Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two personalities

Here are Aidan's and August's pumpkins, respectively. Although it doesn't really look it, Aidan's is a "scary" face. Despite the fact that, for the last three months, Aidan has hardly been able to be left alone in a room for a moment, he decided that he wanted his jack-o-lantern to be scary this year. And then it struck me that he was beginning to try out some bravery in some safe places, namely, the face of his pumpkin. As he later explained to me and others, "I'm not scared of pictures of scary things, just the scary things that are really scary." The emphasis being on the "really." Crazed out mechanical skeleton heads stuck right in the middle section of the grocery store for Halloween--now that is scary. Pictures of scary things or non animate things that allude to scary things--not so much. It's starting to make sense now.....

Super Guy!

Well, here he is: SUPER GUY! He actually followed through with this, his original concept for a super hero/Halloween costume, and this was the end result. Perhaps I helped here and there with the making of an "S" on the shirt or the general task of figuring out what the heck Super Guy looked like since he only existed in the mind of my child, but still, this is all August. This particular photo really captures his zeal for life, that Super Guy. No one is really certain of what his super powers are exactly, but that doesn't really matter now, does it?

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

John and I have recently finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's latest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and let me tell you, it has been revolutionary. Before we began reading we had already begun talking at length about the ways in which we wanted to shift our eating habits, but Kingsolver's experience took things to a whole new level. The book chronicles her family's commitment to eat only locally grown (within a 100 mile radius) foods, with fruits and vegetables that they had grown themselves making up the majority of their supply. They also raised turkeys for meat and kept chickens for eggs.
One of the themes that surfaces is the shift one must make towards "slow food." Growing your own food takes time, planning for food supplies in the winter takes thoughtful consideration, and canning, preserving and proper storage takes amazing stamina. Most of us don't put that much thought into our food, much less time. Obviously, as recently as sixty years ago, folks didn't live such an "experiment"--it was simply the way you did things. But that knowledge and experience has been lost in recent generations and, as a result, has drastically changed the way we approach our food options. Unless I teach my children such, the idea of food seasons is a foreign concept in a world where you can get apples and strawberries and tomatoes year round.
So, in an attempt to make small changes in the way I think about what I put into my mouth, as well as the mouths of my family, I decided to slow some things down myself. It started with my purchase of a small pumpkin last week. This was not one for carving but the kind grown for eating. They are smaller and are usually labeled as "Pumpkin Pie" pumpkins. I roasted it in the oven, then scooped out the pulp and made our beloved pumpkin bread. What was most interesting to me about it was its color. Pumpkin that has been cooked in your oven is really more yellowish than orange. The canning process heightens the "orangeness" of pumpkin, I suppose. The taste was different too, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Those I shared it with described it as kind of earthy tasting, but they still raved about its flavor.

Well, after the boys and I carved pumpkins yesterday I decided not to chuck the pumpkin seeds with the pulp. Mind you, it's not that we haven't roasted pumpkin seeds in the past. Generally, though, I haven't been the one to go to all the trouble of pulling out the seeds, cleaning them, boiling them, and then roasting them. I've just enjoyed the fruits of someone else's labor. But I felt like the decision to "go to the trouble" would be a sort of discipline--an action that might begin to forge paths for more slow food choices in the future. I know they are just pumpkin seeds, but they are pumpkin seeds that I wouldn't be eating otherwise.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mamas don't let your babies...

This boy better be glad that he is so darned cute because he is full of it about now--full of emotion, conviction, determination, will power, stubbornness, but also joy, giggles, really funny faces, and a language that is, well, unique. Sometimes, I don't know how he can be mine simply because he is not a little "mini-me" like Aidan. But then, I suppose that's the miracle of children. God brings two people together, they fall in love, commit their lives to each other and the next thing they know, God has taken the intense love that they feel for each other and pours it into his intelligently designed primordial stew to produce this incredibly wonderful and fearfully made child. Who am I to be trusted with such beauty?

The First of "The Lasts"

Well, I believe we've started our journey of "things we are doing for the last time before we move." John had business to attend to in southwest Georgia so we decided to combine business with pleasure and drive a little further with him down to Panama City Beach. Our good friends, the Roberts, happen to live in this Spring Break mecca and they have said for years that October is the ideal time to visit. How were we supposed to know that Red Tide would roll in right as we we showed up? For the uninitiated:

The Florida red tide is caused by blooms of a
dinoflagellate that produce potent neurotoxins.
These toxins cause extensive fish kills,
contaminate shellfish and create severe
respiratory irritation to humans along the shore.
Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as it sounds. The water still looked beautiful and the beach wasn't really littered with dead fish, just a couple here and there. It was more a nuisance than anything. While on the beach, we all seemed to experience irritation of the throat and runny noses that did eventually force us back inside. But the weather was gorgeous, the fishing fine (despite John's inability to land a Mangrove Snapper) and the company among the best there is. It's such a blessing when your kids enjoy hanging out with the children of your friends and you see them creating memories of their own. Whitfield generously accommodated our boys on his fishing boat and they had a blast swabbing the decks while the daddies furiously fished. Even I managed to catch a fish, with a Barbie pole, by the way. It had been quite a while since I had last wielded a rod and I was warmly reminded of the joy of anticipation that seems to be the driving force of all fisherfolks. Aidan was a natural caster, especially with his new pole with which we surprised him the night we arrived. He looked like a natural and I'm sure he and his grandpa will have some fine times in the future. August, on the other hand, seems more cut out for the more physical outdoor activities, like full contact turkey wrangling or the like.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

So much for regularity

Well, I guess my "Back to School" zeal has worn off! I'm a bit tardy on the posts but not because of a lack of material, that's for sure. It just hasn't been in the cards for me to sit down and muse. Oh well, that's life, I suppose. We are still approaching any semblance of "formal learning" with a very relaxed attitude and that's working just fine. The boys do show a propensity for wasting away their lives in front of a screen, if given free reign, and that, exactly, is why they don't have free reign in that arena. As much as I want to be relaxed in our approach to the boys' education, I will step in and restrict "screen time." It would be much easier if we just didn't own a television but since that isn't the case, I've got to keep up my resolve. Thankfully, the boys don't put up too huge a fight when directed elsewhere. I'm also trying to figure out how the computer factors into all of this debate about screen time. The computer plays a completely different role in the lives of my children than it did in mine and I'm trying to reconcile that. Obviously, sitting on their tails and only playing games is different than researching a nature topic, but it's all a balancing act. And although I lean towards the better late than early philosophy with Aidan and reading, it will be nice when he can get engaged with books on a deeper level. I pray that his love of story will prove stronger than his love of Curious George (on PBS kids). I solicit your prayer support in that regard.