Monday, December 1, 2008

World Aids Day

This is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day. Much progress has been made, yet there is still a long way to go.

This morning I spoke to my children of the importance of today. One day of action will do nothing. However, if we can spread the spark to just one other person by uniting and calling from the rooftops then change can come. We prayed for healing, not only of the disease, but of the prejudices that lead to inaction or worse.

What will you do to mark this day?

Will you spend it in reflection? Many have a friend or family member struggling with or taken by this disease.

Will you pray?


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Make that 27 guests!

We are going to have an army of thankful people over this year. The house is ready but this next 48 hours is going to be a marathon of cooking and baking. I'm making everything that can be made ahead today and tomorrow and the turkey and dressing on Thursday. I know your curious as to what you feed 27 people, including four vegetarians, and One picky eater who's mom lets her determine her menu (white rice with cut up hot dogs everyday for a 7 yr old!).

My Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey (fresh,whole, local,roasted in oven)
Turkey (frozen, breast, no additives, crockpot)
Ham (purchased at heavenly ham)
Tofurkey Roast
sour cream mashed potatoes
sweet potato casserole (no excess butter or marshmallow junk)
corn pudding
mixed veggies (roasted)
green beans
cranberry salsa with cream cheese ( for crackers)
macaroni and white cheddar cheese
yeast rolls
countless desserts brought by guests

also for munching the day before:

vegetarian chili
spaghetti casserole
deviled eggs
6 dozen muffins

Needless to say, I'll be silent till after Thursday.

Have a blessed holiday!

Friday, November 21, 2008


This morning the kids woke up to their first snow of the season. The first snow is always magical. Yes, the grass is poking up through, but it's SNOW!!! They have been talking about snow since the pool closed. Being the procrastinator that I am no one has gloves or boots. Little boy almost got out the door without socks or a coat. He does have those. After digging in the closet I came up with three pink hats and mismatched gloves. It wasn't a big deal that the gloves weren't waterproof, After trying for 15 minutes to make one snowball they came in begging for hot chocolate.

All day they made plans for their first snow fort. I didn't have the heart to explain that since we live in the south a snow fort was unlikely at any point this winter.

I grew up in NY. The kids have seen pictures of me on top of mountains of snow. They have seen an army of snowmen my friends and I made during the blizzard of 1993. They know that such things are possible, so they expect them to be possible for them. Sometimes I wish we could visit my family during the winter so they could have that experience too. That would mean I would have to brave the endless construction zone that is Pennsylvania in the winter. That will never happen. NEVER! I could use about 60 exclamation points there. If you've traveled the highways of PA, you understand.

I remember spending hours outside in almost zero degree weather. If it weren't for neighborhood moms bribing us with hot chocolate and changing out our wet snow things we all would have died of exposure. I remember everyone had a huge box of winter outerwear at their house. It didn't really matter if your snow pants were soaked through after an hour. They would dry at heather's house and you would wear her uncles old pair. Then those would be left at Andy's house and you would change into pants that your own brother left there last year.

With these memories swirling in my mind and my children's excitement at the point I feared for my carpet, I had a brilliant idea. Brilliant ideas don't come often for me.

The kids wanted to plan their snow fort, including a whole ream of non recycled paper smuggled from grandma's house as “drawing paper” because she was mortified that the artwork they presented her had memos from their school on the back (they also decorate junk mail and make models of spaceships out of trash). To silence the trees screaming in my head, I pulled out a cookie sheet and 5 trays of ice. We planned our snow fort in 3D (I so rock)! Big boy decided to be more realistic we needed to bring some snow from outside to scatter around the fort. Girlie thought since we had grass in our snow, we should collect some of it to poke out around the fort. Little boy wanted to add some “real outside” to our fort so he stepped out to collect his contribution. He returned while I was in the restroom. There are no pictures of our beautiful fort. He found a fallen tree branch and tried to plant a tree next to the fort. I saw it in slow motion as I returned to the kitchen. Little boy held the totally not to scale “tree” next to the fort and let go. We spent the next twenty minutes searching for melting ice cubes, clumps of grass, and mopping up the kitchen.

The only thing that stopped my hysterical laughing was the realization that there were no ice cubes for my drink.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

This year our family has decided to scale back Christmas giving. It has made us all a little more creative and has the added benefit of being better for the environment. Unchecked consumerism is bad for the earth. The manufacture, transit, and eventual disposal of all the products we buy this season will have a big impact.

When our family discussed spending caps for all gifts it made me wary at first because "cheap stuff" usually has a larger impact on the environment due to cost cutting on the production end. I know I'm generalizing, but stay with me. Mostly these items are produced halfway around the world. They also are not held to strict environmental standards in the developing countries where they are produced. Working conditions are also a factor.

Some ideas I've come up with so far:

1. "green clean" basket. I filled a bucket with vinegar, baking soda, lemons and other natural cleaning products along with a sheet of instructions and recipes.

2. Goodies from Goodwill. While I was at Goodwill the other day, I spotted some cookware that matches my MIL's incredibly hard to find set. I went to her house to walk her dog midday, so I checked to see if she needed anything. I went back to Goodwill later that day and purchased her gift.

3. Getting crafty. I re-purposed a pair of my daughter's old jeans into a purse for her. I had scraps of ribbon so I made it really tacky (just the way she likes it!).

4. Paperless reference book. For my veggie sister, I purchased a flash drive and filled it with lots of delectable vegetarian recipes. There is still some unused space for her to add her favorites as well. This can easily done for a number of subjects.

What are some of the ways you plan to green your Christmas?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ready to Freeze my Buns

A little late to the game, I took up the Freeze Yer Buns challenge from Crunchy Chicken. My goal is to keep the thermostat set to 50 degrees during the day when were not here and 60ish after we get home. Compared to 50 that'll be down right toasty. After everyone is in bed I'll back it down again. It should motivate us to get ready in a hurry in the mornings.

In preparation for the cold weather, we have sealed all our windows with plastic sheeting (that I plan to reuse), and had the electric company come out and do a ***free*** evaluation of how we can be more efficient. I also purchased some fingerless gloves (so I can keep typing) and found some great throw blankets at Goodwill. When I was a kid, my dad had these stones he would set on the wood stove until just before bed. He wrapped them in old towels and placed them at the foot of our beds and they kept us warm all night. I don't have a wood stove so I made some rice pouches out of scrap flannel from my fabric bin to warm the beds. Anymore tips would be appreciated.

Remember, if you want to take the challenge it's not too late! Save money and reduce the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sundays are for family football!

I have always been a football fan. I don't get basketball, the only baseball I watch is my boys, and soccer doesn't hold my interest enough to get me to sit still. I'm big into gymnastics but that's for another post. Saturday is the college football day. I don't have any favorites but hubby is glued. I watch in passing, always cheering for the defense. All my kids watch with him, learning the game, learning what insults to hurl at the screen.

I live for Sunday. We have church then family lunch with the grandparents. We are always settled in at home by kick off at one. My daughter is a big Cowboys fan. She makes me so proud. I have been a fan since I was about her age. My oldest followed my husband's lead; he supports the Bengals. Youngest seems not to want to choose sides but he'll come around. When NFL is on the TV, nothing else matters. Sunday afternoon finds us in the family room cheering and booing, hugging and crying (being a Bengal's fans has been hard on big boy and hubby).

I try hard to keep my kids unplugged. I have a love/ hate relationship with electronic media as it is addictive (I have my laptop in the kitchen as I cook) and I want my kids to be doing other things. They are limited to about thirty minutes per weekday for either TV or computer. Unlike the winter, it is an easy task in the summer as sports keep us out and about. Last week I decided our family needed to take a break from the TV and computer. It was the last pretty weekend we were going to have before the yucky cold weather descended upon us. I planned an outing to the park and a few hours of raking and jumping in leaves. It did not turn out so well for me.

I thought it would be a good week for unplugging because there was no Cowboys game and the Bengals just suck. Why spend a pretty Sunday getting depressed when we could be engaging with each other? When I turned toward the park after leaving the grandparent's house, everyone freaked out. A chorus of “Where are you going?” came from all over the car. Kick off was in five minutes and they all knew it. When I informed everyone of my plans there was a full scale mutiny. I tried to plead my case for family time and the need for an activity that would allow us to engage one another. I had my mind made up the this was what our family needed. But the voice of reason came from the little boy looking intently into the rear view mirror. As tears welled in his eyes, he explained with his four year old logic that football time is family time.

So one u-turn later, we were headed off towards home. We arrived barely in time for kick off. We made snacks together at halftime. We talked smack. We discussed strategy. We cheered, we booed, we cried (they won!!)

We had family time. We connected. We engaged.

I still want to unplug; just not on Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Fantasy

It's Friday and my mind is melted by the doings in our house. Getting ready for at least 23 people converging on our house for Thanksgiving holiday is driving me crazy. We have a very easy going style most of the time Mt. laundry doesn't bother me because when you have a big family and you encourage outdoor play, stuff gets dirty. My boys NEVER get two wear their jeans twice before washing because they are so caked with mud they can stand on their own when the boys take them off. I never have to spend too much time straightening because I have been in a perpetual state of purging the house of excess for about two years. My kids have their responsibilities that they take care of with limited complaint. Our house runs smoothly and is "good enough" for us.

I thrive on our brand of chaos, but not this. So instead of figuring out how to ensure our lifestyle of little impact continues throughout the siege of relatives, without being obnoxious (youngest sorts recyclables from grandmother's trash each visit) I have been visualizing myself at my favorite beach in North Carolina.

So for your viewing pleasure, here are some pics of paradise.