Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Ants Go Marching One by One

Aggggggh. . .the ants have invaded. I came down to make breakfast this morning and while the pan was warming to cook the pancakes, I began putting the dried dishes away. That is when I saw them – ANTS and they weren’t marching one by one but they were flowing in. I tried to start with the all natural approach. I got out the white vinegar and wiped the window and the counter down. The ants did not seem to mind one bit. I started to really get upset and grabbed the cayenne pepper – I had heard that ants will not cross a cayenne pepper line. I will tell you that it definitely stopped them and clearly they did not like the taste, but the quickly devised their own plan. They began somersaulting over the line. At about this time, my pancake pan was screaming for something in it on the stove. I started trying to cook and curb the attack of the ants (you can only imagine how well that was going). Thank goodness, DH came down stairs. He said to heck with the au-natural and got out the ant spray. We certainly have some more work to do, but this attack was thwarted. I guess summer is really here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Making LINKS with the community

DD is off to KY on a mission’s trip with our old church. This is a momentous occasion for so many reasons. Certainly as a mission trip she is acting as God’s hands on earth, but also this is somewhat of a rite of passage for her. As a family, we have done this mission trip several times before, but this year she is doing it alone. Ok, alone with 75 of her closest friends. DD has done camp before so going away is not foreign to her, but this is more than camp. This is a way for her to spread her wings. She is out of state and will be treated as an adult and expected to work like one too. I think she is probably handling the whole thing better than I am; although, I have already heard from her 4 times by phone and she has only been gone since Saturday morning. I’m hoping this trip brings her the independence that she is seeking and helps her to see her faithful powers. God’s miracles happen everyday, especially if you are willing to listen to His call and help them come to fruition. Please pray for the safe keeping of my DD and all those of the United Churches of Durham that have traveled to KY.

If you are interested to help those in need, check out LINKS. You will get back far more than you give.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Catholic School for Protestants? or shall we continue to protest?

The table was set and the meal prepared. We waited for the Father to arrive. We had decided that DD wanted to go to the Catholic School. We understood that this meant that she would go to mass daily and undertake religious education and were ok with that. She was confirmed this year in our Congregational denomination, so I was fairly confident that while she was still developing her belief system, she was founded in a strong basis that would not waiver beneath this Catholic system. It crossed my mind that this would not be the limit of what was expected of us, and I was correct. It was asked that the entire family begin attending mass on a weekly basis.

On a cursory view this may not seem like much of a request. We are both Christians. We already attend church on a weekly basis. But such a request is bigger than that . . .I tried to make an analogy for my husband. Imagine as a Yankee fan, you got a job at Fenway. Such a job meant that you were able to watch baseball almost daily, but you were never able to see your favorite team in action (yes, I know the analogy breaks down here because the Red Sox and the Yankees actually do play each other, but I think you get the idea). It would be unlikely that as a family we would attend two church services a week and so such a choice would stop us from practicing our own religion. And I think that there are enough differences, that we would not feel completely fulfilled in the Catholic religion. My husband thinks that we would adapt and maybe even eventually convert, but I don’t . There are too many issues that I feel too passionately about. Frankly, I wonder too, how it will feel to always be excluded, always be the outsider. Is participating in and of itself, supporting something I don’t believe is right. Is this too high a price to pay?

It is interesting to think that we often think of different religions as being Buddhist vs. Christian, or monotheistic vs. pantheistic, atheist vs. believer, but truthfully there are many times in my life that differences in religion lie on much closer paths like this Catholic vs. Congregationalist consideration.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Go and Make Disciples - Converting the locals

“Go and make disciples of all the nations.” I have been thinking of this command by Jesus found in Matthew 28:19 and mark 16:15. As we have moved and are “church shopping”, we have been coming to many different churches in the area to find one that fits us and reflects what we believe to be God’s truth. Perhaps we have sat jut next to you in a pew. When we left church this week and were discussing what we liked and what we didn’t , this scripture came to me again, “Go and make disciples of the world.”

These churches were not following this command, they were waiting for the faithful to walk to them. The command does not read, “Open your doors and let the faithful in.” It says “Go!” “Go and make disciples of the world.” I thought of this even within the context of our old church. We did go and make disciples through our participation in Heifer International, the Crop Walk, Operation Christmas child, our mission trip to Kentucky, but what about those just steps from our door. Did we expect them to find their way through our doors? If someone new came through our door, were we “making disciples” or just giving current believers a place to practice?

“Go and make disciples of the world.” Doesn’t this command imply that we should always be looking for those that need introduction to Jesus? Many of us avoid the Jehovah’s witnesses as they come to our door to spread their word. While we may not agree with their total message, we should admire them for their conviction in living out this command.

Interestingly, in Luke 24:47, the command is phrased slightly differently; “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”. The “Go” has been defined. Go not only means to spread the gospel across the world, but to also make sure that it is spread in the backyard. Just because Jesus lived in and around Jerusalem did not mean that all people heard the gospel or accepted on the first hearing. “Preach to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

I would like to personally inspire you to think about how your church could live out this scripture right in your neighborhood or community. Do not wait for believers to enter your doors but go out among the people and share with them the gospel

Some thoughts on how to do this:
1. Send a welcome letter to new families in the area
2. Hold a Bible Study at a local coffee shop
3. Post notices about special church events on community bulletin boards
4. Hold an outdoor concert of a Christian singer or group.
5. Have your church bazaar women participate in local craft fairs
6. Host the local Farmer’s Market or other non-religious event at your church
7. Start a book club – advertise throughout the town.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kiss it and make it all better please, Mom

When kids are little and they are hurt, we can so easily make it all better as they get older the process becomes harder if not impossible. I remember my babies getting there very first immunizations. The shot brought wails and cries, but mommy could quickly nurse them and the world was right. When they were a little older, kisses and Band-Aids could make the world right again. Today, my poor son found out that he has to undergo immunotherapy for an allergy to yellow jackets and white faced hornets. The testing entailed enough shots, but he braved his way through it. Unfortunately, now that the allergy has been confirmed, the poor thing has to undergo a shot a week for twelve weeks and then every two weeks, every three weeks, and so on until we get to six weeks which he will need to continue for 5 years and then, even then, it is not necessarily better, but he just has to be tested again to see how his body reacts. Oh, how I wish I could make it all better.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ADCD - Attention Deficit Crafting Disorder - Desgining your own curtain

Having a little more free time – no friends yet established at the new homestead and therefore no committees to chair or fundraisers to organize and no job – means that my brain cells are firing on overload. Of course, the no job part also means there is not much money. (Please let me clarify the “no job”, technically I have one but it only runs in the fall / winter part-time. Due to budget cuts, they couldn’t keep me in the summer – there for cutting my budget : ( ) Anyway, I decided we needed curtains in the bathrooms upstairs so that we were not mooning anyone that might fancy by and more specifically the young children next door. I initially had a sheet thumb tacked in. The sheet had operated with a more modern twist as bedroom curtains at the old house, but that doesn’t seem to fit her. One day there was a flash and I scribbled a quick plan on a post it note. I pulled out the sewing machine, button box, DMC floss, scissors, and pins. Zip, Zip, Zip – a curtain was born, but the plan called for more than that – not just a curtain to cover the window, but a primitive crafty curtain. Thus, I spend the next 10 days hand stitching in a floral design at the base. And finally, the curtain is now hung. Mind you, I don’t have a curtain rod yet, so it is strung with fishing line and thumbtacks, but here is the final product . . .

Now, I have a hankering for a jean rag rug. I haven’t come up with a base frame other than buying one so I am on hold right now, but expect to see it soon. You can’t hold back the creative juices too long.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Capitalism is alive and well in America

Lately there has been a lot of press regarding the death of capitalism. I, however, want to reassure you that it is alive and well in our household. Our riding lawn mower has not yet made the travel north and so we must make due with a push mower. 1 acre does not seem like much on a plot plan, but when you are pushing a mower it is a lot of land. So despite the fact that we do not normally give allowance, a price was set for mowing the lawn, $20.00. DS has now done it three times and accumulated $60.00. DD began to think that she was getting the short end of the arrangement. “If I mow, will you pay me?” “Absolutely, if you want to get paid, you and DS can rotate and we’ll pay accordingly.” DD is not one who normally signs up for extra chores and often does work that she needs to do grudgingly, so this enthusiasm was out of character. I can guarantee you that this interest was not due to the smell of fresh cut grass or the time she spent out under the beautiful sky, her decision was 100% motivated by cold hard cash – capitalism at its best.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paying Back TARP Money - the banks or the customers

I don’t mean to start your day with listening to griping, but . . .

In listening to the news yesterday, I understand than many of the major banks are looking to pay back their TARP loans. Many are happy to pay it back so that they no longer have to submit to the Federal Governments guidelines associated with accepting the money (I translate this as the executive would like a pay raise). The commentator noted that the loans are being paid back much more quickly than expected and touted that they are being paid back with interest. The commentator continued with a visual showing all the “extra” money that the Federal Government was getting back from the banks. Does anyone realize that the money is not from the banks alone? Banks do not have money trees either. They make money from their customers. Remember the post about my frustration with the interest rate going up to 28% on my credit card for no apparent reason. So really the people paying back the loans that they were forced to make are same people (taxpayers) who are customers of these banks. BTW, the banks were charged 5% according to the news story – the person at the bank that I talked to had explained that they had to raise my rate to cover what they owed the government. The difference between these rates reminds me of a childhood game – one for you, two for me; two for you, three for me; 5% for me, 28% for you.

Mattresses are starting to look very good even if they aren’t very realistic in this day and age.

PS. This same bank which raised my rate to 28% and which I chose to “opt out” and hold the rate at 14% just sent me a 0% credit card offer. Couldn’t we have just left the old card where it was instead of playing these games?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Educational Progress - for 1 month???

Today we received our letter from the assistant superintendent accepting our educational plan for the kids. However, there were a few changes. For example, since we moved at the end of April, I applied for the 2009-2010 year and did not expect to have to do anything until next spring, but instead, she wants our progress report to the principals of what would be their respective schools by June 22nd – Yes, that is 13 days away! At first, I got my ire up but then I thought “ maybe they were just trying to get us on the same track with all of the other homeschoolers” and so I started writing it up. I was only going to account for my time here and not the entire year. Now, I’m left wondering am I giving them too much. I welcome any insight. When we lived in Connecticut, I knew the laws inside and out, but here in Massachusetts, I’m much more unsure.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sabbath Supper - from recipe card to leftovers

In our new house, you really have to plan your time. DD had play rehearsal last night so I needed to make sure that I got gas in the morning – there are no gas stations on the way – a 45 minute ride away. So DH agreed to take my car to church so that we could fill up in the South (north desolate / south population). Since we were so close, I convinced him to also stop at the grocery store. Because of his back, he stayed in the car but the kids and I shopped. I did not have a large list, but somehow filled the basket before we left. In the first isle, the kids spied the recipe rack and were immediately enthralled. My kids are not little anymore, so they aren’t just grabbing to grab. They really expect you to make the recipes that they pull out. I agreed to one – Butterflied Roast Chicken. So a whole chicken, 1 lemon, 1 orange, and some shallots later we were on our way to Sunday dinner (yes, the recipe calls for honey too, but my short term memory forgot that and DH had to run to the corner later when I was cooking – ooops).

When we got home, I butterflied the Chicken and roasted away.

We had the chicken, noodles with parsley, and green beans. It was a wonder Sabbath meal – a respite and reunification for the family (I’m thinking we need to do this more often). As we were clearing the table, DS asked if he should throw out anything leftover. DH made a snide remark about chicken broth and thus my cooking was not done. In to the pot went the bones and excess meat. Four hours later, broth better than Swansons. Funny how when I woke up Sunday morning, none of this was in my plan. Next time maybe I should leave the kids at home???

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Every Time You Feel The Spirit

There is a strange characteristic of New England Congregationalists – restraint. Where you may think of Southern Baptists hands raised praising “Alleluia”; New England Congregationalist are the picture of restraint. Rarely do we even clap or a good hymn or a blessing we have heard. Severe and quiet do we sit with our puritanical ancestors keeping us in line. Today, this tendency actually became comical when the minister tried to teach a lesson in the Children’s Sermon about enthusiasm – literally translated from Greek meaning to be filled with God’s spirit. He encouraged them to share how they cheered for their favorite sports team. The wide eyed children looked queerly at the Reverend. He egged them on. Meekly one girl said the words, “Go Brimfield. Go.” But the voice was so quiet and respectful in the Sanctuary.

“Is that really how you say it? Or do you say it louder?” The girl eyed him. You could see t in all of their eyes – Noise in church? They had been taught well.

There is an animal behavior experiment by Gary Hamel and CK Prahalad (as told in Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover) in which monkeys were put in a cage with a tall pole on top of which sat fresh ripe bananas. Of course, the monkeys were eager for the favorite food. They made easy work of the pole but just as they were about to reach for the prize the researchers blew the monkeys off the pole with a strong burst from a fire hose. After a few times of this the chimp gave up and stopped trying for the banana. More interestingly, when new monkeys were introduced to the cage and enticed by the same bananas, it was not the fire hose which halted them, but their fellow monkeys who pulled them down. Eventually, each of the original chimps was replaced so that no animal had experience the fire hose deterrent. Even so the monkeys continued not to eat the bananas. They had learned that the bananas were off limits.

Were these children the same? Had all these generations later had the descendents of the Puritans remained reserved to avoid the stockades? Even ministerial permission they no longer could be spiritually enthusiastic.

I must side with the minister on this one and believe it may be time for us to reach for the bananas. If the spirit moves you . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Living off the Land - Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Be thankful for small blessings. As part of being owners of a new house, we are trying to identify all the plants in our yard. I don’t really want to make changes until I know what I have. As we were getting to know the yard, one of the kids came over to tell me that we had a rhubarb plant. Frankly, I thought they had mixed up there plant identification as they led me into the front yard. “Are you sure you mean rhubarb?” They were confident and began dreaming of the pies we would make. Sure enough, tucked in the front corner of our yard is a rhubarb plant.

So last night I made what they all have been dreaming of, a strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Husband Tortured on the Rack

Poor husband started physical therapy for his back. Would you believe they put him on the rack?

Ok, maybe not as primitive as this and certainly not to pull his limbs off, but the concept is the same. He was stretched to bring blood flow to his discs to begin healing. Who knew that an early torture device would become a medically advised form of therapy?

Let us hope that this work, because the cost of moving is continuing to climb.

Interestingly, I learned that “to rack your brain” comes from this early form of torture. To Rack something was to cause pain or anguish and was adopted by Shakespeare and then also used by other writers. Hopefully this post won’t rack your brains too much.

Sleep Elusive - Cures For Insomnia

My brother is having trouble sleeping and has been I guess for awhile. He says that his head spins with ideas just as he tries to go to sleep. Insomnia has never been a problem for me, as I could sleep anywhere / anytime, but for the past few years I have experienced two sleepless times – One, when my husband travels and that elusive 4:00 AM hour. Surely, I know the feeling of ideas popping into your mind here / there/ and everywhere. My answer is a simple notebook. Keep a book nearby, jot down those annoying ideas that you can’t seem to let go of (in my case it is the reverse, if I don’t write it down, it will let go of me). By writing the thought down, you can let it go, knowing that it is safely remembered and will be taken up during the waking hours.

Also, as he describes his own insomnia, he admits to getting up and using the computer. This is very similar to my father, who says he can’t sleep but instead watches hours of tv or endless games of cards on the computer. I think that there is something about both the tv and the computer that don’t quite let you fall asleep, but don’t exactly keep you stimulated instead you are left in a zombie state. My comment is always that it is very hard to fall asleep when you are sitting up. When my husband travels, I can never quite get myself to go to bed. It is more than just not having him here, since he often has late meeting and that has never stopped me from going to be. But when I know he is not coming home, I wander the house and start projects to keep me busy. And frankly, I’m not sure that I would go to bed unless I made it an actual point to do so. As a mom, it is important for me to be on my game during the day. I can’t be slogging around. So I make myself a bedtime when he is traveling. At the appointed time, all electronics get shut off and I get ready for bed. Often I make a cup of tea (herbal decaffeinated) and grab a book. I read for a half an hour and then lights OUT and head on pillow eventually sleep will come.

Do any of you have insomnia? How do you deal with it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Genealogy - Learning from our past

Stepping back in time . . .Fascinated by what has come before. . .What affect does a man have 100’s of years before who connects only with the slimmest chromosomal connection . . . Oh, wait, I’m adopted . . .What affect does a man have 100’s of years before that has no connection with you by time or space or even the ribbon of DNA?

I don’t have the answer for you, but I know that I am hooked. Included in my mass of information is my very first family tree from circa 1978 or so (which by the way is not the best school project because it can lead to soooo many questions from children - like adopted children). In only goes back four generations, but it was important enough to save with every move and actually gave me the very first pieces of information to help me delve back when I was old enough to really do it.

One of the things that I find most interesting is that every time I delve in I see something new; I find some interesting correlation or commonality; and I always find a new story. Today, I found that years ago one of my relative lived in my hometown before it was even a founded town. The poor man died about a year after marrying his wife by falling out of a tree. His wife remarried and had 7 children and three step-children.

What did I learn from this you ask:

1.Be careful when you climb a tree or your whole life may be summarized by your foolishness.
2.Life goes on no matter how great the tragedy.

My favorite part of the rummaging into the past is that my daughter does it with me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Teenage Dreams

When you have a teenager, sometimes it is hard to believe that you come from the same planet, let alone believe that you share DNA. But sometimes, some rare times, you relate to each other and share the closeness reminiscent of those early days when you were almost one. Today was such a day for my DD and I.

Moving has been difficult on DD. She has dreaded it and complained about it for months. But with the exception of my husband who now has an extra 15 hours a week (due to not having to commute), DD probably has had the biggest gain. She now has girls her age just steps from our back door, she is the prize volunteer at the library, and as she has dreamed her entire life, she is working with horses. Our house is just a short walk from a horse rescue.

Today, we went for the second time to work with the horses. She and I watered them and she gave them each some hay. She groomed Tucker, a miniature horse,

and then led several of them back to the stalls as the rain moved in. We had a good time and I think that she enjoyed being more competent than me. I once dreamed of horses like she does, but I never had the opportunities that she has had. The closest I came was riding a horse on a lead line at my elementary school. She has ridden, had riding lessons, gone to horse camp, and now is volunteering at a rescue. She is becoming the main character in all of those horse books she reads. I am blessed to stand by and be able to see her dreams becoming reality.

Pizza Recipe Cookbook - Yum

I made two yummy pizzas from the book Pizza: Grill it, Bake it, Love it! by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough last night.

My DS has an addiction to cookbooks and takes tons out every time we go to the library. I’m glad that he is interested in the culinary arts, but I can’t yet get him to understand that we live with a food budget and that for the most part we have to cook with the food that we have. Much to Martha Stewarts chagrin I can’t run out and buy capers or special flavored oils that I may use in only one recipe. Last night though, I was able to peek through this cookbook and find some recipes that worked with food that I had on hand. I prepared a Mushroom pizza on a Parmesan Pizza Dough and a Sausage and Pepper Pizza on a Classic Crust. The pizza, the dough, and the sauce was all from scratch. The dough came out a little thin, but crispy and I was surprised by some of the flavors. I never would have thought to put Worcestershire Sauce on the mushrooms going on my pizza. I also thought that I had way to many toppings and not enough cheese, but it was all delicious. I think I may even buy this book to add to my personal cookbook collection.

I’m thinking that my husband might actually be enjoying me not working. I have time to make food that takes hours to rise. The house is a little cleaner and I seem to be smiling a lot more. Sometimes in loss there are blessings. Of course my bills may not see it that way : )

PS. I have no charge on my account for the gas and the manager doesn’t seem to care. Now what?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is it Stealing if they won't take the Money?

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee related a story today about inadvertently walking out of a store without paying for something and the frustration she experienced trying to right the wrong.

Ironically, I had a similar experience this week when getting gas.

I slide my credit card through. Pumped gas until the pump shut off and the screen came up with “see the cashier”. When I went into ask what was going on, the cashier said that he owed me “22.82”. I tried to explain that since I bought gas, I wasn’t sure how that was possible, but he assured me that he owed me money. In hindsight, perhaps I should have just accepted the money and left, but Little Miss Rule Follower had to persist. The manager then involved himself and decided to show the little lady how to use a gas pump. ( I can’t say that this put him on my good side. ) I will say that the manager was very kind and continued smiling, but he really never offered a solution. I finally insisted that we took each others information. As of four days later, there is no resolution to this. My bank card shows a $1.00 pending charge (which it often does before the real charge comes in) and the gas station shows no sign of the charge ever being made. And ironically nor do they want me to come back and pay for the gas, which I offered.

The question that both of these experiences raise is what is the moral / right thing to do? How far do you go to do the “right” thing? What do you think?

New Book Club

I went to my first book club meeting in the new town. It seems like a good group of people - - - even if they forgot to introduce themselves. We met at the library after hours. This library is so small that if you held a book club and had the library open, it would be impossible for the patrons to walk around. The book up for discussion was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. First and foremost, I have to applaud myself as I didn’t read the book so long ago that I forgot it nor was I reading it the seconds prior to our discussion.

The Alchemist is the story of Santiago, a sheepherder, who is in search of a treasure. Santiago travels from his Andalusian Hills to Egypt following the omens and fulfilling his Personal Legend. This book may seem a little obvious or simple, but I think it brings up many questions about how we live our life. Have we given up on our dreams? Are we settling? Or are we striving to make our dreams come true? We had a very good conversation on the book sharing many personal storied and frankly we probably could have talked much longer.

We concluded the evening by getting the book for next month, The Wilderness: a Novel by Samantha Harvey.

Next month we are supposed to bring suggestions for the following two months. Do you have any suggestions?