Tuesday, August 28, 2007

proud owner

i am now a proud owner of a kenmore sewing machine. hardly used but rather dusty. i can't to start using it. we went all the way (OFF THE ISLAND!) to cranston to pick it up. i discovered on our way there the little village on the pawtucket. so we stopped for some lunch in a local coffee house/eatery. this village is darling. we made the most of our trip and i had ransom in the maya wrap and each girl by the hand since i had left our 2x jogger on our porch (thinking that i wasn't going to need it!!) we walked by the water and went to a lovely town park. then hopped back into the van and drove home. all three babes were sound asleep.

now i am making a list of projects i want to work on with my new purchase!

childhood/toys/education thought for the day

"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things."- Plato

i found www.mahardrygoods.com recently and thought you'll might enjoy their quote. this might be my new favorite kids site. cheers!

love this quote

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away,And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall."- Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Name by Graham Plaster

Tonight we went for another family walk, down to the basketball court by the Goat Island bridge. It was spectacular. The sun was waning, casting that glow of nostalgia across the kids faces that evokes so many feelings of childhood in me. I had brought a soccer ball for the kids and a basketball too, which feels so natural in my hands, despite it being over 10 years since I played on a team. I rolled the ball to my son, Ransom, who is now almost 11 months old. While sitting, he picked it up with both hands over his head and opened his mouth wide as if to shout some triumphant word, but the only sound was the glorious beat of his toothy, infant smile. He bounced the ball on the grass once, watching it roll away from him and then leaned forward, easilly transitioning into a crawl after the ball. Fast break. I watched the game, enthralled. I called, "Ransom...Ransom." I was right behind him, but it seemed as if he hadn't heard me. He was looking at the ball. When he finally responded to my voice by turning back towards me on his haunches, he had to squint. The sun was behind me. He smiled and then turned back towards the ball. I heard my voice in my own ears, "Ransom...Ransom." I felt as though I was hearing my own name called by God and thought how natural and yet new it would seem to hear his voice call me in the same way. Would I turn immediately or would I remain entranced by the world, that fascinating ball that spins before my eyes. Would he call me Graham, or would he rename me, like so many of his friends in history? What would my new name mean to Him? What would it sound like on His tongue? It is not so much the combination of consonants, vowels and syllabals that my son recognizes as his name. It is my voice - which is a much more complex and intimate signature of our relationship really. At this stage in his development, there are a lot of words that I could say to him that would have about the same meaning as his name: "turn around and look at me". Maybe this is one of the things Jesus meant when he said we had to have faith like a child. When we hear his voice, no matter if if takes the form we expect, he is hoping we will turn, smile and respond.I know that Ransom is too young to remember this day. Perhaps I will lose it too as a distinct memory, and it will be folded into the mental scrapbook of holy moments - epiphanies and exquisite beauties. On second thought, those are the moments of my life that I remember most clearly. The moments when something truly real broke through the facade and I was made aware of the superficiality of certain other things. The moments when I heard His voice, turned and smiled.

its official

tomorrow i am picking up my new sewing machine!!! $35 off of craig's list!! i was so excited that i dove onto my moutainous pile of clean clothes on the bed. yeah not the most comfortable place to jump - slightly lumpy and coarse (as we are not using any more dryer sheets.)

now i am on the move to find material and projects!!!

a family culture of reading

one thing that i did not add to the handmade christmas post was that we will always give books to our children as gifts - we want them to love reading and to be encouraged even as toddlers to love books. when the kids are older we would like to take "reading vacations" where we all bring tons of books and just sit in little corners or nooks wherever we are (ie the sail boat or beach house) and read. i think that this sounds like one of the most wonderful ways to spend time together. of course there will be plenty of discussion b/c we will all want to know what the others are reading and thinking. it does no good to just read, one must verbalize and share to really learn and appreciate the written word.

reasons for a handmade christmas cont.

7. we don't need a whole room of presents - we have really tried to limit the amount of gifts we give to the kids so that we can focus on enjoying the presents more and also teaching that it is better to give then to recieve. so many times kids get mountains of toys etc and then end up not playing with any of it but one or two toys. we want to establish this lesson early on in our family culture. we are not nazi about this by any means. this rule is really for our immediate family and does not apply to our friends or extended family. (although i am hoping the no plastic/noisy toys can be embraced by friends and family.)

handmade christmas

in my desire to embrace more with less, our family is planning on having a handmade christmas. what i mean is we are giving gifts that are either made by ourselves or handcrafted by another. this could include wooden toys, poetry, books, stories, sewn items, food, paintings/pictures etc. i am so excited. now i just have to find a cheap sewing machine on craig's list and i am golden.

reasons why:

1. encourage better use of our time (ie do i really need to watch another bad tv show on our one channel?)
2. encourage family sharing of talents, ideas and creativity - thus leading to more family time together
3. learning new skills ie sewing etc.
4. no more plastic and noisy children's toys - we have intentionally put a limit on these particular toys to keep our house uncluttered and relatively noise free (of toys that is!). anytime we recieved noisy toys, batteries were never used - the kids don't know that the toys make noise!! (shhhh our little secret)
5. avoid the aweful lead poisoning scares from the toys made in china
6. the potential reuse or recycling of objects to be made into gifts

i am really looking forward to this fall's preparation for our first ever handmade christmas (which we will be having here in rhode island!)

a borrowed quote from a friend's blog

There are two ways to get enough: one is to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. –G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, August 23, 2007

simple living

i have been reading more with less by doris janszen longacre (author of the more with less cookbook). my mom used her cook book back when she was first married and had little ones. its a 'pattern for living with less and a wealth of practical suggestions from the worldwide experiences of mennonites.' i started reading this b/c i have been drawn to publications such as real simple magazine and blogs about simple, green living but i wanted to find out where jesus is in all of this. what is the reason behind simplifying one's life and life choices? is it merely to 'feel good' to feel zen?

When someone steals a
man's clothes
we call him a thief.
Should we not give the
same name
to one who coudl clothe the naked
and does not?
The bread in your
belongs to the hungry man;
the coat hanging unused
in your closet
belongs to the man
who needs it;
the shoes rotting in your closet
belong to the man
who has no shoes'
the money which you
hoard up
belongs to the poor.
- Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, c. 365

more postings to follow.

moby wrap

so the last 2 days i have been wearing ransom in the moby wrap. he loves it. i havn't used it in months b/c i thought he would be too big. then i remembered that i have seen other babies older then he in their carriers and i thought i should try it again. i know that wearing your baby gets better and easier with practice. i tested this theory out. yesterday i put ransom in the wrap and the girls were in the double jogger. we walked all the way to the library and it was awesome. he got a nap in too. i have hands free and kyrie can ride in the jogger. she has been getting tired on long walks (do you remember having short legs?) then today i put him in for our evening walk and he was so excited to be close to me. he LOVES it. he doesn't cry or complain when he is with me. (its hard to juggle three kids when there is always someone who wants to be close). he was patting my arm again and hugging me. so precious. i am thinking - gosh i missed out on this bonding with him. well not anymore. ransom has found his spot.

so here is where i put a plug in for the place i bought the moby wrap. www.carrymeaway.com. rediscover the art and enjoyment of wearing your baby.

patient persistence

the last few days kyrie has been patiently and persistently asking me to make chocolate chip cookies (well mainly b/c i had suggested that we do this, but then having had a stiff neck for the last week, have been putting it off). so while i was making supper, we girls got out the recipe from cook's illustrated. they love "helping". kyrie likes to have a "yittle taste" of the brown sugar. and then after i give her a pinch she said, i am still "real hungry". translated 'i want some more please.' i was able to stave her off. of course, each girl was given a few chocolate chips to tide them over til spagetti time. they were delighted with the process of the cookie making.

after our evening walk, i came back and put the cookies in the oven. they were sure to remind us that we hadn't had our cookies yet. we read a story in the living room until the cookies had cooled a bit and then i said ok go sit at your table. (we have a little white table and 2 chairs near the dining table for the girls to use.) i brought them over and they were so so happy. i wish you could have seen their dancing faces. kyrie said oh mama these are so yummy, thank you so much for making them for us. and rhys said thank you mama with a big chocolate grin. now i ask you - can it get any better than this? that was a moment i live for. that is my reward. that is my roth ira/401k plan. i am storing up treasures in heaven.

Thank God for bees

so this afternoon the sun came out!! yippee. i was making yummy spagetti for supper and went out to the garden to pick the ripe cherry tomatos (which the girls were feeding to a very happy but seedy ransom!) for the salad. (and on my way remembered our fresh oregano and basil plants and pulled a few leaves for my sauce!) the girls were out with me puttering around outside and we sat down on the steps. we sat b/c we discovered a very large, velvety bumble bee that had fallen "asleep" on the step. i picked him up, making sure that there was no stinger. he was beautiful. the girls and i discussed how pretty he was and how the lord had made him so special. and then we talked about how special and unique they were to him as well. it was such a lovely, teachable, sunny moment for us. they wanted to sit on my lap and kiss me. rhys has been talking so much more and giving us new words left and right. asking questions. making statements. discovering the bumble bee was a gift given directly from the lord for us.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

goodbye summer

yesterday i smelled burning leaves in the air. of course it smelled delicious and conjured all sorts of moods and feelings for me ... but it also meant (along with the glorious crisp, cooler and clear blue skies) that summer is waining. we are seeing a few more leaves (crackled and dry) on our lawn out back. i wore a fleece while we ate dinner outside by the grill. there is just something different about outside. the summer hydrangeas are starting to look dried and antiqued. when i went to walmart the other day there were aisles devoted entirely to school supplies. sharpened pencils, crayola markers and crayons and chubby pink erasers. they are all on sale so i am going to restock our art supplies (we go through water colors and markers at an alarming rate around here!) let me say that it is a bittersweet realization for the plasters. summers are our favorite. having lived in hawaii and san diego we are just used to the sunshine and the warm days. now summer days are a luxury. since the beach is the best place for kids we'll have to find more haunts as the days grow shorter and chillier. i think that we will still have adventures - in fact i am sure of that fact - we'll just have to get more creative. we joined the redwood athenaeum children's library. i think this might help things tremendously in the months ahead.

but for now i will savor the cherry tomatoes as they pop in my mouth (the ones from our very own backyard garden).

good night all ... and christ's peace be upon you!

Friday, August 17, 2007

summer salad recipe from soule mama

Orzo Salad with Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup uncooked orzo
2 cups chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels
1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion

Prepare all dressing ingredients and place in a jar. Cover tightly and shake thoroughly. Prepare orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Spoon half of the dressing over the orzo; toss to coat. Let cool to room temp. Add the remaining dressing, corn, tomato, onion, and basil to the pasta. Let stand for atleast 30 minutes.

my knitting and other thoughts today

so i have this incredible urge to be creative and to have some sort of craft that i can do with odds and ends and bits of this and that - like sewing (i am currently on the look out for a second hand sewing machine!) or embroidery -- i am an avid fan and reader of soule mama's blog and envious of her life really ... check her out! i was reading about her knitting and she had the most encouraging entry concerning knitting projects that don't seem to get completed, which reminded me of the scarf i am still "knitting" for my mama for this past mother's day (sorry mom!) i started getting down on myself for not being able to finish projects (like the knitting, the albums for the kids, snapfish gifts that are still unpaid for and unsent etc etc.) and then i read this: (i give the credit to soule mama)

"For seven years - since I started knitting - I've always carried a knitting project with me. I bring them in the car, and they move about from bag to bag (gathering crumbs of food along the way). Just waiting. Waiting for that five minutes that I'm sitting in the car with sleeping children. Or for that reaaally long train in front of us. Or for the (oh, so) few moments that all three babes are happily engaged without me at the beach, playground, woods or wherever we are. And those moments where knitting actually happens are heavenly. Worth the wait. But I started to think about the number of those moments where I actually do knit, and how relatively small that is compared to the number of hours that the yarn travels with us. It's pretty small. Really small. If I had to put a number on it, I'd say about 2%. That's a lot of travelling for that yarn, and not so much action. Which at first I thought might be a bit ridiculous, but the more I thought about it (it was a long walk), the more I liked the idea. That there's always a presence of something being made, of a creation in progress, of the work of handmade. I've got to believe that it's instilling some sort of value in all of that, and that ultimately (bear with me here), the 'energy' of the kids sock (or whatever it may be) is all the more 'full' for having 'lived' with us for so long. And the beautiful thing about that yarn is, it's so patient. The very nature of knitting isn't one of rushing, or quick results. And so, it's presence serves as a reminder of that for me. It says: The yarn will be there. The project can wait. Take a deep breath. Play with your kids."

don't you just love that? she really lives. which is what i want to do - live, simply, well, joyfully, Godly, peacefully. why is it such a labor to have these disciplines in my life? shouldn't my day start with the Lord first, i think so. so that i can get my priorities in order (b/c how quickly we forget, kind of like the israelites in the desert). my kids make messes - why do i bother getting upset? they are healthy, imaginative, creative and lively. they love to "do" and "help". the end of the day is a good time to clean up. during the day when life is messy and organic - that is the time to see what is really going on. to enjoy the little moments together.

so today i am starting out with some of 2 samuel and maybe just maybe a cup of english breakfast or kenyan tea or some hot kenyan coffee.

be inspired to live in the living.
don't live in the getting and give me's.

Monday, August 13, 2007

evening storm in newport

i love the east coast and one of the reasons for my love is the summer thunderstorms that roll in during the afternoons and early evenings. tonight was no exception. in fact it was downright drama above newport. (right now the sky is a pink shade with a glow of gold). i started hearing the rumblings and so i put the stroller away and we closed up the sand box and brought ransom (who was only clad in diapers and knee high red socks) inside. we got our steaming mugs of hot coffee and we sat out on our porch to watch the storm. in less then 10 min the heavy, angry dark gray clouds had moved forbodingly across the sky. FAST. the clouds were swirling - ie tornado? and we had crazy thunder, lightening, torrential rain and hail!! it was all very exciting. our neighbors across the street and next door were out on their porches too. we usually take an evening walk to the water but tonight since the storm came we opted for front porch, front seat action. the lord made a beautiful sight for us to enjoy. it was so wild and unpredictable. thank you Father for your glorious creation. even the wind and waves obey You.

words to live by and teach to your kids

if everyone does a little, no one does a lot

Sunday, August 12, 2007

green, simple and more living

when the kids were all finally in their beds (although I think all three were making various kinds of noises) and graham and i were downstairs cleaning up the kitchen, he said well let's discuss something "grown-up" tonight. what do you want to talk about? i thought a second or two and said to what extent do we as a family live "green"?

this subject among many has been bouncing around in my brain after reading some new blogs. like the soule mama blog and the organically inclined blog, and after seeing an interesting news story a few weeks ago about a family who lived for a whole year with the least amount of impact on the environment. i have been thinking about csa's or community supported agriculture, reducing, reusing and recycling (thank you to jack johnson), and of all things - changing out my light bulbs. so we started talking about what this all means for our family, in the real world of "living". i don't think i am done thinking about all of this, infact i think that its just the tip of the iceburg.

after cleaning the kitchen up and making some yummy coffee from kenya (that g's mama and sister brought back) we went downstairs to tackle the beast - our basement. its been over six months since we moved but the basement is still crazy!! we get a little bit more done each time we go down there and tonight i felt like we made much progress. so i found a book that my mama gave to me when we got married called living more with less by a mennonite christian woman. i am going to read it b/c i feel that part of my role as wife and mother is to cook healthily and to use our resources wisely - which also means being a good steward of the food that the Lord has given to us. (i need to blog about the new diet i am on b/c this subject of food and recipes etc will make more sense to you all plus ransom is allergic to milk and peanut butter - hello can we say new lifestyle in eating for the plaster kids?!!!) i digress...so speaking of basement junk - one of my goals is to again purge and sell so that we can have a little extra mullah for the important things like haircuts and various baby accessories for the double stroller:) well thank you for reading this rambling blog entry. it feels so good to just type my thoughts and not care if it makes sense - sort of james joycesque.

good night. aloha friends.

ps we went peach picking at sweet berry farms today with the kids. it was so fun. enjoy the pics.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


it is a beautiful day in newport today. no its not sunny or clear skies. but it is blowy and billowing out there. its been off and on raining and misty. its been humid and damp but it is gorgeous and i love it.

last night we took our evening walk to battery park and got to go down to the little rocky beach next to the park. the kids looked at small star fish and hermit crabs in the shallow water and the tide pools - a new "haunt" for them to explore. what fun. thank you Lord for your incredible creation - little miracles underneath the surface of dark water and seaweed.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

birthday party

So today was Kyrie's birthday party!! We had a great time out back - most of the kids were around 3 years old so they were happy splashing in the kiddie pool and playing on the play/swing set. (our friends the Wises' were sick so they were unable to come down - we missed them!) We had invited the play group kids but we ended up having a smaller group - which actually wasn't that small. It was a perfect amount. We had Jess and Todd and their four kids and Natalie and her two boys and our three. I had a bit of a freak out session (but not a total melt down!) before the party - trying to remind myself that things don't need to be perfect - b/c it is my friends who are coming over with their kids -- I don't need to impress them. Maybe next year I can remain stress free before the party. But I have my dear husband who helped with everything, did yard work and transformed our back yard into a lovely playland. Jess and Natalie put food out and stuffed the candy bags for the kids. Kyrie loved her cake - in fact didn't want to leave it in the house. She would have been happy just staring at it and putting a finger in occasionally to taste it. Instead of Olivia the Pig she wanted a chocolate horse. So that is what it was. I got some good video of her party. It was hot and humid but the day started out nice and breezy. Everyone went home happy and candied-up! We are going on the Thompson's boat this afternoon, after naptime! Its a full day here in Newport.

A few lessons learned:
1. don't pick the theme until last minute. (b/c your child will change her mind - and remember that you should not get upset b/c its her birthday!)
2. what is the simplest way to do something - ie. don't think you are going to be doing a craft with the kids or for the kids b/c when one has three little ones under 4 years - this will NEVER happen! and the kids are happy just playing anyway.
3. relax and enjoy. no one likes to be around an uptight mom/hostess.
4. pray pray pray. and then again pray.
5. look for candy that is on sale rather then buying the bulk stuff. i will be taking some candy back to BJ's b/c i found really cheap candy at the grocery store for as little as .62 cents!
6. give others grace, it will be given out to you! the ballooon lady didn't have my order at all when i showed up to pick up the balloons but i was cool and she gave me a free "expensive" balloon. nice. thank you Jesus.
7. no one, i repeat, no one has it ALL together and if they act like they do or say they do - they are LYING!!

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