Thursday, August 31, 2006

The mission statement is: The purpose of the da Vinci Institute is to prepare students to be well-educated, self-directed young adults who are Reasonable, Respectful and Responsible members of a global society.

We only had 3 rules: be Reasonable, be Responsible, and be Respectful. It is amazing how much of daily life fits under that umbrella. When a student was making poor choices, we would just look at him/her and say: "was that Reasonable?" (or Responsible, or Respectful) and the discussion would continue from there.

I should start including those into my home life. They were extremely effective.

Our dean was a master at putting the responsibility of the behavior back on the kids, and of letting them have space to figure out what they did. He'd call a kid down to the office, say hello, and have them sit in his office for awhile while he went out, made a phone call or two, talked to a teacher, and then, eventually, he'd make his way back. By the time they had been in his office for an hour, most kids were in tears, apologizing through hiccups. The students felt bad about disappointing him. It was amazing.

We had the best spaghetti tonight. Organic tomato sauce, red peppers, basil and fresh green beans from the MSU Student Organic Farm. (, fresh French bread from the bakery in DeWitt. My tummy is happy.

The kids planted these Three Sister's Mounds at the Farm back in June. You make a mound of dirt and plant corn, beans, and squash seed in the mound. The beans climb up the corn and the squash plants keep the whole thing weeded. They were wildly successful. I think there are at least 10 spaghetti squashes on my 3 kids' plots. We harvested 2 squashes today, and 2 beans from M's bean plant. I'm still working on my camera/computer combo. Soon I'll figure out how to post photos.

L started school this week. I asked him what he did on the first day and he said "I already told dad, and I'm only telling one person a day. You'll have to ask him." He is NOT allowed to be a teenager yet. He is only 8 1/2.

M & A were screaming banshees today. We almost got kicked out of the hardware store. I even had to stop the car on the side of the road and refuse to go any further if they didn't be quiet. The problem with parenting books is that they always tell you what you shouldn't say and those are the only phrases I remember! I like to blame days like today on the moon. I should go see - I think it should be a full moon soon.

We were at the hardware picking up paint and wallpaper removal gunk. Our master bath toilet is broken right now (and not attached) so it is a perfect time to remove the wallpaper in there and paint. Of course, I hadn't decided on a color, and I don't really have time to do it without Little Miss M's help (she's only 2 1/2) or A's help (he's 5 1/2), but I went anyway. I am now the proud owner of a container of Dif, a sprayer, and a gallon of Benjamin Moore's Pottery Barn Buxton Blue . I really like the Phillipsburg Blue, but it is too dark in that closet. (there is a reason they were called Water Closets.)

Well, enough already! I'm off to cruise my favorite sites and then perhaps to watch TV. Maybe if I get control of the remote, I won't have to watch UFC Fight Night again.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I had a fabulous time last night. I was visiting with co-workers from the charter school where I used to work. ( Sometimes I forget how magical that place was. The five of us started that school, we put in 10 hour days teaching, loving, negotiating with the kids and each other. It was an intense, lovely time full of frustrations and victories. I've been thinking of writing about that experience, but I didn't take good notes during the crush of it all. It may not matter. I get such a sense of pride when I see the mission statement. It took HOURS and DAYS of revisiting that to get the wording right when we were creating it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So here is my newest idea: When I build my school, or add on to the present school, we should have a place incorporated into the design. (My mom called it "A Room of One's Own") This room would have tables, a sewing machine, a computer or two (or just wireless), a coffee maker, (see previous post). There would be an entrance to the outside that was coded, so that any parent, at any time, could go in and use the equipment.

Now to work on starting the school. Truthfully, I don't know where to begin. Actually, that's not true, I do have an idea... I'm going to talk to a few good friends who were instrumental in starting the school down in Jackson (da Vinci) next week. We'll see. I'm sure there's more I could do...

I read The Celtic Riddle by Lyn Hamilton yesterday. It was a good mystery. C was drinking the last of his Laphroig (scotch) whilst I was reading the end, which was appropriate to the story.

Today I started a book that L chose for me (he's only 8 and giving ME recommendations!) It's a young adult book - so far so good. I've been getting the bathroom ready to paint, and trying out colors on the other bathroom today, and figuring out how to fix my sewing machine table (that I got at the Surplus store for $10 yesterday!).so I haven't had much time to read. Now it's time to put kids down for naps, and then, maybe, I'll paint, or I'll read. Or I'll nap.

Oooh, all the windows are open - it's cool outside, and cloudy. A neighbor is working on his house, so every so often I hear a saw blade going. Such a summer sound to me...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What do I really want out of life? I'm not sure. I spent an evening with some really wonderful women and I'm second guessing my last plan. I wish I could form some sort of Women's Collective where we could sell our wares. One woman is a genius with design -she made a beautiful dress for her daughter and has plans for more. Another was talking about the lack of clothes made specifically for children with special needs. Another told of her wish to be able to cook with other women. All of us decided that there was a definite lack of community in our home lives. (we all have children who attend the same school, so there is some community there...) but we all live so far away from each other. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a place where we could all live, in our own houses, but within our own community?

There is something magical when you are with a group of kindred spirits.

When I'm with the women in this group, I feel like materialism isn't an issue for me anymore. I want to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. I want to do yoga and climb trees with my kids and eat tofu. I can breathe and create and see possibilities. Why would I want to sell something that would increase someone's burden of materialistic things? When I want to simplify simplify simplify.

I have had this idea for a few years. There are so many talented women whose children go to our school. Many of these women don't work outside of the home. I've wanted to create a place called "The Office" where these women could go while their kids are in school. We'd rent a building, have a computer or two, a copier, a fax machine, a coffee maker, and lots of chairs. Somehow we'd do something to pay for that stuff and put a little in our pockets. Some would only be there an hour or two a day. Some would be there longer. I still don't know what we'd do... Ah well, another day.

I saw "What the Bleep" - major food for thought. (It seemed like the back story for The Matrix) I've started DogStar by Diana Wynn Jones - I'm a sucker for anything she writes. This too, is excellent, like everything else of hers I've read. I have Triangle by Katharine Weber next up - it's the story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in the 1800s. (The fire was on the 9th floor - no fire exits, girls were jumping from the windows).

My mom was here for a few days (ok, the last week) and she went home yesterday. I MISS HER. It was so nice to have her here. M went with me to the airport to drop her off on Saturday. Today M asked "When do we pick up grandma again?"

Saturday I taught a class at the MSU Student Organic Farm ( as part of a Skill Share. We made spool-knit bracelets. (I started the class by having them make their own spool-looms) I had about 6 students: 2 adults and 4 kids. 2 of the kids were a bit young, so they ended up just beading a bracelet.

Ok, time for bed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Today I had coffee with a friend of mine who sells Arbonne products. Arbonne is a cosmetics/skin care company that is one of the top Network Marketing companies in the world. It is an interesting company ( , and I like the products. My friend wants me to go into business for myself with Arbonne. I'm of two minds about that.

First, I'd love to have a job. Responsibilities outside of the home; a little something different for my brain to chew on; a little time where I am not mom; a little money that I've contributed. (I could go into the whole stay-at-home mom thing, and Yes, I do contribute to our family, just not monetarily. I know what I do at home is important and necessary, but I'd like time to myself, and I'd like it to be productive in some way and money is a very obvious way to prove that time for myself is valuable. hmmm - maybe I should chew on that a bit...)

On the other hand, my main job is to be at home; to care for my children, my husband, my house, our family. I do not want anything to interfere with that. In some ways I think having a job would help me do that part better, because my time would be more limited and I'd be forced to concentrate better. But that is a justification, not a reason. At some point, I'd like my kids to know that it's OK for the mom to have other interests and responsibilities outside of the family unit.

What I really want to do is start a school. (I like this one: An alternative middle/high school. Well, a middle/high school that approaches education in a different way: more along the lines of Montessori, where children are responsible for themselves and their choices. Where they could be challenged and have fun and enjoy learning.

(I need to work on my spiel - maybe selling Arbonne could be a training course for me in sales.)

I don't know why I'm even considering it. I have so much to do here (at home) and for school (I'm on the board) .

Here at home I want to paint the walls, (all of them), put in new floors, a new deck, a new driveway, clean, organize, get rid of clutter, sort kids clothes.

For the school board I have to investigate middle school possibilities, look at a different parking lot configuration, figure out what next.

Sometimes I wish there would be an email or phone call from Whomever is in Charge Upstairs that would tell me What To Do. There are times when I really want to be a Kelly-Girl: mindless filing, punch the clock. I know I would get bored eventually, but...

Time for dinner...

What I've Read: Letters to Emily by Camron Wright. Good. Very Tuesdays with Morrie-ish. and Unsolicited by Julie Kaewert (a book-lovers mystery: set in England in a publishing company) I liked it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I forgot to write down what I was reading. Perhaps a different entry is fine for that...

I finished the Temeraire book. Darn, there's a fourth. And it's not written yet. I enjoyed the first two tremendously, the third was a bit slow and ponderous towards the end and it did not resolve, which ticks me off sometimes. I want the whole story, dammit!

I also read The Wind Singer by William Nicholson. Of course, it's another trilogy. One of those spin offs of 1984. Perfect society, rebel kids. I love it. Anytime a book promotes individual thinking...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Today was slated to be an extremely busy day. The boys were going to march in the Mint Festival parade in St. Johns (with the taekwondo school) and M & I were going to watch. Then we had to high-tail it out of there in order to be in Ann Arbor for our 3 p.m. haircuts. But, M & A were whiny-crankypants and C & L decided to go to the parade by themselves. Besides, I needed to clean out the van. How many straw-wrappers can fit in one mini-van? about 10,587, give or take.

M & A & I took the dogs for a walk. Both of them. At the same time. M was in the stroller, A was riding behind, I was pushing the stroller with one hand, and holding both leashes in the other. We have been watching the-dog-whisperer-Ceasar-Millan semi-religiously, so I was bound and determined to force those dogs to mind. It took a few stops, a lot of muscle, but we got around the neighborhood across the street. I'm sure there were some people laughing their asses off behind their draperies. I had sweat dripping off of me by the time we were finished.

There is another parenting book I like: Helping Kids Help Themselves by E. Perry Good. It's based on the Control Theory/Reality Therapy proposed by William Glasser. ( They propose that everyone needs love, power, fun, and freedom and all behaviours are done in order to meet the lack of those areas. My son A, for example, is often searching for some love/affection/acceptance or control (power). He is the middle kid, stuck between an intelligent older brother and a cute little sister. He will usually calm down if I address how much I love him first. "A, I love you. I do not love how you are behaving right now." As with most of my parenting books, it works so well if I follow the directions consistently.

I'm working on being consistent. This blog is one way to practice.

(I saved this as a draft, so here's Sunday's addition:)

I'm feeling virtuous today. I had 12 ears of cooked corn-on-the-cob from the other night. I cut it off the cob and put it in the freezer. The kitchen is fairly clean - I am in the midst of re-organizing the kitchen. It feels good. I cleaned up the guest room & bath today and re-organized the storage area down there too. I need to run to the store to stock up on essentials: bread, wine and beer. Oh, and decide what's for dinner. After dinner we'll go pick my mom up from the train. I'm excited. I wish she could stay longer than a week.

Off to see what's in the fridge. Ciao!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Why does everything have to be difficult? I was making dinner this evening - chopping all my lovely CSA veggies up into tiny bits so the kids wouldn't notice them in spaghetti sauce - and M was interested in getting me to pay attention to her. After re-directing for the umpteenth time, I gave up. Now the kitchen and dining room floor are covered with rock salt. (She was practicing pouring.) I've been re-organizing my cupboards and the rock salt was out, waiting for a home. But hey, dinner didn't burn.

Omigosh - what is the moon doing right now? My kids have been the whiniest whiners. I was practicing the Love & Logic approach: "I'm sorry, I can't hear what you say when you use that voice." Repeat until they change their voice. BUT I CAN HEAR THEM. every whiny word. my back teeth are ground to nubbins. Well, they are finally in their beds now.

I've been trying to figure out what to write in that little box that describes me in 500 words or less. How do I do that when I don't really know who I am? That sounds so trite, so 1960's, but that's where I am right now. I am busy with a lot of things right now - 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 bird, 1 husband, 1 blog... I'm interested in a lot of things - education, books, knitting, nutrition, Napoleonic maritime strategy, books, taekwondo, cooking, books. Somewhere underneath all this mom-stuff there is Lysne. I don't know where she is, or really, how to define her. General Semantics ( suggests not to define yourself as "a Mom" or "a teacher" because those titles limit who you could be. (Both in your mind and in the minds of others.) Instead say "I teach" or "I write" or "I mother" (which sounds wierd to me - I guess I need practice). I'm running out of verbs. AND I haven't practiced that enough, so that my mind is still stuck on being a Mom. I went to visit my best friend from college a few weeks ago - it was WONDERFUL - but it took me awhile to relax and not feel like I was missing something (like an arm) because I was there all by myself.

OK - well, if you're still here, you waded through all that. Thanks. It's been so long since I've written anything more than permission slips, it'll take me awhile to remember how to organize stuff.

I want to write down what I read too: Today I read a book by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes called Demon in my View. She wrote it when she was 15. It's pretty good for 15. I'm much happier with her other, newer series (The Kiesha'ra Trilogy). Demon is a vampire novel with some interesting bits. I have a few others of hers - I'll report back.

My favorite vampire books are the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries.

I'm also working on the third of the Temeraire trilogy by Naomi Novik. Very good. Sort of like Anne McCaffery meets Patrick O'Brien. Dragons, maritime stuff, a little romance.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Late night Haiku

My computer whines
competing with crickets and
Leno: Time for bed.

empty mind echoes
sleep drags at my arms and legs
child crying - nite!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Welcome to Lysneland... My friends are blogging and I'm susceptible to peer pressure, so here I am. I really just wanted to leave comments on their blogs and I was forced! to join. Hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time to work on this. Even though I succumbed to my peers, I did want to do this. It will be good for me. Like castor oil.