Important Word to Teach a Toddler

When our son Nicholas was just beginning to talk and simultaneously expanding his interests in climbing on things and stacking things in tall piles, his father Daniel taught him an important word.  This word summed up a major reason to be cautious about climbing that thing or stacking that way, in one word instead of a whole sentence, so it was very useful when we needed to tell Nicholas to stop and rethink what he was doing before he got hurt or broke something.  Nicholas soon learned to say this word himself, so he could cry for help with his adventures and we’d quickly understand what was going wrong, and also he could warn us if something we were doing was hazardous in this way.

The word is Read more…

Two Weeks of Meatless Menus for Late Winter

It’s Lent, which means that a lot of omnivores are keeping meatless Fridays, and some have given up meat for the whole six weeks.  Daniel and I used to eat a lot more meat than we do now, and giving up meat for Lent in 2002 was one of the biggest steps in our journey.  Since then, we’ve found more and more meatless foods to enjoy!

If you’re accustomed to having meat in every meal, it can be difficult to figure out what else you might eat, so we’re sharing two weeks of our family menu to give you some ideas!   Read more…

An Eagle Landing on the MOON!!!

Sometimes a fact that’s been right in front of me all my life nonetheless fails to penetrate my consciousness.  This particular fact may be one of which all my readers are already aware.  In fact, you may think it’s quite unremarkable.  But it just now came to my attention, and I am flabbergasted, so I just have to tell you:

American dollar coins from the 1970s, whether they bear the head of Dwight D. Eisenhower or Susan B. Anthony, on the reverse side depict an eagle landing on the moon.

I think I had noticed the eagle before.  If you’d asked me what was on the other side of Susan B., I might even have been able to tell you it was an eagle, an elegantly outstretched and feathery eagle, landing on something.

But I never before noticed that it is landing on the MOON!!! The landscape has those distinctive craters.  That disc up in the sky bears the outlines of the Americas, so that’s Earth up there.  The eagle is bringing an olive branch to the moon.  How peaceful.

Yet totally disturbing and confusing!  An eagle?  On the moon?  Without even a helmet?  What?!  And isn’t it a dove bringing an olive branch that is a sign of peace?

Okay, okay, I get it: America, represented here by our mascot bird, landed on the moon (“The eagle has landed,” and all), and that’s a proud achievement to put on our coin, but we didn’t take over the moon for ourselves but just to show what humankind can do but not in an aggressive way, so, like, “We come in peace!”  Okay, I see.

But still.  An eagle landing on the moon.  Did those government LSD experiments involve the coin designers, too?

Religious Education with Ramona Quimby

I’m an Episcopalian now, but my parents joined a Unitarian Universalist church when I was seven years old, so I was raised in that denomination. There were many things about it that weren’t compatible with my spirituality, but I did learn at least one valuable lesson there: Some secular books contain wisdom and moral dilemmas that can be valuable catalysts for religious discussion and development. I’m a big fan of the Bible and prefer attending a church where it’s the main text.  It’s just not the only book that can speak to the truth in our hearts.  Last Sunday, I had an opportunity to apply this idea in my Episcopal church. Read more…

It’s high school musical season!

No, no, I don’t mean those tawdry movies–I mean the musical theater productions put on by many real-life high schools every spring.  My family sees at least one every year, and we always have a great time, for just $3 to $10 per person with all the profits going to a good cause.

The amazing energy and enthusiasm of teenagers can make these productions almost professional quality. Read more…

7 Continuum Concept Experiences

For years now, I’ve been meaning to write something about how The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff relates to our parenting style and a lot of my life experiences.  It’s a big idea, and I have a lot of scattered notes stashed in a draft post, but so far I haven’t even gotten around to adding this book to my list of Books That Blew My Mind.  This is what 7 Quick Takes Friday is good for!  After giving a brief summary of this concept I’m talking about, I’ll tell you just 7 specific experiences we’ve had with applying it to our urban, non-tribal, high-tech lives. Read more…

Costco vs. Gordon Food Service

It’s Works-for-Me Wednesday!  It’s also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, so you might want to check out last year’s suggestions for Lenten fasts that help the environment or my musings on vanity and seeking help.

I’ve been a member of Costco for some time, and the money we save by buying some things in larger packages there more than makes up for the $50 annual fee.  Last year, I found out about another store that sells things in big packages, GFS Marketplace (Gordon Food Service), which doesn’t require membership; anyone can walk in and buy things there.  Which store is the better deal?  It depends on what you’re buying.

Last month, I bought the food for 115 Girl Scouts for a weekend at camp (I’m no longer a troop leader, but I accepted a call to volunteer as their food buyer and drive the car full of food to camp), and this gave me an opportunity to compare Costco’s and GFS’s prices more extensively than I ever had before. Read more of this post

Vain is the Deep of Man

About 14 years ago, when I was new to the church where I’m now a well-established member and new to living with my boyfriend, I walked into church on the first Sunday of Lent with the dry mouth and raw eyes and heavy heart of a person whose Saturday night had involved too many tears and not enough sleep.  I don’t remember now what Daniel and I had argued about.  I just remember that I handled the conflict horribly, snarling words I knew would hurt him worse than he had just hurt me, because I wanted to win. Read more…

What to do when a baby repeatedly drops something

This is a common game of babies: Drop an object on the floor. Wait for adult to pick it up and give it back. Drop it again. Repeat until adult begins tearing hair, turning purple, or otherwise doing something entertaining.

We didn’t play that game when Nicholas was a baby. Read more…

Speedy Sushi and menu planning with a six-year-old

Our lives go so much more smoothly when I write up a menu for what we’ll have for dinner in the next few days!  I have a full-time job outside the home; Daniel is unemployed right now, so he picks up Nicholas from kindergarten, and they can start dinner before I get home . . . but if they decide what to make on the spur of the moment, we end up eating a lot of easy-to-make, not-so-great, incomplete meals, and we don’t use up perishable ingredients.  Menu planning is something that just doesn’t come easily to Daniel, but he’s happy to follow a plan I wrote! Read more…

Things Not To Do: Credit Card Edition

There is a piece of advice missing from my article on credit card sanity.  That’s because, at the time I wrote it, I had never allowed myself to be talked into applying for a store’s credit card at the cash register.  I have now had this experience and learned why it is a Thing Not To Do. Read more…

Things Not To Do: Home Organizing Edition

Don’t start a To Be Filed pile.

I mean, you can make such a pile temporarily, when you’re opening the mail and paying bills and such, and then get up and file everything in that pile as soon as you’re done–that’s a fine strategy.  What you must avoid is making a pile of things you are going to file away in their proper places Someday when you Have Time.  That day may not come until the pile is very big, and then it will look so daunting that you will do everything in your power to avoid Having Time to sort and file all those boring papers.  Meanwhile, the pile will take up space and serve as a constant reminder of how busy you are now and how stupid you were then.

I started a To Be Filed pile when I was pregnant and exhausted.  My child is now six years old, and I still have not cleared out that pile!  I succeeded in stopping myself from adding to the pile quite some time ago, and several times I have worked on it for a while and filed some of it (much of it can now be filed in the recycling bin, since it is outdated), but I have never yet reached the bottom.

Don’t do this.  File those papers now, or just recycle them.  Your future self will thank you.