Friday, May 17, 2013
Isn't it ironic? Yeah, I really do think. Admit it, you just belted out your best 90's version of that song ever.
In case you missed my last post, I'm planning on running a half marathon in July, with the hopes of raising money to purchase chicks for the sustainability projects that Chances for Children is implementing. And, you will notice that I have raised enough to buy a feather, a feather that is plucked off of the ground, when the birds molt. And, if you know me very well, you've probably been thinking, "Ugh, Tifffy, don't you hate chickens?"
Hate is a pretty strong word, but I have spend most of my life disliking the fowl. I grew up with birds, and they may have tainted my opinions a bit. One of my earliest memories, is from when I was about three, and we were living in the trailer park, with a giant pen of chickens, ducks and turkeys in the front yard. Go ahead and cue up the banjos right now. I remember standing at the fence and looking in towards all these noisy birds that we're pooping everywhere. Then I went over to our truck, and peeled the pin stripping off. That's what unattended children did in the trailer park at three in the 80's.
About a year later, we moved out of town and the bird population increased significantly. One of my first chores was to collect eggs. Since I hated getting pecked, I had this great system in place. I would poke the hens with sticks until they left, and then steal their eggs. Over the years, I repeatedly cursed the birds as they pooped on my bike seat, pooped in our non-grassy redneck yard, which I walked on barefoot, and attacked me. Yes, I was once attacked by a rooster in the second grade. It ripped apart the back of my leg, and being the kind and sweet child that I was, I squirted it with my squirt gun every day, as it sat in a little cage, waiting for its death sentence.
But far worse then cleaning out stinky chicken houses or dealing with the stench when my brother purposely looked for rotten eggs to bust, was the "chicken roundup." Oh, I hated chicken roundup, and every time that my cousins visited, they would ask to do another chicken roundup. For the non-redneck children out there, chicken roundup looks like this: Once its dark out, and cold, and scary, you summon your children to go outside and catch chickens. By that time, the chickens have roosted for the night, and you walk up, grab their legs, and promptly put then in the chicken coop, that they will escape out of in two days. And the crazy thing is, that once you grab a sleeping animal by the legs and proceed to relocate it, while it's in a REM cycle, it gets angry. It was just as awesome as it sound.
So, the obvious question is, "If you have such a long and tainted history with birds, why do you want to raise money to buy birds?" A strong laying hen can be expected to produce about 300 eggs a year. The current building at the C4C site, that would eventually become a chicken coop, could accommodate about 50 chickens. Do the math-that's 15,000 eggs a year. Now, I am far from an expert, but I have been reading up a bit, so I'm aware that in reality, the actual production wouldn't be that high. Only certain varieties will lay well in Haiti, and the tropical climate, does pose additional problems with viruses that affect your flock. But, even if a flock produced half that amount, that 7,500 nuggets of protein and nutrition, that those little chicken butts are pooping out. Yes, I have issues with eggs too, but I won't bore you with that now.
The kids will be getting more nutrition and variety to their diet. The older kids will be getting training on how to care for the chickens and raise their own, with the thought that they will eventually have the skills to raise their own chickens and provide for their livelihood as adults. And of course, as the hens get too old to lay, there is always the old chopping block, another story that I'll spare you from, that will provide meat and additional sales opportunities for the children.
So yes, I'm overcoming my "chickenism," and asking you to join me in the Run for Chicks.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Recently, I had this crazy idea that I should sign up for a race. I've been running for almost a year now, and on some of my long runs, I had ran nine to ten miles. So, I figured, "why not run a half marathon?" Just because, I've never really run a race before, nor do I actually know much about running, other then putting one foot in front of the other in rapid secession, is no reason to not sign up for a major race. Besides, I figured I should just go ahead and do it while I can, because chances are that I will hurt myself, get distracted or just give up in the future. Yes, my relentless optimism knows no bounds. So, last week, I signed up for the half marathon at the Missoula Marathon on July 14th.
Today, I realized that I can't officially say that this is my first race because once on a lovely 4th of July, my overweight ten year old self was unwillingly entered into a fun run at Fort Missoula. I stressed and agonized over this, certain that a mile just might be the death of me. As the starting gun fired, I ran for about 12 feet, and then I power walked with the old ladies. I remember sliding into the water table, certain that extreme dehydration was in my near future. Then I rounded the bend, and saw my mom at the finish line I bolted with the speed that only a fat kid could, and lumbered across the finish line, like I had just finished the Ironman.
So yeah, I think I can do a bit better this time. I actually headed out on Saturday to see what I could do. I had decided that I wanted to run 2 hours, because I figured that if I could do 2 hours, then I'd be fine for a half. I spent half of Friday, fighting with my computer and MP3 player, attempting to download podcasts for running entertainment. After wasting an entire nap time in the battle, I finally overcame and fist pumped the sky, as I turned on Jillian. I headed out Saturday morning, with some dried mango in tow, and some water sitting on the counter. Yeah, I forgot that, but I was fine, and two hours later, I had run 12.75 miles, so I figured I might as well keep going and make it full half. My official time was 2:06:29. Yeah, I was shocked as much as you are. Who would have thought?
Then I decided I should make this a fundraiser for my favorite group in Haiti, Chances for Children. Lots of people do runs for fundraisers, so I should just join on the cool kids and jump on board.
Chances for Children is launching a new chicken program as part of their sustainable community programs. Eventually the goal is to have a self sustaining chicken operation at the creche. This will add variety and protein to the children's diet, and also provide the older children with job skills as they raise and sell the chickens and eggs. But, as you may know if you are a frequent reader of this blog, stuff in Haiti is expensive. There is no corner feed store with $2 chicks to start this venture. You've got to go to the Dominican Republic to buy chicks, so I'm hoping to raise $500, which would be used to purchase chicks, feeders, waterers and such. You can go check out my Crowdrise page here:
I do love how the URL on the Crowdrise page lists the cause as Run Fo Chicks. It makes me feel extra gangsta. And yes, for those of you that know me, and have heard my outspoken disdain for chickens, I do see the irony of me running for chicks. Proof once again that God has a sense of humor. But here's the gig, which I promise to expound on in a later blog post. Yes, I've disliked chickens since I had to poke them with rulers to collect their eggs, when I was a small kid. I've always despised chicken roundups, chicken poop on my bike, and all the other assorted memories that come from growing up with chickens everywhere. But, I'm coming to love the foul, when I think of the potential that they offer to change a child's life and health. So, whether you love chickens and you want to be a part of the chicken project or maybe you just want to commemorate the life of Great Uncle Elmer, a fabulous chicken farmer, head over to Crowdrise and join the cause.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
We're a little weird. Life's a little weird. That's a good thing. Too many times I think its easy to put your best face on for the blog and facebook, and we forget to embrace the weirdness and the fun. And since we all need more fun and more reasons to laugh, I thought I'd start a new series in which I poke fun at our quirks, and you laugh at us. Of course, you're gonna love this.
To start, I thought I would introduce you to my major confession. Your sitting down right? I like to think of myself as pretty smart, don't we all, but I have no concept of right or left. This used to cause me quite a bit of grief. As a small child, the words right and left were written on my hands, feet and shoes. This was effective for about a day, until I took a bath. During my drivers ed test, Ms Robotester sat in the seat of my car and instructed me to, "turn right at the next intersection." Well, I had a 50/50 shot, and apparently Lady Luck wasn't on my side because a few seconds later, Ms Robotester spouted, "That was left." Despite that, I still passed.
I recently read how right/left confusion was more common then most people admitted, and up to 20% of the population is afflicted in some way. Perhaps its from the chronic diets of my mother during pregnancy, who knows? The author of the article had linked it to Dyslexia, and had written about how he had attended a special camp as a child to learn to accommodate his weakness. Handy for me, growing up a redneck kid in Montana, I didn't need a camp to learn a coping skill. One fine, spring day our family of 4 to 6 children were loading up in their single cab truck in a parking lot in "town." Yeah, it was a tight squeeze to cram all of those kids on the floorboards of the truck, but somehow we managed, except my right hand. It was still getting in the truck, when the door was slammed. Moments later my finger guts were oozing down my hand. Yes, you can thank me for that image. I had to soak my hand in iodine several times a day, but after a few weeks, my hand was back to normal, and my mom took her bowl back to the kitchen, seriously-ugh. I was left with a great raised scar that gave me more coping mechanisms then any summer camp.
Sure, I still struggled, because I had to find the scar every time I needed to know direction. Yes, I received a pair of custom made riding gloves with right and left etched on them as a graduation present in college. Yes, those gloves were latex exam gloves and a sharpie. Yes, it drives Mike nuts whenever I tell him to, "turn up," when we're driving in the car, and of course my career as an air traffic controller was compromised, but all in all, thanks to that truck mashing my hand, all has been fine, and it makes for a good laugh.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Tired to the core, emotionally, physically and spiritually tired. In case you haven't noticed, my blog seems to have been all over the place lately. This has been partly due to the fact that I can't maintain the same thought for more then three minutes, and I generally have 7 windows open in my mind. But, suffice it to say, I've also been all over the place, because I'm just tired to the core.
Since returning from Haiti, a certain little boy has been very heavy on my heart: Please ignore my crazy face :)
Because this is the big, wide scary world of the internet, I'm not going to post his name and story, but I can tell you that this little guy has some medical issues that complicate the quality of his life and circumstances have been pretty hard on him. I have known this little guy for a few years, but my heart is broken for him. I know there are countless kids just like him in Haiti and the injustice and unfairness of it all is hard. I have prayed, and prayed and prayed. I have e-mailed every option I can come up with to create an improvement in his life. I have cried, I've doubted, and wondered where was God's hand for this little boy. So I continue to pray with the hope, that God hasn't forgotten him.
Yes, I'm still tired, but today I have hope. No, his situation isn't resolved, but things are starting to happen for this little guy, and I'm beyond grateful and excited for his future. I have no idea what God has planned, but I'm confident, there is a plan, and words can't describe how awesome that is. Please take a moment and pray for this little fellow, and I'll be sure to share more when I can.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Earth Day?? What the hay? Yes, today is the holiday that we all used make fun of at church when I was a kid. Yeah, we were full of the love of Jesus, like that. So every April, I'd run my sarcastic mouth like everyone else and make fun of everyone who participated in Earth Day. Well, through the years, my opinions have changed, but at least my sarcastic voice is timeless.
As I've gradually crossed over to the other side and embraced my hippie self, I thought I'd elaborate a bit more and share my thoughts. No, I don't spike trees or injure loggers in my free time. Yes, I did enter two natural grocery stores when I was at the shopping Mecca last weekend, and I did buy granola...from a bulk dispenser.
Personally, I think there is a fine line between living in respect for our environment and people. I have personally seen the deforestation that encompasses most of Haiti, as a desperate population has cut down the trees to sell for charcoal. One only has to ponder for a minute, to realize that extreme poverty has directly led to the deforestation, and now the population has to deal with mudslides and the lack of topsoil, resulting from the deforestation. Many times, our actions and purchases are contributing to this problem as it plays out on a global scale.
Now, I'm not posting this to reprimand anyone. My point is simply to write about easy ways that our crazy family has been able to incorporate into our daily life.
Yes, I have purchased fair trade coffee and chocolate for a while now, because I'm not okay with the mainstream offerings that enslave children to harvest my chocolate. I'm not okay with farmers being pushed deeper into poverty as they are forced to sell their coffee crop for less then the cost of production. We don't eat a lot of chocolate, but we bake with it regularly. I have been found fair trade baking cocoa for under 10 dollars a jar at the Hippie Grocery store in town. Yes, it costs a bit more, but baking cocoa lasts practically forever. At Costco, I've found both fair trade coffee and ethically sourced chocolate chips that are reasonably priced.
Then one day, I realized that those darn plastic bags were taking over my cupboard. Of course, I had the reusable bags sitting in the topper of my car. It was a simple change to open up the topper, remove the reusable bags, and actually use them. Well, I occasionally forget them, but then I just run to the car and grab them. Sometimes, we have this thought that if we don't do something big, it doesn't count. But seriously, if we all used our reusable sacks, just think how many junky walmart sacks that the bottom falls out, that we would save.
Once I started using my reusable sacks, then I realized how pathetically lame that I was for not recycling. Of course I still saved my pop cans. I was raised as a poor, redneck kid. If my childhood taught me anything, you never throw a can away. I once started to recycle a few years ago, but I got distracted and forgot. This time, I realized that since there was a drop off bin by my children's schools, I had no excuse. So, I headed out to my garage and got my stash of buckets that had once held laundry soap. Childhood also taught me that you never throw out a bucket. I drove by the recycling bins and determined what could be recycled, and labeled my buckets with a sharpie for each item. Technically, I was one bucket short, but I had a milk crate that may or may not have been lifted from the dairy by one of my parental units, and it worked pretty well too. Sorry DairyGold. It all turned out to be pretty easy. When a bucket is full, I dump it into the bin when I'm doing school pick ups, and now I have hardly any trash.
Somehow one thing always leads to another, and I stumbled on this documentary: and realized how crazy some things are in the food industry. No, we're not giving up meat, but I'm also not okay with the mistreatment of people and animals that is so rampant in the food industry. So, we've committed to buying as much as possible, locally. So, I would rather spend a bit more and buy chicken that was responsibly raised by the Hutterites, even if I have to deal with the bones. Yes, that means that we have altered our diet a bit, and we eat more plant based meals to offset the expense. Heck, I'm even contemplating buying a cookbook, and I have been cooking more. I know, your mind is blown.
Yes, I understand some people have never been to concerned with environmental issues, but my thought is that if I truly believe that God did an amazing job creating a pretty awesome planet, isn't it pretty rude to just trash it up and disregard it, and when we really stop to think how our actions can create or alleviate poverty, it seems like a no-brainer to me. From conserving resources, reusing and repurposing to consuming responsibly, we can all play a part.
Happy Earth Day!
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Once a year, our family loves to get out of town and go where nobody knows our name. We head off to our nearest city, Spokane, which is about three hours away. Like the Clampetts, we arrive into town appearing like complete rednecks. My kids ride escalators and elevators with abandon, as if they were at Disney World. A new level of euphoria is reached as the kids enter a Toys R Us. Apparently, the two aisles of toys at our Walmart doesn't equate. The fact that there is a Krispy Kreme and a Hobby Lobby doesn't hurt our experience either. I will not publicly post just how many donuts or random yards of fabric I purchased. The fabric cutter asked me the obvious question, "What are you making?" To which I replied, "I have no idea,but that's not going to stop me." If you follow me on Pinterest, you'll notice that I've been doing some extreme research, as to what I should make. As a side note, Peterson saw his first limo, and has decided that it will make a great family vehicle when he grows up and has ten kids.
One of our main reasons to head to Spokane this past weekend was that Stuck was coming to town. You can read all about Stuck here: In a nutshell, Stuck is an award winning documentary produced by Both Ends Burning that highlights the issues that surround international adoption. Here's the scenario; there are millions of kids around the world living in institutions and families who would love to adopt, but are prevented by bureaucracy and sheer cost. The documentary was produced to expose the broken system of international adoption and create a movement that brings change. The movie profiles the stories of several families through their struggles as they bring their children home from Haiti, Vietnam and Ethiopia.
In my own family, we waited two years to bring our boys home; technically 25 months and 1 day, but who was counting. Our process wasn't exceptionally delayed, that was the norm for a Haitian adoption at that time. That is two years of my children's life that is gone. I never saw their first steps, heard their first words. or experienced so many of milestones. Imagine giving birth to a beautiful child, bonding with them for a few days, and then handing them over to the nurses to care for, for the next year. That's what our process was like. We went an entire year without seeing our boys. While my boys were in an exceptional orphanage, and I'm very thankful, they still spent those years without parents. There was no parents to tuck them in at night, kiss their scrapes, and cheer their accomplishments. And sadly still, so many children will spend their lifetimes in an orphanage because the difficulties of the system prevents them from being adopted.
Now, I'm in no way saying that adoption is the only solution to children in orphanages.Yes, I fully support job creation programs and education that can prevent kids entering orphanages in the first place. I know this is a complicated issue and their is no simple answer. I don't think international adoption is somehow better then domestic/foster care adoption. But I do think that every child should have the basic right to a family, which is the theme of Stuck.
So, last Friday we stormed the movie theatre like a batch of crazies. We noticed that we did seem to have the only kids there. Yes, there are some hard themes in this movie, but nothing that my kids hadn't seen and lived before. Personally, I don't think we should shield our kids from every unpleasant situation in life. I want my kids to know and stand up for what's wrong in the world. And, honestly, my kids loved it. Peterson especially loved all the shots and footage of Haiti. Multiple countries are profiled in the movie. Adlerson stayed awake for almost the entire film, and then loudly snored in during the Q and A session at the end, and Gabriella happily munched gummy bears, the whole time. Don't judge, you gotta do what you gotta do, when you take your kids to a 7:00 pm showing.
So, I encourage you to go to a showing if Stuck comes to your town. The movie is also available online, so you can watch now too. And, if your local, you can just borrow mine. You will be motivated, heartbroken and encouraged all at the same time. And, if you look really close, in one shot, you will see that both of my boys are in the movie, a fact which immediately went to their head in about 2 seconds, and they are now proudly proclaiming that they are movie stars.
Before we headed to the movie, we hit the park, and I thought I'd share a few pictures, because it was the only time that it wasn't raining on us all weekend :)
The crazies have come to town!!
Peterson and Craig, the producer of the film and founder of Both Ends Burning. Ironically, Craig and his wife were heavily involved in our boys orphanage, so he had known Peterson from his orphanage days.
The official late-at-night family shot, where Adlerson had just been woken up and the baby was out of gummy bears.
The boys and the Stuck bus. Be sure to check, it might be coming to a town near you. And since I've now convinced you, head over here and sign the petition to reform the international adoption process.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
I have been bit MIA around here lately. Yes, our plates are piled high with all kinds of responsibilities, and yes, we are busy sorting out what's next for our family and how best we can be involved in Haiti. Then, spring break came and the sun came out. There is an amazing phenomenon in Western Montana. When the sun first comes out in the spring, the world stops, so we can all go outside and replenish those vitamin D stores. So, laundry stayed undone, floors stayed dirty, but we played and played and played outside, and I'm proud to report that all the white people in our family are sporting the beginning of summer tan.
Anyways, during our balmy spring break, I was lucky enough to take a few solo runs, since I can flash a dollar at Aurrora and convince her to watch her siblings. Yes, I'm aware that I don't pay so well. Since I'm a tundra runner, I started to get hot as soon as the temperature hit 40 degrees. This meant, that I didn't need my jacket, but I didn't have a way to carry my phone. Since I was leaving my four children at home, and I face a real danger of being bit by rabid dogs on my run, I needed my phone. Sure, I could have run down to Wal-mart, and dropped nine bucks on one of those arm band, but what fun would that be. I was pretty sure that I could make one with stuff that I had on hand, and do it quickly.
Note: I'm not perfect. I figured out this project as I went along. Feel free to read through the entire tutorial and learn from my mistakes, and save yourself a bit of trouble :)
So, I measured my phone, and cut out fabric.
2-5 by 3.5 inch. Cut this for both the outer layer and the lining, and 2 more pieces of heavy duty interfacing that you iron onto the wrong side of your outer fabric. I also measured around my arm, and subtracted the width of my phone pocket to determine that a 5 by 14 inch rectangle of my outer fabric would make a good strap. I also lined this with fusible interfacing that measured the same.
I also cut a 3 by 3.5" piece of outer fabric, liner fabric and interfacing. This will become your flap to close your pocket.
After fusing the interfacing onto my outer fabric, I matched right sides together on my two pieces and sewed a 1/4" seam around the sides and bottom. I clipped the corners and flipped it, and happily cheered because my phone still fit.
I fused the interfacing to the wrong side of my strap, and then used the iron to fold about a 1/2" on each end. I folded the strap in half, right sides together, and stitched down the edge about 3/8".
I turned the strap, ironed it, and topstiched 1/8" seam around the edge to give it a nice finished look. Then I chopped it in half.
I then proceeded to attach the straps to my outer fabric. Yeah, I should have done that earlier. Oops! That's why we have seam rippers.
So, after a little picking and grinning, I had my straps lined up perfectly and tucked inside so I could stitch these babies in from the inside. Obviously, since your learning from my mistakes, you won't have to do this step, but if you do, be sure to tuck your straps out of the way so you don't catch them in your stitching.
Ah, the second time is the charm.
I matched my lining fabric, right sides together and stitched up the sides. You will leave the bottom open for turning.
I matched my fabric for my flap, right sides together, and marked the middle. Then I used my ruler to draw a line from the middle to the bottom corner. I did this on both sides.
I stitched over my lines, trimmed off the excess, and turned my flap.
Before the turn around
Here's where it got a bit tricky. I matched right sides together on my outer portion and my lining. You can see that the lining fits over the outer fabric, like a tight sleeve. I tucked my flap into the inside, so it would face out correctly when I turned it. Obviously, it looks like its vomiting straps, because they were sticking out the hole, and incredibly bulky and in the way. I pinned this mess at the top, where the flap was on the inside, and then carefully stitched and prayed as I sewed the top. Then I gently turned in through the open bottom that I left open on the lining. You can hand stitch this together now. Confession, I still haven't done that :)
The moment of truth; Oh my Goodness, it worked. Insert Happy Dance here.
All we need now is velcro. I used a 1" square of velcro centered over my pocket and at the top of my flap. Be careful so that you don't sew your pocket shut. For the record, I did not do this :)
Next, I sewed the velcro on the straps. If I had wider velcro, that may have worked better, but I used what was on hand, and sewed a 3" strip of velcro on the one side of the strap, and the matching velcro on the alternating side.
The finished product, holding my phone.
All decked out and ready to run. Keeping it real folks. Sadly, it got cold as soon as I finished this, so I haven't used it much. It doesn't seem to slip, but I think it would be extra secure with wider velcro. I run in the cold, so I don't sweat much when I run, but it could easily be washed once it gets sweaty and stinky. It was a super quick project, and I honestly spend longer blogging about it, then making it.
Feel free to make one of your own and tell me all about it.