Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I think one of the reasons Sprout was 16 days late was that I wasn't able to nest, I was packing up the house to move east instead, and constantly getting thrown out of my own house so prospective buyers could come for showings. The cleaning I did was necessary, not nesting.

The nesting urge has finally hit. I should, once again, be packing for our trip west to Quebec, but instead I'm staying up late unpacking my studio, making the playroom more warm and friendly, looking at paint chips for Dark Mirror's teen lair, planning out Nature Girl's bedroom (she wants it to resemble a fairy meadow...with soccer paraphenalia), and thinking up ways to reduce the echo in Wild Thing's bedroom.

Papa Pan put up shelves in the studio for me yesterday, and was all set to go order Nature Girl's new mattress, when I reminded him we leave for two weeks in 3 days! So we'll get it in the New Year.

I'm getting us established on the Kings County Freecycle, gave away packing boxes, books, an extra bed frame, got a big "office organizer" with drawers and shelves for the studio. Networking as I meet people - I'm going to volunteer as a peer support with a breastfeeding program called Bosom Buddies - met a volunteer who urged me to do it.

I need some advice on the playroom/familyroom...despite years of canvassing for being tv free, we aren't. It says something that we moved here on November 24th and still haven't plugged in the tv, but it exists in there - a cyclops. We have the wood to make a tv stand but I want it hidden away when we aren't watching it, which is most of the time. Papa Pan is wonderfully handy in many respects, but he is not a great cabinetmaker so I don't know about our ability to make doors. Any ideas for disguising it? I don't think a cloth will be enough.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Wild Thing is finally tamed...

After dinner Papa Pan plays the guitar by the fire. "Where is my Wild Thing?" wonders Mud Mama.

"Check in his room, in your room, downstairs in the playroom, in our bed," suggests Papa Pan and Mud Mama, as Nature Girl runs through the house looking for him.

Finally Mud Mama spies his toes, he is tucked up asleep by the guitar case.

"Wild Thing is finally quieter than a mouse!" says Nature Girl.

The perfect treat, one no one else in the house can stand!

Wolfville is home to http://www.justuscoffee.com/, a really cool Fair Trade Co-op. Along with amazing coffees, teas, and chocolate, they have recently started to make really great organic, fairly traded hot chocolate mix. My favorite is the Spicy Mexican blend. It has hot peppers in it along with cardamon, cloves , nutmeg, cinnamon and big chunks of milk chocolate.

Everyone else is disgusted by it, so my bag of it will last and last.

And here's a funny story, at least it seems funny now...

I went to get hot chocolate with the kids the other day and forgot my wallet! I realized this outside the Just Us! Cafe. I was drooling the whole 3 km walk. So I went to the post office instead, and as soon as I stepped inside the warm post office I started having a massive asthma attack (which the hot chocolate would have helped alleviate, might be why I was craving it, for the cayenne and caffeine.)

I had planned to drop into our new medical coop with the releases to have our files transferred, but decided IN A MEDICAL EMERGENCY that instead of walking 500 metres to the doctor's office, I'd walk the 3 km home UPHILL to get my puffer. I made it halfway and a student passing by flagged down another student who drove me home - sans stroller (I ditched it in someones yard) - and I found my puffer was empty - so I ATE SOME COFFEE GROUNDS for the caffeine, and called Papa Pan, who was done work but still an hour away. When he got home I went to the clinic and got a new puffer.

Subsequently, we now have spicy hot chocolate mix at home. The kids may never want to go get hot chocolate with me ever again!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

An Early Christmas Present

Papa Pan got me this for our secular celebration of Christmas/Winter Solstice/New Years!
I'm not sure if you can tell the scale from this photo, but the womanspirit is 18 inches tall. I absolutely adore it. The artist is Jan Oosterhoff, from Newtonville Nova Scotia. She also makes beautiful organic furniture that incorporates burls, bark, and the spirit of the wood she's working with. I've been drooling over her womanspirit sculptures for a few weeks now. She was showing them at the Wolfville Farmer's Market and at the Ross Creek Arts Centre.
I think this is the perfect "housewarming" piece don't you???

Funny, I found this on a page on Islam!

The Examiner by F.R. Scott

The routine trickery of the examination baffles these hot and discouraged youths

Driven by they know not what external pressure, they pour their hated self-analysis, through the nib of confession, onto the accusatory page

I, who have plotted their immediate downfall, I am entrusted with the divine categories: A, B, C, D, and the hell of F

The parade of prize and the back door of past, in the tight silence, standing by green grass window, watching the fertile earth graduate its sons with more compassion

Not commanding the shape of stem and stamen, bringing the trees to pass by shift of sunlight and increase of rain

For each seed, the whole soil; for the inner life, the environment receptive and contributory
I shudder at the narrow frames of our textbook schools in which we plant our so various seedlings

Each brick-walled barracks, cut into numbered rooms, black boarded, ties the venturing chute to the master's stick

The screw-desk rows of lads and girls, subdued in the shade of an adult, their acid sub-soil, shape the new to the old in the ashen garden

Shall we, shall we open the whole skylight of thought to these tip-toe minds, bring them our frontier worlds and the boundless uplands of art for their field of growth?

Or shall we pass them the chosen poems with the footnotes, ring the bell on their thoughts, period their play, make laws for averages and plans for means, print one history book for a whole province and let 90,000 read page 10 by Tuesday?

As I gather the inadequate paper evidence, I hear across the neat campus lawn the professional mower's drone clipping the inch-high grass.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I used to be a juice hard-ass

I limited its consumption. I insisted that if they had it, it be organic. I squeezed my own. Then my kids started attending school and the juice box entered our lives. I HATE juice boxes - the packaging, the spills, the juice. My kids on the other hand, love the juice box. Papa Pan is a big fan of the juice box too, and keeps them in the car for instant child pacification purposes.

I found a way out of this sticky situation.

First, I noticed that we pay a 5 cent deposit on every single juice box here in Nova Scotia! Papa Pan is not a fan of juice boxes anymore.

Next, we found an organic juice seller at the Wolfville Farmer's Market who sells the best blended apple juice and everyone likes it, even watered down A LOT.

Then we got our new refrigerator. We needed a two door model because of the tight squeeze between the fridge and stove. I asked for a filtered water dispenser (city water after 3 years of deep sweet well water - blech!) and an icemaker (the only good thing about a hospital birth is the never ending supply of ice cubes they provide you with). The kids have been won over by ice cubes too.

My next project (and how handy, they're in Wakefield, where we're spending Christmas) is to get each kid their own aluminum sippy canteen from http://www.lifewithoutplastic.com/. So I can forever ban the juice box from our house.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We seriously considered naming Dark Mirror "Calvin" before he was born...

Fabulous quotes on "schooling"

I collect these, some of them, like Einstein's are well known, others in this list are relatively new to me. I'm particularly interested in what educators have to say - like Charlotte Mason who championed a curriculum that was both classical in nature and full of time out of doors exploring nature, everything else was in short bursts of time so children had time to run about engaged in LIVING during the day. She really understood the need for a balanced head, heart, and hands lifestyle.

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." Albert Einstein

"My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself."George Bernard Shaw

"What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook."Henry David Thoreau

"The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents. So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called education. School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you." John Updike (who has taught in an exclusive private school for years btw - even teachers hate the institution of the "school" !)

"I do not believe much in education. Each man ought to be his own model, however frightful that may be." Albert Einstein

"School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is."Ivan Illich

"There is nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school" George Bernard Shaw (Nobel Prize winner)

"Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn maths and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities." Seymour Papert

"Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking - the strain would be too great - but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest."Charlotte Mason

"In the end, the secret to learning is so simple: Think only about whatever you love. Follow it, do it, dream about it...and it will hit you: learning was there all the time, happening by itself." Grace Llewellyn

"the whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don't know how to be submissive, and so on -- because they're dysfunctional to the institutions."- Noam Chomsky

What I will never understand is how people who believe these same sentiments would still force their children to attend school when they had the ability and resources to provide alternatives. Surviving the system doesn't enrich anyone's life, it just feeds bitterness and resentment. Of course maybe that is their goal, who knows?

How's the weather?

A week ago the kids were out in the misty rain riding their bikes on the driveway. Please excuse the lack of helmets they haven't been found in the moving boxes yet. It was 15 degrees out.

The next day it started to snow, and snow, and SNOW. It hasn't left and I am KICKING myself for leaving our skis behind because, "We won't get any use out of them until January".

The hardest thing for me to get used to here is how variable the weather is. In a 3 hour period we can go from misty, to sunny and fairly warm, to driving snow, to clear with a bitter wind. Every day is a susprise and my weather predicting ability is limited to "Red sky at night sailors delight, red sky at morning sailors take warning".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


This is me, DarkMirror. I guess I finally figured out I can post big stuff. Hooray! Now I can keep in touch!

For old time's sake...

There was a time when Dark Mirror was a total Nature Boy. I have many a smiling picture of him catching frogs, jumping streams, sitting at camp fires, and hiking, like in this photo.

This was something special we shared alone, or with the kids' Oma. Oma took this photo and it is one of my favorites.

Wild Thing has taken to wearing that same head band and carrying his own compass (though he often combines it with a toilet paper roll to turn it into a gun).

The Wild Thing...

Here is the Wild Thing glowing angelically in his robot costume.
"I shoot you! Bijou! Bijou!"
It is interesting that despite growing up thus far in an anglo enclave in Quebec, that his sound effects all sound French.
Now that we've moved to Nova Scotia I wonder what will come of his accent?

She creates a world as she knows it...

This is Mother Nature's daughter. The trees are from her feet and the roots grow from under her toes. Her skirt is made of dirt. Her shirt is made of leaves. She has green eyes, and green lips. Her hair is green as you can see. The trees start as sprouts but they grow HUGE in a second.

Obsessions are a Geek Thing

I’m a firm believer that we learn the most from doing what we love. Information sticks like glue when it is tied to skills you have a practical use for. This applies to any interest, whether we see it as traditionally valuable or not.

Dark Mirror has spent several years obsessed with Starcraft, a computer game. The interesting thing is, he’s only marginally interested in playing Starcraft. He is much more into designing the game himself. So, he’s been introduced to the idea of computer programming through it. He reads about it, authorized stories about the game characters, as well as fan fiction. He translates other fantasy and science fiction stories into the mechanics of the game as well. He writes about it. He looks at world geography and translates it into Starcraft maps. He draws characters and maps constantly. He even explores pretty complex math concepts through it; like, if our math system is a base ten system because we have 10 digits on our hands, what happens in an alien culture where they have eight digits? Ever tried doing math in a base eight system? Dark Mirror has, just for fun.

As a mom, the best thing about Dark Mirror’s Starcraft obsession is that he’s sought out an online community of others with the same interests. He spends a lot of time working cooperatively with other fans on games and in discussions on game mechanics and more geeky philosophical topics. This group has become real friends to him when he’s needed to talk about more weighty issues in his life too. That’s great for an introvert. I’ve noticed that the trust he’s developed in this online group of faceless internet friends has translated into an openness in the real world too, and Dark Mirror is having a much easier time making friends, and talking about things other than Starcraft.