Levi into the second year

It may seem quite vain or maybe that we’re putting Levi at a disadvantage by dedicating so much time to him. But, I will justify it that most of his family is over 2,500 miles away, and making these videos is not only fun for me but a way to communicate how he’s growing. I am justified, right? It’s not like we’re one of those parents who literally idolizes their kiddos, because that’s just wrong.

Anyway, here’s another video of Levi because I like making them.

Gender Roles

Generally speaking, I do enjoy doing the ‘domestic thing’ to take care of my family. I like vacuuming, I enjoy a clean bathroom, and I can’t ‘breath’ unless my kitchen is clean. I really enjoy preparing food, and folding laundry often appeases my meticulous side. Comforting children, especially our little bug, comes naturally as does offering comfort to others. Given this perspective, it’s easy to understand why women are often the ‘care givers’ and men the so-called ‘providers’. But, I’m also wired such that I need recognition for the work I do, and sometimes thank you isn’t enough. Re-realizing this about myself makes me wonder about all the women out there, the feminist movement, and why some women elect to keep a not so clean house.

Other thoughts that spiral through my mind when seeing what I need or would like to help motivate me to do these sometimes mundane tasks makes me understand why my mother is always so quick to help another woman in the kitchen at group events, like Thanksgiving. Her understanding or perspective of dislike for dish chores motivates her to relieve others from the task. She may not be the best cook, but she will ensure your dishes come out of the wash spotless.

Is this perspective a reason why women congregate in the kitchen? After keeping house for some period of time, one becomes quite familiar with what needs to be done to get the meal on the table. A generous desire for helping people, fraternization, and community are maybe the ingredients to the recipe. I’m sure many of us have visions of the women in children in the kitchen during these family gatherings while the men are around the boob-tube watching the latest NFL game or outside sipping their beers and smoking their cigarettes and cigars. Is it simply knowing what needs to be done that keeps women in the kitchen while ignorance of what needs to be done keeps men out of it?

There are men I know who are more at the ready to help in the kitchen and offer help than other women I know. If it’s simply familiarity with the task that divides who stays where, then that could serve an answer. Is there a deeper role that we play? This is certainly a question that philosophers have pondered in varying forms (gender roles, occupational roles, etc.) and I certainly don’t hope to find all the answers. Although, I am interested to hear differing perspectives.

Where can I find local fruit (food!)?

Here, in the fertile Willamette Valley, we are spoiled by great harvests. A question that seems to interest people, especially in the summer time is, “Where can I go to get good, local (and organic) fruits and vegetables (food)?” My family, in particular, is in interested in cutting food costs without sacrificing nutrition. So, how can we do that?

Monique Dupré has created her own system of how to do that by buying locally, making arrangements with local meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable suppliers all with a mix of some internet shopping. She brags that she only spends $65/month at the grocery store. To learn more about how she does things and to sign up for a workshop, visit her website ‘Sustainable Living on a Budget‘.

Living in Portland for 5 years has taught me the following:

  • Uncle Paul’s (SE 23rd & SE Hawthorne Blvd) offers year round local produce in his open-air tent at great prices.
  • Sauvie Island farmers offer many U-pick fields where you can purchase your fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the grocery cost.
  • We picked 6.25 lbs of blueberries from Sauvie Island Farms Saturday for $10.15. This yielded over 20 cups of blueberries, 18 of which is portioned in 2 & 3 cup bags in the freezer, with the 2 remaining cups divvied into pancakes and snacks.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company is going green, and they are still the best place in town for grains. Visit them for discounts when buying in bulk, especially flours and oats.
  • Cherry Sprout Produce (formerly Big City Produce) on N Albina & N Sumner
  • Co-ops around town including Food Front, People’s, and Alberta
  • Fruit stands around town… keep on the lookout! Two I know of off hand, SE Foster & SE 80th across from Fred Meyer & SE 28th between SE Steele & SE Bybee.
    • Farmer’s markets… not only do farmer’s markets serve as a great place to gather good food in one place, most of the markets give out free literature including recipes and why buying local and hormone free is important. If you can stand the crowds, visit, learn and eat tasty treats.

    When shopping for food, it’s important to remember that buying local is actually better than buying organic. “Why?” you may ask.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s more evident now with rising gas costs, but one reason for buying local is to ensure food security. If something were to happen to our transportation system (such as exorbitant gas prices) and food couldn’t be shipped the 1500 average miles food is currently shipped to get to our plates, what would we eat? We need to ensure demand for local food so that we will have local food to eat.

    Secondly, buying local keeps money local instead of shipping it off to Kroger or the Walton’s. It’s been said that for every dollar spent locally, it puts two dollars back into the local economy supporting jobs and simply people.

    Third, we have more control over local food. Remember what happened to Tribal Sun a few years ago when they didn’t use organic tomatoes but said they did? New Seasons quickly pulled the product from the shelves, and the product wasn’t on the shelves for about 12 months until they seemingly remedied the problem. If Kroger’s brand of organic doesn’t really use organic vegetables, how quickly do you think the items would be pulled from the shelves?

    Eating great local food is often as simple as walking around your neighborhood to see who’s selling what. I would love to hear comments from people who have other ideas on how to save on primary sourced foods. Email me with your suggestions!

    Our House Before & After

    The house we live in has been our longest residence each in the City of Portland. I found some old pictures of when we moved in and we can compare it to what the house looks like now.

    Before
    After
    BeforeAfter

    Levi the Walking Monster

    I was thinking of doing a retrospective of family photos, but I have a limited number of family photos on the computer, especially ones that date back 15 years. Instead, I settled on finally making that video of Levi walking. And, here it is. Enjoy!

    One Year

    Last year, July 19, 2007, my family was rudely awakened to the horrors of domestic violence.

    Peter and I were barely working between the two of us, he had been laid off and with struggles feeding Levi I was barely pulling 5 hours a week. We were at the DHS office applying for food stamps when Peter got the call that yes indeed TriMet was offering him a job. We had been at the DHS office since 7:20am and we finally got home close to 10:30am. We barely set our things down, relieved that there was more money in our future and we could at least buy food for our small family when the phone rang. It was my mother. It was one of those phone calls where you just know something is wrong, and how wrong it was. She asked if I was sitting down, and I think I sat down. She didn’t wait to tell me and simply said, “Cristi is dead.”

    My sister. Step-sister to be truly accurate, my sister who is the same age as me, only three months younger. My sister who promptly finished college to begin teaching children who have difficulty learning was dead. She had no health problems, so we all knew the story was only going to get worse. Her boyfriend, Joseph Frees, killed her. Their bodies were found in the bedroom that morning after Cristi failed to show up for volleyball practice. Her mother was phoned and prayed the entire way to her house, “God, please don’t let me find what I know I am going to find.” The lights were on and the cars where in the drive, but of course no one answered. Cheri used a cooler to climb through the kitchen window, and she was the one to find her daughter murdered and the boyfriend dead too.

    Joe and Cristi worked together. Joe served as the athletic trainer while Cristi taught and coached. It’s not surprising they found common interests. I hate that I have no good memories of him. Others do, and I suppose that is some comfort. But, for me, it’s one of those situations where I knew he was no good for Cristi.

    A murder-suicide in my family. Such horrid violence that one usually only hears about on T.V. while watching an inflated drama like that of S.V.U. has waded itself into my family. I couldn’t believe that Domestic Violence would be a part of my family. It’s something that only happens to other people right? This time, though, the other people was us. My family splashed on the front cover of the local newspapers in Grand Rapids. My family’s story for all to read. It couldn’t be a private event because Cristi affected so many.

    After we got home, I met with a local shelter group to discuss ideas for planning an event. Soon, though, I realized that with school commitments that I would not have the time to arrange something that I wanted to be on a grand scale to raise awareness about Domestic Violence. But, then I pledged to myself that I would attempt it for another year. So, the new goal became by 2009. The initial idea was to raise money and split the funds between shelters in the Portland area, and then the idea expanded to paying off Cristi’s debts.

    This goal needs to be revisited.

    Imminent Graduation

    Today I completed and mailed the 28 invitations made for my graduation celebration. Kate helped with the little hats and Beth helped with wording. I hope those who receive an invitation at least enjoy it for its aesthetics. They actually took all weekend-long to complete. I found it easier, or perhaps more consistent to pen the text for each invitation, and that was time consuming.

    Now, all that is really left, besides those odds and ends of getting food and final preps around the house, is to ensure I can graduate. So, tomorrow I will visit PSU and see what the hang up is. I am expecting it to be the lack of requirements filled for the catalog year and the art history minor. I don’t have the patience to adjust that properly, so I will drop it entirely. I also need to find out if the two incompletes for which I filed a petition to complete was granted.

    I hope, when the day arrives, that Levi will be able to behave properly during the hour and a half long event. I hope people come to help celebrate, and I hope they enjoy themselves.

    Along with prettying our home, we’ve been planting flowers along the side of the garage. The poor sunflowers lost all the blooms they had, and the nostranias don’t seem to be doing great. We are concerned that there is something seriously wrong with the soil next to the garage. The hydrangeas are doing better now than they were over the weekend, and the marigolds are looking great. I hope it continues to work itself toward the delicate oasis I dream it to be.

    Levi through June

    Not to sound cliché, but it’s really amazing watching my son grow up. He is this amazing little person who captures interesting aspects of both Peter and me and the rest of our family. He plays games like normal kids, and he tests limits like normal kids. Overall, though, I doubt we could be blessed with a happier kid.

    Today, Levi really took off walking. Levi has done everything on his own schedule, even down to his teeth. His teeth are actually a very poignant example. He was cutting his first teeth since four months old, but no tooth really popped through the gum-line until he hit one year. Eight months of cutting teeth and baby Orajel! Likewise, everything else has been on his own timeline from when he rolled over first, sat up, stood up, and now walking.

    Walking has been interesting. We are now at the point where parental comparisons seem to be at an all-time high. “My kid walked when he was 3 months and was speaking in full sentences by 5,” it seems the brags go. Every parent competing to see who really has the smartest kid. We know our kid’s smart, but how do you prove it when they aren’t walking on their own at nearly 17 months? You don’t is the bottom line.

    But today, Levi did walk completely on his own, turning, falling, squatting, and getting up for almost an hour! He lapped that little living room rug countless times, and the entire time he was giggling and clapping, knowing what he’s accomplished. He can walk.

    What crystallized for me, though, was an awareness of how well this kid knows himself, and at such a young age. We adults strive to ‘know thyself’ for a lifetime, and he’s got it right now. He has taken his time maybe because he’s aware that big ole head of his makes balance difficult. He practiced ‘downward facing dog’ for weeks and squats for several days, and tonight, did he use them!

    I didn’t capture any video of our now walking-monster, but instead, I made a video capturing who this kid is. I hope you all enjoy.