Monday, May 26, 2008

Then the banquet

The day after the graduation church service, the church held a banquet for the grads and their families. It was a big, fancy dinner and the graduates were really "sent off" with a bang! At the end of the speeches and such, the pastor had all the graduates stand up. He asked each one of them in which area of ministry they would like to serve, and made arrangements to put each of them through a crash course in that area so they could begin right away. Very cool. Here is a photo of the family and one of the youth pastor with Blair and Kate.

A major milestone

Blair turned 18. (Her nickname is Mickey, like the mouse, hence the cake.) I can't begin to explain how it happened. Last week she was five, sitting on her Daddy's lap being unbelievably silly, this week she is eighteen. On her cake is a mortarboard. She graduated from high school within two weeks of her birthday, and we had out-of-state relatives for the ceremony, so she said it was okay to combine the two parties.

The church had a special graduation service with a nice little booklet of the names and photos of the graduates. She got to walk across the stage and get a monogrammed Bible, and the pastors' message was geared right to them. We came home and had an ice cream cake and opened presents. The 'big' present was an iPod. She is so into music and has never had her own iPod before.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Community Supported Agriculture

If you're at all "green" or interested in nutrition, you've probably heard the pleas to eat seasonally and locally. Ah, a noble endeavor, but not easy for a city girl to accomplish!

Or so I thought, but nothing could be further from the truth. Do a web search for "community supported agriculture" or "CSA." You'll come up with several sites, probably including one or two that will help you find a CSA co-op near you. Here's mine.

At the beginning of the year, I plunk down a nice chunk of change as a deposit. I also make monthly payments for the growing season. Next year I'll probably plan better and be able to pay it all up front. The farmer uses that money to prepare and plant his fields, and each week I get a "share" of my investment in the form of freshly picked, locally and organically grown, seasonal produce! I get regular reports from the farmer about what's being put in the ground this week, or what's being harvested, and recipes to use the fresh produce in.

We got our first "share" last week and it was so delicious. We had baby beets (the size of my thumb) roasted in a salad that were so good hubby even ate them! We had leafy head lettuce that was juicy and fresh. I steamed the Russian Kale and beet greens together and tossed them with some dried cranberries in a sweet and sour sauce.

But I couldn't bear to do anything to the strawberries other than eat them whole, fresh from the plant. Look at the luscious color.

You won't find strawberries with this color or flavor in a grocery store, I guarantee you. I haven't tasted a strawberry this delicious in...18 years. Yup, it was 18 years ago I had a tiny garden with a little strawberry plant that would produce maybe 10 strawberries each May.

My "share" costs about half of what buying the same amount of the same produce in my grocery store would cost. It's a great investment in local agriculture, nutrition and flavor! I can't wait for my next share of strawberries tomorrow!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Oooh! Paperwork!!

Today I'd like to share a really cool website with some super-efficient forms, but you gotta sit through my story first.

I'm a weird bird. I readily admit it. I work best when things are written down and check-off-able. There's so much going on in my brain that things get lost up there. I can spend hours focusing on the minutiae of my day and leaving the major tasks undone. When I have a list, it's out of my brain, freeing up space for other things, and not getting lost in the clutter. I used to have a Palm Pilot - three in succession that kept dying - but as hubby explained, "Those things just aren't made to be on all the time!"

I have a hard time convincing the kids to follow my paper-driven lead. "MOM! We're out of cream of tartar! I can't make meringue cookies without cream of tartar!" I hear this, or a variation of it, daily. My answer is always "WRITE IT DOWN!" I keep a piece of paper on the fridge just for this purpose. If it's not written down, it doesn't get put on the shopping list and next week I'll hear, "MOM! I told you we were out of cream of tartar, why didn't you get any at the store?"

"Did you write it down?"

"No, I told YOU!"

Nope. Doesn't work that way.

I've designed a form called the Taxi Service Request. I have five kids, see, and they all need to be somewhere at sometime for some purpose and they all want me to get them there. But I only have one car, and it spends most of the day with my husband at work! Juggling all the family's errands, social engagements and medical issues is a time-management course in itself.

"Mom, it's Saturday, and I have to be at the grocery store to sell cookies at 9AM! Get UP!!"

"I didn't see a Taxi Service Request on that."

"You've known about it for weeks!"

"I didn't see a Taxi Service Request on that."

If it's a younger person, I'll generally relent and get them there, if a tad late, and make sure they get lecture 19B.3 on the way (I don't live in your head and can't be expected to keep up 24/7 with the needs and desires of every person in this family. Fill out the form or do without.) Older people might get lecture 42C.1 (You have a bicycle, right?)

I digress.

On Get Rich Slowly, one of my daily-read blogs, David Seah's blog was mentioned and I just had to go there to look around. This guy has created all these visually stunning forms for people like me! Of course, they are meant for people in business with, like billable hours and stuff. But my business is this family and this house and his forms are versatile enough to work for me!

I can't wait to whip out an Emergent Task Timer sheet the next time my eight-year-old complains that all she ever does is school and chores. Let's just see, shall we? I imagine filling in the bubbles will be a cool little exercise for her, and will encourage her to really take a look at where her time goes.

The next time my 18-year-old daughter heaves a heavy sigh and flops on the couch because she has so much to do she can't keep it all straight, I'll hand her an Emergent Task Planner. I love the positive messages on this one: Get three tasks done today, you're doing pretty good. More than three major tasks? You're on fire!

Or, when faced with a huge school project, I can envision my 16-year-old looking at a Destruct-O-Matic edition of the Task Progress Tracker and getting motivated enough to actually start, then making little explosion sound effects as he blasts his way through to success.

It might not actually work that way, but hey, a mom can dream!

I'll update to let you all know how these cool forms are working for us!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Did you have your lollipop today?

I'm always on the lookout for ways to help my family's health without involving professionals in the process. I respect the medical profession and the amount of education required to obtain a medical degree, however, I believe there are abuses both educationally and practically which encourage doctors to not provide the best treatment possible. I also believe the best treatment possible is usually non-medical in nature, often having more to do with nutrition and health maintenance than with treating disease that has already occurred. What to do? In my case, I start with research, alternative medicine, home remedies.

My research has come upon a very interesting bacterial theory of tooth decay (Infect Immun. 2004 Aug ;72 (8):4895-9 15271957 (P,S,E,B) Cited:4
Department of Oral Biology and Molecualr Biology Institute, UCLA School of Dentistry, P.O. Box 951668, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1668, USA. or better,
Now, you might nod and say, "Duh, but brushing and flossing kills that bacteria!" But I'm not convinced that does enough for some of us. I brushed and flossed religiously and ate a low-sugar diet as a child and still had a mouthful of cavities at my dental exam every six months. The dentist told my mother she had to be sure I was doing it right. One year she and Daddy would brush and floss my teeth twice a day. I still had cavities the exams that followed. They were stumped. The dentist, of course, assumed Mom and Dad just didn't follow through.

So, my research led to Dr. John's Herbal Lollipops. We are going to give this a try. One lollipop after breakfast, one before bed, with nothing to eat or drink afterward for 10 days. It's supposed to kill off the bacteria that causes cavities for three months. John will be my acid trial. If it slows or stops his decay, I'll be sold.

Stay tuned!

Just because it's true doesn't make it helpful

Back around Christmastime I hurt my back and it hasn't improved a lot. About two weeks ago my sciatica started acting up big time, so I made an appointment with hubby's chiropractor. Last summer when a similar thing happened with my hubby, the doctor put him on a special traction table three times and it was better. The insurance didn't cover it, but it was only $50 a treatment and worth it for the amount of pain he was in. They offered to let him go only when he needed to, he didn't have to sign a contract or agree to a certain number of sessions.

But today, they wanted me to sign a contract for 20 sessions at $125 each. I asked when the price went up, and the office manager started going on about how they are lower priced than the other offices that offer the same services. She started quoting me what other offices in the state charge. Like I care. I'm sitting there in pain, needing treatment, not being able to afford the treatment I need and she's going on about maintaining a "level of profitability"!?

I respect the free market system. I realize that just because as a patient I would like my doctor to demonstrate compassion doesn't mean that their business is compassion. They are in business to make money, I know that. I also know that if all the other chiros charge upwards of $200 for a certain service that this Dr. is only charging $50 for, that he's driving the market down and making a poor name for himself among his peers. I know all that in my head, but my back is crying and screaming about how unfair it is. And being told that they increased their prices beyond what I can afford simply because there is money to be made that they're not making, well, that's just rubbing salt in the wound.

What the office manager said was absolutely true. But it was not helpful.