Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I have had a really good experience picking books for the women of our ward to read. I usually buy the books and resale them to the women as a matter of convenience. So I know that we always have around a dozen women that read each book. It isn't always the same women either, which I think is terrific. I really tried to be deliberate, mindful, and prayerful as I selected each book. For each book we have read, I have had a woman in the group either write to me or tell me that this was the book they needed to read. That has been a really great part of the book club for me- feeling like the books we read impacted someone. It has been wonderful seeing how mindful the Lord is of the Sisters of our ward. I love that!
But there is the flip side. For the first couple of books, I would try to plan a time when we could meet and discuss the book. The first meeting we had, one sweet, somewhat mentally challenged girl showed up. She was the only one and she told me she hadn't read the book, but she wanted to come to the meeting. So she and I ate brownies and chatted. The next meeting, she didn't come. Ya, so it was just me--chatting with me. I tried a different format (this is code for: I copped out). I created a BLOG and encouraged virtual discussion. Once I tried to bribe people to post by entering them in a free book drawing if they commented. Overall, pretty lame.
I actually got released from the calling that obligated me to do the Book Club several months ago, but asked if we could do this last book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I wrote about it HERE. This is an extraordinary book. A must read. A few women asked if we were still meeting about the books. I decided I'd better quit being so lame.
I offered my home and shamelessly bribed by offering dinner to all who attended and it was announced in church. Then I went to Tobago. I was gone for 2 Sundays. We returned this last week and I realized too late that it might be another bust for the Book Club Meetings as no one seemed aware of our Chat Night this Tuesday. Only one woman told me she planned to come. I quickly ran around the building looking for anyone else that might have bought the book from me. I found 1 person. She didn't know if she would attend.
Sidenote: I have a friend who is an angel on earth. Lanae emailed me that night and told me she hadn't read the book but would love to come if I needed a warm body. Love that girl!!! I jumped at her offer. I am also married to an angel! Thank you sweet heart for taking all of the kids out during my scheduled meeting!! xo
So Tuesday night came and I set out my tablecloth and best dishes. I put out 4 place settings to be optimistic that all potential attendies would show. When the magic hour arrived, Lanae, and both of the other women showed! Then, the doorbell rang and there was one more!! I pulled out another plate and served salad to all 4 guests. Then I cooked a pasta/veggies and BBQed chicken for these lovely ladies. I was trying to emulate some sort of Oprah book chat where they eat, talk, and whatever...anyhoo.
It turned out to be such a great night. I enjoyed breaking bread and discussing such a wonderful true story with some really cool women. We had some excellent discussion and I tried to throw out some provocative questions. The women bit-- and the discussion was thoughtful, insightful and inspiring. I can't imagine it being any more pleasant or enjoyable. I flat out loved the whole evening. We ended the night with brownies and I thought back to my first meeting-eating brownies with my sweet friend who hadn't read the book.
Having come full circle, I felt happy and at peace letting everyone know that I QUIT as the book club coordinator. And I can't wait to see what the new Book Club leader will pick for us!
Poor Jackson has been sick since Sat night. High fever, congestion, ear issues. John stayed home with him on Sunday as I had to teach Relief Society. He was still running a fever Monday so I let him stay home. Jebb had a bit of a cough so I let him ditch preschool too (false alarm-I should have sent him). Jackson has always been a short term snuggler (he likes to snuggle, but he's a busy guy). When he is sick he just wants me to snuggle him. Part of it is wonderful-he is a treat to snuggle. But part of it is unnerving-I realize how bad he must really feel because he is not the kind of kid that likes to sit still.
Because Jacks is our first sick kid this winter, he got to be my guinea pig. I have made him drink a concoction for colds.
2T Apple Cider Vinegar
mixed in 8oz of water.
It tastes, well, not really good. He has to plug his nose and be bribed with the promise of gum to drink it. I have also been putting Hydrogen Peroxide in his ears. He has an earache and this really seemed to knock it out. I have put it into both Elise's and my own ears. We both felt like we were getting sick and I truly think this helped us. I found both of these ideas on Earth Clinic's Website (click on it, click on it!). It has led to several fun discoveries. Banana peels cure warts and corns. Apple Cider Vinegar cures everything-coughs, infections, athlete's foot. Olive oil and lemon juice cures kidney stones. And those are just the one's I've seen work myself. There is a huge alphabetic glossary of ailments and cures to try.
Don't get me wrong-I am not opposed to a good shot of Motrin-but I am just trying to branch out a little bit and see if we can avoid the Doctor's Office (because who knows what the heck you will pick up there!). But for this bout of illness, we have done just fine with the home remedies. It could have been all the snuggling, or maybe it was the Clone Wars marathon, or probably the virus had run it's course, but Jackson seems to be feeling much better this morning. He only snuggled me for a minute before going to look for the Capt. Rex figure (of Clone Wars Fame).
There are advantages to having a lot of siblings. You always have someone to hang with. You often have someone to help you with chores. You don't have to carry the whole dinner conversation when your parents want to know what's up with their offspring. And in my kids' case, they each know they will have 4 loyal friends for life. But when you're 12, the value of a lifelong friend is still a long way off.
Gabe is our oldest kid. He is a 12 year old 6th grader. And he is now 2 for 2 at making the Honor Roll. They have a breakfast postluck to celebrate this achievement. For the first one, we didn't know parents were invited. This morning I knew I was allowed to come to the 7:15 breakfast, but...
John teaches seminary and is gone by 6:15a. Seth and Elise have early morning orchestra (also 7:15). Jackson is sick. Jebb is 3.
We pulled up to the curb at the Middle School at 7:10, told him I loved him and was proud of him, then I rushed him out the car door (I still had to make it back to the Elementary School in the next 5 minutes...orchestra, remember?). So Gabe, the boy with lots of siblings, walked in with his 8 pack of Yoplait-- parentless. I let myself watch him for a few seconds before zooming off to my next drop off.
I sometimes feel a twinge of sadness for them-the poor kids with too many siblings. They don't have the adoring, undivided attention that some of their peers enjoy.
When I asked him tonight how it was, he told me with a grin that it went great. He's a punk 12 year old, but he is also pretty dang cool. Maybe spreading myself between the activities of 5 children hasn't completely ruined them all yet. I mean, shoot, he wasn't in morning detention-it was the Honor Roll for goodness sake.
Monday, February 23, 2009
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Once I explained that a 'mote' in this context was not the water around a castle but in fact a tiny speck of wood, we had a good chat. We discussed the idea that we should first seek to improve ourselves before criticiizing others. After some Q&A I really felt like the kids were getting it. I started feeling all warm and fuzzy and suggested we all mark this scripture that imparted this newfound wisdom on all of us. Then a fight broke out for the blue scripture marker (I will not name names in the spirit of greater peace).
"Hey! Didn't we remember what we just read?! And could you please use a nicer tone with one another?!" I yelled....
Uh, ya, I yelled. Not a loud yell, but definately a voice raise with a pinch of irritated tone. Nice BEAM sticking out of my eye on that one! I already had that one marked, but I think I need to put yellow stars by it.
Luckily I caught myself (thou hypocrite that I am) and reeled myself in fairly quickly before moving on to our final scripture also from Matt 7:
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The Golden Rule. I had one yellow scripture marker and suggested they use it to mark this verse. I was so glad when just a minor squabble was all that broke out over the marker this time. With just a raised eyebrow I was able to quiet the controversy. Progress. I may not be very smart, but I'm no fool. We quickly closed the meeting at this peaceful moment and let the kids do the break and bake cookies for a treat.
While they weren't perfect, I think they made a real effort not to fight about cookie making. I am hoping something sunk in and it just wasn't the threat of not getting to eat the cookies if they couldn't get along! :)
Friday, February 20, 2009
One reason I want to keep bees is practical. I am trying to embrace my rural lifestyle...somewhat. ;) I don't currently have any livestock, but I am certainly looking at the agricultural side of things. We have planted several fruit trees and I would actually like to plant a small orchard this spring. The dozen trees we have already are not at all productive. I think bees could really help this (that and a lack of late spring freezes). I have also started baking wheat bread on a semi-regular basis and it uses honey instead of sugar. I have gone through the honey much faster than back in the days when it was only used in combo with peanut butter on a sandwich.
Another reason I want to keep bees is purely curiosity. I have made a conscious effort as an adult to do things that are new to me. This has lead to lots of really great experiences. So ya, trying something different is a motivator.
I also have a weird prideful motivation. Living in Durango with 5 children, we are often given 'that look.' You know, the look by some earthy type that believes overpopulation is destroying the earth. So I have this defiant streak that wants to be sure to live a lifestyle that will reflect our self-reliant values. So ya, as I am writing that, I sound really immature and petty...I'm not trying to be self reliant because that's what the prophet says-I just want to be able to thumb my nose at kid-haters. Nice. OK-the whole 'following the prophet' thing is big for me too, OK?! It's a given. Besides, if I were a bee, I think I would like the 2 mile radius around our house.
So a couple of days ago, my cool visiting teacher called me to tell me about an Adult Learning class being offered up at the college. It is a free one hour lecture and it was about BEES! I was really excited. I looked it up online and found this description of the 7pm class:
"A Drone in the House: Adventures in Beekeeping
by Haz Saïd
Considering a dangerous, expensive, and time consuming new hobby? Beekeeper, poet, and dotcom dropout Haz Saïd will share his experiences in the bee patch and answer your questions about this highly uncool and mildly rewarding pastime. Said assumes no responsibility for changes in your property value."
I was really excited to go and learn how I too could become a hobbyist beekeeper. Where do I start? What do I need? What can I expect? What will it cost? What will I gain? These are a few of the questions running through my head and from the description I was expecting a somewhat humorous and entertaining evening where I was to have all of my probing curiosities on beekeeping satisfied.
Being a mom of 5 kids and wife to a busy businessman/seminary teacher, you can imagine that I sometimes feel like I am living in my own hive. When the time came for me to leave, I was hesitant. John wasn't home yet and wouldn't be for several more hours, the kids were fed but restless, and they really needed to get to bed on time so they could awaken bright eyed for orchestra. You get the idea. Nothing crazy, but a typical night. I feel like my time is valuable so I rarely go to things like this just for fun. But my beekeeping curiosity won out. I kissed everyone goodbye and gave Gabe strict instructions for various bedtimes that would occur in my absence. (He was a champ about it by the way! Tweens exerting their responsible side are a delight.)
When I arrived at the lecture hall, I was a little surprised at the turnout. There were 50-60 people. There was obviously the 'regular' crowd-retired types that greeted one another warmly. But I think the vast majority of people were really interested in beekeeping. Many of them were very earthy and organic looking. This oughtta be good.
The lecture started with it's accompanying slide show. I was ready. I had paper and pencil poised for notetaking. The presenter showed us a picture of his dog. He then read some poetry. OK, slow start, but I was patiently waiting. He showed us a slide of the earliest beehives and explained how they didn't work well. Then a slide of a cave painting from Spain portraying early man getting a hive out of a tree.( I found it online to share with any of you that didn't attend.) Ya, ya...bees have been around for a while. Got it. Then another poem about the bees disappearing. Hmmm. OK. I can handle poetry. Long poetry. At this point I let my pencil rest on the page instead of keeping it at ready position. We heard a little more history of beekeeping and saw a slide of the guy that discovered the 'bee space' making the modern hive design effective. OK, I can sink my teeth into that. Here we go. Oh wait. One more poem about a bee keeper's daughter getting her first box of bees in the mail. Pencil at rest. My mind is beginning to wander...I hope Gabe helped Jackson brush his teeth before bed...focus...oh, here we go. He moved to a slide of the modern beehives and described each section, briefly. Then he concluded and opened it up for questions.
Uh, OK, maybe someone will ask a good question. "Tell us more about your dog." So he did. Then he closed the evening by inviting us all to come and take a small stick and taste some honey from a small jar on the table. And that was it. It was over.
Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe beekeeping is freakishly simple. Maybe I don't appreciate good poetry. Whatever the case, I was a little bummed but still interested in my pursuit of bee knowledge. I guess that's what the internet is for.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We had to get up really early to go back to Trinidad on the prop plane where we hopped our flight back to the States. While in the airport in Trinidad, we saw Pres. Robison (mission pres) walking with the soon-to-be-new Mission President. Pres. Gamiette (see his bio here) is actually form the West Indies. He lives on Guadalupe and speaks French. He is my age and has 5 kids! It was fun to come acrossed them.
We flew through Houston then on to Albuquerque. Then it was a 4 hour drive home. Shwew. It was a long day, but with the 3 hours we gained we made it home before 8pm. The trip home seemed to go smoother than the trip getting there!
Tobago is amazing. I honestly didn't even know where it was when my parents were sent there. It is a quiet paradise. We saw very few tourists and when we went to find souvenirs, there wasn't much to get. The beaches were amazing. Uncrowded, clean, good sand, good surf. I feel like we stumbled onto a little gem wedged between the Atlantic and the Carribean Sea. I would totally go back there. It is a great place for families and would be a romantic place to go with just John. The house my parents found us was ideal. It was a short walk down a hill to the beach and the view was fantastic from the porch. One big plus for this island was the safe eating and drinking conditions. We never got sick and didn't have to worry about drinking the water-which is a huge plus for me! Overall, it was a terrific trip. I think John really relaxed being out of cell phone range (he did still email quite a bit). I loved the warm weather and the lazy days with the kiddos. It is always so fun to see another part of the world and taste their culture just a little bit. I would recommend this island to anyone considering a Caribean getaway!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
My parents made us a yummy Sunday Dinner and we all went back to our house to eat and visit. It was so fun! The Elders here, E. Barton & E. Huntsman are terrific. We had a really great visit with them. They took Hank out on visits and he said he liked it! :) Our kids tease Hank and tell him he needs to hurry and get baptized if he wants to go on his mission when he is 19. I am glad he got to go out and not only see what the Elders do, but he also got to see where some of the members live.
I am shocked at how fast this week went. We had such a great visit with my parents. They were very cool and fun to hang with. i know we kept them from their work, but I hope they didn't mind too much. I am so proud of them and how well they are doing. Tobago seems to be such a perfect fit for them. They are doing so well and I am so glad my kids got to see them in action at the branch.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Because this was the first time I have gone with Gabe along, I was anxious to show him how cool I was. :) We were prepping for our first dive. We sat along the edge of the boat and wait for the dive master to count to 3 before falling backwards into the water. I was paying more attention to how Gabe was doing than myself, and I let go of the rail. I started to fall back, but caught myself...teetering...yes, yes, recovering...and have almost reagained balance...the rail in inches from my fingertips...until a wave rocked the boat. So yes, I fell into the water before everyone else. I guess someone has to be the bumbling one that puts everyone else at ease with their own competence. Ya, so that was me starting off the first dive with my impressionable tween--bumbling.
Once we all got in the water (the rest of the group was only 3 counts behind me) we had a delightful dive. There was a big variety of fish and coral. We saw a few rays and lobsters too. But ya, the funnest part to me was cruising with my boys. I loved it! The second dive went smoothly without too much bumbling and we headed home. The current was pretty strong so they were both drift dives.
My parents were watching all of the other kids and when we got home, we all cruised to Ardus Vale for lunch and snorkeling. When we got there we had burgers and fries. The kids loved it. We spent the last beach afternoon there. John, Gabe, and Hank actually dove again there from the shore. They enjoyed it. I hung on the beach with my folks and the kiddos. I am sad this is our last beach day, but it was a nice one.
Friday, February 13, 2009
After lunch (Pizza Hut is our new staple) we decided to find some things we've been wanting to explore. We loaded up the van and headed down the left side of the windy road.
Our first was Arnus Vale, a snorkeling cove that everyone said we had to see. We found it and it was a super cool spot. Sadly, rough seas were again the rule. We played on the beach and found lots of cool shells.
It was so un-busy and pleasant. But we were feeling the pressure to 'see' more of Tobago. So we drove. Highland Falls was our destination.
I have often heard or seen the saying on bumpers 'All who wander are not lost.' It is a lovely sentiment and it was SO not us! We were SO lost! The thing is, we stopped and asked directions from probably a dozen different people along the insanely narrow, windy backroads we were traveling. We drove and drove. The kids were getting car sick (Gabe puked out the window) and we kept going on weird loops that would bring us back to places we had already passed. John and I were cracking up but finally gave up. We wandered home to our little beach. It was great!
The boys (John, Hank, Gabe, and Seth) body surfed and got generally pummeled by waves for a long time. Jackson did the same thing on a smaller scale closer to shore. Elise, Jebb, and I built sandcastles.
We headed home for dinner with my parents. We got stuff at the market to cook in tonight. It was really nice. I am feeling sad that we will be leaving my parents soon. It has been fun seeing them. We just enjoyed the night together.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
We got some great news from my Mom today. She found a children's home here in Tobago saving us a trip to Trinidad on Sunday afternoon. We still had almost a full suitcase of clothes to donate somewhere. I asked her to keep an open mind and we would figure out where it needed to go. Sure enough-we were blessed to find the right place. It is a home that has 24 children in it. They are all abandoned or neglected. We went to take the clothes to the 'parents' just before the kids got home from school. We got to meet a few of them on our way out. I enjoyed it so much and felt really great about the clothes going there, they are needed and I had a wide range of sizes. The kids we met were so sweet and it seemed like a good home for them. It is heartbreaking to think of where they came from.
This is the home. It is two buildings. They grow vegetables there to eat and as starts to sell.
Sweet kids. They like holding Jackson and Jebb's hands!
This afternoon we went to the Bird Sanctuary just up the road. They feed wild birds there every day at 4pm. So ya, this is not a picture of that, it's just a pic of my 3 oldest kids...but we are at the Bird Sanctuary.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It's so weird how the lighting in this picture just washes all of us out and makes it seem like we are really pale. haha OK-I am freakishly white and my Mom proves where I got it and Jebb proves that the curse lives on another generation. But I think the flash washed us out...a litttle. ;)
This afternoon we went into Scarborough to the fancy pants mall there and had-SUBWAY! The kids were super excited to know what the food they ordered was going to be like. :)This is one of my new favorite malls-they had a Haagen Daaz (sp?) Ice Cream shop! Yipee. Jebb loves chocolate as much as I do. We also bought some super cool mosquito zappers that look like tennis racquets. The 'strings' of the racquet are electrified and zap bugs that you swat-they are SO effective and gratifying, yet would be too much of a liability risk in the states. I am so crazy buying contraband like that!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
They asked specifically for CD players and regular pencils. Skip and Laurene's kids did odd job to earn the money for these. I feel a little guilty that we got to present them, but we told the principal about them and how hard they worked. She seemed very grateful.
The second school we visited was a school for the deaf. I imagined a very tiny school because on an island as small as Tobago, I was thinking 'how many deaf kids could there be?' I was surprised at the size of the school. It obviously is a school not only for the deaf and some other special needs, but it seemed to have many mainstream children as well. It was a pretty big school. I had asked my mom before we came if it was possible for us to meet some of the students. I thought my kids would enjoy this. The teachers brought several of the students into a room for us to 'present' the things to them which felt a little weird. I felt kinda bad when we only had one suitcase of things to give to them. I wished I was pulling up with a storage container of fun and useful items. My mom gave a little speech saying that she knew the children at this school were involved in giving service and that some of her grandchildren wanted to do the same thing. She explained that the kids has saved money to buy items for their school-it was lovely.
Major Sidenote: I still felt kinda bad. We had taken lots of the fun supplies and set them aside for the branch members. We gave some games we brought to my parents. I also set aside half of the clothing for a children's home in Trinidad that we haven't yet visited. When we loaded up everything into the suitcases to come, we were maxed out on weight and space, so knowing all of that, the offering we gave seemed quite sparse. And so I struggle. I know that it is good to try to do anything, but I want it to be just perfect when I do. Honestly, I don't do many of the well intentioned things I think of, because they might not come off just right. I definately think it is my own vanity that causes me to have these thoughts and hold back from doing small, good thing more often. I am so mental! End of sidenote.
I am glad my kids got to expand their world view a little bit and I am grateful for my parents coordinating all of it. I would have liked to stay and play, but both schools were very well disciplined and structured. Ah well, I guess we would just have to find somewhere else to play.
And we did! We cruised home, changed into swim suits, and headed for Speyside which is on the north side of the island. I have to say, the drive there gave me another reason to adore and admire my husband. The guy can drive a van! To say that the roads were windy and narrow is such an understatement and I know I am not an eloquent nor descriptive enough writer to give you some cool metaphor. An anorexic serpent wriggling through a maze. Yah-I need to work on the whole descriptive writing angle. I'll try again. The roads were SO windy and SUPER narrow!! WAY!! We literally almost got squished on a turn when a backhoe on a trailer almost took us out. We had to reverse! Freaky! But I have to say-this place is absolutely, wondrously beautiful!
We drove about an hour (20 miles or so)and we ate at Jamma's Treehouse-a restaurant on the ocean that hugs a widespot in the road. It was...interesting. I made a goal to try lots of new food on this trip and challenged my kids to do the same. So ya, goal accomplished. I am honestly not sure what some of the stuff was we ate. Some was fried. Some was baked. With sauce. Some was meat. Some was sandwich like. There were french fries. We all mixed and matched our entrees and had a nice lunch.
We headed back the way we'd come and stopped to hike up to Argyle Falls. It was terrific. The flowers and trees all look like something out of Jurassic Park. It is old growth rainforest.
My mom and I were laughing at how many 'houseplants' come from this type of climate. Jebb couldn't get over how big all of the leaves were. We walked an easy path along a freshwater stream to the falls.
A member of the ward met us there as well. J&J stood on the remnants of a very old pot along the trail. It was used in colonial days to cook food for the slaves that were brought here to grow crops. Many of the inhabitants of the West Indies are descendants of those slaves. I can hardly imagine such a culture.
Before I reached the falls with the little guys, the big boys had climbed up and were jumping off. Sometimes when the boys are doing their thing, I just have to look away and hope for the best...and by 'boys' I mean John too. ;)
We stayed and swam in the pool formed at the foot of the falls. It was cool and refreshing. We had the beauty almost all to ourselves, only one other couple came up the trail and after a photo, they left too. It was really nice. We took our time and enjoyed the afternoon. The weather cooperated fully. It has been warm but with a nice cloud cover that shades us without making it muggy. The ocean has been really rough which is why we hiked today. Argyle Falls was worth seeing and we all had a marvelous time before braving the narrow, windy road home.
The earth is so diverse and amazing. I was in the shower last night and was thinking that I was going to tell John that if he dropped dead unexpectedly, I would move to Tobago because the climate was so nice-warm and moist without being TOO warm and moist. Just then, I reached for my shampoo and realized I was sharing the shower with a little gecko. Thankfully John was very much alive as he bounded into the bathroom to see what I was squealing about. After getting out of the shower, I laughingly told him what I had been thinking and how I had changed my mind. Warm is nice, but I am still a spoiled American that likes her wild life out of doors.