Wednesday, March 31, 2010

{A Tolerable Planet}

"What's the use of a fine house, if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"

Just a warning in advance. I'm going to get up on my soap box for a minute...I'm dragging it over now...setting it in place...ah, yes, here I am standing atop it.

I'm so tired--so tired--of hearing people say that global warming is a lie...and frankly, that belief seems to be most prevalent among the religious right. And THAT is the part that I find hardest to swallow. Of all people, those who recognize the Earth as a precious, remarkable, beautiful gift from God should be the ones who are most desirous to take care of it. Instead, we attack those who try to encourage others to care for the environment by saying they operate behind the "lie of global warming". To me, global warming seems like a moot point. Regardless of whether or not global warming is a real issue, my inner hippie--the part that loves Thoreau, and the part that marvels daily over the remarkable diversity and beauty of God's creations--hopes to care for this planet.

Not so very long ago in a church meeting, the discussion led the Sunday School class to Doctrine and Covenants 104: 13, 16-18.

It reads:
"For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.

"But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold, this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

"For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare [...]

"Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made and impart not his portion according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment."

After reading that passage, someone went all Fox News on us and said, "See? This just proves that global warming isn't real at all." I almost passed out. Let me repeat...whether or not global warming exists is not the issue. Taking care of God's beautiful creation--the creation that will ultimately be glorified into the celestial kingdom--is the issue.

I'm obviously talking the Gospel according to Myself here, but it seems to me that if we are appointed stewards over the earth, we are charged with the CARE of the earth. Just as we are made stewards over our children to care for and protect them, we are given that same responsibility over the planet. And yes, the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, did create a world of plenty, but that plenty must be stewarded over in HIS way--giving to the needy and providing for the care of all. But rather than face up to that, we drink our Fiji Water, we buy cheaply made-in-sweatshops Chinese products from WalMart, drive our enormous, gas-guzzling SUVs, and dump our plastic waste on the ground to kill off other animals.

It really isn't that hard to be a little better. There are so many small things we can do to make at least a small difference. Maybe we won't change the world on our own, but I do believe that changing behavior can also change attitudes. If we become more aware and thoughtful of our actions, small steps can turn into great strides...and maybe someday I'll finally get to live on a little farm milking goats and collecting chicken eggs. We're not there yet, but some of the things we have integrated (though not always perfectly) are:
*cloth diapering our kids
*using re-usable water bottles
*taking re-usable grocery bags to the store
*switching CFL lightbulbs
*washing clothes in cold water
*shorter showers
*buying American Made whenever we can find it
*buying or making handmade gifts instead of store bought items
*cutting back on fast food
*buying used for anything we can (kids items, cars, clothing, etc)

Truthfully, all these things are actually better for our pocketbooks and our health, so they are worth doing in more than just the spiritual sense.

Let me now add here, I am NOT perfect. My friends and family can attest to that. I think that my own struggle with consumerism is part of the problem. By buying and buying, I simply create more waste; that fact is a major reason behind my desire to change and the metamorphosis our family has been going through. There are small things I forget to do (like remembering my re-usable grocery bags). There are bigger things I just can't bring myself to add to our lives (like family cloth). But like Thoreau, I would rather have a modest home in a world where I can appreciate God's grandeur than a mansion on a desecrated planet.

Ok....climbing off my soap box now...sliding it back into it's corner....go about your business people, nothing to see here...

I've shared this before, but hey...have you seen this video yet?

Monday, March 29, 2010

{Fit for Royalty}

"Kings and queens who wear a suit but once [...] cannot know the comfort of wearing a suit that fits." 

I've been experimenting lately in re-purposing clothing--using old garments to make new clothing or toys. 

One of my favorite things I've made recently, although they look more like a six year old made them, are these little dress up crowns for the kids. I made them from some old wool sweaters that I felted and then chopped up. The kids love them, especially Squirrel who spends all her time lately dressed as either a princess or a ballerina.  

I think Little Bird looks especially regal in his, and Squirrel, of course, was so happy in hers that I could hardly get a photo of her that was better than a blur. 

What do you think?

Making the crowns seems to have created a need for Squirrel to call me "Queen" instead of "Mommy" about 80 percent of the time. (She is the princess, Little Bird is the Prince. The Mister alternates between being the King, or the Pauper.) I have to admit, I like the title so much that I may need to make myself a crown to go with it! 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

{The Noisier Cousin}

"...who chose the route in the wake of his noisier cousins."

Where on earth have I been? Here I was getting so good at posting regularly, and suddenly I've dropped off the planet. Actually, we've been enjoying family. We spent a few days visiting the Mister's family in Utah, and then had the distinct pleasure of hosting my parents here for about a week. Along with my parents came two nephews and a niece. Squirrel was overjoyed to spend the week with her favorite cousin.

Though we attempted to separate them, just for the time they were sleeping, we were unsuccessful. You can see how happy they were to have their little mattresses next to each other.

The trouble was Squirrel. That kid can stay awake through the most ungodly hours (even though you can see the purple under-eye rings from her exhausting day of play), and was happy to encourage her cousin to do the same. Most nights, they'd still be playing past midnight, with attempt after attempt to settle them down. Squirrel was up at dawn (as always) and after her own tries, she came into our room, begging and crying for help to wake her cousin, who was sleeping hard after all the excitement each day. We usually succeeded in distracting her for a while, but soon, he inevitably followed in the wake of his noisier cousin...

Sweet Dreams!

Friday, March 12, 2010

{Beautiful Housekeeping}

"...beautiful housekeeping and beautiful living laid for a foundation."

This place has purple carpet. Honestly, I'd prefer Thoreau's dirty wooden floors sometimes. There is nothing that doesn't show up on purple carpet. Nothing. So we vacuum a lot.

And Little Bird thinks the vacuum is about the funniest thing ever. He vacillates between attacking the one I use and trying to push it himself, to grabbing the little play vacuum and spending time along side me.

Little Bird surprises us quite often. He is so quiet and mellow that sometimes I don't realize when he has picked up a new skill or ability--like mimicking my housekeeping. Squirrel was always so busy and moved from one thing to the next like a frog hopping on explosive lily pads. Little Bird, on the other hand, learns something and just quietly integrates it into his daily life. For instance, as the Mister was leaving a few days ago, heading for class and giving hugs and kisses on his way out the door, Little Bird lifted a hand, and in his little gravelly voice, called out, "Bye-ee!" I might have thought it was a fluke, but now it happens regularly. He is so quiet and steady, but amazes me just the same for all the many new things he picks up almost every day. Laying his own foundation of beautiful living...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

{Nature Hunt}

"A few pieces of fat pine were a great treasure."

We actually saw the sun recently. The weather warmed up, the birds were singing, and it felt like spring was on its way in. Of course, just as we were starting to enjoy it and think the warm weather might stick around, it turned and the chill came back. In the meantime, Squirrel and I enjoyed a nature walk collecting pine cones for kicks.

She thought her pine cones were quite the treasure, as you can clearly see.

Friday, March 5, 2010

"I weathered some merry snow-storms..."

We are trying to make peace with the snow. To be truthful, it really isn't all that bad. I think the novelty still exists for us, coming from Phoenix, so I don't feel the grayness of it all as much as some of the girls in the residence hall do. We don't take the opportunity to play in it as much as we should (it is sooo darn cold!), but the weather has been warming to make it just right for some play time in the middle of the day.

We trekked down to the open field on the campus and spent some time in the snow.

The Mister found a stray snow shovel and thought it would be lots of fun to dig a hole for Squirrel to play in. She thought so too, and helped him dig for a while:


while shoveling...

he clocked Squirrel square in the mouth with the shovel. 

{Is this not the most pitiful thing you've ever seen?}

She was soon back to herself, making and eating snow "pizza" from a nearby bank. Happily, this also cleaned up some of the blood that had smeared across her face:


When the Mister finished digging her hole, she seemed pretty good with the idea...

...until he tried to climb in with her. I think she was worried he'd bring the snow shovel in with him...

And just for good measure, here are Little Bird and I, all bundled up and looking ridiculous in our winter hats:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk."

Or, perhaps, when you find a book in the toilet.

Or, a perfectly cracked egg in a tiny pan in the play kitchen.

While no physical evidence was found, and no witnesses came forth, authorities have begun surveillance on a suspect in the first case.

Case: Book in the Toilet
Surveillance subject: Little Bird

Recent activities include collecting books, running quickly down the hallway to read them on his sister's bed, and giggling hysterically at the pictures. Among his favorite books, Daddy Cuddles and books by Kit Allen, including Swimsuit, the book found drenched in toilet water and requiring recovery by authorities (who reported on the disturbing nature of the find).

{We've been made!}

The suspect was also found exiting the bathroom quickly, letting out a maniacal baby laugh on his exit. 
Circumstantial, yes...but strong. 

(The suspect in the egg cracking case confessed under questioning...) 

Okay, seriously. The book in the toilet was pretty gross. And I hope the kid is disappointed when he starts to miss it. But this new habit of his--this new love of books--is just about the cutest thing ever. You can see him here reading one of the aforementioned books. He finds his favorites, wherever they are in the house, and takes off running, giggling all the way, to Squirrel's bed. He climbs in, and will occupy himself for a half an hour reading to himself and snickering at the pictures. It would be nice, to let my children occupy themselves while I got something done...but then I'd find Squirrel, cracking eggs in her play kitchen. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

{Homemade Playdough!}

Today we took some time to make some homemade play dough. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while, but now that we live in an apartment that has purple carpet (I thought black was bad...I assure you, purple is worse) and that purple carpet does not belong to us, I recognized that store bought Play-Doh was simply out of the question, even if I was feeling lazy. (Have you ever tried to remove that stuff from anything once it has dried??)

There are a couple of reasons I like the idea of homemade play dough better than the name-brand stuff:
1) Easier to clean up
2) Edible, in case my kids give it a try
3) No strange chemicals or preservatives like you'll find in the store-bought variety
4) Making it is half the FUN!
5) No wasteful/non-biodegradable plastic containers for each color of dough

So Squirrel and I made ourselves some play dough while Little Bird napped.

The recipe we used was as follows:

Home Made Play Dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt (we used Kosher salt because it's all I keep here, but it worked fine!)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp oil
1 cup water
1 package Kool-Aid {we used lemon lime (green), cherry (red), lemon (yellow), blue raspberry (blue)}
***Just an FYI in case you are like the Mister, and have never bought it--cream of tartar is actually a powder, located by the spices, and not a sauce for dipping fish in!***

Make sure to look insane/slightly evil when gathering your ingredients...

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium sauce pan. Then mix the water and oil together in a measuring cup. Place dry ingredients on stove at medium heat. Add water/oil and stir continuously until a ball forms. {It really will happen. It will get lumpy first. The first attempt got me a little frustrated because it was getting lumpy and I was trying to beat the lumps out, but then like magic everything smoothed out and I had a perfect mound of play dough--cool!}


 Next, knead the dough until cool enough to touch/play. (Or, let your toddler pound the life out of it with two wooden spoons until cool enough to touch/play.)

One other added benefit to this version of play dough--it smells so yummy! Instead of that strange commercial smell {okay, I admit it...I actually love the smell of name-brand Play-Doh, as weird as it is, but I digress}, these play doughs actually smell like the flavor of Kool-Aid you use.

Once you have gathered, stirred, cooked, pounded, and sniffed, it's time to play! {I only handed over about 1/3 of each ball--any leftovers will store in the fridge in an airtight container for about 3 months.}



 {Making snakes}
{Little Bird wakes up and wants in on the action.}


{Notice it did not always stay as nicely separated.}

Overall, a very fun way to spend a morning indeed!

And hey, did I mention this stuff smells good?