Somewhere (not here!) it's strawberry season...

We went to Florida last week for a long weekend/short week to stay with Shelly & Neal (Jeff's parents). It is delightfully warm in south Florida compared to our weather here in NY. It's strawberry season there and we all took a trip to pick some.

Little 'H' is almost 2. She's such a big girl now in so many ways, and still my baby in so many other ways. She follows 'A' around and tries to do everything 'A' tells her to do. Watching them together reminds me of my childhood experiences with my sisters. 'A' is full of imagination and enjoys making up elaborate games, and 'H' is happy to be a part of it all. Kind of like Jennifer and me.

Every now and then I wonder when 'H' will wean. I'm really not producing much milk anymore and I can tell when she nurses that she's having a harder time getting to it. I talk with her about how I'm not making much now, and that someday she won't nurse anymore. I don't know when she'll wean, or why. Right now I'm trying to be honest with her about what's happening, but I don't know how much she really understands.

Today the girls and I got together the materials for 'A's birthday party invitations. She's excited about doing something a little different this year, and I'm excited that she's excited, because I'm excited too. Curious? A few months ago, before Christmas, it occurred to me that there are some things in our family life that don't make sense. Here we are, trying to define our family values and keep in the forefront the things we want to teach our children, and then we do things that go against what we say we want for our family. There are a huge number of things on that list, and one of them is Birthday Parties.

My kids live a life of abundance, and 'A' knows that other kids don't. So last year I told her that it would be nice if she didn't get presents from her friends for her birthday, and instead asked them to bring something for the kids who don't have as much as she does. She let that idea sit for a while, and then a few weeks later, decided that she wanted "the kids who don't have many things" to be able to get ready for bed every night and get tucked in while wearing the pajamas she collected. I thought that was a great idea. A few weeks after that, she informed me that she would be asking her friends to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to the party too, because the kids who don't have many things need to be able to brush their teeth before they go to bed.

So, I called around, and around, and around some more, trying to find an organization that would take these items and use them. I found out that most places will either take new pajamas only (as opposed to "gently worn") or else they will take worn pajamas but will then sell them in a thrift store. I really don't want these birthday items to be sold, because the whole idea is to give them away to kids, the same way a birthday present would be given to 'A'. So I decided that we'll ask for new pajamas and bring everything to the domestic violence shelter and they will be able to give it away to the children who stay there.

'A' is happy about this and Jeff and I are too. She'll be receiving gifts from her family and she'll also get a present at the library (in our house, you get your own library card when you turn 4). I didn't think of the idea of collecting items for people in need on my own. It's something that has just been woven into my life by my parents, always there in the background, always waiting to be done. My mother always asks for a donation to Women for Women International or to Heifer for Christmas. This year my sisters and I gave to the Jonnycake Center, where my dad volunteers, as part of his Christmas gift. When we were little, we collected for Unicef while we were Trick or Treating on Halloween; we each handed in our own envelope during the weekly collection at church; and we watched my mother stuff stockings for the women at the local women's shelter. It feels right and feels good to give to others. My parents never had very much for themselves, but they always had enough to give to someone who needed it. I'm happy that my girls have the opportunity to experience this too.

I've been giving some thought to what I would like to ask my family to contribute to on my birthday. And now I've found it - solar stoves for the women from Darfur who live in refugee camps in Chad. The women in the camps are currently forced to spend all day outside the safety of the camp if they want to find firewood. They need firewood to boil drinking water and cook food. While they are looking for wood, they run the risk of being captured and raped and possibly killed. The solar stoves allow women to cook without firewood, and when they don't leave the camp and face the possibility of being raped, they are able to do things such as *not get pregnant with a baby they don't want, *spend time with their children and other adults and *do something else all day besides look for wood.

The stove won't solve the bigger issues, like the atrocities that are being committed in Sudan and the violence against the women, and it won't get them out of the camp and back to a place they can call home, but at least it's a step in a helpful direction.

Stay warm! 14 days until spring!


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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!