Monday, April 27, 2015


For those of you who have been blog readers a long time, you may remember that I used to write on separation of church/state issues when I lived in Kentucky.  Oddly, that was good training for an article I wrote last week...and it came out on Saturday.  Here's a CBC opinion piece on why I think there is no such thing as a "secular prayer" and why I think it shouldn't happen at city council or at the Manitoba legislature.  Turns out that the Canadian Supreme Court thinks that too!

Like a prayer: Rethinking traditions at city council

In other news...our radishes are coming up, little bitty green things, in our raised garden beds.  Both boys had the sniffles so we spent a lot of the weekend playing close to home.  This playing alternated with small boys throwing cranky tantrums.  We also attempted a trip to Fort Whyte for their Earth Day festivities.  It was gorgeous weather, very crowded, and a bit hard to maneuver with two hungry, cranky and sniffley guys.  We did see pigs, chicken, rabbits, bison, an owl and a snake, lots of geese and other birds and lots of touchable wildlife taxidermy (which I found gross, but the boys loved).

The most interesting part of the visit, for me, was the Pioneer Sod House.  here's a link to some photos.  I had never been inside a sod house--I believe I have seen some collapsed ones out on highways as we drove someplace, but this was a real live example.  We have a great kid's book:
The New Land: A First Year on the Prairie

That helps us explain to the boys what the first European settlers on the prairie experienced when they came here...and it has a sod house in it.  What a rush it was to see light dawn for both three year olds as we went into a real (very small) sod house.  We all wondered what it would be like to spend winter in one.  Very close quarters!

I also recently came across some Manitoba legal codes from the 1870s that said which belongings could not be confiscated in case of bankruptcy.  Luckily, a spinning wheel and weaving loom were stipulated as among the essential items that could not be taken.  Whew.

Of course they were absolutely necessary to keep the family warm and clothed, but also?  for mental health reasons....

OK, that's enough prairie talk for today!  Have a good one. :)

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day: Every Day

Wednesday, April 22nd, was Earth Day...and I didn't remember to post.  Instead, we've been collecting recyclables to bring to preschool for art projects.  We've been using (and re-using) our cloth diapers... UPDATE: both boys are mostly toilet trained during the day.  Not at night though. Oh well.  It's a process.

Anyhow, we make an effort to think about the environment whenever we can.  It has to be manageable, but sometimes we find going the extra distance to choose the right thing, is worth it for us in the long run.

I wondered what sort of photo to post with this, because things are not green here yet.  Earth Day happens at a time when we don't even have grass or leafy trees...just the odd bud or two.  It was 14F (-10C) this AM.   So, I remembered last summer.  We just recently finished eating the bags of frozen strawberries from our basement freezer.  We still have lots of homemade jam left.  Here we are, on a windy, cool July day last summer, in a strawberry field relatively near Winnipeg.  We went picking twice.  We had great fun, including an impromptu ride on a farm "gator" tractor.

I was featured on a blog this week -- likely because of how Knit Green's ideas coincide with Earth Day.  Although my books were published by Wiley & Sons, this part of their publishing business was sold to Turner Publishing...and here's their blog!

Joanne Seiff links two loves: knitting and reading | Connect | Turner Publishing

To celebrate, I'd like to offer a discount to anybody who might like to download a knitting pattern (skipping the paper for the pdf?  An Earth Day move!) on Ravelry.

Until May 15, use the coupon code:
to download any of my Ravelry patterns for 20% off.  Springtime - and thinking about the earth- are well worth celebrating.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

A quick update

I had two articles come out last week!  Wanted to update the blog with these links but hope to follow up later this week with something more...maybe even a photo or two.

First, this column about integrating learning into religious practice came out in the Jewish Post & News:
Jewish Learning: Just Do It!

Second, I submitted this piece to the CBC on Thursday and it went live this weekend!   In short, "When the system fails us" looks at how regular Manitobans have to rely on the media for advocacy, publicity and redress when the provincial government systems fail them. It seems like a broken system.  

For those reading this outside of our province, it's an interesting way to view how things work here.  In the US, I often found that one could appeal a decision by speaking to a manager or a higher government official...and only rarely did it feel like an individual had to go to the media to fix things or right a wrong.  Here, the population is smaller but it seems like the media ends up being involved in advocacy a lot more often.
When the system fails us

Also--it's snowing today!  Spring does come late here.  We've had a few warm days, seen a couple of tree buds, and gotten out the sandbox, but Mother Nature is not done with winter here yet...

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Passover snapshots

The last few weeks have been a real blur.  Two weeks without preschool, a major Jewish holiday, a really helpful and valued visit from Didi and Bop (grandparents) and a few medical issues, too.  Here's a shot of our table, all set up for the first Passover seder.  This year, we hosted two seders.  They were not big or lavish, and it certainly was a lot of work!  However, both of my boys had a fabulous time.  They recited the four questions and were fabulous participants.  They loved the seders and were truly disappointed when the first two nights were over.

I have a love-hate relationship with Passover, but here's a link to my Jewish Post & News column about that:
Culture Clash, Pesach, and Why We Do It

Note: Yes, there are two cups on our seder plate.  They are both Elijah's Cups because both boys made one at preschool.  There's only supposed to be one cup, but I have twins.  Oh well.  Maybe next year one will be for Miriam instead!

Didi and Bop came to visit and brought lots of beautiful handmade gifts.  Didi wove me a new shawl for winter out of some of my handspun.  (I spun it and gave it to her so long ago that I cannot remember it...but then, I don't sleep much since having twins and can't remember anything anyway!)  She used her triangle loom--I love these shawls, this is my second. I aired it out on the porch in the sunshine.  Warm sunny days are such a novel thing right now that everyone has to be photographed and enjoyed...

We had lots of fun outings, good food, and playtime with grandparents, and both boys were thrilled.  Having the extra adults around has been very helpful for us, too!  We will miss you, Didi Bop!

Over the last few weeks we've had a bunch of medical stuff, and it has reminded me of the respite we had this winter.  (thank goodness for breaks in this stuff, it is stressful.)  The good news is that everything is fine.  I've had a couple of growths removed from my arm--resulting in a pretty big Frankenstein scar that the boys remain vigilant about.  Sally the dog has now racked up about $2000 in vet bills--she also had a growth removed, plus what seems like an ear infection.   She is doing ok, but it is a little reminder that our dogs are getting older.  We need to take care of them now; they take very good care of us.

Finally one of our twins had a minor surgery.  He is doing very well and started right back at preschool this week.  Hurray!

Last but not least, I came across a couple of really good articles on parenting.  One is about twins, and while our situation was not so severe and our twins were not born premature, it expresses a lot of the struggles that we have faced...and it is a beautiful piece of writing that includes bugs, the professor's favorite, so here it is:
The Loveliness of Ladybugs

Here's the second.  This is a very good analysis piece about mothering and its depiction in the media.  It's particularly relevant to me because many people have urged me to write more about my experiences.  Yet, when I do, I can't get anyone to publish it.  It seems as though nobody actually wants to hear about the real nitty gritty when it comes to any difficulties in twin parenting.  This article indicates that I am really not alone...and again, it's a good read.
Glass Half Full

Hope you are enjoying sunshine and some signs of spring!

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