Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What is a patriot?

This issue was brought up a few times on another person's blog, but I feel compelled to address it in my own words, even at the risk of potentially being ridiculed, misunderstood, and maybe even attacked, the same way she was. (But she handled it with TREMENDOUS poise, maturity, and grace!)

**To reiterate my "disclaimer" yet one more time, you are welcome to agree to disagree with me. These are MY opinions, MY interpretations, and MY thoughts. If you don't agree or don't like them, that is YOUR choice and YOUR right. However, you MUST respect that I, and anyone else who may respond, am still a REAL PERSON with REAL FEELINGS, and therefore deserve to be treated with RESPECT and debated with in a MATURE and RESPECTFUL manner. If you cannot do that, and you make things about me and my character (or anyone else's who may respond), instead of about the issues at hand, your comments WILL be deleted and I will not engage in juvenile name calling with you! If attacking a person's character is all you've got, then you've got nothing.**

That said, I want to address the question, "What/Who is a patriot?" What qualities does a patriot possess? What does it mean to be "patriotic?" And on the flip-side, what is NOT patriotic?

Let's start with dictionary definitions. I tried to find some factually-based, well-written blogs/commentaries that delve into this topic, but came up mostly dry (Wiki Answers looked promising, but ended up a total joke, among others...), so I am going to have to define and interpret for myself.

patriot: –noun 1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
<< I omitted the 3rd definition because its completely irrelevant.>>

patriot: a person who loves their country and, if necessary, will fight for it
From Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

So, to put these in my own words/summary, a patriot is someone who loves, supports, and defends individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal governmet, with devotion, and will fight for it IF NECESSARY. That is what I take away from the definitions above.

In today's context, too often I think that people think being a patriot is limited to those who serve our country by being enlisted in the military, or those who are in full support of our government's military actions. We are living in a day and age where, yes, we are confronted daily with the raw facts that we are involved in multiple wars around the world. Certainly, defending your country, and supporting those who defend our country fall under patriotism. However, being in support of our government's every single military action is NOT necessarily patriotism.

The way I read, interpret, and understand the raw definitions of the word "patriot," is that we defend only IF necessary, and that we are defending individual rights, even against presumed interference by our federal government. My opinion is that war is rarely, if ever, necessary. I am not trying to trivialize the wars we are fighting, and the current state of our world, or minimalize the wonderful service and sacrifices of our troops, but as a child, I was taught to "work it out with words," and my parents were never in support of me settling my problems/disagreements with other people by physical, bodily harm. In my experience, that only complicates and escalates matters. Generally speaking, in most cases, mutual understandings can be reached and peace can be made without forceful tactics. So, a patriot is willing to fight IF NECESSARY.

I'd like to focus in on the "defends its interests with devotions," and "a defender, esp. of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government" for a moment. As a Libertarian, this is the core of what we stand for. We believe that there is no higher duty as an American, than to fight to uphold individual rights, EVEN if it is "against presumed interference by the federal government!" Libertarians oppose being involved in wars we don't belong in, because we believe our money and our focus should be spent within our own borders, and other countries need to sort out their own business with their own money within their own borders. We oppose the war because we support human life, and protection of life (certainly!), liberty (our freedoms), and the pursuit of happiness (the ability to be prosperous). These, I believe, apply to matters of war, and spending AMERICAN money on other countries' affairs. War ends lives. How does that support life? War causes global unrest and further threatens our country and its prosperity, and causes money to be funnelled into causes that essentially "rob from the rich" (America) and "give to the poor" (countries that are so impoverished or so ravaged they can and will NEVER repay us). Ultimately, do I want MY personal, hard-earned money being spent, in the form of taxes, to support the efforts of rebuilding other countries' infrastructures (war), with the *slim* hope of ever seeing MY money ever again, even at the possibility that MY money will be spent by another country to further attacks against me (in the form of nuclear weapons that OUR American money is paying for)?! Heck to the no!!

Being a patriot is NOT about simply flying a flag, or supporting our troops. I do all that. But that is shallow. Its like ritualistic religion as opposed to having a REAL relationship with the Lord. Patriotism is putting the actions into practice, not about going through the motions so that you have the "appearance" of being patriotic. Being a patriot is about standing up and fighting for the INDIVIDUAL rights and freedoms of the citizens of your country, EVEN at the risk of being "against presumed interference by the federal government." Being a patriot is about having the guts to stand up for what is right for America, and let's face it, every American has different beliefs for what that looks like. (And therein lies the difficulty!) Being a patriot is about upholding what our Constitution is all about - " secure these rights..." (taken straight, word-for-word, from our Declaration of Independence!).

Let's face it, BOTH party lines are trying to run their own agendas and tweak our Constitution (or being in DIRECT violation of it!) to suit their own needs. I don't think that is any secret. (Read my earlier blogs here and here.) So to stand up and oppose government's decisions, IF they are in opposition to our Constitution, is our American duty! THAT is what a patriot is! To go blindly along with whatever decisions our government makes and never speak up, even (especially!) in matters of war, I dare say is a step too far - that is not patriotism, it is nationalism! Nationalism is defined as:

–noun 1. national spirit or aspirations.
2. devotion and loyalty to one's own nation; patriotism.
3. excessive patriotism; chauvinism.
4. the desire for national advancement or independence.
5. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation, viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.
6. an idiom or trait peculiar to a nation.
7. a movement, as in the arts, based upon the folk idioms, history, aspirations, etc., of a nation.

Taken from

• a great or too great love of your own country
The book documents the rise of the political right with its accompanying strands of nationalism and racism.
Taken from Cambridge Dictionary

Truthfully, I think those definitions speak for themselves! Nationalism is to chauvenistically assume that we, America, are greater than any other country, that we are the supreme model of politics that work (yeah right...back in 1776, but not much since then!), that we know best not only what is best for our own country, but every other country around the word (therefore saying its okay to invade them and tell them how to run their own affairs). That isn't patriotism, it is, dare I say, lemming-ism and chauvenism of probably the most epic proportions ever!

Anyway, I am going to quit while I'm ahead and tend to the needs of my increasingly-as-I sit-here messy home. You (hopefully) get my point.

**And again, if you disagree, that's fine. Just be thoughtful, mature, and respectful with any comments you may have.**

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My thoughts on YOUNG marriages

This is something I see and hear a lot, and since I have lived it, I feel the need to finally address it. I am not sure how to introduce this topic exactly, so I am going to just dive right in, and hopefully at some point, it will begin to make sense.

Last night, on the finale of The Biggest Loser, Antoine proposed to Alexandra. Totally predictable, but very sweet. Anyway, today I was reading some comments on the Facebook fan page about it, and many, many people had issues with the fact they have been dating for only about 6 mos, and that they are both young - Alexandra, only 20. They were saying that 20 is too young to get married, that they are too immature, etc., etc., so on and so forth. In situations like this, I have tried to speak up and represent my position before, but alas, my experience and opinion are in the minority, so its a losing battle, and I no longer even try. So, for what its worth, here's my stance.

Being ready for marriage is NOT about age or how long you have known the person before engagement (although, yeah, at least a few dates is a good idea)!!! It is about maturity level and level of committment. I know people who have gotten married at 18 who were ready for it, and I know people who got married at 35 who weren't.

The reason I take offense to this notion is because of my own experience. My husband and I met in May of 1999. I was 18, fresh out of my 1st year of college, and he was 23 and still working through his electrical apprenticeship. We began dating in June, I turned 19 in August, and on November 17th, 5 months and 5 days after our first date, he put a ring on my finger. 9 months later, 2 1/2 weeks before my 20th birthday, we tied the knot. We have now been together for 10 1/2 years total, married for over 9 years, and have 3 kids, the oldest of which was born only 15 months after we got married. That's right. I was married and a mom by age 21.

Do I regret getting married that young? Not for a second!! When you know its the right person and the right timing, you just know. I never in a million years would have envisioned getting married and having kids so young, but its the turn my life took, and I fully embraced it. Do I feel I was fully ready for marriage? Truthfully, no, but who IS ever fully prepared? Do I feel like Jeremy and I both made the choice to get married thoughtfully? Yes, I do. In large part because we're Christians, but we both understood that marriage meant a life-long committment, and even as young as we were, we were ready to accept the committment fully. We understood it meant sacrifice, compromise, surprises (both good and bad), and hardships along the way. We also knew it meant we'd be gaining support and companionship that would always be there, even in the darkest hours. We knew it meant giving up some of our individual freedoms, but we were mature enough to accept that. We knew it meant we had to be "grown ups;" to be responsible at all times because we knew there was someone else depending on us to be reliable and faithful in all things.

I think the assumption is that young couples are so blinded by the ooey-gooey's of love (the feeling) that they don't know what they're getting into. This is certainly true for SOME, but its not a blanket statement that applies to ALL. If one truly understands love, they understand that love isn't the ooey-gooey's. Love is making the decision to stand by someone, to support them in all their troubles, hopes, and dreams, to lay down a part of yourself for the good of another person, even when you disagree, even when you're angry at eachother... I think too many people think love IS the ooey-gooey's, and IS something that you "fall in and out of." No. That isn't it! Love is a committment, a covenant, a promise...and it is NOT to be broken, taken lightly, or walked away from with the cowardly excuse that you "fell out of it." Feelings come and go. Feelings are wishy-washy and unreliable. Committment is what you have when the rubber meets the road, and THAT is what love is!!

I also hear way too often as a justification for divorce, that they were "just too young" when they got married. I'm sorry, but I don't buy that either. (Agree to disagree, as always.) Like I said before, age is just a number. Young couples CAN and DO last! And older couples still end up getting divorced for the exact same reasons younger couples do. I think blaming it on youth is hooey, quite frankly. Own up and find a real reason to explain it! But saying it has to do with getting married young....I, personally, take offense to that, because I myself am proof that young marriages aren't doomed for failure.

Then I hear the "well, you need to be on your own and sow your oats before you settle down." Okay, again, age has nothing to do with this! I was NEVER an "oat sower. I never wanted to be. Even in high school, I just had no desire to party, sleep around, get drunk, or do things that could get me in trouble. If you want to be an "oat sower," then yes, please do it before you tie the knot, or you probably WILL end up in divorce court. I needed no time to sow my oats, beacuse I had no desire to sow my oats. And in all honesty, getting married young probably kept me from some oat-sowing, for which I am grateful, actually. If you need the time, take the time. If you don't, then why waste the time?

Along the time-wasting lines, I also feel like a lot of people miss the point. Isn't the whole point of dating/courting to find a mate? So there are young kids dating all the time, yet we tell them to wait til they are 25, 30, 35 before they marry. But this seems kind of counter-productive in some ways. Here's what I mean.

For one thing, it opens doors for all sorts of temptations, speaking from a Christian perspective (though not being judgemental, I promise). It just seems like if the only reason you're with someone is to "have fun," or "not be alone," or "hang out," or "experience the dating scene," its kind of a waste of time. Yours and theirs. If you aren't looking to committ to that person long-term, then all its going to result in is wasted time and hurt feelings. What's the point? (That isn't to say I wasn't one of those types for...well, up until I met Jeremy. I will freely, yet somewhat embarrassedly, admit that.)

Secondly, if you are with the right person, and you get married, there is a whole new level of accountability that MAKES you work things out. If you are with the right person for years and years without tying the knot, the obligation of marriage doesn't keep you there. When things get hard, its "easier" (I say that lightly because, let's face it, I'm sure its not easy) to walk away. Your assets (usually) still aren't combined, you pay your own bills, you have your own life, and you don't have to answer to court or public opinion if it ends. I think waiting and waiting, if you know you've found the right person, could possibly be setting couples up for failure in the long run.

Also, what is the wait for? To finish school, have enough money, have all the "ducks in a row".... Let me tell you something. If I have learned nothing else in my adult life, its that, when it comes to big life changes, such as getting married or having kids, timing is NEVER going to be perfect! You will still need *something* in order to have the "perfect" scenario. It'll never happen. So you could be waiting forever, and miss out on some of the greatest things in life.

I'm not saying everyone needs to go out and get married young just because I did, I am just stating my case and my opinions. There are sooo many factors to consider before taking such a huge step in life. I'm just saying this to reiterate and make that clear. Obviously, everyone has to do what's right for them, and who am I to think I know what's right for everyone else?

Maybe this is just a bugaboo of mine because, like I said, this is something I have been hearing since the day I announced I was engaged. I had a classmate in my pottery class tell me that I was throwing my life away by getting married so young. I ran into him at a restaurant a few years ago. He was our waiter. So...there I was with my wonderful husband and kids, and he was serving my food. Who's got the less fulfilling life now?!? (Okay, maybe that was a little harsh...) I also had a "friend" (who consequently, showed up uninvited to our wedding, go figure) who's response to me telling him I was engaged was, and I quote, "Well, don't get too excited. The average American gets married 3 times in their lifetime anyway." (No joke, he actually said that! I'm not making it up!) People are always shocked when I tell them how young I was when I got married, and sometimes I still get that "it'll never last" look from people.

But here's the thing. I am committed to my husband and my family. There are days when we can't stand eachother, but we still know that we are eachother's biggest advocate in this life. We have been through so many ups and downs, we have literally grown up together. We have matured together and learned about life together. So in that resepct, yeah, I am a little glad I got married young, actually! I'm glad that I got to know my husband when we were still young. I am glad we are going to get to spend so much of our lives together. I am glad we get to spend so much time watching eachother grow up and mature. I have already spent over 1/3rd of my life with Jeremy, and I'm not even 30! There is a unique element to our relationship because we've grown up and matured together. We see eachothers' growth. He is a much different man now than he was back then; he's bolder, more assertive, more protective... And I am sure I am different today than I was then. (I have DEFINITELY grown up!! No question about that!!) We have figured out not just marriage, but LIFE, together. How many couples can actually, honestly say that?!? I can, and I am proud to! :)

So I guess my point in all this is, before you start making assumptions and generalizations, and heap false assumptions of failure on short courtships and/or young marriages, consider the many of us out there who got married after a short courtship and/or got married young, and are still together, and committed to making it work no matter what. Because we DO exist, and I think we deserve a LOT more credit!! Or at the very least, the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Who's the enemy?!?

I have been marinating on this thought for a while now, though I am still unsure whether my point is going to make sense or not.

**As always, even if you disagree with my position below, PLEASE be kind!!! These are only MY thoughts, and they don't make me any more right, wrong, great, or worse, than anyone else. I am still a PERSON, and I still have feelings (and pretty sensitive ones, at that).**

While I am a very openly opinionated person, I try and still respect others' positions, even if I disagree with them, or their views. Sometimes, yes, this is very hard! Sometimes I wish I could just take the person and shake them, and make them understand that I think what they are saying, doing, or believing is completely ludacris. But yet, I try and continue to agree to disagree, because I am beginning to recognize that for every standpoint I passionately stand by, there is someone on the other side with an equally valid standpoint, that they are equally committed to believing in, whether I agree with it or not.

I guess I am talking mainly about issues pertaining to politics and personal choices, but I think it can apply to just about anything. The problem I am observing more and more, is this notion that if someone else's viewpoint doesn't match your own, its automatically stupid, or to be disrespected, devalidated, ridiculed, and hated. The hurtful thing about this mindset is that it makes enemies out of otherwise decent people. It drives a person to hate another human being, or collective group of people, based on their own personal convictions. We all have personal convictions, and even if the other person's conflicting convictions feel hurtful or hateful toward you personally, unless directed at you individually, to lash out and fight that ONE person or group of people, is to perpetuate hate and hurt in this world. Which is just plain wrong.

One example of this is Fox News. I know there are thousands upon thousands of people who love O'Reilly and Hannity and the whole gang, and I can respect that, but all I ever hear out of their mouths are hurtful words. (Agree to disagree.) I don't personally tune in to Fox News, but my husband does, so I hear it in the background, and usually end up either yelling at the TV or walking out of the room (or walking out of the room AFTER yelling at the TV). One time, I caught Hannity saying the President - not his politics, but him AS A PERSON - stupid! I'm sorry, I take issue with that!! Even if Hannity doesn't agree with President Obama - which, I think its clear, he doesn't - to call him AS A PERSON stupid (on national TV, no less!), rather than attacking his POLITICAL POSITION, is rude, unkind, and disrespectful!!! If he wants to disagree with the President's policies, fine. That is his human and American right (free speech and free press), and he is more than entitled to voice it. However, attacking Obama the person...not okay in my eyes. My guess is, if Hannity actually MET and spent time with Obama, he would find some common ground with him, and come to some level of respect for him. I mean, its not like Obama is a serial killer or anything. I am fairly convinced that, as a person, Obama is probably a nice guy. Just because his POLITICAL or PERSONAL choices differ, doesn't mean he is due any less respect, or to be hated. For Hannity, or anyone else, to make an enemy of Obama as a person is not justified or warranted.

Then, on the other side of the political spectrum, is the issue with Miss California. Perez Hilton may disagree with her position - and as a gay man, I can fully understand how he would disagree with her position in a VERY personal way - but nevertheless, he should have listened to her reasons, and respectfully agreed to disagree with her. For him to spread hate toward the PERSON she is, is wrong!! Again, I am sure she is a very nice individual, and if Perez put the politics aside and got to know her, would probably like the person she is. Or at the very least, respect her. I would venture to say that, had he not known how she felt about gay marriage rights, that he would have liked her just fine. But instead, he chose to spread so much hatred about her as a person, based on one issue she believes passionately about. My point being, just as passionately as Perez believes he's right, she, on the opposite side, believes just as strongly that she is. Just because her views don't line up with his, doesn't make her a hateful person, and doesn't make her deserving of the hatred of others, and certainly shouldn't have influenced whether or not she got the Miss America title. Had she gotten any other question, she probably would be our reigning Miss America. To have been stripped of that opportunity, essentially by ONE PERSON, for voicing her differing, "unpopular" opinion, was unjust, in my opinion. (Again, agree to disagree.)

On a larger scale, I see sooo much bashing of the Repubs by the Dems, and the Dems by the Repubs (and honestly, more by the latter, in my opinion, but whatever). Passionate Democrats begin to hate the collective group of all Republican voters, and vice-versa.

Personally, and this is only MY opinion, I try and respect anyone and everyone who is bold enough to voice their opinions, stand firmly by them, and defend them in a MATURE AND RESPECTFUL manner. Even if I disagree with you, I give you props for being smart enough to form your own opinions and fight for them. But what I cannot, will not, under any circumstances, tolerate, is when false enemies are made; when people go "witch hunting," slandering, spreading lies, hurting, and hating people on a personal level, rather than disagreeing with the position, but still respecting the person.

Its like this. I am a Christian, but there's more to me than that. I am a Libertarian, but there's more to me than that. I am a mother, but there is more to me than that. I am a wife, but there is more to me than that. I am a pastry chef, but there is more to me than that. I don't like beets or green olives, but there is more to me than that. I am afraid of the dark and my basement, but there is more to me than that... Get the point? To zero in on the one or two things that I am or that I believe in that you disagree with, is to miss out on the whole person that I am. I am multi-faceted, as is everyone. Truthfully, there are probably things I dislike or disagree with in just about everyone I know, but I don't zero in on it. I try to look at them as the whole person, and focus on what I do like and the common ground we do have. And while I may not know much about people like Perez Hilton, Miss California, President Obama, or even Hannity, I try to respect them, knowing that Perez being gay, Miss C being against gay marraige based on her Christian beliefs, President Obama being a Democrat, or Hannity being a highly-opinionated Republican, doesn't define who they are as a person - that there is more to who they are.

So, my point in all this, if it hasn't already been made, is that we shouldn't make enemies based on someone's belief. There is more to the person, so there is more to the story, and most people are genuinely kind and well-intentioned, even if they believe the polar opposite from us. People are people; they are flawed, and sometimes maybe even flat-out wrong, in our eyes, for the things they believe, but we still need to afford them respect. To discount and disrespect people based on their beliefs is shallow, and its making enemies where we shouldn't. If you dispute a belief, then dispute the IDEA, not the person/people group. If you feel passionately about gay rights, for example, then fight for (or against, as the case may be) it! If you are pro-life (or pro-choice), then fight for it! Vote, protest, picket, donate, sign petitions...whatever you need to do to make your voice heard! But fight to change the MINDS of people, don't fight the people.

Have I made my point?!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vampires and aliens...oh, the craze!

WHAT in the WORLD is up with the whole vampires and aliens craze?!?!! I hate to go on a vent/rant thingy again, but seriously, this is just getting overdone. And maybe I'm the only one that thinks that, but yikes! Its everywhere!!

To make my point, I did a little googling. I am sure there are many more, but this was the best list I could come up with. Here's what I found:

Movies about aliens, 2009:
Aliens in the Attic
Transformers 2
Monsters vs. Aliens
Alien Trespass
Planet 51
Star Trek XI
District 9

Movies about vampires, 2009:
Twilight: New Moon
Blood: The Last Vampire
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
...and there are at least 5 set for release in 2010!

TV shows about vampires, 2009
The Vampire Diaries (CW)
True Blood (HBO)
...and there have been so many talk show/nightly news stories (20/20, Tyra, etc.) about them its ridiculous!

TV shows about aliens, 2009

And I have noticed a LOT of the movies and TV show's content is geared at young kids. Hoo...ray. Like the other day, Seth was watching a new Nick show called Fanboy and Chum Chum, and not even 10 minutes in, they turned into vampires! (Not on those grounds alone, but we have since put a ban on Fanboy viewing in our house. The show is absolutely ludacris!) And now they have Edward and Bella (from Twilight) Barbie dolls!! Oh goody. Let me go get one. *eye roll*

Anyway, my point is, everywhere you look, its all about aliens and vampires these days!! When is this going to stop?!?!!??

Personally, I have never seen the appeal of either aliens or vampires. I'm just not a big sci-fi lover. I like fiction just fine, but I like there to be some base content I can relate to. I seriously just don't get the appeal. What is so awesome about sucking blood? Or being from outer space? Gross and wierd, if you ask me. But that's just me. People tell me that if I read the Twilight books I would be hooked too, but I really don't think so, so I am not going to spend my time getting all wrapped up in this angsty other-worldly oddly-contrived love story of high school proportions. (I've seen the first movie...that was enough to get the jist.) I get that we all want an escape from the here and now - who doesn't? - but to escape into something with no foundation in reality, and to get so wrapped up in it as all the Twilighters have.... I quite honestly find it somewhat troubling, and at the same time, utterly annoying!

When I posted about this on my facebook, my good friend, and super realist/activist friend, Doug, pointed out that if people spent as much time, energy, and money on improving the world around us and doing things that are constructive, as they do pining away over some make-believe vampire hottie (whom, for the record, in my opinion, isn't hot in the least....and the werewolf kid looks like he's about 12, so can't be hot based on the fact that it would just be creepy if you, as a viewer, are over the age of 16), then the world would be a much better place for everyone. I am just appalled at how wrapped up in it people are!! Oh...swoon...swoon...aaahhhhh...ohhhh....swoon...swoon.... *gag!* But anyway, Doug is completely right! If everyone took their $8 and spent it on a few cans of food for their local food bank, or spent their 2 hours doing a community outreach project of one kind or another, rather than spend the $8 and 2 hours on Twilight, truly, how much better WOULD our world be??!! But...that's a tangent and an idealistic pipe dream, so, moving on...

Honestly, I think my biggest problem with it all is, as a Christian, the whole craze saddens me. Why? Because so many more people in our world today are so much more ready to embrace the possibilities of the existence of vampires and aliens, than they are to embrace the possibility (reality!) of a God who created them, knows them, and loves them more deeply than they could ever fathom. Jeremy and I have talked about this, and we've come to the conclusion that it takes far more faith to believe in aliens and vampires than it does to believe in God. And honestly, what does one gain out of their belief in aliens or vampires? Nothing! If a person is so quick to dismiss God because of His "intangibles" or "only 'possible' existence," then how is it so easy for them to embrace aliens or vampires, whom are, for arguement's sake, just as "intangible" and "only 'possibly' exist?" The reasons they use to explain away God, are the same reasons they use to explain vampires and aliens into existence. I guess my point is, if you want to accept the possibilities of aliens and vampires, can you please, on the same grounds, also consider the possibility of a loving God?

Okay, that got preachy, and I am not sure this is even close to full-circle, but my hands are freezing cold (gotta love Oregon winters in a barely-insulated 1920's house!), and I am tired of typing and thinking, so, dear reader, that's all you get. For whatever its worth. (Which probably isn't much.) :P

Monday, November 16, 2009

To go on record, and set said record straight....

Okay, okay, I know, I know. I am breaking one of my "rules" yet again, not to discuss politics. But I can't get all these thoughts, all these things I want to say to people whom have asked me political affiliation, or questioned me on my political beliefs, out of my head, so I think possibly blogging all of it will help clear things up. Maybe if I get it all out in the open and explain WHAT I believe and WHY I believe it - without the distractions, fear, interruptions, or "debating" that comes face-to-face - I will begin to feel like I can actually share these things with people. All I ask is that, if you DO read this, even if you disagree with my thinking, that you at least RESPECT my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and not attack me for them. I believe I do that for others, so I am asking for that favor to be returned.

So, here's goes nothin'...

I guess I will start by answering the most obvious question. Am I a Democrat or a Republican? The answer is, both and neither. This is the reason Democrats assume I am a Democrat and Republicans assume I am a Republican. I'm sorry, I can't claim that I am either one, because, frankly, I find both parties equally appalling and unconstitutional. Let me go on record and state, through researching pretty much every political party out there, I am a Libertarian.

Okay, I can hear a lot of Christians sitting back thinking, "Well, you're a Christian, you HAVE to be a Republican, because anything else would mean you are in favor of things that Jesus is opposed to." Personally, I do not believe it is in opposition to my Christian beliefs, and here is why.

First of all, contrary to popular Christian belief, this nation was NOT founded on Christian principles!! Delve into history, and you will find that the vast majority of our founding fathers, while most believed in a "Higher Power," were not actually believers in Christ. George Washington was a deist (meaning he believed in one God, the Creator, but not the person of Jesus Christ), and even on his death bed, though he spoke of God, did not profess to faith in Christ. Benjamin Franklin, toward the end of his life, just about denounced Christianity altogether. The writings that refer to God (and still, as God the Creator, not the person of Jesus Christ) came BEFORE (the Declaration of Independence) and AFTER, and were SEPARATE FROM the Constitution. For example, "under God" wasn't even added to our Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950's! And "In God We Trust" wasn't on our currency until over 100 years AFTER the Constitution was written. (While I don't agree with everything in this article, and feel it is biased against Christianity, historically-speaking, you cannot dispute it, and its the best source I have come across that adequately explains our nation's foundations.) So to profess that your obligation as a Christian is to uphold the morals our nation was founded on... Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but our nation wasn't founded on the principles of Christianity. Though, yes, no matter who you are and what you believe, it is important to fight for your values. Change can only come through using your voice.

Also, our founding fathers wanted to build a nation that was FREE and protected individual rights. Having a nation governed by any ONE religion specifically - any religion, even Christianity - well....they may as well have stayed in Britain! Had they established a nation built on ONE religion or school of thought, it would have infringed upon individual human rights, and would have been the establishment of yet one more government that ran its own agenda separate from the will and opposition of the general populace. (Sound familiar?!?) Had they established America as a Christian nation, there would have been no point. What made (makes!) our government so different and radical, was (is) that it protected the personal, God-given rights of ALL people!

I can't find the article now (drat!), but one of the best ways I can explain why I am a Libertarian, and how that is NOT a violation of my Christian beliefs, (in fact, in my opinion, it is a far more Christian approach than any other), is this.

The first, and most basic, human right that God Himself has given us is free will; the freedom to make our own choices governing our own lives. This was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, even before they were tempted and sinned, bringing about the fall of man. Still knowing, in His omnipotence, that they would sin, God gave Adam and Eve the gift of free will. He imparted them with the power to choose how they would govern their own lives, even if it wasn't the choice He would prefer for them to make. The article I mentioned above went on to say that, "Jesus stands at the door and knocks" (Rev. 3:20). He doesn't barge in, he doesn't kick the door down. If people want to accept Him and His love and His ways, they can. Or, they can choose not to. Because God has given them free will. He has given them the power to choose how to govern their own life.

So, as a Christian, if I want to live in political accoradance with my Christian beliefs, how can I be pro- anything that takes away another person's GOD GIVEN free will? Who am I to "knock down someone's door" and intrude into their life and impose on their free will? How can I support any government system that does that? How does that exemplify living in accoradance with Christ, who is God in the flesh? If I take away someone's most primal, basic, GOD GIVEN human right, then what type of person does that make me? What type of Christian does that make me? I'm sorry, as a human being, and certainly as a Christian, HOW can I align myself with something like that?!

I will freely admit that there are some issues - on both sides of the "big" party lines - that I struggle with. But I believe what it boils down to is this. I don't want anyone else - and certainly not the government! - telling me what I can and can't do regarding how I govern my own life. I keep my nose clean, so to speak, and don't hurt others with my choices. I have my own convictions and my own reasons for the ways I behave and believe is best to run my personal life and family. To be forced into something that I don't feel is right for me, is a violation of my free will, and I am not okay with that, and neither should anyone else be! And both major parties are trying to tighten the reigns on individual freedom. For example, I personally would never own a gun, but I believe that responsible people should be allowed to have them. The Democratic Party wants to take that right - the right to free will to own a firearm to feel safe or enjoy recreational hunting - away from everyone. That is wrong! And on the other side, we have the Republicans, who are trying to put restrictions on who can marry and who can't. To say one couple can marry and another can't....that puts big restrictions on free will! I know for most Christians, it is hard to not say "but, but, but..." to that one, because biblically, there is opposition, but again, who are we to try and impose our values and rights, and take away the GOD GIVEN RIGHT of free will of others? Just because we morally, ethically, or in any other way, oppose someone else's choice, does NOT mean it is government's job to decide how EVERYONE'S lives should be governed.

Its a slippery slope if we allow that to happen. We will end up with the same form of "big dictatorship" that our fore fathers left in Britain, and fought so hard to break free of. They wanted America to be different; to be founded on a government that PROTECTS and RESPECTS the rights of ALL people! Not some people, ALL people!! Lest I bring out the "big guns" - the Declaration of Independence itself.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.... (Bold is mine, to highlight key words.)

So really, what is government's job? It is to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL MEN, with a government instituted BY men. (More proof that our government wasn't founded to be governed by God, but ratehr by fallible men.) Government's job isn't to force itself or impose itself on the unwilling, but rather to protect and uphold our basic, God given, human right - the right to govern our own lives as we see fit. To secure these rights, means that we already have them, and government's only purpose is to protect life, preserve liberty (our freedoms), and to allow us to pursue those things that make us prosperous. The only time government is needed is when this is violated; when our body or our property (money) are threatened. It is really a very simple framework, which has unfortunately gotten very skewed over the past 233 years.

If we could all put our own agendas aside, and get back to the root of our government, the foundations it was truly built on, and uphold the Constitution in all its glory, then I believe we would have an America that works. Put the agendas aside, and just be an American. Enjoy your God-given freedom, appreciate that our Constitution protects it, and do your part to keep government from stealing it.

Hopefully I have made you think. I am in no way trying to sway anyone politically, only to point out what I see, feel, observe, and believe. Hopefully now I can put this issue to bed, and you all now know where I stand.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wowza! 2 months...really?!

I think the title of this blog says it best!! I can't believe I have let over 2 months slip by without blogging! Its not that I haven't had anything to say, its just that usually I come up with my most brilliant or philosophical ideas when I am away from the computer; in the car, at work, laying in bed trying to fall get the idea. That and life has just gotten busier and busier for me lately.

So I suppose the most fitting thing to do would be to just update on life in general. Forget the philosophical thoughts and brilliant ideas for now. (I can hear you all letting out a huge sigh of relief!)

For starters, I have found a part-time job. Well, more accurately, the job found me. My aunt and uncle own a restaurant, and asked me to train as a pastry chef. At first, I'm not going to lie, I was reluctant. I have worked with family before, and think family relationships are overall more harmonious when one (or two) of them isn't your boss. Plus, I don't like the headache of trying to juggle my kids around, shuffle them off to new people and places, or the guilt of leaving them. (Yes, I have issues.) But I finally agreed to give it a test-run - my aunt can be VERY persistent! - and I have fallen in love with it!!

I only work 2 mornings a week, unless the head pastry chef is gone, so its a job that works into my life. However, that isn't to say I still haven't had my challenging moments of trying to figure out where my kiddos are going to go! Now that the "big kids" are back in school, my aunt watches the baby, and picks Joy up from school, when I work. Not being very well "trained" with kids, especially babies, this has been a learning experience for my kids and their aunt, too, so that has been an unexpected bonus blessing in all this. I value family very highly, and am glad that this job "forces" them to spend time together and bond. Besides, my aunt is super fun, and takes them out to lunch, to the beach... Its much better than staying home or running errands with boring ol' mom, I'm sure!

I have always loved to cook and bake, but always assumed that the pressure of having to do it for a job would kill that passion. WRONG! If anything, it has just heightened my love for it. Although, I have to admit, I definitely have many insecure moments, when I think, "How can I possibly meet their (the head pastry chefs', my aunt and uncles', the restaurant's reputations') standards?" I am trying to learn what I can and soak it up like a sponge, but I often feel like a fish out of water, and like maybe they are having too much faith in me. Which is flattering, but at the same time, I don't want to let them down. Its a lot of self-inflicted pressure!

Oh, so what am I doing at the restaurant, you may ask? I am baking breads and desserts. Most of what I make are menu items so they are becoming more rote all the time, but certain items change daily, so I have to be creative. We have our Italian Bread we make everyday, but we also run a "special" bread everyday, too. Usually, I make the wheat bread, then just throw something tasty in it; Italian herbs, roasted garlic, fresh rosemary, parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives...or any combo therein. But that was getting old, so I have found another recipe I use on occasion too. We also have a Creme Brulee Du Jour, so I have to make a new type of creme brulee daily. We like to keep vanilla bean on-hand, but its been fun to try new flavors out; honey, coconut, pumpkin spice, huckleberry... We also have a nightly dessert special. Usually, I can just skate by on whatever Nancy (the head pastry chef) has made the day before, but now and then I have to make something. That has to be the most nerve-wracking part of the job!! I have been there 2 months, made 4 specials, one was a total flop, one was a huge hit, and the others were mediocre. Call me a perfectionist, but mediocre just doesn't cut it. Not at Newman's, not for family, and not for myself. And certainly not for $8-$10 a plate! So I am working on it, learning, and trying not to feel too horribly out of my league.

Alright, enough about that. In other news...

The "big kids" are back in school. Joy is in kindergarten, which I just can't believe! She is just still so itty-bitty, I just can't believe she is in kindergarten already. But she is so smart and everyone loves her so much; the teachers, aides, principal, and her classmates.

Seth is in second grade. The transition into a new school has been somewhat hard on him socially. Yet one more way he is like me, it is hard for him to make new friends. He has good social skills, but for some reason, people don't naturally gravitate toward him the way people do toward Joy. (Much like myself and my sister when we were younger...the oldest and middle children.) Also, since his classmates have all been together for 2 years already, they have their built-in friendships, and its hard to expect second graders to think outside the box. He knows some kids, and they like him, he just gets really bothered when they choose other friends over him. I am hoping things improve for him. In time, I think they will. Academically he is doing great though!! He is one smart, creative kid!!

As a mom though, aside from Seth's challenges adjusting, I am loving the school, and feel so blessed and fortunate that we had the opportunity to switch them. I have nothing bad to say about the school where Seth went before, he learned a lot, but it was a different feel. Outside doors - aside from the door to the office - were locked while school was in session. I know this was for safety, which I can appreciate, but I always felt like I wasn't welcome there during school hours. And when I would offer to help or volunteer, I often felt like my help wasn't wanted. I felt shut out of my kids' educations, which I didn't like. Since both my parents worked, I vowed to myself before I even had kids, that I would be very involved in their schools. So I felt like I was letting myself and my kids down by not being able to be a part of their school experience. And as far as discussing an issue with the principal, forget it. I just never felt like he was very personable. He has done some GREAT things for the school - do not get me wrong on that! - but I never felt a whole lot of compassion, on a personal level, coming from him. At the school the kids are at now, I feel welcome and valued. It has been 2 weeks, and the teachers, secretary, and principal all know me and which kids are mine anytime I walk in the building. There are no locks on the doors. I feel liked, trusted, and valued, as a person, a parent, and a part of my kids' schooling. Joy's teacher has asked me to be a weekly volunteer, and I am an alternate in Seth's class. The principal knows me, and after just 2 weeks, I felt comfortable enough with her to discuss a touchy subject and get her insight. To feel that comfortable with a person after 2 weeks....she has a gift, a way about her. The whole school is just so kind and supportive, and has a real community feel to it, which is what I grew up with and wanted so desperately for my kids. Institutions are fine, but not for us.

Aside from school, news on the kids....

Joy is taking tumbling again this year. She is SO into it!!! She tumbles anywhere and everywhere and really has a personal drive to learn more. If she sticks with it, I know she is going to be great!

Seth is taking guitar lessons. Its slow-going, and we are in the process of finding him a new teacher, but its finally starting to click and he really likes it. He has taken an interest in basketball recently, too, and we are trying to find him a hoop. (So if anyone local is reading this and knows of one, let us know!) And he will most likely play t-ball again in the spring.

Skye isn't walking yet, and still doesn't have much of a vocabulary, but she's getting there. She absolutely LOVES books!! And she likes farm animals and their noises. (She tries to moo with her mouth shut. Its hilarious!) At 14 months, she is still nursing, with no immediate end in sight. But its good for her, and we love it, so I don't have a problem with that, especially after all the bumps in the road we have had off and on with nursing (mastitis, teeth....its been interesting). She is napping and sleeping through the night GREAT now!! As much as I love(d) co-sleeping, none of us were sleeping well with her in the bed, so about 5 months ago, we moved her into her crib in Joy's room, and she has adjusted very well.

Hmm....well, I think that's it. This blog has taken about an hour out of my otherwise very unproductive day, so its time to wrap up and go do laundry and dishes. Fuuun. :P

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A woman's beauty

Bear with me... I am trying to hammer this out quickly because I have hosuework that desperately needs to be done. And despite the fact I have been constructing this in my head for probably a week or more, I still haven't really sorted out all the points I want to make, so hopefully this will come out less jumbled on paper (or screen, I guess) than in my head. We can only hope, right?

I have blogged in bits and pieces for a while about the skewed perceptions of beauty in American culture. Pure and simple, I hate it. I hate what magazines and movies and supermodels and MTV, etc, etc., et all have done to convince women of all ages to believe that they are any less than perfect just the way God made them. Let's admit the truth; women are not one-size-fits-all! We come in pear-shape, apple-shape, and banana shape. We have muffin tops. We have excess weight from having babies. We have rolls. We have bubble bottoms. We are bony. We have big chests, and we have small chests. We are tall, we are short. Point is, we're all different, and we need to embrace that, no matter what our culture tells us.

One of the sadder things about that is this. Every woman with access to a mirror will stand in front of the mirror critiquing their own bodies. We stare at the bags under our eyes, the chub around the middle, and stand there and "pinch an inch." We obsess over our "flaws;" our freckles, moles, pimples, grey hairs, uneven eyebrows....

I guess what prompted me to blog about this subject is a theme I have seen and heard more and more lately. Something that makes me a bit sad. Many women I have come across lately - even near-strangers - have commented that they won't leave the house without make-up on. Some even feel ugly without it in front of their closest family members.

Now I'll admit, I like make-up as much as the next girl. But out of necessity, I have begun cutting it out of my daily routine most mornings in the name of devoting more time to getting my kids out the door. A mom has to do what a mom has to do, right? I still prefer to wear it, but I have learned to get past my insecurities and let go of the notion that I look terrible without it. Let's think about this realistically. Do we care when someone else doesn't wear make-up? Or do we see a woman without it and think, "Gee, she looks awful. Look at those awful bags under her eyes! She needs some concealer and eye make-up BADLY!" No, we don't. (Or at least I don't. I guess I can only speak for myself.) So why do we trick ourselves into thinking others think we look awful? It makes no sense.

"Researching" for this blog, I asked my husband if I looked better or worse with make-up on. He told me he didn't really care, unless maybe we were going somewhere fancy. (In which case, yes, I would throw on a little eye make-up and gloss.) But he said something I found really profound and key in making my point. He said, "As long as you're happy with the way you look, it doesn't really matter to me."

I find it somewhat sad that we women have fooled ourselves into depending on make-up for our beauty. Even to the point we think our husbands and close family members will think we are less beautiful.

So what do I believe is most beautiful? What type of beauty do I most admire? I most admire a woman who embraces her own body, is comfortable in her own skin, and radiates an inner beauty - qualities that will never be replicated with eye liner and mascara! And those goes for the grey-haired, freckled, pimply, overweight, underweight....the "imperfect" women. Now that isn't to say the makeup-wearing women I know aren't beautiful on the inside. They most definitely are! But my point is, I would think that regardless of whether they make their faces up or not. What makes these woman beautiful to me is their kindness, character, willingness to give of themselves, patience, genuineness, love for others, laughter, talent....and so on and so forth.

Women, we don't need it!!! We don't need a mascara brush to be beautiful!! Sure, our world tells us that we do, but we don't! We don't need to lose 10 lbs, exercise religiously (although moderate exercise is a good thing), stare at ourselves in the mirror, and cover up our "imperfections." If you are beautiful on the inside, that is all that matters. And the people who love and value you won't think any less of your beauty without it. Your friends, family, children, and husbands will still love you unconditionally. (And if they don't, there is a big problem!) In the words of Dr. Seuss, "Be who you are....because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Those who mind whether or not you are "perfect" don't matter, and those who love you regardless won't mind.

So ladies, let's be a lot less hard on ourselves and focus on where our REAL beauty comes from -- inside!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Admitting the struggle

This morning I was thinking about this. Why is it so hard to admit that we can't do everything and that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we struggle with certain things? Or why do we minimize them when speaking to others, in order to uphold some kind of image that we're stronger than we are? I know this probably sounds in like it is in complete contrast to what I normally write about women - that we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. That is true. I believe that with every fiber of my being! However, let's be honest, none of us is Superwoman. There is only so much - mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally - that we can endure. And let's be honest, men can only handle so much, too, though they would like to have us believe otherwise. Point is, we all have our breaking points.

Making no sense?? Here is my situation. For weeks now, I have been having problems with breastfeeding Skye. Fortunately, I have never had any really major issues with breastfeeding; my babies always latched right on and learned how to nurse pretty nicely. Seth was a breeze to nurse. He stuck to business and never hurt me (that I can remember). Joy was rougher on me, but I was still able to nurse her til she self-weaned at 14 1/2 months. Between my 3 kids, I have logged in a cumulative 38 1/2 months of breastfeeding, or 3 years and almost 3 months. (Woot woot!!) I have nursed anywhere and everywhere, with or without a blanket (Joy and Skye would never allow that anyway). In fact, just last night I was nursing at the Miss Oregon pageant. I'm good at nursing. I know this, and I am proud of it!

But herein lies my problem. I am ashamed to admit I am not as good at this nursing thing as I would like others to believe. I want others to think its been a total breeze for me to nurse Skye, but the truth is, I have had many ups and downs nursing this third child. In fact, I have had a much harder time nursing her than my other 2, by far. For the first month and a half, we had some latch issues. She was what my doctor dubbed a "lazy nurser," and wouldn't open her mouth as wide as she could/should/knew how to, thus causing pain, cracking, bleeding....the works. Right around the tail end of that challenge, I developed mastitis (an infection caused by a clogged milk duct). I developed it on a Tuesday, spiked a fever and chills and was in a lot of pain that night, went on antibiotics, was a little better on Wednesday (at least enough to run a few errands), woke up on Thursday (my birthday, no less) with it on the other side and in so much pain I was in tears, my fever went back up to 104, spent 7 hours trying to get the doctor's office to call me back/call in a new antibiotic, got on the new antibiotic, and was still sick off and on through Sunday. Most people would throw in the towel after all that. In all honesty, I sometimes wonder how I had the resolve to keep going. But after that, it has been pretty smooth sailing until about 3-4 weeks ago.

Once Skye began cutting her top teeth, it began a whole new ballgame. Anytime she latches on, she chomps me. A lot. She has left teeth indentation marks on me I don't even know how many times, broken the skin two or 3 times now... I have scabs and sores. (Sorry for the nitty-gritties, but I am trying to be brutally honest.) Needless to say, it HURTS!! And it takes a lot for me to admit that. I have tried many, many things to get her to stop - changing positions, squishing her more into me, letting her back off more, making her open her mouth reeeeaaally wide to latch, taking her off then putting her back on again - and NOTHING is working!!!

At first, I was only able to admit I was having problems to my mom. She breastfed all 3 of us kids til we self-weaned, and I know she understands how I feel. Instead of being in love with nursing my baby anymore, I am frustrated, conflicted, and feeling like, unless I can get this resolved soon, I am in a no-win situation. If I continue, I will be in pain and resentful of the entire process, dreading each and every time she wants to nurse. (Which is the point I am at right now.) But if I stop nursing, I will feel tremendous guilt because Skye still wants to nurse a lot. I don't want the power struggle, especially over something that offers her so much nourishment and comfort. Before she got her teeth, I was determined to nurse til she was 2, unless she self-weaned earlier. Now I feel like that dream is going up in a ball of flames, and that is really hard for me.

So what is the point in all this? I felt I needed to be candid. To prove to myself and everyone else that sometimes the challenges and sacrifices we make are much, much harder, physically and emotionally, than we women readily admit. We think with work and determination, we can overcome any obstacle. But sometimes its just not that simple. Sometimes we feel guilty, frustrated, and stuck in a no-win situation, and that is really tough! Yet, we still wear this facade like we have it all under control, that everything is ducky, "sunshine and roses." Its hard to put our pride aside and admit that sometimes things aren't easy, even things that once were a total breeze. Women, we need to be more accepting of our own struggles, and accept that it doesn't mean we are weak, or failures, or whatever. It just means we need help. And ultimately, that is okay.

And in case I have scared anyone out there into thinking nursing is too hard or not worth it, it is! 100%!!! It is beautiful, wonderful, nourishing, bonding, convenient, always warm, immune system-building (for baby), comforting, breast cancer risk-reducing (for mom), endorphin releasing (for baby and mom), the best pregnancy weight burning kick start there is.... I could go on, but you get the point. It is totally worth it, to both baby and mom! But reality is, it isn't always easy. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes its hard, sometimes it takes a LOT of work. But most of the time its pretty great! And its ALWAYS worth the effort!! Which is why my current dilemma is eating at me so badly.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer "unschooling".....of sorts

I have met more and more parents over the past year or so who "unschool." For those who are sitting there saying, "Huh? What is that?", unschooling is a more organic form of homeschooling in which the teaching is led by the child's interests, curiosity, and questions about the world around him/her.

I haven't really aimed to teach my kids much this summer, truthfully. That sounds bad, but what I mean is, its their break; their time to kick back and play and rejuvenate before heading back to school in September. So I have tried to take it easy on them. However, I have noticed my kids learning more and more over the summer, just following their own curiosities.

We have had a horrible infestation of butterflies or moths....we weren't sure which...over the past 2 weeks. Joy is afraid of them, which makes things interesting. She won't go into a room if she sees one on the wall or ceiling, and it has led to many sudden crying outbreaks over the past few weeks. Anyway, Seth was the first to see one. He woke up one morning and there was one on his bedroom window. We spent a few hours that afternoon searching butterfly and moth identification sites trying to figure out what it is. Finally we gave up, but Seth's persistence prompted my mom to help him figure it out this afternoon, and they were able to find our little guys online. Turns out we have an infestation of Small Magpie Moths. Seth further went on to find out that the Small Magpie Moth primarily feeds on nettles and mint. As far as we know there isn't any nettle around here, but we have lots and lots of spearmint in our planter boxes! So, we have a bit of a Magpie Moth's paradise in our yard.

Here is a picture of one of our moths on our kitchen window. This makes it look like Mothzilla, but I assure you, its really a pretty small insect. (Oh, and please excuse the view out our window. Our neighbor is a bit of a packrat/old car junkie. What can ya do??)

Another thing we are learning is plant identification. As we clean out the planter boxes and spruce up our yard, we are finding all sorts of plants. We found some California Poppies about a week ago, and Seth thinks they are awesome because orange is his favorite color. He asked me why it grows in Oregon if it is a California poppy. Truthfully, I don't know, but I told him I thought some of it may have to do with our climate being very similar to the parts of California where the poppies grow.

I mentioned this in a previous post, but we also have a TON of Morning Glory all over our property. I did some research on how to kill it, and one natural approach is to densely plant sunflowers to take up root space and shield out the light from the Morning Glories so that they die off. As I was explaining this to my dad, Seth asked how that was going to work, so my dad (who is a teacher and also a big science nut) and I got to explain to him about photosynthesis and how and why the sun is so important to plants.

I could go on and on, but what I am getting at here is, so many people think that a child has to be in a classroom in order to effectively advance and learn, and that learning is on pause during the summer months. But I believe if you have a child who is curious, and a parent who is willing to guide them to learn new things, then just as much learning can be done during the summer as a child plays, as it can in a classroom. I have to admit, it has made me better understand, and appreciate, unschooling. (Even though I still highly doubt I will ever homeschool/unschool my own kids. But then never know.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My new nemesis

Morning Glory. I hate it!!

I have recently taken up gardening. Well, sort of. More like taken up pulling weeds mindlessly, but I like to pretend that qualifies as gardening.

The previous owners of this house left us with some nice brick planter boxes lining our brick patio. Problem was, they were all infested with weeds! So about a month ago, Jeremy, the kids, and I spent an entire Sunday afternoon pulling weeds and trying to get the planters cleaned out in hopes that maybe we could plant some flowers, herbs, and strawberries. (Well, Jeremy and I did weeds. The kids just collected and tortured snails.) As we began clipping and pulling weeds, we came across rosemary, sage (except I accidentally pulled it out trying to get a clump of grass...oops), irises, a blueberry bush, 3 rose bushes, and California poppies. So we decided just to pull out the weeds and leave the good stuff.

Yesterday, I looked outside and noticed we had a big, bright pink rose on one of the bushes. I went outside to get a better look, and rather than being excited over the flower, I was horrified to find EVERYTHING was COVERED in Morning Glory! It was wrapped around and through the rosemary bush, up every branch of the blueberry, through the rose bushes, and suffocating the poppies! I couldn't believe it! A month ago, we got rid of it all, and yesterday it was worse than before! So I put Skye in the backpack and took Joy out with me (Seth was resting), and did some serious Morning Glory damage...again. Ugh.

I should also mention that there is a tendril about 2 feet long that I noticed yesterday morning had crept through the concrete and onto the floor of the basement. Before we officially moved in, Jeremy cut down and weed-burned all the Morning Glory off that side of the house. HOW did it survive being uprooted AND burned?!? And my mom spent an hour lovingly and carefully freeing the lilac bush in front of our house from the dreadful stuff. The stuff is indestructible!! And now I realize, the madder you get at it, the more vengefully it grows back!

Since I have kids, I am opposed to using chemicals anymore than necessary, but I am now thinking I am going to have no choice because something has got to be done about these stupid weeds! I am torn just goes against my principles. So if anyone out there reading this knows an effective, yet organic, way of getting rid of this awful stuff, PLEASE let me know!!

Not to mention, on a related side-note, our yard and plater boxes are INFESTED with snails. I have only seen 3 slugs in the 9 months we've lived here, but I have seen probably thousands of snails! They, like the Morning Glory, are EVERYWHERE!! The kids think they're fun, but Jeremy and I just hate the little guys! And again, I want them gone, but don't want to use poisons to reach that goal, if possible.

So...what is a clueless, brown-thumbed, novice gardener to do?? Part of me wants to just wave the white flag and declare defeat to the unwanted garden guests, but on the otherhand, it would just be sad to surrender to a weed and an army of snails. I am bigger, stronger, and smarter than them, afterall. But...they have the strength in numbers thing going for them. Well, hopefully I'll come up with something....hopefully.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The value of early childhood education

Okay, if this is completely disjointed, its because I am blasting some very nostalgic music. When music and memories get ahold of me, well, I get a little preoccupied. But I'll do my best here.

This blog is about 6 months in the making. At Christmas I was having a conversation with one of my husband's aunts. She asked me what budget cuts she thought needed to be made to pull us out of this recession mess. I told her I really wasn't sure, but thought they could cut back some on space research because, seriously, who cares what is out there? Not me and not most people. We need to spend money within our own borders, not to mention our own planet! you can see I am already getting sidetracked.

After giving my answer, she told me that she thinks cuts need to be made in early childhood education. This came as a total shock to me, since she is a retired teacher, so I asked her why she felt that is where cuts needed to be made. She told me that she felt it was a parent's responsibility to teach their kids what they need to know going into kindergarten, and that the government shouldn't be shelling out money to equip kids for school. Again, I was rather surprised. She told me that if I thought about it after going home, I may change my position. Clearly, she doesn't know me as well as she probably thinks she does, because when it comes to my own opinions and convictions, I am pretty unbendable. But nevertheless I have thought about it some over the past few months, and no, my position hasn't changed.

In a perfect world, sure, all mothers would stay home with their children and devotedly teach their kids the skills necessary going into kindergarten. But sadly, not many mothers financially can, or choose to, stay home and raise their kids. And I don't think its worth breaking the bank or requiring a mother who doesn't want to be a SAHM to be one. That just causes strain and resentment, and who ultimately suffers? The child(ren).

Secondly, even for those parents who do stay home, they (like me) are juggling a million other things, and the structured time spent teaching their kids these things just isn't there. 4 years ago, I started Seth in preschool with much trepidation, and had it not been a Christian preschool probably wouldn't have at all. What I realized not long into his first year was that there was so much he was getting there that he just couldn't get here at home from me. There, he was learning not only the academics, but also peer-related skills, such as sharing, working out disagreements, following another adult's authority, following classroom directions, etc. His only interaction at home during the day was with me and Joy, who at the time was a toddler. That just wasn't nearly as adequate as being around a group of kids his own age. We did play groups, but free play as opposed to structured play-learning is a bit different.

I am not saying everyone can or should put their kids in preschool, but for me, with both Seth and Joy, it was a great thing! Both are way ahead of the curve for their respective grades. I'm not saying preschool had everything to do with that, but it definitely gave them a huge leg up, in my opinion.

I have noticed, as have a number of my friends, that the expectations coming into kindergarten have been raised. Whereas when I was in school we learned to write our names and recognize letters in kindergarten, kids are now expected to have these skills coming into kindergarten. By the end of kindergarten, kids are expected to be able to write 2 -3 sentence journal entries, sound out words, and read simple sentences. With raised expectations, those kids who don't have preschool or parents who work on these pre-k skills with them regularly are labeled as "behind," and put into special programs through the school to help them "catch up." I'm not stereotyping here, just stating a fact, but the vast majority of kids in these programs are from lower-income families; familes who can't afford to pay for early childhood education, so their kids don't come into school equipped.

I am of the mindset that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." In my opinion, Head Start and other programs like it, absolutely shouldn't have funding cut! The kids in those programs are exactly the ones who need the leg up coming into kindergarten. Their parents aren't in a position educationally, financially, or otherwise (and some don't have adequate English-speaking skills), to provide early childhood educational skills to their kids. And honestly, paying for Head Start is much cheaper in the long run than paying the public schools to "catch the kid up" the rest of his/her education.

Having worked briefly in a childcare center that worked in conjuncture with Head Start, I saw many of the kids come into the center knowing very little about how to interact with others, and with little to no academic skills, blossom into bright, well-equipped individuals. Maybe I am just an idealist, but I think given the right nurturing, any and every kid has the potential and intelligence to succeed.

I have also seen more and more kids who are "behind" cross into my dad's class over the years. My dad is a special education teacher. While he used to work more with kids with actual disabilities, now he is working more with kids that have behavioral problems or are simply "playing catch up." And while my dad loves these kids and does his best with them, it takes a lot of his time, and I am sure the school's money, to have him work with kids that, had they been given a leg up from the beginning, probably wouldn't need so much, if any, of his help.

Again, in a perfect world, all mothers would be able to stay home with, and have the skills and time necessary to teach their kids all they need to know in their early years. But sadly that isn't the case. So if the government's programs can help these kids, who certainly can't help themselves with these things, then I am all for it.

Cut space research instead. Clearly, our kids need the money more than the moon does! ;) That's my vote!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So, what is submission anyway??

Today, as I was leaving my daughter's Christian preschool, I overheard my good friend(whom is a Bible-believing Christian), involved in a conversation with another mom (whom is not a Christian), discussing what it means to be in submission to one's husband. As the conversation went on, another Christian mom and myself got sucked into the conversation as well, since our friend was giving us the "help me out here" look.

In today's context, let's face it, submission has bad connotations associated with it. I looked up "submission" in Webster's Dictionary, and this is what it said:

1 a: a legal agreement to submit to the decision of arbitrators b: an act of submitting something (as for consideration or inspection) ; also : something submitted (as a manuscript)
2: the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant
3: an act of submitting to the authority or control of another

I think in today's society, sadly, people only think of submission as #3. When they hear Ephesians 5:22 or Colossians 3:18, they think it means a man has the green light to absolute control over a woman. And the idea that anyone has absolute power over another human being just sounds so wrong, like abuse or slavery - 2 things our culture absoultely doesn't condone in most circles/societies. And for good reason, obviously.

So what is the Biblical definition of a wife's submission to her husband? I went to the good ol' Strong's Concordance (if you don't have one, get one!) and looked up the famous, "Wives submit yourselves unto your husbands..." (Eph. 5:22/Colossians 3:18) verse(s) for some insight. What a lot of people know, and many non-Christians point out all too readily, is that some of the language has lost its "potency" (though it has NOT lost its meaning, sovereignty, or relevance!!) in translation from Greek to English; Greek is a much more complex language, with far more words and meanings. (The word "love" for example -- there are 4 different "loves" in Greek.) So, the best way to approach this wasn't to go off "face value" or my own conjecture, but to go right to the source - the original Greek. This is what the Strong's says:

1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one's self, obey
4) to submit to one's control
5) to yield to one's admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

This word was a Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

I found this VERY enlightening!

Backing up to our conversation a bit... The mom who was questioning wifely submission kept asking for examples of what exactly submission meant when practically applied. We explained that a marriage is supposed to be a partnership. Yes, the man is the godhead of the family, and the wife is the helpmeet, but a man isn't supposed to lord over his wife and have control over her. That IS abuse, and it is absolutely wrong! We further explained that submission is actually the priviledge of trusting your husband to make the best choices for his wife and children. Submission is ultimately about trust, communication, and partnership. Sadly, she failed to see the distinction. She still saw it very black and white; its either a man has control over his wife's life and decisions, or its a partnership of equals. Which unless you really apply and live it out, it really is one or the other. (But it certainly didn't stop us from trying to explain what is largely unexplainable.)

I do believe Jeremy and I absolutely are equal partners in our marriage, but we do have very different roles. I don't believe he has control over me. He LOVES me and trusts that I will do the best job I can in my decisions regarding myself, him, our marriage, and our children. And likewise, I trust him.

What I find interesting is, within a Biblical/historical context, submission is a choice, it is NOT forced! So if a man does "force" his wife into submission via abuse or manipulation, he is outside the bounds of God's true Word and intentions.

What people also fail to recognize (or read in general) is that the verse doesn't stop with the woman's job, and they think its much harder than the man's job. The verse goes on to say, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church." Well, we all know Christ loved the church - past, present, and future - because he died for us. That is a total no-brainer. Laying down your life for someone else is ultimate, selfless love. So if husbands are supposed to love their wives at that extreme of a level, then they really DO, in my opinion, have the harder job! Love isn't about the "ooey gooeys"; love is about sacrifice and putting someone else's needs above your own. And Christ has called men to do that very thing in everything concerning their wives. (Talk about pressure!) So while wives are called into voluntary service (like the military - nobody forces them to serve, that is each soldier's choice) to their husbands, husbands are called to lay down their every desire, want, and decision to the ultimate benefit of their wife.

So if a man is supposed to continually lay down his life to the ultimate benefit of his wife and family, then we ARE equal partners! Or actually, when you break it down like that, the man does have the bigger responsibility. We wives are called to serve our husbands on a pretty small scale compared to our husbands. Our job is to serve and honor our husband (and the Lord, of course!), but their job is to uphold and make the best decisions for his wife and entire family. Our job is to lighten his load, his job is to carry it.

To bring it one step further before wrapping this up, if you think of it in military terms, there HAVE to be ranks! If everyone thought they were in charge and could perform any duty within the military, and there were no checks and balances, when we went into war it would be mayhem and we would get annihilated! Much in the same way, when the rubber meets the road in a marriage, the husband and wife need to know their positions, their rank, and their roles in order to do their best to get through the "war."

I could go on and on, but I found this so enlightening and encouraging! And I hope it enlightens and encourages others. :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Have no fear!

Okay, if I don't blog about this, I am going to go nuts! I'm talking about the swine flu. It is ridiculously out of hand!!!!

**Let me preface with a disclaimer: These are purely my own opinions and observations. If you don't like them, that's fine. Oh, and this is chock-full of sarcasm! So don't say I didn't warn you or get all over my case if you don't like what you read.**

First, let's lay out the facts. I found a great website called worldometers, and according to them the current world population (at the time of writing this blog) is approximately 6.76 billion. Confirmed cases of swine flu, worldwide, as of today? 331. Yes, there are other suspected cases, and this is spreading, I won't deny that, buuuut...that still only makes swine flu a 1 in less than 20 million people worldwide thing. (I'm no math genius, but I did check my calculator 3 times.) Yet, this is still being called an "epidemic."

I'm sorry. I have a hard time calling something that is 331 out of 6.76 billion people an epidemic. Back in January, we had a Norovirus outbreak here in our county; many friends of mine, and our entire family (with the exception of me) all had the stomach flu. However, was it all over the news? Were people scared to travel or go out in public places? No. It wasn't a big deal. People got really sick, but they got over it. And I'm sure it affected more than 331 people. (Yet once again confirming that the world doesn't really care about poor little Clatsop County.)

Let me put it in other terms. You have a higher chance of walking outside at night and getting mauled by a bear than contracting swine flu! Yet people still go out at night. You have a higher chance of getting in your car today and dying in a fatal car crash. Yet the same people who are so concerned about swine flu are happily getting in their cars and driving to and fro. If we're talking raw numbers and probabilities, then this all seems completely ridiculous! People are taking calculated risks that are much, much higher, yet are more afraid of the thing that is actually a much lower probability. Kinda hypocritical, if you ask me, but whatever.

I talked to an ER doctor today while I was waiting to pick Seth up from school, and he said there is no more threat than with any other flu virus -- its still influenza. He said like any virus, you will get sick, but most people will be just fine, and the only ones to worry about are those with already-compromised immune systems. It was funny... He then went on to tell me that someone came into the ER last night because someone they knew worked with a Mexican, so they wanted to be sure they hadn't contracted swine flu. After a check-up, the doctor told the patient that he didn't have the flu, he had paranoia and xenophobia. (Xenophobia, for those who don't know, is fear of foreigners.) The patient was very worried and asked, "Is that bad?"

See, but that is the problem. We have become such fear-based, media-fed people that we are afraid of anything and everything we hear, see, read, or are told. Forget that the source may be heresay or biased or a "mountain made of a molehill." Its the flu, people! Its not armageddon!!! (That won't happen til after Jesus comes back....not to worry.) So what makes this so much worse? NOTHING!! Except that the media has taken this and run with it, and blown it up into epic proportions, feeding off the fear our society buys into so readily. (Hey, they have to put food on their tables too, so who cares who they scare in the process, right?)

I am not one of those people who buys into the fear and the hype hook, line, and sinker. My kids and I aren't going to miss out on life experiences all because of some minute (1 in more than 20 billion) chance we are going to contract the flu. Oh no! Not the flu!! I just get more and more frustrated, irritated, and jaded by the media all the time. And by the people who can't recognize all the baloney for what it really is. I'm not saying the flu isn't happening or that it isn't scary. But its not nearly as major as the media is making it out to be. Why can't people see that??? I just don't get it....

I don't get how people can be so governed by fear. If its danger that is immediate and/or strongly factually based, that's one thing. Then yes, I take it seriously and am cautious. But if I don't really have a reason to fear, then why should I? Life is too short to worry it away. I dunno...maybe my frustration with this is primarily based on the fact that I am a Christian and trust Him when He says He hasn't given me a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). And what does fear add to our lives anyway? (Luke 12:25-26) Ultimately, what will be, will be. We can't change that. So why hide ourselves away and let fear govern our lives? To me, its just not worth it!

Okay, sorry this was so jumbled and sarcastic. This whole swine flu thing is just driving me INSANE!!!!!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Foods of the Bible

Thank goodness for the "miracle" (LOL) of the internet! I found what I was looking for!

I am a bit of a nutrition nut. I was going to say health nut, but I hate any type of formal exercise, so I guess I can't honestly claim the "health nut" title. Anyway... I am always looking for new things to study (have to keep the mind/curiosity active, you know), and new ways to eat and live better.

So, out of curiosity, I went on a search for foods referenced in the Bible. God knows what he's doing in ALL things, so I trust He knows best what I should, and shouldn't, be putting in my body. Afterall, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit - HIS temple!

To go on a teeny tangent, I will say I was a little bugged to find, right along with mainstream, fad diet plans like Atkins and South Beach, something called The Maker's Diet. Some goober is making money off a weight loss plan based off the Bible! Sorry, but it bothers me when someone takes God's ideas, tries to pass them off as their own, and to top it off, make a monetary gain from it! Furthermore, the Bible shouldn't be used as a fad, or lumped in with things associated with starving yourself or denying yourself certain foods/nutrients. Sorry, but it just irritated me.

Alright, back on track... Here is the list I found. And the extra cool thing....there are Biblical references for each and everything on the list, so you know where to look. This is almost all stuff I eat and enjoy anyway. It is the basis of a very healthy, balanced diet. No preservatives or "icky" things to worry about putting in your body, tasty, well-rounded, and satisfying. So I am going to try and stick more closely to this list as a guideline to feed myself and my family. Not as a legalistic or "dieting" thing, but because I know that He knows best. Now, I'm not planning to go eat a pigeon or locust anytime soon, but the rest I can happily live with and, for the most part, stick to. :)

* Seasonings, Spices and Herbs:
Anise (Matthew 23:23 KJV)
Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
Dill (Matthew 23:23)
Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
Rue (Luke 11:42)
Salt (Ezra 6:9; Job 6:6)

* Fruits and Nuts:
Apples (Song of Solomon 2:5)
Almonds (Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8)
Dates (2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3)
Figs (Nehemiah 13:15; Jeremiah 24:1-3)
Grapes (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 23:24)
Melons (Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 1:8)
Olives (Isaiah 17:6; Micah 6:15)
Pistachio Nuts (Genesis 43:11)
Pomegranates (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8)
Raisins (Numbers 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:19)
Sycamore Fruit (Psalm 78:47; Amos 7:14)

* Vegetables and Legumes:
Beans (2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
Cucumbers (Numbers 11:5)
Gourds (2 Kings 4:39)
Leeks (Numbers 11:5)
Lentils (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
Onions (Numbers 11:5)

* Grains
Barley (Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 4:9)
Bread (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 6:19; 16:1; Mark 8:14)
Corn (Matthew 12:1; KJV - refers to "grain" such as wheat or barley)
Flour (2 Samuel 17:28; 1 Kings 17:12)
Millet (Ezekiel 4:9)
Spelt (Ezekiel 4:9)
Unleavened Bread (Genesis 19:3; Exodus 12:20)
Wheat (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)

* Fish:
Matthew 15:36
John 21:11-13

* Fowl:
Partridge (1 Samuel 26:20; Jeremiah 17:11)
Pigeon (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 12:8)
Quail (Psalm 105:40)
Dove (Leviticus 12:8)

* Animal Meats:
Calf (Proverbs 15:17; Luke 15:23)
Goat (Genesis 27:9)
Lamb (2 Samuel 12:4)
Oxen (1 Kings 19:21)
Sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4)
Venison (Genesis 27:7 KJV)

* Dairy:
Butter (Proverbs 30:33)
Cheese (2 Samuel 17:29; Job 10:10)
Curds (Isaiah 7:15)
Milk (Exodus 33:3; Job 10:10; Judges 5:25)

* Miscellaneous:
Eggs (Job 6:6; Luke 11:12)
Grape Juice (Numbers 6:3)
Honey (Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 8:8; Judges 14:8-9)
Locust (Mark 1:6)
Olive Oil (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)
Vinegar (Ruth 2:14; John 19:29)
Wine (Ezra 6:9; John 2:1-10)

Yummy, no?

Friday, April 10, 2009

World of Replacements

I don't know what it is, but somehow my kids have it in their heads that anything, and everything, can and should be replaced. Immediately.

The other night, Seth tried to take Woody's (from Toy Story) shirt off, which cannot be removed, which resulted in him ripping in half. (I suspect a pair of scissors was involved too, but he claims they weren't. Hard to tell with a 7 year old.) While he has another, better, newer Woody that he plays with far more, he came running to me, two halves of Woody in hand, immediately asking if we could go to the store and get a new one. I told him no. "Well, how 'bout later today?" "No." "Well, how about Dad takes me tomorrow?" "No." When Jeremy got home, the dialog started up again. Jeremy told him "maybe for Easter." Guess what? He's not getting it for Easter either. On principle, and to teach him an important life lesson, its not happening. No way, no how.

I don't think I am a mean mom, per se, but I do want to teach my kids important lessons in life, one of them being, be grateful for what you do have, and not greedy for the things you don't. Hence the reason neither myself, Jeremy, or the Easter Bunny are bringing Seth a new Woody. I mean, he's already got 1 more than a lot of kids do, and that is enough.

And, mind you, this isn't the first incident like this. It just bugs me so much that he has hardly any care or concern for his own things, but then the minute they break (or he ruins them), he thinks he is entitled to a replacement.

I don't get it... Jeremy works his tail off so that we can have the things we have, and I do my best not to spend more than we need to. And he does an exemplary job of modeling work ethic; you don't get something without working for it, and sometimes you have to work for a long time to save up for something you really want.

The more I have stewed on this, the more I have realized, I think our culture has a LOT to do with this! We live in the age of immediacy. If we want something, we can get it. Today. If we need something, we can obtain it. Right now. If its not in our immediate vicinity, we can order it online or drive an hour to get it. If its rare, we can still get it (for the right price). With the internet, we can find it. Our whole culture is immersed in this "gimme, gimme," immediate gratification mindset! I mean, whatever happened to working hard and actually earning something, rather than getting a hand-out??? (Oh boy...I could totally go on a political rabbit trail right now, but I'll spare you.)

And not to go on a tangent, but have you seen an average teenager's work ethic these days??? (Not talking about you, aren't typical, but that is a very good thing!) Its appaling!! In the age of credit cards, layaways, "bill me laters," payment plans, and parents who don't say no, kids feel an entitlement to "something for nothing." This is the "norm" of the future generation. Its truly scary and maddening!

I have been trying to teach my kids the difference between want and need, and between adequacy and abundance. I told them that God has called us to be grateful for what we have and to share from our abundance; that we only keep what we need, and give from our abundance to those who are in need of the things we have too much of. With this lesson, I got Seth to reluctantly relinquish some of his outgrown school clothes for his school's coat closet. *sigh* But the lesson was mostly lost. The next day, Woody broke and it was back to square one.

So how in the world, in this day and age, with all the outside influences doing their thing, am I supposed to instill this concept in my children? What do I do to get it to "click?" I don't honestly know. I am doing my best, but man, its tough to fight the flow!! ..But then again, contentment, hard work, gratefulness, and sharing are tough concepts for a lot of adults to wrap their brains (and hearts) around, much less a child. Still...I feel like my efforts are largely in vain. Oh well. I guess I have to just keep trying and hope I raise 'em right in the end.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Its official...I am a glutton for punishment!

What the heck was I thinking?!?!

This morning, I had to be up early to take Seth to school. Normally, I get up at 7:20 or thereabouts to make Seth's lunch, Jeremy takes him on his way to work, then I slooooowly get in the shower and get the rest of my morning routine done so that I can get Joy off to preschool (in theory) at 9. (The reason I say "in theory" is because I am a chronic "running-late"-er. I'm lucky if I get her there by 9:20.) But anyway, this morning Jeremy had to be at work at 7:30, so it was my job to get all 3 kids up and in the van by 7:45 to get Seth to school by 7:55. (And by some miracle, he was on time!)

So as I was driving home from the school, I had these grand ambitions of getting a jump on the day and running copious errands. I was doing well til about 10, at which point, the baby started fussing big time, so I decided to put it off until after I picked up Seth. Why make 2 trips out, and be on a time frame, with a fussy baby in tow? I think in the back of my mind, I knew it was a bad idea to put it off, but even after 28 years, I guess I still haven't yet learned my lesson about procrastination.

So I picked up Seth and headed up to Astoria. I had 3 places I really wanted to go, and 2 that were on the mental "if I am still sane I'll do them today" list. Needless to say, I barely made it through 2, and it took me 3 1/2 hours!

As much as I love my kids, and they are good kids with pretty good manners, it is nevertheless a HUGE toll on my sanity to go anywhere with all 3 of them - especially the grocery store.

Seth is in the whole begging phase. You know... "Hey Mom! Can I get a mango? Hey Mom! Can we get a frozen pizza? Hey Mom! Look at this cool toothbrush with Batman on it!" You get the picture. Add to that the fact he likes to touch everything and wander everywhere. Thank goodness Safeway is small and Clatsop County residents are, in general, pretty trustworth, because I nearly lost him twice. He runs ahead, he lags behind, but rarely is he right where he needs to be. Well, unless he is asking me for something.

Joy has this "thing" about riding on the back of the cart. The problem is, it makes it extremely hard to steer! I have to ground myself, bare down, and put my weight into every corner as to not tip my cart, dumping my groceries on the floor and both my girls on their heads. And being the stubborn child she is (she is her father's girl!), getting her to step off the cart, even for a split second, is a major challenge, and one I rarely have the energy to fully commit to. Oh, and lest I should forget to mention, we can NEVER go more than 2 aisles in without her whining that she needs to "go pee willy, willy, willy, willy, willy, willy bad" and can't wait because she's "almost going to wet my pants." And strangely, Safeway is the only place where she is totally convinced she can't hold it. (She had an accident at Safeway once when she was 2 1/2. Maybe that's it. Who knows?) It makes for a lot of waiting and backtracking. Rather irritating.

Then there's the baby. Overall, she isn't too bad because she is confined to the cart. But the main problem with her is that I can't park the cart close to the side of the aisle, or in 2 seconds flat she grabs a sale sticker and shoves it in her mouth. Then when I take it away, she screams bloody murder. So I then am that annoying lady who parks her cart in the middle of the aisle. And, without fail, EVERY single time I get to the register, she falls apart. I don't know what it is, but that is always the precise moment she decides she needs to nurse immediately and everyone is going to hear about it if it doesn't happen right then and there.

Its wierd though. I KNOW this is the trend. Yet, every single time I shop with all 3, I make a mental note not to do it again for a long while. But yet, every 2 weeks or so, I convince myself it won't be that stressful and decide to brave it. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

So yes, I am officially a glutton for punishment. I mean, why else would I put myself through this?