Monday, December 10, 2012

:Hanging head and begging forgiveness:

I have no excuses, friends.

I mean, yeah, I'm parenting three children.  But a lot of people in this world parent and still write.  And I'm teaching two classes - but people teach and write always.

So, yeah.

Please forgive me.  I'll come up with something amazing soon.  In the meantime, please accept this tidbit from Carter who will either grow up to be an atheist or a preacher:

Carter: So mom, how did Jesus die? 
Me: Dude. You know this. What's the Easter story? 
Carter: Yeah, yeah, cross, spear blah blah blah. I mean after that. How did he die after that?
Me: Well, remember in the creed we say he ascended into heaven to be with God? 
Carter: (lowering gaze) I prefer to think of him as an old man. 
Me: That's cool dude, I'm just saying what the church says. 
Carter: Yes. I think he was an old man who died in his sleep. And had a cane. Canes are cool. The church can say what they want. They're church. I vote old age.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mom and Baby encounter: Candy Corn Oreos Edition

Honey Badger and I had big work to do today.  We had to drop the Budge and Monkey moo off at school, then stop at Target to spend $50 on whatever it is that people spend $50 on at Target and pick up the much loved and reviled Candy Corn Special Edition Oreos.
So. . .10 Scotch tapes (I'm always out. ALWAYS. And they were 70% off.), a bucket of coffee, and 2 steeply discounted t-shirts later, we rolled through the checkout with these babies:
I had to buy the special edition Halloween Oreos because look! Bats! Yup. I'm a sucker for marketing. 
I asked the Honey Badger if she wanted one. In the parking lot.  At 9:33 a.m.. Of course she said yes because she's 21 months old and don't care!
Oh look! I said. These are special - they have a roll top and little tabs.  How quaint. Then I ripped open the package.  Oh dear god. Oh dear god. These smell. . . awful. And the smell was everywhere - the scent of canned white frosting.
I handed one to the Honey Badger, who immediately twisted it apart and said (I can only assume, as my baby translation isn't so grand) Why mother, you are wrong, these look delectable - I shall now suck the yellow and orange goo off of this side while I jam the other half under my butt to warm it up. 
I ate one myself.
Then I broke into the Halloween Oreos with orange middles to try to kill the taste.  It didn't.  I think the orange goo might be pervasive to this season's specialty Oreos. Or, wait, is that just how they taste all the time?  It's been awhile, I'll admit it.
Five minutes later, Honey Badger piped up from the back seat:  Anodder cookeeeeee mommy?  Anodder cooooooookkkkkkkkkkiiiiiieeeeeee?
And because I am the world's best, most amazing, clearly superior mother, I gave her one.
It took her the next 45 minutes to eat it.  It was as if she knew in her heart it was a cookie and thus should be good because, hey, cookie.
Right after she finished she asked for gum.  Which she promptly swallowed.
Then asked for more.
Me?  I came home and brushed my teeth.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

An exhausting work of unbelieveable awesomeness

This is the post I've been trying to write for days but I'm not sure what to say or where to start.  I keep coming back. Erasing. Rewriting.  Erasing again. How much to share, how little, or even what to say, I just don't know.

This is a post about the Budge.  The boy who has confounded us since birth and has been crash-bang from the start. The boy who not only lives outside of the box - he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the existence of a box at all. Perhaps he is a genius.  Perhaps he is a madman.  None of us know yet - time will tell.

Last year, as he adjusted to Kindergarten - his quirks got worse.  Lack of understanding of social cues, chewing on everything, soundtracking (this is what we call his constant creation of low-level noise): you could go through the manual for a kid with sensory issues and the Budge would fit the bill.  We discussed our concerns with his teachers and discovered that, over time, his issues lessened, his teachers grew comfortable with him, and the general feeling was that nothing that was happening was terribly outside of your average high-needs, sensory-seeking, spirited five-year-old.

We all came to conclude that he was an oddball, but his strangeness would not get in the way of his education and as such, we could let it go.  Perhaps we were fooling ourselves.  We consulted educators and counselors and got a general response - he's a tough kid, but he's fine.  It'll be fine.  Relax.

And relax we did until June when his reactions to discipline in all forms became so extreme that every time he was disciplined or corrected, we heard some variation of I wish I were never born! or You HATE me! Thus followed a downward spiral of weeping, misbehaving, and hurting himself.  We couldn't pretend that he was just an outside of the box kid any longer.

Unfortunately, his six-year-well-child checkup with the physician we've used since birth unearthed a rather common thread in our interactions with people:  He was fine, but we were probably just shitty parents who didn't discipline him enough.  After our low in early June, though, things got slowly better.  That fact combined with changes we'd made in parenting/discipline and the doctor's commentary led us to believe that a little work would make everything okay again.  After all, hard work always pays off, right?

And pay off it did, until school started again.  We are two weeks deep into his first grade year and The Budge has seen the counselor no less than 10 times.  He's had to be removed from the classroom several times.  Some days he's weeping, others he's hiding under his desk.  His complaints range from the physical (vision impaired, having headaches, can't breathe) to the emotional (doesn't feel safe, is sad) to visions of persecution (being bullied, everybody hates me).  Our high-needs, highly-emotional, tightly wound boy is moreso - and his commentary about wanting to hurt himself is finally triggering the district, counselors, teachers, and doctors to listen to us when we say we JUST need to know how to help him.

I spent at least 20 minutes per day on the phone with his counselor or teacher last week.  There were notes and e-mails and follow up e-mails and phone conversations.  His counselor and teacher both refer to him as "exceptional" and "brilliant" and "charming". He's been put on the watch list for Gifted and Talented - but with the tag "Double Exceptional".  This means that in addition to being very smart - there is some other special education/learning disability to conquer.  We don't know what it is yet, but an appointment with another physician next week and the occupational therapist will hopefully unearth at the very least a direction or diagnosis so that we can help him.

Let me be clear: I don't want to FIX my boy. I don't think he's broken.  I think he's intense, in touch with his emotions, and highly intelligent. I would never want to make that go away.  I do want to make him the best possible student he can be - which means giving him a set of tools that will allow him to work in a classroom.  I want him to be the best possible friend he can be - which means giving him another set of tools that allow him to work well in social situations.  And eventually, I want him to be the best possible grown man he can be.  All of that means that now is the time to learn these lessons.

But in the meantime, as we wait for some sort of diagnosis - a set of terms to use to understand the boy we are to parent, we are lost.  And as his mother, I cannot help but question every moment of conception, pregnancy, infancy, and his childhood - wondering what I have done to break his brain.  How might I have done things differently so that living would be easy for him?  Why did I go so long thinking he'd probably just be a strange guy but function just fine in this world?

We are also judged - for being too harsh, too lax, too slow on the uptake, too fast to push for diagnosis and help.  We judge ourselves probably more harshly than anyone else.

But finally, above all else? We are exhausted.  Our little man is intense to parent.  He's tiring to be around.  We can't keep up with him - and right now, we're asking that we not only keep up, but get just a tiny bit ahead of him to understand who he is, what he is about, and above all else, how to parent him in a way to make him successful in the most important way - happy, self-actualized, and surrounded by love.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The dangers of NPR. . . and the post where I talk about Batman and bullets

We've known for awhile that NPR was dangerous car territory.  Unlike your average parent, who is probably light-years smarter than I seem to be, I keep tuning into 90.1 while I drive to drown out the sound of bickering from the back seat.  For whatever reason, sometimes the fighting stops and all three children go silent (they're likely plotting when that happens - or torturing each other in the most whisperly of ways) at which point it is inevitable:  NPR will discuss something I don't want the children to hear.

Of course it's not NPR's fault, it's mine, but when your 2 1/2 year old son says Somali pirates? from the backseat, you have to wonder exactly how much he's sussing out from the news snippets he hears.  And now that they are 6 and 9, they hear and understand a lot.

And they ask questions.

Why would somebody shoot people at Batman? 
Why would somebody shoot people at a church? 
Why would somebody shoot people by a college? 

They ask the same questions we do, I guess. Questions for which there don't seem to be - at this moment - answers.

I've been trying to write this post since the day after Batman's opening night - and each time I sit down to the computer prepared to write something - there has been another shooting.  Yesterday's attack on the security guard at the Family Research Council actually happened when this post was half written.  I'm at a loss for words with my children and at a loss for words on this blog.  I guess now, I can only quote my friend Robin, who posted on Facebook yesterday:  Words I shouldn't have to say, much less say this many times a week: STOP SHOOTING PEOPLE

 I'll even be civil about it: Please stop shooting people.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quiet for awhile, I know.

I've been mulling.  You see, I've written a lot about my deceased stepfather.  He's had an extraordinary influence on my life.  I have three other parents who have also had a significant impact on the person I have grown to be and as such, I wanted to write about that.  But there is a lot of stress in writing about the living.  I have the freedom of reflection on my relationship with David.  My relationships with my still-living parents are ever-unfolding.
My family doesn't look like this.  If I'm the one in pink, you need to add another Mom and  two step-sisters, though we probably maybe wouldn't all hold hands. Just imagine me in the middle. . . 

One of them is with my father.  That's the entry I've wanted to write.  But I'll be honest:  to say that it is complicated is a severe understatement.

I love my father as every daughter loves her father - the person who gave me shoulder rides and taught me to roast marshmallows over an open fire and taught me to think and discuss politics.  But there's the rub - the politics.

I have landed in a political position that differs from his.  I hoped for many years that we had gotten to a place of mutual respect, though.  That despite us having significant differences in our beliefs, we respect that each of us was an adult and was capable of making reasoned and rational decisions regarding what we valued - and how we communicated those values in our elected leaders.

Then Dad joined Facebook.

And honestly, I'm not sure what to say after that.  Over the course of these past three years, he has decided that I am a snobby, college-professor-talkin', rude, "THE LEFT" liberal who lacks respect, while I have decided that his internet persona is a sort of id-release for a snarling and angry personality who is convinced that we are a nation of Godless moochers and that the only answer is the eradication of social programs, a completely free market, and guns for all. He calls the President stupid (along with another extra special slur he whipped out a few times in cute old nursery rhymes and colloquialisms to cover up the depth of his offense) along with all other liberals, who he has grouped as "The Left" and demonizes daily.

What I know of him on the Internet is so utterly opposite his face-to-face behavior, I have a huge difficulty reconciling them.  Some days, I'd like nothing more than to defriend him and pretend that this internet persona didn't exist at all.

But I'm sad that it does. Let me be clear: I am not saddened that his beliefs differ from mine. Obviously, I value what I value and I highly doubt that will change. The same stands for him. We disagree, neither can see why the other holds the beliefs and values that they do, but that's fine. What's not fine is the bickering and berating and talking down (accusations fly from both sides, of course).  And I don't know what to do with that.

Back in the day, when I was a dual major in History and English, I was fascinated by the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars.  Not by the events so much as the psychology.  I wonder what the dinner table must have been like each evening. How did families survive that sort of thing - was the blood bond of birth stronger than politics? Then again - this was more than just politics - these were matters of deep values and world-shaping points of view.  How did families survive being so different?

I don't know. I really don't.  But I'm willing to bet being face to face at the dinner table diffused a lot of anger and that one downfall (or blessing? I don't know) of the internet is the fact that now we know what everybody is thinking. Particularly about us.

My father is a good man with a big heart.  It does me well to remember that - and to accept that there are always aspects of those we love that we don't love.  I hope he will do the same. In the meantime, I will return to my previous rule of non-engagement and remember that lovely quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Addendum:  I realize that this is completely awkward and incomplete.  As I said, I've struggled with what to say. I still don't know.  But I can't keep waiting. I have to get it out.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Now We Are Six

When The Budge was about one or so, we'd go around Ketring Lake - Monkeymoo walking or running or jumping, and The Budge reclining in the jogging stroller, staring at the sky.  Every few months, we'd see an elderly couple walking in the opposite direction.  The gentleman half would look at The Budge and say:

When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
          -A. A. Milne's "Now We Are Six"

I was thinking about him awhile back - the nice old man who greeted people with poetry instead of nods, and I was missing him, wondering about his life - what he was up to - hoping that he was still able to enjoy his life.  The next day, we walked around our lake again - this time with Tenacious E in the stroller while The Budge rode ahead on HULKSMASH (his new bike) and a gentleman stopped and looked at Tenacious E, saying "When I was one, I had just begun."

On the occasion of The Budge's sixth birthday, I'm thinking of this stranger and his poetic greetings and grateful for a world where that still happens - while hopeful that it continues.  Perhaps one day in the future, I'll be that lady whose hellos are poems.

And The Budge?  Clever as clever indeed.  Watch out world.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

18 months of Honey Badgering

Dear, sweet, feisty Honey Badger, a.k.a. Tenacious E, a.k.a. my youngest daughter --

You are 18 months old today.  In the past 6 months you have learned quite a few new words - head, cheek, eye, knee, toe, mama, and daddy just to name a few. Every time you see a baby you say BABY BABY BABY just to make sure everyone knows there's a baby in the vicinity - in photos or commercials or real life (and anyone who is under the age of about 3, apparently, is a baby by your measure).

You are only now beginning to sleep through the night - occasionally waking up for a snack around 10 or so but generally sleeping from about 8 pm to about 5:30 a.m..  You nap as poorly as your siblings always did, but you are not the same as them.

Lilly didn't climb.  Carter climbed, but not like you.  You climb like George Leigh Mallory: because it is there.  You climb the chairs, the table, any bookshelves or stairs.  I've found you dumping out bins and boxes so you can climb them.  Every nook and cranny is a foothold.  No shelf is too high.  Nothing is safe.

(In fact, as I write this, you climbed a chair and pushed a half dozen books off the book shelf.)

Some days you scream so loudly, Honey Badger, that I wonder how long it will be before the neighbors call CPS.  Every tiny perceived wrong, from not being held when you want to be held to being told no, is met with ear-piercing shrieks and what we now refer to as Floor Fits, where you throw yourself onto your back and throw a classic kicking/screaming tantrum.

And as with your tenacity, I have to remind myself that these qualities, too, will one day be positive attributes  that make any parent proud.  No chair or table or bookshelf or box is without its use - or without some secret hidden foothold.  You are adept at employing the Tim Gunn mentality: you make it work. You're not afraid to try things and you're not afraid to speak your mind. Even if your mind is, you know, 18 months old and super angry just because that moth just flew away and you wanted it here.

We have a long road ahead of us, my dear, before those qualities stop being OHSOTOTALLYCRAZYMAKING and start being really, really awesome.  In the meantime, I'll hang on tight.  And buy some earplugs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I keep meaning to link to this:

My friend Erica is doing an amazing blog on prayer and she was moved to write a piece that spun off of my Poodlehead/Poodlehead Redux posts.  She's an excellent writer and this is worth sharing, so here it is!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The one in which I discuss North Carolina rationally:

Nope.  Still can't do it. Still too hurt.  Still angry.

And above all else?  Still hurt.

Still too angry and hurt to write about changing a state's constitution to specifically deny a group of people their rights- about watching the map of American change from the early 90s (wherein there was NO legislation regarding same-sex unions) to a map covered in mostly negative legislation banning same-sex marriage or unions via law and sometimes even Constitutional amendment.  I can't even begin to share the disappointment and pain I feel knowing that several of my friends are supporters of such actions - some of whom would deny that right on behalf of a loving God.

I told my friend Ryan last Tuesday that I thought the map was changing because people are afraid of the inevitability of it all - this is the last vestige of clinging to an intolerant past.  I hope that I am right.  A recent article I heard on NPR discussed the changing face of the nation - 2/3 of people over 60 believe in gay marriage bans whereas 2/3 of people under 40 do not.  Eventually the younger generation will come through and clean up the legislative mess of the older generations, I guess.  But it won't be without work.

Next week my state is set to begin a special session to discuss some 30 pieces of legislation that were tabled because ONE man wanted to prevent a vote (that is rumored will pass) on civil unions - SO important was it to him to prevent this legislation from being voted on that he acted in the direct opposition of his constituency and their needs to kill it with stupid procedural tricks.  Governor Hickenlooper, when announcing his intention to call for a special session, described a call from his friend - a friend that said "If not now, when?"

If not now, when indeed.  A few days after Hickenlooper's press conference, our President made history by being the first sitting President to support gay marriage.  If not now? When?

When?  Now. It's time to take back the map.

Monday, May 7, 2012

On The Budge who is almost six and

loves like we all wish we could love.  With abandon. With his whole heart and mind and soul from the tippety tips of the hair on his head all the way down to the dirt under his fingernails. The Budge is awesome. He is amazing.  He's like a normal person turned up to 11 and captured in a 4 foot high body. If you took a pinch of honey badger and tossed in the sound phones used to make when left off the hook and then shook it all up with a bottle of honey you'd get something resembling The Budge.  He's a light-saber and zombie junkie who wears white socks in the garden (no shoes! too restricting!).  He's a defender of bugs and a tamer of moths.

Oh and being nice to bugs and valuing life and gardening.  Can they fit that all in one sign?

Last week in the wake of the day, he crawled into my lap and wept because a year ago he found a cocoon in the garden and he opened it to find a not-quite-ready-for-the-world moth.  This year his classroom raised Painted Lady butterflies - so he watched the entire life cycle from egg to caterpillar to butterfly.  The day they let him go was the day he was overcome by sadness, sobbing in my lap about a year-ago bug death.

I explained to him that it was okay.  That when we know better we do better.  And we will do better.

I don't know how I managed to have a son who came out so amazing - who loves and honors the world - who wants desperately to practice empathy in a a culture that expects less from him.

I've worried and I've written about worrying about raising my daughters in this culture - about body image and feeling good about themselves and being smart and pretty and geeky.  But I also worry - a lot - about raising a boy that will grow into the loving and empathetic young man I would love to set out upon the world.

Again I am lost in this wilderness of parenting, fumbling through a world where other children mock my son's courageous dressing (he once spent a year in a rainbow silk cape but now he prefers tuxedos and top hats) or try to squash the bugs he so values.

Monday, April 30, 2012

When I am old and grey. . .

I hope to take more pictures than I take now, which is saying something because I take a lot of pictures.  Just this week, for example, I've probably taken more than 100.  Some of them are good.  Many of them are very, very bad.  It's okay though, because it's a hobby not a profession.

But all of this is beside the point.  Sometimes I just don't know how to start to get where I want to go and I just end up rambling a bit.  This is one of those times, so I'll just stop rambling and tell you something about myself.

I like to take pictures of things that I think look like other things. I enjoy looking at the world in different ways and trying to see the unexpected.   Like, say, for example, this pistachio that looks like a bird:
Yeah, I totally ate that birdstachio.

Or this superfantastic rocket my daughter made at her Lutheran church preschool a few years back. . .

Sometimes I think teachers send stuff like this home just to test us.
That piece of art spent a year on our fridge and never stopped being funny. Thank GOD they didn't hang it up for family art night.  Big Dipper indeed.

Or this pear. . . that looks unlike a pear:

I did not eat the pear, I showed it to all of my friends, and gave it to the baby .
 I may have even hummed "Baby Got Back".  Maybe. 
Is there no better proof that the Universe has a sense of humor?

Friday, April 27, 2012

For our anniversary:

For our anniversary: A Poem in Want of a Metaphor
Working the garden, the weeds’ roots pop under my spade
and each year, I do my best to destroy them. 

I pull out chunks of them, 
Digging deeper to uncover a web of white tendrils

Spread deep beneath our garden and Midwestern though, 
veins cross the garden and grow into the yard. 

No matter what I do, the green shoots, 
each spring, stretch upward to whisper “I am here.”

***And a revision of the poem I wrote for our 5th Anniversary***

On our Anniversary

Sixty-one years grown into each other, 
chairs six inches apart the last time I saw them
my grandparents fingers intertwined
through the web of the hospital bed.

Sixty-one days at his side and quiet
and I reminded of linguistics – Mundell’s lecture
on context, a chart labeled words
spoken per day versus years married

The downward slope as silence
bloomed and words were replaced
by a glance, a lifted brow,
a throat clearing in the morning.

We’ve wasted words like air these past five years,
averaged sixty-one thousand or so as the context grows.
We’ve one-twelfth the time of my grandparents
As I weave my fingers into yours in silence. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Poodle-Head, redux

This is it, children:  I don't forbid much, but I refuse to allow you to believe your smile is anything less than a reflection of all the beauty, all the joy, all the awesomeness (and I DO mean AWE-someness) of the world. When your small eyes (like mine) wash away in the curve of wrinkles and joy you are nothing short of the best you I could imagine and I've imagined SO many yous over the years.  The answer to the your body is this:  It's not a problem, not an enemy to handle, not misshapen or wrong - but one of the best tools you have to worship the world in bare feet up to the knees splashing in the mud, in working the earth, in walking or jogging or jumping.  In smiling. 

You know how I love ritual and worship - so let's do this.  Let's make our bodies a worship of the world.  Practice the ritual of seeing the good in them each morning. This isn't an enemy to be broken but a thing to be honored in every way. 

In silence
In the music of physical movement
In recognizing its boundaries and limits 
In pushing them (scraped knees ARE an essential worship of this body)
In taking in what's good (food?  ideas?  emotions?) and being willing to let go of what's not

Because I love you, I will stop stopping in front of the mirror or commenting on my weight after I eat chicken wings or whining about yard work or sitting rather than walking or frowning at myself on the scale or any of it. 

Because I love you, I will love me.  I will love me like you love me if you promise to love you like I love you. 

If we do that, this body image problem isn't a problem at all. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poodle Head and other body image issues. . .

It happened for the first time in the third grade.  I cut my beautiful, stick-straight, blonde hair from below my waistline to a short shag and had it permed. My mother, a hairdresser, completed the task and I don't doubt that it made her cry.

Then I encountered my first image-related bullying.  The boy I liked called me "Poodle Head."  For months, I'd dodge him every chance I could: in the lunch line, at recess, even in the hallways.  But we lived in a small town and I went to a small school, with only about twelve or thirteen other classmates, so avoiding him for too long was impossible.

I don't know when he stopped.  Maybe it was when my hair grew out or when he no longer got a rise out of me.  Maybe it wasn't until we packed up and moved 200 miles away to a larger town.  Honestly, I can't remember. I never thought it had much of an effect on me until my own daughter asked to cut her hair into a cute pixie cut.  I hyperventilated. I said "We'll talk about it."  I put her request off for well over a month.

I wanted better for her.

I didn't want her to go through what I went through, because I don't remember the compliments I got at the time - only the taunts of 'Poodle-head' on the playground. Above all else, though, it is my sincere hope that I never project my experiences onto my children. I want them to learn by doing if that's what they need.  I want their experiences to be uniquely theirs. So I let her cut it.

She got compliments. Gads of them.  It suits her personality.  Her teacher told her it made her look like her hero, Emma Watson.  She loves it.  And she was right - it is beautifully, uniquely her.

Then the neighbor told her she looked like a boy.  He called her 'buck-tooth'.  When she told me this, it took everything inside me not to run across the street and pummel him.  Or threaten him.  Or in some other way bully him back. Instead, I harnessed my rage and talked to her - how does she feel, what will she do with that, where does she apply it in her life.  The answer?  Healthfully.  She's miles ahead of where I was at her age and thank heavens for that. We can set aside damage-control for later and be grateful that she's as self-assured as she is.

But only for now - because coming down the pipe are braces and bikinis and boys and bitches and backstabbing and body image issues (and a whole load of other things that don't start with a 'B').  And what then?

MoveOn.Org is hosting this video about girls and leadership and fashion magazines and all of those mixed signals we send our girls.  In the political arena both parties are screaming "War on Women" and the Mommy Wars have reignited and there's birth control and abortion and I'll be honest - whether I'm reading Glamour or the New York Times, it's hard to feel culturally empowered and supported when I see myself and all of my own frailties in these headlines. THIS is the world I have to prepare her for.

Through all of this I have to raise a girl who feels good about herself .  I ask myself every day how I am going to do that for her.  The bumbling answer is often to be a good role model: to fight, accept, ignore, and change the world when those things are called for.

She is all of nine years old.  Nine.  This stuff is just starting for her and she looks to me and I'm *not* nine. I've lived through this and have the scars to prove it and I'm no role model in the "Feel-Good-About-Yourself-Avoid-Bullies-Everyone-Is-Beautiful-and-Smart" brigade.  All I can do now is love her and show her a mirror and hope like hell that she hangs on to that girl who rocks the shit out of a pixie cut.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heartbreak and The Descendants. . .

Mr. and I watched The Descendants last weekend.  In many ways, it was kind of what we expected - very much an Alexander Payne movie.  We love Payne, and as a couple of Omaha kids, we like to see what that guy who made all of those movies about Omaha is up to because his films are among my favorites. To be fair to him and to his movie - it's good.  The script is solid, the acting is awesome, and Payne's ability to utilize the environment-as-another-character shines through.

For me, though, the whole of the movie brought back two snapshot moments of my life with such force they broke my heart all over again.  In the first, I am sixteen and it is October and I am having dinner with my father and stepmother in Franklin, NE and he is describing my grandmother's casket because we know she's going to die but she hasn't died and suddenly the whole place smells like corn and mashed potatoes and there are so many goddamned people walking and talking and LIVING that I want to scream at them.  I want a record scratch moment that stops the world and a world that stops and says I'm sorry.  But none of that happens.  We at the table don't even really stop chewing.  We're just eating dinner with the sure knowledge that grandma will be gone in days or weeks and life will plod on.

And in the second, I am sitting on a roll-away bed in my stepfather's NICU room.  And it's almost October. It is late at night and tomorrow he will die, but right now I'm wearing one ear-bud of my iPod.  My younger sister has the other and I'm trying to find "At the Bottom of Everything" by Bright Eyes and we are sitting in the dark listening to beautiful music and we are as close as the earbuds require of us but we are not hugging or crying because we're done hugging and crying for the moment we are just sitting and being one with music because for a moment we need to not be aware that we are waiting for someone to die.

I spent the whole of my viewing of The Descendants in those two memories - gripped by how it feels to be stopped in time while the world moves on around you with and without you and definitely without your loved one.  I don't know if Payne's that good or if I was just that emotional or if I possibly need therapy but it was exhausting and lovely and heart breaking and amazing all at once.

Just like those times were.  Just like those memories are.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


A.K.A. Why I'm Giving Up Politics on Facebook

The short answer?  Because I want it to be fun again.

The longer answer?  Well, the longer answer has to do with several things.  .  .

STFU:  I'm a huge fan of STFU, Parents. The other day, I was preparing to share yet another article and I paused.  Because, for serious, STFU.

Family:  When I took my first focused history class, I studied the Reconstruction period.  It was a fascinating class with much to learn and an amazing instructor - and I was haunted in the class by the individual and family reconstruction and healing that must have had to happen in the post-War period.  How did those families function during the pre-War times?  Were there fistfights and fueds?  Did they sit calmly around the dinner table and simply not talk politics?  I don't know, I really don't.  What I do know is that social networks have given me insight into an ugliness in several family members (and they would say an ugliness in me) and I have no use for it.  Am I being naive by refusing to look at it?  Probably.  But battling it has failed - so perhaps the best thing to do is to keep my side of the street clean and push forward.

Friends: I have awesome friends.  Many of whom don't agree with me politically.  They've been respectful in their disagreements with me, but have grown tired of seeing a litany of prickly diatribes in their Facebook feed. More than a few, I'm sure, hid me from their feed because they just didn't want to see it anymore.  And that's fair.  But I miss my friends. I want them back. A recent Pew Study shows I'm not alone in being hidden (or hiding others).

Excellent examples: Some of those friends I mentioned?  They're amazing examples - examples that it is perhaps better to quietly live what you believe rather than bleat what you believe.  I admire them. I want to be more like them.

It never, not EVER, changes people's minds: For a few reasons.  I'd say this Cracked article does a good job of covering them: Five Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think  And don't think for a moment that I'm ignoring my part.  Nobody on FB is going to change *MY* mind.  Why in the world would I believe I could change theirs?  In essence, it's nothing more than a simple fight and I don't like to fight.

So here I go, back over to FB, where I will try to be more Takei and less . . . not Takei.  Because who doesn't love Takei?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Goodwill Exchange for Change: Pure Awesomeness.

Anyone who knows me knows how cheap I am.  How super mega cheap I am.  And how, strangely, I've developed a love and appreciation of fashion while remaining cheap.

And you probably know by now that I'm a ridiculously huge Project Runway fan. And since he's a Denver guy who makes amazing stuff (that I'm not sure I could ever wear), I'm a Mondo fan.

So imagine my glee and joyful delight when I learned last year that Mondo was teaming up with Goodwill to do a fashion show and appearance and clothing exchange!  Yet I missed it:  Elsa was so young and I wasn't ready to leave her yet.  But this year, I was in.  And so was Lilly, the 2nd biggest Project Runway fan in this house.  The tickets were more expensive this year - $25 instead of $10.

Still - it was fun.  Parking wasn't terrible - we walked about a block from our spot to stand in line on a red carpet.  Checkin took awhile, but that's OK. We dumped our bags of donated goods (10 items per person for the exchange). Inside was a nice atmosphere - appetizers, a cash bar, a large runway, and some booths selling various items.  There was a cool photo booth there as well - with all sorts of props for folks to use to create a fun and memorable picture.

But nothing compares to this one:
"And what is your favorite color?"

Friday, January 13, 2012

In an effort to organize my life a bit . . .

I'm killing off my craft blog and reorganizing over here a bit.  Bear with me, I'm sorry about the mess.

To write. . . to write. . . to write. . .

This is among my biggest personal commitments in 2012.  I need to write again.  I was strolling through old e-mails and happened upon some old poems and oh my goodness.

They were solid first drafts of poems that could become so much.

Additionally, I have my NaNoWriMo pieces from 2009 (or was that 2008? Gosh, I can't even remember) sitting in a folder here that need to be revised and compiled.

And a universe that could benefit from my spending less time screwing around online and more time making things - creating things - crafts, poems, baking.  Whatever that is - whatever it is that needs to be created - that's where I need to put my energy.

And so I shall.  But I promise I'll stop by here and let you all know how it's going.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A few new crafts. . .

I am committed to crafting this year and have been trying to do something every day or two.  Using the pattern from the last post, I made another knot bag with some remnant fabric from Denver Fabrics.  I LOVE this fabric - it's a strange and inexplicable obsession, but I love love love love it.  

However, I hate to sew with it.  Blech.  Must get back to the fabric store and get some interfacing.  THIS bag is currently living in Lilly's room.  

My next design was one of my own - using the top section from the bag above, I made a circle to use as the bottom of the bag, then did some mathmagic and voila - new pattern.
 Using a very old remnant from a wall hanging I cut up to make into a sling 10 years ago and a skirt I got from the future Mrs. Matt Mason when she was travelling through town doing poetry. . . I made my new FAVORITE bag ever.  I LOVE it.
 And so does Darth Vader.  It's the perfect size.
I then got bold and decided to resew a pair of jeans.  So I ripped them apart.  Everywhere.  Turns out, I don't really know how to resew jeans.  These were a failure of epic proportions.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1st craft. . .

Starting out small but strong!  I used a pattern I found online for a Japanese knot bag for my buddy AO. . . I'll modify the pattern for future bags, I think, but this was a good start:
Outside of the bag
 It was an interesting experiment for me - the design of the bag allows for a little peak of the interior fabric, so I wanted it to be interesting -- I chose two fabrics with some complimentary colors but they were very different. The outer fabric is a sort of peacock pattern and I loved the way it was mottled with a lot of black at the top.
The inner fabric is a very bright floral - it didn't have the yellow like the outside, but instead has a purple highlight in it.  They look quite nice together, I have to say.
I wasn't exactly happy with the pockets in the bag, though - they are very shallow and I doubt they'll provide much in the way of benefit.  Next time, I think I'll make the pocket as deep as the bag itself and only put a single divider in, making it a little bit bigger.  Perhaps big pockets on one side and smaller pockets on the other, I don't know.  Still, it was a nice little project that ate up a few hours of my day.  Next time, I imagine, I'll stretch it over a few days as well - hard to block out such a large amount of time for sewing!

2012: Year of the Crafts

Okay, okay, not really.  Or really. I'm not sure.  I'm trying hard to dedicate MORE time to making things and LESS time to slack-jawed web-surfing.

My first craft on this new kick was to refurbish a sweater/shirt I had - it was covered - and I do mean covered - in sparkles.  I've only worn it once in the whole time I've had it. . . and, sadly, that was it.  As I was removing the beads I found dozens - and probably made more - of holes.  So it's. . . gone.  I invested 1 hour in removing the beads only to decide that it just wasn't the thing for me!  It's OK though - I tried!

Bye Sweater: You will be missed. 
I've also committed to doing much more sewing this year.  I have a machine and gads of fabric downstairs - but so far I haven't made a thing in months!  Time to pull out the ole machine and get busy. . . but first off to Denver Fabrics -- 2 days *before* their big 30% off sale. . . 

(That's today. I'll be going back!)

Here's my haul: 
Can you tell someone barely left the blue table?
What are YOU up to this year?  What crafting will you be doing?

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