Saturday, October 30, 2010


Tis the season for lots and lots of political ads in our post box.  Alaska is going through a strange time politically.  I try very hard to not talk politics aside from with good friends or family, and if there is a differing opinion I try not to dispute.  I do this because I respect that we all have the right to have our own opinion.  Talking politics with relatives, work folks, neighbors can lead to some uncomfortable encounters. I am not apathetic.  I vote and am an advocate for what I believe, I write my senators and support causes that share my values.

Yesterday I received a political ad in the mail.  It shows a man yelling in an angry face through a bullhorn at a woman who is passively looking on.  My son, who is not yet 3, grabbed the ad off the table and began walking around with it, staring at it, fascinated.  He has never seen an angry face.  Soon enough he was mimicking the face, not knowing the emotion behind it, but I found it really comical and kind of a replication what we as adults tend to do during political discussions.

I live in a small town of 2,000.  It is a laid back, ski resort, outdoors town.  In the past few weeks I have noticed people have been ripping political signs that sit on other peoples lawns.  I am so shocked at my community.  I did not know my community had this in them.  This is a neighorly town.

I think I will write a letter to the editor of my paper, shame shame on us for being drawn into the political climate that is rocking our nation.  Are we really that weak?

There is a message that is being passed around our state.  Vote with your heart not your fear.  This really spoke to me.  Tearing signs off others' lawns is fear based, not heart based.  I am going to try to think of this when I step into the voting booth this year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Moment

{This moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. An idea from Soulmama

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where Am I ?

I am on a pilgrimage back east seeking fall colors and those that I love but do not see often.  Will return soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What is Success?

Some weeks just don't feel productive, like the one I am in now.
I work from home which is wonderful, and difficult as I have an amazing little toddler who I want to be with and wants my attention.  Today, feeling very unsuccessful in both motherhood and my job I looked up what others had to say, and for a bit felt better.

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with an open heart;
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
    grow up through the commonplace.
This to be my symphony.
---Leland Bond-Upson

So maybe I was a little successful today.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Learning Environments

I am working on a presentation for our early childhood teachers in my school district on learning environments.  I was revisiting one of my books that I love on what to look for in a learning environment, but was feeling like the text was just not as exciting as the message it was sending. There were no photos.

I then stumbled upon the book Designs for Living and Learning, by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter.  It is such a beautiful book filled with magical learning spaces.  The majority of the photos are from classrooms, but the ideas could easily inspire learning spaces in the home. I am already thinking about how to redesign my son's play area.  

You can check at your library to see if they have it, but if not, try your local Universities library, you never know.  I prefer this route because our small, small house just can't take any more books.

The environment that you learn in whether you are a child or an adult has an effect on your experience.  This book is inspired from many different approaches including Waldorf, MontessoriReggio, Greenman, Prescott, and Olds (not sure who that is).  I am just starting to read the text after looking at the beautiful photos for the past 4 days.

Having been a classroom teacher for the past 11 years I have come to the conclusion that pulling what you love from many different places is a good thing.  There is no one answer to education, it is what works for the child, and you as a parent that mattters.   I love that this book went to many different programs and found beauty, not just one program.  I am in love with beautiful learning environments.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Moment

{This moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. An idea from Soulmama.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Color and Quilting

I don't have a lot of experience sewing, but I am slowly quickly falling in love with it.  Last night I went over to a dear friend's house, who just happens to be a talented fiber artist.  She gave me a super fun felted pin cushion from Brush Hollow Studio in WI.  
I have learned a lot from my dear friend.  One tip that has been super helpful is to use a rabbit tail, well really I think that is what she calls it.  You take a folded piece of material and feed it through your sewing machine before you feed your material through.  The rabbit tail helps eliminate your material getting caught in the hole where the needle goes in an out.  I am sure it has a technical name.  Then you snip off the tail and use it again for the next piece.
I am taking a Color for Quilters class with this same friend. She is so inspiring.  I have learned so much about color and how to choose fabrics based on the color wheel and color harmonies.
I get all of this, in a town with a population of 2,000.  I feel very lucky.

By the way.... there is snow in the hills.  This is the view from my back yard.  Cloudy but beautiful.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Why do authors write? Do you think it is so they will be remembered?  I have been thinking a lot about this lately.  My father in law just spent a week with us.  He is 75 and so wonderful.  He is starting a book about resiliency which is a magical trait to have.  He went through the death of his wife and a house fire in the course of 2 years.  He is resilient.

This past Spring I made a quilt.  I called it my son's new beginning quilt.  It was my first quilt.  It is waiting to be quilted by a very talented friend of mine.
This quilt is my son's new beginning quilt because at the time I made it he was going through a major transformation.  When we met our son in the orphanage he was 16 months old.  He weighed 16lbs, couldn't sit up on his own, crawl, or understand how to play.  He had been in the orphanage for his entire life.  We were so lucky he was still there waiting for us.  We fell so hard in love with him.  We brought him home after 4 months (that story can come later), when he was 20 months old.   He is resilient.  This son of ours, who at 20 months, when we brought him home had an unrepaired cleft palate because he did not weigh enough to have the surgery.

This quilt was made right before Dmitrii was scheduled to have his cleft palate repaired.  We had to wait 6 months so that we could fatten him up so that he would be bonded enough to understand that we were there for him no matter what.  Oh he is so resilient.

Will I be remembered by this quilt?  Not like an author, but by my son, and maybe his children if he so chooses to share the story of its creation.  I think that is the interesting thing about quilting.  If you are creating with intention, then that intention may be passed on to the receiver.

I am now making my second, a quilt for my sister and my brother in love (love that title for my sisters boyfriend).  Will I be remembered for that quilt, yes, a little each night as they cuddle underneath it.  I am in love with the idea of quilting and hope it manifests to more and more quilts for those I love.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

25 Things About Me

25 Things About Me- someone sent this challenge to me.  I think it has been passed around for awhile now, but if you have not participated before try it.  It is kind of fun.

  1. For two summers we lived in a yurt without running water or electricity.  It was peaceful and I grew really strong.

  1. Flying scares me, but I lived out in the bush anyway. I fly a lot in my dreams without a plane.

  1. The best  (and lowest paid) job I ever had, was working on an organic farm in Maryland.  I found an arrowhead and swore I heard horses that weren’t there.

  1. I was really jealous of the folks on the PBS show Pioneer House.  I wanted to be on Pioneer House.

  1. My son is the most resilient person I know.  I use his strength to focus me when I start to dramatize about little things. 

  1. I am afraid there will be an earthquake when I am in the Whittier tunnel.

  1. I am addicted to chocolate.  Stealing chocolate from my husband is the only current deviant behavior I have. 

  1. I really enjoy pestering my husband.  He hates it, but sometimes I just can’t stop. 

  1. I talk to my sisters at least once a week.  I would not be who I am without them.

  1. Bears scare the crap out of me.  Especially when they are on my deck.

  1. I have to accomplish something every day or I get an unsettled feeling at the end of the day.  My husband does not feel or share that need.

  1. I was once chased by a moose.   I still get nervous when I run into one in the woods.  It is almost an irrational fear, but if you have seen a 2000-pound animal ready to kick your butt you would understand.

  1. The Appalachian Mountains and people who live there fascinate me. 

  1.  A student told me today  “You know Mrs. O’Brien.  You are not ­really that old."  I took that as a compliment.

  1. I consider traveling to Kazakhstan to meet our child one of the most defining moments of my life. 

  1.  When I look at photos from our 4 month trip to meet our son, I am filled with joy and sadness at the same time.

  1. I can be difficult.

  1. I wish I knew more about my childhood, before my memory bank began.  My first word, temperament, curiosities.

  1. If I had to choose my strongest friend it would be my sisters (that makes it a triple tie).

  1. Facebook makes me miss people.  Some say it is living in the past I think of it as honoring all that was once and still is you.

  1. Jonathan is the kindest person I know.

  1. I dream of being rich and owning a town.  I would be the mayor and you all would be invited to live there.

  1. If someone is mean, rude or dishonest to me it is important that I try to help them understand that this is so.  I am sure they really appreciate this interaction.

  1. I make jewelry.

  1. I have walked the beaches of the Caspian Sea

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Moment

this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. An idea from Soulmama.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Homeschool and Fire

This weekend my school district hosted a homeschool workshop with Adam Andrews from the Center for Literary Education. We had 100 participants and everyone seemed to get a lot out of his presentation.  Lots of great literary discussions ensued through his questioning methods.

Andrews is a dynamic presenter.  Our school district had him as a presenter last year at one of our inservices.  He presents a curriculum that teaches comprehension strategies and how to analyze and interpret literature.  It includes using the Socratic Method for discussion with your child (student).    Andrew enjoys using the classiscs, but I feel the process he teaches can be used with any book.  He promotes starting with chidren's books.  It is worth checking out his web page.

On another note there is termination dust on the ski mountain.  Termination dust is the first snow that representst the end of the warm (ha if you call it warm) weather.  That means it is time to get ready for the winter.

Last year I took our dried out brush pile and made fire starting bundles tied with jute.  When I wake up in the morning, and our house is really cold, I don't mess around.  I want to be warm right now.  These bundles were so great last winter in a crunch. I could start a fire super fast.  I think my husband thought I was a bit wacky when I was making them, but then came over to my side and I ended up having to cut him  off last winter because he was using two at a time.  

*** here we go again on the wild font changing ride, my blog has a mind of its own***