Voting: Before and After

This post was inspired by Morningside Mom‘s cute voter makeover post yesterday.

On Thursday, after Jody and I had finally completed our monstrous mail-in ballots, Julian and I picked up Ava from preschool and headed downtown to drop off the ballots in person (and save $.59 x 2 on stamps). We drove around the block two times before finding a parking space a block away. Because this was the location of the early voting as well as the drop-off for mail-in ballots, it was THE place to be.

Before voting, I was a tired, frazzled, but ever-hopeful Obama Mama.
Tired Amy pre-voting

We went into the county clerk’s office where Ava got to put the ballots into the box all by herself. (I’m cursing myself for not taking a picture.) She was so proud and said, “I voted!” Then when we walked outside she said, “Did we just vote for Brock Obama?” 🙂

After voting, I honestly felt energized, excited and proud, not only of Ava for her enthusiasm in the political process this year, but of all of the people who were turning in mail-in ballots and voting early. This is an exciting time to live in!
Energized Amy post-voting

And I did get a picture of Ava once we got home, with an “I voted” sticker on.
Ava voted!

I know many of you are getting sick of the political posts here, there and everywhere. Based on the fact that I’ve had some email subscribers cancel lately, I think perhaps some of you don’t want to hear about politics on my blog either (though my subscriber #s have gone up overall so I can’t complain!). But there are only 4 days left until election day and I have to be honest, you might read a bit more about politics on this here blog before I go back to business as usual. I feel it’s my right and really my obligation to share my thoughts.

Happy Halloween to all! 🙂 And, if you haven’t yet, don’t forget to VOTE next week!

Her first tattoo

Ava with her first tattoo 10/26/08 “Brock Obama!”

And because I have a hard time going entirely wordless I have to add that she was flashing her Obama tummy at shoppers in line at the grocery store this weekend. I could never get away with that myself, but my 4-year-old sure can. 😉

Oh, and yes, it’s only temporary.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Brock Omama for pwesident – Wordless Wednesday

I haven’t written much about my political views here. It’s not because I don’t want to share them or that I’m afraid of turning off some readers (that’s not it at all). It’s due to lack of time, which I admit, with an election that is as important as this one, that’s a pretty lame excuse. I plan to write a bit more about my thoughts later this week, but for now I’ll leave you with two very cute Obama supporters.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

A look at where our food comes from

Last week on Oprah, Lisa Ling gave us a glimpse into some of America’s farms – factory farms as well as organic farms – to see just how some of the animals we eat live before they become dinner on our table. They showed what the living conditions look like for egg-laying chicken, Lisa Ling in a factory chicken farmpregnant pigs and veal calves. Oprah had replica cages and crates on the stage to demonstrate the cage/pen sizes of animals in factory farms. “In an egg-laying hen cage, five to six hens could be in a single cage. The typical crate for a young male calf being raised for veal has enough room for him to stick his head out. Pregnant pigs—which can weigh more than 500 pounds—are about 5 to 6 feet long, while the cages they live in are about 7 feet long.”

There was also information presented about Proposition 2, the proposed Standards for Confining Farm Animals (specifically egg-laying chicken, pregnant pigs and veal calves) initiative statute that will be voted on in California’s general election this November. “The new regulations, which would go into effect in 2015, would require cages to be large enough to allow these animals to be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and to be able to fully extend their limbs without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.” My friend Melissa (Nature Deva) has some information about Prop 2 on her blog and there’s more information from Cameron at The Thin Green Line. If you live in California, I encourage you to look into it before you head to the polls so that you can make an informed decision.

The point of Oprah’s show was not to scare anyone into vegetarianism or veganism, but to educate people so that they can make conscious choices when it comes to buying their eggs or meat.

In the past, I’ve bought cage-free eggs from Vitamin Cottage because I assumed that meant the chickens were treated better and able to go outside, but after looking more into it, I’m not sure that’s the case.

According to Health Castle:

  • Free-Run or Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are able to move about the floor of the barn and have access to nesting boxes and perches. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.
  • Free-Range eggs are produced in a similar environment as cage-free eggs but hens have access to outdoor runs as well. The nutrient content of these eggs is the same as that of regular eggs.

I recently discovered a local farm stand (thanks to Alison at Green Me) where they have free-range eggs every Wednesday, as well as locally-grown fruits and veggies available Wednesday through Saturday. We’ve been going there for the past few weeks for some produce, but I bought my first dozen eggs this past Wednesday. They open at 10 on Wednesdays, I got there at 10:30 and got the last dozen they had! Seems I need to be on the ball Wednesday mornings if I want to continue to get them each week because they sell out fast.

Free-range eggs from our local farm standAnyway, the eggs have been wonderful! Ava enjoyed carefully examining them all at home on the kitchen table (and I admit, so did I) because every egg looks different. There are slightly varied sizes, different colors, different shades of those colors, some with spots, etc. They aren’t cookie cutter eggs like you get from the grocery store and I think that definitely adds to their appeal.

On Saturday we went back to the farm stand and, because Julian wants to see the animals they have every time we stop in, we asked the owner if I was OK if we went back to look at the sheep and chickens and he was fine with that. That was cool to show the kids exactly where our eggs are coming from. I think most people want to believe that their chickens get to run around in a big open space like these chickens do, though in reality, they are generally packed 6 to a small cage for their entire lives.

Someday I’d love to have some chickens of our own, but that will probably need to wait until we move into a different house with a slightly larger yard. Ava already talks about how she will go out and collect the eggs every day. 🙂

Here are the kids and Jody observing the animals this weekend, and, at least with regard to the chickens’ eggs, seeing just where our food comes from:
Checking out the sheep - 10/18/08 Looking at the chickens 10/18/08
Thanks for the eggs, chickens! 10/18/08 “Come-ere sheep” 10/18/08

Pumpkin-y goodness

On Sunday we went to one of our favorite pumpkin patches from some pumpkin-hunting; corn maze walking; animal watching, feeding and petting, followed by pumpkin carving at home. A good time was had by all.

Julian checks a little pumpkin out 10/19/08 Ava takes a break from hauling her pumpkin around to smile for mommy 10/19/08 Finding their way out of the corn maze 10/19/08
Ava gets to work scooping out the pumpkin guts 10/19/08 So slimy 10/19/08 Julian gnaws on some raw pumpkin seeds 10/19/08
Jody and the kids during the pumpkin carving 10/19/08 Mommy sneaks in for a pic with her boy 10/19/08 And one more with both kiddos 10/19/08

And lastly, my choice – punkins holding pumpkins – for Best Shot Monday:
A couple of happy punkins 10/19/08

See what everyone else is up to for Best Shot Monday.

Back from the zoo

Call me crazy, but yesterday I took the two kiddos to the zoo – by myself. It was free admission and seemed like the perfect excuse to get my homebody butt out of the house and give the kids something fun to see. After hearing Ava’s reaction when I asked if she’d be interested in going to the zoo, there was no turning back.

I wasn’t sure how Julian would do with walking the whole time, but I didn’t want to cart a stroller around either since I knew I’d just have to hold him up to see the animals anyway, so I put him on my back in the Ergo for about the first 30 minutes and he was totally fine with that. After I took him down to change his diaper, I let him walk, and, surprisingly, he held hands with Ava and/or stayed by us most of the time. He only took off running once or twice and was easily corralled.

The only time there were tears during the outing was when I told Ava she could not have cotton candy (despite the fact that other kids were having it). We did, however, all share a couple of ice cream cones before we headed back home and that, she told me in the car, was her favorite part! Who needs exotic animals when you’ve got ice cream? ;oP She later told me that seeing all of the animals AND the ice cream were all her favorite parts. I guess she wanted to make sure there will be future visits to the zoo. 😉

A&J walking around at the zoo - 10/07/08 Posing with our elephant friend 10/7/08 J doing some animal watching 10/7/08 Feeding time for the penguins 10/7/08

Off to the zoo

I’m hoping to ditch all responsibilities, get out in the crisp fall air, and take the kids to a free day at the zoo today.

I just asked Ava if she wanted to go.

Ava: “Today?”
Me: “Yes.”
Ava: “I’d LOVE to!”
She’s still carrying on and saying, “I would really, really, REALLY LOVE to! That’s the happiest thing I ever heard!”

How can I argue with that? 🙂

Is home schooling right for us?


When I started down my crunchy parenting path over four years ago, I think several people assumed that when the time came, I would home school my kids. I figured then that I would consider it, but it seemed like ages away and I never really gave it much thought. Well, that time is now rapidly approaching.

At age 3, I started sending Ava to an amazing Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool. It wasn’t a surprise at all to me that she thrived there and, despite the cost, I didn’t hesitate for a second before signing her up for her second year this year. She’s had a great experience there with a wonderful teacher. In fact it’s been so good that I’ve even considered sending her to a Waldorf school for kindergarten through eighth grade. I think if it weren’t for the money involved (think college tuition), she’d be going there in a heartbeat. But since we are not independently wealthy, nor do I feel are we financially-hurting enough to qualify for massive financial aid, that doesn’t seem to be a viable option.

That has lead me to exploring our public school options. There are a few public charter schools in our district, a public International Baccalaureate school, as well as many traditional public schools. Because we live in an area with open enrollment, we could potentially send Ava to any one of those schools come next fall. The question is – which one is right for her?

I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the options (I do better with limited choices) and, while I haven’t actually visited any of the schools in person yet (I have talked with some moms about where they are sending their kids), I haven’t felt peaceful about the whole process.

That leads me to a conversation I had with another mom while at Ava’s friend’s birthday party last weekend. She intends to home school her kids, at least initially. She told me about a local home schooling co-op and gave me the name of a Yahoo! Group of local home school support group. And that’s when it suddenly started to seem (again) like something that could potentially be an option for us.

I’ve kind of been of the mindset lately that I couldn’t handle home schooling. That I wouldn’t be any good at it and that Ava needs to be with other kids all of the time. After all, she is a very social kid. But then I joined the Yahoo! Group and discovered that they meet regularly for play dates and have many activities together and that there are a lot of other ways for home schooled kids to be a part of social activities. The more I read, the more I think this might be right for us, at least on a trial basis. We could try it for kindergarten and if it works well, great! If not, then it’s back to square one and finding the right school.

We have been talking about kindergarten a little bit here and there lately, especially because one of Ava’s friends from preschool last year goes to the “big” Waldorf school now and we just saw her over the weekend at the Harvest Faire. So, in an effort to gauge Ava’s thoughts on the matter, I mentioned to her that I have been thinking about home schooling next year. I asked her if she knew what it meant and who her teacher would be and she did. And she said it was a “great idea.” I actually expected her to be more reluctant, but it’s good to know that she (at least in theory) is on board.

I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately end up deciding. I still want to visit at least a couple of the elementary schools that are  on the top of my list, but I have to admit since I started considering home schooling, I feel so much more peaceful and even a little excited. I know there’s still a lot I need to research, but I’m confident we’ll find our way.

Are there any home schoolers out there that want to share any resources, links to curriculum, etc. with me? Thanks in advance. 🙂

Photo credit: Flickr: brandijordan

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Gone pickin’ – WW

It’s been a while since I posted for Wordless Wednesday, so since I’ve been busy with other things and not had a chance to write much, here goes (though its not entirely wordless).

Picking raspberries in a neighbor’s vacant yard. The kids ate them almost as fast as we picked them.
Ava picking raspberries 9/24/08
Julian picking raspberries 9/24/08Mmmm, raspberries 9/24/08

And pickin’ green beans in our own yard. Had ’em for dinner last night. 🙂
Picking green beans for dinner 9/24/08
Green bean pickin’ in our garden 9/29/08

More Wordless Wednesday and even more WW at 5 Minutes for Mom