Thursday, January 29, 2009

Disney Primer

I am sure everyone noticed my absence this past week ;-)! Thanks to the generosity of my father, my family and my sister's family all went to Disneyworld. I have to admit that, at first, I was very reluctant to go. I am not a huge Disney fan and my children are not really that into Disney. But, who can turn down an offer for a vacation in January? Not me! And, in fact, we had a wonderful time. Since we aren't Disney fanatics, it was really like we had just gone to fun theme parks. Yes, Disney marketing is crazy and almost every ride ends at a gift shop, but the rides were really fun and age appropriate. Our children saved their money for souvenirs and we were not plagued with the "I wants". (As the kids realized - it is much harder so spend your own long-saved money). We had a great time and I am glad we had the opportunity to go. We did pick-up a lot of tips, though. So if any of you are thinking about going, here are some of our thoughts:

1. Go on the off season. While there were some lines - we had no problem riding every ride we wanted. Many twice.

2. Take advantage of the Fastpass. Such a time saver. Research ahead of time what rides offer this.

3. Everything takes longer then you think it will.

4. If you can swing it, try to do the meal plan. Food costs add up fast.

5. Just because you stay at a value resort (where we stayed)- doesn't mean you can't visit and eat at the other resorts. I highly recommend visiting the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

6. If you are a vegetarian - be prepared for a lot of pasta. Sadly, they are severely lacking in variety.

7. Children's food is less then stellar. Stock up on veggies when they are available.

8. I would recommend waiting to go until your child is at least four, if not older. There were so many little kids overwhelmed by the experience. Disney is expensive - why waste the money if your kid isn't old enough to really enjoy it?

9. If your child loves Disney characters and wants their picture and autograph the best place is a "character" meal or at the Epcot Character Spot.

10. Many restaurants take reservations, but they fill up fast. If there is place you are dying to eat at, make the reservation before you go - otherwise you will end up eating there at odd times.

11. People are very testy about saving spots for the Magic Kingdom parade. Claim your spot at least an hour ahead of time and then DON'T MOVE.

12. Take advantage of early park openings. It really is better to get there early (even when your body is so tired from walking and walking and walking and you just want to stay in bed).

13. We were there for five full days and still didn't make it to any of the water parks or sports center.

14. Plan out ahead what rides you want to try. Otherwise you wander around aimlessly and end up seeing only a couple of things. We learned this rule very fast.

15. You must ride Soarin and sit in the front row. This is not an option!

I am sure I will think of more to add, but these are the top ideas. If anyone has any questions about the experience, send me an email! I now need to return to my massive amount of laundry.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

A day to forever remember.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration Party Ideas

Just because I am not heading to D.C. for the big event, doesn't mean I can't celebrate at home! Check out the following link for some great, low-key inauguration party ideas for children and grown-ups:

Crafty Crow:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Aspirations of a 4 year old...

1. Ice Cream Truck driver
2. Baseball pitcher (as he notes, he is great at this)
3. Football player

Hard to argue with these ;-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

We need to Shout!

Every Sunday I greet visitors at our congregation. As Membership Coordinator, one of my main tasks is to reach out and engage visitors in conversation. I am here to help! Lately, though, I have been really putting my MSW degree to use. I am not sure if it has to do with the season, but I have had a lot more people with tears. Mostly they are tears of relief. Relief to have found a place that they can be exactly who they are and be not only accepted, but loved. Tears in finding a supportive community. It has made me realize how powerful an open and welcoming religion can be; how important it is that we make sure that Unitarian Universalism remains a vital and engaging religion. We are needed. We need to make sure that we are part of the religious landscape. So many people are suffering and looking for a home. I am proud to be part of a religion that offers this. I think that is why I work so hard to make sure that people know we are here and that they are welcome. I encourage all of you to be loud and proud about Unitarian Universalism. Please don't be shy in talking about our faith. It is needed and the person you are speaking to might be desperate to find us.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Special Day

The stars must be in alignment. Today is two of my favorite peoples birthday.

Happy 90th Grandma!
Happy 40th J.!

I hope both their days are as special as they are to me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

All About Me!

One Joy, One Sorrow has developed a new email/blog quiz. I really liked the questions, as they are a lot more thought provoking then other meme. Following are my answers!

1. What was the last thought you remember having before you read this question?
* That I need to figure out how our church's Facebook page should run.

2. What do you consider your three greatest strengths?
* I have great follow-through, determined, and optimistic.

3. How do you know when you're happy?
* When I am not obsessing about something and my mind is at ease.

4. How do you measure and define success?
* I measure it through how happy my family and I are.

5. When was the last time you did something that surprised you?
* When I actually flew on an airplane (I have a horrible fear of flying) without my children and was gone for four days - all by myself!

6. Fight, flight or freeze?
* Freeze - I am the last person you want in an emergency!

7. Who or what makes you feel safe?
* My dad.

8. How do you know when to quit? (How about when not to?)
* When I can't stop thinking about an issue and my anxiety becomes uncontrollable. I will continue as long as I can mange it and there is a definite end point.

9. What motivates you?
* The need for change.

10. What do you want your epitaph to say?
* Knock, Knock - Who's there? - Pizza. - Pizza who? - PIZZA PIZZA

11. How would you describe your experience in school?
* Average

12. What's the one toy you remember most fondly from your childhood?
* I didn't have many toys. I mostly remember all the great books.

13. What changed between yesterday and today?
* The weather.

14. If you could have any food or drink you wanted at this exact moment, what would it be?
* Watermelon and rhubarb bars

15. What's your favorite thing about yourself?
* I can usually very easily see both sides of an argument.

16. How do you know when you're in love?
* Can you really define it?

17. What is the greatest sacrifice you've ever made? (Was it worth it?)
* Still living in S.L. Some days yes, some no.

18. How do you de-stress?
* Sewing, long walks

19. Who or what is the most important thing in your life right now?
* My family, nothing else comes close.

20. Name one thing you intend to do tomorrow.
* Take a wonderful friend to lunch!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spelt and Hemp, Hemp and Spelt!

In my quest for better health and food for my family, I have been experimenting with different flours, grains, and milk alternatives. Periodically, I will let you know how the experiments turned out!

First, Hemp milk. I don't drink milk and try to avoid most dairy products. In my early days of vegan cooking I would use Soy milk. Personally, I really don't care for it and the bad after taste it leaves. I then started using Rice milk (which I will continue to use over cereals), but it is very thin and only bakes OK. Luckily, the choices in easily available alternative "milks" has really skyrocketed in the last year. While I enjoy nuts, I try not to go crazy overboard on them (i.e. Almond milk) and would really like to expand my diet. Thus, Hemp milk seems like a great alternative. It is thicker like soy milk and packed with vitamins, protein and healthy essential fatty acids. So far I have made scones and biscuits with it. Both of them turned out very well with no residual after taste. These recipes, though, were written to be vegan and I used the Hemp milk to substitute soy milk - not cow's milk. The color, though, is brown and a little off putting if you are expecting pure "white" milk. Another down side is that it is STILL illegal to grow hemp in the United States. Therefore, it can not be produced locally. Mine is Canadian, purchased at Whole Foods. I will continue to use it as a substitute for soy milk.

I have also been incorporating Spelt into my baking. It is a whole grain with a higher protein value than wheat and is more easily digested. It also has a lot of great B vitamins and fiber. I have been using it in recipes that call for whole wheat. I like its nuttier taste, but it doesn't rise as much as wheat. I made some biscuits with it and they did not get nearly as puffy, but the kids really liked them. I did, too. I also used them for the scones and it was only OK. I am not sure if they have a pastry flour variety of Spelt like they do for whole wheat, but I would imagine that would be a lot better in sweeter foods. I will continue to use it for bread, rolls, and biscuits; but I am not sure about scones, cakes and brownies. I will need to experiment a little bit more with those.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Membership Moment

Since I posted my January article, I thought I would also post some of my past articles. The following is December:

Membership Moment

Are you fully a member at F.? I don’t mean if you have signed the Membership Book, but whether or not you are fully engaged in our church community. While signing the Membership Book is the first step to membership, becoming actively engaged is what fulfills membership in our congregation. Maybe you come every Sunday and you feel that meets your needs. But is that membership? Perhaps to you it is. I would offer another opinion, though. Membership is taking ownership and responsibility for a place you believe is important. It is stretching out of the passive stage of involvement and becoming part of the climate. Our community is only as strong as the commitment of its members. You might say to yourself that you just don’t have time to give more. I would say that any place worth belonging, is worth taking the time for. The old adage of “the more you give, the more get” could not be more true. I have found through my own efforts in various groups and committees, the spiritual growth and support I have received has for outweighed the hours that I have given to F. To fully experience a spiritual community, you need to become part of its Spirit.

If you want to become more involved in the life of F., but are not sure where to begin, please email me or give me a call. Every person has something to offer, and F. has a lot to offer you.

Volunteer Membership Coordinator

Just Because

someone has auburn hair, bangs and glasses, does not mean they look like Sarah Palin! I was actually stopped and filmed in Iowa!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Homeward Bound

I have a wonderful Italian friend. We have been close friends for over fourteen years, thus he feels no problems in telling me when I am being "very American". He would have called me that a few days ago. On Wed. we headed up to Iowa to visit some family for the new year. Every time we leave the city and head into the country, I feel like I am slowly relaxing. I love seeing wide open land. I feel like I can breathe. That there is space. This is what my friend would call very American and not at all understand. He doesn't know what he is missing. How can you explain it? I also know not every American enjoys being in empty space (notably my husband), but I do. I love the quiet, the peace, the non-busyness. I like being with people, but I love going home to a place that is still from humans, but alive with nature. I hope to have this one day.