Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas My True Love Gave to Me...

Recently a fellow blogger posted a lovely story that I think well illustrates what we all know is the true meaning Christmas. While my little yarn will likely be less touching, it will hopefully still bring to memory those lovely days of yore--yes, a bygone era of compulsory frugality yet abundant affection, and a sweet young couple who, while they have since added a few kids, several pounds and a handful of wrinkles, are still madly in love and still quite prudent!
We had been married 6 months when our first Christmas together rolled around. We were both in school, money was not tight...there just plain wasn't any. We would finish finals that semester and then head to my parents' home for the holidays. I really wanted our little basement apartment to have a Christmas tree, even if it were only for a few weeks, but Hunky Hubby reminded me that we scarce could afford to splurge when we would not even be there to enjoy it on Christmas morning, so we went without. We went about our routine; classes, work and homework as we neared the holiday and the end of the term. Gifts for each other were barely on the radar. We had some small handmade offerings for our parents that we hoped would be received in the spirit in which they were given. I knew what I wanted to buy for my sweet new husband, but I also knew we could not afford it. HH walked and biked to and from campus with only a frayed, patched and rather pathetic old backpack to lug his huge books back and forth. I nearly cried when I bought the new one. Thirty-eight dollars. More than a week's worth of groceries. I prayed he would not be upset by my extravagance . I did not expect anything from him. But then...my little Christmas miracle.
I arrived home from class one day, opened the door to our little flat and beheld what is still likely the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.
On his walk home from campus that afternoon, Hubby had seen a cub scout troop closing up there little tree lot. They offered him their last little sapling for free. He carried it home on foot. As he drug it in the front door, the neighbors (yes, you M & S) saw him, lent him a string of lights and he decorated it with Christmas cards and ribbon tied into bows. When I walked in, there he sat, under the tree with little wrapped gifts in hand. The presents turned out to be a coloring book and crayons.
This week we will have celebrated 18 more Christmases together since that first. The tree is more abundantly decorated now and the presents more expensive, but few will ever mean more to me than those of that first Christmas together. Sappy, I know. And hardly a sarcastic remark or sardonic observation to be found in the whole happy story. I must be losing my touch! Well, it is Christmas after all. Maybe next time. But until then...MeRrY ChRIstMas to all and God Bless us, Everyone!
Quote of the Day: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
--Luke

Monday, December 21, 2009

Too Bad The Merchant of Venice Didn't Sell Calvins...

My youngest had a bit of a melt down the other day. Minor really, but made Mom think and smile and giggle and hug the little princess because, being at least thirty two steps ahead of the girl on the path of life, Mom knows it is only a foreshadowing of at least a few more such instances. She had had a substitute teacher that day in Mrs. G's normally efficiently run, well oiled, chaos free second grade class. The sub however was not so fastidious. Princess's table was noisy and disorderly and Miss R is one 7 year old who does not stand for such nonsense and told her friends as much. When she got home she flopped on the couch, stared out the window and with tears starting to run remarked softly, "I wish I could go back and start this day over."
Boy howdy girl...I hear ya! Day? I have whole years I wish I could take a mulligan on. 1984...Do over! 1996? Puhlease! 2007...Don't even ask!
If I could go back and redo most of jr. high I know exactly where I would start. Nikki Whatserface! I am pretty sure her primary goal of the 7th grade was to make my life miserable. You remember 7th grade right? Ya, her. Why did I let her do that to me? Destroy my self esteem, make me feel small and insignificant. I should not have given her the power. One of my big life regrets is not standing up to her the day I had a chance. Math class. She asked loudly, backed up by her little toady, Christine Somethingorother, "Are those the ONLY pants you own? You wear them everyday!" They were in fact my only pair and she made me feel ashamed of it. The next morning I dug through my mom's closet and found a pair of dress slacks that fit my frame but not my age and I wore those with some of mom's shoes because somehow I thought that wearing tennis shoes with a pair of women's dress slacks was the silly part. Of course the next day my only reprieve came in the mocking my shoes instead of my jeans.
Over the last 25 years, I have written and rewritten what could have been my triumphant soliloquy rebuking every adolescent tyrant and tormentor spewing vitriol and insult from behind the shield of perfectly pressed Calvins. "Nikki, what is it that makes you so insecure about yourself that you feel the need to break others down in order to build yourself up? What part of you is so passed feeling that you have no empathy for those around you who may be hurt or afraid. I may not have the right clothes or hair but I am a nice person! We all have something to offer! Everyone in this room! We have friends and families. We live and laugh and love. If you prick us do we not bleed? (By now I am standing on the desk for full effect) If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not seek revenge? I am NOT AN Animal!!!" Ok you get the point...I hope. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Mr. Coleman's math class really missed out, eh?
In all reality once I started thinking about it, I decided to keep those years. This is my life. This is me. Warts and all. The good and the bad days, weeks or even years, have shaped me. Molded me into the fine upstanding lady you see today. Ya, I know, I have a tendency to exaggerate. But I guess the long and the short of it is we learn from our experiences. I will never make fun of anyone's clothes. I will always try to find something I like about people I meet. I am nice. Sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn and sometimes temperamental, but nice. And in the end mean people are just mean.
Quote of the Day: "All I can do is be me-whoever that is."
--Robert Zimmerman

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How To Eat Crow Even If It's Undercooked

After my last rant, I mean post, I got to thinking. Is not this a problem that NatureGirl has been working on for a while? Why yes, yes, I believe it is. Slow learner that one! I dug back through the archives and came up with this little gem. It has been nearly a year. I must have been taking extra vitamins or something, because now it sounds a bit like hyper-optimistic drivel...
Originally posted January 8, 2009 "And Bend, And Reach..."
So, after yoga class today, I asked if anyone had any big plans for the new year. Several responses prompted thought, but one is making its way into blogdom today. Kay said that this year she is going to work on balance and flexibility. Now, I know full well that she was speaking of her "on the mat" practice, but indulge me, yet again, I would like to extend that to our everyday lives. Sometime last year I put up a post about balance in our lives. Balancing Act drew rave reviews. The critics gave it 3 thumbs up, and audiences went wild. I am a legend in my own mind...
That being hyperbolized, I will focus the remainder of this entry on flexibility. I am not one to get overly excited about change. I don't trust it, I rarely accept it, and I certainly do not condone it. That's right, you heard me! I simply want plain old ordinary stability. I want the dishes where they have always been (even if it is inconvenient I would rather live with it than have it be different), and I will wear my favorite pajamas until they are see-through and Hunky Hubby rips them from my hands and hides them in his rag pile in the garage! Is this sounding like an anti-flexibility rant to you? Ya, well there is something to be said for learning from others' mistakes. Earlier today a friend was having trouble with all the complicated features on her new CD player. She said, "I would rather have the old one back, it had lots of problems, but at least I knew how to deal with them!" A chick after my own heart. I want to be the girl who just goes with the flow, rolls with the punches, and like Mary Richards is willing to pack everything I own into a '69 mustang and head to Minneapolis in pursuit of my dreams! Ya, not gonna happen. I like spontaneity, but only as long as it is well planned. Anybody but me wondering when the flexibility tutorial is coming? That is just it! I am not particularly flexible. I thought I could sit and write a moving commentary about the ebb and flow of our existence, punctuated with inspirational anecdotes from my own life, but I just don't have many. I do remember the first time I ever went Bodyboarding. My friend told me that if you cannot catch the wave that is coming up behind you, you have to just drop under water and let the wave carry you back to the beach. If you try to fight the wave, it will win. Eventually I missed one, and I those few moments under the water, rolling end over end along the bottom of the ocean were terrifying. But, at that moment, I was not in control and I had to let go and let nature take its course, or suffer the consequences of trying to fight it. Such is life. We often dwell on the things that could have been. Perhaps things are not what we had planned. But for now, it simply is. Does that mean we do not try to better ourselves or our circumstances? Of course not. But sometimes our our failure to accept what already is, keeps things and us from changing, growing & improving. If we tighten a muscle while we are trying to stretch it, we limit the amount of improvement we can make in our flexibility. It is in releasing the tension that we make the greatest progress. I practice this with my body, I guess I just need to make that mind/body/spirit/life connection. Jump in with both feet. Throw my hat in the air. Dance in the street. And--even though the old ones were just fine, and the shirt covered the hole in the rather unmentionable spot, and they probably only have a tiny bit of grease from the rag pile, and could still be worn for a few more months--I am wearing the new pajamas...
Quote of the day:"Do so is more important than say so."
--Pete Seeger Folk Singer

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NatureGirl In The Box

Here's the box. Here is me happily living inside the box. Yep. Happily. When I was 12 my mother went skydiving for her 30th birthday. I assumed she wanted to do this. Come to find out later, she jumped because she did not want to. I do not understand this. I do not do half of the things I want to do because I don't really (insert "have the courage to") want to. Did that make any sense?
One of the reasons I did not vote for the current president was his constant call for "change". I do not like change. I do not like it Sam I am. Where is the guy shouting for status quo!? That's the guy who gets my vote! I promise to...never move furniture or change wall decor; never make you change gyms or schools or houses or even clothes if you don't want to. I will never expect you to try new things or make new friends. Things will stay exactly like they are now. Yippee! Sign me up for that plan. Ya, ya I know...lame.
As the children put up Christmas decorations this week, I found myself short of breath whenever I had to move something to make way for something else. Brother and I have discussed this in the past (and I really hope that my mother does not read this because she will feel horribly guilty, but it is not her fault, so on I type). We grew up in a home of constant change. We moved every year or two. By the time I left for college I had lived in about 14 different homes. Even when we did stay put, the furniture moved every other month. Needless to say, different people handle this upbringing differently. I hate change. My little brother hates stagnation. We both have issues.
Happy note: I am working on it. I have tried a couple of new things over the last two years. It is a slow process, Ok! Basically I learned that I do not like hummus or tahini. But at least I tried. Now can I give up, right? Ya, ya, I know what all of you free-thinking, fearless, hopey-changey types are saying...No way Chica...find the adventure...carpe freakin' diem! Whatever.
Truth be told, I have given in recently and let the daring side of NatureGirl step out and open her box up to some new experiences. I tell ya, Pandora could not have gotten the top back on quicker! Yikes!!! When I think about it I just want to hide my head under the covers with a flashlight and a good book. Even a mediocre book would do really.
Ok, now before this gets too depressing I will tell you. I am not giving up. Ok, well, not entirely anyway. Deep down, in that part of my soul that is not completely terrified of people and things, you know, that tiny little spark of hope at the bottom of the box, I want to try. I am not making any promises of course, but...baby steps.
1. Make a new friend
2. Change the decor of the hall bath and the family room (both rooms I hate and am sick of but would rather live with that than have change)
3. Take at least one step toward a thing that I have always wanted to do except I am too chicken (may not actually go through with this one)
4. Try something that truly terrifies me (or this one either)
5. Open to suggestions
Where do I go from here? For those of you who have successfully exited the box, or were born on the outside...please, share. I am open to suggestions and may try a few on air...ok well, you know, here on the blog. I realize there is no "air" to speak of here, or in the box for that matter. Hey, help get me out of here...I can't breath...
Quote of the Day: "There is nothing so stable as change."
--Bob Dylan stinkin' genius

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Was Rick Springfield Thinking?

"Don't talk to strangers." Makes ya wonder how we have managed to propagate the human race all these years eh? When I first saw the big-eyed, long-lashed handsome lad, who has since become known as Hunky Hubby, across a not so crowded classroom, I said, "Now there is a stranger I want to get to know!" Glad I did too. Don't talk to strangers. Who ever heard of such a thing!? (For all the moms and dads who are having a tizzy right now, perhaps we could teach "Don't walk away with strangers" instead?) I talk to everyone in the grocery checkout line. I call waiters and cashiers by name and try to smile at everyone I make eye contact with. When and why did we decide that the proper way to handle accidental eye contact was to pretend that we were checking the clock behind said stranger? Silly.
So, this week, I talked to strangers. I flew home for a family gathering after my grandmother passed away. During the 4 legs of travel I had the opportunity to sit next to four different strangers. I learned a great deal about myself, about them, and about us, as humans. And there are 4 fewer strangers in my world now. How different we all are, and yet how the same. Five people (including myself) from 4 different states, different ages, different occupations, upbringings, circumstances, status, and lives. Yet we found ourselves momentarily crossing paths. For an hour and a half becoming part of each other's lives.
Not everyone likes to talk, but I found that even a quiet one will share his life with a stranger with a smile. He was a welding inspector, on his way from Spokane to SE Idaho. A job that would take him away from home until Thanksgiving. Only to turn around and head back to work again until Christmas. That is a long time to be away from loved ones, especially nine grandchildren. Or to leave nine children, as another fellow traveler. Although 8 of his were grown, he left behind a wife and a four year old son as he headed to Las Vegas for a conference. Kind looking man. Soft spoken with bright blue eyes. He enjoys his job in education as an ESL specialist with a local school district. We had religion in common and discussed raising teenagers, missionary work and the gospel. I am glad he was willing to share his experience with me and grateful that he expressed finding something valuable in what I had to say as well.
And John. He was on the last leg of a long journey from DC to California. A cardiologist, educated at Harvard. Don't meet many of those in my circle. I think in other circumstance I may have felt intimidated. Although I do not know why. Labels I guess. Doctor. Harvard. Status. Prestige. But in reality we conversed easily and comfortably. Our kids were the same ages. He was struggling with an issue with a 17 year old daughter that I think every parent has had. We were far more alike than different, and I appreciated an honest, open exchange with a fellow human being. Finally Mr. Zhèng --I can neither pronounce nor spell his given name! Serendipity. Born, raised and educated in mainland China, he came to the US for his PhD in horticultural genetics at Clemson University, finally making his home in northern California. He travels the world doing research and speaking. What an interesting conversation. I am fascinated by genetic engineering and organic farming, and he knew the answers to questions I am not even half smart enough to ask. But ask I did and he excitedly explained his work with a passion and exuberance that I would have previously not thought possible in discussing the hybridization of watermelons! So different, yet partaking in the thrill of common interests and sharing in a human experience. Amazing. Thought provoking. Extraordinary and surprising. It took only a second to get up the courage to start a conversation. To ask a question. To engage another person in my moment of time. Time I could have simply passed. And for those moments...the world became a tiny bit smaller.
--Shirley MacLaine actress

Monday, November 2, 2009

Today, This Made Me...Sentimental.

This is my grandmother, Faith. We called her Grams. She passed away yesterday at age 83. I think my uncle and aunt are simply adorable. That is my cutie mother on her lap.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pumpkins, Apples and a Little Internal Analepsis

I have such an amazing life. Why do I ever complain? Just a thought.
So, since I do not have anything new to say today, I thought I would take a look back over the last year. What was going on this week in '08? I looked at last year's posts and did a sad face. This week last year I was harvesting apples, hosting our annual pumpkin patch and using the fruits of our labors to bake, bake, bake! But this year...nada. We had a really wet, cold June and hail decimated the garden several times. After one such attack from Mother Nature it looked like I had taken a salad shooter out in the garden. My little baby greens lay shattered and disfigured among the rows of peas and beans...total carnage. Hail hit twice right as the apple tree was flowering, so no apples this fall. The cold spring did not allow for a large pumpkin crop either, so we will have to skip our usual festivities. I have to be thankful however that this is not how my family earns a living, nor do we depend on the crops in our garden as our only sustenance. I miss it nonetheless.
So THIS little flashback takes us to a time of apples and pumpkins, aprons and woolen socks. And ANOTHER from that week focused on choosing the better part--finding balance and serenity in our lives. Finally some cute pix and a little MUSING over pumpkins and babies, which really have more in common than you might think!
Quote of the Day: "Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden." ~Orson Scott Card author

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's Important To Have a Twinkle In Your Wrinkle

I did something that I never thought I would do. Yep, I did. I bought reading glasses. I remember when my mom did it. I laughed. My friends? Uh huh, laughed then too. And just to add icing to my "you are nearly 40 birthday cake" I found out that my thyroid has worn out (apparently from climbing the hill) and is no longer giving us the juice we need to stay conscious past 2 in the afternoon. Hence, I will now be taking medication for the rest of my life! That combined with the hole in the cartilage in my knee and a B12 deficiency results in a cornucopia of pills to be taken daily. It is said that "Forty is when you finally get your head together and your body starts falling apart." There.
Yes, this is me complaining. On my last birthday I turned 39. I was excited about it. I was looking forward to "roaring" into 40. Woohooo! I was looking good, and feeling good, and knew I had a year to get ready for the big day. I have been thinking about how to celebrate. Invite everyone I love over for cake and open all of those lovely gag gifts? Write letters to all the people who have inspired and taught and encouraged me over the years? Go skydiving? Swimming with sharks? The world is my oyster! Ya, well, that was 6 months ago. Things have changed. No, you are right...not really. I think I am still going to do my best to roar into it. I have another six months. I still look pretty good, and feel almost back to my "old" self thanks to modern medicine. I have an amazing Hunky Hubby who for whatever crazy reasons still likes me after nearly 20 years. My kids are healthy and cute and smart. I have great friends who only smile when I tell them I am building a chicken coop in the back yard. I could go on and on counting my blessings. Yes, truth be told, there are days I would like to have my 20 year old bod back again, but I would not being willing to give up the last 20 years to get it. With age comes wisdom and insight and clarity. People, friendships and compassion. Empathy, tolerance, charity and love. I may not like all of the changes in my body that I know are coming over the next 5 or 6 decades, but I like me. I know that I can go on counting my blessings, showing gratitude for what I have, and marveling at what I can do. I can set goals, learn new things, meet new people, serve God, love my family and savor life. If I do that I can pretty much ensure that all my wrinkles will be laugh lines!
Quote of the Day: "People who grow old well, focus on the growing, not the old."
--Dr. Dale Vicky Atkins

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Autumn Daze and Purple Soup

So, there you have it. Summer has officially come
to and end. On the calendar anyway. I however plan on taking just a bit of summer with me through at least the first couple of weeks of autumn. As long as the tomatoes last and the blackberries keep ripening. Ah, the tastes of harvest. I think fall might actually be my favorite season. Well, my favorite weather anyway. I have rhapsodized about the spring thaw and championed the cause of those lazy summer days, but really the autumn with its crisp, clear mornings and warm, bright afternoons is a delight almost incomparable. Take time to notice. This is one of our last nice days for a while. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 45 with some rain and snow. Therefore, this will be a short post, so I can get out on the porch with my book. Ok, you caught me...bookS! What I really want to share is the fun I have been having experimenting with all those yummy veggies that are so abundant right now. When mom said, "eat your greens!" she left out a whole rainbow amiable esculents. I have discovered that... Asparagus is heavenly in omelets. Tomatoes go
with everything. Zucchini is probably the hardest working veggie out there. Broccoli is yummo cooked, raw and everwhere in between. You can grow eggs in the garden. And kids have a really
hard time eating purple hashbrowns now matter how good they taste.
Last night we had purple soup for dinner. See these adorable purply spuds! Ok, so I do not have a recipe because I really cook better on the fly and the rules are more like guidelines anyway, right?
Seasonal Purple Soup
So, I started with a pot of boiling broth and water. Added some salt and pepper. Threw in cubed purple potatoes, shredded purple cabbage, and a big chopped up leek. Added a couple of cloves of garlic (which happened to also have purple skins) and a sprig of fresh rosemary cuz I had it in the garden. I let that cook down until the potatoes were soft. Then I pureed about two cups of the soup and added it back in for some thickness. It was purple. We ate it with some whole wheat flatbread and a tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper and drizzled with olive oil. Seriously, does not get better this time of year. I think the soup would be good with left over chicken or even a bit of a quality sausage if you like things spicy! Go to the market and see what is fresh, then just start throwing things together. You might be surprised at how much you like this way of cooking. Happy eating...
Quote of the day: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread; places to play in and pray in; where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
--John Muir naturalist and explorer

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Many Blogs Could A Blogger Read If A Blogger Could Read Blogs?

Nearly a year ago, I posted a tiny communique about blogging. Not very long and truthfully not that interesting. But I have been thinking again about it as of late and would like to, if you will all indulge, revisit the subject. And I have a favor to ask. The original blog from December of 2008 read in part...
"What an odd phenomenon is the blog world. Who are we to think that we have anything to say that anyone would want to hear? Most of the time, I doubt that my own family (i.e. those obligated by blood or marriage to at least pretend to be interested) particularly cares what I have to rant or ramble about. Are we truly a narcissistic society, so caught up in our own opinions and postulations as to believe that others would want to read them, to the tune of thousands of bloggers, publishing thousands upon thousands of posts each week? Clearly, yes, we are. BUT truth be told...I love it!...I love the sneak peek into the daily (even if mundane) lives of friends and family. Do I think that it would be better for us to bind these ties face to face? Yes, but that is not the reality of the times we are living in. I live 100's of miles from my "hometown". Also true of my college home. My friends and family are spread literally from border to border and from sea to shining sea. We have, however, this place to converge, to rally, to reunite, to associate, to mingle, to share, to connect and reconnect. So, while there may not always be a lot to say, keep saying it. Real people, real lives. Ordinary and humdrum at times. Remarkable and Amazing at others."
I still believe this to be true, perhaps even more so now. I have seen some remarkable things over the year since my somewhat trepidatious entrance into the blogosphere. I have "met" some amazing people, reconnected with old friends and drawn closer to family. I have seen babies born, and couples wed (not necessarily in that order)...birthdays celebrated and anniversaries marked...rejoiced with some friends and cried with others. Am I alone in my sentiment, sickeningly saccharine as it may be? Do any of you have experiences with this medium that have touched, inspired, angered or fed you? I want answers I tell ya! So here is where the favor comes in. I want to know who you are. Am I getting to read all the bloggers' blogs who hit my blog? Please, if you read this...leave a comment. If you have an experience, share it. If not, just say hi so I can go check out your blog! If I already know who you are...leave a comment anyway so I don't look like a big dork standing in the corner all by myself waiting for someone to ask me to dance.
Quote of the Day: "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."--Dr. Seuss philosopher

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Mother Invented Necessity...or Something Like That!

I do not love sewing. I know how to sew, although my lack of attention to detail dictates that no one ever look on the inside of a garment I have made. Ever. I do keep a scrapbook, but it will certainly never win any awards or make it into one of those cutsie magazines. I cannot knit and I crochet like I have feet where my hands should be. My quilts would undoubtedly be crooked if I ever got around to making any. There is dust on nearly every flat surface in my house and at least one rotten vegetable in my fridge. I am no good at throwing dinner parties. I cannot decorate to save my life and there are no "best dressed" awards in my future either. I will never be PTA president.
That being said... I do enjoy cooking and if you do not like what I make for dinner, there is always toast because I am nice. Sometimes there is even homemade butter to go on it. I love the outdoors, camping, yoga, hiking and biking. I love God. Music is a high priority in my life. Making music, and listening to it brings me great joy. I have at least 5 books going at all times and I still love to read aloud to my kids, even though they all know how to read themselves. I am funny. I still like to color and glue stuff to construction paper. I can think of at least 10 things to do with an old box and I recycle like crazy. I also compost my kitchen scraps. I love to garden, and while it never looks perfect, it brings me pleasure (also fruits,veggies and eggs). I always vote.
Ok, so the point? My friend Brenda recently lent me a book about mothering and the opening paragraph was all I really needed to read to get that little light bulb to go off. Although I am finishing it anyway.
"Can you imagine what the world would be like if all the mothers in the world were exactly alike in how they behaved, in their approach to motherhood, and in the strengths and talents they shared with their families? I confess I feel great relief in knowing that we can each be our own kind of mom, a complete original unlike any other mother on the face of the planet. If we as mothers do something we absolutely love alongside raising children we absolutely love, we will almost guarantee that our children will be raised in an atmosphere steeped in joy."
--Debra Sansing Woods It's Okay To Take A Nap
That is the point. I could shut up now and all you moms out there would have received the message that I want to convey, but if you ever read this blog you will know it is hard to shut me up. But really, is not that all we want for our kids...to be "steeped in joy". What more is there? If I begrudgingly go about activities that I don't enjoy in the name of "perfect" parenting, where does that leave me or my kids at the end of the day. I am guessing tired. And not just nap tired! Sometimes I have wished that I was a different kind of mother. The kind that could knit and sew and bottle peaches. That was good at making them do chores and teaching them to always send thank you cards. That each room in our house was straight off the showroom floor complete with handcrafted quilts on the beds and stunning one of a kind baby scrapbooks on the shelves. And, and, and... But that's not me. In the end I think there will be more joy in my home if I learn to capitalize on my strengths. Do I have to know how to do everything? Nope. Do I have to drive myself crazy trying? No way! Can I learn new things? Of course! Can I find joy in those "must-do's" of motherhood? Certainly! Will I constantly strive to be a better person, friend, wife and mother? I will!
This is me. I am one of a stinkin' kind! And in the end I want to be the kind of mother who finds joy in doing things I love with people I love (and also mopping the floors).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Not-So Triumphant Return of an Absentee Blogger

I have no excuses. I can make a few up...like, the kids are home for summer break so I never get to use the computer or we have been on vacation a lot or I am so thoroughly enjoying the season that I don't have time to sit in front of the computer and write. All of these are true to some extent. I might also add that I doubt anyone misses this little blog and I am sure both of my readers have had much more interesting things to entertain them the last couple of months. But just in case someone is reading...here I am! It really has been a great summer so far, although as usual, it is flying by all too quickly. Once again I find myself wishing that I could will the hands of time to stop turning. Summer is that amazing time of year when all the cares of the world seem to float away on those wispy white clouds, hopefully never to be heard from again. So, in celebration of our 10th week of summer vacation...dunt, dunt, dunt, duh...
My 10 favorite
things about this summer so far
1. Picking lemons from the tree and making lemonade on the spot!
2. Letting teenagers do my hair at girl's camp.
3. Family trees
4. 7 year old girls who are not afraid of THIS
5. Wearing out a 16 year old.
6. Water, sand and Sunshine
7. The freedom of a bicycle
8. Dirty Feet
9. Hay rides down on Grandpa's farm
10. Pictures of my super studly hubby on his adventures without me.
Four more weeks to go...Hooray summer!!!
Quote of the Day: "Love means having someone you like around you forever."
--Rebekah baby princess, ballerina and philosopher age 7

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Family Tree Is Fulla Nuts!

So, where the heck have I been? Well, I just got back from a week+ vacation to see my family in northern California where I grew up so I am going to use that as an excuse, but really I have just been suffering from a seemingly interminable case of writer's block. I am pretty sure that the case is not solved either, so if this post comes out like a random stream of anti-thought, I should not be held responsible. Because of said vacation, I do have quite a few ideas floating around in my head, but none of them seem to want to stick to the metaphorical paper. But one thing I did learn while on my vacation is that all families are crazy.
Really. Isn't yours? See, I am right!
I cannot write in specifics about what it was that drew me to this conclusion without being ostracized for the next five to ten years. Although the collective memory of my clan will eventually morph every family story into something that resembles truth only in some parallel universe entirely populated with fishermen, so I am probably safe. Which brings us back to the crazy part. There is no single thing that makes me think my family is crazy, but rather a culmination of many hours spent reminiscing about old times, and comparing seemingly unrelated childhoods. Yes, it is true, while my brother, sister and I were raised in the same home, we apparently lived completely separate lives. I offer as example...
"Oh! Remember when we used to come here all the time when we were kids?"
"I've never been here."
"Remember when Jimmy fell off this swing and broke his arm?"
"That was Sally and she broke her ankle, and it was a different park."
"What?! None of you ever broke anything."
"Remember when Uncle Dan used to always bake us those yummy snickerdoodles?"
"We have an Uncle Dan?"
It does make these reunions more interesting. It is like reliving a whole bunch of stuff that you must not have remembered quite right and that now you are not sure happened at all, but you look so much like these people that you have to assume you found the right house. And in the end, I reluctantly admit that I am at least one nut that did not fall far from the tree, and MAN do we have a good time!
Quote of the Day: "If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright'."
--Jeff Foxworthy

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Lovin'...

There is something I have been thinking about for a while, but I have not been able to fashion the random goulash of ideas into anything even slightly resembling concrete language. This is nothing new for me, but somedays it is harder than others to reign in my lunatic thoughts. With just 2 1/2 days of school left I am excitedly anticipating having all four kids home for the better part of 3 months.  I know, I know you are thinking, "What!? Moms dread summer vacation!"  I will admit at the beginning of the summer I really know that it could go either way.  It could be 12 weeks of not-so scientific studies on the effects of prolonged periods of TV watching and boredom endurance analysis followed by free-for-all wrestling matches that test both skill and cunning, not to mention Mom's patience!  OR It could be a season's worth of blissful play & sunshine. No schedules.  No homework. No shoes and no worries!  I guess I am lucky in that most of our summers have been much more of the latter than not. 
I don't feel qualified to give advice on keeping kids out of trouble during those long, crazy and often lazy days of summer, but I do know what works for us.  Lots of creativity, imagination and freedom.  Bicycles and badminton. Crayons, paint and paper. Sprinklers and sidewalk chalk. Puppet shows and dress up clothes. Backyard camp outs and neighborhood nature walks.  We always pick a country and/or language to study over the summer. We try to incorporate some foods from those places into our meals too. Language CD's and books on tape are great for both road trips and running to t-ball games and swimming lessons. Last summer we played "tourist" in our own town.  We went to the local visitor's center and walked around the quaint downtown.  We hit all the touristy places, ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe and tried to look at our own little town with fresh eyes.
Summer is the time to put away the calendar and take the phone off the hook. Unplug the TV and dust off the BBQ. Don't dread it, embrace it!  Bust out the books and the picnic blankets. Make bird feeders, catch bugs in jars and grow a garden.  Sit on the porch swing. Plant flowers. Make lemonade. Take walks. Climb trees. Ride bikes. Run in the sprinklers. Get your feet dirty and drink out of the hose!  Take a breath...it's summer!
Quote of the Day: "Summer is when laziness finds respectability."
 ~Sam Keen author

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is My Real Life On Backorder?

I think there may be something wrong with me.  You know, I might not be normal.  Hunky Hubby actually told me yesterday that I am not normal, but he says he meant it "in the good way."  I will have to give that more thought.  But my point is this.  A wonderful and talented blogger recently posed a question to her readers.  Her witty and poignant blog is titled My Real Life Is Backordered, and this week she asked readers to tell about the parts of their own lives that are perhaps different than they had planned. I started thinking about what I would say in my comment and I realized something--I don't think I planned anything for my life.  
A similar thought actually came to me 3 years ago when my sister got married.  She told me about how she had been planning the wedding since she was a little girl, and was a bit surprised that I had never given my wedding even a tiny thought...really up until the month before I actually got married!  Oops!  I guess chicks usually care about that kinda stuff.  I didn't know! So now I'm thinking about what young NatureGirl anticipated for her life.  What were her hopes and dreams; goals and aspirations? I gotta tell ya...she must have been busy picking dandelions or something, because I can't think of a thing! I know she planned on getting taller but after that, I am drawing a blank...
What do you want to be when you grow up?  The ubiquitous query posed to even the tiniest wannabe firefighter and ballerina in our society. I am very sure that I never gave this question even a moment's thought until at least Jr. High, and at that point it was "dentist" but quite frankly, I am just not that smart.  I do not think I wanted to be a dentist as much as I wanted to WANT to be a dentist. (If you understood that sentence you are a genius.)  Then sometime in high school I got the artsy fartsy bug and decided I would move to New York and live in resplendent bohemian squalor while getting my dance career going. Only one problem...I didn't actually dance. Not all of the details were worked out.  
I always assumed I would go to college, only I did not know where I would go or what I would study.  Again with the details! When the time came I applied to some schools that looked pretty in the brochures, picked the coolest one, and at 18 headed out into the big wide world of...Provo, Utah. And then, more questions I couldn't answer... 
"So, what's your major?"
"Uh, like do I have to like pick one like soon? (I was from California) I was thinking I could maybe like try some things on for like 5 or 6 years..."
I won't tell you how long it actually took me to graduate, but a normal person could have come out of there with an entire alphabet of degrees instead of just one little B.A.  
I may not have planned the wedding early on, but I did know I wanted to be married and have children.  I pictured lots of little ones gathered around me all the time, reading, writing, painting, learning and loving!  Growing things, discovering things, making things.  We do that. I think I have fewer children than I imagined, but it was a vague number anyway. Probably around 15 or so. Whew!  Maybe I should be thankful for dreams unfulfilled huh? Hubby however is more amazing than I could have dreamed, and I wonder everyday why he chose me.  
So, here I am 13/34ths through life and I still don't know exactly what I want to be when I grow up. So, it seems that everything I never knew I had planned turned out exactly like I never thought it would!  Once in a while that lack of planning thing really works.  I guess I am just waiting to see what happens.  Where this amazing journey of life takes me...
Quote of the Day: "There are only two tragedies in life: One is not getting what you want, and the other is getting it."
--Oscar Wilde amazing playwright

Friday, May 1, 2009

Highly Exaggerated Confessions of a Wannabe Farmgirl

Do we ever stop to think where an Oreo comes from? Do they grow on trees? Bushes? Maybe they are a root cookie. Ok, I exaggerate, so what else is new. How about our carrots or asparagus. Where is it grown?  Who grew it?  How about those awful, hard, tasteless, pulpy masses the grocers pass off as tomatoes?  Where did they get those things? And don't even get me started on Wonder bread.  As in, "I wonder what the heck is in that stuff." 
Most of what we consistently and mindlessly pile into our grocery carts week after week barely passes as food. I am tired of it.  I have been for years.  I will spare you the boring details of my decade long attempt at detox.  That is, eliminating as much of the unrecognizable substances that pass as food, and that our society consumes en masse, from our regular diet as possible without causing a) complete family mutiny or b) thrusting my family into the fringe of society, outcast and labeled with catchy titles like health-nuts, granolas or hippies.  Actually I think I could live with all of that, but really, if anyone is going to make fun of my family, it better be me. 
Over the past few years I have become more and more intrigued with the idea of locavorism and self-sustainability. There is plenty of info out there, so I won't go into detail.  It just feels right.  It just sits well with my nature and what I personally value.  No pressure here to believe what I do, just the random thoughts of one blogging chick.  Ok, so that brings me to my latest adventure. Chickens!  Jimi Hendrix and Yolko Ono joined our little flock last week and are a welcome addition. Just cute little fuzzballs at this point, but the prospect of fresh omelets in my future is good. Plus I got to supervise Hunky Hubby building an adorable coop for the little buggers last weekend--tan, muscly arms, power tools, the smell of raw manliness and sawdust in my nose--oops-
As I was saying.  I just feel the need to be connected to my food. To the earth. To my place on it. As part of it. We have detached ourselves from the dirt.  I love dirt.  I love the way it feels between my toes, and smells when I dig in it.  I played in the dirt alot as a kid, and I guess I just never outgrew it! I still save worms that misguidedly squirm out onto the sidewalk after a heavy rain. They are good for the dirt.  Go worms! Go dirt! Go veggies and chickens and GO LIFE!!!
Quote for the day: "Being cool is about being yourself." 
--Eric W. Cowperthwaite cousin and all around good guy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dirty Feet are Happy Feet

I think being outdoors has always been a part of my life. My infant and toddler years were spent in sunny San Diego.  Many of my early days found us at the beach. I am told that my parents turned the playpen upside down on top of me, creating a bit of a cage, protecting me from the sun and preventing what would have likely been frequent attempts at escape. I happily played in the sand while my bottle, wrapped in aluminum foil, sat warming on a rock near the fire.  
The remainder of my "growing up" years were spent in northern California. The mild climate afforded children the luxury of many blissful hours of outdoor play.  An extravagance that seems to be disappearing. Days were whiled away digging in the dirt, climbing trees, fences and rocks, catching bugs, skipping rope, and just enjoying the natural part of our corner of suburbia.  When the streetlights came on we begrudgingly dragged ourselves home, barefooted, bedraggled and begrimed, warranting the nightly admonition rarely needed nowadays to "wash your feet before bed."
As we got older the recreation became slightly more structured, but no less enjoyable.  The Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mendocino and Redwood Forests became our playgrounds. Hiking, camping and fishing kept us busy all day and ensured an appetite sufficient for even the most burnt of Dad's offerings and a sound night's sleep.  Quality gear was either less available or less affordable back then, so we usually made do with what we could dig up at the Army Surplus store.  We lugged around huge metal canteens, slept in leaky canvass tents and stopped frequently to patch blisters caused by salvaging last year's tennis shoes for hiking.  Yards of medical tape and moleskin were expended and provided a patchwork of stories on our feet to tell of our adventures.  I had the privilege of connecting to the earth and to myself through my natural surroundings at an early age. It was natural that I would do my best to pass that along to my children.
Hunky Hubby and I have to work more diligently than our parents ever had to to ensure that our children are raised with adequate time in the sun. The draw of technology, no matter how we limit it, is strong.  Schoolwork demands more of their home time than ours ever did. I do know that the best model is Mom and Dad.  We have to get out there with them.  Not too hard. So the dishes and the vacuuming go undone sometimes.  So what?  I'm busy raising kids!
Quote of the Day: "You must love the crust of the earth on which you dwell more than the sweet crust of any bread or cake; you must be able to extract nutriment out of a sand heap."
--Henry David Thoreau author, poet, naturalist

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Da Doo Re Run Run Part III

I promise that when I get a chance to slow down, I will start writing again (I originally spelled this "righting" Sheesh, I AM losing it!)  The last couple of weeks I have been running about like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off.  Speaking of chickens I believe I will be building a coop this weekend.  Post for another day.  This week though for some reason I have had one thing on my mind...Hunky Hubby!  Yep, I know, can't get that cutie outta my brain.  I just marvel some days that after nearly 20 years together, we still really like each other.  Twenty years seems like a long time when you are young, but I feel like we are finally just starting to get to know each other! One line from a song that I am rather fond of pronounces, "When I wrap my arms around you, every mistake we've made crumbles."  I guess that is what love is all about.  So for re-run number three I revisit a little incident that threatened, even if only briefely, the state that we affectionately call marital bliss, yet ended with us laughing and loving--mostly!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Da Doo Re Run Run Part II

I am having that breakdown after all.  Mild.  But it is here. Yes, that photo is from today and yes, I just ate a half a bag of candy that I found hidden in the kitchen from my birthday.  I am considering consuming the batch of cookies that I burnt last night. It was the last batch and when they were done I shut the oven off but did not take the cookies out! They are only dark brown, not black, so they are probably ok. Does anyone have a jack-hammer I could borrow to get them off the cookie sheet? Needless to say, re-run # 2 is for me more than anything.  Just remembering this post makes me smile, fills my heart with gratitude for life's little lessons and makes me want to follow the yellow brick road all the way home, even if it is in snowboots not ruby slippers!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Da Doo Re Run Run, Da Doo Re Run

Apparently 50 was the magic number.  The girl who generally will not shut up, has nothing left to say.  But I feel some obligation (only to myself of course) to keep my 2 cents in circulation.  So think of this as a re-run.  Or as they now say, "Encore Presentation!"  The general public obviously feels less cheated when we use even overtly transparent euphemisms. "Previously owned" is another personal favorite.  Maybe you could think of it as a "Best of" or "Top 10". Maybe you don't even read me and move on to someone who actually has something to SAY!  I am just giving you a choice is all. If you feel like making a comment, please do it on this post rather than the oldie where I will likely never find it!  And now...our feature presentation....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Buttons, Bobbles and Beads...Oh My! (#50)

Before we rushed out of doors--carried away by the miraculous spring thaw, I meant to blog a bit about the things we were doing to pass the last few weeks of winter.  That time when the snow has deteriorated to nothing more than slush, ice and piles of crusty, dirty, gnarled masses along the sidewalks and roads, and we are forced to seek the shelter of home and fire for a time.  I hate to sound like a boastful mama, but my kids are just amazing!  They dug out the paints, papers, puzzles and supplies.  The boxes of buttons, bobbles, beads and scraps saved for just such creative surges and went to work!  I was worried when Santa decided to bring a video game (Wii) into our house this last Christmas. But you know, they hardly touch the thing.  We have never had video games or fancy cable channels and have even had periods with no TV at all.  One would think children so deprived would flock around such a new-fangled device when there was nothing else to do.  But, I am proud to say that they did not.  I am grateful beyond measure for children who are 100 times more creative, imaginative, artistic and expressive than their parents.  Sometimes we wonder where these little geniuses came from.  Then we remember, oh ya, heaven!
Quote of the 
Day: "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." --Pablo Picasso grown-up and artist

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tomorrow May Rain So...

Like the cat who finds the one small patch of sun drenched carpet to take her nap, I too follow the sun.  Today is the first day of Spring! This last week has brought me more joy than any woman should have at something so simple as the changing of the seasons.  The kids feel it too.  There is something primitive, instinctual about the spring thaw.  I can feel it deep inside myself. The temperatures that sent us running for cover last Fall, now seem refreshing, rejuvenating, revitalizing (it isn't hard to alliterate 're' words!).  Boots are traded for sandals. Heavy coats and wooly hats are happily left dangling from their hooks, not quite ready to be packed away just yet. Sleds are pushed further and further to the back of the garage as we dig for bikes, scooters, skates and chalk. Is rebirth too strong a word?  That is how I feel, reborn!  I sit on the porch soaking up the warmth and breathing in the life, the green that I know is there waiting just under the ground for that perfect moment to emerge. It happens every year.  Yet the miracle never ceases to amaze me.  With the memory of cold and dark so fresh in my mind, the blue sky and temperate air seems almost like an hallucination. I know from experience that we are not completely rid of Old Man Winter just yet which makes it all the more imperative that I bask, delight and appreciate Mother Nature today.  All I can say is that I am love, Love, LOving it!
Quote of the Day: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."
--Oscar Wilde  playwright

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ode To A Commode

I sing of thy porcelain and pipes...
Ok, sorry, that title was misleading. This will not be an ode, but the story really is about a toilet and I like rhyming. Last week I had my regular monthly "date" with a girlfriend.  A couple of us went to her house to visit, vent, validate and revitalize.  It's cheaper than therapy, and gives the toddlers a place to master the fine art of sharing, and moms a place to show off their carefully honed diversionary tactics! Skills that will certainly come in handy if we ever have to form our own militia. We had even a third objective in this gathering, however, and that was to see Brenda's new lavatory.  It is a beauty! With just a gentle touch of the lid, this incredible contraption closes slowly, steadily & silently all by its little self.  No, I am not kidding. There we stood, three grown women, encircled about the toilet, oohing and aahing as if it were a newborn.  I have had similar experiences over stainless steel refrigerators, wainscoting, a really good hair cut and tile flooring. I thought to myself, "Wow girls, we need to get out more!" but I said, "Oh ya, this is making my blog!" Real life, real women, real necessity and real pleasure at another's good fortune.  The fact of the matter is that the old toilet caused a great deal of unpleasantness in the daily life of this young mother.  As her friends we empathized in her plight and were happy to share in her delight at the hassle-free appliance. Bearing in sadness & sharing in gladness, isn't that what its all about?  And you thought it was the hokey-pokey.  Actually that will get you through some pretty tough times too!
Quote of the Day: "I get by with a little help from my friends."
--Lennon/McCartney 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On Books, The Beatles and Breakdowns

If you came here today looking for my usual brand of saccharine sentiment, positive postulation and life-affirming lessons, then you had better turn away now. I mean it!  You won't find any of that here.  Perhaps those of you living in "normal" habitats don't understand what it is like up here in the frozen tundra of the north.  The high today is 32 degrees, and we are grateful for it I tell ya...grateful! A very dear friend called me about this time last year and asked if I was ready to have my breakdown yet.  My what?  Your annual pre-birthday "patience is wearing thin, going stir crazy, tired of being cooped up, why is there still snow, where are my flip-flops, where is the sun, where are the tulips, get me out now" breakdown.  Oooh, you mean THAT breakdown. Isn't it funny how those near to us know us better sometimes than we know ourselves. Apparently this is normal behavior for me right before my birthday every year. *Warning* Birthday next week.  I really do love the winter, but a person can only take so much. So in order to stave off the breakdown until the snow melts in April or May, I offer some blues bustin' helpful hints...
1. Break into that stack of books you have been meaning to get to.  Park yourself in a south-facing window and soak up that vitamin D!
2. Spend way more time than you should blog-hopping and/or face-booking, maybe you will get a glimpse of the sunshine in someone else's life.
3. Keep plenty of chocolate on hand (this is also helpful for the rainy spring, hot summer and windy autumn seasons)
4. Give up something for Lent, maybe it will take your mind off the cold. (Ok, so I am not Catholic, and Mormons pretty much give up everything from the get-go anyway, so...) (Kidding people, sheesh!)
5. Put on something comfy, climb into bed and watch the sappiest movie you have on hand (mine was "The Christmas Card") Studies have shown this behavior to be highly addictive, use sparingly only as needed for severe cases
6. Do something creative--paint, sew, scrapbook, draw, write poetry, sing, play, dance!
7. Wear clothes that don't match and are borderline silly (I am so sick of my winter clothes that this is the only joy I have found in wearing them)
8. Have a sleep-over (I actually did this last year, and it was more fun than 5 grown women should probably have)
Whew! Just writing about it makes me feel better. Now, I cannot guarantee no breakdown, but maybe just a mini one.  SouleMama gave a beautiful winter manifesto recently that actually made me almost (almost) love and appreciate this final wrap up of one more frosty, snowy, beautiful, winter season. I know at some point I will miss the snuggly warm bed, heavy with extra blankets and sitting by the fire, skiing, snowmen building, hot cocoa drinking and still, silent snowstorms.  But today I sit staring out the window at Mr. Sun just peeking from behind a cloud and think, "You can do it big guy...You can do it!"
Quote of the Day: "Here comes the sun, and I say, it's all right."
George Harrison--musician

Friday, February 20, 2009

Going Bananas?

I am having trouble quieting my "Monkey Mind" lately. Yogis believe that the "monkey mind" is that constant flood of thoughts streaming through our brains-like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. Our monkey mind is usually only interested in the next "banana". It is the part of our mind that pulls us from the present moment and keeps us from relishing the now. I have been bumping and jumping around this last month, not seeming to focus on anything important to me.  The secret, I know, is to observe those extraneous thoughts, but not to become absorbed in them.  Do you ever have those days (perhaps weeks, months or years even) when you feel like you are just treading water? You have used nearly all your energy, yet are no closer to shore? 
I take a Spinning class a few times a week (group biking class with loud music). The instructor often uses the phrase, "resistance is hard."  She is talking about the bike of course, but I am reminded of life's little lessons every time she says that.  Resistance is hard.  Life is complicated. Relationships are work. Happiness is a choice. Joy is a Blessing. 
We have become so accustomed to ease in our society that I think sometimes we forget that difficulty is part of life. Pain is part of the deal. Instead of avoiding the pain, or looking for the easy way out when it comes--we have to learn to accept it.  I believe in a God who wants us to be happy, balanced and at peace.  The hard part is finding that in adverse times.  We may not look forward to the trials that will come, but perhaps we learn to accept the pain and sorrow as part of our human experience.  From the simplest irritation to the most difficult trial, we think not, "Why me?" but "This too shall pass." Bettering our relationships, serving others, recognizing blessings, finding joy in the journey. Ha! Easy to say, hard to DO...but I can try.  As we learn to quiet the chattering mind, we find focus and gratitude in today--where ever that finds us.  
I think I have been too busy lately.  I have forgotten the vitalness of simplicity, creativity and love in my life.  Time to regroup and and re-center myself.  I did get through a teenager's temper tantrum (twice) yesterday without loosing my cool...that oughta be worth something right?
Quote of the Day: "Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
--Albert Einstein really smart guy

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pardon My Flosculation!

I really like words.  Seriously, I use them all the time!  Reading, writing, quotidian colloquy. But I have recently heard some disturbing news.  I mean, I guess deep down inside I always knew, but until my worst fears were confirmed by an outside source, I held out hope that it wasn't true. There are words on the brink of expiration. The threshold of existence. Near their demise.  Falling, quickly and abruptly, into obsolescence!  
Words that once served a purpose and held their places proudly and alphabetically in lexicons across the world, are now being tossed aside like relics of a bygone generation.  Deemed antiquated, outdated, useless and ineffective they are being removed from dictionaries to make room for new words like woot, edamame and subprime.  I get it. Really, I do.  I understand the necessity of it.  I mean, the only reason language exists is to serve the community that uses it.  It allows us to freely exchange thoughts, feelings and ideas.  If a word no longer performs this function, it will drop out of our vernacular naturally.  It just seems so harsh, you know, to take them out of the dictionary after all they have done for us.  Toiling away year after year until suddenly, when they are no longer needed, being torn from the very pages where they waited so faithfully for some amateur philologist to find them.  And, as usual, I digress a bit. 
The point is that someone even more passionate about words than I, has taken up the cause. Launched a formal protest even, and issued a call to action!  For those of us so inclined, we can adopt one of these vanishing words and try to resuscitate it.  How fun is that!?  So, please help Savethewords.
I narrowed my choices to thural, coquinate, fallaciloquence, flosculation and ictuate, finally choosing to assimilate flosculation into my vocabulary. As part of my pledge to do so, I publicly take the oath of adoption: "I hereby promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible, to the best of my ability."  Ah...one down!
Quote of the Day: "Language artfully used can make you happy to be alive."
--Ben Yagoda author   (from If You Catch An Adjective, Kill It)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sim*plic*i*ty /sim'plisitee/ n.

I happily live in a relatively small house by today's American standards.  The average home size peaked last year at just over 2,600 square feet.  The year I was born (eh hem, 1970) the average was about half of that at 1,400. And the year that my parents were born, it was a mere 983 sq.ft.  I am sure all of us have noticed the pervasive urban sprawl of mega homes and mini-mansions in just about every area of the U.S.  Homes that are 5, 6 and even 10 thousand or more square feet. Are these families with 13 children? Large extended families moving in together? Aunts, uncles, Grammy and Gramps all under one roof like the Waltons? Nope. It is just that bigger is better, right? I mean, where else will we keep all of our stuff?  Stuff.  That is the nice girl word for it.   We have all seen those yard sales where the family has a driveway and garage full of ever so lightly used canoes, skis, gym equipment, kitchen gadgets, bikes & golf clubs. Don't forget the baby strollers (umbrella, double, sleeping, jogging and the one that converts to a car seat), high chairs (tray built-in, under the table, travel, booster and the one that converts to a potty) and cribs (bassinet, portable, standard, and the one that converts to a changing table). Boy oh boy, I am exhausted just trying to figure out where they kept it.  If I have described your family, I am sorry if it hurts, but many of us have fallen into this trap of consumption. We buy more and more "stuff" in pursuit of...of...I don't know.  Happiness?  Acceptance? Freedom?  The problem is that we can never be satisfied by stuff, no matter how nice it is.
I have been pondering this idea of simplicity.  My own mantra is "Live life simply and naturally, surrounded by people and things you love." But what does that mean?  It may mean different things to different people, but what does it mean to me? For one thing, it means eating as fresh, seasonally and even locally as I can (except for chocolate which is exempt for medicinal reasons.) It means going without as often as possible. It means not taking on more "projects" than I can handle. It means giving myself permission to sit and read or write when I know I need a break.  It is recognizing the good in my life and the world and not wasting it. It means going through every room, drawer and closet at least twice a year and discarding or donating what we no longer use or love. I wish I could remember where I first heard the idea of only having things in your home that are useful or make you smile. That is a good start. I have always kept a tight budget. I never buy on impulse and usually think so long about buying something I want that eventually I realize I don't need it at all. Makes shopping simple.  But it is more than that.  Simplicity is a state of mind and a frame of reference for everything.  I know that I can do with less.  I know I am actually happier with less.  Less stuff, less stress, less food, less money, less clothes, less waste, less house, less over-scheduling, less hassle, less excess.  Less is more! More time with the family, more love, more energy, more peace, more joy, more contentment, more me! Simple living keeps us in the present. We do not hold on to the things of the past that are no longer of value to us.  We prepare for the future without always anxiously looking for "what comes next." Simple joys, simple foods, simple surroundings, simple abundance, simple gratitude, and simply loving life!
Quote of the Day: "Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort, but will not take place of living in the present."
---Thomas S. Monson  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do You Believe In Magic?

There is magic to be found in our own front yard...
Are we still young enough to find it?
   I was tagged by another blogger--always fun to learn things about people! But, for the sake of brevity, I will link to a previous post in which I listed seven things people might not know about me. In reality, there are hundreds of things that people don't know about me. See...I am an enigma!  A puzzle to be pieced together. A mystery to be unravelled.  A riddle to be solved. And a virtual paradox of feelings and ideas! Ha, bet you are glad you are not married to me huh?
Quote of the Day: "Nature is full of genius, full of divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand."
--Henry David Thoreau writer/philosopher

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If You Give A Mom A Moment...

This post was inspired by a blog that I came across by the same name.  It, I am sure, was inspired by the series of books by Laura Numeroff.  So, just for fun...
If you give a mom a moment, she'll want to take a bubble bath. 
She'll get her favorite book, candles and smelly stuff and head to the bathroom.  
She'll probably notice the soap scum and icky hairs in the bottom of the tub, so she'll want to clean it.  
When she gets the cleaner out of the linen closet, she'll notice the blankets and sheets that the kids used to make a tent in the living room all crammed in the closet getting wrinkled.  
The wrinkles will remind her that her husband's dress shirts need ironed (and that she forgot her SPF 30 face cream this morning).
When she tests the iron to see if it is hot she will burn her finger and go to the freezer for some ice.  
On her way to the freezer she will see the dirty dishes in the sink and ask one of the kids to help.  
The kid will tell her that he/she does not have time to do the dishes because he/she has to be to scouts/ballet/soccer practice/driver's ed. in ten minutes. 
Trying to relax while the teenager drives so he/she can get enough hours behind the wheel to pass driver's ed. will make her wish she hadn't skipped yoga this morning.
When she gets back home and starts the dishes the roasting pan will remind her that it is time to get dinner ready. 
Defrosting the chicken will make her think of the peacock costume that the little one needs for the kindergarten program. 
Kindergarten will make her think of learning how to read and she will want to get the book that she borrowed from the library three weeks ago but hasn't even started yet.  
And chances are if she ever finds the book she'll want to read it in the tub--soap scum, icky hairs and all!