Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mei-Ling Update After Surgery

Surgery went great, it didn't take long at all and within a hour, she was all smiles and eating Jello. The nurses all fell in love with her and kept saying they were going to put on her chart that she needed longer observation in the Recovery Room just so they could hold her and play with her. She will probably come home tomorrow afternoon if her lab work all comes out good.
She took a good nap late this afternoon and woke up hungry.
Thanks for all the prayers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Just Pictures....

Time for me to take a break from blogging. I am finding it difficult to post, the joy of it is diminishing each day. I am always writing in fear of offending someone since such a broad spectrum of folks read this. Plus I am finding it difficult to always be checking comments consistently through my day and posting them after I have read them. But there is no way I can go back to not moderating them.
I am busy and the computer is needing to take a back seat in my life .
For a while, I am not going to be posting and may even take the blog off line for a while.
Mei-Ling has surgery tomorrow so I will probably post something about how things went, but after that, this blog will be on sabbatical !

A Prayer For Womanhood

A Prayer for Womanhood
~Grace Noll Crowell~

God, give each true good woman
Her own small house to keep,
No heart should ache with longing,
No hurt should go too deep.....
Grant her age-old desire:
A house to love and sweep.
Give her a man beside her,
A kind man, and a true,
And let them work together
And love, a lifetime through,
And let her mother children
As gentle women do.
Give her a shelf for dishes,
And a shining box for bread,
A white cloth for her table,
And a white spread for her bed,
A shaded lamp at nightfall,
And a row of books much read.
God, let her work with laughter,
And let her rest with sleep.
No life can truly offer
A peace more sure and deep....
God, give each true woman
Her own small house to keep.

The New Simple Living Fad

I think all this new talk of "Simple Living" is becoming just another fad for some folks,(disclaimer here, not talking about anyone in particular) just one more thing to keep up with. That requires you to buy a whole bunch of new things to replace the things that don't look like they belong in a "simple home". You might even have to re-decorate your house . And for some, a marketing bonanza. Just one more thing that if we are not doing, makes us less than in our own minds or according to another. It is so much more than just a lifestyle. Its a philosophy, a direction, a statement of what is important to us. It's not simple, not really. It's just living without buying into all the hype and for some, myself included, its a spiritual life. Not just a way to spend less money or to live "greener". If your life is emotionally complicated, putting on an apron will not make it simple.
For most folks that live the simple life, it works best when husband and wife are in one accord on the idea. Hard to live the simple life when one person has totally different goals or looks at this simple thing as just another passing phase.
Simple living is a concept with a very broad definition too. What is simple to one person is not the same to another. Some folks are leaping into homesteading life, thinking its the ultimate simple living in much the same fashion as the old television show Green Acres, not a clue as to what they are doing and that is costly, frustrating and many times disastrous and just maybe one person in the family is not interested at all in that way of living.
Maybe because we have lived this way so long, its hard to understand why some folks are making it so complicated.
I was raised in the city, no farm experience, but I did listen to my grandmother share stories of how things were done in the olden days. I was fortunate enough to be born in a time when no one had clothes dryers, dishwashers, dozens of exotic cookbooks, computers to pull you away from cleaning house and on and on. I knew how to cook, clean and take care of a baby. And I set out to marry a farm boy since I wanted a farm life. God gave me just the right man !
I read books about the pioneer days and decided their problems were not so bad as the new problems society was creating for itself. Such as the growing lack of ethics, the decaying of the moral code that most people had ascribed to in the past. I think that is what pulled me into wanting a life different from the suburban rat race, and I suspect that some of the desire to go back to the "simple life" is really just a desire to gain some of the moral ground we are loosing.
Hanging clothes doesn't make your life simple, but stepping back and thinking about what life was like when everyone did hang clothes might give us a feeling of peace. Rather than having your young children playing violent video games that make them think fighting is fun, you might have them outside with you, pulling on your apron strings and catching butterflies. Its not the clothes hanging that will change your life, its the kind of life you are giving yourself and your children. No children at home, well, then hanging clothes gives you a moment of peace in which to think and to learn to smell rain coming, or see a bird you need to look up in a book to identify.
Planting and working a garden is hard work, hours of work and gives you dirty fingernails, rough hands, and stiff knees at the end of the day. Not one simple thing about it. The blessing of it is in the satisfaction of putting on the table, fresh foods. Putting on an apron isn't going to give you a simple life. A simple life is in your heart, in your goals for life . I could live a simple life just about any place, even without goats or chickens. The homestead part of my simple living is just one application of it, just born of a desire to train our children to work when they don't feel like working, to be outside more than inside, to see the results of nurturing a sick animal back to health and to be too tired to get into trouble. And now that they are grown and gone from home, we have a second generation to share this kind of life with and we want to stay healthy. Keep strong bones and muscles from using them. To know we can live in the midst of a full blown depression with less impact on us than most folks. To be self sufficient in some small way. To keep ourselves away from the "must have" mindset. To sleep soundly at night because we are bone weary, to wake in the morning refreshed and clear headed.
But still, I think I could live a simple life in an apartment in Manhattan, because I am pretty much content to just walk down the road of life smelling the flowers, wherever they bloom. It might not be my ideal, but I think what is in my heart would not change.
The goats, chickens, wood stove and clothes line don't give me a simple life, my thoughts do. My desire to live humbly is the motivation for me and for Emery. This life is our joint goal. Its not just me wanting to take on the latest fad and have to buy a whole new set of props to make it all look right.
Simple living can become just another fad, just another set of rules to go by and they can be a huge burden if its not your real honest desire in life and harder yet, when those you live with are not on the same page.

Insurance coupled with a bit of assurance

Many of us worry about the insurance we have, asking things like, "do we have enough coverage ?" "Does it cover this or that ?" "Should we buy more coverage ?" It's all a bit of a gamble to put money out each month for something that MIGHT happen, but many of us do it anyway, feeling it worth the cost. There are required insurances like car insurance, home owners insurance if you have a mortgage on your home etc, then there are the elective insurances like life insurance and health insurance. Some religious communities have a plan where they all agree to help one another with each others medical bills and that works out quite well. Everyone works together for each others common good. For an example, just read a few editions of "The Budget", an Amish newspaper to read about the needs within the community and how it is meet. There is within that system something greater than insurance, its assurance that things will be taken care of. I think we would be a better place if more churches would be like that.
I think in life matters we can look at what we do and don't do, what we allow and don't allow for our children or ourselves as a bit like insurance against damage. The cost may not be in cash but more in time, energy and commitment. We never allowed our children to sleep over someones house. We had many children stay over our house, but our children needed to be home at night in our care, we never felt like we knew anyone that well as to allow them to sleep over their house. It wasn't a judgement on anyone, it was just something MIGHT happen that we would not agree about, it might be a television show the family thought was fine and we didn't, it could have been a number of things. People would tell us not to be so strict etc but we felt this kind of insurance for their protection was important. We wanted to assure the children had our guidance at all times until we felt they were mature enough to make good decisions on their own. It seemed to work for us, as they say, "the proof is in the pudding" ! But even now this same sort of thinking comes into play with our own choices. To insure we don't get caught up in things contrary to what we believe we don't go certain places, we avoid certain kinds of entertainment. We pay the price of looking a bit odd, not fitting in here or there, not living like mainstream America and the premium is often having to take a narrow path which is not easy.
Keeping vigil is not always easy since its like swimming up stream much of the time. And things slip in, make us numb and can make us loose focus.
I have often thought when having a conversation regarding religion and life one can PROVE God exists, but no one can PROVE He doesn't. Its a bigger gamble to not believe in Him than to believe. Say you believe and live you entire life according to the bible and there is no God after all, the end result, so what ! You didn't loose anything. But on the flip side, say you don't believe and at the end you find out He does exist. You LOOSE.
When our children were small, we opted to home school and to be hands on parents 24/7 We can count on one hand the times our parents or anyone family member watched our children. When I had to go out of state to adopt our boys, a young girl from the church came and stayed with our girls during the day while Emery worked. What a blessing Maria was to our family that week. We sheltered our girls, but at the same time taught them how to make good choices and showed them how to think on their own. We wanted to raise them in a way that some of life's hard things might be avoided. For us that meant sheltering them from things like playing unsupervised for hours outside with other children, and not letting them go to homes we did not know well and by this I mean being there many times ourselves. To us, this type of insurance would produce a certain level of assurance. Our boys came to us with such a different background, it was hard for them and for us to find where to begin.
We didn't want our children to be one of the news stories of 12 year olds getting drunk, watching R rated movies, or developing boyfriend/girlfriend mentalities that end up with broken hearts. We didn't ever want to be guests on the Dr Phil show ! We didn't want to have to relate to those kinds of situations.
If you could dream up a good life for your children, you would love to see them spared of the heartache that comes from bad choices made in a moments time that stay with you your entire life. This is what the plain Mennonite families try to do, spare their children the hurts of the world that come from bad choices made on a whim and the influence of others to do wrong. This separation from "the world" is insurance without much of the gamble part. It's almost assurance. When we were raising our family, we were willing to be unpopular with some of the decisions we made, feeling in our hearts that the cost was worth it and so far, we still feel that way. We feel so blessed by seeing our children, grown into happy, successful, good people with caring hearts. It wasn't luck, it was hard work ! Emery and I make choices to not put ourselves in situations where there is risk of destroying what we have built together, insurance of a sort with a touch of assurance. Gods word to us, is assurance. Not easy to do always, but a bit like insurance against making bad choices all on our own.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Public Craves What Amish Stand For"

I read something in the Dallas Morning News yesterday....maybe we all are craving a bit of a rest from the rat race that doesn't seem to feed a deep hunger that is in us.

Public craves what Amish stand for

12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, April 26, 2008
By MARY JACOBS / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Donald Kraybill has written and spoken extensively on the Amish and what they taught the world about forgiveness after the 2006 Nickel Mines school shooting tragedy. Now he's turning his scholarly focus to another facet of the religious community: Amish technology. That's not an oxymoron. "We have 2,000 Amish-owned and operated businesses in eastern Pennsylvania, and many of their products are produced by machines," said Mr. Kraybill, who will be in Dallas next week. Even though the Amish opt out of public utility electricity, and do not own motor vehicles or use computers, they are achieving remarkable success in the commercial world. Although the Amish were once almost exclusively employed as farmers, development and economic pressures have steadily carved away at their farmland. Many Amish now work in commercial enterprises, ranging from Ohio furniture crafters and New York sawmills, to Pennsylvania quilt shops and Indiana construction crews. In some communities more than 80 percent work in factories or small businesses. And they are doing well – fewer than 5 percent of Amish business startups fail, compared with the overall 50 percent failure rate for small businesses in the U.S. The Amish work ethic and habits of frugality help make the businesses lean and profitable, but have also triggered tensions with the outside world. Many businesses employ young family members between the ages of 14 and 17 (Amish young people typically do not attend high school), posing a conflict with child labor laws that has generated some scrutiny from state governments. Meanwhile, "technological taboos" haven't hindered Amish entrepreneurs. They adapt equipment and harness nonelectrical power sources, such as hydraulic and pneumatic, for manufacturing operations. "A lot of people assume the Amish are Luddites – opposed to all technology," said Mr. Kraybill. "That's completely erroneous. They use a lot of technology, but they use it selectively." When it comes to technology, he said, the Amish place the collective welfare of the community over individual conveniences that technology provides. For every technological innovation, he said, the Amish ask first: "Will this new technology harm or fragment our community? Will it build us up or tear us apart?" Thus, the Amish refuse electricity from the public grid – aiming to remain nondependent on the outside world – but happily employ homegrown power sources, for example. What's fueling the demand for all these Amish-made products? Ironically, despite their studious avoidance of public life and meager advertising budgets, the Amish have carved a strong brand identity in the mind of American consumers. "I think consumers view the Amish as being untarnished by the modern world," says Mara Einstein, author of Brands of Faith: Marketing Religion in a Commercial Age. "Consumers think of Amish products as better made, unlike other products in our 'throwaway' society." Mr. Kraybill cites another factor: consumers' yearnings for the intangibles the Amish represent. "Part of our fascination with the Amish community is our sense of dismay we feel with modern culture and the fragmentation of our own lives," he said. "The products we buy from them signal our interest and hope for that place and stability in our lives. "Most Amish people live within 10 miles of where they were born. There is this rootedness and strong sense of stability." Given that the average American is exposed to 3,000 marketing messages a day, Ms. Einstein said, religious groups typically can't grab much billboard space in the American imagination. But the Amish, with their distinctive dress and unusual lifestyle, have achieved the spiritual equivalent of the Nike swoosh: a visible image, a clear message and a compelling mythology. "And they've done it without even trying," said Ms. Einstein.

The Quiet of the Morning

The house seems very quiet this morning...Emery is off to work, my friend Debbie has gone home after a wonderful visit with her. The birthday party decorations have been removed, all the extra chairs put back in their proper place. Things are tidy and back to normal. The windows are closed, keeping the morning chill at bay, but making the house silent. I hear no cars going by or hear birds singing. If I listen carefully I can hear the rooster crowing in the distance.
The sound of the wood stove door with its squeaking hinges, seems extra loud as I build a small fire. It seems so strange to have a fire going in late April, but I like it. The smell of wood smoke will delight my nose as morning chores are done. Its a smell more dear to me than the finest of perfumes. Its a "home sweet home" kind of smell for me. A reminder that my dreams of so long ago have come true. I never had dreams of a big house, or a fancy car, just for a simple home in the woods, wood stove, growing my own food, and being free to live different from the rat race. I did dream of having at least 13 children though, and perhaps that will be a dream fulfilled with having at least that many grandchildren to love.
Even as a teenager I never felt that things made you anything better than what you were in your deepest sense of being. Things are just that, things. Maybe "stuff" is a bit like those sprinkles you put on cakes. They look pretty but add no taste or substance to what they decorate. We probably all know people, maybe even see it a bit in ourselves at times, that feel better when they can be made to look more this or that by what they own. Hiding a feeling of inferiority behind things they can't afford or stuffing a lonely feeling with new things, feeding a hunger that seems to be like a bottomless pit. Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Such a different picture than what is found in Ezekiel 7:19 when the value of possessions are spoken about, "They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD's wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin."
I am not saying that having stuff is bad, it's that we buy them trying to fill a void that is never satisfied with the accumulation of more things. I see this hunger pop up in my life when my spiritual life is in need of being fed proper and not just appeased with spiritual junk food, the fast food variety, the kind that gives you a quick fix of making us feel good about how we live our lives, even when its lacking in producing good spiritual fruit.
The sages through time, have all taught, that what we really want and what we really need is to be content, to live life well with only the basics, anything after that is just extra that we can live without, and what will give us true happiness is a heart full of love and compassion. To love one another and God. To love others as much as you love yourself. This hunger we keep trying to feed by accumulating bigger and better stuff, will only be fed by seeking out the type of food Christ spoke about in Matthew 5: 6
So many parents could give their children what they really need, lots of love and time, if they would show by example that being content with what is needed rather than what is wanted, this is a wealth that cannot be taken from you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Guess Who Turned One Year Old !

Little Miss Mei-Ling had her first birthday this week. Hard to imagine its been a year since this miracle entered into our lives, time seems to go so fast. She was a happy little girl, with all the attention and love showered on her today as friends and family celebrated her big day.
Keep her in your prayers, this week, Wednesday, she is scheduled for surgery to remove the stent they put in during her last surgery.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This is Frightening !
HOUSTON -- A trip to the pump may make you want to scream.
"It'll be like $80, something like that. It's ridiculous,” yelled a frustrated motorist as he filled his tank.
Hope he saved his vocal cords. Get this:
"Probably about $4.20 by summer. And prices continue to escalate,” said global oil analyst Jeff Rubin.
He is the chief economist for CIBC World Markets. In 2000, he predicted oil would be $50 a barrel by 2005.
That proved true.
He predicted $100 a barrel by the end of 2007. Once again, true.
Rubin's take on the future of oil?
"About $225 a barrel by 2012,” he said.
That would mean gas as high as $10 dollars a gallon within four years.
Cade Bernsen thought his $85 for a tank on Friday was bad. Try $230.
"Dude. That is crazy! I mean that is wild,” said Bernsen. “That's getting close to like monthly rent."
Pump prices pushed that high would likely have far-reaching impacts, such as increases in price for anything that has to be transported -- Virtually all goods.
So what can we do?
"It's going to take the American people to stand up and say enough is enough,” suggested driver Rodney Randle.
"We've got to find another way of living. That is the hardest part of the whole thing,” said motorist Carmen Wong. “And nobody understands that."
That's a start, but the current problems are something Americans are not used to -- problems that are out of their control.
"What is driving the bus is consumption in oil producing countries themselves because of the massive price subsidies, and rapidly industrializing countries,” said Rubin.

Just A Thought

Last night I was thinking about who I am, where I want to be in life, what sort of person I want to be, where I need to grow spiritually etc. Yes, its a lot to think about but we need to think, need to be aware of where we are and who we are as people in the present.
These are areas where I want to improve... not just on the clothing issue, because I think that is just one manifestation of wanting more than we need. Modesty of words, deeds and wants, is the direction I want to keep going in... dress is just an outward application of what we feel inside. Its not some religious conviction for me as much as a spiritual conviction, and there is a difference.

1 Timothy 2: 9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

1 Peter 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.

The Joy of Working Side by Side

Before the sun made its debut, Emery and I were working in the garden together, side by side. Sometimes in silence, sometimes chatting along about life or just the amazing rate that weeds can grow !
It was nice just to be out there working together, watching the sun come up, hearing the many birds singing and breathing in fresh cool morning air.
Just all part of our simple living.
Holy Basil
Tomatoes growing on the vine
just some shots from this mornings chore time
Wee Miss Mei-Ling came for a morning visit with her mommy and daddy !

Friday, April 25, 2008

Carried with love

Melanie and Casi can expect their new bundle of joy some time in November. Melanie's due date is in December but they will no doubt deliever the baby early like they did with Mei-Ling.
Here is the newest grand-blessing sitting in his or her heart shaped home.

Video Clip

This is a video clip of one of local Mennonite schools taking a field trip to Dallas. Thought you might enjoy seeing the children and hearing them sing. The teacher is a long time friend of ours.

p.s. there is a short ad before the video clip

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Birds Were Right !

Well the birds all acting a bit nervous yesterday was indeed a clue to the storms. Sirens sounded once again last night. Horrid storms, violent winds, a funnel cloud just down the road, torrential rains. 2 inches of rain fell in a very short period of time. From the house to the car, which is maybe 10 feet, we were totally soaked through and through.
Melanie and Mei-Ling were here with us most of the day, visiting and we like to keep a watch on her now that she is pregnant, her blood sugars have been getting dangerously low and with Casi at work and then off to college three evenings a week, Melanie needs to have someone keep an eye on her. Her blood sugar went down to just 30 in the afternoon.
They sent everyone home from their evening college classes so Casi came over here and we all sat watching the television and just waiting for the siren to sound. Makes you feel as unsettled as all the birds were acting yesterday morning. Steven and his family left here when the storms were just starting so he could be home before they hit which was shortly after we all finished eating.
This has been a wild spring time, more bad storms already than we have seen in a long time.
I guess we can still pay attention to the things of nature, like the birds yesterday, to let us know about the weather.
Just some photos taken while I did the morning chores

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Birds !

The forecast is for storms, slight chance that they might be severe. The morning is humid like wet wool. Warm and sticky, the air clinging to your body.
Stepping off the back steps, on my way to do my morning chores, I was startled by the noise, it was more like a racket. Birds chirping wildly all around me. Small flocks flying over me in a near frenzied mood. My small plum tree ablaze with bright yellow as it had been taken over by goldfinch, mostly bright yellow males. Like small lemons hidden in the leaves. The neighbors driveway was moving with activity of small birds feeding, scratching through the pale caliche.
It was almost un-nerving to see so many small flocks of birds in one place. I am guessing there were several hundreds of these tiny winged creatures within an acre. Everything around me took on a feeling of nervousness. I had to wonder about the forecast, storms coming. I had to think about our country right now, so many nervous people, the economy so unsettled.
The goats were fine, their old selves, nothing nervous about them, same for my chickens and ducks. Wish we still had the pony, best weather forecaster around. Always let us know when the weather was going to change.
Its a strange morning. Hope the birds are just here feeding and its not a sign that the storms are coming.

Are you Ready for A Deep Recession or a near Second Depression ?

Filled up my car with gasoline yesterday, $45. The news is full of stories regarding entire new neighborhoods in foreclosure. Every time I go to the market for food, people in line complain about the prices. Everything is going up, except wages.
You would had have to stranded on a deserted island not to see this coming. In the U.S. people kept buying bigger vehicles, bigger houses, using more resources. Oil companies get greedier. After all they too want bigger mansions, more cars etc. Farmers find it more lucrative to grow corn for alternative fuel than to grow wheat and corn for people to eat, after all the farmers around here all drive gas guzzling trucks and big SUV's and they want bigger homes too.
It hurts to fill up the car, but we don't drive a whole lot and that is about to be much less since we made that personal commitment to do so. Emery fills up his 1991 Tempo about once a month. We fill up the family car once a week.
Credit card debt non repayment is at an all time record, house foreclosures the same. People want and can't be bothered to read the fine print. Adjustable rate mortgages are good for the lenders, but not good for the buyer. The buyers eyes are bigger than their purse, so often times you just borrow with lousy terms just so you can have what you want. Same as shopping with a credit card when you really don't have the money. We want, and we puts you in grave danger when things like deep recessions and depressions come into play and all the while we are consuming more than the earth can give without drawing blood somewhere.
Young married couples seem to be hit hard right now, in the place where they are just trying to get going and the world keeps telling them, go ahead, make a bad choice, we will profit from it.
Many years ago, Emery and I decided to just get off the hamster wheel, just live with less and in actuality have more. We opted for a old house, needing work, nothing fancy, certainly not the kind of house we had lived in in California, but that house was not a home to us, just an albatross around the neck for so many reasons. Our house is paid for, has been for years. We paid $17,000 for it 16 years ago. Was it our dream home, NO ! Is it our dream home now ? Yeah, I can actually say yes to that, its cozy, and its home. A place of family and it has NO mortgage.
We have even been able to purchase a couple homes for investment through time. It meant we didn't go out to eat, we didn't shop foolishly, the children did not have their own computer or TV. We did not do the extra curricular activities, except Irish Step dance. We did not buy new furniture. We did not have elegant china. We did not go on vacations. We ate healthy but simple foods, we did not shop with "wants" in mind and we worked very hard at keeping an eye on the prize, the prize being, NO DEBT. We grew a garden, we milked goats, raised chickens, all within the city limits and on less than one acre of land. All the time arming ourselves financially against the worry of a deep recession or a depression. We figure with milk and eggs you have a lot of meals right there and with vegetables growing much of the year, you seem pretty well set. Texas allows you to garden almost the entire year. I have cabbage and collards through the winter most years. Texas is great, but I would much rather live in York, Maine and be by the ocean all year long ! But no gardening in winter there.
Emery could walk to work or at least ride a bike there so even the gas prices will not cripple us.
Food is more expensive but I realized that I spend more on hobbies than I need to, or should.
Think about the way you are living, maybe you need to shed the McMansion and think smaller more affordable to maintain, less utilities to run and less of a mortgage payment. Maybe the bloated SUV is not what you need, but just what you want, maybe you could trade it in for something more affordable to run, something that won't guzzle up the earths innards so fast.
You could be killing two birds with one stone, helping yourself endure higher prices and at the same time, being more gentle on the earth.
Just about any home with a yard the size of a sofa can have a garden. Maybe your soil is bad, have some brought in ! Compost ! Dirt is still cheap. I am sure you could give up something in order to have some dirt brought in. Seed is cheap still too. Gardening is the poor mans fitness center. Its the best diet program too. Hard work, good food. Great for the children to see about where food comes from and understanding that how well we work equates with how well you eat is a lesson of profound value. Working a garden is therapy, its strengthening, its certainly the best cure for insomnia.
In all this, you might even find you have some money to save for that rainy day.

A recession or even another depression can be softened by a simple lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008

As a family we have celebrated Earth Day for many many years. The girls both remember one Earth Day in particular when they were small, a tiny foal was born to people we knew and named Rainbow. The girls got to see the foal when it was just a few hours old and they were so excited.
I realized today, that pony would be 22 years old today.
Today, we all got together at Spiral Diner (Our favorite Vegan Restaurant) for a healthy lunch. Emery was not with us since he couldn't get away from work.
We chose to celebrate this day, re-affirm our goals to live "greener" and commit to making changes in both small and big things.
My personal green goal this year, to make only one trip to town a week. I understand some weeks I won't be able to keep to this as life does happen, but to commit to only ONE shopping trip a week.
Faithfully use my cloth shopping bags, keeping them in the car at all times, and to wait until an absolute must, to use the air conditioners.

How was your Earth Day ?

natural dark chocolate earth balls, to help us celebrate
Priscilla & Elizabeth, Auntie Debbie & Mei-Ling
Casimir & Melanie
Steven & Elizabeth
One tired Mei-Ling !

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff...."

and much of life is small stuff. This week has been a busy one, a fun kind of busy. Melanie, Mei-Ling, Debbie and I have had fun during the day doing some shopping, going out for lunch, sitting and talking for hours, just playing with the baby. In the evenings Steven and Priscilla have been coming over and we talk and play with Elizabeth. As you notice housework has not been mentioned. We have been eating simply, doing dishes and that's about it. Oh wait, I did dust when it seemed the dust was approaching the stage of just begging to write you name in it.
This week, cleaning the house comes under the heading of "don't sweat the small stuff". Its what it is. In life there are priorities, moments that cannot be recovered ever. Moments in time that are just not "do- overs". People and relationships are so much more important than having an organized pantry or a laundry room that looks like it should be in a magazine. Magazine homes are often not of the laid back comfortable home variety. Too much emphasis on having things perfect makes the people around you feel uncomfortable.
One time I went to a meal where the hostess would not let anyone help her, soon you could see she was feeling overwhelmed, soon her demeanour changed and she started complaining about how much work she had to do to plan the meal, since she worked outside the home, soon she made everyone wish that they were eating peanut butter sandwiches in the park rather than at her house. She wouldn't let anyone help clean up, (you felt as though you couldn't do anything to suit her standards) so she continued to feel overwhelmed and to this day, that meal is a reference point of others when her name is mentioned. She sweated all the small stuff....for no good reason.
I love a good ordered home, but have to laugh a bit when the home is perfect and the family life is a mess....what is the priority there ? Fixing the easy stuff, the stuff that doesn't take real sacrifice or real personal effort isn't what might count in the end. It's not a legacy of value.
What good is a perfectly ordered linen closet that took two hours work, when your children are harboring so much anger against you for making "things" a priority. Take 1 1/2 of those hours and play with your children or work out some issues with your adult children, maybe write a heartfelt letter that may just mend some fences. Maybe even create a romantic evening with your husband, a date night. A picnic basket filled with a romantic meal. I think Emilie Barnes has great ideas about making "Love Baskets" for ones husband.
I think this is sort of what Jesus was talking about when he spoke about Mary and Martha. Martha was missing out on the big stuff, by "sweating the small stuff" the things that will not matter one bit after we are dead . The small stuff will never lead to a profound legacy.
Cleaning our house, having a well ordered house, is part of life. We need to do that, but making these things be our focus, the thing that defines us, might just be cutting our purpose in life down a few notches. Making PERFECT order of our house take precedence over creating healthy relationships may not be the best choice in the long run. The Martha type Perfect ordered home probably is not a higher calling than building strong family relationships where the children and husband know they are first priority and mom is not sweating the small stuff all the time, feeling
self inflicted pressure to have all things perfect.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Children Are A Blessing

This morning, taking a few minutes for silent meditation and prayer, I thought about the blessing of children. It seems just about everyone loves babies, cute small children but as children grow, so many parents neglect the nurturing aspect of parenting.
My phone rings several times a day, grown children calling to chat, to ask a question, to seek some advice, always letting us know we are loved. What opportunity for us as parents to continue to nurture, to let them know as adults that they continue to give us joy, happiness and bless us. As parents to adults we enter into new ground, the place where we can affirm their goodness, the positive aspects of their lives, and encourage to overcome the struggles they deal with. Positive parenting seems to stop for some when their children become adults, or the minute grandchildren arrive. So many parents tend to look at the things they don't like in their adult children, whisper behind their backs to others, "well, you know they do ..... (fill in the blank". I always remember someone saying that when you are picking out a greeting card for someone you really don't like, find one that says what you wish the relationship was like. It changes how you feel, how you perceive the relationship at that moment. With your adult children, think about how good it would feel to hear your own mother or father give you some praise for something you do....then think about your own parenting, have you forgotten to encourage ? Our children are a blessing at any age. Don't forget to tell your adult children about the things you admire in them, give them the positive comments that inspire. If there are problems, admit where you "missed the boat" in parenting and created issues for them and you, move past that, tell them you regret the mistakes you made in that area, apologize and start building. We do mess up as parents. Some parents value things more than their children, or maybe even live self absorbed lives, and believe me, children feel that and have to make their own life truth about their own value from that sort of parental priority. Some religious parents, put a judgement in every other sentence and do nothing but distance their children from them and make them want to run from them, imaging God as having that same judgemental opinion of them. Feeling they will never ever be able to measure up.

Children, even adult children need to be encouraged, loved in spite of the mistakes made, loved
regardless of the choices made from the heart of youthful exuberance.
Remember, our children are a blessing given to us for all their lives.
Thanks Melissa, Melanie and Steven for being such wonderful people and thanks for always calling to chat ; )

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Big Surprise

The big surprise is......Mei-Ling is going to be a big sister !
Melanie and Casi are expecting baby number 2 this fall. Everyone is very excited. This pregnancy seems so different for Melanie, no morning sickness which is a big blessing.
She is having lots of low blood sugars, which happens when you are type 1 diabetic and pregnant.
We were having hopes that maybe another young mother in the family might be expecting too, but not yet.
Grammie is already planning new quilts, tiny sweaters and booties to knit.
We feel so blessed to have this new baby joining our family.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Bisphenol -A Some Canandian Stores Pulling Items Off the Shelf

"The chemical came under scrutiny by Health Canada in November 2007, as part of a human and animal study into how much BPA is leaching from consumer products. The chemical has been linked to certain health risks, including cancer and hormonal imbalances.
A 60-day public comment period will follow if Health Canada designates the chemical as dangerous. In the year to follow, Ottawa would draft and issue a report outlining how to control exposure.
The announcement comes a day after Sears Canada, Rexall Pharmacies, London Drugs and Home Depot Canada pulled plastic products containing the substance off their shelves.
Wal-Mart Canada, Canadian Tire, Hudson's Bay Co. and Forzani Group, Canada's largest sporting goods retailer also said they would rid their shelves of any BPA-containing products"

Wal-Mart's in the U.S will stop selling baby bottles with BPA by early next year
"Wal-Mart says it will stop selling baby bottles made with the controversial chemical bisphenol A -- commonly known as BPA -- in its U.S. stores early next year.
The announcement followed the release of a draft report from the U.S. National Toxicology Program that expressed concern that BPA, used to make plastic, could cause behavioral changes in infants and children and trigger the early onset of
puberty in females.
Meanwhile, a new study found that BPA can alter the activity of genes in normal breast cells in ways that resemble what is found in extremely dangerous
breast cancers.
The study, conducted by researchers in California and published this month in the journal Cancer Research, found that many genes in non-cancerous breast cells exposed to trace amounts of BPA began acting in a way that closely resembled the gene activity in highly aggressive breast tumors that led to an increased likelihood that women would die of the disease.
BPA is one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals in modern industry. It is the basic building block for polycarbonate, the see-through, shatterproof plastic that resembles glass. It's also used to make the epoxy resins lining most tin cans, along with some
dental sealants, sports helmets and compact discs."

Melanie found these Evenflo baby bottles today at Babys R US, BPA free. Now take a look at your water bottles !

Planet Burgers On the Menu

Just time for a quick post of one the meals I will be serving this week . Its a family favorite.

1/2 c Sunflower kernels
16 oz Garbanzo beans (canned) -- drained and mashed
3 c Cooked brown rice
1 md Onion -- chopped
1 md Carrots -- shredded
1/2 c Italian-style breadcrumbs
1/3 c Chopped fresh parsley
2 Eggs -- lightly beaten
1/4 c Soy sauce ( we use Braggs)
1 t Dried thyme
Vegetable oil -- for frying
8 sl French bread
Toast sunflower kernels on baking sheet at 350 degrees F. for 5 to 7 minutes until golden. Combine sunflower kernels, beans, rice, onion, carrot, breadcrumbs, parsley, eggs, soy sauce and thyme. Form into 8 rectangular patties. Pan-fry burgers in oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until thoroughly heated, about 4 minutes per side.

Serve on French bread with condiments.

Makes 8 Large Patties

Source: "Veg-able Rice"

We like them on whole wheat hamburger buns at times and they are just wonderful that way too.
I usually make a lot of them and freeze the extras.
p.s. I watched Oprah yesterday on how much we waste in the U.S. and loved the show. Good ideas for many families of today.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Storms Again

Storms again.....
Just have a minute to post some pictures I just took of my roses. Storms on the way, hail the size of tennis balls and 80 mph winds in some of these storms. Spring time in Texas ! I knew these roses would not stand up to hail and high winds, so decided to bring them inside to enjoy.

A New Year

It is a silent sort of morning, sitting next to the wood stove in my rocker, watching the birds outside my windo...