Memorial Day - A Day of Remembrance

Monday, May 31, 2010

Each Memorial Day I take time to pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday. Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. I came across the following thoughts a while back...

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to 'Taps."

The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country.

But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend in with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

Some people believe holidays like Washington's Birthday, Veteran's Day and Memorial Day should be moved back to their tradition date of celebration in order to preserve the meaning of these events. What do you think?

Although my Grandfather and Great Uncles did not die in their service, I also remember and honor them. I am thankful they were willing to serve.

Kenneth Paul Awsumb
July 3, 1918- May 16, 2010
I remember when I was a young girl, Uncle Kenneth visited our home on a busy summer day. He jumped right into our family activities, playing in a baseball game at the church ballpark with my father and later enjoying a dinner from our garden. He was fun and outgoing, just like my Grandpa Ardin Awsumb. I imagine those Awsumb brothers had a great time growing up together. I am told they lived across from the church where they often participated in church plays. They were silly and fun and shared the same sense of humor.

Roger Awsumb
July 10, 1926 - July 15, 2002
My Uncle Roger Awsumb's memory is preserved as he played Casey Jones on the Lunch with Casey Children's TV show in Minnesota. Although I never met Uncle Roger, my son and I have shared lots of giggles watching video of this silly show.

Ardin W. Awsumb
Sept. 16, 1915 - May 7, 2005
I have shared my favorite picture of my Grandpa Ardin Awsumb before in my post titled THE NOSE . I am sad that I grew up so far away from him, but I am glad he lived long enough to make a few memories with my son who I shared his name with.

Living life as The Queen of Clean

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Before I was the Queen of Clean I was the Princess of Precociousness. One story often repeated to me was about when I was visiting someone's house, bending over to check out the baseboards and announcing to the entire room that they "needed a little girl like me to dust for them." Or the time I was hands on hips in someone's kitchen, sticking out my foot using my best toe point, stating matter of factly, "There's a spot, right there!" (That phrase has become my mantra!)

Here are a couple things I have been doing for years that are tried and true tips for you:

Clean Microwaves by putting a bowl of water with lemons (if you have them) into into the microwave for 2 minutes. Then simply wipe clean. There is no excuse for a dirty microwave - gross! Though I will admit now that the little one is learning to use it I often find suprises inside my own.

Clean Drains with 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar, let sit for one minute then flush with 1 kettle of boiling water.

Sometimes people ask me what my favorite cleaning products are.
A: Soap and warm water cleans just about anything.

I don't spend a lot of time buying products like 409, etc. Baking Soda and Vinegar are great natural ways to clean. And if you wipe surfaces down regularly with soap and water they won't get so mucky you need some super chemical!

I will often use windex for quick wipe downs of bathroom counters and faucets. And if you just take a quick few seconds to wipe down bathroom counters when you are finished in the bathroom in the morning they will never get really sticky (unless your name happens to be Katie and you use a gallon of hairspray and hair gel every day! Then you need a scraper!) I can get by with just Comet or Ajax for regular bathroom cleaning... but a toilet bowl gel is easier to get up under the side of the bowl.

And of course there's always bleach! If the house doesn't smell like a swimming pool it isn't clean lol! (sigh..) I admit, I love bleach!

Home Comforts is one of my favorite books about keeping a house. I love that Cheryl Mendelson takes the time to tell you the history about housekeeping... why laundry is traditionally done on certain days and things like that! Plus if you have rules in your house like 'street clothes never touching your bedding' then this book is full of tons of justification for why your silly house rules aren't silly at all!

I believe keeping an orderly and clean home is one of the best gifts that I can give my child. One of my favorite quotes about home is from the LDS Bible Dictionary: "A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed... A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness."
I believe in making my home a sacred place, where my family can feel comfort and safety, but most of all loved!

What do you do to make your home a place for your family to grow and learn?

The Road That Never Ends

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Something everyone should know before reading The Road, is that it stays with you long after you've finished reading it. Maybe because the story lacks a start or an ending, but is just a snippet from the life of this man and his boy. If you were to take out just a part of a real life story and wrapped a book jacket around it this is what you would get. And as heartbreaking as any scenes might be if we could only be so lucky to have someone show so much love for us.

Just after I thought I had moved on I have been sucked back into this novel, wondering about the author and wanting to know more. I found this 2007 Rolling Stone article Cormac McCarthy's Apocalypse by David Kushner.

Part way through the article Cormac talks about the diffence between the way you view the world before and after you have children. I have seen the soberance take place in people around me over the years as they too experience this change. In fact, my husband has become a sort of mentor to coworkers coming into his office to comtemplate the meaning of life before and after children. And I begin to think...

I can't understand how any one can abandon their child. I don't just mean true abondonment... for many such a final act would be better than having a relationship with a parent who is incapable of sharing emotion, forming an attachment and showing true love to a child. For so many years before I became a mother I swear this would never happen to me.

For many years it seemed it didn't matter. I wasn't sure if i would ever be a mother. And I will admit even now I often feel like I just play one on TV because I haven't been able to have any more children.

And after finally having such a helpless being placed in my care I knew I had to do everything I could to give this every drop of love I could squeeze of my heart. And that is why I am so passionate about the parenting choices I make... to give my son a complete family, to make his days full of wonder and awe, so inspiring him to be kind to others, for him to learn the meaning of hard work and integrity, to lead and love this child back to his maker... even if it is only one child at a time.

What's On My Nightstand?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Every book lover has a stack right? Here's mine... and the pile has spilled to the floor! Although all the rainy northwest days temp me to sit in a comfy chair by the fire, I do most of my reading during the warmer months. The best thing about summer is sitting in a lawnchair with your feet on the grass reading a good book! I can't wait... if it ever stops raining! I realized a while ago I read too many books to review. But here are a few that I recommend.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I was worried this one would be cheesey. Henry is a time traveler who becomes friends with Clare, a young girl playing the meadow. This is a tender story about love through time, longing and loss. (There are a few racey scenes in this book for those who are sensitive to such things.)

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
I was so excited for the release of this book because I think Elizabeth Kostova's previous book The Historian, which I have talked about before, is a favorite read. May of the reviews of this book weren't as good, probably because they were trying too hard to compare these two titles. No it's not The Historian, but still a very good read. This book is also narrated by the three main characters allowing the reader to live in each point of view one chapter at a time. One of which is the story of Andrew Marlow, a pyschiatrist as he uncovers the mysteries of this latest patient. Robert Oliver's a well known artist attempts to slash a major work of art and then falls silent. It is up to Andrew to solve the puzzle. Elizbeth Kostova is quite the storyteller and although I enjoyed this one I don't see myself reading it over and over again.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Kenneth read this one a couple of years ago. I remember how emotional he was while he was reading it and well, I just didn't want to get emotionally involved. I am so glad I finally gave in. The Road is a post apocalyptic book about a father and a son, traveling down a deserted road. The relationship between this father and son is so beautiful and the language used to describe the landscape and the lonliness... A book hasn't completely touched me since reading A Tale of Two Cities when I was 13. I understand there was a movie made of this book. I can't imagine how you capture the this book on film... and from the reviews it sounds like they were not successful. This one is a must read! The Chopin Manuscript: A Serial Thriller
A thrilling mystery revealed one chapter at a time by a different author. I just began listening to this one on my Audible account. So far so good...

Check back for my journey through the prion controversy!

I also updated some of the books in my stack on the side of this blog. Let me know if you have read any of these!

What have you read lately?

Read To Me!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One of the things I love about being married to Kenneth is that we both love to read. Kenneth and I often read the same books one after another or listen to a book together on tape/cd/digital media or whatever we are calling them today! We don't always read all the same books... but we always share and talk about what we are reading with eachother and I love that. And when I am really lucky Kenneth will read to me. In the early years of our marriage Kenneth read to me to calm me many nights. I LOVED IT! Who doesn't love to be read to? And because it's always nice to have someone read to you thank goodness for Audible!

For $16 a month you get 2 books. (The price might be higher for new subscriptions, but we have been members for a long time.) And of course you can buy more whenever you like. 12 months a year X 10 years = You do the math! We have had an audible subscription for about a decade now and have built up quite a large library. There are also cheap kids books.

Years ago we downloaded them to Pocket PC's, then our Windows Smart Phones and now our IPods and IPhones. And of course you can listen your selections on you computer or burn then onto CD's.

I listened to I Am Legend by Richard Matheson a while ago. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a pretty short story and much more interesting than the WILL SMITHED up movie version. Check it out!

Have you HEARD any good books lately?

Pork and Apple Stew

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Because we live in the northwest I cook with apples all the time. This is a favorite around our house in the fall. I am posting it for Jennie as a gluten free suggestion. Let me know if your family likes it!

2 green apples, peeled and sliced
1 small onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
About 2 lbs cubed pork
1/2 cup wine or chicken stock
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried sage

Cook about 7 hours on low

The recipe says to coat the pork with a tsp or so of flour before you put it in the crock pot. Before serving use corn starch to thicken, and stir in about 1/3 cup whipping cream. SALT to taste.

But nowadays I use this stuff called Thick N' Thin Non Starch Thickener- About 2 tbs. (instead of flower or corn starch and I believe it is gluten free). Although the cream does make it rich and delicious I have left it out and it is just fine. And used about 1 tsp of kosher salt to season.

Serve with fresh steamed green beans and corn bread.

To Jazz up that corn bread when I make packaged cornbread I do a Rachael Ray trick and add 1 cup frozen corn and sometimes some pepper jack cheese, shredded and green onions to the mix.)\

I do think that all stews have better flavor if you brown the meat first. Next time I might skip to crock pot and just brown the meat in my le creuset pot and then put the whole thing in the oven for a couple hours. But it was just fine in the crock pot and without the cream it isn't heavy at all.

Sesame Pork Ribs

I have to give credit where credit is due. I have shared this easy crockpot recipe many times. This recipe is from one of my best friends, Anais. Thanks for such a yummy recipe! Apparently my sister just posted it on her gluten free blog.

1 medium onion, sliced
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c ketchup
1/4 c honey
2 Tbsp cider or white vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
5 lbs country style pork ribs
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 Tbsp chopped green onions

Place onions in bottom of slow cooker. In a large bowl combine sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Add ribs and turn to coat. Place ribs on top of onions in slow cooker. Pour sauce over meat. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.

Place ribs on serving platter. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and green onions. Serve over rice.

I have cut back on the ketchup and sugar and even made this with boneless porkchops. Don't forget to toast the sesame seeds. This photo is from my sister and it doens't look like she did. It makes a big difference!