24 November 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

I'm really excited about Thanksgiving. A day for being thankful, how awesome is that? I plan to spend the day focused on gratitude. Maybe we'll create some sort of tangible thing - I might steal an idea I heard about making a tree of thankfulness with gratitude leaves. Hmm, that would require some more autumny paper colors... A trip to the store might be in order later.

But first! I am getting the food prep in order. We have a giant turkey in the fridge, just waiting for some brining action. I've never cooked a turkey before in my life, but I'm guessing it will be hard to mess up this fresh pasture raised turkey. Plus, I'll have the help of my mom, who will also be putting together her mom's stuffing recipe in the morning before she comes over.

Today I'm going to make some cranberry sauce from the fresh organic cranberries we picked up at the Beaverton Farmers Market on Saturday. I have a big pumpkin to turn into puree for a pumpkin pie, and I'm going to make my first pecan pie ever. Yum.

Is it crazy that I'm already looking forward to the leftovers? Already looking forward to getting that turkey carcass into my stock pot? But much more than that, I'm looking forward to sharing a day of gratitude with my family and two wonderful friends that I was able to coax into spending the day with us.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

20 November 2010


OMSI is awesome.

The whole fam went recently, which is so much easier than me taking the kids on my own, because obviously they all want to go in different directions.

Maya had a lot of fun in the chemistry lab. She's into science, big time.

Here she is discovering that salt water is a great conductor of electricity:

And playing with corn starch slime, which was incredibly awesome:

Nate and Maya, swinging Eli:

The current exhibit is Identity, an Exhibition of You. It was really interesting and very interactive.

Here is Nate inputting his fingerprints to determine his "type":

And facial symmetry, which I find fascinating:

15 November 2010

The problem with altruism

I'm about to say something that you're most likely going to think is incredibly selfish. You ready? Here goes:

Let's all just aim to make ourselves happy. Let's just focus all of our energy on making sure that we are completely fulfilled in life.

What about everyone else? What about charity? What about Altruism? Won't people just loot and riot and rape and pillage? What kind of a monster is this Jen person?!

Here's the thing. People are, by nature, GOOD.

It feels *good* to help an appreciative person. And it feels really good to receive help from someone who is helping out of the pure kindness of their heart and the good feeling it will give them. It does NOT feel good to receive help or charity from someone who feels bound by civic or religious duty. It feels patronizing.

What are we teaching our children when we force them to get involved in "something that matters" by volunteering their time to charity? We are teaching them that HELPING PEOPLE SUCKS. When they decide they want to help, and we help them help, they come to an amazing realization all by themselves: Taking care of other people feels really good.

I can only imagine a world in which people grow up knowing that their own needs are vitally important, and they should make sure they get what they need. I think all of the power-hungry crap that goes on in the world is just major over-compensation for unfulfilled lives. We're trained not to trust happy people. They aren't working hard enough. They're delusional. Unhappiness builds character.

Happy people do really good things. People are, by nature, GOOD. We just need to make sure our own needs are met so that we can be GOOD, HAPPY PEOPLE!

Hey, painters! You should be painting! Writers, you should be writing. Humans, you should be taking leisurely walks in the fresh air, every day. If you're stressed out because you are constantly giving to others, you owe it to the world to carve out some time for yourself. THIS IS NOT SELFISH, IT'S VITAL. Don't have time? Of course you do. Pretend that it is an appointment doing something for somebody else, and you'll find time. I swear.

I want to live in a world full of happy people, where my peers are deeply fulfilled with their lives. There is nothing quite like being around a person who is doing just what they should be doing. There is incredible energy to be shared.

Let's start taking care of ourselves, because we don't want people begrudgingly doing it for us.

13 November 2010

A day in the life

Yesterday in the car, my kids and I had a really excellent conversation. We talked about what we would do or create if we could do or create anything. We talked about time travel and collective consciousness and "the big picture."

I mentioned that difficult experiences and people can serve as our greatest teachers. I said that every experience and person we encounter can be seen as an opportunity to learn. Nate joked, "So Eli is our teacher?" and I said, "Yeah, absolutely! Think about all of the things he teaches us: compassion, patience, tolerance, unconditional love, humor." Nate totally got it. He said, "I feel like my eyes are filling up with tears, and I don't know why!"

That's what life is all about! That feeling of meaning. We may not know why something touches us so much, or even be able to articulate our feelings. But we intuitively know when something is important. I was so happy that Nate got it.

06 November 2010


You know that feeling when life is just screaming something at you? Like, it just keeps popping up, over and over, saying, "Pay attention to this message!!"

I used to think that this kind of stuff was coincidence. Now I prefer to view it as synchronicity.

My trend has been Peru, and Machu Picchu in particular, for a few years. I have been aware of it, and I have let it sit at the back of my mind, knowing that at some point I would be in the situation to go see it for myself. It's a strange feeling to look at pictures of a place you have never been and feel like you took them. Eek.

Lately, Mexico has been coming up more and more. And the Mayans. And for some reason, butterflies and their migratory patterns (to Mexico) has been the theme of my day.

I don't believe in coincidences anymore, but I'm not exactly sure what I do believe when it comes to this kind of stuff. Is *someone* sending me a message? Or is there a predetermined path for me? Or has it all happened already and I'm just remembering the whole thing? Am I really the only one who exists, and this is all my big elaborate dream? Or is there a chemical in the brain that makes things *seem* familiar or meaningful that actually aren't? In that case, why would it choose specific incidents? Like the migratory patterns of butterflies?

04 November 2010

Race to Nowhere

I went to the screening of Race to Nowhere yesterday. For Americans who went to school, are going to school, and especially who have children, this is a must-see.

Find a screening
near you or pre-order a copy. This is important stuff.

02 November 2010


I have always loved Halloween. I love autumn and falling leaves, I love spooky jack-o-lanterns and candles and eeriness. Half of me was looking very much forward to the kids experiencing Halloween, and the other half was unsure of the whole candy issue and how it would play out at our house.

Nate wants me to write that his favorite part was being with his friends, outside, trick or treating. It isn't every day that you can dress up and walk around outside with your friends after dark, knocking on everybody's door and being greeted with excitement and gifts. Pretty exciting stuff.

Vampire Nate and Tinkerbell Maya:

And the little Eli dog too:

The day after Halloween, the kids ate quite a bit of candy (for them; it is, of course, relative). In the evening we had some pretty serious sugar-crash fallout, especially with Maya who was an emotional wreck. The next morning, we offered them the opportunity to trade in their candy for a toy, and Maya was completely down with that. She and Nick took the mile-ish walk to the shops, she spent a long time deliberating and picked out a new toy (Rapunzel Barbie, a completely different kind of evil - but her hair changes color in cold and warm water so she was it). While they were gone, I disappeared her candy. She hasn't looked back.

Nate chose to keep his candy, and he agreed to only eat it when Maya isn't around in order to make it easier on her. We have found, however, that candy gives him a very short attention span, and he quickly forgets these promises.

From a homeschooling perspective, there have been a lot of learning moments. Lots of counting and sorting. Reading of labels. Discussing ingredients. Comparing and contrasting. Bartering and negotiating. And there has been a whole lot of discussion about how different things make us feel. Why do you think that chocolate makes you feel so thirsty? Notice how you feel really sad now, and an hour ago you felt so happy? It has been a pretty interesting experience/experiment.

I'm thinking we'll have to come up with something a bit better next year.