Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden Dreams

I want to go out and get the garden ready this year, but the weather hasn't received my request yet.  We have had an unusually cool and wet spring so far, and every weekend has brought us rain.  So for now, I will settle for planting my seeds for setting out later.  I'm hoping they all do well, and we have a bountiful garden all summer long.

I purchased all my seeds from Ed Hume Seeds and the plan is to not purchase plants.  I'll let you know how that works out.

Here is the list for 2011:
Oregon Spring Tomato (these were fabulous 2 years ago)
Gourmet Blend Lettuce (Buttercrunch, Grand Rapids, Red Sails and Parris Island Romaine)
Cal Wonder 300 Bell Pepper
Golden Cross Bantam Sweet Corn
Gold Nugget Tomato
Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Martino's Roma Tomato
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
Early Jalapeno Pepper
Olympia Hybrid Spinach
Spacemaster Cucumber
Mesclun Mixed Salad Greens
Cocozelle Zucchini
Sugar Ann Snap Peas
French Green Beans (bush beans)

And for the rest of the garden, and to get a start on our backyard garden:
Shasta Daisy
Godeti Double Azalea (free gift with my order)
California Poppy
Sweet William
Alpine Poppy
Livingstone Daisy

More on our backyard garden plans to come.  Let's just say we are reclaiming a large portion from the dogs, and our tax return is going to make it fun!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You can't always get what you want...

You know the song, "you get what you need."  Boy, has that been the case at our home.  We didn't want another cat.  The last thing we wanted was another mouth to feed, butt to clean, and one more furball under foot.  However, we needed Alice.

These blurry photos show that she is doing quite well, and she and Nemesis are best of friends.  We didn't realize how much Nemesis needed someone to play with.  The other cats were really tired of his antics, but Alice loves them.  There are regular pouncing sessions and wrestling matches.  I haven't found them cuddling yet, but I'm fairly certain that's coming. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Parenting with an Open Mind

So quick question, answer it as quickly as possible (in your head is fine):

Is it ok to send your child to school with pink or blue spray streaks in their hair?

Got your initial answer?  Now think about it.  Was your initial answer based on what others have told you was ok?  Or was your answer something that you feel strongly about?

This exact question was a daunting one for me, and for Dana as well.  I admit that my first answer to my question, is not the same as it is now.  A few months ago my mom gave Kaia a can of pink hairspray.  I admit right now, my first reaction was, "Oh no, she didn't..."  The "mom" in me was cringing.  It wasn't ok to put pink spray in my 7 year old's hair. 

A few days later, the "me" in me grabbed the mom in a choke hold and called her a big hypocrite that had somehow lost touch with her own ideas.  Somehow the "mom" in me was listening to what society might think, or what other parents might think, rather than what I might think.  And it's true.  Prior to Kaia starting school I looked at all the local options.  First off, I'm a huge proponent of public schools.  I strongly believe that while they may be underfunded, the teachers are there not for the great pay and benefits (which they don't have) but because they have a passion for the next generation.  So I was ready to put Kaia into our local public school, but was concerned about child care before and after, and felt it would be best to look at all of our options.  The problem was, every single private school whether Catholic, Christian or Seventh Day Adventist all had a student handbook. And every student handbook had some rule about the length of hair for boys, and color of hair for boys and girls.  There were also rules on nail polish use, the banning of use by boys.  Most also had policy on clothing and it wasn't just about modest clothing.  With each rule I became upset. 

Dana and I are the parents of our kids.  If Dana and I are ok with our boys having long hair or painting their nails, I don't want a school telling us it's inappropriate.  If Dana and I allow Kaia to dye her hair purple and spike it, then it is our decision, And if our kids want to wear jeans with holes in the knees, and sneakers that are falling apart as part of their self-expression, then so be it.  We draw the line when clothing is immodest, or when the alteration is permanent like a tattoo or piercing, or last if the self-expression is actually rebellion that comes with attitude.  But most of all we don't need a school telling us what is acceptable for our children. 

I have heard the arguments that rules in school prep our kids for rules at work, and I'm fine if you feel that way.  I strongly feel that childhood and adolescent years are for figuring out who you are, and if you are too busy trying to fit into someone else's box of what is acceptable, how can  you do that?

Sure my initial reaction was very anti-pink hair, but this morning I sprayed 2 pink stripes into Kaia's hair, just like I did a few days ago.  Pink hair doesn't hurt anyone.

I'm definitely going to start doing a check on myself when I have gut reactions to things.  Too often, my initial reaction is not my own.  Have you spotted any areas in  your life where you are listening to others rather than listening to yourself?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Orleans Part Duex

I'm finally well enough to think straight (thank you antibiotics and steroid spray) and tell you about the rest of our trip.  First Jennifer's comment reminded me of something I forgot.  Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE in New Orleans was so nice!  It's unfortunate that people being nice stood out so much, but as much as I love the Northwest, the people here aren't as friendly.

Thursday was a big day for us.  We made plans to eat at Emeril's NOLA for our lunch break and our last "session" of the day was a service project at the Louisiana Nature Center.  We were very excited when it was announced that the Honorable John Berry, Director of OPM (Office of Personnel Management for you non-feds) would be joining us on the project.

When we broke for lunch, Cheri and I quickly dropped our things in our hotel room and hopped on the streetcar for the French Quarter.  There on Saint Louis Street, nestled among shops and restaurants was a yellow building, NOLA.  We were seated at the Chef's Bar and were front row to watch as she made "Duck Confit and Fried Egg Pizza" and cooked the Drum (a red fish) in the wood oven.  We asked for her recommendations and placed our order from a menu full of delicious foods.  Cheri had the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast, I chose the Hickory Smoked Beef Brisket.  We both agreed it was the best meal we'd had, and we were so glad we took the time to eat there.
A blurry phone photo, but let me tell you the pickled green bean in my drink was delish!

After our very filling lunch, we stopped into a tourist shop for a few gifts, and headed back to the hotel to get ready for our service project.  I knew we'd be driving through some hard hit neighborhoods, but seeing houses destroyed next to houses standing was an eye opener to the stark reality that still exists in New Orleans.  The nature center itself is still not "open."  None of the buildings are functional, and there are very few trees that survived.  Most of those that survived the wind were killed by soaking for several weeks in 8 feet of saltwater.

All of us, along with John Berry and Keith Willingham (the Director of CFC) got to work with gloves and loppers pulling giant ragweed from around the young trees planted a year before.  The hope is that it will give these trees a fighting chance for the sunshine they need to grow.

We were tired and dirty after the project, but all of us were happy to have helped.  That night Cheri and I decided that you cannot go to New Orleans without at least seeing Bourbon Street.  So we walked down Bourbon Street, and found a drink she liked.  The Hand Grenade.  We had a light dinner at Ember's Steakhouse.  Neither of us was very hungry, but it was nice to sit outside on the balcony and people watch.

Friday was our last full day in New Orleans.  When Jennifer got the news that she wouldn't be able to make it, we purchased Plantation Tour tickets for Friday afternoon.  I was sad to miss meeting her in person, but it's a great excuse to head South again!  So Friday at the close of our session Cheri and I made our familiar trip on the streetcar.  We had thought we'd eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde before we boarded the bus to Oak Alley, but the cafe was packed.  Instead we ate brunch at The Gumbo Pot, which was really good.  On the bus we enjoyed watching a video about plantations along the Mississippi.  Then our tour guide/bus driver got on the microphone and began to point out all the plantations and tell us their history.  When we arrived at Oak Alley, it was nothing short of amazing.  The 28 300 year old Live Oaks lining the walk up to the house was spectacular.

The house tour is guided by someone in period dress, and you could tell he enjoyed his job.  It was beautiful inside, though no photography is allowed, so you must take my word, or purchase the picture book (I got a signed copy at the gift shop!).  We were all surprised at how small the house is inside.  It looks huge on the outside, but it would actually be a cozy home inside.

After the tour of the home, we stopped at the snack bar right outside to purchase mint juleps and lemonades.  Then we were free to walk the grounds.  Of course it was during this time that my camera died, as some dummy tried to charge the battery by putting it in backwards, and didn't realize the mistake until it was too late.  My phone was also going dead, as the same dummy didn't charge it the night before.  And that is the reason I had to purchase the picture book.  I also purchased a signed Oak Alley cookbook in the gift shop.

The ride back to New Orleans was longer for two reasons.  First the tour guide drives the old hwy that follows the river and goes past many plantations.  He would slow down for us to get a good look and tell us about each home.  We also got to see a really old cemetery.  So old that many of the crypts were falling apart.  This part of Louisiana was so beautiful, and honestly reminded me a lot of the Valley surrounding my home.  Of course we have hills and there wasn't a one in sight there.  The other reason the drive back took so long is that something happened to cause a huge traffic backup as we were going into New Orleans.  We watched some more videos, and eventually the driver resorted to telling us what he could about the area we were in and what happened in the days and weeks following Katrina.

We finished the evening with beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and taking in the French Quarter homes one last time.  It was sad to pack everything up that night, although I was very ready to get home to Dana and the kids.  I definitely want to return to Louisiana, and sooner is better than later.