Holy Yoga in the Park and email signup

This week I taught my first Holy Yoga class in our local park, Mimosa Park in Richardson! You are all welcome to join me – it will be a 4 week series, there are currently 3 weeks left. You can join at any time! It is a Gentle Flow class geared for ALL levels, including beginners. The full information can be found on my Holy Yoga Instructor site, as well as information on any of my future classes.

Holy Yoga in Mimosa Park, Richardson TX | 6:00 am Monday mornings July 13, 2015 - Aug 3, 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

If you’d like to receive emails when I start a new class series, change to a new date/time/location, and/or find a permanent and regular venue, please sign up for my Yoga Classes email list. I will only send emails when I have relevant info to share, very rarely more than once a month (sometimes even less).

Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Backyard Chickens: what no one tells you before you start

Backyard Chickens What No One Tells You | Living Consciously Blog

We’ve had our backyard chickens now for almost 3 years. Overall, if I had to do it again, I would. Just today I was talking to my chickens through the storm door while I fixed dinner and they were clucking pleasantly at me…

…while they covered the back door stoop in poop that I will inevitably step directly into the next time I go out the back door.

There are few things stinkier or stickier than chicken poop. It’s so difficult to remove yet you want to remove it so quickly.

I realize that there are things no one tells you before you start with backyard chickens. I think I need to make a list of those things. There might be people who would wait until a different life stage before getting into this, if only they knew. You can do a search for backyard chickens and get a million blog posts telling you how easy it is, how fun it is, how wonderful the eggs are. You can see hundreds of Pinterest-worthy chicken coops, including one from a friend of mine which is actually the bottom story of an enormous tree house/play fort. All very inspirational.

What I am here to tell you about today is what no one tells you about backyard chickens in a semi-urban or urban setting. In case you knew nothing about farm animals, like I did (or didn’t. or still don’t) beforehand.

In the past 2 years, here are the things I have encountered that you are likely to encounter too, at some point.

Poop – So much poop. If you let them “free-range”, please know that you ceding your backyard to them. It’s theirs now. You can never walk out there barefoot again. Even walking out the back door, you will find poop on the mat. If you don’t let them free range, you will be scrubbing, scooping, and sweeping poop out of the coop and chicken run (if you have one).

Salmonella from chicken poop – If you have children or perhaps forget to wash your hands very well at some point, you will get a nasty stomach bug. It’s just salmonella, which isn’t usually terribly severe. But it is no fun. If your chickens are free-ranging and you have children under the age of 4, understand that you are definitely exposing them to salmonella in the chicken poop that will be everywhere.

Mites – The standard answer to this problem on all the internet forums, boards, and blogs is “just sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the coop and nesting box and you’ll never have mites!”. That is a complete lie. I have gone through something like 25 lbs. of DE since last summer and it never did anything to either repel or quell the mite infestation. When your flock gets mites (which can actually come from wild birds, no fault of your own), you will have to treat them ALL (as in, catch each individual chicken and douse them) with either an herbal essential oil pesticide or DE (good luck with that). Then you have to empty and clean the coop and treat it with the same substance. You will have to do this every 6-7 days until the infestation subsides. I did this for 2.5 months last summer until the cold weather or the fact that I resorted to heavier pesticides finally worked. I had to wear protective clothing and a mask in 110 degree heat to keep from inhaling DE as the chickens squawked and clawed and pecked at me. I did that every week for around 10-12 weeks. Think about doing this before you commit to chickens.

Not all chickens are friendly – Our Buff Orpingtons were very shy, and their shyness came out as attacking when cornered. This is super fun when you have to catch them every 6 days to treat them for mites. The Red Sex Link that we have bit everyone for the first 1.5 years we had her. They also bite, peck, and attack each other. They will tear each other’s feathers out and make each other bleed. Sometimes you have to separate them.

Predators – We have lost two chickens to a bobcat and one to a hawk so far. Remember, every animal loves to eat chicken. They are easy to catch, have no natural defenses, and aren’t known for being intelligent. And they are delicious.

Death in the flock – Make sure you and/or your children are prepared to face death. In addition to the chickens killed by predators, we have also lost one to some kind of sudden illness that could have been egg bound or possibly liver disease My kids have taken each death in stride and never seemed particularly phased. We have been honest with them about what happened and they seem to appreciate that. But if you have qualms about discussing the death of a pet with your children, owning chickens might bring that fear to fruition sooner than you’d like.

Broody hen – Sometimes a hen will become convinced that her eggs have baby chickens in them and she MUST SIT ON THEM. This is called “going broody”. She thinks she has a brood. Unless you have a rooster in your flock (illegal in most urban/suburban areas), she obviously does not have a brood, but she doesn’t know that. She will chase the other hens out of the nesting box and peck anyone who comes near her. If she doesn’t allow the other hens to lay eggs in the box, they could hold their eggs inside and become egg bound (which is fatal to a hen). Unless you are prepared to find some fertile eggs and allow her to raise chicks, you will have to sequester her in a crate with an open bottom where she can’t sit down without adequate airflow under her bum for 2-3 days. When her internal body temperature cools, she should break the broodiness. Most people use a dog crate with the poop tray removed. We didn’t own a crate so we had to buy one ($60) the first time one of our hens went broody.

Finding a chicken sitter – It’s not as easy to find a chicken sitter as a dog sitter, because despite the free eggs, there are a number of things that could go wrong. There is a LOT of poop in the coop, so it has to be someone who is OK with walking through chicken poop. It’s possible the chickens might peck. Several times we’ve had chickens escape when the sitter opened the door and later had a neighbor call about our chickens wandering around the neighborhood (see Predators, above). Then you have to call another person who is comfortable both chasing and catching a chicken, and who is OK with being pecked by an angry chicken.

Mud – Chickens eat all vegetation in their area. They pull up any grass directly by the roots. Any area in which you keep chickens will have no grass at all. No grass when it rains means mud. Lots of mud. We had record rainfall in Texas this year. The coop was muddy for months. Did you know mud is the same color as poop? So who knows what all that stuff is that you’re wading through to gather eggs. The chickens are covered in it, the coop is covered in it, and you have to almost take a shower after feeding and watering them, which must be done every day since the food and water from the day before is already covered in mud. There’s nothing less fun than having to leave your warm couch and PJ’s and get dressed in what is basically hazmat gear to go out into the freezing cold mud to feed angry chickens.

I sincerely hope that you still want backyard chickens. They can be a fun adventure. They are not cheap and they are not easy. You will not be saving any money, but you will be more connected to your food and to your little vacuous, pea-brained pets!

Guest Post: A Holy Yoga Instructor’s Journey

A Holy Yoga Instructor's Journey | Living Consciously Blog As you may know, I have been meditating upon the next step in my yoga journey for the past 6 months or so. Within the last 2 months, I think I have found the right path for me, but it is something I really never expected. Honestly, I laughed when I first heard the words “Holy Yoga”. I thought, “Is this like Testamints or Christian waffle mix?” (Christian waffle mix is really a thing, as insane as it sounds — I deeply regret not taking a picture of it when I saw it in the Lifeway holiday catalogue last fall. OMG. Literally.).

But it is not as weird as it sounds, not at all. I’ve been attending classes sporadically, as my schedule allows, connecting with current Holy Yoga instructors in my area, and following Holy Yoga on Instagram. I stumbled across the blog of Amanda Dean, a Holy Yoga instructor right here in Richardson. She is such a gifted writer that I reached out to her, even though we had never met, to ask her if she would use her gift of words to describe how she felt when she first discovered Holy Yoga. I thought perhaps she could describe to you how I have been feeling about this endeavor more eloquently than I could. AND SHE DID. I teared up when I read this post in my Inbox, because it so accurately describes what I have felt over the years but not been able to put into words. I will let her speak now, please post any questions that you have for me or for Amanda in the comments. I will be following this post with a post next week about my own journey and some FAQ’s.

~~~

About ten years ago, I stepped through studio doors, feeling anxious yet excited.  My first yoga class was about to begin and I had little knowledge of what to expect.  As a former gymnast and dancer, I was familiar with all things pointed toes.  Yoga was a foreign language.

I unrolled my borrowed yoga mat and listened as our instructor walked us through the deep breath.  The “yoga breath” was new and strange.  I noticed right away it was hard to sit still.  (Stillness has a way of inviting all kinds of mental noise doesn’t it?)  As I focused more and more on my breath, the inner clamor began to quiet.  She spoke words I had never before heard.  Sanskrit” she called it.   I watched and did my best to move my body into each asana (posture).  Some felt natural…some not so much. 

I walked out of class feeling lighter and just better.  I can’t tell you I fell in love right away, but I found myself back on my borrowed mat the following week.   I explored different styles and instructors, some filling the space with sounds of chanting and Tibetan singing bowls.  Some with the sounds of Sheryl Crow.  Over time, my body began to crave this breath and movement and I settled in with my favorite teachers.

I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember; I practically grew up on a church pew.  That’s where I met my Savior and have known him ever since.  Truthfully, I wasn’t familiar with the controversy surrounding yoga and Christianity.   I wasn’t afraid to walk into a class because I knew He walked with me.  In fact, it made sense to me, this yoking together of the breath and movement and rest. 

Yoga classes begin with setting an intention.  Some teachers talk about the energy around or within us.  Some speak of the “third eye.”  From the very beginning, Truth rose and resonated from within.  I started dedicating my practice to my Abba early on, trying to breathe Him in with each inhale.  There was never an emptying of the mind as far as I was concerned.  It was actually the opposite.

I remember the first time my practice felt like worship.  I closed my eyes in Warrior 1 and lifted my hands high.  Prayer and praise come from the heart right?  Since my heart was already there, my body simply followed.

When I set out to become a yoga instructor, I tried to find a Christ-centered program.  With little luck, I settled for a secular teacher training called YogaFit and completed my Level One Certification.  I started teaching right away and tried to incorporate scripture and praise music.  It wasn’t until I discovered Holy Yoga almost two years later, and I knew this was what I had been searching for all along.

Holy Yoga is “100% Yoga and 100% Jesus.”  Training culminates in an intensive immersion retreat and that was where I attended my first Holy Yoga class.  It felt like coming home.  Tears poured down my cheeks as I truly experienced the presence of Jesus on my yoga mat.   It was yoga, but it was so much more.  It was grace and freedom in bare feet and yoga pants. 

In Holy Yoga, we invite God into our practice-whatever that looks like.  Whether the practice is gentle or sweaty, we ask Him to meet us where we are.   And my friend, He is always faithful to show up.  I honestly feel that Holy Yoga is a vehicle for more of Him…more of His healing.  More joy.  More peace.  More presence.  And the physical benefits of yoga are just an added bonus. 

Brooke Boon, founder of Holy Yoga says, “It’s not about the yoga.”  She’s right.  It may start out that way, but finding Jesus on your mat leaves your practice forever changed. 

For more about Holy Yoga, please visit www.holyyoga.net

Amanda Dean is a lover of Jesus, yoga, dessert and words.  She is a Registered Holy Yoga Instructor in Richardson, TX.  Amanda has also completed training in Holy Yoga Touch Therapy and is currently enrolled in her Master’s training.  She is a contributing writer to Mindfull Collective and Cedar and Soul  Find her at www.mandajoy.com and www.mandajoyblog.wordpress.com

Cooking for kids with food allergies: my fave resources

Cooking For Kids With Food Allergies: My favorite resources (online and offline)

After Little Sir’s initial bout with food intolerance, most of which his body overcame after treatment by our naturopath, I become highly aware of the challenges of food allergies and food intolerances for kids. Little Sir’s remaining sensitivities are dairy and gluten. He really cannot have anything dairy more than 1-2 times per week without his body going on high alert (typically with diarrhea being the first sign of trouble, followed by a runny nose). We are mostly a diary free family, but I do allow him to have a frozen yogurt treat occasionally or some cheese on gluten free pizza. I list him as having a dairy allergy at preschool and at bible study/church so that one one will feed him any dairy without my knowledge. He also still has quite a bit of trouble processing whole wheat as well. It’s not actually the gluten he has trouble with, but breaking down the actual kernel of wheat. His body does best if he avoids wheat products, so I feed him a very low gluten diet. I buy gluten-free as much as possible and try to restrict anything with wheat to about every-other-day. So right now, we are largely dairy free and gluten free. Still, it is so much better to avoid these two things than the huge list we started out with.

On this journey of Various Things We Need To Avoid, I collected great resources from other green blogger friends, from amazing friends like local kids’ chef Tara Andersen, and even from you, my readers and Twitter followers! I wanted to pay back that advice by doing a post listing all my favorite and most valuable resources for recipes and ideas on cooking for kids with food allergies (or sensitivities/intolerance).

Local to Dallas (my favorites, unpaid — none of these business know that I’m writing about them!):

  • Half Pint Palates – will custom prepare handmade, healthy, kid-approved food specific to your child’s allergy or food sensitivity.
  • Natural Grocer by Vitamin Cottage – has several locations in Texas including Richardson/Dallas, Lakewood, and Preston/Forest in the Dallas area. They have extremely high standards for their products and often lower prices than some of the larger national healthy food chains (coughWholeFoodscough).
  • Reverie Bakery – vegan (dairy free) and gluten free bakery here in Richardson. Just went yesterday for a treat for Little Sir! He loved it!
  • Unrefined Bakery – gluten free and vegan bakery in both Dallas (Lower Greenville) and Frisco. I got cupcakes for Little Sir’s 3rd birthday here when we were dairy free and soy free. It’s nearly impossible to find soy free bakeries, which is why I love them!

Online stores

  • Vitacost (referral link) – not just supplements! Also a lot of allergy-friendly foods that are difficult to find in stores. I save a lot by using their Set N Save option to have certain items delivered on a regular schedule. If you aren’t a member yet, drop me an email at jenny {at} conscientiousconfusion {dot} com and I can send you a code for $10 off your first order! Orders over $50 have free shipping, so I often go in on an order with several local friends to reach the $50 threshold.
  • Azure Standard – this online store does local drop-offs, so you will need to find a drop-off location near you. Or, start your own! A huge variety of not just specialty foods but also organic produce and grass-fed meats.

Blogs

I definitely have to include Pinterest in my list of resources, and will be doing a followup post on How to Search Pinterest for Allergy-Friendly Recipes, because it is a little tricky. My BFF started a collaborative board for me called What Little Sir Can Eat where I pinned recipes when he was on the severely restricted diet. Feel free to check it out!

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list — it’s just a list of what I have used. I’d love to hear your favorite resources in the comments, so that we can all share with each other!

Being Indoors with 2 Preschoolers for 2-3 Days

As you might have seen on the news (or be experiencing along with me right now), the DFW area was hit with record levels of solid ice and sleet all Thursday night and temperatures haven’t risen above the 20’s since then. Because we live in Texas, we did not own any salt with which to ice our driveway, so we’ve been stuck in our house with both our kids since then. My children, who wake up every morning asking “Where are we going today?”, are NOT accustomed to staying at home for this long. Frankly, neither am I. I am so glad that today it is getting up to 40 degrees! We just spent a little over an hour breaking the ice on our driveway with shovels so that I can drive to the studio and teach a 2pm Lagree Fitness class. It will feel so good to get out of the house and to do a workout! I can guarantee that I will be purchasing driveway salt as soon as it is available again in this area. All you northerners, I’d love to hear your suggestions on other good preventative measures!

So, we were stuck indoors with 2 preschoolers for 2-3 days. What did we do?

To begin with, let me be clear: I am not one of those Pinterest moms who has great ideas on creative and educational activities. And my children have seriously destroyed most of the creative ideas I have tried. Like the sensory bin using beans – that was a TERRIBLE IDEA. They put the beans in dozens of containers which they carried around the house for days. I was finding beans all over the house for months. Literally. It was very creative, what they did. But not at all what Pinterest had in mind. Apparently most children leave the beans in the bin. Ha!

I got a lot of good ideas from my Facebook friends on what to do with 2 preschoolers indoors. Here I will list them for you. Please note that these are ideas from other people, not me:

  • homemade play doh
  • baking Christmas cookies (we did bake breakfast cake, and that was so much sugar that I had to hold off on the cookies)
  • marshmallows and toothpicks
  • pipe cleaners and kitchen strainer
  • use duct tape on hardwood floors to create a hopscotch grid
  • go outside and play
  • play with cardboard boxes
  • empty toilet paper/paper towel rolls
  • play in the bathtub
  • If you don’t have beanbags, fill reusable sandwich bags with beans or lentils or even coins, give the kids a cardboard box, and let them toss the bags.
  • Have a color scavenger hunt. Call out a color, have them find as many things of that color in one room that they can.
  • Write out numbers 1-10 each on a piece of paper, tape them to the floor, and have them hop to each number, calling that # out when they jump. You could also make a homemade twister board. If you don’t have colored construction paper, have them help by coloring paper.
  • Draw shapes (geometric, but also apples, snakes, houses, animals, etc) and let them practice scissor skills. Start with straight lines, then slightly curved, wavy/scalloped, then circles & shapes. Many of each for practice.

Which of these activities did my children actually do?

  • imaginary play involving two ninja fighting sticks, winter hats, and mittens
  • painting
  • painting
  • painting with glitter glue
  • fighting each other
  • I gave them an empty egg carton and they randomly played with that for a while
  • destroying our Playmobil advent calendar
  • watching shows
  • doing activity books
  • using every single toy in the house to create an elaborate play scenario in their imaginations
  • dumping the toys out of their toy bins and sitting inside them (they do this a LOT, actually)
  • talking about doing yoga but not sitting still long enough to do it
  • reading books
  • we did go outside, LL peed on herself after 10 minutes and had to come back in

So, there you go. Maybe these will be helpful to you if you’re stuck in side for 3 mind boggling days with children.

Stuck indoors with preschoolers

And also: sorry to my friends with great ideas which my children rejected in lieu of beating each other with ninja sticks. I thought your ideas were better, too.

Sneak peek at the new #WholeFoodsAddison!

It was bittersweet to find out that our Richardson Whole Foods was finally closed down, but I knew that meant that the brand new Whole Foods Addison was about to open! I am excited for our new nearest Whole Foods to have a larger footprint, meaning that it will carry more items that I have formerly had to drive 5-7 miles to another location to get (I know, I know, I am still spoiled…). The Whole Foods Addison at Beltline and the Tollway will open to the public on July 16. However, I was graciously given a media preview tour this morning and snapped the following pics!

Whole Foods Addison
“Flying banana” display – see the black wire grid? Bananas will be hanging off of it!
Whole Foods Addison bulk food section
There are actually 2 aisle of bulk foods at this Whole Foods location, you can bring your own container to conserve plastic bag waste!
Whole Foods Addison wine section
The wine section, where you’ll be able to find suggested wine pairings from local chefs, celebrities, and even local bloggers!

 

Whole Foods Addison cheese shop
Cheese Shop! Need I say more?!

 

Whole Foods Addison personal product aisle
Personal products aisle — I always end up here!
Whole Foods Addison beer cases
Quote from Kinky Friedman on the beer case “Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder”

 

Whole Foods Addison in-store bar
In-store bar with many beers on tap, even root beer! Have a drink while you shop!
Whole Foods Addison Buy Me A Beer
Did you know you can pre-purchase a drink from the bar for a friend who isn’t with you? The next time they visit, they’ll have a free drink on you! My name is spelled “J-E-N-N-Y”…if you were wondering…
Whole Food Addison meat department
Meat department with sustainable meats and the Whole Foods Animal Welfare Rating System

 

Whole Foods Addison bakery
Bakery section! Cupcakes and treats with no artificial colors or HFCS, yay!
Whole Foods Addison pre-prepared food area
Pre-prepared food area. At this store, the grab-and-go meals are in enclosed refrigerator cases because that is more energy efficient.
Whole Foods Addison upstairs cafe area
Upstairs cafe area, great for holding small, intimate meetings.

 

If you’d like to take a sneak peek too, there is a special preview tomorrow (Friday, July 12) from 4-7pm open to the general public. Word is that there will be food samples!

 

Earth Day Lesson: Recycling in Richardson

For the second part of my Earth Day series this year, I’m going to share some fun we had this weekend locally at the Richardson city Trash Bash. It’s an annual event here in our town (which is adjacent/connected to Dallas) where citizens can learn about the environmental services that the city offers, learn about local businesses and organizations that provide additional services, and have an opportunity to recycle large items that might not fall within our regular curbside recycling pickup, such as e-Waste.

Most of the exhibitors were set up in the main hallway of the city hall/civic center.

Richardson Trash BashWe walked from booth to booth learning about water conservation, mosquito prevention, brushing our teeth, keeping our homes safe (Richardson Police Department), how to garden using fish poop (yep!), and other fun things.

Outside near the fountain, there were other exhibits and a bounce house! My son got to tour the inside of the Fire Department’s ambulance while my daughter and I stood next to huge bales of materials ready for recycling at the Richardson Waste station.

Richardson Recycles
Plastic to be recycled
Metal cans to be recycledJust as we were about to leave, we realized that free pizza was being served in the Great Room, where the door prize raffles were also being read! We didn’t win anything, but the kids enjoyed the pizza and we got to meet mayoral candidate Amir Omar. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture.

LS eating pizza
LS can eat pizza despite being dairy intolerant, if we remove the cheese first

On our way out the door, we stopped by the kids’ activity room which turned out to be a lot of fun! So much fun that I wish I had taken more pictures. They have an awesome landscape display that shows how run-off water is affected by various pollutants. I would just love to own one of those! All I got a picture of was this Pinterest-worthy upcycle project using empty water bottles and macaroni with toys hidden inside. I just might try and recreate this one!

LL upcycled water bottle macaroni craft

All in all, we had a fun day and the event (and pizza!) was free. We also got to take home a free tomato plant, which I’ve put in our garden and am sincerely hoping not to kill. We learned more about recycling and conserving, just in time for Earth Day. Thanks, Richardson, for caring about our environment!

 

 

All the Drama: on the Internets and IRL Episode #4

All The Drama On The Internets

I have not posted this week yet because there has been so much drama and sadness, and then a little anger thrown into the mix, both on the internets and in real life. As you know, I am typically a very peaceful person so it has all been inside my head. I’m going to give you a bulleted list of things that are currently bringing me down so that I can clear my head and focus on hope.

Petty Nutrition Mis-information

#KFCKidsMeals. I am going to start with the most petty drama on the Internets and I am going to make this one quick. KFC paid for a bunch of bloggers to come out and try their new kids meals and tweet about it. They decreased the overall calorie count of the kids meals to 210, and that was a main talking point. Nevermind that the meals are still nutritionally vacant, fried, and full of PHO’s, artificial colors, and nothing resembling a real chicken. Some people got mad that bloggers would even pretend these meals were good for people. Other people defended the bloggers. Arguments ensued.
Hope: Let’s all just agree that if you are convinced by the hashtag #KFCKidsMeals that fried meat-composite is a good nutritional choice for your kids, you are gathering your information from the wrong sources, my friend.

Blows to Feminism

Steubenville. Specifically, the reaction of the city and the media to the verdict. Instead of confirming that justice had been served in the conviction of two young football players who raped a 16 year old girl and posted photos of the rape on social media, or at the very least remaining neutral, I was horrified and depressed that the reaction seemed to be sympathy for the men. It was all, “Oh, they were such good football players and now their careers are ruined! What a shame!”. There was also a huge backlash on Twitter blaming the victim of the rape. What a shame?!! Shame on HER?! Are you kidding me? What a shame that our country has so little value for that 16 year old girl and such an apparently low value for women’s sexuality in general. What a shame that women are still seen to be at fault for sexual attacks. Shame on us for raising boys that still believe that women are objects to be used and tossed away. They had an awful lot of confidence to post those pictures and it not even occur to them that anyone would have a problem with it.
Hope: I was encouraged by this post from A Holy Experience about 25 Things Our Sons Need To Know About Manhood. Oh look, I have a son that I will be raising to fight against this kind of treatment of women.

Pycon. As a woman who worked in IT and programming throughout my corporate career, I was often the only woman in my department. I went to conferences in my early 20’s. I feel that, as a woman, I have the right to raise a complaint when I am sexually harassed (and I am…we all are, constantly). But the thing that depresses me is that Adria was fired from HER job for raising a complaint. Not just the man who made the remark, but the woman who was insulted was fired. What is this, 1960? The last time I worked in corporate America I had to sit through 2 days of sexual harassment training videos and exercises. Everyone did. Those videos told us that it was OK to report sexual harassment. I think we all know that we can be fired for what we blog, but Adria’s company knew she blogged at But You’re A Girl before they hired her. I feel like this case just exemplifies how women are really treated in the workplace. We want to think we are equals, but then something like this happens and I have to think that maybe we’re just wishfully thinking.
Hope: Sometimes when I get discouraged about women in the workplace, I read tweets from my friend Blessing @ThinkFeminist on Twitter. She is a huge encouragement! And there’s also the #workingmomchat at 7pm CST on Twitter.

My own perception of safety

In the last few weeks there have been 3 aggravated sexual assaults on women in our neighborhood. Not the kind that comes from domestic violence, but unexpected attacks from a single rapist (same perpetrator of all three, confirmed with DNA evidence) who had apparently been closely watching the women’s patterns and following them to find them alone. Two of these women also go to my church. One I knew personally. I am not full of fear because I still have a trust in God that whatever He allows for me is His plan. But I am discouraged because this seems to bear out the kind of feeling I got from the news stories regarding women. I know that in the Congo and in Uganda, rape is the #1 tool of violence. Are we heading in that direction here, even in Dallas?
Hope: Our pastor wrote a blog post addressing fear. Some of my friends organized a prayer walk in the neighborhood where all three rapes occurred.

Walmart is moving across the street

I know, it is petty of me to even write about Walmart in the context of rape and discrimination. Don’t worry, friends on Facebook have pointed out that they don’t agree with my outrage. But let me ‘splain. To me, this is a moral issue. Sure, I am concerned about our property values. Yes, I am concerned about the crime rate in our neighborhood. I am annoyed that Walmart didn’t have to ask anyone before deciding to build a 90,000 square foot store less than a 1,000 feet from my door. The traffic is going to be killer. But in the larger picture, to me Walmart is symbolic of things that corporate America is doing wrong which I refuse to support with my consumer dollars. I wish that no one supported Walmart for this reason. The culture of “cheap” that Walmart has created into a religion exploits workers in their U.S. stores and in the manufacturing plants that it supports overseas (since at least 60% of Walmart’s products are imported from China and other overseas locations). Child labor, injustice, discrimination, profitting from the poverty of the underprivileged and less educated… I could rant on and on about this, but instead I have created a Pinterest board on My Problems With Walmart. Check it out. Let me know if you have additional articles to Pin.
Bottom line, this is probably about my own weakness. I am afraid that if they build that giant store within walking distance of my house, I am going to be tired and hungry one day and I am going to cave in and go to Walmart. Then I will feel guilty for days for supporting Walmart. I don’t want that temptation.
Hope: If you do live near me, please sign our petition. We need the 2,000 signatures by April 4. Honestly, it might do nothing at all, but it’s our only shot.

~~~
Thanks for letting me get all this off my chest! Supportive and encouraging comments welcome. Flaming comments, probably going to be deleted.

Happy Independence Day 2012!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Independence Day being thankful for all the great privileges we have in this country, and remembering that we must all be conscious of how we use these gifts to honor others, the earth, and our own bodies!

Last night, we attended KaboomTown in Addison, which is my absolute favorite fireworks display EVER! If you have never been, put it on your calendar for next year!
KaboomTown Addision 2012

I wanted to let you know about some of the great posts I’ve found (and written) elsewhere, both patriotic and not-so-much:

And here, to end our day, are randome pictures of cuteness courtesy of my kids and our HOA’s annual 4th of July parade and party at the park!
4th of July 2012

RHOA 4th of July

Our weekend at Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson

While we were walking around Cottonwood Art Festival this morning, I overheard a man saying to his companion: “It’s neat that we live in a town that puts on events like this, y’know?”

I have to say that I agree with that gentleman. Even though it’s usually getting hot outside already by May and in October (when the Festival will come back again), it’s always cooler by the lake and there’s plenty of shade and cool treats!

We put the kids in the wagon and walked to Cottonwood Park from our house. Here we are entering the main cafe and pavilion area!

Entering the main pavilion area

ArtStop for the Kids was our first…stop.

ArtStop, Cottonwood Art Festival Spring 2012

Little Sir and his friend Zane were pretty good about sharing the chalkboard.

ArtStop - collaborative chalk art

Even though he is old enough this year, Little Sir wasn’t really that interested in participating in the paid craft activities. I really thought he would like this huge painting opportunity, but he was too distracted:

ArtStop Kids "Big Picture" project

I love the huge mural idea and I wonder what they do with it when the festival is over?
Next, we took a quick run through some of the artist booths and displays…

Art on display Art booth Yard art

Sculpture "Talking To Myself" Artisan jewelry Kinetic sculpture

…on our way to one of our favorite stops: “fair” food!

Food court Kona Ice shaved ice truck Carnival style lemonade

Soon the kiddos were worn out, and we headed home. For more photos that I didn’t include in this post, take a look at my Cottonwood Art Festival set on Flickr.

It does occur to me that this would be a great place to go and hang out peacefully on the pavilion, listening to live music, without kids!

The Pavilion with live music

Remember, the festival has extended hours this season – it will be open until 8pm tonight as well as tomorrow (Sunday) at 10am until 6pm. It’s not too late! Come out and see our favorite festival!