Conversations with Kerri.

We were all sitting around the dining room table after dinner last week when this conversation happened. I had mentioned to my Dad that I had joined the Canadian version of the AARP (American Association of Retired People), and that my husband - who is 5 years younger than me - refused to accept his membership card. And then Kerri piped in:

Kerri: "Mommy, you don't look your age."

Mommy: "How old do I look?"

Kerri: "You look like a teenager."

Daddy: "Kerri, you just won some major brownie points with that answer."

Mommy: "Why do I look like a teenager?"

Kerri: "Because you always wear ponytails and you dress like one, in jeans and a t-shirt."

Nana: "What about me?"

Kerri: "You look like a teenager too."

Daddy: "So what about me?"

Kerri: "You look old and grouchy Daddy."

Grandpa: "And what about me?"

Kerri: "You look older and grouchier than Daddy."

Life with Kerri keeps me young (and laughing)!

Girl Scouts - is there a badge for "reluctant mom?"

My daughter wants to be a Girl Scout. I don't think she knows much about the whole deal - she just knows that some of her friends are Girl Scouts. She suspects she might be missing out on something fun, something social, and most of all, a chance to run her mouth with her friends.

I was never a Girl Scout myself. I think it was a combination of me being fairly introverted as a child and my mom not being too keen on driving kids around all the time. I can't say that I blame her. I've generally told A that she can do one activity at a time and I'll be happy to take her. She regularly takes swim, gymnastics, and dance classes at the Y - but not concurrently. I am frazzled enough as it is.

Anyway, I don't really know a lot about Girl Scouts, except that moms of Girl Scouts seem to end up with a thousand cases of cookies in their living room once a year. I don't know that I should be given easy access to thin mints. I am capable of eating a sleeve of them in one sitting. People say, "Freeze them! Then you won't eat them right away!" Bah. It is an established fact that I am willing to break a tooth on a thin mint before I'll be denied.

Here is what I'm most worried about: the time commitment. I've noticed that when you get involved in an organization, they don't really care that you donate your time and resources to a different organization - they just want you to devote yourself to theirs. In my case, the rescue sucks up quit a bit of my time. I just don't want to end up with one more thing competing for my time (and let's face it - it would all fall to me, not to P). Does that make me sound terrible? I mean, I'll drive her to meetings and attend events with her and I'll buy whatever she's selling, but is it wrong not to want to do more than that?

Tell me, scout people . . . is it possible to be a Girl Scout mom without being A GIRL SCOUT MOM of the highest order? Are half-hearted slacker moms allowed? And most importantly, would I get a discount on thin mints?

Unjustly Accused

I started writing a blog post with a recipe but got so thoroughly off on a tangent about one ingredient that I decided I needed to just follow the detour signs. I'll return with a recipe tomorrow.

As I learn more about cooking and as I do more experimental eating, and as I get older and more aware of my health and well-being and that of my family members, I find that I believe firmly that the best diets are traditional, whole food diets. The simple unprocessed foods of our ancestors make the most healthful meals.

My little diatribe in yesterday's post about food additives and raw milk was unfortunately not very well thought out and just a spur of the moment rant. What I really want to convey here on my blog is my philosophy that our complex modern diets have brought down a world of disease and that we need to return to simple foods that are as close to their natural origins as possible.

One important group of foods to consider is fats. I have written about fats before but I continue to read and learn more and want to share these great articles with you.

When I am cooking meat or vegetables at a high heat I use lard as my fat. Yes, lard. Lard is a traditional fat integral to the diets of our ancestors for generations. Here is a quote from an informative article called "Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat."-

Lard is a traditional fat, the mention of which causes us moderns to cringe. Yet lard is a healthy, natural fat. Lard is rendered fat from pork and is mostly monounsaturated. Lard can be a wonderful source of vitamin D. (There is currently a terrible vitamin D deficiency in our population. Low vitamin D levels contribute to the occurrence of cancer which is also epidemic.) Traditionally, lard has been used and enjoyed for pastries and frying potatoes—until the vegetable oil industry took over. Don't be afraid to experiment with lard in your kitchen, it will add lots of flavor to your food.
On a side note, I worked with a client from Mexico who was here visiting her daughter over the summer. The mother was 85 years old, very strong and healthy, and had not one wrinkle on her beautiful face. Her skin was incredible! It was so soft and silky, not at all dry, scaly or wrinkly like the skin I'm so used to seeing with most of my clients. I just had to ask her what kind of fats she eats. Her daughter translated my question to her mother and then replied, "She said she eats mostly lard. I can't believe it! I keep telling her that's not good for her, but she just won't listen!"   Us silly Americans!

The following quote from an article on called "The Truth About Saturated Fat" explains why the processed oils so commonly used- that is polyunsaturated oils such as those labeled "vegetable oil", "canola oil", "safflower oil", etc.- are so bad for our health, especially when heated to high temperatures-

The public has been fed a great deal of misinformation about the relative virtues of saturated fats versus polyunsaturated oils. Politically correct dietary gurus tell us that the polyunsaturated oils are good for us and that the saturated fats cause cancer and heart disease. The result is that fundamental changes have occurred in the Western diet.
At the turn of the century, most of the fatty acids in the diet were either saturated or monounsaturated, primarily from butter, lard, tallows, coconut oil and small amounts of olive oil. Today most of the fats in the diet are polyunsaturated from vegetable oils derived mostly from soy, as well as from corn, safflower and canola...

...Excess consumption of polyunsaturated oils has been shown to contribute to a large number of disease conditions including increased cancer and heart disease; immune system dysfunction; damage to the liver, reproductive organs and lungs; digestive disorders; depressed learning ability; impaired growth; and weight gain.

One reason the polyunsaturates cause so many health problems is that they tend to become oxidized or rancid when subjected to heat, oxygen and moisture as in cooking and processing. Rancid oils are characterized by free radicals-that is, single atoms or clusters with an unpaired electron in an outer orbit. These compounds are extremely reactive chemically.

They have been characterized as "marauders" in the body for they attack cell membranes and red blood cells and cause damage in DNA/RNA strands, thus triggering mutations in tissue, blood vessels and skin. Free radical damage to the skin causes wrinkles and premature aging; free radical damage to the tissues and organs sets the stage for tumors; free radical damage in the blood vessels initiates the buildup of plaque. 

I have read that the reason for the mix-up in attributing disease to saturated fats rather than to polyunsaturated fats was simply some very bad science early on, -flawed studies- and then marketing, marketing, marketing. There is simply more money to be made with processed foods (often patented) then there is to be made from traditional, natural foods. (To illustrate this, here is a quote from this article on the origin of Crisco shortening- Crisco was introduced to the public in 1911. It was an era when wives stayed home and cooked with plenty of butter and lard. The challenge for Crisco was to convince the stay-at-home housewife about the merits of this imitation food. P&G’s first ad campaign introduced the all-vegetable shortening as  " a healthier alternative to cooking with animal fats. . . and more economical than butter."   With one sentence, P&G had taken on its two closest competitors—lard and butter.")

I started using good lard in pie crusts years ago but as I have learned more through my reading about what constitutes a truly healthy diet, I have added the use of lard into my daily cooking. It adds delicious dimension whenever it is used.  Trained chefs know this, we should know it too. It is also safe to use at high temperatures because it doesn't become rancid and create disease-causing free radicals.

I do not buy lard at the grocery store. I have to special order it from a butcher in Pennsylvania. Lard is such a four letter word these days that finding good quality lard is difficult. Maybe if we create enough demand we can turn this train around.

Nana and Pookie.

Life with Kerri includes Nana and Pookie too.


Do you eat "Iron Fortified" breakfast cereal? You may want to watch this enlightening video...

And in our country we have the ever watchful Food and Drug Administration that protects us from harmful foods and drugs and makes sure that we have laws and regulations so that everything available to us is good for us.


Now think of all the other "enriched" foods on the grocery store shelves, marketed to consumers as "healthy" and pushed by the medical establishment and dietitians as a good way to supplement our daily intake of nutrients like- enriched flour, cereals, vitamin fortified bread products and even fruit juices. Many vitamin fortified cereals come in amazing unnatural (for food) colors and are coated with sugar and yet according to the marketing, parents should feel good about giving their children a beneficial, nutritional breakfast when they serve them.

With foods like these as part of what is considered a "good diet" in America, is it any wonder we have any number of disease epidemics starting earlier and earlier in life? Childhood diabetes, obesisty, ADHD? We hear about it in the news every day and countless dollars are spent on studies to understand why we have these problems.

Isn't the answer right in front of us?

And then what really grinds my oats is that when I want to buy a truly health-building food, like oh, say....raw milk....because of the strong arm of the FDA it is completely unavailable in some states, illegal to sell, and in others, like Oregon, it is very difficult to get. After years of raising goats so that we could drink our own fresh milk, we are now purchasing fresh, healthy milk from a farm that raises hearty grass-fed cows. But that means we have to pay $10 a gallon and bring it in from a farm sixty miles away! To protect themselves from prosecution the farmers have to sell "herd shares" to their milk customers so that the customers actually own a portion of the cow from which they choose to have milk since they supposedly are risking their health by drinking fresh milk. It is ridiculous that a loop hole has to be manufactured so that people can truly have free choices for a healthy diet.

Never mind that human beings have been drinking and thriving on raw, unpasteurized milk since the beginning of time.

The world is messed up.

Grandpa and Pookie.

Life with Kerri would not be complete without her Zeide and her Pookie.

Journal entry.

Kerri has a language journal at school. Her teacher sent it home this past weekend so we could look it over. The post from March 21, 2011 caught my eye. I will translate it since Kerri's spelling is not that great yet (but not bad for someone who just learned how to read and write four months ago!):

"Dear Journal,
On the March break I saw my Grandpa. He take out his teeth and guess what he bite my finger in the car. It was really gross. I help play with my dog Pookie. He (Grandpa) talks Spanish to my Mom. He plays his Jewelry (Bejeweled) game alot and guess what me and my Mom got Jelly beans with 22 flavors."

Kerri's teacher noted: "Your Grandpa sounds like an interesting man!"

Hee hee.

Life with Kerri keeps me giggling.

It must be spring....

....because I need to cut the grass!

Good boy, Kaiser

Plastic poop

I worked at a pet expo Friday and yesterday.  On Friday, one of my fellow volunteers brought their foster dog, who did fairly well with all the attention.  Yesterday, I brought my foster dog, Kaiser. I was really proud of how well he did. Pet expos can be pretty stressful for a dog because they have to endure a lot of petting and poking.

First off, I'd like to applaud the parents who teach their children to ask before petting a dog they don't know.  Lots of kids did remember to ask before petting Kaiser.  Obviously, we would not bring a kid-hating dog to a pet expo, but I think children should observe dog safety rules in general.  My daughter is required to ask before she can pet a dog.  She also may not bother a dog that is eating or sleeping.  Anyway, most of the kids who came by were very polite and well-behaved.  Sometimes I wonder about some of the adults, though.

One lady came by and said she wants to make snowsuits for dogs. She whipped out a measuring tape and started measuring Kaiser from every angle.  When she measured his butt, Kaiser wondered why she hadn't at least taken him out to dinner first.  

Kaiser held steady for over three hours of petting and attention. Eventually, though, I could tell he was over the whole scene.  He started barking at any man wearing a baseball cap.  Since our shift was almost over (we just needed to wait until some of the volunteers from the next shift showed up to relieve us), I pulled Kaiser back behind our table and kept him close to me. Of course, that didn't stop a few determined souls from coming back behind the table and attempting to make contact with him. I told one man, "He's really tired and he's taking a break. He's been barking at men in hats."

The man was wearing a hat but seemed to have no intention of moving along to the next booth.  "Do all Boxers bark at men in hats?"  Sure, it's right in the breed standard.  I successfully kept Kaiser behind the booth for the rest of ours shift, but he kept trying to climb into my lap.  He was stressed and started shedding a bit. I think a hair went straight for my eye (I am mildly allergic to dogs).  Moments later, my contact fell out and I couldn't get it back in.  I just sat there winking at people until it was time to go.

The lady at the next booth had it rough.  I'm accustomed to answering questions at pet expos and to having every other visitor look down at the dog and say, "he must smell my dogs." However, the lady at the next booth had two Chinese Crested (the hairless variety) in her booth.  After spending two days sitting next to this poor lady, I promise I will never again complain about some of the goofy questions we get ("does he bite?" oh sure, we always bring the biters out to hang with the kids). After the first hour, I had memorized the answers  to the Chinese Crested questions myself.

"No, they're not cold."  (the dogs were laying on a heated blanket.  They weren't cold, but eventually the lady put jackets on them just because she couldn't take the questions anymore)
"They're both females."
"Yes, they are supposed to look like that."

All in all, it was a fun weekend. Kaiser represented the breed well. P brought the kid to the expo on Friday night and she won a plastic pile of dog doo at one of the other booths.  As you can imagine, plastic poop is like comedy gold to a five-year-old. She keeps leaving it in spots around the house.  We repeat the same exchange every time.

"Mom, someone pooped!"

"Was it your father?"

And so on it goes.

Earth Hour revelations.

Last night we lit some candles and spent Earth Hour together. Kerri decided she wants to celebrate it once a week. And when she grows up she wants to open up an animal and Earth help club.

During Earth Hour, Kerri asked for a piece of paper, and busied herself writing a note. This is what is says:

"My name is Kerri
I like to slide
I'm six and a haf
I wus abandid in a trane stachin (station)
I am Chineese
I wus from Shinue (China)
I like to take riscs
I go to caliks school eevin no I'm not caslik (Catholic)
I donte cared wut enebutting say abow my life
All thet mators is that my family luves me
Sum peeple think teddy beres are for babys
In my hart my family wil awese (always) luve me forever
I luve evereebutee
Evree persin shood have a good hart
sinde (signed) Kerri XOX Mom"

During our darkest hour, Kerri lit up the room with her light.

Life with Kerri makes me proud.


This is what happened yesterday evening, after dinner.

Kerri had fun with a crayon.

And she had fun making silly faces.

There was lots of laughter.

Especially after we got Daddy.

Thank goodness he has a great sense of humor.

You need a sense of humor in this house.

Because this kind of silliness happens quite often!

Life with Kerri is a barrel of laughs.

Photo Session

When oldest daughter, Katie, and her family visited us during the winter, we made a concerted effort to get some family pictures done. During the last visit, a year ago, we didn't get to take some until the last evening before our son-in-law Nathan was scheduled to leave. It was late in the evening and this was the result.

This time I herded and corralled the kids together on an afternoon during a break in the dismal winter rain and we had some fun with Kris' camera.

Forget about getting seven kids to smile pretty for the camera. It works better to just let 'em be kids.

Altogether now...
But of course, someone's timing had to be off every time.
Just so you know, I think we took hundreds of these to come up with just one decent photo!

But we squeezed in one traditional shot. Here we are-
My Family

Kris, Ted (aka Mr. D.), Pam (aka Clayvessel), Seth, Nathan, Katie, Neal and Alyssa
Little boys in front are Samuel, Peter, Jonah and Baby Evan.

The ex comes to visit.

Yesterday Kerri invited her ex-boyfriend to come over and play. They jumped on the trampoline, played pirates and "Ants in the Pants", and had a balloon fight. After an hour, they asked for more time, and his Mom and I agreed to one more hour.

They spent 30 minutes arguing about playing the Wii, and 15 more minutes arguing about which game to play. They agreed only after Kerri convinced the ex to promise to play with her at school recess for the next two weeks.

After fifteen minutes of playing, the boyfriend's Mom came over to pick him up. Kerri and her ex begged and pleaded for more time together, to no avail.

And before the ex left, Kerri tried to kiss him several times.

Kerri's Grandpa asked if I was punishing him. Then he commented that with her character, no guy would want to date Kerri.

Which is fine by Kerri, since she has now decided she does not want or need a husband or kids.

I can't keep up.

Life with Kerri is constantly changing.

Can you guess...

...what this is?

Give up?

This is Kerri's chalkboard, on which she has planned her (monthly?) schedule. She updates it every day, and checks it a few times a day.

As far as I can tell, SC = school, KF= Kung Fu, and the picture of the girl on the bed is her day of rest. There is also GG = Girl Guides, and she used to have Scooby Doo scheduled on her chalkboard. Except this month she gave up Scooby for Lent.

Life with Kerri is on her schedule.


Read this.

This is why I have had to turn down two weddings this fall.

Last  year I turned down about a dozen for the same reason.

But it's worth it!


And she’s making the scene
With the coffee and cream
And the copy machine’s not working
She’s a hell of a girl
She’s alone in the world
And she likes to say hey good lookin
She’s on her way
She’s taking a sick day . . . soon

And she’s taking her time

As she’s tossing a dime
At the man in the cardboard coffin
It doesn’t have to be fine
She’s ahead of the line
And doesn’t have to be here too often
She’s making a play
She’s taking a sick day . . . soon

from "Sick Day" by Fountains of Wayne

Lately I have been feeling the need to take a mental health day. My mom used to let us take the occasional mental health day from school, as long as we made up the work.  Well, I shouldn't say "us" because I'm not sure she ever extended the offer to my middle sister.  My middle sister was sometimes home from school anyway . . . because she was suspended (sorry, sis! I love you!).

My mood exactly
I think I'm just vaguely bored. It's not that I don't like my job (the only vocation I would've liked better would have been to work as a professional puppy petter and no one seems to be hiring for that, so I had to go with a grown-up job). And it's not that I don't have plenty to do in my life - every day is pretty much packed to the hilt. As much as I like routine and schedules, maybe I'm just over it - at least at the moment.  I'm tired of folding laundry and scrubbing the bathtub and the whole shebang.

I could take a day off, but what would I do? We have a foot of snow on the ground right now, so I may wait until it's a bit warmer. Summer can't come soon enough for me.  If I have to wash a certain someone's pink snow pants one more time because that someone rolls in mud every single day at recess, I might just lose my mind. I'm looking forward to digging out my Craigslist bike and hitting the trail.  I tried to find a bike for P but I guess the bike guy is no longer in business.

We did get a new bike for the kid, though. Toys R Us is running a deal where you get $20 off a new bike if you trade in an old one.  I had been planning to sell A's old one on Craigslist, but I'm pretty sure $20 is all I would've gotten anyway.  So, this seemed like a pretty good deal.  The kid emptied her piggy banks and  had $36, so between the money she had and the $20 off, we only had to spot her a few bucks.  Would you like to see her new bike?  Oh, here it is:

Anyone want to place a bet as far as how long it will take her father to assemble it?

Visit from Nana.

Yesterday Nana came to visit. And Kerri wasted no time in playing with her cousin. Out came the Monopoly Jr. board game.

As you can see, Kerri puts a lot of thought into it.

And counting out money is serious business.

Luckily, Nana is patient and doesn't mind losing to Kerri.

Thank you for visiting Nana, we always love spending time with you!

Life with Kerri is winning!

Happy first day of Spring!

This is how Kerri returned to school after her March break. It is the first day of Spring. And snowing...hard.

Life with Kerri fills our home with warmth and laughter on a cold Spring day.

Are You Ready? I'm Not.

The first official full day of spring!

We have some signs of it here. They are wet cold signs though.

Today's sunshine is the first we have seen in weeks!

I'm not ready for spring for some reason. The word "Spring" this year is nothing but a four letter word to me...

...W O R K

I need some more time off, hunkered down in my dusty abode.
I can't yet face the pruning, raking, weeding, seeding, cleaning, and preening that spring brings.

Apparently with every year that I get older, I also get lazier.

Next year....retirement!

Also, there are little indoor projects that only get done during the winter before outside W O R K takes over. My list of these indoor projects is not yet accomplished. I need more time!

Here is one recently finished project. The great part about it is that I didn't have to do a thing!

This entertainment center is a piece of furniture that we have had for about sixteen or seventeen years. All I have is this fuzzy photo to show you how it looked. My dad built this for us as a Christmas gift soon after we moved to Oregon. It served us well as a place to display the television, stereo and electronic equipment as well as hundreds of thousands of VHS videos. The boys used the bottom storage areas as a tractor shed and truck garage during their play sessions. It also made good Hide and Go Seek cover. Over time the door hinges were destroyed and the wood surfaces suffered many abuses.

So this winter we sent this well-loved piece out to friends with impressive wood-crafting skillz to be renewed and restored. Besides getting all new hardware, another set of doors was fitted into the top section. The bruises were attended to and it received a refreshing paint job.  The result:

A whole new look! 
I love it!

Now to keep the boys from hiding out inside of it.

Hard Questions

In the past week, I was forced to explain the following concepts to my little buttercup:
  • Taxes
  • Cremation
  • Why her birthmom chose us to be her parents
When my sisters and I were growing up, our mom would always say, "Why can't you girls ever ask me an easy question like, 'do butterflies have teeth?'"  Now I know how she felt.

First, the taxes . . . if you're lucky, you've got a Liberty Tax office in your neck of the woods.  If you're even luckier, your local branch forces hapless employees (or maybe they hire day laborers? I have no idea) to stand at the nearest intersection wearing Statute of Liberty garb. On Thursday, the kid and I were headed to the gym (me to step aerobics, her to the kids' play area) when she asked me about the dancing halfwit on the corner of the intersection.

"Well," I started. "It's for a tax place. They are trying to get us to have our taxes done there."

"What are taxes?"

"The government takes part of every person's paycheck.  Then we have to file a report to make sure we gave the government the right amount."

The questions sped up from there.  Why do we have to pay?  What does the government buy with the money? Do people in China have to pay?  I answered the questions as best I could (I married a finance major so that I wouldn't have to worry my pretty little head about these things!).  Then she started asking me if people in China speak Spanish, so we were safely off the topic of taxes at that point. 

Next up: cremation.  This topic came up when we passed a cemetery.  Ever since I explained to her that deceased people are buried in cemeteries, she's been sort of obsessed with it. She can spot a headstone a hundred yards away and shout, "that person got dead!"  The other day she started asking, "Is our dog Karlie buried in a cemetery?"  Ugh, I knew this one was coming.

"Well, no," I responded. "We had him cremated."

"What does cremated mean?"

The last thing I wanted to tell a five-year-old is that someone tossed her beloved dog's body in a fire and burned him up (even though that is technically what happens).  So, I hemmed and hawed and stammered my way through an explanation and told her that Karl's ashes are on a shelf in my bedroom. A asked if she could see them when we got home.  I told her she could.  She forgot for about a day (I almost thought I was off the hook) and then she asked to view the ashes.  I opened the flowered tin and showed her the contents.  She nodded and walked away.  No more questions - whew!  A few moments later I realized I'd actually shown her Lucy's ashes.  I think I'll just keep that little tidbit to myself.

And finally, the really hard one. My daughter knows that she was adopted and has lots of adoption-themed books in her collection, including a book I made that contains her story specifically.  She doesn't ask a ton of questions, but I answer them as they come, as honestly as I can.  As I was tucking her into bed last night, she asked: "Why did J choose you and Daddy to be my parents?"

I didn't know if she was asking why her birthmom placed her for adoption or if she was wondering why her birthmom chose such inept parents for her. I explained that J loves her very much but at the time A was born, she didn't have the greatest job, didn't have anyone (a partner) to help her, and that it was a tough time for her in general. So, she chose P and I to raise the baby.

Whenever I ask my daughter, "What was the happiest day of my life?" she smiles and responds, "The day I was born."  I always try just to make sure she knows she has been loved all along.  By me, by her dad, by her birthmom, and by about a bajillion friends and relatives (biological and not). 

I'm exhausted from all the tough questions.  If the next question is anything other than "do butterflies have teeth?" I'm referring her to her father.

Happy Purim!

For Purim, Kerri dressed up as her Daddy. She put on his shoes, jogging pants, and Goofy T-shirt. And his work backpack too. Those are some big shoes to fill!

Happy Purim to all who celebrate!

Life with Kerri is always festive.

Conversations with Kerri.

Grandpa likes to play a game called Bejeweled 3.

Kerri likes to watch Grandpa blow up the gems in his game.

So today she asked her grandpa if he could play the "jewelry game" so she could watch.

Life with Kerri is a gem.

Wearin' O' the Green

Shamrock- check
corned beef- check
cabbage- check
Irish ale- check
to come- mashed spuds and Irish soda bread...
Irish tunes on Pandora- check

Excuse to eat something extra tasty on a dreary winter day-

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

And on a lighter note . . .

My local Dairy Queen is hiring fruit smoothies.

Pray the Gay Away

Have you checked out "Our America with Lisa Ling?"  I caught a commercial for the show, was intrigued, and added it to my DVR list. It's on Oprah's network. Honestly, doesn't Oprah get just a little sick of herself?  Sure, name a magazine after yourself. And a talk show. But a whole network? I worry that she may be eyeing some forlorn unnamed planet in some neighboring solar system next. Anyway, I digress. I find the "Our America" series interesting because Lisa Ling seems to have come up with a few topics that haven't already been beaten to death in a hundred other ways.

The recent "Pray the Gay Away" episode all but broke my heart (and the episode about sex offenders living in the woods made it a little queasy). The "Pray the Gay Away" show featured a camp for kids who are gay but also Christian. I'm aware that many believe that being gay and being Christian are mutually exclusive. It saddened me to see and hear what these teens had been through in the past. So much pressure to be . . .  anything-but-gay. One kid made a really valid point, which is that if he lies about who he is, isn't that also a sin? In a really moving moment, one of the camp leaders held up a mirror in front of each teen and said, "You are a child of God." He encouraged them to look at themselves and know that they were not a mistake, not defective. The point was also made that there are something like six verses in the Bible that decry homosexuality.  Why there is so much focus on those few lines is a bit of a head-scratcher.  The book of Leviticus prohibits homosexuality, but also the consumption of shellfish. The Red Lobster in my neighborhood seems to be doing just fine. For me, the Bible (both old and new testament) is an amazing religious text, full of allegorical tales and lessons. Even today, there is still much to be learned from Jesus' example. I think most Christians believe that wholeheartedly. I suppose it's just some small percentage that have appointed themselves to interpret and uphold those six verses (perhaps completely out of context?).

An organization called Exodus was also heavily featured in the "Our America" program.  Exodus operates on the belief that homosexuality is a choice, and provides counseling in an attempt to help confused folks make . . . the right choice, I suppose. Other folks featured: a man who helped found Exodus but later felt he'd made a mistake (and now lives with his male partner in a domestic partnership that he describes as being too ordinary to be noteworthy), a man who runs Exodus currently and feels confident that he no longer has homosexual tendencies, and a young guy named Christian who was struggling mightily with who he is and who he thinks he should be.  Christian's story was also heartbreaking (at least to me). He fit every gay stereotype out there but was undergoing counseling with a pastor and said he hoped to marry a woman someday (even while admitting that he is generally not attracted to women).

I sent a text message to a close friend of mine who does happen to be gay. I told him about the show I was watching and joked that he could try praying his gay away.  He replied, "Away to where? Why should my gay get the day off while I'm stuck here? Thanks, but count me out . . . " I laughed and was reminded, once again, why he is one of my oldest and dearest friends.

If you know me or have read my blog, you've probably gleaned the fact that I am fairly liberal, in both my political and religious views. If my daughter remembers nothing else about my parenting style when she is an adult, I hope she'll say that she was never afraid to tell me anything about herself. Granted, I will give her a hard time if she does something dumb like tattoo the letters B-E-E-R across her knuckles or something, but I hope she will always know that I love her fiercely and will always support her. Disney movies have taught her that girls only marry princes (and not other princesses), but I'm not too worried either way. I'm more concerned about the fact that she doesn't really like chocolate chip cookies (talk about a defect!)

It looks like the entire "Our America" episode is available online - check it out if you're interested.

We love her like a red-haired stepsister.

So there's this television show that I have only seen on internet postings of clips passed around on Facebook or reblogged.  It is a show that spoofs and parodies the City of Portland, Oregon, that place where I go to get lost in a maze of highways and bridges or to shop for bargains that are unavailable in my remote little mountain town, or to attend classical orchestra concerts and to buy organic, sustainably-farmed food for my family. Portland is a quirky place. The streets and highways were designed by someone on a bad drug trip; the scenery, with its rivers, hills and mountain sculpted horizons (including Mt. St. Helens) are charmingly photogenic; the culture is, shall we say, "liberal" and decadent; and the food, in markets and restaurants, is simply the best in the country.

This television show, I'm sure, must make non-Oregonians shake their heads in disbelief but for those of us who have been there, we laugh knowingly. We laugh a lot.

As further proof of the validity of that television parody, I offer this page from last Sunday's Oregonian, the living section, an article about a Portland shop that sells fashions -I mean Trashions- called Junk to Funk:
"Portland is an amazing little bubble of awareness. If I were to do this in the middle of Kansas, it wouldn't go anywhere. The rest of the world is not like Portland."

Understatement much?

That woman's hair adornment is made from wine corks and her outfit was made from wine labels.
You can't make this stuff up.

Next, Paris!

Renew, reuse, recycle.

But one area where Portland continually redeems itself is its appreciation for well-made food.
I share that appreciation. And so do my kids.

Especially my oldest son who knows that a way to this mama's heart is through her stomach.

Kerri and Grandpa.

Life with Kerri is making every moment count.