Monday, March 30, 2009

Thinking of You

This morning I feel called to take this blog beyond our immediate world of cozy home and daily concerns, real and valid, but manageable.

A story, one of too many, caught my eye this weekend. A mother of five told by soldiers to flee her home now, as an invading army was advancing to evacuate the area of its citizens. In her panic, she raced through the streets, with her five children, in the wrong direction and more soldiers opened fire at them. She was wounded and her two year old baby daughter killed. A daughter who, as a mother, I could feel, she loved more than life itself. A tiny, sweet little person she bathed and cuddled and giggled with. A little girl she held close when the bombs were echoing at night, reassuring her that no harm would come to her while mama was around to protect her.

It doesn't matter much what country this was in or which side it was that shot at this family. What matters is that it is true and that it is happening every single day all over the world. What matters is that we become aware of the impact of warfare and strive to make the world a more peaceful and loving place. We can come together to help those victims trying to piece their lives back together again.

Peace to you, my sisters far away, my sympathy for your loss and pain. I will do my best today to create peace, beginning with myself, my own home and my own children. I invite my readers to take up the challenge to do the same.

How about a read-along? We will be beginning Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea" next week. This is the story of how one man dreamed, schemed, saved and worked his tail off to build schools for girls where none existed, deep in the mountains in Pakistan. Join me, if you'd like, in a read-along, with your children or alone. It is a book to open minds to the good one person can do in the world. And I just read that Greg has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace. A fitting example for those wishing to make the world a better place.

P.S. I have just been told that there are two versions of this book; one for the younger crowd, called "Three Cups of Tea, Changing the World One Child at a Time," and the original version. I plan on reading the original version to mine starting a week from today, but if you have primarily young children, or want a shorter read, the other one might be a nice option. Widely available at libraries all over the U.S.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Late Readers

So, the question begs, if they are not reading in "school" what are they doing? Nothing important, to an adult. The children's days are filled with things like playing outside in all kinds of weather (NOTHING can discourage them from going outside.) They paint whenever they want, it has become an activity that can happen every day, rather than the big production I used to believe it had to be. They become knights and dogs and Eskimos. They form skating clubs, spy clubs or build forts in the basement. They jump rope, make candles, knit, memorize poems, chop potatoes, bake bread, play the recorder. I read to them, a lot. Sometimes we read for hours, some days it may only be an hour, but there is always a story to encourage their imagination, broaden their horizons and entertain them enough that they develop their own, unforced, love of reading.

We do have a rhythm (or schedule, if you prefer) to our day. They know what to expect in the morning, they know lunch will be served around noon, followed by rest and play time in the afternoon, and dinner in the evening. This makes it easier on everyone, and there is much flexibility within the rhythm.

This week we are on "spring vacation," and it is a lovely week to have chosen! It was in the 70's here yesterday, so we spent most of the day outside. I prepared my square-foot garden beds and planted peas. The little ones alternately came to help dig and left to play with the older ones in the far end of the yard, out of ear-shot of mama. Rhythm extends to yearly rituals that follow the seasons; spring is equated with planting and observing the new growth beginning, mud and all its joys, (reading sort of pales when side by side with mud) and the mud giving way to grass again (can't come soon enough!)

Happy Spring to you and yours!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gardening, Sailing and Sugar

Garden dreaming, anyone? It's March, and in our house we have been dreaming of this year's garden since January. The unfair part is that last week, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, we still were unable to plant anything as the ground was still frozen hard. Life in the Midwest does teach patience and perseverance. (I try to remember this when they are all complaining about missing the ocean and I am trying not to agree with them.) My daughter has been cultivating seedlings in her sunny bedroom since Christmas, when they each were given a baby Christmas tree in a pot. She began tomatoes, herbs and sunflowers shortly after that. They are doing very well, almost as nicely as mine which I started three days ago and are still in the dirt stage.

We did not make the cut for the island reef job. After a little disappointment, we were able to move on to our next project(s); camping and taking sailing lessons this summer and making the best square foot garden ever. We are wondering whether to add to our raised bed dirt that has sunk over the last three years, or dig up the weed cloth underneath and allow the roots to go deeper. Any advice from those who have tried the raised bed/weedcloth below option? It has been lovely having no weeds for the past few years, but nothing is thriving like it did before. I wonder if there is enough depth for proper root structure. Then again, my tomato plants did almost nothing last year either, and they were in the ground.

To help while away the time until I can dig and plant, I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" a must-read I kept forgetting to read, but will now harp upon until everyone I know has read it. There are so many pages I could quote from it that I can hardly choose, but it is the book of the moment, meeting the needs of our food-impoverished society as things stand now in the U.S. Go find it at the library, buy it, borrow it, read it, your life will be richer, the world will be a better place.

Along with food-consciousness has come sugar awareness, back again from the drawer I had stuffed its ugly self into. It really was time to bring it back out. Girl Scout cookie week notwithstanding, (rather hypocritical of me, since we've eaten all of the thin mints), this stuff is bad for me. I had three excellent reminders of just how bad over the weekend. This is reminder number four, so if three times is a charm, four will be a promise not to forget. The stuff makes me itch, swells my joints and makes me a grumpier person. "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" was one of my reminders, another was a friend who admitted that she used to yell, but she has not done so for a year now. When I asked her what her secret was, she answered, to my amazement; "no more sugar." Since that came less than half an hour after my research on my own health condition revealed I should cut out all refined sugar (something I already know), it had the impact of an oracle. Gosh am I glad the thin mints are gone!