This was an e-mail I got from my sister:

A has never played Scrabble before, but Santa brought it for her for Christmas. She was driving us crazy at first - how do you play? what do you do? what are these pieces for? who goes when? I don't know hooooooww to plaaaaaayyyy!!! She won first turn, and we FINALLY got her to pull seven letters out of the bag, and the first thing she said was, "I'll NEEEEEEVER be able to make words with these letters." We told her to turn the letters around so we could see and help her, and here's exactly what she had:

Rope! Of course.*

*And the Scrabble nerd in me needs to add: peer, prone, nor, pore, ore, pone, one, on, pee, peen, pen, poor, roe...


Mostly Wordless

The following choices have nothing to do with politics, religion, past history or morals. Just eye candy. Because I can.

I know. I know. But - I wouldn't mind just lookin' for a while. A long while.

Ay, yi, yi. Puff Daddy. Puffy. P Diddy. This man by any other name would look as fine.

Just because Bossy made a video, doesn't mean she owns him. Wow. And siiiiigh...

And because I'm an equal opportunity letch -

Yes, ma'am. Phew.


Heart of My Home

Mrs. G asked - What is the heart of your home? She wrote today about her family room. I can see the history of her family, the love and stability and LIFE. It's lovely.

We recently moved to our home, and it got me thinking: What is the heart of ours?

The dining room, where we share some meals, draw a lot, read some, play games... we spend a lot of time there. But... nope.

This is the view of the kitchen from the dining room. Notice I'm not showing the sink. One day, instead of a pile of boxes and miscellaneous stuff, we'll have a nice cafe set, where we can eat breakfast or hang out. For now? Not the heart.

My office, which has my altar where I meditate in the mornings. Lovely books to remind me how (and where) to center. The computer where I work and surf the web, connecting with SO many people through their blogs or websites. Also home to my drums, my heartbeat and lifeblood. Nah - I spend too much time alone in here. Good alone time, sometimes, but... no.

My first thought was actually the living room. Home to video games, comfy couch, TV, cozy places to cuddle and read. We spend probably the most time here, laughing and just being together. But, that's not it either.

Aaaah. THIS is it. This is the heart. Us, together. Like Calvin's dad of Calvin & Hobbes, I had to snap many, many pictures to get us all 3 together with eyes open, looking at least vaguely toward the camera. Seth's face is as close as I'm getting to a smile from him. It was a lot of laughs for this early in the morning - especially for Evan! He's usually sleeping this time of day.

But this is it. It doesn't matter what we have around us, as long as we're together, growing together, sharing stuff, opening ourselves up with each other, learning safe vulnerability and unconditional love... it really doesn't matter what else we have, where else we are. I love our new home... but it would be awfully empty without these guys. They are my heart, the heart of my home.


We Are Meat

I just responded to someone on an unschooling list... we're having a discussion about vegetarianism and how to support your child if they don't share your values. A member said her daughter first ate chicken at her grandmother's, that her grandmother gave her some, and the daughter liked it. Since then, the mom has prepared chicken for her daughter. Another mom, who is very passionate about her vegetarianism and choices, asked "What message is that giving to your daughter? How will she feel about chickens when she finds out the truth??"

This was my response:

I had to laugh at this... over the course of our discussions, of
course factory farming came up. I told the boys what *I* believe,
about how the fear and panic of the chicken ends up being part of the
meat. Seth grinned and said, "Yeah! That's what makes it taste so

I long, long ago gave up the belief that if we unschooled, my children
would be little peace-loving, calm hippies, eco-aware, nonviolent and
oh, so sweet. They are who they are, completely and totally, and I
LOVE every molecule.

I didn't add - because I thought it would sound snarky - "even the ones that are meat." But thinking that got me thinking. We *are* meat. And don't kids know this on some level? So if you're totally repulsed by other meat... aren't you rejecting part of yourself? And what message does *that* send your child? I'm not saying everyone needs to eat meat. But, the decision can come from a different place. We are meat. This turkey is meat. I don't have to hate the turkey, or fear it, because it's meat. I can know this turkey and I share a lot - muscle, blood, bone, heart and lungs. I can *feel* that oneness, then choose whether or not to ingest the turkey or not. To honor it by bringing it into my body, or honor it by *not* doing that - whatever I'm led to do. Accepting the meatiness of my own self.

And honoring my kid's choices, as they accept and live out the meatiness of their own selves, too. Yum. I could just eat 'em up.

That's the window on my mind, this Wednesday, the 25th of June, 2008. Good day. (said in my best Paul Harvey voice.)


Roller Coaster Weekend

So - if I ever say out loud that I'm taking time to go within again, remind me of this. Because doing so is apparently an invitation for anything and everything but that to happen. I wanted my weekend to be this:

Instead, it started out as this:

It didn't take long to turn to this:

which, you can't really tell, but is me going "Awwww... how sweet."

Later that night, this:

Because she

was coming to town.

We did some of this:

And some other stuff, which didn't get photographed.

The next day, I was all

because of a very powerful unexpected thing that happened. Cool, overall. But... huh?


as I sat at the drumSTRONG tent at a festival here.

THEN, it was all like

as I tried to make up for lost sleep.

You can't.

The next day, it was

because I went to church, and I love my church.




Then it was

again, when we saw this band perform.


as I got some news about someone I love very much.

I wish today was this

and instead, it's this.

I can sleep while I work, right?

All of these photos* taken by Seth Hundley

*One day, I will have photoshop and my photos won't have bright lights in glasses and weird colors. For now - keepin' it real.


I'm Being Gentle With Myself

I'm getting a strong urge to go within, spend some time with me and whatever guiding spirits choose to join me. I'm not sure how long it'll be, but I'll be back! In the meantime, enjoy this chant from Libana:



Toubab Krewe!

I saw Toubab Krewe last night, and holy moley, what a band.

I first heard of them a couple years ago; I was driving and this awesome, incredible, intricate song came on the radio, so enrapturing I had to pull over and listen. It was on WNCW, and the DJ said they were a local band who had studied West African music. Then I was listening to AfroPop Worldwide a few months later, and there they were - on AfroPop Worldwide! - this band from Asheville, NC.

I got to see them live last year, and was entranced. You can't not dance when you hear them play, it's Mali and jazz and beach and bluegrass and West African and rock and surf and reggae, and always, always, the driving beat of the drums.

A few days ago, I wrote a list of concerts I had seen to enter a contest at the Pioneer Woman. I don' t think I ever realized how many I had seen before! It would be an exercise of ego to list them here - but just know, it was many, and they were very, very good. And I could remember every single night of each concert, each time the lights fell and the magic began. Live music helps me remember I'm alive, it touches my cells and my neural pathways and wakes me up. I remember seeing Richard Thompson and it was in a place here where people usually sit and listen politely, and it wasn't even music to dance to, but I had to stand up, I had to, to let his music hit me full force, the sound waves hit me full in the body. Magic.

So why had it been so long since I had seen live music? Except for a coffeehouse concert here and there by one friend or another, the last concert I saw was when Evan and I went to see Reel Big Fish for his 14th birthday. (what fun! I wore my Mr. Bubble T-shirt, and at one point realized my shirt was older than 98% of the audience! Evan and I danced and danced.) I'm tempted to say I lost that part of myself, but I hadn't... it wasn't lost, but maybe temporarily forgotten. In prioritizing, rent comes before going out, and things have been tight here, people, for quite a while. And when the boys were younger, it didn't seem worth it to find a sitter and leave them... I mean, they're some of my favorite people on the whole planet, my kids.

But after last night... after last night when I got taken on a journey as soon as the music started, got totally wrapped up in the rhythms and the ebb and the flow... it might be a bit higher up the priority list. Toubab Krewe has a magic that's not completely evident in their recorded music. The way they play, with quieting then slowly getting louder, and faster, and then the djembe starts and they get even faster and more complex and the sound from each instrument weaves its way in and out of the others, until they come together in a magical whole and you find your body is moving, moving of its own will and in its own way and so is everyone around you, and you're high, high, high without having ingested anything stronger than spring water... heaven. Heaven right here on earth.

And the dude's playing a kora! A freakin' kora! I definitely recommend the experience. And their music. They're on tour -- maybe near you! Please, go dance and be escorted on that journey. I'll meet ya there.


Two of My Favorite Things

John Cusack

and the Truth.

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This Post Brought to You by Summer '74

Thought I'd give you a glimpse of what's in my head this morning... lucky you!

Where the heck did *that* come from? We had the single... I think the B-side was "Our B Side". Maybe it was the discussion over at Bossy's the other day, about first albums, that brought this back. I remember listening to AM radio, with my little cassette recorder at the ready. As soon as I'd hear the opening strains of a song I loved (or when the DJ announced it), I'd press "record" and "play" and capture the song for posterity. My family wasn't so big on technology. And one of my sisters or my mom would come into the room, talking, and I'd have to stop recording and wait for that song to come on again.

I remember the day my sister Cathy came home from school and said, "Check this out!" and switched the little button over to FM and rolled the dial... and Heart's Barracuda came blasting out of the radio. My life was just never the same after that.

I'd listen to Big Ways radio as I laid out in the sun, slathering myself with Hawaiian Tropic, turning over every 30 minutes (or every 6 songs). That's what summer used to be. Popsicles - the real ones, the double kind!, watermelon, cooking out. Being oh, so bored. My sister Cyndi and I used to get so bored that every summer we'd plan on running away. We'd write and draw up plans and make lists of what we were taking... then we'd think of how much we'd miss our dog, and cats, and Christmas! and we'd end up sobbing in each other's arms... "We'll never run away! Never!"

Our first 96-degree day of the summer yesterday must have fried my brain just a bit. Stepping out into the roasting heat always takes me back.


A Couple o' Dreams

Photo from ShedStyle.com

Evan told me last night that the girl he's been chatting with is now his girlfriend. I'm very happy for him - but wish we could meet! She's in Arkansas, of all places. He showed me her picture - on his phone, gotta love technology - and what a cutie! He said her parents are NOT thrilled. I hope they come to Live & Learn this year so we can meet; I know if they met Evan they'd see he's such a wonderful, amazing boy -- not a threat.

I know I write more about Seth than I do Evan... Seth is younger, he's louder, more 'out there'. And it's almost like I *can't* write about Evan. He's my first, the one that made me a mom, and even now, I'm getting teary thinking about the love I have for him. I can't write about him because it's just so freakin' deep - how can you put it into words? He's quiet and thoughtful, so he's not doing all this funny stuff to blog about. I mean, he's funny, too - but in a quieter way.

He was so shy about telling me. He started to call her, then stopped and said, "Oh, you know _______? The girl I've been talking to? We're... uhh... together." I told him that was really great, and that's when he said her parents were unhappy. (She is younger. He's 15. She's... not.) He said it's weird they met at an unschooling conference, because her parents weren't as trusting as most unschoolers. I told him if I had a younger daughter, I might have more concerns, too - but I wouldn't yell and kvetch, like her parents apparently do.

So, there is this one tiny corner of my brain, that's going "What?! You don't even know what being together means! What are you doing?" But I know the way for him to know what it means, is to be together with someone. We can talk all we want, but until he's in it... he's not gonna know. There's this part of me that wants him to not be this old yet, to not take this step yet - but that's outta my hands. Well - some parents would say it's NOT, that I could be all controlly and ban the phone calls, etc. but, here's the thing... OK, this is gonna be round-about and not seem connected, but it is, so hang in there:

I'm re-reading "My Grandfather's Blessings" by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. I love her writing; her first book "Kitchen Table Wisdom" is what pushed me out the door to get attuned in reiki. There is one story, where she shares a dream that she had, where she sees a daffodil bulb, and it's under a rock. The daffodil can't bloom. She has this dream several times, and she can't make sense of it. On a friend's advice, she asks the rock what it has to say. The rock says, "It's dangerous out there! Don't bloom! I'm keeping you safe." She says to herself, "Wow, sounds like my Dad" and lets it go. The image of the dream comes back to her every so often, and she even dreams it again, but it's largely forgotten until she experiences a severe pain that won't go away. She sees an acupuncturist, and as soon as the needle goes in, the image from the dream comes back vibrantly. She understands the rock's point of view - the daffodil is valuable, and the rock doesn't want it to come to harm. But she also sees that if the daffodil doesn't bloom, it will die.

Shortly after the treatment, she leaves her steady, dependable medical practice, to join with others who were also exploring holistic medicine. This was a huge risk for her, but she was following her heart. She found an old Victorian house to rent, and as she was clearing the garden, she found a post with the original name of the house carved in it, LA CASA VERDE.

The greenhouse.

She says people on the cutting edge of things, people who are making a difference by going against the grain, changing the way things are, need a place of refuge. When you are on the front edge of something, you'll receive a lot of criticism and exposure. By joining with others that shared her vision, she was creating that space for herself - like a greenhouse can nurture and protect a daffodil.

So - I won't be the rock that covers Evan and his new girlfriend - but I will be a greenhouse. A safe space for him to grow, in concentrated nourishment and warmth, until he's ready to go out. My word of the year is clear, and this is one more permutation of that, one I hadn't considered until now. A clear refuge, where the world shines through, and the boys can shine to the world, but they're protected and nourished.

Last night, I had a dream... very tangled and strange, but one part of the dream was that Evan came to me and told me he was moving out. He had gotten a job, and once he had saved up enough money, he put down a deposit on an apartment. Apparently the apartment manager didn't check his age - as long as he had the money! And I was experiencing the same mixed feelings - WHAT? You're too young! You don't know what you're doing! Do you know you need a deposit for electricity, too? So, in my dream, I shared what I knew about moving out (deposits, making sure you have enough saved in case of emergency, etc.), but I let him go - because he wouldn't be going if he wasn't ready.

So, today, I am grateful - oh, so grateful - that it's just a dream. That I have more years with him (God willing) before he moves out. Grateful that I have him, and his brother, and that we discovered unschooling and it has moved into my heart and taken root, and I don't freak out (out loud!) when they say things like "You know ________? We're together now" or when they break some eggs or play video games. I'm grateful for today, for now, 'cause that's all we have for sure.

This post is part of Mama Om's Attitude of Gratitude. Click on the picture above to share your gratitude, too!


I'm Worried About My Mind

Lately, I've been making SO MANY mistakes when I write. I send a lot of e-mails for work, and of course, my second job -- reading and commenting on blogs -- entails a lot of writing. (ha!) I have always, since I learned how to write, been a good speller, mostly good with grammar... but lately? I don't know what's going on. It's stuff like writing "there" instead of "their", or just now, in an e-mail I wrote, "I'll contact them to see if you they have sliding scale rent available." Ummm.. you they? What is up with that? (And just now? I went to add a comma after 'wrote'. I added it, then wrote the rest of the post, and when I checked, it was a period. As in, "I wrote. 'I'll contact..." Very frustrating. And a teensy bit frightening.)

I used to be one of those spelling and grammar Nazis - I would literally get offended if someone used "your" instead of "you're", and I'd feel all superior. Thank the powers that be I got over that fairly young -- I figured the connection being made through the writing was more important than crap like that. It can still be jarring to me - like recently, I saw "intensive purposes" being used for "intents and purposes", and I notice it, but I don't judge. I let it go. So I'm not being hard on myself about it - if I catch an error in a comment I've made, I don't comment right after it and correct myself - but it's on my mind.

It concerns me. It's happening a good bit. I have to double- and triple-check everything I write.

Is it because I'm 42? That seems young for this kinda thing.