Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Today's Gratefulness: Some days I struggle from notenoughtimitis. Not enough time in the day to do something that makes me feel like I've accomplished something of value and I start to decline and feel unworthiness. But tonight, while watching a movie with the kids, I realized how much they just wanted me there with them, and at bedtime, Keilani covered ME in her blankets, my heart "felt" the "worthy" in this day.

yesterday's post was angry(I have since removed it because I was in such an "angry place")...came out of feelings of unworthiness..those feelings also bled into today..feeling that maybe I am not such a great writer, or great at anything.. midlife crisis stuff, perhaps as 40 is creeping up and I find the time I have to devote toward professional skills seems to evade me each day. Anyway, tonight with a few sweet moments with my children offered me a moment of clarity when I remembered how important it is to them that I spend time with them..simple moments..how happy it makes them when I sit with them during a movie they choose to watch. I think I forget that more and more the longer I parent..I take it for granted how it feels to be the child. That used to seem so clearer 9 years ago..

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Green Roses Art ichokes

We grew artichokes this year. Like green roses. Never ate them the day they were picked.  Amazingly sweet! (Not to mention that they make great blocks)

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Magic and Art in Crafting

I am learning how to make quilts at Pine Needle Quilt Shop.  I am taking a beginner's class. 

http://www.pineneedlequiltshop.com/  It has been on my bucket list for quite awhile.  I love quilts: how they can be symbolic, personal, sentimental, ancient, artistic, and beautiful!!!  I am finally, figuring out some of the mystery behind their construction..And in this month of Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for being able to learn these crafts.

I think that is one of the reasons I do this: knit, quilt, garden, and cook.The mystery. I used to look at the art of other people's crafts as if they had done something magical.  Learning how, is finding out the secret, and I am addicted to that!  (in a good way, I think)  Then once I learn, I have a skill that produces something I can pass on..a hat to give away as a special gift..or a shawl..  The below picture is probably the finest thing I have made so far. It is not perfect, but its art is amazing to me..the lace pattern, the color and texture of the yarn..When I do this, I feel like a magician and that is so empowering!  

Monday, October 22, 2012

An Anorexic House

The Perfect Female Body Image. What comes into your mind?  The image that comes into my mind makes me angry. Is this picture the societal imposed image or what I think is healthy?  Where does this image come from?  Do I need to aspire to it?  When I think of that body; I know it is unachievable to me, at 39 after 3 children/c sections, without devoting a huge chunk of attention and time into it at least, and if I did that, where would that leave my 3 kids, and to what end?  Certainly, all that time, is not necessary to have a healthy body.  Some time is certainly needed to devote to exercise and a healthy diet, but not the amount of attention it would need to achieve this ideal body image.  I might become more appealing to others. I might be taken more seriously if I looked like that, but how much is that worth?  How much time away from being present with my kids is that worth? 

I do not always think about how I look, but I do worry about how my home looks. People come into my home, who I know must look down on me.  I know it must look like I do not often clean-up, but in reality, I spend a great deal of time, doing dishes and cleaning up from  meal prep, that I often have to neglect other parts of the house until the weekend.  My children are getting back into helping, but even then, my home will never have a super-model looking body.  I see those homes often.  I have no idea how they do it.  To me, it seems like they must be magicians..  It is a standard, I could not even come close to attaining, even if I had the time to do it.  I think I would be more interested in creative endeavors than the upkeep of such a perfect body-home.  I admire the peacefulness of the perfection of it, much like I appreciate the movie star beauty when I watch a movie, but to me, if I am to even try to attain it, I will fall far short.  And why do I want to try toward that kind of perfection.  It is not my story or strength, I fear. (for some it may truly be their strength and natural ability and to those I wish not to offend) Some people truly are supermodels by nature..and that is a dream to most, but the ordinary who cannot attain it, who neither have the body frame or disposition, it is painful to feel "less than" in comparison to an impossible goal.  It is not everyone's path to be beautiful  (or to have a pristinely beautily perpetually clean home)

I clean as well as I can with the time I have.  I cleaned all day this past Sunday.  Still, even at that labor my home is still mediocre clean. It is not my strength.  It is not my gift at this point in my life as I have 3 very eager undoers in the house..4 if you count my husband who leaves food out and chips to go stale all the time.  LOL.  7 if you count the 3 pets leaving bird carcasses and poop all over our outdoor spaces.  (I don't count myself because I always clean up after myself perfectly (teehee)) 

In any case, my home is like my body, a little soft, but mostly healthy, I think/hope...well, actually it could be healthier and  my home cleaner..and less cluttered..and my body more exercised and fed fewer cookies and coffee.  I am still striving to figure it out and be more organized, and more exercised, but I just don't think I am going to be a supermodel..  And my home is not going to look like the Jones..probably ever, unless I become really rich and can pay someone to clean it for me who will do a much better job. 

I am however, tired of feeling ashamed for not being a supermodel housekeeper. Even if I am one of those stay at home moms...(and should be able to be like one of those really super moms who have those sparkly suburbia homes and homemade cookies on the table for the kids after school)     I do my best, but sometimes I would rather write or knit or talk to my kids or host a playdate than make my home perfect.  In my life, time and energy are in short supply.  I cannot spend every spare moment cleaning just so I can look like I have it all together..seem more credible..feel more worthy...I would be angry bitchy woman/mom if I tired..and I have, and been on days I have tried to be that.  I can't do that to my family..be that person.  without being angry and resentful of the time always sacrificed.  (for what?)  to achieve that almost impossible anorexic like home. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Attachment Parenting and Honoring Solitude

I have never been one hundred percent sold on attachment parenting, but I was never much of a fan of having babies cry it out either. Our children co-slept when it was needed, and they slept on their own when co-sleeping was not helpful.  I always believed in adapting to what seemed to be truly healthy for all of us. (Including the marital relationship) i have breastfed with a similar philosophy. My son. (My first) nursed until I reached 20 weeks pregnant with my second child. (He was 18 mos) My second child I nursed until she was just shy of 3 and before starting preschool. My third child is 20 mos. And still nursing as long as it seems ok. I believe that the relationship is very important, the bonding, etc, however, I also believe there are times when meeting all their needs is actually unhealthy for them.  I don't think we as humans ever fully feel satisfied or have all our needs met and sometimes the needing and the longing helps push us to reach out to finding our own ways.  The discomfort is useful for growth. I want my children to be safe and happy, but I also want them to have coping skills that will help them with some of the cruelty they most certain The best I ly will encounter in this world. I cannot protect them fully from that. The best I can do is to help them develop the skills they need.

Our oldest children shared a room for 5 years. It made sense, they provided security and companionship for each other. They are only 22 months apart, but lately they have been needing space away from each other..I have been thinking about that in relation or in contrast to attachment parenting. Being alone has a lot of value. I understand this as an only child. In my solitude moments, I had time to reflect.. That time was extremely important. Now that my children are older they need opportunities for quiet and thought and meditation.. It is a shift for them, but it became apparent that this was a need for them. So, sometimes attachment is very important, but on the other side, so is opportunity for solitude as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Portland Tribune article on the new magazine and creator

Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers - New journal takes parenthood head-on:

'via Blog this'


I am a published author. I have always wanted to say that!  (-;  

The kickstarter was successful and the magazine was funded, and I decided to bite the bullet and try to write something with all I had. I decided to commit to one piece that I would be willing to polish and achingly revise and even "let go of" so that I could accept feedback to make this as good as I could.  With some of that assistance of editing, they accepted my piece and I am happy that I "tried".  I wanted to see if I could..  and childlike I feel in the success, "I did it!"  

On my bucketlist is to write at least one book, but now that I really think about it, it would actually be my dream to do this for my career, going back to my roots of when I was eight and wrote my own "book of my life"  inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  (does that sound cliche?)  How do I articulate that writing has always been how I best articulate myself and make sense of the random thoughts floating in an out of my brain. In person, I stumble upon my words, shyness sometimes overcomes me.  (still) 

And I actually believe that I am insightful enough about life..  (Gardner's--"Intrapersonal" in my way of processing the world to do this.. (on a good day)  

Still, time is extremely limited right now.  I have two windows in my day, nap time, and after the kids are asleep.  That last window is not always a guarantee.  (I must also put time into my relationship with my husband and sometimes kids do not want to go to sleep)  The last few months, I have used that window to knit which has been such great therapy/and self-esteem building for me.  It is hard to put it aside to do anything else.

I have been neglectful of my blog, mainly because I have been knitting, and now, I am not entirely happy submitting mediocre posts (I have had a taste of creating something "attemptedly" artful.)  Even now, I feel that I am writing something mediocre.  I want to write something better than this!  

Still, I have to go back to writing each day, exercising..If I do not, my writing brain turns to moosh.  

Yet, again, this blog may be shifting and morphing into something new.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Fear and Stretching

Fear. After my mother died, I had a phase of fear. At first, I started fearing fires starting in my home. Perhaps, I have always been afraid..but after she died, the fears presented themselves more vengefully. Especially fear of heights. Perhaps it is that I value life so much. I used to downhill ski. The last time I went, was during my honeymoon. I suddenly found myself hating it. I was so afraid something would happen to either my new husband or myself. There was too much to lose..The adventure of skiing wasn't worth losing something so precious that I had wanted so badly for so long.

It had been such a difficult journey..Finding the life that I wanted..Many heartaches along the way..

Having children certainly did not help lessen the anxiety.. Some people experience postpartum depression..I had postpartum anxiety after my first baby was born. I loved him soo much..I was desperately afraid he could be taken from me. Losing my own mother made me realize that death does not always follow the rules..Your parents aren't supposed to die before they meet their grand kids. I was fresh out of college when I lost my mother. It is not supposed to happen that way.

So, I have this anxiety..which is normal to some extents.. It is normal to worry when your children are sick, or try new things.. But, some of it is a little more plaguing than normal.  My heart used to literally race when my kids were on play sstructures with drop offs..I would imagine they would not pay attention and simply fall off, or be shoved off by another rambunctious child. I would watch them like a hawk. The height thing really still gets to me.

There is something about drop offs..One side you are alive, and the other, could mean death.  Precipices..fill my whole being with a surge of adrenaline..my head feels like it becomes filled with freezing air, my limbs and heart, like a sugar rush..and I can no longer think..terror, sometimes.. while everyone around me, seems happy and calm and laughing, unaware..I might smile to hide the terror..but the fear is this horribly silent invisible discomfort..

It is worst when my children are on the precipice. I have less control. I have to control the urge to grab them and pull them far away from the edge..They long to look over the side and I long to protect them.

The problem is..if we do not take risks and always give into fear, we do not experience growth.  We do not experience a full life.

I used to take many more risks as a youth than I do now. When I was young, I did not think I would get hurt, and if I did get hurt, I didn't feel anyone was depending on me. Now, there is soo much to lose..and I am responsible for 3 children.

Yet, there is a part of me, still, that has a spark of adventure..the part of me that packed up my things into a Ryder truck and drove from Ohio to Oregon alone. A part of me that climbed onto abandoned rail cars and walked on the top of them..That part of me is not dead..but it has been certainly overcome by fears the past 12 years.

Having my baby on my bike, is one of those things. It scares me.. But, I am making an honest effort to gently overcome that one. If I ride carefully, she is hopefully not going to get hurt.. I am practicing getting used to it on short rides on non busy streets..

As a teen and college student, I biked as my main transportation. I would like to get into the habit of using my bike more..And I would like to rediscover a little more of the adventurous part of myself..face the fears.. We cannot hold on too tightly. We cannot control life and death, ultimately.. And while holding on too tightly, we might lose out on experiencing the adventure.. I realize I have to loosen my grip..Life is sooo precious, but holding on too tightly does not ultimately protect me from loss. My grip is not stronger than natures..or the will of my children, or God's Will..Whatever happens, I have to believe I am strong enough to survive it..Hopefully, all will be okay.. But even if it isn't, it hopefully will be okay in a different way..

Friday, June 1, 2012

Finding a Quiet Place

Once a week, my husband leaves for work earlier, so he can come home earlier. That evening is mine. Often, I attend a class, but sometimes, I do other things. Last night, I went for a bike ride.  At first I wasn't sure where I wanted to go. I knew I didn't want to be inside, or to spend money..what I wanted was a quiet place, an oasis in nature.  I went to a watershed and I found a place to say prayers for my mother whose birthday was that day who would have been 68. Her last birthday on this plane, was her fifty-fifth. It was important to have a quiet moment to think of her. After that moment, I was rewarded by the bounty of the birds there..a very large great blue heron, and a bird I had to look up and might have been an American bittern.

Biking and stopping enabled me to experience where I was so much more than driving would have..I used to bike everywhere..and now I am trying to integrate my bike into my life more again..my muscles are starting to remember..it is an amazing feeling, even afterwards in reflection.

Since getting married and having kids, my moments of reflection, alone time are few..my moments of prayer and meditation are intruded upon so much, I often do not even try to find them anymore, but I need them..I can't give that quiet part of myself to my family if I starve that part of who I am. I do not want my children growing up and not even knowing what it is to feel mysticism in nature.

By nature, I am an introvert..and I have to recharge alone, in quiet...and I embrace that part of who I am as I write this..I embrace that in my heart, I am also an artist. I do not say I am a "good" artist, though..I am an eclectic one right now and I need to develop some specific art.. my art is the food I make, the knitting, the paintings I made back in college, my writing, gardening, photography, violin,.. besides caring for and loving my family, I am happiest in creating...that is how come I claim to be an artist. After all this time, it comes to that..

Now, that I am reaching 39 years soon, I am starting to think, I need to truly reach a skill level that resembles mastery rather than dabbling, but that is a challenge in negotiating time to put into it..stealing time..sacrificing sleep and housework sometimes. Still, even a little bit each day, makes a difference.

I go to the gym only once a week and I know that is inadequate, but lately, I have realized I am gaining some tone and losing some weight..even once a week at the gym is making a difference. (Hopefully the biking will also complement that now too) everything worth gaining is started in sustainable baby steps, at least when you are already working from 530am until 8pm taking care of kids and home.

Monday, April 23, 2012


This morning, the air was summer-cool..the kind of warm, that is brisk in the early hours but promises to warm up as the sun works its magic. The cool was awakening, but not chilly cold.. the kind of warm that feels good while sneaking out in nightclothes capturing the awesome sky.. The sky...so open and gloriously alive with promise.. God's eyelashes, slowly opening presenting His magnificence. The eye, the light captured on the cloud's underside (from my perspective) reflecting back..lights and darks, radiating..shining..contrasting with wisps and voluptuousness, blues, grays, whites..Sounds-sweet bird conversations, louder as the neighborhood is still quiet..and the crisp, warm-cool air on my skin. And the smells of greens-grasses, leaves, flowers, and dirt..even the smell of the coolness, warming up. In every direction sky dominating..as the stirrings of neighbors beginning their days. A stolen moment, as my children and husband wait inside, awake, unfed, and restless..baby whining.. A mother trying to absorb the moment in a compacted minute to make up for the long, relaxed moment, I long to have.. Sunrises pass so quickly..special moments end so abruptly..babies grow up before I can catch my thought of them..I hope that when this time in my life passes,  I will find that my heart truly remembered-truly LIVED them in those fleeting sunrise moments..

Friday, April 20, 2012

Little Chores

We have made some changes this week that are really making a difference.

Our normal pattern of leaving the majority of the cleaning for the weekend is not working.

Last weekend when we asked our two older children to help us clean, they both threw tantrums citing that we were using them as slaves. They spent more time complaining than cleaning and it was a very painful process. It usually is a painful experience on the weekends trying to play catch up for a week long neglect.  To their credit, it is overwhelming thinking about all that needs to be done on our weekend that should be a time to play.

I have been afraid to ask them to help during the week because they are in school all day and still have homework, violin to practice, cub scouts, etc.. But, the amount of mess that they make is more than I can keep up with.

This past weekend was the last straw. They were taking on attitudes of entitlement that I was not happy to witness.

I told them that we were going to do thing differently starting with the expectation that they each were going to be expected to do a chore a day.

The results surprised me.

1. They did the chores willingly without much complaint.

2. They did them quickly so they would have free time sooner.

3. They seemed to feel good about themselves for doing it.

4. It did not take much time or hair pulling.

And there were some other realizations and surprises.

1. Two children doing 2 chores a day equal 14 tasks completed a week. They would never do that much on a weekend.

2. Because they cleared living room and kitchen floors of toys yesterday, I was able to sweep, vacuum, and mop those floors today in about 30 to 45 minutes time while the baby played in the same room.

3. We now do not have to spend hours cleaning the house tomorrow.

4. It is Friday and I do not have to be embarassed about letting anyone come over, when normally at this point in the week, the house is horribly cluttered.

I also realized that by breaking the housework into smaller tasks, it becomes much more manageable such as instead of having the goal be clean the whole kitchen, it is on thursday, clear floors, then friday sweep, vacuum, and mop the floors. This is also better, because when you have a baby/toddler to watch, you do not have huge chunks of time to complete huge tasks.

Also, smaller tasks are not so overwhelming for kids to do and they are much more willing to help when the tasks are in smaller bites.

Why did we not figure This out before now?

I really don't have to do it all...and I really shouldn't have to, either..

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The city

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went on a date to My. Tabor park at twilight. We followed a trail that we have never explored before. The view of the city was amazing. I love Portland for many reasons; it's parks, its natural surrounding beauty, farms, sustainability ethic, people, but what is a city..physically?  There is a lot of pollution, generally, a lot of waste, materialism rampant co-existing with with poverty, factories, smoke, car exhaust, injustices.. In the  past, I have not liked cities..But, that was before I lived in Portland. This city is different (to me)..  All of what I do not like about cities is here, but it is much more than that, and has such natural beauty still here, that it is so much more liveable. 
Still, it is amazing to look at the city from above watching the lights below.  All the negative aspects of what it does to scar the earth are there, but it is amazing that it can still be beautiful..  Man-made,  and not so sustainable or natural, but  soo beautiful.  What an interesting juxtaposition! I  suppose it may also depend on how you view our humanity..as overpopulated locusts taking over the  earth and eating everything in its path, or as beautiful gems glittering in the  night like the city lights; we create beauty even in our messes; or something in between..imperfect, making mistakes, but beautiful just the same..  Somehow, our  beauty still shines through our mistakes..Somehow, the city is beautiful, despite, how it has severely altered the landscape with cars and buildings..  Perhaps there is hope for us.  I would really like to  believe that.  We have really messed up our planet and have created systems that are not just, especially to the  poor..And we  have been so selfish--look at what we do to other countries..using  them to produce our cheap stuff..People work severely long days in China to produce our ipads, etc..at the  expense of their own families, so that we can get them  cheaply..  What mistakes we are making right now..  But, look at  how beautiful we are in the shining lights of the  night..Somehow, we are so amazingly beautiful too, even in the messes we make...Look at how beautiful  Portland is at night..Look at the  wonders we have created in architecture, technology, art, music!!  Look at how the streets are so organized and thought out!  So much beauty!  We are such creative creatures!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Is Healthy Whole Food only for the Elite?

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

thumbnail pic comes from the article.  (hope it is okay to repost here) let me know if it is not.  Giving credit to the article for the graphic..  I think it would also be good to show some other cost comparisons too..like cost of TV dinners and also show the cost of organic/vs. non organic choices.. grocery store versus getting from farmer/or food co-op)

quote from article

The core problem is that cooking is defined as work, and fast food is both a pleasure and a crutch. “People really are stressed out with all that they have to do, and they don’t want to cook,” says Julie Guthman, associate professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and author of the forthcoming “Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism.” “Their reaction is, ‘Let me enjoy what I want to eat, and stop telling me what to do.’ And it’s one of the few things that less well-off people have: they don’t have to cook.”

We need to make some lifestyle changes in the way we approach food. It should and does not need to be more expensive to eat healthy food. Eating and enjoying the preparation of healthy real, unprocessed foods is not just for the elite and/or leisurely. 

For a long time now, the government has subsidized corn and soy which encourages the production of unhealthily fed cows, chickens, fish; the production of corn syrup which has been used in so much processed foods, and the use of oils that when consumed inflame our arteries causing heart disease, diabetes. The choice between convenience now, but health problems later  (or) Eating real, whole foods now, and living longer, healthier, accruing less med costs from chronic illnesses later..being there for our grandchildren (hopefully).  

(my own mother died at the age of 55 from heart attack)..she cut the fat off the meat and bought low fat foods, but she did not realize those chips and boxed foods, sodas, margarine were much more dangerous than animal fats..  Article on what really causes heart diseasehttp://www.sott.net/articles/show/242516-Heart-Surgeon-Speaks-Out-On-What-Really-Causes-Heart-Disease

 There really are some easy quick healthy ways to cook and eat. 

  • The crock pot is one great tool for this.  Get up a little earlier, and prepare some food in the crock pot to be ready by dinner time.  Also casseroles can be prepped ahead of time (refrigerated or frozen), to stick in the oven when the time is right.
  • Beans  are not expensive and are quick to prepare and be a main course or an added protein to help you feel full..  
  •  Potatoes and salads can be embellished many different ways to create a whole meal that is satisfying. You can add broccoli, bacon, hamburg, cheese, seeds, beans, etc to potatoes!  and it does not take very much "prep time" and it is really inexpensive. Salads can have added nuts, dried fruits, raw fruits, beans, tempeh, or left-over meat to become a whole meal.
  • Eggs-We can eat a lot more eggs than we thought..and they are a great staple any time of day, not to mention quick to prepare.
  • Sandwiches-There are so many types of sandwiches and they can be a lunch or a dinner, hot or cold. Simple or gourmet.  Want an easy dinner: grilled cheese sandwiches!  
  • Big Batches. When you do have an afternoon to cook, make a big batch of something or double the recipe. Freeze the excess into smaller batches.  This is a wonderful budget and time saver.  Make 2 lasagnas, make extra pancakes, make an extra large stew, chili..All of those things freeze well, and take little extra time to increase the quantity.  Two meals for the time of one (plus).
  • Soups-Every week, I buy a whole chicken, and that chicken provides 2-3 meals.  Meal 1-we eat the chicken as our main course, Meal 2-left-over chicken for sandwiches or smaller supplement to a meal, Meal 3-I use the bones to create chicken stock which makes a healthy soup!  Talk about stretching out the nutrients and cost of the chicken.
  • Purchasing bulk meats from a farmer, a meat CSA if you don't have as much freezer space, can save money on meats that are not fed corn or treated with hormones, etc..  
  • Food buying clubs-can help cut some of the costs of the jacked up grocery prices.  
  • Buying local, in season foods can be cheaper too. don't buy strawberries from Mexico in December.  In the winter, carrots, kale, cabbage, root vegetables, apples are usually not expensive staples.   In the summer-stock up on strawberries, corn, green beans and freeze them if you really want to eat them during winter months.  put your heating budget into your food budget during the summer..
  • Meal Planning: Plan out predictable menus that repeat each week or bi- week.  This is really good for budgeting $ and time. You have predictability in your shopping, planning and food prep.  For example: Monday-chicken night, Tuesday-soup night, Wednesday-bean night, Thursday-red meat night, Friday-homemade pizza night (or pasta), Saturday-crock pot or casserole, and Sunday-fish. There can be variety and flexibility with each category, but it is predictable and you can track cost and time that needs to go into each meal.  
  • Grow food in your yard, or in pots.  (and example of growing possibilities using cinder blocks at an apartment) http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/favorite-diy-cinderblock-small-space-planters-168759  
  • Join a CSA, (community suppored agriculture) and get a weekly box of veggies during the summer (and sometimes even winter months)
  • in recipes calling for more exotic or expensive foods, use substitutions of foods you already have.
  • Herbs go a long way in adding flavor to foods..and you can grow them yourself..in an indoor pot, or a garden outside..  One plant is all you need for years of flavoring! Rosemary bushes are hearty outdoor sources of flavor!  Oregano, mint, thyme, parsley also grow very well outside even sometimes in the cold..  You often do not have to keep replanting it..  My parsley goes to seed and reseeds itself for the next year.  

  • If a grocery store is not nearby and you do not have a car, bike to the store, use a backpack or bike trailer to lug the groceries. sometimes, the extra cost of having groceries delivered can eliminate the impulse spending in the store) 
  • if you do need to use a bus to get groceries, buy enough for 2 weeks so you don't have to go as often.  
  • Buy grains, beans, and nuts in bulk (popping corn, rice, wheat, oats  buy beans dried rather than canned.  Beans are a wonderful source of nutrition and there are so many uses for them..garbanzo beans alone are a wonderful staple..Ever roast them in the oven with olive oil and salt, hummus, in a casserole?  pinto beans for burritos, kidney beans in a chili, or a 3 or 4 beaned salad?  Beans are cheap..and very healthy!  Nuts are satisfying and can be stored in freezer/refrigerator, cheaper in bulk.
There are many more ideas out there too, to make food prep easier, cheaper, and fun..

Also, preparing food need not be drudgery after a long day of work, it can be pleasurable, when you turn it into a challenge, or a work of art..It can be relaxing too, if you listen to music, talk on the phone, ask friends to join in.  Heck, you can even watch TV, while you prep food, if you are really needing that wind-down time.  It can be educational for the kids if you include them in the prep too..  Food prep is art, it is community time, it is relaxing time..  It need not be a chore..  

And when it does feel like a chore, that night, might be a good night, to pull out one of the meals you have frozen from the weekend, to give yourself that break..  

So, what if you are faced with the choice, I can afford an apple or a big mac.  That big mac may fill you up, but that apple with give you something simple and have vitamins in it. It may not "fill you up"  but it won't come with it (negative nutrition)-- You won't die if you are a little hungry, but you will die(over time), if you eat too much of all those additives and oils..  

In the US, we eat so much food, but so much of what we eat is dead and empty of nutrition, but full of additives and hormones.. We need to care about this..  We need to not feel bad about paying attention and putting some more time and prioritizing food into our budget a little more..  We spend tons of money on entertainment, but feel badly if our food bill is too high..  but, if we cannot afford a high food bill or entertainment bill, we do have option of eating some healthy cheaper staples..or even eating less, as long as what we eat "COUNTS" towards providing nutrition to our bodies.  (and not negatively counts towards hurting our bodies)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simplicity Gardening

This past Saturday, I did some ground-breaking gardening.  We (I should say my husband), over the course of a few months, cut down the trees and bushes on this front strip and pulled out the roots. Why did we do this?  Well, they were labor intensive trees bushes, and they did not earn their keep (provide food)--or enough beauty..  The decorative cherry was sending out water shoots all over the yard and getting into the garden bed, even traveling almost up to our house!  It was a menace of a tree..but a very pretty one this time of year (lots of beautiful pink blossoms)  :(  I have mixed feelings about its removal, but ultimately I think it was a good decision.

So, finally we were at a stage where we could do a little planting.

I wasn't sure of what to do with this strip. My husband wanted it as simple as possible..just plant grass, but I really wanted to gardening space.  so, what to put there.  Following principles of "simplicity", I decided to start with what we already had, and to my surprise, it turned out to be quite adequate.

From the backyard, in a crowded space, I had 7 blueberry bushes, which I moved up to this strip and gave them more space, and they will get more sun too.  We also had 3 rose bushes that were in the grass near the red fence, making a mowing navigational challenge, so I moved them as well.  We also had rosemary in the back that wasn't really in the best spot, a lilac bush that was hidden, and now it can be in a place of honor, which I think it deserves. (lilacs were a favorite of my mom's and my son was born during the lilac blooming season..and I feel very sentimental about them.  My lilac bush was given to me by my neighbor when it was just a twig..It is a special plant, that I LOVE..and now there is room for it..  This is how it should be.. There should be room for what we LOVE..but we had to let go of what we did not love for it to have its proper space. (I also moved some tulips, rhubarb, and irises)

I have not worked that hard physically in a very long time..I forgot how tired I was, and worked anyway..knowing it was a rare day, I'd be able to do that much gardening.  (and I was a muddy mess!)  My mother in law saw me and wanted my picture taken. She said I looked like a farmer. (-;  I take that as a compliment.  as she meant it to be. (I think) (-;

I can't wait to see what it will look like when in bloom..

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solitude Detox

Sometimes a little solitude is a good thing..

I had a really hard day on Sunday.

I was fighting a cold, a fatiguing cold..but life does not stop for that.  My daughter had just turned seven and I needed  to push through the planning/cleaning/prep for her party on Saturday morning.

  The help that I had been promised on Friday was late in arriving and it made me feel vulnerable-vulnerable because I was truly depending on the help.   I hated that I couldn't pull it off without it.

 That is not even to say how much I hate having someone else clean my house..moving things around, even changing how I have it organized... It sets me on edge.. knowing things won't be where I may find them.

The stress of planning, cleaning, and worrying about how it would all pull together, and then implementing the actual party while feeling physically compromised caused me to crash on Sunday in a very emotional way.

I found myself with a very thin skin and I was easily offended.  I ended up crying, completely exhausting myself Sunday morning.  I thought I needed someone to talk to about it..so I attempted to reach out to a friend via phone and text, but she was unreachable.

  No one to talk to, really.. There are not too many people I feel comfortable with sharing myself with in this type of exhausted melt-down.  And I found I was alone in finding comfort.  Even my husband who can be sympathetic was not in a place to console me either. He was just as tired/spent/on edge as I was.

So, what do you do when there is no one to talk to?

As a teen, I had multiple girl friends to call on if one was not available..It seemed I usually had someone to talk to.  As an adult, I have found it increasingly more difficult to vent to someone.  And now, I worry of burdening that friend..being too dramatic..afraid of pushing that friend away.  Too many times, I have spoken out of not my best thinking; sharing too many uncensored thoughts that were perhaps too negative at the time.  Friendships seem less and less unconditional lately..  Feel  I need to hold back my ventings more and more...Perhaps it is me.?  And then I find myself wondering if I am lovable if this side of myself is revealed?  

But, really, the issues I was releasing that day, were not about friendship. The issue of not having someone to talk to, was really a muddying of what I was coping with..  And really, it was all more about being tired and accepting I can't do it all (letting go of control)-than anything..

I don't even think it is important to intellecutalize it..figure out what it was about(how un-counselor of me)..I could spend a lot of time trying to figure out what triggered it all (but in this case, I do not have the luxury to go down that road)..Ultimately, I feel I do not need to find a theme for my issue(s) at this time..

Simply being tired is enough--and that is what sent everything to the surface and the fatigue forced to me release some emotions I had been suppressing. (which is a good thing, actually...)

 I had myself an emotional detox..and perhaps it was good that I did not vent to anyone that day.   Perhaps, it was not that venting that I truly needed...but a detox...Not a chance for my mind to figure it out, but rather a symbolic release of it, whatever it was.

I cried at how much I wanted my mom that day..  the comfort in the pain of releasing those hurt/toxic feelings..the process of it.  Like being in a sweat lodge..(not that I've been in one), but how I imagine it.  I wanted her to hold me like a child again...I felt her close in my heart, knowing that if she could, she would hold me through this painful process...

What I ended up doing was crying. Then when the tears were done, I went outside, and in that time outside, I ran into other people.  And because I did not know them very well, those conversations stayed positive, and in that positivity, I started to feel better.  It was a beautiful day..and the sun and the people, were healing to me.

It turned out, that I did not really need to vent to a friend, what really helped was that cry and then the walk, and the chance to talk to people I encountered.  I was alone in my pain, but I was not alone.  I had my mom in my mind and heart, and I had the sweet encounters I found with friends from the neighborhood.

Perhaps if I had talked to my friend, I would have spent the time complaining and burdening her.. It may not have helped as much as that walk did.  This is not to say, that I advocate "not reaching out"..but when that option is not available, it is not the end of the world, and it was comforting to realize this.

So, sometimes, it is not the worst thing in the world to not have a friend to talk to when feeling down..Sometimes, just being with other people, that serendipitously cross your path, is enough.

And I think something happened when I was forced to release those feelings and cope with it as I did..It let go of some of the "crummies"..like sweating out toxins..  It feels they are mostly gone and in their place is something else..I feel more opened up..to what and who is around me..  So, sometimes, it is good to cry, and to have a day that is really hard..this day, unexpectedly was a gift.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Do you see the irony on the washboard billboard?

It says, "what year is your home living in " with a picture of washboard, and it is advertising clean energy.

Funny, at the time that people used washboards, we consumed much much less energy than we do now.

Did the advertisers think this over before creating this ad?  LOL!  Do they really think that everyone thinks that we do things better "now" than in the past?

This was just too good to not share.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Simplicity Parenting

A few months ago, I read the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and attended  a book group/discussion on it.  Since then, the ideas of that concept have been mulling around in my mind. Some of the thoughts below come for the book and some  of them are my own commentary on the concept...that is near and dear to my heart.  I have much to still do in my journey to strive to be more like this in some ways, but in others, I have done this intuitively, perhaps the outcome of some of my experiences of being parented..the best of it.

The basic premise of the philosophy is to steer towards a lifestyle that is to minimize  the over stimulation of our culture in our homes and lives for our children..such as by having just a few precious toys/ ones that they LOVE, ones that are appropriate for their ages and development, ones that are open-ended so that they can become anything, rather than already defined into characters of a movie, or who already talk or stimulate..let the kids bring the the stimulation into them, breathe their imaginations into them, rather than having it done for them.  Limit the choices..Too many choices also, creates stress..even having fewer books out. Let them read the same favorites over and over again so that those stories "mean something to them" rather than having an abundance of so so stories/books  that  can easily be dismissed.  Have a few things in our homes that we LOVE rather than having tons of things that we feel burdened by..reminders of what we don't have time to get to, take care of.  Have  only what we have time to take care of..

Also, let  kids be children for awhile..Minimize the media, news.  They do not have to be burdened by all the fear mongering in the media.  Children need filters so they can be allowed to be children and grow..

Establish rhythms in the home...traditions such as reading every night, or planting gardens in the spring.  Eating meals together when possible. Simplify meals to having a predictable menu each week. 
Simplify activities/structured time. Children need some open-ended time to create their own ideas/play/imagine..If they are always scheduled, they will not know how to deal with boredom or will not know how to create their own "story"..discover for themselves who they are, what they like...
More is not always better..We tend to over parent, and sometimes it is better for them to give them the space to find their own way. We do them a disservice by doing too much for them..plug them into so many activities, into media, television.  We feel a need to give them every benefit so they can be competitive in the world..stand out, be special..but truly, what they need the most is some space to grow and be allowed to discover for themselves. 

We are afraid of the open space that is not filled up with stuff  and noise..  thinking we need to turn on the tv so our children do not experience the pain of boredom..but truly in that painful half hour of boredom, they will find their way if given the chance. 

We think that we need to spend a lot of money on birthday parties, but sometimes the best birthday experiences are those that are quieter and spend with a couple close friends.  We have this idea of being a virtuous parent, that it means we enroll our child in every activity, dress them in name brand clothing(maybe), attend every birthday party, give them the best of what we didn't have, pay attention all the time, savor every moment, have a spotless home, go to every playdate, etc, but really we can relax a little..because what they may need is actually much simpler than that..  what is good for them does not have to cost so much money or involve our every waking hour..We do not need to watch them every moment, or attend to  their every need..Let them figure some of it out for themselves.  It  is okay, to let them be sometimes..  Let them feel some discomfort..Let them figure out how to get that glass of water on their own, solve that problem without our help.  We are not being lazy, we are letting them grow. 

Of course, there is the other extreme, not helping at all, not doing anything, not doing any activities(being uninvolved)...and I do not advocate that either..Everything in moderation..My children have waves of activity..They are learning violin and my son attends Cub Scouts.  I think it is ok to have busy waves so long as there are also waves of quiet and down-time.  The trick can be to recognize when to slow down, and when to be actively involved or out in the community..There is a chapter on Soul Fever..just like a physical fever needs to be treated with rest and TLC, so does a soul fever..when something is going on emotionally with a child (or parent)..when something is not quite right..sometimes it is time to find the medicine for it. 

Simplicity Parenting is not about stopping everything,giving up everything, but it is about moderating the effects of an culture that has too few filters for our youth, too many choices, too much stimulation, too much abundance..and in its place is space..space to "be"  and discover and relate, and have only what we LOVE in our homes, and less of what we feel burdened by.  more of time..to be together, and create..and think, and be outside, and look at the sky..We will still be "filled up"  but with a much more rewarding elixir.. 

What do you think??

Simplicity Parenting in Amazon

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything Happens for a Reason

(honeycomb given to me by neighbor from another neighbor's fallen tree)

Feeling some shifting with the  changing of the season and the entering into a new stage with my youngest as she will soon be a toddler.  Getting her to nap has become increasingly more difficult; it takes longer to get her sleep, and she sleeps for shorter  amounts of time.  What is starting to become the solution is taking her in the stroller, because she will fall asleep in less than 5 minutes usually and can stay asleep if I remain outside with her..which can be the answer to my dilemma of how I am going to be able to garden this year. 

So, this morning, I took a short walk.. a very short walk for I ran into a neighbor I had never met before as she was walking across the street with 3 of her cats.  She immediately asked me if I was new to the neighborhood.  "sheepishly I replied, that I have been here nearly 5 years"  (I guess I don't get out over on that street very often)...or really out very much at all this past year outside of the daily trips to the school. 

Anyway, we ended up talking for an ..hour?  As it turns out, she is a gold mine of information..she seems to know everyone in the neighborhood who is knowledgeable about the homesteading movement...growing food, beekeeping, natural healing, etc..  and apparently there are many people right in this neighborhood who are doing A LOT!  She seems to be quite a healer herself, for she described how she has cared for her cat who was hit by a car (this cat sounded very very badly hurt too)..  I am in awe at the serendipity of meeting her today..  It is starting to feel like I am getting some nudges to further pursue this sustainability cause and also to find how it links in with my Faith as well..  These are more than just nudges, but actual people encouraging me to do this too...  Meeting this woman, makes me think, that perhaps, this is the direction, I am supposed to go in.. 
I wonder where this will lead me.. 

I remember back as a teen, I went on a bike ride without a planned destination..I simply followed my heart, and it lead me to this AMAZING place out in West Keene..I called it a circle clearing.  There was this beautiful clearing circled by trees and a hill. I was totally alone. I got off my bike and further explored it, said prayers in my heart and aloud..Felt my soul was soo alive and happy..It was like a magical place and I had discovered it by simply following my heart.  I never would have found it otherwise.  I have never forgotten that place or that experience and I think I have also lived my life like that during critical decision making times..it is how I came to Oregon too... 
This blog is like that too..Not sure exactly how it is going to evolve, nonetheless, it is becoming something..just as this journey of learning..the knitting, the canning, the gardening, the soap making, etc..  (having 3 kids) (-;  counseling fits in there too somehow, and I am hoping all this learning is going to turn into something..a service of some kind.. 

anyway, it is time to move forward again..  I've had a year of baby fog which won't end right now, but this coming year, may see me able to do a little more again..and I feel I am getting some signals that I am supposed to have some new resolve..try again to network with neighbors, perhaps? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Other Kinds of Clutter: Money Leaks

I am not a minimalist, but I would like to have things simplified more than they are.  The last two days I have spent some time simplifying in other ways.  Looking at how we spend money.  There are many ways that we are "leaking out" money on things we don't really care about and those leaks add up  significantly.. just  like clutter is having too many things we don't care about, we can also waste a lot  of money on things we do not love. When figuring out our budget, I see this occuring for many things.  Some of the things we pay for are redundant. cell phones and a land line.  I wasn't quite ready to totally depend on our cell phones, but it  seemed ridiculous to  spend so much money  on that landline when we don't need it as much as we used to.  The cell phones, we have come to depend on, the landline is almost like a backup.  So, I looked at how much we are spending on the landline..about  $50/month which equates as $600/year!  After some research, I found that I can save most of the $50 by getting the line through our cellular company as if it is simply another family cell phone..$10 for  that extra phone with minutes included in our regular  plan.  Now, that seems more reasonable...considering it's lesser importance these days.

I have also been thinking  about our newspaper subscription..so many papers are not even read and sit in our driveway all day.  What a waste of resources!  The only day I love the paper is on Tuesdays when Food Day comes out, and my husband and kids love Sunday's paper for the  comics.  (;  I thought about giving it up entirely..save 20.50/month=over $240/year!  But, it was hard thinking about giving it up  entirely, so I thought I'd see if they would deliver it only on Tuesday and Sundays and apparently, to my surprise, it is an option.  So, now the cost is $4/month=$48/year!  (about)..  And now, we will appreciate the paper more..for we will only have 2 papers to appreciate a week..No more wasted papers that fill up our recycling bin.  We didn't have to completely give it up, but we are able to get the ones we really really like without the waste and clutter of all the days of newspaper that actually feel more like a burden..looking at what I don't have time to read..Not to mention that so often the news is filled with things that make me feel anxiety...the crime stories and drama..that I don't really even want my kids to see yet..

Two significant steps, I think towards simplifying our money outage..  so we have money for the things we truly prioritize/love..  I am sure there are so many other things we can do..  Just like cleaning up clutter in our home, we need to clean up those leaks and clutter of money leakage.  Letting go of the burden of having things that we don't love and spending money on things we don't love..  Taking Charge.  (if only I could find the courage to find a better home for our dog) for this same reason..She is a huge burden to us, because she needs so much more  than we can give to her right now.  :(  Torn, because my daughter does love her...  Seems, though we should find a home she where she is truly LOVED and treated as the princess she wants to be treated as..   

Monday, February 13, 2012


We have recently been hit with the stomach flu, which has afflicted my two oldest children. There is nothing like a good dose of flu to send my anxiety flying.  I've been in hypervigilent mode for three days.  My son had it the worst and I was hoping no one else would  get it, but then my daughter got it, then the worry the baby would  get it. So far, she has not. Yesterday, was a day of cleaning out the bug from our home as best as we could and taking a little reprieve, getting the kids out of the sick house and out in the sun for a bit.  I had only been out of the house myself for one trip to  the  grocery store in 3 days. It did a world of  good, getting out in the sun and getting a little exercise. My son forgot during that outing that he was sick.
When we got  home, the momentum was started  and my husband and I  did  some yard work while the baby napped in the van.  I  have not worked in the  dirt for  months and it felt sooo good!  My spirit had been so weighted before that..like it was locked up in a basement without any windows, but the sun and the dirt, and the air, and the  life around me, was like an elixir..
I need to garden this summer. I have to find some ways to  be  able  to do  this with a baby.  When Keilani woke up from her nap, we put her in the playpen for awhile and she tolerated it so  Mike could continue to pull out old roots outside.  It may be  a way to make this work..I could get  her  to  nap in the stroller, then have her continue naps outside with me while I garden, and then use the playpen to extend the gardening time, perhaps.  It will be  my  main summer project, and I'll have to  put the knitting aside  for a bit, because at this stage I  can only focus on one project at a time.
I t makes sense to have  seasonal  foucuses, rhythms..

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Comfort Zone

We  are having a beautiful day today..clear skies and I am feeling stuck..in a rut.  My youngest is  finally napping, but I don't know for  how long. I am really hoping that today will be a good one, because the last week or so,there  have only been 30 minutes.  I need a solid amount of time..getting buggy...looking out at my garden..sorry shape..  Soon, it'll be time to put the knitting aside and start gardening again..I hope.  This nice weather  is  calling to me and beckoning me to work outside.  but  right now the task seems so daunting..as the beds are  so neglected since baby #3.

Feel a new stage emerging..  as  the weather changes and my youngest has crossed over  into being ONE..  Time to challenge myself, because I am feeling stagnant.  bored. How can I work in the garden and get out more?  We've been so tied to our routine: school and baby care/naps.  making meals, supporting playdates, Cub Scouts, violin, homework.  Tempering the angst of my kids afterschool when they are  tired or had challenging days.. Watching my baby explore closeby in areas that I am trying to keep safe for her..as  the chokeables keep creeping into those spaces, trying to widen her  safe areas so I can be in other parts of the house too.  

Feel a little lost in the daily needs that take up most of my time. Need to have a day to work intensely on something that makes me feel less "blah"..and more like a productive human. I  need a challenge.  How  do I find a way to garden with baby?  Cook a little more?  When she hates the playpen and cries if she does not have me right next to her.  and when the  kitchen does not stay safe for more than a couple of hours due to all that ends up on the floor on a continual basis..(glasses breaking, pencils, food, etc..)  

I do not say this to complain.  My intention is to figure  out a way to be more productive..and meet her needs.  Perhaps I need to "work harder".baby is awake..  :(

  later:    I went to knit/book club tonight and that helped..met some really nice  ladies, good tohave some social time..adult social time. (;  and I did get out int the sun for  a bit too.  nothing like some sun in beginning of February to bring about a little restlessness for Spring to come. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Full Time Plus Mommyhood

I have greatly lapsed on my blogging.  I apologize for being absent so much as of late..  I am at an intense stage of parenting right now. My youngest has just turned one and is crawling everywhere..And my two older ones are quite intense during the after school to bed part of the day.  It has not been compatible with being able to write/be on the computer.  (-;  I miss those days of making bread and gardening..But, I would miss my newest daughter more..  She is such a gift.  As are my almost 7 and almost 9 year olds.

I realize I can do one thing for myself at a time right now and that has been learning to knit.  It semi-works while hanging out with the baby or during naptime.  I have always had the desire to learn how to knit for as long as I can remember and it is finally happening.  As a kid/teen I enjoyed latch hooking..but knitting is sooo much better than that!  I need to feel I am creating something...I am beginning to think that I am an artist at heart...and it finds different mediums based on what I am "able" to do at the time; what works for the stage I am at with the kids.  In high school and college, I drew, painted and wrote.  A couple of years ago, I found it in gardening, cooking, and blogging.  Now, I knitting..and also hope to learn how to quilt.

By profession, I am trained to be a teacher and a counselor.  those skills find their way into my parenting (on a good day)..There are some days, I am not so professional with my kids or my husband..and I'd be embarrassed to admit that I am a trained counselor..  I should know better...  I am very much human..  flaws and all.

I find myself thinking, though, what I am going to do when my youngest is in school.  I sometimes wonder if I should homeschool my son, whose class size has risen to 36 students in the 3rd grade..He is not happy at all lately..  I miss his joy..where did it go?  Part of it, I think, is realizing that life is not a constant birthday party..He's been a little "crushed by that" realization..  But, another part of it, is something else..  He is struggling with finding what he is good at.. His gifts are not as obvious as my daughter's..who can draw better than I can without looking at a picture..  My son loves to savor--he savors characters from a movie or book, he savors his food, he makes lists of his classmates names and remembers all their birthdays, he categorizes all the time...Is that kind of scientific?  He is an amazing speller and reader.  He is doing very well in school.  But, what is it..his gift? How do those strengths and inclinations/interests translate for him?

Well, as I said, parenting has taken a front seat this past year..in my mind, and in my energy, and time..  There is very little else I am able to do.

Except knit.


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