Monday, May 31, 2010

Bellingham Highland Games

I have been around Highland Dancing and Piping for about ten years now. The Highland Games are where we hang out all summer long. It is always such a thrill when we first pull into the parking lot. The tunes reach our ears before we even get onto the grounds. Various pipers, drummers and dancers all walking around in their colorful kilts.

The music is exhilarating, the food is amazing, and the talent is inspiring. I am moved to tears during Opening Ceremonies as I watch hundreds of Pipers and Drummers march across the field playing "Scotland The Brave." I never tire of it. I get choked up every time I hear that one piper playing "Amazing Grace," and then lose it altogether when all of the pipers and drummers join in for the second verse. I know why the English would turn tail and run as those Scottish Warriors would march towards battle. It's overwhelming to say the least.

Tayler and Autumn have competed in the Highland Dance Competitions for years. I am usually rushing around rolling their hair into Highland buns, pinning plaids and pulling up socks. The judges are in place in front of the stages. The dancers are stretching and jumping to get ready to compete. There are many dances competed, all complete with history attached. I will tell you about four dances.

The Highland Fling is one of the oldest of the traditional Highland dances of Scotland. Returning from a victorious battle, male warriors would perform the dance in celebration of their success. It was performed on a small round shield, called a targe. Most targes had a sharp spike of steel projecting from the center, so the dancers learned to move with skill and dexterity to avoid injuring themselves. The dancers try to stay in one spot as they dance. It is said to be based on the antics of a stag on a hillside; the grouped fingers and upheld arms representing the antlers.

The Sword Dance is thrilling. I always watch this one through my fingers, with my breath held the whole time. I can barely watch. The sword dance was typically done in battle and it was done either before the night before battle where the Scott's men would put down there swords and cross them a dance the sword and if he touched his sword that means that he would have a horrible day in battle the next day and probably wouldn't come back alive. But, if he danced victoriously over his sword he usually would have a great day in battle the next day. Another story is that the Scottish warrior would dance this after a battle using his defended opponent's sword. He would cross his sword with his enemies sword and dance a sword around it. In Highland competitions if the dancers touch the sword they are marked down or disqualified....which is why I watch with my eyes closed.

Seann Truibhas, pronounced ‘Shawn Trewes’, is Gaelic for ‘Old Trousers’. It is believed that the dance developed after the 1745 Jacobite Rising, when Charles Edward Stuart (more affectionately known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) came to Scotland from France to win back the crown. Initially the uprising was a staggering success; the Jacobite army rapidly broke out of the Highlands, captured Edinburgh, and advanced as far south as Derby in England. Unfortunately, the army lacked the necessary French support, and so retreated back to their stronghold in the Highlands, where it was finally defeated at Culloden Moor near Inverness in 1746. Afterwards, the government decided to end once and for all the Jacobite military threat. Jacobites were rounded up, imprisoned or executed. Estates were snatched, the clan system dismantled, and their kilt and plaids, pipes, and weaponry outlawed.

Some suggest that the dance was created when the above Act of Proscription was repealed in 1783, and Highlanders were once again allowed to wear their kilts. The dancers look like they are "kicking off their trousers." It's one of my favorites.

The Irish Jig is a parody of Irish dancing—borrowing many similar foot and leg movements, and even using hard shoes and "temper". Arm movements reflect the history behind the dance. An angry housewife mad because her husband has been in the pub ‘til the wee hours of the morning. The dancer chases her husband, flounces her skirt, and shakes her fists. Female dancers wear green/red dresses/skirts, complete with apron, and hard shoes for "stomping out the rhythm". It is just plain fun to watch their angry faces and strong movements. I am new as a Piping Mom...I love watching the Band compete. Beau also solo competes. But I don't know as much about it all yet. He is part of the White Spot Pipe Band in Surrey, B.C. I am impressed by their dedication. They have such good camaraderie too. I have never seen a group of kids work so hard for a common goal before. The band parents are so nice. The kids work so hard. I am thankful Beau has this opportunity. They will be at the Bellingham Highland Games this Saturday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nothing Big

Ok. I have been reading blogs here and there. I see a lot of them are just rambling on about nothing much so I though I would try it. I will just type and see what comes to mind.

Hmmm...let's see. Last night Autumn decided to get the flu. It's always a horrible feeling hearing that sound in the middle of the night. When Tayler used to do that she would cry and want me right there with her. I would hold her hair and rub her back, sing her songs, get her water, and tell her that all would be fine. Autumn on the other hand is different. She is a trooper. She just walks into the bathroom calmly, YAKS and then goes back to bed. She acts like it's no big deal. I don't relate to that. I am more in the "SOMEBODY MAKE THIS STOP" camp, like Tayler. I hate throwing up. Well, who loves it really?

I was supposed to go to Seattle and shop with a friend Saturday. That didn't work out. We then planned for Sunday. That didn't work out either. She called me excited today and told me she got off early so we could leave earlier. I told her I might not be able to go today because Autumn was sick. I keep telling her to find a new friend. One that is more available...but she won't do it. She was great though. She said we could just bring Autumn and push her around in a wheel chair (and her bowl.)

What else......I am going to take a class this Summer at Whatcom. Tayler and Kyle are going to do Running Start. We all three got placed into English 101. I told them it would be fun if we all took it together. Kyle just stood there smiling, but I don't think it was because he thought that would be fun. I told him I could text him for the homework assignment and we all three could study together! thanks.

Oh...I am going to stop eating meat and dairy for a while and see how I feel. I have been reading up on it...thanks to Amy Braune. She gave me some great book recommendations. I have finished "Skinny Bitch" and "The China Study." I have a lot of thoughts on both of those and I will soon be sharing a few things about that. You can follow along as I go from carnivore to vegetarian. It should be lots of fun. And not all that easy. I am already appreciating vegetables more...I think I will discover lots of new things I like to eat. I am curious to see how different I feel after the switch.

Ok, there it was. A totally random post. Oh, and Chick Magnet is doing fine. I have to go out and clean his box right now. A random post isn't complete unless I mention him. Sorry. And I always have to add a photo to my post...but I can't decide what the "Theme" of this post is! I will think of something.

Have a good day. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

I'll Pass On The Rat Poison....thanks.

It sometimes takes a while to realize that your parents know things. It can take years, in fact.

I grew up with a Mother who thought for herself. She questioned authority. She didn't just run out and do everything the doctor told her. I was the kid who was not allowed to rinse with fluoride. All the kids would sit at their desks, watching the clock...swishing. They would ask me why I wasn't swishing. I would tell them sweetly...
"My mom doesn't let me rinse my mouth with rat poison....."

We didn't get our vaccinations. I used to love watching my Mom inform the nurses of the law. I waited for that golden moment when the nurse realized that we in fact did not live in a communist country, and they could not insist we get our shots in order to go to school. My Mom would just flip over the exemption form and sign the school nurse glared at her the whole time.

Our kids are not vaccinated either. I have spent many years reading about it. I won't give all of my reasons, because

1)I don't like to force my view on others. (I used to, but have grown tired of it)
2) I don't like reading posts a mile long...and that is what it would be.

Recently I have been faced with a dilemma. Tayler wants to be a part of a medical program that will require her to get her shots. Well....this is easier said than done. I always knew that when my kids grew up they would have to decide for themselves. But she's not grown up yet. And now I am being forced to make a decision. I have an ethical problem with the shots because most of them have aborted fetal tissue in them. She will have to get the MMR and that one does include it. You may not believe me, but it's true.

So...I am feeling like my Mother. I have to take a stand and it is not fun. The nurse in charge of the program argued with me, took my concerns personally and treated me very badly. She laughed at me when I explained that if I did give Tayler the shot I needed to find one without the fetal tissue. She said I was crazy to believe that. Well, I talked to the head nurse at the Department of Health and she must be crazy too...because she told me


She wasn't hateful. She was kind and understanding. She offered to help me find a source that I would be comfortable with. I will never be totally comfortable because of all of the million of other ingredients in the shots that are toxic...but at least no aborted babies will be involved.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. I think it was easier just being that kid sitting at her desk resenting the fact I had no rat poison to swish with. I am sure Tayler wishes her Mom would just "go with the flow" but maybe one day she will look back and appreciate my efforts....

Here are some links if you are interested:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pretzel M&M's

I try not to eat sugar. I avoid it most of the time. And it has paid off. It really is my enemy. But sometimes I give in. When I do, it usually will involve one of three things.

1)Chocolate and caramel.
2)Chocolate and mint
3)Chocolate covered pretzels.

Rolo's scream at me from their little shelf. York Peppermint Patties taunt me with their shiny foil wrapper. And I literally run from those "Dips" at Costco. Trader Joe's has DARK chocolate covered pretzel's. The last time I was there with Jenipher, I put them in my cart and took them out through the whole store. I finally ended up throwing them past this guy's head right before the check stand. He ducked and laughed because he had been behind us the whole time. He said he lost the bet he had made with himself. He wagered I would end up buying them. Haha...I won. I avoided hundred's of calories.

There is a way to eat something you love but shouldn't have. Open a bag with a bunch of people around. Kids are the best choice. I will tell my kids and their friends "Hurry! Eat this!" And then I will only get a couple.
Or I will hand the bag of whatever-it-is to Chase and say, "GO!" He knows the drill...he runs and hides it somewhere. They love that game.

So, all that to say.....Tayler walked up to me last night and drops a few M&M's in my hand. But they were round. "What are they?" I asked. She didn't answer...I popped one in my mouth.
"Great! Thanks!" I yelled.
"Why did it take M&M so long to make these," I wondered. Now I have these to run from at the store too... maybe I will just buy a package and share it right then and there with the checker and the person behind me. That will work.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Can I have five minutes, please?

I had just finished the kid's school work. Autumn and Chase were in a mood. You know the kind....they were playing but it was right on the edge of fighting. They were laughing, but very close to tears. I could feel it coming. But I was in the middle of writing a new post. I was trying to tell you all about the truth behind the Egg Industry. My train of thought kept getting derailed. I stopped about ten times to ask them to please choose another room to play/fight in. They were not catching my vision. They wanted to roll around at my feet.

So I yelled.

I will admit it. Not loud enough to consider it a scream, but loud enough to stop them in their tracks.

"Can you PLEASE just give me FIVE MINUTES to finish this?!"

Blank stares.

"Really, I am just asking for FIVE SHORT MINUTES to myself so I can think....PLEASE?!"

They marched out of the living room. Ahhhhhh.....Were was I? Oh yes, National Egg Month...blah blah blah......then I heard fighting and scuffling in the kitchen accompanied by a series of beeps. I stopped typing.


They obeyed but were clear across the room. Angry faced.

Two Steps.
Five steps.

I asked them what was going on. Autumn calmly said,
"Chase is trying to set the timer!"
I looked at Chase. His eyes wide, his mouth wide open.
"Why?" I asked meekly.
"I have to set the timer and she won't let me!" he wailed.
"Why?" I asked again...
He threw his hands up in the air.
"BECAUSE I CAN'T COUNT TO FIVE MINUTES!!! He explained...shocked at our ignorance.
Wow...he was literally going to give me peace for five minutes. He wasn't even being rude. He was just being honest.
Autumn looked at him and sadly shook her head.
"That is just an EXPRESSION," she told him.
He looked at us shocked.
"HOW am I supposed to know what an expression is?!" He asked.
Autumn looked at me smugly, with her thumb pointed to him and said,
"Now you have your next blog post."

I laughed. Hard. Autumn laughed. Hard. Chase walked out. He didn't think it was very funny.
They ended up finding something fun to do and I had thirty whole minutes to myself. No timer involved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

National Egg Month...Let's thank those Chickens!

May is National Egg Month. Of course I am more interested in this subject now that we have chickens. I love having fresh eggs everyday. I realize I have had had my fair share of chicken "mishaps" but for the most part our chickens are happy. Well, except the ones that have died, but they were happy until then!

I've not thought much about where the eggs in the store came from. I saw pictures of happy little chickens on the cartons. All smiley and content. I pictured them on their farm running around digging for worms, and soaking up the sun. Clucking, foraging, laying. Yes...all in that order. And that is what my hens do. I feel proud that I have managed to (somewhat) master this whole laying hen thing. I realize more than ever just how lucky these hens are. As Jerry puts it, "They landed with their butts in butter."

Unfortunately, those egg cartons in the store are pulling our legs. Here is what they really live like.

Caged for life without exercise while constantly drained of calcium to form egg shells, battery hens develop the severe osteoporosis of intensive confinement know as caged layer fatigue. Calcium depleted, millions of hens become paralyzed and die of hunger and thirst inches from their food and water.

Hens live in a poisoned atmosphere. Toxic ammonia rises from the decomposing uric acid in the manure pits beneath the cages to cause ammonia-burned eyes and chronic respiratory disease in millions of hens. Studies of the effect of ammonia on eggs suggest that even at low concentrations significant quantities of ammonia can be absorbed into the egg. Hens to be used for another laying period are force molted to reduce the accumulated fat in the reproductive systems and regulate prices by forcing the hens to stop laying for a couple of months. In the force molt, producers starve the hens for four to fourteen days causing them to lose 25 to 30 percent of their body weight along with their feathers. Water deprivation, drugs such as chlormadinone, and harsh light and blackout schedules can be part of this brutal treatment.

This system depends on debeaking and antibiotics. Many of the antibiotics used to control the rampant viral and bacterial diseases of chickens in crowded confinement can also be used to manipulate egg production. For example, virginiamycin is said to increase feed conversion per egg laid, bacitracin to stimulate egg production, and oxytetracycline to improve eggshell quality. In Factory Farming (1991), Andrew Johnson says virtually 100 percent of laying hens in the United States are routinely dosed with antibiotics (p. 29).

At the end of the laying period, the hens are flung from the factory to the transport cages by their wings, legs, head, feet, or whatever is grabbed. Many bones are broken. Chicken "stuffers" are paid for speed, not gentleness. Half-naked from feather loss and terrorized by a lifetime of abuse, hens in transit embody a state of fear so severe that many are paralyzed by the time they reach the slaughterhouse. At slaughter the hens are a mass of broken bones, oozing abscesses, bright red bruises, and internal hemorrhaging making them fit only for shredding into products that hide their true state, such as chicken soups and pies, school lunches and other food programs developed by the egg industry to dump dead laying hens onto consumers in diced up form.

Here is what they should live like...

I mentioned in a previous post about the fate of all of the little Chick Magnets hatched....I am so tempted to post pictures but since I have kids reading this blog, I will refrain. The fact is, male chickens are viewed as a by product and are treated just as that.
To date, there are no federal welfare laws regulating poultry raising, transport, or slaughter in the United States. The U.S. egg industry opposes humane slaughter legislation for poultry, claiming that laying fowl cannot be economically rendered insensible to pain prior to having their throats cut or being decapitated. There is no reason to assume the industry will reform of its own accord. Supporting humane treating of these animals could include buying only local farm eggs. Provided by chickens who are living the way they were created to live, therefore providing a superior, healthier product.
Many people have decided to have "Backyard Chickens." Most cities will allow 2-3 hens. Here is a great website to get you started:

I really enjoyed the book

Keep Chickens
Tending Small Flocks in Cities,
Suburbs, and Other Small Places
by Barbara Kilarski

I don't mean to be such a downer. I could have just posted my favorite egg recipes and told you about all of the health benefits from Organic Free Range Eggs and called it good. But then I look out my window and see my hens kicking around in the dirt. I hear one hollering because she just layed another egg. Then I think of the Battery Hens, crammed in those small cages, never to see the light of day...and I feel angry. One good reason to support local farming is the humane treatment of animals. Another reason is for a superior and healthier product....a product that you eventually put in your mouth.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fewer eggs...but I still love them.

Ever since we lost Chick Magnet 1 our egg production has dropped by half! I would like to know how a rooster encourages a chicken to lay an egg. Is is work to lay an egg? Would a hen just rather not? It seems they are much more relaxed and happy without him. So relaxed that they are barely laying. I am curious to see if things pick up once there is a rooster out there again.

A Chicken's egg production declines after one year. Commercial chickens are allowed to live for two years. (If you call being confined in small wire cages "living") After that, they are slaughtered and used for BABY food and PET food. Blah....And the fate of the poor little baby roosters is so sad. They are killed right after they are hatched. Some little roosters are even used as disposable packing material for the shipping of the baby hens! I think my little Chick Magnet 2 should feel very lucky. Instead of being tossed into a grinder, he was flown first class to Lynden and acquired immediate "Rock Star" status.

I know that chickens are viewed for the most part as food. Or only kept for the eggs they provide. But I am surprised at how friendly and "pet-like" they are. Lots of people around the world keep them strictly for companionship. The photo below is an interesting way to sell baby chicks as pets.

I enjoy my chickens just as much as I do my dog or cat. At least the chickens give back! Our dog just lays around and wants to be fed. Our chickens provide us with a great breakfast each day. That is why I have no problem bringing them to the vet, giving them extra treats and spoiling them. They deserve it. I now let them roam around all day outside their yard. It does stress me out when I think of all of those eagles in the trees but I know it makes them healthier and happier. It also gives us better tasting eggs. They LOVE finding bugs and scratching in the dirt. I laugh so hard at them kicking bark dust everywhere. I will be glad when Chick Magnet 2 gets bigger so he can be out there protecting them. Until then I will just keep my eye out and my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tenth Avenue North

I love this band. I drive Beau crazy when we get into the car. I never get tired of listening to it. Yesterday he said to me....
"I know I will regret telling you this, but Tenth Avenue North has a new album out."
I slammed on my brakes. (Don't worry, I was still in the driveway)
"WHAT?! Why didn't you tell me this?"
He pointed out that he just did. I came home and listened to one of the songs and I can tell I will like the new album. I don't know if it is possible to like it as much as the first, but ya never know. It kind of reminds me of the time I listened to that "Third Day" album until the kids wanted to throw it out the window. In fact, I think they did.

Here are a couple of my favorite Tenth Avenue North songs. The lyrics always go straight to my heart. I am reminded that I cannot earn God's Grace. Boy have I tried....but it's a gift. It is overwhelming to me when I think about what that really means. I often times struggle against that. I try to "work" or "bargain" my way to Him. I try to compensate for my own lack. I make it so hard on myself. It seems so insane to fight against the very Hands that are keeping me from falling...I am great at sawing off the proverbial branch that I am sitting on. I happen to need that Branch. Otherwise it's just me smacking face down on the cold, hard, ground. Over...and over.... Like my niece Scarlet says....
"Duh Tupid."

Beau just came in and I told him I bought a couple of the songs already. He told me that was going to be my Mother's Day present and I ruined it....He should have known better. :)