So... i missed Vida Vegan Con in Portland. It is a con for vegan bloggers and blog readers. i think i might want to start a blog... a real blog with a focus and a goal... not this off-and-on accounting of my life and trials and triumphs.

i realized very strongly how unhealthy a vegan i am. and how much i want to change that pattern in my life.. .for health and financial reasons. i think a blog about being a frugal and real vegan with real family issues (my wheat and peanut intolerances, my lacto-ovo hubby who won't eat legumes or most veggies) and how to make it work... it could be a good exercise for myself. Also, learning to make an interesting and visually appealing blog - something i've never done - would be a good educational exercise for me. Including photos of food (and/or the process) and instructional videos w/ myself and the kids cooking... would hopefully be attractive to others.

i'd also like to be more focused on our home education program... or lack of it. How to incorporate daily living, the basics of math and communication, and personal expression into a fulfilled and fulfilling life that teaches life-long learning and encourages personal exploration and sharing.

Oh.. and to change my activity and diet choices to lose about 100 pounds (give or take... listening to my body for the actual number... it isn't a number i look for - but numbers are a measurement others can understand)...

sounds like a boring few years, eh?
Today we began really doing "school" again. Despite our intention to school through the summer, it didn't happen as consistently as i would have hoped. So... we are doing some review. And some goal setting. Our general plans include:

Japanese (30 minutes)
Math (to level 30-40 min/day)
Language Arts (to level 30-40 min/day)
Science (snap circuitry/general science 30-40 min/day)
Sign Language (15-30 min/day)
Shudokan Karate (class 2x/week, 15 min/day)
Swimming (class 1x/wk) (starting in Sept)

Later we'll add in history (my beloved will be focusing on this as it is the subject of his BA).

My goal is for daily "school" work (book work) to take less than 3 hours - so 4 hours if you include breaks and such... so basically to be done by lunchtime!

i also want us to attend the weekly homeschool park days (rain or shine) and to get a monthly board-game day set up at our local library for tweens-and-teens to play non-magic/Pokémon/etc. board/card games.

So.. here is to our most successful homeschooling year so far!
I did get to watch the final space shuttle launch on my iPhone via NASA mobile streaming service.

As others have said, we need something new. The space shuttle was a wonderful tool and groundbreaking 30 years ago. But it hasn't been providing NEW in terms of exploration in decades (outside of on board science experiments) - it has been an extraterrestrial workhorse, taxi, and repair vehicle.

Commercial space travel can take the place of the shuttle and its current functions. And probably cheaper. And more accessible.

What commercial enterprises are unlikely to do is to explore new frontiers. The profit isn't in it in ways that commercial venture capitalists tend to exploit. Until/unless near FTL travel is made possible, we can't rely on businesses to push the horizon beyond our orbit. What we need is NASA (probably in collaboration with other governments' agencies) to create new technologies that will show us how to explore beyond Terra's neighborhood.

In the words of Buzz Lightyear, "To infinity - and beyond!"

N has decided not to try. Still. So, no summer break for him. Instead of 2 subjects done by noon, I'm going to be adding subjects. He'll complete 2nd grade before 3rd grade starts.

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Tomorrow is the summer solstice... the time when day and night are balanced and then the scales tip and the days get shorter. It is odd to think of the days growing shorter and winter approaching when the heat of the year is just beginning. But, it shows ... even in the bloom of life, death is approaching.

Tomorrow is also the 2 year anniversary of my father's death day. i don't cry as much now, but in some ways i miss him more now than ever. We would often go for weeks or sometimes months without talking (especially in the summer when he and my stepmom would head to the Yukon Territory and our cabin on the lake for 4-5 months). But now, as it has been longer and longer since i last spoke to him... now it gets harder in different ways. i used to save up things to tell him - a funny story, a movie plot, a political event, something the kids have done - and then we'd have a 2 hour long conversation. Now, i find myself doing that still - but we'll never again have that 2 hour long talk on the phone. i think if we'd talked every day it would have hurt more then and be more bittersweet now... but because we didn't... it is as time passes i feel it more.

He wasn't a perfect dad. He had his broken bits, his grumpy bits, his personal preferences and visions of me that didn't match mine. He told others more often than he told me that he was proud of me, that he loved me. In my last visit, we spoke of our next visit but both of us knew deep down that our last embrace was probably the last time we would feel each other's arms and hear the sound of each other's voice. He wasn't perfect. Sometimes he was pretty miserable (the teen years were hard on us both). But, he did the best with what he had. And, in the end, so did i. And that is all we can ask of our parents. And ourselves.
i just hit send on an email to my half-sister. i've never met her - my mother gave her up for adoption when my mother was a young woman - but she contacted my mom a couple weeks ago and here we are.

i am happy for my mom... to get to reconnect to the daughter she had to give up (the world was very different in the early 60's). i was scared it would be stressful for mom - to add this to the top of my step-father's continuing illness and decline... but it seems to be going well. They have shared emails and phone calls and i think (from what she has said) that things are going well. i suspect having resolution to that gaping hole from her past - and knowing her daughter was raised by loving parents who taught her that my mother gave them a wonderful gift by allowing them to adopt her daughter (rather than that she was unwanted or some other nasty thing) was a great relief.

As for me... well, she says she would like to get to know me, too... but left it to me to make the first contact. So, i did. i don't feel a connection to her. But then, in our family blood isn't the biggest thing - i am pretty separated from most of my blood family on both sides. Not because i dislike them (other than a couple racist/prejudiced/right-wing-extremist/judgmental members for whom i have no use), but because they just aren't a part of my life. i have closer family-of-my-heart than 99% of my blood family. So, we'll see. i don't feel the need to make a place in my life just because she exists - but at the same time i am willing to open a place if she wants it and fits into my world, if that makes any sense.
A discussion today with [ profile] darkmuffin got me thinking about torture. Torture is nasty business. i believe categorically that the US cannot tolerate nor condone torture in any way as a matter of policy and principle on several levels.

First of all, we are signatories to the Geneva Convention. This treaty has been ratified by congress and signed into law by the president of the United States. This means that the Geneva Convention IS the law of the land. We are legally required to follow the rules stated in the convention.

Second, the information gained under torture is notoriously unreliable. People being tortured will pretty much say anything to make it stop.

Finally, we don't want our citizens held as prisoners by others to be tortured. The fact is our soldiers as well as civilians who are in areas of conflict ARE going to be captured by our opponents - we have NO way of saying that those who hold our citizens cannot torture our people if we are using the same techniques on prisoners we take (whether they are members of foreign military forces or any other foreign citizens).

That being said, i can see myself using torture against another human being. If someone had kidnapped my sons i would use whatever means possible to get information that would save them. All those terrible things you read about in fiction or in history - i would do it all to save my babies. i don't think i would do it to rescue any person - or a general "someone in danger" situation, but if it gets personal... i will get personal in particularly nasty ways. And i would sleep just fine that night, too.

That being said, THIS is why i believe we need to get out of the long-term wars in which we are engaged.

First of all, military units NEED to be tightly knit groups. Every person needs to know that they can count on the behaviors of- and support of- every other member in their team. That is what keeps them safe and makes them effective military assets. These groups become de-facto families. And families take actions and situations personally.

By keeping units in active combat situations for prolonged periods of time, as we are doing on two levels - first because the conflicts have been going on for nearly decade each and secondly because of stop-loss policies and general recruiting issues - causes a unique and problematic situation. Instead of military operations staying objective, detached, and professional they become personal - both on individual levels ("This individual member of MY unit has been captured/injured/killed and I need to deal with it.") and on generalized levels ("The Enemy is personally offensive to me because this military situation has become personal to me/become my life and I will do what I need to do to deal with it."). And once it becomes personal, getting information for whatever the objective -location of a captured comrade, location of person of interest, other pieces of intelligence - at any cost becomes an acceptable option.

And once it becomes an acceptable option for military persons (whether combat troops or intelligence services) to use torture on some level then it becomes a national issue. Soldiers are not individuals. They aren't mothers or fathers or best friends. Soldiers ARE the United States of America on a literal level and they MUST be held to the highest standards at all times. When they signed up to serve their country, they agreed to uphold the constitution and the laws of the United States of America, they agreed to BE the US on a personal representative level throughout the world. And so, when they torture, the US tortures. And when the US tortures, we go against the Geneva Convention and the law of the land. And that cannot be allowed to happen (see the reasons listed above).

So... we need to get our troops and our country out these long-lasting military conflict situations - both on a short term (troop rotation) and long term (military presence at all) basis.
... and today is one of those days.

{Please note i am feeling quite unwell today and i am sure that has a strong impact on my frustration with them and myself. They really are sweet and smart kids, i am just at my wits end at the moment and wishing they were more self-directed.}

i see my boys give excuse after excuse for why they haven't accomplished their (really straightforward and pretty simple) tasks. It makes me wonder what my husband and i have modeled for them.

An almost 8 year old should not have THIS much trouble writing out sentences with corrections on capitalizations (that we had previously discussed in detail) that he would take 5 hours to (still not) finish less than 12 sentences.

An almost 13 year old should not be unable to pull out 6 paragraphs of information (having been given a detailed outline of things for which to look) to write a short "research" paper in less than 2 months.

Again and again i get the "This will take forever" or "i can't find exactly the information you want in exactly the words you ask for"... despite giving explicit instructions, correcting for misunderstandings, and reassessing objectives with them after getting additional information about resources and timelines.

My kids may never be able to write a paper (either because they can't pick up a f-ing pencil OR their f-ing brains) - but they'll be spot on for a position in politics... claim ignorance, claim inability to finish because of other people, and whine like babies.
... i am not in a dark place... but rather in a dim place. i don't quite know how to explain it, really.

i've been in Dark places before... when life doesn't feel like it is worth living. When all there is .... is ... a deep dark pit.

This is NOT one of those times. Life is worth living. i do not long for the end of my time on this plane of existance.

Rather.. .it is as if my ... lifeforce is dim... my view of the world is clouded by a miasma that feels like a suffocating cloak.

My house is in a state of, not filth, rather clutter/messiness. My body is out of shape and out of energy. My spirit is dull and muted.

I feel like i don't ... i don't have enough. Like i am out of spoons. i want to have more, but i'm not sure how to find it.

During my last shamanic journey i had a very... incredible experience. It was a journey from which i didn't want to return. Connection to the Universe in a profound and completely integrated and intimate way. And i didn't want to come back to this world. But, i did. i wonder if my ... current malaise is in part caused by the... loss of that connection.

And so i search for peace and a return from the shadows and into the light.
[Error: unknown template qotd] My first game was Pong. Yup, I'm that old. And my parents were that cool.
... so do the seasons of our sons. The boys are growing. It amazes me to watch the changes happening before my eyes.

Today N is feeling under the weather... it doesn't seem right for him to want to be curled up in the bed. That is really unusual for him, as most anyone who has met him will attest.

With N not up (and not done w/ schoolwork as well), no park day this week. It makes me sad that A misses them when N doesn't do his share. It isn't fair at all. A needs more socialization with kids for him to have a just friends. He has... acquaintances, but no friends. And that is a poor gift from me.

A is almost a teenager. Just a few short weeks and he'll be closer to moving on than relying on me. It makes me happy/proud to have raised such a wonderful young man - although proud is not a right word... you can't really be proud of another's accomplishments, i am proud for him - but all he's done he's done on his own. More in spite of me than because of me.

i wonder if tonight'll be karate or home w/ a sick child night. i feel i've lost my way in my karate training. i'm tired of being hurt... i don't FEEL old, but i wonder if being hurt is like being old.
Hi all my dear friends...

My mother and stepfather have offered us a week at one of their timeshare condos (for free to us) so that we can have our first family vacation - ever. We have never gone away all together, so this is a Really Big Deal.

But, there is a catch.

We have pets. Plenty of them, if you know us. :) Which means we can't just go out of town and leave a big pile of food and a running sink. :) We will need a pet/house sitter. The thing is, we can't afford to pay a lot as the cost of taking the vacation (travel, food, activities) is going to take most of our free money. So... i am looking for some options...

What we need: 1)someone(s) to stay at the house or 2) be at the house first thing in the AM, sometime in the afternoon, in the evening, and before bed

What needs to be done: 1) let dogs out morning, after work, after dinner, before bed (mid afternoon if you are around)... basically not in the house more than 8+ hours 2) clean up any messes dogs left too long create :( 3)feed/water guinea pigs, dogs and cats in AM and in PM (one cat will need pills, but i can prep individual dishes w/ her meds & canned food - just put her alone in bathroom for ~10 min and she'll eat it all). 4) feed and water birds once a day (AM or PM) 5) clean cat litter boxes (scoop) every couple of days (or expect more messes on floor to clean up) 6) Accept lots of love from the animals

Really, other than letting dogs out and in, the AM/PM chores take maybe 15 minutes each (and that includes scooping litters).

What we offer:
House in nice neighborhood close to bus lines and with good parking. Close to restaurants, shopping, and parks. Cable TV, Wireless internet, Netflix.

So... what i need to know... how much should we offer someone local? Or... do we have any friends who'd like a vacation in Seattle and would be willing to housesit for the week in exchange for a place to stay while exploring our city (MUCH cheaper than a hotel or condo rental)?

We don't have dates set, so there is flexibility... but i figured i'd see if anyone had input/suggestions/experience in this. Thanks!

You were born during a First Quarter moon

- what it says about you -

You like to make up your own mind. You may find it hard to relate to mainstream opinions on issues, and you definitely don't always like what's popular. You can work out solutions and give birth to big ideas when left to yourself, and other people will be impressed with your conclusions even if they're not sure how you arrived at them.

What phase was the moon at on your birthday? Find out at

Feeling so lucky. The dogs woke me up needing to go out-a bit unusual at nearly 3:am. Realized, while waiting for them, that Scathach (kitty on thyroid meds, v sweet & v skittish) isn't where she usually is. Check house. Remembered younger son didn't shut door properly earlier & it blew open. (I asked him specifically if she was in the house when he shut the door & he said yes.) So I checked whole house. Then I called out into heavy rain & wind. Nothing. 5 min later I hear faintest 'Mew' - my skinny little girl is at the back door!  So scary as she is skittish & has disappeared before - a storm like this could have sent her away. 

But she is home, safe, being vehemently groomed by her brother. 

Wonder if adrenaline will let me get back to sleep. 
[Error: unknown template qotd] i've been here over 9 years now... LJ has seen me through several moves, birth of a child, loss of fur/feather-kids, adoption of fur/feather kids, emotional and financial downs and ups.
Here is a letter i sent to my Senators and Congressman (w/ slight variations) - please feel free to use it as you might wish.

Over the years I have been happy to vote for you as you are the politician who actually votes most closely to what I would choose if I were in office. Thank you so very much for your continued work on behalf of the state of Washington.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for (among many things) the end of subsidies for the oil companies. I urge you quite strongly to do all that you can to see that this goal comes to pass.

Subsidies provide a valuable asset to our society, helping to assure that staples (such as foodstuffs) and new technologies (such as alternative/renewable energy) have the financial resources to provide their necessary and beneficial services even in times when they are not independently financially sustainable. Perhaps that was necessary in the past for oil companies, but it certainly is not necessary now. These companies are not only financially viable on their own, they are making profits at levels that are higher than at any other time in history. This means that the subsidies in the past did their job, they got the companies over the lean times as things were beginning and into a position of financial profitability. Which means, in any sane person's mind, it is time to quit the subsidies and let these companies stand on their own.

Halting these subsidies will have many beneficial effects. First, it will allow these companies to become leaner and more efficient - which will be a benefit to the companies (even if it will annoy certain managerial types - but if cutting the fat is good for the US government, I am certain it will be good for our oil companies, too). Second, it will free up money to be used for other energy supply sources - giving new alternative/renewable energy companies the same support that oil got when it was getting started (and for too many years after). And last, it will help the US budget by reducing expenditures that show little reward (since the tax cuts for the wealthiest people/businesses have been continued yet again).

I thank you for your time and attention and look forward to hearing how your support is demonstrated - whether by introducing legislation yourself or by co-sponsoring or supporting legislation introduced by others.
... he just brought me a toasted vegan marshmallow. All dark brown and sweet.
Today i cleaned around my bed. and under my bed. This was actually a very big project. i took out 2 grocery bags full of papers. i found over 50 books. i found a 4" stack of magazines. i found a laptop computer and an external DVD drive in a box. i found over 10 notebooks and a couple dozen pens/pencils. Now... i have them all out. Neatly stacked near/on the bed. But... what do i do with them? Where do i put them?

And... being so focused on this... i didn't prepare the dinner i planned... so the family got vegan hotdogs and fries. i suck.

And apparently i am a packrat and a crappy housekeeper. At least i didn't find any petrifying food. But i did find my kegelcizer.
Raynaud's syndrome (affecting feet) and dropping a dishwasher door onto your toes. Can't f-ing ice... but the pain is still there. GAAAAA!
So, the rearrangement process of our living space is proceeding quite well. i have pretty much all the furniture either rehomed to others or rearranged to a more useful formation. It is amazing how much larger our living space feels now. The only odd-out piece is our new wing-back chair (acquired via Freecycle) - there isn't a good place for it, but we really need the seating. Now, we just need to acquire some shelving for our rather extensive DVD collection. i put an ad on freecycle and received an offer of 2 67" tall shelves that are only 10" deep - perfect for the last "open" wall in the dining area, but the offerer never called/replied to my email response. i'm still hopeful, but getting ready to head another direction.

i'm hoping to have the living/dining done by tomorrow. Then i can get focused on the kitchen. Time for a lot more cooking and budget saving. :)



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