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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Evil little monster named Self Doubt

I had made a decision! I was sticking with it, no turning back. But in one afternoon self doubt came crashing down and I was suddenly filled with anxiety and back to square one! I don't like having things up in the air, if I have an important decision to make I will research obsessively, ask questions of anyone and everyone until I'm sure they try to avoid me since I can't seem to talk of any other subject, and then make my choice. I will usually stick with it just so I don't have to agonize over my options again! I was trying to decide whether or not to keep my son in the same alternative school he's in, find another, or homeschool without the help of any school.

There's so much I love about his current school, but it does seem to be mostly about socialization, group projects and games, vs academics. I love the community, parent nights, support, resources, but now that I'm part of the homeschooling community, I know I can easily find that elsewhere. And since we're very involved in our church, the kids go to classes and kids clubs there, so they're getting plenty of group games, crafts, etc. So all the reasons I originally needed the Alt school are out.

This spring I was finding we were just way too busy, hardly spending any time at home (I don't know why they call it "home" schooling), partly because I can't say no to a good field trip, but I've been working more, so the few moments we were at home I was trying to catch up on work and housecleaning instead of spending some focused time on learning or even just letting the kids get bored and creative. I think boredom is highly under rated! There's always a hump to get over where there's some whining and complaining, but once they realize I am not giving in, not entertaining, not turning on the TV, they begin to get creative and inventive. I might give some ideas or set out some paint or other craft they can do if they want, but it's amazing what they come up with on their own!

I've been mostly okay with no time for focused learning as we're more the "unschooling" type for now (they're only 5 and soon to be 2 after all!), but I think that will change as the kids get older and have harder subjects to learn. So after months of research, visiting other schools, agonizing and sleepless nights I came to the conclusion that we'd have more free time without the school and other classes I was interested in would be available to us. I was so relieved to have the decision behind me!

Then we went to the wonderful school carnival.

My son was running around in ecstasy like he owned the place! Do I really want to take him out of here? Away from his friends, favorite teachers, all the fun things we'll miss?! It took me the rest of that day and almost a full night to return to the same conclusion I had previously come to! I had to go through all the pros and cons over again in my head and strain to remember some of the reasons that were, and still are, so important to me. Remembering some of his best friends will not be returning next year and we see them regularly through a Meetup group (If you're a local homeschooler looking to connect with others find us at http://www.meetup.com/HomeCruzers/), and many of the fun things the school does I can find other places, or create with other homeschooling families... I'm at peace about it again, and confident that I'm making the best decision for him and our whole family. Now I look back on last week and shake my head for causing all this extra stress for myself in my own little mind for no reason! Self Doubt is an evil little monster!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Summer Art Camp


I'll be teaching art camp this summer at Kruz Kidz Summer Day Camps at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, Ca. I'm now official! We finally updated the web site with my name on it! http://www.kruzkidz.com/camps/creativearts/ woohoo! Classes are filling up fast, so sign up quick!

I've been losing sleep thinking of all the fun things we will do! There are endless options, so I have to narrow it down, but will definitely do some tie-die, painting, textiles, and I don't know what else, but it's going to be so much fun! Now to work out exactly what projects to do and get the supplies ready. Can't wait to get messy with a room full of kids!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Easy Solar Eclipse Pinhole Viewer and Kidzilla Breaks my Laptop!



We made a pinhole in cardboard so we could watch the eclipse, or at least the projection of it on a white piece of cardboard! Well, as white as I could find. After quite a search (of course I did not prepare in advance!) I found one that wasn't completely painted on. I searched quite a while online to find easy directions with materials we already had and the simplest and clearest directions I found were here. Scroll down to the "Quick and Easy" directions (obviously).

All you need is two pieces of cardboard, one that is white so it's easier to see the light on it. Cut a square hole in the middle of the first. Cover that hole with foil, tape to secure, and prick it in the middle with a pin. Make sure the hole comes out nice and round. Let the sun shine through and watch the little circle on the other, white cardboard shrink into a smaller and smaller crescent! And then grow back again if you have the patience. Pretty cool!



We started out in the front, but as the shadow of the house grew longer, we moved to the back yard. However that proved to be overshadowed by our tall fence, so the best spot ended up on our living room couch! It got pretty dark in the house, but it's just now starting to get light again. Pretty exciting stuff! I was much more excited than the kids, but they did enjoy seeing the circle on the paper change to look like a crescent moon for a second or two.

As I stopped to blog this, the only 5 minutes I picked up my computer today, thank you, my daughter was none too happy to not have my full attention and jumped into my lap. I picked her up by the waist to move her to sit next to me on the couch and she protested, kicking her feet, one of which came right down onto the keyboard of my brand new laptop!! My heart skipped a beat and I couldn't breathe for a moment! I quickly scooped up the computer and runaway key and went into the kitchen till I could breathe and until I knew I wouldn't kill my daughter. It was not her fault. After all, she's not even two, and I shouldn't have been sitting on the couch with my laptop so near to kidzilla... But, it's hard not to be furious and want to throttle someone, even if that someone is an innocent, too cute for words, little toddler!

Of course she ran after, batting her sweet little eyes, saying, "mommy? mommy?" I just took some slow, meditative breaths, checked that no further damage to my precious computer was evident, a few more calming breaths and then rejoined the family once I knew my head would not explode and produce unfavorable words I could not take back.

updated: 4/3/2013

Saturday, May 19, 2012

If you were around to hear me laugh randomly today, pay no mind! I don't know why, but a memory suddenly popped into my head of a day when my son was only one and spontaneously began spinning in a circle as fast as he could. He tried to stop, unsuccessfully, and ran sideways right into the wall! He fell over onto his bottom and just sat there leaning back and forth. I'm sure the world looked like it was still spinning, not that I've ever experienced that! At least not since my 20's.

Beautiful Blue!

Finished a scarf I've been working on! Woohoo, happy dance! It's for a client and I love it so much I wish I could keep it! It's so soft and I just love the color. But, I started another one! I'm using a different pattern, but will definitely have the fun tassels again. I just love this yarn.


Date night with Me!


I had exciting plans to go out, a very rare occurrence for this mom, last night with my husband and my mom to see the premier of Santa Cruz'n at the Santa Cruz film festival at Del Mar Theater, http://santacruz.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/santacruzin_philipspatton_santacruz2012. The kids would be at their other grandma's and I had visions of leaving early enough to go to dinner at Kianti's with my hubby before meeting up with my mom. My mom ended up having to work that night so she couldn't go. No problem, it would be more of a date night! I got the kids and myself ready to go, I looked pretty nice if I do say so myself! Then I and waited, and waited, fed the kids dinner, and waited some more...

After working since 5am, my husband finally came home, looking bedraggled and exhausted! I knew this movie wasn't his sort of thing, but I really wanted to see it since a friend of mine made it and some old friends would be there I wanted to say hello to. And I knew my husband had to get up early yet again the very next morning and neither of us had slept much in the last three nights due to my daughter being sick with high fevers...so, I told him to stay home and sleep, but that I was still going!

Date night with Me! Yay! I was actually completely happy with this! I haven't been by myself, in so long, I can't even remember! So, I continued with my plans, dropped off the kids, and went downtown. So strange to be in the car alone! I cranked up the radio and even the traffic didn't bother me! Unfortunately I was out of time to eat by the time I got down there and bought my tickets, but I did find an old friend I hadn't seen in a long time. He was out with the boys, and with absolutely no shame, I messed up that equation and sat with them and even had the audacity to steal their popcorn. I was ravenous!

It was great fun! I enjoyed both films that were shown and I even got a hug from the director, Phillips Patton! I was surprised he recognized me as I hadn't seen him in years. He was good friends with my brother growing up and I remember making stop motion animation and other short films with him when we were kids with his big black and white camera. Even if I hadn't found friends to sit with, I would have had a marvelous evening feeling like a teenager, without a care in the world, and a bit of a movie star, since I was even invited to sit in Phil's "friends" row and to sushi afterward! I was more than a little sad to run off right after the movie instead of joining them all to celebrate, but I had to relieve the grandparents and get my kids off to bed. They are the true joys of my life, so I didn't mind at all. I chose this motherhood thing after all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quote of the Day


Now, you may be thinking my children are the best behaved, most wonderful little angels ever, and why wouldn't you?! I've never said otherwise (not in writing). But today I'm ready to quit my job and run away screaming! (of course I wouldn't do that so don't call CPS, they are, at this moment, angelically sleeping in their beds and I can remember how much I dearly love them!)

My daughter is sick, I haven't slept in two nights since she's had high fevers and couldn't sleep. I finally had to find the medicine. I don't give meds unless really needed so had to read the label! Figuring out dosage while half asleep and trying to read all that tiny writing just to find where the directions are is not fun. She felt SO hot I resorted to giving her a bath to cool her down. It worked and she finally went to sleep around 3am. She was clingy and fussy all day today. My son was very helpful in irritating her as much as he could when I wasn't looking, telling her what to do, or trying to steel my attention from her since she wouldn't let me put her down. That didn't stop me from trying to work, clean, cook, etc. I say trying because I was not very successful at anything today. But now, oh sweet ecstasy, now I'm going to bed and you can't stop me! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Green and clean

I lathered my son in soap, as he was in the bath, rinsed him down, then reached for the shampoo. A normal occurrence for every mom, I'm sure, until he asks what shampoo is made of! "Umm, soap and some other stuff" is my lame answer. "What's in soap?" he asks. Now I feel really stupid! I don't know, I've never really thought about it. I do read labels and try not to get anything too horribly bad for body or environment, and having sensitive skin, I make sure there's no fragrance or anything I know will bother my kids or my own sensitive skin, but I don't know how to make the stuff! He looks up at me says, "You don't know what's in it and you're putting it on my body?!" the horror!

So now we're on a new mission, which will be a great science project! We are only going to try to use natural products on our bodies and in household cleaners as well that are good for both bodies and the environment. I'll have to see if we can find or make them, and especially if they work! I will be the judge on cleanliness, thank you. I meant to start writing about it that day, but we're already a few days in, so I'll catch you up:

Day 1, I looked up  homemade natural shampoo and didn't have any ingredients for any recipe I found except the most basic of basics, baking powder and apple cider vinegar (ACV). I've used both for health & beauty regimens before so they were already conveniently in the bathroom. I had a spray bottle of ACV/water ready to go. It works wonders on dandruff! So my next shower I scrubbed my scalp with the baking powder, scrubbed my body, too, and found it's a nice exfoliater! After rinsing well, I sprayed the ACV/water on my hair, let it set a minute, then rinsed. Sprayed some on my skin, too, as it's a natural astringent and antiseptic .

When it was dry it had a lot more body and, though it felt different than normal, it wasn't too dry nor was it greasy. I was pleasantly happy with the result! It felt clean, smelled good, and had extra bounce! Kudos to my son! I used it on him and my daughter and their hair looked lovely too!

Day 2 &3, I normally wash my hair every other day and by the end of the second day it's feeling greasy and needs to be washed. However, my hair felt fabulous for 3 days! I was feeling great about this new regimen!

Day 4, Washed my hair again the same way. It felt greasy, but I thought it was just because it was still damp so I blow dried it because I had to go somewhere. I didn't dry it all the way, but put it up in a ponytail because it still looked dirty to me. My hair felt greasy and gross all day!! I couldn't wait to get home to take another shower tonight! At least we were just out hiking, so I wasn't trying to be a fashionista. But I finally just got to take a shower and use all my normal toxic shampoo and conditioner!! (I use Aussie or Herbal Essence or something of the sort) Oh heaven! I feel so squeaky clean!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Inspired by local artists

If your hands look like this, it's been a good day.


I had such a wonderful Mother's Day! The kids had their easel set up next to mine in the backyard and we painted the afternoon away! We were all inspired the previous weekend having gone to open studios at 17th Avenue, 17thavenuestudios.org. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend it! The artists were all very welcoming, not always the case when you bring little kids into a studio. My little artists where in awe! My son, 5, was asking questions about the tools they used, how they made certain shapes and textures, what materials they used... I was impressed by his interest! He didn't want to leave! We had to stay until we saw every studio that was open!

Every spare second this week he's been at his easel experimenting with prints from bottle caps, popsicle sticks, paper napkins, different brushes, a toothbrush, and mixing up colors. He was very inspired to splatter paint and he is so serious about his work! He would stop to inspect his work and I'd hear him say under his breath, "Hmm, somethings, missing... ah! I didn't use any blue! Oh I need a circle there.. where's that big bottle cap?" I LOVE his final masterpiece he worked so hard to finish for me on Mother's day. He was ecstatic that I gave him a real canvas to paint on! It's now displayed on my living room wall. The next Jackson Pollock? Or maybe I'm a little biased?


While he was working so hard, my daughter, almost 2, was also painting away. She mixed every color and I'm not sure if she got more on herself or her paper, but it was great fun!

I have been dying to get my hands dirty as well and finally had a chance (since vowing not to work or clean all weekend and take full advantage of my well deserved Mother's Day break) to break out my own easel and paint! Inspired by the day, I painted a mother and baby.


"Mother in the Garden"




Saturday, May 12, 2012

Inspiration

Not only did the kids learn a lot and have a great time exploring some wonderful local places this week, I was very inspired by the beauty around me.





Fun learning outdoors this week!

We've had such a fun "school" week outdoors! We went to Harvey West Park, I don't get over there very often and forget how beautiful it is! I should know, it's where I got married after all! We went to play with friends at the playground, but as the nature lovers we are, were drawn into the forest. We walked along a path and found a little stream, well, my mom's dog found the stream and shook water all over my daughter before she knew what was happening!


We saw banana slugs, mushrooms, beautiful plants and flowers....Spring is my favorite season! With all the flowers blooming, bright green new life everywhere, birds chirping, warm sunshine, and no tourists, it was a fabulous day! We had the place to ourselves. After our nature fix, the kids were finally ready to socialize so we had a picnic lunch back with our friends and then the kids ran and played around a redwood tree ring. Jumping off stumps and hiding in a hole under one of the trees. It was great!



Later in the week we went to Aptos Park and played soccer and baseball with some friends and then wandered down the short path to the creek. The kids played in the water, looked at plants and watched and listened to the birds. My son was very excited and fascinated to find a branch in the water that had been a storage place for a woodpecker's acorns at one time.


I had brought some paper frames from home and had the kids pick an interesting looking place on the ground to place it. They noticed details they had missed at first and drew what they could see in the frame onto paper. They enjoyed it so much, they wandered around "framing" many areas and looking for bugs and cool designs in plants and leaves.


Yesterday we went up the UCSC to see the origami exhibit, http://news.ucsc.edu/2012/03/origami-exhibit.html. Pretty amazing stuff! I can't post pictures as they wouldn't let me take any, but it's worth a trip up there. My kids enjoyed the pond with origami frogs, crabs, and koi fish and especially the walkway filled with paper cranes! It's open at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery at Cowell College until June 16th if you have a chance to check it out.

My son made a simple origami cup (http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-cup.html) before hand and they filled it up with jelly beans when we got there! He also attempted making a cheetah, but discovered how difficult it was! He did manage a nice simple swan with help from me. It was good for him to really see how hard it is to make origami before we went to appreciate the exhibit!

We did even more fun things, but I don't have room or time to share them all. Hope you're enjoying the sunshine and our beautiful area as much as we are!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Local Treasures! Great Fields Trips Right Here in Santa Cruz County

Great Field Trips or just day trips to take with the family and you don't have to go very far! 

With the weather so nice it's hard to stay indoors! So I don't! These are some of the wonderful field trips I've had the pleasure of experiencing with my kids in the last few months.

We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place that has so much to offer right here in our own backyards!

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountySandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyOf course, there's the Santa Cruz Wharf where you can see the sea lions and read about the wharf's history as well as local animals on boards posted in various places along the way. Always fun for the younger ones! If you stay under an hour, it's free!




Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyThe Seymour Center at the Long Marine Lab is a wonderful museum full of info about our bay and Pacific Ocean with hands-on activities, touch tank, small aquarium, and more.

They have periodic free days which we frequent! They also have craft days and special events throughout the year.

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
Swell Sharks
If you join a tour, you can see the dolphins and sometimes other animals that have been rescued and learn much more from the wonderful docents. I highly recommend the tour! The huge whale skeletons are always fascinating and you can sometimes see living whales spouting off shore if you take a walk along the cliff!



Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyThe Santa Cruz Mission gave us a wonderful tour of the original adobe building from the time of the first Spanish Missionaries to the area and lots of great info about the Native American's who lived here. It inspired a whole research segment on Native Americans for my son!

They have had Saturday tours and workshops all spring  (which I hope continue) to get people to come enjoy this wonderful treasure that is on the verge of being shut down due to state park closures. Please go enjoy our history and help to preserve it! 


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
candle making
Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
I made a tortilla!
We made candles, mud bricks, and best of all, cooked tortillas using an old fashioned wooden press and grilled them up on an outdoor oven! Yum! Wish we could have made more, they were so good!






Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
Big Basin Museum
Not so well known is that Big Basin Redwood State Park  has a fabulous little museum with great hands-on displays about our local Eco-system, local animals, insects, and more!


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County



Also, they have a gift shop with photos and displays of the history of the park and the camp as well as the loggers who worked there before it became a camp.


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountySandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyMy favorite part is hiking in the beautiful redwoods! That can be hard to do with little ones, but there is a wonderful wheelchair accessible Redwood Loop Trail that even includes a trail guide you can pick up at the start of the trail which gives you facts about points of interest that are marked along the way.






Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
My son loved finding the numbered markers and following the map! He pretended to be our Indian guide.

It's an easy walk and the perfect length for little legs. Plus you get to see the largest and tallest Redwood trees in the whole park on this one trail! The Mother and Father of the forest, as they're called. People used to (and still do?) travel very far to see these awesome giants!

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyDon't forget to bring a lunch and layers, it can be cold under the shady trees! Entrance into the park is $10 for the whole day.





There's a cafe and an additional gift shop with wonderful treasures! They have many docent led hikes (though I prefer to enjoy the forest in relative quiet) and events throughout the year as well.

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County

 My son can't wait to be old enough to be a junior ranger! And we've yet to get up there for an old fashioned family campground bonfire, but have heard great things about it. We have camped on our own up there, though, and it's one of my favorites for camping!


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountyThe Natural History Museum is another wonderful place to learn about our local animals and habitats.

They also have a room about the Ohlone Indians who were the first residents of our little paradise. My son was in his element since he's been obsessed with Native American Indians since our trip to the mission!

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz CountySandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County



Also, everyone loves climbing on the big blue whale sculpture out front! They also have story times, and special event days. they periodically change themes, artwork on their walls, and have live animal shows throughout the year.

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
Natural Bridges State Beach also has a small museum with local animals, of course lots about Monarch butterflies, and the local habitat.

We went during the winter to Monarch Grove to see the butterflies clustered on the eucalyptus trees before they migrated on, a wonderful sight! But recently returned to venture out to the tide pools.

Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
Along the way we saw a swan in a pond! He wasn't too happy to see us, but we kept our distance.

And we saw lots of amazing little creatures in their own little watery condos when we got to the tide pools. It was fascinating and so fun we never wanted to leave!


Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County
Sandy Toes Creations- Local Treasures! Great Field Trips in Santa Cruz County












For more places I recommend that are close by, see: Great Field Trips Near Santa Cruz County

We have had such a great time exploring our world, and not having to go far to do it! So many local treasures are great to return to again and again!

I will be posting local parks and beaches that we love sometime soon, but please let me know if you have any other nearby field trip favorites!

Last year we had some great field trips, too, such as Pacific Crest Apiaries (a bee farm), police & fire stations, Whole Foods, the Museum of Art and History, Neary Lagoon, The Resource Recovery Facility (the dump), and the Scotts Valley Waste-water Treatment Plant; all were excellent! 

Some you can just stop by, but it's always best to get a group together (if you don't go with a school) and call to schedule a field trip.






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