Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back to the Deeds

After a couple of months off the daily reporting of charitable deeds, I've received a bit of feedback from readers of that blog letting me know they miss the daily inspiration. I won't promise to blog daily this year. But, I'll get back on sharing some inspiration when I have it. Today is one of those days. Read it here.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Two More Family Friendly Businesses Closing Doors

Two weeks ago, I sent my book out for publication. In another couple of weeks it will be here. But already, some of the information is outdated. Chiefly, two of the venues are closing their doors.

Judith Hale Gallery in Los Olivos is closing after a quarter century of service to artists, aspiring artists and art lovers. I just got off the phone with Phyllis, and she said the doors will remain open ’til the end of the month, then we’re on our own. Artists have reduced their prices (including jewelry) 40-50%. Plus, the garden remains a beautiful oasis of curiosities.

Motionz in Santa Maria Town Center is also going through some hardships. Motions “will close on March 28, 2010 due to hard economic times.” The owners are willing to sell the business if anyone’s interested in taking it on. Otherwise, it’s lights out for Santa Barbara County’s only organized, indoor laser tag facility.

Since releasing "Best Family Adventures: San Luis Obispo County" in mid-2006, an incredible number of businesses have failed. There are no more sellers of new books in all of northern San Luis Obispo County. Want a new book there? You have to drive in to San Luis Obispo proper, or order online. The last seller of new books in Santa Maria Valley closed its doors last month. Other retailers are nailing shut their doors as well. Scary times.

If you’re considering making any purchases, don’t forget the local businesses who are here to support our schools, our families, and the community 365 days a year. Sure, we might be able to order something for a buck cheaper online, but then there’s the additional cost of shipping; and even if shipping is included, isn’t it worth that buck to know there’s a store around the corner that has what you need in a pinch?

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chocolate Awareness Day...er....Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day to the special people in our lives. If you spend time reading this blog, that means you, too!

Chocolate isn't a part of our daily lives, believe it or not, and didn't become a part of our girls' lives until they were well into childhood. Today, however, we all enjoyed watching a video about how chocolate is made. The annual statistics for the use of chocolate by the Hershey factory alone were staggering:
600 million pounds of chocolate
200 million pounds of nuts
700 million pounds of milk
an undisclosed amount of sugar, but since it's listed FIRST on the ingredients we can assume it's well over 700 million pounds.

Here's to a bite or two for you today.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Protecting the Family: Resisting the Urge to Hole Up

I can't tell you how often people have told me I'm brave to venture out with my kids. While some women have told me they could never venture out on the road the way we do, others have told me they've been inspired to branch out. I've been called brave, energetic, smart, crazy, nuts even careless. Some men tell me they would never let their wives roam the way I do. (Thank heavens those men are not akin to mine.)

But let me tell you, I don't go into these adventures with my eyes entirely shut. I do consider the possibility that something, often any number of things, could go wrong. I try not to dwell on them, but to take whatever precautions and make whatever preparations I can, then carry on. Still, I do, on occasion, find myself having to resist the urge to stay home, holed up in relative safety, in hopes of protecting my children from the dangers outside our door. Today was a case in point.

Mr. B (aka Safetyman) and V headed out for a walk this morning while E and I wrapped up some projects at the house. They were headed to a park about a mile and a half from our house; a walk that involved crossing one very busy street, in our community's terms. Mr. B doesn't jaywalk. He believes in the power of the crosswalk, the safety a traffic signal should provide. And he's right - those things should provide pedestrians some added safety. He and V pushed the magic button, waited for the light to turn in their favor, then looked both ways.

"It looked like everyone was slowing down for the light," he told me over lunch. "But one car didn't stop. We almost got hit. That could've been it right there."

At the last minute, the driver realized his error and, as he sped by, gave Mr. B an apologetic look. What good would that have done if Mr. B and V had been a step ahead, a few feet further into his path?

I have a pretty vivid imagination, and I have to force myself not to go there lest I panic and lock my family inside. It helps to remember that, really, we're not safe there, either, and that this life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to be celebrated. While staying home and relaxing with family for the sake of family unity and joy is one thing, locking ourselves away from the world is not the answer.

So we continue to venture forth, and hope for the best.

If you're thinking about hitting the road with your kids in tow, don't let the fear of a flat tire slow you down. Learn to change a tire, and practice before you hit the road. Carry a credit card with a credit limit large enough to help in other emergencies. Carry a cell phone so you can call for help, whether it be roadside assistance or a sympathetic ear. Bring your sense of adventure, your family and supplies - and enjoy the ride.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Take Me Out To The...Iditarod!

We've gotten back into creative mode as we wrap up these godforsaken workbooks. Workbooks are great for getting the kids moving along through their studies without much effort from the parent/teacher, but they're mind-numbing for all involved. So...off we go to study the Iditarod (as noted here)! We're finding plenty of academic studies through this unit, which will culminate with the mushers' arrival in Nome on or about March 16.

Meanwhile, we're map making, and figuring mileage, and researching the geography and topography of the state, adjacent territories and the trail. Today, I spotted my next grand adventure. (Ok...make that 25-grand adventure.)

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Taking a break from all things responsible, I completed this quiz.

A duck, huh?

You Are A: Duck!

duckFound in many lakes and ponds, ducks are a common site the world over. Known for their famous quack, ducks tend to congregate in flocks or go off on their own in pairs. As a duck, you may seem friendly at times but will not hesitate to bite if someone is bothering you. Your love for travel and your ability to swim are some reasons why you are a duck.

You were almost a: Puppy or a Pony
You are least like a: Groundhog or a ChipmunkCute Animals Quiz

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Websites and printers and deadlines - OH MY!

It's been a quiet month here at Lake Book-Be-Gone. We've enjoyed some wonderfully heavy rains which have begun rejuvenating our aquifer while giving us some wonderful downtime by the fire. We've had some beautiful days at the beach and hiking the green hills. We've enjoyed visits from family and friends. We've had time to read some wonderful stories from Aztec and Maya cultures, not the least of which has included some of their mythology. The girls forge ahead on their math and spelling, read voraciously and have taken in a performance by the Moscow Circus. We're looking toward the Superbowl this weekend, then will begin a unit study focused on the Iditarod.

Why bother with the Iditarod, you ask? Who needs to know Alaskan geography, the history of our continent's far northern reaches, the math of the world's most famous dog sled race? My answer: why not? The race and all that surrounds it provide opportunity to study in depth a portion of our country, our world. And it's as relevant to kids in California as study of any of the other 48 states outside their own. Plus, V, our youngest, loves anything that involves animals, so the tie to dogs should help pique her interest. The fact that a cousin has a cabin on an Alaskan island also gives the girls a heightened sense of personal value in this information. We'll study the state, its history, geography, biology, its people past and present, its weather. There will be ample opportunity to explore the science of snow, animals, weather, cold and ice, planetary movement all in the context of an exciting and unusual event which kicks off in 26 days. In researching the unit, I've already learned a lot, and I really look forward to sharing it with them. (Did you know there's a Junior Iditarod? Starts in only 20 days!)

In other news:
After one tough year of putting the results of our research to paper, designing, formatting, laying out and ultimately completing work on "Best Family Adventures: Santa Barbara County," the book files have been sent to the printer. WOO HOO! That means free time now, right?

Well, there were some other things to be done: rebuild the website both to improve it and to reflect the new title, catch up on things at home, catch up on volunteer work for my chorus, begin lining up publicity and find a distributor covering Santa Barbara County. Not to mention the daily work of raising a family, homeschooling, and trying to find some time for exercise.

Then the book proof came back with some surprises. Chiefly, the text on the pages had shifted so they no longer aligned with photos and so some entries' titles no longer shared a page with the entries' details. It all seems to have come down to running our computer system with an entirely different computer system - miscommunication isn't just a human flaw.

I'm aiming for a Spring Equinox release of the new book - what better time to help spread the word that there is a LOT to do in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. I learned SO much about this area I've called home nearly all my life. My girls have learned that, while we tend to wander, there's really more to do in these two counties than a person can possibly master in a lifetime. And we haven't even hit the wilderness yet.

Enjoy the rain and the green bursts of life it brings, the wildflowers that are bound to pop in the next couple of weeks and each other. Life is most certainly wonderful.

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