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Monday, October 29, 2012

Jesus Fed The Masses

So here's the meme I've seen going around Facebook the past couple days.  The message is clear: Jesus fed a ton of people, so therefore Jesus was definitely in favor of social programs that feed people and if you are a Christian not in favor of such programs you're a total hypocrite.

Let's examine this, shall we?  Please remember this is Part-Vulcan-Melissa talking, so my logic will dispel any hearts and flowers goopy feeling kind of stuff.  I am looking at this from the point of sheer logic.  I get that these go-arounds are meant to invoke emotion and indignation "See?  That's what I'm talking about.  Those Christians don't even believe what their own Bible teaches them...they are complete buttholes..."  Alright, I'll concede on the whole anus analogy, because I do feel a lot of professing Christians spew bullshiz, but it's a huge stretch to say that the Bible teaches us to be in favor of EBT cards.  K?  Let's go.

Jesus fed the masses.  There were all these people.  They had come a long way to hear the good Man preach and teach for a really long time.  In that time, they got hungry.  Jesus performed a miracle that allowed all the rumbly tummies to partake of a good meal before they left for their long journey home.  This is like scrounging around the kitchen trying to come up with a huge pot of something when more people are in your house then you made plans for.  This isn't about welfare or food stamps or social programs that ensure every American is fed.  He didn't feed the whole country.  He fed those people that had come to hear him speak.  Big difference number one.  If we want to turn this into an applicable lesson, the message really is more about hospitality than it is about government charity.  Nothing to do with social welfare programs at all.

Secondly, *HE* fed the masses.  He didn't turn over part of his paycheck to a government entity to divy up to those THEY determined were in need.  He didn't ask questions about any of his dinner guests about their income, number of people in the house, or ask them to list their assets in order to determine they were worthy of recieving food from his hands.  He just gave it.  HE gave it.  One person to another, without qualification (Jesus is pretty good like that...) And he gave them ONE meal, for ONE day.  Are you beginning to see my point here?

The third point that people like to draw a paralell with is that the Bible teaches us to care for the fatherless and the widows, and those in need.  People will say "Well Jesus told you to give, so you should be totally in favor of welfare.  If you aren't, you are SUCH A HYPOCRITE....wah, wah, wah, WAHHH."  And aside from the fact that people are getting Jesus and Paul mixed up (I'll let that one slide since Paul was obviously in good with Jesus, even if he did go around killing people like it was the wild west at first.  He and Jesus worked it out...)  This is a big one.  This is where people get really offended because our own Bible teaches us to give and give without reservation and to live a benevolent life.  Dude, I get it.  It totally does teach us to do that.  But....

Most people that are up in arms about the denial of social welfare would fight to the death over the legislation of morality.  They scream that the government should not be allowed to make decisions regarding what is or is not a moral lifestyle (I do it to, I totally agree) and yet, they are also demanding that we do enforce a certain brand of morality.  They are demanding that people should be FORCED to participate in the highly moral act of giving, ESPECIALLY since the Bible teaches it.   So the government should stay out of all decisions regarding how one chooses to live one's life, but on this one sticky issue, we should totally give way to the dictation of the powers that be and let them tell us how to give of ourselves to those less fortunate.  Because "The Bible Tells Me So?" Still a slippery slope people.  You can't have it both ways. You can't ask us to leave the Bible out on all those other big issues, saying it's entirely unfair to develop laws based on our faith, and then whip it out all sneaky like when it comes to issues where you like what the Bible says.  Doesn't work that way.

The other broad assumption is that Christians are very, very selfish and we do not want to give to anyone at all because anyone in need is obviously a lazy slacker and deserves whatever poverty throws their way.  I can't speak for all of those who participate in my faith, but I can give you a bird's eye view of how *I* feel about the whole kit and kaboodle of welfare.  It's a gut wrenching issue and one that I struggle a lot with.

First I will say that I absolutely do view it as my duty, as a believer, to give of myself every second of every day, in any way that presents itself.  My body as a living sacrfice and all that good stuff.  This means that day in and day out I ask God to use me and all that I am to bless everyone I come in contact with.  But I'm a realist.  I know that my opening the door for someone struggling isn't going to put food on their table and keep them warm and you know, not naked.  They kind of need food and clothes for that , which translates into needing money.  The bottom line is that I do believe I am required (and dude, I totally love it as well) to put money into the hands of people who need it.  No argument there (from me...)  However, when I *choose* to give to someone else, I know where it's going.  I see a need and fill it.  I don't take myself out of the equation by handing it to someone else to find another someone else who needs it.  That's lazy.

I already hear the outcry.  "But people won't voluntarily do the right thing.  So we have to force them to give by taking the money from their earnings and redistributing it.  Otherwise they wouldn't give at all."  Let's marinate in that a moment, shall we? This is the thought process by which all laws enforcing morality are born.  The slope getting a bit slippier eh?

I am absolutely not against money from my pocket being placed into a person's hand.  I am not anti-giving, not in the least.  But I will say that my strong preference is that when meeting a need, I'd like to see the face or know the name that has that need.  They don't need to know mine, but I'd really like to know who am I helping exactly.

When a family member sucuumbed to the grips of drug addiction, giving her money only fed the habit, not her children.  Another family member skirted that problem by bringing actual, physical food to her children and actual physical clothes.  This person also recieved food assistance from the government but found a way to sell those benefits for cash in which to support her habit (not her children). That's really scary and more commonplace than most of us like to admit.  And yet, I am being forced to give up part of my income in order for her to recieve that assistance (in the grand scheme of things) and it's molests my morality to *purchase* drugs for someone to use.  Yet, that's exactly what I did.  And I had no control or say so in the matter.

This is a dire example, but one worth examining.  It offends my conscience that money my family earns can be distributed in such a way that I have no say so.  I am not involved in the process at all.  I am forced, against my will, to give to those I may not choose to give to otherwise.  I find this unjust and suffocating of my free will.  My faith does not dictate for me to give blindly to a third-party.  It dictates that I give.  I can't even practice good stewardship in the process because my hands are totally tied.  I can't use wise shopping skills to purchase a large quantity of food to give to a person in need.  I have to give an amount that is filtered through so many hands by the time it gets to the person in need, that only a small percentage of what was given is recieved.  And yes,...I am against this.  Very much so.  It has nothing to do with a selfish perception on my part that the person in need isn't deserving.  It's rooted in the fact that the government as an entity has stripped away my ability to give as I WANT to give, as I am LED to give and CHOOSE to give. 

It's a double-edged sword, this whole concept of forced benevolence.  First it reduces what you have available to give to those needs that present themselves, and secondly, it creates this broad sense of entitlement, in both the giver and givee.  Just knowing there is "some program" out there to help Ms. X reduces our awareness of Ms. X's need.  I mean why even bother finding out if you know there is some program designed to help her out?  They can deal with it while I bury my head in the sand.  Ms. X never has the chance to interact with real people who actually CARE about her needs.  She's all tied up, filling out paperwork to give a small percentage of what she could have recieved person to person.  Great system eh?

So yes, Jesus fed the masses.  He did a great miracle that fed the people hanging out in his 'hood.  (Well, not his, but he was the featurued speaker at the town meeting that day)  But if we are expecting some great translation of his miracle to the advocacy of social programs, we've kind of missed the boat.

Jesus performed a miracle, the government should do the same?  Talk about wishing in one hand and you-know-whating in the other....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Whole Truth and Nothing But

I have a plaque in my downstairs bathroom with a beloved Bible quote "I have no greater joy than to hear my children walk in truth."  Love that.  Now, it's important to note what this quote doesn't say.  It does not say "I have no great joy than to see I've sucessfully dragged my children kicking and screaming into a truth they may not understand or agree with, using my authority to force them into responsible choices."

Herein lies where my heart is concerning all people.  I believe certain things.  I believe them with a tenacity and passion that would suprise most people who think they know me.  Those beliefs are lived out, with ferocious adherence to what I know to be true and right, for me.  I teach my children these things because if they weren't important enough to impart on my children, I wouldn't be living them in the first place.  What those beliefs are don't matter in the grand scheme of things; what matters is that I am ever concious of the fact that they would not suit everyone else on planet Earth.

I take absolutely no satisfaction in what my children do because they have been made to do under my authority.  What I delight in is when the choices they make are wise, thoughtful and compassionate, of their own free will.

We do have laws in our home that make it a fair and comfortable place to live.  We are all expected to treat one another well, to withhold from any activity that would make our prescence a burden to those who live within these walls and to make a fair contribution to the unit by using our talents, skills and abilities.  We do not have laws that force benevolence or righteous behavior.  I know how that sounds.  What?  You don't force your children to be nice to each other?  GAH!!  But no, no we do not force our children to do such things.  How could we?  What would be the point?  If the kindness wouldn't spring from their hearts, and we have still forced them to ACT kind, what have we truly gained?

This is how I feel about our society and our laws.  So many in positions of leadership are absolutely desperate for laws that reflect their own version of morality, believing (in my opinion, wrongly) that if there were certain laws governing how people acted or what they could and couldn't do, our society would be a healthier, stronger one.  But they miss the point.  Any motivation on our parts comes from within ourselves (and I do realize that faith in something plays a major role, but this is also found within us, our hearts and our minds) not from without.  Something that is absolutely okay for other people that sears my conscience would be something I could rightfully abstain from.  But is the answer to then outlaw that which would weigh on me, morally speaking?  I don't feel right about leaving a shopping cart in the parking lot.  I return it to the cart corral pretty religiously.  Should I then make that which bothers me illegal for everyone else?  Where would we draw the line with that?

It is against the law in our home to forcibly assert one's will onto another person.  They may not hit each other.  They may not use vile language to one another.  They may not steal one another's possessions, defile another person's property or invade one another's personal space.  They may, however, choose to leave one child out when they are playing if the child in question is being a nuisance.  It's their free will to include or disclude whom they choose.  The offending child learns an important lesson that one must act in an appropriate way in order to be included.  What have I gained if I forced two obedient children to choose between their own peace of mind (by rebelling against my authority by still discluding the offending child) and wanting to fit rightfully into society by obeying an unfair demand on their automony (by letting the offending child back in the game)  In the end, it works itself out.  Not because children are necessarily the most discerning creatures, but because they have learned from experience how to get along together, sometimes agreeing to disagree. 

It's not always "fair" and that's okay.  As they say, life is certainly not fair.  But it should always be just.  We have no right to take that which God has endowed us with (free will) away from anyone else, and yet the current political scene has many players trying to do just that.  I have felt so torn fo so long about what I feel is true and righteous for me as opposed to what I feel about the powers that be making these things required for everyone else.  That scares me.  What scares me the most is that these people actually REALLY believe that a law, or a set of them, would actually improve our society when those laws speak to a person's morality.  There's no allowance for a person's deepest beliefs to be considered.  On either side of the coin, there are people you don't know making judgement calls on YOUR life and the lives of those you love.  I can't understand how that doesn't frighten every last American citizen.  How did we get to a point where this isn't riling up the masses who are shouting "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!"

Dude, take my tax money (well, my husband's) and keep my roads passable, keep my libraries open, keep my civil servants paid and my community functioning, but for the love of GOD, keep your hand out of my personal life and everyone else's.  It's just NOT YOUR JOB.

(My name is Melissa Coffey and I approved this message)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hey Jones Family, you suck

We all do it.  We might try to rise above and declare we don't care what the Joneses are doing.  We might even forcibly avert our eyes at times so as to appear we aren't hyper-interested in what the people next door are doing, or buying...and then we go inside and stand post by the window that will best allow us to peek without being detected. 

Keeping up with the Joneses (or the whatevers that live within your social circle, or in your neighborhood, or any other group you are routinely exposed to and inadvertnely compare yourself to)

My family's done alright, I think.  I mean we've always lived a socially acceptable existence (well, outside having half a dozen plus kids).  We've had nice homes, cars that were always one color with all original parts (except for the very brief time in our pre-parent days when a trip to the commissary happened in a truck that was more rust than metal, complete with bull horns attatched to the hood.  I can't make this stuff up.  True story) and clothes from the current decade in which we are living.  We have electronic stuff and toy stuff (kids do, getcho mind out da gutta) and furniture stuff.  You know, just stuff.

Keeping up has meant different things in different places.  In Rio Rancho, New Mexico

It meant having rocks in your yard and no mature trees.  All trees needed to look like juvenile deliquents so strung out on coffee that their growth had been stunted.  Grass was a cultural no-no because grass needs water and using water for anything other than sustenance was wasteful in the desert.  So we totally kept up here.  Even had a rock river in the backyard for the first few hours we inhabited this house. 

And when we moved to Albquerque Proper

Something different.  Here, grass was perfectly acceptable.  But don't let it grow in the cracks of the driveway or you'll get an eviction notice and a free lawyer from the largest law firm in the city because of the intrigue of a harrassment case so ridiculous the lawyers actually laughed.  (And seriously, if you are a landlord and your house has just been released from probate and you want to sell it, it's a better course of action to communicate with your tenants rather than trying to evict them based on a weed in the crack of the driveway.  That was seriously stupid.)  In this neighborhood, there was an actual requirement to have x number of this kind of shurb, x number of this kind of tree, and a choice between a certain kind of grass or xeriscaping.  Now, I am not going to downplay the importance of a Homeowner's Association in keeping a neighborhood safe and aesthetically pleasing, but why on earth would you pay a ton of money for a tiny house with no yard and rules so strict that you can't even plant a bush of your own choosing in your own yard.  Keeping up with the Joneses in this neighborhood wasn't even worth the effort.  We gladly accepted our fish out of water thing here knowing that our time was limited. 

When our time was up in Albuqerque (oh happy day) we already had our new house waiting for us:

This house was very good.  There weren't a lot of Joneses surrounding us, but there were a few neighbor type people.  And there was grass, which is a requirement in Georgia, along with fire ants.  I still love this house.  I don't love how long the process of remodeling it to our needs and desires is, but this house is still much loved (and bigger than all the other houses around here thankyouverymuch, I totally win!!) 

So now, we're in this very nice house (seriously I have always had a love affair with log homes and never in my wildest dreams imagined I'd be living in one), we still have vehicles that are rust-free and run and don't have parts of dead animals attached to any portion of them.  Still have clothes, still have furniture to sit on (upgraded, thank God), I have more yarn than Mrs. Jones (I think she knits.  She must....I mean seriously could it be possible for her NOT to knit?  Yeah, not even going to spend time on that possibility because her life would totally suck and I'd feel bad for competing with her...) We even have a TV worth stealing and all this stuff that attaches to it to make it sound better or something (this is what I'm told, I have no clue) 

You'd think we'd have the Joneses totally whipped right?  I mean look at all this good stuff we have.  I lived in a bubble of denial for a long time, thinking we had it all.  The American Dream.  The Good Life.  We WERE the freakin Joneses. 

But then a dark cloud descended upon me, as I realized this funny thing I saw on the road....this oddity, this fodder for dinner table jokes...wasn't funny.  Everyone had one.  All the people in my neighborhood have this thing I do not have and up until now would have never even knew I needed:  They all (ALL I tell you....) have these:

I know what you're thinking.  She lives on a golf course too?  Hot damn, she really does Have-It-All.  But as much as I hate to shatter the illusion that my life is that cool, I have to tell you, I live in a pretty rural area.  I mean when the winter comes and all the trees give a shout out to nudists everywhere, you can see that behind my little haven of woody goodness, there is a trailer park deal happening.  And even the residents of the box houses have these carts.  What the heck is that?  The first time I saw one, I giggled a little bit, thinking "Oh how funny...a golf cart going down the road..." But then it became very apparent that these people, all around me, have golf carts.  And I still can't figure out why.  I mean if you want to go down the street, you'd think the purpose of that activity would be to get a little exercise right?  That theory got shot straight to you-know-what when our NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR rode his cart up to our driveway to give us some tomatoes.  Seriously? 
Now I'm a logical person.  Very logical and when something doesn't make sense to my logical mind, it drives me batty.  So we don't live on or near a golf course.  There's really no block to go around and anything of consquence you'd want to access must be accessed by way of a very major highway.  You can't drive these carts on a highway, so the sole point of these vehicles has to be for, fun?  But they go like half a mile an hour, so it can't be that much of a thrill riding one.  Let's really think about this.  What is the thought process by which someone decides "Dammit, what's missing in my life is my very own golf cart?" Is it 'Hey kids, good job on your report card, here's a golf cart.."  Or is this how the natives teach their young to drive? I mean that's one of the bonus features of a riding lawnmower, but the whole mower thing does something...cuts grass. All a golf cart does is move people from point A to point A.2 (no, not point B.  If you want to get to point B you get in your really real car) So what, pray tell, is the point exactly?
Now, I must disclose that we are among the golf-cart-Gods, Club Car and some other place I don't know the name of because my friend's husband doesn't work there, but is this really an overflooded market type thing going on? I mean, is it because you can find these for such a low price that owning one is fiscally reasonable?  But really if you have a certain sum that could be applied to something so dumb, how do you get to the point where you choose a golf cart over something (anything) else?
I am without answers.  I am without understanding.
I am without a golf cart.
Damn you Joneses. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mail Call (and a progress report)

So I'm all geared up from yesterday's "Photograph the yarnz like they are bikini models" session to do this post, but then my husband said something to that put a damper on things for me.  He mentioned joking about needing new shoes and them not being a top priority right now. I know the buddy he mentioned it to has a wife and his wife reads my blog sometimes and she is definitely going to think I steal money from my husband and make him walk around all gimpy because I use all our financial resources for yarn.  So I'd like to publicly state that my husband is a situational cheap ass.  Yes, he needs new shoes and yes, he's put that purchase off, but I can attest to the fact that his Vudu rental fees would have covered a nice pair, and it's not that he cannot afford new shoes (seriously) it's that he has not CHOSEN to afford new shoes because the man can't make up his mind about what kind he wants. 

He goes though this whole process. Goes to several stores, sees a few he likes, comes home, looks them up online to see if they have good reviews (Dude, most people use the review forum to COMPLAIN not to give kudos...remember that), sees where they are priced the best, looks up some sort of shoe glue to see if he can stretch out his shoes a few more months, waffles about that, looks up another kind of shoes, asks me three million times what style he thinks he can get away with, and so on (and on and on and on...)  What I think is happening, and I could be wrong here seeing as how I do not hold an advanced degree in the mental sciences, but my feeling is that my husband is going through the stages of grief.  I think he is mourning the shoes he has depended on for the last year.  He's attached to their comfort and familiarity.  He is one with the shoes and cannot accept (just yet) that he will need to put these shoes to rest and look for foot wardrobe satisfaction elsewhere. 

Totally not my fault that the dude can't commit.  It's something he must work through on his own, and this whole "I haven't gotten shoes yet because it's not a priority" is a smoke screen for other, deeper issues.  I still love him and I have vowed to be here for him as he accepts that his shoes are indeed, dead, and that he needs to move on.  Until then, I bought some yarn because I needed it.  No, seriously.  And that's what I'll show you today, because I need opinions ;)

I finished the first pair of Salem mitts, and Calla and I decided to do thinner stripes.  I like these, I really do, but the jog up the stripe join is really not good.  I need to work on my jogless stripes before I attempt the next pair.  I was waiting on yarn to arrive for the purple/black I wanted to do because the charcoal and my hand-dyed purple didn't really mesh well together.  I couldn't believe I had NO black worsted weight yarn in my stash, so I had to get some, plus a few purples because you can't really see what shades you are getting online.  Purple is a "not my color" so I didn't have any of that either.  But now I can't decide between all of them.  Wanna see?

So these are the mini striped version and they are ok.  Definitely okay for my first pair.  But now I need black and purple:
Choice A. Ultra Alpaca.  A bit deeper than the photo appears.

Choice B. Aurora 8 and the one I think would look the best, but still waffling.

Choice C. Yeah, these are a bit too blue.  If you like this pairing, you're wrong.  Sorry. 

Choice D.  Dreamy by Feza, and I love the actual color it appears to be, but has lots of flecks of different colors imbedded and I just am not too crazy about it. 

All the purples together....
I am thinking I like B the best, but I also like A....and any way you look at it, black will make whatever purple I choose pop.  Decisions, decisions....
I also finished.....

A Very Harlotty Poncho (a Yarn Harlot pattern...the pattern name does not speak to the nature of the finished garment...)  This was made in Moda Dea Vision in the Sedona colorway.  And a word to the not attempt a picot bind off for the first time ever on a project with this many stitches to bind off.  It's demoralizing and agonzing.  Bind off three, add two, bind off three.  Can you say maddening??  It took forever, and I wasn't even sure I liked it as I went along, which made it worse, but once it was done, I was thrilled with all the fussy little nubs on the hem.  This was supposed to be for Calla, and I used up almost every inch of this yarn, but survey says....It's Mallory's.  Fits her the best.
Making progress:

I am really not comfortable with bright colors, even after the gobs of practice I had.  They just aren't "me" But Noah really loves this and I took some color hints from around his room, and this little guy, which we purchased because it went so well with his bedding:
Bright. Cheerful. Primary....
Not my colors....
This is more "my colors"  This is just a quick snap of a quilt I made way back when, but definitely more in the scheme of comfort for me, color-wise:

Am I dull, boring person?  Perhaps steady, timeless?  My wardrobe gets all kinds of excited if I bring in a really real color rather than grey, black, navy or brown, but I never know what goes with what and fear in my attempt to give fashion a little nod, I look more like I'm off to a meeting of the Red Hat Society.  I guess I'm just officially Not Cool.
In my attempt to appear sane, healthy and functioning, I will save my other intended pictures for this post for another day.  Hint.  It's more yarn.  Yarn with intentions and purpose and (Oh don't look at me like that.  Key word here is swap.  I didn't aquire more or NEW yarn, just different. Sheesh)
Until next time, let us all raise our glasses (hopefully coffee because it's way too early otherwise) and give a shout out to FRIDAY.  Not sure why I get so excited about Fridays since I don't participate in the economic sphere.  Might have something to do with that guy that hangs around here sometimes hanging around more on the weekend ;)
Have a great one!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Good Doctor

It was the weekend of July 7th, and while everyone I knew was aware I was awaiting the arrival of my sweet little girl, no one knew the emotional turmoil that was festering within me.  As I sat on my bed, mindlessly making my hands move across a sweater, I would look around my room.  Recently revamped with crimson paint and wooden floors, a little nook prepared for the baby to be, birth supplies waiting in my closet among the many bins of yarn....I was ready.  At least that what was I was trying to convince myself of.

Home.  Birth.  Everything in me, everything I believe knows that home is a very good place to welcome a new arrival.  I played out the entire scenario in my mind over and over, trying to plug in all the new players into memories I had stored away from previous births, but it would not compute.  In the quiet of my room, the only place in my active home to experience such stillness, I contemplated the why of my turmoil.  Was it fear of the inevitable pain?  Was I unsure about the possibility of my midwife arriving in time to do her thing, or was I afraid she'd arrive too soon?  Or was I just afraid of her?  She looked good on paper.  She had the knowledge thing down to a science and had many, many births under her belt to prove she could do this thing, and do it well.  So why was I so unsettled by the prospect?  I had no concrete reasons, none that I would allow to come up for air at least, but I did have an overwhelming sense that this was not to be, and it shouldn't be and couldn't be, and just wouldn't be.  I couldn't allow it.

This weekend will go down in infamy in my family, particularly my marriage.  For 45 minutes I would pace and exclaim to my husband that I absolutely had to go see a doctor.  The next 15, I would sit calmy on my bed, mentally comparing it to the dreaded hospital mattresses and waffle, reasoning that maybe I could just have the baby without the midwife....without anyone really, then come to my senses that my baby was way too important to allow juvenile thoughts of renegade birthing to enter into the realm of possibility.  I do believe my husband used words like 'insane...crazy...never again...make a damn decision already..' things like that.  But I couldn't.  I was sitting on something big, a choice I didn't want to have to make.  So he made one for me.

First thing Monday morning, my husband found a doctor, close to my home, that would see me that afternoon.  Jamie's way of thinking was "Meet the guy...then when you go into labor, you have choices and just having the choice might calm you a bit..."  Ha! Me calm?  I don't think so.  Especially when the word "Doctor" entered the picture.  I can't say that I've even one good experience with any person trailing the letters M.D. after their name, especially when it came to the baby birthing variety.  I wasn't concerned with stepping on the scale, getting bloodlet by a needle and too many tubes to count, or even with the questions regarding my original plan.  It was the whole "history" thing I wanted to run away and hide from, because in the past, eyebrows were raised quite frequently when giving my birthing history and it was in this moment, I had wished for a typed up Birth Resume to prove I was a certifiable "Statistical Anomaly."  The questions are basic....Due date, birth date, weight of the baby, vaginal or c-section, age of the mother....And in this I wanted to be alloted five full paragraphs describing each because every detail of my life, of how I came to be a mother with more than your average 1.8 children is so important to who I am, and who they are, and who my family is....please, oh please, do not form your opinion on what we've got going on here from statistics, popular media, or even the grim statistics that say teenage mothers are a societal problem of epic proportions that must be solved immediately lest the world implode.

I walk into the spacious, warm and well decorated waiting area, my heart pounding, brimming to the top with apologies of my last minute consultation, sure that the emotional flogging for being an irresponsible mother would begin with signing in.  Nope.  Smiles and welcomes and "Here you go, just fill this out and we'll get you started..."  Uhm wait, don't you want to know why I am 100 months pregnant and you've never seen me before?  Will you still recieve your paycheck if you don't publicly chastise me for having the gumption to pursue a homebirth in a state where it's not techincally legal?  I rattle off some random string of explaination and still, the smile remains and I feel at ease.  This I did NOT expect. 

After an incredibly short wait (that felt like hours because of my anxiety level) I was ushered into the back where the scale and needles greeted me.  Jamie and I spent some time laughing at the newborn pictures all over the walls of the room we were first in because, well, newborns really aren't that photogenic and some looked downright shocked by their new environment.  I was brought into a second room where I was given a lovely paper sheet to cover all the areas my skirt previously concealed and then it began.  My history.  I felt compelled to tell the nurse that I was the proud owner of recent documentation that I was STD free.  Broke the ice a little bit....

So your first baby?  Mother's age? 19.  Yes, I said 19, but look person who I will probably never see again, I wasn't a really real 19 year old.  I was married.  I wasn't a recent high school graduate..oh yes, I did graduate high school, but I did it earlier than my peers.  While all my high school friends were picking out prom dresses, I was in an office reconciling several hundred thousand dollars in rent money and trying to convince a..uhm..."overly thrifty" landlord that he absolutely could not raise the rents in his complex without some serious property improvements.  I wasn't stressing over shoes, hair and nails for the big dance, I was making sure all our newspaper ads were indeed listed and running down to the courthouse to file eviction papers for an unfortunate tenant who felt rent was a mere suggestion, not a requirement.  So, all things considered, 19 wasn't that young to enter motherhood.  I sort of skipped the whole "irresponsible adolescent" stage and went straight from high school to "Hello 80 hour weeks, working night and day.."  I just happened to meet my true love, just happened to get married at the tender age of 18 and just so happened to become a mother before my 9 month wedding anniversary.  I wasn't the dreaded "teen mom."  Too bad there wasn't room in my chart for all this information though.

Second baby? 21. I turned 21 while gestating my second and there were no legally permissable trips to a bar or liquor store.  I celebrated my 21st birthday solo, while my husband was stuck in a tin can 20,000 leagues under the sea, but with my precious firstborn, most likely reading "I Spy" for the 17th time in one day, and counting the days until I'd see my beloved again.  Partying hard?  No.  Unless you count painting a love nest all by yourself while a toddler runs around trying to "help" partying.... three, baby four....Yes, we had figured out by that time what causes "it" and that the Pill didn't think it needed to do it's job, so we tossed them out and actively tried for that little guy who arrived less than a month after my 25th birthday.  Easy peasy.  All delivered through nature's intended exit point, all healthy, all wanted, all hospital.

Then we get to the part I hate.  The part that makes me pause every single time anyone asks "So how many children do you have?  What number is this?"  Matthew.  Most times I leave him out when talking numbers, because the fact you had a baby die makes most people really uncomfortable as they don't quite know how to react to a tragedy that you've healed from, but they are just now being made aware of..It's very awkward.  But for the purposes of My History, all must be revealed and accounted for and it's never easy.  Full details disclosed, the immediate need is to assure the person listening that you really are okay and that you've given birth to two more amazing children, and that they don't need to treat you any differently given the knowledge they've just recieved, but inevitably, the kid gloves come on and the atmosphere does, indeed, change. 

We now entered into that which makes people's eyes bug out.  The homebirths.  The babies born in my home, without a doctor, without drugs and in their eyes, without sanity.  As my nurse was jotting down all the required statistics, I waited for the comments that, while veiled, would speak the same message "You are one crazy lady..."  Didn't happen.  Didn't matter.  Eyebrows did not raise, judgements were not cast.  I had entered the Twilight Zone.  It had been drilled deeply into my pysche that if you pursued homebirth and changed your mind at any point, you could expect the absolute worst treatment imaginable from any medical professional you'd see from that point on.  What exactly was going on?  Oh, I get it.  The nurses are trained to be very neutral, so as to allow the doctor the full pleasure of berating his patient for being so stupid as to attempt a homebirth.  I'm onto you...I get it...I shall now brace myself for The Doctor.

It took a few minutes.  I heard his voice outside the door.  He sounded nice.  Well, as nice as a voice can sound when you don't have a face to go with it, but nice, nonetheless.  Nothing prepared me for what was about to enter into my room, and into my life.

A Very Good Doctor.

The visit was a pleasant blur.  The Good Doctor smiled quite a bit.  The Good Doctor treated me like a person not only with a body and brain, but with presence of mind.  His language was firmly rooted in "I like you.  I like babies.  I like moms."  He asked more than he told.  He pointed out hair on my to-be-born baby's little head.  He asked me if I had any trouble with my previous big babies and when I answered no, his jovial reply was "Guess you're just built to have them then.."  Smile, reassure, affirm, repeat.  What was this creature?  When did doctors start asking you what YOU wanted, how YOU felt?  I was bowled over.

I walked into his office, broken, in turmoil, knowing that a baby was going to be born soon, but not where or how....I walked out, fully confident that my well being had just been guaranteed (as much as possible) and that my baby would not enter into the world the way I had originally planned, but in an environment of acceptance, love, joy and anticipation.  Ironically everything I had wanted from my homebirth and my midwife, that was being denied to me in a way, was handed back to me the minute I met The Good Doctor. 

I wish I could say my entrance into the hospital was met with such joyful anticipation, but that would be a falsehood in the first degree.  Every detail was sharp.  The lights.  The cool tile under my feet as I slipped my shoes off.  The hospital gown, starchy and crisp to the point of uncomfortable, the anticipation of what was to be not joyful, but one of trepidation.  The last time my body adjusted to a hospital bed, arranging itself into a somewhat comfortable position, I was preparing to say good-bye to a child, not hello.  People came and went.  They explained to me what would happen, how things would go and the flashback was intense.  I am not usually one to sucuumb to emotion of any kind, but when the baby nurse explained that they would take my baby away for "about two hours to watch her vitals" I broke.  I wanted to yank out the IV and run home.  I whispered to my nurse that the last time I was in a hospital and they took my baby away, he didn't come back and her reply was not comforting in the least.  It was some variation of having to get over that and understand this was different.  Thankfully I'm a pacifist and didn't slap her right there, but if I were a person prone to violence, I may have spent my first night with my baby in jail.  It was a very unkind thing to say, and while I appreciated the sentiment of life going on and new beginnings and all that jazz, I would advise anyone in that situation to never, ever, ever, downplay what a mother goes through when the memories of something so horrific are floating to the surface.  I do believe at this point, there were some whispers, some consulting as to what to do with this crazy woman in room number whatever, and it was settled that they would bring her back to me as fast as they could and that yes, my husband could accompany her everywhere she went.  I calmed.  Besides, I reasoned...if they wanted to take her away from me and I didn't want them to, it's not like they could tackle the woman with the baby.  Ha!

The clock ticked away the minutes, the hours.  It was my husband and myself and the irony that we were spending more time alone together than we had in years did not escape us.  We called our children every 1/2 hour to ensure their safety and comfort back at home.  We discussed our 401K and what we'd like to do in the future with that and what to do to get our children into investing, we laughed way too much and too loud.  We disagreed about Earl EVER being a good name and The Good Doctor humored the crazy lady in room whatever by pronouncing Earl for us with his slight southern drawl, prompting me to explain to my husband that since neither of us have the same accent, Earl just cannot happen. It only sounds right when tossed off the lips of a true southern dude. (I have a sneaking suspicion he may be a Nascar fan, but I didn't get a change to confirm)

The Good Doctor came and went at the appropriate intervals. His smile and good nature settling all nerves, his presence speaking for him "Hey I do this cool thing, and I'm really good at this cool thing because all these people let me do this cool thing.." In other words, while healthily aware of the importance in his role on this very special day, ego was not found with him.  For all intents and purposes, he was just another guy in the room that played some role, but not the most important one.  Honestly, if you didn't know he was the actual doctor among all the people coming and going in scrubs, you'd never assume he was The Good Doctor. 

When the time came for Miss Emory to have her first birthday, I no longer saw The Good Doctor.  The lights were too bright to see (seriously, if anyone that matters is reading this, do something about the lights.  It's a birth, not Broadway.  The lighting sucked) but I did hear him.  His voice was gentle and cheerful.  He was instructing a student that was attending and everything he said was Very Good.  Words I can recall "Let her stretch...amazing...good job....She's doing great....Baby birthing herself..." stuff like that.  It's all pieced together all hodge podge, but all of it was Very Good.  My unplanned hospital birth, also Very Good and this surprised me (and to be honest, my husband as well)

From the time I became aware that Homebirth was an option for me, I became intent of finding out everything I could.  What I learned was that homebirth was the movement by which women were empowered to make their own decisions about their body, their baby, and their birth experience.  Empowerment is a good thing, but insomuch, there must be choice.  There must be a margin in which a woman can decide between two things, not recieve undue pressure to choose the one pre-determined choice of "empowerment."  There must be an allowance for all the variables to recieve consideration and after all things are considered a woman's choice should be respected.  There is an unfortunate, unspoken rule with the homebirth community that caused me much grief towards the end of my prenancy: All doctors suck and seek to co-opt the birth experience to line their own pockets with the vast riches insurance companies dole out for babies being born.  Now, I will say I do know a couple midwives (of above average intelligence I may add) that absolutely do not agree with this conclusion.  They have a healthy repsect for birth and technology and are the embodiment of a woman's right to choose her birth place and people.  These midwives are also Very Good. 

But, my midwife was Not Good.  Her version of empowerment meant one thing and one thing only and that thing did not jive with my need to feel that my body and my baby were well placed into the arms of safety.  She would swear that homebirth was best because doctors "do not listen" in the same sentence as explaining to me that a request I had made wasn't the best way to do things.  She repeatedly skirted my requests for certain things, confident that her knowledge exceeded my own and she'd do things that were in my best interest, even if those things were not what I wanted.  Everything she would swear you needed a homebirth to avoid.  Everything a Bad Doctor would do...turns out, is the same thing a Bad Midwife would do.  Lesson learned.

I still believe homebirth is a good and beautiful thing. I do believe it's possible to birth your baby into the world gently, safely, peacefully at home...but I  have been re-educated that it's also possible in the hospital, with all the techno-craziness because it all boils down to the people surrounding you.  If they have ears that will listen, it is Very Good.  If they have a heart for babies and mommas, it is Very Good.  And when it comes to empowerment, a doctor that can be traced to a Momma of 7 walking out of the hospital feeling as like I did the day I came home with Emory, is Very, Very Good.

And I personally find it very EMPOWERING to be made aware that there are still very good people in every corner of the world, especially where you least expect to find them.  And that the very rare creature, one I thought long extinct, still exists and is thriving right here in my hometown....

The Good Doctor.  Very good indeed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Into The Minds Of Men

I have a theory.  It's a big one, but it may change the world as we know it. It could usher in a whole new society of women and men who actually communicate effectively.  I have long been curious about the different forms of English that those of us who use it speak, but I think I've narrowed it down to differences not in age, occupation, fiscal issues or different cultural influences.  No, I think it boils down to gender.  I believe men and women speak completely different languages and I'm out to prove my theory correct.

The experiment: I am calling all women with a significant male in their lives, be it a partner, a friend, a sibling, whatever.  All you need is someone male to talk to, that you are trying to communicate with in order for an idea to be understood.  Now, the next time you need to communicate with this individual, insert various words into the sentences you will be using to transfer the idea in your brainspace to theirs.

Words you can use: Any word referring to the woman's private areas or sex, formal or slang. Pet names allowed.

Example: "Hey honey, I'd really like to boobs take a long bath tonight.  Could you keep an eye on the kids while I soak in the tub sex."

Record your results. 

The next time you need to communicate, eliminate the inserted words.

Do this several times over the course of a few days.

Report results back to me via the comments section of this blog.

If I am correct, those times where you inserted the key words into that which you are trying to communicate, you will be better heard, understood and/or paid attention to.

I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Good to the last drop

You know how you crave something absolutely delicious and the first bite tastes like it was created right in Heaven's own kitchen....or you stumble into the kitchen after a rough night and that first sip of coffee is savored as though it was the first and last drink you'd ever take?  But then you get to the last bite of the cake, or the last sip of the coffee and it's not as good as the first?  It's like the best of what that indulgence has to offer is found within the novelty of it...the first part.

I always wondered if large families experienced that.  If the whole new baby thing got old.  Back when I only had a couple, it seemed absolutely impossible to my mind that a 4th child, or a 6th, or later models could experience the same adoration as the first few golden children.  The token first boy, or first girl, the baby that came after waiting so long, or the one that the couple tried so long for.  Would subsequent children be greeted with the same fanfare?  I always wondered about that.

I remember reading an article in a parenting magazine that discussed bringing a new baby home and how to make it easier for the older sibling.  I only had one child at the time and the idea that the new baby would be fawned over more than the first was foreign to me.  I would look at my firstborn and think no one could top him.  That there was no way I'd love a new baby as much as I loved him.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around it at all and honestly wondered if it would be fair to any subsequent children to enter our family when my first was so completely adored. 

So I did go on to have more children and towards the end of each of my pregnancies, I'd fret "Will I love this baby as much as the others?"  Will this baby be the one that gets the short end of the stick?  Because all the others are pretty darn amazing in all their crazy stages.  I still look at my firstborn and think "Wow, he's pretty neat..."  Waiting for baby seven produced much of the same emotions in me, as my youngest toddled around being the epitomy of cuteness, I'd ask myself "How can this new baby top it? How will I feel about her?"

And the answer is: crazy in love.  From sunrise to sunset, and all the hours in between, I just have to glance at this sweet chubby baby and my heart swells.  I lay with her at night and think "Why me?  Why do I deserve this sweet little human?"  She smiles, I melt.  She cries, I rush in to see what I can do to help.  She watches her hands in wonder, I tell everyone what a genius she is to find them so quickly.  I see her older brothers and sisters falling for her too and I get all teary, and mushy, and sappy thinking "This is what life should be about...." 

Only God knows if there will be another baby placed into our crazy family, and once again....I'll ponder and fret and wonder if the newest will be as good as the last...or the first, or any of them in between and I'll look back at this post and remember how good it always is and always will be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Karma Baby!!

A couple posts ago I promised my readers a little peek at my package (I need an upgrade on my humor chip because mine is still set on '12 year old boy', so this still makes me giggle)  Wanna see?

Isn't this gorgeous??  This is two skeins of sock yarn, dyed by an indie dyer.  The one on the left hasnt been reskeined to mix the colors and seeing the way its dyed, I think its going to do a self-striping thing, although it will probably be sometime after the whole Mayan Calendar World Destruction thing, slow as my first pair are going, but if I am living in an end-world scenario, at least I'll have some pretty yarn to keep my occupied in my not-fighting-for-survival moments.
Package came from:
Is it my dorkiness showing, or is getting international packages kind of cool?  I love it.  In my swap group (Karma Yarn Swap) on Ravelry, we have members across the globe.  So every so often, while I have to wait a little longer to get my yarn, I get these very cool global packages and even more important than the yarn, most of these packages contain candy.  Dude, international candy just tastes better than domestic.  The gals  over in Oz have some particularly good delights that I am not ashamed to admit I claim regardless of what yarn is coming with it. 
At Karma Yarn Swaps, someone opens a thread with an offer based on a theme (right now we have ABC, 123 Swap, Lets Bulk Up, Halloween, etc, etc...) and then someone else claims the first offer and makes one of their own.  You mail your yarn to the claimaint and the person you claimed from mails to you, over and over again, until the thread originator decides to close the thread by claiming the last offer in it.  Very much fun.  And a great way to get new yarn without adding to the stash.  I sent out 10 balls of a tweed that didn't really do it for me to get the yarn above.  Of course, sometimes you have some very generous people who sent way more than you claimed.  I have recently been blessed in just such a way when someone sent me 11 of my favorite balls of yarn instead of the 5 I claimed.  The gals over there are all nice like that and its a fun place to play.  If you're on Ravelry, come check it out.  Karma Yarn Swap.
 I recently picked up this bag at Jo-Anns for my sweaters that are waiting to be frogged and thought it was super cute.  And perfect for recycled sweaters.  See those cutesy birds and recycle signs.  Cute, cute, cute (And large.  Anything yarny must be of the large variety!)

I am almost done with my second fingerless mitt for oldest daughter, but having a hard time with the fiddliness of it while holding a very fussy baby, so I made a sacrifice and started something new (Ha!)  I'll reveal this later because I am still on the fence about it sucking. It's either going to be really cute, or it's going to be ungodly hideous, and until it tells me which, I'm keeping it a secret.  I've made some headway on one of my WIPs, the Harlot Poncho and I hope to have it done before it gets any colder in the mornings.  Our little spawn-slaves have to take care of the chickens in the morning, and with it being colder, I thought I'd be a good mom and make a poncho for the girls to fight over.  I'm nice like that :) 

I will leave you with an image of the most precious part of my day:

Sweet baby Squishy :)  She loves me! Must be that whole bringing her into the world thing....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dear Nickelodeon

Dear Nickelodeon,

I'd like to start by thanking you for all the hours of entertainment you've provided for my children through the years.  Because of your efforts, my children have enjoyed hours of exploring with Dora, finding clues with Blue and rescuing wild animals in the rainforest with native siblings who not only are responsible enough to clean their rooms, but also to take on exotic creatures without adult supervision. Kudos.  But there's something we seriously need to discuss.  This:

This is the elephant in the room and it's high time we discussed the fact that any person with working knowledge of human reproduction  recognizes the phallic nature of this character you've created. Come on guys.  One eye?  Nubs?  Dubba-Tee-Eff.  Did someone have a bad night the day before the creative minds that be sat down and decided what characters would star in the Next Big Thing To Annoy Parents?  Did someone get stuck and look for inspiration in the daily mail which included an "Adult Gifts" catalog?  There has to be some sort of explaination as to why a big red walking dildo does the "Snake" when it's "TIME TO DANCE..." on a kids show.

Did you think we, the parents, wouldn't notice this?  Did you think that we'd be so shamed to see what this is, wondering if anyone else saw it and out of concern for our reputation we'd keep quiet, not wanting to be the first to call out what is so blantantly obvious? Or is this a premeditated slip, all ink dot test like, to filter out the true perves among society?  I just gotta know.


Concerned Parent Who Can't Help By Have a Giggle-Infested Fit Every Time Munu Does the ", snake....snuh, nuh, nuh, nuh, nuh SNAKE."

P.S. Dude, I checked with mulitple other adults I trust.  They see it too.  Do not bother with a reply suggesting therapy for my sick twisted mind.  It's the one thing I got going for me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hidden Costs

You know those lists that break down what it will cost to raise a child from birth to 18?  Those lists that scare the bejezus out of you and make you feel like short of winning the lottery, you would never, ever, ever be able to have a child?  Nevermind the fact that people do it everyday with what resources they have at their disposal.  Those figures can be paralyzing.  Thankfully I didn't do the math when figuring out if or when I could afford to become a parent.  Biology alone took care of that.  It wasn't until after I had children that I stumbled upon the magical lists of sure financial apocolypse and by then, I could laugh at them.  I couldn't figure out where these people were getting their numbers from, so I decided to take a good long look at the costs associated with children and had to concede that they were way off.  You have the basics of food, clothing, shelter, diapers and double A batteries, but where children really, really become a money suck is in the HIDDEN costs.  I've been a field researcher for approximately 14 years and in my time of indepth study, I've found a few surprising costs that none of those lists tell you about and in my quest to educate the world on what children do cost, I am sharing these top secret money sucks on my blog.  Here are my Top Ten Hidden Costs of Raising Children:

1. Toilet Paper. It is entirely possible, once children enter the picture, to go through up to 7 rolls of toilet paper per day.  Lest you think my children have some sort of exotic dyssentary thing going on, I can assure you that only 1 of these rolls is actually used for the purpose in which it was designed to serve.  The rest of the time it's entirely outside the realm of it's specific purpose like "Look Mom, I am playing hospital with my  life sized scary gorilla stuffed animal. He got into a bad crash and I put him in a full body cast...." (in this case that body cast used up 1.5 rolls)  Or "Look Mom, I don't have a clue what that rolly thing is in the bathroom, and since I was taking a bath the brand new roll of TP you put in here has now swelled to three times the normal size and will now disinegrate into a huge indistinguisable pile of mush that you'll be fishing out of the shower drain for the next week"  or "Mom I cleaned up the gallon of orange juice the toddler just spilled all over the kitchen.  I couldn't find any paper towels, so I used....." (any guesses?)  So yes, if you cut toilet paper completely out of the  picture, you may just find enough savings to send at least three children to the Ivy League school of their choice.

2. Hair ties.  Now I was going to say "if you have girls" but I am rethinking that because I've seen my boys use said items for sling shot things and I now know they are part of the mystery that surrounds the "disposable hair tie" I have purchased no less than 15 million hair ties since having children and I currently know the location of ONE.  It's in my hair.  The girls are griping at me that they can't find one for their hair and I am not sure what to tell them.  Shall I go buy more of that which disappears the second I bring them into the house?  I think a buzz cutt for all individuals whose hair is on their nerves would be more effective, if not a huge savings in toiletries to clean aforementioned hair.  Something to think about....

3. Batteries.  That battery thing up above?  No exaggeration there.  What the heck is with every single item children will want or need needing batteries?  I keep trying to sway my family into a battery themed Christmas (you know, where all they get is replacement batteries for all the shiz they already own....and we gift them a year's supply) and so far, no one will bite. I myself think it's absolutely brilliant to gift batteries rather than more shiz that takes MORE batteries, but unfortunately, no one here agrees.  Bummer.

4. Band-aids.  Thank you to whoever invented cartoon themed band-aids.  You've just reduced my daughter's wedding budget by half.  Oh my Lord, band-aids.  The second any child under the age of 10 realizes there are band-aids in the house, there's a sudden rash of "boo boos" that can only be corrected by 10 Hello Kitty band-aids.  And yes, I know, there are plain Band-Aids, but when you're in Wal-Mart for 5 hours getting your 20 list items, Band-Aids can be an effective bribe for the kid in the cart that really doesn't want to be in the cart "Here, hold these Sponge Bob band-aids."  I'm kind of thinking I'm shooting myself in the foot with that one, because all the time in the cart lends itself to enough time to think up a dozen feigned maladies that would need such sticker therapy.  Maybe it's just the children expressing themselves though body art, and if it wouldn't qualify me for "Rotten Mom of the Year" I would maybe consider getting them band-aid tattoos to satisfy their need for a "boo boo" and a band-aid.  Hey, just thinking of it from a financial perspective and tattoos, over the course of time, would equal much less money than the band-aids.  Totally.

5. Play-Dough.  Rotten evil goo straight from the pits of hell that morphs into rotten hard encrusted goo that turns you into a contender to be the *leader* of the pits of hell.  When I lived in an enclosure with carpeting, I hated stuff this with a white hot fury.  Digging crusty play-dough out of carpet with a fork is not my idea of a good time, but it never once occured to me to just abstain from buying the colorful goop.  It made my children happy.  For you know, three minutes and that three minutes of childish delight was totally worth the three hours I spent removing it's remains from every nook and cranny.  (Dude, I totally did the math.  The ratio is DEFINITELY three minutes to three hours.  Add one hour of cleaning time for every minute you allow access to the Play-Dough)  The nifty thing about Play-Dough is that is comes in plastic containers with lids.  You know, to keep is soft and pliable for days, or even months.  But when the child realizes that the containers might be more fun than the contents, it doesn't do you much good to try and convince them to use them.  It's way too hard to get each little piece, when they number into the millions, back into the container.  Play-Dough is a cheap entertainment tool, but the man power to clean it up, is not.   Factoring in that whole "Time is Money" thing, Play-Dough is very, very expensive.

6. Another in the realm of the artsy-fartsy.  Crayons (and for the very brave, markers)  I am one of those smart individuals that buys a whole bunch of crayons and markers when they are at their lowest price, right before school for the rest of the world starts.  It takes about 2 weeks for us to "run out" of crayons, which may not seem dramatic, but when you buy 150 packs of crayons you kind of expect they will last at least double that amount of time.  No, it takes about two weeks for the girls to whine to me that they don't have ANYTHING to color with.  My answer?  Go check the couch cushions.  They argue about it, because they KNOW they didn't PUT them there, but out of desperation they will check anyways.  Hmmm...look three whole packs of crayons, in a random assortment, right where Mom said they'd be.  No pink?  Go deeper girls.  Check under the couch.... And markers?  Seriously why is it SO hard to put them caps back on the freakin markers?  I thought briefly about gluing the lids to the markers, but then I realized that was kind of stupid.  But thinking further I figured  it might be a good bit of fun to do it anyways and then situate the children in front of a hidden camera to catch it all on film.  Mean yes?  Funny? Absolutely.  Which brings me to my next item...

7. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Self-explanatory.  Buy stock in this company and then go rent a u-haul to bring home enough magic erasers to ensure you are never, ever without the Magic Eraser.  One pallet for each child between the ages of 6 months and 4 years.  You'll thank me later.

8. Food. No, I am not talking about the massive quantity of food it takes to actually nourish your children.  I am talking about the food that just comes home and gets wasted because when it comes to backwards engineering most children are completely clueless.  You know, like it being the same set of motor skills to CLOSE the bread that it did to OPEN the bread?  That kind of thing.  You can nag, instruct and even belittle them into closing the bread in your presence.  But for solo sandwich making missions, when parental supervision is not in place, expect there to be at least three stale pieces of bread when you open the bag for a sandwich.  Food waste can be stopped in a very safe and effective manner.  Offer to make the offending child a sandwich when you make yours.  Use the stale, crusty-ass bread on theirs.  Repeat as often as necessary.

9. Parental lapse in judgement.  This is deep and wide.  This is personal.  This is when you think your toddler is old enough to do things they are obviously not old enough to do.  Like stay in the bathtub for the five seconds it takes you to retrieve a towel from the laundry room right across the hall.  Expect a loss of an entire bottle of baby shampoo and 16,000 gallons of water to remove soap from the toddler's person.  Do not allow toddler to "take a turn" brushing their own teeth because the next day they will try this operation solo and empty the contents of three different kinds of toothpaste all over the bathroom.  Do not allow toddler....okay, let's just do a wide net here.  If you can afford it, get a very nice, safe, humane cage for toddler.  This will save me from listing all things that can be emptied by a toddler with more than 5 seconds at their disposal.  Trust me.

10.  Gas.  One of the biggest surprises of my adventure in motherhood was how active and social my homeschooled children would become.  I was kind of betting on the whole idea that homeschool=homebodies.  This is a great fallacy.  Homeschooled children have a social calendar that would rival any CEO or world leader.  You must budget triple your family's gas budget to meet the needs of children who demand to interact with the outside world.  This can be frustrating.  This can have you demaning they get busy inventing "an effin teleportation device if you want to pass Science this year" but try to keep your expectations for having any money for anything other than gas very, very low.  Gas.  It costs money.  Lots and lots of money.

And there you have my Top Ten Hidden Expenses.  There are a great many more, but I am totally not going to contribute to the mass hysteria that is the 'Budgeting for a child..."  It's better if you know this AFTER you fall in love with the sweet little baby and would do just about anything to keep them safe, happy and healthy (and socially acceptable...) 

(On a mushy note, I wouldn't trade any amount of money or material possession for my amazing, funny, sweet, messy, pain-in-my-arse children.  If I had to answer the question "Is it worth it."  The answer would be "Without a doubt, totally, absolutely"...and all the other adjectives that are more politce than "HELL YES!!)

Friday, October 12, 2012


I am a hard woman to figure out most days.  Certain pieces of my personality and my life would appear impossible to co-exist peaceably, but this is not the case.  For example, I have a rather intense need for things to be very neat and tidy.  It brings me peace. Now insert 7 children in my life and you have everything BUT neat and tidy, and I'm okay with that.  And the 7 children thing (I've actually had 8 children, another story for another day) is in place because I do not use birth control of any kind.  However, it phased me none to help my bestest friend research what her best birth control options were after she started having issues with the patch.  My life is uber-conservative, my politics, not so much.  Dichotomy. 

Which brings me to the point of this post: I'm a cheapskate who LOVES cashmere!  Did you know it takes a goat (from which cashmere derives) four years to produce enough wool to knit an adult sized sweater?  It's a beautiful fiber and one I find divinely beautiful to knit with.  But it ain't cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

Here's is some fabulous cashmere yarn for knitting purposes (some people weave or use knitting machines, so I wanted to link to a typical hand knitting type yarn)  Let's do some math.  Each hank of this is $52.00 and you need approximately 1000 yards for a smallish women's sweater.  So that sweater would cost you approximately $520.00 NOT EVEN MADE.  There are less expensive cashmere yarns to be had, but if you're a cheapskate, the price will always make you gasp.  Not happening.

But still, I like to knit with cashmere.  It's absolutely gorgeous and besides that the properties of the fiber make it all the more desirable.  And even though I could never pay exorbitant amounts for my fiber fetish, I still have quite a good supply of cashmere yarn in my stash.  How so you ask?

Unraveling ;)  Yup, some knitters see yarn and think "sweater.." I see sweater and think "yarn."  (To be turned into another sweater, but I digress)  It's still stunning to me how many cast offs are available to be had at thrift stores.   Just languishing among all the acrylic clown sweaters, you can find some real gems.  Cashmere.  Silk.  Merino.  CAMEL (yes, I have found 100% camel and am saving it for something special).  It's just mind boggling to me.  Cashmere sweaters aren't cheap, anywhere (except where I find them) and that anyone would donate them is crazy to me.  Ever priced a cashmere sweater?  Let's have a looksee:

Lord and Taylor has some pretty ones....  so does Ann Taylor and even Ebay

Lawd have mercy.  Beautiful.  Expensive.  Out of budget.  Must find better way.

Two Words: Thrift Store (or Goodwill to be more specific)  All sweaters are priced at $4.50, no matter what size or fiber they are.  Miles and miles of luxury yarn for less than a skein of cheapass acrylic from Wal-Mart.  Winning!!

Another source I use is Resweater which is a bit higher price wise (I've never paid more than $10) but only when she has a color and weight I've been searching for. I recently bought these:

Not the greatest picture, but trust me, these are Very Good!  They are currently being morphed into these:
These are Salem Fingerless Mitts, pattern available for purchase on Ravelry.  I am doing two pair in the long version.  One pair with the tweedy light blue and charloal (cashmere!!) and another with a rich, deep purple (I dyed a sleeve on that cream sweater to get a really great purple) paired with the charcoal.  Pretty, pretty!! (And SO soft...heavenly soft....)

So next time you cruise by a thrift store, you might want to take a bit of a detour and see if you can find something fabulous among the cast offs.  If cotton if your thing, you will always find something among the racks.  If you are like me, and only bring home the best of the best, sometimes you will come home empty handed, but there's that thrill of the hunt thing that is fed by coming home with nothing every so often.  Makes the times you do find something a really cheap, unharmful high ;)  And remember even if what you find is a color that would look better on someone post-living rather than living (you know what colors I'm talking about...different for everyone, but we all have our hated colors) you can totally dye over pretty much any color, other than black.  It's really easy.  Here's how I did my cream-to-purple deal:

I started with just one sleeve of the cream sweater. It's plenty enough for the project!

Put sweater sleeve in a bowl with water and a bit of vinegar to soak.  I did around 15 minutes.

I had this food dye leftover from Mallory's birthday cake.  I am happy with how it works.  Very happy.

A big squirt of the dye, and then add about 1/4 vinegar and mixed until well blended.  Added water, then put sleeve in.

This is the magical part.  All that murkey water will be TOTALLY clear after the dye is set, having soaked completely into the fibers.  I did about 30 minutes on 250 in my oven.

Sleeve all done and ready to tink (You know, knit spelled backwards!!)

Dude, I TOTALLY forgot that when you dyed a blank rather than a hank of yarn, you get little white spots when you unravel.  I really like this effect but it wasn't what I needed for the project I have in mind, so I wound the sleeve (blank) into to small skeins for a redo in the dye bath.

Ended up with this, which is much deeper in real life.  The flash washed it out, but without the flash it didn't look purple. 
I LOVE dyeing yarn.  Fast, safe and easy way to change yarn from a boring color to something fabulous...
Next time, I'll be doing a show and tell with all my recycled sweater stuff and give you a little peek at my fabulous package (dude, if I was a guy that would have sounded so totally perverted....x rated even),  that arrived yesterday from The Netherlands!!


Lord and Taylor Cashmere

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pollyanna Must Die

There are many things I've never quite understood in the land of Girl World, but one of my major lapses in understanding is the propensity for griping about one's spouse.  I can always size someone up as compatable with me, friendship wise, by how they speak about they person they have chosen to partner up with and if the stream of words from one's mouth leans heavily towards the negative I know that we won't have much in common in which to form a solid friendship. (That could also be because once they start that up, I tend to share my opinion on what they are saying and that doesn't go over real great when someone is seeking sympathy for the injustice they are quite sure they are living among...) 
Now all that being said, I realize there are times when one's partner gets on their last damn nerve.  I am not living in some happy cloud of rainbows all the time. I know, personally, there are times when I need to vent in frustration when there's an issue that's not getting settled as quickly, or in the manner I'd like it to be solved.  I have one person I turn to when this is the landscape because, and I cannot stress this enough, she will absolutely not jump on my side.  She will tell me flat out "Well, you are kind of being an ass."  That is what a real friend does.  She doesn't automatically take my side out of loyalty to the female gender and I like that.  I really do.

In reality though, when it comes to my husband, there isn't a whole lot to complain about.  The man is amazing.  Let me count the ways:

1. He's good looking (He would disagree, but since I am the one who has to look at him, I feel my opinion in this matter is the only one of any consequence.) He's yummy to my eyes!
2. The man is the absolute best father I have EVER been around.  Sometimes I watch him with the children and think "Damn, wonder what it's like to have THAT kind of Dad..."  Seriously, he is just amazing when it comes to our children.  He's fun where I am a stick in the mud.  He's calm when I am a raving lunatic.  He does things like hand his "cost several thousand dollars" banjo to the child that has begged him to learn, so he could gauge the real interest level of that child before getting a smaller, more moderately priced version.  What's his is theirs. 
3. He's the perfect partner in parenting, on my end.  There is only one thing I do, parenting wise, that he doesn't: Breastfeeding.  Everything else, from changing diapers, to brushing a girl's ratty hair, he has jumped in, never deciding anything to do with the children is MY job.  I REALLY love that about him. 
4. There is nothing he can't do it seems.  Everything he has set his mind on doing, he's done...and done well.  And much of his success has been of the quiet variety because that's also his way: Humble.  Most people that interact with him on a daily basis wouldn't know these amazing things about him.  Things that had I accomplished, I would give it out, list style to every person I meet.  You know, just so they knew how awesome I was right off the bat. (I am thinking I need to work on that humble thing...)
5. He's smart.  Or insanely stupid, which can look like smart to others, but is actually just smart taken one step too far, if you catch my meaning.... He was in a really hard degree program out in New Mexico, while maintaining a 40 hour per week job in management at a national lab, WHILE still doing the Math part of our homeschooling AND making sure he alloted time to spend with each of his children on a very regular basis because in his mind, what's the point of working so hard that you lose the most important thing.  How is this smart?  Because he graduated with almost a 3.7.  His degree?  Nuclear Engineering.  Not basket weaving to say the least.  Smart, smart, smart.  (However, this kind of smart needs a certain level of understanding in the marriage department.  I once sent him into the store to get THREE items.  2 bottles of water and a pack of gum.  He came out with 1 bottle of water and a pack of gum, apologetically explaining that he KNEW there were three things he was supposed to get, but couldn't for the life of him remember what the third item was....Yeah...)
6. He texts me things like "Hey! What can I do today to make your life a little better when I get home?" He says phrases like "I love that you knit, that is so neat.." (be still my heart) or "I don't see why spending that much on a yarn you really love is excessive....does it cost as much as my banjo did?" (swooning) and of course the classic "I love you.." AND he calls me Melissa Coffeycake, which endears me to him more than it should.  It's cute.  I love it.

I could keep numbering this list well past 100, but that's not exactly the point of this post.  Just wanted to establish My Husband: Really Amazing Man.  So, we've got that cleared up and we can move on.

So there's one area in life my husband has struggled with quite a bit.  Discontentment.  He's had a hard time seeing the bright side of things when they aren't going exactly as he had planned and had often told me that it was a quality in me that he was envious of.  He would often say he thought I was a better person because of my level of contentment in all things (better person?  yeah, right..this really just boiled down to being grateful for the small things that aren't normal occurences, like oh, going ot the bathroom alone, or eating something without someone grabbing food from my plate...)  It was something he decided he had to work on because without contentment, everything looks bleak.  To be content is not to be happy, or full, it's just being settled in where you are, with what you have. 

Because he is a deeply spiritual type person, he has prayed about this for some time. He has studied what contentment is and why he should seek it.  He's sat at the feet of the Master and asked for contentment.   Seek and ye shall find and all that good stuff.

And apparently, he has found it.  Over the course of the past few months, the man I thought couldn't get any better, has gotten a lot better.  His battle, or at least this war in the battle, has been overcome, steadily, wholely, fully.  He has found contentment. 

And the other day that really pissed me off....

Now, with 7 children, it can be a challenge to find some alone time.  You know, ALLLONE time *wink, wink* and if we want it, we have to work for it.  The other night, we made the decision to work for it.  The plan was "Get Baby To Sleep" and do That Thing which happy adults do regularly.  The plan was solid.  Everyone was settled, except baby, who usually has a specific MO when it comes to "Go the Fudge To Sleep" (dude have you heard that book??? FUNNY!!)

It was a marathon.  Walk, rock, nurse, walk, put her in her swing (which probably made the whole thing worse...lying together during the minutes we had her in her swing) nurse, walk, rock some more...Baby No Sleeping...

Around 11:00 we gave up because some of those night hours need to be alloted for sleep if one hopes to function the next day.  At the magical hour when we realized it just wasn't happening my Inner Brat met his (newly found) Inner Pollyanna and they faced off.

Me: This just sucks
Him: It's okay, just lying together for a bit was really nice
Me: No it wasn't. That sucked.
Him: No, it didn't.  I really enjoyed that.
Me: I didn't. This totally just sucks
Him: You are having a bad attitude.  You should be grateful we had any time at all.
Me: Nope, not grateful.  Sucks.
Him: We'll try again soon
Me: Bet it will suck then too.
Him: No it won't. Quit that. 
Me: Nope.

There were a few more words before we settled down to go to sleep (of course the baby was more than willing to nod off to sleepy land once she was cuddled into me) Words like "Suck" "this sucks" "that sucked" but I am pretty sure they fell on deaf ears because my husband has a special relationship with his pillow in that most nights once his head meets it, he is granted a blissful sleep.  I hate that.

In the morning (he gets up an at ungodly hour to do that work thing), he was just as chipper as the night before.  He kisses me on the head, good-bye and whispers "Thank you for cuddling with me last night.  That was really nice."

Me: No it wasn't.  It sucked.
Him: I don't care what you say, I enjoyed it.
Me: I didn't.  It sucked.
He laughs.
Me: Dude, just admit it sucked. Embrace the suckage that was our night last night.  It was not 'nice, enjoyable, or something to be grateful for. The word you are looking for is 'SUCKED."
Him: I am just happy for what time we DO get to spend together, not mad about what time we don't get.

The dude has taken this contentment thing too far, in my humble opinion.  He's embraced his inner Pollyanna with a gusto even I didn't see coming.   She has totally stripped his vocabulay of the essential words like "Sucks" and I am not sure how I feel about that.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am happy he's found his Contentment.  I wanted that.  I wanted it really bad, but I wasn't looking for some kind of little girl glad that is the essence of goodness at all times....I wasn't looking for my big burly man to morph into Pollyanna.  (That's MY gig, thankyouverymuch) and quite frankly, I'm feeling kind of hostile towards her right now...and kind of thinking....

That "da bitch" has it coming....Pollyanna must die.  (Or at the very least keep her happy ass away from my man when it comes to our ALONE time.  Dude, if there was ever a time to embrace the concept of "SUCKS" it would be now.....)