Sunday, August 31, 2014

#SYTS Speak Your Truth

I love #TBT.  Don't you?   It's so fun to look back on our lives and think about where we've been, how small our children were, how small we were.  How can we start an effort where we speak out truth and spread something positive?  Today I heard this fantastic song and thought to myself, "I want to spread this around as a great message for our girls" and by "our" I mean all the girls.  So, I came up with #SYTS.  Here it is folks.  Listen to the lyrics Get ready to dance!  And, spread your message for good.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

In 2010 we celebrated our one year anniversary as a family.  Each of the children received their own Shutterfly book chronicling our magical time in China.  I customized the book for each child.  Noah's had images of our two-day whirlwind tour of Beijing which Arwyn's featured images of herself in the orphanage.  I had every intention of making an actual "life-book" for Arwyn that tells her story, really I did.  But here we are....nearly five years later....and still no life-book.

In the spring of this year I encouraged our FCC board to host a life-book class on our "Moms on Monday" nights. As president of the group, I had an "in" and could make these types of suggestions.   I'll be honest.  I suggested this topic for selfish reasons.  I thought maybe it would prompt me to begin this important task of writing Arwyn's story.  It didn't.  And, then....it did.  Now, I am halfway (okay, 1/3) of the way into this project.

You see, the Shutterfly book I made in 2010 was really a book about OUR time together.  It was not HER story.  It was OUR story.  In the back of my mind I knew this wasn't enough.  I have no excuses really, but now I have something else.  Time.  Not because I have more time.  Okay, I guess I technically do as I have shaved two hours of commuting off my schedule each day.  But I have made time.

How do you begin?  What is important?  How do you tell their story without making it about you?  Where does their story begin?  How do you fill in the blanks?  I had so many questions and like anything I have questions about I do two things.

  1. Do the research (talking to BTDT moms, read books, do Google searches and spend ridiculous amounts of time on Pinterest)

  2. Jump in with both feet


My research began with the FCC meeting.  BTDT moms brought in completed lifebooks and those of us who (red-faced) admitted we have not worked on this gift to our children.  At the meeting, one mom brought a stack of lifebook guides that she gifted to those of us not in the BTDT category but in the SLACKER mom section.  Armed with examples and my handy book, I promptly came home and began Googling lifebooks and made the above Pinboard for my favorite examples. 




A quick survey of my on-hand supplies and a fun trip to Michael's and I was soon on my way.  I don't mind telling you that pulling out the pictures and the journal pages, playing with the stickers and embellishments and finding other mementos of our journey TO her gave me the desire to carve out the story ABOUT her.    What did I know?  What did the medical reports say?  What were the reports from the ayis?  Is there anything these notes can tell me about who she was before she was mine?  If there is one thing I know about my daughter before she came to us, it is this:


I was told that by Brenda Barker.  Brenda is sort of a legend in these parts.  Mom to 9 internationally adopted children and facilitator of many adoptions in our community, she told Nathan and I this at an adoption workshop.  She knew this from experience.  And, I know it to be true.  Right now I am halfway (1/3) of the way through the book.  It is my work of art, though I suspect there are lifebooks that are much more beautiful and creative.  But those books are for other children.  This is the book for my child.  If you need a little inspiration to start you on your way, check out my images below, make a Pinboard, head to Michaels and get started. 


The first page in this 12x12 book is quite simple.  A map of China (duh) and from Project Life (love this stuff) an index card on which I wrote her given name, birthdate and birthplace.


This page contains photos of her province and region.  It has a very detailed description of where she is from that I pulled from a travel site.  Note the index cards again.  My mother passed away in 2010.  I love ANYTHING with her handwriting.  I wanted to use my own hand in most of the narrative.  The page from the travel site is printed from a document.  Other thoughts about the region were written by me.


Now things get interesting.  You can see our daughter's finding ad on the top left, photos of the orphanage, images of her during that time and a written account of some of what I know about how she came to be there.


More images of life in the social welfare institute and more narrative from me of what I was told about that time in her life.


This is her story.  Her story includes the time when she leaves the SWI and becomes part of our family.  Again, in my script, I actually talk about this, about the challenge of when her story becomes our story.  Also included here is the announcement from our agency that we have been "matched".


Finally, the page with our official acceptance from the Chinese government giving us permission to adopt our daughter.  I say "finally" though this is meant only for this post.  This story goes on and I have several pages remaining to be made.  I have been consistently doing one per day for the last week and it has moved along quite quickly.  She is anxious to see it and I am anxious to sit down with her and with my hubby and son to tell the story. 

I'll write more on this and chronicle my quilt journey as well.  (I guess I forgot to mention I'm making her a quilt.) 


Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New Perspective

Part of our 7th grade work is perpsective drawing along with our study of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages.



Though Greek and not Roman, Nashville has a great example of architecture right in the heart of the city in the form of The Parthenon.  


He completed a portion of the drawing.  We'll go back next week to complete the drawing.


Soul Food

I am catering a party in two weeks.  Here is the menu I came up with.  


Friday, August 22, 2014

This Is Why We Homeschool

Make Every Moment Count



"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap." - Robert Fulghum

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mammaw's Fudge Sauce

Mammaw (AKA Nathan's grandmother) grew up with her Mother making a fudge sauce for cakes. She lost the recipe and was given this one by an acquaintance. It is just like her Mom's and it is nothing short of Divine!

1 12 oz. can Evap Milk
2 cups sugar
3 tbs cocoa
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 salt

Heat milk and sugar to boil. Stir constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add other ingredients. Sauce should thicken. Serve with cake (or alone if you are my husband).

A Simple Meal

March 6, 2012

So last night we had a very simple meal. Baked potatoes which cooked for 1 hour on 400.   I marinated a pound of boneless thighs in a mix soy sauce and  honey mustard dressing (no corn syrups or bad oils) which I purchased at WF.  After about an hour I cut the chicken into 1 inch size pieces and threaded them on 6 skewers.  I cooked them for the last 25 minutes that the potatoes were in.  Then I sauteed 2 coarsely chopped bell peppers and an onion that had been tossed in olive oil with salt and pepper.  They were sauteed on low as you do not want to cook olive oil at a high temp.  Also, you want the veggies cooked but crispy.  By cooking on low you will find they cook perfectly.  A healthy delicious meal!

Okay, so not the world's best instructions on dinner but sometimes it doesn't have to be hard.  Dinner can be both simple and delicious.  I know I tend to go for really hard recipes at my home - much to my own peril I have to say.  To be honest, I usually way overthink my meal planning and food plans and am in a very serious reevaluation process of how I have been doing things here at the homestead in regards to grocery shopping and meals.

So, grab a few fresh veggies, stick a whole potato in the oven and marinate some chicken and life will look much better.  Oh!  Don't forget the wine!  I am finding that wine is really such a superb way to get me through dinner prep time!

I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he cannot have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.  -Henry IV

Blueberry Muffins

September 21, 2010

We have needed a quick grab and go breakfast for the days we are running a wee bit behind. My husband - the one who is usually quite content to eat ANYTHING that I put in front of him - suggested muffins. What kind of muffins honey? Blueberry. I can do that. Piece of cake or muffin, that is. So, I went to my "go to" source - Pamela's Products website.

I've made Pamela's muffins before and they are tasty (as is everything using Pamela's). I had also been perusing other GF websites on the quest for a delicious GF Blueberry Muffin. I used Pamela's muffin recipe with a couple of changes for a delicious muffin!

I will say that my food photography is still in the works and they did get a little browner than I would have liked, but that was due to the brown sugar/butter mixture I put on top, which BTW I will not do again!

Enjoy!

2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/4 cup melted butter, or oil
1/2 sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup frozen blueberries

Yield: approximately 6 to 7 muffins

Mix first 6 ingredients together. Add blueberries.  Mix gently.  Spoon 2/3 full into muffin pan using muffin cups. I STRONGLY urge you to use the cups. Pamela's baking mix turns out incredibly moist crumbly treats and you want the cup to keep the mess down! Bake in preheated 350º oven for approximately 25 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 muffins.

These may be the best blueberry muffins I have ever eaten. They are certainly the best I've ever made!

Chicken Korma

August 28, 2009

Last week when I was perusing the TINY organic section of our local Kroger, I came across a "new" item. It was a jar of Tikka Masala sauce by Seeds of Change.



Hmmm...I should try it. I did and we were not disappointed. Last night we had:

Basmati Rice (Lundburg - favorite)
Chicken Legs, Chickpeas and Onions simmered in the Tikka Masala sauce
Sauteed Spinach
Snowflake Rolls from Whole Foods
The "house wine of the South" - Sweet Tea.

Folks, this was such an easy dinner. In fact, the prep work was approximately 20 minutes total for the entire dinner. I did all of the preparation prior to our long and lovely walk down the Shelby Bottoms greenway. It was such a great night. After returning home all I had to do was turn on the stove, sit down with my guys to watch Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone and wait for it all to finish cooking.

So, here is how it went down:

In a large skillet, I placed 6 Trader Joe's organic chicken legs. I drained a can of chickpeas and poured them into the skillet with the chicken. I VERY coarsely chopped an onion (I used yellow) and added that as well. I then poured the jar of sauce over the entire creation. I placed a lid over the dish. To cook, turn on medium high for approximately 5 minutes to get the heat flowing. Once you hear the chicken begin to sizzle, turn it down to low and allow to cook with the lid on for approximately 25 minutes. Keeping the lid on will keep the natural juices in the the dish and tenderize the chicken.

I prepared the organic Lundberg Basmati Rice according to the directions. I usually saute the dry rice in butter for a few minutes prior to adding water, but I did not last night. So, measure your rice and water. Add them to the pot and turn on the heat.

The spinach was a last minute creation. Unfortunately for us, I am not cooking with as many fresh ingredients as I did prior to working/moving/ etc. and I am trying to get back to that, but last night I used a bag of organic cut leaf spinach. I melted a tbs of butter over low heat in a small skillet, then added the spinach. I then covered and allowed it to gently simmer. The spinach has so much natural liquid in it that adding additional water is not necessary. Once the other dishes were near completion, I added approximately half a cup of sour cream, salt, pepper, garlic and curry (all of the spices were "to taste.") Just before taking it out of the pan, I added a few cubes of mozzarella cheese. This was SO tasty.

All of the dished should be stirred once or twice during the cooking process.

I don't always want to cook fresh bread, so I keep these fab snowflake rolls on hand and they went well with dinner.

Have fun cooking and finding some simple dishes that offer a short prep/cook time for tasty, healthy dinners.

What's For Dinner?

January 8, 2009

Organic Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower and an Organic Meatloaf.

Green Beans:
2 10oz bags of frozen organic green beans
1 tbs bacon grease
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp salt
Cover with water. Bring to boil. Turn down to medium low. Simmer for 1 hour

Meatloaf:
1 pound organic ground beef
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 tbs organic ketchup + 1/4 cup (William Sonoma is delicious)
3/4 cup cut oats
1 egg
1 tbs salt
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
black pepper
1/3 cup pureed organic sweet potatoes
Mix well. Bake in oven preheated to 350 for 30 Minutes. Take out of oven and cover top with 1/4 cup of ketchup (or more if desired).

Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower:
1/2 Cauliflower, coarsely chopped
2 large potatoes, sliced
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1 tbs salt
Pepper to taste
Veggie broth
Cover with water. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Drain.
Okay, this is where it gets sketchy as I started talking to Noah! Mash drained vegetables to desired consistency. Add sour cream and cheddar, salt and pepper. Stir. Slowly add veggie broth, stir and do this until you get the consistency of potatoes you like.

Growing up in the South, Mashed Potatoes are a no brainer. For years I stuck to a very traditional recipe. However, as I have gotten older and my stomach issues have increased, in addition to an overall desire to be healthier, I have experimented with recipes and this is one of the best ones I have come up with.

Serve these things will a tall glass of iced sweetened decaf tea (Luzianne, of course) and enjoy.

Chicken Risotto

September 15, 2012

1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins, chopped into chunks
1 cup arborio rice 
1 large bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 32 oz. box chicken stock
2 tbs. butter
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
Up to 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese

Melt butter in large skillet.  Add chicken and pepper.  Cook on med low for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (can be allowed to brown if desired).  Add the rice.  Stir.  Pour 1/4 of the stock into the skillet.  Add salt, pepper and thyme.  Bring to boil.  Turn down to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add 1/3 of the REMAINING stock or 8 oz.  Repeat previous step (turn down, cover and simmer).  Repeat this process two additional times.  When adding the remaining stock, add the cheese as well.  Keep on low or warm and stir until cheese is fully blended in dish.  After 15 minutes turn off and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes (still covered) to set dish.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker White Bean Chili

March 12, 2012
I awoke this morning to see the sun rising in the horizon and said a thanks to God for allowing me to see another day.  I hopped out of bed and headed to the kitchen where 2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs waited for me in the fridge.  After rinsing the chicken, they went into a 5 quart dutch oven filled with water and boiled for an hour on the stove.  In addition to the chicken, I added salt, pepper and a bay leaf to the water to create a rich and healthy broth which replaces the canned or boxed broth mentioned in the chili recipe I am linking to below.
I am constantly trying to improve things here at home and getting me out of the kitchen will help tremendously.  So, I'm pulling out the crockpot and letting it do some of the work.  Here is a link to a great White Bean Chili recipe which is "what's for dinner" tonight.  As sometimes happens, we will not be sitting around together eating tonight.  I have a Board meeting and Noah has soccer and we will be going our separate ways as a family.  Actually, that's going to happen a few times this week so dinner needs to be really easy.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/white-bean-chicken-chili-10000001875803/

This is a really simple recipe and I have made some modifications.  Instead of canned broth I am using my own and instead of canned white beans I am using dried beans.  Dried beans are much cheaper, healthier (no added sodium) and do not come from a BPA lined can. 
"The aroma of good chili should generate rapture akin to a lover's kiss." - Motto of the Chili Appreciation Society International

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings via Pioneer Woman

January 5, 2012

After years of making traditional Southern style chicken and dumplings I stumbled across the Pioneer Woman version of C/D and decided to give it a whirl.  Due to the fact that I am nearly incapable of following a recipe without taking a shortcut of some kind, I made the following changes to the recipe.
1.  I did not add the tumeric.
2.  I was out of carrots - so sans carrots.
3.  I used Pamela's Baking Mix (GF) in place of flour.
Now let me say that I was VERY nervous about these dumplings.  Not that I did not believe that delicious dumplings would be the end result - because much like my belief in faeries I did believe these would be tasty.  No, I was nervous that the hubs would complain as his favorite food in the entire world is C/D and he loves his Mother's very traditional Southern version.
Okay, deep breathe.  He LOVED them.  In fact he said "these aren't my Mother's but they may be the best I've ever had."  Wow.  I have to say that I am not a C/D fan but I also loved these as did Noah and Arwyn though they have never enjoyed them before!!!!  I'm thrilled.  Now, if only Arwyn had not nearly died during dinner resulting in a call to 9-1-1, the evening would have been perfect!

Here is a link to this fab recipe:
http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/12/chicken-and-dumplings/
Food for thought:

As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets, I'll take roast chicken and dumplings.
Hattie McDaniel

Home Made

January 12, 2012

There is very little so satisfying as opening the freezer door and pulling out a jar of chicken broth that I made.  I often resort to purchasing commercial chicken broth.  My broth of choice is Kitchen Basics though I will also take Whole Foods 365 broth.  But the best broth is mine.  
Before I started the makings of a tasty, healthy, healing broth I quickly prepared home made muffins for the family.  Today's muffins are holiday ham and cheese and I used leftovers from the past few days.  Once the muffins were in the oven I turned to the real work of the broth.
A few days ago I purchased a package of whole cut up chicken which I thoroughly washed today before using.  I added 1/2 of the pack of chicken to a 5 quart dutch oven.  I very coarsely chopped a stalk of celery, a carrot and half an onion.  I added 3 turns of salt and 3 turns of pepper from my Pampered Chef grinders and filled the pot with water - leaving approximately an inch of room from the top.
I brought the pot to a boil and then turned the chicken down to simmer with the lid on.  The chicken simmered for 45 minutes.  After allowing the chicken to cool for approximately 15 minutes, I removed the chicken from the pot and set aside.  Using a mesh strainer I strained the broth into a large Pampered Chef mixing bowl with a handle.  Next I poured the broth into 4 quart jars and placed on the counter until cooled.  Once cooled, the broth went into the freezer for later use.
So...what happened to the chicken?  The chicken will be used tonight in an Asian marinade and be stuffed into rice paper for spring rolls.  Sounds like a lot of work?  It's not.  It is also a very inexpensive way to prepare stock.  Normally for that amount of stock, I would pay around $3.00.  By preparing my own stock (keep in mind I still have half of a pack of chicken remaining) I am cutting the cost of my broth by half.  How?  I will get the equivalent of at least 2 boxes of stock plus the meat from the chicken (a $16.00 value) for the $4.92 I paid for the entire pack of whole cut up chicken.  What a deal!!!!
Food for thought:

We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.
-Adelle Davis

Interruption

August 18, 2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a gluten recipe.  You may be wondering why I posted a glutinous recipe this week on my blog.  The last couple of months we have reintroduced gluten into our diets.  My son is having a Celiac's test....today in fact....and I had to gluten him up.  We have not had wheat flour in our diet everyday but many days over the last couple of months.

Here is what I can report from the change in our diet.  I have gained more weight, my migraines have returned, I can't remember anything and I have word salad, my daughter - who suffers from eczema - has shown significant  compromise in her skin issues and my son's digestive issues have returned....there may be changes in other areas that I am just not seeing. 


I went back to a GF diet this week and am fully committed to return to it.  I am anxious to get the family back to a GF diet as well and get our health back on track.  I am not an advocate of all people being on GF diets, however, if you are experiencing things with your health that cannot be attributed to a specific illness or diagnosis, considering eliminating wheat/gluten from your diet and see what happens.

Chunky Chowder

August 11, 2011

1/2 Stick Butter
Small Onion, Coarsely Chopped
1 Celery Stalk, Finely Chopped
1 Medium Potato, Coarsely Chopped
6 oz. Kernal Corn (fresh or frozen)
1 Cup Chicken Stock (I prefer my own if I have some in the fridge - if not then I only use Kitchen Basics)
1/2 Cup Milk 
1/4 Cup Monterrey Jack Shredded Cheese
1/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese
1 Tsp Salt
Pepper to Taste

Saute the onion and celery in the butter on medium until tender, approximately 7 minutes.  Add potato.  Cover and turn to low and saute for 5 additional minutes. Add broth and milk and bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and cover - allowing for steam to escape.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Puree 1/2 of the vegetables and return them to the soup.  Add cheese and stir until melted.  Serve!

How Sweet It Is

June 8, 2011

I find that when I read about folks considering going gluten free, there is a resistance because they think it will be difficult to eliminate white flour from the diet.  It's not.  Tonight we had white bean chili and Mexican cornbread with green chilis and cheddar cheese.  Very filling, tasty and best of all, no gluten.  I am also working to eliminate most of the rice flours from our diet, or at least from mine.  My son needs them just for things like sandwiches, but for me, I would love to eliminate it for my diet!  So, here I am, saying, how sweet it is to be gluten free.

Cornbread Salad

May 31, 2011

Tonight I am attending a Thirty-One area training to help me continue to grow my business. (www.mythirtyone.com/danacroy).  We were asked to contribute a dish and I am taking Cornbread Salad.  This is my version based on a great Southern Living recipe (where many of my best recipes come from!)

1 pan cornbread - use your favorite recipe for an 8x8 pan or an 8 inch round cast iron skillet
1 bunch of green onions - chopped
1 head of iceburg lettuce - chopped  ( you can use a more nutritious lettuce but as I was being budget conscious, well...)
2 cups of shredded  mexican cheese or sharp cheddar
1 jar of Kalamata olives
6 ounces of Ranch dressing ( I like Brianna's)
3 tomatoes - chopped

Prepare your cornbread, bake, then cool.  In a large bowl or trifle dish  spread 1/3 of the chopped lettuce, add , 1/3 of the cheese, 1/3 of the olives, 1/3 of the tomatoes, and the top layer is 1/2 of the cornbread (crumbled) repeat one time.  After adding the second repeat the process one final time though this time there is no cornbread to add (only 2 cornbread layers).  Drizzle the ranch over the dish and chill until ready to serve.

Mama's Yeast Rolls

March 30, 2011

I spend a lot of time talking to folks about food and many are surprised to know that like a good cast iron skillet I am a fairly seasoned Southern cook.  One of the things I love about regional foods, whether it is Southern or Chinese or Indian, is that the same dishes circulate through a region for ever and ever, amen.  A good example of this is some of Paula Deen's recipes.  When I first discovered Paula Deen and began reading her cookbooks I was shocked to see that many (and I mean many) could have been taken right out of my Mother's kitchen.  All of the great food I had been raised on had apparently been handed down through generations of cooks - Mothers, Grandmothers and even from slaves.  And, not only had it been handed down but it was a circular handing down that spanned an entire region - in this case the South.

The recipe I'm sharing today is another example of that.  These are the yeast rolls that often graced the dinner table on Sunday afternoons in my childhood home.  Those are dinners that I remember fondly.  The youngest of four children, I had nieces and nephews by the time I entered Kindergarten.  So family dinners included my siblings, their spouses, their children, friends who had stayed over Saturday night and often extended family members as not only did my Mother serve a wonderful table but my parents had the wisdom to install a pool for their large family.

We had all but forgotten those yeast rolls as the last years of my Mother's life found her unable to navigate the kitchen in which she created many meals.  Then, my oldest sister gave us all the family cookbook that her Mother-In-Law had created with her own siblings.  Lo and Behold!  There was an identical yeast roll recipe.  The same no rise yeast roll recipe that makes your mouth water and want to Praise Jesus on Sunday afternoons was there in print.  Now, here it is for you.

1 pack dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups flour (I use pamela's baking mix)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients.  Spoon into greased muffin tins.  Bake on 425 for 25 minutes.  Watch them starting at 15 minutes to ensure they do not brown too much.

Penne Pasta with Italian Sausage

December 10, 2010


2 Boxes Ancient Quinoa Rotini
1 Package of  Mild Italian Sausage 
1/2 Large White Onion - Coarsely Diced
1 Jar Emeril's Roasted Gaaahlic Pasta Sauce
1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup Milk (I prefer whole for this recipe)
1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste
(As always, check your sauces and meats prior to cooking to ensure GF standards.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Slice uncooked sausage in half lengthwise.  Remove casing.  Cook in lightly oiled skillet or on griddle.  I use a cast iron griddle on my stove for this.  Cook on medium low for 10 minutes, turn, then cook an additional 10 minutes.  Saute onions until tender along with the sausage.  Meanwhile, cook pasta to box directions.  Drain.  Mix sauce, tomatoes and milk.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Transfer pasta to a 13x9 baking dish.  Pour tomato mixture over pasta.  Add cheese.  Now that the sausage has cooled cut into 1 inch pieces.  Add to dish.  Toss dish well coating all of the pasta ensuring that all ingredients are mixed well.  Bake for 20 minutes.  I usually serve this with salad and my cheesy scones.

Puffed Pancakes

September 26, 2010

3 Eggs
1/2 Cup Pamela's Baking Mix (or other GF baking mix)
1/2 Tsp Salt
Pinch of Sugar or a Couple of Drops of Agave
1/2 Cup Milk

Beat eggs until light.  Add milk and continue to beat.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve to hungry family with toppings of choice (fruit, maple syrup, honey, etc.).  Enjoy!

I Broke Our Number One Rule in Parenting - Find Out Why

May 26, 2014

It had to happen.  Okay, I won’t lie, it’s happened before, but this time it happened on a big scale.  I gave in to a screaming child.  Actually, screaming is putting it mildly.  Screaming, kicking, irrational, absolute hysterics.  Unless you have seen my little Moon in a full blown tantrum, you really cannot grasp what this means and very few people have actually been witness to this (and fewer folks believe she is even capable of such behavior – shows what they know).

It began last year.  We moved her from a small private school where Goodwill grunge is all the rage, status symbols are hybrids, and parents try to keep their children as young and innocent as possible to public school where maturity among 7-year olds is king (or queen if you prefer).  She noticed immediately that there were some differences between herself and her new peers.  The two that stood out the most were the lack of earrings and the inability to sleepover with friends.  Despite the differences, the year progressed, she made many friends and we made it to first grade without too much stress.

First grade  came and was even better than the first with two exceptions – the pesky issues of not being allowed to sleepover and being as of yet unpierced.  We stood firm on both.  I had great experiences sleeping over once I was in middle school, but due to the differences in parenting and what available for kids to see on both the internet and the television, we are just not budging in this issue.  In regards to the piercing, however, I continued to wonder if we should let her go for it.  She didn’t know this, of course, but I did.  And then my resolve crumbled.  No, that’s not true.  I changed my mind.  Back to the tantrum.

I picked her up from school on Friday and we headed to the other side of town to collect The Sun from school, meet a friend for dinner, grocery shop and run other random errands.   Arwyn was tired and hungry and refused my offer of a Vitamin Water, which I keep in the car for children in just such a state.  She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and requested to go home and change, which I denied for several reasons.  I was taking a chance and well, I lost. The tantrum set in which quickly devolved into every wrong doing that I have ever committed against her, namely not letting her spend the night with friends and not letting her get her ears pierced.  Here we go again.  After 45 minutes of sheer hysterics she finally managed to convey a few things to me which is where my mind was changed.
I want to preface the following with letting you know that this child can make her own breakfast (she makes a healthy blueberry smoothie for herself each morning), make her bed, help with the laundry and do many more things that most kids simply cannot or will not do.  Here is what she said, “Mommy I know you think I am a little girl, but I’m not.  I’m a big girl.  I promise to take care of my ears so they won’t get infected.  I don’t like being sad or mad.  This makes me sad and mad that I cannot get my ears pierced.  Mommy, I don’t like being different from the other girls and I just want to be pretty.”  Sigh.

I can remember being the youngest child of older parents and often feeling and being different from the other girls.  In fact, like The Moon, who was born with a cleft lip and palate with the results being quite visable, I was born with a facial defect and never quite fit in.  Life is different now for kids in both good and bad ways and the other children welcomed our girl with open arms, but peer pressure is still and always will be part of growing up.  If I can give her any small opportunities to feel special and pretty and the same as the other girls so that her differences are not always emphasized, well, I’m going to.

There are times as parents when we have to stand our ground and there are times when we owe it to our kids to be open to changing our minds.  This was one of those times.  After a quick consultation with my wonderful hubby who was in full agreement and a lovely dinner of  Greek food, we headed to the nearest Clare’s.  I now give you The Moon, complete with pierced ears.

“To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while. “~Josh Billings

The Gospel According to Arwyn

May 16, 2014

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Last night the Moon told us she played “telephone” in her 1st grade classroom.  Her teacher (teacher of the year to us) taught the kids this great games.  Of course, she wanted to demonstrate it at home.  This is how the conversation went:

Arwyn:  Let’s play telephone.

Us:  Okay.

Arwyn:  I’ll be the gospel.

Us:  What?

Arwyn:  I’ll be the gospel.

Us:  baahaahaahaahaahaa…………………..

Arwyn:  What’s so funny?

Me:  I think you mean the gossiper.

On Zoobooks and Marriage

We love Zoobooks.  They are beautiful and educational.  Zoobooks make our 8 year go wild when she realizes her monthly subscription has arrived in the mail.  But, I didn’t realize the added power of Zoobooks when I placed the order.  Distraction.  Last night, my little Moon came into the bathroom for her bath and was holding her newest Zoobook in hand.  This is the conversation that ensued:

A:  Mom, I have to go potty before my bath.

Me:  OK.

A:  You may think it’s strange that I have this book but I am going to read it while I potty.  That’s a little weird too, I know, but it helps get my mind off (wait for it….) getting married.

ZB_Polar_BearsAnd there you have it folks.  Zoobooks help distract girls from planning their weddings….when they are eight years old.

I Did It

April 16, 2014

It has been a long time coming.  Whispers in the back of my mind.  Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks at a meeting in December when I realized I was swimming upstream with my job…against a current of apathy and perhaps lack of understanding.  And then, he asked.  The son, our twelve year old, asked to be home schooled.  Again.  He has asked many times before and I could not bring myself there with him.  The idea began to grow in my mind and by the end of January I had made my decision.  Nathan was on board but the loss of income scared us both.  Not a huge loss.

By the time we make our commute, eat out two times per week, pay for private school for one kid and afternoon care for both…what is left?  Not much.  Once I made the decision, got Nathan fully on board, told our little Moon and attended a national home school conference, the signs began to come.  I cannot list them all here but I can tell you my ears perked up and I began to hear the murmurings from so many of my parent peers.

“I work so the kids can go to school here.”  “By the time I pay daycare costs it’s almost as if I should not work.”  “It seems like I am working to pay someone else to raise my kids.”  Is this really where we are as a society?  My mind began to reel.  Yes.  It is.   I wanted to run away these last few weeks.  Throw in the towel.  But, I didn’t.  I made a commitment to myself to go to the end.  The end of the school year.  The end of our giving season.  To meet my goals laid out a year ago with my job.  I hung in there through the biggest charity event of the year for my organization.  And then….on Monday….I said four little words……

“This is my notice.”

The weight of the world  was lifted from my shoulders and I can finish the year with light joy knowing what awaits me at the end.  My family.  My sanity.  The joy of making each day count with those I care most about.  It won’t be perfect every day but each day will be perfect in its own way.

Media Free in Today's World

March 28, 2014

When the Sun was born, the hubby and I were normal folks.  Though deeply emmersed in a spiritual practice, I was a news junky and when home if we were not listening to jazz, I had CNN going full blast.  There were the occiasional nights when we relaxed on the couch and watched Monster Trucks or some DIY show, but something was always on.  Not long after we had our bundle of joy, we recognized the need to protect him from the greater world.  As parents, we were already on the fringe compared to those living around us in our neighborhood (though we were surrounded with friends who parented in much the same way we did), so turning off the cable seemed like a normal progression.  There was no Dora, no Blue’s Clues.  Sometimes, even with our “fringe” friends, we felt a little odd or a little bit like we were depriving our son of something great.  Truthfully, we may have disconnected from the cable as much for our own well-being as for his.  We were addicted to the screen and knew we would all too easily find ways and excuses to sit him in front of it instead of interacting with him.  I am not going to say that never happened, because, well, it would be a lie.

As he grew and we entered the Waldorf world, it was a breathe of fresh air to find others who limited screen time for themselves and their little ones and that is a path that we have more or less stayed on these last 10 years.  Eventually, though we did not turn on the cable, we did succumb to Netflix – a necessary evil with the disappearance of the video store.  Now, we are embarking on a new stage in our life as a family.  As of April 11, Netflix will also be gone and we will be spending the summer without the fall back screen.  Not to say we are totally eliminating it.  We can still receive videos and we’ll be using the computer for news.  But, the streaming, the round the clock availability that makes it all too easy for someone like me to say “yes, you can watch ______” will be gone.

I know.  You will say I am weak.  I should be able to tell the kids “no” when they ask.  Then why even have it in our home?  I broke the news to the Sun, new age 12 and he was devastated.  The Moon doesn’t know and it may be quite unpleasant when she finds out.   But, I know as we move into the next stage as a family (I know, it’s torture, right?) this is the right decision.
Peace Out.

St. Patty's Day - An Explanation

13254928385_d56f484186(1)March 9, 2014

I feel I must explain.  It’s not that I hate St. Patrick’s Day.  I don’t.  Really.   I may or may not be of Irish heritage (or maybe I am), but truthfully, despite having access to my ancestry, both of my parents have been here since the 1600′s, so I am not sure where Ireland fits into my gene pool.

 With that said, I LOVE all things Irish.  We frequently have Irish music playing in our home.  I am drawn to shamrocks, leprauchans, and Irish stories of mystery and magic.

But, I am many years away from going out for green beer and all of the things that come with SPD.  And, as an adult, I looked into the deeper spiritual significance of this highly celebrated day and realized it is not in alignment with my own spiritual journey.  It was, however, in seeing from a parent’s point of view and from the point of view as someone who is saddened by the continuous consumerization (that’s a word, right?) of EVERYTHING that I took a stand.  It seems I am not alone.

I could rant right here about why I became very frustrated with this very green holiday, but I read a great article in the Huffington post that said it so succinctly.  Read on, friends, and leave the green to those with real Irish heritage.  When all is said and done, I leave you with what I find so beautiful about Irish traditions in the form of a blessing for you.

It's A Snow Day - Make It Count

January 7, 2014

Two nights ago it snowed.  It didn’t snow a lot – one to two inches – but it did snow.  We knew before going to bed on Sunday night that every school in town – public and private – would be closed on Monday.  Not only did it snow, but prior to the snow, rain set in.  And, as the rain set in, the temperatures dropped.  When we went to bed we were looking at temps around eight degrees and knew that the wind chill factor on Monday would be around -11.  What?  On Monday morning we kept all of the curtains closed to keep out the drafts in our 60 plus year old house.  The central ran on auxiliary and the space heater downstairs never shut off.  Not only was it C-O-L-D, but the Moon (a girl who could give Tigger a run for his money), laid on the  couch with a low-grade fever from the time she woke up until around 5PM.  So, here we were, Mom and kids, in a dark house for the entire day never once venturing outside to enjoy this gift of a sunny snow day.  Sigh.

But, each day is an opportunity to begin anew.  The Moon was still out of school today but the Sun reported bright and early for the Spring semester.   After school today, when we were all here once again, dinner was cooking on the stove, the Sun’s homework was completed and he said, “I think I’ll go sledding.”  As has happened far too frequently in my career as a Mother, I said “okay” and watched him for a few minutes out of the back window.  And then, I remembered that my promise to myself in this new year is to be fully engaged with my kids each and every day and with myself and with life and I quickly grabbed my coat and boots, yelled for the Moon to grab hers and we spend the next half hour dragging the sled up and down our little hill until our fingers were too cold to continue gripping the sled.



Make every moment count.

“In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” ~William Blake

Don't Judge Me

January 1, 2014

Don’t judge me.  You know it has to be bad when that’s how it begins.  Don’t judge me.  Let me start by saying that I made a delicious breakfast for both of the children – a three egg omelet and a bowl of cereal for the growing 12 year old and cereal alone for the seven year old.  I prepared a crock pot full of potato soup that simmered all day to provide a hot nourishing meal for the family.  The kitchen was cleaned – not once, but twice.   Oh!  I almost forgot.  I made a tasty snack for the kids during the afternoon.  So far, so good.  Right?

The Thursday before Christmas I was lying on the couch contemplating the trek upstairs to the bed and feeling like it was much too far to travel.  I thought that it was just the exhaustion of the week and doing too much to prepare for the holidays.  By Friday afternoon I knew I was in trouble and headed over to the walk-in clinic that promptly prescribed me with an antibiotic.  Here is where the first “don’t judge me” comes in (the dreaded use of anti-biotics). 

On Saturday I hosted my entire family for a full holiday meal and the festivities continued from there.  Next came Sunday and a four hour round-trip to Chattanooga for our annual trip to the North Pole via the Polar Express; days of hosting my husband’s family; the Sun’s twelfth birthday, the list goes on.  Yesterday I made returns and exchanges and began the slow packing away of the holiday decorations after church.

It was last night when my body began the protest.  Still fighting an infection, though it is not nearly as bad as it would have been without the antibiotics, I picked up Pei Wei for the family and we spent the evening eating and playing a marathon game of Monopoly.  Today I heard the protests even more.  Exhausted, trying to kick the last remnants of a cough and cold, I took a stand.  I would spend the day at my desk, on the couch or in the bed – or maybe in all three places.  I turned the children loose with the remote control and allowed them unlimited viewing – let’s be real as they are exhausted too!  This is where the second “don’t judge me” comes in.

Living in a home that until this Christmas only had one laptop, one television and one tablet – I can safely say that we typically have healthy boundaries when it comes to media use.  But today, I could no longer fight the good fight and gave in.  If anyone had visited us today they would have found mom and the kids vegged out on the couch watching back to back Disney movies and loving every minute of it.  So, moms (and dads), take a day, just one day, and rest and rejuvenate in whatever way suits you best.  Let the kids have some freedom. Don’t feel the need to entertain them.  Make sure they are safe and fed and diapers changed (if you have young ones) and put your feet up.  Go ahead.  I give you permission.  No judgement.  (written 12-30-13)

“The mark of a successful man (or woman) is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it.”  ~Author Unknown

Searching for Peace

November 19, 2013

The day began early today.  Having gone to bed last night at 8PM, I found myself awake at 3:30.  Unable to go back to sleep, I got up, started beans in the crock-pot for tonight’s dinner and sat down with my coffee to find calmness in these early hours.  On my mind is staying in the present, not allowing others to frustrate me and seeing the positive in all I do.  I was able to stay there for about an hour.  Then, I checked my email and staying positive was out the window.  Or, was it?

As a mom, I constantly tell the children the same things that were told to me. “Ignore people when they are mean or rude.”  Should I tell my children to ignore folks or is it better to shed light on the issues and face them directly?  Do I tell the children to always shine the light?  Is illumination best or does it really just make you focus more on the issue?

If you, my sage readers, have an answer, let me know.   Until then, I am striving for peace but have a flashlight handy.

I Wasn't Prepared for This


November 13, 2013

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As a mom I feel I have  been prepared for most things that have come my way.  Premature baby.  Okay.  Emergency surgery for the Sun at age 2.5, stressful but we got it.  International adoption, multiple hospital stays for the Moon, school, last minute homework assignments.  Done, done and done.  Deep breathe.  First middle school dance.  Okay, got it, right?  Nooooooooooo.
I thought I had it.   We had two events last night.  Noah had his first ever dance while Arwyn had her big fall festival at school.  We all dressed appropriately.  Nathan and I dressed casually as we also were on the dance clean up crew.  Arwyn dressed in her Halloween kitty outfit and Noah, as you can see, was dressed to impress.  After the fall festival we dropped Noah at the dance and then hung out in the parking lot with another mom before heading over to Slow and Low for a shared plate of barbecue.  Of course, we didn’t leave the parking lot before peeking in at the dance (helicopter, anyone?)

We arrived in the parking lot at school (did I mention he’s in Catholic school) promptly at 9PM.  The dance was still going and we stood with the other parents watching our kiddos in their own environment.  I can’t help but think I wasn’t the only one staring wistfully and wondering how on earth we got to this point….parents of a infant one day and parents of a middle schooler the next.
I guess you are wondering what the heck the problem is.  This is all okay.  It was…and then…..the lights came on and he came and found us.  I casually said, “Did you have fun?”  “Yes.”  “Did you dance with anyone?”  “Yes.  We slow danced.”  GULP.  In that moment, I knew we had crossed a line.  “Who did you dance with?”  “I’ll tell you in the car.”  Don’t panic.  Take slow – deep – breathes.  Just – keep – breathing.  I turned to Nathan who did not hear the exchange.  “I’m not ready for this.”  It was all I could to to not burst into tears right then and there.

We found out in the car that three girls asked him to dance, which he happily obliged and a group asked him to dance with one of their friends who was too shy to ask.  By that time, the strobe lights and heat had nearly overwhelmed him and he had to sit that one out.  Luckily, they found another cute boy to dance with her.

Now that I am over the shock of having a kid going to a dance, I can look back at last night with joy that I have a smart, handsome kid that was confident enough to go alone to his first dance and is respected enough among his peers to have a gaggle of girls want to dance with him.  There are many moments in my day when the words “Mom fail” come to mind.  Last night was not one of those moments.  I looked over at Nathan as we were driving home, the car quiet with tired children and said, “We did okay.”

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.”  ~William D. Tammeus

Death and Parenting

October 27, 2013

I spent the better part of my teenage years as well as my twenties trying to separate myself from much of my upbringing and am spending my parenting years trying hard to reconnect with it.  It has been since becoming a parent that I have realized the values that were instilled in me and I try to pass much of it on to my children.  Though I am reminded of this regularly, it is in the way we handle chores around the homestead and how we present death that I am perhaps most aware.  Maybe I grew up differently than most or maybe it is just that I am very connected to my Southern roots and look at death through that lens.  I grew up in a small Tennessee town and was born in an even more rural area.  Our neighbors in the area where I was born have names like “Buttermilk” and “Happy” and there is, even today, nothing  but farmland as far as the eye can see.   Folks that grow up on a farm have a different view of the circle of life than those who do not.  And, though my parents moved us away from a life in the country at a young age, they did not leave behind their values and taught us how to celebrate death as well as life.

I guess I am reminded of this as we draw near Halloween, also known as Samhain, as well as All Saints Day.  Not only  that, but the 3rd anniversary of my Mother’s death was last week and each year at this time I am reminded of the day of her passing.  I’m also reminded of how we approach death in our family and in probably many other Southern families as a friend of mine recently lost the family dog after 14 blissful years.  She said the most difficult part was how to explain death to her elementary school age girls.  Like many of the folks in  my life, “she ain’t from around here.”  Sitting with her during a moment of grief reminds me that even in the United States, our cultural values vary and are what brings us together and what distinguishes us as groups.

I can remember going to funerals from a young age, starting with my Grandfather who was “laid out” in the living room in the late 1970′s.  And, like my parents, I took the Sun to his first funeral when he was around the age 3 and we’ve never looked back.  In fact, when we lost our beloved dog two years ago, he put on gloves and boots and assisted Nathan in digging the grave in the backyard before the memorial service.  It is perhaps one of my proudest memories of him and proudest moments as a parent (which I can assure you are usually wanting).

I think I am glad to be reminded of these things and am making a point of truly celebrating the Day of the Dead or All Saints Day.  We will be making preparations to honor on that day all that have gone on before us.  Perhaps you will, too.

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. “ ~John Muir

Camporee

October 26, 2013

Well, after a frantic 30 minutes of packing, my guys are off to the fall Boy Scouts Camporee. I realized yesterday that we are woefully unprepared for the cold that has descended upon Middle Tennessee. I won’t say this is early as many are saying. Those that are saying that are largely “not from around here” and don’t realize that we have this early cold snap every few years. Based on the cool summer temps and the amount of rain that has fallen, I was predicting months ago a rough winter and my prediction was confirmed by the recent release of the Farmer’s Almanac. Even more reason to get us ready. Today as I clean the house and prepare for another week, I’ll be making my winter clothing lists and checking them twice. Judging by the inability to find any matching gloves in the Sun or the Moon’s drawers I am guessing I’ll be stocking up on all new cold weather gear this weekend. As I sit here and stare out the front window on what is surely going to soon be a barren landscape devoid of green or even bright fall colors I wonder if it is too early in the morning to add Bailey’s Irish Cream to my coffee. What do you think?



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“Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.” ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

Line in the Sand

October 16, 2013

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After two week of free falling into a pile of emotional mush I have drawn my own proverbial line in the  sand.  I have had tears and tantrums, anger and frustration, moments of panic as I realized I had forgotten something crucial….well, you get the idea. What’s worse is that I didn’t free fall alone. I did it along with my husband and two kids. A duel income family, return to school, sick elderly parent, kids activities and volunteer work (not to mention a blog), makes for a very crazy family bound to fall – and fall hard.

After a lovely weekend and an extra day off on Monday, I stand here today to say that I am drawing my line in the sand. We are taking back our lives from the crazy modern day world. We will find peaceful moments and instances of harmony each and every day.

Do you have a line in the sand? Do you know what it is? At what point do you stand (or sit) and say, “my family is worth too much, our relationships too valuable, to go on like this.” My point was another weekend with too many commitments and not enough time. Draw your line in the sand today. Go on. I dare you.

Because

The Moon and Zizi
Love this photo. I painted the Moon’s face and then we headed out for Pop’s b’day at our favorite Irish pub!

An Act of Love

June 14, 2014

I love to garden.  Ornatmentals, flowering, vegetable.  It really doesn’t matter.  We had a beautiful yard in our last home  Granted, it was less than a quarter of an acre, so it wasn’t that hard to have a beautiful yard.  But, try as I might, I never could get it quite, well, perfect.  It was never that Southern Living yard I so desperately wanted to have.  Then we moved.  Working, an adoption, the death of a mother, volunteer responsibitlities…yada, yada….we never could put the time into this yard that we put into the other.

Until now.

I’m on the countdown to the end of my work commitment, getting ready to homeschool and doing one of the things I love – gardening.  We quadrupled the size of the yard in this home which means, for me, striving for perfection is akin to insanity. I’ve known this for a long time but it wasn’t really until I was working in my new vegetable garden last week I had the time and the quiet moments to reflect upon this.

If you had wandered into that backyard during that meditative hour, you would have found me squatting among the rows, thinking of my grandfather who was a sharecropper and wondering how much of him lives in me.  I was thinking not only of him but primal nature we all have to dig in the dirt and this movement among all industrialized nations – but especially the U.S. – to create urban homesteads and to reconnect with our food source.  Victory gardens (remember your history) are popping up on postage size backyards, on rooftops in large cities, on unclaimed and abandoned lots and here in my own beautiful and less than perfect backyard.

This summer, we will be transforming this space.  It may never be perfect, unless it is perfectly wild like nature and like my own nature, but it is a source of great joy for our entire family.  Gotta go!  Nature is calling.

Full Moon Rising

I was driving along today in the glory of spring and saw the moon beginning to rise early on the horizon.  It reminded me of the energy I have had the last few days.  There is nothing like a waxing moon to give me a little extra get up and go.  You see, “I was born under the sign of Cancer….” (Love Will Come to You, Indigo Girls).

It is the moon that gives me such energy and I lay in bed last night I told Nathan that I must get all of the seeds into the ground by Thursday as the moon is waxing full.  Unfortunately, those seeds may never grow into the beautiful plants that I was hoping for.  This morning, the Moon looked out the kitchen and began to scream “CROWS, CROWS DADDY!”  They ran outside to chase them away but Nathan fears they have eaten all of my carefully planted green onion, okra, bush bean and sunflower seeds that filled the upper corner of the garden.  He asked me tonight, “How do you think they knew where those seeds were?”  I don’t know.

But what I do know is that we will have a garden.  I may be forced to plant vegetables that have been started in someone else’s garden, but we will have our fill of vegetables on our table each night.  After all, “I’m [a]….old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!”

I will leave you tonight with one of my favorite Indigo Girls songs from the album Rites of Passage. BTW. The Indigo Girls will be playing on Thursday night, May 15 at the Thistle Stop Café in Nashville to support the women of Magdalene House.



How Does Your Garden Grow?

May 10, 2014

I’m going full-force on the urban homestead. It’s on! After several weeks of trying to match schedules with someone who could till our garden, we finally connected with someone and we are turning the sunniest portion of our yard into a space approximately 18×12 feet. It may be larger than that, but that is my best guestimate.

As you can see in this before photo, this is not the first time we have planted in that spot. Last year my mighty men (Nathan and the Sun), hand dug four 3-foot beds which looked alarmingly like graves. We had little time and energy and more lettuce than we could shake a stick out. It’s a little late in the year for us to get started on the new garden, but we are up to the challenge.

Right now I would like to be out there digging and planting, but alas, I am sitting with a child who is suffering from a severe case of gastroenteritis. Luckily for me, Nathan is gung-hoe (get it?) on gardening and is out there right now working in the soil to get it nice and ready for the growing season. Next on the list? Consulting Jerry Baker’s (America’s Master Gardener) tips for our little homestead.

I Am Woodshop

April 17, 2014

I was going to post today about my tribe…or rather lack of one.  But, that post would be all about me and then I saw this and realized we have greater issues in this country than who I connect with.
The story goes something like this….

After picking up the Moon from school and running a few errands, we headed toward gymnastics.  Two things happened along the way.  The first was she fell asleep in the back.  This is great as she still needs a good 12 hours of sleep per 24, so we are happy about a nap.  The second is I looked over at a stop light and saw a sign that read “Mechanic Wanted – Starting at $30 per hour.”  What?  After quickly doing the math I realized this is well over $60,000 per year.  I have many colleagues with multiple degrees, bachelor’s, MBA’s, advanced certifications, etc. who make well under this advertised rate of $30 per hour.

Fast forward.  We arrived at gymnastics a little early and with my little gymnast asleep that gave me time to…..get on Facebook.  Yeah.  I said it.  Stuck in a car, no book (BTW, I’m reading The Book Thief), I had little to do besides check everyone’s status.  It seemed appropriate, maybe even prophetic, that I would see this Mike Rowe (for President, please) post about an Ottawa, IL situation that involved increasing the salary of the school Administrators while eliminating wood shop.

I am quite certain I am simplifying the story (you’ll have to read it yourself).  But, my friends, this is what is wrong with education today.  We have eliminated the creative, real-world, problem solving skills that propelled our country to where we are today (or maybe were 15 years ago) for a “virtual” world that is something out of a futuristic nightmare or Disney movie (think Wall-e).

You might say that those good times are gone and that Mayberry (or Huck Finn), no longer exist.  I say you are wrong and that is room for both the virtual and the real.  This may be a constant theme here on my blog in the future – or at least a persistent one.  But the truth is, I believe in our country.  I believe we can be socially accepting of differences (GLBT) and honor 2nd Ammendment rights.  I believe that kids should be taught wood-working and cooking (both requiring skills) in one class and how to make a Power Point in another (which I can tell you does not take an MBA).

We thought having our kids in a Waldorf school would help us find that balance.  And, for many families it does.  But we have decided to take it one step further and step off the crazy wheel that most of us live on.  Seeing articles such as Mike Rowe’s have allowed us to continue to feel like we made the right decision, but it was The Sun who really put it into perspective.  He said, “Mom, the perfect day would be spending about four hours in the morning working with you on school stuff.  Then, we’ll have lunch.  After that I’ll get my bow and arrow and a good book and head into the woods.”