I’d never heard of this program before, but it works for me! Basically, high-achieving kids at the high school are offered a guaranteed admission to a UC school just based on grade-point average.

This is an excerpt from the letter Bella received this weekend:

“Dear Bella,

As one of the highest-achieving seniors at your high school, you have satisfied the University of California’s admission requirements through Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC). I am pleased to guarantee your admission to UC Davis for fall 2011 in the major of your choice. Congratulations!

All you need to do to join the UC Davis class of 2015 is to apply by the November 30 deadline, complete required “a-g” coursework and exams, and maintain your academic performance.”

I am one proud mama!


Carmen Argote's 720 sq. ft.: Household Mutations at g727

Whether it is the neutrality of the painted white on brown or the simplicity of the large geometric shapes of the cut carpet hanging from the back of the gallery g727– it is difficult to comprehend that one is looking at an art installation, and not entering a room in the process of installation or renovation. This bodes well for a piece negotiating the relationship of physical space on an artist’s psyche; the carpet is literally the entire flooring of artist Carmen Argote’s childhood home, built in 1917 in the Pico Union area of Los Angeles, cut and displayed with her family’s permission. Reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread in how she tracks interior space, Argote has painted all but the edges of the carpet in white paint, creating a latex blueprint of her home: a pathway that invites walking all the way to the back wall where the path goes straight up to the ceiling. Upstairs, the second part of the installation reveals the artist’s process and iterations of the same project (g727, Downtown).

Defensive Yoda posture

Yoda Posture - Offense

Dear Baby,

If anything, living you with you is MORE fun than before!

You are such a communicator – and a real crack-up. You delight in singing the lyrics of your dad’s favorite songs, like “Vitamin C” by Can (Krautrock is not so Waldorf, but we pick our battles, right?) and recently you’re very taken by the old Police classic, “Do do do, da da da.” The poems and songs I sing with you at night at and playgroup too, you like to say with me and often you like to say the last word of every line with special gusto and emphasis.

You like to walk the line between naughty and good. The other day in the car: You asked if I had a penis. When I replied, “No”
you laughed and said, “No, you have a BUTT!”
and then laughing harder, “Daddy has a BUTT too!”
and finally, laughing so hard your eyes were closed you managed to chortle, “Daddy has a CROTCH too!” It was like some elaborate 2-year old’s joke that you’d constructed for your own amusement.

And although you certainly have your rough moments, on the whole, I’m delighted by how much you care for your friends. You are generally pretty accommodating about sharing your toys – you like to pass things out and make sure everybody is included. When you talk to younger babies, you make good eye contact and offer them something to hold. You love best though, running with a gang of kids – boys, preferably – through a course on the playground: up the ladder, around the top, down the slide, and always laughing and running, running, and laughing.

You insist that Baby gets buckled in with you.

You’ve become attached to a baby doll that your friend Anna gave you (plastic head! and not the one I made! sigh.) and I witnessed a touching scene between you and her. You were carrying her around, and then you paused to comfort her. “Baby,” you said, “It’s okay, I’m here. I love you.”

Moments like this make me forgive the kicking, punching, and light-saber swinging that you’ve grown so fond of.

You’re going to be Yoda for Halloween.

I love you Baby.



I’m pleasantly working my way through a stack of Real Simple magazine back issues. Let me know if you would like me to pass them on to you next.

I enjoyed family-relationship expert Jane Isay’s “10 ways to be closer to your siblings” from the May 2010 issue. She is the author of Walking on Eggshells and Mom Still Likes You Best: The Unfinished Business Between Siblings. She offers sensible advice with tongue-in-cheek humor. I decided to post about this column when I read this line: “Avoid hot-button topics (politics, religion, high-fructose corn syrup).”

Here’s a sample of her advice:

1. Childhood is like Vegas: Let what happened there stay there. Don’t guilt yourself over the mind games you played on your brother, and stop accusing your sister of stealing the sweater you bought in Florence, circa 1992. Make a conscious effort to forgive these childhood misdeeds and they’ll soon be water under the Ponte Vecchio.
3. Stop being the family mole. Ever-shifting alliances, surreptitious confabs, stealth reconnaissance – you’d think we were talking about The Bourne Identity and not those other people born to your mother. Sibling relationships are often defined by behind-the-back gossiping, whether that means secretly slamming one sib to the other or listening greedily as your parents decry your brother’s latest over-the-top electronics purchase. As expected all this duplicitous chatter erodes honesty and makes it nearly impossible for you to be as close-knit with your clan as you would like. So cut it out. And if you’re finding it difficult to tear yourself away from, say, Mom’s gripe-fest, remember that she most likely lets loose about you, too.
4. Mind your manners.Would you ever ask a friend, “Have you brushed your teeth this week?” No? Then don’t speak to your brother like that. You don’t have to be formal with siblings, but a petty comment still rankles, no matter how close you are to them. The brothers and sisters whom I spoke to say digs about weight, grammar usage, and your sib’s choice of friends are especially off-limits.
6. B GR8 TXT FRNDS. Occasional hours-long chats are nice, but you’re actually more likely to supercharge your bond by having frequent casual contact, many sibs say. Technology can help. Text messaging from a train platform, commenting on a Facebook update, and pinging on your Blackberry make it really easy to be the thoughtful sister you are.

This sounds like a perfect place for somebody I might know. It’s a guest house on the property of a woman I like very much. There are chickens. It feels like it’s in the woods.
It’s the kind of place I would have chosen for myself back in the day when I wasn’t a part of a family of four.
Here’s the blurb:
My name is Jodi & I have a small 1-bedroom available in Trabuco Canyon for rent. The property is in downtown Trabuco Canyon, where there are more oak trees than houses; dirt roads, roosters, horses and hiking close by in all directions. There are currently two residents in the main house, next door to the 1-bedroom rental.

About me: I am the director of Earthroots Field School and my yard is where I experiment in sustainable living. There are always projects going on in the yard. We have ever transforming grey water-fed gardens, rain catchment, compost piles, fruit trees & chickens. I play guitar, teach children, love spending time in nature, am very crafty and enjoy spending time with my family. I eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and love adventures.

The ideal renter enjoys rural living, doesn’t mind the extra commute, and earns a comfortable & steady income.

Please read the craigslist ad for more details. Feel free to pass this along!
Jodi Levine
(949) 400-3340

Visit the posting at http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/apa/1984480837.html to contact the person who posted this.
Under the Oaks

Available: Small 1-bedroom with micro-kitchenette and bathroom. Current residents living in separate house on property will rent to a responsible, conscious person with interest in sustainable living.
Rent includes use of laundry, WiFi and shared garden space growing organic food.
Available Now $900 per month + $1000 deposit
This oak canopy 1/2 acre lot is a 10 minute walk from O’neill Regional Park, with hiking, biking and horse trails. We have chickens, a dog, veggie gardens and fruit trees. We are developing our water reuse system and rooftop rainwater catchment.
This canyon community is horse-friendly and off the beaten path of OC.
We are health conscious environmentally aware educators & musicians
By appointment only.
Jodi (949) 400-3340

Location: Trabuco Canyon
it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Original URL: http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/apa/1984480837.html

Bella is working on her college apps, and one of her first steps is to provide an informative packet to the teachers who will be writing her recommendations. An optional piece is a Parent Brag Letter.
Here’s the one I wrote for Bella this morning:

From the moment Bella was born at home nearly seventeen years ago, she has been exceptionally good company. I know that every mother loves her child, but Bella delights everybody around her as well. She grew up showered in praise – as an only child, she perhaps relied too much on adult validation, but it was hard not to compliment her when every project was tackled with so much enthusiasm, hard work, and determination. With the idea of fostering her love of learning and adventure while giving her large blocks of time to play and explore ideas, I decided to homeschool her.
We could plan our days with great freedom. Bella has always enjoyed social groups of kids – although she practices serial monogamy with her best friends – and with math lessons easily finished in the mornings, she could participate in many after-school activities. She did. Bella played piano, took singing lessons and tried ballet, and was on the local soccer and swim teams for eight years. She also kept up with her gymnastics at this time. We were both on a quest to have fun and to learn new skills at every opportunity.
The greatest pleasure and advantage of homeschooling was having the time to really investigate Bella’s interests. For instance, when she enjoyed a kid’s stained glass class at a homeschooling conference, we enrolled her in a course back at home. However, there were no children’s classes, so we got the teacher’s permission to enroll her in an adult class with her father as a back-up support person. She created several stunning works from conception to finish this way.
Bella has also always enjoyed the performing arts, and while she participated in many a summer youth theater program, we both enjoyed seeing live productions of every style and level of expertise, from local plays to Broadway productions. Indeed, we tried to include a show on each of our many travels – in London we caught a Tennessee William’s play and in NYC we watched Thoroughly Modern Milly. Theater seeped into our home life and Bella and her friends were often writing scripts and staging productions. This is when Bella’s leadership skills began to emerge: not only was Bella always the director, but she would often jump into the scene to play whatever character was needed!
By the time Bella was eight, she was capable of focusing on a single subject for great lengths of time. She was unfailingly strict about her studies, even more than I. She preferred finishing all her studies at the start of the week; once she was done on Tuesday, she could play to her heart’s content until the following Sunday. I was amused that when Bella entered public school at fourth grade, that she insisted that we cover ALL the math sections for the upcoming week at home, before she went to school on Monday. She found it difficult to reach the level of mastery she was used to from the back of a class of thirty students, but she quickly adjusted. I was pleased to see her carry her homegrown sense of initiative in the public school arena. Bella and several friends put together a monthly newsletter for their class, printing issues for every classmate.
After successfully transitioning to public school, Bella came home for another year. With her November birthday, she felt that most of her friends were a grade ahead of her. At her request, we completed two years of public school material, 5th and 6th grade, in one year. The following year, we made an application, and she was accepted into the seventh grade. She celebrated by promptly running for class president and winning.
Since then, Bella has been in public school. She has been a very successful student. Even more importantly she is growing up into a well-rounded person, who is fun-loving with her friends. Of course, Bella has had her rough times as well, but truly, I would take no other. She sets such high standards for herself that all who are around her unconsciously straighten up and try and work just a little bit harder. She has been a wonderful adventurer and companion, and I am proud to see her go forward and tackle high school, college, and life with the same passion she had as child.

This last Friday Christian and I participated in a monthly gleaning hosted by the local Irvine homeschooling group – where we went out for two hours and helped harvest, or in this case plant, food in the Incredible Edible Park. While I got a bit lost and arrived late, we were able to plant cauliflower starts in teams of three until the job was done.

This is the kind of win-win kind of activity that I just LOVE.
To start, The Incredible Edible Park is eight acres in the middle of suburban Irvine that was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank by Edison.
This garden provides over 300,000 POUNDS OF FRESH PRODUCE EVERY YEAR to this local food bank.
Although there are two daily full-time workers (riding tractors), volunteers do much of the planting, weeding, tending, and harvesting work.
Christian and I get to get our hands dirty and learn about gardening.
For FREE! (I love Earthroots, a local non-profit that has a Toddlers in the Garden program – but that costs $25 per two hour session. Luckily, I am able to offer web editing services for a trade…)
We normally get a part of the harvest to bring home as a “thank you.”
And the best part? We are working with a group of HOMESCHOOLERS!
Wait, is the best part that we are feeding the homeless?

We plan to go back the first Friday of every month from now on.
I even got permission to post it as a meetup for the South OC Attachment Parenting Meetup group.

If you want to join us, let me know and I’ll send you the particulars. The cauliflower we planted this weekend will be ready in 60 days. I’m already looking forward to next month.