23 February 2012

not a born juggler

There is is a large denomination one mile from our home that has a vast array of community-welcoming activities.  On some of these, I have mixed feelings about how much it meets a spiritual need.  But there are many others that I believe serve a useful purpose for drawing the hearts in this town.

One of these is AWANAS - this is the second year we have had Little B and Miss C in Awanas, and they are blessed by the consistent pursuit of memorizing verses, forming new friendships, and finding leaders who care about them in personal ways.  I am blessed as an indirect result of this.  A few weeks ago, we allowed Baby J to start going to their Cubbies program since he is finally staying in his own class on Sundays and typically staying in his own bed at night (our two requirements for joining Cubbies).  He could seriously pop the proverbial buttons with all that pride!  The one downside to Baby J going now is that we have to stay on campus, unable to go out on a mini-date or make a grocery run.  And that means entertaining Bitsy as well.  But, we're making do.

Another opportunity they offer is Karate.  I have found multiple reasons to like this.  First, the men and women in charge speak English.  I mean absolutely NO disrespect to the amazing instructors in traditional programs - I know they work hard and do a fabulous job.  But I do not do well deciphering heavy accents, which I hear a lot in do jos.  Next, they close in prayer.  They might open in prayer, too, but in our 4 free classes so far, I'm not sure we've actually been there right in the beginning (ahem).  Third, the atmosphere is clearly about character training and good exercise, but there seems to be a slight balance to the strict regimen I've seen elsewhere - they really like the kids in each class and it shows.  I love that this is an opportunity for character training - it makes my day!  I also love the most amazing budget-friendly pricing of their karate school - there is not way we could do this any other way. There are two times available on each of the two nights, which helps make it more convenient as well.
I do not, however, like juggling that many children back and forth three nights a week to various activities.  I am just not that mom.

We told Miss C she could do the karate program.  But when they said we get 6 free classes to make sure she loves it first, well, we took them up on it.  After the first 3, we all got nasty colds, so our pretty faces were not in class for a couple weeks.  I took her back Tuesday night while John took Little B to his basketball practice (just one more thing to juggle this season - oi! - and he gets to do karate when basketball is over).  Tonight, I simply could not get my ducks in a row and asked that she go back next week for her last free classes.  She's upset.  I understand.  But there is this little matter of loving to have her friend from up the street to play in the late afternoon and evening time (said friend was still here eating homemade pizza before we realized we just were running too late).  And after a day of driving and doctors and half naps and not enough night sleep - well, surely you understand....

The thing is - my daughter needs an outlet like this for exercise and structure.  It will be so very good for her.    And I know Little B loves it and wants to do it also.  But Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are all suddenly nights that make dinner feel impossible (yes, I need to get the crock pot in better rotation), bedtimes get later, and mommy feel like juggling the little ones is maybe not worth it (Miss C is not able to let me leave during karate at this time....think impatient 1 and 4 year olds).  That's pretty much half the week, people!  And I feel passionate about not being the mom who has her kids in so many activities that there is not time for friends on the street or nearby.  (A pet peeve of mine - a big one!)

So, since I am not born a juggler, I am having to find a method to the madness right now.  I know it will come.  I was hoping Miss C would wait for basketball season to end and just sign up with Little B to keep our lives simple, but that does not seem to be headed in my favor.

Arranging dinner time better - and decent dinners, not throw together dinners - is my first step.  Figuring how to return a neighbor girl to her home in time for us to leave when I have no contact for the non-English speaking mom and the brother is somewhere with the boys down the street and I have 3 kids that have to walk up the hill and back....might not be so simple.  Having John home in time to do karate duty - also not a guarantee.  Somewhere, there must be a way, though.

Hey, at least Baby J can buckle his own seat belt finally.  Definitely a step in the right direction!

06 February 2012

sanctify this food we pray

I grew up in a home where praying freely, calling on the Lord's name openly, thanking Him for all things were a commonplace occurrence- as common as washing one's hands when preparing food.

Praying before meals was not a religious or ritualistic experience, rather a time to contact the One we loved the most.  Thanking him for the food was a simple yet pointed matter.  Sanctifying the food was equally so.  I accepted each of these practices as a matter of course and also embraced them with understanding and appreciation for myself.  Except this little matter of sanctifying the food.  That, I did not get.  Yes, I wanted it to nourish my body for His purpose, but. . . uh?  To sanctify something is to set it apart.  Really, it's just food, and while I'm hopeful it's not spoiled, that's rarely a real concern of mine.  And so it went, this not making much of sanctifying the food.

Until very recently when it slowly dawned on me just how serious a matter it really is. . . . . .

If you are at all in tune with things related to healthy eating, organic foods, what animals are fed versus what they should eat, pesticides, antibiotics, living conditions of the animals, genetically modifying our produce. . . . the list goes on and on here - then you will at least begin to understand what I speak of.  I, for one, quite simply do not have the financial means to purchase all foods organic and eat the way I would love to.  I accept the argument that you can spend your money on organic foods or you can spend your money on hospital bills later.  I get that - very much so.  But that still leaves the need for the actual cash flow to get it to your table.

In my years of researching and seeking to understand food allergies better, I have come across more than one article about the connection between genetically modified foods and the dramatic increase in allergies over the past 15 or so years.  I have consistently found this alarming in levels I don't have words for.  And buying groceries for my family has become an extremely stressful task.  Now, not only am I trying to accommodate safety with each food purchase, all the way down to potential cross-contamination for fear of my daughter's life - I am also plagued with the desire and desperation to choose as much organic food as I possibly can to prevent further allergies from flaring up and simply be healthier.  My budget just doesn't cover that much organic food.  It can't feed six of us that way no matter how I've tried.  I do what I can and buy some of it organic and some of it not.  It's the best I can do.  (If you see someone circling the meat department three times before deciding which meat to buy on any given week, that might be me. . .)

Food allergies get in the way of normal life: eating with friends on Sunday afternoons, and homeschool parties, friend's birthdays, .  I have prayed over this matter of my family's allergies more times than I can begin to recount to you. . .  about them, for them, for healing, for safety. . .  And along the way, it occurred to me that I need to pray for the sanctifying of the food.  For He is able to cover all the things I cannot, as well as the things I can.  He is able to set the food apart, help it nourish our bodies, and keep it from further damaging them.  He cares about this even more than I do - and wants my children to grow into men and women of God who can serve Him and love Him.  Will he heal my daughter, son, husband?  I don't know.  I will pray for it, believing.  If He chooses not to, I will accept that and be thankful.  But along the way, I find that I pray about the food while I shop, while I cook, while I serve a meal....

**There are many, many resources relating to food allergies and GMOs and other similar topics.  Choosing just one or two for my posting was difficult and silly in some ways - a simple search on Google popped up more than I wanted to see.  One of them even showed a person allergic to the GMO itself - with symptoms identical to those my husband has had for 15 years (chronic hives).  I have placed a few links here, but further reading is easily available should you desire it. . . .

Seeds of Deception

("The UK is one of the few countries that conducts a yearly evaluation of food allergies. In March 1999, researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by 50% over the previous year. Genetically modified soy had recently entered the UK from US imports and the soy used in the study was largely GM. John Graham, spokesman for the York laboratory, said, “We believe this raises serious new questions about the safety of GM foods.”")

GMO Food Allergies
("To my surprise, I discovered that my sister was having the same problem of constantly breaking out in hives. After extensive allergy testing, her doctor told her it was from genetically modified corn. It has been proven that the tendency for allergies is inherited. So, anytime she (or I) eat anything with genetically modified corn or corn derivatives in it, we break out in hives.")

Gentically Modified Foods Unsafe
("Another study verified that GM soybeans contain an IgE-binding allergenic protein not found in nonGM soy controls, and that one of eight subjects who showed a skin-prick allergic reaction to GM soy had no reaction to nonGM soy.9 Although the sample size is small, the implication that certain people react only to GM soy is huge.")