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Category Archives: unschooling

Holy Day Traditions

The time is upon us, as it always happens, to begin the rituals that bring us joy in the darkness.

Our cycle of memorial begins each year with Thanksgiving. It was 10 years ago we celebrated Mitch’s last Thanksgiving with his mother visiting from Cali. Loud laughter, that’s what I really remember because that’s what people heard when we were around. Joy overflowed and washed away our thoughts of possible futures, keeping us firmly in our Very Happy Right Now.

Daddy’s SO funny!

As was the Way of Mitch ♥ This holiday has since been one filled with a deep desire to celebrate and an equally deep desire to hide from any and all thought of it.
This year we’re celebrating with a few of those who understand my conundrum, with those who perhaps find themselves in one quite similar to my own. A place where laughter and tears shall flow as freely as the hugs and conversations. I want to start the Signing of the Tablecloth tradition; I want to light a candle for those we can no longer see with our eyes, only feel with our hearts; I want to leave a place at the table, ready for that unexpected Thanksgiving Guest to feel most welcome. And then I shall go home and cry and nap.
Then, I find it’s worthy to pick myself up for a drive through the Pepsi Christmas Light Display!! My most favorite kitschy Christmas thing to do in Corvallis. I shall go often and gleefully!
On Friday, there is the Downtown Holiday Parade. For which I shall dress warmly, bring a thermos and a blankey and take a gazillion pictures. Elvis just might show up again!
Mitch died on the First Sunday of Advent and you shall find me at the Catholic Mass that day; possibly giggling through my tears. We joked that Mitch waited for the church to be decorated with all it’s holyday finery before holding his funeral in the otherwise unadorned sanctuary.

Rise and Shine
Hannah Singing for Daddy

I may consider raising our tree on this day, though we’ve traditionally waited until Mitch’s actual Death Day, December 3.
Disneyland is calling ♥ I love, love, love to celebrate Mitch at Disneyland. It was one big trip he wanted to take with the kids, to share a bit of his joyful childhood with them. Instead, it’s the refuge we seek in mourning him, in remembering him.

What to do after 2 funerals for Daddy...

(we shall heed this call soon enough, we’ve many things worthy of a Disneyland celebration in our lives ♥)

Hannah + Funeral Cake
Hayden + Funeral Cake

This year, as the 10th Anniversary of Mitch’s Death, I’m looking for something Mitch-in-Oregon to inspire new heartfelt tradition. Whatever else, I hope the day includes some skee-ball & beer, laughter & children, and the ever important: Cake.
And adorning of the tree! I love adorning the tree! Our Angel Eeyore shall be placed in honor of Mitch, atop the tree. (Purchased on the above photographed trip to Disneyland) And the new ornaments I want to get to celebrate our 10 most Amazing years Since and Because of Mitch ♥

This season also marks the beginning of a New Moon circle of Women. I am eternally grateful to begin this ritual in step with the potential overwhelm of holyday rituals.

All the while, in the in between moments, I shall be creating the gifts we are exchanging this year.

For me, the real beginning of what is commonly called The Christmas Season is our Solstice Spiral tradition. On December 21, the longest dark of the year, I welcome you to join with me in Renewing Your Light & Ringing the Bells to Welcome Back the Sun ♥
I love to deliver little gifts on this night, thinking historically how these wee bits of joy would bring lightness to those who felt the dip in spirits that accompanies the dark time of the wheel. This is why I give gifts at all, actually.

I do the full-on Christmas decorating, a big ol’ tree, lots of lights, cheesy santas everywhere you look! I love all that is joyful and happy about ANY holiday, especially one that covers such a large part of the American Calendar. ANY excuse for people to look upon one another with an extra bit of kindness and compassion (me included!) is a good and wonderful thing in My World ♥
Pajamas have now become a Christmas Eve gift tradition. So we all look cute with our stockings the next day. Santa’s gifts are under the tree on Christmas Morn & the stockings have a stash of chocolate buried inside. Most Christmas Days are low-key, hang-out affairs. I’m thinking a ginomous feast is in order this year and shall be taking steps to see it happen. I love how life works that way ♥

I keep the trees and decorations up & the music playing as long as the people in my life will let me! Most often, I make it until January 6, the Day of Epiphany (those who want to keep Christ in Christmas? Gift exchange in the name of Jesus comes from the traditional gifts presented by the Magi, in January, FYI) the official ending of the Christmas Season in Diana’s World ♥

love the lights!

I’ve a few weeks respite then, before we reach the 12.5 years of life for Hayden and 14.5 years of parenting for me and 5 years without Hannah benchmarks, this February ♥ I’ll have the perfect Joyful Mournful Celebratory rituals ready for then, too. It’s what I do.


On Top of The World

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The Benton County Fair

The boy agreed to go to the fair! AND he joyfully checked out the goats with me! Oh I have a goat dream. And a cow dream. And the chickens! Alas, not today…

We both love going to the fair. Okay, truth be told, and he did tell me this, he loves the fair because the fair makes me happy ♥ He’s there for the rides.

Hayden's Ferris Wheel Adventure

Even braving the Ferris Wheel.

Confronting his incredible fear of heights; calmly and quietly. Sometimes making snide comments about those who were not handling it so well.

Then he’d breathe some more, with his hands firmly clasped around the center pole thingiemadoodle.

Heights of Courage

I find myself a fan of the calmer rides, not minding the heights so much, while Hayden thinks he prefers a good spin, closer to the ground. Lucky for him, most of the rides available are a chiropractic emergency waiting to happen! Lucky for me, the Spider is a pretty happy compromise (in the absence of a Tilt-O-Whirl). Hayden didn’t like this one so much. He was unprepared for the Big Spins & I am no longer big enough to counter them by myself.

Post Ride

So we decided to stick with what we know: The Scrambler: no surprises, same ride every time. Except when mom points out to the dude one of the cars that needs folks rearranged and in gratitude he gives us an extra long ride in which mom is alternately smashed against you or doing her weakling best to pull herself away while giggling at the absurdity of it all, which means she’s probably trying not to pee, too. I thought I might barf when it was finally over. Good thing I took a picture before the ride!


Determined to get to as many rides as were available, Hayden went on the bumpercars next. Without me. I had no desire to get whipped around after my well-done Scrambling.

Hayden Prepares to Drive

I was a bit tempted once I saw The Ninja, though…

This spinning thing, no temptation for me a’tall, no-siree, uh-uh, no way in hell. Hayden, on the other hand, lives for this fair ride. Ever since that one guy let him on 1,000 times in a row when he was still 3 inches too short for their rules, this has been The Ride of Any Fair Any Where Any Time: The Galaxy 2000 (Same ride by any other name, spins as sweet)

The Spinning Room

When Hayden encountered the old-fashioned, open-air version of this ride, he unequivocally refused to ride.
Citing it as completely unsafe.
He’s probably right.

We finished off our ride extravaganza with the Ride Formerly Known as The Himalaya. Big round and round, hilly ride, loud music, and a backwards trip to finish us off. Another squish mom into the kid ride. Seen here from the Ferris Wheel. Along with pretty much the entirety of the Benton County Midway Rides. The tent at the top center is where the Guess Who was playing. 

I love this shot of me on the Ferris Wheel, with our beautiful mountains

So Beautiful Here!

I managed to get a carmel apple, cotton candy and a big ol’ talk-about-cows before we left for the night! Life is Good!!

I’m That Mom

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Ed, diana & Hayden, July 2010

I’m the mom who, right this minute, is delaying her travel plans to give her son more time with his very bestest friend who lives 22 hours from home.
… has another visit, with another friend, built into the travel plans. Still.
… loves to talk about how to incorporate Hayden’s gaming desires into our family’s budget. With Hayden.
… loves making those desires a reality & seeing her son’s heart swell with a deep feeling of being worthy.
… allowed her 9.5 year old daughter to make her OWN choices in an acute medical situation.
… knows in her heart that her offspring have more to teach HER than she could ever imagine teaching them.
… works long & hard on her own inherited baggage, so one cycle is ended and another, healthier one, begins.
… isn’t afraid to make light of the darkest moments in life. No matter how *inappropriate* she may be deemed.
… never wants to be viewed as a hypocrite, so she errs on the side of TMI.
… has faith bigger than circumstance.
… loves deeply in ways heretofore unthought of.
… thinks a good ol fart joke (or a loud fart) makes the world a funnier place to be.
… still struggles daily with her deep desire to have her daughter back and for these 4.5 years to have been a dream.
… realizes she wouldn’t be who she is without everything that has happened; so she begrudges herself nothing & shines without regret.

‘Round the House

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Click pictures to embiggen them 🙂 It’s worth it!

Patrick carries the Torch

Alex's Avatar inspired sparklers

just one of Philip's completed projects

Rock Slide at Alsea for Elizabeth & Philip

Markel's Courage!

Sweet Summer Romance

Elizabeth practices for DaVinci Days

Ford Apollo is getting bigger by the minute

My artwork inspires...

…and back again!

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Tenacious Muffin

Tenacious Muffin

Upon leaving Sioux Falls, I’d gathered up three extra children (Alex and Elizabeth, whom I planned to bring, and Philip, who was a surprise guest on the trip) and we headed due west. We’d made it an hour before a breakfast break became necessary. 130 miles later, when we stopped for gasoline, I was surprised to discover the muffin-to-go was still on the roof of the car. Dubbed “Tenacious Muffin” and adopted as our trip’s mascot, never a more-loved pastry has existed.  Our guy hung on all the way to Bozeman, MT, where circumstance required a power-washing of the tank and we, once again, neglected the muffin on the roof.  Tenacity has it’s limits apparently.

Tenacious Muffin

Tenacious Muffin

I’d overfilled my oil, back in Rapid City the second time, so we were in need of assistance, the free kind.  So we took to the internal roads of Bozeman until we happened upon a sweet little mom & pop (okay more pop than mom) oil changing place.  The guys, as expected, took good care of me, with humor and a graciousness that is alive and well in my universe.  I thought briefly they might poke fun at the silly woman who make such a silly mistake… in reality though, I think they all just prayed for us to have a happy and safe trip.  And they helped us out, for free. Probably helped that the kids were so dang cute!


Why yes I am this smart


I love The Doctor!

Hayden (and his new ‘do):

SD Sushi!

Philip (and his first REAL donut):

I can't wait to stab it's eye out...

It’s amazing how it all worked out, rotating out of the coyote den sleeping space, talking and laughing and enjoying… the trip home felt short and truly sweet ♥

To South Dakota…

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Goodbye Joe! Goodbye Gramma!

Hayden and I began Our Adventure on Wednesday, June 23… the day after two of our dear friends left this plane of existence. We brought them with us in Spirit! What road trip doesn’t need an extra mountain-climbing-unschooling-dad and a mama-to-the-coolest-chick-in-town? Their guidance was well received and enjoyed for of our 3200 miles!

Wide Sky Life

Lots of miles, lots of sunshine, lots of bizarre topics of conversation… We  were pretty dang impressed by Minerva’s Mjǫllnir Volvo performance ♥ Any day now, the girl will officially have traveled 250,000 miles!

Our travels were made oh-so-much easier by having scheduled breaks (with unschoolers!) all along the route… We left early & had a 2 hour lunch a mere 5 hours later with our King/Shawley friends in Kennewick, WA; then had a soft clean bed to crash upon 6 hours later, followed by hours of coffee and chat with Deb Lewis and her menagerie. Did I mention coffee and chat? Both were exactly what I needed to break the road weary brain function that cumulates with every curve! We had a mere 9 hours to go before the next BIG break: visiting the Buxcels in Rapid City.

Bestie Beasties

We wisely took two nights and a *whole* day to spend with our terrifically missed family. I at once felt like catching up while falling right in…

Han Solo meets Sage

My Friend Stone

The Moon Girls

I don’t know how it is I’ve managed to exist these many days without these people in my everyday world, except I’ve somehow managed to keep them very present in my thoughts and in my heart… This was where I felt most at home on the trip. And it was the company, not the location. Well, okay, it was the food, too!

Hayden had a day of Saylor and airsoft guns, while I danced between Sage, My-Friend-Stone & the newest clan member, Zuri Luna River.  She and I got to be together on the Strawberry Moon of June.  I’m so honored.  Plus, we went to the formerly-Gigglebees and did all the Gigglebees things we know, love and miss so much! I got high score twice on Centipede and the boys had a heyday with the tickets from skee-ball, not to mention laser tag!!

We continued on, wisely hitting the road in the early (read: cooler) morning, with only 5 hours to go to our final destination: Sioux Falls!  Where we instantly gathered some of our favorite things: lunch at Spezia’s with Donna, Bruce, Trisha, Adam, Breann & Brayden ♥ We were then treated to some of Eli’s sacred time, an old-fashioned thunderstorm & an evening with old friends.
For me, this included seeing an amazing (storm damaged venue be damned) Janitor Bob and the Armchair Cowboys show, while Hayden hung out with Alex and Elizabeth.
Sunday was so beautiful, I was compelled to stop by Falls Park and play some Uke for Hannah, on her bench

Puff the Magic Dragon for Hannah

I got to hang out with Mom & Dad – with Rhonda, Louis and their mom Kelly

You got funky ear, too!

Gramma and her Ginger

He looks like his name should be Eddie!

Her last day at 15...

My farts are a sign of happiness!

diana spoons by payton

THEN we got to have parkday with the locals – and Trisha + babies! With Sushi!

Han Solo at McKennan Park with Sushi Masa

H's New Summer 'Do

Bre's a-Ukin'


And just when it can’t get any better, I got dinner with my not-photograph-able friend and her adorable family (she’s adorable, too – it’s a soul-snatching instinct or something, she cannot be photographed!)

The man smart enough to snatch Mel off the market, 16 years ago!

Three monkey babies

Oh my! ’twas an amazing and beautiful trip… and this is only the first half and it doesn’t include the twins… More soon! ♥

2010 LIFE is Good 1

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Prepared for another Memorial Day Weekend of Amazingness, we packed up the Dream Wagon and headed to the LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference.

Family Reunion in the Driveway

Family Reunion in the Lobby

Everywhere I looked there were happy people & those who were being helped to get back to happy 🙂 An entire weekend of Assumed Positive Intent. Powerful stuff, I tell ya.
Powerful enough for my friend Linda to perform in the Talent Show ♥

The Courageous Moment

Even when he's not there, I'm strumming him

Me, Cris & Han Solo

Powerful enough for me to share my music with my people ♥
Powerful enough for me to have musical inspiration to share! ♥

You Are My Sunshine

My Art

My Edible Art

I shared, too, my arts. My Garden Dudes, Bowls & even my very own Birthday Cheesecake!  (I had amazing carrot cupcakes, that I ate without documenting – YUM!)
And I got to be inspired by young artists all around me!

The Flying Dog

Clothespin Doll

Diana & Juliet

And I got to hop and play and hug and dance with lots of little friends!

The Playroom, aka Birthing Center

My New Redheaded Stepchild!

Me & Edith

Adventures of Hayden

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Hayden is off this week, on a Grand Adventure to Kennewick, WA, to stay with his friend Kalel. As an only child, I imagine becoming one of 5 is a whole new world for him!
We’re keeping in touch with a lot of text messaging (yes, an unschooler who can read and write, no coercion, no curriculum, no lessons) and I’ve requested pictures. So far here are the Hayden sent images:

Halfway Up a Mountain

“Mom! I saw some purebred Newfies! They ARE as big as bears!”

Newfie on the Mountain

Today he received his charger & upon charging his phone, he sent these:

Monkey Face

Monkey Dude

He had some excitement today that his amazing hostess documented for me at Facebook


The Traaseths Visit (a peek!)

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When it’s freezing freaking cold at the beach (as it usually is in Oregon), climb the nearest bluff and find magic! ♥

View from Underland

Beautiful Magic!

Kyra & Hayden

It’s hard to tear away and go back into the wind


Though some seem fully impervious

Friendship warms the heart -- good thing, too!

For most of us, walking back through the wind was merely an excuse to get to the SouthBeach Fish Co!

Folks travel for miles & lightyears to eat here!

And eventually, to make our way back to Corvallis, for friends

The Girls!

And music

Patrick performs

and another round or 4 of breakfast at Sunnyside Up!

More Sunnyside Up

girls who heal my heart, still

I had the incredible honor to share my afternoon with these two amazing spirits.
I’ll be sniggering for years, as I recall snatches of our incredibly intense and varied conversations.

Willow's Chicken Dance

W: I have lots of questions about Hannah.
D: Ask them, I’ll tell ya.
W: I’m really glad we buried some of Hannah with my chicken (Porch)
W: I really love graveyards.
D: You do?
W:Yeah, they’re so cool. But I’ve never been to one, Linda thinks they’re creepy.
D: I’d LOVE to go to a graveyard with you! We’ll bring our cameras.
[mind you, we’ve been talking Hannah, but this statement just came flying out, whilst we drove down the road…]
W: I’m afraid to die. I think it hurts to stop breathing.
D: ::blink, blink::
R: Oh Willow, you don’t have to be afraid! It can’t hurt. And remember your chicken? She’ll be there when you stop breathing…
D: Sweetie, it doesn’t hurt when it’s your time to die. I’ve held two people when they stopped and I will gladly tell you whatever you want to know about how it happens. (stopped car) Though, probably not at McDonalds. We’ll save this one for home.

Rowan's Chicken Dance

D: Hey Rowan, I know something you know…
R: You’re cute?
[Rowan’s hand is out her open window in a fast car]
R: The wind is blowing right in my face & in my eyeballs!
D: Try moving your hand.
[pulls hand into car]
R: Wow! it stopped!!

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