Amazing Chicken

Amazing...flavorable...tasty...delicious...yummy...moist...juicy...tender...crowd pleaser. People raved over this whenever I serve chicken or pork in this perfect balance of sweetness and spices marinade. The name of the recipe isn't kidding--it really IS unbelievably wonderful! The sweetness of the sugar and the tartness of the lime are match made in heaven. We grill almost every night in the summer using this keeper.

I marinade anywhere from forty-five minutes to three hours. It turns out great either way, each time. I have also used a variety of mustard, vinegar or balsamic vinegar, fresh or powder garlic, lemon or lime--fresh or bottled, end result is same--tastes great. It is worth the extra effort to barbecue the meat in a traditional charcoal grill. The taste is even better this way!

Now...I have to work on a shopping list for ingredients enough to serve 75 people tomorrow night at the Higher Ground's Wednesday Night Community Meal to show our appreciation. I imagine 15 pounds of chicken wings and drumsticks would be sufficient. We'll see. Mind you we will be making sushi, Asian coleslaw, Japanese noodle soup, desserts...a feast for an army!

¼ Cup Cider Vinegar
3T Whole Grain or Regular Mustard of your choice
6 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Lime, juiced
½ Lemon, juiced
¼ Cup Brown Sugar (up the amount if you like more sweetness)
1 ½t salt
6T Olive Oil
Ground Black Pepper
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Half

In a large, non-reactive container, whisk together ingredients beginning with cider vinegar through salt. Then whisk in olive oil and pepper. Place chicken in the mixture. Cover and marinate chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove chicken from marinade just before you turn on the grill or broiler. Discard marinade.
Lightly oil your grill or broiler pan. Grill or broil about 8 minutes per side in medium heat.

It's 50° at 9 a.m., windy, 50% chance of rain, not looking forward to Spring shower!
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Philosophy of Life/Parenting **Lengthy Post**

There are no good days and no bad days
only days of grace...
grace to enjoy what is happening
and grace to endure what is happening
...only days of grace"
~~Graham Cooke

There is nothing more heartwarming than a Warm Welcome Home, You're Missed from you, my friends. If you visit my crafty blog and Ravelry, you'd know I have been busy beyond word!...And, this one is for you, Mommylicious.

Before my spill of parenting reading recommendation, I'd like to elaborate on my philosophy of life: Living is learning...learning is living. The world is our classroom. Parenting is very much an integral part of living and learning.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I knew my life was going to completely change. I'd witnessed enough of other parents to see it wasn't easy; but, I didn't really know what I was in for. I didn't really have a parenting philosophy at that point. Being the new parent that I was, I read a lot of parenting books. I basically thought of my parenting philosophy then as attachment parenting. Even with that, there are different viewpoints.

Over time, I came to realize there is a One and Only True Parenting Philosophy. If sleep is essential to your well-being (and, of course, it is to everyone, but different people have different thresholds,) letting your baby cry it out might be right for you. If having your child in your bed makes everyone in your family happy, enjoy. If you all get a crappy night's sleep and you're starting to resent your child, make a change. If your child is over one (or two or three,) and breastfeeding is still working, by all means continue on. If you are starting to resent it or just feel the time is right, do not feel guilty about weaning. I saw a lot of women struggling with nursing older children in La Leche League, and while my children all nursed until they were older than 4 years of age, I don't think a lot of these women got honest answers. When it's not working, stop feeling guilty and make a change. Guilt is useless. My advice is not for everyone.

I don't really have a parenting philosophy anymore, at least one that has a label--grace-based, respectful, mindful, non-coercive/non-punitive, attachment, child-centered...I've never been more sure of my parenting. I think babies and children need love and a load of holding, touching, hugging, kissing...I wish for my children to see me, a nurturing mother, leading an adult life. I should have a productive life outside of the child--let it be cooking, gardening, knitting, working, reading, involving in community services-big or small, pampering myself...whatever it is I want and wish to do. My children can come along for the ride if they so desire. I wish for my children to be happy, kind, loving, self-sufficient, resourceful, and most of all, be THEMSELVES. It is a good target to shoot for. A lot of women feels guilty because they weren't getting enough done outside of taking care of the children and the house.

When it comes to dealing with the up-and-down world of emotions, my children naturally take their cues from me. Am I the wear-it-on-my-sleeve kind of person or the keep-it-bottled-up type? Do I frown upon frowning, or do I find emotional moments a time for drawing close? More important, how does my style affect my own children or the children in my care occasionally?

My attitude toward emotions, especially negative ones, like sadness or anger, can shape how my children learn to handle their own feelings. Good parenting doesn’t mean that I always have to cry at Disney movies. We all have different approaches to emotional experiences, but some are more helpful in nurturing emotional development than others. Decide what works for your family, and go with that. My husband and I found the approach that works with our family and that's all I know. It was a natural progression for hubby and me from organic consensual living, pro-natural birth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and just a basic wanting to be very conscious about all our decisions and not just doing things the way everyone else does without thinking. We've adjusted and rethought things many times over the years with respect to our family's lifestyle and unschooling. I'm so thankful for how our God has led us through so far--the good decisions and especially the times of doubt. Life is all about the journey, not the destination.

Now back to my recommended readings...though many are categorized under education, they are relevant in raising our children:

"Much too Early!" that talk about children's education.
The Reality of Virtual Stress David Elkind really knows his Piaget (my favorite--one of the foremost educational thinkers,) his Steiner, his Montessori, and David can give you a bit of an overview (within his context, but it's still good.)

Parenting a Free Child: An Unschooling Life" by Rue Kream
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort
Living joyfully with children by Win Sweet
Connection Parenting: Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion through Love instead of fear by Pam Leo
Last child in the woods : saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv
Hold on to your kids: why parents need to matter more than peers by Gordon Neufeld
Unconditional parenting : moving from rewards and punishments to love… by Alfie Kohn
Teach your own: the John Holt book of homeschooling by John Holt
The secret of parenting: how to be in charge of today's kids--from toddlers to preteens--without threats or punishment by Anthony E. Wolf
Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times by Zoe Weil

Reggio Emilio Approach to Education...Touch, therefore I learn. Reggio Emilio is an unique way of looking at the way children learn. It challenges our understanding of potential and of how potential is recognized and interpreted. Reggio Emilia looks to the environment and the community and the child's point of view as the foundation for learning. Much of the understandings and discoveries developed by the children are gained through their fresh, uninhibited creativity via mediums of visual and performing arts. The beauty of the Reggio Emilio approach to learning is that the children themselves set their own individual pathway to learning at a level that is right for them. For example, a child with a language difficulty is able to demonstrate their understanding through sculpture, sketching and art. Conversely, through the Reggio approach, a gifted child is able to extend his or her learning by extending their challenges beyond the expected parameters. The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Approach Advanced Reflections contains a comprehensive description of this program. Last exhibit touring with examples of Reggio Emilio, called The Hundred Languages of Children, was on display at the J.D. Carrier Gallery of the Columbus Centre, in Toronto, Ontario, last February. Bringing Reggio Emilia Home: An Innovative Approach to Early Childhood Education by Louise Boyd Cadwell, Lella Candini, and Lella Gandini is my favorite Reggio Emilia overview book.

You may read Kirsty Liljegren's findings based on her project undertaken with a group of 4- and 5 years old together--with their teachers and families--Spirals are never ending learning

Another suggested read - Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less by Roberta Michnick, Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Diane Eyer.

Play=Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children's Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth by Dorothy G. Singer, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

"Play is to early childhood as gas is to a car," say Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, explaining that reciting and memorizing will produce "trained seals" rather than creative thinkers. Creativity and independent thinking, they argue, are true 21st-century skills; IQ and other test scores provide a narrow view of intelligence. The authors walk parents through much of the recent research on the way children learn--debunking such myths as the Mozart effect--and pointing out that much learning unravels naturally, programmed through centuries of evolution.

The Hurried Child: growing up too fast too soon by David Elkind

To wrap up this lengthy post, my best advice--worry less, trust more, and just have fun with your precious princess!

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My Voice

When you are you
zen is zen
not when you get to be zen enough
you will finally be cool.”
a Zen teacher

Like countless others today, I've been back from my very own weekend excursion at Suttle Lake with a few homeschooled moms right after a week-long travel to Portland and Eugene. Catching up has been a bit overwhelming! You know how it is...laundry, cleaning, getting groceries, yard clean-up, looking to dig out from snail-mail and e-mails that have built up and unread blog posts over past two weeks, avoiding the temptation to just delete all, trying to catch up on some sleep...last but not least, preconditioning the kids for backyard/backpacking--in rain or snow! Needless to say, it's so worth it! What a wonderful weekend! So relaxing and beautiful.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I have been using a mindfulness meditation tool recently to get me through some stress (you probably sensed it from my posts.) I often wake up at 1 or 2 a.m., unable to sleep, digesting events in life in a whirling swarm of emotions. I decided to name each emotion in an universal way as it comes up. It is with curious and open mind, non-judging, “oh, irritation,” “ok now, here is sadness,” “there is anger,” “oh, now hope” between would come the story line which I would drop and look at the emotion, name it. Next storyline would immediately arise, an emotion would become apparent, and on and on like that. I become very curious about the fact there are so many coming so fast and they are so different. Looking at them consciously I have living testimony to the fact of their impermanence which took all the weight off of them. Ultimately, the whole experience pretty quickly vanished. I would fall back into a deep sleep until morning...unless I hop over to my new found obsession--Ravelry! I am so glad to have had the training. The inspiration to find the help inside myself came because I have missed a lot of sleep (not that I sleep that much normally) from worries/anxieties until I realized, my own personal happiness and the happiness of those around me are far more important than any four walls. So I just kept repeating that and trying to recall that idea whenever I got stressed out and focusing on what is lost when sleep doesn’t happen. From that place, I was more motivated to find a strategy.

If you are interested in mindfulness meditation, check out Gil Fronsdal's podcast, excellent resource for beginners. He's on Week 4 right now of a simple, but, excellent Mindful Meditation course where he literally starts (Week 1) from the beginning: how to sit, how to breathe, how to moderate your thoughts during meditation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I thought of all the deaths in 150 years and I lightened up, seeing the impermanence of everything in my life helps me take things less seriously. The future beyond me just may not be the way I envision it. Parts of it just made me want to look around me and embrace everyone and everything and look at it like I am seeing it for the first and possibly last time. That is the way it really is whether I see it or not. Life is simply an amazing, gorgeous, luscious, vanishing thing until I rejoin my Father. A lot of people would find it depressing or bewildering. I see benefit in creating a little space between me and my perception of what’s important from moment to moment. It helps to dial down the drama and foster peaceful coexistence.

“Do I really want to be here?” “Can I welcome myself home?” “How will I ever become acceptable if I can never measure up to my scale or standard?” How do I get comfortable being me if I have all these other things besides me that I am trying to be--meanwhile, knowing I grow, develop, and change. When I have a daily habit of listening to what is in there, I don’t have to hold back in fear of what might be sitting there that might come out. The keeping myself in check, let go more, and I find myself freer. People love that I am there. That gives me liberty to also be present. When I obtain realization it might not look the way I thought it would, it seems certain it will be me there when it happens.

One gets especially hard to meet myself is when I am suffering and think oh I have done all these right things so I can’t be suffering and yet there I am suffering something. So I am human once again. And there you have it, my voice...
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Fun Weekend in Portland

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.~~Gilda Radner

(Left photo: St. Helena ahead covered in snow) It was probably mid-70s over the weekend. I spent a quiet afternoon at the water park, in downtown Portland on Willamette River, with our kids and their two friends from Newberg on Saturday.

Everyone including their grandmothers were out...young and old, different nationalities. There were cyclists,




those tossing frisbee around,

a family kicking soccer ball and showing off their talent,

OC-lookalikes arrived in stretch limos,

jet-skiiers, boat cruisers,

families with baby strollers or joggers, hellicopter riders, runners, those on rollerblades, nursing moms, dancers, readers...then there was me, a knitter addict, people and bird watcher with no judgement, no expectation...delving inward to observe and be in the presence, on my path to more self-discovery.

We dropped off the kids at the zoo around 5 pm for their sleepover with Campfire kids. Tom, from our homeschooled group, was most gracious to chaperone our troop so the rest of us parents may be free for an evening. THANK YOU, Tom--you're an angel!

Hubby took me to Bush Garden for dinner--my favorite Sushi! It was the best, freshiest I've had for years...rewinding the clock back to the days when we lived/worked in San Francisco! Walking around downtown/Pioneer Square reminded me of San Francisco–a clone literally. How I miss the Bay Area (not the traffic congestion like driving to/in Portland and the 50-cent panhandlers everywhere)...

Here we were stuck on Morrison Bridge on the way back to OMSI yesterday afternoon

Hubby said we can come here as often as I'd like. He even bought us a family membership at OMSI! That’s promising...

It's exhausting after a tour of the Zoo in the morning and OMSI in the afternoon yesterday, but in all seriousness, a great birthday celebration week for sure.

My only regret was I didn’t get to Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks or Knit Purl in Portland. A spa treat for my feet while shopping at Abundant Yarn, soak or nap in bubbly bliss, or gathering with friends around the Ashiyu foot spa for a knit would have made this a perfect weekend excursion! My friend, Kristin got herself a skein of Colinette Jitterbug at Knit Purl on Saturday–she is a very happy gal!

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Thank you, all, for the magical wishes. I was quite touched by the fact that many cyber friends took the time to note my birthday and send me birthday wishes.

Hubby and the kids pulled off a surprise this time. They usually don't manage to do that. I am very intuitive but this time I was distracted--and--was it a surprise! It was a wonderful, relaxing, pampering day. I will remember this birthday for a long time.

Surprisingly, I managed to sneak in time to knit up a pair of yummy cotton stretchy socks for my little boy! Hope the rest of this year's trip around the sun is as good for you as mine has been for me thus far.

Now, I must get my tired old soul out of bed...packing up to Eugene, Portland, and Newberg for some week-long R&R. So THANK YOU again, from the bottom of my heart, to the blogosphere for making this birthday such a terrific memory and wishing you a great day today.
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True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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