On a Saturday.
For a single picture frame.
The mother ship had me in such a trance that I barely noticed the 2 mile parking lot walk it took to get into the door.
Giant revolving doors sucked us into a sea of people and the thick scent of cafeteria meatballs. Weaving through wanna-be European hipsters my son and I took our one small frame (I’d say it was a 4X6 but I don’t know what the Swedish equivalent of that would be. Maybe Donkatoma – don’t google it, totally made that up), and tried to make a break for it.
Then we stood in the check out line for 20 minutes.
“It is our turn yet Mama?”
“No baby, Mama can’t take this anymore.”
We ditched the frame, walked to the car, now 4 miles away, and sat in exit traffic for another 20.
A spastic, sweaty mess I made eye contact with my son in the rearview mirror. “Repeat after me honey, Never go to IKEA on a Saturday. Even if they give everything away for free.”
This is my world since September. The parking lot of my life has been jammed with youth sports, backpacks, school, Halloween Costumes. More specifically, standing in a preschool hallway yanking Cinderella’s freaking ball gown over the head of my daughter before she can go into the room. Can’t rip the ball gown getting in and out of the car. And then why Cinderella? She is trying to kill me. PLEASE can you be Joan of Arc?
Homework. New shoes. Pumpkins. Raking leaves. Again. And again.
Carpool, school pictures, flu shots, a bout with the flu because I did not get my shot, coffee, misplaced keys, phones, calendars. I’m standing in the check out line panicking. LET’S JUST GET OUT OF HERE!!!!
So a few weeks ago. I did. Get out. In my mind that is.
My five year old, like most, is afraid of the dark. Lately when I tuck him in he asks me this, “Mama, can you snuggle me ’til the sky turns gray?”
“What do you mean baby?”
“Well look out the window Mama. You see how it is black out there now? When it starts to turn gray I know daytime is coming and it will be okay. So can you hold me until it turns gray?” Who can deny that request?
So I slam on the brakes of the IKEA madness, the sheer weight of life’s exquisite moments swallows me ,and I climb into bed with him as a tear slips onto his Lightening McQueen pillowcase. And of course as I lay there my mind is divided.
One part wants to wallow here forever while the IKEA check out line needs to clean the kitchen, turn in edits, send a few emails and just wants a glass of Chardonnay on the couch. How long will it take for him to fall asleep so I can sneak out?
But my soul, the part that knows the ordinary holiness of this moment — dripping, nearly breaking open with peace, tells my heart to hug tight and just lay still. So I do. I watch him fidget and twist. I wonder how his colic will look come High School. I start singing to myself this Jay Jay Pistolet tune called “We Are Free.” My favorite line?
“But I, would like to sail away with you, to a place where the sky and the ocean are the same shade of blue.”
Some days the calm takes over and I lay for a bit on a booger riddled pillow that smells like feet and I contemplate black skies and gray skies. And I wonder what it would be like for just a moment to sail off to where the sky and the ocean are that same shade of blue. Just me. My hubby. My kids. On a boat. No errands. No IKEA. No Saturday. Just Sunday afternoon on a sailboat, looking for the perfect shade of blue.
So as the Holidays threaten to gobble down what’s left of crimson leaves and goose-neck gourds, and may you catch a moment contemplate the colors. To sail away, even if only for a moment.]]>
So, in Tuesday Tip fashion, here are a few tales from the week so far. Never underestimate the lessons you can learn in 48 hours:
1. Caffeine cannot conquer every fear but coffee really helps push on through.
2. Sometimes a rainy day suits the mood well.
3. Kids do indeed say the darndest things, but sometimes the most profound and holy things too.
4. Never underestimate the power of neighborhood/school moms to get a job done. Never underestimate this. Never, ever. As my friend Laura C. once said “Moms make the world go round.” Found out this week that they really do!
5. Pounding leftover Fannie Mae chocolate bunnies does take the edge off for a moment.
6. Love your friends purely, passionately and deeply. Be there for them.
7. Hug your kids every day, tight. Make them be the ones to let go first.
8. Pray like crazy, and never underestimate hope.
Re-reading this I fear this post sounds like a bad Chicken Soup for the Soul Book. Yikes. But all the cliches about loving and hope and prayers and all that mushy stuff come from someplace. I have found that place and it is filled with poorly written pithy statements like these, but I dare you to disagree with a single one. Thanks for reading along once again this week. And while you are at it, even though we don’t all know one another, throw up a prayer for a great Dad, hockey Dad, baseball coach, Northwester grad, Cubs fan, better get better cuz the Hawks play tonight guy named Joel. He needs a little love this week.
Peace to all.]]>
Yeah, but sometimes that is so much easier said than done! Which, is why the snappy little subtitle of my book is that it is a “guilt-free” guide to greening things up. So, here are my tips for the week, the ones I have gleaned between Monday (which was really Tuesday) and today. Frantic Mommy tips. . . .
1. Do not wait until 20 minutes before dance class to find out the hand me down ballet slippers do not fit.
2. Do not assume that your family will want peanut butter and jelly for dinner every night of the week.
3. Do not wait until there is a virtual monsoon before you go to the store and buy plastic easter eggs for the egg hunt that is the next morning at preschool.
4. Do not put your coffee on the roof of the car and then slam the door.
5. Do not make a doctor appointment and then forget about it when you are supposed to be helping out at school (oh, and also at dance class with the shoes that don’t fit)
6. Do not even consider making it to hockey practice on time when you have a cub scout meeting ending at the same time, it is raining, you have a daughter who is crying and one of the neighbors in the back of the car. Although they will tell you they had fun driving and screaming in the car, you will not have fun.
7. And do not stay up too late reading a new book and then wonder why you overslept and could not get out the door on time so everyone had to eat breakfast while changing into their clothes for the day.
8. And, do not let your daughter go to bed with wet hair when you are going to wake up late because you won’t have time to tame her mane and it will be a nasty looking mess.
9. Do not waste time trying to get 10 “do not do” things for your blog. Nine is enough.
10. Do take a deep breath, slow down, and celebrate the small things. The little victories like socks and the fact that you are alive to put them on one foot at a time.
Earth Day is Friday. What do you have planned? What are your “dos” and “do nots” for this week? Share them here and let us all in on your joys and chaos!
Psalm 36:5-9 But your loyal love, Lord, extends to the skies; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains; your justice is like the deepest sea. Lord, you save both humans and animals. Your faithful love is priceless, God! Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the bounty of your house; you let them drink from your river of pure joy. Within you is the spring of life. In your light, we see light.
I’m a midwestern girl coming out of her winter shell this month. Flip flops are lost companions just now crawling out from under beds and hidden closet shelves. My heart is light as see daffodils fighting with the frozen ground and Magnolia buds cracking open. Every time the seasons flip and winter caves into spring I find my soul stunned again the majesty and simple goodness of being outside.
In Chicago, three long months of the year are spent at temperatures below freezing. Then, come summer we actually have the audacity to lament the chewy, 90 degree air of July. Both we combat by flipping on heat and air conditioning. We race from climate controlled homes to air conditioned cars, from heated grocery stores to humidity free schools.
If I’m not careful I’ll spend half my life hiding inside.
So when I discover again the glory of God as revealed in Psalm 36 I confess that it’s hard to grasp drinking from God’s deep rivers when I drink from a faucet. Righteousness like mountains and justice like the sea? Nope. The elevation of Chicago is 597 feet. Try to climb that.
God’s love extending to the skies? Well, I do look up during worship and count the beams in the sanctuary but I cannot see past the building to get to God’s extensive skies.
Regardless of where you live the trajectory of American life has most of us trying to eek out a life by shuffling from building to building. We are often separated from the vastness of God’s Creation unless we determine otherwise.
Passages like this nudge me to get outside even when the temps hover at ten degrees below zero. We hear God speaking in the sunset and the snowdrift. And in all 597 feet of my midwestern elevation if I just take the time to look and listen.
God speaks to us every day, all of Creation sings the glory of God. His mercy and goodness reach to the heavens. This year’s liturgical calendar brings the Lenten journey and Earth Day into a partnership. The Christian holy week (Good Friday) shares the same calendar square as Earth Day.
Perhaps on this day we should fast and pray, worship and dream, cry and yearn for God like Good Friday and Holy Week beg us to do. And then, step outside and do it all again.
Dream and worship, be in the presence of the Almighty feel the weight of his glory pressing down upon us in Creation. Give praise to God who created the very heavens and earth that proclaim the work of his hands. And let the sunshine soak our tired, weary souls as we emerge from the darkness of Lent into the splendor of the resurrection.
Step outside. Step outside.
Check out the other great bloggers and thinkers on the tour website: http://lentenblogtour.wordpress.com/about/ Share a few thoughts here if you’ve got ‘em or hop on over to the site and join the conversation. Thanks CEB!
After the open window thrill wore off I went to my closet and scrambled for a pair of capri pants. Dusty shelves that held stacks of t-shirts and shorts were jolted out of their seasonal slumber. I prayed like a madwoman that my favorite pair would still fit. It was 86 degrees on Saturday. A sudden jolt into summer (just 50 days earlier). My chubby, pale legs could not handle shorts just yet “but my capris, darn it I know they are in here somewhere. I can wear capris.”
From the dust of wardrobe changes and windowsills I was reminded again of the cleaning frenzy many of us find ourselves in during this season. Dust and dirt from a winter of salt and grime be gone! But how do we clean with health and well-being in mind? Did you know that the EPA suggests indoor air can be of worse quality than the air of many major industrialized cities? Check out the findings here EPA REPORT.
Whether toxins from cleaning spays or chemicals from carpeting, residue from insect/pest repellant or the soap laced clouds our dishwashers produce, cleaning can actually exacerbate the problem!
So, as you pull open the windows and wade through the dust of spring cleaning, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Open your doors and windows often. Granted, those who struggle with outdoor allergens may want to exercise a bit of caution here, but indoor allergens are just as dangerous and irritating so get that fresh air flowing often. Move that stagnant air.
2. Clean green. From dishwasher detergent to laundry soap consider safer (and often cheaper) alternatives. Vinegar cleans up like a charm! It’s safer, cheaper, and almost always just as effective. So put away the toxins and mix up a little vinegar, water, and a drop or two of scented oil and you can clean like a champ. Same with laundry soaps. Consider the strength of baking powder as you do your wash. The Organized Home has a great list of homemade recipes and ideas that you can consider http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/pantry-recipes-homemade-cleaning-products
3. Green up your help. If you have help cleaning your home be sure to ask your household help to use safe products. Many cleaning companies offer green products and resources for home help. If someone else does your cleaning (gotta love that if it happens), help them to clean green with you!
4. Share the news. What tips and ideas work for you? Most of the household ideas and eco-solutions are cheap and easy when created at home. If you have an idea or recipe that works for you, share it here! I’ve joined many MOPS groups this past year for speaking and teaching opportunities and have been amazed at how many of them create many of these ideas as projects for their groups. From household green cleaning solutions to oatmeal, salt bath scrubs. Women are returning to a time in history when they made this stuff on their own. So share your ideas, swap your stories. Get around the chemicals so that you can truly get clean!
The giveaways for this week are in line with this tip. Here are a few products for you to try. I’ll be sending the winner the box of goodies listed below. How can you win? Comment on the blog or Facebook or retweet on Twitter and help keep the conversation going!
Prizes this week:
1. A set of Savvy markers (made with recycled paper barrel and water based ink) – less marker fumes to breathe in (http://savvygreenshop.com)
2. A Dreambean Sweet Mint Soy Candle (non-toxic, safe scents for your home) – from the Bright Endeavors Project (http://brightendeavors.org)
3. “Bowl Me Over” Toilet Bowl Cleanser (safe for you, safe for the streams) – from Simply Neutral, LLC (http://simplyneutral.com)
4. Copy of Sloan Barnett’s book “Green Goes With Everything” great tips for a healthy life (http://greengoeswitheverything.com)
And finally, a shout out to last week’s winner, Liz from Atlanta! Thanks for the Twitter RT’s and the social media love!
Don’t forget, share you favorite tips, ideas and cleaning schemes here!
As I fussed with lunches and breakfast we unpacked his technology issues. Chatted it up about how “how hard it is to type on that silly keyboard” (the writer in me silently thinking if he only knew how true his words were). I sighed and had a moment where I would either join him in the misery of nudge him toward an upswing. I determined to turn the attitude around. This Lenten season, this journey through Lent I made a promise to myself not to lament the days. It’s easy to whine about the weather or how tired we feel, to grumble about hectic schedules and missed appointments. Wishing for dinner time or bedtime, for reinforcements to come to our parenting rescue. And I confess that there are many a day that I want to just stay in my pj’s rather than fess up to my life.
But there is much to celebrate and we get to be alive to moan and groan, no small thing. So as this week begins, my little (and late) post for the day is to encourage us to embrace the simplicity of being alive today. To take in the growing and green that is all around us and rooted in our own hearts and lives. To consider, as Scriptures tell us, “the Lillies of the field.” There is so much to rejoice over even when that darn keyboard is stressful.
This is a huge part of a more earth aware journey. To look around and take in the moments. To slow our pace enough to see the world outside the window. This past weekend two hawks were mating in a tree next door (told the kids they were wrestling). In my backyard in the burbs we watched hawks gear up for spring. You don’t get to see that if you don’t take the moment. Later that afternoon we watched as they circled overhead. Gorgeous birds swooshing through the sky.
So kick off this week with a deep breath and a celebration of one more day. Of warm sunshine or the smell of earth and rain, of life bursting forth into spring, and of the simple joy we have of being here to breathe it all in. Peace to you this day. God’s peace to you this day.
Check back tomorrow for the last week’s Earth Aware Lent winner and prizes for this week!
Back in the day I caught this SNL skit, where Carvey sings “choppin’ brocco-lay. choppin’ brocco-liy.” And it makes me giggle and laugh every time I am in my garden. I have no idea why. I could not remember this week that we needed sponges, and they were not on the grocery list and so it’s been like three weeks without a dish sponge in the Bianchi house. But I can remember this song.
Random. But here is why I let you in on my fragmented little mind. This week MOPS International, a worldwide organization that reaches hundreds of thousands of mothers, ran a post I wrote about broccoli and kids and what to do in the garden and how to answer a seemingly simple dinnertime question: “Mama, where does broccoli come from?”
MOPS helps moms know we are not alone, or nearly as crazy as we may think (even if Dana Carvey songs hang out in our minds for 10+ years). They helped me survive my first months as a mother of a newborn who, truth be told, I thought about returning to the doctor and saying “hey, I think you made a mistake, this one cries way too much.” And they helped me know that I was not alone.
And I’m still not. There are already LOTS of comments on the Momology blog from moms like me, trying to help their kids learn to love the outdoors. So if you have a second, hop on over to their site. And if you leave a comment, you may just win yourself a copy of Green Mama.
Chop on! And start digging in the dirt this weekend.
If you are looking for a fun and festive way to swap stuff with folks, consider making a whole event of it. A few years ago I discovered a group that did clothing swaps for moms. Most women have a variety of shapes and sizes in their closets (from postpartum pants to the skinny jeans that will never really fit right). Rather than just keep these items sleeping on a shelf this group of women got together and made an event of swapping stuff. Here is how it can work:
Each woman brings 4-5 pieces that are at mostly in style and definitely clean. They brought jewelry and purses too. The items are dropped off at a particular time before the event. The hostess then sets up her house like a little boutique, serves up some appetizers or dessert, wine or coffee, whatever the mood. Then women show up and shop one another’s stuff. Voila!
My friend Jennifer Grant (a great writer and thinker you should know about — click here to learn about her) did this same thing with purses and handbags at her home this past winter. She used the event not only to help her gal pals savvy up their closets but to raise money for a charity she loves. For each purse/item that a woman took home, that woman could also drop into the hat a donation of $5.
So, back to that Easter Dress Challenge. If you need a way to swap some items, consider doing a children’s clothing swap. Not enough time before Easter? That may be true. But summer is coming! Consider hosting a swap night like this in your neighborhood where women bring hats and shoes, sundresses and sandals to share. It keeps us all out of the malls and helps us dress up without making a big impact on the environment.
Giveaways for Week Five of Lent: Win fair trade, eco-friendly goodies! Just comment on the blog, Facebook or Twitter and you will be randomly entered to win some goodies.
Our Lenten give aways this week are:
1. Two stacks of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed wrapping paper created by Nepalese Women
2. Chocolate Cherry Supremes Cookie Mix (a fair trade food item by Soup of Success a job creation program in Elkhart, IN)
3. A copy of Ben Lowe’s book “Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation.” Ben is the latest staff addition to the EEN, a great organization empowering churches and organizations on caring for the earth. You can find the EEN here and Ben here
4. A leather luggage tag handmade via Bajalia, a job creation program to empower women in micro-enterprise programs around the world http://bajalia.com
One final note, a shout out to last week’s Earth Aware Lenten Journey Winner Jen! And she’s from my hometown! Always fun to pick a local gal outta the hat!
Stores are now lined with lavish Easter outfits for children. Delicious patterns, fluffy dresses for princesses, dapper suits and seersucker knickers for boys. At first glance the displays are adorable. For a short second, when I see the clothing, I imagine my children running through a sunlight field of grass, arms outstretched with shoes and cardigans that perfectly match the plaid liners of their monogrammed Easter baskets. A spring dream come true.
Insert horrible record stopping, scratching sound here.
Reality check. Overpriced clothing my children will either hate wearing or ruin the moment they don it. Scratchy lace and stiff shoes. The fields around us are still mostly brown and muddy. Since it is only April there is a good chance it will be cold and or raining on Easter. And, no plaid inserts in our Easter baskets. But still, I glance at all the getups and wish for a brief moment that we all looked as chipper and cute as the posters.
So, if you are like me and find reality enticing, in that you admit way too much money and time goes into outfits for this holiday, consider joining me on an adventure this year. DO NOT BUY A NEW EASTER OUTFIT for your kiddos.
Stop for a brief moment, scroll through your rolodex of friends, who can you borrow a dress from? Do your neighbors have a tie for a toddler you can borrow? My reason for the challenge is this: we spend more money on clothing for one day than some families in the developing world spend on attire in one year. So, if you are up for it, consider this challenge. Do not buy your kids new Easter outfits this year and instead, flip the change you would have spent on their clothing into a charity for kids. Compassion, World Vision, Children’s Memorial Hospital, International Justice Mission, Food for the Hungry. St. Jude’s, Heifer International. You name it.
You can still get gussied up, just grab it from a resale shop, a neighbor, or the back of the closet. And then make a conscious decision to calculate the cost savings and pass it along to another kid. My daughter has an absolutely divine Lilly Pulitzer dress, handed down from a friend, waiting for her in the closet. Did not cost me a dime. Part of the Lenten journey we are on this year together is to become more aware of how we spend our resources and what takes our time, energy and focus. Considering this challenge would be a great step on the journey together.
Any thoughts from out there on this challenge? Pass it on! And check back tomorrow for the week #4 winner and the give aways for week #5. Remember, leave a thought on facebook, this blog or twitter and you could win!
As spring begins to surrender to summer many folks I know (green or not) are all a twitter about CSA’s. Which, stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, a CSA is a local farm (typically within 100 miles of where you live) where residents of nearby communities can purchase a share/lot for a whole growing season. What this means is that you basically pay in advance for a weekly or bi-monthly delivery of crops from a local farm.
Whatever is in season and grew well, you get. Farmers will truck the produce up to a centralized drop off site (usually a community center, church or even a neighbor’s home). Everyone in your area who paid to join the CSA can go pick up his/her produce on that day. Easy Peasy.
Why do a CSA? Fresh food grown close to home. High in nutrients since it will likely be consumed close to the date harvested. A great way to meet your farmer, connect with neighbors and try new foods. Why not try it? You don’t get much of a choice in produce, you get what the farm grew. Sometimes this is a box of delicious carrots and sweet potatoes, spinach and sugar snap peas. Other times, this means turnips and lots of onions.
Want to try a CSA? Typically farms sign up families during the winter but a few in your area may still be taking good folks like you. Consider splitting a plot with another family the first time around to be sure you like it. The FDA website has a listing of CSA’s across the country http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml
Not sure yet? Keep on visiting your local farmer’s markets this summer as they begin to open. Often farms in your area who offer CSA’s will also show up at your Farmer’s Markets . . . . . and you get more of a choice.
Got a CSA story to share? We’d love to hear it here? I keep meeting great folks who are really trying to decide if a CSA is for them. Please let us know what you have learned along the way or if you are rookie, what questions you have? Good, bad or otherwise! And remember, you can win some great stuff as we are in week #4 of our Earth Aware journey through Lent!