Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My New Soapbox

I hate cans and bottles. I loathe warm, sticky pop and beer. I disdain those that purchase bottled water. I'm sure these feelings will fade. (I just drank a Dr. Pepper at a birthday party, shsss.)

But every time I open my garage door and see this pile of carbon footprints...I cringe. I've decided that the way to fund national health care is to tax anything made with fructose corn syrup. These pictures shows 1/4 of the cans we collected in one section of one town...in a two hour period. When I stare at these cans I see visions of corroded livers---can a liver do that? Do you all hate me?

One little tidbit: drink of choice---Keystone Light.

I have decided to do something to make the world a better place. I can't cure world hunger. I can't sit down with the Palestinians and Israelis and broker a peace agreement. I can't even control my own future, or at least not completely. But I can send an e-mail to my representatives and ask them why California accepts so many more cans than Oregon? Really? You can't find a way to recycle the Kirkland brand. Other states do. Seems like they are made out of the same plastic as Aveeno. And is there a reason why Oregon won't give 5 cents for Gatorade? And Lipton products? All made out of the same materials.

OK, I'm done.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Hopes

We only get one shot every year to do it right, to live summer well. There is a lot of pressure put on summer and how we use June, July, and August. My husband is a teacher and a soccer coach, so this season is his sanity break---our chance to get time together, for my boys to get their love tanks filled before the storm of soccer season and fall’s chaos.

Sometimes we do summer well, sometimes not. This summer is feeling a bit not. I feel like we’ve been juggling too many events, activities, and obligations. There have been too many days when my husband has left before the boys wake and gets home after the last one has fallen asleep----only to do this arduous schedule again the next day

My middle was starting to regress, act out, exhibit 2-year-old behavior that I thought we’d left long behind. I was starting to doubt my parenting abilities. I was evaluating myself, wondering what I was doing to cause these sessions of passionate angst.

At the dinner table last night the older two boys announced that they wanted to do a toast. My oldest lifted his juice glass, “Here’s to Daddy’s quick visit home!” Earlier that day my husband had dashed in for 20 minutes to grab something he’d forgotten between meetings. They each got a kiss and hug, and for that they were grateful. I got it. It wasn’t me; it was the loss of Daddy Time they were feeling instead. My middle son acts as the canary in the coal mine. I need to listen to his expressions a bit more often, since it usually mirrors what we are all feeling inside.

Near the end of the summer we always evaluate our commitments, what we accomplished, what we were glad happened, and what we hope to never repeat.

This has been helpful throughout our marriage. After three summers in a row, pre-kids, of me finding summer employment my husband pointed out that the extra money was not worth the time and effort, and that for my health and his, it was better for me to enjoy my summers so that I could be a better teacher during the school year. He was right.

Good summers include many evening meals eaten outside, running our toes in the green grass. Good summers mean that we don’t have to look at our watches. We can spend more time playing down at the river and not worry about getting back by a certain time. Good summers mean we play, rest, relax, and then play again. We fill full, like we’ve just relished in a good holiday meal, and now we are sleeping it off in our lawn chairs. I just don’t feel like this happened well this summer. We were too busy, had too many obligations.

Each summer hopefully we do better. Hopefully we continually evaluate and adjust our expectations. I know we will need these skills as our family of young men age. I don’t want to collapse at the end of the finish line, in roughly 20 plus years, and say, “Well, we survived. They all gradated. No casualties?”

Instead I hope we are able to take a step back and enjoy each moment and stage, releasing our mistakes, and remembering to repeat our successes. Summer is essential to my soul, and I never want to skip over it without dunking myself fully into what it offers. I want to pass this type of summer living on to my kids. Summers done right are about watching time stand still as you lazily rest against a tree and watch the sprinkler dance in the back yard.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fast Monkey

This is the summer of Fast Monkey, The Elephant Song, and Opposite, which are all songs by Steve. Not sure what the official titles are, but that is what the boys shout at me when we load up the van. And for once I don't mind, at least for the last two months straight. Now, I'm beginning to get a bit tired, but Steve is pretty good. This is the same Steve who does the music on PBS Kids.

I just happened to find this CD at our local library and we've been renewing and checking it out now all summer long. I keep wondering if I should buy it, but what if right when it finally comes in the mail my boys tire of it?

I found another, earlier, CD, and it wasn't quite as good. But Marvelous Adventure is quite pleasant, and I find myself just as excited about the "turtle song" as my boys.

You should really check it out though.

Here is another link to some more video footage of Steve.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oops, 606 Dollars Per Family

Correction: According to Real Simple magazine, the average family spends 606 dollars on all school supplies: clothing and pencils, and that includes the whole family and not just one child.

I can see how that easily happens, and I know that will be us once all of our boys are in school. I can't even imagine what the cost will be like when I factor in sports fees and physicals etc.

We joke that I will be returning to work once they are all in school just so that we can afford to feed them, but I may have to get a second part-time job just to pay for their school related expenses.

My original post on this topic got a lot of conversation going, so now I am curious if anyone is all done school shopping

Monday, August 16, 2010

Loving My Manna and Quail

Weather. We talk about it. We discuss it. We plan around it. We hope for it. We anticipate it. We rail against it. We post about it. If you’re unsure what to say to someone, you can always mention the temperature, and an uncomfortable, limping conversation will get going.

I try not to complain about the weather. As a girl, my father always made note of it in our mealtime prayers. He was always thankful. If it was raining, he gave thanks. If it was sunny, he was pleased. However, this last spring was a trial and tribulation. Even my contented father complained. Facebook status updates were getting a bit too predictable. People were threatening to move to Arizona; get a time share in Sun Valley; or charge their cards, hop on a jet, and land in Hawaii. I was beginning to wonder if the sun would ever come. I panicked a bit, imagining no summer, just one really long spring---straight into the mucky winter of 2011. My chest tightened. Panic attack!

But now the sun is here, and still we complain. Facebook was at it again. People were hot. They were having trouble sleeping. They were debating window A/C units, adding a few more fans to their arsenal. While all these troubles and sufferings were legitimate, I just couldn’t bring myself to complain. Had we forgotten already what April, May, and June had been like? Remember the rain? The muck? The doom and gloom? I remember it, a bit too clearly. And so I refuse to complain this summer. I will be the one lone Israelite, wandering the desert, and heartily eating my quail and manna. After all this is what I was wanting---heat and sun.

I want to have to wear shorts. I want to be able to fill up the backyard pool and apply sunscreen. I want to open my freezer and stand for a quick cool down. I relish purchasing Popsicle and lemonade. I smile as I get to wear sunglasses and crank my van’s A/C. I desire to live this season fully. I want a warm evening to run my bare feet through the browning grass.

The sound of the backyard sprinkler is rhythmic music, reassurance that seasons continue and the earth is still doing its thing. It is August. It is summer. I am thankful. I am right outside the promise land, and I have no intention of being left behind---left to waste away in my own complaints.

My middle son informed me that he thought summer was too hot for him. “I just like fall; it is warm. It is not cold or hot.” It is my favorite too, but I think only because it follows a hot, sizzling season I anticipate, depend on, and plan on enjoying---summer.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Day Photo: Would You Go Here?

These were the public restrooms in Ione, Washington. I was lucky; they were closed. I didn't have to try and decide to brave it or not. Would you?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

600 Dollars for School Shopping? I Don't Believe It!

One pack of crayons, on pack of colored pencils, one ream of white copy paper, glue, a box of tissue, and a back pack. This was the list of required school supplies for my son. Yes he's in Kindergarten and the lists for the other grades are a bit longer, but not by much.

I have been saving aside money each month in anticipation of school shopping. After reading that list I feel like I'll have money left in my envelope, plenty of it. Sure I want to get him a lunch box and some new clothing items, but nothing that will break us financially.

My friend Heather heard that the average parent spends 600 dollars per child for school shopping. Seriously? I don't believe it. What are these parents buying? I hope this includes clothing and some very swanky athletic shoes that promise college scholarships. 600 dollars?!

Time magazine did a feature on the growing trend toward single-child-families. The main point was that having more than one child is just too expensive, especially during "these hard economic times." Then it gave a statistic on how much it cost to raise one child from birth to age 18. My husband and I did the math, divide it down per year and laughed. Our annual income was less than how much Time said we needed to spend on just one of our sons per year, let alone three.

So I wonder where these facts and statistics are coming from? What are some parents buying for their kids? I look at my sons, and I see nothing lacking. I see three little boys who are very happy and who have very, very good lives, blessed lives.

I budgeted 100 dollars for my oldest and his first school shopping experience. I think I will do it for 50, and that is with some splurging....which I want to do. If I didn't splurge a bit, I think I could do it for 25 dollars easily.

What about you? What are you planning to spend on school shopping?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Things I Think I Might Write About

+The Price of a Stamp: A Patriotic Duty?
+Leg Warmers and Acid Washed Jeans: Don't Do It!
+Summer: Too Much Pressure
+Anticipating School
+East of Eden: The Best Book Ever Written
+Places to Avoid Eating

Which one interests you the most? Vote and you get to chose what I post on next.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Photo

You will see no field burning this year. Last year was the last year farmers were allowed to purify their seed through traditional burning...like the Calapooyia Indians did. I find it quite sad, as it was a thrilling season for me as a child. I love the smell and the sight of those plumes of smoke. I would think with more and more people feeling passionate about organic foods, harvesting heirloom seeds, buying their beef from local farms etc...that maybe the agricultural community and their lobbyists could persuade their adversaries that this is actually better than the alternative of increased pesticides and another hit for the Oregon economy. The Willamette Valley produces the purest seed in the world, along with the most. I hope we are able to keep this title up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Can You Say Vacation?

Yep, that is why there will be little writing this week, but after this week I promise you good things.

Did you all notice that my following went from 101 to 98? I'll try not to freak out over that, feel insecure, or go into depression. Don't worry about me. I'm laying by a lake all week, getting inspiration from the dark waters.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I was told I had a nice back: I made sure my 8th grade graduation dress had an eyelet between my shoulder blades. This was what I held on to during those scary adolescent years because I had been called many other things, not very confidence-boosting-things: mosquito bites, 2 X 4, and boy chest were others terms to describe the development that seemed to not be happening---but happening to everyone else. This was the problem. (I was a full year younger than everyone else in my class.)

I let my mom know I wanted a bra. Yes, I didn’t need one, but really I totally did if I didn’t want to commit social suicide in the 7th grade locker room Actually it wasn’t suicide I feared, but rather murder by the “popular girl” firing squad. (Most of the popular girls had about the same amount of breast development, but no one bothered to point this out: they managed to make me their whipping boy.)

My mom took me shopping. I was embarrassed. She should have handed me a twenty, let me go into Penny’s myself, and waited in the car. But instead, she walked in with me, talking loudly as she fingered the various styles, “This one has a pretty flower in the center. Now, this bra you’re wanting is more for looks than for function, right.” Mortification. A friend of mine, equally as flat, had been able to persuade her mother into buying her a padded number. This is really what I wanted, but could not vocalize. Then the worst thing happened, my mother ran into one of her friends, “Oh Terry, how are you?” They exchanged pleasantries. Then my mother announced, “Yep, we are buying a bra. Not like she really needs one yet, but you know how it is when you are the only one in the locker room.....” I quickly dove into the dressing room to let my mother broadcast my development issues to anyone who happened to be passing by the lingerie section.

One night at youth group I even attempted to stuff my bra. My sister knew, helped, and said it looked good, natural. But the whole night I couldn’t relax. I was sure tissue was creeping out and crawling on to my neck, exposing me as a boob fraud. I frantically excused myself from the scripture discussion, dove into the bathroom, removed my tissue, and cried.

Well, my dad had said I had a nice back. I’d focus on that. I made sure all my swimsuits had low-backs. Hopefully this feature of mine was so stellar that all eyes would be drawn to that side, and my chest would get upstaged.

I survived junior high and got some breasts somewhere in the middle of high school. I was smart, witty, and feeling even a bit pretty by my senior year. I was in drama and one of the better actresses. The last play of my senior year, the spring play, was days away from opening night. We thespians were taking a break out on the lawn, eating our early dinner before dress rehearsal. A fellow actress, two years younger than me, was staring at me. I found it a bit strange, but kept up with my humorous chatter until she interrupted me with an epiphany, “You know, you’d be pretty if you didn’t have all those freckles.”

Wow, not sure how to respond. As always, the best comebacks came later as I replayed the scene in my mind.

Freckles, I thought, added coloring to my face. I had never been informed they were an uglifier. I knew I had pale skin, and society had told me that was unattractive, but no one had ripped on my freckles before. Luckily I didn’t invest in some strange face cream guaranteed to wash away my facial blemishes, only to turn my skin some strange alien color. But I did try plenty of fake tanning lotions that only made me look orange and always left streaks no matter how closely I followed the instructions. In college I worked at a yogurt shop and one of the male workers let me know that I would have sexy legs if they weren’t so white. This time I did have the confidence to reply on the spot and shut him down.

Still, it wasn’t until my late 20’s that I threw out my last bottle of fake tanner and embraced the white that is me. (While traveling in Italy a local vendor told me that I needed to go to the beach. I flashed him my glowing stomach, and that shut him up. In Hawaii another tourist asked if I’d spent any of the vacation in the sun. I informed him that there are many shades of white and that in fact I had and was quite tan in comparison to the Oregon me....thank you very much.)

I’m very cautious with my own sons. They hear all the comments and observations. My husband and I are careful that we don’t discuss them when they are near. I cringe when someone points out that my oldest is, “So skinny!” He’s not to me. He’s “slender” and “lean”. My middle son isn’t emotional, but “passionate”. My youngest isn’t a handful, but instead extremely “athletic”.

When I hear other parents describe their children as lazy or chunky, I cringe. (Yes, this has happened and the children heard.) Our kids are going to get enough critique without us adding to the mix. I tell me sons how handsome they are. I tell my oldest what a great nose he has. We count their new crops of freckles with great excitement and anticipation. I always let them know that I still have the most, and doesn’t it make mommy pretty? They always agree.

Hopefully, when they are 13 and feeling less-than-perfect, they will remember all the times I gave them affirmation and praise. I know I relied heavily on that “great back” my dad said I had; I think it is how I survived. He probably had no idea how much I needed that compliment.