Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Shelter of Each Other

and highly recommend it. Here are some of my favourite quotes from this wonderful book:
"Strong families have a knack for optimism, for taking long views and a "big picture" perspective. Hope is strong. They acknowledge problems and deal with them. They work through disagreements quickly and kindly and then return to a calm, peaceful state. Unhappy families do the opposite: they savour and nurse their pain and blow up small disagreements into battles. They build skyscrapers of pain on the meringues of small miseries."

oooh. isn't that just too painfully true?

Here's another doozy:
"Healthy people acknowledge pain, accept it and talk about it. Extracting meaning from pain ennobles and heals. Properly attended, pain makes people more tolerant, empathic and emotionally complex."
Such a good reminder when my children experience pain and every cell of my being wants to protect them from it!

I love this one:
"The metaphors of food, places, trips, beloved objects and beloved people become the connecting tissue of the family. They give family members' lives a context and meaning, a history and philosophy. The protective walls of a family are made of love, not stone."

This book has really cemented the importance of extended blood and chosen family for me. It's been so affirming and encouraging for me. And it's lit many fires under me. Like this one:
"We can act if we believe we can act. We can build new good things. The cure for cynicism, depression and narcissism is social action. Action solves two problems. It makes communities better and it gives people a sense of meaning and purpose. Volunteers are happy people. Work cures despair! and remember "Most of the good work in the world is done by people who weren't feeling all that well the day they did it." - Eleanor Roosevelt. Just because a person can't do everything doesn't mean he or she should do nothing."

And this quote resonated within me more than any other and is a topic I've been pondering a great deal lately:
"In the wilderness there is connection and complexity, challenge and serenity. In most of us there is a deep hunger for contact with the natural world. Everywhre people love to garden, to work with soil, to touch plants and make things grow. Gardening is healing. It's being involved with an old, old tradition, one that has always gone far beyond the practical need to grow food."
I've been really deeply noticing on a more microscopic level just lately how profoundly each of my children and myself NEED to be in nature. When we're not getting along, arguing, getting on each others' nerves (including our own) the cure is ALWAYS to go outside. Even just a few minutes outdoors, communing with the chickens, pulling a few weeds, or walking under the trees and all is right again with the world. We generally spend most of our time outdoors anyway, but on the days when we get into an inside project, sometimes we forget that we don't just need to ear and pee in the morning, we need to get outside just as much.
I'm reading a book to Annika right now that demonstrates this healing better than any thing else I've ever read:There are so many versions of this beautiful old novel, but the illustrations by Inga Moore in this one are pure magic. A horrid little girl that nobody can love spends time outdoors every day and is magically transformed. Sounds like a fairy tale but is really just a really good "how to parent" book written in beautiful language with beautiful pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pedar's Birthday

Time to do a bit of catch-up.
Pedar's birthday was one of the sweetest weekends all year! He was absolutely delighted with every moment and I wanted to get some photos of the events here because both kids love looking at photos of themselves and their special events on my blog!

Each year on Pedar's birthday we take the city bus downtown to the candy store. It's the only day of the year the kids go to this sweet shoppe, and it's quite an event! This year they chose swirly pops, yum yum!

We had a special lunch downtown and stopped at Surplus Herby's where daddy bought Pedar a fishing rod. One of the first things Pedar said on his birthday was "Daddy! You forgot to buy me a big boy fishing rod!" Beware the promises you make a wee boy in the heat of the previous summer!

The only other thing Pedar had asked for was a "rocket." He and his sister had hours of fun with his new "stomp" rocket. They can really make it fly!

The next day we invited Pedar's in-town cousins
over for an egg hunt to celebrate Spring and Eostar.
It's one of our funnest days every year. Annika was one of the bunny helpers this year and she found some beautiful spots to hide the eggs!

Pedar loved his rocket-cake (made from using 2 coffee tins as cake pans) and his favourite gift of all was these new "work pants" just like daddy's, from his Gma and Gpa. Too cute!

Then his big sister taught him how to ride a pedal-bike. It took one try and he was off. He's hardly been off his bike since... Learning to balance on his like-a-bike made all the difference.

Happy Birthday big 4 year old! I sure do love you!

'Farming' Rollercoaster

We have had the honour of looking after Andrea's newly purchased Ameracauna and Buff Orpington chicks for one week. Here's where Annika is nearly all the time:

Crooning lullabies as she rocks the chicks one a time on her lap. Her favourite (shown here) she's named PP and should grow up to the be the calmest, friendliest chicken there ever was!

Pedar loves them too, but he's not quite as maternal as his big sister.

We've had the heartache of having one of the Ameracaunas that wasn't thriving expire on us overnight. My kids are pretty hearty farm kids and while we were all sad, they handled it really well.

We also had a crazy heart-wrenching experience with a little "miracle" BP chick. Pedar had been cuddling it when his sister happened upon him and he must have thought she was going to get after him because he quickly hid it behind his back. She made him show her what he had and took it from him (he knows we want him to cuddle to his heart's desire but only when we're with him). With all the frantic crying I came upon the scene to find a "dead" chick in the playpen. Annika filled me in on what happened and soon we were all crying. I just couldn't let this little chick die and have my sweet boy feel responsible -- so I did all I could to revive it. I put a couple drops of water in its beak, but it didn't respond. I massaged its whole body for about 10 minutes trying to do my best healing touch, but it was still completely limp and barely breathing in my hand. I finally gave up and laid it under the heat lamp to die. Half an hour later I went back down and couldn't find it! I counted the brood about 5 times, each time coming up with 28, the full count! How could this be? A miracle, to be sure. We had a big celebration and still feel tremendous relief that sweet gentle Pedar doesn't have the accidental death of a wee chick on his mind.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boycotting Bad Behaviour

There is so much talk in the news just now of China's horrendous human rights records, of Tibet's desperate attempt for self-rule, and ultimately the conversations point at a call for boycotting the olympics.

I think that if we want to get a message across to China that we want them to consider doing things differently, we need to be willing to take some responsibility OURSELVES. Why ask athletes to give up their jobs so that we can send a message? Why not send the message ourselves? It's a huge challenge, but how about we ALL STOP BUYING ANYTHING MADE IN CHINA. It means giving up things that we think we need. It means paying more for nearly everything. But for me it means peace of mind and a sense of contribution.

Today I'm giving away my wedding-present-Sunbeam-made-in-China kettle (which is plastic and who loves the idea of drinking water that's been boiled in plastic anyway? yech!) in favour of my mum's old stainless steel made-in-the-USA-stovetop-kettle. It's been down at the trailer and irretrievable until now that the road has dried up, and I'm thrilled to have it back in its rightful place!

p.s. if you need motivation to stop buying m-i-C, watch "Manufactured Landscapes", likely available at your local library or "Mardi Gras, Made In China" or many other equally compelling documentaries about the horrors WE are causing in China by buying the cheap, crappy, polluting stuff they make only for us and would never consider using themselves.

Love in the oven...

One of my favourite things to make just for the pure joy of making it, as well as for the pleasure of feeding it to be people is cinnamon buns. I started the dough out this morning with the intention of making bread, but as it was rising we walked to the mailbox and ran into 3 of our neighbours, all older men, all eager to visit and have a little company. Their wives are either away just now or uninterested in being outside working with them and my heart squeezed for each of them. Why is it that too often people seem to grow apart and don't enjoy doing the same sorts of things in their old age? These men were all out working in their yards -- putting up new fences, planting new bushes, pulling out weeds... and their passion for the earth and being outdoors was palpable and so was their loneliness. Maybe it doesn't matter in the big scheme of things -- maybe they have lots of other things in common with their wives that they aren't lonely in all aspects of their lives.. I hope so.

And I hope that Brent and I always enjoy working and playing together...

In the meantime, Annika and Pedar have offered to take each of these men a little package of love in the form of cinnamon, flour and sugar... and so we have an extra large batch of cinnamon buns in the oven and the bread will have to wait for another day.

Postscript: I am humbled and amazed at the effect our cinnamon bun offerings have had in our little "community"! My children set off with such happy hearts to deliver these little love gifts, and returned absolutely high on appreciation and affection. And I received one huge hug from one neighbour, a tearful phone call from another and a moving email from the third. Each was so moved by our tiny offering! We must share ourselves more often!!!