mothering...


I opened up Katrina Kenison's "Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry" this afternoon. Despite the title, there's not a lot about the book that focuses on either God or religion. It's a book about mothering. It seems like every chapter was written for me. The author seeks ways to focus on her family, to connect and reconnect on a daily basis, and to slow the clock down long enough to really cherish the moments she has with her children and her spouse.

I wonder about things like that too.

In my adult life, I have met women of different ages and stages who see life from all different angles. Some are wrapped up in the busy-ness of the day to day stuff and seem to let it all rush by; other women seem to really savor each moment and radiate gratitude. As much as I hate to slap a stereotype on the women in that second group, those who savor the moments, who know how to appreciate the here and now, who don't spend too much time thinking ahead and instead enjoy life, themselves, their mate, their children and their grandchildren, I have to say that the ones who can do that have generally been older women. They're grandmas now, or maybe their life experience includes divorce or death, or maybe they took time to sit back and take in the wisdom of the world, and they managed to carve out a peaceful and meaningful place for themselves.

I don't want to have to wait until I'm older to know how to appreciate all that I have. I don't want to watch my girls grow up and wonder where it all went. I don't want to spend my life feeling entitled to this or that, without first feeling grateful to the earth for all that I have.

When I have these kinds of "Big Life" questions, I do what I do naturally. I read and I carve out chunks of alone time to think and feel and process it all. The pages of "Mitten Strings for God" offers me a comforting place to ask some questions.


Speaking of questions, I've been asking a lot of questions lately about the things that have a place in my kitchen. I know what the answers are - I know exactly what they are - but I am not at all ready to hear them. Here's a sampling of what I might ask:
"OK, plastic is bad for food storage and serving. Got it. Glass is okay, so is stainless steel. How about aluminum foil?" Now, the answer is, "Aluminum foil is not so great. There are also health risks and the production of aluminum foil is just so harmful to the earth." Easy enough so far, right? But then my next question is, "So how are we supposed to store things to keep them fresh?" And do you know what the ultimate answer is? I do. The million dollar answer is that humans weren't designed to harvest, process and cook food. We were designed to have a fresh, raw food diet. How many other animals do you know that harvest wheat, grind it up, package it into bags, and use it to bake bread or crackers? How many other animals go up to a lactating mother of another species and take its milk, shake it up really hard all day, and call it cheese?

I don't want to eat a raw food diet, but I know perfectly well that it's the right answer.

On Saturday we went to Nightingale's maple farm, a local farm that produces maple syrup. They were participating in the New York Maple Weekend. We learned all about how the sap is drained from the trees and piped into the sugar shack to have the water taken out. The syrup, candies and the maple cream are just delicious! We bought all three.


When I look at the maple trees, all I can think is, "who in the world discovered the sap and how did they find out about boiling off the water?"

As it turns out, the native Americans discovered the sap and they used to remove the water by leaving the bucket of sap outside on a cold night and removing the layer of ice in the morning, and by dropping hot cooking stones into the bucket. They also boiled off the water over a fire. Pretty neat.


'H' goes to the doctor on Tuesday for her 2 year visit. I'm going to ask him to order allergy testing for her. I had thought that she wasn't allergic to anything, unlike 'A' who is allergic to dairy, eggs and some nuts. But now I'm wondering if she might have an issue with dairy or even wheat. Her GI system is irregular to say the least, and I just can't figure out why. I cut out dairy and it didn't make a difference. Now I'm wondering about wheat.

Ugh, gluten-free, on top of dairy and egg-free? I hope we don't have to go that route. It's certainly healthy, but it's also pretty restrictive.


These days the sap isn't collected in buckets, it runs through these tubes that tap the trees. All of the tubes connect and they run downhill, using gravity to move the sap along. The tubes converge at a place called the "vacuum booster" and then the sap all runs into the sugar shack where the water is extracted and boiled off.




Today is a day to play at home. We don't have to get in the car today, we don't have to do anything in particular. So far we've taken care of baby dolls and stuffed animals, colored with markers, and played with playdough. 'A' and 'H' are just about due for a snack.

I finally did something that I've been meaning to do for a while. I gathered all of my cleansers and boxed up the toxic ones (Lysol, Windex, etc.) to give away and stocked up on vinegar, baking soda and borax.


Tomorrow night is Earth Hour and at 8:30 pm (local time) everyone is urged to turn their lights off - and all other possible electricity - for an hour. You can read more about it here.

If you're interested in saving ink every time you print, you'll want to hear about this. Jeff introduced me to Ecofont, a font that was designed to save as much ink as possible. It's funky - there are circles without color in the middle of each letter - but it does print out okay and I'll use it for my printing purposes.
You can download the font for free here.

'H' is doing better today - I think her fever is due to teething. She's getting her molars all the way in the back of her mouth and they're really bothering her. She's doing much better.

Yesterday I took her to a music class while 'A' was at preschool. It was the first class I had done with just 'H' and it was very interesting to see the difference between the two of them in that kind of situation. 'A' would have been glued to me and would have barely participated. 'H', on the other hand, did everything the teacher told her to do and was first in line to roll on the rug, something the kids had to line up and take turns for. 'A' never would have rolled. It's just amazing to see how different two children from the same family can be.

Have a happy Friday!

So, after spending much of the night awake in 'H's room while we worked through her fever and night sweats, I am left wondering how I ever functioned when I was a sleep-deprived mother of babies. I can see staying up for one night, maybe two... but doing it night after night for months?

Oh yeah, now I remember what went through my mind when 'H' was first born. That first night I thought, "This is a nightmare! I can't believe I forgot about this part of the job! It's all coming back to me now."

Anyway, she will be fine, she just needs a little time to rest.

Jeff and I have been painting the kitchen and dining room. We think we picked a good color - Ben Moore's "Vellum" - and it looks like we have two more evenings of painting and then we are done! Good thing, too, because I'm starting to go a little crazy looking at my kitchen appliances grouped together in the middle of the kitchen table.

I've got two books and a knitting project open right now. My knitting project is another one of my ways of "reusing, reducing and recycling" - I'm knitting a reusable grocery tote bag out of plastic bags. Here is a link to a website that gives instructions on how to do it: http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/cr_needle_arts/article/0,2025,DIY_13768_3059465,00.html
It's kind of funky! I stopped taking in new plastic bags a while ago - I bring my own bags everywhere I go or I do without for small purchases - and I love knowing that I'm using my existing bags for something good instead of throwing them away. My last frontier on the plastic grocery bag issue involves the cat box. I just switched from the clay litter to biodegradable litter and I am still using a plastic bag to take out the dirty litter. What am I supposed to do? Scoop it into a can and dump it outside? I can't make my cats go outside to do their thing - Miss Fragile 1 and Miss Fragile 2 would never go for it.


Books:
The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century is a story about all the good things in life - art, history, drama and a bunch of psychology thrown in. The neat thing about this story is that it explores why so many people blindly jumped on the bandwagon of admiring the forged Vermeer when it was obviously a poorly made fake. Why do we convince ourselves that something is fabulous when it's not? What do we get out of it?

Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children is an eye-opener. It's a comprehesive review of different types of pollutants in our environment - our water, soil, food sources, air, etc... and how they are affecting us, particularly our children. There are is an appendix that is chock-full of good information about how to reduce our exposure to pollutants. There is also info about how to find out how much pollution is in your area. I found out by going to www.scorecard.org that my county, Saratoga County in upstate New York, is one of the dirtiest counties in the United States when it comes to air pollution. So, even if I were to protect my family by using all natural products and eating all natural food, we would still be taking in harmful chemicals just by breathing.

Knowing what kinds of chemicals are in the air and in our water gives me even more of a reason to get more serious about protecting us from chemicals we don't have to bring into our home. Why put more into our bodies than we have to?

We have a story called On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer, in which the reader is taken around the world to see what is happening on the same day in March. This week we've been reminded of a page that describes the disappearing snow of March.

"in ALBERTA, CANADA
Just when you can't even remember spring,
that wild Chinook blows in like a dragon,
and quicker than you can say Medicine Hat,
the biggest snow fort ever
is nothing but a dragon-shaped patch
in somebody's backyard.

On the same day in March..."

Above is our dragon-shaped patch in the backyard.


I've been cooking and baking, more out of necessity than enjoyment. I do enjoy it, so I'm not going to complain. I regularly make muffins using roasted butternut squash, whole wheat flour, flaxseed and wheat germ because they make excellent breakfast fare at our home, particularly for one of my children who does well with the additional fiber. To make the muffins, I start by roasting, gutting and pureeing a squash, and I go from there.

I also made some bread yesterday. I didn't plan to, but I went to the grocery store and stopped first at the deli to get Jeff some sliced turkey, and then I planned to stop at the bakery to pick up a loaf of bread for sandwiches. The woman at the bakery seems to love to snicker at me for getting the bread in just the paper bag, without the plastic bag too. When I stopped at the deli, I asked the gentleman behind the counter if he could wrap it in paper instead of plastic and he honestly had no idea what I was talking about. By the looks of him, he was 65+ years old, and I cannot believe that he has never seen deli meat wrapped in paper in his lifetime! After that long discussion, I didn't have the stamina to get the bread at the bakery, so I decided to make some. Homemade is always so much better anyway, at least in my home. So, I made some oatmeal-honey-whole wheat bread. The ingredient list was RICH. I would never make is as an everyday bread because it calls for all of the things that are just so extravagant for a standard bread recipe: milk, honey, butter and an egg wash. Good bread can be made from just flour, water and salt! But at the time, I saw this recipe and knew it would be a success, so I went with it. If I were to make it again, which is unlikely except for a special occasion, I would use less yeast and more salt. Salt will bring out the flavor of the bread, but it also makes it tougher, so there's a fine line that you have to walk there. I used rice milk and Smart Balance instead of milk and butter, and I omitted the egg wash because 'A' is allergic to eggs.

Here is the recipe:

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
1/2 cup mild honey
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Preparation
Heat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

That's not all. I've been moving toward a meat-free diet without really focusing on it (I never liked meat when I was younger, so all I'm really doing is coming back to my authentic eating preferences). I need to add some protein to our daily diet, so today I decided to use up some things I had in the cupboard and in the fridge by making a batch of quinoa-red bean burgers. Not bad. Our kids didn't like them, even after we renamed them "Princess Patties". But they did like the french fries I made (oh yeah, I made the best, bestest french fries EVER today!).

Click here for the french fry recipe. I used organic Yukon Gold potatoes and they were just unbelievable!

first day of spring

We went to the Pine Bush just west of Albany today to celebrate the first day of spring. It was my first time there and I was surprised by how much it looks and feels like the Cape.







making a mobile


These are the moments that make my heart go all aflutter. 'A' has been working on her "knitting" for two days now. She's taken a bunch of fabric scraps and some paper and made a mobile for 'H'. "She can hang it over her crib and have something to look at."

What makes this so special is that she spent a while yesterday trying to figure out how to connect the fabric and paper pieces before going to her sticker pile and pulling out the big ones. She used those to piece together her mobile. I thought it was a very creative way of handling the issue! The best part was how she kept adjusting it over and over again. She wasn't ready to have it photographed because she wasn't happy with it. Finally it all came together for her and she asked for these photos to be taken.

breakfast


breakfast today, then we're off to the library and the store to pick up some origami paper for an upcoming project.



spending time together


Today was a really good day, not only because the weather was nice enough for us to play outside, but because it just flowed so easily.

Some days it seems that my girls are so old, and some days they are so young. Both recently went through growth spurts and they look older than they did even a week ago.

I have been learning that the days when I don't have a set schedule and I let things unfold on their own are the best ones around here. Sometimes we go out and do something, and sometimes we stay home, but no matter what we do, if I don't make any promises to be anywhere at a specific time, it all works quite well. We all enjoy the activity of the moment and enjoy each other's company.

When we have to be somewhere on time, it has the potential to go downhill - fast.

I realize that we can't live in the la la world forever, and that the girls have to learn how to show up on time at some point in their lives. They will. I think when they are old enough to begin to look forward to an activity that's supposed to happen in the near future even more than the activity they're engaged in at the moment, then they will be ready to learn about being somewhere on time. But for now they are just so happy getting from point A to point B that it almost seems pointless to rush to point B when the fun isn't even at point B. The fun is in the entire process. So why rush the process, rush the fun? Does that make sense?


On a separate note, I bought Pears soap today at Ocean State Job Lot for $1 a bar. It's an all natural soap and I thought it was a pretty good price. I know my stepfather loves it, so I called him to tell him about my great find and see if he wanted any. How do you think he responded? He told me that he gets it for $1 a bar at his local OSJL in Chatham (MA). So much for my great deal that I wanted to share! Then I told Jeff about it and he informed me that he doesn't like the smell of it, and did I buy the whole case or just a few bars? I bought 3. Well, I like it.

Have a great day and take some time to enjoy your journey from point A to point B.

Saturday afternoon









the weekend


I found these photos today - I took them a few weeks ago, back when we still had snow on the roof. They pretty much describe what we're doing right now. Jeff took 'A' for her swimming lesson today while 'H' and I slept in (seriously slept in, it was really nice!). Now it's after lunch and 'H' is napping, I am playing with my photos, and Jeff and 'A' are reading a story about Uncle Willie and the soup kitchen on the couch. We're going to try out some playground time this afternoon and I am really hoping that the girls won't need to wear snowsuits there.

I found out that the maple syrup weekends in upstate NY are next weekend and the one after that. I have never been to watch the trees being tapped or to see the syrup boiled (I am probably the only person on earth who hasn't seen it), so I am excited to go.


An update on our attempt to have less plastic in our lives (starting in the kitchen): it has made me much more aware of what I consume and why. For one thing, avoiding plastic and unnecessary packaging means not stocking up on food, and instead buying things that are fresh or out of packaging as much as possible. Sometimes this is easy to do, like when I want seasonal, local produce and I can head to the farmer's market to get it, or purchase loose vegetables at the grocery store (fruit is tough: grapes, strawberries, blueberries... all in plastic). Other times it's possible, but with a few restrictions, like when I go to the bakery and purchase a fresh loaf of bread and ask for it to be sliced and put in a paper bag instead of plastic. I've gone back for the bread 3 times now and the woman who works there argues with me and snickers at me each time because she is so accustomed to putting it in the plastic bag and then in the paper bag that she can't break free and do something different.

Other times, plastic is impossible to avoid, like when I try to buy soy yogurt (sold in plastic) or cereal (sold in a plastic bag, then boxed in cardboard, or crackers (same packaging as the cereal - although I'm wondering if Ritz are packaged in waxed paper or in plastic) or canned food (the cans are lined with plastic). The simplest thing to do, which I am doing for now, is to avoid all of these products entirely.

So, what am I left with? Well, for one thing, I'm left with a lot of the same options that were available when I was a kid. Packaging was so much different back then. I'm also left with a lot of fresh, healthy, whole food options.

I'm on the hunt for a good stainless steel cup set for 'H' ('A' has been using glasses and "grown up" dishes for a while now, but 'H' would still prefer a non-breakable option), and I need a safe sippy cup so she can take it in her crib and in the car. On a side note, the issue of chemicals in plastic baby bottles is now in the news and people are doing things about it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/15/nyregion/long-island/15cupsli.html?ref=health .

I'm dealing with both the plastic issue and my emotions about it. I tend to get freaked out before I can plunge in and take much action.

Now I am going to move on to another task to help me forget about plastic and instead be freaked out about something else: the size of my filing pile! Yikes!

friday


'A' and I are just about ready to start dinner prep. Dinner tonight is chickpea stew. I usually make it with spinach but tonight I'm using up some turnip greens instead.

We played outside for a while this morning. I was ready to go in long before 'A' and 'H' were. While I waited and tried to keep warm, I lay down on the driveway in the sun and listened to the birds. I'm hearing more variety in the bird calls now.

Candyland this afternoon, followed by card-making and present wrapping for Aunt Michelle and Uncle Howard. Hopefully, if I can get my act together now and do some research, we'll be watching some maple syrup flowing from the trees tomorrow morning!

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

This is a quick and easy dish that tastes great with crusty bread.

1 cup water
10 ounces baby spinach
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Kosher salt
Pinch of saffron threads
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas with their liquid
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
Crusty bread, for serving

Pour the water into a large deep skillet and bring to a boil. Add the spinach leaves and cook over high heat, tossing frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander, pressing hard on the leaves to extract the liquid. Coarsely chop the spinach.

Using the flat side of a large knife, mash the garlic to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the saffron. Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl. Add the paprika, cumin, cloves and black pepper and mash until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chickpea liquid.

Wipe out the skillet. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the spiced garlic sauce to the onion and tomato in the skillet and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chickpeas and the remaining liquid to the skillet. Add the raisins and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add the spinach, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer for 15 minutes. Transfer the chickpea stew to 4 deep bowls, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, and serve.
SERVE WITH Crusty bread.

She's two years old now!

This is what the deer did to our arborvitae in the backyard:


I had my Healthy Children, Healthy Planet class last Friday. I learned some new information about the effect of plastic on our bodies. It's actually not new information, and I did know some of it before, but for some reason I'm now in a place where I am open to hearing about more of this stuff and I am able to take some responsibility for the things I know. And taking responsibility means taking action.

Simply put, plastic of all kinds leaches chemicals, particularly when it comes in contact with food. Jeff and I had already known that we shouldn't heat up food in plastic containers, or reuse water bottles, or eat microwave popcorn. But we never really considered until now that all plastic leaches harmful chemicals into food. When I look at my kitchen shelves, I see sliced bread in a plastic bag; margarine in tubs; crackers and cereal in plastic bags, packaged inside cardboard boxes; juice boxes with plastic straws; sippy cups for 'H'; ketchup in a plastic bottle... and the list goes on.

All of this was brought to my attention by a pediatric nurse who is genuinely concerned about both children and the planet. According to her and a number of scientists and researchers, there are different types of chemicals that leach out of different types of plastic containers and packaging, and all of them are harmful to our bodies and our health. Here is a link to a site that lays it out in an easy to read manner (gotta love the people who bridge the scientists with the lay people!) http://www.ecologycenter.org/factsheets/plastichealtheffects.html.

Jeff is a scientist by nature and a chemist by training and it didn't take him long to come to the same conclusion I reached: our family has got to move toward a plastic-free lifestyle. So, we're working on it. It's a lot to think about. I can't say I'm surprised to find us at this point. In fact, I think I'm relieved that we got here before much time had passed.

Did you know that fleece is made from plastic? Oh my, I love fleece!

My computer mouse is made of plastic. And so are a bazillion other things we use on a daily basis!


Our daffodils are coming up! Spring is coming, I promise!

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!

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!