155: 3 grams

The top of the alternative bleach bottle that I lost down into the mechanisms of the clothes washer weighed about 8 grams. I know this because the top from the real bleach bottle fits onto the alternative bleach bottle weighs 8 grams. I have recovered approximately 5 grams of said bleach bottle from the bowels of the clothing washer, sustained 4 major scratches over three days, and am now running a 2nd load in what is, I think, one newly working washer.

I can think of much better ways to spend the weekend, but I suppose I have freed Paris-Guy up from washer-repair duty when he returns next weekend.

Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

156: Resuscitating a drowned ipod

Here’s the particulars (should you find yourself in need):

1) Said ipod (and ear buds) were drowned in a front-loading washer, set to the longest cycle on hot.

[2) I did not do this step, because it terrified me, but many folks suggest a further rinse in distilled water if said drowning was in soapy/foul/or really hard water. Michael informs me that it probably would have been a good idea.]

3) Hit the ipod with a hairdryer for about 3 minutes. This did not seem like it was doing much good (didn’t feel like I was getting anything out . . . worried about heating the electronics too hot).

4) Placed the ipod in a plastic container of brown basmati rice.

5) Called several florists and finally Michael’s Crafts, to find silica gel (which is really a fine sand, not a “gel”).

6) Sewed ipod and earbuds into a piece of silk. I folded the seams over twice when I did this. Basically, I didn’t want to make the problem worse by introducing tiny grains of silica gel into the orifices of the ipod.

7) Filled a small plastic container 1/3 full of silica gel, set silk ipod/bud package in, and covered with more silica gel. Let it set from Wednesday night until Sunday evening. (All my “research” indicated that turning the ipod on too early would likely fry it the rest of the way, but I figured that the silica gel will dry a rose in that time period, and a rose has way more water than the ipod took onboard).

8 ) Removed the ipod and buds from the silica gel, vacuumed the package to remove silica dust, and cut it open.

9) I didn’t really expect to save the ear buds . . . and they have insurance on them, so I wasn’t deeply concerned. They just went along for the ride, since I figured they might benefit, and at that point, I really couldn’t hurt them further. The ipod is one of the early nanos (the little square ones), and therefore not replaceable (or, at least, not directly replaceable), so I can’t tell you how relieved I was that this worked.

If I’d known that I was likely to be this successful, I wouldn’t have spent most of Wed. afternoon/evening/night wanting to hurl.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments

15 Years Ago

15 years ago today, in a field in Maryland, these really young looking people got married.


Posted in Musings | 1 Comment

157: Birthday Wishes

My friend, Fredna, likes chickens because of her Cursillo connections, so when I happened upon this lovely creamer, I thought it was about perfect:


And, in case you’re wondering, yes, the cream pours out from the chicken’s beak.

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158: HEM Interview About Spokane Homeschoolers



This month’s Home Education Magazine Support Group Highlight is Jen
Garrison Stuber and the Spokanehomeschoolers –
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Spokanehomeschoolers/. The group gets
together in real life and online via a yahoo group for their members.
The group serves both Idaho and Washington homeschoolers.

I asked Jen to tell us a little about herself:

Jen: I “fell into” homeschooling when my daughter was in the second
grade. After the usual growing pains of sorting out the religious,
political, and philosophical/methodological issues that we all go
through (started out Classical, ended up Eclectic/Unschooling), we got
the chance to “start over” when we moved across the country from North
Carolina to Washington. Although our family is Christian, we never
fit into the dominantly conservative evangelical Christian homeschool
groups, and when we moved, we started looking for a group that
specifically wasn’t.

Mary: When and how did the group begin?

Jen: SHS (SpokaneHomeSchoolers) was started in the summer of 2004, by
my lovely friend Debi French. She seeded the group with members of
her local IRL playgroup, which made it so she had >5 members when the
“rest” of us showed up, looking for something other than the
conservative Christian traditional curriculum folks. Debi didn’t
really want to be the leader of the group; she just wanted to find
other homeschoolers who were on the secular unschooling end of the
spectrum. The original description said for “people who were
homeschooling for non-religious reasons.”

Resident “big-mouth” and organizer that I am, I pushed for our first
park date, and we finally started meeting IRL. Debi wanted to pass on
the ownership, and I ended up in that position–though with my
unschooly tendencies, I call myself “resident big mouth and cheerleader.”

We’re in a weird place . . . not Spokane, though it’s plenty weird,
but in the “diverse” gap of homeschoolers. SHS has Buddhist,
Christian, Pagan, Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, and “I can’t stand
organized religion” members. We have school-at-homers and unschoolers
and a lot of folks who are in-between. We have folks from up and down
the political spectrum. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it does
create the occasional rift. My mantra is that any group has to hash
and work out similarities and difference in order to become who “we”
are as the group. . . and I don’t think SHS is any different.

Mary: What is the group’s primary purpose?

Jen: SHS exists both as an active online resource and an IRL
alternative to other local homeschool groups as a place for
homeschoolers to play, learn, and relax with each other in a context
where homeschooling, not religion, is the primary common denominator.
We have some folks who are “online only” and others who show up to
everything IRL.

Mary: What type of activities does the group participate in?

Jen: We’ve done a bunch of playdates at each other’s homes and local
parks, have a current standing WWHoA class, and have done a few
fieldtrips around town (the grocery store, a soft peanut brittle
place, a town museum, the children’s museum, the arboretum). We’re
pretty open to any and all suggestions.

Teresa (one of our early members) is hosting a party that will include
a musical jamming session, a potluck, and “simple endings/beginnings
ceremony. We will have scratch paper to write down
events/regrets/garbage from the past year on and then toss into the
fire. We will write hopes/dreams/plans for this new year on post it
notes. First we will stick all of them on my kitchen wall, take a
picture for our files, then take them home and stick them in a
prominent place or burn them or whatever you want to do with them.”

Kirsten, a member in Idaho, is beginning a Spanish Club, and we’re (my
family) looking forward to participating in that.

Mary: I read that one of the activities you participate in is
Writer’s Workshop/ Hour of Art (WWHoA). Can you tell me more about

Jen: WWHoA is Writer’s Workshop/ Hour of Art. It started out as a
loose writing seminar meeting at a bookstore and branched out from
there. At present, I’m working with a few of the older kidlets in our
group, doing poetry, prose, and a modified version of college freshman
composition. Another parent is working with the younger ones, reading
stories and creating graphic novels. Because I host and live way out
in the country, in mountainous forest, there’s a contingent of
explorers who don’t write or do art, but hike/sled/build forts/wade in
the creek/etc.

Mary: SHS seems to be made up of a diversity of members from up and
down the political spectrum, to those with different educational
philosophies and those with diverse religious beliefs. What’s the
secret to your success?

Jen: Hashing. We’ve had a number of ups and downs in the past year+,
and I suspect we’ll have more. Sometimes, we simply agree to
disagree, but more often, we ask a lot of questions of each other, to
understand where we’re coming from. For my part, I try to meet people
where they are . . . and I really think it’s our differences that make
us interesting to each other. We try to celebrate and honor those
differences at SHS. We realize that we’re not going to be all things
to all people, and we realize that our group, like any group, is what
we, as the members, make of it.

Recognizing that SHS isn’t going to meet the needs of everyone who
joins, I list all the spin-off groups (7 now!) and the largest
(unrelated) homeschooling group in the area, VHS [Valley Home
Scholars] on our hompage.

Mary: Does the group have any plans for the future?

Jen: I have an open poll right now, with a list of fieldtrip ideas on
it. When it closes, I’ll use the results to determine which vendors
to contact first (and which side of the border we’ll visit) and to
tell them (approximately) how many of us are interested. Included on
the list are A “Big Box” restaurant tour (Outback or TGIFridays or
something), The power company, The Library, a Firestation, The
Davenport (fancy historic hotel), a Skate Park, Grand Coulee Dam, One
of the Big Cat zoos, area orchards, Freeborn Tool, Quail Run Fiber
Mill, a Farm, a Sewage Treatment Plant, a Grocery Store (because this
one was such a big hit last year), a Candy Store, a Seed Plant/Grass
Farm, an Asphalt Plant, a Train Yard/ Refueling Depot, a Bakery, a
Winery, a Newspaper, a Theater (Cinema), a Theatre (Stage), a Walking
Tour of Spokane Public Art.

Offlist, I’ve already found out that we have a former tour guide and
some “ins” with local theatres, and I’m delighted to know this and
will be taking these parents up on their offers. The Spanish Club
begins next month (all the Spanish I know, I learned on Sesame
Street), WWHoA is wrapping up, and the party is upcoming.

Mary: Do you have any suggestions to share with others starting a group?

Jen: Tweak. Tweak and hash and share and realize that you’re not
going to suit all the people all the time, or even some of the people
some of the time, but a group that’s willing to tweak their
description and hash out their differences, and share the burdens of
being a group is going to be a great group, no matter what their
common interest is to begin with. On a more pragmatic front, if you’re
starting a yahoogroup, it’s imperative that you “seed” it with more
than five people (even if those five are your mom, your aunt, and
three of your closest friends who don’t homeschool). The “>5 members”
designation is a death knell for a group.

Mary: Thank you so much for sharing with us about yourself and about
your group.

Jen: Thank you.

ISSUES TO WATCH ~ Remembering our roots

I had the privilege to begin home educating almost twenty years ago. A
lot has changed over the years, but it is just as important now as it
was twenty years ago to tell new folks of the importance of knowing
their rights and responsibilities. Parents today also need to know
that they are their own best experts when it comes to the education of
their children and the protection of their home education rights.
Home Education Magazine offers an excellent historical perspective via
Foundations Of Freedom, Social Policy, Research, Legislation at their
website here: http://www.homeedmag.com/INF/free_index.html
Winston Churchill once said: “Study history, study history. In history
lies all the secrets of statecraft.”

I heartily agree with Mr. Churchill ~Mary

H.E.A.R.T.- March – April ~ Theme: Handmade Blankets
During the months of March & April, H.E.A.R.T.S. participants
are creating handmade blankets for those in need. You do
NOT need to know how to sew, crochet, or knit to participate!

Hurricane donation opportunities:

Parent Educators and Kids (P.E.A.K.)

Project Noah- http://www.projectnoah.org/

Stillwater Homeschool Alliance- SHA Assistance-
The Iron Rail is a non-profit lending library, reading room,
bookshop in New Orleans. It is all volunteer run. And post Katrina
it has been offering free membership to all New Orleans residents.
The Iron Rail reopened on Thursday, October 20th, less than two
months after Katrina struck (Aug. 29, 2005), making them the first
library in all of New Orleans to reopen. Yes, even before the New
Orleans Public Library and all the university libraries.

You can contact them at:
Iron Rail Lending Library
HOURS: Daily 1pm – 7pm
LOCATION: 511 Marigny St., New Orleans, LA
CONTACT: 944-0366
VOLUNTEER MEETINGS: Every Tuesday evening at 9pm. Donations Needed.
Volunteers Always Welcome.

And here is their web page on donations with their wish list:

Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo
March 30th-April 1st, 2006
St. Lois, MO

Homeschooling author and father of two David H. Albert will be
returning to Minnesota under the auspices of MHA for a series of
workshops April 6th-8th.
David is author of three homeschooling books, the latest called Have
Fun. Learn Stuff. Grow. Homeschooling and the Curriculum of Love, and
is a featured columnist in Home Education Magazine, The Link
Homeschooling Journal, and
Life Learning Magazine.

In St. Cloud, the evening of April 6th (Thursday), there will be
workshop and discussion on “Homeschooling with Gifted Kids” (7 p.m.).
The following day and evening (Friday) in St. Cloud, David will be
presenting three talks:
· The Future is Now! Engaging Our Young Teens for the Journey Ahead
· (1:30 p.m.)
· Beans and the Curriculum of Creamed Corn: Education and Everyday Life
· (4 p.m.)
· The Curriculum of Beauty (7 p.m.)
For advance registration, and further information, contact Lisa Zahn
at (320) 654-1626; e-mail: zahn7@…

In St. Paul on Saturday, at the St. Paul Friends Meeting, David will
be presenting three talks:
· Learning about Learning: Conversations with My Violin (1:30 p.m.)
· Beans and the Curriculum of Creamed Corn: Education and Everyday
Life (4 p.m.)
· The Curriculum of Beauty (7 p.m.)
Description of all of the talks can be found at David’s website –
www.skylarksings.com . Between the 4 and 7 p.m. talks, MHA will be
hosting a potluck supper. asThis should be a fun and inspiring event!

Registering in advance helps us plan, and is strongly encouraged. For
pricing, advance registration, or further information, contact Kevin
Saliger at (952) 888-4531, or e-mail him for an
information/registration form at KevinSaliger@… .

David will also be speaking at the OHEN Conference on May 13th (see
details below) ,at The British Columbia Homeschool Conference, June
2-3 and
at the Rethinking Education in Dallas, August 31-September 4.

OHEN Conference (Oregon Home Education Network)
Tigard, Oregon
May 12-13, 2006

Tamra Orr, Home Education Magazine Columnist will be teaching a
session called Creative Writing for adults and teens. Here is the
listing for it from the conference brochure:

Get Creative! What to learn and how to take your fantastic ideas and
turn them into stories, poems or articles? Would you like to see them
published? Come to this class led by Tamra Orr, full time freelance
writer and author. We will take a look at the publishing process,
sources that want young people’s submissions and how to do
research–plus just have some fun with words.

May 13th, 2006 at the Inn of Kelly’s
Ford, Remington, VA. 9-5pm. Vendors, workshops, doorprizes and so
much more. For more details and registration form contact Wanda at

African-American Homeschoolers Family & Friends Vacation

Founded in 2004 by African-American Unschooling, a national network of
Black homeschooling families, the African-American Homeschoolers
Family and Friends Vacation is an annual celebration of cultural
heritage and family learning. In 2005, we were off to the Gullah
Islands of South Carolina, Thursday, May 26 through Sunday, May 29th.
In 2004, the AAHFFV began at the Grand Canyon, in northern Arizona.

RETHINKING EDUCATION is back with BIG plans for another outstanding
It’s time to make plans to attend the 10th national conference on
Rethinking Education! Our very cool website is up. Visit us! Tell your
friends to visit us! We’re at- http://www.rethinkingeducation.comWHEN:
August 31 – September 4, 2006, Labor Day Weekend
Where: the divine Sheraton Grand Hotel in Irving, Texas
Who:If you aren’t already
familiar with us, you should know that this conference is devoted to
all things unschooling!* * We support UNSCHOOLING! We believe in
Visit HEM’s Conference Calendar at
http://www.homeedmag.com/blogs/calendar to find other conventions
coming to an area near you. If you are having a conference, seminar or
perhaps a getting started homeschooling meeting, here are some FREE
resources from Home Education Magazine:

· Getting Started: http://www.homeedmag.com/gettingstarted.html
· Questions and Answers: http://www.homeedmag.com/wlcm_hsinf.html
· HEM’s Free Information and Resource Guide:
· Home Education Magazine Resources:

Stop by and visit HEM’s newest columnist, Christine Gable. You can
read her column- The Homeschool Kitchen here:

Life Without School is a community weblog. We are real people living real
lives without school. We share a common belief that LWOS is a valid
and valuable lifestyle choice. Locate us here:

We welcome new writers. Check out How to Contribute:

About LWOS:
For some, Life Without School begins as a conscientious choice that is
wholeheartedly embraced. For others, it begins as a quest for second
chances, new
opportunity or even as an internal prompting led by the desire to meet
the needs of a child. No matter how we come into this lifestyle, the
purpose we most commonly share is reflected best by this one question:
“What is right for my child?” Life Without School is not for all
families or all children, but it is a valid and valued lifestyle
choice for many…..As we paint our lives in this
living cyber-book, we hope it becomes a full and just representation
of “About Us” and that it grows into a real-life living breathing
panorama of what Life Without School can mean. Welcome to Life
Without School!

Shay Seaborne’s New Blog:
and Shay’s website:

Stillwater Homeschool Alliance ~Building Understanding and Perspective

The Military Homeschooler o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
Has been updated.

April- Susan Smylie and her new Texas support group
May- Susan Gilleland and the New Orleans Learning Odyssey
June- Anne Goldfeld and Home Education Network of Arizona(HENA).


Selections from the March-April 2006 issue of Home Education Magazine

Did you know that FREE issues of Home Education Magazine are available
to hand out at your conferences, meetings, and library or to new folks?

Feel free to request a particular issue. To request the magazines,
contact Stacy at Orders@… today
Guide to Homeschool Resources
HEM Site Notes- http://www.homeedmag.com/#sitenotes

HEM BLOGS and Networking Lists-

The Homeschool Reader- Collected Articles from Home Education Magazine


Communicating the Strengths of Homeschooling by Larry and Susan Kaseman

Government Homeschool Programs Just Another Alternative?
– The Third Great Lie by Chris Cardiff

The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly of OBE by Ann Lahrson
Be sure to bookmark Home Education Magazine’s Support Group page,
which can be accessed at:

Listing your group on the HEM Support Group web pages is a free
service provided by Home Education Magazine. To list your group,
fill-in the form at

Thanks for taking the time to read this month’s newsletter. I hope
you enjoyed reading about the Spokane Homeschoolers as much as I did.
If you would like to feature your group in an upcoming newsletter,
please contact me.

Have a wonderful month!

Mary Nix
HEM’s Support Group Liaison

Subscribe to HEM SUPPORT GROUP NEWS here:

This service is available free. Read the newsletter at:

© 2006 Home Education Magazine (All rights reserved). This newsletter
is provided as a free service of Home Education Magazine. Readers are
encouraged to forward this newsletter in its entirety, including
headers and footers, to others who might also find its contents helpful.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments

159: Skein Tensioner

When I got back from Camp Pluckyfluff a few weeks ago, this was waiting for me:

skeintensionerIt’s a skein tensioner that Michael had worked on all day to make.  (Shown here with yarn that I spun at Camp Pluckyfluff, that’s been wet and is having the twist set).

It’s a bit unwieldy, being so long, so we’ve been thinking through a redesign that would make it portable.

Posted in Fiber | 1 Comment

160: Happy Birthday, Brooke

My niece, Brooke, is turning one, and I am in California to meet her and attend her party.  Farmerteen ships off to camp tomorrow, so neither she nor Michael came along.


I decided something homemade was the way to go, and, since she’s still little, I created these balls.  There’s a back story, that goes something like this:  Farmerteen and her aunt (Brooke’s mother) have had an on-going love of spooky stories. Farmerteen has recently also fallen in love with the Twilight series, so I played around with the idea of making really cute, scary little dudes.

They’re 100% wool wrapped around a core of a plastic egg that contains something (washers, a jingle bell, glass beads . . .), then felted and decorated with colored wool, then felted again. I used a combination of needle felting and wet felting (in a lingerie bag in the washer).


From left to right: Wampire, Pinky, I Want My Mummy, Franken’s Mine

Posted in Fiber | 2 Comments

161: Harry Potter and the Amazing Andi Scrap

My friend Andi, mother of Hannah, pictured below, left, is really good at taking, developing, and getting pictures up online and into scrapbooks.
By “really good” I mean amazing.

Case in point:
This picture was taken less than 12 hours ago, before the children headed to the mall to stand in line for Harry Potter, and was posted 9 hours ago to Facebook.

The world moves way to fast for me sometimes.

Posted in Farmerteen's Year of Firsts | 1 Comment

162: Bananas


Ahh, advertisers embracing what people already do with their products . . .

Posted in Musings | Leave a comment

163: Sawyer Extractor


The Extractor is the niftiest invention since . . . since another really nifty invention. If you live around stinging insects, it’s particularly useful for removing the venom of their bites. Fortunately, we haven’t had the opportunity need to try it out on snakebites.

It contains the vacuum pump and several heads to choose from, depending on the location and size of the bite.

It does give you a wicked hickey, though, especially if you use it on delicate skin, since the basic operation is to create a vacuum on the skin:

If you’re in a place where you’re likely to be stung (especially if you’re likely to be stung more than once), I can’t recommend one of these enough.

Posted in Musings | 2 Comments