Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I have an exceptional mother...

This is an excerpt from an e-mail that my mother sent to my sister-in-law, Esther.

Hi Esther,

Thanks for appreciating what I shared. I'm a little embarrassed by your reaction---I am not extraordinarily intelligent. Although I learned to read easily and I did do well in school---I am no genius. From my experience I want others to know that you do not need to be a genius or have special training to be inspired how to teach your own child. Schools and Psychologists try to make you feel that way some times. I remember when Jordan's teacher said she didn't think I was qualified to teach him sex education. Another one of my thoughts is that psychologists, who are usually men, have done mankind a disservice when they intimidate mothers from following their own intuitions and follow the latest worldly psychology instead. Heavenly Father does not send his pure and vulnerable babies to psychologists and only the educated. He sends them emotional, intuitive mothers who have powerful instincts built right into their very beings---I truly believe in the divine right of mothers for inspiration for any particular child who is given to her. I found myself to be a very fierce mother---couldn't help it---you have probably heard the story that I was so protective of my first newborn that I wouldn't even let my visiting mother-in-law hold her (how embarassing is that) Fortunately she was kind , patient and forgiving--and I did get over that. But I had very powerful feelings and had to go with them. Fortunately for me, my domineering husband soon realized there would be no rest or peace in our home if he ignored or crossed any of these strong feelings I had about the care of my children, so he honoured my feelings even if he didn't agree and thought I was being silly. He realized my feelings were much more deeply rooted than his thoughts and whims. For the most part that is. I'm a hard woman to live with when my maternal instincts are crossed. I once read a magazine article that said that a mother holding her newborn infant could intuitively tell you more about it than a team of psychologists studying it for months. After reading that, I injoyed trying to verbalize feelings I had about my new baby about their personality and character.

Some examples of how psychologists can be some times because they are not Moms is: There was a member of the church in Prince George for awhile who was church psychologist. At a parenting class he was teaching us, he tried to make the point that we should only pick up our infants when they are not crying, otherwise you are reinforcing them to be whiners and cry babies. How does that sit with you? Some men will say, ya , that is logical. But that goes totally against the grain of a mother who knows by instinct that she is teaching something far more important and basic by responding to the cry of her child---such as, I love you, I will respond to your needs, you are important to me, you are safe with me and because I am respecting your cry for help like this you will grow to be a loving, caring , empathetic person---I am teaching you that---and furthermore, you will grow up feeling secure and will not feel such a need to be a clilnging, whining, cry baby.

Another example; Don't talk baby talk to your baby or they will grow up talking baby talk. On the other hand, it is a natural instinct to talk baby talk to an infant, and I feel very strongly that it helps their intellect to develop faster than if you don't---because they "get it" faster and they can say it faster, therefore they are having the excitement of successful communication sooner and it is very rewarding to them. ie----if you hand a baby an item and say ta ta and then reach for it and say ta ta---they get it and can soon proudly say it---whereas it would take them much longer to figure out and repeat, "will you please give me that"----great baby language is Mama, Dadda or Papa---Num num because that is such a basic need---oh oh---how many babies love to say oh oh and know it means they have dropped or spilled something? Their ears seem to pick up the double sound to start with. And of course there is Byebye, ca ca and one of my favourites---I show them their toe toes when I change their diapers---and bum bum. To talk in sentences and use more correct words will flow natuarally and more quickly than if you don't use baby talk, in my oppinnion. You see I am very oppinnionated....

Ring of Fire

Isn't that what you called it last year, Laura? That is pretty much what my mouth is right now. Although it is looking less and less like a mouth and more and more like a beak because it is protruding so much.

This photo was taken yesterday morning. If anything it is a bit worse this morning. You can see the first cold sore fading. You can kind of see one on my bottom lip in the middle and then you can see the enormous one on my upper lip. It actually spreads all the way up to my nostril as you can see in this next picture taken this morning. (wouldn't want you to miss out on my misery!) (click on the picture to see the wee fish eggs on their trek to my nostril and every single pore on my face...)

And yes, I am doing everything I know of. I am applying fresh aloe vera, tea tree oil and L.Lysine cream directly to the cold sores. I am taking massive doses of L.Lysine, vitamin C, proflavanoids, as well as vitamin D, E and a B complex. I am drinking hyssop infusion and nettle infusion and completely avoiding sugar, chocolate, nuts, peas and popcorn. And taking oregano oil 3 times a day.

I do think it is a bit better because of the L.Lysine. The fish eggs are tiny aborted fish eggs that aren't scabbing over. And it feels different on the inside of my lip than it usually does. However, feeling a little self-conscious about leaving the house with my lips sticking out 2 feet in front of me...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kicking the Bottle Habit

So after publishing my 'hair routine' I have completely changed everything. As I said in that post, I wanted to learn how to make my own conditioner. And about a month ago, I decided to just stop buying conditioner and force myself to figure something out. I just couldn't justify all those plastic bottles coming into my house.

So... since then, my hair has not quite been the same. First I tried a recipe out of Organic at Home. It was an egg, 2 drops of castor oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil and 2 drops of rosemary essential oil mixed with enough powdered milk to make a paste. Well... no. That didn't really work. My hair dried to an enormously huge 'big hair' state and it felt like there was something in my hair. (later my hair dressing friend told me that the milk protein is far too large to be absorbed by hair).

In the meantime I simply rinsed my hair with baking soda and then sprayed it with apple cider vinager. Which does get it clean but has no humectant for happy curls.

The next thing I tried was a recipe from this website - the avacado homemade conditioner. Although with my previous experience, I only mixed up half a recipe - half an avacado and 1 egg yolk. And I rinsed it according to the instructions, with apple cider vinager and the juice of one lime. My hair was really shiny and very soft.... but stringy and I had to brush it a lot to get rid of the stringy-ness. So I poured a bucket of baking soda and water over my head followed by a bucket of apple cider vinager and water... And we are back to square one. Although I might try that recipe again sometime when my hair needs deep conditioning - like in the super dry summer.

Next I am going to try this one. Although the problem I have found with most of these recipes is that they call for you to wash your hair with shampoo after you have done the treatment. The other problem is that most of the ingredients are definitely not available in a 100 mile radious - most being tropical fruits.

I'll keep you posted... Suggestions welcome!

Friday, February 20, 2009

So Much For That

So in November or so, while at Nature's Fare, I noticed a bottle of L-Lysine in the sale rack. Not having heard of it, I picked it up and read that it was to prevent cold sores. So I bought it. When I got home, I looked it up on the internet and found this and a list of foods (that I can't find now) to not eat in order to avoid a cold sore. I got the cold sore virus when I was 10. For the last couple of decades, I normally get one cold sore a year - usually in February, although in the last 2 years I have got it in March. Last year I had a particularly bad cold sore that lasted for a month and spread all over the right side of my mouth - both upper and bottom lips. I made up my mind that this year I would avoid getting a cold sore. I also found this lip balm recipe and when I was making all my lip balms for Christmas I made up a cold sore remedy one as well - adding all the essential oils I had that were supposed to be good for cold sores (peppermint, tea tree, cinnamon, bergamot...).

So in January I started taking the L-Lysine and ate a lot less chocolate and peanuts.

And then, on February 10 those old familiar fish eggs appeared on the bottom left corner of my lip. The cold sore.

I can say this: I think it has gone away faster. Although it is hard to remember exactly how long they usually take to go away as I only get 1 a year. It has been 10 days now and it is looking much better. The swelling did go down very quickly. I think one of the things that has really helped this year is using the salve I made in the summer from olive oil, calendula, plantain, chamomile and bees wax. I have applied it constantly and it has kept it moist and kept the healing skin from cracking and bleeding. Tea tree oil, which I have been using for years, also seems to be the most effective at stopping it in its tracks and drying it up. At night when I go to sleep and when I go out, I use the lip balm.

Not sure if I will buy L-Lysine again but there you have it, my cold sore report. At least I have got it over with earlier than last year!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I had a sisterly treat this week. Bethany and I have been talking about her coming to visit me and on Wednesday morning she called to say that she could come that day. I met her and Ben in Kamloops (after some typically Clarke anxious moments...). So she arrived Wednesday evening and was here until Friday early afternoon. But we did at least a weeks worth of stuff in that time.
My favourite thing was her sitting down to the kitchen table shortly after she got here and saying, "so, what shall we make?" We tried a new recipe out of the Simply In Season cookbook I perpetually have out of the library - delicious sweet potato quesadillas and some samosoa quesadillas. It was very fun to cook together, I have to say!

The next day we spent the day visiting, reading and knitting up at the ski hill and didn't get home until dinner time, our day was far from over. We rented "PS I Love You" - a very satisfying chick flick (everyone around here is much too cool to watch one of those kinds of movies with me - one needs a sister for these things!). And while we watched, we made a simple baby quilt. Bethany luckily found fabric that she liked in my stash. We started and finished the entire thing that evening! This is how my 'studio' came to look like this. Bethany will want me to say that she did not make this mess personally but I will add, that somehow it happened while she was here... And she will also want me to say that before she left, it was restored to its former level of tidiness. Here is the proud Bean with her first baby blanket.

We took a break mid blanket to make a dessert that Beth had seen on a cooking show. It involved tortillas and the apple pie filling that I made from my own apples in the fall and some sweetened condensed milk that had been boiled for 2 hours in the can. They were absolutely delicious! So good that Dean and Rhiannon made more for breakfast the next day.

Early on Friday morning she made me this springy new skin which I love.

In the midst of all that crafty and cooking goodness there was some piano music. Some was solo Bean music and then there were duets and improvising with a certain young niece. I will leave you with a sample of their music.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

In Reflection

Well, I was about to go to bed. I have spent the evening on the phone and reading my favourite blogs - vegging after a day at the farmer's market. But then as I secured the door, I noticed that I had neglected to put my chickens to bed. And of course, once I set my foot out the door, the baa-ing began in the sheep pen and I had to stop by to give a chin scratch or two. Valley bottom cloud is briefly banished and the moon is bright tonight - on its way to being full. The bare black locust, maple and linden trees are casting their moonshadows on the snow. And the beauty of it all revived me and I thought I might was well not put this post off any longer.

I have been processing my grandfather's death. Full of thoughts of him and at times deeply berieved. I went to his memorial service in Nanaimo (for photos see here). In the end, Erin, Kaetlyn, Drew and Rhiannon all wanted to come so we packed up the van and headed South. It was a very fast trip. We left Thursday after skiing. Thank God for Erin because I was hard hit by the flu and basically flopped into the back seat and dozed in and out all the way there as she drove. There were some dicey moments by 'The Summit' (formerly known as the toll booths) where the roads were greasy with slushy snow at which point I felt compelled to sit up and tell her how to drive (which she tolerated fairly well - better than I would have). We arrived at my brother Doug's at 10:30pm. (Oh, yah, Laura, that is what else I was going to say... quit calling my little brother dough!) Upon opening the door,small, pale blonde children hurtled down the stairs and threw themselves at me.... I love being an aunt!

The next morning we raced to the ferry in classic Clarke style following Doug's van and barely made it on. On the ferry, we first found my cousin Eugene and two of his 7 children. Although he was like a big brother to me growing up (both protective and annoying), it had been a very long time since I had seen him. And then we spotted my grandpa's younger brother, also on the ferry and before long, my sister Laura turned up.

I thought my grandpa's service was wonderful. It was at the Unitarian church in Nanaimo. All but two of his grandchildren and many of his great-grandchildren were there. I managed to get up to speak during the 'open mic' segment. I have never really had a problem with public speaking but to get up and speak about my grandpa was more emotional than I had anticipated. It didn't quite come out as poetic as I prepared in my journal but I managed to get out my main point - which was to acknowledge his unconditional love and acceptance. Erin sang "Imagine" with my brother. Hearing the emotion in my brother's voice brought tears to my eyes.

I am very glad I went It has been interesting processing all of that since I've been home. I know I have been lucky to have had my grandpa for 43 years. And I remember how he always encouraged my creativity. And his own discipline is an example to me and his courage in putting his own creativity out there. I have brought some momentos of him into my 'studio' to encourage me.

My grandma Clarke (my paternal grandmother) died 5 years ago. She lived with us for most of my teen age years in Terrace and before that we lived in the same town and she gave me my first job. She helped pay for me to go to University. But when she died, she hadn't been speaking to me for 15 years. Yet when she died, I felt a huge release. I knew that she now understood everything between us perfectly. And I often feel her around me. She is there when I am knitting and crocheting (which she taught me to do and would fix my mistakes and decipher patterns for me). And she is with me in my crafting and bread making and food preserving. She loved all those things, too. I feel like her spirit lingers around her family still and when I need her, she is there. Yet my grandpa (my maternal grandfather) who always maintained contact with me, I don't feel near me. I think he has moved on to whatever is next for his soul. I know he worked very hard in this life to resolve things. I don't feel like there are unsaid words between us. He knew how I felt about him and I know how he feels about me. Listening to the tapes of his stories, particularly the tape "The Wind Is From the South" I am reminded of how well he understood the human psyche in general and his own in particular. He was a man well ahead of his time or perhaps a person who knows themselves so well and accepts and loves themselves is unusual at anytime. I feel certain that his crossing of the veil was a joyful one; a welcome one and his soul has moved on to the next part of his journey. And I feel that odd sensation as I am left with only one grandparent living and my parents' mortality draws closer as well as my own. When my grandmothers were my age they were grandmothers..... they are hard to put into words, these big, epic thoughts and impressions. I am sure that one of the reasons I have been so sick with the flu this week is so I could lay around and contemplate all these things.

As I let my grandpa go and say 'good bye' in my own way - and in many ways - I remember the part of me that is him. He is my inspiration as I strive to find the courage of my creativity. It helps me cut through all my internal 'bs' and get to work. He reminds me that I have a work - a something that only I can contribute. And I grieve that I can't sit down to write a letter and tell him my thoughts on creativity and myself and see what he will say in response. It is all wrapped up...ribbons of thought and emotion that he, himself, would love unravelling.