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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Honey, I'm Pregnant

I've known for about 3 weeks, and although I was understandably eager to share this news with you (being the father and all) I was waiting for that perfect moment, you know, when you were flipping through the real estate classifieds, to share this with you.  I just knew the moment would come, when you'd say "How about this has three bedrooms, a view, an office...." and I could reply "And maybe a nursery?" with a sly grin.  And you'd be excited and smile back, and then we'd cuddle in the bed, dreaming about the baby to be...

Oh come ON.  Seriously?  (If you watch Fringe, you know I just lifted this scenario straight from the script...and I do apologize if you thought you were getting some juicy information about my own uterine status...)

What is with all the stupid writing when it comes to all things baby?  Now, I'll admit I've seen some pretty creative, real life, announcements about this particular life event, but the way the media spins it is downright stupid. 

You'd think with as much practice as I've had in particular area, I'd have shared this news in some cute, creative way at some point, but I live in Real World and it's never gone down like that.  No, it's been far more practical and boring than all that.

It starts out with me being kind of tired, kind of well, bitchy. If Jamie has to say the words "Man, what's your problem..." at any point during the day, we know the possibility is there. It becomes a little more obvious when someone hugs me and it hurts my chest so badly, I want to punch the person in the face.  Finally, when I turn green in the grocery store, Jamie demands I buy a test right then.  Romantic right?

 After the test is brought home, the husband will ask "Can you pee or do you need to drink?" Lovely.  And then he stands post right outside the door (because I won't let him in there with me) and immediately barges in when the test has been duly baptized.  So as soon as I know, he knows.  There is no surprise element happening and honestly he knows before I do.  I will argue that buying a test is a huge waste of money, that I am NOT pregnant and he simply states "Yeah I think you are....pee on the stick..."

I don't know one female who has waited more than 24 hours to share this informaiton with her beloved, not the mention the entire world, so this whole Hollywood idea of announcing a baby is simply not reality.

And then you have the....labor drama.  The mom-to-be standing in a crowded public area, exclaiming "Oh no, my water broke.  The baby will be here in five minutes.  Quick!!! Emergency!!! Hopsital NOW!!!" Really?  Has this ever happened, even once, in the entire history of humanity?  Have we not had enough babies born to shift the Hollywood perception of labor and delivery? Birth is quite dramatic on it's own without the time sensitive emergency nature of the scenarios being written and acted out.  You are not going to see a first time Mom, even with her water broken, having a baby within the time frame of an ENTIRE movie, let alone the 15 minutes usually alloted for this particular cinematic climax.  Let's get real.

In Real World, you have contractions for days and days and maybe, just maybe you might go to the hospital thinking it's the Real Thing, but more often than not, it's a false alarm.  You walk around cursing Mother Nature for still being pregnant and plead with God to let these contractions work their magic and get this child out of your personal space.  You become a wretched, wicked version of your previously sweet self, and swear you'll never, ever do this again.  You walk, and walk, and walk, fold baby clothes, get the house completely in order and wait.  One night, after you've given up ever having the baby...the ONE night you said "To hell with the house being clean, I'm over it..." you'll go into real labor and wish you had spent some of that cleaning time, resting, because the whole hospital experience is exhausting.  You aren't rushed in, breathing between intense contractions, having a baby in the first 15 minutes of your arrival.  You are being clothed in ugly hospital attire, having the same questions you've already answerd a million times asked again and having needles shoved into your skin in various places.  You're given a handy little heartbeat belt and strapped down to a zillion wires and wait.  And wait, and wait.  Then you push, and push and push...and when it's time to meet your baby, it will be an ugly, alien looking thing, all wrinkled and white, screaming it's bloody head off.  Contrary to popular media placement of the "newborn baby" you will not give birth to a clean, fluffy-headed three month old.  You will not exclaim "Oh she looks just like your mother.." you will think, to yourself "What the hell happened?  She doesn't look like ANYONE...Wait, is she ASIAN???  Did someone switch my baby..???" (even though the baby has never left the room...)

And after it's all said and done, you will not appear glowing, with perfect eye make-up and glistening pink lip gloss, hair totally in place and a brilliant smile plastered across your face.  You will be slumped against the bed, looking like you've been rode hard and put away wet, the worst possible version of your physical appearance, but the one thing you will have, that Hollywood DID get right...

The brilliant smile, while holding your ethnic baby (don't worry, she will eventually morph into some version of you and your's partners physical features) and thinking "Damn, glad that's over with..."

That my friends, is the truth about pregnancy, childbirth and how stupid Hollywood is. 

And no, I'm not pregnant.  But I did get you to click open my blog huh?? Ha!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Cat's Outta The....

Kitchen.  Yes, kitchen.  This is a tale about a cat named Sophie...

Sophie was adopted into our family in the fall of 2006.  She was a beautiful and fun little kitten.  But then, we took her into the vet to be spayed and declawed.  Bad decision.  Not the spay, but the declaw.  If I had to do it over, we would have opted out of this little operation, but in my mind, little babies, new furniture and kitty claws didn't mesh well together.  After this surgery, she got very sick and had to be rushed back to the vet for a shot of antibiotics and steriods and we were told she may not make it.  She did, thankfully,  but was never quite the same after that.

She grew up to be a gorgeous cat, and tolerated her environment quite well, even when the kids treated her like a doll rather than a cat.  One of their favorite past times was dressing her up and playing cat model. 

You can tell, she's absolutely thrilled :)

Getting Sophie from New Mexico to Georgia was an interesting adventure.  She was not too fond of her cat carrier and the only reason we weren't completely annoyed by her incessant howling in the back of the van was because the 6 children along for the cross-country trip out-louded her.

Our first stop was in Texas.  We got a suite, so there'd be room for all of us, and at night we set up a litter box, a food spot and let the cats run the room, you know, to stretch their legs and all that.  Apparently, a door got opened sometime after we locked it down and Sophie got out.  We didn't discover this until the morning, as we were getting the cats back into their kennels for another long stint across the states.  Calla was hysterical.  I was hysterical because she was hysterical.  Not a fun time.  As we were walking to and from the van, loading up, we heard a howling cat sound.  We couldn't figure out where she was, and we were kind of on a time crunch because our trip was meticously planned so as to arrive in Georgia the day before Jamie had to report to his new job (same day we were closing on the house)  Kyle was running up and down the stairs, thinking he heard her up there somewhere, but Calla swore she heard her by this car parked outside our room.  We looked high, we looked low.  We looked under the car and even peeked in the car, but what Sophie had done was incredible.  She had climbed up into the engine of the car, and couldn't get out.  So not only did we have a cat trying to relocate herself to Texas permanately, the second her new owner revved up the engine, she would be a goner.  I can't even remember how exactly we got her out of that, but we did it without having to track down the owner of the vehicle and without having to add an extra day to our trip.  Jamie was...well...annoyed and I was fried before we even got on the road.  But from then on, we paid really close attention to the cats, locking them down in the bathroom of all places we were staying in, so this wouldn't happen again. 

We made it to Georgia in one piece, (well, in body.  I am pretty sure my mind was severely fragmented at this point.)  We started out with 6 kids, 3 cats, a guinea pig and two parents, and the head count was the same once we arrived, even if our nerves were completely shot.  We got to the hotel, Jamie made his first day of work and we even closed on the house exactly as planned.  We ended up camping out in our house because it was way more fun than staying in a crowded hotel room,and the cats also enjoyed the room to roam.  After we had been here a couple days, we took Sophie out the back porch so that when the movers came and we were unloading stuff, she wouldn't just bolt out the door and get lost again.  We were trying to acclimate her, a little at a time, just in case she would get out (she was strictly an indoor cat) but this plan back-fired hugely.  She didn't just sniff around and roll on the concrete like our other cats did.  She immediately bolted to the woods.  We couldn't find her anywhere.  Calla cried for days, and kept looking for her, but she was just gone.  Her being an indoor cat her entire life, plus the fact she was declawed, didn't tip the odds in her favor.  She was a city dwelling, urban princess out in the wild, rural woods and we honestly gave up hope of ever seeing her again.  I felt like the worst Mom on the entire planet, because it was my idea to bring her outside. 

30 days later, Kyle was out in our garage, getting our new puppies some food, when he heard the trademark "meow" and there was Sophie.  He rushed in the house, holding this poor cat, and yelled 'MOM.....IT'S SOPHIE!!!" I was cooking eggs for Jamie, but paid no mind to them.  I grabbed her and immediately bolted upstairs to Calla, who was sound asleep, shook her and yelled for her to wake up.  She jumped out of her bed so fast it scared Sophie, grabbed her tight and started bawling, which made me cry too.  I still, to this day, cannot believe she came back.  She was a little ragged looking and skinny, but all in one piece and happy to be home.  And she had since never been interested in the great outdoors.  She all indoor, all the time, which would be great if she would leave...

The kitchen.

The cat will NOT leave the kitchen.  We have this huge house and she will not stay in any of the rooms we bring her in.  At night, she will creep into the laundry room, where her litter box is, but never during the day.  She sleeps on top of the fridge, or the big hutch we have in there, and when she's hungry, she'll come down for a little love and begging, but if we bring her out of the kitchen, into the main part of the house, she immediately runs back.  It's weird.  And now we have a little problem.  The door on the laundry room is now complete, blocking her entrance to the litter box and there's no way I'm putting a litter box in the kitchen.  Gross.  (Well the whole litter box concept as a whole is nasty, if you ask me, but I haven't had much success in potty training my toddlers in a reasonable time frame, so I'm pretty sure any attempt to train the cat would fail.)

We have a bathroom upstairs (you know, the coat closet with a toilet) that would be a perfect location for the litter box, but now Taylor (our pooch) sleeps in that bathroom at night.  I could relocate Tay-Tay to the laundry room and put the litter box up there, but chances are Sophie wouldn't go that far (even though she used to....) and I'm not quite sure how to work around this conumdrum.

I've searched my mind for ideas about relocating the litter box to somewhere downstairs, but there is honestly no good place for it.  I will not have it in the downstairs bathroom because there's no way to hide it.  I don't think a cat box makes for good decorating, even if it's disguised as some plant stand or whatever else is popular these days. 

So what I really need is someway to train her to stay upstairs, or at least GO up there as she needs to.  Without traumatizing her.  (And you have to understand, looking at her wrong is traumatic for her.  She's a very particular kitty..) So blog readers, how would you re-train a mentally challenged cat to embrace the whole of the house and not stand post in the kitchen all hours of the day?  Is there some trick to this, outside of just stuffing her into a room and closing the door indefinitely?

Is it time for a cat whisperer type person? 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Smart

I read somewhere that you can tell a lot about a person by examining their bookshelf and the titles contained therein.  If someone judged who I was based on the reading material in my house they might come away with a belief I have several personalities to deal with on a daily basis. 

To view my shelves would leave you believing that I....

Have no idea what faith I am.  I'm a Christian and yes, I have books about other religions.  I find the whole topic interesting and studying other belief systems has only served to fortify my own faith.  I feel I owe it to my children to understand what other people believe, why they believe it and how it differs from their parents' faith. 

Like poetry.  Which I do, but I don't read it.  I just feel like it needs to be on shelves for the children because I am positive that one day one of them will become enamoured with the rhymthic beauty of poetry as I was as a young adult and I certainly don't want them Googling "Poetry..."  I'd rather start them off with some Dickinson rather than explaining about the man from Venus, if you catch my drift.

Do real art with my children.  Please.  Paper mache with children isn't something I'll do willingly until I get to purgatory and need to do some sort of penacne for something I've done horribly wrong on this side of heaven.  My version of art with the children is a pack of coloring implements and some paper, but I will say children naturally take themselves through the gamut of what art can offer.  Just ask a five year old to draw her Momma and you've got a perfect replica of a Picasso to put in her portfolio.  Toddlers have a natural ability when it comes to impressionism.  We've got art covered without the books (Thanks Crayola!)

I'm a Martha Stewart Fan.  Not really.  I kind of think she might be alien, but the woman can fold a fitted sheet and has an excellent book to pass this handy bit of knowledge on to the mere mortals and it will never leave my bookshelf.  When I need to know how to polish silver or have a hankering for an entirely organized laundry area, that book has it covered. 

That I'm a mothering schizophrenic.  Ha!! If ever a book was written on parenting, I've either read it, plan to read it or have saved a space on my bookshelf to read again.  This is a topic I am absolutely facsinated with and as such have ensured through procreation that I will always get to practice the methods I am studying so intensely.  I am unconcerned that all the books on parenting completelty contradict each other.  There is always something to learn when it comes to raising little humans.  Even if the advice in the book is a total 180 from my beliefs, I will take the time to study it.  Knowing what NOT to do is just as handy as knowing what to do and even the worst parenting books can offer a bit of handy information (Oh pinning socks together...what a cool idea!)

That I build stuff.  Yeah, don't think so.  But I have a husband that just LOVES me bookmarking projects that HE wants to do ;)  Because he has so much time on his hands and wouldn't know what to do with himself if he wasn't building a custom bathroom vanity or sketching out a treehouse.  I'd be totally willing to do some of this handy work myself, but apparently I cannot be trusted with the power tools.  He came to this conclusion shortly after I ended up in the ER for stitches after scissors attacked me.  No, really, they did.

That I can do super duper upper level math.  Bwhahahaha..  Again, those are Jamie's books.  I'd be lost on this earth without a calculator and I'll even admit that sometimes when my knitting configurations stump me, I'll call on The Man to help me out.  I hate numbers.  I think my love of letters sort of took up the brain space for numbers.  It's all good.  God knew what he was doing when he put us together.  I wrote his college papers, he figures out how many stitches I need to increase in a self-made pattern. It works.

I'm a weird food cultist.  Yup.  My bookshelf has many titles about nutrition and food and cooking.  Maybe I should round out this collection by adding some physical fitness type reading material. You know "Okay, so now you know how to eat to fuel your body, so get off your ass and do something with all those calories."  Something kind of like that.

I've also got the random assortment of books that provide proof I homeschool.  All homeschooling families have these.  Encyclopedias, dictionaries, science project books, what your child should know when so you don't feel like a complete failure and so on and so forth.  Which really, are all unneccessary with the advent of Google, but saying to someone unfamiliar with homeschooling "Oh we just Google that" isn't as impressive as a whole bookshelf of "Look we REALLY homeschool" books.  We have been known (dude, I know you all do it, so don't even try to pretend you dont') to keep all sorts of books we bought with the best intentions, just to feel better about what we aren't doing.  Besides, it's also good for our souls to know the hundreds and billions of dollars we spent on those books isn't going to waste....they make for great bookshelf decorations, if nothing else ;)

My goal in all this is to produce readers out of my children.  To teach them that books are friends and that they better get really good at reading because when the end of the world comes and there are no lights and no televisions or microwaves or YouTube, they are going to be really darn bored if they haven't become one with reading.  In my fantasy world, this rant has my children scrambling to the bookshelf, eagerly selecting an exciting title to curl up with, but in reality all I get is "Oh yeah!!!! I bet the new episode of Walking Dead on on Vudu right now...!! Yay!!"

(Which is one title I suggest steering clear of.  I won't admit to getting the graphic novels for my children after seeing their love for the show, but I will say I DO know someone who did this and thankfully my, uhm, friend's husband, wanted to read them first, and without a word my, I mean my FRIEND'S husband walked over to her, flipped open the book and asked her to read the page.  NOT KID FRIENDLY.  Shoot, not even adult friendly if you have any class about yourself.  Wow, really, really bad language.....)

A Mass Produced Faith

Jamie came home several months ago and related to me one of the  most interesting at-work conversations he'd ever had.  We were both in awe.  It was about religion.  This guy, and I forget his name but wouldn't put in on here even if I could remember, was a regular church going type guy.  But he expressed a curiousity at Jamie's passion for his faith and admitted it wasn't something they shared.  He said "You're just more passionate about Christianity than I am...." and it wasn't a derogatory remark at all.  He admitted that he went to church because it was just "what you did" on Sundays and that it didn't really translate into a lifestyle for all the rest of the days he spent on the planet.  Very interesting.  But also, in our own experience, very common.

In our house, we call this "Churchianity."  It's the by-product of a mass produced faith, or the ATTEMPT at a mass produced faith.  It looks like Christianity on the outskirts, but upon further examination, it's missing a little something.

When Jamie went out to sea for the first time, I decided I would make him a quilt for his second patrol.  A little bit of handmade love to wrap around himself on the cold, lonely tin can he spent his days and nights on.  This sparked a new passion in me and I went to town making quilts for every person in my house and for other loved ones.  I had always loved the look of a handmade quilt and by golly, I was proud that these unique, beautiful creations could be traced back to my loving hands.  Once, when I was short on time but anxious to get my daughter's bedroom redecorated, I opted for a store bought quilt.  Martha Stewart, from Kmart, in a super pretty wedding ring pattern, in the most perfect blend of pinks and whites.  It was gorgeous.  But shotty.  The stitches were too far apart and when it started unraveling (after just a couple washes) you could readily see the shortcuts taken to make this quilt.  The seam allowance was nothing like your typical 1/4' on a handmade blanket and the fabrics were cheap and became thread-bare way sooner than they should have.  Looked fine, but when really put to the test, it was nothing like a really, real quilt, made by loving hands with attention to every detail, including quality control.

And such is Churchianity.  It looks remarkably like Christianity.  It might even keep you warm at night, but eventually, it will wear itself thin and be a useless rag among many.  It doesn't hold up.  It's not rooted in anything other than cultural expectation and it gives Christianity a bad name.  If all anyone knows is a piece of crap quilt that wears out after a couple washings, you can bet they aren't too awfully interested when you offer to make them a real quilt with your own hands.  "No thanks" they will exclaim, " I had a quilt before and it was junk....I'd rather stick with fleece." And can you blame them? 

You find people who hold up popular Christian titles as equal to the Bible, with promises of a prosperous life,  rocking marital romantic relations, more friends than you can count and that every circumstance you encouter is "bearing a cross."  It's a feel-good motivational marathon, discounting the real meat of the Word of God.  It's really  hard to take and it's really hard to live in a world where this brand of spirituality is so grossly misrepresented by people trying to make the faith so palatable, they leave out the truth of it.  Sure, it tastes good (so does cotton candy...guess what that does for you??) but it's really of no value. 

For a Christian who really lives and breathes the Word, this kind of sucks.  It's like you are immediatley outcast the minute you bring up anything real.  'Well, that was back then...this is now..." or "Well, that's not what the scholars interpret that saying.." and so on and so forth.  Now, I am not downplaying the awesomeness of those who have devoted their lives to studying and teaching their faith, but I will say that without *some* selling out to what they REALLY believe, they can't mass produce the message.  They can't bring it to the many, because only a few will really hear.  To me, I'd rather be true in who I am and what I believe with 5 people, than put on a mask to attract 50.  Sadly, this does not pay the bills of the big buildings people gather and so in order to reconcile that which you need with that which you believe, you water it down a little.  Make it go a little farther, even if in doing so, you distort the original intent. 

I have, within my circle, passionate, God-loving Christians.  They have tattoos, color their hair, wear make-up and earn money.  They watch TV and play video games and even swear every now and then.  They eat, breathe, live and love and yet I'm confident every single one of them has been called out at one point or the other for not being a REAL Christian. 

But they are as real as real can get.  They just don't do the fluffy, surface stuff that a good deal of Churchians hold up as the ultimate proof that one "walks with God." 

They are unique in a world of mass production.  They are a hand-made by God and not mass produced by man.  They are Mary, rather than Martha (Stewart) and honestly, after the experience I had with her crappy quilts (from crappy Kmart) I'd rather have a handful of Mary's than a hundred Martha's any day of the week.

Even Sunday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When She Remembers

I got a text the other day that was short, to the point and rather blunt "Hey I need x's shirt.  Did you find it yet?"  No hello.  No how ya doing?  Just an out of the blue, random thought.  And I laughed.

That's Christine for you.  Is she rude?  No.  Is she unkind?  Not even a little.  I can't really say anything bad about her.  She's just her.  Spontaneous.  Funny.  And a little direct.  It's just her way.  The second a thought pops into her head, out it comes, but not in the socially accepted order of back and forth that most people pay attention to.  Some time ago, this would have bugged me, but as I got to know her, it's a quality I found endearing, rather than off-putting.

Christine is my mirror opposite.  She'll call (or more likely text) and say "Hey want to get together?"  I'll say "Sure, when?" thinking we are planning some future event and she'll surprise me with "I was thinking about 2."  Uhm, what?  2 TODAY???  "Yeah...2 today.  We're having a birthday party today."  My brain overloads and I think "How does someone plan something so fast?" and the answer is, she didn't.  She didn't plan it until the last minute because that's how she works.  This is a challenge for someone who plans a month in advance if I have to have all my people ready and dressed acceptably and clean and all that.  But the thing is, she doesn't care how you arrive, just that you do.  She doesn't care if your socks match, or if the girls hair is neatly placed in bow clips and matching clothes.  Because her focus is on the people themselves, not what condition they arrive in.

She's taught me to laugh at my parenting fails and to admit them to the outside world.  She's the person I can say "I said such and such to hellchild today.." and instead of rewarding my confession with silence, she busts out laughing and exclaims "I TOTALLY KNOW THAT FEELING" with so much emotion and empathy and delight that you can't help but want to tell her *everything* because you know, she will not only listen, she'll understand.  She's got "been there, done that" down to a science. 

She's misunderstood, of course, because in Girl World, that sort of acceptance of NOT accepting yourself is against the rules.  She'll forget important details of your life, and you'll have to remind her a couple times what order your children were born in, but she will remember they like the color purple.  She'll listen to all your woes, but forget the details enough that it's impossible for her to gossip about them.  And she laughs about it. 

Christine takes time to understand, but in the end, it's worth it.  She's a cheerleader, therapist, comedian, mothering expert, tech support, sounding board, and more.  She's inspiration that there is no stage of life that doesn't have it's own share of beginnings and excitement.  In short, she's an amazing person that I'm very blessed to have in my friend porfolio.  You just have to remind her to remember and when she remembers....she's completely worth the effort.

Love ya girl!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mother of Invention

There's something kind of cool about being a mom over a couple decades rather than having them all squeezed into a minute time frame.  It's like every few years all the parenting tools get re-vamped and the baby-stuff-engineers come up with all new ways to get your child through that tumultuous babyhood phase.  Just walk into any Baby Superstore and you'll see what I'm talking about.  When I had Kyle in 1998 they just had your standard baby swing that went back and forth, front to back, although they had improved upon the wind-up mechanism thing and instead decided batteries that needed changed every couple hours was better than waking up the baby to wind the thing back up.  Now, we have battery operated swings that can go back and forth, or side to side.  We have bouncy seats that vibrate, seats that take the not-quite-ready-to-sit-up baby and prop them up well before their head is ready for that position and all sorts of other goodies to make parenting a small child, easier, better, faster.

But, as an expert in the field of mothering (I recently got my PhD), I have to say there are still many, many convenience items left to invent and market and based on my experiences in this realm, I have a few suggestions:

1. The Anti-Teenage Pregnancy Modification Device- Upon reaching puberty, all teenagers would recieve a "shot" that would implant a chip into their person to monitor rising levels of hormone and at the appropriate time, like leaning in for a forbidden kiss, their body would put of a scent, ala skunk, combined with a rather loud, reverberating flatulence sound.  This would deter teenagers from even trying that shiz.  This would be on a time-release sort of deal, fading as they aged, as appropriate.  It would only take one time trying to manuever around this mechanism for them to never, ever try it again.

2. The Baby Butt Genie.  Alright people, we now have, on the market, a LITTER BOX that cleans up after a cat, washing it's waste products away into the septic tank or sewer system and we haven't applied that same technology to BABIES?  Why?  I definitley think when compared to a baby's nasty diaper, cat waste is way lower on the todem pole.  So you could have this device that looks very similar to one of those stationary walker things.  Put baby's butt in, it gets the diaper removed, it's tush sprayed off, and in the same vein at the "Cat Genie", it gets washed away with the rest of the household wastewater.  We do have the "Diaper Genie" but it is in no way, shape or form as cool as the "Cat Genie."  I personally believe quality of life with a baby would be much improved if you didn't have to be so hands on when it came to...well....poo....

3. The Marco-Polo Electronic Monitoring Device- Seriously this is a must have for parents with toddlers.  This chip would be self-sticking to any object that your child likes to "play" with.  For me, this would be my cell phone.  The premise is simple.  Can't find that object?  Scream, as loudly as possible, "MARCOOOOOO" and the object would holler back "POLOOOOO"  This could also come in handy after a long day of Dora, and Blue and toddler babble when an adult voice "talking" back to you is music to your ears. 

4. Webinator 2000- This would be mistaken for your standard Hot Momma fashion accessory, coming a vibrant range of colors and patterns (including animal print)  But oh, no, no,'s not just another pretty bracelet.  It's actually a net throwing device ala Spiderman.  One flick of the wrist and that toddler that will NOT listen after 17 admonitions to get down from that thing gets netted.  Pinned.  To the GROUND.  Humane and effective. 

5. Book incinerator.  Yes, this would be a parenting tool. It would be for every stupid book written by every stupid "expert" telling you how to raise your child.  You know what I'm talking about. Every few years, there's a new and improved way to parent a species that's been on this planet for a really long time.  What did we do without these genius people directing us on what to do with the miniature humans???  Oh yeah, we followed our instincts.  Parenting books, while helpful sometimes (mostly for humor) can really suck.  They must not be trusted.  Throwing them away does not provide the level of satistfaction that burning it's stupid ass does.  Trust me.  Light em up.  And go on your merry way. 

Our development engineers have a few more prototypes that are looking quite promising, but not quite ready for review yet.  As lead technologist, I will say I'm really excited about what will be on the market for future babies joining our team.  Although I will say, as we advance in understanding, it becomes more clear that gadgets aren't truly necessary when one or two loving adult models are present and accounted for, but we haven't quite figured out how to duplicate that yet, so this secret is under wraps.  For now.  Once it can be mass-produced, battery operated and sold for 17 times it's production costs, we will be marketing this one hard core. 

Coming soon to a store near you.....

I'm Not Saying Jesus Got Sloshed....

I have this look about me.  Well, when I'm perplexed, befuddled, get the idea.  Usually when this comes on, I don't have a mirror handy to inspect myself and I'm not exactly sure what it looks like to the outside world, but I'm thinking it's something like:

My children concur.  This is my face when something I have heard or seen is just completely baffling to me.  Very often, it's what I look like when hearing religious commentary.  There are many eggs in this basket I'd like to crack, but today I simply have to focus on one that has me particularly confused.

"Jesus didn't turn the water into wine, he turned it into grapejuice....."

And THEN my friends, he poured that wine into neat little plastic pitchers and placed those pitchers into his handy Fridgeadaire, you know, to prevent the almost *immediate* process of fermentation (starting) that happens when juice from fruit is exposed to the natural elements???  Right??

(As a side note, I will never forget the look on this girls face as she went to take a swig of her apple juice, at band camp, after the jug had been sitting in the sun for a couple hours.  It was no longer juicy and sweet, but already morphing into apple wine.  She should have been suspended for such immoral behavior.  Sheesh.)

This is one of those things that has me reeling.  Come on people. Do we really want to portray ourselves, Christians, as complete morons without a lick of scientific sense?  Cause if that's the plan we're doing a REALLY good job.  Every bit of conventional knowledge completely smacks this little diddy down, hard core. 

So here's the thing.  In today's culture, alcohol is portrayed as something kind of bad, kind of edgy, kind of crazy-inducing.  This is only partly true.  Yes, people drink to excess, get drunk and wind up loving someone they would have ran away from in their sober state and this is, well, bad.  It's bad for your body, bad for your mind and bad for your conscience, if you have one.  However, numerous studies have shown the benefits on the human body from injesting a moderate amount of fermented liquid.  I'm not talking rotten corn mash, distilled, I'm simply talking about a process that happens to all fruit without outside cooling devices taking center stage.  Juice doesn't stay juice for long at all.  It's just common sense. It's not a difficult concept to embrace.

And what really chaps my ass is how these HUGE fat guys will preach this.  Wine is bad.  It's bad in any form, in any amount, and you're certainly going to be dining with the Devil if your meal includes a glass of Chardonnay.  They forget one little word: excess.  Too much.  Too much of ANYTHING is bad and that's a biblical concept as well.  But these guys didn't reach into the realm of obesity by practicing sensible eating.  They ate to excess.  But food isn't bad right?  Five Big Macs and a triple order of fries with a Diet Coke isn't sinful at all, because it's FOOD.  (Ever notice people that order a lot of crap food get a diet coke with it?  I mean what's that about?  If you're going to go down to heart attack lane, at least go down without a nasty after-taste....why stop now.  Sugar it up baby!!)  I just want to scream "Dude, your freaking OBESE.  What about gluttony???  How is one glass of wine with a meal worse than eating your weight in drive-thru burgers like three times a day???"  I don't get it.  I mean I simply cannot wrap my mind around the total disconnect these people have between what they abstain from and what they freely choose.  The kicker is, they completely make it a salvation issue on top of it being a social issue.  Because that's WJWD right?  (Okay, I reconfigured the letters for my own selfish purposes. I do realize the bracelets say WWJD....I don't own one because I already know Jesus would not scream at his followers "WHY IS THERE PEANUT BUTTER ON THE FREAKING CEILING??" and I have too much guilt to be constantly reminded of how much I suck when it comes to what Jesus, himself, would do)

There are times, as a Christian woman, I offer up a little prayer for these types of people...and hopefully it's not irreverent, as I have to believe  God gave me my sense of humor for a reason...

"Dear Lord, forgive them, for they know not how absolutely completely moronic they are.  Forgive them for changing your word to suit their purposes and for climbing onto a soapbox with every moral ephiphany that comes to them.  Forgive them their judgement on others and lack of it for themselves, and please God, could you give me a small break from having to see, hear or interact with these people for at least 24 hours.  My logic chip got all smoked out trying to process this and I need a bit of time to recuperate before the next attack on my sensibilities.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Now I'm off to gather some recipes for breaded fishsticks and honey yeast rolls, because when Jesus fed the masses fish and loaves of bread, he REALLY actually fed them frozen fish sticks and big fat yeast rolls.  With juice. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Nickname Evolution

Jamie was named after a favorite soap opera character, so he didn't mind much being called "Bub."  It's all good when he's wearing overalls and boots, but when he dresses up for his day job, it doesn't quite work.  So, I generally address him as dude.  It works fine.

All growing up I was called Lis, or Lissy (hate that) and even worse Mel.  I watched way too many episodes of Alice during my formative years, so the image of the big fat guy in a Hanes undershirt, the defining image of passive aggressive dominance was firmly rooted in my brain and I despised being called Mel.  One time, during my middle school years I allowed my middle name to serve as my name and I spent the whole year completely confused.  There were several Melissas in my class and I felt I was doing everyone a favor by dismissing my given name and jumping right to the middle.  In hindsight it was a bad idea, mostly because I dislike my middle name more than my first.  Lesson learned.  Jamie has dubbed me Melissa Coffeycake.  This I like.

When it came to naming our children, it was a long process of deciding which among many names we liked would be THE name endowed upon that child.  Each name has a story behind it and Emmy's is no different.

I always wanted a little girl I could call Emmy-Lou, but the only name that would fit that particular was Emma and that name was way overdone in the world.  See, I like names that are different enough to be, well, different, but not different enough to invite antagonizing attention.  I'd never opt for a fruit or a species of tree as a sutiable name (but did go to school with this dude named Sequoia once.  The kid was like 8 foot tall and a really good basketball player, so the name sort of worked. For him.  Probaby the only human on the planet.)  As we drove to see if our new addition was on Team Pink or Team Blue, I kept seeing all these signs for Emory this or Emory that, which was odd because it was the name I had sort of honed in on for a girl name.  This was after my mother had me look up a (male) school friend from her early academic years and I thought 'Hmm....that BOY name is really pretty.  I like that a lot."  And so when the ultrasound rendered the information we were seeking, we knew this little girl would get the saved up name Emmy-Lou, without the Emma I distained.  Emory.  Perfect.  Her middle name is Louise, which I took from my great-grandma Crowder, whose name was actually Louie.  Emory Louise.  Emmy-Lou.

But then things changed.  Instead of calling her Emory, we started right off with Emmy.  Cute.  Every now and then, she'd be called Emmy-Lou.  Or Emmy Lou Bear.  Until the day Jamie changed it to Emmy-Roo.  Emmy-Roo-Bear......Hmmm....

Now we've shortened all that and her new name is simply Roo.  Seriously we call her Roo more than Emmy.  More than Emmy-Lou or even Emmy-Roo.

The kid is going to be so confused.  How we went from Emory to Roo....I don't know, but there it is. 

She joins the ranks of Kee-Lay (Kyle.  Jamie started calling him this after constantly being called Da-Tee by Kyle).

And Ca-Cah (Calla.  Noah can say anything correctly, but still calls his sister this.  We call her that now too)

Cassidia-dia (No idea.  But we call her that everyday.  Better than her former name Occidy...self-explantory)

And Liger (Elijah.  Still yet, no idea.  Where do we come up with this stuff??)

Mally (Mallory.  It's how Noah says her name.  We thought that was cute and adopted it for ourselves.  Noah is renaming the whole family apparently)

Noey Bear (With lots of hair.  I can't believe I'm admitting this out loud....Clearly we need a better hobby than coming up with stupid names for our children...)

And Roo.

Me?  I adopted a new name about 14 years ago.  I go by the ever popular "Mom" or for the little ones "Momma...."  I am quite fond of my new moniker. And Jamie...

He's got the best one.  He's got "DADDDDDDDDY!!!! DADDDDYYYYY'S HOOOOOMMMMEEE!!!"

Kind of jealous of that one, actually.

34 Random Facts

In honor of my here-on-earth anniversary, marking 34 years of existence, here are 34 random facts about me, one for each year I've inhabited this plane:

1. Even though I own a coat of my own, I always grab my husband's when I go outside.  Not sure why.  It's roomier and slouchy and I like it.

2. When I am feeling a little down or a little silly, I will YouTube fainting goats and laugh until I hurt.  My children watch me like I've lost it, but end up laughing at me laughing.

3.  I taught myself to knit for one pattern and one pattern only.  I never intended to be a "knitter."  I am not sure what happened.  Now, I'm addicted to it.

4. I have a slight obsession with fuzzy socks.

5. I have changed diapers for approximately the last 5,200 days of my life.  Every day.

6. Which leads to...I use cloth diapers and used to own a business in this realm. My name used to be kind of "out there" in this area.

7. I completely DO NOT miss having a business and dealing with other people's personal issues. 

8. I love very, very much.

9. If I had unlimited funds, my entire wardrobe would be vintage clothing from Etsy.coom

10. It's not, so Old Navy is my go to store for clothes. 

11. I round out my wardrobe by thrift shopping, which really isn't a budget-concious thing, I just have a thing about looking like everyone else all the time. 

12. I usually wear my hair red. I am not a natural redhead but I look like one.  Pale skin and all that good stuff.

13. I hate the sound of a dog licking themselves to the point it makes me angry, annoyed, and violent.  I have been known to throw a scary object at an animal doing this, just to scare them off.  Gross.

14. My teeth chatter violently when I get cold.  Jamie thinks this is adorable.  I do not.

15. I love to cook, but hate my kitchen so much (right now) that I try to be in there as little as possible.  It will be a living dream when it's remodeled.

16. The most expensive item in my house is a musical instrument.  It cost more than a nice little used car. 

17. My favorite stations on Sirius are 80's and Hair Bands.  No idea why. Probably makes me a dork.

18.  I love make-up a lot.  I'm not even the primpy type girl, but I do love making up my face. It's like coloring or something.

19. I love labeling things.  With a label maker even.  In my perfect world, my house would have labels all over it so there would be no confusion as to where things belong.  But, toddlers love to peel off labels, so yeah, not happening.

20.  I think Las Vegas should have a parental advisory warning on every major entrance point into the city.  For real.

21. I sometimes pretend that laundry can "get done" and the house can "stay clean."  I live among this fantasty every day and even when it NEVER happens, I still hope someday it will.

22. I used to write poetry. One day when I was cleaning, I threw it all out because I was embarassed by it.  Sometimes I regret doing this, but most of the time I don't.  Its kind of like looking back at a picture where you are breaking every fashion rule known to man.  The memory lingers but there's no need to have living proof of it. 

23. My first "true love" is among my facebook friends.  We don't even talk.  I know nothing about his life now and barely remember what he looks like.  That's kind of weird now that I have teenagers.  To remember how "in love" I was makes me laugh.  I was dumb. 

24. I am hyper-sensitive to light.  Gotta wear shades.

25. I have a small circle of friends, but honesty, what I lack in quantity, I make up for in quality.  The people in my circle are seriously cool.  Like for real cool.  Very individualistic and well-rounded and smart and funny...yeah...just all around super cool people.

26. Despite my moderate level of intelligence and interest in all things intellectual, I still laugh my ass off watching Beavis and Butthead.  I can't explain this, but it's true.

27. I *despise* "the mall"  I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather shop at less.  I hate it more than Wal-Mart, but love the outer lying stores.  Weird. 

28. I got married only 50 days after meeting Jamie.  Still kinda hoping it works out *wink*

29. Even though I've actually been published as a writer, I dont' consider myself a really, real writer.  I probably never will, although I do hope to fufill the bucket list item of having a book with my name on it one day.  We'll see ;)

30. I can sew.  I have a great many quilts in this house made by my hands.  I really miss it, but don't have the time to devote to it like I once did.  I will again one day.  Something about a child like Noah and having an iron on the entire time I'm piecing a quilt doesn't mesh well.  I can't even think about that scenario too long and keep an average heartbeat.

31. I have a brother and sister I do not know. Much, much, much older than me.  Never met them, they don't even know I exist. 

32.  I would sell yarn to buy coffee.  No, really, I would ;)

33. I am growing my hair super long again.  Used to be waist-length.  And then I decided I wanted a perm and that Jamie and I should DIY it together.  Bad idea.  Like worst ever kind of bad.  I don't recommend it.

34. I am loving being 34.  There's something about aging and growing in wisdom that suits me. But if I ever look too old for my age, I am not above using cosmetic surgery to right a few wrongs. 

And there you have 34 things about me that you may not have known.  Or cared about.  Now, go drink a cuppa hot something delicious in honor of my 34 years and have a super great day!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's Not You, It's Me....

I was absolutely thrilled to find my new dress not only fit, but it hid the parts of my body I don't love and went well with cowboy boots.  I couldn't have asked for a better garment to wear into my trip to Waynesboro this afternoon.  I felt pretty, which is a miracle on it's own.  I had a handful of errands on my list, all of which required interacting with people over the age of 12 and I was excited.  I like people.  A lot.

By the time I got home I was down, out and over it.  I texted my husband "I'll never fit in here."  His reply "Why?" I painstakingly text back (old dinosaur phone-no keypad) "Because I'm not quiet and lady-like."  His much faster reply "Do you want to be?"  Sigh.  "I dunno." And then, "You know where you'd fit in great? NYC."  And I couldn't help but laugh.  That's Jamie's way.  It's our way.  Laughter. Appreciation for things being funny when they aren't or even when they are.  But still, that lingering sense of being on the outside looking in loomed.  I remembered I had saved a friend's number on my contact list.  We hadn't actually talked on the phone before, but I was sure she was the person who could check my reality for me.

By the end of the conversation I felt better.  I was who I am all the time and she liked me.  I wasn't quiet, reserved or reverent.  I was everything but.  I don't know how to be any different and I fear that getting out there and meeting people will always feel this demoralizing.

I suppose I live in my own little world.  The people I usually interact with on pretty much living on the outskirts of mainstream.  Not far out enough to eschew Wal-Mart for everyday items, but just far out enough to be different.  Because I usually interact with these people, it can be easy to imagine that ALL people are like them and when the reality is much different, it's a little painful to be honest.

Thing is, I don't "do" surface.  It's not who I am, or even who I want to be.  If I take the time to talk to you, to interact with you, it's personal.  I truly DO want to know how you're doing.  I truly do want to know how your day is going.  I do want you to leave our conversation feeling better about the day than you did before.  A lot of people don't get that.  They are so closed up and tight-lipped and it really makes me uncomfortable.  Maybe they are afraid.  I mean, when you go deeper than the surface, the odds are greater that you'd find a world of differences within the person, but for me that's always been ok.  If you are different than me, fine.  I'm not offended by you and I certainly don't expect you to be offended by me.  If you're a decent human being we've totally got enough in common to have a conversation.

But the women here...they are so quiet.  They are really reserved.  They say very little in the way of words and I don't know what to do with it.  I could never answer a question with a "Hmmm..." or "Oh..." or "Yes...."  It's not me.  There has to be more words.  I have to let that person know I value them enough to give it my all and not some surface nicety.  If I see you during my day I will remember you.  I will hope you have a really great life and are happy and enjoy the job you are doing and have enough to eat and that someone loves you.  That's just how I roll.

Jamie asked me when he got home if I wanted to change who I was and the answer is no.  But being this open and interested in people comes with it's share of heart ache.  It's hard to walk a road stopping every now and then to smell the roses when the roses don't want to be smelled.  The little bastards will even prick you if you get too close and that just kind of sucks. 

And no, no one's been outwardly rude to me.  But they haven't been overly welcoming either and I hate it.  I have reached out to ask questions about the community, the people in it, the events going on and all I've heard back was blaring silence.  Nothing.  Nada.  Like I don't exist.

Too bad though.  When it comes to friends, I can be a good one.  A great one even, and it makes me a bit gloomy to realize I haven't had much a chance to practice it.....

Carry on....I shall...but tonight I'm going to wallow a bit with a squishy baby, some yarn and some yummy tea and hope one day I'll get this whole Southern Living thing figured out. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

She's Gonna Blow!!

"And why do I have to REMIND him to put the eye medication on HIS dog...I don't even want a dog....I can't remember EVVVVVEERRRTHING..."

This was one of many ventilations pouring from my mouth as I sat on the big area rug, crying, hugely pregnant and feeling like my world was imploding.  My house was a mess, my children were upstairs giggling and playing and having a grand old time, which ordinarily I would enjoy, but not in this particular moment because they were playing while they should have been doing chores, schoolwork and other such responsibilities that they KNEW they should be doing instead.  It was a low moment.  A husband-come-home-from-work-early moment.  I was truly ashamed when he walked in, saw me crying and asked "What in the hell is going on???"  To put it simply, I was broken.  Tired of being pregnant, tired of being the social director and reminding my children every single minute of the day what they SHOULD be doing and tired of feeling like I was starring in the movie Groundhog Day while my children starred in 50 First Dates (Me repeating the same day over and over, them not seeming to remember ANYTHING from days past...bad combination)

So I cried, alone, while Jamie went upstairs to "talk" to the children.  I only let myself wallow for the briefest of moments, and then regular Melissa was back.  I grabbed a pen and some paper and began to list my complaints and woes, and next to each item was a possible fix.  I often describe myself as solution-oriented, and today would be no different. 

First I had to make the children really understand how their lack of responsibility was affecting me.  I called everyone downstairs and made them sit on the rug I was bawling just a few minutes previously.  I left the room to get a big tub of marbles we had from Jamie's senior design project (I knew they'd come in handy as something besides mock nuclear fuel.)  I started with Kyle and asked him to list his daily responsibilities.  For each one he listed I handed him one marble.  I did this with all four older children and soon each had a good sized handful of marbles. Then I did it for myself.  My hand was quite a bit fuller.  I asked them if they had ever heard the expression "She lost her marbles..."  Some had, some hadn't so I explained what that meant and that it was certainly the way I was feeling at the moment.  Then I had each child go through what responsibilities they had "forgotten" that day and to place a marble for each into MY hands.  Soon the marbles were unable to fit neatly into my hand, and started pouring onto the rug.  As I tried to pick them back up, a lot of my marbles spilled onto the carpet.  The kids watched and I explained some more.  "Look guys.  I have MY marbles, you have yours.  For every marble you drop, I have to pick them up and when there's too many to handle by myself, I lose ALL my marbles...GET IT??" 

I listed all my grievances such as having to remember for them that the dogs needed fed, their laundry needed folded and their zones needed tidied.  I explained that if it were up to me we'd have no dogs, they'd get one outfit each and I'd make them sit on the couch the entire day so no messes would be made.  I tried to help them understand that when you live in a family, everyone has a certain amount of responsibilities that keep things running and enjoyable.  If you want animals, you have to care for animals.  If you want clothing, you have to take care of them.  If you want to LIVE in a house, you have to maintain it.  Period.  Simple. Life isn't all fun and games. 

The frustrating thing for me was that they already knew all of this.  This is something I've had to face a lot in my parenting....the constant reminders to stay on track.  The training of little humans to do what they are supposed to do.  It's exhausting.  I'll admit that.  But it's also worth it.  Jamie taught me a little phrase recently that I absolutely love, from his old Navy days... "Is the juice worth the squeeze?"  Is the action you are taking worth the final outcome?  I love this so much.  I can answer yes to the question when it comes to raising children.  I have seen the fruits of my labor time and time again, but there are some days when I wonder what I've gotten myself into. 

The hard part is, I have a very, very VERY small circle in which I feel comfortable turning to when the days are maddening.  They are the few that understand I've usually got this crazy family thing down, that I'm well skilled in managing a household this size and I've implemented about a thousand "Safety checks" that ensure things run smoothly around here.  The most frustrating thing is people trying to fix our life with suggestions they feel are new and different than the methods I've already employed and while the concern is sweet, it's misplaced.  I've got this, I really do. Jamie does too.  We've got the childrens' number and we are on top of it.

But some days....and we all have them...small families, large families, pet only families....bad days.  Hectic and chaotic and crazy.  It's just a part of life.  Some days you just freakin blow it.  Blow up.  Breathe in, blow out.  (and fantasize about blowing up every single toy in the house...and the xbox....and the computer....) 

Thankfully my little breakdown was such a rare thing that the children were absolutley shocked.  They had absolutely no idea what to think and my husband never ONCE blamed it on hormones, or my "fragile emotional state" which is awesome (even though he wouldn't have been off if he had)  He made the children accept their part in it all, and I accepted my part (I was not on top of it like I should have been) and we moved forward.

But my children will never hear the expression "She's Gonna Blow!!" and not think of me, on the rug, crying about having to remember the dog's eye medication.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Through Thick and Thin

I was 19 years old, expecting my first baby and adjusting to married life, which for me equated to boredom.  No more long nights working, or long days going to school.  I met Jamie and in 50 days I shared his last name and a tiny apartment in Navy Housing.  When I think back to that time in my life, I'm kinda pissed off at all the knitting time I waste just lulling about, without any real interest to ground me. It was a lonely time.

We lived in a quad, which was four apartments hodge-podged together, with doors rather close in promixity.  I had a beside me neighbor and two down-stairs neighbors.  The two girls downstairs had some sort of falling out over one buying the same washing machine as the other, and my next-door compadre sort of gravitated towards the offended downstairs girl, probably because of their mutual affection for herbal relief.  I took pity on the outed girl and befriended her, which of course, made me enemy number 1 to the other two girls.  (I still don't understand Girl World...this is one example when it left me particularly confused)  Power School being what it was, it was a pretty common occurence for people you've met to pack up soon after because the school was hard and there were many guys that couldn't hack it.  So when downstairs dryer girl went on her merry way, the two former enemies teamed up and became best friends.  I was still eyed with much suspicion.  My crime was too heavy for them to comprehend; I was nice to all of them all the time.  That doesn't work too well in Girl World (I found this out in 8th grade, actually, but that lesson never really asborbed into my brain and I've spent the entirey of my life ignoring all social cues that tell me that to be a part of Girl World I must hate someone.  Won't do it)  I resigned myself to my friendless state because even then, at the tender age of 19, I avoided drama like the plague and all the girls around me were handing it out like Halloween candy.  No thank you.

Time marched on and I grew outwardly, showing all the world that I was a mother-to-be, so when Jamie asked me to accompany him to a BBQ at the school, I was extremely hesitant.  I wasn't used to my physique and was somewhat embarrased by my shape.  That being said, staring at four walls day in and day out, I was ripe for a little social interaction.

And that's when I met Her.  Shawndra.  She was a sight to behold.  Bigger than I was (she was 6 weeks more pregnant than I) with this crazy perfect hair and an expression that said "Okay I'm here, now what?"  Moth to a flame, I'll tell you what.  We talked and talked and talked.  We compared notes on our crappy doctors, she talked me into getting an HIV test because "you never know..." and instantly, we clicked.  Immediate. 

We shopped.  I ogled her apartment.  The first place we went together was Walmart for spray paint.  She called me up all random and said "Hey I am refinishing this dresser and need paint.  Wanna come with?"  I had never met anyone so driven to get done what she wanted to get done NOW.  There was no waiting on anything where she was concerned.  It amused me.  Her apartment was the exact same as mine (they all were) but somehow hers looked like home.  This delighted me.  She helped me work on mine.  This would be a life-long service she would offer, little did I know then.

She had her baby.  I was jealous.  Really jealous.  She had gone through that thing I was terrified of and had this sweet little pink bundle to call her own while I was still waddling through life waiting for a call back to play the whale in Moby Dick.  She was the first person to come see Kyle at my home, and helped me though many tough things during that time.  My mother had recently drifted back into my life after a major falling out and I was an emotional mess.  Shawndra was point blank "Give it a chance.  If it sucks, you don't ever have to talk to her again.  We're leaving anyways.."

And she did leave.  It was devastating.  She was in South Carolina and I was stuck in Orlando, with Jamie on "baby hold..."  It seemed like forever, waiting to get our billet, but finally we were on our way to that sweet little town of Goose Creek.  Our husbands worked rotating shifts, so we were each other's constant company.  Dinner together.  Shopping together (oh the shopping....the lady in Sears knew us by name!!), decorating our very temporary apartments and whispering about her backyard neighbors who seemed to have a unique relationship we couldn't quite figure out.  She carefully explained to me about babies needing "tummy time" and bought me every kind of pacifer imaginable to help me get a break from being a living one.  Everywhere we went, people would ask us if our children were twins and we'd always answer politely that no, they weren't as we were TWO people with TWO babies and then make fun of the person the rest of the day.  Whenever people would comment on Kyle's rotund appearance, Shawndra would very proudly state "He's breastfed."  She didn't do it, but was proud I did and I'd want to die from embarrasment right there, but she never noticed.  She was the person who hoisted a double stroller up three flights of stairs, because the therapist I needed to see didn't have an elevator and when I was so paralyzed emotionally that I couldn't drive, she was my ride.  She was the germaphobe with crazy cluttered closets.  I was the disaster in the kitchen with the perfectly organized spices.  It worked. We worked. 

And then we were separated.  Her husband was placed on an aircraft carrier out of Norfolk; mine was tucked away in a submarine out of Kings Bay.  10 hour distance.  Might as well have been 10 days.  We talked a lot (and this was back before cell phones, and we had to carefully manage our long distance bills)  She was braver than I and made the 10 hour trek when her husband was deployed and then a twist of fate had Jamie's boat docked and him off for three days in her town.  So then I decided to try a little bravery of my own and made the trip with my 2 year old and newborn to see him.  That deployment was blissfully un-lonely because we spent the rest of it together.  We spent a couple weeks in Virginia Beach, seeing all the fun stuff there and then we headed back to my place to spend the next couple months hanging out, watching Elmo, traveling and painting.  Our children played,and fought, and fought and played, and it was nice having an extra pair of hands to help with a newborn.  (Yeah, I think she liked my role of checking on the toddlers while she held the baby...)  She was with me when I found out that something was seriously messed up in my body after spending many weeks feeling 81 rather than 21 and was really cool with me when they came up with Lupus.  I believe her words were "At least you know...." 

Then we had a two year pause.  Over something stupid, that seemed huge at the time.  We were also unaware of how sneaky a third party was in instigating this separation and were both too proud to actually talk it out.  Once we did, we were hyper-pissed because what went down in our minds wasn't rooted in reality at all, and this snotty little witch knew how to play us both like a fiddle.  We still talk about this uppity snoot.  And thank God we aren't that stupid anymore.

When our time in the Navy was up, we landed in Missouri (and then New Mexico and I'll never forget her asking me, totally serious, if she was going to need a passport to visit me.  I don't think I've ever stopped laughing about that little diddy)  She landed in Ohio, close to her hometown.  She bought a house, we rented one.  She was done having children, I was on my fifth.  She used her mothering instincts to settle on a gorgeous black cocker spaniel to baby, but by the time it was born and was ready to be picked up, she had a little extra something to mother.  She was pregnant.  Her husband (now ex) to this say swears she planned it.  Sad day when you know a person better than her own husband.  I can state emphatically that this baby shocked her more than anyone else, and she wasn't thrilled.  She was over the baby part of her life and while she welcomed the idea over time, her husband didn't and this was the beginning of the end for them.  I will never forget the day she called me up, completely calm, several months pregnant and said "Welp, I am getting divorced."  What?!?!?!  She continued "I told you that when I was finally done, I would be done.....I'm done."  I was shocked.  I was reeling.  I just couldn't believe it, but she had had enough.  Her ex-husband had one too many extracurricular people in his life and she wasn't going to look the other way anymore.

Her baby was exactly 30 days old (as required by law) when she became a divorced mother of three, and just a few precious days later, we adopted my best friend and her three kiddos into our family in New Mexico.  She arrived shell shocked and beat down.  She was broken and it hurt to see.  She was utterly alone and came to me in pieces.  She stayed with us for about 4 months and then moved on to live near another friend in Oklamhoma.  No big fallout here at all, she was just ready to stand on her own two feet and knew being near us at this time would have her wobbly and dependent.  It was a very good move for her.  After a year there, I alerted her to a program for homeschooling single moms, that gave money to those struggling.  She recieved a rather large check and was then home bound to Ohio.  She needed to be home.  She was ready to face all that she had left behind.  Intense time.  Watching her walk through all this, from miles and miles away, was hard.  But I knew from experience she always lands on both feet and this time was no different.  Navigating an ex-husband with the added mistress (that moved into her home the very day she left with her children) was hard.  Letting this extraneous person into the lives of her children was excruiating and there were times I'd fantasize about a flight out of New Mexico, to Ohio, for a five minute ass-kicking and a return flight home. 

The last few years have seen untold changes in both of our lives. We've been crazy and grounded, loose and rigid, scared and brave in all sorts of combinations.  We've traveled to Las Vegas together, and hung out here on the "farm."  We've talked almost everyday, and then gone days without talking.  She's changed in so many ways, where I've stayed the same and I've worried that one day we'll wake up with nothing in common in which to hold our friendship together.  I'm married, she's divorced.  I'm homeschooling still, she's not.  She has tattoos, I do not.  She has good hair, mine sucks.  She's in college, in bowling, does karaoke and paints.  I clean the house.  For all appearances we have absolutely nothing in common.  Yet, we do.

And I can't even put my finger on what it is.  Her laugh.  Her completely crazy sense of humor that says the most inappropriate things (and gets away with it)  Her tone and passion when you ask her about how to do your hair (serious business people) or explaining to me who these people are on TV, as though she personally knows them.  (I can still read People magazine because of her.  Without her knowledge of who the People are in People magazine, it's just a bunch of random humanoids on paper)  I know not to drink on the phone with her when she's had a particularly hard day because odds are, at some point during the conversation, I'll choke on it.  Anything from the massive breeding of flies and children in Ethipoia to the conviction that her ex's mistress needs to "phone home"....She's all over the place.  She always has been and always will be, but one place she never leaves is my side.

Thick and thin.  We've been through it all. 

Everyone needs a friend like that. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I See You

Humans being are pretty basic creatures when it really comes down to it.  At least our physical bodies are.  We need sleep, food, water, climate control in the form of clothing and shelter and that's pretty much all it takes.  Pretty simple.  But when it comes to the inside, the root of who we are, it gets a bit more complicated.  We need all sorts of things to keep that part of us healthy and functioning.  Things like love, companionship, touch, communication and a purpose.  Most people have these things to some degree, but there is one thing I have seen a dire lack of in most everyone I have ever met.

We are unseen.

People see us and all that we are and see our values, our politics, our choices, our lifestyle and all those random things that define the life we have chosen to live.  Other people viewing our life make assumptions and for the most part, they are inaccurate.  Because they aren't really SEEING us.  Not our heart, our soul or our intentions.  Those things hidden so deep within us that it would appear they could never be found, but because we all carry around the unseen virture within us, you'd think it would be easy to recongize in others.  But that's not the case.

Think about someone that you know in your life that would completely disagree with you on any point you hold dear.  I'm not talking about a person who has severe emotional issues, just someone who views the world a bit different than you do.  Really think about that person and all they stand for and ask yourself, is there any common ground there?  You might be coming up blank.  I know in the past, I certainly have.

But something changed within me when my son Matthew passed away. I started SEEING people.  On the way to the hospital to meet with our specialists, I heard a traffic report on the radio about an accident that involved a person badly hurt on a bicycle.  Prior to this moment in my timeline, I would have only heard the information that affected me, personally....that there was a street I should avoid because traffic was heavy.  This time I heard the whole thing.  A person was badly hurt.  A person with a family, with people, with a life and they were suffering.  It was all so vivid in my mind that all those stories about tragedy happening to *someone else* was now happening to me.  This was a huge turning point in my life and when I feel my eyes were truly opening to all these human beings around me and who they were.  I finally saw them.

You see, no matter what a person believes, no matter what lifestyle they've embraced, no matter who they cast a vote for on a ballot, what they do for a living, who they worship or who they are, they have something in common with you.  They love.  They hurt.  They have been burned.  They have experienced incredible highs and incredible lows and wondered what the point of life was at all. And there you have, my friend, your common ground.  We all come at this life with expectations and desires and I have yet to find a person who wasn't doing all they were doing without a specific purpose in mind.   We all seek the same thing: To make sense of this life, to live it according to our own conscience and to enjoy the rather small number of days we get to breathe on this planet.  Yes, we speak different langages than a lot of people we know, but we're all still talking.

I have an incredible amount of views, lifestyles, politics and religion represented in the group of people I call my friends.  I think there is more we disagree on, than agree on, but what we have in common is enough to hold our friendship together. We have respect, love, curiosity, a willingess to listen and learn and see another side of a coin we hadn't considered before.  In the end, these people SEE me and I SEE them.  As people.  As companions.  As friends.

There's nothing more precious to me than to truly be seen by people I care for.  Not just seen but SEEN.  If ever I had one wish for humanity, this would be it. For people to look past themselves and past the outer shell of a person and their issues, and see the person inside.

It's a truly beautiful thing, indeed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Insufficient My Arse

I had pulled out of the driveway a minute too soon, as the mail dude was just making his way to our box and the teenager in the car begged me to turn around.  I did.  Her anticipated package was not there, but our anticipated doctor bill was.  We were waiting on this to get a full accounting for Emmy's birth.  I was expecting this and the amount was exactly right, and honestly I should have stopped there.  There was no reason for me to go though the charges individually.  She's here, she's been born and everything's good.

My eyes almost fell out of my head when I read one of the little insurance code thingees with a description "Insufficient Prenatal Care."

EXCUSE ME???  Oh, no.  Back the eff up.  I was beyond pissed.  Thankfully, Vulcan logic set in quick and I told myself, okay, no biggie.  It's just an insurance thing.  I am sure they had to have something in there to explain why they were just seeing me a day before my daughter was born.  My anger was not and is not at the doctor or his staff.  And it's not really at the insurance company either, it's just at EVERYTHING.  I mean just the whole concept of the society we live in thinking that this kind of shiz is acceptable.  Insufficient prenatal care, my arse.

When it was all said and done, my midwife prenatal care cost our family a little over three thousand dollars.  Out of pocket. No reimbursement.  Nada.  While I will admit my midwife was a flakey, jabbermouth, gossipy backstabber, she was still quite sufficient for my care.  She spent well over an hour in my home once per month.  She did the same tests, the same fetal tone checks, and was way more concerned with my nutrition and exercise than any doctor had ever been.  Long story short, there was nothing insufficient about it.  My baby, and my body were well taken care of.

Why does that not translate when you transfer to a doctor?  That would be because only a doctor has the special skills to take care of a Momma and her unborn baby right?  Really? 

I am having very strong, very negative, very pissed off feelings about this and can't quite wrap my mind around what I really truly want to say about this.  I am offended in the third degree that there is a papee out there, with MY name on it, that aligns ME with not having cared for my unborn child to the best of my ability when my course of action, every last decision I make or ever will make, is focused on all my children, born and unborn's quality and quantity of life.

Who knew three little words could set a person off so fully and completely.

I got a couple of my own, but much too much a lady to write them here.  But I'll give you a hint.

Two words, two syllables.  Rhymes with Duck Poo.


Lost In Translation

It's common knowledge (in this house) that anyone over 5 years of age has a better working knowledge of the computer than I do.  My childen can navigate the web better than Charlotte herself and it was a fine day indeed when they discovered Google Translate.  At first, it was educational.  You know, a working knowledge of how to pronounce bodily functions in Hebrew, Japanese and Russian is great fun.  But then they figured out they could type in the same string of words and have it repeated back to them in their native language and it was even funnier.  I walked in yesterday to an interesting diddy telling me, The Mom, how badly they had to use the bathroom.  Lovely.

I personally think Google Translate is brilliant and quite useful (Hey if you need to find the restroom in Russia, you will be all over how to say certain words with the correct inflection) But I do believe it's missing one important language: Country (with different dialects represented  I would need Rural South).  Now, stay with me here.  I do realize that in the country people most generally speak English, but it must be said that what one word means in the city doesn't necessarily mean the same in the country. It might as well be two different languages.  I've had to learn the hard by (by immersion.)

Things like....

"Free Range Chickens" In the city, this set of words conjures up idyllic images of fluffy little birds, happily scratching on a hill somewhere, living a blissful existence while providing healthy, orange-yolked eggs.  In the country this means something a little different.  The real image is chicken poo everywhere, including your porch and the unfortunate inevitability of dead animals.  It turns out that humans aren't the only species that eye these fowl with visions of breaded, meaty goodness.  Everything wants to eat the chickens.  Free range means you are paying five times the amount for one chicken than you would in the grocery store because you only get one out five to the dinner table.  Free range in this instance means you really start to consider the benefits of a large fence around the coop and keeping their happy, feathered tushies inside it at all times.  Which brings me to the next word...

"Fence" That which is designed to keep what you want in, in and keep what you want out, out.  In the country this translates to "Money Suck" and/or "False Sense of Security."  When that thing called a fence boxes in five acres, chances are it's not doing it's job in some areas.  It means constantly checking the fence line and repairing all sorts of snafus.  It means considering a second mortgage to put up a really real fence and not just a bunch of wood planks and wire. 

"Neighbor" Used to be that dude I waved to every now and then, but never actually spoke to.  In Country-Rural South it became that guy on the golf cart giving you produce from his garden, advising you on what to do about the stray dog taking out your chickens and telling you all about his ailing health.  This is very cool (Not the ailing health part.  The part where you actually know your neighbor is a really real person and not an android sent from a far off planet to study your species)

"Sweet Tea" In Albuquerque this was a beverage brewed from tea leaves with a bit of sugar added to sweeten it.  Here it's a sugar based syrup with a tad bit of tea flavor added in.  It can be a bit much until you get used to it, but it doesn't take long for it to become a get-together staple!

"Up the road" (down the road, doesn't matter in this case) Used to mean at the end of an actual road.  Like at stop sign and all that. Now it can mean ANYTHING.  It can mean to the stop sign, up to the main road or even to the city. I am not quite sure yet, but I think this simply means "I am going somewhere different than my current location..."  I still have to study this particular phrase a little more to fully understand the scope of what it can encompass.

"Y'all" This used to be a mispronounced "yell" but now it's a very effective tool when wanting to call all your childen in the house without having to remember all their names.  I rather like addressing my brood as "Y'all" instead of feeling like John Boy Walton everytime I need them to all come together.. Very handy little word that y'all.

"Dog" Furry little animal that you feed, only for the benefit of it's loyal company (Husband reminds me they don't do anything of value, as opposed to the chickens).  Still means companion when you are CHOOSING to feed it, you know, dog food.  But this means something entirely different when said animal is using your chicken flock as a buffet.  In this case dog means predator. This is when the city girl must allow her husband to do what needs to be done without questioning his means.  This sucks.  I will never get used to all the unfed and unloved animals around my county, but the fact remains I cannot take all of them in.  I already have enough kids, let alone companion animals.  Seriously people, neuter your animals.

"Commute" No longer will this word translate to sitting in rush hour traffic, twiddling your thumbs while going 2mph hour on the interstate muttering about idiots who can't drive.  Now it's "Let's count the cows" and more importantly "Watch out for deer."  Idiots in this scenario would be the deer.  Beautiful creature that sees scary lit up moving thing and it's first instinct is to jump in FRONT of it.

"Bless your heart" This is bad. This is very bad.  I used to think this was a term of affection, meaning you wished blessings upon the person you were referring to and while I can't pin down *exactly* what this means, I have picked up a general understanding.  This now means you poor, simple idiot who doesn't have a lick of common sense, and I really cannot believe you have enough IQ points to be carrying on a conversation.  Bless your heart sweetie. 

This list is in no way comprehensive, but a small sampling of words that have changed in meaning from one locale to the next.  I imagine as I adjust to this foreign land, more words will be added and further understanding will be reached.  One day I will speak the language and have a complete grasp on what is being said when I choose to socialize with these Rural Southern Country folk.  Until then, I smile, nod my head and give the only words of explanation I can think of to redeem myself "I'm from the city.  A big one...."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who's Afraid Of The Big, Bad Blog?

Uhm, me.  Or I used to be.  Seriously, I've had a couple blogs before and I quit them.  Not because I didn't love writing them, but I was afraid of putting myself out there too much.  The internet is a huge place and once you put something out there, it's out there to stay.

So what changed my mind?  Well, this is odd, but I am going to share it.  It was the realization that right now, there is a person, or many people out there, that will hate every single thing I do, say, think, or feel.  It's true.  My very existence will offend someone.  Once I finally grabbed a hold of that concept and really chewed on it for a bit, I became okay with it.  I mean, sure, we all want to be liked, but to be liked across the board is just impossible. 

I don't know if it's an age thing (and I will say I LOVE being in my thirties.  I don't even mind that I've swapped out my anti-blemish beauty products for the ones that fight aging.  Totally worth it, in my opinion.  You couldn't pay me enough to go back in time....) or if it's life experience...I don't know, but I've found that being an truly authentic version of yourself, while scary at times, is simply the only way to live an excellent life.  Being authentic is like installing a filter.  Those who are offended by who you truly are get weeded out and only the ones that like you (that consequently YOU will like) get close enough to make any impact on your immediate environment.  Bottom line is if someone doesn't like you, chances are, you wouldn't like them, so they really aren't worth the effort.

Or maybe it's watching my children interact with the online world. My son has a thriving YouTube channel and every so often he gets some really nasty comments.  He completely shrugs them off.  He has been raised with such confidence (and empathy) that he immediately understands that the problem isn't on his end, but on the other.  He understands that if someone is willing to make some random, derogatory comment, they have an issue within themselves that has nothing to do with him.  I stand in awe that he doesn't start questioning himself, or run away and hide.  He just goes on about his day, not thinking twice about it.  Doesn't affect him in the least.  To me, that's just awesome (Proud Momma moment!!)

I've asked myself many times, over the course of many years, why are people so mean?  Seriously, what makes a person attack another person?  Why are we so offended and so vicious?  I wish I had an answer.  I don't.  But what I do know is if someone takes the time to attack another person, it truly is about the person themselves.  There's something there....anger, jealousy, discontentment, PMS, something and they unleash it on whomever they deem an appropriate target.  It has nothing to do with positive, constructive encouragment.  It's not a building up, it's a tearing down and the fact is, since I am not interested in learning those particular skills, those kinds of people don't register on my radar as something to concern myself with.  They have no particular aspect of their person that I want to understand or emulate.  They have nothing to ADD to my life (or anyone else that chooses to put themselves out there) and so really, every minute, or second, or nanosecond that I spend on that person, is truly wasted. 

We can all hold different opinions.  We can agree to disagree.  We can state respectfully that a certain aspect of someone's life doesn't mesh well with our own, but the bottom line is, you can ALWAYS, (without exception) say what you want to say, KINDLY.  There is never an excuse to belittle, condemn, trash, or abuse another person.  Like ever. 

I finally got to a place in my life where I am no longer afraid.  I finally can say (Oh man, this is dorky, and lame) I truly like the person I am.  I like to believe that I am an asset to those who know me, rather than a liability.  That I am a blessing, rather than a burden.  And nothing anyone says can change that.  Life isn't a popularity contest, where truths about oneself is up for debate or a vote.  It is what it is.  You're either a good person, or you're not.

So the big, bad blog is out there now.  And the readers, eventually, might huff and puff and try with all their might to blow this house down, but I'm good with that now.  Not afraid.

Besides we all know how that story ended and the wolf totally got his ass kicked.  And while I think he kind of had it coming, I like to think maybe he just had a serious hankering for bacon, and the grocery store was out so he was being all solution oriented and stuff, but in reality, we all know he was just a jack-hole and the story ended as it should have.  Good conquers evil and all that good stuff.  Not sure about conquering the nay-sayers of the world, or even killing them, but I might be up for some sort of medical experimentation that would install mute buttons on certain individuals. 

Which reminds me.  It's ELECTION DAY.  Go vote.  And blog.  Without fear ;)  Blogging is fun!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Very, Very, Very Fine House

So most people who read this blog know that back in 2010 we purchased a log home on five acres, in Georgia.  If you've never read this blog before, or aren't on my Facebook page, we bought a log home on five acres in Georgia a little over two years ago.  Now we're all up to speed, and can continue what will probably be a very boring post.

Some facts about this house:

1. I never saw it before deciding to purchase it.  Jamie viewed three houses when he came to Georgia for his interview with Southern and fell in love with it.  If he loved it, I knew I would.  Some people call this brave, I call it "Get me the hell out of New Mexico and put me in a single wide trailer....I would still be happy."  Thankfully a log home is better than a single wide trailer, so I was happy with it.

2. When I saw it the day before we closed, I was already ripping out walls in my mind.  There were certain aspects of it that made NO sense, but thankfully I am married to quite the handy-man and knew if I dreamed it, he would build it, and build it well.

3. We've spent the last two years making some major improvements, so right now I live in what I call a "perpetual contruction zone."  We've torn out all the carpeting and replaced it with a vinyl wood look thing, which is very temporary.  We are planning on hardwood floors, but we need to get all the footprint stuff done so that all walls and doors and stuff are where they are going to be before we put the final flooring in.  We've taken a whole section, which used to be a hallway and pantry and turned it into a large laundry room/closet thing.  We've done some paint too.  And we've put up a couple new walls in the process.  We've just done a whole lot in the little time we've been here,because when you are talking home improvement what you plan to do and what actually ends up happening are two different scenarios.  (Like having to redo a whole floor joist when you are just trying to put up a new wall and find a HUGE crack in a supporting floor type thing that sucks like 6 hours of time to fix....stuff like that)

4. We have approximately 2600 square feet spread among 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.  I really only count 2 of them as actual bathrooms because the one in the upstairs hallway is the stupiest bathroom area I've ever seen.  I have no idea what the builder was thinking, but I am thinking there was some sort of sale in Middle Earth on bathroom fixtures, because only a hobbit could actually shower in there.  Not kidding. The shower head reaches about mid-neck on me and the one and only time a child attempted a shower in there (2 years and four inches in the past) we had water pouring though the floor and onto our bookshelves downstairs. Its like a coat closet with a toilet and I like to pretend it doesn't exist.

5. I'm afraid to invite people over because I worry they'll think we are losers who don't finish what we start.  Our plans are grand, and they will be seen to completion, but we have a priority list that keeps what we are doing in check.  It goes Health and Safety first, Function next, Beauty last.  So this means that since the laundry room is now *functional* it will not get top priority for alloted funds when the bathroom gets flooded and the old disgusting vanity, made from pressed wood, swells up to three times its normal size and reeks of mildew.  We're putting out fires as we find them, and then focusing on the beauty dead last, but eventually we'll stop having to replace drainfields or whole sections of flooring and things will be pretty. Until then, our focus is on safe.

6. With our planned remodeling, we'll be adding on a couple totally new sections to our house, including a dining room that will pull the living room and kitchen together into an open space, and a master suite over our garage that will include a Mom and Dad room, a baby suite and a bathroom.  Should add on approximately 1000ish square feet.  We will not be DIYing this entire project as the time element makes that impossible.  We will be hiring out the tearing off of the roof and adding the framing and whatnot for the new spots, but will be doing the finish work ourselves.  (Like how I try to convince you, the reader, that I'm actively involved in all this?  Ha.  I'm usually doing something with a baby, while bossing people around during these activities, but it's still truly helpful.)

Okay, so the point of this post, is that I am having a little bit of a block on an area in the house.  The fifth bedroom is actually downstairs (the other four are upstairs) and we used this room as an office.  It's in the corner of the house and has two log walls, both have windows that look out to different points on our property.  It will never be used as a bedroom.  The traditional walls back into the hallway and the bathroom.  So the other side of this room is the hallway and that hallway feels like a cave when you walk through it.  I find it very oppresive.  I got to thinking the other day this wall is completely unnecessary.  I asked Jamie and he concured, it's not load bearing and since this is an office type space, there's no need for it to be closed in. Removing the wall would change the feel of the downstairs by leaps and bounds and it would really be an improvement visually.  But there's a problem.  Let me see if I can show you....

This is the log wall, butted up against the traditional drywall in the hallway, right next to the exit for the side porch area:

 See the wall?  To the right is the wall we put up against the stairs and have finished with with wood planking, wall to the left, traditional drywall.
This is what I see standing in the doorway of my kitchen looking down into the hallway.  The office is the door you are looking into (Please excuse the mess in there.  I spent the first couple hours of my morning doing more Clothing Switchout crap.  There will be clothes everywhere for another couple weeks.  It's a really long process)

Another shot, getting the bathroom wall into the picture. So this wall will also be wood planking, with a pocket door sliding, but if we do what we are are thinking about doing that wall with the little black framed picture will not be there.  You will look and see no walls, no door, just a huge open area. (And I know, you're totally jealous of the pretty flowery wall border up there.  You too can have this incredible touch to your home.  I believe it's still carried at "Make Your House Look Like Ass 'R Us")
Okay, so the conundrum.  Where the logs are, there is a notch cut into them so that the drywall panels fit in there.  So if we just took off the sheetrock stuff, and put up wood paneling, there would be no issue, but if we totally REMOVE the wall, there will be these notches in the logs where the wall used to be.  It will not look cohesive, sooo....we need a something there.  Like maybe a small bookshelf, something to hide the notches.  I really have been wracking my brain and can't really think of what would look good there.  I am hoping my friends out there in Facebook land can help me out with this.  I even though about a small little divider wall that would fit into the notches and be like a place to hang hats/coats, cubbies for shoes on one side, books on the other?  I just don't know what this would end up looking like.  I'm at a total loss....Any ideas out there...
And in yarny news, guess what's getting a border right NOW? 

It may be bright and not "My Colors" but boy do I LOVE it.  It's soft, and cuddly and Noah keeps saying "You makin my wanky??"  So cute!!