26 December 2008

The coolest kid present under the tree this year

All three kids received a vehicle from Automoblox this year ... and this was by far the coolest kid present under the tree. :)

Automoblox are primarily wood and polycarbonate (bullet proof glass strength plastic), with interchangeable parts (which is why having three vehicles in the house is really cool, they can trade bits and pieces, making all kinds of different vehicles from the available parts). The whole idea behind these toys is ... well, here's what the company has to say:

We live in a world where toys are a disposable commodity. The founders of Automoblox believe however, that we may be giving our children a harmful message. We feel that it's better to have one great toy instead of 10 cheap ones. It is this thinking that enabled us to engineer Automoblox to last. ... Designed as a heirloom toy from the get-go, we anticipated the bond between the child and the toy to be so great that they would wish to save Automoblox and pass it on to their own child.

These are durable, well built toys. The kids played with them off and on all day, running them along the floor, swapping pieces, and generally just ... being kids with toy cars. The Boy is on the floor beside me as I type, asking me to pick out pieces for the new car he is creating (which headlights, Mom? Okay, which roof?)

If you are looking for a gift for a child (or several children), and you want it to last *and* be fun ... let me pass on the whole-hearted recommendation of the kids in this house: Automoblox are awesome.

(They have a new set of mini cars, too, which are much less expensive ... although the full size versions are certainly worth their price!)

A beautiful reflection on hope in changing times

A father in Ireland writes of his dreams and hopes for his four year old daughter, as the world changes into something we cannot clearly see:

She loves animals as much as any child, and we talk in detail about where they live, what makes them mammals or birds or bugs, what they eat and what they do for us and each other. For now, it is just a game, but over time, perhaps, she will make connections.

She knows, in recited pieces of theory at least, how to cook, how to make yogurt and sourdough starter, how to compost. In time, I want her to learn how to ride and bridle, speak different languages, hunt, be sceptical, think logically and organize people. I can’t completely predict what she will face, nor can I plan her life, but I can show her a beginning.

found via Sharon Astyk, via Crunchy Con.

And, while you're at it, read Sharon's lovely reflections on Chanukah:

6. Fifth Candle

When the candles burn down and flicker

The light pools
In intersecting circles with the light
From my neighbor’s tree.

If anti-assimilationism is the central message of the history of Chanukah, we should remember that we are not the only people who celebrate the restoration of the light. If there is a single work to be done in the next decade, it is to build community in every sense of the word. We need not assimilate, in fact, we should not, because we cannot afford to lose any more diversity. But we cannot close the doors on one another. It is always easier to build community with people who are like you, with the same values and the same ideas, maybe people from the same family, or with the same experiences, and there is nothing wrong with that. But we have lived the last decades as though the people we cannot see, the people downstream from us, out of sight or in other nations, do not matter. So at the same time that we strengthen the ties with those who are like us, we absolutely must strive to create a new recognition of the other, a new way of connecting, of at a minimum, doing no harm, and just possibly, joining some of our pools of light.

24 December 2008

Words of Wisdom in my Inbox

My aunt sent me one of those 'lists of things to think about' today ... and it was exactly what I needed!

Here are my favourites, just in case something on this list happens to be exactly what you need today, too!

  • Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.
  • Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  • Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you can not control. Instead, invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  • Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
  • Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does!
  • Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  • Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  • Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
  • Forgive everyone for everything.
  • What other people think of you is none of your business.
  • However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  • When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

Life is good! We are blessed!

Let's not forget those important details in the rush and bustle of every day. :)

Blessings to you!

18 December 2008

It's Christmas time!

Well, our tree has been standing in the living room for several days now with lights on it but nothing else. Scheduling and logistics prevented any further decorating ... but tonight, we were all home and we got it all prettied up!

There is snow on the tree. Yes, snow - we use a very old recipe for snow that involves mixing Ivory Snow with water until it is like whipped cream. You have to use the real pure soap flake kind, and I am fortunate enough to have a precious and carefully rationed box purchased a few years back at an antique show of all places! I've put snow on the tree for as long as I can remember, and a tree with no snow on it just doesn't seem finished.

The decorations are up, there are presents around the tree, and The Boy has set up his Lego train running in a circle around the whole thing. It looks awesome.

Pictures to be posted soon. :)

11 December 2008

Life, little by little

Life just goes on by ... moment by moment, little by little.

And once in awhile, I stop to think about bigger things.

My little girl was born on Valentine's Day in 1995, and she lived for only half an hour after she was born. Thirty minutes was her whole life span. I have often wasted that much time watching some TV show I wasn't even really interested in, or wandering a shopping mall when I didn't need anything and didn't even want to be out.

Remembering the few minutes that made up her short life, I try to make the most of all the minutes I have been given. I don't always succeed, but I do try. The question of how to make the most of my life is one of those 'bigger things' that sometimes needs pondering.

I am forty years old, which means I am most likely about halfway through my own life span, although none of us know for sure how many days we will be given. What am I going to do with these days?

The simple answer is that I want to make the world a better place. The Jewish term is 'tikkun olam', the repair of the world, and it is something that I believe we are all called to do. Sometimes it seems that the repair that the world needs is just too large, there is too much to do, it is too big of a problem, and Someone Else will have to fix it. I mean, I can't solve world hunger by myself or wave my hands and say "We need world peace. Yes, right now. Great. Thank you for your cooperation."

What I can do is try to make a lasting impact where I am, to repair my little corner of the world.

I can improve the land that is under my stewardship, maintaining the native plants and grasses, putting the compost back into the garden to replenish what I take out as food, planting windbreaks and shelter trees for animals both domestic and wild. I can treat the animals in my care kindly, and ensure they have all they need and are given the opportunity to be what God made them to be - chickens free to scratch in the dirt, mother animals raising their own young, sheep and cows let out to graze in green pastures. I can make responsible choices about resource usage, ensuring that I use no more than my fair share of the world's limited resources ... less if I can manage it.

There is so much that needs doing, and sometimes, it seems like my efforts are too tiny, too small to matter. I am just one person, and I have only these few moments. Still, each moment well spent is not wasted, no matter how few of them there may be.

Each time someone

plants a tree
grows a tomato
saves a seed
puts peelings in the compost
drives a little less
mends a pair of jeans
gives away an old winter coat
harvests saskatoon berries for jam
hugs a child
scratches a dog's ears
kisses a donkey on the nose
lets a setting hen raise some chicks
knits a sock
smiles at someone
or does any of a thousand other tiny acts of purposeful kindness and responsibility

the world is repaired, little by little.

07 December 2008

Winter, finally

It finally snowed!

Good thing, as it is nearly Christmas, and it looked all wrong having everything brown and sorry looking.

The tank heater is plugged in, the hay is piled up, and the barn and sheep shelter are filled with straw for everyone to sleep in. The cats were curled six-to-a-bucket in the barn when I left tonight, purring contentedly.

Yay for winter!

(It's much easier to say that when you are sitting in front of a cheerful wood stove, and there's plenty of firewood stacked outside!)

The wonders of modern medicine

Last week, young Dinosaur Boy (The Reluctant Farmer's six year old son) had a sore elbow while he was at his mom's house. Under questioning he admitted to having been jumping off the stairs, so it was quite naturally assumed that the pain was a logical consequence of having collided with something during some spectacular landing or other.

However, the next morning, he couldn't move his arm at all. He went to the doctor, who could find no signs of injury consistent with stair-leaping, and so he was sent in to the hospital for more investigation. It turns out that Dinosaur Boy had a bacterial infection in the elbow joint, something not at all uncommon in kids, and required IV antibiotics and fluid drained from the elbow immediately. He was admitted, and responded very well to the medication, which meant that surgery was not required, thankfully. He was very brave about everything, and really enjoyed being able to watch cartoons all day and have mom and dad right there to read books or play games.

He was in the hospital for a few days, and then released with a PICC line so he can have IV antibiotics administered at home. Yep, we have become experts at administering IV medication, so long as we don't have to poke anyone. The PICC line looks like a regular IV line at the arm, but inside the body it snakes up towards the heart, so the medication that is injected is dumped into the body where the blood vessels are larger and can adapt to the onslaught of chemicals much better. I had to have IV antibioitics every 8 hours for more than a week after The Boy was born, and after every two or three injections they'd have to move the line since the blood vessels in my arms would get irritated and sore from the medication, even when it was thoroughly diluted. I wish someone had offered me a PICC line then, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat!

Anyway, the medication run will last for close to a month, depending on the results of his follow up visits, but we have a system all worked out so it's not really wreaking havoc on our lives. The Reluctant Farmer is spending his days in town when the kids are with us, so that he can pick them up a little early from school and be home in time for the 3 pm IV run, but since he can work with his laptop at Starbucks or the library, it's not too much of an inconvenience. Since there's no pain at all with the line once it's in place, there's no fuss and no argument ... it just gets done.

We are immensely grateful for the wonders of modern medicine: in 'the old days' this kind of thing would result in permanent joint damage (there is still a possibility that there'll be some lasting damage, but it'll be minor) and possibly widespread septicemia (which is life-threatening) ... but with the quick diagnosis and administration of effective medication, all is well. And we are grateful.