Monday, February 16, 2009

Slowing Down with the Grandparents

Do you ever have visitors from out of town who make you slow down and take life at a different pace? In our family, my kids are blessed with 6 grandparents and two great-grandparents. Their visits are glimpses into a different way of life -- and a different culture -- that I'm really learning to appreciate.

The 4 grandparents who live in Canada come to visit once or twice a year. When they're here, I downshift into low gear and live life at about half my usual speed. At first, it's a hard adjustment. I find myself flying through the house practically knocking them down in my rush to get somewhere. I have to stop myself from yelling, "Come on, we've got to go! My hair's on fire!" Once I get used to it though, we all coast along in the slow lane together and just relax.

Some days, we do a whole lot of nothing. Other days, we rouse them out of bed and make them go on long family excursions. But when we're on those excursions, we eat leisurely lunches, stop for coffee, take lots of pictures and never hurry. When we're at home, I'm amazed (and sometimes jealous) by their ability to sit still, read the paper, sip a glass of wine and shoot the breeze.

My frame of reference is all wrong at first too. When Grandpa says "I had my eyes done", I think: "Wow -- laser eye surgery!" Then I realize he means cataracts. When we decide to go for a walk before picking the kids up at school, I realize the GP's don't want to walk at my "Let's-burn-as-many-calories-as-we-can" pace and that I need to re-think how many things we can cram in before the next thing on our schedule.

All of the grandparents in our lives are GREAT with the kids, and I feel truly blessed when I see how much they love each other. They're also very patient with me and have learned to try to get out of my way when my hair is on fire. And I've learned to ratchet things down -- at least for a little while -- and just enjoy life in the slow lane.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The simple genius of micro-loans with Kiva

It's Sunday morning and we're not going to make it to church today. But I've done my good deed and think the Big Man upstairs would not be too upset with me. With a few clicks of the computer, I Paypal'd $25.00 to They are in turn partnering with Senegal Ecovillage Microfinance Fund (SEM) who will loan my money to the Kadidiatou Ndiaye Group. These five entrepreneurial women work in the fish industry in Senegal. They buy fresh produce and process it themselves to sell at weekly markets in Casamance, Senegal.

So what will happen to my $25? We'll be getting email updates about the women we helped fund. Once they repay their loan (C'mon ladies! I'm pulling for you!), we can lend our money to another entrepreneur that we find on kiva's site.

I need to give a shout-out to my neighbor Paul Hoekstra, whose birthday we're celebrating today. It was his idea to make a micro-loan in lieu of a gift. Way to go Paul! This donation was in your honor and it is getting credited to "Team Europe" on kiva.

I can feel myself getting carried away with this one already. The kiva site is addictive -- reading about entrepreneurs all over the world who just need a little bit of money so they can grow their small businesses and prosper. If I do get dangerously hooked on Kiva, at least the only thing that will suffer is my bank account. There's an addiction we can probably live with.