Saturday, June 30, 2007

Decisions, Decisions. Oh, the Heartache of Indecision.

For those who may not have read my earlier post on the subject ... we bred our Australian Shepherd, Jack, to a lovely fellow Aussie named Sydney. She resides with another family who gave us first pick of the litter as part of the breeding deal. We have decided to choose a male ... and there are 2 to choose from (there are 5 females). And here are the handsome blokes:

Which of these two beauties should we add to our family? I am agonizing over this decision. Halis wants one and I want the other. But both of us would likely be very happy with either of them. They are just darling.

The puppy on the top is very calm, mild mannered and quite hefty. He is the "fat" one in the bunch and the family he lives with refers to him as "Pork Chop". He has one blue eye and one brown. And he has some merle on his back and his legs. He submits as soon as you place him on his back. Very docile.

The puppy on the bottom was the first born. He has also been the first to do everything else, too. He is the rambunctious one of the litter. He has crystal blue eyes, like Jack. And he has the most striking fur coloring of the litter. Just gorgeous. He refuses to submit when you place him on his back. Very dominant.

So, what do you all think??? And even more curious, which one do you think Halis prefers and which one do you think I prefer? That certainly makes for an interesting question!



Friday, June 29, 2007

All I Need to Know, I Learned From My Ducks.

Here is what my ducks taught me today:

Enjoy ALL of life, even the unexpected torrential rain and subsequent mud puddles. There is always something to be gained from what may first seem like an unpleasant experience.

Hmmm... Or was it:

Live in the moment and enjoy life's windfalls in whatever form they take. Fully embrace life's random opportunities to experience joy.

Or maybe it was:

Bathe while you can, where you can ... for you never know when it will rain again.

Actually, now I am thinking that it was more like this:

Ducks liketh the water, always.



A Day at the Tidal Pools.

This past Wednesday, the four of us went to our favorite state park, Moose Point in Searsport, Maine. It is just an hour from our house and we frequent it often during the summer. We love this park because it feels so isolated and serene (yet it is in the heart of busy coastal Maine). It is especially wonderful to come to the park at low tide as that is when you can find some fascinating sea critters. Meaghan and I once found a full sized lobster hiding out in one of the many tide pools... but we were good and didn't eat him :)



P.S. Please stay tuned for Meaghan's short film regarding her "pet-for-the-day" ... Herman the Hermit Crab. I will post it soon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Daddy's on Vacation So We Are Off to the Beach!

Hooray, Daddy is on vacation! I absolutely live for these vacation weeks. It is only during these random three weeks per year that we get Halis all to ourselves ... and it is a great feeling. He is such an incredible man, wonderful Daddy and amazing husband. And I have a wicked "thing" for the way he never shaves while on vacation ... gives him that yummy pirate-look :)

So, we went to Lincolnville, Maine for beach day #1 (hopefully there will be more). And at one point, we had the beach all to ourselves. We like that.

It was a lovely day. These are the days that we will all long remember. Thank God we live by the sea. I don't know how I could live without it.

By the end of the day, we were all ready to eat some local seafood at the nearby Lobster Pound Take-Out. And as an added bonus to our day, we ate at the table right next to Genie Francis and Jonathan Frakes (see Boston Globe photo below - click on it to read a recent article about their move to Belfast, Maine).

I didn't recognize Genie at first, but then I saw her smiling at Isaac while he was dancing in the restaurant, and I thought, "I know her... she's Laura from General Hospital... I grew up watching her almost daily!" Then when I saw her husband, I again knew that I knew him as well, but couldn't quite place it. It was funny, because I kept having this feeling that Genie would eventually recognize me.... as though somehow she could have seen me watching her on television for all those years. I was just a young girl of maybe 10-years old, so "Laura" felt like such a big part of my childhood. Halis kept thinking that I should say something to her, but that is SO not the Yankee way. We leave our "stars" alone and that is why they move here. But it was nice to see her and her family. A nostalgic ending to a wonderful beach day.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Strawberry Season!

Yum, yum, yum. Strawberry season is open in Maine and the pickin' is good. We went to opening day at the Adam's Strawberry Acres in Corinth. And let me tell you, it pays to pick on the first day of the season. We picked the most delicious and juicy berries that you could ever imagine. Halis ate so many of them while he picked, that he wondered if the farmer would charge him extra based on how red his tongue was.

Isaac was fairly unimpressed by the berries, and preferred to play in the weeds instead. That is my boy though. Wherever we go, he is playing with rocks, plants, and dirt. And that makes him quite happy.

We were able to pick 20 pints before Isaac decided he was ready to leave. And that is more than enough to make all sorts of delicious treats. Though we still have about 10 pints in the fridge, we have already made some canned jam and surprisingly delicious strawberry bread.

Over the weekend, Halis and I were talking about how good it feels to grow, pick, can, and freeze enough fresh, local food to feed our family for the year. Though I will certainly spare you any photos, we also spent the weekend culling and processing our meat chickens. We now have 40 chickens in the freezer ... and it just feels so good to know that we are providing healthy foods for Isaac and ourselves.

There are many more seasons and opportunities to collect food in Maine and we plan to participate in every one of them: blueberry picking, raspberry picking, fishing, deer hunting, pick-your-own corn, turkey hunting, etc... Should be a busy year :)



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Isaac's New Quilt (Almost).

It has been far too long since I have sewn something! Inspired by this post, I decided that I too would make a quilt for my son. So, I simply went through my stash to find some fabrics that would fit the following description, "Isaac's Favorite Things" (Chickens, Trucks, Music, Clouds, etc). It is a simple quilt, but one that I am sure he will cherish. I still have to add the borders, and some applique, etc... I will post a photo of it as soon as it is completed.

That is unless I get distracted by yet another project, as I so often do :)



Monday, June 18, 2007

This is What Happens When ...

... we leave our front door open in the summertime :)



Jack's Puppies.

Our Australian Shepherd, Jack, is now a Daddy!

We went to visit his pups on Saturday in Winthrop, Maine. It was so sweet. They all look so much like him. As part of the breeding "deal", we have first pick of the litter. And boy, oh boy, that is going to be a very tough decision. We all already have a favorite, but HE is not a SHE and we were initially wanting to choose a girl.

We will be returning in 2 weeks to make our final choice and we are all looking forward to it. Thanks to Mark and his family for taking such great care of them all. And thanks of course to their Mommy, Sydney :)



Father's Day at the Beach.

Give me a weekend with the proper mix of the following ingredients, and I am in heaven: Halis, Isaac, Meg, the Coast of Maine, Some Beachcombing, Excellent Weather, and a Healthy Dose of Ice Cream. Ahh ... a recipe for happiness.

For Father's Day, we took Daddy to Belfast so that he could do a little fishing off the new walking bridge. We gave him some "alone time" while we hung out by the water to search for sea glass and other treasures. Daddy wasn't successful at catching anything (partly because he had no idea that he was going ocean fishing and therefore brought all the wrong equipment - oops) but he enjoyed a peaceful day by the sea. And we are all much happier (and so much less cranky) for our time spent taking in the sea air. Here are some of my favorite photos of the day:

See that (above)? I successfully took a family portrait even though I was behind the camera! I love it.

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Father's Day Weekend. Thank God for wonderful Daddies.



Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Voice of God.

Isaac, If you are not the voice of God, then God never spoke.

I have wanted to write this post all week, but can't seem to find the emotional strength I thought it might take to express myself. See, I have been reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". It is very intense ... and very foreboding ... and all too real ... and all too emotional for me to even try to finish reading. In a nutshell, it is a love story between a father and a son. It takes place after America has been bombed to near dust. The pair must make a post-apocalyptic journey to the coast in hopes of finding food and better shelter. All the while, horrific things are happening all around them ... and this Dad is doing all he can to protect and shelter his child from the cruel world they now face.

At one point, while travelling, the man looks out at the barren landscape through his binoculars ... seeking to find a sign of life. When he could find nothing ... "He lowered the glasses and pulled down the cotton mask from his face and wiped his nose on the back of his wrist and then glassed the country again. Then he just sat there holding the binoculars and watching the ashen daylight congeal over the land. He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the voice of God God never spoke."

That line hit me with such a force, that I had to put the book down in order to recover from it. (I swear that I am not being dramatic. I had to take the time to absorb those words before I could go on. And I wiped several tears from my eyes in the process.) Isn't that how we all feel about our children? I look at Isaac and because of him, I know that God exists... because if Isaac is not the best that God has to offer this world, than God has no hand in anything. Do you feel what I am trying to say? It is an emotion that feels impossible to convey.

And then, to feel the passion that this man has for getting his son to safety ... for providing him food and shelter ... and above all ... for doing all he can to give his boy hope in the midst of this incredible disaster ... well, it was more than I could bear. Because it is too real for me right now ... given the state of our country... and given the world's opinion of us.

Forgive me for getting slightly political here ... but it cannot be helped. I, like every parent, want my child to be safe in this world. And because of our Middle East policies (i.e. interfering in mid east civil wars, aiding Israel in their fight against the Palestinians, setting up permanent military bases in Muslim holy lands, initiating a war in Iraq, protecting our oil interests at all costs, nation building where we are not wanted, ticking off Iran, etc...etc...) I truly fear for my son's life and for the future of my country (that I love). I fear major retaliations in the near future. I fear that I may one day be in the position of this Father in "The Road".

Thus, I have made a major political decision, that has most of my friends in complete shock - I have changed political parties (something I swore on pain of death that I would never do!) in order to vote for this man in the Presidential Primaries.

(For more info as to why I have made this decision, watch this, this and this.) I may disagree with this man on some social issues, but how can I worry about that when what is most important at this time is the safety of my country. I will worry about more specific social issues later when I have the luxury to do so.

Though I swore that I would never share my politics on this blog, reading "The Road" prompted me to express myself on this matter ... for the sake of Isaac ... who is surely the voice of God. I hope you understand ... love for a child can do that to a Mommy. It can morph her life into something she never could have expected. And she wouldn't change it for anything.

And because Master Yoda has taught me not to give in to fear... as fear leads to anger ... anger leads to hate ... and hate leads to suffering ... I am going to do my best to remain positive and optimistic about the future :) For those with no clue what I am referring to, please read this.

Anyway, it is clear that I will never be the same person again. I have seen the eyes of God, I have heard God's voice, and I have held God's hand. And I will do anything within my power to protect him in every way possible. Even if that means becoming a Republican (temporarily at least). I can't believe that I just wrote those words. Ahh... Motherhood.


~ Jodi

P.S. For the record, I switched parties before reading the book. I had given that candidate much consideration in light of our country's current circumstances and their implication for the future of my son.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

30th Anniversary of Star Wars!

It is hard to believe that I am old enough to celebrate this monumentous anniversary ... but alas, I remember seeing Star Wars at the movie theatre as a child. I hated it then, but I am in love with it now. Especially Yoda. He has become one of my spiritual advisors....

"Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." ~ Yoda

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings we are, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship." ~ Yoda

See what I mean? Who needs to buy "The Secret", when you can just rent Star Wars? Really, rent it. Watch it with new eyes. It is so much cooler 30 years later :)

Anyway, though I won't let Isaac watch the Star Wars series for quite some time, I thought it best that he get to know Yoda in some small way while he is young. So, I made him a Yoda shirt (see above). Silly, I know ... but darn cute!

May the Force Be With You. Always.


Jedi Jodi

P.S. If you would like me to make your little one a Yoda shirt, please leave a comment and we can work it out. I only charge $10.

Monday, June 11, 2007

We Are A Neilsen Family!

Call me silly, (you won't be the first), but I have always wanted to be selected as a Neilsen-Ratings family. Though we do not watch much TV at all - I have always wanted to have our TV choices "count" ... sort of like a "vote" for what is good television and what is not.

Sunday morning, I got a call from a Neilsen representative and I was giddy. (They even pay you, did you know that?) Finally, we will have a very small (virtually insignificant) say in which television shows will continue and which will be cancelled. The thing is I get giddy anytime that my opinion matters - no matter how insignificant. Doesn't everyone?

And frankly, though we are not big fans of television at all, I think that opinion should be heard as well. Television can be a wonderful tool and a supplement to one's entertainment choices ... but I feel that life is best lived when it is kept at a minimum (not to mention all the garbage that is on television). However, I admit, we watch a whole lot of Sesame Street and Deal or No Deal. So, if we have anything to say about it (AND NOW WE DO!) those programs will continue for quite some time :)



Friday, June 8, 2007

Zen and the Art of Hanging Laundry.

I love hanging our laundry out to dry in the summertime. It is a task that puts me into a peaceful, meditative state. I love the smell of the laundry on the line. I love the look of our clothes swaying in the breeze. I love that it is a task that can be done outdoors. And I most especially love the the way the rich smells of the earth permeate my bed linens --- aromatherapy for my evening sleep.

And now Isaac loves it too. He has begun to join me in placing the clothes on the line. However, since he is much too small to reach, he simply throws the clothes in hopes that they will wrap themselves around the laundry line. Sometimes he is successful. But more than that, he is quite intrigued about the entire process. I often find him standing outside surveying the laundry line (as in the photo below). He just sort of watches it. Sometimes for up to 20 minutes. He watches the clothes sway in the breeze. He watches the shadows created on the clothes as the sun goes in and out of the clouds. And sometimes he just walks back and forth under the hanging linens to feel the fabric lightly brush against his hair. It seems that Isaac has also discovered his own form of meditation through laundry.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Reliving the Joy and Wonder of Childhood Through Books.

Over the weekend, Meaghan read through a couple of books that she absolutely adored. She expressed sadness in finishing them. She didn't want the stories to be over. I remember that feeling from when I was a little girl. There were stories in my own life that I never wanted to end because it felt like those friends would now be gone for good. But of course, I now know that those characters stay with you long after you finish the last chapter ... and sometimes they stay forever.

Meaghan now had me curious as to the characters and stories that she didn't want to leave or have end. So, I decided to read her recent favorite, The Giants and the Joneses. I never before thought of exploring her literary world. Now I am so glad that I did. I almost forgot how wonderful it is to just jump into a completely fantastical world with stories that are expressed through the thoughts and feelings of a child. There is such purity, wonder and fantasy in children's literature.

I do read Harry Potter and am currently feeling some anxiety over the release of the last book. So, I am not sure why I haven't thought to explore other fiction created for children ... but now I will. Of course, the Harry Potter series has plenty of adult themes and can be some what "dark" ... so when I read them, I really don't feel as though I am reading children's lit. However, with The Giants and the Joneses I knew I was reading a very sweet, adolescent, fantastical, touching story that was meant to celebrate the purity and wonderment of childhood. And it felt so good to be in that world, if only for a brief time. So, I plan to seek more children's books to bring me back into that world ... again and again ... so that I never forget those feelings.

(Thank you Meg.)



Tuesday, June 5, 2007

A Letter to My Son. RE: "What We Do"

Dear Isaac,

Today, I took you to the place that I used to work at for the two years before you came home to us. So many of my former co-workers have become great friends of mine. Most of them prayed for you throughout our adoption journey. And many of them have been there for you in so many ways... sometimes in person and always in spirit.

You had a wonderful time visiting with them. They all loved on you and admired your growth and gentle nature. It was a most pleasant visit. And as always, Mommy was so proud to show off her special boy.

As we visited these friends, I was often asked questions about what I was doing with my days now that I am no longer working. And I found these questions difficult to answer. See, many Mommies either have to or choose to work during the day. And your Mommy chose to stay home with you. Neither choice is right or wrong. The best choice is the choice that is "right" for that person. And for Mommy, the best choice was to stay home and to raise you.

However, when people choose to work, they are often used to the idea of "doing something" that produces results that can be seen or quantified. They might answer a question such as "What have you been up to?" by answering something like, "Well, my team just completed this new project here that has now saved the company over $30,000. And I am now working on creating a new filing system that I just learned about at the conference I attended in Reno." Or sometimes they might defer to their personal life and say something like, "Well, my daughter just made the softball team so we have been attending alot of games. And we just began construction on a new living room. Oh yeah, and Justin made honor roll." These answers are all perfectly fine. It is just that you & Mommy can't answer those questions in quite the same ways. That is why I find these questions hard to answer.

Here are a few ways in which I answered some questions about what we do with our days:
" Oh, we mostly just hang out outside and play with the chickens, read books, and drive around on the four-wheeler.... things like that."
" Yeah, we don't come into town too often, we mostly just enjoy our family, friends and one another. We visit them and they visit us."
" We love to dance and sing and go for walks. Sometimes I do a little sewing."
" Isaac loves to hang out with his pets and prefers being outside and dancing in the grass while talking to the sky. Sometimes we throw rocks in the pond down the street. Isaac loves that."

Most of the time, people think I am a little nutty when I give these answers. But the truth is, that is how we enjoy our lives. We live very simple lives and YOU LOVE IT! You rather play in mud puddles than play with toys. You rather sing and dance than watch tv. You would stay outside all day long and simply play with the grass and rocks. And you are SO incredibly happy. One can just see it in how secure you are with yourself and with your place in the world.

And another truth is, Mommy has never been so sure of anything in her life as she is now ... I am absolutely sure that what I am doing now ... by gently guiding you through your days ... is the greatest, most profound and rewarding experience I have ever had. And that although I may not be able to speak of our experiences in terms of "results" or "accomplishments", I know that the way that we gently move through our days ... going wherever the spirit moves us ... and doing whatever feels good at that moment ... is going to achieve the most incredible result of all - your self-fulfillment & contentment.

So, though I may often feel at a loss for words to explain just what it is that we do with our days ... I am happy for that. Put most simply, we spend our days enjoying ourselves, our world and one another. (I will remember that the next time that someone asks me!)

With all my love ... and looking forward to a simple, gentle & loving day tomorrow ....

Your Mommy

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chickens on the Homestead.

I have always loved chickens ... not for eating ... but for watching, patting and enjoying. They are really amazing creatures. They are intelligent, curious, playful, and have the capacity to reciprocate affection to any human that takes the time to befriend them. In fact, I have 4 pet chickens that will follow me around the yard, allow me to pat them or pick them up, and will sit on my lap and fall asleep while I am hanging out on the porch. (Their names are Nashua, Chicken Jane, Snuggle Bug & Comet).

At this time, we have 30 pet chickens ... 28 laying hens of various breeds as well as 2 Black Australorp roosters. All are quite friendly and even allow Isaac to hang out among them (even though he occasionally terrorizes them). We have been keeping these chickens for over 3 years now ... and almost all are named.

However, now we have taken a different approach to chicken "ranching" ... we are also raising some chickens for our consumption. And I am now eating them. Though I was a vegetarian for nearly 15 years, I have been eating some forms of meat ever since Isaac came home. I decided that I wanted my son to be able to eat some meat ... and that if he did, we would have to raise it. Thus, the raising of the "broiler" chickens.

I have to admit that it feels sort of funny to have spoiled pet chickens running around the yard at the same time that we have "feeder" chickens caged up ... fattening up ... and awaiting their certain demise. And I realize that it may take some creative explaining later on when Isaac begins his questioning. But it really doesn't feel as strange as I thought it would. Let's face it - priorities change when you have children. And though I once saw all creatures as being worthy of full and natural lives ... and not to be consumed by people ... (yadda yadda yadda) ... I now have taken the "as my son needs, so shall he have" approach to life. And frankly, that means that if he needs healthy protein, than a chicken must die. And better that it be raised here in a healthy environment, under humane conditions, and fed hormone-free feed, then to live and die in a factory farm. And better that my son eats this than any other chicken or meat available at the grocery store.

So, I feel good about it. And that is what good parenting is (in my book) ... making well-reasoned decisions with the greatest benefit for your child ... even if it means that you have to rethink your previous beliefs about what was "right" or "wrong" ... and even if it means that you have to kill chickens.

Many wise and wonderful Moms that I have come to know throughout my past have made it a point to tell me that many of my strong convictions during my "child-free" years would likely change once I was raising one of my own. Of course, I argued with most of them ... professing that nothing could make me change my belief in ___________ (fill in the blank). But now I know they were SO right ... as so many ideas that I previously held have totally shifted now that someone calls me Mommy. Subsequently, I must now "eat crow" ... or at least some homegrown chicken :)