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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soap,Stitches, Jam, and IPADS

We have made our valentines the last few years. There are no good craft stores or supplies here in Bahrain. So, embarking on a new level of silliness. I want to try and make the Valentines from magazine clippings and mismatched supplies I have here. Been thinking a lot about waste and overindulgence recently. I read a book set during the Crimean War and one during WWII earlier in year. Something as simple as making more bandages out of old cloth to send to the troops, socks and hats knitted and sent to the troops to help against the frost bite. Food and petrol rationing and people growing Victory gardens for the war effort were happening in Europe and America. Re-using and repairing instead of buying everything new all the time. Can you imagine being a soldier (or the doctor or nurse treating the soldier) and knowing that all that was needed to make the difference was warm socks and a pile of clean bandages? Bandages made from old bed linen that were sent by countrymen back home were not unlike the used paperbacks and coffee and hot sauce we send our troops now. Just a lot more practical.

I worry about what our society is teaching our children, me included. What if they grow up in a world where they don't know how to do anything for themselves? My mom still makes lye soap. Not because she needs to, it is actually a big pain to do. She does it because her mother did, and if she doesn't keep doing it and teaching it, the tradition will die. When I was little she taught me how to wash clothes on a washboard with that soap. It also kills fleas and dries up poison ivy, but I digress. My Aunt makes her own jam after we gather the wild blackberries. We all pick, rags and scarves on our heads to keep the ticks out of our hair. Then we reap the rewards with jars of jam and a bubbling cobbler after dinner. I think resourcefulness is a gift we can give our children.

The economy weighs on my mind. How high will our debt go in America? Will the big giant come crashing down? Will fuel become so expensive we have to trim our lawn with toe nail clippers? I want my kids to know how to sew and hunt and cook and swing a hammer and grow food. That's not because I am a dooms-dayer, not really. More because doing simple things for yourself, knowing the basics, is something that could easily get lost in the age of technology and convenience. The kids are interested, if you ask. Mine like their Wii, but Clara wants to learn to shoot a bow. Brigid wants continue learning to ride a horse. They both like to sew and cook and make things. There was a day when no one had cars or even a bike, and riding a horse was a necessity if you were lucky enough to own one. Caring for that horse was, too. Knowing how to fish and swim and tie knots and put up jam were common knowledge. Sewing a button or hemming a skirt or patching britches were common place. Now we toss it out or take it to a tailor. Heck, even writing a good old fashioned hand written letter seems to be a dying skill.

I don't want my kids to be helpless. I also don't want them to be wasteful. I want them to learn to be resourceful and creative. I am as guilty as the next guy for being a slave to consumerism and technology. My new IMAC can attest to that. I just can't let that be all there is. I feel like I need to find a balance in order to be a good mom.


  1. Absolutely 100% agree! Wonderfully written!

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. As a matter of fact, learning how to do things for ourselves is sort of a hobby for our family. I think we started with beer (surprise). We brewed some skunky tasting ale but with practice, we ended up with several great batches. A wonderful honey, rasberry comes to mind. We've made cheese, butter, yogurt, and many types of pickles, and jams. We kept chickens and had fresh eggs every day. We attempted many vegetable gardens (some producing better than others). We kept pigs which my husband slaughtered himself and made his own sausage and smoked hams. The kids played a big part in all of our endeavers. i always thought it was important for them to be self sufficient and to know where their food comes from (other than the freezer section).Every now and then we just pick a project, research it, and try to produce it ourselves rather than buy it in the store. We haven't done much since we've been in Bahrain because my husband works so much and frankly it's just not as much fun without him. I like you have a fondness for my IMac, IPad, and Ipod and don't plan on giving them up. But it's nice to know that, for whatever reason, if we were put in a situation where we had to provide for ourselves, we'd at least have some basic skills, And if nothing else, it's something fun to do!

  3. Katie, you guys took that idea to a new height. I think that your kids will appreciate the effort it took to teach them all of that when they are older.Just think of the soap you could have made with that hog fat!! haha