Monday, January 31, 2011

Fucking Happy

A couple of years ago I went through a rather rough spot where I struggled a great deal with what it meant to be a wife and mother. I suspect I was also dealing a bit with getting older and feeling rather dowdy and matronly. It was a pretty shitty time, and at the end, when it felt like everything was falling apart, I kept thinking "Why can't you just be fucking happy!?" And when it was all over, I swore I'd be joyful. And I am...


I feel guilty for feeling joyful! I mean, seriously, I'm obviously a psychological mess but it bugs me that I feel this sort of feminist existential angst in my joy. When I was pregnant with R, I was so freakin' happy. It was disgusting to even me who was loving it. I loved being with child. LOVED IT. I loved being a mom. I hated going to work (even though sometimes it was fun) and I utterly enjoyed being hermited with H and the beasties for a while. This was the life, I thought, as we read books, played in parks and spiraled around my growing belly.

I suspect a normal person would be content with this sentiment and just keep living.

Things are changing around here in a good way. H has gotten a response from a PH.D program. It appears likely that he will be accepted. I, on the other hand, have heard nothing. Yes, I know, it's early yet, but I am not feeling optimistic and frankly I am really okay with my life going in the other direction. A friend commented on one of my other posts that the role of mother suited me very well. And I smiled. Later I realized that this kind of comment would have sent me into a tizzy not that long ago. But now I agree. I like this role. It does suit me.

I am not a typical mother perhaps. I still swear like a sailor. I still like vampires. I do not listen to children's music. Nor do I wear Walt Disney for adult clothes. I am known to like really loud shows. I wear blood red lipstick that goes with my sometimes blood red hair. I like to read books about theory and history. I can on occasion best H in an intellectual debate.

But H and the beasties are my world.

And damn it I should just be fucking happy about it.

But I feel this maybe I am letting the 50s happy housewife tapeworm take over my brain. Will I be submitting to my husband next? Shouldn't I feel outraged about my own participation in my oppression? But I don't feel outraged. And I don't feel like I'm wasting my time either or that I am somehow less of a person. I don't feel like I am trapped in attic with yellow wall paper. I wonder if it's because I have a choice. I used to scoff a bit at women who told me that feminism was about making choices even if those choices meant staying home. Now I wonder if perhaps there isn't some truth to this idea.

And maybe that I should just say it "I'm fucking happy. I don't have time to be outraged by this life." Cause I don't have time. I'm too busy being outraged by world hunger, women who still don't choices, the poor, the oppressed. Those are the things that strike me as needing some outrage directed at them.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red Shoes

My grandmother is, and was, a classy dresser. She has a flair for combining clothes that results in dramatic but not tack looks. She's not rich and her clothes are never ostentatious but she is able to find looks that speak of elegance and a timeless kind of classic quality. She's the kind of woman who can go into Walmart and walk out with an outfit that no one would ever guess came from Walmart.

As a child, it was an special pleasure to watch my Grams dress for church. She always looks nice and it's rare to see her "dress down" but Sundays? Sundays were reserved for the best. I loved sitting on her bed watching her pull out clothes from her dresser. It was a big brown dressed with a huge mirror framed by ornate bordering. The middle opened like a closet, and she kept letters and photos in there. Insider the drawers were neatly arranged under garments and scarves. Her jewelry box was on top and she would pick out matching jewelry once she decided on an outfit. She spent time going through the closets, pulling out dresses and rejecting them by hanging them back in place. She has a few outfits I adored: a red dress simple but silky. I loved the way it felt on my fingers. A long black leather coat that she gave me when I was in college. When she finally picked an outfit, she would shower, put on her make up and do her hair. Then she would get dressed (she didn't want make up on her clothes).  This was a carefully organized procedure that resulted in what I was positive was the best looking grandmother in the world. I loved walking into church with her and feeling that everyone was looking at this beautiful woman. She was a movie star in her big sunglasses and coordinated jewelry.

But perhaps what was the most remarkable was that my grandmother often had "revelations" about what she should wear. Most of the time, she just choose her own outfits but sometimes she believed that God "convicted" her to wear certain things. And they weren't always what one would consider appropriate things. In addition, to great clothes, my grandmother possessed a fabulous shoe collection. She had many pairs of heels in a hue of colors. They were all pumps, classic and simple with long, pointy heels. One day she told us, she felt strongly that God was telling her to wear a pair of bright red heels to church. She argued with God about how these shoes were  appropriate but God insisted she wear them. After fighting over this with God, she finally wore the heels. She said she felt very self conscious walking into church with those heels one, sure that everyone was staring and judging her. After the sermon, my grandmother said God told her the shoes were a vanity and to leave them at the altar.

I still can close my eyes, and see those red heels, shiny and bright, on the beige carpet of the altar.

Mystery Men and Women in Love

Like all of my memories our meeting has become a series of snapshots loosely connected together with fictional string and a dose of he said, she said. Coherence comes only with telling. But sometimes like tonight, 11 years married, surrounded by beasties, I like to close my eyes and savor the snapshots.

Seeing him for the first time, standing in my yard with two other exchange students. I was drunk but even drunk, I knew he was hot. I looked at my friend Sean and said "Who's that?" with a head nod. "Oh he's the new Spanish assistant." Sean answered. "I think I'll go introduce myself." I said and I walked down the stairs, over the patio, towards my fate. 

The first movie we saw together was "Mystery Men." I had decided to avoid him. I was already falling for him. We had sat in my room a few days before in front of my book shelf. My room was tiny and cramped. Filled with a huge bed and too many bookshelves. We were glowing from strands of Christmas lights hung all over my ceiling. He had confessed a love of D. H. Lawrence, and my heart beat faster for this man who not only loved to read but loved to read my own favorite. Our heads were close together, and I was on fire from his breath so near my ear. Angel interrupted us....

Later after the movie, we stood in my kitchen, drinking and laughing. I flirted outrageously. He laughed but didn't flirt back. Until later when he kissed me. 

I told him "I love you" in the middle of a water gun fight. He squirted me with a water machine gun but didn't tell me he loved me. I sat on the old plaid couch feeling scared. I loved him so much.

After I introduced him to my mom she called  "He's the one. Marry this guy."

On Halloween, I took three pregnancy tests with my friend Molly waiting at the bathroom door. The lines didn't lie. I was breathless with fear and excitement. I called him and he said "I have to take a shower." But then he was there, hugging me fiercely. I told him he didn't have to stay but I wanted him too. I wanted to have this baby with him. Our baby. He was angry "Of course I want the baby!" And he did.

Our wedding came between two snow storms. I wore a dark blue velvet dress that I had bought at Sears. My friend Andy had driven me there so I could pick something out. I had to find something that would cover my pregnant belly. I wore my hair tied back with a blue silk ribbon. We married at a little church in Maine surrounded by friends, my mom, his mom, and my grandparents. My grandfather bought me a dozen yellow roses to carry. We read a poem to each other. He in Spanish and me the English translation. Afterwards, we ate a Chinese restaurant, and had a crazy party where our friends drank and danced. We slept on my bed, entwined.

And then the look in his eyes when we became three. 

I have not always deserved this man that came to me from so far away. But each day I am thankful that he sticks around despite this. Sometimes I look over and I feel my breath catch as if I am seeing for the first time. Or I wake up to his body pressed against mine, his sleeping breath by my ear, and know joy. It's that simple. That complicated. Forever.

Friday, January 28, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Souelmama: {This Moment}: A Friday ritual. A single photo: no words, capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause savor and remember.

Year of Pleasures 4

Cooking with Piper. Piper has taken being displaced as the baby of the family remarkably well. She's struggled with some jealously issues but for the most part, she's been her wonderful cheerful self. Piper is just a happy kid. She was totally my baby for five years before the arrival of R and we both enjoyed every second of it. She's super social and the toughest part of having a little sister is having to share her mama time. I'm bad at this. I admit that when I have a baby I become really engrossed in the baby. I mean, to some extent I think it's normal and necessary. The baby needs you in ways that older kids do not but I am such a baby person. It's shocking, I know, but I freaking love me some baby. Thus when a new one comes along I tend to become engrossed. Luckily H picks up the slack because he's better with the older ages. 

 Still Piper needs mama time everyday. I tried to teach her some reading stuff because she wanted to learn to read but R isn't always so well behaved during those sessions. I kept trying to figure out a way to go out with just Piper but this lead to the other kids wanting a lone time too. When you have three older kids this get expensive and time consuming super fast. Finally it hit me. Cooking. It's something I do everyday and it's something Piper always wants to help me with. I could wear R on my back and have her out of the way.

Of course it was not as easy as it sounds. I'm a perfectionist loner by nature and I like to do things on my own. Cooking is also my time to de-stress. I love cooking and it never fails to calm me. However cooking with a chatty five year old is not calming. Our first few sessions drove me mad. I would get tense, sometimes yell, and then Piper was hurt. It was not what I envisioned. But after a few sessions, I learned to just roll with it. Yeah Piper stirs to hard and sends flour flying everywhere. It's okay. It will wash. We can laugh about it, and I can teach her to be more gentle. And now Piper is becoming quite the cook. She can measure, stir and put cookies on the pan. She can shape pizza dough into her own miniature little pizza. And more importantly, she can be mama's baby all over again..or as she said tonight "Not mama's baby but  Mama's big girl."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I'm standing at the counter, doing dishes (recognize a theme here?), and planning the day (again a theme...). This morning, I am thinking about homeschooling, and how about I need to get my butt moving on teaching these beasties something! Occasionally I feel very tense about this teaching thing. I start to worry about a twenty year old who can't add, and what will happen if they want to go to college and I HAVEN'T DONE MY JOB! I don't think the beasties appreciate these panic attacks because not only do they result in a sudden flurry  of busy work and an impatient not very nice mom. Indeed when I finally start the dishwasher, I sit with Boy Beastie at the table with his math book. He's sulky and reluctant to work and when I push he wont' answer or answers so wrong I hope to all that's holy that's he just being defiant. I freak because he keeps giving these off the wall answers and then I yell. He starts to cry, and we both feel miserable. Luckily my beasties are forgiving.

After we hug, and move onto funnier aspects of our day, I wonder if he's having a hard time with directions. I start to design lesson plans on directions in my head. I easily revert back to teacher mode and am trying to figure out how to make it fun. And revelation hits...

I look over at Boy Beastie who is on the computer.  He is watching something on YouTube. He jumps up and runs into the playroom, returning with a box of Legos. He starts the video, pauses it and begins to pull out Legos. He does this a few times, and then he begins to build. He's decided he wants to build a Lego tank so on his own he's searched YouTube for demonstrations. Once he found the video he began to build the tank. He didn't need me to create a lesson plan. He's already ahead of me.

I realized this is what I want for my children. I want them to learn how to search out knowledge on their own.When they want to know something, they need to know where to look. They don't necessarily need someone to hand them the knowledge although sometimes turning to a knowledgable person might be the thing to do. In my teaching experience this one area is always shockingly neglected. Most of my students are passive vessels waiting for me to hand them not just knowledge but opinions. They are unable to look for knowledge or information on their own.

Umberto knows the math in his workbook when it makes sense to know it. And if he doesn't I am confident he knows what to do, who to ask and where to look for that information. Now Mama just needs to chill out and keep plugging away at those damn dishes.

Domestic Ginger Is...Well, Lazy

And slovenly as well. I feel a tad guilty as laziness is one of the SEVEN DEADLY SINS.
See the chick wallowing on some kind of animal in a state of ennui? That's me. Except I'd have a laptop propped on the animal with Facebook before me. Yeah, I spent entirely too much time doing not much but Facebook games. Not really productive. Nor very conducive to having a clean  house.

I've gotten better but I can feel that after an initial two weeks of gung ho scheduling, I'm already starting to loose steam and my house may be a huge mess soon. I'm trying to muster up the energy each day to clean and honestly it's hard. It's a lot more fun to watch things grow on Facebook. Cleaning house is not fun. At all. It's even less fun when you have four beasties who mess it up as fast you clean.

Of course that's just another excuse because with a little bit of effort I could actually fight with said beasties and try to raise them into humans who do not live slovenly. But I'm lazy remember? Sometimes that fight seems like too much effort. These are all just excuses. I have plenty of excuses: I'm tired (which is true when your baby beasties wakes up on the hour to nurse). I'm busy (sort of true, I do teach). Once I run out of excuses, I get defiant and rebellious. Well who cares about a clean house anyway? Cleaning is just a Victorian creation designed to keep idle women busy so they don't have nervous breakdowns. Who really needs their house to be as clean as the modern demands anyway?

But what it really boils down is that of all the deadly sins, laziness is my curse. What a hard thing to admit. I suspect much of the laziness comes from having a very undisciplined self. I am not good at making myself do things. I put stuff off to the last minute. I'm eh about editing my papers because it takes effort and time. I slap off half-assed writing things all the time (including here but hey it is MY blog). I have many, many things I'd like to do but I'm too lazy to really focus on perfecting even one of these things.

My laziness does not make me a better person. It makes a mediocre person. I feel rather disappointed in myself. There is so much MORE I could be doing with my time. More that I could be doing for those I love. It's hard to look in the mirror and face these major character flaws but it's time. I have four beasties who look to me as a guide and I can already them falling to into my lazy habits. I want better for them. And I do think that it's better to follow through with things. To put as much effort as you have into projects that mean something to you. to clean the house because this small step is the beginning I hope of a more disciplined year.

Monday, January 24, 2011


My mom asked me last night if I wouldn't be slightly relieved if I didn't get accepted into a Ph.D program.

I've been thinking a lot about that question.

Last night I answered that not really. I didn't think I'd be horribly upset but I didn't think I'd be relieved either. But that answer changes, it seems, minute by minute. It's the "On the other hand.." situation. I have invested a number of years (complete with pain, etc, etc) into the academic aspect of my life. I have imagined myself as an academic for at least 15 years. On the other hand, I never envisioned a world where I was pretty happy having a huge family and most of the chores that come from having this huge family (not housework. I HATE housework and I always will). There are also other things I would do well. But then it does feel a bit like a painful inside the body leap when I think about not doing a Ph.D, and an even bigger leap of fear when I imagine starting something new.

Today a friend posted this article. And Cary Tennis' response to this person's crisis was one of those "Wow I get what he's saying" moments. The basic gist is that the writer to Cary needs help because she screwed up her chances at a Ph.D and now feels like she can't live without it. She wanted to be an actress originally but her parents talked her out of it. Cary's response however is what hit on a couple of levels.

First he tells her: "Can we just stop right there? What's wrong is that you are not acting. The longer you pretend that you're not supposed to be acting, the longer you are going to suffer. It doesn't matter what else you do. You're not doing the thing that you were meant to do."

Now I am not sure how I feel about this. I do not have an actress under my dress (hehe). But I do have a writer. I have wanted to be a writer since I was six and realized that PEOPLE. REAL PEOPLE! WROTE BOOKS! I still remember that exciting moment when I realized I was a person and that I too could write books. I dedicated most of my young life to writing stories. And then I hit UMF, got rejected from their creative writing program. I took that rejection to mean that even though I was a real person, I was not a real writer. So I stopped writing. Well I stopped writing stories and I started to write academic papers. People seemed to like those boring things so I kept at it. And I do think I am very good at what I do. But it's not the writing I dreamed, and still dream, of doing. Deep inside I still want to be a "writer." I want to tell stories.  But realistically I am not quite sure how I am going to pursue this. I have four beasties, not a lot of time, and even less money. And I'll admit that I fantasize a bit that if I don't get the Ph.D maybe I can try to sell something I've been working on...or that my blog will take off, and I'll be like Pioneer Woman or SouleMama or something.....

Okay enough of that fantasy...

The second part of his answer resounded even more on a more realistic level: "Today I write. It works out OK for me. But I do not live in fear that one day the writing will stop and I will fall apart. I know I could do other things. I could play music. I could run boats on the Chesapeake. I could wash pots. I'll be OK. That is the most valuable thing of all, to know that we can be OK. That is priceless."

And this is where I am. I will not die if I don't become an academic and if I don't write. It is maybe enough to acknowledge that I want to be a writer and that I am a bit more ambiguous about the academic aspect of my life. I suspect that writing will be my great passion but not writing not publishing is not going to destroy me because it is okay. Having a family, being a mother, wearing that label is okay. Hell, it's great. The greatest joy of my life frankly. Maybe I'm not June Cleaver...well maybe a punk rock June Cleaver....but I am someone who freakin' loves being with her kids, loves having the days spent cuddling beasties while we read. It's a surprise but it works. This is okay. It is okay if I don't get a Ph.D. I will do something else. I will catch some babies because that would be okay too. 

I'll be okay....joyfully so. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More Waiting

We are still waiting. Waiting for answers. Checking our email and various website a hundred times a day. This might be more nerve wracking than the actual application process. At least during that torture something was being done. Now we just have to wait and do...nothing. It is a lesson in stillness of spirit. It is a lesson in not rushing time. The impulse to hurry through the days is strong.

But there is a new member to our family, and each day is a miracle when you have a baby. Watching her become a person, aware and more here than there does not need to be rushed. At nine months, she has been outside as long as inside. And she is know opening up to the great world. I love watching her become aware that she is a person on her own. She is half frightened and clings to me but in the next moment she opens up. She crawls away only to cry out for me to come and hold her close. Soon she will crawl away, towards another, and not look so back so quickly. And in this moment, I have to be still and relish each second of Rowena's beautiful first months.  They are gone so quickly, and they are not to be squandered with worry and anticipation.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Camille has been having a pretty rough couple of weeks. I've started to wonder if maybe she has seasonal depression (I do and have been struggling these last couple of weeks). She broke down right before we left for the birthday party, before we got out of the van at the birthday party, and then a bit on the way home from the birthday party. I thought we'd see improvement after the party but she's the same. She cries four or five times a day because she's afraid she's tired. She asks us over and over "Do I look tired?"Sometimes she cries even when we say "No you look fine." Before bed she starts to cry because she's worried she won't sleep. Basically she is obsessed with her issues surrounding sleep. It's like she can't think of anything else.

I hate labeling. And I know the danger that can come with labeling but at this point I feel like we have to get an official diagnosis with Camille. I feel at a lost to help her and it's heartbreaking watching her struggle with things. I don't know what is going on with her. Sometimes I feel fairly confident that it's Asperger's but other times I wonder if we're dealing with anxiety and maybe some OCD. I just don't know anymore nor do I know how to help her. I think we need a label to just figure out what's wrong. And I keep telling myself that she does not have to be defined by that label. The label can just be a stepping stone to help her with life.

H and I have decided to bring her to therapy. I'm thinking possibly a developmental psychologist first. Once we know what we're dealing with, we can get her help. I don't want to do medication so I'm hoping some other therapeutic resources. Wish us luck.

Friday, January 21, 2011

{This Moment}

Taken from Soulemama{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Year of Pleasures 3

Not really knitting although knitting is for sure one of my pleasures but rather this week's pleasure is "getting" a new technique. I've been terrified of the double-pointed needles since beginning my knitting journey. It always looked so awkward, even in the hands of a pro. I've messed around trying to use them hats but it was always so difficult. Mostly I used round needles and only reverted to the doubles when I was near the end. But I found a pattern I really wanted to make, yoga socks. These socks have holes for the toes and heels so you can grip a yoga map but still keep your feet warm. I thought they'd be a great gift for my in-laws who are both yoga enthusiasts. And they'd be fab for me since I HATE having my toes covered. Plus once I practiced on some okay yarn, I have that yummy wool yarn that H bought me for Christmas.

It was rough going. I started and frogged the pattern about five times. Usually I only got a few rows in before I screwed up. At one point, I had my first inch down and realized it was screwed up. It was horribly slow going, and I felt more frustrated than relaxed. Damn it a hobby is supposed to make you feel relaxed! And then last night, it just all came together. I no longer felt uncomfortable with the needles and I was working faster than before. Not that it's perfect and I can see the errors but it's coming along and I'm confident I'll finish this sock. Amazing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Camille had heartburn Monday night. At seven. We were at a loss as to what would make her feel stressed enough to get heartburn. She hadn't eaten anything odd. It had to be stress. H and I were both a little sad that she had this kind of anxiety at seven.

Then this morning she woke up early and started crying because she couldn't go to sleep. And she had a melt down when I started to get things ready for the park. The park wasn't unexpected. I had told her last night we were going to a park day. She did what she normally does and freaked out right before we left. I am not the best parent when this occurs. I'm already stressed out trying to get four kids dressed and ready to go. R is usually whining because I am not nursing her or she's tired. I'm trying to get food and water ready so we don't spend money out. And when Camille decides she doesn't want to go out, add her sobbing hysterically to the mixture. She follows me around sobbing about either being in pain or just not wanting to go. Today it was a combination of pain and being tired. I had to send her to her room so I wouldn't yell. I felt awful. I felt like I should be able to take the time to sit and work through whatever is going on but my patience is an all time low. I'm depressed. I needed to be out. I didn't  have it in me to spend an hour working through whatever was going on with Camille.

When we left, she was calm, and even seemed happy. Once at the park, she became anxious. She was clinging to me and while it drove me nuts, I let her do it. Our friend who had arrived before we did asked her how she was doing it and she sobbed out "Tomorrow is _____'s birthday party." See Camille has been invited to her first all girl birthday party. She's extremely excited but she's obviously nervous too. She's afraid if she doesn't sleep she won't be able to go. She's scared about what to do once she gets there. She's freaked out about what we're going to get for a gift. This moment she's been looking forward to for a week, this fun event, has become a source of anxiety for her.

I feel awful. I feel bad that I wasn't more patience. More prepared for her to react this way. I never know what's going to be a source of anxiety for Camille. And then what do I do when it happens? I know park days cause anxiety and stress. She freaks out before almost everyone we go to. Once there she's usually okay but getting there is stressful for both of us. But what do I do? I can't stay at home all the time. The other kids, and me need outside time. Hell, Camille needs outside time. With the party, I wondered if I should have not told her. But then I suspect we'd have a meltdown because it was unexpected. Camille likes to plan. She even has a calendar where she writes down weekly events. She likes to be prepared.

I feel like a mothering fail with Camille of late. Sometimes I just get her and we work it out. This last week though has just felt like a lot of mama yelling and Camille crying.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Domestic Ginger Vs. Ennui

And ennui won. I'm so far behind my schedule and it's only Tuesday. I'm trying hard to not just give up and let it slide for a week. I'm not sure what happened. Things started to go off track on Saturday and in my defense, I did go and work for a couple of hours at my office. Sunday hit and we were busy as we always are on Sundays. Yesterday we went shopping, and instead of cleaning the kitchen I baked. A lot. Like 4 dozen cookies and a thing of baked oatmeal. But I didn't clean the kitchen which isn't gross but could easily turn out that way with a bit of neglect. I could catch up today but I have to teach later.

In my defense, I am exhausted. R has been sleeping crap. Last night I was hit with insomina (so grossly unfair) and didn't get to bed until 2. At that point, R woke up and I had to nurse her before going to sleep. And then she woke up every hour. I finally got up at 8:45 because I couldn't breath and there was no point in dozing off for 10 minutes to only have her wake up again. Couple this with feeling rather depressed and anxious (my Toronto application is "under review") and you get someone who is not really into cleaning. More like sitting around and feeling sorry for her and umm...baking cause that's what I do when I'm depressed.

But I can't let the ennui get me down.


There are these silent nights when I feel as if I have lost touched with the world. As if I have let things out that have built up a wall around me. Sometimes, when I sit here, everyone else asleep, I wonder if there is nothing beyond the door. Out of touch with friends, conversations, events. All lost into the night outside.

Monday, January 17, 2011


As a type A personality, I have a bit of a hard time letting go of the A (being anal). I've calmed down some since having a million children because well anal + lots of children=fail most of the time. But it's still there and it manifests itself in lots of anxiety over things I can't control. There have been sleepless nights of late as I worry about those damn graduate school applications. I have done the best I can, and now I have to wait. I'm not good at waiting, and I'm not good about waltzing into an unknown future. At this point, even not getting accepted would allow me some breathing space to figure out what I need to do next. And no matter how much I tell myself that there is NOTHING I can do, I can't help but lay awake trying to figure out what to do.

Yesterday's mass wasn't a really good one. The homily was preachy which I found annoying but was expecting at some point. Unlike last Sunday's homily it didn't really give me much to reflect on (well it did but not in the way the priest intended, I'm sure). But the prayer before the Eucharist was beautiful. Perhaps because R fell asleep this time, I felt like I had a moment to pray and to reflect. I prayed about surrender this time. The image of Christ on the cross was very present to me in this moment. No matter what you believe about the nature of Christ, the symbolic nature of his sacrifice is all about surrender. The ultimate surrender in many ways. Surrendering to pain and death.

As I knelt in prayer, I wrestled with this idea. I have always seen the act of surrendering as weak. And honestly I felt like Christ's "lessons" in dying was weak. There was something repugnant to me about submission. I suspect the whole concept was colored by my own negative experience as a woman in a Conservative Evangelical church. When I left, I vowed I would not ever submit or surrender myself to anything or anybody. But as I knelt, an act of submission, I thought about how much submitting and surrendering I have undergone in my life since having started my family. There is no way numerous people are going to be able to live together without some kind of this activity happening. And it's not just been me doing the submitting and surrendering. It's all of us including H. It's been a two way street and there's nothing weak in this action. In fact, it's been an act of courage and strength and trust.

What I was doing yesterday as I prayed was the same thing I had been doing with my family. I was surrendering what I could not control. It is an act I will have to perform again and again throughout my life. I wish I could say it has brought me a lot of peace. There is a sense of peace for sure but there is also fear. I do not fully trust religion or God. My past constantly trickles into my present. I remember that the lesson of submission and surrender I learned before was in many way selfish. There was an assumption that as a women I was expected to submit more. And while there was lip service given to surrendering to Christ, it was just lip service. Really I was surrendering to the men in the church. There was no give and take like I see in my family. When I am at these quiet moments of prayer, however, I do see that there is a give and take. With Christ as the example, a surrendering for all humans, there is a relationship. I can see that my surrender is a mirror reflecting that single act.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Washing Dishes

Each morning, I take a few minutes to do the dishes left over from midnight snacking. The baby is usually content to sit in her chair and eat some puffs. I do not like doing dishes but I like the satisfaction of watching them disappear from the counter, neatly aligned in the dishwasher. In the morning, I do not feel the hectic rush to load up the dishes as fast as possible. There are not other little mouths to feed, band-aids to apply, paints to set up. It is just me, the cat and the baby. And St. Jude.

On the counter by the coffee maker, a five day candle flickers, casting a watery reflection on the white surface upon which it rests. Behind the candle, tucked up on a tiny ridge is a St. Jude card. We inherited this tradition from my mother-in-law. Each time I see the card, there amongst the clutter of our life, I am reminded to offer up a prayer. A prayer about our future. An offering of hope that one of us or both of us will be accepted into graduate school. It is an act of letting go when I utter those little prayers. I have no control of my application at this point in the process. Yet I spend much of my day fretting with worry. But now this moment, quiet and simple, no drama, allows me to put that worry away. To offer up to something higher than myself. It is no longer my worry. For a moment, I can breath and recenter myself holding onto a bride between heaven and earth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Year of Pleasures 2

Surprise gifts in the mail from friends! We got a notice of a package in the office on THURSDAY! But we kept missing the office open hours and then it snowed and snowed. Finally H got the package yesterday and it was this lovely toy from a DDC friend. We were all touched and Rowena loved her new present. 

I know that people sort of brush aside Internet friendships but I value mine. This DDC was wonderful when I was pregnant with R. I had no pregnant friends and I'm sure that I was driving my non-pregnant friends mad with my pregnancy talk. Going online and finding not just a space to discuss my pregnancy but also a bunch of new friends was one of the highlights of this pregnancy. It moves me that Aimee thought of Rowena and sent this out. These women are just as much a part of my women community as the women I know in real life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Kind of Kids Do You Want?

This article has burnt a swath through the online world, and normally this means I wouldn't even touch it. I find myself shying away from commenting what has been commented a hundred times before and usually in smarter more well though out ways. But this article has made me think, and my reaction to it is a bit different than many of the commentaries I've been reading.

Entitled "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," Amy Chua outlines her parenting methods which she claims create perfect children. These children are much better than "Western" children. They excel at academics and music. Well, piano and cello. She won't let them play anything else. She goes on to outline her extreme methods of achieving such children including calling her daughter garbage for being disrespectful. She details hours of lessons forced through denial of food and bathroom rights. The children are not allowed to voice their own thoughts and desires. They are made to feel shame if they fail because it is a reflection on the family and not them.

Of course I cringed over some of the things said and done. These are not things I would ever do to my children UNLESS I wanted to produce the kind of children she has created. Her methods produce the result she desired in children. Parenting is about shaping our children with our values. I know that many of us think we can raise children who choose their own values but I'd argue that the best we can do is raise children who think that choosing one's own values is a good thing....and, well, that mindset is a value. So if I wanted to raise kids who value only success, competition, perfection and ultimately being followers then I can why Chua's method would be appealing.

But I don't want to raise those kind of children. When I finished the article, I found myself asking myself "What kind of children do I want?" And I remembered the best thing a teacher ever said to me about Umberto (before we began homeschooling). We were sitting there, in these little tiny chairs, our knees drawn up to chest, nervous. Umberto wasn't doing so hot academically, and I think we both felt a little guilt. We didn't really push it although we read him to a lot. The teacher began with "Umberto is the most compassionate kid in this class. If someone needs a friend, or is having a bad day, they can count on Umberto." I was so proud. This was better then "Your son is so brilliant." Or "Your son plays the piano like a genius."

You see I would rather have kids who are compassionate. Kids who care about those around them. I don't give a shit if my ten year old is reading Hemingway and writing really brilliant essays about that experience. It doesn't matter that my  kid doesn't play the piano like Glenn Gould. Rather my kid is NICE. Because really at the end of they day, doing the genius thing is not going to make him a better person. Having compassion for those around him makes him a better person. Recognizing when people are in pain and helping them makes him a better person.

And what happens when you deny your child play dates? When you force them to practice the viola for hours every day followed by hours of homework? They miss out on being with other humans. The most important lesson we have as humans is to take care of each other, but if we're too busy trying to be perfect, we're going to miss that opportunity.

I want my children to be compassionate, moral human beings who recognized that their ultimate responsibility is not to their own abilities nor towards me nor towards themselves. Rather their ultimate responsibility is towards humanity.

Happy Fat

"The funny thing is, that fat girl hiding in my mother's photo albums, the one in the ugly clothes with the slumped shoulders, she had a pretty good life. Given the choose between that life and the life of a skinny starlet in rehab, I'd put the fat suit back on fast enough to jam the zipper." From Half-Assed

The first time I reached goal in WW, the leader asked me "How does your husband feel?" I didn't understand the question. What did my husband have to do with my weight loss? And then I realized that the question was really "How does your husband feel about getting a thin wife back?" I kind of laughed because H wants me to be healthy but he's never been invested in me being thin. I explained to the group that my husband was happy for me but considering that he had meet me when I was 170 he didn't really expect a "thin" wife. In fact, H's concern has always been that I wold get too thin. I don't think anyone believed me because the assumption of course is that your partner should love you no matter what you look like but they'd obviously prefer a thinner person to love.

Reading the above quote and thinking about that story reminded me that much of the happiness I have found in my life didn't come from being thin. In fact being thin has often brought a lot of unhappiness into my life. 

Here's what happened when I was fat:
I meet and married H.
I was pregnant and bore four healthy amazingly wonderful babies.
I completed a BA and a MA.
I moved to a whole new city.
I started homeschooling.
I meet great friends.
I had many wonderful apartments and friends to share those apartments with.

Life was good as a fat grrl. And I realized today that I don't need to be thin to be happy.Happiness doesn't come because of a number on the scale. I think I thought that life would just be better if I could lose weight. Each time I've got to goal, I've been confronted with the reality that being thin didn't solve any problems. It took until last night to realize that I can be happy fat. It seems so obvious doesn't it? But it wasn't me. For so long I associated being thin with being the most amazing thing eva. But really being thin opened up a whole Pandora's box of troubles for me.

This time around I'm losing weight not for the joy  it will bring  but because I owe it to my family and my body to be healthy. I want to eat foods that make me feel good as opposed to foods that make me feel sluggish and sick. I want to be able to push my body in exercise and feel the pride that comes from being strong. I don't have to go seeking happiness anymore. It's already here not bundled up in the package of a black pair of scales.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Domestic Ginger Vs. Snow Day

When I first thought up today's blog plot, I figured I could safely say that the Snow Day won hands down. After all the first big bit of my day involved mostly lounging. Last night, we moved our mattress into the living room to make the potential snow day more fun. I woke up surrounded by beasties who were sleeping and H who was messing around on his computer. I managed to get up for coffee and breakfast and then I just lounged around more. R was thrilled. There's nothing she loves more than having me down at her level. I messed around on my computer until it died (stupid Mac). Then I laid around trying to fix it. I laid around playing on H's computer, playing with R, until I decided that I should bring R outside. The next hour was spent eating a hurried lunch and getting beasties ready to go outside.

When we were ready, I looked at them and burst out laughing. H nodded and said "We look like hobos." And did we ever. We had on mismatched gloves, assorted layers of clothes, raggedy scarves. Piper had plastic shopping bags over her sneakers to keep water out. Totally bad parenting moment. I'm just so cheap and still such a Mainer (which some same is synonymous)...I can't see spending a fortune in winter clothes that the kids will only wear once or twice. We paraded our ragged arses around for about fifteen minutes before we were all freezing. Even R who likes the cold was getting pretty pissy about the wind blowing snow in her face (she actually looked cute and not homeless like the rest of us). I decided it was our "The Glass Palace" moment.

When we got upstairs, I felt like I should motivate myself to actually get on my schedule but I didn't. I laid around some more because I was tired. I sort of worked on my classes. Mostly I played games on Facebook. I did cook supper and dessert. And I watched "Percy Jackson" with Umberto. I was just about to post about what a lazy bitch I was and how I had only managed to do one week on my schedule when H realized he needed to send some stuff out.

He saved me from losing. Domestic Ginger got off her fat ass and started to clean. Mondays are designated kitchen days. I cleaned the kitchen. Did the dishes, wiped down the counters and washed the floors. It looks great. I also started some laundry. And while we didn't do school today, the kids had spent about an hour with H last night looking up Greek monsters and the myths about those monsters. After watching Percy Jackson, Umberto wanted to do more reading about Greek myths. It wasn't much but it was something.

I'm finding that if I can just push myself to get up and do it, it goes fairly quickly. But it's the initial getting up that is so hard. However, last week I did it. I mostly followed our schedule and the house got done. I didn't beat myself up about when it got done as long as it was done by the time I went to bed. And by keeping up with the bits of picking up, the house always looks decent. It's not spotless but that's okay. I don't mind if our house looks like people live in it. I just don't want it to look like people don't care about it.

I was going to change the schedule around to better reflect how slowly things get done but I decided to leave it as is. It's okay if I can't do it all but it's nice to see what needs to be done. I'm feeling more productive too and feeling more pushed to organize other things. I have plans to get all my class stuff organized and photocopied weeks in advance. I can already tell that this is going to save me a lot of stress and time once the semester starts. And so far I don't feel like we're sacrificing our spontaneous natures in the process of being more with it. So week one, I think goes to Domestic Ginger. Ding. Ding.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Ginger Goes To Mass Take 2

Today's mass was the "Mass That Almost Didn't Happen." I've been having a hard time trying to figure out when to go to Mass. Sundays are kind of busy around here. In addition to my WW meeting, I have all the preparation stuff for the week ahead: shopping, cooking prep, classes prep, homeschooling prep. I pondered giving up WW which would save us money plus free up time on Sunday. BUT I came to my senses. WW is the only thing that seems to keep me eating healthy and losing weight. After my return to sanity, I considered trying another meeting but I really LOVE my new WW leader. Anyone who has ever done WW knows how hard it is to find a good leader. I nixed that idea. I checked out the other mass times hoping for some that weren't on Sundays. There are vigils on Saturday evening but I have no idea what is the difference between a vigil and a normal mass. A vigil seems like it might be more...solemn? Not the kind of thing to which one wants to bring four heathen children. There was a five o'clock mass though, and while I thought it might not have many families, I decided to try it and see how it panned out.

Everything went according to plan. I went to WW. I came home and ate. Then it started to fall apart. R refused to take a nap. H took Piper out for some one on one time and was late. I was kind of frazzled when he showed up. I hate being late. I was exhausted and R was being difficult. I said "Forget it. We'll never make it in time." H insisted that we try to make it. I kind of grumpily agreed as we needed to go shopping in that area anyway. As we were driving downtown, I felt so irritated and angry. It didn't seem like the best attitude to start my experience. I figured we weren't going to make it anyway so there was no point in trying to jolly myself out of it.

But we got there in time, and there were people coming in after us. R who had been sleeping woke right up. She seemed content though to check the church out and flirt with the African couple behind us. I was checking things out as well. Okay I was checking out the people. If this was the church we were going to be attending, I wanted to make sure it was a good fit. There were a few families there with children (some even louder than mine). We were again the biggest family. There were a lot of youngish people....single, in their twenties. People were dressed modestly but there were several people in jeans. There was also a fair amount of diversity. I felt comfortable (except I'm dumb and didn't know how to cross myself when I entered or dip my fingers in the holy water, or curtsy at the altar).

And then the mass started and it wasn't long before I knew this was it. I can't explain what happened but there was an experience. Again it wasn't the hand from heaven but it was more dramatic than I anticipated. The singing, the incense, the procession to the altar were beautiful. The ritualistic gestures over the communion spoke of a continuity that set the mass a bit out of time. The homily was smart, timely, and poignant. I found myself near tears a couple of times. Staring at the reliefs of Christ on the cross moved me deeply. It stirred something in me. Something that I didn't think could ever be stirred again. It was a quiet experience however and I never felt like I was being knocked flat. It was just again that feeling of coming home.

There was something genuine in the experience that I have found lacking in other religious things I have tried of late. When I tried to do Neopaganism again, I felt like I was playing at something. I know for many that experience is valid and I have no issues with this but for me it didn't feel real. This felt real and comfortable. I don't feel like there was some great change in me but rather that I was satisfying something that had long been neglected. It was a feeling that I was just augmenting myself.

After writing so much on an academic level about conversion I am finding myself feeling sort of odd about my own conversion. I recognize the elements that are common across conversion stories in my own story. But there is still this part of me that cries out "This is mine! It is real. It is true." And it resists an over analysis so I feel like right now my posts about this are fuzzy and incoherent and mundane. I hope that as the days pass I can process this a bit more and explain more clearly what happened.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


I had a nice reprieve from worrying about graduate school once all the applications were finally sent out. At that point, I was just so tired of them, it was a relief to just not think about them. There were so many other things to focus on...Christmas, potential conversion, grading for my class, etc. And now all that is over. The tree is gone (FINALLY). My syllabi are pretty much done. I am ready for a new semester. This also leaves me with a bit more time to think about...cue Jaws theme...the future! Of course we are also getting closer and closer to the time when we'll be hearing from schools.

Once again, I am finding it hard to sleep. I don't know what I fear most though....getting in or not getting in. I already decided that we go where H is accepted. He's the most likely to get the job in the end. I can imagine a life as a midwife which is my back up plan. On some nights, this is an image that brings me a great deal of contentment. But on other nights, the idea of starting on a totally new career fills me with terror. I know the academic life and while it is not easy it is known. 

However there is also a part of me that fears going for my Ph.D. I worry about doing the Ph.d and raising my children as I want to raise them. Wonder if everyone is right and the academic life is incompatible with my life as a mother? Wonder if I am not smart enough? Or tough enough? Wonder if I hate it? Wonder if it totally changes me in an unpleasant way? 

And then I start to worry about the practical aspects of this next step. Money. Moving. It's all so much to deal with and I can't even appease myself with my normal antidote of planning. I don't even know WHERE we're going. We're in a strange place because we know we are going we just don't know where.

H has been rather rock like through my anxiety but even he has a bit of an attack a few nights ago. We both have a lot riding on this plan, and there is the other option: Neither of us get accepted! Gasp. I hadn't even thought of that one until he brought it up. I figured one of us would get accepted. We spent one evening kind of freaking out but then we realized that if neither of us got in we were free to go anywhere. That was kind of exciting. And scary. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Year of Pleasures 1

I finally had to jump on this one. I first began to read about the year of pleasures from The Trivial Pursuit of Happiness, and then another friend began to do the same on her blog, Croenblog. I loved the idea but am always a little afraid I'll upset someone if I pick up their ideas. But I kept thinking about things in terms of "Oh this is totally a pleasure!" I hope that my friends see this as the compliment it effect someone so that they begin to think about their daily in the terms is a special thing.

So each Thursday, I'll do a Year of Pleasures Entry. As a way to remind myself of those lovely moments where life is so unbearably precious.

Without further ado...

Year of Pleasures #1

Being with a great group of mama friends, old and new, after a few days of being coped up in the apartment.

For some reason, we didn't get out much this week. Usually I try to get us out a couple of times per week. But yesterday I couldn't do our usual library trip because H had my debit card (needed gas). Plus I was wrapped up in clean (domestic goddess blah blah). And I had too work on my syllabi for my classes. So basically the kids were cooped up, driving me mad. Today was so very needed.

We packed up and headed out to Amelie's, a tasty French Bakery in Charlotte. The kids brought board games and art supplies. I loaded up on French Press Coffee while talking and laughing with some great women. There were some new ones (a woman is a Fabric Artist...I have knitter's envy already! She owns her own sheep! And she SPINS their wool!), and some known ones. We talked about religion, what we want our kids to know, the joys and horrors of homeschooling, and Johnny Depp (he has to smoke right?)

Being around women is such a pleasure for me now. I wonder why I spent so long hanging with the guys. Upon becoming a mother, I more and more value these moments spent with other women. The quiet moments sustain me through those moments where we trapped inside for various reasons.

And as an extra bonus, the kids had a wonderful time meeting some new friends. Even Camille:) 

And then there is cuteness under the table....

I felt really happy for Umberto has his best bud seems to have moved from our community. I know he's been pretty lonely, and us not going out has been conducive to him finding some new ones or reconnecting with old ones. But today he meet a boy he really likes and shares his interests. Yay! And look what a big boy, Umberto's hit me when I saw him in his new trendy skinny leg jeans...and then this seeing this photo..

Ginger Goes To Mass

After tentatively deciding that it was possible to be a progressive Catholic,  I began to look for a church in between my web browsing of progressive Catholic blogs. While it was interesting to read like-minded people, I also had to deal with the practical side of finding some place to attend mass. There are more Catholic churches in Charlotte than one might expect. It is a Southern City. BUT it is a Southern city filled with people from New York.  It was over-whelming and for the most part I wasn't finding out much about the various Churches leanings through their websites. I narrowed it down two. One was fairly close to us and the other was a Spanish speaking church in a not so hot area. Feeling not really great about either choose, I stopped looking and even thinking about it. Instead, I got swept up on preparing for Christmas.

We were rapidly approaching Christmas Eve which is the date I had set for us going to mass. H kindly agreed to go with me even though I think he'd had rather skip that whole experience (a whole other blog post). I was excited about going as a family but still hadn't decided on a church to important detail. The night before Christmas Eve, I was doing another search for a good church when I ended up on a site that listed "Gay Friendly Churches in Charlotte." I have no idea how I ended up on this site. But there listed was St. Peter's Catholic Church in Charlotte, NC. I looked it up and discovered it was this lovely little church downtown. We had always admired it and often talked about going to a mass to just see what it was like. And it was St. Peter's. Peter was always my favorite apostle. He was fiery, bad tempered and cowardly....a lot like me. It was run by Jesuits and I'm a bit obsessed with Jesuits. Even I couldn't ignore the signs (or the signs as I read them). Plus it listed several socially progressive programs as well as socially consciously outreach programs. 

Getting ready was hilarious. First, I had no idea what one wore to mass. Here in Charlotte, people tended to dress fairly casually for church. But those were people who attend Willow Creekesque churches. I finally settled on work clothes after a friend pointed out that either nothing I wore would be good enough or whatever I wore would be fine. Second, preparing the beasties who really are little heathens who hate church (they've been a few times with my mom). They all whined piteously of course. Third, we didn't think through the date. Umm...Christmas Eve....duh. One of two times that ALL Catholic make an effort (Easter being the second date).

Thus we show up and IT IS SLAMMED FULL. Seriously. It's like going to see that indie band that everyone has finally decided is it. We managed to get a pew which was a pretty amazing feat because within five minutes people are filling up the back and crowding down the side asiles. My children, meanwhile are acting like heathens. They ask, loudly, what the "HECK is that book?" And "Who is that man on the cross?" I don't think anyone heard them because, I did mention, how "HOLY crowded" it was right? Piper is also bored within five seconds because Piper is always bored in five seconds. Umberto kept falling asleep. I was busy looking around. People were dressed up and dressed down. There were tons of children but we were will still one of the larger families. However no one looked at us askance. When the mass began, I didn't look as foolish as I thought. I wasn't the only one late getting to my feet, and I had a 20lb. baby to use as an excuse. I didn't know all the memorized bits but I caught on quick to some of them. I did know all the words to "Hark! The Herald Angel's Sing." The priest was charming and funny. His final words were "Remember our children because this season is after all the celebration of a baby."

After we left, H was a bit bummed. He asked me if I had experienced what I planned on and I thought about it before saying "Yes." He was surprised I think. I went onto explain that I think one has the experience that one plans for themselves. I didn't expect a lightening bolt to hit me from above. I have studied religion to long to think those moments are going to happen for me. In fact, I almost think I would find such a thing quite suspect. Instead what I felt was a simple moment of belonging. Not necessarily with the people, but with the whole thing. With the mass, the words spoken in unison. The songs. The simple message of the mass. The way the setting sun reflected through the stained glass windows. It felt like home. And I expect that like any home I will find it filled with both joy and unhappiness. Anger and pleasure. There is no way out of not getting the bad with the good. One has to weigh them in proportion and decided how much they can tolerate. H got it, I think, but that's his thing to write about not mine.

I'm curious to return on a more "normal" Sunday. Sundays are pretty busy for me so I was hoping to find another day they did mass in a big way but the church is pretty small so Sundays was it. I thought about looking around some more and then realized I had no interest in another church. I plan to go this Sunday. Not sure who will be attending with me. R of course has to come and Camille has expressed an interest. It may just be the three of us. I'll update more as my journey progresses.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Facebook Hates the Purposeful Boob?

Yesterday, I started to get more notices that yet another Facebook breastfeeding page had been deleted due to obscenity. This was more than an attack on art. It was an attack on a place where mothers gathered to get and give advice on breastfeeding--an important thing as women are seemingly more and more isolated from breastfeeding support communities. There were pictures. Of women nursing. I guess that was the obscene part. I have already blogged on this issue here but I felt like I needed to say something again because it's not happenstance that this is happening only to breastfeeding pages and pictures. Someone out there (Mark is it you?) hates seeing breastfeeding.

I personally, it was hard but I did it for the sake of my blog, searched for the word "boob" on Facebook. There was NOT ONE breastfeeding page in about three pages of results. Instead of finding "offensive" pictures of women nursing their babies and toddlers, I found pictures of women with HUGE breasts and kittens peeking out (no joke). I found sites with names like "Big Boobs On Fat Girls Don't Count." Nah that's not offensive. Not at all. There were not even art pictures of breasts. Instead it was just porn. Again. And Again. 

Now I am not a prude. I have no issue with breasts being displayed. I am not a big fan of female oppression and do think that some porn participates in and contributes to this oppression. But for the most part what I found was just R rated pictures for teen age boys. Still this stays up but a page that offers support to women breastfeeding gets pulled down? Wha? It's okay to support teen boy hormonal issues but not okay to support a woman nourishing her child? 

What is about our society that gets people's panties wadded up over some breast feeding? Is it because we are unable to separate women from their sexual image? Do boobs always equal sex for the general public? Is it because we are women? I find myself puzzling over these questions almost daily. I am unable to comprehend why boobs have become this battlefield. And it's more than just the issue of seeing a woman nurse. It has become a war about the woman who does breastfeed--an attack on her pictures, her personality, her attitude. I hear about how those of us who nurse are shrill, banshees who forces our boobs on every passer-by. We also shun and attack women who do not breast feed. We are out of control. Unreasonable. Sound familiar?

ETA: When I woke up this morning, I discovered that Facebook deleted a page called "The Leaky Boob." They had already deleted the page once in what they claimed was an error and reinstated it (yay!). But now they've deleted again. Very bogus and very sad. If you're on Facebook please "Like" this page The Leaky Boob is a place where women can post questions and get support while breastfeeding. It is an example of the best that Facebook has to offer.

Monday, January 03, 2011

One Too Many...

Or maybe two too many children or maybe clean house+any child=chaos. Things didn't seem too hard when it was just Umberto. Of course the tiny apartment we lived in was never really clean cause well...I'm a slob. But it was never out of control, nasty. When you triple the number of kids who are creating the mess and it gets nasty really fast. I kept doing what worked back when I was a single college student: Let things get super messy and then have a marathon cleaning session. But when you have four kids, there is no time to do marathon cleaning. In between mopping and dusting, you have to pause to put band aids on microscopic cuts and make lunches for starving beasties. When you homeschool, you're interrupted about twenty times more than normal. I remember thinking that I could clean the house while the kids worked. I have a lovely image in mind (I have domestic fantasies). That doesn't happen in my world. In fact, I'm lucky if I'm even able to nurse the wee one while the older kids do their work.

All this is the lead up to my conclusion that I can not run a big family the way I ran a small family. And we're totally a big family now. Four kids just tipped us over the line for sure.  I decided it was time to woman up and organize our craziness into some kind of order. With that in mind, I totally ripped off a schedule from my friend (Hi Ivory and Thanks!). And then R decided she needs to eat all.night.long. I think that the longest she went without nursing was two hours. It makes it hard to motivate myself when I am so tired I feel slightly sick to my stomach.

But I pushed through it. I did everything on my list EXCEPT do work for my classes. Not good so I'll need to tweak. Plus if I had had to work today, I would not have gotten my kitchen clean. Now granted my kitchen was super nasty so if I can keep on top of it, I suspect it won't take as long. I also had to wear  R on my back for most of the cleaning which made it quite difficult physically. And of course it sucked and was dreadfully boring. I wish cleaning was enjoyable to me but it's so...not. I would much rather be reclined on the couch eating bonbons and reading. However, it rocked to have a clean kitchen. And it rocked to be able to spend some quality times with the beasties as they did their work.

Not sure yet how much of a domestic goddess I'm going to be but I feel like if we can keep the house at the least not skanky, we're doing good. I'm not looking for a model clean house. I just want to reduce our clutter and not have nasty food messes all over the place. I also want the beasties to be a part of the clean up. They're old enough now to help out a lot more. It's a pain to make them do it but I think it's important for them to be responsible for our home. Day 1 is down. I'm exhausted but still need to put in at least an hour on my courses.

Couldn't resist a parting shot...Piper has the best fashion sense ever.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

A Year To Blog

I love making resolutions. I go through the spells where I try to be cool and all anti like and pretend to hate resolutions. BUT I really like making them. Likely I can lay the blame for this one on my family...again. My grandmother and her daughters (including my mom) would always get together around New Year's Day with coffee and notebooks. They would lay out a list of resolutions and share/argue about them with each other. It seems to wrong to not begin the New Year without making resolutions. I'll do the sharing part here. Feel free to argue.

1. I will blog. A lot. I'm tentatively making a goal to post 365 times before the year ends. This would be pictures, links, comments from the beasties. Maybe some guest spots.

2. I will start once again to get back to eating healthy and exercising. I had losing weight as my goal but I want to work on 2011 being a year where I don't focus so much on my weight. We'll see how that goes.

3. I'm going to become a Domestic Organizational Goddess. Complete with charts. (Thanks Ivory). I continue to live like I have a small family. We sort of ended small when we had Piper and totally crossed the line with Rowena. We get the "look" now when we go out in public. It's time to get my lazy ass in gear and organize us a bit. I don't want to curb the spontaneous nature of our family but I also think we need to not live in a sty. We time to do crafts and go out.

4. Limit the time suck known as Facebook. Cause really. Farmville? I want to read more. I might keep a running sidebar of what I'm reading.

5. Work on my anger. I need to chill before I have a heart attack.

There are many things that are so up in the air. I don't have enough knowledge of the future to make specific goals. I can't say I'll work on my midwifery degree because I may get accepted into grad. school and will be working on my Ph.D. I do know that I hope to meet a tribe of women to homeschool/raise children with once we move but I have no idea where we are moving to! Once I know I'll add to that my goals.

Keep reading and seeing how I do. Blogging is a great way to be held accountable.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out..

2010 was one of those years where I have to actually think if I'd label it good or bad.

Good: Rowena. Hands down the best thing of 2010. From a great pregnancy to a magical birth to a super awesome baby, she was the highlight.

Graduate School Applications. No they were not fun. Yes they were hideously expensive. But they are out and that was a big step for us. Now we have to sit back and hope that the highlight of 2011 is acceptance to a graduate school.

Umberto's Epilepsy: Not a good thing BUT we got it under control and the meds helped make big leaps in reading. Knowing what was wrong was huge.

Love: Loving with abandon pays off.  I don't think I have ever been so happy and while I do have moments of outright panic, I am learning to embrace those moments as lessons in learning to live presently.

Bad: HOME INVASION. That sort of sucked. It totally killed my baby moon. Having to move with a five week old baby is so not fun. And then it took us so long to get sorted out. Sigh.

RIPPED: This was the lovely term that CMS gave to those teachers laid off. It all panned out with H but it didn't help baby moon. I'm a bit of a worrier so I worried a lot.

Epilepsy: While  it was nice to finally know what was wrong, watching your kid have a seizure is pretty rough. I live in a constant state of paranoia. Every shake, every tremor, is noted. I suspect we drive Umberto a little insane with our worrying.

Graduate School Applications: Cause they SUCKED. Wow what a time suck. And then they are hugely expensive and there's no guarantee they'll even pay off. And major anxiety while I wait for answers. Sigh.

And then there was all this while dealing with new baby adjustment. With a five year gap between babies, it was a tad bit like starting over. And of course she's worth it but it's still hard to go from having your nights fairly full of sleep to not sleeping at all. Going from quite a bit of personal autonomy to once again having a baby attached to you 24/7,  it is a bit shocking.

I look over this and think: Okay so it wasn't that bad! There were so many truly wonderful things and memories of the past year. And there was bad but there is always bad. Maybe it's true that the bad makes the good so much sweeter. My wish is that 2011 brings us good, and strength to ride out the bad. Here's to another year filled with love, beasties and a big move into the unknown!