Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lots Happening

April is shaping up to be a crazy month. A lot of the crazy has to do with Girl Scouts. Not because they are crazy, but we have a ton of activities planned this month. I am totally excited about them, but am getting a little stressed as to whether or not we can get it all done before the school year ends. On top of this, my Junior troop is taking its first camping trip at the end of the month. Will it be fun - yes. Am I paranoid it will go relatively smoothly - yes! The last time I camped was TEN years ago. I have never camped at any of the GS sites and there are so many rules that I am sure I will forget some of them. Or worse, it will rain the whole weekend. I do have a saving grace in that we will be going with the Brownie troop and their leaders have done a lot of camping. So really, I just need to relax about it, right? I am also feeling a little pressure that I need to get the girls up to speed ASAP on camping skills. We are going to practice knot tying and fire building this week. We also need to discuss camping basics and food menus. So much to get ready for. This is on top of another project we have been working on all year, that is also coming to a head. Come end of May, life will be a lot quieter!

If you have a GS troop - are you planning on meeting during the summer? The girls and I have been tossing this around. We are in the middle of some fun badges and it would be cool to have a more relaxed pace to complete them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth Hour

Last night we celebrated Earth Hour at our house. Along with millions of people around the globe, we turned off all our electricity at 8.30pm. Earth Hour is a program sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to increase awareness of global climate change and how it impacts people and animals. We spent the afternoon doing various children's activities the site provided and discussing ways that we, as a family, could decrease our carbon footprint. It was a really fun way to get inspired to turn off those lights! That night, Husband built a fire in the fireplace and we all snuggled up in blankets and listened to stories read out-loud. Honestly, if felt a little bit like Little House on the Prairie. The kids loved it and now we plan to do this every fourth Saturday. It was such an awesome way to have family time and do some quiet activism. Today, we looked at pictures around to world of all the national landmarks that "turned-off the lights". It was cool for the kids to see the pyramids, Eiffel Tower, and Big Ben go dark. I was amazed that so many countries participated. I hadn't realized how big this hour had gotten. Locally, Busch Stadium, the Arch, Soldier Memorial, and City Hall all went dark. It was a really powerful feeling to us and the kids to realize we were connected to something much bigger.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Marriage

Today is my wedding anniversary. Fourteen years ago today, in a beautiful Catholic church in northern Iowa, we got married. Was the wedding perfect? Not by a long shot. It was damp and cold, the flowers were wrong, and the store forgot to finish my dress! I called my mom in a panic to bring a needle and thread to the church. Did any of that matter. Nope. Everybody that I loved was there. I was happy and knew I was embarking on an adventure with somebody I greatly loved and who was my best friend. I am still lucky to feel that way.

I look back at that day and wonder how my twenty-two year old self so easily took the plunge. When I was a teenager, I wasn't sure I would ever get married and if I did, surely it wouldn't be until I was 30! Instead, I meet Husband and, after eight months we are engaged. Eight months later, we are married. Fourteen years later, we are still married. It is crazy.

I look at the phenomenon of starter marriages. How it has become so common, that there really isn't any sort of stigma attached. I find this really sad. I am not talking about first marriages who end due to abuse, violence, and addiction. I am talking about the ones that just didn't work for no real reason. I am not advocating that anyone should spend their life in a relationship that is making them miserable, but am advocating for slowing down and really thinking it through before you even get married.

I have mentioned before that Husband and I had to take the Catholic marriage classes before we got married. Even though we were grumpy about having to take them, I really feel that they are a great preparation (at least ours was) for life after the excitement of the wedding. We had to look at topics such as finances, goals, values, and children. It was a way to initiate these discussions in a friendly atmosphere. I noticed many couples hadn't thought to talk about whether they would have separate or joint bank accounts or really even talked about how many (if any) children they wanted. These practical ideas get lost in the whirlwind of new love. I firmly believe in setting a strong foundation in which to build a house.

Were these classes the reason we have made it fourteen years? Who knows, but being able to communicate the good, bad, and ugly is important. It hasn't always been easy. Compromises have been made, dreams not followed, accepting each others different ideas have been swallowed. But, has it been worth it? Definitely.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sermonizing

I am so excited! Today I was asked to preach at one of the summer services at our new church. As many of you know, most UU summer services are lay lead. So, theoretically, it is not hard to get a summer preaching gig, but THEY ASKED ME! Out of the blue! I didn't have to ask if I could! Maybe they ask all the new people, but I guess I was a little flattered that they even thought to ask. We have been attending less then a year, so I was caught off guard when they approached me. Of course I said yes ;-) Now, what to talk about.... Long-time readers will know that I have a lot of mixed feelings about summer lay-led services, so it is important to me to make the service interesting, dynamic and meaningful. I hope I can do it!

Speaking of our new church, I have to mention how pleased I am with the transition. It wasn't an easy decision to change congregations. There are so many aspects I loved about our old church. Especially all the wonderful friends we had made there. I really miss seeing them on Sundays. We devoted nine years to that congregation and definitely feel a void without it. The new church did take some getting used to. All of sudden, we were the new people. Fortunately, (b/c the UU world is small) I knew a few people, but not as well as our old friends. Our kids missed the former congregation and its bigger RE department and children's library. They kept wanting to go back. It is hard to explain why you have to leave a place to your child, especially when they were doing well there.

We persisted, though. I found that I really like the smaller feel of the new church. It is homier. The minister is someone who challenges and inspires. He really cares about the congregation. The members are so welcoming, that we didn't feel like strangers for long. The youngest loves his new Sunday school class (more on this later). The older two are adjusting to the multi-age classes, and aren't complaining nearly as much. Husband and I have decided to jump in and get involved. I am teaching the 3-5 y/o class and will be the chair of the Religious Education Committee next year. Husband has become involved in the social justice outreach by tutoring homeless children twice a month and helping in our food ministry. We are connecting and I am feeling myself opening up to UU again. So much so, that we officially joined the new church today. I guess I am the eternal optimist.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In with the Lincolns

Your eyes are not deceiving you! That is us with the Lincolns. Who knew time travel was already possible?! Or maybe it is just very realistic wax copies.....

This past week was the kids Spring Break, so we took a day trip, via the train, up to Springfield, IL to see the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Home*. I would highly recommend a visit. We started off at his home. It was really cool to stand where he stood - where his family lived. They have done a wonderful job restoring the house and some of the surrounding houses. Admittedly, though, I was most interested in Mary's kitchen and sewing nook.

After lunch we headed to the formal museum. It is much bigger then it first appears. The above picture of us with the Lincoln's is in the central atrium. From there, it branches out into different aspects/topics of Lincoln's life; boyhood, politics, slavery, civil war, White House. There are a couple of well done movies and a great political ad campaign overview by the late Tim Russert. This is in addition to the well-done displays and artifacts. We even got to see one of the three surviving Lincoln hats! The kids loved Mary's Attic. It was full of historical toys and costumes for the kids to play with.

One of the more meaningful parts to me was seeing a relative highlighted in the Civil War display. Orion Howe was one of the youngest (12 y/o) Union soldiers in the war. They had a reproduction of his uniform and a little blurb talking about his fate. He was a drummer boy, who was wounded, re-enlisted at 14 and was awarded the Medal of Honor. He then went into the Navy, fought several battles overseas, returned home and became a dentist. He lived to be 81. It was fascinating and I got a little teary thinking about all this child went through.

The museum did a good job of relating how horrible the Civil War was and how unpopular Lincoln's policies were. I came away with a lot of sympathy for Lincoln and his family. Not only did they have numerous personal tragedies, but the toll of being president and keeping a country together was enormous.


*The Lincoln Home is a federal site so the kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Upcycling

How do you know how unhip you are? Go to an indie craft fair! Wow, I have gotten old, or...maybe hipsters are just getting younger. That must be it.

Daughter and I spent a fun afternoon at the Indie Craft Revolution. It was fun to see so many local artists and the wide variety of goods they had created. I was totally impressed with all the upcycled crafts - I hope this trend continues. I loved watching my crafty Daughter's face as she realized all the cool things she could make. I could see the inspiration churning in her head. I have a suspicion we will by having a very hands-on Spring Break.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Using Up and Big Dreams

Lettuce and Spinach

Now that Winter is winding down, I find that my freezer and pantry are in need of a cleaning out. All that food that I 'put away' needs to be eaten to make room for the new seasons goodies. It won't be long until the strawberries come in and I need those jars for jam-making! I always worry that I haven't canned/frozen/dried enough, but by the end of winter I find that I really did. I hope you all have the same experience!

Now, though, it is time to start making plans for this year! As always, I will dream large and hope about half of it works out. I am still inspired by Carleen Madigan's book "The Backyard Homestead." She has so many great ideas on maximizing space. Now if I could just convince Husband to give up more of the lawn, our suburban yard could become a farm! I plan to spend this next week figuring out how to put it all together. I know I want a bigger herb garden, more berries, try to grow some wheat, maybe squash, plus enlarge the main garden, and add some fruit trees. Once I have a better idea, I will post everything we plan on planting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring

In light of today's beautiful weather and promise of Spring:

"I saw an act of faith today.
A man was on his knees, not in a pew in a church,
but in the garden, planting seeds."

-Author Unknown

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Overheard at the Fabric Store

"I really like that one. The Satan hat and sleeves are a lot pointier."

Evidently, it is important that Satan appear pointy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Consequences

What are the consequences of standing up for your truth?
Cold-shoulders
Lost friendships
Anger
Fear
Bitterness
Resentment
Fractured community
Names
Loss
***
Freedom
Honesty
Integrity
New Beginnings
Strengthened friendships
Found community
Respect
Happiness
New perspective