Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekend Pictures

Yes, I realize it's Tuesday.  Never-the-less, I've got pictures from this weekend to share.  Nothing special, really - just hanging out.

Aside from Davan's performance and the lecture on Sunday, followed by dinner out, which was a long time for the dog to be alone, it was a great weekend for Ranger.

Not only did I walk with her up to the Mt Tabor dog park twice - once Saturday afternoon and once Sunday morning - but we also made modified Muddy Buddies with peanut butter.  We modify it by using extra peanut butter, rather than butter or margarine and substituting the powdered sugar with a mix of either date sugar (preferred by us, but mucho expensive) or natural cane sugar, unsweetened coco powder and cinnamon.

I'll bet those pictures really make you want to come eat at our house, no?  Don't worry, she gets the dishes pretty clean.  :)

We also finished off a jar of almond butter.

We always give her the jars in her feeding area and she always picks them up and takes them to the rug, where I guess it's easier to keep the jar in place.

Davan had a funny look on her face at one point, but when I got the camera out to document it, she was all smiles, except in between pictures.  Sigh.

Anthony spent some time programming his new bike computer.

When he sold his old bike, after buying the new one with proceeds from selling his motorcycle, he had enough money for a power meter.  He's been having fun playing with that.  He was working on programming in his values in accordance with the Time Crunched Cyclist program.  He also got in about 4 hours of riding over the weekend.

Davan had a cold all weekend, which is still lingering, but not making her feel quite so worn out.  I can tell in these pictures, even though she's all smiles.

Davan was eating what we call blueberry soft serve, which is just frozen bananas and frozen blueberries blended with just a smidge of water until it's the consistency of soft serve.  She was jonesing for some Rice Dream (vegan ice cream), but made do with this healthier alternative when we said no to a second dessert for the day on Saturday.

Davan was feeling bad enough that she didn't go to her straps class yesterday, but today she's off to Do Jump - early even, to meet Lena - so I guess she's doing okay, even though she's still blowing a lot.  Poor kid.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What You're Here For: A Davan Video

And for those of you who are really here about Davan, here's a little love for you, too.  There was a fundraiser at Do Jump today.  Doreen Dodgen-Magee, who is the mother of one of the sweetest Zig Zags and a nation-wide lecturer, has been doing a series of speeches as fundraisers.  Today, she spoke about using technology, particularly screen time, in moderation.

First, she invited the Zig Zags to show a little about what can be done by teens who aren't constantly plugged in.  They provided a little ambiance as people were settling in, then a few of them did pieces in progress.  Here's some of the ambiance, followed by a piece in progress that Davan is participating in.

While I didn't learn anything particularly new at the lecture, it did get us to talking about the habits we have.  I've written before about our screen time getting a bit out of control.  And, I did mean screen time in general, not just TV/movies/videos.  I have a couple of things that have been bothering me and that I think we're going to try to change, as others in the family agree about them being issues.

One is that we often eat in front of the screen these days.  We're going to go back to the table, where we've always had dinner in the past, but have gotten into the habit of easy entertainment instead as of late.

Another issue for me is how much time I can spend doing a lot of nothing online.  I don't begrudge the time I spend writing blogs, creating videos (not that I do this part on-line) or responding to friends via email.  However, I can get caught up in surfing - seeing what blogs the authors of my favorite blogs follow, watching You Tube videos, following this or that link.  I've decided not to do more than a half an hour above and beyond my core computer activities.

My third issue is really an Anthony issue.  He can spend a whole lot of time searching for that perfect deal on bike parts/clothes/accessories.  He decided this is a time sink for him on his own (whew) and is going to set some limits himself.

We're also discussing limiting video watching beyond just not during dinner, but we haven't come up with anything solid regarding that yet.  We do only watch about 1.5 hours a day on average, so it's not super excessive, but it can still add up and what else could we be doing with that time?  Or, as it's something we do together and discuss, is it fine that we're doing it?  These are things for us to figure out.

More China

I worked some today on making a video of my trip to China with my friends, Chris and Trista.  I got part 1 done - the Hong Kong portion.

Video Sans Davan

I've been thinking about working on a video of my trip to China from last spring.  It'd be great to have all the pictures in one cohesive, entertaining format, but it's a big, big job.  I am thinking I'll work on it, but meanwhile, I realized I had a video from China that I haven't uploaded.  When I pulled it up, though, I realized I wanted to work on it a little bit.  There was no music, being one of the biggest issues.  So, I did that this morning.

Here you go.  :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday Skiing

So, yesterday, as most of you know, was Friday.  For us, that means skiing.  However, Anthony had to work to meet a noon deadline yesterday.  Davan minorly injured her knee while at Do Jump Thursday and work up Friday saying it felt better, but she didn't feel like skiing was the right thing for it.

I was left with a decision:  go by myself or skip it?  I decided to go up by myself.

The sky was a brilliant blue.  The roads were clear.  The crowds were nonexistent.  I'm glad I went.  

However, it wasn't the greatest day of skiing ever.  It was too warm and the snow was practically slush.  It was windy and got windier as the day progressed.  I didn't stay real long.

I came home to Anthony and Davan sprawled out in the living room playing Journey Through Europe and joined in on the second game.  

We had a serious evening of take and bake pizza and Buffy watching planned, however, Davan got a text from her buddy Tanner and abandoned us for open workout at Do Jump, where, she informs us, she didn't do any tumbling to save her knee.  It actually worked out, though, as we had an early pizza before she went, so you don't need to worry about us.  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life, Life and More Life

With our company gone, we're just moving along with our regular activities.  Plus that whole school thing.  Which is going well.  Davan, in fact, told me yesterday after math that it was getting easy again.  What did Mom say?  That if you got past the not remembering part, you'd start enjoying it again?  Yeah.  Anyway, I'm glad it's not torture for her.

Davan and Lena have a new gymnastics coach.  Their previous one, Tera, went to Montreal for a month and, when she comes back, will probably not be able to coach this class anymore.  They really liked their new coach and she had some good stuff for them to work on.  However, she isn't necessarily going to stay with the class, as she has other obligations on Wednesdays usually.

I got a little bit of tumbling footage yesterday.  Davan was working on doing two back handsprings out of her round off and doing a back handspring walk out.  Lena was working on her round off back tuck.

Davan and I were looking to play a game yesterday and realized it'd been a long time since we played Ziggity, so we dug it out from the back of the closet and played a bit, over a snack of apples and almond butter with cinnamon mixed in.

I've been trying to get in hours for Do Jump.  I do a little work trade for them - mostly data entry and data base maintenance - but have been slacking a bit.  I'm motivated now, though, to pump up my hours a little before the end of the month because spring tuition is due soon.  Yikes!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday with Family

We spent pretty much all of Sunday with my aunt Candy and my grandma.  I think everyone had a pretty good day overall.

I started off my Sunday in the usual way of taking Ranger for a run.  Candy and Grandma didn't join in on that. :)  Actually, they came after I showed and we had a good start on breakfast, actually.

Grandma came bearing a gift for Davan.  She gave her a card and some money as a belated birthday gift.  That was nice of her and will go to good use one way or another - either toward tuition or toward camps.

We had our usual Sunday morning breakfast of pancakes with fruit and chocolate sauce on top.  We usually also start off with some sort of fruit - this Sunday we had drinks made from oranges and frozen blueberries.

After breakfast, we went to pick up Lena and head to Sky High.  Candy is really interested in all of Davan's activities, so that was fun for her.  I have to be honest that I'm not totally sure that Grandma enjoyed much of the visit, once again.

Anthony came with us for the first time, too, and ended up being the one who sat and entertained Grandma most of the time.  The below expression shows how he really feels about that.  Actually, he was totally posing as bored for the camera.  We were all cracking up at him.

We wanted to take Candy to Voodoo Doughnuts, as it's a Portland thing, and last time Grandma was here, she seemed to enjoy the doughnuts quite well, too, at least, once we got them.  She had a hard time understanding they whys of this particular doughnut place prior to getting them both this time and last time, even with lots of explaining.  Sigh.  I'd say it's too bad she's getting old, and certainly that doesn't help matters, but Grandma has kind of always been like that and, yet, she manages to live on her own in her own house.  Go figure.

Anyway, Candy, Davan, Lena and I stood in line for the doughnuts.  Candy enjoyed the atmosphere and the girls were excited about getting the doughnuts.  Plus it was Lena's first time at this particular Voodoo store, so she had fun looking around, too.

Then, back home, we all enjoyed the doughnuts.  The girls procured a whole plate to share.  It's amazing that Davan was hungry for dinner.

Grandma got a purple one to match her outfit (in addition to others, but this one was particularly hers).  It sort of blends in with her outfit, but it's there.

Candy, Grandma and I played cards for a while post doughnuts.

We play a game that we call All Night Long.  The story behind this is that the game came to our family nameless and one Christmas Eve when we were all together for the holidays, we had a name the game drawing.  Everyone put in what they thought the game should be called.  There were a lot of things like Kings because Kings are wild.  Candy, though, put in All Night Long because the first time she played she played it all night long.  Her's was the name that was drawn and there you are.

The game is a lot like Skip-bo, which I just found out from Wikki is based on Spite and Malice, which is what we play, except, rather than playing for points, we played for pennies.  If you won, each other person would owe you five cents plus a penny for each card left in their pile.  So, apparently the true name of All Night Long is Spite and Malice.  Gee, I think All Night Long sounds a bit more friendly.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I have a post to write about our day with family yesterday, complete with pictures, but I've also got this one banging about in my head, so I'm going to go with this one first.

We've been unschoolers on our whole school career.  That is, at least, up until now.  Davan and I are now experimenting with a bit more structure to our days.

Unschooling has worked well for Davan.  She is extremely literate, has a basic working knowledge of the general idea of history with details in some places, a basic working knowledge of science with particular emphasis on natural biology and the workings of a human body, and she has managed to stay about even with public school grade level in math.

The math thing, though, has bothered her.  She doesn't have a love for math, so she doesn't do it, so she doesn't gain mastery, so it's hard, so she doesn't want to do it, so she doesn't love it and so on.  I thought we'd broken this cycle this fall when she seemed to find a love of math.  However, due to a variety of factors, some of which I can pin point and others that are a mystery, her infatuation with math shifted back into dislike.  Sigh.

Of note also is learning French.  A foreign language is a good thing to learn for a wide variety of reasons not the least of which, for Davan, is being able to speak the language of big circus.  She has been motivated off and on to learn French, but it was all cobbled together with materials from the library and the like.  When she got her little hands (okay, not so little - her fingers are longer than mine now - sigh) on Rosetta Stone for French, it seemed like all of her dreams came true.  After a couple of lessons, though, she realized it was work and, again, for a variety of reasons, her infatuation faded.

Still, though, Davan wants to be proficient in math and wants to learn French.  She just doesn't want to do the work they require right now and she's used to only learning things she wants to learn at that moment, which has worked well in the past.  So, after much discussion and waiting to see the results and then doing that again a few times, we've come to the conclusion that what we need right now is a little structure to our school day.  And we are talking a little structure.

Here's our plan:  on Mondays through Thursdays, we do school.  We can't do school on Fridays because that our ski day, of course.  (Okay, that said, Davan actually does a fair amount of what some might consider school on Fridays.  Last Friday she read a couple of her bucket of books about DNA and genetics on the way up and back from skiing - obviously she's doesn't need structure to help her find time for all of her subjects.)

And here's what we do on school days:

Around 9am (give or take), we have breakfast with 15-30 minutes of educational video.  This is mostly just to warm up, as Davan enjoys doing something together over breakfast.  This morning we watched the first video on this channel.  (Thanks to the HomeSchool Girls for this resource!)  We actually started watching "A Traveler's Guide to The Plants" that we'd gotten from the library, but it was annoying to us with how little actual information was doled out amongst the entertainment fluff, so we stopped watching it.

After the video is 20-30 minutes of math.  This morning, though, Davan actually did her math before breakfast, as she was up and showered when I got home from running with Ranger and I needed to shower before breakfast.

Next up is 20-30 minutes of Rosetta Stone.  Davan was getting frustrated with it today at the end.  She expects it to come to her so easily that when she has to go over things more than once, she's frustrated.  Hopefully she's able to overcome that.

We close our school day with 20-30 minutes of me reading aloud (Davan loves it when I read to her, but we don't often find time for it anymore) out of a book that I think has information it would be good for her to know that she might not pick up on her own.  Today we started The Story of Science:  Einstein Adds a New Dimension.  I guess, by starting this one, we're reading out of order, but it's the one I found at the library, so there it is.

When I was at the library looking for books for this part of our day, I found more books that I just put in her room for her to read on her own than I found ones that I thought that she wouldn't bother with herself.  In fact, she's now reading Words, Words, Words as her current pleasure reading book.  It's not a book I'd read for pleasure at all.  Perhaps I should let her create a curriculum for me?

Okay, let me share with you what all has happened while I wrote this post.  I started writing after Davan went off to have fun with Lena and her host family.  She was invited to go to Sky High with them today, as it's a school holiday.  At first, she declined because she teaches at Do Jump on Monday mornings, but then I said she should go and we'd try to find her a sub.  If worst came to worst, I'd fill in for her.  However, I also thought that the school director might just say not to worry about it, as it's a small class and the other two teachers can probably cover it.  Anyway, we didn't find a sub and I hadn't made contact with the school director, so it was on me to sub.  I was on it.

Part way through writing, it was time to head off.  I left, got out the door and part way down the block when I realized I was supposed to have been there at 10, but was actually going to get there at 11.  I have no idea how I made that mistake.  I called the school director and the office and kept walking there.  Turns out, it wasn't a big deal as the class was even smaller than usual today, but I felt bad.  Here I'd told Davan I'd cover for her and then I messed up.  I made sure everyone knew it was my fault, not Davan's.  Then I went by the grocery store on the way home to pick up a couple items.

I got back home and made some progress on my post when my Mother in Law called.  She's been hit by the "Internet Security" virus.  We weren't able to solve the problem over the phone, but, by using my Sister in Law (who goes there every weekday for reasons I may post about another time) to mule over a fix for it, I think she'll be up and running again tomorrow.  We were on the phone for a half hour with me trying to help her.  What with her having limited computer skills, that was a bit of a challenge.

Then I got back to the post once more.  Little did you know all the obstacles I had to overcome in order to share our little school story with you.  I hope you appreciate it.  :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just a Saturday

 Thanks for the input about chores.  Our current plan is a chore party twice a week.  I'm okay with doing a bit more than Davan as she does have more addition obligations.  For now, I'll make the occasional correction if I think it's truly warranted (like dishes with food still on them after "washing") and let other things slide.  Davan will have to decide for herself what her own standards will be after she moves out.  I know I've gotten much pickier about my standards over the course of my life!  Additionally, we'll clean up after dinner together and all that stuff we usually do.  It'll work great - for a while, at least.  I'll try to keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we're having just a Saturday.  We're actually a little busy this weekend.  We skied yesterday, which, by the way, we almost didn't do because the forecast was not looking good.  Our first run, we went up Vista Express, which has Davan's favorite run to find it totally fogged in up there.  It was very disorienting.  We went reeeeaaaalllllyyyy slowly until we dropped below the fog level, but Davan remained freaked out for a few runs.  After that, she was back to her usual zooming self.  And the weather?  Other than the fog?  Well, not so great.  It misted on us off and on.  When we were loading up the van, it started pouring rain!  Good timing on the leaving!  Still, we were glad we'd gone and we did get in several nice runs.

When we got home, we did the usual taking care of all of our stuff, then vacuumed and dusted a bit before hitting the showers because we had company last night.  I got a call on Tuesday from my aunt Candy saying that she and my grandma were coming for a visit.  Oh, when?  Friday.  Okay, then.  They live in Arizona and California respectively.  And?  The last time Grandma came for a visit, I was sure it would be her last.  She didn't seem to have a good time and was very excited to go home at the end of the visit.  Plus?  She hates stairs and we live on the second floor now.  But, okay.  Luckily, they made plans to stay at a hotel and do have other people in the area to visit, so that's a lot less pressure than having sudden overnight company.

I threw together some plans for things to do together.  Candy is really interested in all of Davan's activities, so I had Davan gather some friends to go to open workout at Do Jump last night.  We had dinner with my family, then went to watch Davan and friends workout play.  I took some pictures with Lena's camera (of which I have great envy), but I haven't gotten copies yet, so I can't share.

Today, though, Candy and Grandma are with other family in Vancouver.  So, it's just a Saturday for us.  I made us biscuits and almond gravy for breakfast after my run.  Yummy.

Anthony went out to run errands play like a kid in a sandbox at bike stores, then came home to work on his bike.

 Davan stayed in her pjs until 1pm, but then got ready to go perform at a neighborhood carnival with the Zig Zags.

I am delighted to say that getting ready means showering, dressing, grabbing a snack and filling a water bottle.  Two of her friends came over a little early, then they walked over together.  I love living close to stuff.  And I love the lack of costume and make up necessary for Do Jumping (although they do have Do Jump owned unitards to wear once they get there).

Me?  Well, I'm doing a lot of chillin' out, but I've also done a 30 minute run with intervals - whew, walked the dog again, made that breakfast, played a few games with Davan, caught up on some email chores, been to the library and I do still have to hit the grocery store as we have company for breakfast tomorrow and a bit of a fruit shortage for pancake topping.

Anthony is off on a bike ride with his improvements done, Davan is off flying through the air and I'm home alone with a chocolate cake that Tanner brought with him when he showed up.  What a nice boy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dreaded Chores

Right now, Davan is not pulling her weight chore-wise.  There have been other times that she's done a good job of doing chores without fuss.  More often, though, I have to say that we are not in harmony chore-wise.

We've tried a variety of approaches.  Often a new approach works for a while.  Then it stops working.  Then there is the ignoring of the fact that it's not working stage.  Then there is hounding to do chores on my part and resentment on Davan's part.  Then, usually, we try a new approach.

How often that new approach works varies.  Really I've seen results anywhere from a day to a few months.  

The ignoring phase varies also.  During the ignoring phase, somethings might go past my comfort level.  Sometimes I might do all the cleaning.  Sometimes Davan will actually do the chores.

Then we enter hounding.  I get angry that she's not doing anything.  She is angry that I'm insinuating that she doesn't work or she's contrite.  Maybe there's an improvement, but it usually doesn't last.

Next it's time to formulate a new plan.  I'd be okay with this system if the new plan were guaranteed to work for, oh, three months and then we could cooperatively decide it wasn't working anymore and come up with a new plan, but that isn't how it goes.

I'm fairly frustrated with how it does go.  Right now, we're in the about to come up with a new plan phase.  I think the newest plan will be to have a two-three time a week work party where we both buckle down and do chores for the duration of, say, ten songs we choose.  The main problem I have with this is that, while that will take care of the regular cleaning our small abode needs, it doesn't really take care of the on-going issues.

On a daily basis, I prepare and clean up after meals and snacks, grocery shop, walk the dog, feed and water the dog and do laundry.  Davan is of the age where I think she could be shouldering a much bigger portion of the work load than she currently is.  However, I'm also a push over.  I freely admit that this is part of the problem.

I want Davan to eat healthily and, for the most part, her food is healthier if I put it together.  That said, there have been good stretches of time in the past where she's been responsible for her own breakfast and that's gone okay.  It's just, if I'm making breakfast for myself, it's usually not that much more difficult to make it for her, too, and then she's eating good stuff.  

Also, I hate to make her wake up early and take the dog out when she's tired from a late class the night before or when she'll have a late class that night, which means most weekdays. 

Another large part of the problem with having her do half the house hold work is that she is pretty busy with classes.   And I've mentioned that I'm a push over, right?  

There have been time that Davan has been responsible for one dinner a week - the planning, shopping and everything involved for that one meal.  However, she doesn't like to do it when we've got company or it's the weekend and can't on certain days of the week due to classes.  And I'm still a push over.

Thus, I've pretty much talked myself into being okay with the two or three times a week work parties.  At least she's helping some then.  And when it's routine, I get a lot less of the resigned attitude, but, believe me, that rarely goes totally away when it comes to chores.  With Davan, this isn't an overt thing, it's pretty subtle, but it's there and it grates on me.  

Okay, one more chore complaint, and this one, I'm not sure what to do about.  She doesn't do as good a job as I want her to.  I try to be comfortable with a lesser job and just be glad I'm not doing it, but that ends up getting to me eventually.  I try to give her some good home training, but she is, shall we say, not overly receptive and it often ends up being rather confrontational.  So, then I go back to trying to just be glad she's doing something...yeah, it's a whole cycle thing again.

I know, I know, chores are one of those things that parents and kids are supposed to clash about, right?  But I want it to be different for us.  Is that so bad?

I do have to say that Davan is responsible for her own room and that never falters.  She keeps it tidy most of the time, vacuums regularly and does her own sheets.  (In fact, that's her, just above, taking care of her sheets yesterday.)  Sometimes she does need a little help with deep cleaning, but this is one area that has developed well.

So, yeah.  If you've got kids and read here, what do you do about chores?  Is it working for you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How Well Do You Know Your Child - Davan Version

Who is your best friend?
Who is your greatest hero?
Mom and dad
What embarrasses you the most?
When mom sings in public

What is your favorite music?
Life in technicolor

What person outside the family has most influenced you?

What is your favorite school subject and least favorite?
Favorite, English. Least favorite, Math

What accomplishment are you proudest of?
Getting into Zig-Zags at age 11

What is your biggest complaint about the family?
I really like most things about my family. I guess I don't like it when we ride bikes in the rain.

If Mom could buy you anything in the world what would you choose?
I would want enough money to do anything i want next year

What really makes you angry?

What do you want to be when they grow up?
Aerialist in Cirque Du Soleil

What has been the biggest disappointment in your life this year?
Not getting into Circus Smirkus

What gift do you cherish most?
The gift I got a few years ago of a year of fun activities.

What non-school book have you most recently read?
Everyone see the ants

What is your favorite food?
Right now, Newmans Os. But it changes almost everyday. I like pizza and cake and strawberries too.

What nicknames are you called at school?

What is your most prized possession?
My notebooks

What is your most cherished memory?
That is really hard! I have a lot of good memories from the bike trip, and my last birthday party in particular.

How Well Do You Know Your Child? - Nicholina Version

Davan and I each answered these questions independently.  First, here are my answers.  Next I'll post Davan's answers.

Where Davan and I didn't have the same answers, I asked her to comment if she felt like it.  Her comments are here in orange.  Sometimes I replied back in red.

Who is your child's best friend?

Lena, but Tanner and Emma are close behind.

Who is your child's greatest hero?

Trying to guess what Davan would say here, I'm going with me.
What embarrasses them the most?

Me singing in public.
What is their favorite music?


Ahh, yes. This is a better answer then mine, I thought I had to pick a song.
What person outside the family has most influenced your child's life?

Right now, I'd say Lena, but I know it's been my mom for a lot of her life.

Your mom is a member of the family, Mom. 

Yeah, yeah.  I was reading it as immediate family, but you are right - she is family.
What is their favorite school subject and least favorite?

Davan loves "English" and isn't as fond of "math."  She was more fond of math for a while, but doesn't seem to be now again.  I've put the subjects in quotes because we don't actually divide things up that way.  However, she loves to read, write and generally play with words, so we'll call that English.

What accomplishment is your child proudest?

Probably getting into Zig Zags when she was only 11, as it's a teen troop.

What is your child's biggest complaint about the family?

After this morning, I guess that she has to ride her bike in the rain to get places.

If you could buy your child anything in the world what would they choose?

Tuition and room and board at the National Circus School in Montreal.

What really makes your child angry?

Davan gets angry when she has to repeat things and when things seem unfair to her.

What does your child want to be when they grow up?

An aerial artist in Cirque do Soleil.

What has been the biggest disappointment in your child's life this year?

In this last calendar year, I'd say not getting at least called to live auditions for Circus Smirkus' troopers.  However, I think that if she doesn't get into Montreal, that will change.
What gift does your child cherish most?

I'm not sure on this one.  She's not real big on material possessions.  Based on use, I guess I'd say the rigging in her room so she can hang her trapeze, swing and rings.

Ahh, I wasn't specifying gift as a material thing. I thought it could be anything that I have gotten for a gift. But that is probably my favorite material gift.

I thought of the year of activities, but I was thinking "cherish" meant to still have it.  I should have thought outside the box on this one!
What non-school book has your child most recently read?

I believe the one she's most recently finished is Escape, about a woman who escapes from a polygamist cult with her eight children.

I also finished Everybody Sees the Ants. I put it down when I got that one.

Because that comment wasn't totally clear to me, I'll interpret a little.   She put down the Ants book when Escape came along, read Escape, then went back and finished Everyone Sees the Ants.
What is your child's favorite food?

Hmm.....I think this probably changes depending on mood, but I'm going to go with bagels.
Good one. Like I said this one changes all the time, but right now I'm into the Newman's Os. 
What nicknames is your child called at school?

I'm pretty sure she's just called Davan.

Yep, mostly just Davan. But now that I think about it, Summer calls me Pat-pat sometimes, and Lena sometimes calls me Crazy Girl. But I just put Davan, too.
What is your child's most prized possession?

Again, I'm not sure because of the not so materialistic thing, but, I'm sticking with the rigging.

I said my notebooks, but that is a close runner up.

I should have thought of the notebooks!  Davan writes in them all the time - lists, poems, drawings, math work, ideas.  She is clear that they aren't diaries, but they are a bit like a record of her life.

What is your child's most cherished memory?

This one is tough.  I think she has a lot of memories she holds dear.  One stand out might be our three week, 1000 mile family bike trip of a couple years ago.

Indeed. I also said my last birthday party. 

5 Questions to Ask Your Teen

Okay, so, as we had fun with the other questions, but they were for younger kids, I looked up questions to ask your teen and we're going to give them a go.  I think these are maybe supposed to be more open ended questions, so we'll see what happens here.

I think it's important to point out here, that I am quoting Davan from her spoken replies.  If she were writing them herself, her grammar and style would be much different.  Still, I'm not giving in to editing requests.

1. If you could spend this summer vacation traveling anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?

I would go to Switzerland to visit Lena because she'd be back in Switzerland by then.  Or I would go to Montreal and do camps there because I want to be a circus artist.

2. What’s the dumbest fashion trend at your school right now?

I'd just like to mention that I don't go to school and then I will say the dumbest fashion trend at Zig Zags.  The dumbest fashion trend at Zig Zags is those really baggy short shirts that only come down to there (gesturing at her midriff.)

3. If you could change the way we run things around here as a family, what would you like to see be different?

Well um.  I think I'm pretty happy with how things are run around here.  I think I might like to drive more when it's rainy, but I also think that riding bikes is a good thing.

4. What’s the biggest challenge you are facing right now?

Getting into the National Circus School or not.  And trying to decide if I got in if I'd go or not or where I'd go other than that.  But, mostly, just trying to get in.

5. What’s something you feel like people don’t really understand about you?

Ummm.  I don't know.  I feel like people understand me pretty well, most of the time.

These questions remind me a lot of the questions you get playing The Ungame, so if you like this sort of thing, I'd check out the game.  The one problem we have with the game is that the questions are limited.  While there are a lot of them, if you play often enough, you'll be cycling through.  We've found that we've developed answers to many of them and they're always the same, which makes it less interesting to replay after a while.

Davan and I are big talkers, so, for the most part, her replies don't surprise me at all.  Every now and then, though, something will come up that is a revelation.  In this set of questions, for example, I was a little surprised about the car in the rain reply.  While I know she doesn't love riding in the rain, I didn't think it was a big issue for her.

At any rate, talkers or not, these can be fun and/or enlightening.  If you find any good lists of questions, we're interested!

31 Questions to Ask Your Kids

Davan and I enjoy reading Peas and Thank You together.   However, it came to our attention today that she missed out on two posts there.  One is 21 Questions to Ask Your Kids and the other is 12 More Questions to Ask Your Kids. So, even though the questions are designed for younger kids, I told her she had to answer them herself before reading the posts.  By question #2, it was clear that I should be recording the answers for posterity.  So, here you go.

Oh, because we combined the two lists, some questions are virtually repeats.

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?

I love you.

2. What makes Mommy happy?

When the house is clean and she didn't have to do it.  Also when other people take the dog out.

3. What makes Mommy sad?

When she's sick.  And tired.  Or somebody else is sick and tired.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?

By saying funny things.  And chasing me about with the camera.  And trying to pop my zits.

5. What was Mommy like as a child? 

I don't know what to say.  She liked to do gymnastics.  And she loved her mom.  And she moved to Colorado.

6. How old is Mommy?


7. How tall is Mommy? 

5 foot 4.  (Thanks for the extra inch, Davan.)

8. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do?

Read and run and do Pokelon. (mom couldn't spell it so I did)  (But Mom looked it up and it's actually Poekoelan.  Ha.)

9. What does Mommy do when you’re not around?

She reads and sometimes she cleans and often she does things on the internet and sometimes she's very mean.  (This is in response to the above exchange about Poekoelan.)

10. If Mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?

Running.  (Maniacal laughter from Mom.)

11. What is Mommy really good at?

Running and cooking.  And being and awesome mom.  Who is sometimes very mean.  (I am not at all a good runner. 10 minute miles are fast for me.  Just sayin'.  It's nice that she has such faith in me, though.)  (She is so a good runner. Don't listen to her. I think she's great. And anyway she's a lot better than a lot of people at running. Ha.)  (Fine.  Moving on.)

12. What is Mommy not very good at?


13. What does Mommy do for her job?

Takes care of me.  Makes things to eat.  And runs.  She's very good at it.

14. What is Mommy’s favorite food?

Oh, well, that really depends on the day.  I'm going to guess....Newman's Os.

15. What makes you proud of Mommy?

When Mom does really nice things for people and when Mom runs in races that I can't run.

16. If Mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?

Oh my gosh.  I don't really know any cartoon characters.  Um. ( not the um. That doesn't really exist.)  (in a whisper) What's a good cartoon character, Mom?  (I think we'll just move on.)

17. What do you and Mommy do together?

We hang out a lot when we're in the house and do chores.  We often watch TV together and do things on the internet.  Sometimes we go for walks together.  And we often play games together.

18. How are you and Mommy the same?

We both do Poekoelan and we both like to read.  And we both have short hair.  And be both have trouble sleeping.  And we both like to play games.  Yes. (Mom forgot how to spell Poekoelan again. Sigh)

19. How are you and Mommy different?

I do Do Jump and Mom doesn't.  And Mom sometimes puts things like lotion on her hands and slimy stuff in her hair and I can't stand putting on lotion or slimy stuff.  Well, I do put slimy stuff on sometimes, but...Oh, oh, oh!  And I can spell and Mom can't!

20. How do you know Mommy loves you? 

I know that Mommy loves me because she tells me and because she does nice things for me and I just know.

21. Where is Mommy’s favorite place to go?

Hmm.  Interesting question.  I think Mom has several favorite places to go.  Like the shelter at Elk Meadows and the couch and out for runs.  And the kitchen.  And wherever Dad and I and Ranger are.

22. What ingredients are mothers made of?

Out of words and love and chocolate and hugs.

23.  What kind of a little girl was your mother?

My mother was kind of little girls who didn't wear dresses very much.  And liked dogs.  And there's much more I could say, but I don't want to prattle on.

24.  What did Mom need to know before she married Dad?

She needed to know that he was a nice person and that he liked the same kinds of things that she does.

25.  Why did your mom marry your dad?

Because he is a very nice person and because he likes a lot of the same things that she does.  And because they very good with each other.

26.  Who’s the boss at our house?

Mom.  Definitely Mom, followed by Dad, then me, then Ranger.  And Licorice brings up the very rear.  (Licorice would dispute this.)  (True - Licorice does have some power over Ranger.)

27.  What’s the difference between moms and dads?

Dads are boys and moms are girls.  And, in our family, Mom likes to cook more than Dad.  Although Dad likes to cook pancakes on weekends - but you don't have to add that, Mom! - and Dad likes to ride his bike and Mom likes to run and do Poekoelan.  

28.  What does your mom do in her spare time?

She reads and cuddles with the dog and plays games and she hangs out with me.

29.  What would it take to make your mom perfect?

Gulp.  Oh, Licorice?  (pleading)  I think Mom's almost perfect anyway, but she would be perfecter if she was (looking scared) more happy because sometimes she seems like she's not.  (Moving in for a snuggle and requesting editing.  Ha.)

30.  If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

I like Mom just the way she is.  (clearly sucking up)  (so not sucking up. I just like her the way she is! Come on. You answer then mom. HA. She is having trouble. See?)  (Sadly, I can think of more than one thing to change.  One thing would probably be to have less anxiety.)

Gee, and then we ended on a somber note.  Perhaps we need to add one more question for a better ending.  Thinking....Davan is very excited that I'm making one up.

31.  When your Mom was little, what did she want to be when she grew up?

An airplane pilot?   A helicopter pilot like Oma!  (Note, my mom has never been a pilot, but she was medevac personnel on a helicopter for a few years.)  I mean, she wanted to be whatever Oma was doing at the time.  (Davan remembers the important part here - at least, at one point, I did want to be what my mom was, which was a nurse.  Later, I wanted to be an airplane pilot.  Thus, both answers are more or less true.  Still no edits for you, sister.  She was begging.  It was sad.) (I was not begging. I was snuggling and asking politely. These are very different things, mind you.)