Sunday, June 29, 2008

Book review part 1

Last Child in the Woods: (Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder)

I wanted to read this book because I hoped it would challenge my mindset about the dangers of being outside. I thought of all the reasons I don’t want my kid(s) to go off and play outside. The book cites reasons like video games and TV, but since Moses is younger, I had a few others. For instance, sunburn or frostbite, strangers, traffic, injuries, neighbor dogs, mosquitoes, etc. I guess the book did that and more! It also brought up some other things I had begun to worry about lately…

In a chapter titled “The Best of Intentions”, the author Richard Louv points out that natural, free play is not valued in our culture. Parents are always scheduling their kids in soccer, gymnastics, Scouts, piano lessons and so on. Some things require a fair amount of travel time getting to games, concerts, and activities too. Add homework and chores into the mix and there just isn’t time for free play! The elementary students Louv interviewed didn’t consider soccer or piano ‘play’ even though many parents do. It’s been my experience that life only gets busier the older you get, so it was pretty sad to read what these kids were saying. If you’re a parent and your kid is all these activities, please remember to let them loose outside for natural play! I hope to do that for my kid(s), too. The chapter continues talking about teenagers and the pressure they feel when it comes to time management. Many students at this age are in college prep classes, working a job, volunteering and playing sports. They don’t think they can tell their parents or anyone when they are overwhelmed and struggling with managing time on their own. Maybe by letting students of all ages control some of their own time, we can help them learn self-discipline. Beyond that, if we offer them a chance for natural free play, maybe we can foster creativity and a sense of wonder about the world around us.

Overall, Louv recommends a nature-child reunion. He doesn’t label this an easy task, of course. The book talks about how great strides have been taken to set aside land in our state parks. That’s certainly nice to see, but many forested areas and waterways are protected and hunting and fishing practices are heavily regulated. I thought about this a lot while we were camping this week. We’re in this beautiful park, but I just couldn’t let Moses go exploring. We had to stay on the marked path. He couldn’t drag around a bunch of logs and sticks to build a fort or tree house. He couldn’t pick flowers and plants to take back to our camper and identify. He couldn’t go crashing off into the woods to chase a deer. It was like we were in an outdoor museum of sorts, look and don’t touch. Here is nature, now get back and watch from a distance. This disconnect worries Louv and it worries me too. Moses loves playing in the dirt, looking for animals and exploring, so I am glad he is able to do this at home. Louv wishes for more areas that are set aside for the free play of children. Nature preserves for adults, natural play areas for kids. Wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds?

I tried to remember if I had any of these natural free play experiences the author was talking about…I only came up w/2 things, both of which fall under the broad umbrella of camping. The first was swimming in lakes around the state. I remember seeing fish and plants, snails and frogs. I remember touching stuff and watching the way it responded to whatever we did to it. The only other thing I remember was digging a hole in the bike path behind our tents. We tried to dig this huge hole and cover it w/sticks or grass like they do in the movies to catch wild animals. I guess the bike path was not the best place to do that. Of course we got yelled at and our intentions were assumed to be malicious toward the bicyclists. Anyway, there were probably other nature experiences in my life, but I just remember these easily. If you asked my parents about my time spent outside as a kid, they would laugh! I used to read so much and I never wanted to go out. They’d come home and tell me to get out of the house and enjoy the day. I’d slink out and sit on the garage step, still technically inside, but just out of the house. There was enough light from the open door to read, but also enough protection from the sun, wind and annoying brother and friends. I hope I have been choosing differently these days. (No I haven’t given up reading, I’m just trying to find a balance!) Now that the weather is nice, I’ve been making an effort to spend a lot of the mornings outside w/Moses. We bike, play in the back yard and go up and down the block. Sometimes we meet friends at a park and go walking after school and on weekends at a nature preserve w/Dave. What do you do to re-connect w/nature? Even if you don’t have kids you can answer that one…Is it hard for you to find time? Do you have a favorite place to go? Do you have a favorite memory of natural play?

If you like to sew...

(Mills! I'm talking to you!) This website is for everyone who likes to sew. I literally spent over an hour cruising around. Go check out My Half of the Brain. I found some cool T-shirt and pillowcase projects that look pretty easy. No I am not an experienced sewer (is that a word?) but I am inspired by people who are. I always dream of making something, anything (!) that would be useful. Stay tuned. If we get the house cleaned up this week, I might head up there over the holiday weekend...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Right Now

"Dear Jesus, I just pray for elephants and balls and the Packers and animals. And for the elephants and footballs." Sniff, sniff...I love my kid.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Would you eat them, Sam I am?

Black bean brownies. No flour. Just beans. I heard they were good and maybe I will try them! So would you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I was trying to think of a short post to give an update and all I could think of was the fact that I ate raw asparagus. Am I the only one who hasn't tried this? So I'm at the farmers' market and Dave lights up at the sight of asparagus. Believe me, when this guy lights up over a green vegetable, you buy some. Since we had the 'other' kids w/us, I hesitated slightly b/c I didn't think they'd eat it and all that. The farmer tells me, "He eats it raw!" and gestures to some other farmer in the truck, who then emerges and hands me a bit he snips off the end of one. I freeze, not really wanting to try it, not wanting to insult him. Really? Raw? Aren't they woody? Tough? I take it anyway and it's sooo good, like raw peas fresh from the shell. YUM. I buy a pound and immediately take out a stalk to test this. Could this one be as good as that bit? YES. The farmer told us that he has 'male' stems, which are thicker around. He says the 'female' ones are skinny and don't taste as good. Got it. I'll remember that. So if you are a farmer or asparagus patch owner and you hear me asking for raw male asparagus, don't look at me funny. I think I have already eaten almost 2/3s of the pound raw. Dave hasn't had much yet. Ok, gtg - the kids are all yelling. It makes me want some raw male asparagus....

Saturday, June 21, 2008

...And we're back!

Sorry I've been AWOL. We were on a camping vacation! Good stuff. I have lots to talk a teaser - upcoming posts include a book review, my adventure into raw food, movie reviews (long overdue!!) and all the stuff that's been going on at our house. We're a little swamped this week b/c we are babysitting 2 of our friends' kids for a week (that's a whole 'nuther post! - We all walked to the grocery store!) and Monday is my first day teaching summer school. Phew! Do you know how much 3 kids under 3 can eat?? And drink?? And the constant chatter is so much fun! I know I'm crazy, you do remember I want 12 kids right? I should say we. Dave wants that too! But it's weird, I went to the library by myself and it was too quiet. *whine* I don't want to go to the library by myself *whine*! So yeah, it's a little busy. But hopefully I can post a little on Monday...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I still do

Nine years ago today I was getting married...
"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:1-2

Some of the best things about being married:
- someone to clean your plate
-someone to wrap their arms around your head when you are freezing cold and can't sleep in a tent!
- someone to read the Bible with and pray with
-someone to make cat-yak mashed potatoes and laugh at with
-someone to go first and flip lights on for you b/c you are not fond of the dark
-someone to support and encourage you as you live out your dream job
-someone to know you and care for you like no one else does, with the exception of our Heavenly Father
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, DAVE!! Here's to 99 more years of the same =)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Letter chain

Deborah over at Simply Thrifty talked about the Ingalls family and how they used to write letters to pass the time in the days before TV...which made me think of how we hardly ever get any mail anymore! I'm not complaining (much), especially since that means we don't get a lot of junk mail. But I do miss letters from people! Deborah also talked about letter chains, where one family would start it and mail it to the next. Each successive family would add an update and pass it on until it got back to the original family. Most of our families use email these days, so our communication is faster, but maybe we should go back to letter would be so cool to read up on a bunch of families! I'm thinking of those college friends that we talk to/get together w/ every couple of months or just at the holidays. We never seem to write you get many letters in the mail? Lately we've had a lot of shower/wedding invites and thank you notes, which are nice, but short. My best friend from high school emailed to say she sent me a letter! I thought that was funny, but definitely exciting. I should go wait by the mailbox =)

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's a jungle out there!

So I found a new flower in one of the it woodruff?? I guess I used to pull the leaves out b/c it looked like grass, but since we've been gone so much it's really beautiful and everywhere!That's not all...we've got berries!!

I know, it's the first year and they may not actually produce good fruit, but I hope that this is a good sign...

A bunch of other things are in the hyper bloom stage, due to our MAJOR rains and warmer temperatures.This is so much fun for me b/c I love the colors...

I remember planting a bunch of stuff when we first moved in and since then we have added every now and then. Some things we researched and purchased, while others were given to us by neighbors and friends! It's really nice to be the house on the street that has such happy, bright flowers everywhere =)


I have had such a good time over the last 5 days!! It felt like a mini-vacation! I'm tired and there's so much to talk about but I have to include pics, so here we go...
Mo and I were bored a few days back so we decided to pump up the Body Wedge! You're supposed to be able to do 21 different exercises on it, but we discovered a 22nd. Yeah - just using the hand pump will give you instant biceps!! Mo thinks it's a great slide!

Then we got to hang out w/some friends at a children's museum and the kids had a blast! It seems like we never have enough time to talk and our visits are MONTHS apart, so we have to change that this summer. Anyway, we got back and that's when things shifted into high gear. We found out we could get into our hotel room on Fri, not just Sat and we were off! Dave's mom joined us and wow - the room was really nice! It was so amazing to be a part of the rehearsal for my brother's wedding...I am so thankful to God that he has found such a wonderful woman! I am so happy that they are making a commitment to each other. We all have seen our parents model strong relationships...most married people will say that they have good days and bad days but making the choice to love someone forever is worth it!
Patrick's wife, Becky, chooses to love all the rest of us as her family and I love her as my sister. That is really special and I'm thankful for that too. My brother has made an effort to include us in his life w/her, like when he called to tell us that she said YES! That means a lot to me/us. I love my brother too! It's weird to think of him as married =) But I/we are so happy for him. It's a blessing to know that he has someone to share his life with!

One of the best parts of the wedding was to dress my little man up in a shirt and tie! He was so proud to wear a tie like daddy! (At this point we were going to walk to the reception from the hotel, but the heavens opened up! There were tornado warnings and sirens all least it was beautiful for the ceremony!)
Mo took a nap during the ceremony (can't miss it!) so he was ready to go...on the way up the ramp to the reception, he kept yelling, "Where's the wedding?! Where's the WEDding?!" Then when we got there I think he went into shock. All the people in his (extended) family photo album, some of which he's never met (or maybe once when he was a baby), were there - he was like, "They're real people!" LOL! He kept smiling at everyone on the head table...the little flirt! We kept him up a little later so we could dance like we promised. During the couples' first dance and the dance w/the parents, he just hung out by the edge of the dance floor, swaying to the music, itching to get out there! At one point I went up to see if he would be ready to dance w/me and he yelled, "Go back! Go back to your seat!" I guess I was messing w/his plan...his first dance was w/Grandma =)
Well, I could go on and on...hope you all had a fun weekend too!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


That's my word for today. So much has happened in one day! This is a really busy week b/c my brother gets married in 4 days!! WooHoo! You know me, starting to fret over details. But it will be ok. FUN. Dave's mom is coming to stay w/Mo so we can dance the night away =)
A not so cool thing: a situation at church. Please pray. I volunteer as the nursery coordinator and it seems Satan is trying to stir up trouble involving me! I straightened it out (I think) but my feelings were hurt and I was extremely angry. Sometimes it's hard to work w/other Christians, I guess, b/c we think they are not going to be like people in the world. But I have to remember that they are just people. Not to insult anyone and definitely not to excuse anyone. Still sucks. But please just pray for that situation and the church as a whole. We are going through a transition time (retiring pastor) and we need prayers for unity, teamwork and communication. Thanks!
The cool thing: we got a call from the state adoption social worker. She wanted to set up a date for a simple home study. The first of many? I don't know, Dave talked to her. Most of the dates she suggested didn't work due to the fact that these are the last 2 weeks of school (FINALLY) and we are not available much during the week after that. So one of the dates she offered up was this coming Monday. I was getting a little flushed and excited thinking about it! But a little crazy at the same time b/c this week is so busy and our couch has been eaten by the laundry bomb. Don't worry it was a clean bomb! At any rate, we're doing it Monday b/c we'd rather jump the hoops sooner than later. Anything to get us closer to a house full of kids! But man, when it gets busy around here, it really gets busy!
Another not so cool thing: flat tire. I wanted to go to drama practice tonight. We need to get the laundry folded. We just didn't need that right now. Since we only have one vehicle and we're going out tomorrow, it needed to be fixed. So I don't get to go to drama and my helpmate left to get the tire fixed. That's just dandy. I seriously hope this week doesn't get any crazier...

ASL books to read

I was going to email this to a friend, but realized that everyone else could benefit from it too! When Moses was little, we went to a free baby sign class. Later we bragged about what we had learned to the sign language interpreter at church. She helped us to realize that baby sign is often a lot simpler than actual ASL. Anyway - since we are teachers and love the thought of kids learning more than one language, we really wanted to learn some more ASL accurately. Let me tell you, it's great to sit behind the deaf families at church and watch the interpreters! You learn a lot that way, assuming Pastor is speaking slow enough! Recently my aunt picked up a book for Mo called Moses Goes to the Circus. The character Moses is deaf and the book shows the signs for actual sentences, not just words. This morning we found Moses Goes to a Concert too! I really appreciate these books. The last 2 pages or so is all Moses telling about what he did, signs included. It was really easy to copy the shows and show my Moses how to do them! He had a very serious look on his face for today's reading b/c he loves instruments and drums and the concert book was full of them. He seemed determined to learn the names of them all! So if you're looking for an ASL book that's not so baby-ish, try those. The author is Isaac Millman. Oh, and if you live in town w/us, those 2 will be checked out for a just call us if you want to come over and see them =)

Monday, June 2, 2008

My favorite reusable bag

The ladies who write for one of my favorite blogs, TreeHugging Family, have started a reusable bag challenge this month. They asked to hear about our favorite bags, if we already have them or our dream bag, if we don't. Well, here's my current favorite! I found this bag at a thrift store. It was one of the first I found that I decided would be great for the grocery store. It has wood handles, it's made of burlap material and it's lined w/a waxy coating. It's probably 8 inches wide and maybe a foot and a half tall. It's very strong and sturdy. Most baggers are hesitant to put a lot in it, but I load it up! The ladies of Tree Hugging family were talking about baggers reactions when they bring their own bags and I just laughed! Around here, I rarely see other people bring their own. Most baggers at the grocery store are probably confused b/c they are taught how to pack the bags they provide. They even have contests! But when I give them my bags, I'm sure it's a little weird b/c they have never packed a bag of a different shape. I know some of you have read about my homemade reusable produce bags, and those definitely get a reaction out of people! They think it's 'neat' or 'crafty' but most of them wrinkle their nose b/c they probably don't like the thought of veggies touching stuff. You wash them before you eat them don't you?? Anyway - I just wanted to weigh in...w/o leaving a huge comment on someone else's site! What's your favorite bag? Recently I heard of someone challenging everyone to make and give away a reusable bag each time they went to the store. Most people won't buy them but *say* they would use them if they had them. Would you make a bag and give it away? Or would you give up one of yours if you knew someone would use it?

Signs of summer

It's so juicy! You want a bite?

We had a backyard burger night w/some friends and some sweet fruit. I would definitely say that's my favorite part of summer...

Do you know what kind of plant this is? Can I transp
lant it?? We keep running over it w/the lawnmower...I'll try to get a better pic tomorrow now that it's a little bigger. It has these delicate tiny white bells. It's so pretty but I was hoping to move it to another area where it could spread. I couldn't find it in a book I have for our state...any help identifying it would be appreciated!

So-o-o busy!

Wow - there is so much to post about...I haven't really been keeping up w/the blog. I'm sorry, but I will post a bunch tonight and tomorrow. First of all...Dave's learning to throw shoes! Horseshoes! The neighbor has a horseshoe pit and it's finally nice enough to get out and play. Mo kept yelling, "Nice toss Daddy!" It always helps to have a cheerleader when you are learning =)

Speaking of cheerleading...Dave has been playing in the church softball league so Mo and I have been going to the games. It is so adorable to hear Mo say (every 30 seconds!), "Where's my dad? Where's the ball?" Even though he thinks his dad should be touching the ball AT ALL TIMES, he doesn't. But this week he got a really good hit! He even got on base. He's still at another game - it was a doubleheader. Mo was sad. He loves taking his new glove and ball and repeating all the things other people shout. "Run it out, Bobby, run it out!" "Good eye!" "Make 'im pitch to ya!" For me, the best thing is seeing those two hang around along the fence line. Can't wait for little league! Anyway, hope you are all enjoying the nicer weather and getting organized for the start of summer...