Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Garden Update

Things are progressing very nicely in the garden. First, though, I apologize for all the sideways shots, but I am sure you will get the idea.

This is the garden "proper". Garlic is up, rhubarb looks fantastic and we are actually getting asparagus!

This is rows of broccoli, peas, cabbage, lettuce and spinach. They probably could have gone in earlier - but that isn't my style ;-) Also not pictured is a bell pepper plant, lavender and rosemary.

The strawberry patch. We are all very excited for it. The bigger plants are from last year and we added more little plants this year. Hopefully, by next year, it will be well established.

Our yellow raspberry bush. This actually produced last year. Next to it is a new one we just planted. It is red because the kids were very suspicious of the yellow ones and didn't want to eat them!

I am determined to get blueberries! I know these little stick swill someday produce.

The cooking herb box. I have done nothing, but the oregano, thyme, sage and chives are determined to do well. I have started the basil inside.
I don't have a picture of the medicinal herb box - it looks the same. I have started inside yarrow, skullcap, bergamot and lovage.

All my tomato starts are doing well, as is the jalapenos. I hope to get those outside this weekend.

I just had to show a picture of our asparagus. It is exciting to finally have some. This is the first batch.
I am feeling pretty good about the garden. I will be a little more relaxed once the tomatoes are in - they are really ready and I don't want to lose them!

Monday, April 27, 2009

And then he was Five

I call him my baby. He immediately declares "I am NOT A BABY!" I reply, "In my heart, you will always be my baby." He is OK with that. On most days, I am OK with that. I want him to grow up and discover life and this crazy world. But, as my youngest, I want time to slow down so I can really savor every moment of this last "baby". For some reason, five seems to signal that babyhood is behind and childhood is ahead. Not that this is bad, but what a wonderful babyhood he has had. Husband and I often joke that L. got the best of all our recessive genes. The four other of us are pretty introverted, don't like to make a scene, fade into the background people. Then there is L. He is just out there. He is exactly what you see. He talks (all the time), full of funny observations. He not only has opinions, but demands that they be heard. He likes to be the center of attention. He is full of energy and ideas and is always on the go. He has curly hair(!). Where did he come from?!?! - from two parents that love him dearly. Happy Birthday, L.!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Problem with Spring

Is that it promises so much, but requires so much patience! I have been re-evaluating our food choices and trying to eat more seasonally and locally. Today I was at the grocery store and admiring all the beautiful produce. So pretty! So yummy looking! I want it!! But... I noticed that the cantaloupe is from Guatemala, the berries from Mexico and the tomatoes from Canada (!). I just couldn't buy them. I compromised and broadened my scope to the U.S., but came away with just apples. Luckily, my garden asparagus has come in and the rhubarb is almost ready, but it is hard to pass up so much beautiful food. Oh, problems of the land of abundance. I realize a great deal of the world would faint just looking at all the out-of-season food. We are spoiled.

I ran a workshop at our Women's retreat discussing Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Her family attempted to eat locally for a year. I found her book really inspiring. Although, the first time I read it, I almost didn't finish it because it seemed to be impossible for "real" people. After the second reading, I began to put my "all or nothing" mantra aside and start thinking of small ways I could do this. I do have a garden and belong to a CSA. I am a pretty good baker and there really is no reason why I can't make our bread. I could stretch my cooking abilities and learn how to best use seasonal veggies. As I alluded to in my previous post, I am trying to put in perspective on how I really want to live my life and actually do it. I want to lower my impact on the earth. I want to protect my family and workers from pesticides. Food is something that is important, even if if means I need to wait a couple of more months for some beautiful tomatoes!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day Song

Following is a song my daughter wrote in honor of Earth Day:

Earth Day is soon
That is very true
This is what you need to do

Get a seed
Plant a garden
Watch the plants bloom

Pick them up and do it again next year...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't Dream it...Be it*

Why is that so hard? I was at our church's women's retreat this past weekend. I attended a workshop led be a woman that I really admire. One of the reason's I admire her is that she is really living an intentional life. And it shows. It shows in how she interacts with others, her body language and the joy she projects. I watched her and thought, I want to be like that! How did she get there? How did she make it happen? She just looks so content and alive with all of life's possibilities. I often feel weighed down by them. I feel like there are so many obstacles to living the life I want. That I don't have the support I need, the time, the money, the opportunities, blah..blah...blah.... I know, pretty whiny. During her presentation, she noted a couple key moments in her life that instigated her need to change. She made the changes (without the support, time, etc.) because she realized the benefits her and her family's life would gain. She did this on her own and it wasn't easy. Her life took a major paradigm shift and she is much happier because of it.

So what is stopping me? (What is stopping you?) I am fortunate to have a great family, health, security (despite the earlier whining). Pretty much everything that lulls you into inaction and makes you think "if only..." If only I had a more land, I could grow most of our food. If only our schedules weren't so busy, I could plan wonderful, healthy meals. If only.....What??! I am the one stopping me. So what if I live in the suburbs, I can still have an amazing garden. So what if we are busy, I could turn off the computer and really plan our meals to work with our schedules. I am my biggest obstacle. I am the one stopping me from living the life I imagined. The presenter (and friend) did it because it was important to her. I need to sit down really think about what is important to me and how I want to get there. It would be wonderful to have a support group, but I can't wait around for it. I can't keep waiting for someone to kick me in the rear and say "get on with it". I just need to "be it".*

*Rocky Horror Picture show

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sinking In

I am suddenly becoming very aware of how busy life is with three kids. When they were all much smaller, I had a great deal of control over their schedules. Now that they are school aged, things are slipping out of my control. I have greater clarity in how hard it is to manage a household where every one seems to be going in different directions. Sure, my husband and I have final say in what the kids are allowed to participate in; but how do you tell one child they can be in baseball, but it would be too much work to also have the other one participate? Why does she get to be in Scouts, but he doesn't? This is on top of all the various school requirements and a husband with a long commute home. Where do you draw the line? We really aren't involved in tons of activities, but when you multiply it by three - things get a little dicey. I don't know how larger families manage, but I am ready to pull up stakes and go hide out in the country!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Dangerous Sport of Sewing*

Many of you may think that sewing is a humble, quiet activity. One where you float from pattern to machine to finished project. Maybe you have an image of a quaint older women quietly quilting by the window. Perhaps, you envision a devoted mother lovingly making flouncy dresses for her beloved daughter. I am here to dispel this myth. Sewing is dangerous, full of potential and real injury. It is not for the weak of heart. I have sliced my hand with a rotary cutter, actually sewed through the side of my finger, countless pin pricks, blistering burns from the iron and more neck aches then I can count**. So, dear friends, sew with abandon, but keep the band aids and aloe nearby.

*A little tongue-in-cheek ;-)
**Just in the last week.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Art of Pledging

Like a lot of money matters, pledging can be somewhat taboo. I don't go around asking my friends whether or not they pledge. I just assume they do what they can. I certainly don't how much they pledge. Honestly, I don't really want to know. It isn't my business. What is my business, though, is keeping the church vital and the doors open.

How do you decide what to pledge? As UUs, there are no specific tithing guidelines. There is no "rule" about what you are expected to pledge. Just mentioning tithing can set a lot of UUs on edge. Some of us grew up with very dedicated pledging families. Others of us really had no idea that people actually gave a certain percentage of their income to the church. I would be in the latter category. While I grew up in a Catholic family, we pretty much just gave in the plate on the rare occasion we went to church. My first experience of true tithing was in an interaction with a coworker. During some downtime, we were talking about paying bills and she casually mentioned that her husband always wrote a check to the church first. They tithed 10% and whatever they had left paid the bills. I was SHOCKED. Seriously? 10%?! Why?!? At that point we were not part of any religious community and I couldn't imagine handing over that much money to a church.

Let's flash forward ten years. Now I get it. Independent churches, like Unitarian Universalist congregations, really do rely on the contributions from every member. There is no larger organization supplementing our budgets. Every cent we use to pay for the lights, mortgage, salaries, heating, coffee, etc. comes from our members. I pledge (although, admittedly, no where near 10%) because I believe in the mission of our church. I really believe that we need to be there and we provide a valuable service to our congregants and the larger community. If I or you don't pledge, there will be no church. Of course, we all can't pledge the same amount. We are all in different points of our lives, but I encourage you to look at your budget, and if you can, really consider how important your congregation is and how you plan on supporting it. Every little bit makes a difference.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Canola Oil

Am I the last person to find out that Canola Oil is: Canada + Oil ? According to Delicious Living Magazine, it is just a play on words. I guess I never really thought about it. I just assumed it was some sort of corn oil. Evidently "Canadians bred canola from the rapeseed plant in the early 1970s..." Who knew? Now you do!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Civic Duty

Yesterday I had jury duty. This is the third time I have been called, so I pretty much knew what to expect. My husband made plans to stay at home with the kids for the expected two to three days of my service. I left with a couple of books. Then, it went all downhill. My name was called along with 39 other people for a civil trial. I should have known by the sheer number of people called that this was a big case. Sure enough, the judge informs us that the lawyers expect the case to take two weeks. That is right, TWO weeks. The judge asks if that would be an extreme hardship for anyone. I should have stood up. But, I am way too naive and thought, well it isn't extreme..., plus, I really doubted I would be called (yes, sometimes I do live in my own world). Well, about 15 other people weren't so naive and were excused right away. Still, it didn't sink in that it would be two weeks. They called in twenty more and then broke for lunch.

This is where the panic started to set in. I called my husband, who immediately sounded the alarm that there was no way he could miss work, and who in the world would watch the kids!?!? I thought, "keep cool, you still probably won't be chosen". But I was getting nervous. After lunch, the serious questioning began. It became very clear how big and complex the case is. As the questions progressed, it also became very obvious that a significant amount of possible jurors would not be ideal actual jurors. Thus, increasing my chances of being chosen.

I started getting more and more nervous about the situation. Sure, I could manage a few days, probably even a week, but TWO weeks? How? I really believe in doing your civic duty. I don't like to shirk my responsibilities. I don't like not rising to the occasion, but I just couldn't figure out a way to make it work.

The lawyers finally finished their questioning and were going to recess to select the jurors. I was pretty confident I would be chosen. I raised my hand and asked to speak to the judge. He was visibly irritated (it was getting pretty late in the day). I insisted that I speak to him. This is a big deal because I don't ever like to make a scene of myself. I would rather do almost anything then have the spotlight on me. He finally let me approach the bench and called the lawyers over. I pleaded my case, almost breaking down in tears. A couple of the lawyers were very annoyed and couldn't understand why I didn't have anyone able to watch my children. Don't I have parents? Well, yes, but they are in Iowa. In-laws? Yes, but they both work full-time. Friends? Yes, but they work or have their own busy lives. Daycare? No, I don't. Finally, the judge took pity and excused me. I left feeling shaken, stressed, and that I had totally done something wrong.

I don't know what the solution is. Obviously, we need jurors. We need a wide variety of people to be on juries. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect system. There are lots of barriers to overcome to be on a jury, not to mention the incredibly low compensation. I don't know how to overhaul the system, but I am increasingly realizing that something needs to be done. I would be interested in hearing any ideas you all might have.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I have been participating in the Oh Fransson - Mod Sampler Quilt-A-Long and I am DONE!!!

I sometimes feel like I must be the slowest quilter in the world and when I am done, I swear I will never do another one ;-). I don't even make complicated quilts - as evidenced above. I have total admiration for all those women and men who have the patience to truly turn out works of art. My hat is off to you!

More pictures at my flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24941279@N03/

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yay Iowa!

I always knew Iowa was a great state. Now I have another reason:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Aspirations of a 4 year old - Revised Edition

1. Master of Disguise
2. Ice Cream Truck Driver
3. Baseball Pitcher
4. Football Player