Surf Camp and Sea Turtles

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Tracks
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Tracks

*This was originally posted at Perfectly Flawed Woman on 8/12/2013.

Addy and I took a little girlie trip over to Cocoa Beach so she could attend a  Mary Moon Surf & Art camp for the week. We joined friend Molly and her parents and had a wonderful time. The camp was split into half day surf,  break for lunch, then half day art. They had so much fun, you couldn’t pull them out of the water.  The art consisted of Batik, Palm Boot painting and mosaic frames. Addy painted her palm boot into a wonderful shark!  What we hadn’t considered is that it was sea turtle season. For whatever reason that never entered my mind, so it ended up being a nice bonus! Along with the launch of a rocket from Kennedy Space Center, we couldn’t have planned this better.

The Crew!
The Crew!

Sea Turtles nesting season is from March through October on the Atlantic coast, and from May through October on the Gulf coast. On our first night we all took walk on the beach and Holey Moley if we didn’t witness a mama sea turtle coming out of the ocean to possibly nest. Amazing! We stepped back, hushed up and gave her space as we squinted and tried to watch her crawl up towards the dunes in the dark. When she reached them, we sat and waited a while, giving her time to begin the nesting process. We did approach briefly to see if she was laying eggs but she had dug a hole and appeared to be turning around, so we left to give her peace. The next day we walked over to see what she had done, there were a couple of holes started, but mostly she took a stroll along the dunes, not finding a proper nesting location this time around.


Summer Art and Surf Camp
Time for a break!

We all became protection police for the Sea Turtles, filling in holes on the beach and letting those with flashlights at night know that this could be a distraction to mama nesters or baby sea turtles trying to find their way to sea.  I couldn’t help but feel that it’s no surprise only 1 of 1000 (yes those are real statistics) of babies hatched make it to adulthood. They first have to make it past all the human-made setbacks, lights, holes in sand, etc, then the birds, the crabs, the raccoons….  Once they make it to sea, they swim like mad to get out into deeper water (talk about a tough first 24-48 hours of life). Then of course they have to make it to adulthood pending they don’t mistake a plastic bag for a jellyfish or get caught in a 6-pack ring….  Nuts!

So knowing all this, it was a truly magical site to see one coming out of the sea like that!

Need to freshen up on how to help the Sea Turtles? Here are a few great resources below, but for now:

  • Lights out on the coast, no flashlights or flash cameras at night.
  • Fill in your holes please after building that castle and mote.
  • Don’t bother marked nests, markers, signs or tracks.
  • Do not approach, touch or get in front of adult or baby sea turtles.
    Walk along water’s edge, not at dune line.

NESTS – Neighbors Ensuring Sea Turtle Survival
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Ocean Conservancy

Norwegian Holiday Traditions

A Norwegian family Christmas

For Chirstmas 2013 we officially welcomed in  a new member of the family when my sister married her boyfriend, of two years, from Norway.  The Norwegian culture is not one I thought about often prior to her meeting Audun, but we’ve now been fully introduced to it having shared a mostly traditional Christmas with them and spending 10 days in the country for my sister’s wedding.

A Norwegian Christmas is a bit different than our own. Presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve for one. Instead of Santa coming overnight, in Norway Santa Claus, Julenissen, arrives the evening of the 24th with gifts. Traditionally, Norway also has  gift-bearing little gnome or elf known as Julebukk or “Christmas buck,” he appears as a goat-like creature. This goes back to Viking times when pagans worshipped Thor and his goat. During pagan celebrations a person dressed in a goatskin, carrying a goat head, would burst in upon the party, Christmas Eve dinner, and during the course of evening would “die” and return to life. Few keep this tradition up today.

We spent Christmas, Jul, with Natasha and Audun in 2011 and they combined our Italian roots with his Norwegian. In Norway a Christmas pig provides the bulk of the meat dishes. They served a Ribbe, or Roasted Pork Belly with the traditional sides of sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. Audun also treated us to gravlaks, which is salt-and-sugar-cured salmon, seasoned with dill. Not a Christmas dish, but very Norwegian and so good!

Gravlaks, a Norwegian speciality

A favorite holiday cookie is called a sand kager is made by mixing 2 cups of butter and sugar, 4 cups of flour, and 1 cup of chopped almonds. Then pressed into a tin, baked until golden brown, and cut into squares.

The decorations of the holiday lean natural, the tree decorated with candles, apples, red harts, cornets, straw ornaments, balls of glass and tinsels, all depending on what you like. The homes have a scent of hyacinths, red tulips, spices and tangerines. You may also find elfin ‘nisse’ decorations. Tradionally the nisse guarded all the farm animals, and played tricks on the children if they forgot to place a bowl of special porridge out for him.

Nisse decorations
Nisse decorations

A Holiday wouldn’t be complete without cheer.  In Norway there is a tradional Julebryg-style dark rye ale as well as Aquavit an aged Norwegian spirit. You hold up a glass and yell “Skol”.

Aquavit, Norwegian

Happy Christmas, GodJule, to you and your family, whatever your traditions!



Bedtimes and the “Real World”

Bedtimes schedule by age and time of waking.


This Sleeping “Bedtimes”  Schedule was hot on Facebook recently and when I saw it I literally laughed out loud, then shook my head. I was reading through the comments, and this one caught my attention:

“I think it’s vitally important they get all the rest their bodies need, so that means they’re up later than the “outside” world… about 8. If they were to get up earlier they’d need to be in bed by 7, but that’s just not practical for our family. My only concern is this… will this make them not morning people when they’re adults that have jobs requiring them to be awake much earlier?” (Note: this was a thread on a Homeshcooling/Unschooling Facebook Page)

The sentence that struck me the most is “Will this make them not morning people when they’re adults that have jobs requiring them to be awake much earlier?”  Hmm? I know plenty of people who attended school for 12+ years, having to get up very early, who today are not morning people. If you’re not a morning person you either find a job that allows you to sleep in or make your own hours or you get up and get to your job or learn very quickly that you won’t have it for long otherwise.

“I can’t help noting that no cultures in the world that I have ever heard of make such a fuss about children’s bedtimes, and no cultures have so many adults who find it so hard either to go to sleep or wake up.”               -John Holt


As an un-schooling family we allow our children to regulate their own bedtimes and wake times because we believe all bodies are on different clocks and need different amounts of sleep at different times in their lives. We are lucky that most of our days are not controlled by anything outside our own choosing. Many mornings our teens are not up until between 9 and 10 O’clock.  Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. However, when presented with something that motivates them positively, or with enough notice, they are up plenty early as needed.  When I’ve heard the pros and cons of Unschooling come up in conversation, often the topic of bedtimes comes up.  It’s assumed and accepted that one needs 12 years of being forced to wake up at a certain time to enable them to do so for a job later in life, in the ‘real world’. I don’t buy it at all. Speaking for myself during schooling years, all this did was start my day off poorly, assist in helping me to fall asleep at my desk and add to the stress level of myself and my family.

I believe that if a person is driven by something they’re interested in and that something starts at an early hour a choice will be made to either choose something that starts later or they will learn to get up earlier. The only reason this sleep schedule is necessary  is by prescribing to a system that requires us to wake up before our body is ready. Children and teenagers need this sleep to learn and develop. If you do a simple search you’ll find many studies showing that teens and even adults need later start times to their day. You’ll find that schools that have implemented later start times find improvements in students functionality.  I can’t help but find it funny that we need studies for this. If we pay attention to how we feel, how our children feel, the amount of stress that takes place around bedtimes and wake times, it’s pretty obvious that we’ve forced a schedule around a culture of work and school times.




Homeshooling: EPCOT Scavenger Hunt

Epcot Scavenger hunt
Morocco Pavillion at EPCOT

I love Disney as much now as I did as a child so it’s no surprise we go often! My husband & I’s favorite park is EPCOT and we got lucky, it’s our kids favorite too. You can’t go to EPCOT & learn nothing, NOT possible, but we took it to the next level by creating an EPCOT Scavenger Hunt! Just engage with the Cast Members. Did you know that the Cast Members in each of the Pavillions in the World Showcase are hired from those countries? They are and it’s great fun and a super educational experience to talk to them about their home country. Go for it, it’s easy and so much fun!

Here is a Scavenger Hunt I created for our recent trip to EPCOT. The kids LOVED it! You can use it as is or research the other countries on-line. A great Disney resource is So GO create and have fun learning!

Countries General (these were all a ton of fun!)
1.Learn to spell & say Hello, Goodbye & Thank you in the language of each country.
2.Which Candy-bar best represents each country?
3.Have a picture taken of you wearing a hat from each country.
4.What is the hat called in the native language?
5.Take a picture of the flag of each country.
6.What is the dominate religion of each country?
7.Find out what the acronym of EPCOT used to be?

Individual Countries – we choose a few to focus on, most answers given in ().

1. What is the pyramid modeled after? (aztec temple of quetzalcoatl
at Teotihuacan, Mexico)
2. Whatʼs the name of the animal wood carving art? (oaxacan wood
3. What is Dia de los Muertos? (Day of the Dead) Very interesting, spark up a conversation
with a cast member about the details of this holiday, why it’s celebrated, what it represents, the date, etc.

1. What is the structure modeled after? (building & tower) (Doge
Palace – prison & St. Marks Campanile – Bell Tower)
2. Learn about the masks. Where are they made, what do they
represent, what are they used for, is there a celebration around
them? (Engage a Cast Member in the Mask shop)
3. There are three wood burning ovens in Via Napoli, what are the
names of the three active volcanoes that these represent?
(stromboli, etna, vesuvio)
4. Learn five words in Italian.

1. Find out the time of the Taiko (what does this mean?) drum show
and watch it.
2. What is the red structure in the water called? Itʼs the entrance to a
what? (torrei, shrine)
3. Find kakigōri and sample a flavor. (shave ice)

1. What language do they speak here? (Arabic) (Great time learning words in Arabic, we had a cast member write some down even).
2. What continent is Morocco on? (Africa)
3. Name three foods specific to Morocco. Letʼs try one! (Great shop in the market with food items, then we had lunch:-).
4. The prayer tower at the entrance of the pavilion*** is a detailed replica
of the Koutoubia Minaret in the city of Marrakesh.
5. What Hollywood Studio’s attraction is visible from this pavilion and is
designed to blend in? (tower of terror, must be at a good distance to see this)
***The king of Morocco sent his royal craftsmen to lay all the tile work, carvings and paintings in the pavilion.

1. The waterway running next to the France Pavilion represents the
Seine as it flows through? (Paris)
2. Locate the spitting Gargoyle. What does this guard in France?
(Notre Dame)
3. Find three cast members from three different cities and have them
locate their hometown for you on a map. (I-pad or paper map).


Here’s some additional cool things while at EPCOT!

Head over to Club Cool! 
This “exhibit” situated near Innoventions West, offers free samples of soft drinks from around the world, as well as Coca-Cola merchandise. They updated the beverage choice in 2013 an currently have samples from Italy, Greece, Thailand, Japan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Peru and Brazil. Enjoy!

In Paris!
You may notice the ugly green metal boxes lining the wall that separates the pavilion from World Showcase Lagoon. In Paris, boxes similar to these line the embankments of the Seine. Containing rare books, artwork, and modern-day souvenirs, bouquinistes (secondhand booksellers) hawk their wares from these boxes, just like their ancestors have been doing since the 1500’s. Note, nothing is sold from these boxes at the France Pavilion.

There is a lovely park-like setting bordering the “Seine.” Although not accessible to the public, this area of the France Pavilion was inspired by the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by pointillist artist Georges Seurat. In reality, this was better illustrated before International Gateway was build and the embankment installed.

Jardin à la française (French formal garden) is a style of landscaping based on balance and symmetry. The idea is to impose “order” into nature

African Outpost!
Located between the China and Germany Pavillions, head here to get your groove at the interactive drum circle!

Their is really and incredible amount of fun and learning to be had at EPCOT!

Free to Learn



*originally posted on Perfectly Flawed Woman on August 21, 2013.

We moved back into the house our son Gavin was born in January of this year. It’s a very small home, under 800 sq ft. We came from a very large house on a large piece of property that we tremendously enjoyed renting for just over a year. We’ve been purging a little at a time ever since. This week I tackled the boxes of old school papers, artwork, agendas, etc. We’ve been unschooling, a form of homeschooling, for just over two years now and our outlook on “school & education” has changed dramatically. Looking through these boxes, seeing progress reports and assessments from Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd… grade made me shake my head. I got to thinking how these things are only needed in a structured school system setting. Why do my kids need to feel like they are not as good as or better than the other kids of their age?  They don’t, and shouldn’t.

It reminded me of when they were babies, toddlers, when all the mothers would gather around and fluff themselves up discussing their babies progress. “Mine walked, talked, was potty trained by…” UGH, it used to make me crazy. Who cares and why do new moms need to compare their babies to others?  Most of our babies are fine regardless of walking at nine or 15 months, unless there is a serious condition, they all WILL walk, talk and be potty trained on their own time, when they are ready.

This is why I love unschooling, to allow them to learn and excel on their own time, at their own speed. It allows them to research things that may not be in the curriculum at the LEVEL” they should” be on in a school system or choose to bypass it completely if it’s something they have no interest in. It’s amazing witnessing the freedom they have, seeing what they naturally gravitate to, their life is so rich.

Just a couple of years ago when we began this new journey, I was unable to throw away these items, these school agendas with the reports and assessments, yesterday it was easy. I know now that these things are not what make up our kids and are not important to their future. I did keep a good bit of the art, at least the artwork that was more individual, not the cut and paste stuff that every child in the class would have done.



Free to Learn by Peter Gray can be found here if you’d like more information about how important Play is in a child’s development!