Monday, March 30, 2009

Ice Skaters

For their birthday trip, I took Gianna and Candice ice skating. These two gals are wonderfully athletic and took to the ice with grace and power. They each exhibited their own unique style. Candice moves elegantly like a figure skater while Gianna pours on the speed like a hockey player. Meanwhile, Dearma skated carefully but enjoyed a few rounds where we all joined hands and skated as a threesome. They had a blast and would have skated forever if hunger hadn't got the best of them.

So we took off our skates and headed to Twain Harte where they downed a cheese pizza. It's was a great afternoon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Family Birthdays

We've spent the past several days celebrating family birthdays. In my family, Jennie Lou who is 39 and Gianna who is 9. In Cindy's family, Jimmy Junior who is 29, Chritina who is 8, and William who is 3.

Birthdays are a wonderful opportunity to say we love you and enjoy your unique contributions to our family dynamics. May this next year of life offer each of you many wondrous moments and satisfying experiences.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Athan Can Read!

(Athan is the third leprechaun from the right)

All last fall, six-year-old Athan told Mama that he wanted to learn to read, so in late November, Jennie Lou asked me if I'd be willing to implement a DISTAR reading program with him. It was a program she had used successfully with Anna Mae. I leaped at the chance, for I'd never been in on the initial stages of reading instruction having always worked with adults who had failed to grasp some reading skills.

I set up a schedule, and we got started the first week of December. My lesson plan was overly ambitious and was quickly impinged upon by the holidays, my vacation, illness, and other time constraints, but we nevertheless managed one or two lessons a week through December, January, and February.

Athan was always eager and cooperative when I showed up for a reading lesson. He would immediately abandon whatever he was doing--riding bikes, having a morning snack, or drawing at the table with the other kids--to join me in the schoolroom. We quickly established a routine. At the conclusion of each lesson, he would put a sticker on the schedule to indicate which numbered lesson we had completed, and then he would take a minute to look ahead in the book to see what was coming up. His anticipation was fun to watch.

Lately, he had also taken to looking backward from whence we'd come, clearly noting how much more complicated current lessons were from those in the past. During the month of March, I noted a subtle change in his skills. He was sounding out words at a subvocal level and then reading them aloud in full. I sensed a major breakthrough coming.

Yesterday, when I arrived, Athan met me at the door with a book in hand and said, "Dearma, I read half of this book with Gianna." Thinking it was a story book that he had most likely memorized, I joined him on the couch to hear him read. Boy was I delighted. The book was a primer, and he was indeed reading it. He was sounding out words including sounds we had not yet covered in the DISTAR program. As he turned page after page and read aloud, Gianna, Anna Mae, and Mama stood close by marveling at his ability.

March 16, 2009 will go down in history as the day that Athan started reading on his own.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hello Subaru

How lucky am I to have an amazingly skillful son to get the Subaru in running order?? Not only did Raleigh change out the engine and many other parts, he and Cody did a nice job of cleaning both interior and exterior before delivery.

The first drive around Rawhide Mobile Homepark offered a strange deja vu for once a Subaru owner always Subaru-familiar. It was definitely a flashback-- the way my body sat in the seat, the way the steering wheel managed the car, and even the knocky noises of the undercarriage were oddly familiar. At the same time, the shift from a 4-year-old car to a 14-year-old car was clearly apparent! I think it will take a few months for me to situate myself directly in the role of old car owner.

In the mean time, I'm eager to fill the Subaru with all the little things that make a car mine: glovebox paraphernalia, YCCD parking permit, Ipod do-dads, sunglasses, and seatbelt guard. I need to program the radio to my stations and adjust the mirrors to my viewing satisfaction.

For your part . . . you will have to look harder to find me out on the road in the sea of local Subarus . . . I'm one of many in an older red stationwagon Legacy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good Bye VW

Today, I say good bye to my Volkswagon. It's been a marvelous four years. Getting the VW was one of those life time "must-dos"--you know, actualizing a dream no matter how frivolous or impractical just for the sake of pure enjoyment. That's the story of the VW for me.

Pictured below are some of my favorite memories of the VW. Foremost, without a doubt was Huck's childish delight when I picked him right after I bought the Volkswagon. I'll never forget his clear pronunciation of the full name of the car and how he would sit in the driver's seat and steer and push buttons. I like to think he's early appreciation of cars orginated from the day.

Then there was the day Ashley and Sabrina rode with us to a graduation at the Mariposa fairgrounds. I can't remember whose graduation it was, but I do remember that the girls wanted the top down and didn't care what effect it had on their hair.

The grandkids always loved a trip in the VW, so one time at the cabin I took kids two-by-two for rides with the top down. Look how young Mary Autumn and August are!

One of my favorite trips in the VW was one summer when Cindy and I drove over the pass. There was snow at the summit when we stopped for lunch and we had a snowball fight. This is self-timed picture of that glorious day.

So it is with mixed feelings that I return the VW to the dealer today. It's been wonderfully reliable, a smooth ride, and oh so adorable. I'll miss the frequent comments: "Cute car!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Prayer Study

I started six weeks of prayer study two weeks ago in conjunction with the Maker's diet and the beginning of Lent. The book that I'm using explores four kinds of prayer:
1. Conversational prayers of asking and authenticity;
2. Uplifting affirmative prayer;
3. Praying for others;
4. Contemplative prayer.

In the initial journal work, I realized that the first prayers I learned as a child were asking prayers though that seems to be the kind of prayer that I'm the least comfortable practicing as an adult. I also recognized that I enjoy hearing people like Raleigh and Charlie pray this way. Conversational is the correct word for their prayers which do indeed sound like an intimate conversation with God.

I decided to look for ways I could become more comfortable with prayers of asking and a breakthrough came on Sunday when I realized that the metta prayer of loving-kindness that I say at the beginning of meditation and in moments of stress is an asking prayer.
May I be free from fear.
May I be peaceful.
May I make a friend of my body.
May I know grace and loving kindness.

It seems so obvious now that is is asking prayer but as is often the case, I need to find the links between my Buddhist practice and my Christian heritage to facilitate my spiritual growth.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


So much is going on and no time to blog (blogging in my head certainly does not make it public). So I'm opting for a summary of some pretty fantastic times with pictures of some of the notable events.

The first picture is at the "It's a Jungle Out There" Awards Dinner at which Cody and Taylor were among winners of the the essay contest. YEHAW! Cody & Taylor! The next picture is the field trip to the Wild Animal Exhibit at the college to which Jenny and Jennie Lou brought the kids. The children were quite fascinated by this unique display of wild life. I also had a wonderful picture of the gang who attended Cindy's birthday party at the bowling alley, but we somehow deleted all of Cindy's birthday pictures when uploading new pictures. We're trying not to be sad and planning on requesting pictures from others who were there.

In addition to these, highlights, here are a few other things I've been doing, starting with the playful things and ending with more work related activities:
1) We've attended 3 plays: "Our Town," "Escanaba in da Moonlight," and "Fiddler on the Roof."
2) We are consistently watching at least one TV show a night, including "24"(a surprising choice for me in terms of action/violence, but I'm hooked), the last seasons of "ER" and "The L Word," and "Bones," "House," and "The United States of Tara," as well as some documentaries on PBS.
3) We've been to the movies several times and saw "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Taken" (I had my eyes closed for most of this one.)
4) One Sunday, I attended the Chapel in the Pines to hear Charles preach and Ra sing, then went to All Saints where August's confirmation peers hosted a lunch and a silent auction; after which I went to my friend Meryl's Open House.
5) We went to the Mother Lode Christian School Jubliee and got some wonderful buys in the silent auction, including a box of classic books and a sweet musical carousel collection.
6) I've read several good books, including Steps & Exes and the Life of Pi and The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.
7. My writing group meets 2 times a month and they are truly an inspiration as well as a huge motivating factor for me.

Working Life includes:
1) Working on the Women Inventors book with Julia. We are conducting phone interviews right now with some AWESOME women.
2) Home school with 2 families. It's a delight to watch how much growth the kids have made since last fall. Everyone has some new-found skill, and Cody headed off to "real" school this month which was an exciting and momentous change.
3)College work is steady. I have about 18 assessments underway and hope to finish them all before we go to Mexico at the end of April.
4)I'm part of Distance Education Cohort Group at the college which as me deep into designing an online version of a course I taught for teachers before I retried.
5) Cindy and I are working on a collection of Ashley's writings, a project that is tender and unbelievably special.
6) I'm on day 12 of the Maker's Diet and feeling more settled into this new way of eating (and food preparation).
7) I get to yoga class anywhere from 2-4 times a week with an occasional Zumba class in there and I walk on the fire trail most days. (Here I am on UTube doing Zumba)

Life is rich, but I do miss blogging. I'm going to work on doing more regular posts. If I write short ones, I'm sure I can do it!