Celebrating Earth Day (every day)

Several days ago I logged onto Google and was reminded by their decorative home page that it was Earth Day. I've never paid all that much attention to Earth Day before, but Eric and I have tried to be at least a little environmentally conscious (especially when it was also the cheapest option). So I started to think of how I could change my lifestyle to be more Earth friendly and was amused to think of all the lifestyle changes we've made out of necessity in Kenya...that happen to also be more environmental (some of you might have seen the beginning of these musings on my facebook account). So, here's the list.

1--We hang our clothes on the line to dry (recently did buy a dryer for the rainy season...very key to get 4 kids' cloth diapers dry in time for the next usage).

2--We buy local produce (as our only real option)

3--We walk to work (living 5 min from the hospital proper is a plus).

4--We share a vehicle among 3 families...and really don't drive very often

5--Tenwek is powered by a hydroelectric dam

6--We don't heat or cool our house...in fact, it doesn't even have a thermostat

7--We eat veggie for close to half our meals (meat is $$)

8--We collect and filter rainwater for drinking and some washing

9--No junk mail to clutter up the trash can (who'd send it to Kenya, anyways?)

10--Cloth diapers!

So there you go. The solution to healing the Earth is for everyone to move to Kenya. :)


Yeast and Seed

Thoughts from this Saturday morning:

Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, and then he immediately also says it is like yeast, which is a bit curious, since yeast has negative connotations throughout the rest of the Bible. I like yeast, so I'm glad to see it get some good biblical press.

The mustard seed is tiny, but it grows into a huge tree. A tiny bit of yeast is kneaded until it works through an impressively large amount of dough. The commonalities may be obvious:

Thought 1: The kingdom of God may start out small, but it ends up being huge, taking over everything. This has implications for the church worldwide, the so-called Christendom, but (also according to Jesus) the kingdom of God is within us, and thus it has implications for our lives. In other words, nothing is safe. In the language of my old youth pastor (and sadly, I can't even remember which one), "God is OK if you just build another room for him, off the side of your house. As long as you burn down the rest of the house." The yeast will have all of the dough. The mustard seed will become the biggest of all the garden plants. So be it.

Thought 2: Yeast works through dough, and mustard seeds become trees, but only through time. This is comforting to me, as I know the yeast has yet to work through all the dough. Jesus has another parable about seeds, where he reminds us that a farmer plants seed and waters it, but even when he is sleeping, the seed is growing, by powers that are far beyond the farmer's control. In other words, he has help. Thus, this process takes time, and it takes grace, with the seed and the yeast growing even while we sleep.


Foodie Ingenuity

We were sitting around a week ago, talking about how we have been surprised at the food amenities available to us here. Sure, there are some things we can't find usually, and it would be nice to default to a Hot N' Ready pizza every once in a while, but mostly we're surprised at what we have access to.

This, in turn, led to a discussion of the things we can't find, and the top of that list was flavored coffee creamers. I'm a little ashamed of this, because I consider this to be a quasi-exception to my general aversion to such froo-froo things, but I can't deny that a nice hot cup of caramel vanilla coffee can be just the thing.

What to do? You can buy a caramel CoffeeMate in Nairobi for about $11, but even then its the powder stuff. Well, I bet we could make this easy enough. A brief online search found the following recipe:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups milk
various flavorings to make a desired flavor

Well, we just happened to have a can of sweetened condensed milk, which we split into two, and now have the above pictured jars of Vanilla and Mocha Almond (or, as I prefer to call it, Parisian Mocha Almond Creme). They taste awesome, and we intend to fund future work by mass manufacturing of the same.

(And yes, for the careful observer, in the background, you do see the new version of "The Map")


Eric's New CD

In 2003, with the kind help of many people, I put together a homemade CD, entitled Six Years Being Remembered. I remember thinking at that time that it wouldn't be another six years before I put together another collection of songs. Then, at the end of 2009, I finally put together another collection, but had to come up with another title, the same number of years having passed yet again.

So I humbly present Waves and Breakers, 12 more homemade songs from the past six years. Most of these were recorded in our living room during a couple quiet weeknights in Gallup, NM, when Rachel and Maggie were visiting family.

You can click here for the page to download. You can also get the first album there. It comes as a big zip file, from which you can extract the files, and even burn them onto a disc if you are so inclined. In the past, some people have wanted to make a payment/donation for my songs. In order to accommodate them, I tried to set up a PayPal account, but alas I've been unable to do so. So it's free, and there's nothing you can do about it. Depending on how much you think its worth, you can "repay" me when next we see each other, with either a slap in the face, a compliment, or maybe a cup of coffee, if you really really liked it.

n.b. I've had a bit of a challenge getting this to be downloadable. Please comment to let me know if it is working or not.


Dancing Badly Around the World

This video makes me very happy. Despite the mildly vulgar title and despite that loading the video here in Kenya takes nearly hours. Thanks to Matt for being so joyously unproductive with his life.



Sierra Anne Uttz, born April 6 at 6:35pm, weighing in at 6#15oz. We are so excited to be a new aunt and uncle (and cousin, in Maggie's case). Mariah and Sierra are both doing fantastically. We were so blessed to be able to see her only several hours after her birth. Our internet had been down for 2 days, and came back just in time for us to skype with the new family, at 5am our time. The picture was fuzzy, but we got the idea, and it was a special thing to be able to share. Here's our first view of her:And then the "real" picture came the next day. Check out the stylish outfit: a Harley Davidson hat (her father's daughter) and one of Maggie's favorite first outfits, the Kiddopotamus velcro swaddle. Congratulations to the new family! We love you guys!


Happy Easter from the McLaughlins


Maggie's Cousin is Coming

Yes, in the matter of a few short weeks, Maggie will no longer be the only McLaughlin grandchild/niece/cousin (depending on your generational preference). As you can see in the baby shower photo above, Eric's sister Mariah and brother-in-law Jonathan are due in a few short weeks (April 15th). So as we are celebrating the new life that God gives to us, we eagerly wait for the arrival of Sierra Ann Uttz.