Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flashes of time

This month has flown by. I can not even believe how quickly. I have several post ideas on my list for this month that did not end up here. But they will just have to move to July. This weekend we head to Salt Spring Island, BC for our second island get-away in two months. I am really looking forward to more exploring. This will mark the end of our summer vacations and a return to normal time for the rest of the summer.

Tomorrow is Canada Day! Happy Canada Day to everyone and Happy Independence Day to everyone in the U.S on Saturday!
I'm not sure if I will have time to post again this week as I have a huge file due this Friday before we leave Saturday morning. But I will be back to my regular schedule next week.

Last night Dave played me the video we took on the day that Kyan was born. The sound wasn't even on but my heart was in my throat and I could not believe that 18 months had passed and that little newborn who was all pink and new was now this toddler climbing, talking and being Mr. Independent.
Snippets of time like that are so precious to review once and a while. They really help to put things in perspective.

Sorry that this post is all over the place. That is definitely where my head is this week.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Book of the Month: June

Richard Louv has written a bestseller that has swept the minds of a nation. Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder is a resource for parents or anyone interested in child development who wants to understand why kids can be floundering in a time where they seem to have it all.

His research is focused mostly in the U. S. and how the health, spiritual well-being and mental state of children is being adversely effected by our culture's lack of direct contact with nature. This is a penetrating look at children today and where this disconnect has grown from.

Louv (a member of the baby-boomer generation) recalls a somewhat idyllic time in his youth. He built forts in the woods and was able to roam the neighbourhood without adult supervision. He makes allowances in the way he raised his own children that children can not expect to have the same freedom today but he gives some examples of how to negotiate that. Giving your child the chance to feel free and connect with nature while keeping them safe.

Nature-deficit disorder is a term that Louv has coined to categorize a growing problem, therefore it is not a medical diagnosis. Video games, television, and Internet distractions are keeping children indoors and plugged in for hours a day. This trend can be linked to the growing obesity rate in children despite an increase in the amounts of organized sports. This is also a cause of the growing rate of mood disorders such as: ADD and ADHD. Louv calls for increased research into his thesis but the small studies he cited all found correlations between increased nature exposure and interaction with behavior improvements in children with mood disorders.

In his chapter on spirituality and nature I found he could have delved deeper. Louv was appealing to the masses in organized religion. He seemed to feel the need to convince more fundamental Christians that "God's dominion" was worth saving and that "nature worship" was not going to be the result of children having a deep connection with the natural world. Perhaps he felt that delving into native cultures and/or pagan spiritual beliefs would be too alienating for his target audience or perhaps he didn't research that angle at all. He did blend a psychology perspective into his argument to convince the reader that children do have spiritual capacities. I think that was preaching to the choir a bit but valid to some readers I'm sure.

Overall this is a wonderful work with inspiring personal stories and the revised version even has a field guide in the back. It has birthed movements across the U.S. forming groups of parents and kids wanting to keep a passion for nature in their hearts.

For more information about connecting your child with nature visit:

Children & Nature Network

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Island in the Sun

arbutus trees

Tribune Bay beach

We have returned from our glorious trip. Well, it was more glorious for some than others. A particular pollen release left 2 of our group of 7 adults and 3 little ones with some sinus suffering. But despite that we really enjoyed ourselves. We ate wonderful meals, had fun campfires, laughed, hiked, played on the beach and let nature do her magic.

Helliwell Provincial park

There was no rain (for which I'm very grateful) and our family of 3 fared well. Kyan really loved it. The freedom and the camaraderie. Some of my favorite moments were: sipping mead on summer solstice overlooking a beautiful vista of sea and mountains, hearing the waves crash on the shore as we sat around a warm campfire with the stars shining above, hiking through magical trees and bluffs, seeing many deer and sea creatures, sitting in the ocean and casting a circle...
I can still feel the sun in my bones and smell campfire in my hair. It is amazing how even three and a half days can feed the soul.

a graceful sight

Friday, June 19, 2009

And we're off...(almost)

... happily drowning in camping gear...

It's our first vacation in over a year. Bright and early tomorrow morning we are headed to our first of three ferry rides that will bring us to the wonderful Hornby Island for some camping and relaxation. I am so excited about this. Really, very happy to be getting into some nature with no cars whizzing by, no sirens, and some fresh air. The air could end up being fresh with rain but we are going to take our chances. I wanted to link to this great post at In Heywood's Meadow about camping with kids. So helpful in the planning process.

This is our first foray into camping together as a couple and family all at once. We are luckily going with some seasoned campers who will hopefully ease us into it.

Soon I'll have some photos to share of ocean, trees and campfires. I'm really glad that I'll be living outside for the solstice. I wish you all a very happy solstice if you celebrate it and a great father's day to all the daddies out there.

I'll be back on Wednesday with our camping adventures.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Choosing home...

Last week Dave and I made a decision about the lifestyle that our family is going to have. The opportunity came out of the blue and sent our heads a spinning with possibilities.
Over two years ago we applied to Co-operative housing complexes in the city and the suburb where we now live. In case you aren't familiar with co-op living, it is a complex of apartments or townhouses that are run at cost by the inhabitants. The goal in this type of living is to keep rent costs down and live in a community building atmosphere. It allows people of different social, economic and cultural backgrounds to come together in an area that may not have been possible otherwise.
Dave and I received a call for an interview. They had a three bedroom apartment that was coming up in August. Many flashes started going through our heads after this call.
Where we live now is good. It is not perfect (as no home is) but we like many things about it. Unlike the last two times we moved we are in a position to be very picky. We don't have a deadline for leaving our current home. One of our major factors is money. We would like to pay less rent so that we can save a down payment faster and ultimately own our own home faster. We are also looking for a community minded area that reflects our values (green living, child friendly, supportive and diverse) and is nourishing to our souls.
Our interview went great. The co-op was nice, the members we met where very friendly and we liked the apartment. The area that the co-op is in is one that we know well. We have lived in and around that area for many years. At our doorstep would be wonderful organic produce stores, fantastic restaurants, a vibrant, culturally diverse neighbourhood with lots of young families like ours....the pro list was long. I felt very torn after the interview....it called our ideas of how to raise our family into question.
I was torn between people/culture and nature/freedom. Moving to this area would drastically change the way our life is set up now. Dave would again have a commute of at least an hour and a half a day (his commute now is 10 minute drive, half hour transit, or hour long bike ride) The rent decrease was not very significant. And we couldn't change to a 2 bedroom because I need the third room since I work from home. Ky and I would be able to walk everywhere and have access to more kids and mommies and be closer to some friends who live in the area now. We need to drive or take transit to visit friends from this location. Our current home is a 20 minute walk from the nearest park. We would be closer to parks in the city but they are very groomed city parks. The parks here have wild area attached with paths and trees and are not as crowded. The area we are in now could be quieter...we live near a major highway, moving back into the city would be even louder. Our list went on and on. Weighing pros and cons. Could we do this? how would that work...etc.
I remembered a comment Dave had made months before while we were driving down the main drag of the area we were considering the move to and he said "I'd like to move back here." I responded that I did love it but wanted to move further out into more nature. The funny thing was that after the interview when considering our options, he was more into moving into nature and I was torn because I was seriously thinking a move back to the city might work.
As we deliberated this I lamented the tough decisions you make as an adult. We were the only ones who could decide what was best for our family. Can't pass the buck on this one.
Our conclusion was to stay put. We found a co-op that is even closer to Dave's work, has lots of nature around it, and is lower in rent. It seems like it's what we are looking for. We've put in our application and are in no rush. I hate moving but would do so to get into a home that suits us.
Nature/freedom won out in this one. We hope that a co-op in nature will give us more community spirit and more time in a peaceful, tree filled setting. I think we can foster a love of nature in Ky by giving him the freedom to roam the woods, run barefoot, and smell the glories of the forest. Yes, he could get that while also living in a more urban setting but for us this place fits better. And when choosing home we must find a good fit.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tales from my Garden

This year I purchased an heirloom tomato plant to grow. I have never grown vegetables and want to learn about them before I grow them in larger numbers and/or in a community plot.
The variety is called Brandywine. Heirloom plants are interesting in that they were commonly grown in earlier periods of human history. So they have kept their traits through open pollination as opposed to being cultivated through cuttings and grafts. Basically this means that they are closer to the original variety of foods that developed through nature rather than being hybridized or genetically altered.
The Brandywine plant takes 80 to 100 days to reach maturity. I planted on the 6th of May. So we still have a long way to go. But I feel very accomplished about it because it is growing well. I was a bit worried that my back deck may not get enough sunshine for growing tomatoes but so far so good. Hopefully by the end of summer I will be able to share its bounty. By the grace of the earth.
seedling May 6, 2009

putting down roots May 21, 2009

reaching for the sun June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cloth Diapers. Yes, you can!

One of the givens in my mind when I contemplated motherhood and then later became pregnant was that I would use cloth diapers. It seemed a no-brainer to me. I'm an environmentalist, I love this planet and I don't want to add thousands of diapers to fill up the earth. 500 years is too long to wait for them to decompose. Not to mention that raw sewage is being left to rot inside them.
Not only did I want to do this for myself but I also wanted to be able to look my son in the eye and say: Your babyhood did not put thousands of diapers into this earth. That is important to me because I hope that he will care even more about living lightly on this planet than his father and I do.
Besides researching what was going on in my own body as Kyan grew, I researched cloth diapers extensively. I asked people I knew about them and attended a free workshop put on by a local mompreneur who has a wonderful selection online. I hummed and hawed but finally decided on Bamboozle's with snap closures. Now cloth diapering has a whole language. I don't intend to get into that here. At the end of this post will be links for many wonderful sites that can give you basic to advanced information about cloth diapering. What I want to do here is relay our experience of diapering and be brutally honest about it.
Often when I am around other moms they comment when they see that we use cloth diapers.
"Good for you."
"Oh, you're so dedicated."
These statements are always laced with guilt. I hear in their voices that they know they should have done it but they didn't. To be clear I do not judge the choices other parents make concerning this issue but I do believe, from my experience in talking to other moms about it that they wanted to use cloth but convinced themselves otherwise. So consider this a little kick in the pants....just do it!
Some of the excuses I hear (and of course considered myself) are:
-I do enough laundry as it is. Yeah, you do. This load that you will do every 2-3 days saves approximately 5,300 disposables per child from filling up landfills. Disposables use 37% more water in the manufacturing process than cloth do despite needing to be washed several times a week.
-We are always on the go. Disposables are so convenient. Yes, they are convenient. So is Styrofoam, fast food and paper plates. Do you use/have these every day, multiple times a day?
In the essence of moderation using disposables for travel or a swimming day only, is taking advantage of the convenience while reducing your impact on the earth.
-My child goes to daycare and they won't use them. This one is tough. But if your daycare provider understood the ease that many styles of cloth diapers provide they may be convinced to try it out for a day or two. If they reject them still then at least you tried.

Beyond excuses, beyond the fact that we do the best we can as moms for our kids, it does come down to lifestyle choices. What is important to us as individuals in this world.? We chose cloth diapering because we liked that it was cheaper, it has saved us approximately $1000.00. And at this time in our life that is a lot. It is healthier on Kyan's skin. The bamboo diapers we use have anti-bacterial properties, and absorb up to ten times more than cotton.
We are not putting raw sewage into landfill sites. This one is really important. I did not know this prior to our research but it is technically illegal to wrap up your child's disposable diaper when it has feces in it and put it in your regular trash. You are supposed to shake the feces into the toilet so it can be treated as all raw sewage is. That is something they don't tell you about in baby books. What happens if you don't do that? The sewage chemicals seep into the ground and into the food chain. It's all connected after all.
There have been some downsides, having a bigger than average child the cloth diapers added so much padding that he often didn't fit into the slim clothing made for his age. He has slimmed down now so I find that to be less of an issue.
We use a dry diaper pail system and it does get smelly the day before washing day. We don't use deodorizers but they are readily available and you can always avoid it if you wash more often.
-As we begin potty training removing his pants, diaper cover and diaper is tricky. I'm considering other options and not putting too much pressure on him or myself to speed the process along. So far, so good.
I'm trying to think of other downsides but there aren't that many for me. This choice has really worked for us as a family.
It's great to not have to run out to the store for more diapers, we just throw a load in the washing machine. One other side note...we all know about the "blow outs" that happen to so many babies and leaves parents cleaning up poo in areas where we didn't want to see it. I can only recall once or twice that the diaper covers we use did not contain all the poo. Yes, you heard it here folks....no scrubbing stains out of baby shirts over here...well at least not poo stains...
You can use cloth diapers from newborn to potty training. It is a viable option. Please consider it and think of the earth and potentially your kid thanking you for making that choice. Here are some links for helping you in your research.

New and Green Baby Co. Online Cloth Diaper Store with great tips and ideas for making cloth easier for you and your family

Mother-ease A cloth diaper manufacturer with a truly green approach

Getting Started with Cloth Diapers - Mothering Magazine online

Real Diaper Association Why Choose Cloth Diapers?

Cloth Diapers Exposed-The Facts & the Fiction

*cross-posted on Mom Blogger's Network and PaganSpace.net

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Dream of Unity

Recently I have been mulling over the divisiveness in pagan spiritual/religious terminology. Several podcasts I've heard have explored theologies. What do we believe? How do we reconcile the blanket term of "pagan" with the myriad of belief systems that we label ourselves with? And are they mutually exclusive? In my paganism they are not.
Previously I have written of my Atheism. This is what I wrote concerning my path:

"I believe in a universal spark, the essence of a life force, but I don't believe in a God in any of the interpretations that religions offer. This was a pivotal moment in my spiritual path for many reasons but the most important one was that I ceased to look outside of myself for answers."

My path involves a reverence for nature. The elements, our source of life on this planet are sacred to me. This earth, all its creatures, every molecule functions in a pattern that I could never hope to understand. I do not consider myself a teacher, leader or mystic in terms of my path. Some would ask why...and my answer is because its mine. The older I get the more I feel that spirituality is personal. In fact I consider it the most personal and subjective part of a human being. A successful teacher or leader is, in my opinion, able to help an individual connect to their most personal sense of self. To go deep, recognize and attempt to understand what is in there. That work is hard and requires a lot of devotion and honesty. I only feel capable of doing that for myself. As a friend I am able to help...but not as a leader. Nor do I seek out leaders to help me. I have many things to learn and will always quest knowledge. Someday that may manifest in the physical presence of a teacher, right now it does not.

When I mentioned divisiveness earlier I was trying to get at the root of what I feel is damaging to a spiritual path. When we start picking apart someone else and their path what is the goal? How can I be a pagan and an atheist? How can she be a Wiccan and a Christian? How can he be a pagan and not an environmentalist? Hey, I'm not throwing stones from my glass house here...I say these things all the time too. But what are we accomplishing by focusing on difference? Certainly not the unified community that many pagans are calling for. Unity is relative to many things. In my heart of hearts I do not believe unity is dependant upon sharing dogmas. We don't need unity to be defined through outside labels. We are united. Humans are one.
I can debate ideas with you, challenge your thoughts and you can challenge mine. We can agree to disagree. We can downright detest the others ideas but we are still a part of this human family. And I apply that same logic to the pagan community.

Whether you are a traditionalist, solitary, shaman or asatru. Whether you read Cunningham, Starhawk or Ravenwolf. Whether you practice skyclad, hone your craft or only celebrate Sabbats, if you define your path as pagan then you are. I can't judge you, saying because you wear certain clothes or haven't read Gardner that you aren't pagan. There should be no pagan police trying to weed out the fluffy bunnies. Because while you are so busy searching out bunnies who is looking after you? I was once assumed to be a fluffy bunny and it was so insulting to me that I stopped my foray out into the pagan community for a while. I felt no need to "prove" my spiritual path to anyone. I was being judged on my outward appearance and my way of being. No one attempted to talk to me about it or consider that I may just be a different kind of pagan from the ones they were used to. I have moved on from this now. I want to make a second attempt at branching out into my local community. Despite the fact that I am a solitary, I care about participating and being a visible member here. I love the earth, love my fellow human family and love to connect through the wonderfulness that is the pagan path. The online community has helped me to move past the initial impulse to withdraw that that judgement brought out in me.

There is lots of misinformation out there, questionable teachers, flawed leaders and love spells galore. Pagans are often cynical in nature, sarcastic and opinionated to boot. But that doesn't mean that we have to be separated by our differences or judgemental of each other. Unity is dialogue, unity is sharing, unity is support and connection. We can be this, we are this. And the pagan community in our petty squabbles are only reflecting the larger community of humans who for some reason decide to focus on what divides us instead of what we have in common. And though this may sound too much like a dreamer in her lala land....I choose to think positively and put out that energy instead of negative energy.
And as John Lennon said: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
Dreams can come true.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yearly Goals Update

It's been six months....how are your New Year's goals coming along? Mine are in various states of being. The original post of my goals is here. I thought I'd go through them today.

Green Living Goals for 2009

-Make my own reusable menstrual pads & buy a new Keeper or Diva Cup
* I haven't had a chance to get this done yet. Sewing has not been the easiest thing to set up and do these last few months.

-Take a walk in nature every day
*Every day, no. Several times a week, yes. We are outside for at least an hour a day. Sometimes we just walk around the complex. The last few days Kyan has decided he wants me to carry him everywhere. I don't understand why yet. It could be the heat? Hearing dogs bark? (he seems to be afraid of dogs) His sandals not being comfortable? Separation anxiety? The jury is still out on this one.

-Look into getting a plot in our community garden & grow vegetables
*I did some research. Found several options for community gardens and stopped there. I do not have the time or energy at this point in our lives to take on such a big project as a garden plot would entail. So hopefully when Kyan is older and he can help me with it and I have more time (yah right!) this one will happen.

-Grow some vegetables in containers at home
*I have started a tomato plant which I will blog about later this month. I plan to get a few more vegetables and also get a few more flowers later this month.

-Continue to reduce packaging consumption
*This is a life long project for me. Packaging is everywhere. But I actually managed to reduce some by working on the goal below.

-Make more foods from scratch
*Yes I have! I currently make my own granola bars which has reduced the packaging that they came in. Each one individually wrapped within a cardboard box. I make my own bread as I mentioned in a post last month. And I have made hummus as well. These are the new additions to my making things from scratch. I feel proud of getting this goal going.

-Officially become an EcoMom community leader
*I have worked on this goal but it is out of my hands now. I signed the form, mailed it in and have received no response as to the interview you are supposed to take. This organization is run by busy moms and I have taken it as a sign that I should keep on going with my current projects and not try to overfill my cup.

-Plan & host an EcoMom party
*Not done for same reasons as above. This was a bit too ambitious for me.

Spiritual/Artistic Goals for 2009
-Continue my once a month ritual time (hopefully increase to twice a month)
*I think I managed four out of six. Since I don't include my Sabbat celebrations with this. I have missed this dearly in the last few months. But I will keep working on it. The time is there I just have to plan better.

-Plan a celebration for each Sabbat (small is okay)
*I celebrated Imbolc and celebrated and decorated for Beltaine. Solstice will be while I'm on vacation so that will also be a yes.

-Research a pagan themed essay I've been mulling over
*This particular topic has not yet been researched but it is still alive at the back of my mind. It's just waiting for its time to be written.

-Let the cycles of nature resonate inside me
*Being outside as I have been has helped with this. I do feel the seasons in my bones more now or I consciously acknowledge them more.

-Continue to branch out into the Pagan/Spiritual community
*I have joined PaganSpace.net and I do plan to attend our local Pagan Pride day this year. This blog is part of my outreach as well.

-Make time for my yoga practice
*Can't say I've done this. Some stretching here and there but no real "practice" yet.

-Make art when the spirit moves me, with the intention of developing my "style" and technique further
*As I mentioned above sewing wise, art and me are not getting much done. Although I did finish my album cover painting for my friend Matt. So that project is finished on my part. I'm striving to do more work this summer.

-Mother & love from a place of peace & truth
*This goal is eternal. I do my best in each day, each hour, each minute, each second. I'm not always successful but the intention is there.