Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ceiling Stickers

I try to respect my children's wishes when it comes to hair washing. But also, I like them having clean hair. So this is a post on how we are trying to make it easier for them to like getting their hair washed. It involves stickers.

About a month ago, I realized that it's hard for my kids, especially Isaac, to follow directions like "Lean your head back" without something to focus on. I kind of got stuck on, "Look at..." Well, there was nothing to look at. The ceiling was plain white.

So we went to Ikea and bought some stickers and stuck them on the ceiling of the bath. I really wanted the 8-bit kind they had, but the kids wanted the ones with the heart and since they are the ones looking at the stickers, they got to pick. I need to work on their artistic taste.

The stickers help a little bit: for at least the initial wetting of the hair, Isaac can be occupied with, "What color is the baby?" "Where's the heart going?"

You could buy stickers anywhere; Ikea just happens to be in walking/free bus service distance for us. I actually saw some stickers at Goodwill last week that would have worked. Oh well, I guess we missed out on that not-buying-new option.

I'm sharing in case you think this might work for your kids. It's not 100% working for us: by the time we get to the post-cleaning rinse, Isaac's attention span for the stickers is over. But it's a little improvement.

And for the record, the purple person on the yellow fish is "Mommy on a shark!" Yes, my children think I rock.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This Week in Homeschooling

Margaret is now taking a science class! The first class was on solids, liquids, and gases. Here they are looking at how the same volume of liquid can appear to be different volumes depending on the container.

Isaac painting.

Afterwards they played at a friend's house. Both liked the drums.
 And we went to the little farm.

 And the kids put on a little show with their friends.

Our "theme" this week was money, so they went grocery shopping with Daddy and I let them play with some magnetic coins on the fridge (yay dollar store) after talking about the names and values of each coin.

On Friday we saw the Endeavor fly over Oakland!

And we climbed.

Margaret had her second music class yesterday and enjoyed it. This next week should be filled with tons of events, too. The Not Back to School Picnic is this week!

Friday, September 21, 2012


So I probably should let you all know... I have a knitting podcast! It's called Just Another Bay Area Knitting (JABAK) Podcast. Only one episode is up at the moment, but I plan on recording the next this weekend. The plan is to do an episode every other week. The first episode is short (about 20 minutes), but I like it that way. I'm so far behind in podcasts that adding another 45 minute one to the list of knitting podcasts makes me feel like a bad podcaster. Once I get into my groove, I'm pretty sure this podcast will rock. I'm working on getting banners/buttons done for it and I've been working on segment transition music and other fun things.

If you'd like to check it out, you can listen from the show notes page (linked above) or use the iTunes feed. I was extremely nervous and recorded it over a bunch of times. I'm sure I'll get better at it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Week in Homeschooling

One of the kindergarten standards for California is to recognize state and national symbols like the flags. Last Sunday was the anniversary of California's statehood, so we made a California flag cake. We sang happy birthday to California and blew out candles. We also let the kids color pages of the state bird (quail) and flower (poppy) and California flag and cut out and taped the flags to pencils. They had a little parade.

Continuing with our apple "unit" we made apple prints. That turned into regular old finger painting.

The city of Berkeley has free drop-in times to use a gym with lots of toys. We checked it out this week to see if we liked it. It might be a good option to have when we get into the rainy season.

On Friday we went to Pixarpalooza and simply had fun. Bounce houses, archery, face painting, music, food, including a banana stand. Good times were had by all.

Yesterday, Margaret had her first day of music class. She'll have four weeks of intro class before we get into playing her instrument. Learning about beats and rhythm. Fun times.

Friday, September 14, 2012

More on Biking

I've had some unique experiences riding my bike this week.

First, on Monday, I rode Margaret to the dentist. Biking with just one kid in the trailer is easier, but the dentist is pretty far inland in Berkeley, which means it's uphill on the way there. In fact, Google maps estimated it to take 17 minutes to get there and only 11 minutes to come home- that's quite the difference! Of course, with a 1 speed and a trailer, it was closer to 25 minutes to get there. I always account for that when we leave the house, though, and we were there on time.

On Tuesday I had an optometrist appointment for new contacts. I learned that my prescription improves while pregnant! -2.75 to -2.00! That's big. It was also my longest bike ride to date (5 miles there, 5 back), but McKay (and then a friend) watched the kids, so it was just me. FYI: without a trailer, bikes go pretty FAST! I was zooming all over Oakland! It was so much fun. I remembered why I love biking. I've told McKay that if I ever leave him (which won't ever happen), it won't be by bus or train or car. It'll be by bike. If you're going to start a new life, start it right! FREEDOM!

During the week, I started connecting with car-free and/or biking Twitter people. Check some of them out! Their names are linked to their Twitter. If they have a blog, I include it afterwards.

Family Ride. Blog: Family Ride
The Main Tank. Blog: The Main Tank
Simply Bike. Website: Ruxandra Looft
Shetha. Blog: Shetha
Kath Youell. Blog: Biscuit Raising
Emily Finch.
Hum of the City. Blog: Hum of the City
Tiny Helmets. Blog: Tiny Helmets Big Bikes
iBikeuBike. Blog: iBikeuBike

If you know of other great bikers on Twitter or on blogs, let me know!

When I went to the grocery store this week, I had an interesting interaction. We parked our bike and trailer outside, and locked it up between a couple of other bikes. While we were at the checkout lane, a man came up to me and asked me if that was my bike outside. His bike was one of the bikes we parked next to and he had seen the set up (1 speed bike, coaster brakes, trailer, 3 helmets all tied up together) and was impressed with it. At the checkout lane, I also had a week's worth of groceries with me and an obviously pregnant belly. I think I gained a couple of extra points of awesome with that. He and his wife are big bikers and he just wanted to say hi to another biker. That was kind of fun.

Because of that, I wanted to share our set up with you all.

Here is my bike.

The bike was secondhand. When McKay first started working at Pixar, Pixar did not have enough space for their employees so the company rented part of a building a couple of blocks away. So that the employees could travel from campus to this extra building for meetings and other events, the company provided 10 or so bikes. When their new building was constructed on the campus and the extra rented site wasn't needed anymore, they offered the now unnecessary bikes to their employees. There was such a demand that the names of those who were interested were put in a hat and drawn. The first person got to have first pick, and so on. McKay put his name in and was the 5th drawn out of 10, so we got a bike in pretty average condition, for only $75. It's a Fuji and came with headlight and taillight that both blink and hold a steady ray. I'm guessing from looking around on the Fuji website, it's this bike, or similar (perhaps an older model?), but with fenders. In my picture, you can see the sticker Pixar put on the bike. There is also a sticker for a local bike store; it's nice to know that Pixar supported local businesses when they bought these.

We've only had to do two repairs on my bike so far. We had to replace the front tire and inner tuber after a pretty bad flat. I also replaced the pedals last weekend at Spokeland. The stock pedals that came with the bike were plastic and could not hold up to the force I was exerting on them, especially since going from stopped to moving on a 1-speed bike uses a lot of force when you are also pulling almost 100 pounds of people, trailer, and stuff. I bought some new pedals on Amazon and decided to go to Spokeland for the pedal wrench and grease. Unfortunately the screwing mechanism for the new pedals didn't fit my bike (I had assumed they were standard since none of the youtube videos about changing pedals didn't mention size!). Spokeland sold me some used pedals for $3. Very good deal and I like the earth-friendly aspect of reusing things. I'll go there first next time instead of second! They have hours for their bike shop every Tuesday and Sunday. Thursdays are youth days by appointment and once a month they have a Saturday for women/trans people.

Here is our trailer.

It was given to us for free by a friend. It can convert into a 2-seater jogging stroller. It's not an American brand; American brands plaster their name so everyone can see them! The instructions are in both German and English and a google search makes me think it is this Red Loon TJ2 Kinder-Fahrradanhänger. Comparing it to the few Burley trailers I've seen around, I actually think the canvas on ours is heavier and a better quality. And it was free! My friend didn't give us a flag with it; we need to buy a couple so our trailer is more visible. I also want to knit a sign for the back that says something clever like "0 Emission Vehicle" or "My other car is public transit" or "Have fun in traffic!" Can you believe you can buy reflective yarn? Oh yes, you can!

 So that's our bike and trailer! I'm hoping to upgrade to more gears someday or get a longtail bike or bucket bike. This post is long enough, so future biking plans will be another post.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

This Week in Homeschooling

Like I mentioned earlier, we are doing loose "themes/units" for homeschooling this year. Margaret isn't kindergarten-aged yet, so no pressure for standards. This week and next week, our theme is "Apples."

We did something apple-related each day. One day we took about 4 apples and counted the seeds in each as well as taste-testing the different varieties. It was agreed that the Granny Smith variety is the favorite, which I'm all for since I think they are more useful (read: pies). We also made a chart and glued the seeds to a piece of paper and wrote the number of seeds next to it. Surprisingly, each apple had 4 seeds except for a Fuji apple with 11.

We also read a book about the year-cycle of an apple tree and I had some blank leaf-less tree coloring pages. We glued tissue paper "flowers" to the spring tree, painted leaves on the summer and fall trees, and put glitter (snow) on the winter tree. Margaret also wrote out the words of each season under her trees. Isaac just painted how he wanted to. And we decorated our wall tree with paper apples for the fall.

On our library day, we simply colored bookmarks with apple trees on them. And on Friday we had a cooking day where we made apple turnovers. The kids had a lot of fun cooking them, but didn't want to eat them. Oh well. More for me!

This morning I went to a parent class for Margaret's Suzuki music class starting next week. And this afternoon we went to see Finding Nemo 3-D.

Next week we'll have a few more apple activities. I was planning on going to an apple orchard field trip, but I'm not sure if we'll have time next week- it's busy with multiple dentist/eye appointments and our regular park days and errand days and Pixarpalooza.

Typing this all out, I feel really sheepish. We did way more than needed. I'm shaking my head at myself. But I mostly use "homeschool" as a way to give them direction when they are arguing. Usually Margaret and Isaac start off the morning playing with each other amicably. When the arguments start happening I can just say, "Hey! Let's cook turnovers!" or "Hey! Let's see how many seeds are in these apples!" It's a distraction method. We don't have a set "homeschooling" time. As the "school year" continues, I'll probably do less and less.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Physical Force and Adult Privilege

This recent train trip really got me thinking about how often I use physical force to get my kids to do things. I don't mean spanking or swatting or hitting, but simply the fact that I'm bigger.

Anytime I want to, I can pick one of my kids up and make them go where I want by carrying them because I am bigger and stronger. I'm pretty free-range, so I'd like to think I don't force them to do much very often, but as I really started noticing it, it's actually a lot. Most of the time it's for safety reasons: 2 year old running rampant through a train? Not the best idea.

But I thought about it from their perspective: what would it be like to live every day where everyone around you can physically overpower you and override your desires with theirs?

I also started paying attention to their attempts to control me physically, like when they tug on my pant leg to get me to go somewhere. They don't have the physical strength to force me into another place like I do when I want to move them, and yet I get upset and ask them to leave me alone. But I do the exact same thing- and even more because I'm stronger- to them and they can't do anything about it.

In addition to that I also started paying attention to how often I use my body to communicate, e.g. tapping them when I want their attention. And I expect their attention. But when they tap me for my attention and I ignore them (knitting or blogging or whatnot) and then they tap me harder/hit me, I get upset and tell them to stop touching me or wait. But I don't necessarily give them time to finish up what they were doing before addressing me. Double standard? Guilty.

Also on the lines of body communication, when I have "talks" with Margaret about not calling people names and such, I often will get down to her level and then hold her hands and possibly play with her hair (put it behind her ears or something like that). If someone did that to me, I'd think they were creepy or emotionally manipulative or both. Am I being manipulative in that?

I don't know if I have a question here or answers. I know I need to keep my kids safe, so sometimes I am going to have to physically move them. I would never hurt my children or molest them, but are the non-sexual touching moments consensual? How aware am I of my adult privilege when it comes to my kids? Do I try to limit the number of times I use that privilege in order to not abuse it?

Even though I don't want to, I'm already teaching them that being bigger means you can control other people. I need to pay better attention to this. I can't get rid of my adult privilege, but I can be more aware of it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

AND... we're back.

Last weekend we took a trip to Salt Lake for my brother's wedding. Even before we went carless, we decided to take the train for this trip. When we moved to California, I swore I'd never drive across Nevada again, so it was train or plane. I have issues with TSA and flying with kids, so the train it was!

The ride was 18 hours long and we had 2 sleeper rooms. We left Emeryville at 9 in the morning. While the train travelled between Sacramento and Reno, a couple of people from the California Historical Society (I think?) came on and talked about the history of the land. Also a fun thing: we slept through most of Nevada! The train got into Salt Lake at 3am. We walked 4 blocks to a hotel, slept there, and then got a rental car in the morning. On the way back, the train left Salt Lake at 11pm and got into Emeryville at 4, so we were able to get more sleep on the way home.

At the Emeryville station. We used our double stroller to carry the duffle bag and carseats.

 On the observation car:

I'm not that great at getting lots of pictures (I'm just not very sentimental so it's not high on my list of things to do), so we don't have many. Here is Margaret while we were waiting to take pictures after the wedding.

My first pedicure ever and the barefoot sandals I made for the occasion.

McKay and Isaac.

And... I totally thought I got pictures at the reception, but I didn't. So none of my family or my brother and his wife at all. Or of me in my dress. Oh well.

On Sunday we went to the park. I saw Lactating Girl and her family.

Also on Sunday I met up with Maxine Hanks and Katrina and her husband Jared and their kids. And to kill time before the train came, we saw ParaNorman.

The train was fun and the kids loved it. I liked being able to get up and walk around and not having to drive through Nevada or deal with bathroom breaks or fast food. I think it'd be fun to do again if we ever have to go that way.