Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Power of Best Friends

I guess that I am the first of any of Cara’s readers that have actually posted a guest blog. I think that makes me the guinea pig. Depending on who Cara’s avid readers are, some of you may know me, some may not. My name is Lisbeth, I am one of Cara’s best friends from childhood (the really young years…7 -13) in Hockessin.

For those of you who simply read this blog but really don’t know Cara at all, let me tell you that she talks exactly like she types, that’s pretty much why I read it all the time, I feel like I am in her living room. While her blogging may revolve around Organic foods and healthy living for children, mine are both young adults and so what I have done or not done with them over the past 21 years no longer really has relevance, they make their own choices now.

I started out when they were little doing the homemade thing, baby food in the blender, cloth diapers, fresh juices etc., then reality set in with a husband out to sea and a job. All of that stuff that she says not to do, I did, miraculously I have 2 pretty wonderful almost adult children that ate McDonalds french fries and drank coke once in a while, so don’t fret, there is hope.

I read her blog because she inspires me, to be better, do better, live better and pay attention (at whatever level) to what I buy and what I eat. I can guarantee you that I am nowhere near her state of greatness for the environment but I am listening. I think that if all of us do that, just try one thing, if it is recycling or buying local or eating organic the planet actually might survive for a little while longer than its current life expectancy.

This brings me to the point of this blog. The influence of best friends and the power that they have over us, for LIFE!!

Cara , Linda and I grew up together, we played with horses, we complained about our mothers, we sang, laughed, fought, cried, explored, learned, loved and never ever stopped being friends. I am the youngest of the 3 but not by much, I moved away from the other 2 when I was 13, I didn’t see either one of them (although they stayed close) for 10 years.

Somehow, miraculously, now that we all have families and live in 3 completely separate corners of the country, we found each other again. Cara I see weekly in cyber space reading her blog but physically I have not seen her since Ian was 2. So what is the point of all this? The point is that our friends perhaps more than our parents or friends or coworkers have more influence over us than anyone.

I live at the beach. I do not swim in the ocean, no one can get me in the water, except Cara, she can convince me to do anything and she always has. I do not hike in the mountains, I am a city girl, I go to Idaho and hike 7 miles up a mountain, with Linda. I run (ok, so I jog) but not by choice, I am not an “I love running“ kind of a girl. I run because I like to drink wine and eat dessert (more than just one bite). Running is the only way that my clothes still fit at the end of the month. If anyone ever mentioned to me that I should train for and run a half marathon, I would tell them that they were completely nuts! These two have convinced me to try and tackle this challenge and I actually agreed, why , I am still not quite sure but it will be an interesting chapter to add to my life story. (You'll love it and feel like superwoman when it's all done, the blisters are soaking, and the wine glass is in your hand! - Cara)

If most of the readers of this blog have young children that are still heavily influenced by their peers, beware, they could possibly be around forever. The power and influence that true, forever friends have on us, for LIFE, is quite amazing. I am grateful to have some in mine!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salt - the New Bad Guy

Seems like everyone’s talking about salt these days. The government’s got a bee in its bonnet and is on a mission to reduce salt in the American diet. Good luck with that. Our bodies require about 1500 mg of sodium a day. Most Americans get more than twice that. And too much salt can lead to high blood pressure which can cause stroke, heart attack, osteoporosis, and asthma, to name a few. Salt is the new bad guy, but really you can’t blame salt.

Salt brings out the flavor in foods. It makes food taste good. Ever leave the salt out of your chocolate chip cookie recipe? Yuck. Hard to believe sugar and flour and chocolate couldn’t be delicious, but without the salt it’s basically cardboard. And truly, there’s nothing wrong with salt. We all need it.

Sodium is essential for life. Without it our body can’t balance its water regulation. It’s also necessary for muscle contraction and expansion, nerve stimulation, acid-alkaline balance, and the proper function of the adrenal glands. Deficiency symptoms include confusion, low blood sugar, weakness, lethargy, and heart palpations. On the other hand, I read from a reputable source that a salt-free diet will often cure acne and oily skin. That might have been helpful when I was 16, but I’m not sure it’s worth the risk.

I love salt. We use celtic sea salt granules in a grinder at our table and I’m pretty guilty of grinding away over my food. My husband always winces as he watches me douse my food with salt. I feel pretty healthy and my blood pressure is always excellent, so I try to avert my eyes when my hubby gives me that look that says “Stop using so much salt or you’re going to DIE.”

I’ve been following the big salt crisis, as I have a vested interest in not dying. Here’s what I discovered. The salt that is sickening us is not coming from our salt shakers. In fact, only 11% of our sodium intake actually comes from what we add to our food at the table. Where the sodium is really lurking is in processed food and restaurant foods. Chefs all over are panicking at the idea that the government might regulate how much salt they are allowed to add to their signature dishes. Most chefs add salt to their cooking by the fistful, not the teaspoon. Time’s recent article revealed that the Admiral’s Feast at Red Lobster has 4,400 mg of sodium. That’s three days worth! Country fried steak dinner at Denny’s has more than 3600 mg of sodium – the same as 24 strips of bacon.

Now, I’m certainly not holding up Red Lobster or Denny’s as the example of fine dining, but the parking lots of places like that are crammed, so somebody must like their cooking. We have a Cracker Barrel just a mile from our house and ever since it opened I’ve never driven by and not seen it stuffed. We ate there once, just to see what the fuss was all about. I couldn’t find anything on the menu that wasn’t smothered in gravy or deep fried. And the vegetables were boiled to death and drenched in too much salt for even my taste. Collectively we are encouraging this kind of restaurant to exist and expand, just like our waistlines.

The other place that the bulk of our sodium intake comes from is processed food, and I’m not just talking about lunchables (ham and swiss lunchables have 930mg of sodium!). Breakfast cereals and snack foods, the staple of any normal kids’ diet are loaded with sodium. Check out your bottle of ketchup - 150 mg in a tablespoon. I don’t know about your kids, but mine practically mainline the stuff. Ranch Dip has 290 mg of sodium in a 2 tablespoon serving. It all begins to add up. You can count on sodium in pretty much anything you buy from the store, it’s even found naturally in some foods, like meat, poultry, vegetables, and milk. One cup of low fat milk has about 107 mg sodium. Progresso Hearty Tomato Soup has 1,110 mg and here you thought you were being healthy having soup for lunch. In college we all ate through cases of Ramen Noodles because they were so cheap, but they are loaded with sodium – 1120 per serving!

Sodium chloride is everywhere. I was reading the ingredients in a bottle of hair conditioner the other day and found sodium chloride listed as the final ingredient – in hair care?! So what’s a person supposed to do? I think it’s fairly simple. Avoid processed food. Cook food yourself. Buy your food from people you know. I was explaining this to my 13-year-old and he said, “that’s your theme, I think.” So at least he’s getting the message even if he doesn’t always heed it.

If you do buy processed food, and let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to avoid, pay attention to labels. Salt is a great preservative, so food manufacturers use it heavily to protect food. They depend on it to reduce the dryness in crackers, and bring out the sweetness in cakes and cookies. And don’t overlook that salt is also found in sodium-containing compounds like monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, and sodium nitrate.

I admit that I can be heavy handed with the salt shaker on my own plate, but I can do that because most everything I cook comes from fresh ingredients and I add very little salt when cooking. In fact, I’m kind of famous for leaving it out. My poor family has endured all manner of salt-less concoctions. All this bad press about salt has me reading labels again and that’s a good thing. The key for most of us when it comes to eating healthy is awareness. Salt is not the bad guy – our eating habits are.

Note: See the post, “Salt is Salt is Salt…or is it?” from September 2009 to learn about the healthiest types of salt.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everything Evolves

We’re all evolving. At least we’re supposed to be. This blog has evolved a bit too. I no longer find myself writing about strictly organic topics. I seem to digress to parenting, philosophy, chicken-keeping, gardening, and managing a home, with the occasional political rant thrown in for fun. Hope that’s OK with you. As it evolves, I would invite you to suggest topics. Some weeks I have more ideas and words than I know what to do with, and other weeks (like this week for instance) I have to scrounge around for something relevant to say.

I like to post twice a week, but if it gets to the point where I find myself writing just to be writing, I’ll try to spare you and get by with just one post. There are topics I covered last year that I may revisit because my own understanding of a particular topic has evolved.

I would also just LOVE to have a guest blogger contribute something, so if you have something to say, pass it along. I’m a gentle editor, if I was a little tougher you wouldn’t have to wade through so many words each post. I’m still waiting for my cousin Carolee to send me her guest-post on Air-dried Laundry (ha! Now you have to do it!).

In the spirit of evolving, I’d like to share my latest wheat bread recipe for the bread maker. I’m always trying to perfect my sandwich bread recipe so my kids won’t resent the fact that their crazy mother refuses to provide store-bought bread. I know lunchtime finds them a bit self-conscious of the size and shape of the bread itself, so I’ve been working towards making the bread so delicious that they suffer the humiliation gladly. Here’s the latest evolution of our sandwich wheat bread:

Honey-Flax-Sunflower Wheat Bread
(makes a medium loaf)

1 ¼ cup water
3 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons butter
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sunflower seeds (I finely chop mine in the food processor so no one suspects there are nuts in the bread)
¼ cup ground flax meal
2 cups Whole Wheat flour
1 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoon yeast

Place the ingredients in the processor in the order listed. Bake on Whole Wheat setting.

Every bread maker is different, but mine takes these ingredients and makes bread that has a delicious crust, yet is soft and moist on the inside. It's full of wonderful flavors. Sometimes I substitute pumpkins seeds (ground up, of course) for the sunflower seeds. One of these days I'll get real crazy and throw in both! Gotta love my exciting life.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Are GMOs the Answer?

Demand Organic. That’s the latest campaign of the Rodale Institute, founded in 1947 by organic pioneer J.I. Rodale. If you look around your book shelf you may find you have a Rodale book or two – they are prolific in their promotion of organic gardening and healthy living. Or maybe you’ve read Organic Gardening, the best magazine out there for those of us trying grow things the way nature intended if nature intended to be corralled in a garden.

My oldest son recently wrote a paper in defense of GMO farming practices. I, of course, was pretty horrified. But after talking about it, he admitted he was only going on the stuff he’d read in class. I offered more information and he told me that was interesting but the paper was due tomorrow. Hmm. When I read his paper he made some very valid points about how difficult it is to feed the world’s growing population. He felt that genetically modified foods were the only solution. They aren’t. In fact, besides being potentially hazardous to our health (there are no long term studies to prove otherwise), they increase our dependency on individual companies and set us up for world-wide famine in the case of a crop failure.

If, for instance, we convince 100 farmers in a desperate region in Africa to plant a particular gem of a GM seed and then that seed turns out to be a health hazard, what then? Or, if those farmers plant that GM seed and are then obligated to use the same company’s pesticides and fertilizers to protect the seed and stimulate its growth, they strip the land of what little nutrients were present in their soil to begin with and create a dependent relationship with that seed company. Farmers can’t save the patented seeds produced by the crop they grow, and even if they did they are dependent on buying even more fertilizers and pesticides to make their soil capable of growing anything. Sure those seeds produce a massive harvest, but over time all those chemicals create some awfully screwed up, sterile soil. It may be a short term fix, but it won’t last over the long haul. Plus all those fertilizers and pesticides run off in to the water supply or are carried off in the air supply and they will slowly poison not just the planet, but us. That’s just one scenario. I’m certain I’m only scratching the surface of the potential dangers of depending on GMO food to solve the hunger crisis.

The Rodale Institute has been carrying out the longest-running US Study comparing organic and conventional farming techniques and has helped to train soil building farmers all over the world. Their methods work and they won’t kill us in their effort to feed us. I trip over my own words too much in my efforts to explain all this and I don’t completely understand all the methods of organic farming, so I’d love it if you would check out Rodale’s website so you can get a first rate explanation. I don’t have the answers; I’m just trying to raise awareness. Rodale has done the work and they’ve been doing organic since way before all of us wannabes got started, so they are your best source.

Besides learning about how organic farming methods can teach the world to feed themselves, you can learn lots about how to grow your own organic food and demand organic products in your own community.

Here are five things you can do to help promote organics:
1. Buy organic and local whenever possible.
2. Give an organic gift.
3. Don’t buy GMO food.
4. Ask your local markets to carry more organics.
5. Speak up to your friends (and your family) and explain why you prefer organic and local products.
6. Learn more so you can speak intelligently. Visit

OK, that was six things. I always have too much to say. Here’s my last request – Don’t accept the status quo. My son’s textbook and classroom teacher told him that GMO food is the answer to our future food crisis. But it’s not the only answer. When people say, organics are fine for rich people, but they will never work for the general population, call them on this because it’s bullcrap (sorry, it just makes me angry). Our ancestors survived and thrived on organic farming methods. It wasn’t until someone showed up with a Star-Belly On machine that we Sneetches decided we needed to change the way we were growing food. Just because something is new and glossy doesn’t make it better. Doing the hard work of caring for our land, rather than just spraying something on it, may make us tired, but haven’t we learned by now that the easy way is not always the best way?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do You Need the Things You Want?

I had to go to Wal-Mart yesterday. I try really hard to avoid that place. I want to stand in solidarity with the workers who are exploited all over the world (including their own stores) in the name of lower prices. But I had no choice. It was that or drive 30 miles round trip and stop in four different stores. So I tried very hard to focus on my list and keep my blinders on as I pushed my cart through the newly renovated local store.

It is hard to move about with blinders on, so I couldn’t help by notice all the “crap” (for lack of a better word) for sale. The shelves were loaded with so much excessive junk that no one really “needs”. They allot an enormous amount of shelf space just for plastic containers. I guess if you buy all the crap they’re selling you need lots of containers to store it in.

Several shelves had big signs that said, “As seen on TV” which means all those high-pressure ads that tell you this super-duper-do-it-all bacon separator is only available by calling right now are truly selling you a line. Can I tell you now that you do not need a S’mores maker? Really, no one needs this appliance. If you haven’t got a campfire handy, an oven or a microwave will work just fine. Plop the marshmallow on the graham cracker, heat it until it’s hot and goey and then plop on your chocolate and your graham cracker top and squish. Promise it works – we do it all the time. So don’t spend $34.95 on a machine that will end up in your basement.

Same goes for an Ice Tea Maker. You need a huge plastic appliance to make ice tea? Really? Again, let me save you the $24.95 (this one’s cheaper) – boil some water, pour it over tea bags (I use six) and steep it in your tea pot (or any old pot for that matter, you don’t need a tea pot) for five minutes. If you have a pitcher that can handle the temperature change, (I use a clay pitcher I bought at a college art department sale) fill it with ice and pour the hot tea over it. If you haven’t got a pitcher that can handle the temperature change (glass is not safe and you shouldn’t pour hot water in to plastic), remove the tea bags and let your tea cool a bit before you pour it in your pitcher of ice. I make a pitcher of ice tea most mornings when I brew water for my hot tea. It’s not rocket science and it certainly doesn’t require a special appliance that will most decidedly end up at a yard sale some day. That said, if you think you can’t live without an Ice Tea Maker, look for one at Goodwill or a Yard Sale, there are plenty there looking for good homes.

Wal-Mart irritates me, so I try to see how little I can buy, but there are other stores where I am sorely tempted to buy plenty of things I don’t need. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Borders are two of them. Ever since reading the book, Not Buying It by Judith Levine, and seeing the movie No Impact Man, I’ve been contemplating a shopping fast. I would not starve my children, much less deprive them of their Cheezits, but I’d like to try going a month, or a week, or maybe even just a day without buying anything we don’t truly need. I’d allow myself to buy food and pay the bills, but other than that I’d lock-down the credit card and avoid the ATM machines. I think it would be easy until I think of how difficult it is for me to walk away from a rack of clearance priced Life Is Good t-shirts.

I’ve been mentally practicing for my upcoming fast by seriously considering everything I buy. I ask myself, “Do I need it?” and if my answer is yes, then I ask myself, “Do I really need it?” and that usually makes me say maybe. Then I stand there thinking of whether I have something else that already does the job of my potential purchase. And I think about where the potential purchase will live in my house and then I think about how I’m trying to live simpler and lighter on this earth. I can usually talk myself out of the purchase, but if I can’t then I must really need it. It’s heavy mental gymnastics just to buy a pair of nail clippers or a ream of good paper or even a used book.

Actually I’m lying about the used book. I can always justify a book purchase. I consider books to be in the same category as food. They are a necessity, not a luxury. I know the library is just down the road, but by the time I pay all my late fines (x4 because no one else in this house is any better than me at returning things when they are due), I might as well have bought the book. Besides, most books in this house get multiple uses since we are a family of bookaholics.

What do you really need? Could you spend a month or a week or a day “not buying it”? I’m thinking of picking a week after school lets out for us to “not buy it”. But before that time comes we have to seriously consider the difference between a “need” and a “want”. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why Bother With Cruelty Free Labels?

Do you know any vegans? Just in case you get your vegetarians and vegans mixed up – here’s the difference, vegans don’t just avoid meat, they also avoid all dairy products and generally don’t use any kind of product made from animals (things like leather, wool, etc.). I don’t think I could ever be a vegan, but they impress me greatly. Being a vegan is not something you do because it’s cool. This seems certain because being a vegan is incredibly difficult.

Last weekend I went out to dinner with a friend who is a vegan. I don’t think I truly appreciated her commitment and the challenge of her lifestyle choice until I looked over a menu from her perspective. I was hankering for a big plate of nachos and the place where we were eating (the Pressroom in Lancaster – highly recommend it!) makes delicious fresh food so I knew the nachos would be laden with veggies and salsa, but they would also be laden with cheese and sour cream– not on the vegan list. The only options were fries, bread and a salad (as long as you hold the creamy dressing, cheese, eggs, etc.). And no butter for that bread either. (She asked for olive oil instead and they were happy to bring it.) Butter's a tough one to avoid. Most restaurants slather butter freely on everything, even their steamed veggies.

It’s not impossible to go out to eat with a vegan, it’s just that at 99% of the restaurants, the menu is pretty limited. Salads get old, even for us salad aficionados. Eating strictly vegan is quite a discipline. I, for one, realize I don’t possess the will power or commitment level to attempt it. But I do admire it.

I’m sure there are lots of reasons for deciding upon a vegan life, but my friend’s powerful commitment to animals drives her dedication. She does not want to feed her body with anything that was created through the torture or misuse of animals. It’s a deep respect for the life of the animal. I am honored that she will eat the eggs from my chickens, knowing that they live a happy, free life and no one tortures them (unless you count the affection heaped upon them by my 7-year-old). I challenged myself to make her some chocolate chip cookies once. It was not easy. I used coconut oil in place of the butter and eggs from my chickens. The only chocolate chips I could find that were vegan friendly were grain-sweetened dark carob chips and I’m not completely sure they were absolutely dairy free. The cookies turned out alright but would have tasted better with a cold glass of milk.

So I have great respect for my friend’s vegan lifestyle. As we were talking on the way to dinner last weekend, though, she brought up another issue dear to her – the cruelty free label. Being a vegan based on your belief in the sacredness of the lives of all creatures also means you don’t use any products that were tested on animals. I admit to being pretty nonchalant about the cruelty free label. It’s not that I don’t love animals (I better love them since I clean up after plenty of them!), it just hasn’t been on my radar. Maybe it’s the bad press that PETA always gets. They do seem like nut cases. But my friend is definitely NOT a nut case and she is a member of PETA, so I heard her out.

She asked me why I would ever want to use any product for my house or myself that contained ingredients so toxic they weren’t safe to test on humans. Slam. Now there’s an argument I can’t argue with.

She’s right. All of us “organic nut cases” could take a page from the “PETA nut cases” book here. If we want to avoid toxic, dangerous chemicals and products, we truly should only buy products that are certified “cruelty free”. Even if we don’t mind animals being abused and mistreated in the name of science, we should feel alarmed that it is necessary in the first place. Nothing that requires the sacrifice of an animal’s life to secure our safety is something we should be messing with in the first place.

You won’t find me breaking in to animal testing laboratories or splashing paint on fur-coated rich people, but at least on this issue, I must side with the PETA people. From now on I will seek out products certified “cruelty free” and err on the side of the animals and my health.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Examined Life

I was able to spend some time with a good writer friend this weekend. We spend a lot of time scheming about how to get great writing jobs and this adventure was no exception. We attended a Creative Writing workshop with author and poet, Melissa Greene ( There were an interesting group of people in attendance. They were all people who loved to write and loved to use their imagination. Melissa talked about the creative writing process and said a lot encouraging things. She then led us in some exercises to help us find our “creative focus”. I enjoyed the opportunity to let my mind wander, unfortunately everything it wandered to was pretty depressing which was a surprise considering it was a gorgeous afternoon, I was hanging out with a friend I don’t get to see enough of, doing one of my most favorite things with someone who could be a potential mentor. That’s the thing about your mind though – it rarely goes where you tell it too. So sometimes you have to just follow it where it takes you and believe there is a reason.

The overall message of Melissa’s workshop (and I would say her “ministry”) is that writing is healing. It helps us to process what’s going on deep inside. Especially when you are writing for no one but yourself. I’ve kept a journal all my life. Every now and then I think about burning that huge box in the basement because really – why am I hanging on to those journals? I wrote those words for myself so that I could process my own emotions and ideas. I’m fairly certain they would be ungodly boring to anyone else, except maybe back when I was young and single and wrote about my dating exploits. But those entries might get me in trouble and I certainly wouldn’t want my children to happen upon them. Which brings me back to the question – why don’t I burn them? Maybe I will some day. Or maybe I’ll leave directions in my will that they be burned. Or maybe I shouldn’t really care because I won’t be around to be embarrassed by them.
If you’ve never kept a journal, I would encourage you to try one. Here’s why – life is going by much too fast. We are all in a hurry and there’s too much on our plates. When we stop for 10 minutes just to write what’s rushing through our minds it forces us to be present. To be here in the now instead of already planning what’s coming next. A journal doesn’t need to be great writing. In fact, it’s very freeing to know you can write whatever you want, capitalize what you want, put commas wherever you want, and no one’s going to judge. (I just got some critiques of my novel back from a contest I entered and they were all over my horrible use of, actually lack of, commas. I felt judged, but that was the point. Now, though, I’m feeling I should put a comma in every possible place,.) But with a journal you can leave your grammatical hang-ups behind and write stream of consciousness. Heck, you could do away with punctuation altogether. That might be a good way to confuse anyone who reads your journals upon your untimely death. Ah, now there’s an idea!

Anyway, today’s kid-friendly organic life idea is that you should keep a journal. If a journal is intimidating, find a scrap of paper and make a list of the words that run through you mind. Or look around you and list the things you see. It will force you to be present. Try this with your kids. In fact, this is a great summer project idea! Find a journal for your kids – you can buy a fancy one, or pick one up at the dollar store (they always have blank books) or just grab an empty notebook. Find a pen that feels good to write with and start journaling. When I got my daughter started, I bought a blank book that had a gray cardboard cover, used stickers to write, “Addie’s Dream Journal”, and then added all kinds of animals and flower stickers and left space for her to write. Inside the cover, I told her to fill it with whatever came to her mind and heart.

I think we have to help our kids be intentional in their living. They are much busier than we were at their age. I keep trying to figure out why that is and I think it comes back to expectations. When I was a kid, you had all the time in the world and no one was really paying attention to what you were doing and whether you were using your time wisely. Nowadays, kids have so many options - sports, camps, after-school activities, music lessons, religious groups, scouts, and instruction in everything from foreign language to computer programming. Although I think I limit my kids, we still have an activity every evening except Tuesday, so obviously I’m not practicing what I preach here.

I don’t know if all this activity is bad really. Who’s to say? I doubt there’s been any long-term studies done. What I do know is that we need to help our kids to pay attention and be present at whatever they choose to do. And journaling is one way to make that happen. It helps us sort out what our heart really wants and gives us permission to say what we think, uncensored by manners or expectations. It’s a safe place for our creative and contemplative spirit. And that is a spirit that must be nurtured if we intend to be happy (and sane).

Here’s one important final note – and I’ll write it in caps so you know I’m yelling this at you. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER READ YOUR CHILD’S JOURNAL! Trust is key. This journal is meant for no one’s eyes but its authors. No matter how tempting – promise me you’ll never read your child’s journal.

I have some really special journals I keep in a fire safe. I could lose pretty much everything other book in my house, but not these three journals. They are the journals that I write to my children. I started a journal for each child when I first learned I was pregnant. I write in their journal of all my worries and wishes for them. I write about funny or poignant things they say or do. And I write the things I wish they would sit still for me to tell them. I write lots about how much I love them and how proud I am of them. I write observations about the things that seem to make them happy or sad or angry. I hope that some day no matter where this life takes us they will have this physical record of how much I love them and how important they have been to me from the moment they were conceived.

I hope this post inspires you to start (or re-start) your own journal and encourages you to get your kids journaling too. There is potential in any thought. It was Socrates who said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” Kind of tough love reinforcement for journaling I’d say. Life is such an amazing, rich, boring, incredible, complicated, beautiful thing. I, for one, think it’s worth examining.