were?

In our house it was a pantry wall. There were ten kids in our family, so there were a lot of marks on that wall. We never had a specific time that we marked our growth, sometimes it wasn't even once a year, so the marks were really haphazard, but it was fun for us to look at. I wonder how the family who moved into our house felt when they painted over that section of wall. It wasn't their memories. Did they get as emotional as I would have painting over something like that? I doubt it. I wish I'd gotten a picture of that wall.

Since we won't be living here for any of our children's entire childhood, I started measuring them on a board I can take with us. Hannah loves it and insists on being measured at least once a week. She's always bummed when she hasn't grown noticeably in the last week. Ainsley just likes standing against it like her sister did and then bouncing up and down on her toes.

It's led to some good conversations about height and even weight (since we had to explain why weight couldn't be measured on the board). I think she'll insist on measuring her Grandpa the next time he comes to visit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The blanket is done.

I haven't been able to get a picture of just the blanket yet because, well, it's never by itself. It always has a child wrapped in it. I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Foiling the 18 month old.

She loves the computer. She wants to bang on the keyboard and click on the mouse. She's made my computer do some awfully interesting things in the last few weeks. I have yet to figure out which key combinations she uses.

So when I heard about this program, I was thrilled. Apparently, it makes it "safe" for the kid to bang all over the keyboard or the mouse. It just happily goes on to the next letter in the alphabet whenever any key is hit and the command keys don't function as command keys. Brilliant!

I started it up and set her in front of the computer.

Within thirty seconds she'd shut the whole computer down.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Grayson Randall

Finally, baby has a name. It was the first name that we were stuck on for awhile.

Randall comes from my mother's father. He was an amazing grandfather and father - and a heckuva dairy farmer and horseman. It's a strong name from a strong man. I smile when I think of my grandfather. What better testimony of a man's life than that? So I gave my son his name.

And there you are. Finally.

Random shots.

Hannah's birthday cake - it was a fire hazard.

Ains on Matt's back. She loves this thing. She'll follow him around, dragging it and saying "Back, back!" until he caves and puts it on.

Grayson snuggling.

Making banana pops.

Helping the pony potty.

Rules vs. Principles

It's raining outside. It's dark. The owl is quiet, probably cursing the weather and her inability to hunt.

I love it when it rains. I love the sound of the rain falling, the sound of it rolling off of the roof or hitting our skylights. Growing up with the storms that rolled across the plains in Oklahoma, these rain storms are pitiful things, but pleasant still. Very relaxing.... as long as I don't think of the mud I'll have to slop through tomorrow.

All three kids are asleep, a rare occurence. Usually at this time of night I'm sitting here surfing the internet while Grayson nurses or needs to be held and jiggled while he digests.

A few minutes ago, while he nursed to sleep, I read an article by Danielle Conger, one of the unschooling movement's more noticeable advocates.

I've been meaning to read this article for awhile. Since bringing Hannah into our lives, both Matt's and my views on parenting have changed drastically. I was interested in how this distinction between rules and principles would fit into our parenting paradigm, which we're constantly - sometimes it seems daily - tweaking.

Hannah doesn't take well to rules. She's an easy-going girl who has a very developed sense of fair play. She readily accepts my apologies when I've over-reacted (read: yelled) - but she expects that apology. She knows if she's been treated unfairly and she will call both her daddy (who gets told he's being bossy) and me on it if needed. I'm glad Hannah was our first child. Ainsley is much less likely to take to rules. It's obvious in her as an 18 month old, so I can't imagine our lives if we were strict disciplinarians with her as she aged. It wouldn't be pretty for either her development or for a peaceful home.

Here are some excerpts from the article.

"Rules are all about authority, hierarchy, rigidity and absolutes. They tend to be top down, reinforcing a power structure that relies upon a "might makes right" mentality—"because I say so," "I'm the parent, that's why," "That's just the way it goes." Rules exist outside the person to whom they are applied. They are externally enforced and prohibit the possibility of question, adaptation or exception....

A parent both chooses the rules and chooses who must follow and when....

Principles, on the other hand, are about autonomy, mindful living, freedom and flexibility. Principles, rather than being absolute and automatic, demand careful thought and inquiry both to establish and apply. They represent a consensus about rightness, fairness and equity that once agreed upon provide an internal measure of conduct.

If after careful consideration we adopt a principle, we internalize it and thoughtfully apply it to countless situations throughout our life. There is no external threat demanding our adherence, only our own internal sense of right and wrong. Living by principles offers our children both the model of an ethical life and the opportunity to grow as ethical and just individuals within themselves.

Principles can also help simplify our lives. A single sound principle, fully explored and sincerely adopted, alleviates the need for a multitude of rules. Rules proliferate because they are isolated and specific while principles are few, simple and basic, cutting to the ethical origin or foundation of living in the world....

Principles apply to all, not just a few and not just those low down on the hierarchical ladder because they are based on careful thought and consent. As Ben Lovejoy pointed out in his seminar, rules are something to get around by clever thinking whereas principles are guidelines for life. Sound principles, unlike rules, apply to everyone regardless of age or position because they represent the foundation of what's right and fair for all. They demand thought and enable the flexibility necessary to ensure freedom for all family members, not just those “in charge.”

For parents, putting principles in place of rules provides the opportunity to model mindful living, problem solving and respect for others. Principles enable us to forge strong and thoughtful connections with our children as partners rather than adversaries, and they provide the ethical foundation for living mindfully in the world rather than in isolation, coercion or compliance."

Read the full article here.

I'm going to repeat this line - "For parents, putting principles in place of rules provides the opportunity to model mindful living, problem solving and respect for others."

That right there is one of the best things about parenting mindfully. You don't force children to live as you want them to live, to behave as you want them to behave. You work on being a better person yourself, every day. You work on respecting others, on being kind, on loving yourself. You follow your interests with passion, you help others do the same. You work every day on being a better person, and you let your child see you doing that work. You let them see you fail, get back up, make amends, try again and you see them mimicking that. They internalize that and they act from an inner desire instead of from an outward expectation. And you get to be a better person in the process.

Knowing full well that my babes are young and I have much more to see in the next twenty years, some of it behavior that I *won't* appreciate, I will say that watching Hannah tell her sister "I'm sorry I yelled at you. I'm just so *angry* that you're eating my paint." or watching her automatically get two bowls when she's getting ice cream out makes me just a wee bit proud. I haven't coached her to say these things or to do these things. She says them and does them because she sees us saying and doing these types of things.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So I've been gone for a week

and all I want to blog about is what's going on in the world.

My family is safe, healthy and happy. My little baby is sleepily waking up to this world. Nursing, sleeping, peeing, cuddling, and starting the cycle over. Two weeks in this world, knowing nothing but love.

His older sisters are doing well. Neither is showing any jealousy, both are adapting well to Momma's attention being elsewhere sometimes, and both are content. Hannah's got her own, new "big bed" that she refuses to use but is awfully proud of. Ainsley is in love with Hannah's big bed and starts her sleep there every night.

My overhauling of my recipe mess right before the baby's birth was a success and it's easier for me to plan meals now. My plant starts are doing well (minus the *#*&$#$ onions and leeks) and it looks like if all goes well, my garden will provide healthy, inexpensive food this year.

I have a craft room that I share with my daughters. I have shelves full of yarn and fabric. I have patterns and a sewing machine and the financial ability to foster these hobbies.

With all of these good things, after watching Winter Soldier testimonies, after hearing Obama's race speech, after watching Tibet get smacked behind closed doors (though we can hear, even if we ignore it, from the front lawn), all I can think is "How lucky am I?" How lucky to be white. How lucky to be American. How lucky to not be in a country whose sovereignty is not recognized.

How lucky to not be killed walking home with groceries because my bag of vegetables looks like it could be dangerous. How lucky to not be fearful of those occupying forces who are supposed to be protecting me. How lucky that I will not likely see my children blown away or wonder how I will feed them.

If there is any doubt in your mind that war is horrible, that horrible things are happening to Iraqi civilians by *our* hands, watch the testimonies of the Winter Soldiers. Watch them anyway. Just not with your young children around. Winter Soldier was a program put on over the weekend that had panels of returned US soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan talking about what they went through in their deployment and what they're going through now that they're home. Watching these soldiers talk about what they went through, what they witnessed, what they did, while in Iraq and Afghanistan is eye-opening. And these soldiers deserve to be watched, to be listened to.

It is telling that not a single member of the corporate media mentioned this gathering or covered it. It took a lot of courage for these soldiers to come forward. Listen to them. We have a lot of power today that we didn't have ten years ago. Blogging about this, emailing about it, visiting the websites to let them know you hear them - we can do this now. We can bypass the mainstream media and hear what they mean for us not to hear. We can bypass news about Paris's vajayjay and Britney's guest appearance on a tv show. We can ignore the latest "Iraqis are hopeful because of US occupation" headlines and find out, from the troops who were there, how the Iraqis really feel. Do this. For the Iraqis and for our soldiers.

You can watch excerpts at Democracy Now, you can read transcripts and listen to audio at The War Comes Home, or you can watch the testimony at the home page for Winter Soldier, Iraq Veterans Against the War. While frustrating, it's exciting that the IVAW page has been frequently down the last few days because of overwhelming demand on their server from people wanting to watch the testimonies. I've only been able to watch one testimony every few hours due to this - and I couldn't be happier. That the system is clogged with people wanting to hear the truth is not a bad thing. There is hope. This is what is on my mind today.

About Obama and Tibet?

Obama's "race" speech. Call it dodging-the-Wright-bullet, hyperbole, or "just another political speech" if you want. As an independent, my vote is his now. I didn't appreciate his "Israel" line and I didn't appreciate that there was no positive mention of Muslims among all his talk of "Black, white, Hispanic, Native Americans" and "preachers, pastors, and rabbis", but overall, that speech was fantastic.

Watch the full speech here. Our country has hope with a man like this at its helm. And if the rumors are true, that he wrote that speech himself, we may just have as our next president a man who can string three words together without looking like a moron.

And Tibet...

They're finally fighting physically for their independence. Embarrassing for China, this happening right before their Olympics. So they're cracking down, shutting down any media they can that shows what is happening inside Tibet, and from all reports, what's happening there is not pretty. Like I said earlier, it's like the neighbor who beats their kids behind closed doors. You can't see it, but you can hear it. You know it's happening. Right now we, the neighbors, are covering our ears and trying not to hear the cries of the people who want their country back - this is no civil war. Right now the International Olympic Committee should be threatening to pull the Olympics, even if it means having no Olympics this year. Right now all countries who would be competing should be threatening to boycott Beijing's Olympics. Instead we're saying "please show some restraint". In other words, don't hit them where we can see the bruises and all will be fine.

I'm so grateful that I can cuddle my two-week old, smell his newborn baby smell, and know that I have the luxury of not wondering if any of us will be alive and free tomorrow. And, thanks to a well-written (even if politically motivated) speech, feeling that there is hope for our country in the future.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Today it was warm enough.

This weekend it probably will be too cold once again. But we'll take it while we can.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cool trick.

How To Make Fire Balls - Funny videos are here

A bit too "old" for my family, but thought some of you might have older kids who would enjoy it.

If you read the comments, it's mentioned that this is hotter than it looks - he's moving his hands pretty fast - so it would be helpful to get your hands wet or rub ice on them first and keep the ball moving.

Happy Birthday to my baby.

My baby turned four last week. I tried to find one picture per year of her life, but couldn't trim it down to four pictures.

Happy Birthday, baby!

Playing in the wrap.

First time trying oranges.

Chasing my sister's cat.

Getting ready to feed bum lambs.

With her namesake, Matt's grandmother.

Second Halloween. She was a cop, I was a convict.

Solving all of the world's problems with her cousin.

Little babushka. Did I spell that right?

Reading to her puppy.

Playing with a gosling.


At the SLC aviary.

Fishing with Daddy.

Eating blueberries with Ainsley.

Watching me milk the goats.

At the local river.

Hitching a ride.