7 Quick Takes -Tedx edition



I was invited to attend TEDx Orange Coast at Segerstrom Center of the Arts.  I could bring a friend, so my best friend, Sky went with me.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  There are two big 4- day TED conferences each year, and then there are smaller, locally planned, 1 day conferences called TEDx.  TED  brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). TEDx does the same, but in a local venue, organized by local people. The theme this year was: Redefining Relevance.

The photo above is is Jazz musician Ray Goren who is 12 years old.  Wow.



Our introduction to TED was through Ted Talks online.  Ted Talks are a way to share what TED is, a way to share the world's most inspiring voices.  Sky found TED talks online, and would come home and share them with me and the kids.   I didn't know how it would all work when we got to TEDx, I thought we would move around and pick the talks we were interested in.  Instead, everyone went to the main concert hall and each speaker followed each other with a few breaks in between.  It was like listening to a college professor lecture,  a lecture where the speaker was sharing their biggest passion to you.  It was very easy to listen to, and easy to capture the inspiration.

The sign we are standing next to above was made by Ryan McCann, retired quarterback for the UCLA Bruins.  He makes art using fire. His wooden portrait "Coach" can be seen at the UCLA Hall of Fame.


My favorite speaker was Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school student who invented an accurate and inexpensive test for early detection of pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers.  He began searching for a way to test for pancreatic cancer after loved ones died of the disease.  He decided to find away to test for a certain protein and then had to research through thousands of protein to find a likely candidate.  Next, once he found his protein and researched a way to test for it, he had to convince University professors to lend him a lab.  It all sounded impossible, but he did it.  He had this message for teens on facebook:  "We don't want to see your duck-face photos, instead, you can be changing the world or curing pancreatic cancer."



The lovely ladies/beekeepers from Backyard Bees had a table in the lobby.  They make and sell honey products, rescue/remove/re-home bee hives and manage hives.  Sky has a big interest in keeping bees, but our lovely, golden neighbor is allergic to bees, so we don't have a hive.  Maybe someday. Did I mention that they are local?  One of the ladies lives in my neighborhood.  :)


Other favorite speakers:

*Nigel Nisbet.  A Mathematics teacher from England.  Moving to the U.S. and teaching his first highschool class here was a bit of a negative revelation.  He finally had success with a bar of chocolate...{he had my attention there!}  He moved into challenging his students to think about something they can touch, feel, and smell.  He had such success in the classroom that he became the Mathematics Specialist for LAUSD; instructing other teachers how to teach Math effectively.  From there he moved on to the nonprofit MIND research Institute.  He is working on using a computer game that is fun, engaging, visual and interactive to teach students Math.  The game looked good- I'm hoping for a homeschool version someday :)

He spoke about teaching students effectively, teaching them to think in Math.  The hands-on aspect of his talk spoke to this homeschool mom.  I hunted him down afterwards and tried to put in a pitch for smart, determined homeschool moms everywhere.

*Lara Lee, named a "Master of Innovation" by BusinessWeek...smart, positive woman.  She said "Channel your fear. If you want to change directions, you need to lean into it."  She was referencing riding a motorcycle and how you have to lean into the turns, and how the faster you are going, the more you have to lean...which can be really scary at first.

*Pascal Finette,  he talked about Chaord: Chaos and Organization.  He said to participate in the culture, and not be only a consumer, but a producer.  "It is those who participate that will create change."  He also said, "Let go of something to make room for something."  He said a lot more that I wrote down, but I'll stop now...hopefully soon I will be able to link to their recorded talks.

*Reggie Littlejohn, former high-power attorney who now leads the fight in combating abortion, gendercide and sex trafficking in China. She represents Chinese refugees in their political asylum cases and is President of Women's Rights without Frontiers.  She is actively working to change things for women in China.



Mike Kenyon from Free Wheelchair Mission spoke.  They provide wheelchairs for the disabled poor in the developing world. He spoke about being on a mission trip with his church and realizing that the disabled were totally invisible in poor countries because the could not move about and were often left alone in small, dark homes or even laying out on the streets.  In his talk, he said, to "focus on one need, one issue" and "go out there and make a difference because out there is someone who needs you." I had the chance to talk to a representative of Free Wheelchair Mission and learned about how they make and ship the wheelchairs.  They are really ingenious.  The seats come off, and are like regular backyard plastic chairs, except thicker and stronger.  The rest of the wheelchair comes apart and is shipped in flat boxes.  The wheels are bicycle wheels, better suited to rough/uneven terrain and easy to fix or replace.  There is a bicycle pump on the back and a patch kit for easy repairs.  They also have a second model for children that is more adjustable.  This mission really spoke to my heart because my stepmother has to use a wheelchair most of the time now.  Her wheelchair is electric and very well-made and very much a necessity.  I can't imagine not having access to a good wheelchair like so many of the disabled in poor countries.  I think this is a charity well worth giving to.


All in all, it was an amazing day.  It was one of those experiences where your sleepy brain wakes up and comes to attention.  I haven't felt so challenged and stimulated to go out and be part of the change since I was in college.  As an adult with a full life of family and duties and cares...it's kind of easy to get into a comfortable routine.  I liked how TEDx challenged me to think deeply about things I hadn't really thought a lot about.  I hope we can attend next year.

*7 Quick Takes is hosted every Friday over at Conversion Diary. Click over to join up!

Sharing our stories on the internet: transparency vs. privacy

My blog life presents a bit of a conundrum for me.  It's a web- log;  a diary of my days, a diary of my thoughts, a diary of my feelings.  And yet, my blog is out there on the public internet and people I've never met and never will meet, visit and read my thoughts.  So, yes, it is a diary of my feelings but it is also a public airing of those feelings.  How much is too much when sharing online?  Should I hesitate to write experiences that put others around me in a bad light?  Is it fair?  Is it right?  What if sharing my experiences help others facing the same sorts of problems?  I think for women with a conscience too big, too sensitive- it’s a bit hard to step out and tell the tales you’ve been conditioned all your life to not speak of. This post by Catherine Connors resonated with me, and got me thinking hard about how open to be with my blogging:

I bad mouthed my Mother-in-Law on a blog-then she found out By Catherine Connors on Lemondrop.com

Yikes!  Her words spoke truth to me, made me think more about transparency vs. discretion; my truth vs. fairness.   Mostly, I was glad it wasn’t me…

*I'm also going to take a moment here to say that Sky's mother is wonderful, no complaints.  (really, truly- we lived across the street from Sky's parents for almost 10 years, and I would do it again in a heartbeat).

Catherine Connors vented online about a family member, she tried to hide it a bit by not putting it on her own blog, but she did sign her name to it..a mistake, in hindsight.  When it was found, sometime later, she had to do some serious apologizing.  Still, she also had this to say:

“But I also said this: that I wasn’t sorry that I had written it in the first place. I wasn’t sorry, I said, because I believed — and still do — very firmly in the importance of women sharing these kinds of stories, these difficult stories that we are so often told not to tell, not to share. How would I, a new mom struggling with depression, fighting through that depression to find her place in her expanding family, know that I was not alone in that experience if other women were not telling those stories?….  How would I know that it is not just me, if we never told these stories, if we kept them hidden behind the heavy curtain of familial privacy, inside the quiet domain of the private sphere?”

“… my obligations to my family do not extend to fully silencing myself, I don’t think. Because if we accept this as one of our duties, as women, to family — to keep quiet, to be silent on all matters concerning family — then we condemn ourselves to remaining behind the veil, our voices unheard, our stories untold, our world — or that portion of our world, large or small, that is the world of family — forever cut off from the public sphere. And that hurts us, I think.”

I agree with her words, as part of a greater community of women, I do think that sharing our stories can uplift, teach, and even rescue other women. I reject a worldview where women are seen and not heard, hidden, even if only figuratively, behind a veil.  I do believe that sharing our experiences and trials can help other women realize that they are not alone in their circumstances- and that sometimes, not feeling totally alone can inspire courage.

And yet, ...and yet, my stories are not usually just about me, but involve my family, my loved ones, my friends.  My hand pulls back from the keys because I know that every story has two sides and more than one point of view.  There is a stigma about airing family dirty laundry to the world.

and yet...and yet, I don't want to feel alone in my struggles.  I know, from personal experience, that being isolated during times of personal crisis can be debilitating.  We are intensely social creatures, being surrounded by a sisterhood that cares and understands and maybe, even, have walked in my shoes can make all the difference.

How do you feel about transparency vs. privacy in blogging?  Do you let it all hang out or are there some topics off-limits?  Do you use your kids’ names on your blog? Is sharing of family drama a traitorous act?  Do you enjoy more the blogs that spill it all out and shock a little?  Or do you avoid those?

Your thoughts?


p.s. if this post looks a little familiar, I published a different version of this a few years ago elsewhere


Well, our school year is winding up.  We just finished up with our Biola Star classes, the 3 youngest are done with their charter school but we have another week of charter school for my two high school students.  I feel like my load has lifted a lot, but like I still have a lot hanging over my head with finishing up the high schooler's year.  We have some essays and projects to finish up and record before our last meeting. This homeschool year was not my best year.  I am clearly going to have to dedicate myself this Summer to super-organizing for next year.  With that in mind, I am planning on using My Father's World next year for everyone but Meg.  Meg will be in her Senior year next year, History as a subject is over for her and we already have a really full course planned for her.   I really, really liked the schedule pages for My Father's World.  The schedule grid looked about the same as the History course we area already using, but- it had spaces for all subjects on the page (A.D.D. mom does not do well having to flip around to other schedules) and also some helpful little notes in some of the squares reminding you to do something or telling you where to find something.  I really need that.  The best part was the facing page- It listed the days of the weeks with directions on what you should be doing each day.  } This works with how my brain thinks.    I have figured out how to line up our History plans with what MFW is offering.  I think/hope it will be a really good change.  [Worksheets].  I saw ample worksheet offerings and narration sheets and coloring sheets...swoon. I am so glad I was able to see this curriculum in person, otherwise I would not have realized how much I like it.

I am still going strong with watching what I eat and exercising daily.  I am now up to level 3 of the 30Day Shred and I can run more of my mile & a- half route.  I've lost six pounds already and feel so much better.  Here's the neat part, yesterday while I was doing my Shred, one of the kids was watching me.  In the past, I would exercise in the privacy of my room, using the laptop but something is wrong with the disc drive and I can't use it now...so, it's the desk-top in the front room or the t.v in the living room.  Well, this un-named kid was watching me and watching Jillian Michaels and laughing at me when I couldn't do the full-on sit-ups with my legs straight (those are hard!)  She asked if she could do the workout with me the next day.  I am really happy over this.

Here's where I struggle with how much to share on-line and with how much to be real- and how to be helpful to other moms.  I think I am okay sharing this.  One of my kids, (I will not name) is a butter-ball.  I noticed from the start that she is built differently then the others, she has always been more sturdy, bigger-boned; I guess you could call it.  The last few years she has put on the weight and I've been distressed and unsure of how to help her.  My big handicap is the fear of giving her some kind of horrible body-issue- struggle for the rest of her life.  As a society, we've become really sensitive about body -issue problems with girls- and not contributing to them...but I feel left in the dark about what to do when your child does have a problem.  At first, I figured it was our problem, not hers.  She needs to just be a kid, we as the adults in her life needed to handle it by getting her more physical activity and watching that she eats more healthy.  Sounds good, but really hard when you have four other kids in the house who are built like you were as a child- athletic and can eat anything, all day.  We've tried to watch her like a hawk and remind her to only take 3 cookies, not the 8 she grabbed...to suggest fruit, to make her eggs instead of cereal for breakfast.  We've put her into after school activities just to watch her put in the minimal effort.  We've taken her out because it was a waste of money.  When I was a kid, I was almost always outside playing.  Here, there are no other kids on our block.  It's been a real struggle.  I don't know how to change it without singling her out, and I'm afraid of the issues I could cause if I deny her a snack but let the other kids have one.  I worry if I stop all snacks but healthy stuff, that she will begin to hide food and binge.  I worry she will resent me.

I've tired little efforts- taking her on mile long walks more regularly, trying to get out and play tennis at the park..but it isn't happening every day.  So- having her ask to workout with me is huge.  It's something she wants to do, not something I am pushing on her.  Jillian Michaels, you rock- and I am so glad that my daughter has found something in you to compel her to emulate you.  After we finished our first workout I pulled up a photo of Jillian in highschool, when she struggled with weight...to show my daughter that we all have our struggles but that we all can also get healthy.

Thank you, Jillian Michaels.




the interview

I've been tagged by the lovely and mysterious Caffeinated OC Mommy for an interview blog-meme. I'm going to be a good girl and blog this before my A.D.D. brain forgets all about it...

Microphone - B&W


here goes:

1) What is your favorite lipstick color?  Okay, here is the point, on the very 1st question, even! -where Caff might break-up with me. Confession: I don't have a favorite lipstick color!!  I should!  I would!  Um, but I keep forgetting or don't have time to go on the hunt for the perfect color.

I will tell you the color I have been wearing the last few months:  Raspberry Glace by the body shop.  It's a little too dark for me, I look best in a faint blush I think.  This color is close, but a bit too dark.  I put it on and then blot it down a notch.  I am so sorry to disappoint you, Caff!  {hanging my head in shame}

2) Betty? or Veronica?  Neither, my answer is Amy Pond.

3)  What's your best advice for a new blogger? Find your own voice, but don't be afraid to experiment a bit till you find it.  Post often (I fail at this! do as I say, not as I do!)  share the bloggy love and for goodness sake, no automated music or super busy backgrounds that make my eyes burn!

4)  Where's your favorite spot for a date night with the Hubby?  Dinner in Old Town Orange and then Barnes & Nobles

5) Why did you start blogging?  I wanted to share our daily life, specially our homeschool life- with family.  Funny though, I rediscovered a love of writing, made a new love of photography and made many friends online.  (the one family member I really hoped to share with has never read my blog, sadly)

6) If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?  Two places: back to Dublin, Ireland with Sky and anywhere  warm & tropical that has the word "Island" in it, with Sky.

7) Any future goals you'd like to share?  I'd like to learn how to use my camera and kyak with orcas. {I am currently badgering Sky to take me where I can kyak with Orcas...I'll report back}

since this is a meme, I will be tagging a few bloggers whom I would like to know better.  Here are the rules:

1) Post the rules.
2) Tag up to eleven 5 bloggers by posting links to their blogs, and let them know.
3) Create eleven 7 (it's lucky!) questions for the people you’ve tagged.
4) Answer the questions your tagger posed for you.

5)Have fun!

I am tagging-

Julie at Soldier's wife, crazy life

Theresa at Red Oak Lane

Karen at Just Twiddlin

Adrienne at The Mommy Mess

Jenny at Teaching my Baby to Read

ladies, I will email you my questions :)

So Cal Social- the rest of the story

I knew my post would be very photo-heavy, so I broke it up.  Here is the second half of our day:

(you can read the first half of the post here* So Cal Social part 1)

So...The So Cal Social was this special blogging event centered around socializing, shopping, blogging, swag and lunch.  The venue was the Orange Circle, old town Orange- which is this delightful old-fashioned spot filled with antique stores and unique dining spots.  It's one of my favorite places to walk around.

Photobucket Here we have the farmhouse table everyone stopped to drool at in one of the stores. Next, the brewery we stopped at for a deli snack. Kind of a neat place.


Lunch was at the Filling Station Cafe, and was really lovely.  We had our choice of lunch items, I had a turkey sandwich and these to-die-for Parmesan crusted french-fries.

Here I am on the right, sitting next to the lovely Bev, of Flamingo Toes. I met so many wonderful bloggers that day!


Shutter Nonsense set up a photo booth, with chalkboard and props. :)


Miss Priss Cupcakes shared their sweet, yummy goodness... and yes, they were as good as they looked!


this dazzling blog-fun day ended with special guest Mark Montano- he shared with the lunch crowd about his career in fashion design, his t.v. background and his adventures in book writing.  He is very, very nice, funny and friendly.  (I'm going to have to come back and add his photo, I've suddenly run into technical mouse-problems on my desktop...) He also shared with us autographed copies of his brand-new book.  The very end of the day concluded just down the street at Heavenly Hostess for an after- party with prizes, snacks and more fun.

It was really a blast of a day.  I am crossing my fingers and toes that it will happen again next year.

If so, I hope you will join us!

vote team Pedro ~ 2011 Homeschool Blog Awards!

The 2011 Homeschool Blog awards end tomorrow ( Friday, November 18th).

This blog is nominated in two categories:

I would love if you'd click over and vote for this lil ol' blog!!  Once you click over, if you click the circle on the left next to the blog name, that will cast your vote.  If you click on the actual blog names- you will jump to the blog, it's a great way to browse and discover new blogs to read.  *once you have voted in that category, however, the names will disappear, so do your browsing first!  Once the awards are all done, they will post a list of all nominees so you can go browse to your heart's content again.

You don't have to vote for each category, if you are not inclined-the lists are pretty long!

thank you for reading!! <3

So Ca Social at the Orange Circle

I was lucky enough to hear about this fun blogging event called the So Cal Social.  It was a day of mingling, shopping, lunching, exploring new shops and making new friends.  Here's a link to the So Cal Social page {I  hope they do this again next year!}

The Orange Circle was where it all happened- if you've never been, it's a sweet old-fashioned area with many shops, restaurants and antique shops.  It's a unique spot, several movies have made it a backdrop, several commercials, too.  It's my fav place to walk around on a nice day.


It's a fav spot for me, but- herding along 5 kids doesn't ever afford me the luxury of exploring the many interesting shops here. [Ever]

I usually only see the inside of the yogurt shop, the library, the bagel store, the martial arts studio...

  •  oh look, here is Mark Montano and a few bloggers in front of Down Home Antiques- a store I had *Never* been inside!

{Mark Montano was the special guest~ author of The Big A$$ Book of Crafts and t.v. personality and just all-around-nice guy}


Eikon Home {why yes, another store I have never been inside of!} was my pick of favorite store of the day- though it was hard to pick just one.  Mental note to go back one day and browse again.  Eikon Home is located on Glassel on the South side of the circle.

Our day began at the center of the circle (it's a traffic circle with a park in the center).  Once checked in, we were given a map of all the stores participating in the social, and a special swag bag to collect the wonderful swag the shops handed out...and it was handy for any purchases we might make, too. Ahem.

Yes, I said swag- insert blogger squeals here.


Paris in a Cup Tea Salon- {Yes, another store I've never been inside} very cute store with a bakery counter and a little restaurant where you can get tea. Swoon.

I joked with Mark Montano over our diet coke addictions, while we waited- with several other bloggers- for our diet cokes to go.  Whew, I was feeling faint there for a few minutes.  Shopping and walking will leave you feeling depleted...

  • I had to snap this photo of the guys chatting out these windows- not a sight usually seen on this street.  It was just so cute.


The Orange Circle (a.k.a Old Town Orange) is a sweet place.  It's very photogenic.

We caught the back end of this wedding photo shoot in an alley.  I love this shot!

Well, we shopped, laughed, consummed and then headed to lunch.  I have so many photos, I am going to break this up into two posts-

Lunch at The Filling Station will be in part 2

are you jealous yet?  Come next year! 



rejecting Martha Stewart's fate ~ beware, blogger-dearest

Martha Stewart's daughter,  Alexis is all over internet news with tidbits from her upcoming book; Whateverland: Learning to Live Here

It's the stuff news gossip is made for- kind of sad, kind of titillating.

After wincing over it (as a mother, how could I not wince?) I was struck with the warning buried within for mommy bloggers.

Alexis writes about growing up in a home where she was left to fend for herself while her mother tended her crafting empire, about a house filled with culinary cooking ingredients, but rarely actually prepared food for eating.  A lack of themed parties and celebrations in her real life.

I'm struck by the possibilities of awful parallels in our own mommy- blogger lives.  Beware of a life lived largely online...of beautiful crafts and art projects done only for the post, of perfectly cleaned home -beauty- spots while the rest of the house {off camera} -is deep in mess.

{Beware of living for the photo opp and missing the glorious boring everyday}

The sad headlines warn me to make sure to enjoy the moment, and celebrate my family- not my social networking opportunities. 

I don't know the truth behind the tantalizing book excerpt (and I highly suspect the book of being more parody than hurtful truth-she dedicated the book to her mom and is still part of Martha Stewart's media empire, it seems...)             however,

I still think a reminder to be real -offline as well as online-

{is a good thing}

for all of us.