Saturday, May 10, 2008

Worth a little note

Today I stopped in at a 3-Day yard sale. I mentioned that I'd done the 3-Day before, and that I'd done a yard sale the previous two years. They said, "You spoke at camp! We heard you and you're the reason we're walking this year....we weren't going to, but you were so inspirational!"

It gladdened my heart in so many ways. I don't get a lot of feedback (positive or negative) from my public speaking; generally, I just speak, people clap politely, and then I leave, and it's over. It means more to me than I can say that my words made a difference to somebody, and changed their course of action in a way that benefits the world. You go, ladies! Three cheers for Team Hiking for Hooters. :-)

I will do the 3-Day again. Just not this year. Breast cancer has worn out my soul, and I don't have much to give in that area right now. I'll be back; I'm sure of it. But I need to get a bit stronger first, so that it doesn't drain me so completely.

Two places at once

Despite my desire to live in the moment, I often wish that I could be in two places at once.

Tomorrow, after the WSUU service, there is a peace march from the service to the Alaska Junction. Mother's Day was founded by Unitarian activist Julia Ward Howe in 1870 as a proclamation for mothers to protest sending their children to war. There is still too much war in the world, and today, more than ever, this message is appropriate and necessary.

To mothers who have children fighting wars, near and far: bless you. My mother's heart aches for you. I deeply, deeply wish that your children could return home to you, safe and sound.

We tell Tessa at home, "Hitting is not a solution! Use your words to work it out!" and oh how I deeply wish that the world could operate on the same principles.

After the peace march, there will be the singing of a hymn, "We are a gentle angry people."

I am proud to be a UU. I am proud that there will be peaceful marching, peaceful protest. If I could be in two places at once, I'd be there!

Glad that's done!

Our yard sale was a success. We got rid of a bunch of stuff we didn't need, and we made a bit of cash. Tessa's lemonade stand was a huge success for both her and Anna - they made $40 to donate to Habitat for Humanity! We will definitely repeat the lemonade stand; we were grateful that Tessa could do something hands-on to save the world, and we hope that she keeps the lesson in her heart, internalizing it and making it a part of her. When the Habitat house is done, I hope she sees it and thinks, "Because of me, a family has a better life. My part was small but it was IMPORTANT!" I hope that this is one of many, many lessons on this subject.

And now of course, we're tired. Tessa and Anna are over and playing nicely, and I'm taking a break here for a moment before getting back to cooking and cleaning. Tonight is Michele's party and I'm making a mango salsa (mangos on sale at Costco....the frugal part of me is satisfied, but the environmental part - distance, non-organic, plastic packaging - is dismayed.....) which I've done before and it's delicious.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day for us.

We will attend church in the morning, and Tessa is being blessed as a member of WSUU. I'm delighted to have her do this joining into the WSUU community; I want her to feel at home there. The ceremony is not about divine favor as much as it is about community and faith, and it warms my heart to think of it. I am exceedingly grateful that we found WSUU when Tessa was so young, so that she may grow up with its reinforcement of our values.

After church, my family (GG, Mom & Dad, Mike, Krystal, and well as Heather, Jenny and kids, because their hubbies are leaving on business trips) will join us for brunch. Tonight I'm making a french toast dish that soaks overnight and bakes in the oven - yummmm. And I'm making a blueberry coffee cake, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fruit salad. Coffee, juice, and voila'! It's all simple food, but I have some work to do before it's all done. I'm hoping for elegant casual - the kids will run around like crazy, of course, and hopefully the adults will get to chat. If the weather's good, the kids will gulp down their food and then play on the swingset, and that will work well for ALL parties!

(And jsut for the record - last weekend was my Mother's Day downtime. This weekend, it's all family and church and yard sales and cooking and parties....and that's a-okay with me. I am grateful to have these people in my life, and to share my life in these ways.)

To the mothers in my life: Thank you for encouraging me to be the best mother I know how to be. Thank you for modeling such incredible mothering, so that I can learn from you. Thank you for helping me when I go astray in my mothering. And thank you for helping to mother my daughter, so that she knows that she's got her real mama, but she's got dozens of helper-mamas too, who care about her and share her joys and sorrows.

And to my real & actual mother: I love you, Mum. I wouldn't be who I am without your help and guidance. I am grateful for your constant presence in my life, for your laughter and friendship and guideance. I have known since birth how deeply I was loved, and this gift is the best I could ever have received, and the one I most hope to give Tessa. Thank you, Mom, for believing in me through thick and thin, and for being such a wonderful mother. I love you!

Friday, May 09, 2008


I'm trying SO hard to get to bed by 10. It's 10:20. OOPS!

Lizard update: all is well. Tessa and I went together to the dentist's office (she missed preschool by sleeping in, so I figured I might as well take her) and she told the front desk folks her story and gave them a dollar (of her own money, from when she sold her own toys at Jenny's yard sale) and asked if she could buy a new lizard. For her pains, she got lots of smiles and FOUR lizard toys (okay, two lizards, a turtle, and a monkey).

Phew. We made it through that one alive!

Tomorrow is the giant West Seattle Yard Sale. I can not tell you how relieved I am that we are not holding a 3-Day sale at our house- last year nearly did me in. Instead, we're going super-low-key and we're participating in the sale at C&P - we'll bring in a couple tables worth of stuff, and Tessa is going to sell lemonade in the afternoon ($1/cup, all proceeds to Habitat for Humanity, come by and buy a glass!) as her first personal charity fundraiser. We'll make a few dollars, and we'll clean out our attic, and everybody should come out ahead. I also hope to go yard saling for a few of my own items:
- a queen headboard for the guest room
- tea party stuff (cups, teapots, plates, fancy spoons, etc.)
- fall clothes for Tessa
- gardening stuff (open to what I see - we're new so we don't have everything yet)
- a garden bench
- a birdbath
- cast iron frying pan

So, hopefully I'll get a chance to run around and have fun in addition to slaving behind the table. Whenever I'm feeling done, though, we can simply pack up and go - hurrah! We don't have THAT much, and since we're doing it at C&P, it should be easy. (Fingers crossed.)

Yard saling is actually a very efficient activity. No additional toxins are produced in the selling of these items; they're already in circulation. It's frugal, of course, as nothing sells for retail. This is local, so driving is a non-issue (though we might drive to the big sales, it's within a few mile radius). The environment wins, pocketbooks win, and maybe even our household wins by getting some cool stuff. Love it!

Now I'm off to bed - busy day today, busy day tomorrow....

Tessa and the lizard update

Tessa JUST woke up, and so I'm keeping her out of preschool.

The reason she slept in so late, and that I didn't wake her earlier, is that the kid cried herself to sleep until about 10:30 or 11pm last night. You've gotta be kidding me! Argh.

She seems in a good mood....let's hope that the good mood sticks....!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sometimes it's tough being five

Background: At Tessa's dentist's office, at the end of each appointment the children are given a "coin" and get to go to a series of machines (not unlike gumball machines) to choose a type of small toy as their reward for doing well. Last time, Tessa chose a sticky lizard, and loved it until it's limbs fell off (these are cheap toys; it didn't take long). This time, she couldn't wait to get a new lizard.

Tessa has shown off her lizard, took it with her to preschool today, and is quite infatuated with it. This is a bit weird (of all the toys to choose....?) but fine, of course.

Until tonight. I was in the kitchen doing dishes after dinner, and suddenly I heard a true shriek from the bathroom - I ran in expecting blood. "IT'S GONE!" she cried, truly gasping for breath and with tears streaming down her cheeks. "IT'S GONE! FOREVER!" and she cried so hard that the whites of her eyes were literally a bright pink.

Assessment....what is she talking about.....? Ahhh. She was giving "Sticky" a bath in the bathroom sink. For reasons unknown to me, she removed the little catcher that sits in the drain....and Sticky was washed out to sea.

For a moment, *I* was mad. "Tessa," I growled, "This is going to cost Mommy & Daddy a big plumbing bill and I'm upset that you did that!"

Oops. I realized very quickly that this was not jsut "one of those things" but that the poor girl was nearly hyperventilating - this wasn't her standard "I'm not getting my way" fit but really, truly, a desperate time.

So, I have spent the past hour plus of my life mourning one very cheap, linty, sticky lizard. I've tried sympathy ("I know how much you liked Sticky,") and I've tried cheap psychology ("Come on - this isn't the worst thing you've dealt with. It could have been worse! It could have been Bear!" - absolutely the most awful, wrong thing I could have said, by the way, and for the record - her shrieks at this point were deafening and it took a good while to calm her down from that one), and I've tried Sound of Music standards (which went well until I tried the unknown fourth verse....the one in which I substitute things from our life for the lyrics. Bringing up Sticky in one line was NOT a good idea.); and I've tried telling her stories from my childhood ("On a road trip, our dog used to ride in the back seat with Uncle Mike and I, and he got diarhea all over my favorite Holly Hobby doll!" - to this she replied that her lizard loss was much, much worse) AND I EVEN PULLED THE CANCER CARD! She said, "I'll never feel better, ever, ever, ever, and I'll never stop crying, " and I said, "Well, Mommy had cancer and I thought I'd never stop crying and I did" and she said, "Did it hurt when they shaved your head?" and I thought that I was really getting somewhere and then she said, "This is the worst day of my life and losing Sticky is MUCH MUCH WORSE than that!"

Well. Okay then.

At this point, fortunately, my sense of humor was in overdrive, and it was all that I could do to keep from laughing, which most definately was not an option in front of her. At some point in the cancer story I ws thinking "oh no I'm scarring her for life with all of this" and I felt guilty, but when she ranked her two cent sticky lizard going down the drain as MUCH MUCH WORSE than cancer, I realized that she wasn't too scarred by my slightly off comparison.

Ahhh, tough to be five.

And tomorrow, when she's at preschool, I plan to go back to her dentist's office to offer them cash for a new sticky lizard. I mean, how can I not?!

Getting back into my body

Today Tessa, Shep and I walked to preschool.

On the way back, a mere mile, I plugged in my iPod and jammed out to the tunes as I really stretched my legs.


I am ready to move again, ready to allow my body to move, ready to feel good.

October, and another surgery, looms ahead. But between now and then it's all about healing... again. It's about getting back into running. It's about beach days. It's about the tunes in my ears, the sun on my face, the wag of my dog's tail.


By the way, the first some that came up on the "shuffle" function of my iPod was "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. (I'm rockin' to the oldies these days, I guess.)

"Joy to the world,
to all the boys and girls;
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea,
Joy to you and me."

How apropos.


Did you know?

That the water you run to warm up your shower, so that you're not sprayed with cold water when you step in, is about two gallons? (At our house, anyway.) We now have a bucket in our shower to catch this "warm up" water, and it gets filled to overflowing before we even step in the shower.

We're using this water in our garden, or for mopping.

Happiness Runs

The musical director at WSUU has some diverse selections, and a few weeks ago she chose an old song, "Happiness Runs" by Donovan, and we sang it in a round.

It gets into my head sometimes, and out of this sweet little bit of silliness, I'm finding deep thoughts.

"Happiness runs in a circular motion,
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea;
Everybody is a part of everything anyway,
You can have everything if you let yourself be.

Happiness runs, happiness runs...

Why? Oh, because..."

Today this song is playing it's merry way through my head and making me smile. I really believe that we can not be happy until we're making others' lives happy (that's the circular motion) and that living according to our innermost personal values is the key to our happiness. We are all connected to one another, and there is no escaping it. Our thoughts bob about and change and shift with the currants, but we are all interconnected and if we accept this interconnectedness and listen to our inner voices, we'll be happy. Happiness is out there, running around waiting for us. Why? It just "is." Whether it is God's will, the workings of an intricate universe, or something intrinsic nature is unknown to us. But it is.

I'm working a lot on happiness lately - as a matter of fact, it's ALL I'm working on. A friend asked me if that was not the wrong approach (what about peacefulness? compassion? wisdom? love?) and my response is that happiness, TRUE happiness, is the result of all of those things. If I want to be happy I need to live according to those other values. The result of peacefulness, compassion, wisdom, and love must be happiness, I think.

The Dalai Lama spoke of this, much more eloquently than I ever could. He talked about "good selfish" and "bad selfish." "Good selfish" is what I'm trying for. I wish to be happy, and that could be seen as selfish. But the thing is, I want deep and true happiness, the kind where my mind is not nagging me that I've done something wrong, and to get that kind of happiness, I must be generous in other ways. The end result, I hope, is my internal happiness; the external result, though, is improving the world around me and other's happiness (and this is the "good" part of "good selfish"). It is not wrong to be motivated by what feels good, the Dalai Lama said, when the world benefits.

("Bad selfish" is living only for the moment, regardless of its impact on others. I might throw out angry words because it feels good in the moment to be "right," but in the end, these words hurt me as well as others because I know that hurting someone is never justified. I might do something bad to the earth because it's convenient to me, but to do so is foolish, because in the end I pay the price, and my selfishness harms others AND myself.)

Apologies to the Dalai Lama for saying this so much less eloquently than he did, but it has struck me in profound ways and I'm really trying to live according to these values.

So, today, where-ever you are, and whoever you are, I hope that you feel happy. I hope that you feel that little bubbling happiness inside of you that says "I know who I am. I know I'm doing the right thing." I hope you find many reasons to laugh, and to feel deep joy.


PS My joy of the day: Dancing with Tessa. Tomorrow is my official lifting of the 10 pound restriction, and I figured that neither my body nor the plastic surgeon would know if I was 14 hours early. I put "Happiness Runs" music on, and Tessa and I danced with her in my arms, complete with dips. Tessa's joy at being held close by her mama was tangible, and gladdened me in ways that maybe only another mother can understand. Talk about healing...Tessa laughed and held me close and told me that she loved me "more than the trees....more than the hummingbirds....more than a sidewalk." Despite my confusion at why I'm being compared to slabs of concrete :-) this moment will stay with me for a long, long time.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Small Tessa update

We visited the dentist today, and received the excellent news that Tessa has no cavitites. She was an angel in the dentist's chair, opening wide and being sweet, and I had to laugh - at home when I help brush or floss her teeth she's a real pill about it and bites the toothbrush and makes faces and resists (she wants to do it BY HERSELF -she's clear on that). But with the dentist, she was sweet as pie, and I'm glad.

I was worried because her teeth are VERY close together (e.g. she will need braces later, guaranteed, just like her mom & dad) and the dentist gave us a good lecture (nicely, at least) about how we should be flossing every single day and she's at higher risk etc. (We brush twice a day, but flossing, well.....we mean happens on occassion.....oops.)

"Weak" teeth run in the family too, and Tessa's cousin is struggling with some dental issues at a young age....we love him and we're sorry he has to deal with that. We wouldn't wish it on him, EVER! Some enamel is soft, some is hard, and Tessa lucked into getting the hard kind, so we're lucky in that regard.

But we're now religious flossers, and Tessa better understands the importance of having Mom & Dad help her when she brushes/flosses, and why she can't do it all herself. Tessa listened carefully to what the dentist said, and she's agreed that it's very important, so we'll be flossing nightly. The family the flosses together stays together?!


Okay, so I'm human.

Jenny has Tessa for a couple of hours, so what did I do?

I went shopping.

I wasted an hour of my "wild and precious life" (Mary Oliver) shopping in Marshall's when I didn't need a single thing. I still can't believe I did that! I picked things up, put them down, felt vaguely unsettled about it....didn't spend any money (good) but when left on my own, did shopping instead of something meaningful.

Shep really would have liked a walk, and I could have gotten some exercise, listened to my iPod, etc. I could have put up paint in the downstairs bathroom. I could have listened to music, drunk tea, and written in my journal. I could have read. I could have done laundry. I could have gardened. I could have written a note to a friend, or done filing, or a million other things.

I'm only human, and I make mistakes. I'm going to try to remember this one, though. Today it seemed like everything in the store was junk, not designed to last. I found a beautiful flower pot but it had warning labels all over it saying "NOT INTENDED FOR FOOD!" which I interpreted to mean "contains lead" and since I'd like a lead free yard (and I was thinking of planting herbs in it, to eat) I didn't get it. And cute shoes, made of all synthetic materials (bad for feet, bad for earth?). And loads of other things I didn't need.

So then I went back to the grocery store to buy cilantro - the stuff I planted is doing GREAT (surprisingly so, actually) but it's still too small to harvest, and tonight's dinner needs some. I wasted a lot of time looking at things that the "conventional" grocery store doesn't sell. The honey was all in plastic or there were tiny glass jars for $8.99 (so I didn't buy any); they don't sell Bob's Red Mill flour there (and I prefer it because it's a) local and b) organic and c) relatively cheap); the list goes on. I bought organic canola oil (I use it in my bread) but realized after I got home that I had a 10% off coupon for PCC and I should have waited to buy it there when I get the honey. GRRRRR.

I did get coffee filters (bleach free) which was an absolute I guess it was worth it.

But this was a ridiculous way to spend free time. Lesson learned (I hope!).

Tonight will be a quick family dinner, and then I'm off to "Cool Moms for a Hot Planet" at C&P. One mom at a time, we're going to save the world. I am convinced that this is possible. Don't laugh, I really mean it. Look how much I've been able to do in the past few months - it's remarkable to me.
- thermostat lowered and programmed
- moving to exclusively energy efficient lightbulbs
- hot water tank heat reduced
- unplugging items
- reducing plastic use
- cut our garbage in half through changed habits
- drastically reduced food waste
- planted a garden
- cut miles on our car
- making my own bread
- not buying books (with two exceptions, okay ;-) ) but borrowing them from the library - every day I get a new library notice of a "treat" waiting for me
- increased walking
- eliminate one refrigerator
- shopping mostly PCC and farmer's markets (e.g. more local food)
- reduced massive amounts of stuff coming in our door
- eliminated disposable water bottles
- all cloth napkins, all the time
- all rags/reusable mops etc, not disposable, for most cleaning
- all environmentally friendly cleaners (baking soda, Method, etc.)

Yes, I have a LOT to learn. A LOT. But I am learning. And it feels good to know I've done this much, even when I make stupid mistakes.

Reader Poll - Please reply!

I'm interested in knowing what temperature you keep your house in two parts:

1) When you're at home and awake; and
2) When you're asleep or away from the house.

I've heard a lot of answers, ranging from 72 degrees down to 55 degrees.

What do you do? Please leave a comment and tell me.

Reduce plastics!

I am determine to reduce the number of plastics entering my house. DETERMINED.

Today, I sent this message to "Organicgirl" - www. - which is a brand of organic produce sold at the West Seattle Morgan Street Thriftway. I also mentioned to the checker at Thriftway that I do not wish to buy highly packaged produce.

Reducing plastic is difficult. I'm learning more, and realizing that such a simple step is actually going to be very difficult, but that it's an important part of what needs to be done to heal the earth, create clean air and water for humans and animals alike, etc.

Today I'm suggesting two ways that you, a not-so-crazy-person-as-myself, can heal the earth:
1. When given a choice, choose the product with less packaging, or no plastic packaging.

2. When not given a choice, speak up! This can be as simple as mentioning to a store employee that you'd prefer to have less packaging in your products, or as active as creating a national letter writing campaign. (I believe that the middle road, just sending an email to state your opinion about plastics and packaging to the manufacturer/producer, is a great idea.)
Yesterday I went grocery shopping at a local (West Seattle, Washington) store and needed green onions. I was delighted that organic green onions were available, and I'm happy to buy your brand...but I was very unhappy with the fact that it came in plastic packaging. One of the reasons I buy organic is to help my body (I feel no need to ingest pesticides) but the other is to reduce harm to the environment. A simple, tiny rubber band seems so much less harmful than a big plastic bag! Plus, I had to buy twice as many onions as I needed, as I couldn't control the quantity within the bag, so unless I can pawn them off on someone or find green onion recipes (?) a good portion of them are certain to go to waste.Please, consider reducing your packaging. Your logo is cute, but it's not worth damaging the earth with the production and disposal of toxins (plastics) that are unnecessary.In the future, I will not buy your product; now that I know that this store has highly packaged organic goods, I'll return to shopping at PCC and other local, organic stores that do not promote packaging.Thank you for considering my request.

PS If you live close to me and you need green oinons, gimme a call. I've got way too many!

PPS I never thought to plant green onions - hmmm. I wonder if I can find seeds....

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Today I'm out of sorts. Nothing serious, just out of sorts. It was a busy day that started well, with PEPS at our house, then Tessa at preschool while I ran all kinds of errands....and then I just ran out of steam.

I'm trying very, very, very hard to be the environmental girl, and often struggling. Grocery shopping is becoming a new form of torture for me, balancing all of my desires (frugality, organic, local, healthy, not processed, simple preparations). I'm trying to avoid buying plastics so wanted to buy two half gallons of milk in paper instead of one gallon in plastic, but to do so would cost about $2 more per gallon. So I bought in glass, and spent even more. (Sigh) I will figure it out, and there are answers, they're just not easy all the time.

And I bought organic green onions....that came pre-sealed in a plastic sack. What's wrong with a tiny rubber band instead of all that plastic? And is it better to buy non-organic in that case, to avoid packaging? Why on earth would an organic producer package like that? And I ended up buying twice as many as I needed because they were pre-packaged.

Little struggles....I will learn.

I went to Costco (boneless, skinless, organic chicken thighs for $3.99/pound; I bought three pounds and came home and froze them in one pound sections) and found a deal worth sharing: Light bulbs. Seattle Public Utilities is offering an incentive to buy energy efficient bulbs, and so they have an instant rebate on a 10 pack of bulbs that retails for $17.89 and the rebate is for $13.50 - wow! Ten bulbs for less than $4 is an excellent, frugal deal. Thanks, SPU. (The offer is available at other stores, as well - check your local Fred Meyer, Home Depot, McLendon as well to see if they have a similar offer.) But I had to drive to Costco, and since I did it with Tessa at preschool I wasn't able to consolidate as many errands as I wanted to, and so I put some extra miles on the car today. Not many, but enough.

Tonight I made hamburgers for dinner - it felt decadent. Still, with Great Harvest's organic hamburger buns (whole grain) for $.50 each, and $4 worth of Misty Isle Farms organic ground beef (lean of course), and an avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, it was a pretty healthy meal. (We already had ketchup, mustard, and pickles, as well as some cheddar cheese.) I made a side of orzo pasta with parmesan (an old Rachel Ray recipe) to go with it. To feed the whole family dinner was about $10.50 even including condiments etc. and I'm pleased enough with that - if we'd had similar burgers at Jak's they'd be that much EACH.

And I did do something I'd been meaning to do "forever" today - I unplugged our second fridge. We'd been working on emptying the freezer, and I was able to consolidate the two fridges into one. In theory, this will save 7% of our electric bill. I think that the downstairs fridge is actually in better shape than the upstairs one, so I'd like to get rid of the upstairs one and switch out the downstairs one....but I have to get Ryan and some help to do that, as my body no longer moves things like refrigerators. (I still have a 10 pound weight restriction, but even when that's lifted - FRIDAY! - I won't be able to do fridges.)

I'm fighting allergies, or is it a cold? Now Tessa and I are both coughing. I'm out of sorts because of it, so perhaps this is the source of my angst today.

Whatever. Hopefully a good night's sleep will cure me.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Busy but slow

Every minute is filled, but I have promised not to be so rushed. This is an interesting juxtaposition - I wish to live my life to the fullest, not wasting a minute....but as our friend Paul says, "I refuse to live my life in 15 minute increments." I am trying to do what is important, to slow down, to enjoy it or do it well, as the case may be.

Today we had a morning of chores, including planting several more rows in the garden (now we have spinach, golden beets, and radishes to add to our list), and then we had playdates. Zoe came with us, and I watched Camille (who napped for a good deal of the time) at Heather's, and while Zoe & Tessa played I did menu planning, caught up on my snail-mail, etc. Then, some errands including grocery shopping, then we dinner with Ryan. Overall, a lovely day.

And my "allergies" if that is what they are have kicked in BIG time tonight. Argh. Off to bed for me!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Home from Orcas

Tired and happy.

I wrote in my journal, talked with Heather and Marisa, did yoga on the deck, read, contemplated the natural beauty, and enjoyed. I spent a couple of hours (?) in Darvill's, my favorite bookstore anywhere, and loved every second of that luxury.

The only down note (a small one given the joy of the weekend) was that I think I've got seasonal allergies. Sneezing, blowing my nose every few minutes (or more!)...ugh. I took a Benedryl and I'm off to bed.