Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Solstice

We welcomed the first day of summer with a few firsts of our own: 
  • We had some friends over for lunch  and had build-your-own panini. It was a fun meal that didn't require any advance preparation. I'll have to tuck that away for another time when we're having guests. A wonderful time was had by all, not to mention it was a good way to use up some two-day-old ciabatta. 
  • I found the first ripe blueberries! 
  • Erik made a fire in an old metal washtub and cooked hot dogs for supper. Afterwards, we roasted marshmallows and made smores to complete our "practicing up for camping" meal. I think our "hillbilly bar-b-que" was pretty fun, and so did the kids.
  • Peregrine singed his eyebrows. And eyelashes. That's a first for him, I believe. Erik singed his armhair, but I'm pretty sure he's done that before. 
  • And Raphael, not wanting to be left out on the whole "firsts" thing, smells like campfire this evening. It's pretty cute, really, and, in my opinion, a very manly smell. (It reminds me of a story my mom tells about my older brother when he was then a baby, He had dirt under his fingernails, and my Dad thought it was so cute!)  I love it when Erik smells like campfire. (Except when I have morning sickness. Which I don't.)
We're finally getting some warmer weather after a very cool spring. The garden is happy, and so are we. We're gearing up for camping and looking forward to summer. How about you? Any plans? Wishing you all a very happy summer, whatever you do! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Colored Milk

If you'd been listening in around here recently, you might have overheard this:

Peregrine: Mom, if you drank a lot of food coloring, would it be bad for you? 
Me: Yes, food coloring really isn't good for our bodies.
Peregrine: Oh. But if you did, would it make your milk a different color? 

Has this boy been watching cooking shows or something? Did some food guru give him the idea that presentation and color are important when serving a meal? Or is he just looking out for his little brother, thinking that plain ol' white mama's milk for every meal might just get a little boring. Raphael doesn't seem to mind though. The little chunk, at 11 weeks, already weighs in at 14 pounds. I sure love these boys of mine! 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Acrostic Family

I introduced the kids to acrostic poems today, and had them (mostly Peregrine) help make some up for all the members of our family. Peregrine came up with some, uh, very creative descriptions, especially for himself. He also came up with some very, very sweet ones for me. 

Extra Smart
Really Good Racer
King of the World

Really Helpful
Extra Nice
Best Mom
Extra Pretty
Absolutely Loved

Playmobil Lover (and Pirates too)
Expert Fighter
Really Creative
Experiment Maker
Great Boy
No Robberies 

Excellent Sister
Tip Toe-er
Extra Caring
Alethea is a Joy!

Pleasant and Precious
Absolutely Sweet
Extra Cute

Erik (the King of the World) took the pictures of the kids for me for Mother's Day. Aren't they great? It helps to start with such fine subjects, but I think he did a great job and I can't wait to get them up on the wall. And, someone needs to inform the spellcheck people that Playmobil is too a real word! 

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Have I ever told you how talented my children are? See for yourself, in this marvelous video clip that captures then in all their charm! Enjoy!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

A Stirring

When Erik and I got married we had no intention or desire to settle down in the USA and live the typical North American lifestyle. I had just returned from nine months in Asia, and Erik had spent time teaching English in Yemen. Our plan at the time was to return together to the Middle East where we would live and work. There's a line in a movie we recently watched that said something like "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." 
And so we married and settled into life together in our little duplex. We "knew" we'd only be there temporarily and we lived with that in mind. Instead of registering for a large set of dishes I bought mismatched ones from thrift stores. We drove little old cars that got us where we needed to go. We were very happy in our simple life together. We soon realized the group Erik had worked with in Yemen wasn't going to be the best fit for us as a couple, but we still had every intention of going. I got pregnant with Peregrine right away and we looked forward with joy to his birth. And then, a week before he was due, we learned Erik had cancer. He had surgery, I had a baby. He went through radiation and we then looked ahead to years of follow-up to be sure the cancer was truly gone. We knew our dream of going overseas to live would have to be put off for a few years, but we continued to hold onto it.
Little by little though, we grew comfortable here. We bought a house and traded in our little car for a minivan. Erik got into a three-year apprenticeship at the utility company. In a few more months he will be a journeyman substation wireman, something that could possibly be used in another country. We've seen God's hand in giving him this job and we're very thankful for it. But with it, we've settled a little more. Our spending seems to increase with his pay. I found a set of dishes I really liked; they have paisley designs and remind me of my beloved India. We've had a couple more kids and collected a whole lot more stuff. We live five minutes away from my parents and both my sisters. I love being so close to them. 
So yesterday we were talking, Erik and I. We realized that somewhere along the line we lost sight of our goal. We're living, in a way, the North American dream. We are happily married with three kids, a minivan, a commuter car, a tent trailer, a home in a quiet cul-de-sac, a stable income, close family, a good church, good friends. Now don't get me wrong, we are very, very thankful for each one of these blessings. But we slipped into this comfort zone and are living a pretty typical life here. We started thinking about the things we'd really like to do and how we can make some changes in order to do them. 
Even if our dream of living overseas never fully materializes, we'd like to have the freedom to travel more, to spend a few months here or a year there living in other countries. We'd love to be able to go visit friends who are missionaries, to help them out in their work, to encourage them, and to expose our kids to different cultures. We have friends in India, Yemen, Quatar, Italy, Haiti (soon), Costa Rica.... And while we are living here, we want to be way more intentional about keeping it simple. (Which, I think, is the opposite of keeping up with the Joneses.) We want to rethink the way we're living, how much stuff we really need, to consider more carefully the things we own and the things we buy, to think about whether or not we really need them, to consider the impact the making of that stuff has on other people's lives, communities, and the environment.
I think we've lost sight of sacrifice, of giving something up now, in order to attain a goal later. It's really what the Christian life is like, but I think we often separate it into spiritual and material compartments. I read somewhere of a family with several children, (I think it was 8 or 9) who dreamed of building a house without going into debt. They are living in a garage, all of them, and building their home as they can afford it. They are making a serious sacrifice of space and stuff, in order to realize their dream of owning their home outright. This kind of thinking is really challenging Erik and I right now. What do we really want? More importantly, what kind of lifestyle does God want us to live? And how do we get there from here? 
One of the things we think a lot about, is Erik being able to work independently, not to be tied in to a 40-hour a week job. In order to really make this a reality, we need to be willing to live on less than we do now. This is possible, but we need to be intentional about it. Our dreams go on from there. We talk about crazy things, like living in a yurt, or spending a year traveling around the US in an RV (or a converted school bus!). What better way to teach US history to the kids? Wouldn't it be great to build some sort of alternative home, like an earthbag house, or a strawbale one, or a yurt, and power it with wind and solar energy? To be able to work together as a family on a project like this, to grow more of our own food, to be less dependent on this culture and all of it's stuff? We don't just want to accept the status quo of our culture! 
So, we've decided to make a few changes, to start trying to think differently, intentionally, about what we want in life, about simplifying things, about consuming less and having more time, energy, and resources for what is really important to us. We're going to start going through our stuff and getting rid of some of it. Just last night I went through most of my kitchen cupboards and filled up two boxes with stuff I just don't use. We all have way more clothes than we need, too. I read of one family who had a set amount of items for each person for each season. I like this idea a lot- I need to think about it a little. How many long pants, long shirts, etc. is reasonable? Our drawers and closets are overflowing with clothes, way more than we need, and it really just complicates things. What else? Toys, books, things we keep around because we might need them someday. There's so much we can get rid of! 
We want try to replace consumable items with non-consumables. For example, I just switched to cloth diapers. I'm loving them, and so very happy not to be buying, and using, disposables. I'm getting ready to make some cloth baby wipes to go along with them. What else can we replace? I'm excited about beginning this process of simplifying our lives. I know it's just that, a process, and I don't really know where we'll end up. But something is stirring in our hearts, and we'll see what becomes of it. I'll be sure to keep you posted!
Do you have any ideas for living more simply? I'd love to hear them!