Saturday, June 30, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

I recently connected with Nicole, whose family owns Burning Bush Gardens not 20 minutes from here. Burning Bush Gardens is a community supported agriculture (CSA) business. Customers pay a fixed cost at the beginning of the season and are supplied with fresh (and in this case, organic!) produce from early May through late October. It's great for farmers because they have a guaranteed income, even on years when the weather ruins a crop or two. It's great for consumers because they have fresh produce and the knowledge that they're supporting local agriculture (so there will still be someone farming said produce the next year).

So why haven't we jumped on this? Two main reasons.

1. It's a little expensive. At least for us. The least expensive option is $425, which includes 5 items per week. Divided by six months, that's still a third of our monthly grocery budget. Now, if we were guaranteed that this would be all the fruit and vegetable we'd want, we might be able to make that work. But there's another problem...

2. We don't really like vegetables. That's a broad generalization; we both have a variety of veggies we like, but there are a lot we would rather not eat. So what happens when our share for the week is mostly beets and cabbage? (I betray my total lack of agricultural knowledge here. I don't know if those would even be harvested at the same time.) Looking at the list of standard produce, I like most of them, but I'm afraid to take the risk.

Do you participate in a CSA? What have you done with things you don't like to eat?

Friday, June 29, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 2)

Happy feast day to my son, Peter! When my husband wished him the same today, Peter replied, "Woo!" An exciting day indeed.

Happily, Peter's Godfather and his wife happened to be in town today, so we enjoyed a visit with them this morning. They enjoyed our fairly successful attempts to interpret Peter-speak and showered much more praise than was necessary on that little boy during the completion of his puzzles. I suppose that's what Godparents do. :-)

Today was hot, getting almost to 90, which admittedly is much better than other parts of the country and cooler than was forecast. Still, it was a warm day, making a picnic dinner much preferable to sitting inside. After quesadillas, we picked the remaining strawberries and black raspberries growing in our yard. I'm happy that Peter will have the same childhood pleasure I had of eating sun-warmed berries.

In the evening, we used my brother's pool. (He's out of town, but graciously gave us permission.) Due to the solar cover, the water was 94 degrees! Peter loved it. For the first time ever, despite weeks of swim classes, he happily kicked while being held on his back, jumped into the pool, and repeatedly chose to put his face in the water! An evening of high achievement.

Speaking of achievements, I've finally added one pound to my pre-pregnancy weight! I had dropped four at one point. The morning sickness is a lot more pervasive with this baby. But the scale today shows I'm in the black. Hooray!

One possible cause of weight gain: my husband's willingness to traipse around and get whatever sounds like it might be edible, like a fruit smoothie from Panera at 9:30PM. For example. :-)

After an absolutely lovely day, I have another to enjoy tomorrow! My in-laws are coming out for the day and the weather looks promising. Enjoy your weekend!

From last week's Quick Takes, Peter watching construction.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hebrews 11 Science Lesson

In addition to being Craft Lady at summer camp this year, I will also be Nature Lady. My goal for both activities is to make them challenging and fun, which can be difficult given that my audience are kids at a sports camp ranging in age from seven to thirteen. My experience as a counselor at this camp is that Craft and Nature are the two activities most kids would gladly skip. I'm hoping to change that.

Because nature is amazing!

Each activity has three difficulty levels. Campers earn points for their teams by completing levels, with the hardest level generally being achieved only by the oldest kids. With that in mind, here's my Nature lesson, fitting in with this year's curriculum about faith: Things Unseen!

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for 
and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Level 1: Create a model of the earth's layers (crust, mantle, outer core, inner core) from candy. No one has seen the earth's core or even been able to take a sample of it, but we know it's there! We'll be using cinnamon candies for the inner core, pudding for the outer core, Jr. Mints for the mantle, and a light dusting of Pixie Sticks for the crust (which is much thinner than the other layers). All candy is gluten and peanut free! This activity should be easy enough for the youngest kids to do and even the oldest kids like junk food. :-)

Level 2: Draw a path with at least four turns. Use a magnet to guide a magnetized ball through your maze without touching it or allowing the two magnets to connect. Magnetism is another force we cannot see. We can measure its effects, but it remains invisible. This task should be challenging but doable for all but the youngest kids. Once everyone has had a turn, magnets are also just fun to use!

Level 3: Demonstrate Bernoulli's principle by keeping a ping pong ball aloft by blowing on it. The unseen force here is wind. I need to experiment a little bit with this one to determine what the time threshold should be. I want it to be hard enough that even the oldest kids can't do it immediately, but still doable with practice. Suggestions?

If any of you have children attending our camp this summer, please don't share this with them. Nothing like knowing the entire lesson to destroy interest.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Cottage

Days of summer drift on gentle tides
lapping up against the rocks
A steady rhythm pulled by the moon
that hides on starry summer nights

Nights of unified solitude, and laughter
Shore lights fade and disappear
into a blanket of wishes
shooting stars and fireflies

Remembering Travel Team '03 and Sandy Pond

Friday, June 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 1)

Jumping into the fun of 7 quick takes on Fridays, hosted at Conversion Diary, with a number of my "bloggy friends" (as my husband calls them). I will admit this is partially due to the allure of an easy blog post, but also because I enjoy reading others I've found.

Apologizing for lack of posts is a blogging faux pas, but I'm doing it anyway. This pregnancy has been more taxing on me than Peter's, with the result that most evenings I just want to curl up on the floor and try to get engrossed enough in a good book that I can ignore my stomach.

My husband is out of town for the weekend, so I'm singly parenting for a few days. It's hard. And that's with substantial support from my parents, who are feeding and housing us and doting on their grandson. My admiration for single parents knows no bounds.

Speaking of grandparents, I include my in-laws when I count my blessings. I decided to stay local this weekend, but I know they would have happily opened their home to Peter and me if we had chosen to make a trip their way, spoiling him just as much and coddling me. I'm thankful for such a caring, welcoming family.

Conversation between my parents today. Dad: The mower snagged this, but I thought you could put it in a vase and we could enjoy it in here. (holds out a tiger lily stalk) Mom: There are certainly much worse things the mower could have snagged! Thanks for bringing it in. This isn't atypical. It's how their marriage works - no blaming, scolding, or deceptions. I can easily imagine the same situation becoming a fight for other couples I know. Just another reason my parents are role models for me.

Peter decided to taste sand today. I rinsed out his mouth and told him it was gross. Approximately two minutes later, he ate another handful. Sigh.

My parents' neighbor had his driveway repaired today. Four trucks, shovels and rakes, a hand-powered roller, and a full construction crew. Peter was enthralled. I took a picture, but my phone is up in the room where I finally got him to sleep. Trust me, he looked cute and enthralled. :-)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Woah! A Crib!

Usually I do Wordless Wednesdays - because it's a lot easier to post pictures than think of something to write. Today, though, I was pretending to sleep while the photo ops were happening, so you'll have to use your imagination to enjoy the following images.

At home, Peter sleeps on a crib mattress on the floor. At my parents' house, he has a crib, mostly to ensure he doesn't investigate my mom's craft supplies also kept in that bedroom. For naps, he is given the option to lie quietly with me on the twin bed or be in his crib. He almost always starts with me, refuses to lie down, and ends up in his crib. So it went today. He whimpers, "Mimi..." "Do you want to come back and lie down with me?" *angry negative noise* "OK, then you need to stay in your crib."

Let the fun begin.

Image #1 Peter discovers he can fit not only his arms but also his legs through the crib slats. There he sits with a huge grin, experimenting with each limb and ultimately looking like he's in the stocks. He is quite proud of this accomplishment and stays that way for a good minute or so before getting bored.

Image #2 Intrigued by the bumps on the crib rail, he slides his hand back and forth. This feels neat. To continuously enjoy this new sensation, he walks ten to fifteen laps around the perimeter, gently sliding his hand with a look of wonder.

Image #3 Stopping abruptly after a turn around the crib, Peter discovers that the mattress is bouncy. And noisy. What joy! Holding the crib rail, he jumps repeatedly, blond hair flapping in the breeze. Truly, the pinnacle of happiness.

Image #4 This picture would be taken approximately three minutes after the previous one. Mouth agape in the total relaxation of a toddler asleep, he is sprawled across his crib. He slept for over 2 hours.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Better Late than Never

A few minutes of silence.
"Are you hungry?"
"No, but I assume you are or you wouldn't ask."
"Yeah. But I'm also really tired."
"What do you want?"
"A hamburger. But I was going to settle for a microwaved potato."
"I love you, dear, but you can microwave your own potato."

This is how I find myself eating a hot potato and blogging about it at an hour when mommies should be getting sleep. Oh pregnancy. :-)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mini Vacation

We had such a GREAT day today! This morning my Dad came over and I made pancakes - and Peter slept in, so my husband was able to also. After breakfast, Dad took Peter home with him to play with Grams and Papa ALL DAY! I was concerned that he would want Mommy and Daddy to go with him, but after we explained that he would be going with Papa to play with Grams, he just said, "Bye bye" and walked out the door!

With the house to ourselves, we went back to bed (wink, wink) and had a relaxing morning. Today is our monthaversary (46 months! woo!), which we always celebrate by going out to eat. Given that my "morning sickness" gets worse as the day progresses, we decided to eat out for lunch rather than dinner. Both gift cards we had were to restaurants that only do dinner on weekends (sigh), so we ended up at Cheesecake Factory for a delicious lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading, picking wild strawberries in our yard, and napping in the shade on a blanket. Fantastic day.

I called after nap time to check in and see how Peter was doing. He wanted his Papa to get off the phone and come play trains. :-) My parents took Peter to a festival at the Rose Gardens around noon, which he loved. He got to have "noo-noos" for lunch and take a nap with Grams, then play until Mommy and Daddy came with McDonald's for all.

I'm so happy that all five of us had a wonderful day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

From OBGYN to Midwife

I like modern medicine. I believe in the value of science and the insights and progress made by today's medical community. So I didn't seek out a midwife practice to be counter-cultural or to escape an intervention-crazy OBGYN. Peter's birth was great and I like the doctors at that practice.

It's the rest of the staff that drove me nuts.

A few years ago, my OBGYN switched to electronic records. This meant longer appointments and some mistakes as they learned the new system, but I cut them slack. It's a lot of work to completely overhaul your records. I get it. However, that was years ago. At my last appointment (in December), I waited 30 minutes for about 10 minutes of time with my doctor. After the initial stats (weight, blood pressure), they actually sent me back to the waiting room because they had no examination rooms available. Despite even that craziness, I was going to stay.

Why do we do this? Why do we put up with lousy customer service in the medical field, when we wouldn't consider doing such a thing anywhere else? Probably because we're afraid everywhere else will be the same or worse. I was. I liked my doctors, so I put up with it.

On Mothers Day, I took a home pregnancy test and discovered we're expecting our second child (yay!). A couple weeks later, I called to set up my first prenatal appointment. And was told that wasn't allowed until I took an in-office pregnancy test. To the tune of $25. Plus whatever the standard charge is for an appointment. Have I mentioned we have a high deductible health care plan? That seemed like a lot of money to confirm what I already knew.

"What if I wait a few weeks? Once you can hear the heartbeat, can I do that instead and skip the test?"
"No. You must have a positive pregnancy test on file. Then you're allowed to schedule your first prenatal visit."

Are you kidding me? If you hear a heartbeat, what else do you think is in there?!

I got off the phone and immediately went to our insurance company's website to find out what midwives they cover. Why midwives? Because going into this search blind, I thought I'd have a better chance of success finding a practice that supported natural birth with midwives than traditional OBGYN. I've also heard they're a little cheaper.

From the first phone call to the practice, I've been impressed. I am treated like a person, not a medical chart. They're in the process of switching to electronic records, but guess what? During my entire office visit I waited about 10 minutes, including the times the midwife left the room to allow me to change in and out of that lovely paper cover-up.

So, if you've been afraid to look, assuming everywhere is the same or worse, take a chance. Maybe try a midwife. But keep looking until you find a practice where you are valued. They're out there.

(PS: The midwifery group did not require a pregnancy test. And even though they couldn't hear a heartbeat, they believed I'm pregnant. Turns out there are multiple ways to physically assess pregnancy!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Peter takes a survey

I want all my friends to fill this out! Woo!

showing off my blue eyes

Your Name- Peter Xavier
Nicknames- not sure... but Mommy is adamantly against Petey
Birthday- next month! gonna be TWO!

~*HAVE YOU??*~
Been kissed? duh. i have parents AND grandparents
Eaten an entire box of Oreos? not even one. :-(
Been on stage? yes! i sang a train song!
Seen the Eiffel tower? only in books

Shampoo: that one with the baby on it
Color: geen. or bue. or yehyeh.
Band: Van Halen. i get really excited listening to "Jump"
Commercial: Grams let me watch that Evian commercial on YouTube with the babies. i dance now when i hear that song.

Do you have a crush on someone? i stand on Daddy sometimes
Do you have a best friend? Gabe or Lucy
Who do you go to the mall with the most? Lucy
Who have you known the longest of your friends? Lucy
Whose parents do you know the best? Gabe
Who are you jealous of? Gabe has lots of trains
What is your usual quote? "da-dote" (Daddy thinks this means "um")

Cried? yes, because i wanted applesauce and Mommy would only give me yesterday's applesauce
Eaten fluf? probably. i pick stuff up off the carpet sometimes.
Helped someone? yes! i helped Daddy buy socks.
Cut your hair? no... but that sounds like fun
Gone for a run? yes, round and round and round the house
Been kissed? it's pretty much every 10 minutes around here.
Said “I love you”? no. Daddy said, "I love you Peter." i said, "Bye bye." it was time to nurse.
Written a letter? no. but i found my M yesterday in the car.
Hugged someone? i gave Daddy TWO hugs at bedtime.
Been Scared? yes. the garage door is loud and scary.

Showered? this morning with Daddy! Mommy said i was stinky. :-(
What are you wearing right now? my Chincoteague onesie and night diaper. second night diaper, because i wet in my first one and refused to sleep until Daddy changed me again. because really, who would go to sleep like that?!
Are you tired? never!
Are you hungry? usually. but not for anything that is offered. i just want to stare in the fridge.
Are you talking to someone online? no. Gus lives over in the UK, so it's hard to coordinate our schedules for chats. you know, with the time difference.

Fill it out! Send it back!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weaning continues

Last month, I convinced Peter that we only nursed at bedtimes and when he first wakes up in the morning. When he asked other times, I would say in a teasing voice, "It's not bedtime!" and he would giggle. I sidetracked him with cuddles or food or a book and all was well.

This month, we're cutting out his nap time nursing (leaving us with bedtime, 1-2 overnight, and morning). I started by limiting him to 10 seconds, which he accepted without the slightest complaint, much to my surprise. When I tried no nursing, though, he wasn't having it. So we moved naps from his room to our room and the change of location eliminated him asking to nurse. That's been working for about a week. The next goal is to transition him back to his own room for naps by the end of the month.

Overall, he has reacted very well to this gradual weaning process. My husband and I have noticed some increased crankiness at home and being more clingy in public, but generally speaking Peter has been his usual happy self. He has learned that a cuddle or "no-no" (rubbing noses) is adequate to soothe little scrapes or disappointments. Life is good.

Not too clingy. Still a slide master. :-)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saints and Carousels

We took Peter to the beach this evening for his first ride on the historical Dentzel carousel at Ontario Beach Park. Built in 1905, the carousel remains in its original site and is the only ride remaining from a long-gone amusement park. I love the carousel and its history. I like knowing we have a link to the past, a shared experience with people I will never know. It's a reminder that we aren't the only ones who matter.

Have you ever heard the Litany of Saints? It's long. It's a list (or litany!) of saints, punctuated by the response, "Pray for us." It's not frequently used in liturgy, but as a child, I dreaded the times it was sung. It seemed to last forever and be incredibly boring.

As an adult, it is one of my favorite prayers. Part of my changed attitude is increased knowledge; now I know who many of those saints are. Mostly, though, it's the understanding of the communion of saints. Like the carousel, the Litany of Saints is a reminder of a shared experience. I'm not blindly muddling my way through life, doing things my own way. We have heroes, scholars, mystics and warriors marching through the ages, making a path for us. Their lives remind us that we're not the only ones who matter. We are part of the Body of Christ, an eternal Body that reaches beyond this place and time. It's easily worth a few minutes of my time to remember that.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

A couple friends of mine have been very frustrated by the Christian saying, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." They argue that if you're going to be all judgmental and telling people they are sinners, you're not in any position to say you love them. You're not spreading the Gospel. You're certainly not doing what Jesus would do, because he reached out to sinners and outcasts. "Love the sinner, hate the sin," they say, "is an excuse for Christians to tell people they're going to Hell and feel good about it."


I'll give them one thing. If your motivation in sharing your faith is to show them all the things they're doing wrong, you've got it all mixed up. But if your motivation is love, eventually you can't help but show them their sins.

On this journey together, so we have to help each other.

Analogy. I'm an advocate for attachment parenting: baby-wearing, co-sleeping, "extended" breastfeeding, gentle parenting, etc. I'm positive there are people who think I'm doing irreparable harm to Peter because of this. If someone invited me to join her moms' group by saying, "We can help you be a fantastic mother. Right now, you're making horrible choices, but don't worry, our group can help you learn the right way to be a mom," there is NO WAY I'd attend.

Same situation, but this time she says, "I love the moms' group I attend. We're really devoted to our kids and always trying to do what's best for them. I think you might be interested in it. Want to come?" I'd be intrigued. I certainly would feel that we have a common goal: loving our kids.

Let's say I become a regular attendee. I start agreeing with their speakers and literature. I believe that infants need to learn independence. I believe that adult relationships take priority over parent-child relationships. But I don't change my parenting style. NOW my friend not only can but should challenge me. If I really believe their views, my actions should line up. My friend, out of genuine concern for me and Peter, should call me out on my behavior.

See the difference? The first is judgmental. This happens when Christians scream "Murderers!" at women getting abortions. It happens when Christians label those who have sex outside of marriage as sluts. It happens when evangelists single out homosexuals as particularly deserving of God's wrath. These people are not loving the sinner. Their hatred for the sin blinds them to anything else.

The second is accountability. This is Jesus saying to the adulteress, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and leave your life of sin." When people encounter Christ, their lives are changed. They are healed, made whole. If we have genuine love for fellow believers, we should hate their sins as much as we detest our own, because they damage our relationship with God. We should challenge our Christian friends, not out of smug self-satisfaction, but because we love them.

Love doesn't mean anything goes. Love wants the best for the other. Sometimes that means bringing up uncomfortable topics.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


A year ago or so, Jeremy and I were invited to a dinner at church, a celebration with all the people who had been praying a novena. We felt a bit out of place, since we hadn't been praying it, but we were assured that they needed more mouths to handle all that food. As we sat there somewhat awkwardly, a family approached to sit with us.

The children were shy, probably also feeling a bit out of place in a room full of adults. The father, Andy, was a quiet, welcoming man with the patience to really listen, rather than talk at people. The mother, a vivacious lady named Laura, was brimming with cheer and a sparkle for life. You couldn't help but be drawn in by her smile and joy for all that surrounded her. She was also wearing a scarf on her head. I never asked if her hair loss was from chemo or a genetic problem; it certainly didn't detract from her beauty in the least. We spent a meal together and learned that they usually attended Mass at a nearby church. As the evening drew to a close, we assured each other that, despite attending different churches usually, we'd be around.

And we have. Over the past year, we've frequently bumped into "that family from St. Joe's". For the longest time, none of us could remember the others' names, but Laura's welcome and joy was not a whit less genuine for not remembering my name. (You'd think we could have pulled it off, our names being similar... oh well.) I'd taken to seeking them out when we attend St. Joe's.  Laura's energy and enthusiasm drew many to her and often there wasn't a break in the conversation for much beyond a brief smile and hello.

Tonight I got an email from our youth minister. Laura died this afternoon. She leaves behind Andy and her two children, Zachary and Sarah, and an entire community touched by her life. More than people, though, she leaves behind a legacy. Joy, welcome, enthusiasm, faith, and a passion for every moment of this life. We are hurting because of our loss. We are stronger for having known her.

May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No, LCWR, the Church does not hate women.

I had thought that the Vatican-ordered reformation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) had passed out of the public arena. A conversation today, though, showed me that the truth still needs to be spread.

Americans love the underdog fighting for what is right. The story of women religious (aka nuns), who have dedicated their lives to service of others, being oppressed by the male chauvinist Catholic Church was just too good of a story to let go. Unfortunately, the tale told in many popular media outlets was incomplete and full of misleading information. (I know. Who could believe that mainstream media would distort a story just to sell it?!)

Huffington Post Headline

The popular story goes something like this: Nuns are being told to go back to their convents, stop spending so much time serving the poor, and start condemning homosexuals. This is happening because the Church, a male-dominated ego-tripping cultural dinosaur, hates women and is completely out of touch with reality.

If you're looking for the facts, go here. The full doctrinal assessment of the LCWR is available for anyone to read, so you don't have to take isolated quotes as the whole story.

What is the Church actually saying? First, repeatedly, that women religious are of utmost importance to the life and faith of the Church. Their contributions are meaningful and powerful. That's why this is a big deal. The Vatican doesn't get involved over a few people promoting a heresy. The Church needs the particular gifts of women religious; we need their lives to be authentic witness to the Gospel.

Secondly, the Church values to efforts for social justice and care for the poor. These forms of outreach are meant to enhance the Gospel, though, not supplant it. The LCWR has neglected their duty  to maintain fidelity to the Gospel message, promoting messages that are in direct opposition to Church teaching and Scripture. This has happened through neglect in some cases and through deliberate action in other cases.

And here's what is missing from the cultural understanding of the doctrinal assessment. The LCWR is not a company, a committee, or a lobby. They do not exist as an independent entity, free to make whatever policy and decisions seem right to them. Women religious take a vow of OBEDIENCE and are required to submit to the teaching authority of the Church as expressed through the Magisterium.

These women aren't being arbitrarily controlled and scolded. They knowingly disobeyed the vows they made and are being held accountable to those vows.

Also, these are leaders of the Church. The LCWR is held to a higher standard than I am (pretty sure no one at the Vatican reads my blog) because Catholics look to them to explain and live out the Gospel. LCWR's disregard for Church authority affects themselves, the women religious whom they lead, and unconsecrated laity (Catholics like me, not ordained or consecrated to religious life).

Allowing the LCWR to continue their past practices has the potential to lead many astray, including, I would argue, non-Catholics who assume that a nun is an accurate model of authentic Catholic life. The Church is not promoting a male-dominated world. It is protecting the Gospel of Christ.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Last Set of Tidbits

This is my 12th Tidbits post, so I'm ending the series after tonight. After all, you now know my favorite seasonal food from each month, so no point repeating that. :-)

I am reading... nothing of quality. I got a bunch of young adult books from the library, which generally guarantees a decent plot without sex or profanity, but what I've read so far was either lacking in plot or morals. Sigh. Fun fact: As a kid, I was allowed four books at a time from the library, to reduce late fines or lost books. As an adult, I still feel like I'm getting away with something when I take more than four.

I am praying for... the success of a local Christian sports camp. This summer will be my 10th (nonconsecutive) year working for them. Recently, they've struggled to maintain high enough enrollment to justify the camp to the church board, so this summer really needs to be a banner year.

My favorite seasonal food is... tricolor pasta salad. I like it with fresh tomato chunks and Italian dressing. Jeremy prefers cubed cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. Peter just likes "noo-noos".

I am planning... to go out to eat TWICE tomorrow! We're having breakfast with my Dad - and maybe my brother and his family, if they get that coordinated :-) - then a couple college friends are joining us for lunch. Looks like dinner might be a light meal tomorrow. Maybe pasta salad... :-)

I was recently surprised by... something sticky in my hair. Because I showered this afternoon. No idea what it is, but I bet I know from where whom it came!