Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some of my FAVORITE (Inspirational) Childrens' Authors

The Following list of picture books are some of my absolute favorite childrens' books! Books that I think can help guide our children and help this next generation onto a positive life path.

By Jon Muth

Zen Ties- "the importance of the "ties" we have to each other.

Zen Shorts: Letting go and being detached from material things and grudges..

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth-Humility and appreciation for others..

The Three Questions-Being in the present.

Stonecutter-appreciate who you are and what you are doing, because it/you are special.

Stone Soup-The importance of community and sharing.

By Jeff Brumbeau and Gail De Marcken
The Quiltmakers Gift: True joy comes from giving away, rather than hoarding.

Robert McCloskey

Blueberries for Sal: Simplicity of picking berries through the eyes of a child and bear cub.

One Morning in Maine: Losing a tooth and making a wish-appreciating nature and people around us.

By Max Lucado:

The Crippled Lamb-Even the most seemingly significant can have the most important pupose in life

You are Special: People often label-but that is not who we to free ourselves from those labels..

You are Mine: What you HAVE is not what makes you have value.

Alice Mclerran and Barbara Cooney

Roxaboxen-Simplicity of the desert and the amazing ability of children to use their imagination.

Miss Rumphius-Making the world more beautiful-the simplicity of planting flowers.

Barbara M. Joosse and Mary Whyte
I Love You the Purplest- A mother's love for each of her children is unique.

Douglas Wood and Dan Andreasen

A Quiet Place: Finding that quiet place-within

A prayer for Fluffy- Sometimes our prayers aren't answered in the way we think, but it is answered in the way that is best.

Janan Cain
The Way I Feel- We all have different feelings at different times. (it is important for children to be able to identify their feelings in themselves and others)

Robert Neubecker
Courage of the Blue Boy- It is all the colors/talents of people that make this world a beautiful place. Each person/culture has something to contribute.

(Illumiation Arts Publishing)-many great books under this pulication company! (the next 3 books are through this company)

Cindy McKinley and Mary Gregg Byrne
One Smile-The power of a smile and how that can impact many more people than we think-Pay it Forward concept.

Chara M. Curtis and Cynthia Aldrich
Fun is a Feeling -Fun comes from a choice-from within

Chara M. Curtis and Cynthia Aldrich
All I see is a Part of Me-We are connected to everything around ourselves.

by Joseph Anthony

In a Nutshell-The stages of a tree and its survial and even after it dies it becomes a part of something else.

Tony Bradman and Jason Cockcroft
Daddy's Lullaby-Show how fathers can be very nurturing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze RIP!

I used to keep the TV guide pictures of him in my old journals

Patrick Swayze was the one male actor I truly had a crush on for YEARS! Just last night he passed away from pancreatic cancer and I think looking back at his life; he mostly lead a life of integrity and dignity (for a Hollywood star) for so many years! He married his wife in 1975 and remained married to his death. I never remember hearing any relationship type "dirt" on him whatsoever! A true gem. He will be missed!

I first "knew him" as Orry from North and South when the mini series aired on TV. Then I saw Red Dawn, The Outsiders. I was already fascinated by him when I saw an ad that Dirty Dancing was coming to theaters. I remember I was in the dentist's office reading a magazine with the ad. (of course I had to go see it!)

What do you remember about him?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Childbirth and VBAC

Interesting theme happening today that is too coincidental to not write about.

First of all, I got up early this Labor Day to get my cat to the vet by 7am so she could be spayed. We are done with kittens. We let her have one litter and it was wonderful, but I don't wish to repeat it for a few years.. So while she is having her hysterectomy; I checked my facebook and first read about a friend's going to the hospital today to have her baby and someone else posted a link about forced C-sections. Interesting...

It grabbed my attention because I had 2 c-sections myself when I really wanted to have my children naturally, but it seemed so many of the interventions lead me to that fate.

  • First of all, I was born as a c-section. My mother's labor didn't progress fast enough, apparently, and there was some worry about me because I was holding onto my "cord" and they weren't able to hear my heart beat because of it. I grew up with doubt about my future child-bearing. My mother thought she was too small...and in turn I probably would be too in order to have children naturally.. Or so I thought. So, I already had "doubt" in my body's ability to do what it was supposed to.
  • Pregnancy with my son went well. But I was almost 2 weeks overdue. I did go into what I thought was active labor, but then it "stopped".. My doctor set a date for a planned induction before I hit the 2 week late point..The date was set for when she was already scheduled to work.
  • So, I was induced. My son wasn't positioned ideally..Labor progressed slowly.
  • I couldn't move around very much. I was attached to a monitor because of the pitocin..
  • They broke my water. I got to 9 1/2 cm. And then they had to lower the pitocin because the baby was showing some distress. The labor seemed to not progress anymore after the had to lower the pitocin...I felt the urge to push, but I had to hold back..This went on for hours. Then I got the c-section because it didn't seem it was going to happen on its own. He was born healthy and I recovered well. I was grateful and happy. The labor was 20ish hours..

Two years later,

  • I really wanted to try a VBAC. I thought that perhaps this time it might work if my daughter was in a better position.
  • My doctor convinced me that I had to have her early or certainly by 40 weeks if VBAC was going to be successful.
  • I tried acupunture for a couple of weeks to induce. progress.
  • By 40 weeks, I, again was induced. Slow going again.
  • This time at least I could walk around more. My monitor was on wheels.
  • Broke water. Opted for an epidural this time so I could cope with a long labor as before.. Big progress after that. Got to 9 1/2 cm. Same issue. Baby in distress. Had to lower the pitocin. Then I was becoming infected from breaking my water..It hit my 24 hour limit on the water break. I had to have a c-section at that point. This labor was about 30 ish hours? My daughter was born very healthy and I also recovered well again.

Sometimes I wonder if I had been allowed to go into labor naturally...perhaps it might have happened naturally. I do, however, I was set up for failure.. Not that it was really a "failure" Both my children were healthy and I recovered well..But, my own self-doubt..and then all the intervention..did not create a successful setting for having my children naturally. I wonder if I had tried a mid-wife, I might have had more of a "soothing, relaxing experience" and they might have helped me with my confidence in my body..Who knows.. ??

Something to think about...but the rate of c-sections right now is 1 in 4..which doesnt' seem right.

This is an interesting movie about having babies and how the US is behind other countries in infant mortality and natural birth rates. Something isn't being done "right" in our hospitals.. And I'm one of those statistics...But I can't complain too much...I'm glad my children were okay..and perhaps, I am one of those women who aren't designed right for childbirth?? Who knows? I may never know if that is really why I ended up under the knife.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Water Bottles

Many years ago, I was very excited about the new nalgene bottles. I thought the water tasted great and I loved the feel of the bottle and I really liked the attached cap that I wouldn't lose. I was bummed when I heard that BPA leached from it. (Bisphenol A)

BPA made news. It is in canned foods..the plastic that lines the aluminum cans(another reason to avoid processed foods).. Even in small quantities it can cause reproductive problems...Children are the most vulnerble because they are still developing. My children for a long time drank water from sippy cups that most likely leached BPA. (not sure- but probably..) They also teethed on plastic toys that were made in China and probably had lead in the paint and leached not only BPA but also Phthalates

Are were going to die? No, and we'll all probably be fine (I hope); however, knowing this information makes me more informed and I know I can vote with my pocketbook..If I (and many many others) buy products that are "less toxic" companies will make them..So, I've been eliminating the plastic toys and I bought SIGG water bottles and having my children drink from glasses rather than plastic cups. The frustrating part of this is that it does not always end there.
Recently SIGG has confessed that there was BPA in the liners of their bottles prior to 2009 (although they claimed to be "green") I "thought" that because they were made in Switzerland that they were going to be more "trustworthy".. These bottles are made from aluminum and lines with an epoxy, because aluminum also causes problems such as altheimers.. To SIGG's credit, they have offered a replacement to people who have the older bottles. (My SIGG bottle's decoration said.."Make Love Not Landfill"...Upon returning my SIGG bottle, I painfully realized that by returning it I was sending it to a landfill...maybe they will recycle it. I think they probably will...but still..

I decided that instead of getting new Siggs with my refund that I would opt for a bottle with stainless steel that didn't need a liner. Who knows...if stainless truly is safe. Many seem to think that 18/8 stainless is safe...For now, it seems it is?? Hopefully, we'll be use these replacements for awhile.

What is frustrating is "trends"..and "throw-aways" and marketing in all this... I'm sure there is always going to be something wrong with a product that will cause everyone to throw away what they previously thought was a great product for something newer, better.. I feel a little icky about returning the Siggs.. Should I have just kept them even at the risk of the BPA?

In any case, I think it is still better than buying all that bottled water...and throwing away (or even recycling) all those plastic containers. Even returning the sigg bottles, (i think) is better than buying all that bottled water.. and much better than soda...

Still, I thought when I bought the Sigg, I was getting something non-toxic.. and now with the klean kanteen, I hope for that too, but who knows??

I suppose life by definition is not "safe"...there are risks in anything!! Some are dramatic immediate the risk of getting in a car accident or getting Swine Flu..and some are slower risks like the risk of getting cancer (someday)..

Still, if I don't want to "knowingly" use something toxic for a long duration.... if I can help it and if I can change it without going bankrupt..

Friday, September 4, 2009

Parenting: My Synthesis

When I first entered my parenting journey shortly after my son was born in 2003; I heard a lot of advice. Having a schedule is important. Naps should happen on regular times. Your should get your child to sleep on their own in their crib, etc.. But I found 2 very different fields of thought. Both stated that ultimately the path would lead to autonomy and independence, but each method was the complete opposite of the other.
Being a good parent is very important to me and I was torn. Should I continue to let my child sleep in my arms, in my bed, or should I let him cry it out?
My gut leaned towards the Dr. Sears approach of Attachment Parenting. Co-sleeping. Not crying it out. Nurturing the trust, the bond, the relationship..Yet, my son was still waking us up constantly at 8 months old! My husand and I were at our wits end with sleep deprivation. The more we "indulged" him with holding him, the more he woke up. He needed his sleep. We needed our sleep and a little time away from him too. But would crying it out teach him that we weren't there for him when he needed us?


We became desperate and many people we knew were having their kids "cry it out" and they were sleeping much better than us.. Sleep is important for all of our health. So, we tried having him cry it out and it was a horrible experience for me.. He cried for hours(?) But he did start to sleep better and on his own. However, it seemed, we couldn't let him cry it out when he was sick or teething, so we were inconsistent.. And truly our hearts were not into this method.


When he was about 1 1/2 years old, we got him his own bed and that was better for us. We made the compromise of holding his hand or snuggling him to sleep in his own bed. This worked much better. Cribs are not very good for this approach. Beds are much better for a middle-road.. When our son was 2 years old, he could go to sleep without needing us; however, I enjoy snuggling him still at night time. It is the only really quiet time of the day and it is a special time of closeness. I snuggle both my children at night, taking turns.


When my daughter reached a few months old, we also ran into the same problem and were faced with whether or not we should let her cry it out. I found a middle of the road way. I put a mattress down next to her crib and held her hand through the crib slats until she fell asleep. She was easier, because she sucked her thumb and that helped her "soothe herself"


All this being said, we are at a different stage now with more complex issues facing us as they are older. Now, we are faced with the "world" and teaching our children values is ever more important.


As a Baha'i, those values are of the UTMOST importance to us and it makes us a little "different"..not in that values are important, but what those values are. We do not drink alcohol, we are to remain chaste until married, and we are to show kindness to everyone..even people who are unkind to us. We are to be self-sacrificing and live a life of service. We are to love our neighbors more than ourselves. We are never to backbite/gossip against anyone..Whew! That is a tall order!! All that being said, I know many who are not Baha'is who practice this much much better than I do! I am not as self-sacrificing as I think I should be. I am not as forgiving. I am more "judgemental(in my mind)" than I think I should be. And if I lived in Iran and was sent to prison for being a Baha'i, would I have the strength to remain true to my faith even with faced with losing my life..or even being separated from my children? I also think that some values are more important than others to focus upon. For example, I think it is more important to be a kind, honest person than it is to abstain from alcohol. Most of our friends drink and I do not hold it against them at all. I make the choice not to drink because I chose to be a Baha'i. I do not hold my friends or anyone else for that matter accountable to that value choice. When I explain drinking to my children (when they see someone drinking) is that I say that it is okay for them to drink-They have a different value system, but we CHOOSE not to drink..because we believe it is not healthy for mind or spirit.. It is important to not hold other people accountable to our own value system, but to respect the different values of other people.. We all have different world-views and values and cultures...and in order to have "unity" we must respect people who believe differently from ourselves. That goes for liberal/conservative/democrat/republican...cry it out parents, and co-sleeping parents..


My own parents raised me as a Baha'i and they were very "protective" of me and had the highest of expectations. I was not allowed to "follow" in the path of many of my peers. At times I resented it. But, that guidance did keep me "mostly" in line. Even after "grew up" and went to college. I still chose not to drink, etc.. That "culture" did not even appeal to me.. It felt false. Not that I was completly "unfalse"..but drinking and sleeping around in particular were not behaviors that I identified with..


My children...I hope that they will stay true and live lives of honesty and integrity. At some point they may choose to be Baha'is or not.. It will be their choice and they have to follow their own conscience. (Baha'is believe in finding the truth for ourselves) They may or may not follow this path. They may or may not succumb to the alure the "world" But whether they do or not, I hope they are honest, kind people..and have INTEGRITY. I hope they live their lives in the "light" and not in the shadows of supersitition or materialism.. I wish for them to not get too distracted by what is false..and what I mean by that: I believe that what is "real" is our spirit-that transcends the physical reality...the part of us that is connected to God..the part of us that follows our "higher nature"-choosing honesty over falsehood.. (We all have a higher nature and a lower nature)..Not good or evil so much as levels of transcendence..freedom from our baser instincts..


So, how do I parent my children? What do I believe? What methods do I use? I am still in the experimental stage of this..and that is what the above references are about...

  • Love and Logic is about giving limited choices. Control is important and we should give our children chances to exercise their ability to that one day when they are on their own, they will know how to "choose" wisely.
  • Taking Charge is also about giving choices but it gets into more specifics. I think this is one of my favorites because it is so specific with techniques.
  • Unconditional Parenting is about using reason with our children and not using the relationship as leverage to get our kids to do what we want. It questions time out as a method and even punishment. It is about "doing with" our kids rather than "doing to" He argues that punishment does not work, but creates a situation where there is more anger and actually distracts from the "wrong act".. I'm not sure where I stand on that yet..It has impacted my thinking, but I don't know how to not use "time out" Still, I think he has some very valid points.
  • The Virtues Project is great. It is about teaching our children very specific concepts..of qualities -that if everyone worked on, we would be in a much happier planet!

  • How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk is also an excellent resource for "undertanding" our children from their perspective as well as how to communicate with them so that there will be a positive life-long relationship with them.

  • And Dr. Sears is all about attachment parenting. He believes that if we have positive relationships with our children, we can guide them through anything..They will be able to turn to us when they need guidance, etc.. And that relationship is like "good nutrition" for the development of our children.

Well, my children are currently needing my attention, so I will conclude this entry for now..

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crock Pot Recipes: Tomato Sauce, Yogurt, Refried Beans, Roast

I love my crockpot. I use it at least 2-3x a week. Today, for the second time I am making tomato sauce with all the tomatoes from our garden. I thought I'd share a couple of recipes.

Tomato Sauce:

Need: crockpot. Food mill:

all times are approximate. I've only done this once before today, so do what works for you.

  • Cut up tomatoes into quarters (approximately) and add to crockpot

  • Add a little oil to the mix and set on high for 4 hours. Mix every couple of hours.

  • Then put on medium or lo for about 6 more hours.

  • Run the tomatoes through the fine setting through a food mill.

  • Then put remaining sauce back in the crock and continue on low until the sauce reaches the consistency you desire.

  • Put sauce in jars for immediate use, for freezing or for canning. (canning requires some more steps)
Yogurt-whole milk
  • Add 1/2 gallon whole milk to crockpot
  • Set on low for 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Turn off for 3 hours with cover on.
  • Mix milk and Remove 1 cup of milk into bowl
  • Add 1/2 cup of yogurt starter(or yogurt with live and active cultures) to the 1 cup of milk.
  • Mix together and add back to the crockpot
  • Re-cover crockpot and wrap it in 2 bath towels. Leave for 8-12 hours depending on how strong you want it to taste.
  • Mix and put into jars and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Refried Beans

  • soak dry beans overnight with added 1 tb whey or lemon juice
  • rinse and add to crock with some water
  • Also add some olive oil, cumin and garlic
  • Cook on high or whatever setting you wish until beans are soft.
  • drain most of water off, but leave some in so they aren't too dry.
  • Mash and add butter or oil or whatever you wish for texture and flavor.

Roast Beef

  • Add roast to water in the crock
  • Add: garlic, worchester sauce, onions, stewed tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper (or whatever seasoning you like)
  • Cook on high for 2-4 hours depending on the size. Or if you have time cook it at a lower setting for optimal texture/flavor. I have not experimented with lower setting because I am usually in a hurry..


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