Thursday, July 30, 2009

Airport Tour and Everyday Things

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Clearly, I don't post every day. I know some of my subscribers aren't really interested in homeschooling news, and not all the homeschooling subscribers are interested in family updates. So, I'm in a quandary. Ultimately, I think I'll separate the topics into different blogs. Then, you can subscribe to whichever most interests you (or both, or neither), all still for free, course!

I have two remaining chapters to complete for Best Family Adventures: Santa Barbara County which I hope to have in bookstores in time for Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years Resolutions. My editors are busy at work on the first several chapters, and I look forward to moving on to photo selection, layout and all the details that come with the next stage of book publishing. To be honest, this book is wearing me out. It's taken a lot more time than the SLO County book did in large part because I've had a lot more to learn about Santa Barbara County than I did about my native county. I'm excited to have it out there, readers keep asking for it, and I look forward to a revamp of the website to include the new book (plus general improvement to that site).

When I'm not working on the book (which means during daylight hours at this point), we continue with family stuff - entertaining each other, enjoying each other, and most recently beginning our search for a home with a little more space and located in such a way that we can enjoy our property with more freedom (ie. not in a homeowners association). For example, it seems ridiculous to me that, while neighbors all around us can have dogs that bark at all hours, the homeowners association bars ownership of chickens. ROOSTERS I completely understand, but chickens provide value - eggs, meat, pest control, fertilizer. They cluck, but aren't as loud as the dogs in my neighborhood. If the ban on chickens is about noise, the dogs, power tools and drummer boy up the street all need to be banned, too, but I don't like THAT solution either because it only limits others' personal freedom, doesn't it?

Yesterday, the girls and I enjoyed a tour I organized of the Santa Barbara Airport Visitors Center and Fire Department. The aeronautics history of Santa Barbara is really interesting, but I think the younger kids were a bit bored by the lengthy introductory discussion. They certainly could have used more hands-on time. The fire department tour was nice, too, complete with a demonstration of the pumper truck's water attack system. You can see pix of the day here.

This afternoon we're off to horseback riding, then I sing tonight with my Sweet Adeline sisters in harmony. Up for this weekend - a bonfire, garden work, and math, lotsa math, trying to figure out how to make a move possible.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Scam Alert - check your credit cards

First, I was taken by this credit card scam in early 2008. Now Mr. B's card has succumbed. PLEASE check your credit cards if you've ordered anything from ProFlowers, Blair or, well, just check your statements for a recurring charge you don't recognize or for which you're receiving no service.

The scam works like this: a customer purchases something either online or via an 800 number. (In my case it was a pair of pants through in spring 2008. In my husband's case, on a different credit card account, I can't figure out which of his few orders might have set it off.) When the customer places his/her order, of course he/she provides a credit card number. Somehow, that credit card number is then shared with Easy Saver/American Leisure which charges $1.95 immediately. Each month thereafter, Easy Saver/American Leisure/EMI Encore Marketing International charges the unsuspecting customer $14.95 via credit card. If the customer doesn't comb through her/his bills, the charge isn't caught - often for months at a time.

Getting out of the service is very difficult. The company representatives are not cooperative and claim they cannot refund the charges. They also claim that the customer KNOWINGLY signed up for the service. In both my husband's case and mine, I assure you we had no idea we were signing up for some sort of membership service. Check out the various complaints on the Internet and you'll see others had no idea either. Countless others have been scammed by this company.

So go ahead. Pull out your latest credit card statement.


On ALL your cards (even the one frozen in the ice-cube tray and that one you've had locked in the safe for a year).

If you find the charge on your card:
- contact the bank that issued the card and contest the charges;
- contact the "membership service" that has been placing the charges on your card;
- file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (it's super easy - 5 minutes max.);
- file a complaint with this office of the Better Business Bureau;
- tell your friends and family so they can protect their wallets, too;
- then never again order from the company that got you in this predicament in the first place.

Good luck!

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Ballet Recital

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Today E enjoyed her third dance recital with her current dance school. While she began in the combo class (tap/ballet) her kindergarten year, she's decided ballet is the style for her. She's not interested in branching out into Jazz or tap or modern. And while horseback riding is great fun, swimming lessons were tolerable and she enjoys the violin, she's decided it's ballet all the way.

It's really great to have some grandparents who aren't too far away or too busy to take part in their grandchildren's lives. I know E was super happy to have her California grandparents in the audience (and the house, and at dinner and most CERTAINLY at ice cream). Thank you, Grandmas and Grandpas, for supporting her (and all of us in so many ways).

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Girl and Her Hair

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A few weeks back, Ms. V said she wanted to get a haircut. Not a trim. A haircut. She was really tired of having her hair pull so hard, tangle so easily every single day. But over then next couple of weeks, whenever the opportunity would arise to do the deed, she'd hedge.

This weekend, she was ready. She chose her cut. I stood back and watched as her locks of baby blond hair fell away.

She's thrilled with the result.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Clearing My Head

It's been a long time since I found an activity, call it a distraction if you will, that has allowed me to live in the moment. This week I rediscovered one.

I know. It seems like we do a lot of living in the moment, what with all of our travels and doings, but, in fact, I feel like my mind is seldom really settled. I'm thinking about what needs to be done, what's not being done, what I might do better, what I've not done as well as I would have liked. I think about being torn between the wishes of my differing children. I think about hopes and dreams, shoulda-beens and coulda-beens, the future, the past, the possibilities.

My mind doesn't usually take a break.

Yesterday, a friend and I enjoyed a day of self pampering (thanks, Dad) at a local spa. We had a lovely soak in a hot tub, then went our separate ways for massages before rejoining for lunch. Just two adults, acting like adults, speaking like adults, relaxing like adults. No interruptions from our everyday lives.

Even as I enjoyed the massage, however, I couldn't get my mind to just relax. I forced myself to listen to the music, to try to focus on the massage. I even TOLD myself to relax. I'm sure all of that was fine and good, but my mind was not clear.

But it had been. Just that morning.

So, what is it that does it for me? Horseback riding. And playing an instrument sometimes, but horseback riding without a doubt.

I've begun sharing a lease on a lovely horse this past week. The first thing I learned was that, while I rode quite a bit as a kid, I'm not a good horsewoman. I have a LOT to learn. This horse knows more than I've ever learned about how to behave as a horse-and-rider team. We've been working on our communication skills; she's taught me a lot this week.

And yesterday, for the first time in I don't know how long, I enjoyed a complete mental break during, of all times, our morning ride. It's not that I wasn't paying attention. I did see the morning hawks roosting and soaring. I heard them calling, saw the cows watching our every move. I watched the morning mist clear. But I was so focused on communicating with her and enjoying all that was around us that I don't take the time to think about anything else. (Plus, if I lose focus, she knows it, and she becomes confused, and I lose footing and that's NEVER good in the saddle.)

I found the same held true on today's arena session, still better yet than any ride we've had together so far.

Thanks, Dad, for the day of pampering. J and I both really appreciated it.

Thanks, Mom, for helping to provide an outlet that really allows me to clear my head (and get exercise to boot)! :)

Photo courtesy Daniel Johnson under Creative Commons license.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You & Me: An Interview With My Daughters

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This is the first of two interviews I did with the girls today. I saw these questions posted elsewhere. I thought I'd give them a shot. Here is their input, at tender ages. It'll be interesting to see how these change as they get older! :)

What is something I always say to you?

I love you. - V, age 6

I love you. - E, age 9

What makes me happy?

When I snuggle with you and when I'm nice. - V, age 6

When we're good and nice. - E, age 9

What makes me sad?

When I'm somewhere you aren't or when I'm bad. - V, age 6

When we're not nice. - E, age 9

How do I make you laugh?

Sometimes when you make faces. - V, age 6

By telling jokes or playing funny. - E, age 9

What do you think I was like as a child?

Little. You were horsey, you were like a horse. You'd run around neighing. - V, age 6

I imagine you playing a lot and helping Grandpa R fix Jeeps. - E, age 9

How old am I?

I don't know. Maybe 24? - V, age 6 (Upon reviewing these answers with me, the 9 year old points at THIS answer and says, "You wish." Hmmm...she USED to be a cute kid. Now she's nine!)

She got it I'm not's not cute! - E, age 9

How tall am I?

I don't know. Maybe 6 feet tall? - V, age 6

5' 11" - E, age 9

What do I do when you’re not around?

Work on the computer. - V, age 6

Read, work on the computer, and work. - E, age 9

If I become famous, what will it be for?

Writing a good kids' book. - V, age 6

Hmmm...I think, your books. - E, age 9

What am I really good at?

Cooking homemade pizza. - V, age 6

Writing. And playing. And snuggling. - E, age 9

What am I not really good at?

I don't know. What are you not good at?- V, age 6

I'm trying to think. (whispering to self.) Playing house. (peals of laughter)- E, age 9

What is my job?

Writing. It used to be writing for the newspaper. Now selling your book you wrote and writing a new one. And taking care of us. - V, age 6

Taking care of us. - E, age 9

What is my favorite food?

I don't know! Maybe ice cream? Or cake? - V, age 6

What's that chicken stuff in the yellow sauce? (Yellow Thai Chicken) That or ice cream. - E, age 9

What makes you proud of me?

When you read to me. - V, age 6

I guess just because you're my mom. - E, age 9

What makes me proud of you?

When I put away my dishes without being asked, or maybe feed the kitties without being asked. - V, age 6

When I do really well at something like my dance recital, or when I do a chore without being asked. - E, age 9

What do you and I do together?

Read, play, jump on the trampoline. - V, age 6

Read, play, cook, garden and horseback ride. - E, age 9

How are we the same?

We both like to read I think. I think we both like to play. Our eyes and teeth look the same. - V, age 6

We both want horses, and we both want a ranch and lots of acreage. - E, age 9

How are you and I different? You can snort like a horse. - V, age 6
I don't like anything spicy; you do. I want to do toe shoe and I don't think you would like to. - E, age 9

How do you know that I love you?

You tell me you do, and you hug me and kiss me and take care of me. - V, age 6

Because you take care of us, snuggle with us, play with us and you say it all the time. - E, age 9

What is one thing you wish you could change about me?

That you never put us in the corner.- V, age 6

I think I would change you so that you would want one more kid. - E, age 9

What do you wish you could go and do with me?

I think go to Hawaii and swim, swim all day pretty much. And just eat sometimes. - V, age 6

Go horseback riding together. - E, age 9

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sierra Weekend

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We've recently experienced a whirlwind of California travel. In a matter of two weeks, we've headed south to the Happiest Place, north to The Beach, and now east to The Sierra. The girls and I loaded up the Jeep, then joined Grandpa for a ride up a great trail to some beautiful meadows, lakes and forest.

After some setbacks, not the least of which was an intriguing rip in Grandpa's trailer hitch, we picked up our friend Brian, then made camp near a meadow where the wildflowers were poppin'! We roughed it up Thompson Hill where my Jeep performed flawlessly, E served as my spotter, and both girls were incredibly patient.

The weekend wouldn't have been complete without some High Sierra fishing! V was first to put her line in the water, and that first cast turned up a fish! We were all pretty excited, but none happier than she was! I forgot to pack E's fishing pole because she doesn't talk about fishing the rush it completely slipped my mind! So, she took over my fly fishing gear. Honestly, I thought she'd cast a few times and be done with it. Instead, she took right to it and also caught countless fish. (We practiced catch-and-release except for three fish we ate for dinner that night.)

The trip out would have been uneventful. We managed to make it over all the tough spots, but Grandpa's trailer took a bad bounce on a relatively flat spot and flipped over. Fortunately, he's thought ahead and had a hitch made for just this type of disaster. The trailer flipped, the hitch spun and the Jeep was fine. I turned my Jeep around to provide access to my winch, and Brian and Grandpa put everything in order in no time.

We're home for a few weeks. Cleaning up. Resting. Bouncing on the trampoline. Give us a ring!

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