Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Reflective Morning

I am so proud of how far I have come!

Morning Reflection

I took a few minutes this morning and reflected on what this means to me. I woke up with a stiff knee and stiff fingers from the rain and dropping temperatures we have experienced the last two days and I am not freaking out! My brain is finally realizing that I will get past this stiffness later in the day, it is nowhere close to being where it was months ago and the healing is really happening. I am moving on with life and it feels good.

This morning I also woke Alexander up early so he could ride his bike over to a neighbor's house and do a mother's helper job for her. With his boots on ready to go and me in my pj's and no shoes, he was almost a head taller than me. He patted me on the shoulder when we realized how much he has grown. Today is a very exciting time in my life, just as each day will be.

Monday, September 29, 2008

WWII Re-enactment

The greatest thing to me about following the lead of your children in their education, is it somehow always turns into a family event. On Saturday, our family met two other unschooling families at a WWII re-enactment. My son gets a real thrill out of learning about WWII - the weapons, the planes, the strategy, the battles, the weapons.....oops, I already mentioned that one, didn't I? Well, it is a biggie for Alexander.

This re-enactment is one of the largest in the US. What is great is that the minute you walk onto the camp grounds, you feel like you have been replaced in war time. Everyone stays completely in character and loves talking about their area of speciality. It turned out to be an event we all enjoyed!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Connecting Through Walks Together

Yesterday morning I got going early on a walk with Izzy since we had a busy day planned. As we walked at 7:30 in the morning, we were surrounded by fog. It was gorgeous. The beauty of the morning reminded me that if Izzy, our 20 month border collie had not joined our family, I most likely would not be enjoying this type of morning walk.

As I was walking and enjoying the freshness of the morning, I thought about how our walks create a connection between the two of us. When we walk now, she will look at me to know if we are continuing straight or making a turn on familiar paths and she knows if she walks ahead and comes back to me, I will treat her. I have learned that no matter how calm and loving she can be that she is a herding dog that needs control and jobs. I have learned that when I remain calm as she lunges and barks at bike riders that she too will calm down quickly. I have learned that like me, she doesn't like everyone. Some dogs just seem to rub her the wrong way. However, she loves to stop and smell a few friends in the neighborhood just as I like to stop and talk with a few new friends I have met due to my daily walks.

For several months this year I was not able to do any of the Izzy walks. Our connection didn't feel as strong. Once I was back to walking her again, it quickly returned.

As I walked yesterday, I thought, "Maybe like everyone else in the family, Izzy needs a little one on one time with me everyday". Our walks provide that. It lets us get to know each other better. Our walks together let us have a little uninterrupted time to enjoy nature together, to appreciate our personality strengths and weaknesses together and to find friends together. Izzy is a simple joy in life for me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Simplest Things In Life, Weekly Edition

I find relaxation, enjoyment, and healing in the simplest things in life.

~I was so touched to have inspired a new blogger friend this week to get out and take photos, something she really enjoys and has missed. Thanks Raandme for the very thoughtful post and this wonderful photo!

~Monday was productive. I filed seven months of paperwork, we juiced every edible fruit/vegetable in our refrigerator (carrots, kale, beets, apples, lime) for lunch and threw the rest out, and we created a meal out of hamburger, potatoes and egg for dinner so we wouldn't have to go shopping and it was delicious.

~Izzy, Sophia and I are back to our 45 minute walks in the morning. Izzy needs and loves these longer walks. Me too! I love morning walks when everything is so fresh still.

~I have always enjoyed my part-time evening job, but as I am feeling better, I realize how much more fun it is to go and work with adults who find excitement in learning!

~Listening to Alexander (12) explain "The Big Bang Theory" to Sophia (10) as she asked very intellectual questions and then ended with "I think it would be cool if tiny elves created the world."

~Roasting marshmellows in the backyard firepit.

~Taking Izzy for a walk early Saturday morning and being surrounded by fog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Pink Laptop

Two weeks ago one of our two laptops died and there is no bringing it back. It served us well. We bought it used four years ago for $200 and figured if it made it through a whole year, we were doing well. So, four years later, we have to appreciate the little Vaio.

Last year for my 40th birthday, Steve and the kids surprised me with a pink Dell laptop. My very own laptop that I didn't have to share with anyone!!!! I could get it on when I wanted or leave it when I wanted.....it didn't matter because it was always waiting for me and me alone.

Now, my pink laptop is the family laptop until we can get another one for the kids. I like to think I am not a selfish person, but when it comes to my laptop, I kind of am. I like having it all to myself. I am trying to be nice and think of it as a good time for me to do other things on my "To Do" list, but my brain isn't buying it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

These Shoes Are Made For Walkin'

These shoes have been a lifesaver! In December, while still on meds, my feet went through another painful time. One evening I searched the internet and cried to Steve that I was going to have to resort to wearing "old lady" shoes. The next morning he sent me an email from work that he found a shoe store in Chicago that specializes in feet problems.

What a wonderful experience! The sales guy at Waxbergs spent lots of time with me and gave me some wonderful information about RA and shoes. He said I might think I need something with a lot of cushion because of the pain, but instead I needed a firm shoe that didn't let my foot slide. He said if the foot slides, it creates more problems in a foot with arthritis. He recommmended I try a Dansko shoe that is approved by the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association). With Steve's encouragement, I bought two pairs of shoes that day and then these wonderful sandals that I have worn every single day this spring and summer. My feet have never felt better. Thank you Waxberg salesman. You did more for my feet in one visit than my rheumatologist did in four years of medication!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Changes are Hard

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy, for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another!" -- Anatole France

I know that many people have blogs devoted totally to RA, unschooling, their family or their passions. I guess for me, I think they are all interwoven......one can't exist without the other, so I blog about everything in one. However, I have discovered recently, that I have had a strong need to discuss my RA. I find it kind of interesting that I need to talk about it more now, as I am healing, than I did in the past. Well, really I shouldn't be surprised. I have always been this way. When I am experiencing a flare-up, I do not like to talk to others about it. It is very private. However, when it is over, I need to discuss it.

Steve sent me the above quote this morning based on some other stuff we talked about this weekend. However, it is perfect for how I am feeling right now. I feel like I have an attachment to RA and can't get past it. I know my body is healing, but it still seems like I am having a difficult time mentally moving into the "new" me that can move with ease, do housework, take walks, sleep without pain, feel happy, etc. Maybe as I am in the healing phase, it is taking time for the old self to die off so the "new and improved" Cathy can step forward.

I have lots of fears which are keeping me in the old life. Each day that I wake up feeling good I wonder, "Is this going to last?" With every pain I experience I wonder, "Is a flareup coming?" I haven't turned the airconditioning off yet because when my body goes from a warm environment to a cool environment, it suffers. I am afraid to find out if my body is strong enough to make it through a warm evening to a cool morning with the windows open, so instead, I just keep the air on so the house is at a constant temperature. This summer, I only swam with the kids a few times because I was fearful that the warmth of the air and pavement compared to the cool pool would tighten up my feet and cause set backs in my improvements.

RA takes a toll on your body physically but also mentally. Each day you wake up fearing what it has in store for you. You worry about the burden you are putting on your family and friends, you worry what it is doing to you financially, you worry about what it is doing to your body..........you worry about so many things!!!!

I think a blog is a reflection of where you are in your life and right now, RA and healing are consuming my life. So, please bear with me as I let go of my fears so that I can enter into the next phase of my life as a rheumatoid arthritis woman who was a success both physically and mentally.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Simplest Things in Life, Weekly Edition

I find relaxation, enjoyment, and healing in the simplest things in life.

~Three days of nonstop rain without any water in the house and NO Rheumatoid arthritis PAIN, which usually comes with rain!

~Sophia's face as she excitedly talked about the new book she is writing.

~I had a wonderful discussion this week about the "process" of unschooling with moms experienced in unschooling and moms new to this way of thinking. It was a fantastic conversation.

~The sound of Steve playing guitar as the rain puddled down all weekend.

~My mother in law, Sheryl, surprised me by sending two homemade bags made out of pillow cases and two new hot pads with old towels as the inside padding. I love recycled things and have an addiction to bags.

~The sun shining!

~Alexander spraying the hose at Izzy. If you have ever seen a border collie with a water hose, you will understand how amusing this can be.

~One whole day without anywhere to go.

~Alexander knows if there is even the slightest thing bothering me and will always check to make sure I am okay. It is a comforting feeling when your twelve year old son knows and understands you so well.

~We picked apples in our backyard.

~A friend of mine who recently lost her brother, received a beautifully knitted shawl from another friend. It came with a poem about how shawls give us warmth and protection. I was so touched by this gesture and felt happy knowing that it will give my friend some comfort in the days to come and remind her that she is always wrapped in the warmth and protection of all the friends that love her.

~Sophia made a secret hideaway outdoors between two trees for writing poems and reading. I learn a lot from Sophia about loving life. She is my inspiration.

~I was the featured guest for Sherry's blogiversary. It's a nice feeling to know your sister thinks such nice things about you.

~I was the winner of Sherry's weekly blogiversary drawing! Next week I will be receiving a surprise! I can't wait. I love surprises.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Unschooling and Japanese Lessons

Unschooling works on the philosophy that children are naturally curious about the world and when they are in an environment that supports that curiosity, they will have both the time and the room to blossom and explore all that the world has to offer them.

Recently Sophia shared with me that she was interested in learning some Japanese. She asked if our neighbor, who is a native of Japan, could teach her. Well, she could not have picked a better person! Ryoko is not only good hearted, but she is calm and ever so patient.

The cool thing about unschooling, in my opinion, is that the kids develop a sense of who they are and what methods of learning work best for them. So, before the first lesson at our house, Sophia asked if I could sit in on the lesson so she would feel more comfortable. No problem. Also, she made a list of things she wanted to learn. Never having a school experience, Sophia has always had it in her mind that if she is going to do something, she is going to do it in a way that benefits her. Otherwise, she has too many other wonderful things to do. I love that about her!

We have had two lessons so far. After lesson one, Sophia ran around the house practicing all the introductions Ryoko had taught her. She didn't need any reminders to study because she was choosing to do this on her own. At the second lesson, she was able to do some very elementary type conversations with Ryoko. "Good evening." "How are you?" I am fine."

She is already looking forward to lesson three. I know that she will either want a few more lessons and then decide she got everything from this she was searching for and will be ready to move onto the next thing, or it will be a commitment she is ready to make for a long time. Either way, I am fine with it. I like that she isn't afraid to go after what she wants to learn and she isn't afraid to stop when she knows she has had enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Things are moving too fast - Slow down!

Things are moving too fast. In February of 2008 I made the decision to go off the last of my medications for rheumatoid arthritis. Since going off, my body has been freaking out and wanting to know "Where in the h*$$ are the drugs?" Finally, the temper tantrum has worn down and my body is realizing the meds are not coming back. It has been a fight, I won't lie about that, and I feel that I have accomplished a great victory by being where I am today - medication and pain free!

However, my brain hasn't caught up yet and I am at battle with it. One part of me wants to jump back into a life I had before with daily exercise, cleaning, cooking, and other household responsibilities and experience fun things with my kids again like racing them from the store to the car, sitting crossed legged on the floor playing board games or starting a few sewing projects we have planned together.

But, something in the other part of my brain just isn't letting me. It doesn't want full responsibility yet and prevents me from doing these things. Maybe my brain is trying to tell me that I need time to heal and I can't do everything at once. I can't heal my body and be superwoman the next day. I know I need to listen because my body is still in recovery mode right now and I need to take it easy physically and mentally so I can heal properly and not set myself back a few steps.

I understand all of this and agree, but somehow I need to figure out a way to convince the other half of my brain to slow down and let my body have some time to rejoice in its new state of well being.

Goodbye Coffee.....Again

About 4.5 years ago I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and when I saw my body crumbling before me while taking several medications with long lists of side-effects, I knew I had to search for a different route.

I remember walking into the naturopath's office for the first time, limping. I felt such a connection to her the very first visit. My whole family had been invited to the appointment and they all came in support of me. I was looking for someone that treated me as an individual with my own reasons for this disease and I found her.

I knew I was going to have to make some lifestyle changes and that was why I was there. When Judy, my naturopath, started going through the list of supplements and diet restrictions, I was fine with everything: tomatoes, greeen pepper, peanuts, citrus fruit, gluten (wheat, barley and rye), dairy, wine, and sugar. However, when she said "coffee", I panicked. Coffee? Coffee had been my friend since I was about six years old and enjoyed it with the rest of my family. It connected me to others. It was something Steve and I did together. How could I do without?

Well, needless to say, none of the diet was easy, but I was determined to improve my life and stuck it out. Each month I would go back thinking I was going to add a food back to my diet, but until she saw lasting results, Judy wasn't about to add anything back. Within two months of being on the diet and supplements, my inflammation rate which had been high for months, returned to normal. The restrictive diet continued though until finally one day I added tomatoes back. I did fine with them. Then it was citrus fruit. Yippee. I could have oranges again and did okay for the most part. I have added back almost all of the foods as rotational foods in my diet but attempt to not consume them daily. The three things I was instructed to elminate long term (life), except on occassion, was gluten, dairy and coffee. For the most part, I remain pretty committed to my diet as I have seen the changes it has brought my body. However, every once in a while, I am tempted. Lately, the tempation has been coffee.

I love the smell of coffee. I love the taste of freshly brewed coffee with cream. I love mochas and will even settle for mochas made of almond milk instead of dairy. I love sharing a cup of java with friends and family. It makes me feel connected somehow. When I elminated it from my diet, I switched to green tea which I like. It just doesn't fulfill the same void that coffee does. When I walked into Starbucks after elminiating coffee, I would honestly get tears in my eyes. It is the one luxury of life that I missed with a passion.

I remember the first time I drank coffee after being off for a while and having a clean body again. I could feel the caffeine flow through my veins. It was horrible and freaky. It made my stomach feel sick afterwards. Now, you would think that since coffee appears to be a toxin for my body, that would be cause enough to stay away from it. But, on occassions, I ignore the signs and just go for it and pay the consequences later. This weekend was one of those times I just went for it and now the time has come to put a stop to it again before I feel the RA affects or even worse, become addicted again. My body just can't handle it. I have done too much work to let little things like coffee get in the way of continued success.

Good-bye coffee! We will meet again, I am sure.

What I Think and Say....

What I think and say
goes out from me,
the Universe responds,
and it comes back to me

Daily Affirmation by Louis L. Hay
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Simpliest Things in Life, Weekly Edition

Sometimes the stress of life takes over our lives and we forget to enjoy the many wonderful things that it brings to us. On August 30 I posted about "The Simplest Things in Life". That weekend my mom, three sisters and I emailed each other and shared the "simple things" happening to us over the weekend. I really felt connected to them and I enjoyed focusing more on the little things that were happening around me and decided this might be a great thing for me to do every week

~This stinkin' squirrel was tainting me. Last fall while I was at work, Steve and the kids went shopping and bought me an outdoor swing as a surprise. I love it! However, over the winter, those stinkin' squirrels tore a hole in the cushion in order to make a nest for themselves. (Gosh, do they only think about themselves? Don't they know how special the swing is to me?) This week I spotted this stinkin' squirrel at it again and ran outside to scare her away. She ran up the tree with my cushion stuffing and squeaked naughty things at me for what seemed like ten minutes, knowing there was no possible way I was going to reach her. I was so mad at her, yet the kids and I couldn't stop laughing.

~On Wednesday morning I had an NST appointment. My NST practitioner said that I do not need to return for any more appointments unless I feel a flareup coming on or one to two times a year for "tune-ups" since I am doing so well. Yippeee!!! I am so proud of myself. This is a great victory for me.

~Izzy laying on the floor next to me whether I am in the kitchen, bedroom, laundry room or on the computer. I love having my little "shadow" around. Sophia's not too bad to have laying around either.

~I found a new blogger friend this week. http://sorejointsandsoaringdreams.blogspot.com/ Jill also has RA and is trying to control it with alternative medicine. I have never actually met anyone else with RA who was attempting this without medication. It is awesome to share stories with her. When I was first diagnosed, I read everything I could online and totally freaked myself out with the horror stories people shared. I finally stopped reading anything on RA because I knew it would defeat my journey to healing. I am so glad to have met this very positive person and all of the other new RA blogger friends I have met this week. I look forward to learning more from all of you!

~Our unschooling group spent the day at the Arboretum. It was a perfect sunny day to hang out with like-minded friends. See photos of the day here:

~Alexander has a couple of new dog sitting jobs. Astro was a little sad that his owners are out of town and wanted to do nothing other than lick Alexander's face. Alexander was completely fine with that.

~Since Wednesday is our unschooling playgroup day, I look forward to Wednesday evening when my family enjoys Chipotle's rice bowls, wine and/or sparkling mineral water and the previous evenings showing of Eureka.

~My nephew Leo has been battling tics and seizures for the last two years. My sister Stacey has tried everything she can get her hands on. This week his allergy test came back positive for egg and wheat. This gives her something to work with. I truly admire Stacey for all her hard work.

~I absolutely LOVE blogging. I don't even care if I am the only one that reads it. It is just something I really look forward to doing.

~Sophia and I finished another American Girl book this week. We are really enjoying learning about The Great Depression. We found out in this book that parents would start hiding old toys months before Christmas and repaint them or change them in some way and give them as new at Christmas. We thought that was pretty smart.

~I went to lunch with my good friend Darcy and her cousin on Tuesday. It was such a delight to be a part of their day. We met at Starbucks, lunched at Bancock Village and then as they headed off to shop, I headed off to pick Sophia up from a birthday party at the mall.

~I am having so much fun participating in Sherry's blogiversary. She comes up with the most creative ideas.

~Sophia went to the mall for the first time without us. She met friends for a birthday party. I was really nervous about this but when I dropped her off, it was so fun to see all the girls in their purses and giggling. I am glad she has these experiences with other girl friends.

~Watching Steve take off for work in the morning on his bicycle. Steve recently took a new job that is about 3.5 miles from our house. It is amazing how relaxed he is now. Rather than an almost three hour a day commute by car, feet, train, and feet again, he now rides 15 minutes from our house to work. My husband now works local!

~Reading a poem by Sophia about me.
Your eyes light my path,
Your voice calms me,
Your shoulder gives me a pillow when there is no pillow,
Your hugs help me feel better when I am sick,
Your heart is filled with care and love,
You are my true mom and the best mom!

~I have received so many wonderful emails from friends and family this week congratulating me on my RA success. I will keep them and reread them on days that are not so easy. Thanks for all of your love and support. It motivates me more than anything!

~Talking with my dad on the phone. He told me how special he thought it was that Steve spends every Sunday morning with Alexander alone doing "boy" things. I like when my dad is touched by things my family does. What he said is true, "Alexander will always remember these times". Every Sunday they get up early and do something fun together: play Chess at Starbucks, play video games, go skeet shooting, bike riding, etc. They just really like haning out together.

. Our dog trainer and friend emailed this week that she found out she has breast cancer at 32 years old. I admire that she could ask all of her family and friends to send good thoughts to her. I tend to go into a little hole and hide when I should be asking for help. I also admire that she is seeing the positives to this situation. I thought she was an amazing person before but only admire her more now. Please send any healthy, healing thoughts you can her way.

Blogiversary "Small Talk"

The blogiversary party continues. As guests of Sherry's party, today we are having "small talk" about shopping. How appropriate since I have been doing a little of that recently.
1. Where is your favorite place to shop?
For myself, I love Eddie Bauer. They carry a great selection of "petite" sizes online and everything I have ever bought from there fits me comfortably and lasts forever. I have two summer dresses I have been wearing for the last eight years (a lot) and they are still in great shape. (By the way, they are having a 20% off sale right now if you buy a pair of pants.)

2. Would you rather shop on-line or in the stores?
Definitely online. I hate to shop in stores. I think I have some sort of attention disorder in a store. Plus, I would rather pay shipping charges to return items than look at myself naked in those mirrors. I always think, "Surely that is not how I look....Please don't let that be how I look." Plus, I like waiting for the package to arrive. Even though I know what it is, it feels like a gift is arriving just for me!

3. If you needed new undergarments, but you saw something you didn't really need but just wanted, which would you buy?
Sadly for my credit card, I would buy both.

4. What really annoys you about other shoppers?
I think it is really rude to talk on your cell phone while you are being checked out at the register. I think it is insulting to the clerk and there is ABSOLUTELY no reason to do it.

5. Have you ever got up to the checkout stand and had a ton of stuff in your cart and after they rang everything up you realized you didn’t have your money, check book, debit card, or credit cards?
Gosh, I don't think so. Maybe one time when we were first married we went shopping and I had to remove groceries from the cart because we didn't have enough money,but that's all I can think of for now.

6. If you buy something that isn’t necessary or something just for fun do you feel like you have to justify it to yourself or your partner?
I have to justify to myself. Steve is very supportative about buying things for myself. Three years ago we were in a car accident after bike riding and the brakes and gears on my bike were fried. We took it in for repairs but discovered it would cost almost as much as a new bike to do all of the repairs. So, I have been riding the same bike with only a few gears and reminders from Steve every year that I need a new bike. It just seems like a lot of money to spend on myself. However, Labor Day weekend I decided it was time to get a new bike. I got a great deal on a Contessa 40 by Scott. She is pink and gray, comes with a shock and the gears are so easy to change! The first day we bought it I felt really guilty. However, I have justified it as my reward for sticking to my "med free" routine and having a month without any flare-ups from my rheumatoid arthritis! Honestly, the shock is helpful because it doesn't rattle my wrists around as much and the brakes are closer together so my fingers don't have to work as hard. What can I say? I love her.

7. Do you hide those unnecessary things for awhile and then later claim you’ve had them for a long time?
No. I have a great husband who has never minded when I buy things. Overall, I don't buy a lot for myself or the kids. So, when I do buy, it isn't that big of a deal.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Great Weekend

Our weekend started off great and just kept going! On Friday night Steve and I were able to have a date night while Alexander spent the night with his best friend and Sophia attended a birthday slumber party and stayed up until 5am. On Saturday, we managed to make it to Steve's company picnic for a free lunch and ice cream even though we were all totally exhausted and then came home to watch movies and eat carry out. After a good nights sleep on Saturday night, we were ready for a family bike ride. Enjoy the pictures.

Thanks Hannah http://hannahs.vox.com/ for sharing this website with me! I am having a lot of fun playing around with our photos.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

We Won't Bring Home the "Perfect" Yard Award

Our yard is definitely not on the "Well Kept" list in the neighborhood. (Maybe they don't keep a list, I don't know) In fact, it is always in need of LOTS of work. When we moved in six years ago, Steve did so much work pulling out and cutting back trees that it seemed we would never need to do another thing again.

Every year I make new excuses to my friends and family as to why our yard is so out of control. "The weather has been terrible this year. There haven't been any good days to go out." "Things are so overgrown, I don't really even know where to start." This year my excuse (okay, this year was legitimate) was "I just haven't felt well." However, unless someone comes to my house, I never really think much about it. I love our yard. I love the trees and all the chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and insects that make it their home. I secretly take pride in not conforming to the perfect yard idea that many of my neighbors hold . But,the problem is, once visitors come or plan to come, I go into a panic, feeling like I am not fullfilling my homeowner responsibilities. I then get embarrassed and wonder why I haven' committed a day a week to yard work.

When I sit in the backyard in the swing, I do have dreams of things I would like to do in the backyard: a little pond, lots of different plants,a pathway, cute chairs, etc. However, I don't feel that my mind has worked it all out and that is another reason I am not putting the effort out yet. I know when the time comes to devote to the life I would like to give our yard, I will devote all the time necessary. Until then, I am going to just enjoy watching what the life that is already there feels like doing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

WWII and Roblox

This morning Alexander woke up and right away started playing Roblox, which is an online game that allows you to build your own games with Lego type materials. Then, multiple people can join in on playing your game and/or chat with you.

Since he sits at the laptop next to mine at the dining room table, I always get to hear all of the wonderful Roblox adventures he experiences while playing alone, with his sister or with his best friend who calls on the phone so they can talk and play. With the speaker phone on, they play for hours or until one of the phone batteries dies.

Anyhow, this morning Alexander found a room titled WWII: Tunisia. He said "Mom, this doesn't look like WWII." We thought maybe someone had made a mistake when they created the game because it looked more like Iraq or something. So, we googled "Tunisia and WWII" and discovered the following:

~Tunisia was part of the French colonial empire before World War II.

~The Allies invaded the area as part of the invasion of North Africa in 1942.

~The Germans moved into Tunisia by water from Sicily and were able to stop the
Allied drive short of the Tunisian capital of Tunis.

Who said video games can't be educational? Okay, that is a loaded question and will have to wait for another post because I do have lots to say on this subject.

TRUTH or DARE Blogiversary Game

Sherry's blogiversary party game for today is "Truth or Dare". She told a wonderful story about "streaking" with some friends in 1974 and how she was spotted by both a police officer and a house full of nuns. I remember hearing this story as her younger sister and thinking she was fabulous to do that. I still admire that about her. To hear more of the story, click on the blogiversary invite in my sidebar.

Sherry has asked her party guests to share a daring story on their blog. After reading her great story, I thought, "I will skip on this game because honestly, I am not a daring person." However, after a little more thought, I think I am.

I am not the type of person who is going to do flashy, great story telling, daring things and as a child, I always preferred to please rather than cause problems. But as an adult, much of my life has been daring. Here are some highlights:

~I dared to quit my teaching job of seven years when my daughter was born. I wanted to be home with Alexander and Sophia but it was scary to totally rely on Steve for 100% of our income. Not that I have ever doubted his abilities, but I had worked hard to obtain my teaching job that I loved and I felt very independent knowing I was contributing to our family income.
~My family has always been my main source of friendship and to leave them and move 700 miles away to a place where we knew absolutely nobody was a scary adventure for me. To add to it, Alexander was two years old and Sophia was only four weeks old when we left Kansas.
~I chose to let my children wean naturally from the breast and to tandum nurse. I had no other role models to follow after but just knew it was right for us.
~I dared to unschool my children which means I have put total trust in them that with the guidance and support of Steve and myself, they will learn all they need to learn in life by following their passions. So far I haven't been disappointed!
~I dared to bring home a border collie as our first ever dog. From what our dog trainers have told us, border collies are one of the most difficult dogs to own because they are so smart. However, she and all of her energy has turned out to be a wonderful addition to our family.
~I dared to go off all medication when everything I read online and everything my rheumatologist told me said it can't be done. I was told I would be on heavy medication for life. It hasn't been easy, but I am going on seven months of being medication free and one month without any pain or swelling!
~I dared to go back to my natural hair color and expose all my gray hairs in a society that values youth and perfection rather than the beauty of aging and all the imperfections that come with it.

So, I don't have any flashy, fun, daring stories to share, but I do feel proud of the "daring" things I have done to bring me where I am today.

What about you? Any great "dare" stories?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Izzy and "Not Back to School" picnic

Wednesday we were trying to get ready for our "Not Back to School" picnic and bike ride with our homeschooling group. We let Izzy outside with us as we put the bikes on the rack.

She jumped in the back seat and sat there quietly ready for a ride in the car. She sat so patiently for so long that I felt bad and ended up giving her a ride around the neighborhood before we took off.

To check out our "Not Back to School" Picnic visit http://wild-indigo-life-learners.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blogiversary Update - Small Talk

Sherry has asked that all of the guests to her blogiversary party answer the following questions as "small talk" to get to know each other at the beginning of the party.

What type of job do you have? My number #1 job is being a homeschooling mom to Alexander, Sophia and our border collie Izzy, although I don't know that I would call it a job - I love it. I am fortunate to have a husband that supports me being home and enjoys all the benefits of a stay at home wife (home cooked meals, clean house, errands run, and best of all, a knowledge of his children that he wouldn't have if we both worked all day.)

I also teach ESL (English as a Second Language) two evenings a week to adult learners from various parts of the world. If you could ever have a job that makes you feel good each and every time you go to work, it is my job. My students are always very appreciative of everything I do.

Where do you live? I am originally from Wichita, Kansas but moved to Chicago suburbs 10 years ago.

Where do you do your crafts/art work? I am not really a crafter but when I do it is in the dining room. To the west I can look out our big window in the living room that faces the front yard and to the east I can see out the backyard where squirrels and birds are constantly moving about in our trees.

What is your favorite daytime beverage? I love Zen (Tazo's green tea) and drink several cups throughout the day. Actually, I made a cup to drink while doing this post. I also drink sparkling mineral water, regular tap water from our reverse osmosis and on occasion I will drink a glass of wine during the day or chocolate almond milk.

What is your favorite dessert? My newest dessert is coconut milk ice cream by So Delicious. It is totally dairy/soy free and super delicious. Also, I can gobble down a few(or more) homemade gluten free chocolate cupcakes. Trader Joe's carried a gluten free black forest cake that was another one of my favorites but I just found out last week they discontinued it. I am still in sorrow over that.

Do you watch soap opera's and if you do what's your favorite? I don't watch soap operas. Actually, I rarely watch TV during day. As a family we watch Eureka on the Sci-Fi channel, Family Guy, Chuck, Dick Van Dyke and Bewitched. If we are up late enough, I also enjoy Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

What's the last movie you saw in a movie theatre? American Girl with my daughter Sophia and my sister in law Hilary. This has sparked Sophia and I into a unit on the Depression.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Join Sherry In Her First Blogiversary!

My beautiful sister Sherry is celebrating her first blogiversary and birthday with games and give aways. Make sure you stop by her blog for more details.

My sister Sherry is six years older than me. When I was a little girl, she was my world. She made chocolate chip pancakes for me when she came home from school, she fixed my hair, painted my nails, convinced me to cut my hair short (okay, I am not happy about that) and later to "feather" my hair (I loved that!). She let me and my two younger sisters have sleepovers in her bedroom and she and I made hot pudding for breakfast before school. There are numerous things that I loved about Sherry growing up. Mostly, I just loved that even though I was a pesky little sister that kept a watchful eye on boyfriends, she always included me in her life and made me feel special.

Now that we are adults and live far away from each other, I still find numerous things I love about her. She is a devoted mother, grandmother and a kind loving sister. She has not had the luxury of living as close to family as me and therefore does not get the visitors, but she keeps her family in her heart each and every day. Sherry is never without a kind word for family and friends.

Sherry is also an incredible crafter. Please check out her Etsy site http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5974897. She is always making new and different crafts.

Really, Sherry is just an amazing person, so get over to her blog and find out who she is. You won't be disappointed.

Happy Birthday Sherry and Happy Blogiversary. (Can you imagine us as little girls thinking we would be celebrating a blogiversary??)