Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June in Pics.

What can I say? We are summering!

We haphazardly follow the World Cup and watch Oprah and Big Bang Theory. These are our current t.v. addictions. We swim a lot. Garden. Cook. The boys and Big B spend a fair amount of time on framing the roof to our garage. The boys play soccer and hit eachother with foam swords...still with the foam swords. ..and we hang with Levi.

  Here is Levi when he is sleeping. We are starting to treasure when he is sleeping.

 Here is Levi hanging with the teens. This is just before they try on sunglasses and try to explain to him how resisters work. Then the teens decide that maybe, just maybe..they should show him how to unclench his fist first..Hmm

This is Levi oohing to Eeyore about the ridiculousness of his family.

This is Austen on his last day at work.He has decided to take the summer off to just  hang out.
Notice the scenery and clothing. We (as in Big B, Cody, Austen and I) are still hangin' in Bandera in our summer/swim gear (most of the time)

This is Brian and Angee. They are abandoning the Texas Hills for a little while to visit Angee's extended family in Singapore. Here they are pretending to be the Hulk??? ..I think.

It appears they are enjoying themselves. We are hoping for a slide-show of sorts (yes..we are a slide-show kinda family) when they get back.

All for this week. Next week? Tubing Tales..and the Art of Zen Tubing...or something of that nature.

Weekly Menu:
Monday: Aunt Sandy's Super Tacos (veggie, and carnivorous)
Tuesday: lasagna,spinach salad, mini bread-sticks
Wednesday: Eggplant Parmesan and fruit salad
Thursday: Minestrone and bruschetta
Friday: Spaghetti, french bread, salad
Saturday: Party at Pavliska's??? Will probably bring gazpacho or tabbouleh
Sunday: Make your own shishkabobs (to throw on the grill) for 4th of July!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Father's Day Challenge

My dad in 6 words challenge:

My Dad. Romantic idealist, scholar, visionary.

Happy Father's Day. I love you!

Weekly Menu:
Saturday:  pot roast, pasta salad (cucumber, avacado,tomato),fruit
Sunday: home-made chicken noodle soup, grilled eggplant and cheese sandwiches
Monday: quiche, salad, fruit
Tuesday:  fish and vegetable tempura with rice
Wednesday: baked zucchini, tomato and eggplant, baked potatoes with toppings of choice
Thursday: chalupas, corn on the cob
Friday: make your own pizzas

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reflections on my 42nd Birthday

w “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery,but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” MasterOogway, Kung Fu Panda :)

One of the boys from the Singapore Odyssey of the Mind team posted this as his facebook status earlier this week...and it has stuck with me. It seemed appropriate, today, on the morning of my 42nd birthday.

It is a birthday that has surprised me in contentment. I once had a friend in college that said she thought we would all be really content in our 40's...because in our 40's we would know who we were..and weren't. We would have arrived.

..and she is correct. True..I am still discerning the next portion of my life. I am still living pay-check to pay-check. Not too cool at this age..but I also am acutely aware that on a global scale..I am extremely blessed. Also?According to Oprah 70something % of Americans are currently living pay-check to pay-check. So..how validating is that?

I know that for me, turning 42 is a.Thank Goodness..I am finally, truthfully, the age I should be. Not 10 feeling 20. Not 20 feeling 30..but simply 42..and feeling 42. It's a shoe fits sort-of thing.

..and so? I spend this morning blogging (because blogging is a ridiculous and fun outlet I have given myself these days), listening to Gregorian Chants (because it is my birthday and no one will dare protest today), drinking reheated coffee..and rotating laundry. Still with the laundry.

 I am spending this morning reflecting on my journey so far..and speculating on where it will go. It is said that all great leaders must stay true to their own experience and convictions. I believe this is true.

My experience as a missionary kid, a foster sibling of 4, the child of local political and social activists, a teen musician who traveled in the Eastern Block (when there was one),a women's college alumnae, a catholic university alumnae and a young,unprepared wife and mom with  three children who were high needs for various medical and developmental reasons, leaves me with an equally unparalleled and super-paralleled view of the world.

Sort of like the Apostle Paul..you can find common ground with many..but whole picture with few.

..and that is okay.

Because? Everyone has their own, unique experiences to bring the world story.

As I ramble I realize that I am now able to see the hand of God, Universe..whatever you want to call it, throughout my life story..and the story is still unfinished.

I have spent the past several years, trying to discern my calling, so to speak. I have really struggled with whether I should serve within or without the traditions of organized religion. Specifically in the position of a parish minister.

I have just about concluded, that this is not the direction for me..and this decision  is a place for both grief (for me to let go of an ideal I have had since childhood) and a relief..for I am then free to serve with my true spiritual gifts. It has been said (by the church powers that be) that my strongest gifts lie in prophecy, vision, mission and hospitality. The rest (including pastoral care) are farther down the list. Truth be told, there is something like 52, 72, 102 ..I don't remember..math is not one of my gifts. But there are a LOT of gifts considered "gifts of the spirit."..so it seems like I should pay attention to the few I have.

You know the saying. Spend 80% of your time on what you are good at. 20% on what you are not.

I have been struggling, since I've started this parish ministry educational journey, on how these gifts best fit within the context of the church..or do they? Because..truth is, we live in an inter-faith/non-faith world..and I enjoy that world as much as I enjoy life within the church..and because I do not believe you can separate life within from life without the church.

Upon further prayer, meditation, conversation and discernment, I realize that the part of me that is holding onto the security of the church is the part that wants the comfort of a community that I dearly love...but that also feels the need to transform from within. Transform what?Well..it is my feminist voice talking. The clincher? When I studied Church History. You know..when you read The Great Books it is a given that women are either seen as trophies or predators..but they at least exist. As I studied Church History...the women existed in the Bible..and then? Poof...not until the 21st century. This is eerie...and I realized that this is not where I need to be. Because transforming from within is not a reason to go into ministry. Sort-of misses the point of bringing people closer in their relationship with Christ.

I spend more time in reflection..and then I have a dream....

 I have a dream in which my younger self meets my older self. Only in the dream, I do not realize this woman is my older self. She is heavier than I am. She can wear all those cool big women clothes that I always admire and can never find in my size..she has hair that is not flying everywhere..all the way around she is just pulled together. This woman runs a refugee transitions center..and is mentoring me (for some unknown reason) as I babysit lots of children (go figure).

Then? We start working together on a particular fund-raiser for women from some specific country that I don't remember now. The whole time I am grateful for this woman who is mentoring me along..and thinking Wow..I want to be like her.

Then? I wake up..and realize ..I AM her. (grin)

So..I will finish my parish minstry program and be content as a lay minister, because it is a program I enjoy and a community I enjoy. I hope to serve the church in other capacities. I am happy filling in when pastors are out of town, hoping to serve on global vision committee type of role..eventually. Finally I want to stay involved with the 4th day community. (Kairos, Via de Cristo) This is very selfish on my part. These weekends take a lot of time to prepare for..but they keep me grounded. And it is amazing to see that "aha" moment in others. A glimmer of what grace can be.

 The world is still wide open.

I feel very pulled to open a women's refugee and immigration transition center in San Antonio. Why? Because there isn't one..and THIS is something that truly places me with my God given gifts...it stays true with my experiences and my convictions. It is an inter-faith world of which I am an embracing participant.

And  for now..I am hanging with my teenage boys at home because I can. I will return part-time for some graduate work in ESL and non-profit leadership while I hang.

..and today? I will listen to Gregorian Chants, transport kids from the Club to VBS and back, pick up my nephews from San Antonio

..and celebrate my birthday over mint-chocolate-chip ice cream with la familia  tonight.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bandera Banditos?

  Several years ago, my uncle dubbed us The Bandera Banditos.

  My kids were running around like banshees...swinging off of rope swings, playing with firecrackers..and all were involved with karate and hockey. You know..the aggressive, contact, sports...in theory anyway. It appeared to me my kids were spending a lot of time dancing with weapons and skating. Regardless, my uncle got the biggest kick out of referring to them as the Bandera Banditos and grinning about their Huck Finn sort-of existence.

  Over the years, the name sort-of stuck. We sign presents from The Bandera Banditos. We send sympathy cards and thankyou notes from The Bandera Banditos. Yes..I see the irony here..but you get the point.

 I had forgotten about this until recently when I was getting my inspection sticker renewed for my car (a 6 passenger Mercury van). As I was getting ready to pay for the inspection, the "inspector" grins and says, "So..you homeschool."  It was not a question. It was simply a fact..like It's raining outside...and then he immediately follows it with So how many kids do you have?

 It caught me off guard..we had just been speaking about flooding in New Braunfels, TX.
Uh..yeah..and I have a handful of children.I replied. Do you?..homeschool? (as in how do you know..I know this is a small town..but ???)

The mechanic/inspector grins and with a knowing nod replies..Oh..I can just tell. 
Did my van talk to you? (I whisper)
The man laughs..no..you can just tell.

We continued making small talk..he told me where he grew up, etc...As we talked..I started wondering...How does he know?  (I mean I had NO CHILDREN) with me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed?  I checked..blue-jeans, green tye-dye t-shirt with a design, flip-flops..okay..just like about 12 other Bandera-area mom's...most of whom do NOT homeschool. So dress code, was not the clue.

I say good-bye and return to the van. I see a car-seat..a quilt, two books..one on building robots and one on pre-cal/trig. I also see an insulated, empty, canvas grocery bag. Waiting for use. AHA! Then?! I spy my (ahem) cassette tapes (it's an OLD VAN) with Beatles and songs from Top Gun. Oops. My car DID talk to him. We reeked the stereo-type of homeschoolers.

I began wondering what it would be like to be more Banderaish..whatever that means..more banditoish maybe? Because we are a town that shamelessly, often even proudly, breaks rules and does our own thing..

..and then I remembered my Uncle and The Bandera Banditos...and I had to laugh.

The image that is conjured from this phrase is so far from our present reality..it is crazy. Yes..the boys are still rivering, and creating neighborhood "wars", and blowing things up. Why? Because we live in Hill Country, Texas with over 180acres of a neighborhood that they can roam in.

But Bandito #1: Is currently in Singapore for a month, meeting his girl-friend's extended family before returning to work in a bio-medical engineering lab. Why? Because the number one bandito is a family guy who enjoys working in a lab.

Bandito #2: Is making crepes for breakfast on a fairly regular basis..along with gardening (true..tobacco is one of the things he is gardening...uhmm..the legal kind), texting his girlfriend (she is often busy doing musical things) and holding baby Levi.

Banditos' #3 and #4 (the Banditos include cousins..by the way): They are reading animate, dressing like knights and drinking hot tea with lemon in the evenings before bed. They do, however, add a Bandito touch by saying.."Excuse me Aunt Nicole/Mom..another round please."

Bandito #5: Well..let's face it...number 5 is going to have to live-up to the reputations (or lack there-of) of the rest of his family. For now? He grins, and smiles, and wants to be held..and gets a lot of hiccups.

So there it is, the Bandera Banditos un-banditified...

It is a fun name, though.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Homeschooling Transcripts

Ahh..the inevitable "but what about their transcripts"  question has returned.

Every few years, one of the boys needs a transcript for some program, course, job or school.

We pull our previously homemade transcripts from our computer and update to the best of our ability.

I do not feel comfortable giving our children grades..so I don't. Only one university has ever complained..and they laughed and said, "Just make them up." So I did.

The boys and I discuss life goals as they become young teens..and then try to make sure they meet the requirements for various programs that they are interested in. This has served us well.

This morning Cody announced he wanted to attend a local c.c. this Fall and attend a specific BIG PUBLIC UNIVERSITY in the Fall of 2011..or at least try. I went to pull up transcript, only to discover, we did not have it! ACK.

Cody and I spent the a.m. recreating the past 4 years to the best of our ability.

As I was doing this, it reminded me how panicked I became (and still do occasionally) when I first needed to create a transcript for Brian. I wanted to be honest. I wanted him to get into a really cool and competitive summer engineering program.  I didn't know what would be okay. I read books. I called friends. I looked at sample homeschooling transcripts from other families. I called more friends.

Finally? I picked up the phone and (gasp) asked the program what they needed! They were very helpful...and after that, each time became easier. I learned to call and ask.

Honesty is a big thing with me. The boys really do have a lot of control of their own learning..but if I put something on a transcript..than they better have done it..or promise(and follow up) to do it with me in the next x number of weeks..like crash course studying (one of the true beauties of learning at your own pace) This has served us well, so far.

So..I thought I would post what the boys transcripts look like so far. It is just a sample..for any of those out there going through the home-school, transcript panic.

Please note..due to layout of blogger I can't split this by Fall and Spring..so I am just putting the Fall. Please bring  your imaginations along..(and no..I would NEVER ask an official administrator to use their imagination ..though I'm sure they do).and  please know the other half of our page shows Spring..with same info or makes any changes that may have occurred.
Cody  xyz
Date of Birth: xyz
soc.sec. number
                                              Bates Family Home School

High School Credits from Friday School (2007-2008) :  Spanish 1  A
                                                         Grade 9
Global Systems Science                                                                 
Intro. to Composition                                                                     
Business Math                                                                             
Alg. 1/2                                                                                         
World History (focus on Genocide studies)                                    
American Government                                                                         
Friday School:                                                     
Intermediate Art     A                                                                      
Spanish 2              A-                                                                       

Extra Curricular:
Jr. Staff  Boys and Girls Club (computer upkeep and repair, mentoring,
                            city-wide paper  recycling program)
HeartCore for Darfur (awareness raising of genocide Darfur, Sudan)
Odyssey of the Mind: Boys and Girls Club - State Finalist
                                San Antonio HERO - World Finalist
 private guitar lessons
 soccer: Bandera and FEAST(Family Educators Alliance South Texas):stopper, midfield, sweeper - JV and Varsity

Summer 2008:
Student Ambassador People to People (England, France, Italy)
Junior Staff Boys and Girls Club (lifeguard and mentoring, recreational soccer coach)
private tutoring: Algebra 1/Geometry     A
Computer Programming (JAVA)      A

                                                                 Grade 10

Ancient World Lit                                                                                 
Ancient World History                                                                          
Biology with Lab                                                                                   
Latin 1                                                                                                 
Intro to Computer Animation                                                                 
Friday School:
Algebra 2                                                                                            
Advanced Art    A

Extra Curricular:
Boys and Girls Club Junior Staff (computer upkeep and repair, recreational soccer,teen recycling program, mentoring)
Heart Core for Darfur,  San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coallition,
STAND (student anti-genocide coalition)
Odyssey of the Mind: BGCA - winner Renatra Fusca award - World Finalist
Soccer: Bandera-midfield, FEAST-goalie/Varsity

Summer 2009: 
Soccer (Jongo-Bonito, rec. league, sweeper)
 Lifeguard (Flying L Guest Ranch)
San Antonio Darfur Coallition (refugee family support), STAND
                                                                 Grade 11

Intro to the Great Books 1                                                                  
U. S. History                                                                                        
Friday School:
Advanced Math (trig and pre-cal)                                                       
Honors Chemistry        A                                                                      
Financial Peace            A                                                                      
Penn Foster Automotive Repair:                                                       
Learning Strategies     93                                                       
Introduction To Automotive Technology  100                       
Automotive Parts And Operation    100                               
Automotive Engine Types   92                                         
Practical Exer For Instr Pk 1 Auto Technician  87

Extra Curricular:
San Antonio Interfaith Darfur Coalition-refugee family support, STAND
Soccer : FEAST -goalie/ Varsity
Odyssey of the Mind- State Finalist
self-employed: auto and transmission repair

Summer 2010:
self-employed: auto and transmission repair
 Penn Foster Automotive Repair
                                       Grade 12 (still to be determined..tentative)
-will involve Calculus, Physics, Economics, Speech and either business classes or running a business/businesses.

Extra Curricular:
Soccer- FEAST -Varsity, position TBA
 (other is still unknown)
*Friday School is a homeschooling co-operative in San Antonio with over 200 families. The grades listed above are received from this co-operative. from a private tutor or from a correspondence course. Our family does not generally give grades to our children. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Nicole xyz at (xyz) 3xx-3xxx.

Austen xyz
Date of Birth: xyz
soc.sec. number
                                                           Bates Family Home School
High School Credits from Riverside Homeschool Initiative 2008/09:
Biology      A                         
Ancient World Lit.   A    
Ancient World Hist.  B          

Summer 2009:
Summer Staff Boys and Girls Club:(lifeguard, assist with programs)
 ELCA National Youth Gathering - New Orleans, LA
                                                            Grade 9

20th Century World History                                                               
20th Century World Lit.                                                                    
*Riverside Homeschool Initiative                                     
Algebra   B                                                                                
Integrated Physics and Chemistry   A                                  
Intro. to Architecture                                                                 
Culinary Arts            A                                                                   
Intermediate Art      A                                                                    

Extra Curricular:
Jr. Staff  Boys and Girls Club (preparing snacks, mentoring, city-wide recycling program)
Odyssey of the Mind :Boys and Girls Club- Bandera -State Finalist
                                San Antonio HERO -World Finalist                
Riverside Players-community theater: Set Construction for Loving Affection
Lifeguard at Flying L Water Park                                              

Summer 2010:
lifeguard at Flying L.Water-Park
                                                               Grade 10 (to be determined)
more Alg./geometry, and is requesting art, culinary studies (more), fashion design and more IPC

*Riverside Homeschool Initiative is a Waldorf Inspired Democratic Homeschool Cooperative. The grades listed above are received from this co-operative. Our family does not generally give grades to our children. If you have any questions, please feel free to call Nicole xyz at (xyz ) 3xx-3xxx.

There you have it..a very long post, involving two partial and incomplete transcripts What can I say?

We are all still Leaders in Progress...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Musings On Oil Spill

When the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned, the last fish has been caught, will we realize we can't eat money. ~ Cree Proverb

I saw this quote while reading a series of responses to an article on NPR. The reporter had visited various gas stations in NYC asking people if they felt any connection between their purchasing of gas and the effects of BP oil spill.
Most interviewed were outraged at BP, but not willing to take responsibility for their  own buying power in the equation.

I read this article from NPR shortly after reading another post from sardinemama on our carbon footprints. (in a nutshell).

I started looking at our lifestyle, and really having to admit that I, too, play a role in some of our eco-disasters. I play a role in all of my day-to-day decisions.

Good grief, we just took a 3,000+ mile trip to Michigan and back! Talk about gas consumption...and would I do it again? I would have to say, yes...because I want that opportunity for my children. This, however, makes me a conscious player in the oil consumption problem. 

So which is worse..to make mistakes out of ignorance? Or as a conscious choice?

Hmm..maybe I could take a train?

While reflecting on all of this global ecological awareness stuff...I stumbled onto this site...noimpactman.typepad.com

I encourage all readers to browse. I have signed my family (and myself) up for the week-long challenge this summer (date to be announced). Anyone care to join us in this venture?

In the meantime..we are summering!

Frisbee, tubing, gardening, building a garage, just hanging out..and that?!...has been almost  oil purchase free.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Odyssey of the Mind 2010 World Finals

An Odyssey Mini-Series

snippets of six tell a tale.

e.e. cummings turned mini series

 a journey to world finals exposed.

The trip

    unending travel on roads well known

   crop-planes, trees, legends of rock marathon

  missippi river overflows banks, natives unique

  natives impressively kind, flat tire, pizza

 michigan state, international dorm, temporary home

The event

we meet with teams from afar

japan, russia, mexico, cuba and more

some search for friends from before

friends from poland, friends from hong kong.

opening ceremonies "let the games begin"!

listen and learn, meet and greet

 repair, pin trade, prepare, compete, compete

Buddy teams

san antonio, texas meets anglo-chinese school, singapore.

play games, exchange gifts, converse, larp

much curiosity on times teams meet.

texas meets two days a week

sometimes one, we start in september

singapore meets every day before school

the season for odyssey starts february

texas must place regionals, then state

singapore competes directly at nationals; places

texas meets afternoons at coaches house

singapore meets three a.m.at school!

much curiosity on school and homeschool

discussion on tests, or lack thereof

discuss life goals, or lack thereof

live action role play (foam sticks)

time to get back to work

problem solutions are secret no more

Anglo-Chinese School, Singpore Div.III
      confucius guards the pearly gates (teeth) 

San Antonio H.E.R.O. (home educators resource organization) Texas, Div. III
    sit and spin vehicle travels donutopia

Anglo-Chinese School, Singapore
    performance-amazing. style-amazing. spontaneous-amazing.

    placed fourth in the world! (grin)     

S.A.H.E.R.O., Texas Div.III
  vehicle-awesome, style-okay, spontaneous-oops?

   did not place fourth at worlds!

Coming to a close
 sore throats, closing ceremonies, party, sleep.

Our return home
the original six states, reversed. 

movies, music while moms melt down.

sun sets over welcomed, familiar roads.

Our coach
 to caring, patient, witty, kind sardinemama
  thanks. our journey IS our destination!