Tag Archives: Resolutions

Advent Reflections: 2014/4

Just a heads up, I will not be posting this week or next week. Hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.

The fourth and final week of Advent celebrates the festival of human kind. This past year we began taking food over to our local food bank. It’s housed in the church that is, quite literally, around the corner from our house. Food insecurity for adults and children is surprisingly high in our city and while I think the idea of helping people in Africa or Haiti or other developing nations is well intentioned, there are a lot of racial, cultural, and historical issues with it that come along as baggage. Instead of swooping in and helping people so far away I think it’s very important for us not to forget that there are people right here in our neighborhood who need our help. If you are interested in the perspective that we should consider helping those around us before we help those so far away and how problematic charity in Africa (and other developing nations is), see this blog post on Africa is a Country blog. There are several links and resources within the blog post that can help you explore the ideas more. 

The other thing I’m working on in the coming year, primarily with my library work, is supporting diverse books for children. If you haven’t heard about the movement #weneeddiverse books you should check out their organization and mission. I am only going to be reading and reviewing books that feature diversity of some kind on my library blog. I will be less strict about that with picture and nonfiction books I read with Cam, but I am going to try and limit books I purchase to those with diversity to show support for the movement and to encourage publishers to put out more books with diversity in them.  

Advent Reflections: 2014/3

The third week of Advent centers around the animal kingdom. I think the menagerie we keep is evidence enough that the animal kingdom is high on our list of things we love. This past year we began donating money and supplies to the local Wildlife Care Association. They are a primarily volunteer run organization that rehabilitates wildlife. If you find a sick, injured or abandoned (wild) animal you can drop them off at the WCA’s facility. For free. It’s a wonderful service.

This year I want to donate time to them. I am in the process of filling out their home rehabilitation application. If they approve us we can help them care for animals at our house until they are ready to be released. I think there is a lot of value in this. Of course there is the obvious benefit of helping an animal in need. However I think it could be an incredible learning experience for us and for Cam. She can also see up close what is involved in caring for animals and get a sense of the biology of wildlife and the cycles of life and death. With the drought in California the WCA also said they have seen an increase in animals coming to them, so I think they can use the help.

This plays into the family culture of caring and community that I want to foster. I really want Cam to learn that we need to be caretakers of our environment and that there are things we can do as individuals that make a difference. 

I encourage you to look up and see if you have a similar service or association in your area that needs help and consider giving to them. 

Advent Reflections: 2014/2

The second week of Advent celebrates the kingdom of plants. I think this is a good time to reflect on gardening in the new year and on the flow of the seasons. 

This year is going to be the year we remove our front lawn. And in its place are going to be several raised garden beds. We don’t get a lot of light in the backyard which makes growing things very difficult. We also had a couple rogue chickens that kept eating all my new shoots. That was incredibly disheartening. We only solved the problem by clipping the worst offender’s wings. Even though her feathers have grown back in she hasn’t resumed the habit. 

Planting a RainbowI did work on the garden this year, but between a lack of light, general gardening laziness, and Rosie the chicken not much happened. I think what I want to focus on this year is continuing to garden, but making it as simple and maintenance-free as it can be. If I have to be out there checking on things twice a day it won’t happen. If I can pop stuff in and check every couple of days I will do that, but intensive weeding is not high on my priorities right now. 

To continue with last week’s theme of suggesting a picture book to go with my resolutions I have to say I love Lois Ehlert’s Planting a Rainbow. Not only is the story about her and her mother planting together every year, but it follows the garden through the year. In the winter they select the seeds and plants they want to grow. In spring they put out the seeds and seedlings. In summer they watch everything grow and then harvest bouquets of flowers. And in fall they plant bulbs to emerge the next spring. 

Advent Reflections: 2014/1

Going by the Waldorf celebration of Advent the first week celebrates the mineral kingdom and the festival of stones. To me this indicates a connection with the Earth (nature and seasons fits with the second week that focuses on the plant kingdom).

Being totally original I want to keep our resolution from last year to cut down on waste. I think we have become a lot more conscientious about it this year (especially in regards to food waste), but I would like to look more closely at the things we buy and get rid of to be sure we aren’t creating lots of unnecessary waste that goes into a landfill. I think we’re really good about recycling, but I would like to start looking at things and seeing if they can have a second life as something else. 

Ox Cart ManI have to say one of my favorite children’s books that exemplifies this idea is Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. A New England farmer takes a cart full of goods to market where he sells everything, even the cart and ox. He brings home a handful of new, useful things to his family who then spends the winter, spring and summer making new things to be taken to market the next fall. The beauty is how they put everything to use on their farm, even things that might not seem like they could be useful. The best example of this is the children collecting the feathers their geese and chickens have dropped to sell as pillow filling. I doubt our family would be that resourceful (although we can aspire!), but I think it’s a good message to look at everything around you and be sure there isn’t something else you can use it for as well as simply being conscious about waste. 

Cliche Alert

Happy New Year, everyone. In light of the season I decided to commit to paper (so to speak) a few things for our family to focus on in 2013 . I, personally, really hate the idea of resolutions. I think it makes you sound as if you have been bad and are now resignedly changing your ways. I also don’t like to call them goals because I’m not really looking for an end product, just a process of becoming more engaged with life. So, without further ado…

1. Cut down on waste.

We aren’t an especially wasteful family, but I think we could focus on being sure food isn’t spoiling in the fridge and that we’re thinking about purchases before making them. I also think we can be sure we’re not wasting water and are being as energy efficient as possible. I especially like the idea of conscientious spending as it ties into our next goal.

2. Give more. Create a culture of giving.

I recently came across Giving What We Can through an NPR piece about the founder. I like their philosphy that you can give 10% of your income to some very effective charities and that will help alleviate a lot of suffering. They have a very scientific method for assessing the effectiveness of charities and give very detailed information on why they haven’t evaluated or recommended various types of charities. I really want Cam to grow up knowing how lucky she is to live in a first-world country in a middle-class family. I also want her to grow up helping those that are less fortunate, not in a condescending way, but in a genuine, caring way. If this is going to happen, Tom and I need to lead by example.

3. Get that garden going!

Cam was so little last year in the spring- she couldn’t even sit up on her own much. This year she can help! I also want Cam to know and love nature and the rhythms of the year. I think there is no better way than to get your hands dirty in the garden. She can see farm to fork, where her food comes from and how labor intensive it is to produce. She can also see how rewarding it is and how exciting each season is when you garden.

So, those are the things I want to focus on this year. I’m sure there are other projects and the like, but these are really the major points. I will try to check back in with them in a month or two to reflect on how these things are going and to offer any suggestions and advice for sticking to these ideas.