Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Family Goals

A while ago we decided to start teaching the kids about making goals. We did this really well for a couple of weeks but then someone (Mommy) slacked on her goal and we've never moved forward.

Nevertheless, these are our first goal charts. We all sat down together at Family Home Evening and everyone got to choose what they wanted to work on. (Liam may have gotten a little guidance from me.)

My goal was to either hang up my clothes or put them in the laundry basket at night when I took them off, rather than draping them in an ever-growing mound on the dresser. Daddy's goal was to make the bed every morning. Soren's goal was to pick up his toys twelve times. Liam's goal was to practice walking up and down the stairs ten times.

My favorite part is that Soren immediately turned his goal chart into a little person.

Once everyone meets their weekly goal the family gets to do something fun together. One week we had an indoor camping trip. Another time we went out for ice cream. It was a good thing-- while we were doing it.

Gotta get back on that train.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Celestial Zombie

"Mommy, a black hole is a dead star that eats other stars...."

"...It's like a zombie eating the brains of people who are alive."

-Soren (age 5)

(Soren's been very interested in the life cycle of a star lately.)

(Mommy's response was: "Where did you learn about zombies?")

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love Scrapbook: Siding Story

Today was like a little hurricane in Southeastern Idaho. The wind was blowing. Hard. When I walked between the car and my office I honestly feared that my earrings would be torn out of my ears. Debris was flying. Trees were uprooted. Power outages were reported all over town.

At home, Abe watched helplessly as the siding on the side of our house flapped wildly in the wind (the siding, it turns out, was never actually nailed or screwed to the house; just stuck together and attached at the corners). "We're going to lose siding off our house," he texted me, "and there's nothing I can do."

I sighed inside. We had already had an incident like this on a less windy day. That time I had shined a flashlight on the ice-covered side of the house while Abe had pushed the siding back into place. "It's not very steady," he had commented then, "but we'll have to hope it will hold until the weather will allow for some repairs." Thinking about this, I knew that bits of our house were going to be lost in today's gale. I wondered how much it would cost to replace the siding. I wondered how recently it had been put up. Was it still covered under a warranty? Who had done the siding? How could I get the contact information for the previous owners to find out?

A while later I texted him back. "Dumb wind. I'm sad about the siding."

His reply: "Since there is nothing I can do I just said a prayer and let God worry about it."

"Good plan," I wrote. I figured it would all work out. We would lose the siding but find a way to get it repaired.

When I came home tonight, the wind--which had gotten up to sixty miles per hour during the day-- had died down some. And the siding? It was entirely intact.

Homemade Laundry Soap

So I've been wanting to do this for months and finally took the plunge. It was SO EASY and I'm excited to use it in my laundry. From start to finish the whole process took about 10 minutes.

(All ingredients were purchased at the local Broulim's grocery store.)

Homemade Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Fels-Neptha soap, finely grated
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda!)
1 2-gallon bucket (I used an empty Member's Mark laundry detergent container)
A lot of water

Heat six cups of water on the stove with the grated soap until the soap has melted. Add the borax and washing soda; cook and stir until dissolved. Put four cups of hot water in your bucket; add the soap and 22 more cups of water (1 gallon plus 6 cups). Stir. Let sit 24 hours. The texture will gel and be kind of drop-egg-soupy. Use 1/2 cup for a large load of laundry. (You can add 1 oz of essential oils for a scent if you want.)

I haven't double-checked the math on this, but the lady whose website I stole this recipe from claims the cost comes down to $.01 a load.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Celebrities I've Loved

When I was a five or six, I thought that Miguel (above far right) on 3-2-1 Contact was soooo dreamy. I'd be riveted whenever he was there to explain a scientific concept.

I also had a little thing for Macaulay Culkin. I may or may not have spent some time kissing the cover of my book copy of Home Alone.

Then I must have hit latency. I don't remember a lot of celebrity lovin' between the ages of six and twelve. But then, puberty.

At twelve, I borrowed my brother's Crossroads album and fell in love with Jon Bon Jovi. While jumping on the bed and singing along with "Livin' on a Prayer," I decided that he would join the Mormon church, edit his songs to conform with gospel standards, and take me to the temple.

At thirteen I watched Stargate and started having daydreams about Kurt Russell. I knew just how things with the two of us would go. He and I would be rehearsing for a movie together and he would reach over my shoulder to point out something on the script. I would turn to look at him. Our eyes would meet. Fireworks.

Good bye, Goldie Hahn.

At fourteen I watched Seven Years in Tibet and couldn't stop thinking about Brad Pitt. My friend Jamie informed me that, yuck, he was the same age as her dad. Someone else told me he never bathed. Nevertheless, I hoped that we would one day marry.
I still think he's real hot. And I'm pretty sure he bathes.

In high school my best friend Holly and I developed an unnatural obsession with a local band of acapella-singing brothers called The Standards. We followed them to concerts in Logan, UT and Twin Falls, Idaho. In Twin Falls we arrived early enough to drive slowly past their house and their Dad's chiropractic clinic. So you can bet that when they came to do an assembly at our very own high school, we abused our Russet newspaper press passes to the fullest extent. My favorite was the goofy beat-boxing bass, Nic. Here we are together, locked in an embrace. Oh, the ecstasy!

Today Abe and I share a crush on Hugh Jackman. He's so dreamy.

So who were/are your celebrity crushes?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Dead Chickens

"Mommy, what are those?" Soren asked one morning as I unwrapped a couple of whole roasting chickens and rinsed them in the kitchen sink.

"They're chickens, honey," I told him.

"Dead chickens?" asked Soren, looking horrified. He's used to the lively flock of hens and roosters who run around the yard at his cousins' house.

"Dead chickens," I confirmed, looking glumly at the empty hole where one of the chicken's neck had once been attached to its body.

Soren's eyes were wide. "Who killed them??"

"I don't know. A butcher, I guess. A butcher is somebody who cuts up animals so we can eat them. All meat comes from the bodies of dead animals."

"I don't fink it's very nice to KILL animals and then eat them," said Soren.

"I agree," I said, turning the chicken over and examining the hole where its guts had been ripped out. "Do you think we should stop eating meat?"

"Yes," said Soren.

"Me too."

This exchange took place three weeks ago aaaand...we're still eating meat.

However. Our conversation acted as a catalyst on a thought process that has been churning around in my brain since last year when I ordered a free vegetarian starter guide from PETA (the premiere unbiased resource on vegetarianism) and started thinking more about the ethical implications of eating meat and other animal products. Seriously, if you want to improve your ethics in just one area of your life, eating is a good place to start, seeing as how eating is something most people do every day, multiple times a day (or, if you're me, all day).

What I've decided is that the key to ethical eating is mindful eating-- eating with an awareness of the food you're eating, its source, its impact on the world, and how that impact aligns with your own values.

The truth is, most of us eat food without really thinking about where it comes from. When I eat a hamburger, I might briefly think, "Hamburger comes from a cow," but I don't really allow myself to absorb and understand the reality of that fact. If I did, I probably wouldn't eat the hamburger. This is largely a product of my tender-hearted personality: I don't like for any living creature to suffer or die. Seeing a dead skunk on the side of the road makes my heart hurt. Mouse traps upset me. I catch and release spiders that I find in my home. When someone carves on a tree, I grab their hand, press it against the bark, and gasp, "Can't you feel its pain?"

So if I stopped to really consider that the flesh ground up and mashed between the two pieces of white bread in my hands once belonged to a living creature-- that this food source had once had great big long eyelashes framing giant brown eyes, that it had spent his days lowing, moving like a mindless adolescent in groups of other cows, and flapping its tail around its manure-covered butt-- I'd probably set the burger back down. Especially if I thought about the day he (he!) was herded into a processing plant, shot in the head, gutted, skinned, and hacked into bloody pieces for my consumption.

This doesn't bother some people. And that's okay. My sweet beautiful little nieces, for example, happily shoot and butcher their own deer. But since I would have to be pretty darn hungry before I could find myself capable of going out and killing my own animals for food, I probably shouldn't eat them so readily and so casually.

But even if you're the sort not bothered by animal sacrifice, it's still important to be mindful of where your food has come from and cultivate an awareness of whether the dietary habits you pursue are making an impact on the world in a way that aligns with your values.

For example, a lot of people don't know about the horrible living conditions that many egg-laying hens and grown-for-meat chickens are subjected to throughout their sad, short, hormone-injected lives. I don't know about ya'll, but I have no desire to continue to contribute to an industry that abuses living creatures this way.

Another consideration we often stifle during our daily consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy products is the environmental impact of our diets. Did you know that in in America 1/3 of all annually used fossil fuels go to producing animal food products? That the crops grown to feed food animals deplete soil nutrients more quickly than crops grown to feed humans? That it takes 10 times more energy and land resources to produce a meat-based meal than a plant-based meal? The meat-heavy diet to which we have become accustomed is unsustainable.

Lastly, I don't care what you were told in school or what you read in Self magazine, animal products are really not all that healthy for you. Vegetarians who eschew all animal products are far less likely than their meat-eating peers to develop osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney stones, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, certain cancers, strokes, and obesity.

So what I'm saying is, I'm thinking about going vegan.

But it's hard. I was a vegetarian for a couple years as a teen, but that's because I didn't really mind cutting an entire category of food from my diet. Now I'm a bit more attached to food and have moved past a single food-choosing criteria ("What diet will make me the skinniest?") to a longer and more complicated list of questions, such as:

-What foods will provide my body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs, increase energy, and promote overall health?
-What foods will my husband and children eat?
-Will this diet fit into our budget?
-Will at least one meal I prepare during the week be deemed consumable by Briar, who needs her dietary sugar content thinned by something at least mildly nutritious?
-What foods are convenient and easy to prepare?
-Which foods will keep me from getting hungry again within the hour?
-How will eating/not eating this food affect my relationship with the people around me?
-How will eating/not eating this food impact the overall quality of my life?
-How is my diet impacting the broader world?

I'm quite entrenched in my current dietary habits, so change might be incremental and slow-going. However, since my conversation with Soren I have switched to buying locally-produced milk and eggs. The dairy farm where the milk is produced is located almost directly across the street from my office. I can go look at the cows any time I want and as them how they're doing and about whether they've been offered a 401K and dental plan. The origin of the eggs I am less certain about-- the girl at the counter said they were brought in by a farmer in nearby Ririe. (I wanted, couldn't bring myself, to ask if they had been produced by a non-oppressed chicken population. So if any of ya'll have contacts in Ririe, maybe you could do some sleuth work for me?)

I promise I won't judge you if I see you eating a meaty cheesy omelette. Eating is such a personal thing and many, many factors go into our food choices. You don't have to go vegan to be a good person. However, I would encourage you to think through the broader impact that your diet makes on the world and find a small way to change and improve that impact.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Love Scrapbook

At times I hear stories and experiences about love-- people loving people, God loving people, people loving God-- that make me stop and say: Yes. That is true. That is real. The substance of that story reaches down into my core self and gives it a firm squeeze, like it wants to make sure that I know I am awake, that I'm not dreaming, and that this loving reality is not just my imagination-- that it's solid, substantial, important.

I am not a woman of great faith, but I want to be. I want to open up my heart and become more acquainted with this love. I want to trust in it. I want to walk in it. I want to allow love to guide my life-- to be my life-- because, in the end, all we have is love. There is nothing else. God himself (herself?) is love.

Which isn't to say that I understand God. I don't. I won't pretend to. I tear my hair out in frustration at times at what seems to me to be the unfairness of a world in which some mothers worry about organic vs. regular baby food and other mothers worry about finding food for their babies, period. But, despite my inability to understand it all, I believe that God is good.

For a long time I've contemplated creating a "Love" scrapbook. Whenever I hear about a person or an experience that set off my inner truth-o-meter, I think, "That is Real. That is Goodness. I should put that in my Love scrapbook." But I've never actually made one. Today it occurred to me that I could share my Love scrapbook entries on my blog, so I'm going to give it a try. Though I will still continue with my Regular Blog Stuff, I will also occasionally post Love Scrapbook entries. My entries will be random-- "little" stories mixing with "big" ones, posted as I hear them, or as they occur to me, or as the mood strikes.

I'll start today with the story of my week:

Let's just say it rough week at work. Very rough. I had unintentionally hurt someone's feelings and she was making sure I suffered, though she wouldn't even tell me what I had done. I was hurt. Sad. Angry. Tired. Tense.

But I was given some little gifts from the universe to help me get through it all:

First, at our company meeting Monday night it was announced that we would be losing a member of our office staff. She was an excellent employee and will be missed. Many people expressed their sadness at her leaving. And then someone (who was oblivious to the uncomfortable situation in the office) piped up, "But if Rachel goes, we all go!"

Then a friend (who had no idea what was going on) took me out for a surprise lunch.

Another friend (who did know what was going on) stopped by just to give me a hug.

A coworker friend happened to stop by with a question during a particularly rough time. He saw my tears and took me out of the situation long enough for me to talk it out and get myself under control.

Yesterday an old man at the bank stopped me and said, "I know why it's so sunny outside! It's from you walking around with that beautiful smile!"

Other co-workers, my boss, and my parents all also offered support while we waded through the Junior High-esque drama at work. My dad assured me the problem was rooted in the fact that I'm just so wonderful in every way. :)

Anyway, the week is over, and things are looking up, and I'm grateful I was given these little gifts to buoy me up through a difficult time. Thank you, Love.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...