Thursday, February 24, 2011

just a day in the life of me

I can not always settle down in my own head long enough to compose a blog. I have so many wonderful things that I would love to share and often not enough time to compose them into a cohesive blog.

todays blog was going to be about my new discovery... a love for beet cake! yes beet cake! now its really a chocolate cake with beets in it. But its moist and delicious and goes perfectly with my husbands grandmas German Chocolate frosting. However I really like to post pictures of my recipes, and that means baking another cake for photography sake, and I have an ear infection that has just got me in the mood to sit and cuddle under a blanket. So stay tuned for the most awesome chocolate cake recipe ever... coming soon...

Instead I wanted to share one of the most amazing things going on in my life. I am co-hosting a blog show. really I don't do any of the talking, I am just the hands for the host. I post info in the chat box and she does all the talking. Which is probably for the best, I am a great multi-tasker but I can easily get tongue tied.

I am having a blast! Wendy is so good and her voice is so soothing. I love listening as well as helping. I get such a high from it that its amazing to me that just a few short weeks ago I was not even involved other then as a listener.

I love being a part of something so positive.

If you are looking for tips on health and wellness, want to join in on hearing the radio broadcast then check out

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Unschooling does not mean Unruley

I find myself at odds with the concept that because you unschool you don't discipline your kids, have rules for them at all, or that your children shouldn't be taught appropriate behavior for certain situations.

I think its probably one of the biggest misconceptions among people who do not unschool, and maybe even some that do.

I believe that children need guidance. Unschooling does not mean that I do not guide them. It means that they get to have a say in their lives. It means that while I may guide them in certain areas I also am teaching them how to make those choices safely, and wisely.

For example: My children are taught to speak respectfully to adults, even in their disagreement. They are reprimanded if they do not. I expect them to be able to speak to adults with respect. I also expect that if they disagree with an adult to do so respectfully. Their opinions and thoughts are valid. They have the right to disagree with adults. They just must do it with integrity and respect.

My children were taught from an early age that in certain situations they have to behave a certain way. This in my opinion is an important tool for the rest of your life. You would never walk into a court room and run screaming and jumping around like it was a rock concert. In turn you wouldn't go to a rock concert and act like you were at a funeral. So when I take my children out to dinner, or to a movie or to the grocery store I expect certain behavior. I expect when I take my 4 children to dinner somewhere that they can sit and entertain themselves until their food arrives, that they can participate in conversation and that they can use manners while at the table. I do not expect that they will scream, throw tantrums, or run around the establishment as if they were never taught what was appropriate behavior for the situation. If they feel they just can not contain their energy they can ask to go outside for a few minutes. I started this rule as toddlers. If they were just to amped up then I would take them outside. They are not allowed to disrupt other diners simply because they can not behave with situational behavior. When taking my children to the grocery store they were taught that it is not ok to run screaming through the store or to beg me for junk. Instead they were taught that in the grocery store they should help decide what types of foods are on sale and plan meals for the week. They were taught to walk through the store out of courtesy for others.

As an Unschooling mom of 4 kids I think instructing my children on what type of behavior is appropriate for what situation is one of the most important life skills I can help them with. I know that some will say that that is stifling their nature but I disagree. I think that children who have been taught what is appropriate in each situation are appreciated by people around them. I think it also gives the child more confidence. They know what is accepted and that means they will have less feelings of inadequacy.

Rules do not have to be arbitrary. I do not believe in having a lot of rules and dictating to children what I think they should do. I do however believe that some guidelines help children to learn what is acceptable. I think its important to set those guidelines in place early and teach them from a young age. I also think its important to be consistent and to have love and compassion be your guide in what is best for the 'rules' you set.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

whats in a grade?

Why is a grade so important?

I find myself wondering why children and adults alike put so much stock in a letter, or a number.

For some reason our society believes that we have to classify everyone. The question most often asked by adults to my children is "What grade are you in?" because a number grade must be identified with a child in order to measure their intelligence, their age, and their ability to complete tasks? I simply do not understand the need to identify children with a grade level. My children have been taught to answer this question with "Well officially i am in ____ grade." This always gets a few eyebrows raised. One person once asked "what kind of grades do your children get on their report cards?" I looked a bit quizzically at first then just laughed and answered "straight A's of course"

I mean really? they are unschooled. We do not have report cards, nor do we have assigned grade levels. My children focus on areas of interest and we work everything else into the study. Sometimes they sit and play video games for hours, yes hours! sometimes they read books for hours. Sometimes we play board games all day long. and sometimes we pack up the car and take a road trip somewhere. Sometimes we play multiplication games when counting the rocks on the road, or late at night when someone cant sleep. Sometimes we don't look like we are learning at all, in fact most times I would say it doesn't look like learning from the outside. Then someone from the outside asks one of my kids something silly to judge weather or not I am doing a good job teaching them anything and they know it. We never focused on it but they know it. It makes me feel good knowing that they are learning things without having to spend hours a day focused on it and bored by the tediousness of it all.

I was explaining how we do school to a friend and school teacher and he looks at me and says O so its like college only all the time, they get to study at their grade level and choose the subjects that interest them, cool! so I guess that explains it. Only unlike college the grade doesn't matter because after school is finished the important things in your working life are your integrity, your ability to do a job and do it well, your ability to focus on the task at hand, not any of that is based on grades. To be happy in life is more important then to get good grades.

This concludes my rambling for today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Daytona 500

I am a race fan. I have been a fan since I was a little girl. I remember sitting with my parents watching cars speed past with the sound cranked up. I have never been to a race and it is a dream of mine.

Since today is the first day of the races I thought it would be fun to go into some history and facts of how nascar was born.

If you are already a nascar fan then you already know that the sport was born in the south. During prohibition men with fast cars would race through the back-roads of the south to deliver moonshine and other liquor often running from the law. They would modify their cars to make them faster then the cops and they knew their area well enough to zip past them in a spray of gravel.

Nascar recently opened a hall of fame in honor of some of the greatest drivers in nascar history. You can check out thehall of fame, its inductees and learn more about those greats who have come before.

The last death at Daytona happened 10 years ago with the death of racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. You either loved him or loved to hate him. He was a no nonsense kind of driver who made no apologies for the way he raced on the track. He died on the last lap with an innocent looking crash. His accident created a whole new push by nascar to make the cars safer, make the walls safer and included the introduction of the Haans device.

One of the things I love about Nascar, the drivers and families involved in nascar is the fact that they undeniably support our military. Before every race there is a singing of the national anthem, a prayer, and at least a few people publicly speaking about supporting our troops over seas and honoring them.

But make no mistake its the roar of the engines that thrills me.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Interview with Katrina

I have been blessed to know Katrina for many years now. We met on Myspace about 4 years ago, maybe even 5! I was then searching how to deal with my own abilities. I met Katrina and instantly felt a connection. She is a kind woman with so much knowledge to share.

Katrina is an author who has written a few books, and has plans for more. I asked my friend if she would do an interview with me and she kindly said she would. I know many young people who are interested in the art of writing and even in getting published. So hopefully this interview might help them.

Crystal: When did you first decide you wanted to be an Author? 

Katrina: When I was a child I would write stories. I also loved to read.

Crystal: How long did it take to publish your first book after you had completed it?

Katrina: The first book I wrote was Ancient Echoes, I worked on that one off and on for over 3 years, but could not get a publisher that liked it. 

My Beginners Guide to Psychic Development was accepted the day after I submitted it. I sent it off to 3 publishers. The first one said they didn’t take text books, the second wanted a month to read it and the third offered me a contract.

Crystal: What made you want to write Beginner's Guide To Psychic Development?

Katrina: After the rejections of my first book I really wanted an acceptance, so I thought I would write something I knew and perhaps others could use the information.
I wrote The Beginners Guide to Psychic Development in three months. It is essentially my beginning class that I have taught for over 30 years. 

Crystal: Do you have another Psychic guide in the works?

Katrina: I have been working on another one off and on, it is called Sacred Fire of Twin-flames, I will get it done one day.

Crystal: What are some of your favorite things to write about?

Katrina: I write whatever comes into my head. At the moment I am writing a detective book. It was a dream that continued for a week. The entire story is in my head, the hard part is getting it written.

Crystal: If someone wanted to become a published author what would your suggestions be to them? 

Katrina: Write what you love or what you know. I would suggest in this day and age to try their hand at self publishing. My first book was published by a publisher and I make next to nothing on the sales, my second book I went with self publishing and I make so much more. Of course you have to do your own PR no matter which way you go.

Remember to write out of love, because no-one gets rich from writing books, unless you are Stephen King or write Harry Potter.

I would like to thank Katrina for taking the time to answer my questions.

If you would like to read Katrina's books you can find "Beginner's guide to Psychic Developement" at the link. This book is a guide to develop your own abilities. It is written in an easy to understand way for anyone looking to grow in their own abilities.

Katrina's other book "Ancient Echoes" can be found here. Ancient Echoes is a paranormal romance fantasy book. There is some sexual content as well as violence. The book has great detail and draws you in. You can read an excerpt of the book at the link I posted.

I would also like to say that in the very near future I will be doing a free give away for a copy of one of these books so please stay tuned...

Friday, February 18, 2011

some of todays favorites

Today is a rainy day. On rainy days I sometimes like to just dive in and enjoy what others are doing in their lives. Blogging is one of my favorite things and reading others blogs on days like today thrill me. I have to go and sweep and vacuum soon but I wanted to share a few of todays favorite blogs.

In no particular order

I love this one, its one of my new favorites to follow. I simply love her house and the way she talks pulls you right on in and makes you want to sit down with a cup of tea.
That Old House

Todays tutorial blog on cutting out "magic windows" with tissue paper over at Journey into Unschooling is simply delightful.

This tantalizing piece of wearable art is a sight for everyone to behold. I just had to share Handmade by Knottygal 's newest creation!

This post by Heather Sanders on Unschooled is such a wonderful post about freeing girls to just be what they are meant to be that I couldnt help but sharing.

Have a fantastic Friday everyone.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I love Soup!

I am completely obsessed with new soups! I love soup.

I found a recipe for a blackberry soup that I think sounds delightful on a warm summer day.

However I only like soup on chilly days. It might be a psychological thing or it might be that I only like soup on cold days because I want to be warmed from the inside out.

I found a recipe for a Tuscan soup that I am now in love with. Of course I did not follow the recipe exactly because I never ever do. I like to take a recipe and make it my own.

Here is MY recipe for Tuscan soup

1 lb herb chicken sausage
1 large onion
3 medium carrots
6-8 potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
2 lbs fresh spinach
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups veggie broth
3 tbsp Italian season
1 can evaporated milk

finely dice onion and saute. slice carrots in half length wise and then in half again so that when you slice it you have little wedges. I add these and saute them with the onions until they are a little soft. add garlic potatoes italian seasoning and broth. cook until potatoes are tender. Add in the evaporated milk and the spinach allow it to cook until the spinach is tender.

Everyone loved this soup.

Crystal's Tuscan Soup

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Sometimes the hardest thing we have to do in life is wait.

Right now I am trying to hold on and wait. I hate waiting. Im not really good at it.

I hate knowing that my real life is waiting for me in the near future and this one is just sorta limbo or something.

Its not that we are not living our lives or doing things its just that we know that things will get better once we have are actually there where our new home is, our job, our life. The ability to go and explore new things and do fun things together all looms ahead of us just out of reach. Waiting is the hardest part.

They informed us the waiting will go on a little while longer.

How much longer we are not positive yet. One more thing must be done before the job is ours and we can go.

Its hard knowing that stability and the ability to see and do new things is just around the bend, only the bend keeps stretching instead of getting shorter.

We hold onto hope and keep looking towards the bend all while trying to appreciate today but its never easy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Power of Words

Over the last several years I have come to realize that words have far more power then we tend to give them credit for.

The childhood song "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" sticks in my mind. I distinctly remember my mom telling me this repeatedly from about the time I was 6 or 7. I used to be extremely sensitive as a child and my family growing up used to find it fun to tease me.

I understand my mom wanted me to learn not to allow their words to hurt me. The truth is words can hurt. They can change who we are. They are how people communicate with others. Words are the way we understand what others think of us. Words are what we use to define who we are. Words have power.

I have heard more parents lately that use words as daggers to their children's hearts. I do not understand it. I do not understand how people can think they are helping their children learn anything in life by simply insulting their children. Do parents really believe if they call their child names in front of other people that this will make the child then behave differently? Does manipulating children into a certain behavior prove that your child is better?

My hope for today, since it is Valentines day, is that more people become aware of the words they use each and every day. That the words of love spoken today are not the only time they are spoken. Words have power and we should learn to use them in ways that show our intent. Hold your tongue when you are angry. analyze why you are angry. Learn to deal with your own hurt feelings and realize that you are not alone in your hurt, frustration, and anger. when raising your children raise them with kind words and remember that each negative thing you say to them, or within their hearing are ingrained into their brains forever. The feelings those words brought up will forever be linked to those words.

Words are the most powerful weapons we have against raising happy healthy adults. They are used to belittle someone or build them up.

Let today be the day that your words speak the truth about love to all the people around you, but don't stop at today, use each and everyday as your chance to speak the words of love to all the people you love in your life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Military Museum

Recently we went on a field trip to Old Sacramento. If you ever visit the state capitol of California I urge you to explore the area of Old Sacramento here is a link to the last blog I did about Old Sac.

Todays blog is all about the Military Museum in Old Sac. This museum is a tribute to all branches of the military, not just one branch.

There is a wall just inside the door to the left that is a tribute to all the fallen military members who lived in California since the Gulf War started. This is a sobering view of our war.

We started our self guided tour going to the right of the room and working by each display. They have the display's well lit and filled with informative cards.

There are display cases on each war and what the military looked like in that era.

There is a new display that shows women in the military as well

There is even a display that shows the music of different era's and how it rallied troops.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Field Trippin'

We recently went on an adventure to the northern coastal town of Eureka California. My husband is from there and we went to visit our family before we make the trek across the ocean to our new home. While we were there we took the opportunity to explore some of the natural wonders that are in this area of the state.

We visited Patrick's Point where we followed the trails down to Agate Beach, only to discover that it was to darn cold, far to windy and a bit dangerous with the tide coming in to actually look for Agates on the beach. The hike down was pretty, and very educational.

Then we went over and checked out the Yu'rok Tribe's village that is located at Patrick's Point. Talk about awe inspiring!

Then we wandered off to explore the hike up to Ceremony Rock. Being deathly afraid of heights I did not actually venture all the way to the top, however I did find a nice level spot with a bit of a view where I felt safe.

looking up
the view from between two rocks on level ground.

On our way home we drove through the Avenue of the Giants. This is a beautiful drive if you have time to take a leasure stroll I strongly suggest it. The entire drive is about 24 miles of winding through the famous Giant redwoods of Northern California.

view of the road from my sun roof
view looking up from the sun roof

We also pulled over and hiked through the forest and studied some of the fallen trees. These ancient redwoods sometimes fall and are left to decompose on their own. This decomposition gives life to organisms in the forest and is the way its supposed to be. The kids had a blast exploring the redwoods on foot. There is something amazing being among trees so tall, they make you realize just how small you really are in this world.

The family walking across a redwood bridge (aka fallen tree)
M & I (proof I am not always behind the camera)

We found a Drive through tree and some tree houses.

driving up to the drive through tree

a little closer
inside the tree looking up through the sun roof

The kids loved going to the top of this one

you cant get to the top of this one but it was fun looking inside. 

On the way home the kids slept, and slept, and slept. It was certainly a trip to remember!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Kids are so cool!

With all my public schooling friends on the east coast, in the midwest, and well anywhere that is being pounded by snow complaining about how many days off their kids have had and how they just can't wait to send them back to school I am reminded just how much I love my kids! I love spending time with them. I love just hanging out with them. I love just being in the same room with them and listening to how they work things out.

By no means are my kids perfect but man they are cool! I love getting to hang out with them. I love listening to them. They are interesting people who have learned to form intelligent opinions about the world around them. They are fun to listen to and fun to talk to.

Why is it that so many parents out there do not think that their own kids or anyone else's kids are cool? Why is it dreaded when they become teens?

I have two teens. A 13 almost 14 year old and a 16 year old. They are both really cool kids. The 13 year old is embarrassed by us in public a lot but thats pretty normal. He can build all sorts of things and he loves to take things apart and see how they work. He is interesting to talk things over with and think about how things work with. He is so cool. My 16 year old ahh she is a blessing to me in so many ways. She is a sweet girl, A girl who knows how to take care of herself. She wants my advice and loves to draw. She is artistic and like most artists often is to hard on herself. She is an avid reader and in her spare time likes to cuddle with me on the couch. I just don't see whats so bad about teens.

With the way people talked I always feared my kids becoming teens. I can't be sure if its just that mine have some special touch, or if I just did something so right that they did not become what everyone else fears. I can't tell you where I went right because I don't even know. I just know that I enjoy getting to be the mom to these kids. O yes there are days they drive me crazy. There are days when I don't want to answer the million and 1 questions they have to ask. there are days I don't feel good and wish they had somewhere else to go. But those days are less then the days that I LOVE being with them.

I wish more parents loved spending time with their kids. I wish more parents could see just how awesome their kids are! If you are a parent please go and spend time with your kids, do something crazy together. take something apart, build something back up, do a puzzle, play some cards, laugh hard enough to almost tinkle your pants together. LOVE one another.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Field Trip Thursday...

Last Thursday was a beautiful day. We decided it was a fantastic Sunny day in california and the kids could really use a field trip. So with our tanks full of gas we hopped in the car and drove the 30 minutes to Old Sacramento.

For a homeschooling family Old Sac is a wonderful place to explore! There are several museums there as well as original buildings that date back to the gold rush.

We talked about the Pony Express. This happens to be the last stop the Pony Express made in its cross country venture to bring the mail. There are wonderful statues and Plaques in Old Sac that tell part of the tails. This of course interested some more then others.

My family hanin out with the rider. 
An image of a Pony Express rider
We took a ride in the horse and carriage and talked about how the modes of transportation 100+ years ago.

This building was the first wells fargo bank in Sacramento. It is no longer a bank but the building is still there with the signs up so that you can see what it looked like decades ago.

The whole Old Sac area is fun to walk around, even though its just full of shops. There are some great little eateries there as well as several museums. We went into the Military Museum which dates back to the first skirmishes ever fought in California in the Spanish American war. I will blog all about that on another day and include several of the pictures I took inside that museum.

we visited the old school house as well and really enjoyed talking with the historian inside. She talked about how school back then was a lot like homeschooling because you had more then one age group and the older children always helped the younger children get through their studies. 

We walked down to the American River and talked about how it served as a way for goods to be sent up river to Sacramento from San Francisco during this time. We also talked about what type of animals might live in the river when we found this guy 
Sunning himself

loving the sunshine

and the attention we were paying him.

We stayed and had a wonderful dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. and watched the sunset over the American River.

We learned more in one day then we could have learned in a month of studies. We had a blast and enjoyed some of our local attractions. We will likely miss some of these things when we relocate but I am positive we will find some new interesting history to enjoy in our new location as well.

Stay tuned for the blog about the Military Museum and some of what we learned while we were there.