Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Today, in honor of Earth Day, my city had an Environmental Fair. There were scores of booths set up in a big park--each reminding us about our new recycling program, teaching us how to plant trees properly, handing out free tomato seedlings, instructing us to stay on the trail, and entering us into a raffle for riding our bikes to the park. It was kid-friendly, and all, but there was a major problem with the event: it was not environmentally-friendly.
To be fair, there were a few booths that were quite green--handing out xeric plants, making crafts out of completely recycled materials, demonstrating how to spin wool, etc--but most were not. Seven of us went and seven of us came home with plastic buckets FULL of junk. Each booth had a flyer, a magnet, a pencil, or a toy. The children were given "passports" to fill with stamps and stickers. If they answered a trivia question correctly, they could walk away with a plastic beach ball or carabiner. I'm sure most of these things were made from recycled products or are intended to be used for a long time. It was hard for me to see past the waste.
The most ironic Earth Day booth was the T-shirt painting arena. The children were given organic cotton T-shirts. The organic word was the only green thing about the activity. The T-shirts were all XL (remember, little kids). The paint cans were all placed in the center of a very large fenced-off area. The children had sticks which they dipped in the cans, dripped all the way back to their T-shirt, then worked their art on the T-shirt. By the end of the day, the grass was completely painted. Just a couple of booths down, they were telling us in every possible way not to put paint in the garbage can, don't pour paints or other toxic substances on the ground, take those toxins to the hazardous waste drop site, and so forth because it leaches into our ground water (read drinking water).
I know everyone can't be perfect like me (guffaw), but if you claim to be something . . .
Friday, April 24, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The other day I wanted to capture my three year old pod mid-swing.
Nope, too late. I'll snap earlier this time.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
This incredible photo of Earthrise, taken by Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968, has literally changed the way man sees Earth. I never think of Earth without picturing brilliant blue oceans, swirling white clouds, whole continents with no lines marking borders or territory; the perfect sphere floating and fragile in a universe whose limits know no end.
I was born in 1977, many years after those first images of Earth were distributed by Time magazine. What did people imagine, when they thought of Earth as a whole, before Yury's first glimpses?
When I saw Toy Story in the theater in 1995, I sat with my mouth open and my eyes wide through the entire show. The animation was so new and complex--I remember wondering which parts were actual footage and which were the animated parts. There was no way it could possibly be all animated! I tried to explain this to my children recently and they didn't get it. They see Pixar as a different kind of animation, but, to me, it was astounding and new.
The first time I used e-mail was in 1994. The dial-up modem was - s - l - o - w - and unreliable. My then-boyfriend was at school at the Air Force Academy and was under strict rules about calling home. I would listen to the unfamiliar sound of: number tones-beep-beep-dah-ring-static-beep rhythm and hope there would be a new message written in green letters on the black screen. Jump forward 15 years. We just talked with my parents, 550 miles away, in real time, on the web cam. My children have never heard the dial-up tones, they have never known life without the Internet.
Sometime in the 1980's, my Great-grandmother, who was born in 1910, was helping my mom put away groceries. She held one of the plastic grocery bags in her old, worn hands and looked at it. She fingered it gently then said, "What my mother would have done to have something like this and we just throw them away." What would a woman at the turn of the century have done with plastic? Protected their feet from the cold wet that seeped into their boots; protected bread and cheese and gravy from the ravages of air; cut them up and crocheted them into rugs; disposed of garbage with a knot at the top to prevent the foul odors from permeating their homes; and a million other uses that we just take for granted.
I agree with Yury, this is a beautiful Earth. What a blessing that I have never wondered what it looks like. I am looking forward to my life. When I am an old lady looking back, what will I say, "I remember when . . ." about?
What will you?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Because we had stayed up so late the night before (and usually consumed a large amount of Sprite, BBQ potato chips, Starburst Fruit Chews and other healthy snacks), we were incredibly grumpy the next day. Can't stand "next-day grumpies."
Also, there are some homes where I do not want my children spending the night. I do not approve of the values the parents espouse. How do I tell one child "yes" and another "no" or have one friend know my child could stay the night at another friend's house, but not hers. huh?
And, obviously, the sexual predator business is far to scary in this world. That is a big, big reason for the precautions (not just adult predators, either).
There are a few in my peer group who think I am crazy. Am I way off base, here? My kids think I am. Of course, I disagree with a lot of their opinions: Fruit Loops is not health food even though it has the word fruit in it's title; Wetting one's fingertips under the faucet is not the same as washing with soap and water; No, knowing that green means go and red means stop are not the only driving rules and No, you can't drive; Yes, I'm sure you would take careful, daily care of the puppy and I would never have to even fill his water bowl.
What do you think?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have watched this a couple of times now and cried both times. Such joy and the carefree happiness is needed right now. Plus, this is my long held dream: I want to be walking in a busy place (like a terminal) and be a part of this sort of thing. I LOVE PEOPLE. I love people.
Remember Enchanted in the park? Cried. Remember 13 Going on 30 at the party and Thriller comes on? Cried. I'm telling you. I'm a total boob for this song and dance business. Why don't we sing more? Why don't we dance more? Why are we shy or embarrassed to be too happy in a public place?
So, did you cry?
PS Get the kids
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
"Hey, that's mine!"
Monday, April 13, 2009
That was a fun 15 minutes.
Voila! Could she be any cuter.
PS Sorry it is sideways. I always forget that I can't turn videos . . .
PPS I can't help but marvel at the fact that, even though I've watched this exact thing happen with four other children, it is still so exciting to watch a child grow. These are the pay day moments.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I hadn't thought about my Savior once this week. I hadn't taken the time to study the scriptures concerning the Atonement. I didn't let each day of His Final Week speak for itself--Palm Sunday, Good Friday, etc. I didn't take the opportunity to set aside a few minutes each day to teach my children, "Today was the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt" or "Today was the day Jesus knelt at the feet of his friends and washed their feet" or "Today was the day that Jesus' body lay in the tomb." I let myself become distracted by the fluff and totally screwed up.
I am so ashamed of myself.
Before I crawled into bed, (after finishing the dresses, buying the fresh asparagus and strawberries, writing and hiding the clues for the Easter Basket Treasure Hunt, and starting the dishwasher and dryer) I knelt by the side of my bed.
I am grateful for the doctrine of repentance. I know that I can ask for forgiveness because of and through my Savior's Atonement. I know, that like any loving parent, my Father in Heaven will let me try again.
Today I am making a change. This week will be different. I will take the time to study His words and His life. I will find moments to testify to my children. I will ask for the Spirit to work in me and then I will let him. This week I will retrench, renew my commitment to Jesus Christ.
All because of the reason for this holiday: my Savior.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
We didn't have an automatic dishwasher until I was a teenager. I put the automatic adjective in there because my parents were continually using the "that's what we have you kids for" line. They also bought a riding lawnmower on the way home from helping the last child move out.
When I washed dishes as a child, I disliked the muffin pans. I still do not enjoy washing those. They are just a pain. Now, though, I hate washing the rice pan. We like the sticky rice. It has a wonderful texture. The problem with sticky rice is that it is (obviously) sticky. It is difficult to wash off the table and impossible to sweep. It sticks to hands like a piece of stubborn scotch tape. My biggest compliant is that it leaves a thick crust inside the pan. I scrap and soak then dig the refuse out of the drain. Yuck. (Why am I the only person in the household who cleans out the drain trap? I am also the only person who puts my toothbrush away.)
So, I don't like washing rice pans or muffin tins, but I do like washing colanders. As a child I would save the colander for last, then play with it for a while. I'd vary the water pressure, experiment with the spray nozzle, swoosh the water back and forth as fast as I could to see how long I could keep water in the bowl with holes. I would look at the reaction the water in the filled sink had to my antics with the new arrivals. The suds would mound or dissipate, depending on what I did with the gadget. The droplets were mesmerizing--and I got water everywhere. (It made mopping the floor a breeze!)
I'm not sure why you needed that information, but tonight I was washing the rice pan and growling at it when I looked over and saw the colander awaiting it's turn. YES!
Sorry if I freaked you out a bit. I don't get out much and it's 2:14 am.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
I had planned on posting a different lesson first, but I am caving to peer pressure. You want to talk about it, so:
Lesson Number Two: Be an interesting person.
My parents are not dull people. I think the fact that they aren't boring is one of the great factors of their successful marriage. Who would want to spend time (see Lesson Number One) with someone who has no motor running behind their lovely eyes? The Mattoons are constantly finding new things to do and learn and become. In addition to constant reading and keeping up with current events, my parents have undertaken a heck of a lot in their half century.
- Mom always loved flowers, so she checked out piles of books and videos from the library and studied. After coming up with a plan, she threw herself into the work of creating a wonderful Garden of Eden. She has hosted many weddings and other gatherings in her sanctuary.
- Dad came home one day with an enormous book. When asked about it, he replied, "I want to learn everything that is currently known about gravity." I don't think he got far into that book.
- When her third was still a baby, Mom decided it was time to develop her artistic talent. She saw an ad and went to an oil painting class. Her art hangs in the homes of many people who could never afford such beautiful pieces because she never takes payment. Once, she traded homemade bread every Sunday for a year for one of her paintings.
- Dad made the goal to scale all of the peaks in Washington state that were over 10,000 feet high.
- Mother has taught religious courses for more than a dozen years.
- When he was a small boy, Dad was given an electric train set for Christmas. One day he pulled everything out and he began setting the tracks on a large piece of plywood. Intrigued, the children gathered around. Over the next several weeks and months, we experimented with plaster and cardboard and glue until we had covered the wood with a landscape.
- My mom has an older sister who was severely handicapped. When the sister needed to go into a care facility, the people there treated her like a princess and tenderly cared for her. When my youngest brother was about five, my parents began taking respite and foster children into their home. Almost all were severely mentally disabled.
- Dad wanted to better understand the inner-workings of the acoustic guitar, so he set out to build a few--he started with a kit then advanced to taking lumber and working it with fine touches. Painstakingly, he cut and glued and, finally, strung the guitars.
- My dad loves bread pudding. My mother does not love cooking. One day, she decided to make him bread pudding and worked a long time to make this special treat. She carefully followed the recipe and pulled a perfect looking dessert out of the oven. Dad took a hardy bite then promptly spit it out. She had used salt instead of sugar.
- Another time, Dad called the family into the family room. The room housed a large white board upon which he had a number of words written in the Spanish language. We gave up quickly, but Dad pressed on. He does not speak Spanish well.
- Mother gets up at 4:30 AM to go to the gym to exercise. She wants to be healthy, but takes Yoga specifically so she can "get down on the floor and play with my grandchildren."
- Dad joined a city Barbershop choir. After a time, he organized his own prize-winning quartet.
I could go on and on. They have never let dust collect and they have respected each other's interests and passions. They have developed their individuality and personal talents. Then, and this is key, they share these things with each other. They are independent in their interests, but they are not independent of one another. Together, they encourage and support the chosen activities.
TODAY: Think of a hobby or curiosity you have. Squeeze time into your day to develop it. Don't be afraid to fail. Give your spouse time to do the same. Then, when you go on that date or as you lay in bed at night, you will be interesting.
Independence and intelligence is so sexy.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Unfortunately, the store went out of business and, though I stocked up, my stockpile has been depleted. I have been back to using lotion and, if desperate, Bag Balm. (All of you lactating mothers are thinking, Yeah, as if I need another similarity to the milk cow. Ug.)
Tonight, I had a moment of genius. I have those every so often. I have a few facial skin care products that use olive oil for a base.
What? Why are you groaning? Okay. Just stop for a minute and let me tell my story. Geez.
So, I had this moment of genius. My skin needed some serious attention, so I poured olive oil in my bath. Now, our food budget is a touch on the tight side, so I pretty much buy the cheapest stuff out there. It is not that super pure kind that barely tastes like the fruit from which it is derived. My olive oil is heavy, dark greenish-yellow, can't-exchange-it-with-any-other-oil kind of product. I tip the jug and glug out a few tablespoons of the delicious stuff and slip my thin, tanned, hard body into the water. (Just kidding about the shape of my body, but I don't want you picturing my real body slipping into that water.) The bath felt wonderful. I massaged the oil into my starving cells (is that what is happening??) and could actually feel them healing. I soaked for a good long time, ignoring the three year old pod crying at the door, "I wanna take a baf with you! I'm so filfy!!!" I air-dried so I wouldn't rub off any of the olive oil, then dressed in soft cotton.
Inviting my husband to bed, sure he would love my newly softened skin, he scrunched his nose a bit and said, most lovingly, "Ewww. Why does it smell like chicken soup in here?"
Friday, April 3, 2009
April 1st was their Thirty-seventh anniversary. Thirty-seven years of life, a life which has included bliss and trial.
This is the first of a series I will be writing about the lessons I have learned from watching my parents' marriage. Maybe there will be some new things for us to help grow our own marriages, maybe there will be reminders of things we've forgotten or could do better.
Lesson Number One: Have frequent alone time.
Every day when my dad came home from work, he and Mom would sit together in the living room. He worked long hours driving truck and earned his university degrees through correspondence. Mom had a house full of small children and, in addition, always had disabled respite and foster children. They were both working as hard as they could, filling every moment of their days. As they sat there visiting, we were continually butting in. Our urgent remarks like, "I can't find my toothbrush" or "(I know you have seen me do this 152 times, but) Watch me stand on my head" or "How many glasses of water are in the ocean?" were met by, "Can't I just have five minutes alone with my wife??" Ohhh, that used to make me mad. Well, she's my mom! Can't I just have five minutes with my mom?? I'd think, in my self-righteous and sassy nine year old brain. But he was right. They needed that few precious minutes together to decompress, discuss, share stresses or highlights of the day.
Also, Dad and Mom had their own cover band for many years. They played at granges, weddings, even a Scout Jamboree. Dad played guitar, Mom played bass, and they both sang. They spent many nights together, without the children. On breaks and on the drive to and from gigs, they held hands, talked about things the children shouldn't hear, and learned about one another. When they dissolved the band, they still made it a point to go on regular dates and we knew it was important to them.
What was the result of this concerted effort to be alone together? After the children were gone (my Down Syndrome brothers still live with them), they didn't skip a beat. They still knew each other, they were interested in one another, they had things to talk about because the conversation never took a hiatus.
TODAY: Make an appointment to get away from your children for at least an hour. (If you can wing it, make plans for a weekend!) Try not to talk about the children or money or your To Do list. Talk about your current interests, global issues, thoughts you've had, sparked by a book or article you've read. Tell your mate who you are today, which is likely somewhat different from who you were when you married him eleven years and five children ago. Hold hands, sit a little too close, remember what it feels like to be with your sweetheart without a child squishing their body between you.
A friend used to say that a babysitter is much cheaper than divorce.
The best gift you can give to your children is to love your spouse. Period.
Thank you, Dad and Mom. Happy Anniversary.