Friday, February 27, 2009

Big kid

In the grocery store this afternoon, as Munchkin and I approached a line for the checker, Munchkin started making all sorts of silly sounds. He asked me what "they" would do when they heard him, and then he continued his noise. I didn't have the chance to answer before I heard an equally silly noise from behind me. A bent over old man (maybe in his 80's?) from the next checker line over was matching Munchkin's sound effects.

Munchkin was stunned at first, but then he broke into a big smile and said, "beep, beep!"

The man beeped back and then said, "When I was your age, the cars didn't go 'beep, beep,' they went, 'ga-goo-ga!'" He didn't sound like I do when I say, "ga-goo-ga" -- he sounded like a car.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

They said, "hello"

Please tell me I'm not the only parent whose 4-year-old walks down the tool aisle of a store, sits on a shelf and begins a conversation with the bandsaw blades.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nature and the environment

I have had the opportunity to experience nature at its finest since before I can even remember. From the time I was an infant, my parents took me camping in national parks. We would spend weeks during the summer traveling – to the Olympias and Mt. Rainier in Washington, the Rockies in Colorado, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Canyonlands in Utah, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Glacier in Montana, the Canadian Rockies, the list goes on, but those are some of the highlights.

Closer to home, we would go to Yosemite at least twice a year, sometimes more. In the summer we camped at Tuolomne Meadows and in autumn we would drive to the Valley Floor to see the leaves turning color. Sometimes we’d visit in the winter or springtime as well. I grew up floating on an air mattress in the Merced River, scrambling up the rocks of Lambert Dome, scooping up water from the Soda Springs (and adding Kool-aid to it to make it drinkable), and shivering in my sleeping bag in the chilly temperatures at 8000'.

When I grew up and moved to Oregon, I found a good hiking book and explored the Cascades – the trails in the Three Sisters Wilderness and the Jefferson Wilderness are my favorites. I got the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Kenya on a safari. Scott and I traveled to Mount Rainier, Crater Lake and Yosemite the first year we were dating, and we didn’t slow our pace much until Munchkin was born. Now, we’re returning to our favorite places hoping Munchkin will absorb some of the wonder even as he digs in the dirt at the campsites. :)

All this to say, I love beautiful places. There is nothing man can create that can possibly compare with what I see in the natural world. As a Christian, I wonder if God is giving us just a little taste of heaven. My environmentalism began both from my parents’ influence and also John Muir’s influence. John Muir’s fingerprints and philosophy are all over Yosemite, and the tragedy of Hetch Hetchy probably did more to promote his cause than anything else. It’s a tragedy that is still going on – they could decide to drain Hetch Hetchy tomorrow and let the land begin to recover. OK, this isn’t a post on Hetch Hetchy, sorry.

Long story short, that’s how I started out caring about the environment. That was before I knew about global warming, melting glaciers, smog clouds over China, mountaintop removal and the great pacific garbage patch. It turns out that there’s a lot more reasons to care than just preserving the natural beauty. This is much bigger than "I want to take Munchkin to see the glaciers before they’re all gone." People are suffering because of our failure to live sustainably. Deserts are growing, the sea level is rising, the coral reefs are dying, animal species are going extinct. The entire globe is sick.

The saddest part is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Even now, we could make changes that would allow the land to start to heal, allow threatened species to begin to recover, and improve the quality of life for the undeveloped world. There are a ton of good ideas out there that would make a positive difference.

I don’t have a neat and tidy way to wrap up this post. I’ll tell you one thing I find encouraging, though. My 4-year-old son asked me the other day if I would take him somewhere where he could watch solar panels being installed on a roof. And if we could put solar panels on our own roof when we get a new one. I think the youngest generation gets it.

This is my better-late-than-never contribution to the APLS "Nature and the Environment" Carnival. For more entries, click here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lion slippers

Somewhere, I picked up a pair of lion slippers. Then, for some reason, I mailed them to my grandmother. I don't remember why -- it was a long time ago. We often exchanged private little jokes. Anyway, months later, I recieved them back again, with a little stuffed baby lion in between. :) My grandmother has been gone for almost four years now, but I haven't been able to part with the slippers.

Yesterday afternoon Munchkin started playing "fireman." I say "started" because he's still at it. Anyway, when we told him to put away his toys before bedtime last night, he put all his fire stuff into his "locker," which looks a lot like his workbench. Anyway, Scott noticed my lion slippers in with the fire coat and hat so he asked, "Do firemen keep lion slippers in their lockers?"

Munchkin replied very matter of factly, "This one does."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Review: Little Heathens

I clicked on my own label for book reviews recently and was stunned to see that I hadn't posted any since last August! I guess I've been so busy writing reviews for The Blogging Bookworm that I forgot to do any here. So anyway, I wanted to repeat a review of a fascinating little book for anyone who might have missed it. This is my week over at the worm, so check over there for something new as well.

"Little Heathens" by Mildred Armstrong Kadish is a little gem of a book. It is a memoir from the author’s childhood, which was spent on a farm in Iowa during the depression. The chapters paint such vivid pictures of life during that time that I actually recognized remnants of that era in my own family history.

I loved this book. I found it to be a kind of "Little House on the Prairie" set in the ‘30's. What impressed me the most was how hard everyone had to work. If we made our kids work that hard today, it wouldn’t be long before we received a nice little visit from a state social worker! Instead of being harmed by all the hard work, though, it set the author up with character and a work ethic that served her well the rest of her life. Made me wonder if I should be assigning a couple chores to my 4-year-old. :)

I’m not sure how much of the hard work reported in "Little Heathens" was due to the fact that the depression was happening versus how much was normal rural life without modern conveniences like electricity and running water. The main difference I can surmise is that during the depression, the adults lived with the constant worry that if they couldn’t pay their taxes, they would lose their property. (I remember from the "Frontier House" shows on PBS that the kids had a much easier time adjusting than the parents, and I can guess that the same was true during the depression.)

Kadish's family had to make everything, and do everything, from scratch – not unlike what some in the eco-movement are trying to recreate today. In depression era rural Iowa, however, there was no choice. After all that work, is it any wonder that people embraced every time saving and labor saving product invented? Now, of course, we recognize the wastefulness of some of those products. What a gift we have to be able to choose which labor saving technology to embrace and which to reject!

I’d give this beautifully written book an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars, recommended for all readers high school and up (there is some language you might not want your kids to read). I couldn’t put it down, and when I finished the last page, I returned to the preface. Before I knew it, I had reread the first three chapters. I would have kept right on reading, but I had work to do. If you want to know more about "Little Heathens," click here for an excellent review from one of my co-bookworms.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Couldn't be...

The other evening at dinner Munchkin was a little whiny. We had just about had enough when he started pleading to hear a story. During dinner. Scott said no and tried to get Munchkin to finish his food, but Munchkin kept begging.

Finally, Scott said, "I'd like a nice quiet and peaceful meal, so you see we all don't get what we want." Munchkin burst into giggles. He laughed his cute little head off. Scott and I looked at each other. Could he actually have gotten the joke?

It was a little while before we calmed Munchkin down and then Scott asked what was so funny. Munchkin said he laughed because Daddy said we all don't get what we want. We asked, "What did Daddy want?" Munchkin answered, "He wanted me to eat my fruit!"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14th

Happy Valentine's Day!

For more clip art click here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

We've got a cow in our fridge!

Well, OK, technically it's a quarter of a cow and it's in our freezer, but it sounds funnier that way! We enjoyed the pig so much that we also went in on a share of a cow our friends were raising. We had no idea how much meat there would be, and so we just guessed that a quarter might be about right.

The cow finally had his date with destiny and I took Munchkin to the butcher shop to pick up our share. It's a good thing we only got a quarter! There was about 95 pounds of meat -- ground beef, steaks, roasts, soup bones, cuts I don't even recognize. I had to arrange it all so the freezer door would close! It's going to be fun to have a butcher's meat counter selection available, and at a per pound cost that is cheaper than the grocery store. I'll report back how it works out, but from first impressions, I'd recommend doing something like this to any meat eaters who have the freezer space.

There isn't much of the pig left -- maybe 10 one-pound packages of sausage and two pounds of bacon that I am rationing bit by bit as long as possible. The 90 pounds of pork lasted about 18 months with that left over, so I expect the beef will last about the same. Now, if I could just get my friends to raise chickens... Don't think I haven't suggested it. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Overheard at bedtime

This evening when we put Munchkin to bed, he begged us to read him a story. We don't normally do a bedtime story, prefering to do our reading earlier in the day, and Munchkin has never asked before. But tonight he begged, "Henry (a little friend) always gets a story!"

We said no, and Munchkin cried even after we'd turned out the light. Moments later, from the other side of the door I heard, "Waaaa! Waaaa! Waaaa!... Oh, well."

Monday, February 9, 2009

He's a little comedian!

Have you ever watched "Home Improvement?" Munchkin hasn't, but he still knows the grunt, "Uh,uh, uh, more power!" He did it in the middle of dinner this evening and Scott and I looked confused so he explained, "I said 'uh, uh, uh, more power' because Daddy said (the name of our local electric company)."

When Scott and I burst into laughter, Munchkin added, "Mommy! Put "uh, uh, uh, more power" on your blog!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The definition of perceptive

Munchkin had kind of a tough week, so I took him to a hardware store yesterday afternoon. As he led me down the tool aisle, an older salesman approached us. He glanced at me, at Munchkin, and then again at me and asked, "Is he finding everything OK?"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

7 Random Things

Well, I've been tagged not once but twice for the "7 Random Things" meme. I guess I'll play! Thanks to Joyce at tallgrassworship and Green Resolutions for the tag.

The rules are:
Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here are my 7 random or weird facts...
1. My favorite bread is sourdough -- extra sour.
2. While I was away at college, my childhood favorite sourdough bakery shut down (sob!).
3. I've tried many types of sourdough bread since, but it's never been the same.
4. I tried to make my own starter without success.
5. I conned a local bakery out of a cup of their starter, but I still couldn't make good bread.
6. My dad has been asking me for over 20 years when I am going to bake him a loaf of sourdough bread, and he wants it to be as good as the one from the old bakery.
7. Later this month, I'm taking a breadmaking class that I think will include sourdough. I'm still dreaming of baking that perfect bread.

Sorry, I used up all my creativity on my new elephant blog.

I think if I can be tagged with the same meme twice in a week, it's been going around long enough, so I'm breaking the rules and not passing it on. If you want to try it, consider yourself tagged. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Purple Elephant blog!

Hey, friends and fans of my soon-to-be-published "The Purple Elephant" -- big news! Kim Sponaugle has finished her illustrations (and they are good!) and I've launched a blog just for the book. I'll have additional elephant news soon as well, which I'll post on my new site. (Don't worry, I'm still continuing this blog -- I just needed a space that is exclusively for my book.)
Check out The Purple Elephant on the web!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory, Dickory, Dock
by Munchkin

Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse took the clock,
He brought it to a sneaky place,
And the Sneaky Guys got the clock.