Easygoing Glassblowing!!

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I like to think that for all of my misgivings (see: laundry), my main strength is my resourcefulness.

Case in point: I FOUND A GLASSBLOWING CLASS FOR US!!

ARE YOU KIDDING??

Totally not kidding! I found these classes out of the Glass Museum in Tacoma, and nearly lost my mind.

So, I signed up the older two kids and Ben and me and we spent last weekend creating our own glass projects!

So, here’s how it worked.

 

IMG_5817First, we had to show up to the Glass Museum! This place is beautiful, and amazing. Not only do you get to see the incredible pieces of artwork in the museum, but they also let you sit in the gallery of their hot shop. There are always guest artists building their pieces here, and I could just watch them for days.

Which is why when I found out about their classes, in their hot shop, I was on it like white on rice.

This is the hot shop, and it is way bigger than you’d expect! They have 4 or 5 furnaces, each for a different purpose. Some are just to heat the project, some are to collect molten glass, some are for other things that I wasn’t paying attention to…

But the work area was spacious and fantastic.

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First we were given our poles and had to heat the first step of our glass piece. This would be the colored part in the middle, so we dipped the glass on the pole into some bowls of crushed colored pieces, and then put it back in the furnace to melt the colors into the glass.

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Then we rolled the pole on some bars to shape it a little.

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Then we took tools and started manipulating the glass.

We pulled, twisted, pinched and molded the colors until we were happy with it.

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After this, we dipped it into the glass again to make the outside portion…cooled it a little, and put it in the oven to cool for a few days.

And that was it!  It took a few hours, but honestly it felt like a few minutes. Every artist there helped us with every step, and were the greatest team to work with. The kids talked about how much fun that was for days, and admitted that now they have done it once…they kinda want to do it all the time, now.

And THAT is the beauty of art 🙂 The part that fills your soul with joy from creating something incredible. For all the wonders of technology, there is nothing that will replace the fulfillment of making something with your own two hands.

So, these are our creations!

IMG_5901Mine!

IMG_5902Nova’s!

IMG_5904Ben’s!

IMG_5903Glenn’s!

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Hopefully this is only the first of many trips to the hot shop!!

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Book Review: “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World”

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“To explain this peculiar phenomenon, Jost’s team developed a theory of system justification. Its core idea is that people are motivated to rationalize the status-quo as legitimate.”

We’ll begin there.

I have never been one to accept the status-quo as a reasonable reality, in any situation.

Granted, the status-quo has its usefulness: it provides stability through groupthink, and entire institutions have been built upon the status-quo to support the principles and ideologies which turn the (very slow and broken) wheels of progress.

Where would we be if we didn’t have the status-quo of “workplace attire”?  Would East Coast banking institutions have the same credibility if they did not require their employees to dress professionally in a gray fitted suit? Agree or disagree with dress codes, but they are put in place to provide the environment with a familiar, safe and stable culture through which individuals can work as colleagues.

Similarly, artists are taken more seriously if they arrive at the studio in more creative, relaxed apparel. It doesn’t make any sense arriving to your workbench dressed in slacks when you are just going to get paint/clay/sweat on you during the day.

Like it or not, there is a time and a place for everything, and everything has a different time and place.

However, the status-quo can work against people in constrained environments.

As Matt Wagner puts it, “Internally, the impact of the status quo is a stagnant culture that pushes away top performers. Your best employees are driven by the need to do something great. When they run into obstacles that don’t make any sense to them, they start thinking about greener pastures. Of course, the opposite is true of your bureaucrats and your go-along-to-get-along employees. They hope to milk the status quo for as long as possible. They hate change.”

So, what do you do if you thrive on change.

How do you survive in an environment that refuses to hear alternative methods.

What does a person do when they are faced with a reality which presents obstacle after obstacle of stifling conformity, blatant unwillingness to adapt to disruptive innovations, and stand firmly rigorous in bureaucracy?

Sure, some crazy people might jump ship. That is definitely the easy way out.

Others build a better reality.

Others, like Originals.

I was sold on this book by just the title, alone. Once I started devouring the contents, I’m sad it is only 257 pages. This book is so densely packed with information, experiments, sidenotes, observations and conclusions…you are just hit in the face with situation after situation where people are succeeding, failing, or learning.

I love it.

My favorite chapter is 4, “Fools Rush In: Timing, Strategic Procrastination, and the First-Mover Disadvantage.”

This chapter is mostly about start-ups, which I love.

But the questions it asks in this section revolve mostly around “when.” “When do you take original action? When you’re preparing to row agaist the tide, you have choices about whether to start at the crack of dawn, wait until midday, or hold off until twilight. My goal here is to overturn common assumptions about timing by examining the unexpected benefits of delaying, when we start and finish a task, as well as when we unleash our ideas into the world.”

I am a person chock full of ideas. I have ideas brimming over the cup and coming out my nose. I can stay awake all night just coming up with ideas, and then rabbit trails off those ideas on how to improve the original idea, and conquer the world.

Which can make me a little more on the impulsive side…and I beat that force down with all the strength I can muster. For the greater good.

So, the qualitative notion that planned procrastinating can actually benefit your cause, rather than kill it, was an incredible idea. For example, one scientist they interviewed “used procrastination as a form of incubation to stave off a premature choice of a scientific problem or solution. Often when I am procrastinating, I really have something on the back burner and I need the time to work it through…some ideas just need time to mature.”

I have fleets of things on the back burner, so this new definition of procrastination was delightful. Instead of being a slacker and just ignoring the problem, sometimes a problem needs time to ferment and become something bigger…something more structured and more hearty than the original concept.

There is also the differing concepts of Young Geniuses, and Old Masters.

Young Geniuses are the superstars of history. Einstein published his revolutionary paper in his midtwenties. Mozart wrote his concertos in his youth. The Beat Poets changed the course of literature and poetry in their 20s. And here am I, 38, and I have one book to my name.

Fortunately for the rest of us mortals, Old Masters are highly respected, as well.

Robert Frost wrote his greatest poems after 40. Hitchcock made his most popular films in his 50s and 60s.

The difference between these two types of geniuses, is the young are generally “conceptual innovators,” focused on big ideas; the older are experimental innovators, keen to solve problems across the course of their lives. “Conceptual innovators are sprinters, and experimental innovators are marathoners…innovation can be done quickly, because it doesn’t require years of methodical investigation…experimental innovation can require years, or decades, to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill, and it becomes more sustainable source of originality.”

This is a relief for me, who is taking learning and creating through the length of my life. I’m not slow, I’m just pacing myself!

All in all, every page in every chapter was fascinating.

If you love the information and analysis of Malcolm Gladwell, and are fascinated with how people work, and how things work, and how things fail, and how people succeed…

you will love this book.

Go buy it-Amazon.

 

 

Single Ladies: Marriage Isn’t A Sleepover.

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Marriage is more of a “I love having coffee together” than “let’s braid each others hair”

 

The other day I saw a post on a (younger) friend’s facebook wall that said, “Can’t wait to move into a simple apartment with the love of my life & cook dinner with them & have random midnight trips & be spontaneous.”

And the only thing I could think is, “So, you want to have a sleepover.”

My husband and I met in the same grade in high school, and we got married 3 years after we graduated. He tells people that he was ready sooner than that, but I “made him wait.”

Which is kind of true…we both come from dysfunctional, broken homes and we met in high school.  That is just fraught with statistics saying the relationship wasn’t going to last; so, I wanted to get married after I turned 20. I didn’t want to get married as a teenager. That was my condition, and, so, 6 days after my 20th birthday he proposed to me and we were married a couple months later.

We have been together for 23 years, as of this May, and we have been married for 18 years, as of this July.

And I don’t really have the heart to tell girls, who are  in their early 20s and have Pinterest pages dedicated to their future husbands, how it isn’t going to be.

Marriage is great.

My husband and I have been able to conquer things together that would have been impossible on our own.  When I was 20, it was my husband who happened to see a poster in a doctor’s office explaining different types of seizures, and he went to every EEG and MRI with me when I was  finally diagnosed with epilepsy.  Before then, I just thought I was crazy; you see, I didn’t have grand mal seizures. I didn’t haven have complex seizures that result in a physical seizure. I had partial simple seizures, so my aura is panic and my symptom is hallucinating; and I had been having them ever since I was 11, after a car accident; I just didn’t know what they were.  As a junior high and high school kid, I had to accept that I was crazy, and I was afraid to tell anyone, or I would be “sent away.”

I had warned him  that something was wrong with me before we got married, and I told him he needed to be prepared for it.

However, I wasn’t prepared for the unconditional support he gave me in finding a diagnosis, and ways to control the epilepsy. It has been with his support and his holding my hand the whole way through that has gotten me through the worst times, and by now I haven’t had a seizure in about 9 years.

In our marriage we have never gone to bed at the same time. He stays up to study and work late in the garage, and I tend to wake up much earlier than he does.

In our marriage we have put each other through college, work and start-ups life, and stayed up together to watch “Blacklist” after we put the kids down for bed.  We haven’t had spontaneous midnight trips to…I”m not really sure what’s open past 9, so it would be a spontaneous midnight trip to realize everything is closed at midnight?  He doesn’t braid my hair while I am watching  a movie, and I don’t fetch him beers while he watches F1 racing.  We don’t have pillow fights in our pajamas, and we don’t paint our fingernails while talking about friends.

We do go exploring with our kids a lot, and we do spend hours on the front porch drinking whiskey and talking about theology.

We do ask the other person what they think about what we are wearing…and what we aren’t wearing. I love cooking dinner for the family, and he loves taking the kids hiking in the forest.  We enjoy laughing together and debating together, and living together.

Marriage isn’t a sleepover. I’m sorry to break it to you.

But sleepovers end when the sun comes up; marriage lasts past morning coffee, and that is what makes it great.

Drowning the Shamrock

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The traditions for St. Patrick’s Day are far and wide, ranging from anything green to anything gold.

Truth be told, my family is Scottish. So, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the same way that a distant relative might. We celebrate it, but hardly with the fervor of Ireland.

And, with any distant relative, it is important to remember what traditions are important besides the obvious (see: corned beef).

I think the most interesting tradition I have learned in my familial research has been the fact that, according to History.com: “Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.”

Wait, wait, wait…Irish bacon and cabbage??

I thought it was corned beef and cabbage!!

According to WiseGeek: “The term Irish bacon has confused many an Irish person, as well as most from the UK. In Ireland and the UK it is simply referred to as bacon. This food is a close relative to what those in the US think of as Canadian bacon…”

So, why are we eating corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day? According to Irish Central:

Beef was not readily available in Ireland and was considered a luxury and that’s why the traditional Irish meal centered around ham, the bacon.” When many Irish immigrated to America, they found that corned beef was now the meat they could easily afford, and thus the tradition became.

Furthermore, at the end of the night the Irish had the custom of “drowning the shamrock,” by putting a shamrock into the bottom of their cup and drinking a toast to St. Patrick, who had brought Christianity to Ireland.

So, a toast to St. Patrick, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

1) 5 Non-Alcoholic Green Drinks For St. Patrick’s Day

This is a really fun way to enjoy something green today! You can enjoy these at home, at work or with friends! Some of the easy recipes are “basil lemonade,” a “cool kiwi mocktail,” or a “green tea mojito,” which is only green tea, lime juice, mint leaves and sugar. This is a fun way to spice up the end of the week!

2) Alton Brown’s Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

Well, when in America, have beef. This corned beef recipe is fantastic, hands down. Corned beef is such a tough piece to cook, since you need a low temperature and lots of time. You absolutely cannot rush corned beef…however, Alton Brown has a little trick up his sleeve. The total prep time for this dish is 243 hours and 30 minutes. Yes, you read that right. You are going to spend 30 minutes preparing a brine, and 10 days marinating your brisket in the fridge. So…maybe this is more of an “end of the month” dish than “tonight.” But it is so worth it.

3) Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

Total prep time: 15 minutes. Total prep time: 8 hours. That is a little more reasonable, and something you could get going after you finish your morning coffee, and will be able to enjoy for dinner in the same day! This is a delightful recipe which not only incorporates the flavors of Ireland in its malted Guinness, but you get a hot dinner at the tail end of winter. How lovely!

4) St. Patrick’s Day Snack Ideas

If you need some ideas for snacks, these guys have you covered. There are ideas you could use for work, for school, for a potluck, for after-school, after-work, or during a movie after dinner. I am kind of a sucker for lime Jell-O, so that one stuck out in particular. But the lime sherbet floats also may have caught my eye…

5) Enchanted Learning: St. Patrick’s Day Crafts

Sometimes it is fun to jump in to some good, old-fashioned paper crafts with the kids on holidays. Enchanted Learning has always been a great resource for finding these treasures. Looking for a kissable Blarney stone? A rainbow streamer made out of a paper plate and crepe paper? A leprechaun marionette? They got you covered!

Sona Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

Sound Homeschooling

Okay, I think I’m ready.

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A few years ago, I got real frustrated real fast with homeschooling.

Not the teaching aspect…I love that part.

But there are a million resources in a million places, and everyone has a different opinion on everything.

You know. Homeschoolers.

The thing is, I am incredibly resourceful. I collect resources and links whenever I find them. I like to know what is available, to whom, for what subject, in what format and for what price.

So, a few years ago I made a little webpage for me and the kids where we could easily find all of our information and resources.

However, over time we have grown, moved, adapted and found new interests. Which means I need to adapt and move the website so it works for where we are now.

So, I created Sound Homeschooling.

It isn’t a club, it isn’t a group, I don’t have an email list for it, we won’t have meetings and I don’t want to see any TPS reports about it.

It is simply a resource place for homeschoolers in the Puget Sound area.

My parameters were: if you can get to it by ferry, or if the city is near the Puget Sound shoreline, then it gets on my resource list.

This all being said, I am very happy to introduce:

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Sound Homeschooling covers every subject, every law, Common Core, curriculums, events, communities, classes and libraries around us.

For exapmple!

 

These are just some screenshots of the pages for STEM, Crafts and Events…but there are hundreds of links on this site.

I also have a Sound Homeschooling Facebook page…that you can like for updates, events, ideas, etc.

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I am sure over time I will continue to add more resources…and if you have something that should be on here, please let me know!!

 

But in the meantime: enjoy 🙂

What Are You Reading This Spring?

Book Shadows

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

I can’t say I blame her at all for this sentiment!

Truly, the first piece of furniture I bought when I moved out on my own was a bookshelf. Because I have a load of books…and these books need a home.

Books on top of books and in front of books on the shelves, with books in between.

Ahh, the love of reading.

The thing is, I can get into a rut with reading.

I remember one season in college when I read every single Vonnegut book there was. (You can’t really read just one of his books to understand what he’s saying…you kind of have to read a few.)

But after that…then what?

I’ve read every single Brontë sister book ever published (including Anne’s books), most of Austen, Shelly, Wordsworth, Frost, Dickinson, Henry James, Kate Chopin…Steve Martin…

What do you do when you’ve read the entire academic catalogue of literature?

You consult professionals to give you more books.

 

What To Do When You Finally Figure Out Why It Feels Like Your Head Is Being Torn Apart: Cluster Headaches, vol. 1

YOU.

WHINE.

Because you know who has time for this???

NO ONE.

Especially not this lady, who has been dealing with headaches ever since the scent of puberty breezed past her in Jr. High and then landed firmly upon her like an albatross, and is well versed with sundry stupid, “not life threatening,” “intense pains” for no good reason.

I swear, if I could boost my immune system with this sucker, or if there was something positive about it, like “cluster headaches increase the ability to see infrared light,” or “cluster headaches allow the user to bend the fabric of time,” that’d be one thing.

But nnnnnnooooooooooooooooo….

Okay, here’s what’s going on.

Last week I was having this pain on the left side of my face/head. No big deal, I’ve had headaches on the left side of my face/head before. I’ve had headaches on the top of my head, the bottom of my head, the middle of my head….all in all, this isn’t my first walk in the park with headaches. NO BIGGIE. Take some Motrin, as I have been advised to do by every single doctor I have ever spoken with about all of my headaches.

Good to go. It goes away, at least to a “dull roar.”

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then it comes back.

And then it goes away.

And then….OH COME ON. 

There has been no pattern as far as I can see. The headache comes for a few minutes/hours, and then goes away for minutes/hours. I might think it is finished, and then all of a sudden it’s back and I am holding the left side of my head, like it’s about to fall off.

I am hydrated (always the first thing to check, fyi), fed, rested, stretched, light exercised, rested again, showered, I am not bored, I am intellectually stimulated (for us cerebral types, the lack of intellectual stimulation can lead to intense frustration, which can lead to headaches or anxiety). I am not depressed, I am being deliberate about being happy, I am taking my Motrin (because sometimes I am so deeply annoyed with being in pain, again, that I don’t want to give it the satisfaction of being treated. Us overly-stubborn types know what this is about).

I have considered maybe I am having these debilitating headaches because I have a vitamin D deficiency, even though I have never tested low….but who the heck knows, maybe I am now. So I’m taking Vitamin D. And iron. I have Fish Oil on the stand-by…

I am willing to take anything that solves this problem, because it feels like my head is being torn apart from behind my left eye, and the pain is searing to the point that I cannot stay conscious and I am drugging myself and sleeping the pain away, and this, frankly, is bullshit.

I have completely run out of ideas on what this stupid, coming and going headache could possibly be. It isn’t anything I’m eating. It isn’t anything I’m doing. It comes in waves, and lasts a while, and then goes away….and comes back again, and this has been going on sporadically for two weeks.

So, anyway, that’s a cluster headache.

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According to the Mayo Clinic:

“Cluster headaches, which occur in cyclical patterns or clusters, are one of the most painful types of headache. A cluster headache commonly awakens you in the middle of the night with intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head.”

Oh. That’s fantastic.

“Bouts of frequent attacks, known as cluster periods, can last from weeks to months, usually followed by remission periods when the headaches stop.”

According to WebMD:

“We don’t know what causes them, but we do know that a nerve in your face is involved, creating intense pain around one of your eyes. It’s so bad that most people can’t sit still and will often pace during an attack. Cluster headaches can be more severe than a migraine, but they usually don’t last as long.”

“A cluster period generally lasts from six to 12 weeks. The starting date and the duration of each cluster period might be consistent from period to period. For example, cluster periods can occur seasonally, such as every spring or every fall.

The pain usually ends as suddenly as it began, with rapidly decreasing intensity. After attacks, most people are pain-free, but exhausted.”

Gotta admit.

I’m pretty exhausted.