Sunday, November 25, 2007

click on this to see us elfed

Thanksgiving and Decorating for Christmas

We were in Charlotte for Thanksgiving this year. We had dinner at Mike and Anna's house with a surprise visit from Liz who drove up from Atlanta. While waiting for dinner we played tons of games with the girls and did lots of chalk drawing outside. Since I accidentally turned off the oven while the turkey and tofurky were cooking the dinner was much later than it was supposed to be:) We went shopping on Friday and picked out a tree for Grandmother Gail and helped decorate her apartment. We also went to see the new movie Mr. Magorium's Magical Emporium with grandaddy William. We all really enjoyed the movie as there was great acting, imagination and no inappropriate humor or scenes (which is hard to say about movies for kids these days). We spent the nights at grandaddy William's house and I have to say that it was so nice to have a wonderful assortment of vegan food for every meal not to mention the fresh squeezed orange juice and homemade Belgium waffles every morning. Over the few days that we were in Clt the girls rode their bikes and Arianna got really good at riding her bike without training wheels.

When we got home on Saturday we spent the rest of the evening decorating our own house for Christmas. I have a whole collection of lighted houses and trinkets that I inherited from my grandmother which the girls and I put out around the house. Daniel was very excited about the lights outside. This is the first time we've done them since we lived in Boone. He did a great job. . . the house looks very festive! We also decorated our norfolk island pine tree that we use every year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kruidenier meets Kucinich

How do you succinctly tell this story? This is my brother Stephen with presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Back up about 6 months. Stephen had been working in animal rights activism here in the Carolinas and decided to pursue his work on the West Coast. So, much as we would rather have kept him near we sent him off with hugs and well wishes. Within weeks he was sending reports of encounters with movie stars and other pop-culture elites. He hooked up with Shannon Keith, a prominent animal rights attorney and director of an award winning animal cruelty documentary Behind the Mask, and they began formulating the vision for an activist legal defense fund. Stephen is now involved with a new documentary there and also with promoting the new legal defense fund. He sought out Dennis Kucinich both to interview for the documentary and to see if he would get behind the fund. He was willing to do both. Stephen said Congressman Kucinich was passionate, articulate, intelligent, informed, and gracious. If you are not familiar with his record he is nothing less than courageous and represents one of the only truly DIFFERENT messages for our country's future (the only other truly DIFFERENT message being that of Ron Paul but for different reasons. I digress...). Props to Stephen for pursuing his vision, and finding himself amongst such notable individuals.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

B'ham wedding

We drove to Birmingham on Saturday for the wedding of Daniel's first cousin Shep. It was a great family reunion. We met some cousins for the first time and saw others that we haven't seen in a long time. We got dressed up (yep, that is Daniel in a suit and I was wearing a dress and heals!), had tons of good food, drinks, danced and socialized with family. The girls were AMAZING. They were great in the car (12 hours total), the behaved so nicely at the wedding and looked beautiful in their fancy outfits. This was their first wedding and they loved seeing the beautiful bride and wedding party, elaborate cakes, great live music and fresh flowers everywhere. We were able to spend the night with some longtime friends of mine. They are actually my friend Lesley's parents--amazing hosts and treated us like family while we stayed in their house. THANKS PENFIELDS! We drove back today after a big brunch with the family that were in town for the wedding.

I'm ready for Thanksgiving. We are going to take a break from homeschooling this week. I'm sure we'll continue the reading and do a few projects but I need a break to regroup and reorganize. I also want to spend some time just hanging out with the girls. In all that we are doing this semester it has been easy to fall into a rut of being a drill sergeant like my friend Anna calls it. I will often tell them what to do or after they get their work done I'll stay out of their way while they play so I can do all my little things around the house, all the while I'm not actually spending quality time with them. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a nice vacation and time to really be thankful for what we have!

Here are the photos from our trip to B'ham

All dressed up.
Daniel on the dance floor?? Ellen loved dancing and was out there until she just got too tired to dance anymore. We all loved dancing to this band Liquid Pleasure. You can see them in the background with the matching pink suits. Probably the best party band we've ever seen (besides De Javu of course:).

Arianna literally fell asleep on grandmother Gail's shoulder while they were dancing!

As always, so nice to see Anna and Mike (Daniel's sister)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

science, nature, and service

We started vermicomposting about 6 months ago after I got a small bag of red wiggler worms from a friend of mine. This species of worms prefer the conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles and are a little different from the earthworms that you might find in your yard. They are perfect for eating through the kitchen scraps of a vegan family! The worms live in a bin on my front porch. I started the bin with layers consisting of a bed of wet newspaper, then the worms on top, then added the food scraps, then a layer of leaves or dirt or something just to keep the flies off. I drilled holes in the bin (which is actually just a plastic bin from the dollar store) to allow for drainage and airflow. They did try to escape after the first day. Apparently, if the conditions are not just right for them they will leave. I put them back in the bin and just tried again, not changing anything. They must really like it in there now because they have multiplied and eaten through so many scraps over these few months. I don't give them much attention. I feed them about once a week or less depending on when I remember to do it. I'm sure I went several weeks at a time without even looking in the bin. The girls really like the project. I have to admit, I'm a little grossed out by the creatures. One worm doesn't really bother me but when I have to look at so many all bunched up together it's different. Then I remember that they are so harmless and move really slowly.

Yesterday, we decided to separate the worms from their castings. This worm poop is what is so good for the soil because it is so rich in nutrients, even more so than regular compost. There are many ways to harvest the castings and I think the way we did it was the most complicated. We just dumped everything out of the bin, put on gloves and started separating the worms from the compost. It was a long process because as I said before there are tons more worms now and, amazingly, no recognizable food in all that rich compost. Then we put the worms back in the bin and I'll be adding the compost to the garden. The girls were very interested in the little guys. They talked to them and would try to get as many worms as they could in their hands.

The girls and I are part of a Roots and Shoots group. This quote from the organization's homepage explains the group best.

( "Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is a powerful, youth-driven, global network of more than 8,000 groups in almost 100 countries. Together, youth of all ages are taking action to improve our world through service learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment and the human community."

Our local group is just starting up. We are still trying to work out some of the details but basically we are just a group of families who want to make a positive impact in our community and the environment. We have lots of ideas and plan on meeting at least once a month. The first meeting we talked about birds and migration and made bird feeders out of orange juice cartons. These last 2 pictures are of our 2nd project doing a trash pick up at a park. It's amazing how much fun kids can have picking up and sorting trash.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Camping in Cedar Creek

For our friend's 30th birthday we all went camping on their family land in Cedar Creek. It was just outside Columbia but it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. There were 3 families with 7 kids total (2 of which were under 6 months old!). We roasted tofu dogs over the fire and had brownies for dessert. Once it got dark the girls (all the kids were girls except the 2 baby boys) played in the tent with flashlights for hours while the adults sat around the campfire. It got quite chilly outside even down to freezing during the night. We all slept nice and cozy in our tents. We woke up and had bagels, packed our tents and took a little hike around the pond. It was a very enjoyable family trip and we will likely do this again. Our friends would like to make it a regular thing once it gets a little warmer:)

Playing by the creek before it got cold. It was beautiful and the girls had a wonderful time exploring the area.

Around the campfire in the very cold morning.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tiger Mania

We surprised my dad for his 60th birthday last weekend. I knew they were having a party for him and I just couldn't stand missing it. We drove down (10 hours)Thursday and spent the night in Jackson with my grandmother, aunt and cousins. We went to my cousin's highschool football game there. Then we woke up early Saturday morning and drove down to Baton Rouge (3 hours). My dad was so shocked. After finally realizing who we were (my new car really threw him off) he said, "have you lost your mind!" He now has 9 grandkids and this was the first time that they've all been together since they were babies. It was so much fun to see everyone playing together and I know it meant soooo much for us to be there. If you've ever been to Baton Rouge on game day you'd know that the whole town shuts down during the LSU game especially when playing Alabama. Of course we had to wait until halftime to open presents and cut the cake. It was crazy in the house as we experienced tiger fanatics scream and shout as the game progressed. Thankfully LSU won.

everyone else had shirts we needed some too:)

Will, Ellen and Arianna visiting Mike the Tiger on Sunday. That's tiger stadium in the background. Neal and Parker

I guess we're supposed to be South Carolina fans now that we live and attend USC . . . not sure if that will really ever happen. I'm not really a football fan at all but it is fun to be apart of the SEC madness every once in a while:)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Soapbox

Now a days, October 31 is the end of a week long celebration. For example, the girls got halloween coloring sheets and candy on Monday at gymnastics, we had a halloween party with our playgroup on Tuesday that we dressed up for (we intentionally skipped a Halloween party last Friday with our homeschool coop), then on Halloween day we got some candies from their ballet class before going trick or treating.
There was also Boo at the Zoo, Hallowonka at the kid's museum, Tricks
and Treats at the State Museum and I'm sure many other events in
Columbia that we did not attend. In addition, any time we went
to a grocery store there were candies, packaged costumes, and
decorations literally talking to us as we walked by. Is it just me or
is it all a little much? Maybe it's always been like this? I guess as a parent who is concerned with her kids' sugar consumption, dental health, and overall awareness of America's consumerism obsession I find it a little disturbing. You might say, "But Halloween is a special occasion!" Maybe you could use that as an excuse but don't we say that about everything. Candy and sweets abound as we go to birthday parties for friends and family, vacations, and now we are heading into the holidays where we will be inundated with holiday sweets at every "special occasion." AND have you ever thought about what all the candy is doing to our poor kids' bodies. We load them up with candy which has no nutritional value and is filled with all kinds of preservatives, chemicals, and animal by-products (gelatin) then send them off to school and expect them to sit in their seats and pay attention. What about at home when they are bouncing off the walls and arguing about who's candy is who's and how much candy that get to have every day until their load is gone!? What about the obscene amount of calories?? Should we blame our nation's kids for being overweight and consumeristic (I don't think that's a word but I'm using it anyway.)??

Well, sorry about that. I try to keep my radical opinions out of the blog for the most part but sometimes I just can't help myself. We did go trick or treating last night. We went with some friends who have similar values. All the kids got dressed up in borrowed or their own costumes and we went to about 5 houses. We made a deal with the kids before trick or treating that we would exchange the candy they got from that night for some natural candy, gum, and organic vegan chocolate. I can hardly believe how much candy they got from just those few houses. The girls were happy to make the exchange. I think they trust us and are just happy to be together as a family and the candy is a bonus.

Ellen was a witch and Arianna was a princess.