Thursday, April 29, 2010

Playing doctor

I threw up this morning.* Seconds later Josiah was patting my shoulder, Jonathan was taking my temperature, and Thomas was preparing to give me a shot "to make me feel better".

They sent me straight to bed (I didn't argue!) and Jonathan informed me that he could take care of getting snacks for everyone. As he left the room I heard him explain to Thomas "Now, I'm in control, ok?"

Clearly, everything is in good hands and I can stay in bed.

*No, I'm not pregnant. :) And I don't think I'm actually sick - I think it was a combination of a medication side effect and not enough sleep last night.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I think this counts as exercise, don't you?

This morning I vacuumed the house, including going around and getting the crud out of the edges/baseboards, as well as moving all the chairs, couches, etc. The children were amazingly cooperative - Jonathan and Thomas played together happily in my bedroom (thank you, Legos!) and Josiah followed me around and "helped". It was great! Out of curiosity I calculated my heart rate while leaning, sweaty and panting on the vacuum was 168. I think that counts as double duty - housework AND exercise!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby steps

I grew up in a family that moved out of the city to five acres of land 30 minutes away from town. We raised chickens and milked goats, owned a variety of dogs, a cat, some rabbits, and a horse. We tended some amazing gardens and ate a very healthy, mostly homemade diet. We had a compost pile and recycled, long before it was easy and/or cool to do so.

So it probably isn’t very surprising that I would eventually end up tending toward natural, sustainable, healthy living. (I wish I had better words for that. I hate using buzz words.)

It certainly isn’t an overnight change, although I do think that the past 4 months or so have speeded the process. I’m really focusing on making small changes, baby steps, because trying to change everything all at once just isn’t realistic!

So, what baby steps have we been taking?

Well, one of the first big changes was finding a fantastic CSA, Farm Fresh To You. We get a big box of delicious, fresh organic produce every second week. Nearly all our fruits and vegetables come from this now. I do still buy some extras at the store – usually bananas and spinach. As a direct result of this, we’re eating more (and more varied) vegetables and fruits. Getting CSA boxes regularly forces you into this, and while it can sometimes be a challenge, I think it is a very good one.

(If you’d like to try FFTY, you can use promo code 6164 and my name, which will give me a referral credit and you a $5 discount.)

We’ve been drinking a lot of green smoothies. Yes, Sarah, I’m a convert! We have smoothies about 2-3 times a week, either for breakfast or with lunch, and they always include a healthy dose of spinach. The boys enjoy them (usually) and I’m always amazed at how much more fruit and spinach we can consume in this form than if I’d just served oranges and bananas.

We’re making our own yogurt and eating more of it. The boys LOVE this. They choose homemade yogurt over store-bought sugared yogurt every time, so I’ve stopped buying the flavored kind!

And we’re making more homemade bread. We usually buy Oroweat bread, which is about as healthy as you can get from the store (no HFCS, 100% whole grain) but I love the simplicity of homemade bread. I buy two kinds of organic whole wheat flour from Azure Standard (one is better for pastries and the other better for breads) and it is lovely to know exactly what I’m putting in. I’m also experimenting with soaking our grains before using them, so far with great results! (Baking bread is pretty simple for me because I have a bread machine. My parents gave me one years ago, and when that died I found another for $5 at a thrift store. Bread machines are wonderful things!)

On the sustainability front, I started a recycling program in our condo complex. I’m so ridiculously proud of this. :) We now have an entire dumpster specifically for recycles! I’ve also been worm composting for awhile now. Almost all of our “green” kitchen scraps go outside to feed our thriving worm colony. The children are enjoying this project, I get a completely unreasonable kick out of playing in worm dirt, and I’m happy that we’re not throwing so much stuff in the trash or down the garbage disposal. Plus we end up with lovely dirt to enhance our gardening abilities.

And gardening is going really well. I’ve been gardening since we moved her five years ago (the back yard with space for it was part of the reason I loved this place!) so this isn’t really a new one. The flowers are thriving, and I love being able to bring beauty into our home simply by going outside and cutting a few stems. This year we have the strawberry patch, and I’m also growing tomatoes. I put a lot of worm dirt into the patch before planting them, so I’m really hoping that this year they do well. Fresh tomatoes are so good for you and they taste amazing! I want to grow some spinach, too, if I can figure out how and where. I’m tired of paying $6 for organic spinach, especially since we go through it so fast.

Which brings me back to nutrition, and a goal that I’m baby-stepping my way towards: giving up packaged, processed foods. This is one of the hardest ones, because it means giving up convenience. So I’m doing this gradually, and carefully, always mindful of the fact that sometimes hamburgers at McDonald's, or a frozen meal from the grocery store, is a better choice in order to keep Mommy functioning well! But I do really believe that in general, whole, unprocessed foods are important for health. Will processed foods really harm you? Well, maybe not today, but over a lifetime, I think the evidence is fairly convincing that they will. I also have a personal genetic history that leads me to believe that supposedly "safe" chemicals can, in some individuals, cause disastrous results. So I have a very personal impetus to keep ingested chemicals (found in pretty much anything processed and/or non-organic) to a minimum. I’m also becoming more and more convinced that the nutrition industry (which changes it’s own mind at least every ten years) has no idea what is actually healthful, and it may be prudent to stick with foods that our great grandmothers on farms would have recognized.

A lot of this, I know, sounds “crunchy” and “green” and slightly counter-cultural. That’s ok. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but this is the path that our family is finding most compelling. It is a compelling picture when you take it all together. Spend a lot of time/effort at church, read a lot, incorporate educating our children into the center of our life. Eat well, simply, and carefully. Return what we use to the earth or to someone who can re-use or re-purpose it. Give away as much as we can. Care for our bodies, care for our home, care for our little patch of ground outside. Care for the little souls entrusted to us.

We’re doing our best. With baby steps.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lent, in hindsight

Blogging about an entire 40 days, all at once, is rather difficult. I'm going to give up trying to make it cohesive, and just touch on some things to catch you up.

We decided to home school Jonathan next year. I spent way too much time agonizing over this, and still haven't decided exactly how to home school (although I think we're getting closer to figuring it out).

I discovered that I like writing and I missed blogging. I kept a journal instead, of everything that I wanted to think through or post about.

I realized that Thomas is getting overlooked a bit. I need to find a good way to change that. I'd like to find a time to focus just on him, perhaps to read together and do his own preschool book. He's asked for a math and letters workbook, and I know he's ready - I've been so busy thinking about school for Jonathan that I really let slide the fact that Thomas is ready to start preschool, too. Something to work on.

Jonathan started reading. He's currently working his way through the BOB books, and sounding out words he sees everywhere.

Josiah discovered books! He'll bring me his favorites and plop himself down in my lap, and he wants me to read them over and over and over again. I'm really enjoying that!

We thought about getting pregnant. Had an interesting few days and then I was very grateful to find out that I am NOT.

Something clicked for Jonathan - I can now ask him to clean up his room unsupervised (while I work with Thomas and Josiah in the living room) and he can.

I completed all the coursework for the Childbirth International Doula program. Now I just need to assist two more women during labor, and I'll be a certified doula.

We moved further toward simplified, more intentional living. Did a couple of "purges" and gave away a lot of things. Even the kids joined in with these, which was awesome. They got to bring a bag of stuffed animals to the local life center and give them away personally. Hard, but good - I was very proud of them.

Along the same lines, we're further down the road of real food nutrition and a goal of...I'm not quite sure what to call it...whole living? I'll blog about this more soon.

And staying off the computer? It was good for me. Things that God tells you to do generally are. I'm glad to be back, but I'm going to be using the internet more carefully. It is useful, but it isn't generally restful. It is definitely not what I should turn to when I'm tired, and nothing that I do online is more important than responding to my children. I'm glad that God gave me some space to really figure that out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pinched toes

I was reading a post today by a lovely woman who has recently felt pretty overwhelmed by motherhood. She’s doing some of her thinking out loud on her blog, which has been neat to read. It isn’t typical pretty mommy-blogging – but it is very real, and I’m appreciating her honesty.

Part of her post today really struck me, and I've found myself pondering it. (You'll see what I mean by "real"):

One thing that I've ignored for a very long time (because it didn't fit the expectations) is that I'm not a naturally gifted mother. I really, really wanted to be. But it's more like I'm a hunting dog who has been retro-fitted to be a lap dog.

Which is to say, a Literature professor who has been retro-fitted to be an at-home mom.

I mean, it works. I do a good job. But damn, most days that shoe just don't fit. It goes all wonky.

This really resonates with me. I think that I am naturally an adequate mother, and with a lot of effort I can be quite a good mother. But I know a young woman (our regular babysitter) who God has seriously gifted for motherhood. She LOVES being with children. Her career choice until she has kids of her own is to babysit and nanny. She is, and will be, amazing! And sometimes I look at her and think "if I'm the mom, how come I can't be like her?" But the thing is, I can't - I'm not made that way. I never liked babysitting, and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how to “play pretend”. Although I love my children with everything in me, mothering them is hard work.

Here’s the thing: choral directing is my “shoe”. I am a really good choral director; I love teaching students to sing and working to blend sounds and find just the right emphasis and phrasing. That shoe fits me perfectly. Motherhood pinches my toes.

And that's ok. I don't regret my choice to stay home with the kids, because there are great joys to be found here. Not to mention God's rather specific instructions! But I find it a little freeing to admit that this isn't just the right shoe.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'm so glad that my mother taught me to garden. I'm quite sure that my 12 year old self moaned and complained about weeding and watering, but it is a skill that has become a joy. I love playing in the dirt, especially when there are worms in it, and when the results are so beautiful.

My worm compost bin is such fun. I get a kick out of dumping all our green waste in it and watching it turn into the most lovely dirt you can imagine! I'm getting better at the process with experience and by reading other gardeners' ideas. Did you know that there is a whole world of gardening bloggers? You can learn a lot from them.

Today was another skirmish in the epic battle against the crabgrass. It has been trying to take over my strawberry patch for the entire five years that we've been living here. Victory has gone back and forth between us. Two summers ago, when I was very great with child, it won entirely. Last summer revenge was sweet - I dug up the entire patch, saving the best strawberries to replant. Still, even with a fresh start and lots of newspaper mulch, that crabgrass refuses to die. It came up around the edges, poked through weak spots, and twined itself through the berry plants themselves. When I took up the paper today, I found whole colonies of yellow/white crabgrass, growing underneath. Agh!!

So, today I pulled up everything I could find, and then laid burlap cloth across the entire patch. I cut small holes in it and gently eased the strawberry plants through. It came out looking rather nice, don't you think?

After taking the photo, I added as much worm compost as I had around the plants on top of the burlap. I'll continue to add that as I make it. Watered well, added coffee grounds and little dishes of beer (the organic gardening method of killing slugs!) and hopefully my strawberries will be all set to produce beautifully this summer!

Monday, April 12, 2010

$3 Huggies diaper coupon

There is a new $3 coupon available for Huggies diapers (any type) available. Those who have kids in diapers will definitely want to print this one! It expires on 4/26, so you'll have a couple of weeks to use it. I'd advise printing right away, because these usually don't last long. Hope this helps someone!


Jonathan is becoming quite the little singer! I love hearing his voice, and as a voice teacher I'm especially pleased that it is (mostly) in tune. :)

Little friendships

I am really enjoying watching my boys develop friendships. Both Jonathan and Thomas have sweet, generous hearts that are especially visible in their care for their friends. Some recent examples:

When Jonathan came home after the church Easter egg hunt, he carefully set aside little piles of candy or toys for each one of the neighborhood children, as well as for some of his other friends. This was not by my prompting - he simply thought it would make them happy.

Some days ago Thomas was praying before bedtime. His prayer went "Thank you for Brigid and Sam, my best two friends."

Next weekend we're going to a birthday party for another little boy, and Jonathan's eyes simply lit up when I told him that he could pick the present. "Oh, I know that he likes Star Wars, and Dark Bader, so we should get him one of those and he'll like it so much!!!!"

Last week we were going to the park, and Thomas practically jumped up and down, so excited that he got to play with "My Sam!"

And finally one of the sweetest (and funniest) conversations:

Jonathan: When I'm a grownup, I'm going to walk up to Brigid and say, "you're going to marry me, Brigid". And then we'll be married.

Me: Well, Jonathan, you'll have to ask her first, and then she'll have to say yes if she wants to.

Jonathan: Well, I know she will because I love her and she loves me so much.

I know that as they grow, their relationships will become far more complex. Right now I'm enjoying the simplicity and the sweetness.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

So much for dusting...

Josiah just "dusted" the toilet with my feather duster.

I didn't want to dust today, anyway. :)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Anyone know where to get raw milk?

I'm looking for a reasonably priced source of raw milk. I'm entirely priced out of the brands available at Mother's Market, ($12/gallon!!!) so I think what I'm really looking for is someone with a cow. :) Does anyone know a sister of a friend of an aunt of a cousin who might be able to point me in the right direction? So far the best I've been able to find is raw goat's milk at Heavenly Acres, but I drank enough goats milk as a child to last the rest of my life (and then some). :) I'd love suggestions!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I have never seen anything like this.

This man can play the entire overture to The Barber of Seville - on his hands. I watched the entire 8 minutes and as best I can tell, he's really doing it. The movements of his hands seem consistent, and he seems to hold a reasonable embouchure for a wind instrument... It's wild.

Thanks to Faith for teaching her young men opera, and finding this gem!

He is Risen!