Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now this feels like summer

Never mind the fact that I have jeans an a polarfleece AND a sweater on....

Today Ryan, Tessa and I purchased a small outdoor firepit for our backyard. (I figure that there has to be SOME good purpose for the concrete pad out there....and it IS fireproof.) We have spent the last hour roasting marshmallows for s'mores and listening to Tessa say, "I love s'mores! They're the best thing in the whole world! Can I have s'more?" and giggling at the pun.

I love camping. I love campfires. I don't particularly love s'mores (although our extra dark chocolate did help!) but I love roasting marshmallows. I love wearing fleece under the trees and watching the flames crackle. I love being with my family, and watching them smile. (And I love how Tessa climbed into Ryan's lap to wipe some marshmallow off his lip. Somehow very sweet.) We plan to camp for real next weekend, but this is a lovely intro to camping season.

(And we wondered if cousins Caleb and Joshua, on their way to Yellowstone today, were also roasting marshmallows by a fire....)

More to say....we went to the Habitat new house blessing for three units that were just completed, and it brought tears to my eyes to see the families who will take possession of those houses. I am glad to share in it. Tessa hand-delivered the money she raised at her lemonade stand, and was widely thanked. I pray that this leads her to a lifetime of charity and generousity, sharing her love and talent with the world, and that she remembers how GOOD it feels to give and is inspired to do even more.

Over and out....the fire hasn't died down and I think a glass of wine awaits me. Good night!

More response to my letter, with my response

Thank you for your response.
When you make the changes you mention, I will be glad to buy your products again. I applaud you for working towards these goals of sustainability and "going green," and when I see Christopher Ranch products without plastic packaging (in particular) I will gladly buy them.

Kristina Surface
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. -Goethe
-----Original Message-----
From: Garlicia []
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 11:02 AM
To: Kristina Surface
Subject: Re: packaging
Hello Kristina:
Thank you for contacting us. Farmers have inherently been stewards of the land - how else can we ensure the continuation of crops from year to year - and Christopher Ranch is no exception. We are going "green" and making many changes right now including:
Looking at ways to reduce packaging use in general, as well as:
. Significantly reducing petroleum based packaging materials like
plastic and cellophane
. Eliminating white cardboard and phasing out laminates to make all
packaging recycleable and biodegradeable
. Working towards compostability
. Trying to maximize post-consumer materials when packaging is
. Providing our offices with easy access to recycling bins for
cans/bottles/mixed paper.
. Working with all suppliers to insure that we have the most
environmentally friendly and up-to-date packaging available.
Christopher Ranch is trying to do its part to reduce, reuse and recycle so we appreciate your feedback and concern. Thank you for your support.
Christopher Ranch
A Day Without Garlic... Tasteless!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sending the Ward family to Panama

Tonight we spent the evening with Jenny, Liam and Zoe at C&P.

There will be a big hole in our lives when they leave - we're really going to miss them. In particular, I will really miss Jenny. We do so much together, and we meet up so often...

Follow up on Activism - Results!

Here is the response I received - wow! This small action might actually cause a difference. I like that.
Dear Kristina,Thank you for including us in the "Cc" of your email to Christopher Ranch. We put?forth great effort to provide eco-smart?options for?our?customers?but in most cases?our vendors have the control of how?their product?comes?to us. Eliminating the additional packaging would be an excellent thing for Christopher Ranch?to?consider.I will be forwarding your letter to our produce department manager to research feasible options for a more earth friendly way to sell our organic garlic.Thank you again for writing, and I will be sure to inform you of any developments regarding your note.MicheleWebmasterWest Seattle Thriftway

Activism for the Day

Here's a letter I sent on email today. Only took me a moment...not sure if it will make a difference, but I'm trying!
Dear Christopher Ranch and West Seattle (Morgan Street) Thriftway,

Recently I bought some Christopher Ranch garlic from the organic section at the West Seattle Thriftway in Seattle, Washington. I have no complaints with the garlic itself - and I commend you for offering organic - but I am very concerned about the packaging.

Garlic, in particular, comes in it's own handy, resilient package. I do not understand why it is necessary or desireable to add packaging to a garden product that is already self contained, and it concerns me. One of the reasons that I buy organic is to prevent wear and tear on our earth, and it seems that extra packaging is not the way to go.

Could stores put a little "Christopher Ranch" sign next to the garlic, instead, if you want customers to know where the garlic came from? One sign would serve the same purpose - one little piece of cardboard instead of packaging on every single product. I'm sure it would save your company money, as well, as packaging isn't cheap.

The little blue plastic mesh bag is now in a landfill, forever. I'm recycling the piece of cardboard at the top…but that plastic will take thousands of years to degrade.

Please consider different options for packaging your garlic, including my favorite, which is no packaging at all.

I choose not to buy overpackaged products, and in the future, I will buy my garlic elsewhere, where it is not packaged in man-made materials, but sits in its own papery skin, ready for me to grab.

Thank you for your consideration.
Kristina Surface

On another note, this morning I made a giant batch (sharing with multiple friends) of my favorite chicken-pasta-arugula salad (which, ironically, does not contain garlic). I mixed it up by adding steamed asparagus and fresh zuchinni, as I think that just about any veggies would be good in it (I kept the red onion, arugula, herbs, and cherry tomatoes that it calls for, as well).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Preschool Graduation

I only teared up once - and for that, don't I get some kind of mothering-medal?!

I told Tessa, and I'll shout it from the rooftops:
I am proud of my daughter.

I am proud of the way she loves to learn.

I am proud of who she is.

I am proud of what a good student she is.

I am proud of my daughter.

The sun is out!

Literally - it is glorious outside right now.

And figuratively, too. Tonight Tessa graduates from preschool, and she is so excited and proud of herself. Her enthusiasm is contagious - this is a very big deal to her, and we can't help but feel her energy. She's quivering with happiness like a wiggly puppy, and I love it.

And I get to be a part of it. Cancer is not around today. I will be there at this first of (hopefully many) graduations. Today that little dream comes true, and I, too, am shaking with the emotion of it. This time, not trembling in fear, but quivering with happiness like my daughter.

I had lunch with Michele, and delighted in sharing in our friendship, healthy food, and children.

And the garden rewarded us today, too! Our first crops are coming in: radishes and strawberries are being harvested today. Our salad will have fresh garden lettuce in it, as well as radishes, and when Ryan comes home Tessa and Daddy will go and pluck the sun-warmed berries from the vines and then pop them straight into their mouths together. Bliss!

And my parents are coming over, along with my grandma, to share in the graduation bliss and to share an early Father's Day dinner.

What a lovely day. Hallelujah!

All will be well

All will be well

All manner of things

Will be well......

General Updates: Green report, Weight Watchers, Life

On the green front: Working harder than ever. My current work is on body lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc. I've switched all of our household cleaning products to natural ones (either vinegar, baking soda, Meyers, Trader Joe's, Seventh Generation, or Method brands), and now I'm switching my own products.

Toothpaste: Tom's of Maine. They've just come out with a new line that does not contain sodium laurel sulphates, but we're still using their "old" stuff. Ryan and I like minty flavors; Tessa prefers their "silly strawberry."

Deodorant: This has been a tough one. I've used, and dismissed as unworkable, Alba and Tom's of Maine brands. Yesterday I picked up a rock crystal ($2 for the small size, so at least it's cheap), as I've received good reviews about them. Apparently the mineral salts don't allow odor-causing bacteria to grow. We will see!

Shampoo & Conditioner: We just finished our bottle of Trader Joe's shampoo, so I took the empty bottle to PCC, determined to refill it with one of their natural bulk shampoos. (Why do we accept that shampoo bottles get used and tossed? Why NOT refill them?) I ended up buying Giovanni Organics brand from the bulk section, which doesn't contain fragrance (which is full of carcinogens), phalates (sp?), SLS, or parabens. My first shower with it is in a few minutes, so I don't know if it's good. Previously I bought Avalon Organics Lavendar conditioner, and I didn't like the strong scent OR the way it made my hair feels, so still working on that one.

General household soap: We bought Ballard Organics Lavendar Castile Soap. Our whole family likes the mild scent of lavendar (there were other types to choose from, as well; it uses essential oils, not "fragrance"), and castile soap is supposed to be "the best" environmentally speaking. Apparently I could use this for dish soap, general cleaning, or hand/body soap. I refilled our hand soap dispenser in our bathroom with it, with lots left over. This, too, was from the bulk section at PCC.

Sunscreen: I did NOT like the "Kiss My Face" brand, but I really like the Alba sunscreen. (On sale for $7.99; you can get different formulations and SPF levels.) I also threw out my Banana Boat Aloe Vera, because even though it LOOKED like aloe vera and said aloe vera on the sticker, reading the ingredients proved that it had very little aloe in it. (Grrr.) We love aloe for after-sun.

Lip Balm/Lip Gloss/Lip Stick: I love my Alba products, and they're inexpensive.

Face lotion: I bought a sample size "JASON Red Elements" face moisturizer with SPF in it, and I really like it (I've used it for a while). I also like the Alba moisturizer. There are a LOT to choose from, but as price is important to me as well as health, these two are the outstanding winners.

Razors: For years, we've gone to Costco to purchase their disposable razors. All of those plastic handles in say nothing of the huge plastic makes me cringe. We still have an abundant supply, and we will use those up, but I intend to find something with cartridges where you replace the blade but not the handle each time. I'll work on that when our razors are almost gone.

Other cosmetics: I have no idea! I don't wear make-up very often but I like to have a little available to me. I haven't researched them yet, but I will.

If you have had success with any face/body products, I'd love to hear about them.

I am currently reading "Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home" by Christopher Gavigan, and it is so helpful that I'm tempted to buy it (mine is a library copy). It has information about everything from mosquito repellent to lice treatment (argh my head itches just thinking about it...but it's a common problem in elementary schools and since Tessa is almost there.....ack!) to pet shampoos and a million other topics. For those of you who love People Magazine, you'll also love that it is a star-studded book, with tons of stars weighing in with their green experiences; there are side-bar essays throughout the book by the likes of Brooke Shields, Tobey Maguire, Kate Hudson, and dozens more.

Weight Watchers: I am on track, although it's only Thursday and I've used up more of my flex points than I'm comfortable with - it'll be a skinny weekend (not too many points) at this rate. No matter, it's worth it! Last night I made a yummy Cooking Light chicken piccata dish for Marisa and Tom, and it felt decadent even though it wasn't. (A tablespoon of butter in a dish goes a long way - yum.) We did have Bakery Nouveau desserts, but it was worth every bite. (My favorite is their raspberry topped chocolate mousse.)

And life? Busy as always. Soon, Tessa and I will go run errands to get ready for the rest of the day, which involves a lunch date with Michele and boys, preschool, my parents and grandmother coming for dinner, and then of course preschool graduation. I will try to walk to many of my errands, taking Shep with me, to get exercise and stay green.

I am looking forward to graduation immensely - I can hardly believe that my daughter has grown into such a beautiful (inside and out) child. She has already tried on her outfit for the evening (she's wearing her blue and white Easter dress with the wide blue ribbon sash; her black sparkly shoes; and a collection of jewelry she's chosen for the occassion) and she's been practicing her special graduation songs for days. Hearing her singing to herself gives me a joy that is difficult to describe.

About a day ago I think I came to a realization as to why *I* feel so emotional about this graduation. I think it's because when I was diagnosed one of my fears is that I wouldn't even see my daughter get to kindergarten....and here she is, on her way. I am so grateful for that that I'm crying as I type those words.

As I thought about it this week, I found myself negotiating with God. "I know I said I just needed to get her to kindergarten...I know I said that I would just take that....but it's not enough. Please, God, it's not enough. High school? Could I just see her graduate from high school? I know I said I would take less, but I love her so....please, please could I have more?" I heard God's voice reply. "I know," the voice said, with a smile. "I knew that all along. It's okay. Renegotiate. I understand." I didn't get any promises, just understanding. The God that I believe in doesn't negotiate, doesn't choose favors like that. The God that I believe in doesn't talk, either, for that matter! But some great spirit that I call God is out there, running the universe, and I felt that presence strongly. I was comforted somehow.

A new favorite song of mine is one that the RE (religious educator) Kari taught us, the chorus of which is a lovely meditation:
All will be well,
All will be well.
All matter of things
will be well.

If you want to hear it, you can go to iTunes and search on an album called "Mango Thoughts in a Meatloaf Town" and click on "All Will Be Well." This is the song I hum to myself when the world seems too much.

And with that....I'm off. Wish me mindfulness for the day - that despite my rushing here and there, I will remember to be present with my visit with 'Chele, that I will focus more on the joy of having my family over than the details of the dinner, that I will not think of the future, only the beautiful present, as I watch Tessa graduate.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Coming to terms

I am thinking a lot about my coming to terms with my new body.

I know this sounds silly, but until recently I think that I'd held out hope that my body would, one day, return to normal. I think I had been deluded into thinking that one day my breasts would look like regular ones (just with scars).

My body is not normal, and will never look like normal again.

I am realizing that I need to make some practical changes. I've always liked V-necks, and when I dress up I've often worn plunging necklines as a focal point (as opposed to, say, a short skirt). I can no longer do this.

Swimsuits, tank tops, sundresses with V-necks and such must remain out of my wardrobe. I will wait until summer is over and I have my next surgery to decide whether to get rid of them permanently, but this summer, they will remain in the closet. 'Cept that I am not buying enough to replace everything (I don't plan on buying anything!) so I will deal with that this summer. But replacements will hide, not reveal.

It's such a simple thing, but it takes some getting used to.


This weather is getting old. I think I will wear jeans and a turtleneck today. For real. In JUNE! Still, the weather isn't slowing us down...we're doing lots of things.

Yesterday, "things" meant cleaning. I went through Tessa's room for a deep clean, including throwing away a big bag of random little bits of things (birthday party favors, scraps of paper, broken bits), moving some things downstairs, organizing books, changing sheets....and dusting and vacuuming. Actually, I cleaned so much that I had to vacuum TWICE because I stirred up so much dust. (Yuck.)

And then I started on the rest of the house. The bathrooms didn't get touched but I did a lot of work on other parts.

Not great blogging material, but still, very satisfying. If I can't get my body in good working order, I can get my HOUSE in good working order. Yes, I am a control freak. Yes, I'm okay with that. (And if being a control freak helps me to clean my house, well, I'll take whatever help I can get.)

As I type, Tessa and Jessie are sharing knock-knock jokes and laughing. Mostly they are telling groaners and "five year old humor" like "Knock knock; Who's there?; Salt and pepper; hahahahahahaaaa!" but they ARE learning some jokes and it's cute. Jessie spent the night last night and the girls have been great, playing, doing art, and just enjoying one another. They were both freaked out by the windstorm and a fear of losing the power, but other than that it was smooth sailing. I love the age of five!

This is Tessa's last week of preschool - she graduates on Thursday night. WOW. I'm glad that the preschool is having a ceremony; I want to mark the occassion as special, and I think *I* need to acknowledge it in some way. Ceremonies are useful in that way; they allow us to remember, to dream...and to live in the present. On Thursday night, I will reflect on how far Tessa has come, I will dream of Tessa's kindergarten year, and I will remember just how much I love my five year old daughter, and I will be present in that moment.

And that's all from me - off to my busy day. Ciao!

Monday, June 09, 2008

A new week

I am actually quite glad to have a new week after my rough ending to last week.

This morning Tessa went to her first soccer class of the season, so I am (once again) officially a soccer mom. I sat on my camp chair with a fleece blanket around me (wearing Gore-tex and a hat, no less) sipping my coffee to stay warm, but Tessa ran around so much she needed a drink "to wear the sweat off!" as she so eloquently put it. This year she's spending more time chasing the ball than picking up flowers and sticks, so that already is a major success. (We had a good talk about "let's pick daisies afterwards so that you can focus on soccer during the class.")

Today I hope to do a deep(er) cleaning of the house and get caught up on some chores, and perhaps have Zoe over for Tessa's entertainment. A quiet day, which feels good in the stormy weather.

My mental state of being is better than it was last week. I can't say I've moved into the "acceptance" phase for real but I *am* working on it. At church, during the sharing of joys and sorrows, I didn't share anything, but found myself sobbing quietly....I do feel the sorrow of things sometimes. But crying helped, and so did Heather's tissue, quietly passed over with a sympathetic look; so did Ryan's arms, which wrapped around me and held me close while I cried; and so did newborn Charlotte, handed to me by her mother Lauren after the service "because you look like you could use some baby love today."

Also, I fell off the wagon from WW on Friday evening and didn't really get back on until this morning. I weighed myself and I'm the same weight I was a week ago which would be disappointing except that I'm relieved that my weekend of pigishness didn't do any real damage.

Today is a new day. I'm trying to clean house metaphorically as I clean my physical space...I think it will work.