Friday, April 30, 2010

Sewing her first Teddy Bear

We decided to dive into the world of sewing yesterday. This is a skill I admire in so many people (including my husband) but have never developed myself, though I have dreamed of it often. Jetta (age 5) has shown interest in it many times, but I felt like I didn't know enough about it to really show her since my sewing experience dropped off in middle school Home Ec. So when she asked me if we could make a teddy bear, I wasn't sure, but responded with a confidant "of course." I decided that, yes, I am sure that I can figure out some way to make a bear. So we headed off on a fabric hunt around the house.

We ended in the linen closet finding some old pillow cases we no longer use, then we found my little travel sewing kit that I had never opened, and finally we found some batting left over from another project from years ago. Yes, we were ready to make a bear.

Most importantly I wanted Jetta to feel like this was her bear that she created from start to finish, so I let her do everything for herself. To my surprise, she picked up the hand sewing really quickly, and learned that even if she made "mistakes" they were easily fixed or covered. "Hey, sewing isn't so scary after all." Her complete trust and calm confidence in the project was great to see. It allowed her to
learn a new skill and create something that she could be proud of and love. It was a great lesson for me to see that because I demonstrated to her that there was nothing to fear and that there was no right and wrong, she was able to be free to learn and explore. This was yet another moment as a Mother for me to erase some of the wrong thinking that I had imprinted on me during my childhood.

Here is her finished bear. She cut her pattern, sewed every stitch by herself and then finger knitted a necklace for him. She named him Help.
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FDA Steps up Enforcement Against Raw Milk

THE RAIDOn April 20, two FDA agents, two federal marshals and one state trooper descended on the Kinzer, Pennsylvania farm (Rainbow Acres) of Dan Allgyer to execute an administrative search warrant against Allgyer's premises.  The group set foot on the farm at 5 a.m. to conduct the inspection even though the warrant called for the inspection to take place "at reasonable times during reasonable business hours."  The warrant allowed the FDA agents to inspect "all portions of Rainbow Acres facility (except for the private residence located therein) and all things therein, including all equipment, finished and unfinished materials, containers and labeling therein."  The warrant also called for the "use of reasonable force" to gain entry to any area the agents were authorized to search.
Later that day after the agents reported their findings to officials at FDA's Philadelphia district office, Philadelphia District Director Kirk Sooter sent Allgyer a warning letter stating that FDA had determined that "you are causing to be delivered into interstate commerce, selling or otherwise distributing raw milk in final package form for human consumption, such distribution is a violation of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, Title 42 United States Code, Section 264(a), and the implementing regulation codified in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 1240.61(a)."
THE INTERSTATE BANThe regulation [21 CFR 1240.61(a)] issued by FDA in response to a 1988 court order provides, in part, that "no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized."
The statute [42 USC 264(a)] authorizing FDA to issue the regulation prohibiting raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce provides, in part, "The Surgeon General, with the approval of the Secretary, is authorized to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases...from one state or possession into any other state or possession."  In FDA's view all raw milk is a communicable disease and is "adulterated"; so, a product that is legal to sell under the laws of two neighboring states is a "communicable disease" and illegal when it crosses from one neighboring state into another.  The federal ban on raw milk is a prohibition on a product that is legal to sell or distribute in at least twenty-nine (29) states and legal to consume in all fifty (50). 
FDA'S STRATEGY TO TARGET FARMERS & ACHIEVE STATE-BY-STATE BANSIn spite of the booming demand for raw milk, FDA's position has not changed.  The agency is at the center of the opposition to raw milk and wants a complete ban on the product's sale and distribution.  In the Chicago area, the FDA has targeted for enforcement (one at a time) twenty (20) different buying clubs the agency suspects of having obtained raw milk from out-of-state sources.  FDA has a similar strategy for the states, with the plan being to pressure one state at a time to ban raw milk sales.   
If the food safety legislation currently before Congress passes, FDA will have increased leverage over the states so this threat will be greater; the agency does not have the manpower to conduct the inspections mandated by the food safety bill(s) and will in effect be putting state agriculture and health department employees on the federal payroll to carry out its workload.  
In taking action against farms, like Rainbow Acres, whom FDA suspects of transporting raw milk across state lines, the agency is attempting to deny the people's right to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice. 
FDA allows Vioxx, Avandia, melamine, aspartame, and genetically modified foods on the market but is now trying to take off the market a food that has benefited human health for thousands of years.  Interestingly, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution nor in any Supreme Court decision that specifically mentions freedom of food choice.  Freedom of food choice is 'the rights issue' of the twenty-first century; ultimately, consumers will be the ones to win the fight.
Raw milk is at the heart of the battle for food freedom.  The key to securing the right to obtain raw milk from the source of choice is to overturn the federal ban; without the ban, FDA will not be able to put the pressure on states that it currently does to make raw milk sales and distribution illegal. 
Efforts are being made to overturn the ban.  In February of this year, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal district court seeking a court ruling that the federal ban is unconstitutional as applied to its members and other individual plaintiffs. 
Congressman Ron Paul last year introduced HR 778, a bill that would effectively overturn 21 CFR 1240.61. 
Readers can do their part to help by contacting FDA and asking that the agency not harass farmers like Dan Allgyer whom the agency suspects of transporting raw milk across state lines.  John F. Sheehan, the Director of FDA's Division of Plant and Dairy Food, is the official most responsible for carrying out FDA's agenda of completely banning the sale and distribution of raw milk.  Sheehan has stated:  "Raw milk should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason."
TAKE ACTIONCall, fax and/or write Mr. Sheehan at the contact information provided below, telling him to leave Dan Allgyer alone.  Here are some points to make:
     1.  FDA should respect the right of consumers to obtain the food of their choice.
     2.  FDA has no business trying to deny consumers the right to drink raw milk since consumption of raw milk is legal in all fifty states. 
     3.  Consumers are perfectly capable of making food choices for themselves and their families and don't want FDA dictating what foods they should and should not consume. 
     4.  If FDA has no choice but to "enforce the law" then the agency should advocate for overturning that law.  
A sample letter to Mr. Sheehan can be found at
Click Here for Sample Letter 
NOTE:  FDA has never taken action against any individual obtaining raw milk for their own consumption from another State; but it is possible that FDA could interpret the ban to include prohibiting even consumers from crossing state lines to get raw milk.  FTCLDF strongly disagrees with this interpretation and takes the position that people have the right to cross state lines to obtain the foods of their choice.
John F. Sheehan, Director
Div. of Plant and Dairy Food
Office of Food Safety
Bldg. CPK-1, Rm. 3D-055
5100 Paint Branch
College Park, MD  20740
Main phone for Office of Food Safety
(If the receptionist refuses to put you through to Mr. Sheehan, respectfully leave a message.)
Fax 1-301-436-1700
Pete Kennedy, Esq. - President
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Little Hands, Big Helpers : Cultured Vegetables

Jetta, my five year old, is a great help in the kitchen and Pilot, 3, is now following in her footsteps. The three of us made a great batch of cultured red cabbage yesterday. Jetta did all the cutting,

Pilot did all the shredding in the food processor,

and they both made a great clean-up crew.

Here is our finished product. Now all we have to do is wait a few days for the friendly bacteria to do their job. for more information about cultured foods or for information about traditional foods and their benefits go to The Weston A. Price Foundation. They are a wonderful resource for nourishing you and your family.
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Co-operative Tree Collage

After breakfast the other day, Jetta and Pilot created this spring Tree collage together.

I am so happy with the way they worked together to create this piece of art.

They had the idea to do it and co-operated to make each step of the project come together.

I love seeing them in the flow together as they use there creative and co-operative skills to imagine and make something from conception to creation. Homeschooling really gives them the freedom to follow those important inspirations.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

30 Day Sit Spot Challege

We just signed up online for this 30-Day Sit Spot Challenge. We are a little behind the start date, but we can just extend it on our own. We will start by finding a spot in nature to sit and I will keep you updated on our progress each day. I think this will be a great homeschooling opportunity for us to observe nature by spending time each day in the same spot in nature and watching and recording what changes we see. I am really excited about this. My kids are getting their drawing pads ready and we are trying to narrow down the spot we will choose.  If you are interested in doing the challenge with us go to

30-Day Sit Spot Challenge
April 10th-May 10th

The 30-Day Sit Spot Challenge is a way for you to connect with the depth of the naturalworld through one spot in the nature. You do not have to be a Kamana student or a Kamana member to sign up for the challenge.  The Sit Spot is the core routine of the Kamana Program.

Sign up for the Sit Spot Challenge below. By signing up you will receive a daily email with questions and challenges. These are optional activities designed to increase your awarenss and hone your senses.  The synergy of hundreds of people going to their Sit Spots for a full month will be phenomenal!
What is a Sit Spot?
The Sit Spot is an age-old practice of going to one spot in nature over a long period of time, making observations of what happens in nature at its baseline state. It is essential for it to be close to your house and have a feeling of safety. It is ideal to for it to be as wild as possible, but many people have sit spots in their back yards. Check out the Videos and Articles below for more information and inspiration.

How does it work?
It's simple: You will go to your Sit Spot for at least 20 minutes per day for the entire 30 days.

Do I have to go to the same Sit Spot every day?No. While it is ideal to go to the same spot every day it is not necessary. If you need to find a new spot while you are away from your normal Sit Spot find a spot that is as wild as possible and sit there.

Why should I sign up?
By signing up you will get daily reminders. Also, when you commit to a larger audience about doing something it is amazing to see the difference in results. It is one thing to tell yourself that you are going to do something. It is yet another thing to commit to others who will support you.

How can I share about my experience?
We have a Discussion Forum here on the site designed for students who are doing the 30 Day Sit Spot Challenge here on the site. While the other categories are designed for members only, this section is open to anyone participating in the challenge. Go here to post a comment on the forum.

NOTE: You can sign up after the start date and continue on until May 10th or extend it to whenever you like.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking the Right and Wrong Out of Learning

We constantly hear throughout out our lives that we are either doing things the right way or the wrong way. And the consensus seems seems to be that you only have 2 choices and you won't know which one you have chosen until someone else tells you. This idea is, in my opinion, a terrible way of learning as it stifles the very essence of the human spirit. We are born to explore and to be creative. In either of these things one must keep an open mind and not fixate on finding a definite answer, but rather explore the options of the many truths that can be found and use the human imagination to create more options than can be taught to answer the questions of life all around us.
I see my children come up with answers to life's questions that I myself had not thought of. Sometime my first instinct in to want to tell them the "right" answers that were once told to me, but if I first explore there hypothesis, I find a new way of seeing something that I thought I had already figured out.

An example of this is when I cook with my daughter. She will have her own ideas of recipes that she wants to make. I, because I have been cooking for many more years than she, know that if you don't put baking soda in the batter, the cake won't rise, but instead I chose to let her see what happens. And to my surprise she came up with a delicious desert that the whole family loved. She called it Pie-Cake.
Of course I do share with her my own experiences with any given subject, but I try to first let her explore her own ideas. This exploration gives her the ability to trust her own instincts and to know for sure that there are many directions to go in life and that the "Wrong Way" may actually be the "Right Way" for her. Or better yet, she will find that there are so many paths that have yet to be explored, and she is only limited by her own imagination.

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Albert Einstein
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ladybugs at the beach?

A big part of my homeschooling goals have to do with getting out in nature and enjoying what each season has to offer. We have found that making regular trips each week to the Sandy Point beach (only 10 minutes from our house) provides us with constant adventure, gives us that comforting feeling that you get when you have your feet and hands on and in the earth. We call our weekly trips homeschooling at the beach. I know, not very creative, but definitely to the point. Yesterday, we got to the beach and were amazed to see hundreds of ladybugs all over the sand near the water.

We held them and named them and talked about all the different colors of ladybugs we saw. Some had lots of spots and some had non at all.

After that we sat on our beach mat for a little snack and Jetta took out her journal to draw a picture of the ladybugs we saw and to write something about it. I just love the Strathmore Kids Story Drawing Book that I got from Art Things. It is perfect for her as she begins to enjoy putting some words to her art. Here is what she came up with.

I am still not sure why there were so many ladybugs at the beach. I researched and found out that it could have something to do with them coming out of hibernation and maybe a big windy storm pushing them to the water, but I still don't know for sure. If you do, please let me know.
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How many Bugs in a Box?

I found these cute bug boxes at Art Things, our local art store, a few days ago. I thought the kids would enjoy them as they are very interested in bugs and worms. After about and hour or so they had caught their first bug. A stink bug. Next was a spider.

After close observation, they decided that the stink bug had passed so they thought, "Perfect! A meal for the spider." It was fascinating to watch the spider wrap the stink bug in a web for a later snack. This was definitely worth the $3 each for the boxes.

One bug down, one bug fed, time to hunt for another insect. It seems you don't have to go far to observe nature at it's best.
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Library Day

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Get to the Theatre!

This Home-school year we have been to many performances ranging from ballet to Broadway. Below are some of the shows we went to see in our very own Anne Arundel community. Most of which were performed by children.

Of course, I am partial to musicals because that is the world I have been in for most of my life, but I really believe that all of these shows offer wonderful lessons and should be considered a vital part of a child's cultural and artistic development .  (Not that I am bias in any way.)

Not only do Musicals and other performance arts expose your children to different styles of music, you get to see people of all ages working together harmoniously (hopefully) on stage and see how there are many people working back stage to help make the experience what it is on the stage. 
You are also exposing your child to different ideas about life, as most musicals have wonderful lessons interwoven throughout the show. Not only to you usually hear the message in the songs and spoken words, you are able to see the characters act out the struggle and come to resolution right in front of your eyes in real time.

 As an audience member, you are actively watching the show, clapping when you like what you see, laughing when you think it is funny, and sometimes crying when you think it is sad. Unlike TV, when you respond to something on the stage, the performers respond to you as well. Most of the time in very subtle ways, but sometimes in more obvious ways. 

At the end of the show, you feel connected to the performers, and as a performer, you also have a connected feeling with the audience that you shared yourself with for the past hour or two. I particularly love the fact that at the end of the show, you get to say thank you to the performers for all their hard work, and they, usually by giving you a big smile, say thank you to you for coming to see what they were offering.

And if you want to talk to the performers and ask a question or just say "great job!" you can wait at the stage door for them after the show. Now you definitely can't do that after a TV show or movie.

All in all, I think it is a wonderful thing to do with your family, friends and especially your children. It is an interactive activity that sparks the imagination and curiosity. Who knows, you just might find yourself or your child wanting to give performing a try, or maybe backstage, or you might be happy where you are, as a part of the ever important audience. Wherever you are in the theatre, just make sure you are there as much as possible. Enjoy the show!

The DC Zoo with Friends

We went to the National Zoo to last weekend in DC to help celebrate a friends birthday. It was a day of fun that started about by getting to ride the train. I think this was Pilot's favorite part.

Here we are at the zoo with our friends, who also Homeschool their children. (I am taking the picture.) It was a beautiful sunny day, so we stopped to put on our sun hats.

At the visitors center there is a fun kids room that lets the kids be the zoo keepers and Vets and and take care of the animals in a creative play environment. The kids loved it. 
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Learning to love the Piano again

My memories of practicing the piano as a child are not that pleasant. I dreaded the 30 min. that I was forced to sit down and practice every day. I dreaded the 30 min. that I had to sit at my lesson each week and hit one wrong note after the another. My Mother was always shocked because when I would practice at home the songs seemed to be perfect. She didn't realize that I was just playing the song by ear and not really paying too much attention to the notes on the page in font of me. Playing the "correct" notes on the page just seemed so boring and tedious to me. Although I did learn quite a lot on the piano over the years, I never developed a love for it. So at some point around 14 or 15 years old, I stopped taking piano lessons and just continued with voice which I did love to "practice." I put the word practice in quotes because it never felt like practice to me. As I grew older and went off to college and once again was forced to take piano, I began to wonder if I would have loved the piano had it been presented differently to me. Had I been encouraged to play by ear and not have to stick to the notes on the page so much of the time. So I found a musician friend of mine who was a jazz piano player and asked him to teach me how to play. Suddenly I found myself in the practice rooms playing for hours. I was finding freedom in the keys. Writing my own music and playing with chord progressions. The lessons were full of fun and void of negative feedback.

Jump ten years ahead to present day. My Mom shipped my old piano to us this year. We were all so excited! I was really looking forward to having a piano in the house again and geting to expose Jetta and Pilot to it. I just let the kids play with it for a while. Jetta showed an immediate interest in it so I showed her a few scales to start with and a few easy 3 note songs I knew. I put no pressure on her to play or practice, just let her explore the notes and get comfortable with them. Make friends. She kept asking me to show her more and more. I did so all the while working very hard not to correct to much. I wanted her to learn to listen to the notes and see what sounded good to her and make her own corrections and learn to express herself through the keys. Is that too much to ask of a 5 year old? I don't think so. I think natural expression and creativity is what they do best. She is now "practicing" about 1 - 2 hours a day (spread out through the day of course) and can play all of her major scales and chords with both hands and can play about 7 songs ranging from "Happy birthday" to "Do-Re-Mi" . We have not started reading music yet and I think that I am going to hold off on that for a while. Each day I listen to her play as she finds new rhythms and chords to old songs. She is getting so comfortable at the keys and seems to use her time at the piano as a sort of mediation time to reconnect with herself. Watching her love for the piano grow each day has really inspired me. I am looking forward to studying the piano again myslef and further developing and healing my injured love for the piano.
Here is a great article on Jazz Piano
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Beach Adventure at Downs Park

We spent a beautiful day at the Downs Park beach last week. We met with friends for a picnic lunch and then at the end of the day decided to stay and walk the beach for a couple of hours. We climbed rocks, looked for shells and other treasures and spent some quiet moments just sitting on a log and watching the water.

Here are some of the finds from the day.

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