Friday, December 3, 2010

... And it's begun

We got our first Christmas card today. And we actually picked up our photo cards at the Costco this evening, too, which means that by Monday night I should have at least a few cards ready for the post office. While there was no photo included with the card we received, I did like the sentiment printed on the front. I've read it before, but appreciate it still:
This Christmas
mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Write a love letter.
Share some treasure. Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
Keep a promise. Find the time.
Forgive an enemy. Listen.
Apologize if you were wrong.
Think of someone else first.
Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little. Laugh a little more.
Express your gratitude.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love. Speak it again.
Speak it still once again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I have nearly finished reading Brain Rules for Babies - and it's not like I've got THAT much time on my hands - but I'm looking for some good book suggestions. Anybody got any good suggestions for books on parenting? Or being a working mom? Or any other title that's worth picking up during Advent? I figure rather than wade through the stacks of possibilities on my own and risk wasting a lot of time on duds, I'd ask for help. So, help! Thanks.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I've Been Up To

Here she is, in all her newborn glory.
When folks ask me how I am, my new answer is "I'm 'New-Mom Tired.'" And loving it, of course. There have been so many would-have-been posts over the last few months. Oh well. Some almost get written. Most don't. And life goes on.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

Have you seen this new(er) video from Annie Leonard, who made The Story of Stuff? I'm currently reading the book that came after The Story of Stuff video. It is fascinating and frightening all at the same time. Check out The Story of Cosmetics. And then see what's in your favorite shampoo, if you dare. I'm thinking once the new Costco-sized bottles of Dove shampoo and conditioner are empty, I may be washing my hair with baking soda...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Next Book I Plan to Purchase

I think this may be the next book I buy, though its release date is the same as my due date (October 12, 2010), so I may not be at the book store when it comes in... I was fortunate enough to take an honors seminar from John Medina during my University of Washington Days, and to worship with his congregation. He's fabulous. Grant and I read Brian Rules last summer, and it was fantastic. Check out John's blog post about this upcoming book here. Anyone want to do an online book group on this one? Post in the comments...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time to speak

Scanning some of the comments on YouTube was a little disappointing. Fear seems to prevail with a lot folks these days...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dollars Now or Later?

It's August. That means that at the end of the month our household is no longer under contract with DirecTV, and we can keep it, cancel it and get cable, or cancel it and not get cable for our TV watching pleasure. I'm leaning toward cancelling it and NOT getting cable. I'm not sure which direction the man of the house is leaning at this point, though I have a feeling we're not exactly parallel... Sure, I watch plenty of TV, but I think it's mostly out of (unfortunate) habit, and because it's there. When I'm busy out of the house or we're camping, it's not like I constantly think, "Huh, I wonder which "House" reruns I'm missing today?" Every weekday evening at 5:30pm chances are VERY GOOD that you can find my husband ensconced on the couch watching the "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." And then I get sucked in, and then we watch half an hour of local news, and then at 6:30 "Wheel of Fortune" comes on and we usually watch that while eating dinner. Why? It's a mystery. I think of the cash that flows out of the house on a monthly basis for the privilege of having my brain turned to jell-o, and know for a fact that I wouldn't hand over the dollar bills necessary to watch TV every time I turned it on, if I had to pay for it as I used it. So why fork over the money once a month? I am appreciating this post over at Get Rich Slowly. I haven't done the math to figure out what the DirecTV bill is costing us in retirement savings, but I'm confident it wouldn't be a pretty picture.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NY Times Op-Ed from Desmond Tutu

There's an interesting piece by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in today's NY Times, calling on President Obama not to cut support for anti-AIDS work in Africa. It is a little bit frightening to think that President Bush allocated more money than President Obama has so far. Perhaps it's time for those of us who tend to be good at raising money to also get better at the advocacy side of that coin. The timing is interesting for me, since it was just yesterday I started trying to learn more about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (also see here) and was at the same time reminded of the ELCA's commitment to fight HIV/AIDS. Our VBS is the first week of August (assuming we can find enough volunteers - I will confess I have moments when I'm tempted to just cancel the whole week this year) and our offering "project" this year is the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, despite the fact that the official fundraising efforts don't begin until 2011. Our curriculum has an African theme and we thought mosquito nets will fit right in...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Buckets o' Links

Okay, this one is going to ramble a bit... I just got done with my last pre-marital session with a couple whose wedding I will facilitate the first week of August, and as I came back into my office to turn the computer off I thought I'd do a quick check of email and facebook and remembered I wanted to look for a list of blogs I recently came across in the Summer 2009 issue of Ms. magazine, which was unearthed yesterday in a spat of cleaning at least 2 square feet of the floor space in the house. (Inhale deeply...) Grant and I went through a huge pile of magazines that had sprouted against the wall in the family room, ripping off mailing labels and tearing out articles to save and recipes we really do want to try, before putting the magazines in bags to take with us to the library. I love that our library has these great big bins in the foyer where we can dump all our old magazines and sometimes pick up new-to-us mags to take home. Re-using before re-cycling makes me glad. ANYWAY - the Ms. magazine was in that big stack on the family room floor, and I told Grant there was an article in there he might find interesting. And of course since it didn't go into one of the "to-the-library-and-beyond" bags, I ended up picking it up again last night, too. There's a fabulous list of blogs by moms in there, and since at 27 weeks I am approaching motherhood at a fairly intimidating pace, I thought I might like to read some of those blogs. And I found them, the whole list, on the Ms. site a few minutes ago. Wahoo! I haven't read them yet, but here they are: dot mom: A few favorite mom bloggers … Mom-Blog Gina Badalaty has been a mommy blogger since 2002, when she was pregnant with her first child. Seven years later, Gina is the unexpected mom of two awesome special needs children, with completely opposite disabilities. Follow her struggles and triumphs in parenting, work, life, and faith at Mom Blog. Momma Politico Politico trapped in a working mom's body, Perry shoots her liberal views and family insanity into the blogosphere as a springboard for readers' opinions. Need a break from the insanity of mommahood? Enjoy politics and want to have your say? Click on Momma Politico and join the conversation! Mother Talkers Elisa Batista, 32, is a co-founder and moderator of the progressive parenting website MotherTalkers. She also works as a blogger and advocate for the family organization She is a journalist by training and profession and has two small children, a five-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. PunditMom Joanne Bamberger, a professional writer and political/social media analyst, writes about progressive politics at her blog, PunditMom, as well as at The Huffington Post & BlogHer. She speaks frequently on mothers and political involvement. Her book about increased activism by mothers will be published in 2010 (Bright Sky Press) Rookie Moms is two geeky best friends' guide to the first years of motherhood. Heather and Whitney share hundreds of activities that are more fun than wiping someone's tushy. They have been writing together since 2005 and published *The Rookie Mom's Handbook* in 2008. Scary Mommy Jill Smokler is the not-so-frightening mom behind Scary Mommy. This blog, whose name was coined by Jill’s children, presents an honest look at motherhood--the good, the bad, and the scary--and chronicles Jill’s experiences as a stay-at-home mom to three children, ages five and under. this woman’s work Raised by a feminist mom who was a charter-subscriber to Ms. Magazine, Dawn grew up on "Stories for Free Children". She has been blogging about writing, homeschooling, and open (transracial) adoption from a feminist perspective since 2001. Uncommon Misconception From the dramatic to the mundane and back again. And again. Join me (Julia) as I attempt to figure out this mothering thing, freak out about receiving what I asked for, alternately complain and wax joyous about life in general and my husband specifically, and occasionally talk about waxing, boobs, and beauty products. Or not, your call. Viva la Feminista Viva la Feminista is the personal blog of Veronica I. Arreola, a professional feminist, mom and writer. Since July 2007 Veronica has explored what lives at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and her Latinadad and how they impact each other. She also reviews feminist books, films and magazines. WoLFi TaLEs WoLFi TaLEs is a blog written by Aztec-Rose, a mother who is passionate about Work Life Family interconnectivity (WoLFi). Aztec-Rose's passion is also part of her PhD research which aims is to investigate how parents manage, balance, or juggle their paid and unpaid work with other aspects of their lives. And some online mothers networks … Association for Research on Mothering An international feminist scholarly group, ARM holds “Mother Outlaws” gatherings and publishes the Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. Mainstreet Moms These bloggers promote “bite-size actions” to secure a viable future for children. MOMocrats Mothers write here about politics from a parent’s perspective. The “Run, Mama, Run” series features progressive pro-choice women running for local, state and federal office. MomsRising Members of this grassroots community work for passage of such legislation as the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act and the Furniture Safety and Fire Prevention Act. Mothers & More Primarily dedicated to consciousness-raising, but chapters are increasingly involved in direct action. The Mothers Movement Online Interviews and essays highlight a variety of mothers’ issues, such as preventing maternal profiling and discrimination. MotherWoman MotherWoman supports and empowers mothers to create positive personal and social change through: powerful mother's group, innovative programming to confront the feminist crisis of postpartum depression, and effective political action. Mothers face enormous challenges, including unrealistic expectations, isolation, depression and appalling family policy. By valuing and supporting mothers, everyone benefits. The National Association of Mother’s Centers This network of local mothers’ centers advocates for economic support of caregiving.

*8 Things: Simply Summer

Join *8Things Rachelle over at Magpie Girl posted this *8 Things list back at the beginning of the month. Now that we are definitely into summer here in Bozeman, I've been pondering my own list of things I "simply must do this summer." 1. Plant some flowers and then weed, weed, weed. 2. Read for fun and for education. (Currently reading The Lacuna, by Barbarab Kingsolver, and (Mis)Conceptions, by Naomi Wolf) 3. Get the baby's room ready. (Which means a lot of organizing/purging throughout the whole house to make room for the stuff that's lived in what will be the baby's room...) 4. Take naps. Lots of them. 5. Be a Farmers Market junkie. 6. Camp at least a couple of times. 7. Eat outside. 8. Do what can be done to keep the flavors of summer alive for the winter: make and freeze pesto, make jam, do some canning, dehydrate some fruit...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The 3rd of July

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I have to confess I am not that excited about it. At least not the way most of my neighbors seem to be: I will not be purchasing fireworks (they always sound like bullets flying or bombs going off to me - why is it we romanticize the "bombs bursting in air?"), nor will I be dressing in red, white and blue. I will not be upset when the American flag is no where near the sanctuary, and I will not question the preacher's patriotism when tomorrow's sermon is about Jesus and not about how great America is (of course I'm the preacher...). Why is it so hard for people who claim "Jesus is Lord" to remember that Jesus isn't an American, and that not all Americans are Christians? Sometimes I want to shout from the roof tops: "We are Christians who happen to live in the United States, not Americans who happen to be Christian!" Only one allegiance can be ultimate, and it makes me nervous whenever someone tries to combine them. After spending time in other countries, especially in Northern Ireland, and trying to understand their particular versions of patriotism and loyalty to land and flag, I find myself increasingly ambivalent about celebrating Independence Day in the U.S.. I'm all for being thankful for the freedoms I/we enjoy and for the beauty of the land on which I live. And I'm all for remembering the history of how we got to where we are today. But I want to remember ALL of the history - including the darker underbelly of how power has been used and abused to benefit the few and to the detriment of the many. There will be a traveling air show coming through Bozeman sometime in the near future - a bunch of WWII airplanes - and the commercials on TV wax eloquent about how great they are/were. As feats of modern engineering prowess I can go there, sure. But when the announcer sings the glories of the bombers, I want to ask, "Who did the bombs kill? What must that have been like for those who died? And for those who survived? Are we any better at solving conflict without bombs today?" I am not overly eloquent on the topic. I appreciate something Camus wrote or said, "I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice." Most days, I find that incredibly difficult to do. There's a post over on Journey with Jesus that resonates with me this week, called "Believers without Borders." Let me know what you think. God bless America. And God bless all nations and people. No exceptions.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So, it's almost July...

It IS almost July... and I am still here! While I have enjoyed staying somewhat up-to-date on some of my favorite blogs to read, very obviously I have not been anything close to up-to-date on this blog that I actually write (at least in theory). I have no grand excuses, really, apart from the 10 days I was away from computers during our vacation earlier this month. My Dad took us on a weeklong Alaskan cruise, which was surprisingly relaxing. Perhaps more on that another time. I suppose the real reason I haven't written much is that so much of my verbal processing has been done out loud lately. I am 25 weeks pregnant (due October 12th) and the father-to-be and I have been doing a lot of talking, which is a very good thing, I think. BUT, I'm beginning to feel a little lazy, and like I probably should be writing some things down somewhere, so I remember what all of this is like. We are trying hard not to take for granted that a second child will be coming right along after this one... AND I read this great post through a link on the Non-Consumer Advocate, and needed a place to put it. So here it is. Three cheers for baking soda and vinegar. And water - how come no one advocating for "all natural" cleaning products remembers what a great solvent water can be in so many situations?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A day plus three years

Yesterday was our third wedding anniversary. Grant says it feels like we've been married that long to him. To me - sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. I guess it's just a good thing it doesn't feel like longer than that, right? And it's a good thing that most days we're very glad to be married to each other. We celebrated with a tasty dinner out, at The Emerson Grill - gotta love it when a half-off coupon arrives in the mail on your anniverary! The food was yummy (especially the calamari appetizer) and the setting was cozy, too. Neither of us had eaten there before, so it was a good treat. Even with the coupon, by the time we had an appetizer and entrees we'd blown through the cash my parents sent, so we went through the drive-through at McDonald's and each got a $1 hot fudge sundae for dessert, which we ate at home snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire. Not bad! One of the songs sung at our wedding was "Grow Old Along with Me," which I first heard performed by Mary Chapin Carpenter. When our soloist wasn't able to make it to Arizona from Montana for our wedding, one of my bridesmaids and one of Grant's brothers pinch sang/played the guitar, and it was lovely. I couldn't find a video of Mary Chapin Carpenter singing the song online, though there are some touching video/photo montages folks have put together to the song available on youtube. Here's a version with just the lyrics on the screen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wahoos! and That Sucks!

I've begun a trend, I think, at church. Part of the beginning of each confirmation class of 10 6th, 7th and 8th graders each Wednesday night is a sharing of "highs and lows." Only, this group of students didn't really grasp the idea of highs and lows very well, so in trying to explain what I was asking them to share, I said something along the lines of, "Share something from the past week that made you say 'Wahoo!' - something that was good, or that you're proud of and feel good about. And then share something that wasn't so great, something you'd say 'That sucks!' about." So instead of "highs and lows," or "roses and thorns" as I was informed the Obama family shares around their dinner table (thanks to somebody's recent interview of the First Lady), both at confirmation and our new Saturday morning women's Bible study we do "Wahoos!" and "That sucks!" My "Wahoo!" of the week (among several), was the purchase of a new dining room table and chairs. One of the reasons we decided to buy this house is the fabulous formal dining room adjacent to the family room/kitchen great room. Yet we haven't had anybody over for dinner, since our kitchen table is a small Ikea affair with four not-very-comfortable folding chairs. Tonight we ate the inaugural meal in our newly furnished room, with our office manager and her husband. Not only did they help us get the new furnishings home in their pickup, they also take care of Violet the dog whenever we go anywhere. So steak and baked potatoes and brussel sprouts (chopped and cooked with bacon and shallots) and homemade peach pie it was. Not a bad night. Wahoo! (Of course I forgot to take a picture of the beautifully set table. That sucks!)

Friday, February 5, 2010

28 days is at least one day too many, evidently

So, I missed posting yesterday. And it was only the 4th of the month. Whatcha gonna do... One of the reasons I didn't manage to write anything yesterday was that after we got home from our mutual ministry committee meeting (one of the few committee meetings I really look forward to and enjoy) we spent some quality screen time looking at cruises online. My father has decided he wants to take Grant, me, my sister, her husband and son, and my mom, of course, on an Alaskan cruise this summer. It's something we can all do together, while hopefully still offering enough variety to meet everyone's needs and wants. Needless to say, just finding a time frame that works for everyone is going to be a challenge. I've never been on a cruise, and don't really think of myself as the cruising type. I tend to like to be in charge of where I go and what I do, and WHEN, all of which is compromised once you get on the ship. At the same time, I don't want to look a gift cruise in the mouth, either. A June cruise north to glacier-land should make for a pretty fun and beautiful adventure. I'll just have to keep reminding myself that I can go back someday if I want to. So, we have the weekend to choose our cruiseline and itinerary, keeping in mind that cruising with an almost three year old and a woman in a wheel chair means making different choices than we might if it was just the two of us. Maybe it will help me slow down a little. Couldn't hurt.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Latest Read

It'll be two weeks ago on Friday that I last went to the library (not counting the drive by drop-off of the 7 day DVDs returned last Friday). I came home with a whole stack of books, which somehow always makes me feel better, even though I know the chances of me reading all of them are pretty slim. Several are gardening books that I'm skimming - gotta love compost, baby! (I am so ready for spring!!)
One of the books I checked out was a lucky find on the New Nonfiction shelf. Alas, I only get to keep it til Friday, it's a 14 day book at this point, since it's so new. The title? No Impact Man: The adventures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet and the discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process, by Colin Beavan. I'm really enjoying it, despite the obnoxious title. (And there's a blog by the same name and same author. Fun!)
I appreciate the reflection the author does along the way - not just about how much crap we can generate if we're not paying attention - but about how unhappy, or at least not happy, such a life makes us.
Consider this: So much of my trash-making and waste is about making convenient the taking care of myself and my family. It's about getting our needs out of the way. But is this so? When did taking care of ourselves become something so unimportant that it should be got out of the way rather than savored and enjoyed? When did cooking and nourishing my family become an untenable chore? What is more important that I'm supposed to do instead? For every task I need to accomplish there seemed to be some throw-away item I could buy to help get it out of the way. My whole life appeared to have turned into a moneymaking machine intended to buy more convenience, with the seeming purpose of getting my life out of my way. I'm like a snake eating its own tail. It's as if I'm just trying to get the whole thing over with...
I'd write more, but I'm hoping to get this book finished before I have to give it back.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

*8 Things: On My Bedside Table

Join 8-Things Magpie Girl put up another *8 Things a few days ago. I'm a little late, though I think the theme for this list, *8 Things: On My Bedside Table seems especially appropriate for Groundhog Day, since Phil's hotel room bedside table figured so prominently in the movie. So, here are 8 things that are just about always on my nightstand: 1. A lamp. It's supposed to take one of those special bulbs with three levels of brightness, but the last bulb I had like that burned out a LONG time ago, so now it's a regular bulb with three clicks of the switch. The lamp gets action almost every night, as I tend to be an in-bed-reader while Grant starts sawing logs. 2. A box of Kleenex. Some for me, some for Grant, some for Indigo the cat who has a perpetual cold. She doesn't exactly like it when I wipe her nose, but then she doesn't have any opposable thumbs to do the job herself. 3. The alarm clock. It's bigger than it needs to be, especially since NPR comes in so fuzzy in our bedroom and lately I've taken to using my cell phone as my primary wake-up device. It also has a cd player (so there's usually a small stack of cds nearby or on top of the clock) and a plug in for an ipod, though my ipod rarely makes it up the stairs to the bedroom. 4. A cheap pearly blue glasses case. My glasses are usually leaned up against it instead of inside. I wear my contacts most days, so the glasses are for bedtime news-watching and first-thing-in- the-morning-I-don't-want to-trip-on-something vision. 5. Foot lotion of one variety or another. Right now it's a tub of Eucerin. No matter the season, my tootsies are prone to drying and cracking and getting progressively more disgusting from there. 6. Matches or a lighter. The candle lives on my dresser - there's typically too much stuff on the nightstand for safe burning, but the matches always land there. 7. Burt's Bees lip balm. Love. That. Stuff. 8. A tipsy stack of books and papers, frequently including at least one Bible, my journal, some library books, notecards for writing, receipts, you name it. What's on YOUR bedside table?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Another Round of NaBloPoMo

News Flash: I am WAY better at getting things done when I have a deadline that needs meeting. Case in point: I did actually manage to write a blog post EVERY SINGLE DAY in December. Even Christmas Eve. Even New Year's Eve. I mean really... was January THAT much more complicated? Not at all - but since I hadn't made the commitment to post something (anything!) every day, very clearly I didn't. Well, enough of that. I'm going for another round of a blog post a day for a month (and yes, I am a little thankful it's a 28 day month). I figure I'm walking proof that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person to do it. I picked up a second job last week (my hours at church have been cut - officially, following yesterday's annual meeting of the congregation - back to half time). I'm an administrative helper, of sorts. Lots of filing, cleaning out files, putting new files together, playing with labels, etc. It's a temporary part-time gig, but at this point any help at all is, well, HELP, when it comes to our household finances. More on that another day. I do have a fun thing to share. We had a congregational sledding night on Saturday night, from 7:30-9pm, by the light of a full moon. There were about 30 participants ranging in age from 4 - 75 years old sledding, and enjoying hot chocolate and tasty treats. Here's a video of Grant coming down the hill (taken with my Christmas present FlipShare video recorder). By the end of the night he was covered in snow, cold, and incredibly happy. Not bad. Happy February!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

So, it's been a while...

I know, I've been absent from the blogosphere for an uncharacteristically long time. Somehow life has managed to fill in all the gaps of time I would normally have used to write... I picked up a second job this week, as the congregational spending plan the church council will be recommending at this Sunday's annual meeting includes a reduction in my hours - back to half-time from three-quarter time. Of course this means a reduction in pay as well, though I haven't quite figured out how to reduce the amount of work that needs to get done. I'm not sure there's a way for me to win here, without first looking like I'm not doing my job. I remain hopeful that members of the congregation will step into leadership and team-member roles (since it's not all MY job in the first place) for the sake of the ministries to which we've been called as a community. I may need to acquire some pom-poms for my expanded job as cheerleader: "You can do it! You can do it!" All that said, I have been blogging at least occasionally on our congregational blog. So feel free to jump over there when you miss me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

*8 Things I Fell in Love with in 2009

Join 8-Things Rachelle at Magpie Girl has another *8 Things list - of things she fell in love with last year. Here's my list of *8 Things I fell in love with in 2009: 1. The baby I lost. 2. The house we now live in. 3. Car camping - who knew? We had a great week on the Olympic Penninsula in August. I highly recommend the Fairholme Campground on Lake Crescent. 4. Our CSA - Cloud Nine Farm. 5. The Bozeman Public Library, and my trusty library card. 6. Writing - National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month. It hasn't always been pretty, or even readable, but the discipline helped boost my creativity... 7. Having a piano in my house. 8. Thanks to Pandora, English folk musician Kate Rusby.