Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Children and Cemeteries

            Visiting a cemetery as a child can be a very valuable experience.   I remember every year on Memorial Day or thereabouts I would accompany my mother to the cemeteries where our relatives were buried. There we would clean off the headstones, pull weeds near the graves and replace them with vases (old coffee cans) filled with flowers from our garden. While my grandmother was alive she would accompany us as well and we would take lots of flowers from her abundant garden. I particularly remember the fragrant white snow ball blossoms from my grandmother's garden.
             We have carried on this Memorial Day tradition with our own children and have for years accompanied my husband's mother to the old pioneer cemetery to decorate the graves of the relatives.  After searching for and then decorating the various graves scattered here and there we wander around reading the tombstones, reverently commenting on the names and ages of the deceased.
             When we read the tombstone of a baby, a four year-old child, a teenager or any "young" person, whether it was a recent death or from 1888,  I feel a  glimmer of the pain of those the deceased left behind.  All of us come face to face with the harsh reality that none of us are guaranteed a long life here on this earth, which is good for all of us to remember.
              I don't remember my children ever being terribly haunted or scared after visiting the cemetery on Memorial Day and I know I never was scared by it as a child.  I remember my children asking questions about why someone may have died and it did open up opportunities to talk about death, heaven and spiritual things which is always good.
              Focus on the Family has resources for teaching children about death . Check this link for a short article about how to talk to a child about death:  http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/25600

Sunday, May 29, 2011


          My three sisters, my mother, and I get together every couple years or so for some female bonding that's organized to be filled with laughter and fun. It takes some forethought and effort to plan an event bringing five or more individuals together from our varied geographical areas, not to mention the differences in our lifestyles.
          A few years ago we met at "Seattle Skedaddle" a well planned event concocted by my sisters and I. One sister flew in from Texas, rented a car and the rest of us drove to Seattle meeting at our hotel where we set up in the lobby at a table with a convention-type sign-in, convention packets, including name-badges (goofy assumed names only) and a big sign welcoming all to "Seattle Skedaddle." And so the fun began.
           The weekend included such events as a mock seminar on "How to Apply Make Up", a scavenger hunt,  shopping, a lyrics/singing contest, cheer contest, talent contest and of course eating.  The main purpose was to laugh and have fun.  We had a few ground rules and each of us was equipped with a bottle of "chill pills," (chocolate chips), so if someone got cranky they were told to take a "chill pill." One of the other rules was "no talking about our kids."
          We spent three days and two nights together and had a barrel of laughs. Everywhere we went people read our name badges and wanted to know about our event. When we told them we were sisters spending time together with our mother having fun, 90% of the comments we got were like this: "I could never do that with my sisters/mother....we don't speak to each other," or "I haven't spoken to my sister(s) for 10 years,"or "My sisters and I don't get along." At the same time they expressed regret and wished they could have fun with their sisters or mother. Many told us how unique we were and quite frankly we were dumbfounded to learn how "unusual" our family is, simply because we "get along." How sad!
           My advice if you don't  "get along" with your siblings or parents: 1.Learn to forgive 2.  Develop a sense of humor. 3.  Don't take yourself too seriously. 4.  Remember, life is not all about you.
          Advice to young children and teens:  learn to get a long with your siblings because in the future you will be spending holidays together. You may not always have friends but you will always have your brothers and sisters. In the future you will regret it if you don't learn how to get along with your siblings.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

10 Death-Bed Regrets I Don't Want to Have

1. I wish I had spent more time with my kids and spouse.

2.  I wish I had hugged my kids more.

3.  I wish I had held my tongue more.

4.  I wish I could take back all the hurtful things I have said to my spouse and my kids.

5.  I wish I had said "I love you," to my spouse/kids more.

6.  I wish I had forgiven my siblings/parents and maintained a good relationship with them.

7.  I wish I would have planned better, stayed in school longer and did something significant with my life.

8.  I wish I would have prayed more and worried less.

9.  I wish I would have totally lived for Jesus and less for myself.

10.  I wish I would have heeded  good advice instead of depending on my own ideas.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Children Behave Like Children

          I was under the false impression as an idealistic new mother that if I "did everything right" with my children, they  would be obedient, respectful, responsible, God-fearing and generally morally upright citizens. I was going to do it "right" and not make the same mistakes MY parents made.  I was going to impart my wisdom and God's wisdom into their very beings and naturally they would heed it. (Are you laughing yet?)
          Of course many a wise older mother told me differently advising me to do my best but most importantly I needed to pray for my children. Children are born with a sin nature and with a will of their own. "Yeah, yeah," I thought, "but, if I do everything right, blah, blah, blah...."
          Those older wiser women were right, of course, not that my older children are psychopaths or drug dealers or anything like that.
           The Bible has a lot to say about children and the nature of people in general. One of the verses most profoundly simple in summing up a child's behavior is Proverbs 22:15: "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction will drive it far from him." Another simple explanatory verse is 1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I understand as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." This verse implies that children behave childishly and do not think, speak or act like adults.  Delightfully, there are always exceptions...but not in my house.

          The best advice I could give to new moms is to say, "As precious as your children are, they do have a  sin nature and are childish in thought and behavior and you can not change this nature;  what you can do is do your best in lovingly training  and disciplining them, and all the while putting them into God's loving hands, praying for them consistently.
           Let's get one important thing straight: NOBODY is perfect, not even moms and you cannot be a perfect mom. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes, apologize to your kids when you blow it and remember children behave like CHILDREN.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

10 Reasons to be Thankful for the Rain

1.  We don't have to irrigate the yard or garden.

2.  We don't have to worry about dust storms or our top-soil blowing away.

3.  Wild fire and forest fire danger is extremely low.

4.  No worries of drought.

5.  The reservoirs are filling up for our summer supply of water and for our lake recreational opportunities.

6.  It decreases the pollen count in the air.

7.  The plants love it. Which leads to #8

8.  It makes the plants turn green which is a calming color, and don't we all want that? http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/color_green.htm

9.  We are not fighting a heat wave.

And the best is:

10.  Dad won't make us do yard and garden work when it's rainy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Value of Reading Aloud to Your Kids

         One of the best things I did with my small children as a homeschool mom was to have a certain routine where I could unwind and the children could relax a bit every afternoon. It was a lifesaver and it kept me from blowing it many a time when I'd become frazzled.
         After lunch each afternoon it was story-time on the couch with Mom. Each child was allowed to pick out one book for me to read to everyone and I got to pick the rest. This was my time to read aloud and the kids' time to be quiet and listen. The kids would all snuggle up to me on the couch, the youngest ones having the privilege of sitting right next to me.

          We often read for 2 hours and sometimes I had to fight to keep my eyes open, slurring my words; the kids would always jolt me awake so I could finish the story. It was a routine, a habit and it was just expected every afternoon; we all looked forward to it. This served to help us all relax and it also instilled in my kids a love for books and the value of reading. It was also a natural lead-in to blessed nap time.
         As the kids got older we continued to read after lunch but usually around the lunch table and I would read aloud a chapter out of one of the Henty book series or one of our favorite series, Little Britches by Ralph Moody. We even read aloud some of the more difficult stuff like Beowulf when my oldest were in high school. Often it was hard to stop at just one chapter and the kids would plead for "just one more, please!"
          I kind of miss those days of reading aloud to my kids but  I look forward to reading to my grandchildren. That will be special.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Its Probably on YouTube

            Whatever did we do before the internet and more specifically, You Tube?

            Last summer I learned how to shorten the sleeves on my husband's new tux on You Tube and I did it! My friend learned how to adjust the timing on her industrial sewing machine on You Tube and saved herself a trip to the repairman.  Fantastic! I learned how to cook Thai style noodles on You Tube. The possibilities are nearly endless. Here is only a smattering of some of the useful things you can learn on You Tube, and you may want to direct your children's attention to the first two.  
1.  How to clean your room: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDNbS_fTke8

2.  How to make homework less work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT-_G4-fYkw&feature=relmfu

3.  How to knit for beginners http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uw-nUvGrBY

4.  How to do kitchener's stitch in knitting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7jIzwO5Nv4

5.  How to cut a mango: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7jIzwO5Nv4

6.  How to tie a bead head woolly bugger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FtoQTPkMFg

7.  How to truss a turkey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auQB7D_xB0I

8.  How to answer "Tell me about yourself" in an interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8EFRiJKARM

9.  How to buy a used car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHIfyhDzZ8o

10.  How to make fabric flowers for a wedding dress http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZQzO-A58_o

Check them out and next time you need to know how to do something, search www.YouTube.com.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homeschool "Stay-at-Home-Mom?"

             "Stay-at-Home-Mom" That is a total misnomer. The only time I was a true "Stay-at-Home-Mom" was when I had a very small baby and also when I had toddlers and a baby. It was just easier to stay home then.  As my children aged and we began homeschooling we  stayed at home less and less. There were and are now so many opportunities out there for homeschoolers including organized play times, drama productions to watch and participate in, choirs, bands, art classes, co-op classes, sports, 4-H, debate clubs, all kinds of academic classes, organized field trips, science fairs and more.  It seems like we did it all. There was a lot of going and not much staying at home, and I found myself wishing I was a "Stay-at-Home-Mom."
               I'm thinking those of us who choose to be homeschool "Stay-at-Home-Moms" should call ourselves something different besides SAHM or homeschool Mom. Not that those labels are bad or anything, I just think they are not truly apt descriptors and they lack zing.   When you  have to fill out a form at the doctor's or anywhere else in which you are asked to name your occupation you could put something more professional sounding. How about "Mobile Educational Consultant,"  "Adaptable Academic Advisor," "Itinerant Individualized Tutor," or "Developmental Transitional Educator?"  
              What do you call yourself in that space labeled "occupation?"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rest for Your Soul

          I love Sundays! It's the only day of the week when I can rest guilt-free pretty much all day aside from a few kitchen and dining room duties surrounding our noon time meal. God knew what he was doing when he instituted a day of rest; everyone needs rest from their busy, trying lives. Our bodies are tired, our minds are tired and our souls are tired.
          For me sitting in an easy chair knitting and watching an old movie is very restful. Some Sundays  I like to curl up with a good book and nod off without shame...ah bliss! Often hubby will buy the Sunday Oregonian on the way home from church and I'll have the crossword puzzle to begin working on Sunday afternoon....and then nod off in a recliner, more bliss!

           My hubby has different ideas about rest and relaxation. He has difficulty sitting still for very long so "vegging" on the couch is right out. Working outside in the garden restores his soul.(not mine). If there's no gardening  to be done he likes to delve into some "little" project like building a top bar bee hive, making a batch of soap or painting and re-papering our bedroom.
          I used to have a problem with him "working" on Sunday and by my standards, not resting. After all he's worked a 40 plus hour week and needs to have a break.
          However, I've learned over the past 30 years that these activities do provide him with  rest, maybe not my kind of rest, but definitely rest. He's restored by doing and I'm restored by sitting. We've gotten used to our differences and have learned not to make each other feel guilty for our personal choice of "rest."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Life Before Netflix

       Since I like to watch movies my hubby decided to do something nice for me at Christmas by signing me up for Netflix. We got the one-DVD-at-a-time and unlimited streaming plan. It very much has been a double-edged sword for us. We were like kids in a candy shop when we first got started, looking through all the great stuff to watch, ignoring the not-so-good stuff, and trying to decide what to watch and in what order. It was all so tantalizing: so many choices, so little time. Every night we watched something different, finding it easy to find something everyone would enjoy; we found great "oldies" like "All Creatures Great and Small" and "Columbo" and wonderful British claymation like Sean the Sheep....until those became too ho hum for the younger crowd, teenagers to be exact.
        We had Netflix on every night in some form or another, often finding it difficult to agree on what we were going to watch. And too often we'd end up watching something with little redeeming value.  Soon enough we began to feel like Netflix was controlling us rather us controlling it. It was time to wake up and go back to life before Netflix.
         Before Netflix we had the TV on very little. We've always had very tight controls on our TV; while the kids were very young they were not allowed to turn the TV on. The only time we had it on was  for Sesame Street in the morning, an occasional sports program my husband particularly wanted to see, or when we rented a movie. Now and then we'd watch Masterpiece Theater in the evening after the kids were in bed. We decided we wanted our kids' primary mode of entertainment to be books and playtime; we wanted them to use their imaginations. As the kids got older we'd plan movie night, usually Friday or Saturday night, so as not to interfere with homework. Our kids at home now are ages 19, 16 and 15 and are still not allowed to turn on the TV anytime and I don't think any of them feel deprived...well, maybe one does.
         I know from experience how easy it is to get hooked on the TV.  As a kid growing up with free use of the television, I watched it any time I liked, night or day. My siblings and I easily watched 2-3 hours per day on weekdays and even more on the weekends.When I was a young mom home alone with my baby I got myself hooked on a couple soap operas. This was before Tivo or internet so I had to watch my show at the prescribed time, baby or no. I literally had to go through a type of withdrawal to break its hold on me.  So many people these days have programs that they must watch on certain nights at certain times. And too many conversations I've heard revolve around "who's doing what to whom on what show," like it really matters in real life. I don't want this for myself or my family.
Check out this link on TV and your family:  http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/protecting_your_family/tv_and_todays_family/directing_tvs_role_in_your_home.aspx
          I'm not going to get rid of Netflix but I am going to back off, perhaps only watch something once or twice per week and only if its quality. Life is too short to be filling my mind with junk. Now, Perry Mason, that's quality....every week day at noon. I call it recess for Mom.
P.S. I never would have watched Perry Mason with my little kids since its always about murder...but now that I have only teens at home I'm living on the wild side a little.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Mommy Private Time

        My husband is such a gem! Several years back when my kids were much younger and much more demanding and I was homeschooling several children and trying to juggle toddlers at the same time, my husband, seeing how frazzled I was, would occasionally give me private "mommy time,"  while he took care of the kids.  Sometimes I left and went shopping or out to coffee but often I didn't really want to leave, but just to be left alone.

         We came up with an alternate plan:. Daddy would tell the kids, "Mommy's going on a date by herself," and they would hug and kiss me goodbye, whereupon I would go out the back door. He would have the kids occupied inside so that they didn't see me sneak around to the side of the house and come into my bedroom through the sliding glass door. Of course I was very quiet, sometimes taking a long hot bath by candlelight or working on some project or just reading a good book. My husband would sneak food into me and the kids were none the wiser. I wouldn't come out of hiding until all were tucked securely in bed.

         Not only is it OK for moms to get away from their children occasionally, I think it is imperative, especially if she is feeling stressed and harried. It is better for everyone in the family if Mom has a chance to relax and unwind; times of refreshment for mom help her to be more calm, happy, and able to cope with the pressing duties of motherhood and homeschooling.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Solution to Too Many Cookbooks

        I've got way too many cookbooks on my shelves. But each one has got some recipe, on some page that's a family favorite or an old standby. A few years back I came upon a solution, but as you can see it hasn't really reduced my stash of cookbooks all that much.  It is so hard to part with these old friends of bygone days.

        After my kids would ask such questions as, "Mom, where's your recipe for corn muffins?" or "What recipe do you use for  macaroni and cheese?" I thought of a plan to eliminate or at least decimate my cluttered mish-mash of cookbooks. The plan would also put all our frequently used recipes into one easily accessible file.

         What I've done is put all our favorite recipes, new and old alike, into the computer via WORD, printed copies of each one, then placed them in vinyl sheet protectors and put them into an organized 3-ring binder. The name of the binder is "Anderson Family Cookbook: A Compilation of Most Often Used Family-favorite Recipes from a Variety of Sources." I always include the source of the recipe along with any special notes or variations.

           The benefits: 1. No more hunting for favorite recipes 2. All our most often used recipes are in one place 3. The favorite recipes are on my computer and easily shared with those who request them and can even be e-mailed  4. The kids and husband know where to find them and have quit asking me to find a recipe for them  5.I can get rid of cookbooks especially those of which I only use 1 or 2 recipes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gardening Season in the Willamette Valley

             I could never move to Hawaii because I would get "Seasonal Defective Disorder." It's a disorder brought on by a lack of distinct seasons. At least here in the Willamette Valley we have 4 distinct seasons: spring rain, summer rain, fall rain, and winter rain. Right now we are in the midst of spring rain with occasional periods of no rain or little rain. In fact we've been able to get out into the garden on the no-rain /little-rain days and actually till up the soil for planting.  Of course the "we"means my husband,
 daughter and son, the gardening aficionados around here.

             So far we have potatoes, onions, beans, tomatillos, tomatoes, basil, carrots, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, horseradish, asparagus, and garlic planted and I am starting to anticipate making fresh salsa and helping my hubby can jars of  salsa verde, marinara sauce, and load up the freezer with homemade pesto....yum!

             I am also anticipating endless weeding and hoeing not only in the vegetable garden but in the flower beds as well. Fortunately, most of those chores have been contracted out to our own private labor force, our kids, who will be "earning their keep" as my husband likes to say. There are four of them currently on the labor force and I figure an hour a day of weeding and hoeing, should be enough to hold the weeds at bay and make the chief gardener happy. Watering is another chore that will have to be done eventually...not likely very soon. Did I mention that it rains a lot here?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Good Food Should Taste Good

     I don't adhere to Jack LaLanne's motto, "If it tastes good, spit it out." And I don't care if  "Many parts are edible." If it doesn't taste good, I don't want to eat it.!

        Back in the early 80's my older sister bought a "hippie" cookbook entitled The Enchanted Broccoli Forest  by Mollie Katzen. I remember as a college student looking through it at all the weird ingredients like mushrooms, whole garlic cloves and lentils.  That book hadn't crossed my radar for 29 years when my health conscious 16 year-old daughter brought it home from the library and started drooling over the recipes. This piqued my curiosity since I remembered the book to be filled with odd "hippie" recipes.
        Last week I started thumbing through The Enchanted Broccoli Forest  and you could have knocked me over with a feather.  If these are "hippie" recipes than I must be a hippie, because many of the recipes look fabulous and some of them are for Indian cooking which I love. The recipes use lots of whole foods, whole grains, legumes, vegetables of all kinds and more. All those "weird" cooking ingredients in Mollie's Katzen's  cookbook have become my new "normal" in the last 10-15 years. I've become a hippie and didn't even know it; ether that or I finally caught on to what good food is.

      I went to Mollie's web-site and found she's written a cookbook for new cooks that looks great. It's called Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in The Kitchen.  Her site is definitely worth checking out especially if you are interested in cooking up some tasty looking whole foods. http://www.molliekatzen.com/

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sanity on Two Needles


1 /ˈhɒbi/ 
–noun, plural -bies.
an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving.

In my case the above sentence should read "Her hobbies include knitting and swimming."
In fact I would go further and say that my hobbies keep me from going insane, so they are much more than a mere relaxation technique and much better for my health than Valium or alcohol.

For me knitting has provided a constructive distraction, an escape, and an outlet for my creativity.  I find it an oversimplification to call knitting a hobby since it is so much more to me.  I do a lot of thinking while knitting and a fair amount of praying too. Knitting has also provided me a way to keep my hands busy so that I am not chewing on my fingernails, a habit I've fought most of my life. 

Every mom who loves her children and her husband needs a good hobby in order to "get away," relax and be creative. Moms need times of refreshment on a regular basis so that they can handle the trials of childrearing and family life with more grace and less pent up tension. Everyone needs a break. Even God rested on the 7th day of creation.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Remembering What You Want and What You Don't Want

     My pastor has a definition of discipline: Remembering what you want and what you don't want.  It's not exactly Webster's but it seems to work especially when talking about "self" discipline. If a person remembers what he wants and remembers what he does not want then it seems he will make choices in life based upon those remembrances.

    Let's take an example:  A person wants to be healthy and fit and does not want to be a flabby, unfit couch potato. This person then will make choices which will lead to a healthy, fit body and avoid choices which are counter productive to that end.  Simple, right?

    When the alarm goes off at 5:45 A.M. screaming at me to get up and go to the pool I often toy with the idea of staying in bed. But then I remember what I want and I also remember what I don't want. Morning swimming  has become a habit, which also is an important element of self discipline. When you have a good habit you don't have to think about whether you are going to do it or not...you just do it, and don't permit your "self" to argue with yourself.  It is easier to keep a good habit going than to restart a good habit that's been broken.

     Some say it takes 21 days to form a habit. It all depends on if you really know what you want and remember what you don't want. Go for it!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hot Date

Yes, kids,Daddy and I are going out tonight! Yee ha! Whether you like it or not, it's the best thing for us AND for you. In the long run it is better for you that we do go out...alone.

I've come to realize over the years that one of the best things I can do for my children is to cultivate my relationship with my husband. One of the ways of working on our relationship is getting away together alone on a regular basis. This is just about the only time we get to talk to each other privately.(Talking in bed before dropping off to sleep doesn't count since most of the time we are way too tired to pay good attention to one another) Besides that I need to get away from my house and the kids once in a while.

Our dates are usually pretty simple: dinner and a movie or dinner and shopping. When we are trying to save money we do quickie dates or cheap dates. Cheap dates are usually things like eating out locally (saves on gas) and watching a movie at home by ourselves with kids banished to their rooms. Sometimes its a Saturday afternoon  lunch out at a local place combined with a trip to Restore, Habitat for Humanity's store. A quickie date sometimes involves my husband picking me up in the afternoon and taking me along with him on an errand he must run for work. I can knit in the car and we can talk privately while en route. I get to see all kinds of interesting places I wouldn't ordinarily see this way.  Recently I got to go with him to pick up a hive of bees he had ordered for work.  I also got to go with him to set the bees  out in the orchard at work. The bee supply place was fascinating and setting up the hive was way cool.

Our date times have become times of refreshment. We try to leave stresses at home or at least talk them out in the car at the beginning of our drive and limit the stressful topic to 10 minutes. Sometimes we make the rule, "no talking about the kids."  That's hard to hold to sometimes but it forces us to talk about other subjects. It keeps our relationship from being totally consumed by children. And I do believe that is good.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Dinner Table

       My husband and I both grew up in families who ate supper together every night at the dinner table. It was the standard in our homes and I did not think it unusual. We carried this tradition into our married life and have kept it with our own children. Today I can't count the number of times people have told me "how quaint" our tradition is or how unusual we are.  Most people, I hear, do not eat together, and especially not around the table. Lots of people have told me they eat on their own in front of the TV. Others say  they have such different schedules that everyone in the family is pretty much on their own for most if not all meals.
         Our own dinner tradition kept up through babyhood, school and sports schedules, varied work schedules, etc. provided for our family a time of communion. It has been a time to talk over the day's events, enjoy each other's company and also a time to learn the give and take of making conversation; it's been a time to learn table manners and just manners in general; we've also learned not to bring up any kind of disciplinary issue or purposefully start arguments. When arguments have started, we've learned how to diffuse them or how to agree to disagree amiably, hopefully.  The children have also learned the valuable lesson of appreciating what other hands have cooked and have learned to appreciate good food. These are good lessons for everyone, child and adult alike.
          Eating together in the evening is a priority in our home. Without that time together we would quickly lose touch with each other...and I don't want that to happen.
          For more information on the importance of family meal times check out the following website:


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


         We complain about the weather, our children, our husbands, our jobs, our houses,our cell-phone service, the government, the neighbors, our in-laws, our pets, dust....and countless other things. We live in the United States of America one of the richest countries in the world, if not the richest, with the highest standard of living on the planet; Infant mortality is one of the lowest, life expectancy is one of the highest,  medical care is the best, potable water is on tap for everyone, grocery stores are loaded with myriad choices of every kind of food in every kind of brand; We have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom to be educated, freedom to vote for whom we wish, freedom to marry, freedom to have children and raise them, freedom to start a business, freedom to work, freedom to travel within our country, freedom to leave our country and mostly we have freedom from the terrors of war within our own borders.

         From the perspective of my new sister in-law from Turkey, Americans are huge complainers and she cannot understand why.  In her country the people, living in much more meager conditions then us, rarely complain unless there really is something to complain about; it has to be very serious indeed before they will utter any kind of complaint.

        When I heard my sister in-law's criticism I realized how much I complain and this spring I caught myself numerous times whining about the weather. I am really not saying the USA is perfect by any means, but we do have much to be thankful for and I for one have tried to tame my whining tongue choosing instead to see the positive.

        I'm trying to become more thankful for the many, many blessings I have, my family has, and my country has.  I don't need to focus on the drippy faucet in my kitchen, but on the fact that I have clean hot and cold running water! I don't need to complain about the dust in my house because I should be grateful that I have a house at all. I shouldn't complain about my daughter's messy room but rather be grateful that she's not doing drugs or living on the street.

        When I read about people undergoing true hardships, some in our country, many in other poorer countries I begin to realize just how blessed we are. For a true picture of what some people must go through just to get daily water to drink, (and not always clean) read Richard Stearn's The Hole in Our Gospel. It will give you and your life an entire new perspective.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Home Ec. 101

Wash it, chop it up
Cook it in the pan 'til done
Serve, eat, clean it up

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tips for New Moms

1.   Always keep at least one hand firmly on the baby when changing her diaper on an elevated surface.

2.  Take a nap when the baby naps (duh!)

3.  Don't sweat the small stuff...and everything else but the baby, your hubby and you is small stuff.

4.  Realize your hormones are going crazy and the "blues" will pass.

5.  Don't be a "Lone Ranger": call a nearby friend to come help you out for a few hours.

6.  If you are going to use cloth diapers be sure to ALWAYS keep your mouth closed while rinsing them in the toilet...and you might want to wear safety goggles as well. ( Just speaking from experience here.)

7.   Let someone else take a turn at walking a fussy baby while you rest.

8.  Always remember how much you love them, especially when they are crying endlessly.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Getting by with Valium

         My father jokingly made a comment once about how if Mom had known how much work kids were she would only have had one or two. She quickly and firmly retorted, "There's more truth than fiction in that statement!" I was the third child of six so the comment ripped through my soul...even though it was said well into my adulthood. Later I found out that while us kids were growing up my mother took Valium in order to cope with the trials of motherhood which back in the 60s and early 70s was fairly common.

          I think about my own trials of motherhood, especially early motherhood with babies and toddlers at the same time. Then I threw homeschooling, high ideals and image into the mix and I was a basket case. I didn't have, nor did I want Valium to "rescue" me but I did have other ways of coping and adjusting including a wonderful, loving husband and helpful encouraging friends.

          So I need to get over my Mom's thoughtless comment and cut her some slack. She's only human after all and now I love her as a fellow mom who's endured raising six children, no longer as a child thinking their mom is perfect.

More about Valium: http://sadieushistory.blogspot.com/2010/05/mothers-little-helper-valium.html

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Have Been Working!

Now that my youngest has turned 15 and there is a light at the end of the homeschooling tunnel, my husband has asked me to get a "paying" job so we can pay off the mortgage and sail off into the retirement sunset. Wow, what mixed feelings have come crashing down on my poor head! After processing and reprocessing this new turn of events I got reassurance from my husband that he never, not once, ever regretted that I didn't have a "paying" job and that he has always been totally in favor of me staying home and raising all six of our children (plus a couple more tossed in for good measure).

All these  past 27 years of mothering and teaching have been a darn hard "paying" job...just not with money. The rewards and benefits have been truly priceless and are worth immensely more than mere money.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pink Phooey

When I found out my oldest daughter is going to have a girl, I had visions of knitting soft pink baby sweaters, booties and hats. But alas, tis not to be. If my daughter has her way my new granddaughter will not be wearing any dreaded pink. For me this is the first step in honoring my daughter's wishes concerning her child. So I am knitting the first of several sweaters none of which will be pink. Green, yes, and maybe lavender, and probably a frilly teal one...even though teal is a lot like blue which we all know means boy.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Hard Act to Follow

The first time I watched Le Miserables was about 20 years ago in New York City. My Long Island friends decided to treat me to a night in the city to see the Broadway play Le Miserables of which I knew nothing except that it was a very long running play. I was completely blown away by the story and the astounding performance. Since that pivotal night I've seen the play twice: a travelling Broadway performance in Portland, and a youth performance put on by Christian Youth Theater in Vancouver, Washington.

I had seen the play exactly twice and had watched the Liam Neeson movie once when I introduced the idea of reading Le Miserables to my book club. I'd done a bit of research and decided we should read the Lee Fahnestock/Norman MacAfee translation, unabridged and published by Signet Classics. It was a bit of a hard sell to my book club since it is so long, some 1400 and some-odd pages. We did agree to  read it, some more reluctantly than others and most of us finished in two months or so. There is so much more in the book than in the play or movie. When I finished it I felt as though I'd been on a long arduous, yet beautiful journey and I didn't want it to end. I felt so full and so empty all at the same time. Most of us agreed that Les Miserables was going to be a very hard act to follow....and it has been. Someday I'll read it again.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Books About Writing That I've Used

I must confess I don't use many books about writing as much as I read books with good writing. However, the books about writing I use most are The Elements of Style by William I. Strunk, Jr, and E.B. White, The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer and Learning Grammar Through Writing by Sandra M. Bell and James I. Wheeler.

I like reading Jane Austen, E.B. White, Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare and many other good writers. I think it is true that reading lots of good writing helps one become a better writer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I so loved my grandmothers. They both died when I was a teenager and it was very, very painful. They both lived within walking distance of our house on G street and I saw them quite often. My Grandma Thompson, my mother's mom, was quite strict but oh, so loving. She had a special room set aside in her house where she kept "new" toys she'd picked up at garage sales and such. But I never knew they were used. Sometimes when I 'd go over to see her she would look at me with a twinkle in her eye and say "The toy fairy has been here." I'd run, or rather walk hurriedly since running was not allowed inside the house, to the toy room and find a new treasure sitting on the daybed. I was allowed to take it into the living room and play with it, and never roughly. Only one toy at a time was I allowed to take into the living room to play with and I always had to put it away neat and tidy, just where I'd found it, before getting anything else out.

I'm going to be a grandma for the first time in September and I am really getting excited about the idea, but trying to figure out what kind of a grandma I'll be. I really want to be a good one...Lord help me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cooking With Children: The Payoff

I know its a hassle bringing your kids into the kitchen to "help" make meals but oh, the payoff is worth the effort.Yes, kids make messes, sometimes big ones, and yes, they leave important ingredients out or put the wrong ingredients in, like the time my daughter put 3 tablespoons of baking soda in cookies instead of 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Lets face it...they mess up big time. But I know for a fact if kids are part of the cooking process they are more willing to try new foods and they are more willing to venture into cooking in general. Too many people these days have grown up not knowing how to cook. The answer: bring them in to help in the kitchen  when they are little and keep them in there as they grow. At one time we required our kids to plan and cook a family evening meal once per week. Sometimes we didn't eat until 9:00 PM but hey, they eat supper at 10:00 o'clock at night in Spain!
Now let me tell you about the scrumptious meal we had tonight. After I realized neither my husband or I would be home in time to cook supper I asked my 16 year old daughter to make some soup or something out of the rest of the broccoli in the frig. She looked up a recipe for broccoli cheese soup(on the internet of course) and VOILA! When I walked in the door at 6:30 PM the heavenly aroma of soup and baked french bread sent me into a salivary frenzy. Need I say more?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Clean House is a Sign of a Life Misspent

So says a magnet on my frig which I need to reread once in a while. Especially during the myriad times I get down on myself and family because our house isn't "just so." There is always something amiss whether its the deteriorating grout of our kitchen counter tiles, the leaky faucets, the water damaged window frames, the cluttered dining table, the clothing left hither and yon, yadda, yadda, yadda.

My aging aunt shared with me a few years back that she wished she had spent less time keeping her house clean and more time playing with her kids. Her "kids" were all grown up and she didn't have good relationships with any of them. My aunt then began to reminisce about the times she used to stop by to see Mom only to find the house a complete mess and my mom sitting playing games with us kids. She remembers there was always lots of laughter and enthusiasm amidst the piles of laundry, clutter, and dirty dishes. Needless to say all six of us "kids" have good relationships with Mom. Of course there are many other factors involved but, I think my aunt had it right: Relationships with one's children are far more important than the state of one's house.

"Clean Enough to be Healthy, Dirty Enough to be Happy"  That's my motto, and I plan to keep it that way.