Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dangerous Books

Two books that will soon be in our library...
The Dangerous Book for Boys
50 Dangerous Things You Should Do with Your Children

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time Warp Trio, Wiley and Grandpa, Neil Gaiman

Wylie and I have been very big users of the library recently. Very big users.
We really like our local library which is the Kings Park Library.
We've been dropped off with the stroller and our book bag by Wyatt in the evening only to use the stroller as our book bag carrier as we were laden down with 25 books and walked home.
We've found a librarian we love there.
We have found out that there are LEGO creations by patrons there.
We have found out that they have a full set of TIME WARP TRIO books and a new series of books...

That last one is really important.
Wylie is really into chapter books. We read two to three chapters at night. So we now get two to three books from the library. We also get our DK/Eyewitness books but it's the chapter books that rock our world.
Wylie was most excited when we read "Summer Reading is Killing Me" as it had reference to so many books but he had actually read and remembered the characters in three of the books. He asked if we could get them again from the library.
We now are building a reading list for him. He's also starting to read again. :)

As for me. I'm back to my 40 for 40 list.
Neil Gaiman "American Gods" Great book. Not science fiction but not quite reality. Not quite drama but not quite anything. It's compelling and makes me look at people outside a bit differently. Loving it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Library Fine Confession

Okay Wylie and I must confess and we admit our sin...

$10.25 in fines! 8 books at 25cents a day! But as the librarian said we must have loved those books and to be honest we did.
We also pointed out that the library now had enough money to buy a new book.

So this is a good thing right?????

Ah well, back to remembering to return our books.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Silver Linings

Today is a grey and rainy day. The kind that begs for a good book, a good blanket, a comfy chair and a cup of something yummy. It is a good reading day.
As a child days like these were seen as silver lining days by my mom. Here are a few glimpses of her silver linings...
1. Summer at the beach and a full on chilly rainy day. No house work, no beach time, no outside play time. The perfect day to do what you do on vacation...Relax. Pick up a book and find a good chair to read in. It would be quiet for hours before someone would yawn, stretch and ask "what's for lunch?" At which point we'd either all pile into the car for some exploration of the boardwalk which would be empty of tourists due to the rain OR we'd make grilled cheeses and sit at the table and play games.

2. Rainy winter days during the holidays. Perfect day to pull out old cook books and make cookies or holiday treats and read quietly with the heat on. Relax. There were many a day to rush through traffic and worry about many things but the days that involved us all at home were sometimes just days to read. Some of those days my dad would read out loud to us. Silver was to be found on those days to.

So what are my silver linings for today which could only be described as a less than perfect day...
1. I have my rain gear for my motorcycle which keeps me warm and dry for the bike ride to the train which also gave me exercise and vigor this morning.
2. The rain actually stopped for the 15 minutes while I had to walk from Charles St to Pratt street because the buses still aren't running on Pratt.
3. My colleague will give me a ride to the train station on the way home.

Final silver lining for the day...finding new Christmas patterns for my kindle to review on the ride home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kings Park Library Branch

New Librarian Love!
Wylie walked shyly up and asked for a DK Pirate Book. This is one of those eyewitness series books that we've loved in the past on Mummies, Egypt, Bugs, Food etc. She not only walked us over to the area where the book could be found but pulled out a super awesome Piratology book with a compass on the front for Wylie to read. She then also asked us if we were familiar with a few other pirate books as Wylie was obviously a big fan.

We also found chapter books for the Time Warp Trio Series! We loved the television series but this is a whole new ball game of fun with the books as they offer detail and imagination the television show cannot add.
We found one more fun book that was such a good book we read it cover to cover in one sitting. It was purely for fun and worth every moment.
"Wiley and Grandpa" (and yes Wylie did point out they spelled his name wrong). Not every day you find a book written about you!

That was our library love this week.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nourishing Traditions-Sally Fallon

The full title of the book is "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats"

Through a local (Loudon County) farmer  Chicama Run Farms I found this book. It's part cook book, part nutritional history, part college education text book, and part lifestyle/homemaker book. YES all of those things in one. AND YES it's quite thick so I have to say I'm glad it was a soft back and on sale and available through Amazon Prime. :)
The author has about four pages of references and nutritionists, dieticians and doctors as well as historians at the end of her introduction alone that give her credibility above and beyond most of the diet or "diet lifestyle" books out there. She refers to valid clinical trials as well as historical realities. She does get preachy at times and there are recipes and areas in which I think "Well, I'll substitute good old refined white sugar or turbinado sugar" instead of her recommendation of rapadura or something similar.
She has a section for each of the parts of nourishment that we as humans take in. This isn't a way of justifying poptarts or demonizing butter. It is pointing out proteins in all their different forms and counterparts, vitamins and their uses and in some cases overuse issues, minerals, carbohydrates (here she includes fruit and veg), dairy, fats, beverages-I love that she makes this a category of nourishment, enzymes, spices and salt.
She then breaks "food" into three categories, nourishing traditional foods, compromise foods, and "newfangled" foods. It really makes you realized that the more your basic meat, fruit, veg, grain, water, spice, salt is messed with the less it is good for you NO MATTER WHAT ANY ONE SAYS.
The other fun part of the book is that throughout she puts up the ingredients of products that are relatively common in the local grocery store without putting up the name of the product. This is a fun challenge as I have read a few of these to my 4.5 year old and he thinks I'm making up names and that it can't possibly be part of an actual recipe for a food item. When we find out what it is he is shocked and I am appalled and that item is promptly listed as NEVER COMING INTO OUR HOUSE AGAIN. In some cases we are pleasantly suprised with the small ingredient list and how it is something we really love. With no reason to wonder why!
I haven't made a recipe out of the book. Mainly as I still have all of my kitchen items in storage as we are still living with the in-laws until next week. After that I cannot wait to get the kitchen set up and the cooking to begin.
I hope you take the time to read and enjoy the book as much as I did.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back into Old Habits

So Wylie and I have missed the return date for our books on Saturday which means we are facing a .25cent per book charge! We currently have about 7 books out but will be returning them today!
Heads hanging in shame with that but tonight we will be having fun returning and getting new books.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prompt: Alivest

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.

I feel most alive when in nature. Sounds simple. It isn't just on a farm or in the woods or at the beach etc. It's when I take the time to be outside and breathe. It's when I take the time to think while outside about the miracle of life itself in the blade of grass, the bird eating my blueberries, the smell of ozone after a rainshower and most definitely when I am with my son stopping to experience all of those things.
Knowing I'm going to be home to experience that again is key to me!

Prompt: Call to Arms

Call to Arms

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair. You’re just written your own job description. You know what you have to do. Go! (bonus: send it to the CEO with the title “The things we absolutely have to get right – nothing else matters.”)

Hi it's Eli!
So this one is so timely. I was given the "temporary head honcho" role on 6/30/11 to last for two weeks. It didn't give me a big head and it didn't give me a ton of anxiety after 24 hours. Granted I've been having dreams about each of my teammates for the past week which is weird but for the most part I think working on a team and working with this team we are all prepared for the day in which we take the reins for awhile.We are all very lucky to have a great mentor in our boss and the opportunity to grow. This does not mean I can do the intricate parts of my teammates jobs by any means but it does mean that I can not do my job completely without their support.
I am not sure I would write a call to arms memo sending it to everyone on the team rather I would call a lunch meeting and then talk about the changes and send the memo later as a follow up. I would also meet with everyone on a one to one basis to understand what they want to do and how we can meet those needs. I look to lead with a team in place and as a team.
My plans for the team in the next 12 months would fall into three categories:
1. Fiscal-I want to stem the flow of funds out of our budget in the early part of the year to other teams in the organization to cover their seeming lack of planning. We need to be prepared for these cuts in our planning and make sure that we have our budget in travel, research services, and external support teams set up properly and contracted so we do not lose those resources. I want to be very firm on stemming the tide of funds flowing out of our budget. It is demoralizing to our team to continually be told our projects are not important and then be told to scramble and get the work done at the least price and with the least amount of time. It does not show that we are truly appreciated and it tends to show that we are undervalued.

2. Employee Training- Each year as a team we pick our conferences as ones we want to attend without really thinking about what we get out of the programs at the conference on a personal, team and corporate level. We tend to send folks to one or two of the same conferences each year and come back with similar thoughts. I want to rethink our conferences and turn it on it's head to sending each of us to a course or a seminar or training program. In 2009 and 2010 Chris and I participated in a certificate program it taught us more than just the material in the book and online. It taught us project and time management. It taught us collaboration beyond what we were doing already. In 2011 Chiko attended a multivariate analysis course recently bringing back knowledge of how to review and revisit our presentation and analysis of research. He also shared this knowledge with our extended Evaluserve team expanding their capabilities and thus expanding our offerings and capabilities within Laureate.  The training doesn't have to be specific to market research in some cases as we expand into new verticals and new countries it might be the following:
A. Learning a new language for example having Elaine take a  Spanish immersion course at a local community college or online as she works with NHU
B.Learning about the new verticle Charles to Kendall College or to a culinary/hospitality conference to learn more about the difficulties facing the potential student.
C. Participating in one of our current universities online offerings as a credit earning student.
Training in market research is much more than attending a research conference and making new contacts. It is continuing to learn.

3.Corporate Focus--We usually tend to be Walden and online focused when it comes to budget and project planning which does not always work for our team. We need to move away from this and start planning our projects as global projects. What would gather information for our universities and help us learn more about our students, about our true 5 to 10 year plans for education (not just financial growth plans), and the changing work/education/life environment.
We need to start making a fundamental shift in our internal clients focus of short term focus to long term focus. We all struggle with this both from a client management/relationship and from a client planning point of view. How do we HELP our clients plan for their future with regard to the needs of their college?

What I would really like to know from my team mates is what they would do if they were the boss? How would they change? Where do we agree? Where do we disagree? How do we NOT find middle ground but find a way to make fundamental and positive movement toward being one of the best? How do we generate or prove financial independence? My goal to be able to have our team operate as a completely separate entity within the company.

So that is my "Call to Arms."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prompt: Most Ordinary

Most Ordinary

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother).
1. What are your false comparisons?
2. What are your false expectations?
3. What are your false investments in a story?
 List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

1. My false comparisons are the ones that are common among women and common among competitors. I am continually looking at my body harshly and everyone is prettier, more youthful, and more graceful, or more slimmer. When I was a runner I wasn't fast enough, when I was a dancer I only every ranked third never first, when I became a mother rather than accepting my permanent body changes I was judging myself.
Oddly I try my hardest not to judge others on their appearance but I am harsh or as my husband puts it "I know to keep my mouth shut 95% of the time while my brain is doing all sorts of craziness." I think the one saving grace to the false comparison is that I do not do the "keeping up with the Joneses" thing. My comparisons are for me alone not my family, not my husband, not my child. They are perfect as they are.

2. My false expectations are that one day I will wake up and be able to do it all and if I don't I am a failure of the largest percentage. That all will see only the failure not the other parts. IT takes very special friends of mine to point out the areas where I am a success. A false expectation that I do have is that I will wake up and not be obsessive about food, worry about my body and ultimately not have the ingrained issues around a food disorder that I have had my entire life.

3. I don't think I have a false story or investment in a story. I believe my husband does. Me, I am ordinary but have extraordinary days that are to be shared and enjoyed. I am evolving slowly. I try things and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. I try to bring what might be ordinary to me into the realm of extra ordinary or even magical to others by sharing. I've said it before but living with a 4.5 year old is amazing as simple and ordinary is more than that!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prompt: Intuition

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1.If you could picture your intuition as a person, what would he or she look like?
2. If you sat down together for dinner, what is the first thing he or she would tell you?

My intuition is an old lady. Elegant and refined. She would be looking around eating cheese and crackers and telling me I told you that something isn't right. She is slow on the delivery of information.
If we sat down for dinner I would be inpatient waiting for her to get there. I would be wanting to start eating anxious for the appetizer to be ready. The first thing she would tell me would be to calm down and be patient you are in too much of a hurry. If you wait and think it will work out. 

P.D James in Back

The kiddo and I went to pick up a new book for him this morning. The latest DK book: FOOD! So exciting.
I picked up two PD James mysteries while there.

1. The Black Tower -This is one of her older ones-Dagliesh finds a priest he is friends with dead

2. The Murder Room-This is a newer Dagliesh mystery-Dagliesh visits a macabre museum one week and the next is back investigating a murder of one of it's board members.

I am very excited about the reads! Especially considering I have a few long plane rides in my future this week!

Emily Hudson

Emily Hudson: Milissa Jones
The story:
After the start of the Civil War, Emily Hudson-an orphan who lost her family to consumption and fever-finds herself the begrudged guest at the home of her relatives in Newport. Emily's longing to be an artist is dismissed by her puritanical uncle, who wants nothing more than to rid himself of her through marriage. Her only friend is her aesthete cousin, William, an ailing young writer. When a promising engagement to the eligible Captain Lindsay is broken, William rescues Emily from an uncertain future by taking her to England. Lonely and desperate to escape her cousin-once her confidante, now her obsessively controlling patron-Emily sets out alone to meet her destiny in the eternal city of Rome. Reminiscent of the novels of Edith Wharton, Emily Hudson is an exquisitely told tale about a heroine struggling to be true to herself, and also find love in a society where only marriage or an independent income guaranteed a woman the freedom to do as she pleased.

My review:
I stayed up far to late reading this every night. It wasn't anything deep. It wasn't anything that made me think hard about life or the ultimate path of women. It was a good read. It made me remember how naive I was at 19 and how not too long ago women were expected to do much more at that young age. I loved how it is told between Emily's letter writing to her friends and in normal story format. There is a sense you never trust a few people but always want to believe they have Emily's best interest at heart. It was a great read.
I am hesitant to say it but a wonderful summer read.

The Omnivores Dilema

The Omnivores Dilema: Michael Pollan

Just finished this one on the train the other day and it was with happiness that I read this and with some serious fear and concern for Wylie's future that I realized the world he is inheriting. The main premise is that as Americans we have been sold a bill of goods about what we should be eating that we don't know what is good for us and do not not know how to make the best choices for ourselves. The reality is that we did know how to make the best choices but started listening to others who steered us away from the good choices to the easier ones. NOW making the healthier, wiser and better choices have become the more expensive, timelier, and less mainstream or at least that is the perception.

I bring this to my home:
In California we had a little garden. We grew tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and beans. We purchased our beef and chicken from a butcher who in turn sourced their chicken and cattle and pig from local (150 miles) range raised and grass finished farms. We purchased our fruit and veg from local sources. We were able to know where our food came from as well as know the ingredients in our foods. For the most part our child has not really consumed the amount of corn the average American consumes. Interestingly neither do I nor does my husband. We also have a child who "self-regulates" his diet. This means he knows when he is full. He chooses to stop eating, he doesn't overload on sweets, he doesn't beg for snacks, and for the most part chooses fruit and veg over refined foods. This isn't by some miracle or magic.

Michael Pollan's book set out to understand where and when our lives veered from the understanding of making meals and how we were duped into believing making a meal took too much time that we needed a corn filled replacement. How did this happen. It took awhile.
Think about all you eat every day. Think about how much comes out of a box not out of the ground. Think about how much you consume without thinking. His book isn't about telling you how to eat or what not to eat. It's about thinking about what you eat.
He brings it back to our health, our relationship, our life and food.
Wylie's future depends on a healthy relationship with food. One in which he knows where his food comes from and it isn't the grocery store.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prompt: Courage to Connect

Courage to Connect

Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who is one person that you’ve been dying to connect with, but just haven’t had the courage to reach out to? 1.First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them.
2.Then, reach out and set up a meeting.

1. Facebook has made this relatively easy to do with some of the people I've been wanting to get in touch with but haven't really had to make the connection. In the past year I've made the point of finding people I really wanted to stay friends with but under the influence of others screwed up those friendships. Now that I have removed the "not good for me" people I am finding the "good for me people" again. So in some respects I'm reaching out and finding them.

I wasn't "dying" to reach out and connect with or reconnect with my sister but circumstances put me in a face to face situation with my sister last year. The short time I was around her and a few other relatives that I normally wouldn't have spent time with confirmed that there are people you think you should be connected to and spend time with that in reality are just not people you need to be around. If nothing else that short weekend proved to me that I am my own person. I refuse to be pigeon holed by someone else.

So in short I won't have someone I'm dying to connect with because I am slowly working to understand and reconnect with the people I need to be with but be honest with myself about the people I no longer need or want in my life to be healthy.

Prompt: Enthusiasm!


Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” is a great line from Emerson. If there’s no enthusiasm in what you do, it won’t be remarkable and certainly won’t connect with people on an emotional basis. But, if you put that magic energy into all of your work, you can create something that touches people on a deeper level.

1.  How can you bring MORE enthusiasm into your work?
2. What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it?
3. Answer it now.

I have to believe in what I am doing in order to be enthusiastic about what I am doing. If I want it I will do it.
Simple as  that!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Prompt: You Know Who You Are

You Know

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.)

1.  For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

Working on it. I know who I am and I know only to the best of my abilities today. IF not I ask for help.

Prompt: Speak Less

Speak Less

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Someone once received a fortune cookie that read: “Speak less of your plans, you’ll get more done.”
1. What’s one project that you’ve been sitting on and thinking about but haven’t made progress on?
2. What’s stopping you?
3. What would happen if you actually went for it and did it?

1. I'm working on that project. But I'm not going to talk of it.
2. Nothing is stopping me.
3. I'm going for it.

In a side note: I have this habit of going silent, not speaking of something I want for fear I will jinx what I want. I am speaking less.

Prompt: Facing and Fearing--This should be good!

Facing (and Fearing)

Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am breaking the tradition here and will be writing my answer in another color under the questions as I want to highlight what they are a bit more. It is also a bit weird as they are somehow around houses and being attached. I really wonder what that is all about?!

Trusting intuition and making decisions based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:

1) “What are the costs of inaction?”  Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our “lizard brains” what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.
 The costs of inaction are pain and suffering, stagnation and boredom, weight gain and sadness. The fears of acting are the unknown, risk, loss, pain, suffering, weight gain, sadness and judgement. The fear of acting is also possibly finding out that the action didn't solve what was causing the inaction! Wow wasn't that scary! Now from a very practical standpoint in my life the cost of inaction two times in the past 20 years...
1. Financial loss-the first time insignificant but more painful in that I was conned and used and abused by the loss. Essentially I was a pansy. The second time was significant-MAJOR-HUGE-MASSIVE but oddly while initially more painful (imagine the ripping off of a band-aid) it is less painful in the long run. We were abused and discriminated against but the loss came at the end.
2. Emotional toll- the first time significant hit to my self-esteem. I actually let someone with lesser values act superior to me and didn't do anything to keep the peace. The second time Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
3. Physical Loss-In both cases my health took a nose dive. I visited the doctor more often, faced viral and bacterial infection, ate poorly and in general was not physically, emotionally or mentally healthy.
Overall inaction is not good.

This question does not ask but I want to answer the following what does action do?!
1. It doesn't necessarily give you back financial health but it does stop the flow of loss. It does give you the ability to start making changes. 
2. It gives the right, the ability, and the belief your mental health and your emotional health are important and YOU are important. It might take awhile but by acting and not fearing you become you. 1 year post action in both cases I was an incredibly healthier person mentally and physically! 

2) “What kind of person do I want to be?”
I want to be generous, kind, happy, believable, volunteering, growing, evolving, nurturing, teaching, learning, and most of all reading.
I want to be the person that is willing to stop at a national park to see and learn about the nation and if in another country about the world.
I want to be the person who can laugh at herself.

3) “In the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?” Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.
I was committed to the situation trying to make a positive outcome in two major situations both to my misery and to my poor health and the detriment of many around me. In admitting failure and loss in the first case by admitting a relationship was not a good thing and that I could not fix it nor make it something it wasn't (i.e. force an addict to be something other than that) so removing myself from the situation and moving on was the action causing many more actions which were hard and fearful but ultimately positive. In admitting failure and loss on the second we identified all the learnings and good that were involved but that in order to move forward we had to stop looking back.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prompt: Dreams


Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Write down your top three dreams.
2. Now write down what’s holding you back from them.

My top three dreams are simple and I believe I've written them before:
1. Save enough money to put Wylie through the college of his choice without his having to take out loans and have him WANT to go to college.
2. To believe in myself fully one day. To know my knowledge is true. To know my faith in my heart to be true.
3. To believe that I can and will spend time learning to live off the land by my hands and by my wits.

Nothing is stopping me. I am moving slowly but surely towards these dreams. They are my evolution.

Prompt: Invent the Future!

Invent the Future
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’
1. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can.
2. Write about your future now.

My future?!
I want so much from my future that at times it feels greedy and at times it feels futile and frightening that I know I will never achieve it and will be hopeless and stagnant. The things I want out of my future are things that I have managed in the past and will see again in my future.
1. House to call my own. Something that is my home.
2. Increase in work quality and visibility
3. Budget sustainability

Prompt: Wholly Strange and New!

Wholly Strange and New
When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new?  Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?

1. Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.

Not quite the answer to the walking a path of my own but of finding my own path. I have fears still, I have concerns, but I have people stating some most amazing things about me that tell me there is life left in this mind of mine and that I am indeed walking a new path that is mine and not someone else's.
I have heard in the past six weeks "You look very refreshed," "You look as if you have lost weight," "Are you keeping a happy secret," "You look very contented," "A new haircut? A new job?," "You seem invigorated." All of this from making a big change that involves a longer commute and a longer path. It is wholly strange and new.
I think the wholly strange and new is I made a choice and stuck to it. I refused to be somewhere that was a dead end with me trying to hang on. I let go. I also think I'm letting my brain think. I'm not perfect. I'm not without concerns. I'm just me moving my way through life making choices. This was a good one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle-Barbara Kingsolver

I am so happy I found this book while looking for a tomato book for Wylie. This is the fantastic fiction author writing of her year of living local and off her land in Virginia with her family. It starts with the family moving back to Virginia from Tucson, AZ in the beginning of summer with the goal of planning and planting for the ability to eat off the land and from the local farms for one year. They had spent the summers previously returning to their Virginia farm for the summer but not living there permanently handling work and school and the farm. This was more than just the summer. This was going to be life.
I like that it is not just her take on it but her teenage daughter and her husband weighing in with science and reality. Kingsolver includes information from other authors pointing out that some tend to forget the reality that is life in their preaching of organic, local and sustainable. She also points out that sometimes organic isn't the best as it doesn't really mean anything (like the "organic" poptarts or "organic" cherios) if it's been trucked from another country or used child labor or only one ingredient is organic or a million other things. Organic ultimately means it was grown in the ground with soil that was not exposed to really awful harmful pesticides that kill everything but the fruit or veg.
I like that she isn't just about how great it is to grow this garden and have chickens and turkeys and eggs and the age old "lock your house and car and windows in August or you might find zuchinni" stories but she covers the recipes, the canning, the joining of family and friends in the process. The waiting for fruit and veg, the excitement of the first harvest, the ho hum of the last, the quiet of the September frost. This book is about living in the moment and preparing for the future. It is about teaching and learning from your neighbors and looking out for your neighbors. It is something that resonates very very deeply with me.

Prompt: Alternative Paths

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask

1.What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?  They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.

This has nothing to do with the question or maybe it does. The only thing I keep seeing or thinking as this goal is a series of questions:
A. How do I start weaning off the amount of meat I eat weekly to afford the better more sustainable local meat consumption that I want? --I know the farms, now to start making meal plans
B. How do I start making more of my garden reproducible annually and how do I start growing more than the easy toms, blues, and basil?
C. How do I live less on the grid but still in this world without retreating completely?

Prompt: One Thing

Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take a moment, step back from your concerns, and focus on one thing: You have one life to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Sounds simple, but when you really focus on it, let it seep into your consciousness, you realize you only have about 100 years to get every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do. No second chances. This is your only shot. Suddenly, this means you should have started yesterday. No more waiting for permission or resources to start.

Today is the day you make the rest of your life happen.

1. Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal.
2. Don’t be afraid to be very specific in how you’ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow.

One thing I've always wanted to do is a tough one because there are many things I've always wanted to do and I tend to try and get them done. NOT in a bucket list style rather in a determined get on with my life and experience mode where it is about seeing, learning, feeling, hurting sometimes mode. I think I wrote this down before in my desire to learn to play cello. I also think one of my goals is to figure out financial stability and responsibility. I want to feel more secure but that will never happen.
My ultimate goal--have enough money for Wylie to go to college of his choice without his having to worry about loans.

Prompt: Surprise

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1.Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.
2. How will you surprise yourself this week?

There are many times when I thought myself not capable and then managed to do something. Things that everyone around me in a million years would never have expected me to do and yet I still managed to do in spite of the naysayers and detractors. The two I am most proud of are quitting smoking and running a marathon. I think the first marathon was the hardest and the third the most glorious. Both of those things surprised the living daylights out of me when I finished.
I don't know how I will surprise myself this week. If I did it wouldn't be a surprise. I am traveling this week to a meeting that is somewhat intimidating as it is all international health and C-level partners in the company as I stand in for my VP. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to learn as much as I can. I am also very nervous about opening my mouth and saying the wrong thing. Who knows I might make the right connection!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prompt: Divine Idea

Divine Idea

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it.
2. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?

My divine idea is that I would like to be a perfect housewife from the 50s. Okay so that is imitation at it's best. I'd like to be the one who can make a great meal, raise chickens for dinner and for eggs, that has the garden that feeds my family and hangs the laundry outside on the line. I guess in some ways I want to be my mom which again is imitation.
This is me. I want this to be the me who doesn't care about suits and heels and being fat or skinny, who doesn't care about pretty or ugly. Who can show up in sneakers and pants as well as a skirt and heels and be equally as comfortable.
Divine Idea: Me. Just me. Comfortable in my skin.

Prompt: Fear!


These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:
1. Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?
2. Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?
3. Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?
4. Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.

This is so interesting as my friend wrote about her backspace key breaking  here and not being able to go back which meant living with the belief that now matters and you have to move forward. I wrote a comment on it and my take on this is that I "JUMP" into things after careful thought but then I jump. 

Here is my response to her post which gets to the fear...Love the fact that you question not being able to go back when in reality we can’t. Only movie stars, politicians, and historians somehow have figured out how to time travel. Live with a child for a short amount of time and you will realize you cannot take it back or go back or back pedal once it has come flying out of your mouth or and action has taken place. It will be there forever. Good or bad. So 10 minutes, 10 seconds, 10 days, it's all there and children live without fear. I try to live without fear and then I did for a few years which mean I lived without moving forward which essentially could have been moving backward.
Over the past five years I have made so many choices about moving forward without looking back or as I call it “JUMPING” that in hindsight wish I could become revisionist about only one piece but the rest was destined to happen no matter what I did short of not experiencing the entire piece. So I would have lost all for want of removing one bit. Interestingly as I feel that one piece that is going to haunt us right now and makes me a bit sick is also healing us as I have to tell more and more people the reason it is haunting us.
(this has to do with house in LA and getting away from the very very bad people).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Afraid to Do Prompt

Afraid to Do

The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.”

1. What is ‘too scary’ to write about?
2. Try doing it now

This is easy. I've written about it over on my personal blog and here . I was so afraid to talk of the discrimination, hatred and anger that plagued Wyatt and I for three long years in Los Angeles. I was afraid to let people know that our lives were terrorized by our neighbors. I was more than willing to admit that it was my choice, my fault, my problem, and all my fault. I wasn't willing to admit that someone lied to us, someone willing was breaking the law and we were getting screwed in the process, that we were the ones being discriminated against and that for all our priviledge we still were the ones in the right even though according to others  the sense of entitlement (and trust me it was) by the neighbors was wrong.
We are white. They were black. They were the worst kind of black. They were gang members. They paid off the police. They sold drugs, smoked and did drugs, had incredibly loud pay for entrance parties, bullied the neighbors into accepting their behavior, drank all day, and off course cried poor. Any time the police actually showed up to break up one of the parties at 2, 3 or 4am on a weekday they would say it was a FUNERAL! AND then we were expected to be respectful! I would have been if it weren't one every other day for 3 years. At the end of all of this I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as threats on my life and my family were made, my son was diagnosed with sleep deprivation, and my marriage was crumbling from the stress.
The other scary thing to write about is that I believe in population control. This tends to piss people off. It isn't that I don't think people shouldn't have children, it's just that I don't think people should be having more than one if they can't emotionally, physically, financially or educationally afford it. Many can't.
That is all.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Emerson Prompt: Five Years

Five Years

"There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

1. What would you say to the person you were five years ago?
2. What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?

I could be scared. I could go on for ages about this one. I could say lots of things but I think it comes down to what I told myself throughout the five years that I just lived through.
I would tell myself the following:
You are about to live through the most amazing adventure that is just 1/8th of your life time by the time you are done with it. It may seem like it won't end at times and seem like you won't survive at times. Remember the three things that have always been true that your mother taught you at an early age.
a) You will survive because you are strong but you need to ask for help
b) It won't be easy and it will be fun at times and it will be hard. Try to learn, forgive and move through it.
c) Save some money
I would say to the person I will be in the next five years is more a series of questions rather than statements:
Is there where I really thought I would end up? Do you still remember when Wylie was on the verge of being in kindergarten and how intently we worried about his education?
You are still beautiful and kind and wonderful. Five years ago you were in the middle of an evolutionary period and you still are.

The Fairfax County Library

We finally are card carrying members of the Fairfax County Library! Wylie and I made our first visit last night and were very much impressed with the selection at the regional branch. We were also much impressed with the hours the libraries keep which are as follows:
Regional Branches: MWF 1pm to 9pm T/TH 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday hours (can't remember)
Local Branches: MWF 10am to 6pm T/TH 1pm to 9pm Saturday hours Sunday closed
Do you see that! They toggle the hours so that every day several libraries are open late rather than what the lovely LAPL did which was close all of them at 5pm on the same day.

Some interesting features of the FCLP:
1. A big bonus of the FCLP Wylie can have his own library card! He can sign his name so he can have his own card.
2. We can also have up to 50 items out for up to 3 weeks!
3. Self Checkout counter just like at the supermarket. We go scan our card and then scan each book. At the end if we want a receipt we ask for one and it prints just like at the gas station.
4. Wyatt has been a big user of the library the past few weeks as he works on development of his course modules and the local branches have quiet rooms and study carrels.

So here are the books of the week!

For the kiddo:

1. Art and Max-A great story about two lizards and the definition of painting  and the definition of words. Lots of fun and laughter in this one.
2. Mac and Cheese--Two cats who are friends. One likes to be bouncy and one likes to be quiet but they are the best of friends. This is an I can read book and I see Wylie picking out words. :)
3. Detective LaRue : letters from the investigation --An old favorite of Wylie's and he was so excited to know that the "New" library had this series. These are letters written by a dog to his owner about events that occur with the background images telling the truth the dog is not necessarily covering! Lots of fun.

For the grownup (some selections with the help of Wylie)
1. Grandma's Wartime Baking Book: World War II and the way we baked--Wylie was adamant we pick this up. It's a very interesting read about conservation, thrift and nutrition. Lots of yummy recipes and Wylie is anxious to try them.
2. American Tomato: The Complete guide to Growing and Using Tomatoes--Another one Wylie wanted to get as "we are growing over 20 tomatoes so we need to know more." Lots on the origin of certain varieties and cross polination etc.
3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life--This is a Barbara Kingsolver memoir of a year of food in her life after a move from one state to another. Haven't started it but it looked interesting.
4. Corduroy Mansions--This is a new one from Alexander McCall Smith author of the Number1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This one set in London with a crazy set of characters all with their own goofy beliefs and trappings keeping them from seeing the world walking by outside the building they live in.

We are very happy to be bak on line in the library!

Prompt: DARE TO BE BOLD or in this case a little Mello

Dare to be bold

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold.
1. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue?
2. The obstacles in your way of reaching your goal.
3.The Tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for?

The above image is what I have always wanted to accomplish and NO I didn't want to build one!

I have always wanted to learn the cello. Always. I love the tone, the intensity, the melancholy mixed with fire sounds it can make and how they never sound the same from one instrument to the next. You need to find the one that matches you. I have ALWAYS wanted to learn. Did you get that?!
The obstacles I faced were in waves and mostly I could have overcome them but other opportunities that are paving/paved the way for learning the cello came along.
As a child: My parents did not want a stringed instrument other than the piano in the home which is not to say I didn't have other instruments to learn (tin whistle, coronet, french horn). I also had dancing which took up three days a week.
As a teenager: I was into marching band learning the mellophone (marching french horn), theater, art club, drafting club as well as being a teenager. I also had dancing which took up two days a week. The grade school and high school did not have an orchestra so I had no outlet.
As an adult: I admit I was scared. It was one of those things I really wanted to do but just couldn't get past the "I'm [insert current age] and the cello takes years to learn and master, I'd just be a hack on my own without a group to enjoy the amazing smash together of sound that creates the music that develops the personality of the cello." Was I scared or what? I also faced the obvious obstacles of money, ownership/rental, finding a teacher, etc.

As for developing a tangible plan. This feels too simple, too easy but this must be the rational taking over by saying "Go google a music shop, find a teacher, rent an instrument, learn. It is what you did when you decided to run a marathon..." So here is my plan:
1. Listen to some great cello solos with Wylie. See how he reacts and how I react.
2. Visit local music shops to scope out class prices, rental costs and teacher quality.
3. Check out the local community college to see if they have beginner classes that might get me into a beginner group or something like that.
4. Go tot he library and find a book on the histroy and development of the cello for both me and for Wylie. Heck if I am learning so will he.
5. Take a trial class and see if it feels as magical as I expect?!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prompt Day 5: Coming Alive

Come Alive

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
1.If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?
2.In what areas of your life are you preparing to live?
3. Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.
Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

I like this one! Here are some pictorial views of what I would keep doing that I do now. 

 1. Exploring different foods and recipes with Wylie such as goat milk chocolate pudding pops from scratch that were messy but Chocolate Yumminess. We have also done carrot blueberry bread, chicken nugget soup, strawberry bread, zucchini quesadillas, etc
 2. Spend time with my family exploring the world. Seeing what the wrath of nature leaves behind, seeing what the crash of the ocean sounds like and the feel of sand is like. We also have experienced rain storms and snow and forests when most people avoid them for inconvenience or lack of comfort. We learn and have fun. As a family it is something I cherish and wouldn't change for the world.

3. Enjoying the moments like the one here where I am smiling and happy. Experience moments that my child has never experienced and see them through his eyes. Never take for granted his experience as "old hat."

I think I was preparing to live when we were in California for awhile in the house in Jefferson Park as we were in some kind of hunker down and survive mode rather than live mode. We got out of that house choosing to live rather than survive and started to live. What an earth shattering difference. I also refuse to sit and look back on happy moments and judge those few moments based on my weight or perceived beauty at the moment. In that house I also thought I could wait to make friends when I felt we had resolved the situation well enough to have friend over. BIG BIG mistake. 

The one area in which we are "preparing" to live is finding a house to live in as we try to find the right one. This isn't so much about preparing to live as making sure we are living safely and sanely. But it has put parts of us on hold.
I am reaching out and making friends now. Asking for coffee dates, making the effort to go places and do things.
My goals are present and future related. I'm always trying to learn something that gives me a goal for the present and the future.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prompt Day 4

Today is an easy one
"If we live truly, we shall see truly." Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world but most people can identify at least one place in the world they'd like to visit before they die.

1. Where is that place you would like to go?
2.What will you do to make sure you get there?

This one is easy! I am an arm chair traveler as everyone knows so I have my places but I have the one in particular.
I really want to go see the vast ecological differences of the African continent--the darkness of the northern countries, the lush tropics of the eastern countries, and then the beautiful savannahs of Botswana. There is so much to that continent of war and peace, of desert and mountain, of women presidents and female mutilation, of slavery and freedom. It is an amazing and complicated place. I've traveled there in my mind and in books and in movies and documentaries many times.

I will get there. I saved up once to get there and bought a house instead?! I saved up again and went to graduate school. I believe I am waiting until I am ready to understand Africa which I believe will be soon. Too early and all you see is heartache, too late and you miss the beauty that includes the heartache. I just turned 40. I will save up and go when I am 50. I will!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Prompt Day 3 Opinion and Belief

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action.

1. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family?

2. What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

I will admit this openly and here with my five or six readers I am not sure that i have any truly strongly held beliefs that my friends and family do not share. It is not that I do not keep friends or family with divergent thoughts, opinions or ideas rather I don't feel an opposition or in some way had it stand out as an active (vigilant) way to live it. 
This is what I wrote on the train on the way home...
This is incredibly difficult. I would not and could not say I have any one singular belief that my family and friends oppose or do not share. I have beliefs or practices that some may disagree with but I have found that the friends and family that are true to me and themselves continually question and challenge those beliefs while accepting that we also differ. I too challenge and question their beliefs. I believe my belief would be "You must be patient with everyone as we are all evolving."

One such evolution that I was going to write about and did write about on the train but now decided not to is my desire to understand the basis of other religions. I was raised Irish Catholic. I was not raised blind, racist, or ignorant. The summer of 2001 I had the privilege of taking a class on religions of the near east which covered Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Bahai among others. We had  Spanish Catholics, Pakastani Muslims, Southern Baptists, German Lutherans, and a few Jews in the class and it was taught by an ex Scottish Episcopalian Minister. What a way to learn prejudice and reality. It was fantastic. It was one of the first times I was able to open my mouth and say I find rejoicing in death absolutely awful. I have always been questioned about the fact that I do not support the death penalty (yes even if it were a family member who was killed and I have experience in this matter).  But now I am going on more than I want about this. Let me just say this-I have faith, I believe in a God who is just, who is harsh and loving, who tests us and who pushes us to our boundaries at times to teach us. Our religion is how we name our god. Using his name to kill, maim, justify injury, justify hatred, or preach injustice is not religion or godly Remember that. It is hatred, it is evil. God will know. in any religion.
So how do I live it? I experience other religions. I ask about them, I participate in them. I try to learn what I can about them to understand them. I do not actively preach them. I read proverbs from the bible in the same manner some read poetry or the writings of Confucius.

What I really wanted to write about that is my belief that I know many of my friends just laugh off about me is my recycle/cloth diaper/whole foods/make it at home thing. It is something I am passionate about and actively live.
Recycle/Reuse I love recycling. I grew up with it. My parents were big into recycling-everything from newspapers to rags. We had the rag bag, we had newspapers, we had cans, we reused the plastic bins port wine cheese came in, we reused or recycled everything. We purchased a ton from thrift stores and for the most part it was a good way of life. Recycle and reuse.
Cloth Diapers--Wylie was in cloth from birth to underwear. It took a bit more effort. It took a bit more money in the very beginning. It paid off in his healthy bum and the fact that we created very little trash and he was potty trained rather efficiently (right up until we moved!) but he was poop trained much faster than most. I have educated and shared my experience with several friends and the nice thing is they then did the cloth transition which made me very very happy! :)
Whole Foods-Wyatt makes fun of me for this one but gets it completely. I make my own yogurt, grown my vegetables, try to get small chickens that are organic and free range/farm raised (not full of antibiotics and actually ran in the fields) and getting my beef from a butcher that can tell me the farm the cows came from and that I can take home and grind the beef myself. We actually bought frozen organic vegetables when Wylie was first beginning to eat solids and steamed, pureed, and froze them in ice cube trays. Other parents acted like I was nuts for doing this and that it took so much time out of my day. It took minutes.

Finally we cook a ton of meals at home and make our meals from scratch. easier and more interesting. Yes it takes a bit more time but it is just better for my family.

The Trust 30 Project

My library time has greatly diminished with my commute time having gone up significantly. I decided I will work on the trust 30 project and post here. To learn more about Ralph Waldo Emerson's Project go here.

Day 1:

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.

2. Write the story that has to be written.

Here is my Fifteen Minutes
I start simply with ...
It is late afternoon and I am on the train home from Baltimore listening to the familiar cling kaching that indicates our departure from the station. The first I heard it I thought it was one of the many art or music students playing on their iPhones. I was wrong. It was at first annoying and now it is comforting. There are many times I am wrong and many I am right. The days, weeks, months and years when right and wrong aren't part of the conversation are much more numerous. I do know this and do remember this always. It is the ability to move in those days taking 1, 3 and even 5 glorious minutes to just observe the world around without right or wrong as part of the internal conversation with myself or others that I love. I may or may not know the back story but I do know what my brain and heart are thinking. I make up the story  and chose to just observe not judge. Sometimes I am surprised. Everyone should remember to take the time to observe.

I can see the contrails in the sky white against the blue and wonder if Wylie would point out that the passing cloud makes an X that marks the spot, which of course would make me wonder and then ask "What is it marking?"

I have five minutes left and now need to write the big stuff. There are a few things I firmly want to be in place forever.
1. Hand written letters-A signature, a quick note, the thought of pen to paper with a stamp means more than an email or text. Trust me.
2. Books are the key to the world. -Reading lets you travel, explore, see, hear, taste and smell worlds beyond. It is a ticket unlike any other. Taste the flavor of African nations, smell the market in India, hear the dialect of ancient Greece. Learn Klingon

Wylie- You are my greatest creation and my proudest moment always. I will love you forever and always.
Wyatt-You love me as I evolve even when I don't love myself. I am forever lucky to have someone willing to live with my evolution.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trust 30 Day 2

View from Playa del Rey

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks, then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays.

1. How would you describe today using only one sentence?
2.Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Today is...

"It is a blue sky and breezy conversation with an old friend kind of day"

This has been the day of beautiful weather, lunch with a friend from the west coast and a conversation about a project that keeps coming back in a way that is a friendly haunting. It really is a breezy kind of day. I would like to keep the days like this for a little while. I'd also like some excitement but nothing too dramatic!

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Library to check out

We moved to Virginia which means I now need to learn and check out the local Fairfax County library system. I'm actually excited to do this and share this with Wylie. Hopefully we will find a great librarian as we did in Los Angeles.

I will have to go in with something showing my current address, something with photo identification, and verify my name and address.

Interestingly you can get a library card through the county for $27 if you do not meet the eligibility requirements by living or residing or attending school in the county.

Our local branch is Kings Park. I'm happy to report it has Saturday hours. I'm sad to report it has equally wacky hours like the Los Angeles Library.

Read all about the library here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I received the Amazon Kindle as a gift for Christmas in 2010.
I love it.
Things I love about it:
1. I have enjoyed finding free books through Amazon which means I've been revisiting many of the classics that are now free domain.
2. I have enjoyed the ability to "try" a book before buying it for the Kindle through free samples which are more than two pages and give a really good sense of the book.
3. I have enjoyed that I can put my crochet patterns and recipes in .pdf format on the Kindle which means I'm not traveling around with a ton of random pieces of paper and then losing said piece of paper. It's on my Kindle. I can bring the patterns and recipes to share without hassle.
4. It is fantastic that I can put work documents in .pdf format (mainly reports and research papers) on it. It cuts down on the paper I travel with as well as it opens up my commute to getting the reading I need to get done for work.
In short I love the Kindle.

The one and only thing that bugged me about the Kindle:
1. NO LIBRARY ACCESS. I hated that. There were programs out there to strip e-books from the library of their programming that kept them from being loaded onto a Kindle but that just didn't feel right and in most cases was a hassle. I tried it and it didn't work.
The NOOK had library e-book access. It was a bummer not to have that access.

Kindle is opening up its lending library program to 11,000 libraries later this year which means I can start getting my library books on the Kindle. So so so so so excited about this.
Of course I will still continue to go to the library to get books as it is still fun to have a book in hand that is hard cover etc.
Of course Wylie still loves going to the library as well which means our use of the public library isn't going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Five Finger Rule...

I follow Emily Rosenbaum via her blog Wheels on the Bus. She tells it like it is and then throws in some great insight as to why and how you might be feeling the way you are in a situation. Love it.
Once again I read something that on the surface seems okay but then totally makes sense as to why I hate it.

Emily writes about a Five Finger Rule to identifying if a book is too easy, just right or too hard for you or your child to read. Pick a random page and read it to the bottom. Every time you come across a word that you do not understand or can figure out in context raise a finger (try not to raise the middle one please). If there are five fingers up at the end then the book is too hard. If none too easy.
Think about it. Pick up the book closest to you and see what you think. The book closest to me is a business book (boring I know) about The Influentials. I know all the words, I know all the context, so the book must be too easy, but if it is so easy why on earth can't I finish it. Because it's boring and not very new in thought and idea.
My Dilemma:
As a child I was continually encouraged to read at home being the youngest of three I read what was on the shelves and in the bookbags, parents bookshelves, siblings rooms etc. I read any and everything and I read far too much Lois Lenski, Judy Bloom, and Agatha Christie. I loved reading it was my world.

As a child and young adult I was continually encouraged to read but was completely and utterly limited continually about the subject matter of what I read at school. I remember hiding books (the idea!) from teachers because I would be in trouble for reading them. I am not talking about Flowers in the Attic or Forever. I'm talking about Hitler Stole Pink Bunny, The Last Empire, Blue Valentine, Zoo Boy. These were touching on things I couldn't possible experience or understand immediately but they exposed me. They made me want to know more. Most stuck with me later in life and to be honest there isn't a book I won't try.

As Wylie gets into elementary and middle school I want him to read. I want to encourage him to explore with his mind and take that learning and exploration with him through life as he learns and goes new places. I also want to be supportive in his school. Tough because as a child I read what I wanted and pretty much ignored what my teachers said were too hard.

So what do you think?

So what do you think? How do you rate a book

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

50 Books Children Should Read

A Thank You to MM/Granny who sent me the list with the insight that Alice in Wonderland was a little nonsensical but good. :)

This is a fantastic source of great books and what I like is while they are gender "neutral" in most cases the stories are about daring, independence, chance and experimenting with positive and sometimes negative results. We have been reading a few series of chapter books to Wylie that are perfect for little boys full of mischief and excitement with just a dose of moral undertones to teach a lesson.

There are many books on the list that I read between the ages of 8 and 14 that had a profound impact on my life. Ones that when I read the title I have the immediate sense of the story, the images and the emotion that I felt while reading them.

This is from the Independent UK.

The 50 books every child should read,

Education Secretary Michael Gove says that children aged 11 should be reading 50 books a year to improve literacy standards. Mr Gove made his comments after observing a school in Harlem, New York, which sets pupils a "50-book challenge" over a year.

Three of Britain's leading children's authors and two of Independent UK book experts each picked 10 books, suitable for Year 7 students. The authors chose books that have brought them huge joy, while expressing their outrage at the "great big contradiction" of Mr Gove's claim to wish to improve literacy while closing libraries across the country.

Michael Morpurgo said: "This target sounds like a neat solution, but the Government is depriving the massive number of children who don't read of the chance to discover books."

From Philip Pullman:

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.--Indispensable. The great classic beginning of English children's literature.

2. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. What effortless invention looks like.

3. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. A great political story: democracy in action.

4. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. As clear and pure as Mozart.

5. Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken. If Ransome was Mozart, Aiken was Rossini. Unforced effervescence.

6. The Owl Service by Alan Garner. Showed how children's literature could sound dark and troubling chords.

7. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Superb wit and vigorous invention.

8. Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. Any of the Moomin books would supply the same strange light Nordic magic.

9. A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna. A particular favourite of mine, as much for Richard Kennedy's delicate illustrations (in the English edition) as for the story.

10. The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé. Three generations of this family have loved Tintin. Perfect timing, perfect narrative tact and command, blissfully funny.

From Michael Morpurgo:

1. The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson. The heroine is blessed with such wonderful friends who help her through the twists and turns of this incredible journey.

2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The first few pages were so engaging, Marley's ghostly face on the knocker of Scrooge's door still gives me the shivers.

3. Just William books by Richmal Crompton. These are a must for every child.

4. The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. This was the first story, I think, that ever made me cry and it still has the power to make me cry.

5. The Elephant's Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The story my mother used to read me most often, because I asked for it again and again. I loved the sheer fun of it, the music and the rhythm of the words. It was subversive too. Still my favourite story.

5. Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson This was the first real book I read for myself. I lived this book as I read it.

6. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. A classic tale of man versus nature. I wish I'd written this.

7. The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono. A book for children from 8 to 80. I love the humanity of this story and how one man's efforts can change the future for so many.

8. The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy The story of two children who go to find their father who has been listed missing in the trenches of the First World War.

9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. I love this story of a girl's life being changed by nature.

From Katy Guest, literary editor for The Independent on Sunday:

1. Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah. Story of a young Ethiopian boy, whose parents abandon him in London to save his life.

2. Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson. A fantasy series for small children that introduces bigger ones to ideas of adventure, dealing with fear, understanding character and tolerating difference.

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. It's rude, it's funny and it will chime with every 11-year-old who's ever started a new school.

4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Written for a teenage audience but fun at any age.

5. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. Be warned, these tales of hobbits, elves and Middle Earth are dangerously addictive.

6. The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles. If your parents keep going on at you to read Tarka the Otter, The Sheep-Pig and other animal fantasies, do –they're great books – also try Iserles' stories about a cat seeking his destiny.

7. Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. A grown-up book – but not that grown-up.

8. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. Judith Kerr's semi-autobiographical story of a family fleeing the Nazis in 1933.

9. Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Elaborate mythological imagery and a background based in real science. If you like this, the Discworld series offers plenty more.

10. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. The pinnacle of the wonderful Jacqueline Wilson's brilliant and enormous output.

From John Walsh, author and Independent columnist:

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Irresistible puzzle-solving tales of the chilly Victorian master-sleuth and his dim medical sidekick.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Age-transcending tale, both funny and sad.

3. Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White. Magical story of 10-year-old Maria, living in a derelict stately home, shy, lonely and under threat from both her governess and her rascally guardian.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Inexplicably evergreen, trend and taste-defying 1868 classic.

5. How to be Topp by Geoffrey Willams and Ronald Searle. Side-splitting satire on skool, oiks, teechers, fules, bulies, swots.

6. Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. First of the action-packed adventures with 14-year-old Alex Rider.

7. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. "Dulce et Decorum Est" for pre-teens.

8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Lively, amoral, wildly imaginative debut (six more followed) about the money-grabbing master-criminal Artemis, The author called it "Die Hard with fairies".

9. The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. Inspiring wartime story of the Balicki family in Warsaw.

10. Animal Farm by George Orwell. Smart 11-year-olds won't need any pre-knowledge of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and 1917 to appreciate this brilliantly-told fable.

From Michael Rosen:

1. Skellig by David Almond. Brings magical realism to working-class North-east England.

2. Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay. A book of poems that reaches deep into our hidden thoughts but also talks in a joyous voice exploring the everyday.

3. Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah. A book of poems that demands to be read aloud, performed and thought about.

4. Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean. Superheroes battle with demons, gods intervene in our pleasures and fears – a bit like the spectres in our minds going through daily life, really – beautifully retold here.

5. People Might Hear You by Robin Klein. A profound, suspenseful story about sects, freedom and the rights of all young people – especially girls.

6. Noughts and Crosses by Malory Blackman. A book that dared to go where no one thought you could with young audiences because it raises tough stuff to do with race.

7. Einstein's Underpants and How They Saved the World by Anthony McGowan. A crazy adventure set amongst the kids you don't want to know but who this book makes you really, really care about.

8. After the First Death by Robert Cormier. Cormier is never afraid of handling how the personal meets the political all within the framework of a thriller.

9. The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. A book that allows difference to be part of the plot and not a point in itself.

10. Beano Annual. A cornucopia of nutty, bad, silly ideas, tricks, situations and plots.

So I add to this list:

1. The Old Mother West Wind Series-The life in the forest that you never knew existed.

2. Dragon Stories-Short stories about dragons written in 1901.