Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

omg FUH-NEY book

I just read the funniest book. Only it wasn't a comedy. It was serious. Which makes it really pathetic. It's called Give Peace a Deadline: What Ordinary People Can Do to Cause World Peace in Five Years. When I picked it up I was skeptical, but I thought, hey, even if the goal isn't achievable, at least maybe it will have some good ideas in it.

But no.

No. It does not have some good ideas.

It does have very funny ideas peppered through-out. Like "get some friends to join you".

One of the most provocative bumper stickers I've ever seen says "World peace begins at home". And that makes me think of domestic violence. There will be no world peace until all domestic violence and sexual abuse has ended. Whew, that goal is overwhelming enough to think about. How about school bullying- like the kind that caused Phoebe Prince to commit suicide? How about FGM? Hate crimes? Then you add to that list all the specific tribal and governmental wars going on; the genocide in Darfur, etc; you've got yourself a pretty daunting list of "non-peace" to deal with in five years. The only way to tackle a goal like that is to take each issue one by one and come up with a plan for end in five years. Say... negotiate with some leaders, assassinate the ones who will not negotiate, numerous peace accords, and the one suggestion the book does make: financial sanctions. Is that list and timeline realistic? No, it's laughable.

As a Christian, I can't help but reflect on the Biblical prophesies concerning peace, which claim that Israel and Palestine will not achieve peace until the end of time. It says that there will be a 1000 years of peace, but that's only after the second coming of the Messiah. So, unless the Messiah is coming in 2014, I do not foresee World Peace.

I admire the book for suggesting that there are specific things we can do to achieve world peace. That is a fresh outlook to the subject. But it's completely unrealistic and unhelpful. I would have respected it if the authors took each "non-peace" conflict currently going on and wrote a chapter on how to solve that particular problem and included a tip on what you can do about it. Tips like:
  • Don't buy blood diamonds or conflict minerals
  • Only pay for items a price which would allow for living-wages for the workers who produced said item
  • Volunteer in a Romanian orphanage
  • Know a good hit-man? Call this 800 number to recommend him, we will need him to take out (fill in the blank) dictator.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Deena goes superficial for a moment

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Farm journal

I am recording our first year of farming to dispel and/or confirm all the romantic notions I had in my head when venturing into this... Let the reader be the judge.

Our first day on the farm! We drove around for a half an hour looking for it. The GPS said it was in the middle of this gorgeous residential neighborhood but we couldn't for the life of us find it. Finally, on a whim, my husband turned into this dirt driveway between two mansions and there it was, in the back. I am a little annoyed that the farm is in the middle of this upscale neighborhood because that means that every day, to and from the farm, we will be tempted to covet... the expansive lawns, the three car garages, the apple orchards in the back yards, the stone exteriors to the mansions, the gigantic outdoor pools with fountain spouting rocks, the flawlessly era-replicated architecture...

At the farm we were anxious to get to work so the boys and I started filling a wheel barrel with rocks from our quarter acre. We probably got 10% of them, but hey, that's something. The ground was soft. Our feet sunk in a few inches with each step. I encouraged the boys to not be afraid to get dirty. I was most excited about the fact that the kids could just run around freely and get fresh air without me worrying about them, or watching them like a hawk like I would have to in the city. Saphira wanted to hang out mostly in the car though, which caused us to nervously watch her from afar in the field- afraid, I guess, that she might fall out or slam the door on herself or something.

Timmy made one raised bed with a lawn-mower like machine and then made one walking row on the right and started the one on the left when the machine broke. He made the rest with a rake which was exhausting. Brandon and I smoothed the bed and removed rocks that were brought to the surface. We had to keep reminding the kids (and ourselves) not to walk on the bed, because we needed the dirt to be fluffy for the beets we were planting- a root crop. It will probably become second nature after all the beds are made, with all the nice rows in place, and after the plants start cropping up, differentiating the walking paths from the growing beds.

Then Brandon and I sprinkled organic fertilizer. The fertilizer was like rabbit food in consistency- a little smellier. I used my hands to spread it and it felt good to get dirty. On the first day of farm class I had to write a paragraph about myself and I wrote how I love the stimulation of all the senses that takes place in farming: the feel of the dirt, the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the birds and bugs, the vibrant color of a red pepper, the unsurpassed taste of freshly grown produce. So, here I was, on the first day, feeling that dirt between my fingers, and loving it.

While Timmy and I labored we kept thinking about our ancestors who did this first. I kept remembering how the colonists chopped down trees to clear a field and the ridiculous amount of work that is. All I had to do was toss a few rocks out of a field (that has been farmed on before) and that, alone, seemed like too much work. It's interesting to note that he was thinking of his Cambodian people and I was thinking of colonists. Is that because we feel an unconscious connection to our own blood, I wonder?

The one romantic notion that was quickly dispelled, I was quite dismayed to discover, was the whole "family bonding" thing. I still hold out hope that we will have lots of laughing and playing together this summer as we undertake this venture. Buuuut, for today, there was quite a bit of bickering. Me, snapping at Brandon that he was "doing it wrong" and Brandon and Dimitri fighting over a stupid little shovel. Dimitri deliberately walking on the raised bed to piss me off. Saphira ending the day with non-stop crying because she was tired. Oh well. Tomorrow is a fresh start. (Wolfie wasn't there because he got invited to his cousins house by his Aunt, which is rare. Plus he was at a field training yesterday. And he perpetually picks on Dimitri and I figured we would have enough stress on our first day as it is).

We planted the beets with this cool seed spreading tool. It took a while to set up, which made me impatiently think that it would be easier to just drop the seeds in ourselves. But once we got it going, the tool turned out to be pretty darn cool, much faster and more even than we could have done by hand. There was a measuring part that helped you make straight rows but I thought it was stupid because you have a two foot area: how hard is it to "stay on the side" or "stay in the middle". So we didn't really use the tool. I could have done the lines perfectly, but I let Timmy and Brandon do it and the lines are crooked. I don't really care. Obviously the reader is starting to gather that I am a layed back sort of person. We will see how this plays out over the course of our year. There are advantageous to my personality though. I think it makes me a good mother. If you are uptight, it makes for a miserable time raising four kids (and if the Lord blesses us we will have more).

The last step was to water the rows, but it looked like it was going to rain, and the forecast for the next day was rain, so we decided not to. 24 hours later, as I write this, it has yet to start raining. ha ha.

Before we left we peeked at our neighbors 1/4 acre to compare her row of carrot seeds. Her rows were perfectly straight, emphasized by the darkness of the rows of wet soil. We told ourselves that ours wasn't bad. But hers definitely looked better. Our mentor, McKenzie, might have a frustrating year with us. She seems to have a high regard for neatness in farming. Probably for good reason. We shall see.

As we piled in the car, tired; and quickly, to appease the screaming toddler, I felt immensely dirty. And I cringed at the thought of all that mud entering with us- cloth seats, I might add. Oh well, I thought. I might as well get comfortable with the idea since we have a whole summer ahead of us like this. We'll definitely vacuum it a lot though. In the car we scarfed down the strawberries, carrots and grilled cheese sandwiches I made. The sandwiches were soggy, the strawberries spilled and we daintily picked up the carrots, cringing at the thought of the fertilizer and dirt on our hands (though we did rinse in cold water). So our romantic lunch, turned out to be: not so much.

At home we all showered and bathed. I just couldn't get that feeling of dirt off my hands though. I lathered lotion on them. I'll have to buy a gallon of lotion for the summer.

All in all, our first day was a success. All of the Cambodian relatives are so excited to get out there and join us and I can't wait to have them. Oh, and, I got a tan, which is pretty cool. I'm going to be a blond bombshell by the end of the summer.


Monday, April 19, 2010

So mad/ Vote for Atkins

 Update: It is now a year or two later and the casino debate has again come to the legislature. This time there is resounding support for it and, you might be surprised to hear that I support it too. Why the change? Job. The economy. It weighs more in the balance of good than evil at this point. Sad to say, but it is true.

Without further ado: here is the original post which I still stand by given the thriving economy at the time.

Recently our state legislature voted to open up a casino. It was proposed two years ago and did not pass then. At the time I wrote to my legislator, explaining how gambling negatively affects my family and asking him not to vote for it. This time, however, I understand the desperate need for jobs outweighs the negative impact a casino will have on the community. So I wasn't dismayed when it passed. However, several measures were proposed to lessen the societal harm and I'm absolutely furious that they didn't pass. Measures like: Signs posted on the machines with the odds and algorithms. Interventions after 12+ hours of consecutive gambling. Limit losses to $500 a day. Prohibit the pumping of oxygen or pheromones in the air. Displaying clocks.

Creating jobs is one thing. But to have an absolute disregard for your community... it sickens me. It's like the casino lobbyists have already got these legislators in their pockets. Disgusting. This was an opportunity to take a difficult decision that needed to be made in favor of jobs and soften the negative impact on the community. They blew it big time.

The legislators voted down those measures, but one representative from my county stood strong!! Rep. Cory Atkins She also proposed two measures that did pass: One that would create an optional "do not contact" list and one that requires sweeps of casino parking lots for children who might have been left in vehicles while their guardians gamble.

Kudos to you Cory Atkins. I will campaign for you, should you seek reelection.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Revolution and Political Asylum

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is all about turning our culture back to the healthy wonderful foods that we used to embrace. It's a subject I'm passionate about. I'm watching his show in which he spends a great deal of time in the public schools helping them make the switch to homemade foods. Right now, public schools across the country don't even cook food anymore. They only reheat. It's just... really... sad. What a dream come true if schools started serving freshly cooked foods again. Yes, it's going to cost more. But this is the health of our next generation we're talking here. This isn't something to be taken lightly any more. It's time for change!!!

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At the gym I start my workout on the bike and read magazines. The other day I read a heart wrenching article about this woman from Africa who had lived through horrendous tragedy and then came to America where her fight for asylum was not easy. I highly recommend the article. Here's a link.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ugh! I hate that!

I'm writing an article for publication. I wrote the whole thing out in scribble at my job at the laundromat. And then I came home and typed it up. And it took a long time, I did a lot of cleaning up of the piece.

I woke up this morning and opened it and it was gone except for a couple of sentences!!!! I was so afraid that would happen so I saved it every couple of minutes. I wanted to save it on blogger because that's the only way it's guaranteed safe, but the internet was down on that computer. Thank God I have the scribble still. I looked on clipboard and it's not there. I'll have Timmy do a search because he's more tech savvy, but it looks pretty grim. I'm so mad!!!!

I try to look on the bright side whenever that happens. I tell myself that it was meant to be- maybe even a God intervention- because the second time I write it, it will turn out to be even better. (This is often the case for me). In fact, that is actually plausible, given the fact that I'm about to turn the Christian world on its head with this article. Ha ha. I'm serious though. So maybe God wants me to get it just right. But mostly I'm just mad. Because I spent a great deal of time on it and neglected my kids all evening. grrrrrrrr.

Oh, by the way, I sold my first article!!!!! I was going to wait until it was published to declare it here, but this seems like an appropriate time to make the announcement. It's an article extolling the learning value of video games and it will be in the July/August issue of Home Education magazine. It has inspired me to really pursue this writing passion of mine. I have already sent another query to a magazine and when I'm done with this one I will send a query to Christianity Today. I have several other completed articles and several more in my head. The thing that makes me a unique (and wonderful, IMNSHO)writer is that all of my articles are completely fresh. I have never read the ideas I've presented in my articles before. They are full of references and facts, so not BS, but they are my own unprecedented thoughts. Well, this last one, I have to give credit to my Gentle Christian Mother friends who entertained years of stimulating conversation on the subject. And I especially have to give credit to Emily, who made the statement that caused the turning point in my opinion. The rest of the article though, is mine, in the sense that I put together years of deep thoughts and a variety of opinions. I can't say what the article topic is, but Emily knows. wink.

Speaking of turning-point-moments in debate: I have reversed my opinion, in a dramatic fashion on a number of subjects in recent years. (which led to my changing political party). It's fascinating to note that there was an actual turning point; A single statement by someone that caused this about-face. Often it was years of debate and reading that led up to that moment. And not necessarily a slow deterioration of my beliefs. But, as an extremely logical person, often it was just one single assertion that I had to agree was inarguable. One point that broke down my entire argument.

For this reason, I am a big fan of online debate. Some think it is a waste of time; that everyone walks away upset and digs their heels in even more on their point of view. But I am proof that it is not a waste of time. That a single debate falls immensely short of the capacity to change someones mind, but it plants a small seed that can lead, down the road, to a change of opinion.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just saw this ad

I just saw this ad on TV. It choked me up. Thought I'd share it. On youtube it says "based on a true story".


Friday, April 09, 2010

I'm in the paper!

I wish there was an online link to show you, but alas, if you are local you'll have to buy The Sun to see it. Anyway, I was reading to my son's kindergarten class the other day in the park and a newspaper photographer came by and took our picture and there's a great big picture of me reading to the kids! So cool. I was reading Lovable Lyle by Bernard Waber and a few months ago I read The House on East 88th Street which is the introductory story of Lyle the Crocodile. Next month I'm going to read Chicken Dance and then I'm going to play music and dance with all the kids. They're so much fun to hang with.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

My farm

I'm farming a quarter acre this year through a local program called New Entry which trains and leases land to new farmers. I'll be planting watermelon, cantaloupe, beets, carrots and green peppers. I'll be selling them at local farmers markets and also through a CSA. Here is a video of me at graduation in which I told the story of "How I got here". My speech starts at 16:00 It's pretty cool, if I don't say so myself.

video platform video management video solutions video player


Friday, April 02, 2010

Quick Rant

Just wanted to rant quickly here. Sorry. But I hate Focus on the Family. I hate them so much I can't even put into words.... For starters there's all the gay bashing and lies that James Dobson wrote in his books. Disagree with me? I'll pull out the quotes for you.

But that's not why I'm ranting. I'm ranting because I'm still on their email list (mostly, I'll admit, to keep an eye on their unscrupulous ways). And every email I get anymore is about how the government has turned it's back on the Lord's ways with this health care bill. Well, EXCUSE ME, Focus on the Family, when did you become the chosen interpreter for the Lord?? Here's a quote from today's email:

"As we engage the national discussion of social policy, our faith remains rooted in our eternal and all-powerful Heavenly Father, who is the Creator of all life, and is the reason we work to promote and support His design for the family."

"His design for the family" of course being no national healthcare, since that's all they seem to talk about any more.

Then they come out and bold face lie (literally. In bold face) "
the new law authorizes the largest expansion of abortion availability since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand in 1973."

A good majority of the Bible is instructions on caring for the poor, the widows, the children, the orphans, the weak, the poor in spirit... How on earth can Christians not support UHC? Or at the very least, how can they speak unequivocally against it as opposed to admitting that this is a gray area for Christians? I know why they can't. Because back in 2000 when Bush was elected for the second time by the narrowest of margins, the consensus seemed to be, among political analysists, that it was the "morality vote" that pushed his victory over the edge. And I, admittedly was one of those votes, back when I was a Republican and the big concern at that time, among Christians, was that a Supreme Court Justice was about to retire and we needed a Pro-Life judge in there. And Focus on the Family was one of the major groups getting out the word and the vote. So after that election, contribution money just poured into Focus on the Family for their political branch; which, as a result, became a large powerful off shoot of the company. And basically, it's fed by Republican dollars so it is puppeteered by the Republican party. That makes me sick. Because Focus on the Family is supposed to be a Christ centered organization and they have totally sold out to the almighty dollar.

And that reminds me of another distasteful story from FOF past. I remember when I was a little girl James Dobson would say that he never asks for money because if there isn't enough funds than it's God's way of closing doors. And that they will follow God's lead. But then, I can't remember when, but I think maybe after 9/11 when all the non-profits took a really hard hit, Focus on the Family started begging for money like you wouldn't believe. And they never stopped. It's just disgusting.

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