Archive for the ‘everyday life’ Category

I’ve Been Noticing That You . . .

10.28.10

TRINITY
Trinity + Gizmo
We’ve been noticing that you wake up every morning thinking something is wrong (“Oh, my back hurts!” or “I think I’m sick”). At least that’s what Dad tells me, since he’s usually the one who wakes you. But then he sends you off to shower, and somehow you always come out just fine. Maybe it’s really just the waking up part that unsettles you? :)

I’ve been noticing that you . . .

  • Want friends who don’t gossip, use inappropriate language, or get catty.
  • Want to shave your legs, start wearing makeup, and do other things that you’re still too young for.

* * *

BLAKE
Blake
We’ve been noticing that you start most every sentence with, “I just realized . . .” You’ll even start two or three sentences within a single conversation that way. We’re glad you’re realizing so much all the time. :)

I’ve been noticing that you . . .

  • Have gotten so independent, heading to the school wrestling matches and basketball games with no idea whether your friends will be there.
  • Ask me how I’m doing all the time, or about the progress or results of something I’m working on. That makes me very happy.

* * *

AIDEN
Aiden
We’ve been noticing how much you love oragami. You love to find music and viral video mash-ups, or music with cool graphic animations on YouTube.

I’ve been noticing . . .

  • That we let you get away with not cleaning and doing your jobs or reading.
  • That you’re still a sweet little mama’s boy. You still need to make sure I know that you think I’m beautiful. You still tell me you have a crush on me and refer to me as “The Cutie.” You still want me to snuggle you to sleep at night. But you’re getting better about letting other people sit next to me at meal time.

* * *

NOELL & IZ
Lunch at the Pita Jungle.
We’ve been noticing that we are constantly asking each other questions like, “Are you excited to . . . (fill in the blank with whatever is next on the agenda)?” It occurred to me how comical it is when you asked me if I was excited to do something on my task list that was especially mundane. I guess we’re the type of people to generate enthusiasm about even our everyday life. But really, it was you started the, “Are you excited to…” questions. And you do it the most. ;)

I’ve been noticing that . . .

  • We go out for wine or a beer once or twice a week.
  • That much of our sense of humor together is in making up hilarious and outrageous scenarios, as if they might happen. And in taking common phrases people use for serious, deep, or sacred events and apply them to the most mundane activities. “Let’s go do this thing we call, ‘Picking up the kids from school.’”

I’ve been noticing these little things — little things that came sneaking into our lives recently, and will soon go sneaking away.

Taking Life Seriously

10.24.10

Taking Life Seriously

My Farmer’s Market is NOT Better Than Your Farmer’s Market

10.21.10

Mesa Farmer's Market
I go to my local farmer’s market all the time. So I talk about it a lot, on twitter and on my blogs. One thing that amazes me is a certain response I get: “I wish my area had a good farmer’s market.”

And worse: “If I were as lucky to have as good a farmer’s market as you, I would go, too.”

I’ve seen pictures of beautiful farmer’s markets around the internet. Or, at least ONE beautiful farmer’s market. And, at least, it seemed to LOOK beautiful in the pictures.

Which is one of my points with this blog post — pictures glorify reality.

I remember the first time I went to my local market. My friend, Adrianne, told me about it and invited me to go with her. I had visions of beautiful flower vendors and rows of tables with stunning baskets of perfectly arranged produce. I’ve seen pictures online. That’s what a “good” farmer’s market looks like. Right?

Wrong.

A good farmer’s market is an existing farmer’s market.

When I first arrived at my local market, I was disappointed. Our market is tiny. It has two short rows of vendor tables along a sidewalk. It doesn’t even span the length of the parking lot on the side of it. My first thought was, “This is it?”

But guess what? It has fresh local produce! And believe me, fresh local non-genetically altered produce is pure awesomeness. So, if you have fresh locally grown produce at your market, and nothing else, then you have a good farmer’s market.

Izzy and I make the twenty minute drive to our market about every other Friday for just three vendors:

  • produce farmer
  • hummus vendor
  • vegan tamale vendor

I got over the fact that our produce vendor is under an ugly green tent that discolors photos in an ugly way. I don’t fret that our produce sits in banged up florescent yellow bins instead of gorgeously displayed baskets — which I now realize look better in pictures than in reality.
Mesa Farmer's Market
On the other hand, I do enjoy the chit-chat and joking we do with the farm family we’ve gotten to know over the past year. I definitely enjoy the fresh local foods. I like being a part of my community.

If you’re waiting around for “good” to come — any kind of good — you’re probably just missing it. Because of the internet, we see great-looking pictures of other people’s lives where the ugly and the clutter is missing, and we compare that to the unedited view of our own environment.

Ugly is everywhere. Mundane is everywhere. But beauty is everywhere, too. Beauty that is unique to an area’s personality, that isn’t the manufactured big-box beauty we’ve learned to expect, only shows herself to those who look for her.

I don’t have a “good” farmer’s market. Except that I do. Because any farmer’s market — by its very nature — is good, even if it’s not the gorgeous one we’ve seen in pictures.

If you think your city or town doesn’t have a good market, please rethink that. Go visit your market. Is there naturally grown produce?

Yes?

You’re so lucky — you have a good farmer’s market!

A Regular Snack . . .

10.06.10

Snack Time

. . . from the Mesa Farmer’s Market on Fridays.

They are so much more flavorful than the non-organic shipped-from-who-knows-where cherry and grape tomatoes you get at the regular grocery stores. It’s like they’re a totally different food.

Sniffing the Threat and Standing Guard

09.23.10

On Guard

Sept. 22, 2010
The morning’s overcast sky, leftover from last night’s thunderstorm, distressed Gatsby. We almost never have rain-threatening skies and Gatsby was sure something was wrong.

I opened the back door for him so he could take one of his usual outdoor treks. He loves being outside and he spends most of the morning in the backyard.

This morning, though, he stood at the door, just his nose hanging out, as he tried to sniff the answers to the situation. Then he would look at me and vocalize a Scooby-like concern. At one point his agitation sent him running into the living room and back to the door as he grunted and growled.

Finally, Blake took him outside. This gave Gatsby the courage to fulfill what he considers to be his duty to our pack — he stood sentinel on a patio chair where he could better investigate the possible threat.
On Guard

Usually he watches our airway for birds, chasing and barking at them when they trespass into our territory. This morning, it was just the clouds he intended on protecting us from.

On Guard

If You Feel I’ve Been Neglecting You…

08.02.10

If I haven’t returned your phone call, or your email, or if you’ve been waiting for this blog to post something new this week — it’s because it’s true. I have been neglecting you.

But it’s not personal.

I’m just trying to keep from neglecting these guys this summer . . .
sad_on_slide

. . . or from neglecting the dogs, who think their world revolves around me and on top of me.
goat_dog

And I’m doing my best not to let summer demands affect my work commitments, which, while very fun, often make me feel like I’ve been running for days, long out of breath . . .
garage_studio
So yeah — I’m so sorry that I haven’t yet watched the YouTube video you emailed me which is probably lost under many pages of other emails. Sorry I haven’t called to arrange that get-together, or sent you the thank you note you deserve, or typed up that list of healthy vegan packed lunch options. Sorry I didn’t call to say we arrived home safely.

Is it possible to make amends to everyone I’m neglecting with one big blanket apology an explanation here?

the Story of my Baby Blanket

07.21.10

shredding_baby_blanet
It didn’t matter to me that two-years of dragging my baby blanket around was ripping it into shreds. The shredded corner was perfect for wrapping around my hands as I sucked my index finger — a dual combination that was the ultimate in security. I never went to sleep without my blanket and I took it everywhere possible.
replacing_old_baby_blanket
By the time my blanket threatened to become two pieces instead of one — which would have been a great backup plan for those lonely times when I misplaced the beloved thing — Mom made me a new one. (Mom is holding the old one on the right while my big sister and I are holding the new one on the left).

“Look, it has two colors now instead of just one,” is what she probably told me. “And look how bright the colors are. Your old one is so faded.”

My old one? My “old” one had a built-in hand-wrap! It was perfect!

Plus, I hated the bright yellow side of that new blanket. It reminded me of the too-bright Arizona sun that often made my head hurt.
throwing_out_the_baby_blanket
It was heartache, but my parents insisted, and I did finally put that old blanket into the trash. Mom and Dad hadn’t really convinced me, though. I took it back out later. They had to hide it from me until garbage day came around.

The New Blanket

Somehow I did learn to fall in love with the new blanket that my mother made me, and it went around with me everywhere, too. It was my steady and stable companion through four moves: from Arizona to two different houses in L.A., then to Michigan and finally to Kansas. Someone lost it when I went on to college (and it wasn’t me, I am sure!).

I wish I still had that blanket.

But as much as I learned to love my new blanket, I only ever loved the green side. I hated that yellow side for as long as I had it, and I kept the yellow side down so I didn’t have to look at it. The green side was calming — just what a baby blanket is for, right?

In fact, it took me until the spring of 2008 — when I was thirty-five years old — to realize that for all these years I’ve disliked the color yellow because I associated it with the overly bright side of my new baby blanket, to bright suns and headaches.

It was that spring that I finally questioned my dislike of the color yellow. Maybe it was because I’m back in Arizona again and I now love * love * love the crazy bright sun here, that it occurred to me that it didn’t make sense to completely rule out an entire hue! So I bought some yellow clothes and I was in love.
hymans_at_mesa_art_center
tami_and_noell
I painted my scraproom a bright buttery yellow.
kids_in_my_scraproom
And this year I hope to paint a bathroom and two walls in my living room the same happy bright color. My favorite color for painted walls is still green, though. The green in my kitchen is similar to the green on the “good” side of my new baby blanket.
kitchen_and_spices
I guess the walls to my home are becoming an ode to my old fabric companions. Or maybe my little home has just replaced the security I felt from my baby blankets.

* * *


Ella Publishing Co. has nominated me as one of the nine Most Influential Scrapbookers of 2010. You can learn more about this award, the nominees, and the blog tour at http://ellapublishing.com/misa or http://ellapublishing.com/blog.

Many thanks to all the awesome congrats and answers to my “attachment” question from yesterday! I have emailed the winners, but in case you’re interested, here the random numbers and the names of the winners:

82-Pat Hines * 526-Lizzie * 583-Heather C * 311-Kate Blue * 804-Nitasha * 740-Britta * 278-Nancy * 689-Sylvie H * 172-Liz Freeze * 146-Jennifer Alfonso

Please help me honor my fellow nominees by visiting their blogs throughout the week. You could win one of 100 cool prizes! Click below to say hello to today’s spotlighted bloggers.

Why Nobody Died When We Got Rid Of TV.

06.28.10

kids_in_hallway
I mentioned recently that we don’t have TV. Readers reacted. It was cute.

Our decision to remove television from our daily lives was not entirely for the reasons you might think. Also, our kids are actually allowed to watch it a little from the internet. But they rarely choose to. So here’s how that phenomenon came about and why…

The Reasons: A Combo of Old-Fashioned Values, Creativity Values, & Futurist-Techie Geekiness

Old Fashioned Values: It’s probably obvious from my blog that I only embody some old-fashioned values while many others I shun. I’m quite strict and traditional when it comes to what I think is appropriate content for children — more strict even than many of the religious families I know. There are a lot of “children” shows that are surprisingly not really child-friendly.

Restricting content is the easy part, though. You just tell the kids why they can’t watch a certain show and then empathize with their wishes that TV producers wouldn’t deliver that kind of content to children. Kids understand honest reasoning, and they respond well to your empathy toward their unfulfilled wishes.

Creativity Values: It’s the general limiting of time on the television that I found difficult. For years we let our kids watch TV, more than I ever thought I would as a parent. I am an avid non-watcher. I always thought I’d be good at limiting the amount they watched. It turns out that if you’re also distracted with an exciting lot of projects you enjoy, it’s hard to monitor amounts. And when a child sinks into the TV habit, it’s hard for him or her to motivate themselves to do creative stuff.

Plus, all day, everyday, our kids were constant infomercials to Izzy and me, pitching sales lines like, “At Best Western, if you drop a towel, they’ll pick it up for you!”

We supposedly needed this mattress, and that kitchen device, and a million different other things. The kids were adding items to their own Christmas list every single day starting Dec. 26 of each new year.

Futurist Techie Geekiness:
Then something amazing happened. Television shows began to appear on the internet! Izzy loves diving into the future headfirst before anyone else has gotten there, and as soon as a handful of shows became available online he sat the family down and made a proposition. He told the kids that we would let them each buy a TV show episode from Netflix every week in place of the TV. They could also watch some shows online.

The kids agreed. We canceled the satellite. For probably four years now, absolutely zero shows feed though the big black box in our living room. It only works for gaming and DVD’s now. We don’t even have local channels.

Then The Magic Happenend

Something truly magical and amazing happened two or three weeks after we got rid of TV — the kids lost interest! They stopped requesting the weekly show we promised to purchase for them. Since that time, internet television has grown and shows are easier to access than ever (and are usually free) but our kids only sit down to watch them around once a month or so. It’s amazing.
dinner_outside
A few weeks ago we were having dinner and one of the kids piped up, “It’s so weird how a bunch of my friends will start talking about some toy that they all know about but I’ve never heard of it. It’s because they learn about all this stuff on commercials.”

The other of our older two children agreed to noticing the same thing.

Uh-oh. Here it comes, I thought. They’re going to tell us that it bugs them how weird and different we are from everybody else.

“So, how do you feel about that?” I asked.

“It’s okay,” one said.

“Yeah, I don’t care,” said the other. “It’s just weird that they all know about the same things.”

Wow. I was not expecting them to be cool with that. I mean, I personally have never minded being different all my life. But I don’t know many other people who are cool with it.

So we talked about how much time they have to be creative and make things — which they do daily — and they said it’s a good trade.

We may be secularist, vegan, non-materialist, non-TV weirdo’s, but we’re a bit Leave It To Beaver, too.

How to get kids who will make your breakfast for you

06.16.10

muffin
. . . In two easy steps.

Step 1 –

Introduce them to an amazingly delicious but healthy breakfast, like these Jam-filled Oat Bran Muffins.

Step 2 –

Make oatmeal. Over and over again.

Enjoy!

If your kids are anything like mine, you will eventually wake up to them begging to make breakfast for you. And you’ll get to enjoy those muffins again, but without the effort.

Jam-filled Oat Bran Muffins

from The Joy Of Vegan Baking

16 muffins

2 Tbsp. ground flasseed
6 Tbsp. water
2 cups oat bran
1 cup unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/4 non-dairy milk (try oat milk!)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional, or use less if desired)
1/2 cup strawberry (or any fruit) jam preserves, or fruit spread, preferably unsweetened

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease your muffin tins.

In a food processor or bowl with electric hand mixer, whip the flaxseed and water together, until you have a thick and creamy consistency. This can all be done by hand, but a food processor/hand mixer does a better job in 1 to 2 minutes. It also makes it creamier than can be done by hand. ( I use my Braun hand-held mixer).

In a large bowl, combine the oat bran, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed mixture, milk, and oil. Stir in the walnuts, if using. Add to the dry ingredients, and mix just until blended.

Fill the prepared muffin cups less than half full with batter. Place a dab of jam or preserves in the center of each cup. Add more batter to fill the cups two-thirds full, concealing the jam. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Cool in the tins for 3 minutes, then remove to cool on a wire.

People Watching

06.14.10

swim_bag
I’m a people-watcher, and the best place to go people-watching is the community pool. I’ve been going to the pool to watch people about twice a week since the kids got out of school in May.

This week, among my finds, I saw a group of young moms with their tiny toddler and preschool-age kids, and I was thinking about how lucky those moms are to have each other. Later on, while Izzy and the kids and I gathered to have a snack break, I commented on the group of moms and we wondered out loud for a while how the group came together.

“All the kids are mostly the same age,” I reasoned. “I doubt they just all happen to be friends on their own. I bet they’re part of a mom’s club or something.”

“Or maybe their kids all go to the same preschool. That could totally be it…” one of us suggested.

We came up with three possibilities before our six-year-old, Aiden, cut into the conversation with, “But the real question is whether they have iPads and iPhones.”
iphone_ipad_ds
Clearly, those are the all-important issues in our household right now.

* * *


Ella Publishing Co. has nominated me as one of the nine Most Influential Scrapbookers of 2010. You can learn more about this award, the nominees, and the blog tour at ellapublishing.com/misa or ellapublishing.com/blog.

Please help me honor my fellow nominees by visiting their blogs throughout the week. You could win one of 100 cool prizes! Click below to say hello to today’s spotlighted bloggers.

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