Still See Rainbows?

NOW is what counts.
I ain't got the luxury of time and energy
spent on yesterday while today wastes away right here.
~~Diana (hahamommy), an awesome unschooler

I love Rainbow Connection by Kenny Loggins:

Why are there so many
Songs about rainbows
And whats on the other side
Rainbows are visions
Theyre only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide
So weve been told and some chose to
Believe it
But I know theyre wrong wait and see

Someday well find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me...

I've seen more rainbows in this lifetime than I can remember. I always marvel at them. For me, a rainbow is a sign of hope. Most people fail to see the rainbow because we hardly ever look up to the sky what happens when we lose hope...we look for hope around us but never above us.

So why do some people teach their children the story of Noah's Ark? It's because floods happened. Houses fell down. Yet, there were Arks which preserved, doves brought news of new life, and a rainbow which could be a reminder that life will continue. Next time you catch sight of a rainbow, allow yourself to hope that life will find a way to be sustained through the most overwhelming floods or listening distressing news about our national situation.

If I tell my children the story of Noah's Ark, it will go this way: Long ago there was a flood, worse than anything we've ever seen and probably will ever see. One family knew that things were going to get bad, but had hope for the future, and built an ark to keep them afloat during the flood. They made the ark big enough not only for their family, but for as many animal families as they could save. When the rain came the family was safe and waited for many weeks in the crowded ark for a sign that the rain was over and a safe place to live on dry land. They built a new home and went back to the business of living life, sad for all they had seen, and at the same time glad to be alive.

Each time we see a rainbow in the sky, we can think of that family and remember that, as bad as things might be, life will go on. Life everywhere is getting harder. We have more reason to spread hope nowadays. May we always see the rainbow and point it out to others or maybe even be a rainbow.

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The Chemistry of Autumnal Colors

The first step towards getting somewhere
is to decide that
you are not going to stay where you are.
~~John Pierpont Morgan

Autumn is in the air. It's not exactly New England, but where I live is looking quite picturesque at the moment, relishing the riot of fantastic autumnal colors in every corner of Central Oregon.

...Captured at Crystal Peaks and Peterson's Rock Garden.

A person could spend a lifetime learning from this place. There is probably a few more days in which to inhale her verdant fields of flowers and hidden damp darkness. I choose to spend my time collecting the spice of the earth, the gout de terroir, particular flavor of soil that makes this place unique in all the world. If I’m very lucky I can come to know this place a little bit, perhaps to recognize the angle of the sunflowers bow, or the change in lilt of the chickadee song when the sun comes out from behind that cloud. Yes that particular cloud, the one that is now changing, the one that is now changed, the one that is no more and will never be again.

This is the truth of living in the moment. Knowing that every breath of the universe is a precious gift that will never be again. It exists in and for itself and the most that we can do is join the dance.

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Process Versus Product

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you,
yet they belong not to you.
~~excerpt from The Prophet

It's not news I am an obsessed knitter/craft junkie. Recently, a friend's husband spotted me on the street by my double-knitting scarf in the making, draped around my neck! (Just imagine I am caught on candid camera...comical you say.) Now leading up to the core of the post...just bear with me a little longer, I am getting there.

The notion of process versus product surfaces regularly in conversations among knitters. Process knitters enjoy the act of knitting, the feel of the yummy fiber as each strand passes through their fingers, seeing each stitch emerge and pattern gradually reveal, and the meditative state of busy fingers. Product knitters appreciate seeing, feeling, and using their Finished Objects (FO), happily foregoing swatching (that's me!) or knitting with bulkier yarn in order to get their FO off the needles sooner.

Like many knitters, I have both process and product tendencies. I will elaborate on that over my crafty blog on another day. As an unschooling parent, I am much less concerned with how my children will turn out. I cringed when I hear people declaring they are considering prep school for their preschool-age children in order for them to get a good education, get into a good college and have the right
ions in life--the very same song my parents sang. I'm not looking to mold my children into a packaged product, a slick and glossy FO whose achievements I may brag about.

I love sharing in my children's process of childhood, learning alongside them, watching them emerge and evolve. If one day, they could ever be considered FOs, I trust they will turn out just fine.

I recall a passage from THE PROPHET by Khalil Gibran: Your Children are Like Arrows. It struck me, then and now, the most important thing to me is my children are unstressed by artificial, societal constraints, loved, and loving in their everyday lives, playful and free to learn what they need and desire--at every given moment--and my personal experience with our way of living so far enable me to trust the process is working in good order.

Last week, my 12-year-old became happily employed, independent young lady and received her first hard-earned wages. She is only an inch shorter than me, but her feet is a size or more larger than mine. I reminisce and relish the first day she came into my life in my arms, for the first time, tiny and crinkly...Life is short. If parents spend time spinning their wheels trying to re-make their children, the chance to really know the children as they already are is lost.

Here is a bit of sweetness to fill your home and your heart with...while baking and cooking aplenty. Everyone, children or adults, can't wait for these muffins to come out of the oven! Triple the won't regret it.

(Makes 18 average-sized muffins)
½ C Brown Sugar, packed
½ C Olive Oil (or Applesauce)
4 Eggs
1 15-oz Canned Pumpkin
½ C Water
1 t Vanilla Extract
1 C All-purpose Flour
½ C Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 t Baking Powder
½ t Baking Soda
¼ t Ground Cloves (add more Ground Cinnamon or Allspice if you don't have this)
1 t Ground Cinnamon
¼ t Salt
¼ t Ground Nutmeg (add more Ground Cinnamon if you don't have this)
¼ Cup semisweet chocolate chips and/or chopped nuts(optional)

Preheat oven to 400°. Line muffin (or loaf) pan with liner. Mix sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, then, add pumpkin and water. In another bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips and/or nuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Great served warm with butter the next day, if any left! Another option: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of the muffins before baking. The kids love them!

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Changed for the Good

Only I can change my life.
No one can do it for me.~~Carol Burnett

The weather has been beautiful outside, a little humid perhaps...with a few thunder/lightning storms in between...but I do love the smell of Fall air. The aroma smells like vacation. Duh...I'm sure you all know...everyday is like vacation around here!

It’s probably not very nice to admit this. Life without blogging has been fun for a couple of months. Besides knitting, sewing, hiking, biking, and hanging out with friends, summer is also about reading...precisely Stephanie’s Twilight series. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading these books in the past few years. Now my 12-year-old is hooked on it too. It’s such a compelling story. Like many out there, I am a follower of her imaginary world. I haven't gotten around to the final book, which has been on my headboard idling, crying for my attention for the past month. Perhaps, I'll get to it recovering from five days spent at Chautaugua--our annual family retreat.

We've been back a week now since our vacation. The Chautauqua Unschooling Family Retreat was, of course, our biggest highlight. It is impossible to overstate the difference in our lives attending the retreat has created. The first one was last year. We were curious about what other unschooling families were like in their philosophies/styles and what it would be like living with them on a private island for five days. By the end of the retreat, the intimate experience affirmed our perspective and enhanced our appreciation of so many things in life. We had moved from meeting people to knowing people to developing friendships and finding connections outside of just being unschoolers, too. It affected my children profoundly...they have friends outside of Bend, Oregon and California, friends they are eager to see again. I hardly saw my children. They were living and learning all over the island with their friends. Thanks to my friend Monique, I finally learned how to make a few of Temari, a Japanese toy, which I will share at my crafty blog later in the week. Attending the retreat is like attending a family reunion. I cannot say enough great things about the retreat, only that my children literally started counting the days to the next reunion as soon as they departed from the last one. (And, YES, I have loads of memories captioned to share but can't locate the missing card and connector at the moment~~I'll upload ASA it's found!)

Next year's retreat will be on September 14-18. We would love to have you and your family to join us in Chautauqua. Reserve the dates, mark your calendar, and spread the words! The more the merrier! It is not restricted to PNWers. We have families returning from Connecticut and Canada each year. For more information, click here.

Before wrapping the post, this one is for you, my dearest friends

I've heard it said,
that people come into our lives
for a reason,
bringing something we must learn.
And we are led
to those who help us most to grow -
if we let them,
and we help them in return
It well may be
that we will never meet again
in this lifetime,
so let me say before we part:
So much of me
is made of what I learned from you,
you'll be with me
like a handprint on my heart.

And now whatever way our stories end,
I know you have rewritten mine
by being my friend
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you...I have been changed
For Good.

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Fantasy Haven at Petersen's Rock Garden

Happiness is not a destination.
It is a method of life.~~Burton Hills

Headed south on Route 97 to Petersen's Rock Gardens, off the road to the right a mile or so...suddenly we, COOL families, arrived at the garden. It's a little bit hard to find--just look for a patch of bright blue Oregonian sky above--and don't miss the fluorescent rock display in the museum.

Internationally famous and visited by people from almost every country in the world, this incredible landscaped garden; well-maintained by the family--started in 1935--is a testament to dedication and fruits of one Danish immigrant's labors, Rasmus Petersen, who came to America in 1906, at the age of seventeen. As scenic attractions go, the garden is small, nestled away in 10 miles SW of Redmond, a fast growing town in Central Oregon.

The late Petersen--a friendly man, hard working, and interested in community affairs--paid homage to America with his feverish folk art constructions of stone and glass, including an Independence Hall and a phosphorescent tribute to democracy. The bronze plaque below his Statue of Liberty holding a light bulb torch reads: Enjoy Yourself--It Is Later Than You Think.

Almost all the rocks--petrified wood, Oregon agate, jasper, thundereggs, malachite, lava, and obsidian--used here to cover four acres with castles, ponds and bridges came from within a 85-mile radius of the garden. Evidence of his love and respect for God and his adopted country is seen in the numbers of miniature churches, the flag of the United States, and the magnificent Statue of Liberty, which a sculptor carved from a local boulder.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Glad we came. It was a delightful educational excursion to send off the short-lived summer. I'm amazed by this one man's talent, handiwork, and ambition. As my 7-year-old says Totally Awesome, Dude!

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In Memorance of 9/11

Today marks the Seventh anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a day of rememberance for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. This should not be a day of mourning but a celebration of life--the lives of the victims of the tragedy. If we remember them for who they were, not what happened, they will never truly be gone.

My dedication: Remember those you love and celebrate life today, enduring through these tragedies.

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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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