Monday, January 25, 2010

Religious sustainability??

As we think about social justice and mission around the world, particularly in light of the Haiti situation, I find myself wondering more and more about churches and sustainability... and churches and natural parenting... and supporting families and communities intelligently and deeply in ecological sustainability in their choices.

What I am talking about goes beyond salad window boxes and changing light bulbs, although that is an excellent place to start. How do we support breastfeeding, organic/local foods, energy efficiency, cloth diapers, re-use fashion, and community integration into food and child care and education systems? Dare we? What role does God play in this? What role do churches play?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Time On Home

It's been what? almost TEN months since we moved into this house. Milo is three months old, Aidan and Nadia began the first round of birthdays here in our "forever house" and we're getting used to the ills of real rural living (no gas stations near by, massive chicken losses not by dog but by fox and weasel, and lack of abundantly friendly neighbors).

But we are slowly making progress on the house itself. Colin discovered some more wet spots when removing the second window in Aidan's room and realized until the cold breaks there is almost nothing we can do to rehab properly in the upstairs. So we will reevaluate the priority list, and I am hoping to put the kitchen and hallway paint jobs on the top of the list.

We've come to love our newest free couch, the one with "modern lines" and cat scratches already in place, along with an unbelievably ugly christmas tree upholstery. Now I spend days devising how to get rid of the big pink ugly thing that lives in the middle of the room, and what to replace it with. For now, the purple couches stay, one up in Sage and Aidan's combined living quarters, and one homeless, living in the living room. I am ultimately hoping to have two more comfortable, and rather large chairs in its place. My mid century dresser made it to the living room and now holds games, videos (yes we still watch a vcr with regularlity... I know they are the ultimate piece of obsolete technology), dvds, and some video games. The stereo and tv/dvd now reside side by side on top... all where those huge crappy Big Lots shelves used to be. They now live in the opposite corners of the living room, two near the big front windows, and three by the piano. (pictures soon). Partly this a design decision that allows the sunlight to bounce of the purposely painted pale green wall, and partly a decision that gets the ugly things out of where I stare everyday. Plus, Colin wants to build "built-ins" there someday, so this gives us an idea of what that will look like and how it will function. Now the old game cabinet is my dresser again (like it was when I was 17... I am oh SO happy!) And mid century dressers make chic and hip vintage living room consoles (and Col and I are nothing but chic and hip, right? haha ha *gasp*). And since we watch the computer more than the tv, soon we'll have that hooked up through the stereo... giving us a sweet little hang out space.

In the kitchen, we've started some old beet tops on a plate and they are growing beautifully. Also in the works in that sunny spot on our farm table in front of the sliding door: mango pits, avocado trees, lentils, squash, corn, and peppers.

We've found the color palate for the kitchen in the old Gangloff Biere posters... a grey and black and red that will look oh so swank when we're done. Since food is our ultimate pleasure... why not have a swsnky kitchen? And because it is truly the center of our day, the black will be chalkboard paint, the big wall will also have corkboards to post schedulues, etc on. We also hope to improve upon the lighting... and my new favorite idea is simple corded lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling that have the bulb inside a Ball canning jar. What an awesome (and cheap) and cool look.

OK, now that the idle things I waste my time on have been described, let's get to the meat of our time lately.

Aidan is signing up for big kids drama club (and I am wondering what Disney-inspired crap we'll have to endure for this), and a drumming class at River Arts in Morrisville. He's helping out the little kids on FUn FItness Fridays with sledding and snow shoeing and tracking. Sage is hoping to start a hip hop dancing class at River Arts, and is skiing. She's hoping Anners will be able to take her to the OUtdoor Center in Craftsbury sometime soon. Nadia has Zeke over here Mondays, and she goes to his house on Fridays while I am up at Sterling (which I love, and if I could find permanent childcare could mean a job at least for the summer). We've simplified and simplified all routine from day schedule to bedtime to what there is to eat for lunch (rice and soy sauce and pes or edamame everyday is the only thing she will consistently eat). We're making progress everywhere but potty (although she does beautifully when around potty trained children). Milo is rolling _alomst_ over and growing at a fair clip. His fussing now includes a distinct "mmm-mmmm-mmmm" sound when he is looking for me. And we've discovered he cannot handle cow's milk formula (not a huge surprise in this family)... so we are hoping to check out goat milk for the occasional bottle.

Well, I am off to get the big ones, some pizza dough (For some reason I can make muffins and breads but not decent pizza dough) for dinner, and drop Sagey to work with COlin. I hope to have some time to help the big kids rearrange their big room into usable "apartment-like" space to share since it now looks like Aidan will live in there for the rest of the school year.

My love to you all and pictures posted soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January Thaw

The January thaw has found us with mud on the kitchen floor, Nadia vomiting, and the dog quite ill. So in the midst of MLK day tomorrow, we'll be at the vet (or at least everyone who isn't driving an oil truck or throwing up).

Today, that means instead of taking a walk outside like I wanted to, we are inside, and I am doing multitudes of laundry, and yet again giving the house the ol' tea tree and vinegar cleansing. Ah, to spring clean all year long!

Life with actual carpets has completely revolutionized our days... now that the living room floor isn't unbearably cold and hard, the kids are found rolling around, wrestling, playing fort and dress up, or sitting around the old cedar trunk playing cards. Colin and I often join them, or curl up there after everyone (ha!) goes to bed, and have a drink and play a game of Scrabble.

As the new year progresses, I find myself finally feeling "home" here in our cozy little house. I have figured out some of the trick to keeping the house the right temperature, how often I need to take out the boot rug and wash it, and how to keep the porcelain sink clean. Zeke is coming over again, once a week, to play with Nadia and she is heading to his house to play on Fridays, when I go up to Sterling. I am really enjoying life in the admissions office, finding the filing and data input to be meditative and relaxing. I am also interviewing families for some more part time care here in the house for the spring. We'll let you know how that progresses.

Today I can only write a little, as I have sheets and blankets galore to wash and dry before Colin and I can sleep, and the little wool rug needs a scrubbing.

I hope the thaw has found you all as well, and warms you a bit before the cold of February. I know "back home" March brings spring, but here the winter really settles in after the January thaw, and we must set our jaws, and face the wind, and shout to the four corners "Bring it on!" in order to make it through to May and June.

Monday, January 11, 2010

80s fashion

OK, so I really do have good reasons for not keeping up with my blog, despite the fact that I keep meaning to put real effort into it. First is that procrastination reins supreme in my soul. Second is that I am far too busy liking and unliking things in the virtual world of snippeted information on facebook, blogger, and pandora radio. After all, everyone wants my opinion, right?
Which leads me to the fact that probably no one wants my opinion. And with a whole world of blogs and columns like Joel Stein's out there, who needs one more self-righteous, pseudo-writer vomiting letters across your computer screen? So, with a healthy-dose of run-away self-esteem, I bury my nose in the importance of everyday things, like watching Milo's head expand while scrubbing off the cradle crap... I mean, cradle cap.And as interesting as his sebaceous glands are to me... well, they really don't make for riveting blog material.
There are some physical restraints, also. After all, it is hard to use your hands when your arms each have a breastfeeding child in them. And even when I am only performing one-sided lactation, well, typing takes longer than usual. And Dear Hunny-Bunny took my step-stool-so-vintage-its-cool metal chair downstairs and hid it under enough stuff to deter me from bringin it back into the kitchen. True, it adds to the clutter. True, the children fight over sitting in it. True, it is wobbly. But it is also the only thing that makes me tall enough to comfortable hit the letters on the keyboard. Geesh. No one ever thinks about _me_ and _my_ height issues.
But in spite of all my deliciously self-centered reasoning, the new year has brought me some perspective. After all, I love to write, and it really doesn't matter if anyone is reading it, right? And after all, you are all very polite (and very far away) relatives who are kind enough to comment now and then, egging me on and taking what you can get of the kids because I am notoriously bad at sending pictures, video, snail mail, etc of what they're all up to. After all, I still have everyone's Christmas presents from when we lived in the trailer. So this is, in part, also a gift to all of you.
Now, where to actually begin? After all, I have covered... or uncovered... a large majority of my personal neuroses in the last four paragraphs. Doesn't leave much to cover, does it?
Let's start here: I have an incredibly embarrassing and deeply-held admission to make. Here goes: I secretly love the return of 80's fashion.
Now this hurts for a number of reasons. First of all, my new favorite shirt is the true embodiment of this predicament. It is long. It is flannel. It only cost twelve dollars, and that includes the tank top that came with it. Actually, it was free-to-me (not free-to-be) because I purchased it with a gift card. It was probably made in a sweat shop by small children because I bought it at * gasp * WALMART. And it is PINK.
Yeup. Worst of all? I wore it around the house singing the lyrics to Fame with my kids last night whilst also wearing a black pair of paint-splatter-style “leggings” (aka pants too thick to be tights and too damn tight to be pants) my eight year old bough at an accessories store in the mall. No, I did not take the time to put on my legwarmers, but I could have. And although I was belting out “I'm gonna live FOREVER!” I did not run Pandora and listen to the Fame soundtrack at the same time. It was a fleeting moment of joy, but it was pretty spectacular.
This 80's infatuation also brings the return of teal and royal-blue eye makeup. And yes, I am rockin' it after years of not wearing any make-up at all. And ripped and acid washed jeans. And a plethora of funky, new chuck taylor's. And no, I haven't bought any, I am just still wearing my lavender and plaid ones from highschool.
This type of fashion serves several personal purposes. One, big baggy shirts cover the big baggy belly after years of child bearing. And gives me room to hide a child's head in it while nursing. Very convenient. And admittedly, since I remember how to dress in this fashion, I feel confident when I pull out the clothes in the morning that I am looking pretty good. I did not fare nearly so well in the late-90s-early-aughts- Brittany Spear-and-belly shirts years. Plus, mud boots look pretty damn good with leggings and mini skirts. And since they are the staple of my wardrobe, that's a darn good thing.
Lastly, it does do one other major thing: it gives me a conversation starter for life with my children. And yes, I swore I would never allow fashion and television and nostalgia to run my parenting life. But I also swore I would never have four kids, and look where that got me.
My daughters and I really don't have much to chat about... I am not particularly aware of the latest Disney craze or singer, and I could care less about Taylor Swift (seems like too much twangin' for my taste). But we can talk about Fame and Wonder Woman and whether or not short sweaters over long tank tops is a good look. And we can sing and dance and laugh while we do it.
And really, it has opened up a way for them to understand me, and for me to give them perspective about themselves and the way life is sometimes. When she comes home complaining about someone hurting her feelings at school, my daughter seems less than impressed when I tell her it happened to me too. It is almost as if she doesn't believe it for a minute. But when she dreams up a school for adults where they get to go and wear 80s clothes “and do all that stuff you did in the 80s” I was able to tell her that, no, Mommy wasn't interested.
“Why not, Mom?”
“Because, honey, I was really sad in elementary school.”
“How come?”<
And here I got to talk about the sadness I held about being adopted and feeling different and moving, and how most of the girls in my class hated me. Plus, we had to sign the words to “We Are the World” in front of our entire school and parental population in 6th grade. I still can't hear the haunting strains of Michael Jackson without moving my hands to form the sign for “children”. *shudder* Also, I accidentally-on-purpose sing, “We are the worms... we are the ones who make a sticky mess... so watch where you're walking.”
It gave me a moment to relate to the pains she's had... a best friend who was horribly mean to her in 1st grade, moving twice in one year, our divorce and her new step/half families. It also gave me the chance to say (and for even my eaves-dropping twelve year old to hear) that I made it.
Sometimes the best solidarity and support I can give them is an honest, if embarrassing, picture of myself. In that moment I hope they know that I see them, really SEE them, and that I am always there for them.
Even if I am in my pink flannel shirt and lavender Converse.