Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade in Review

I stole this idea from a friend's Facebook status and decided to expand a little on it. Presenting Christina's high- (and perhaps low-) lights of 2000-2010:

  • Rung in the new millennium with my then boyfriend Henning in his hometown of Kiel, Germany. Specifically, I got really drunk and uh-hum and was puking right around midnight. In hindsight, that should've been a sign.
  • Spent the year working for an aeronautical IT company and partying hard
  • Met my future husband
  • Traveled around Spain in October
  • Got pregnant with my first child in November
  • Spent a miserable, hot summer in a small apartment with no air-conditioning above a major, loud, and stinky Frankfurt intersection
  • In August, the suffering was all made worth while with the birth of my baby girl, Saskia
  • In December traveled back to see my family
  • Saw my grandfather for the very last time. I'm so grateful he was able to meet his first great-grandchild
  • Got stuck in the US because Saskia did not have a passport. That's right, customs let us in but wouldn't let her out. Thanks to the hard work of my local Republican senator I was able to get her an American passport and new, free tickets back to Germany. Never say the Republicans aren't good for anything. If you really want something done, they are the ones to ask.
  • Spent the first half of the year as a SAHM. In July we moved to the town of Friedberg, a nice little town halfway between Frankfurt and Giessen. We were still living over a major intersection though.
  • Went back to work part-time, which required a 45 minute train commute each way. Saskia stayed with a lovely Spanish woman in a neighboring village on the three days a week I worked.
  • Saskia moved to "Kinderhaus" which was a co-op childcare center
  • In the summer I got pregnant with my second daughter
  • I spent the first half of 2004 traveling a lot; to Frankfurt for work and to Giessen to visit my midwife in her birthing center. There were a few instances of "passenger rage" on the trains and buses.... hey, pregnant women are exempt from putting up with assholes, it should really be a law.
  • Paul was sent to Antwerp, Belgium to work and only came home on the weekends. It sucked.
  • In May Fiona was induced at a nearby hospital. Little bugger didn't want to come out! Happily my mom was there when she was born. For that I am very thankful
  • Spent the rest of 2004 as a SAHM of one toddler and one baby. Didn't realize it but had major PPD and spent every day fantasizing about jumping out the window. Thankfully I got better once Paul came home and I wasn't a single parent anymore. Hey, I did say there may be low-lights in here, didn't I?
  • Oh yeah, in the fall of 2004 we moved again, to a tiny village called Assenheim. I loved, loved, loved that village. You could walk across the whole thing in 20 minutes. We lived next to a castle AND a church from the 15oo's. The building we lived in was owned by the Count (hence the castle) and dated back several centuries. There was a cemetery in our backyard. It was so cool! The Niddatal river flowed passed the castle and we crossed it over a lovely wooden bridge each day to bring Saskia to Kindergarten. I still miss that village.
  • In the spring I traveled to visit my parents in Wenatchee, Wa with the girls. Saskia was 4 and Fiona was 7 months old
  • Paul was offered a job in the US and in August, we moved to Michigan
  • Nov. 11 Paul and I were married in the most pathetic wedding ceremony ever, in the county clerk's office in Detroit. Trust me, we'll do it better next time around (vow renewal in 2015?)
  • Paul worked days for a GM-related logistics firm and I worked nights at Kroger. By far the worst job I ever had!
  • I applied for, and got accepted at Wayne State University in the Library and Information Sciences program
  • We traveled to Nebraska for a family reunion in the summer. I saw my favorite uncle for the last time
  • In the fall I started on my MLIS
  • In December GM bought out the company Paul worked for and laid off most of the staff, including him
  • Paul was able to find a job with another logistics firm, thanks to contacts he made when working in Antwerp. Phew!
  • In the spring I started working as a library assistant at a technical college
  • In the summer we bought our first house, a beautiful but decrepit fixer-upper from 1929 in a great neighborhood
  • In the fall Saskia started first grade at her new school and was told she was not welcome in the current Girl Scout troop. So I started my own, along with two women who would become good friends over the years.
  • I continued to work at my library assistant job part-time, attended school full time and co-lead Girl Scouts. There's not much more you can add to that!
  • In the fall I graduated with my masters and a focus in Information Sciences.
  • I also started a new, full-time job as a web developer. Go figure.
  • The girls did what growing girls do. Tried activities, made friends, learned and expanded their minds.
  • My parents visited from Wa, it was wonderful!
  • I worked. Paul worked. The kids grew.
  • I moved to the leader position in my Girl Scout troop. I love each of my girls and am so thankful to have them in my life!
  • The kids became involved in a theater group and we found a new, comfortable home with great people and friends.
  • In August, we made our first trip "Up North", vacationing near Lake Michigan. Finally, I saw why people think Michigan is a pretty state. Living near Detroit all this time I had never seen much beauty.
  • Fiona was invited to join the pre-competitive gymnastics team.
  • Fiona was also diagnosed with a mental illness. Treatment and therapy have been working wonders in her behavior and happiness. After years of having a miserable child, my happy "Coyote" is back!
  • In October my dad came to visit and we had a great time. He helped around the house, with the cars and in general made my life a lot easier for 10 days. Thanks dad!
  • I know, it hasn't happened yet! Just a taste of what is perhaps to come...
  • Winter: Paul and I are starting an Introduction to Judaism class at a nearby temple
  • Spring: My parents may come to visit
  • Summer: My step-daughter, Toni may come to visit from Germany
  • Fall: Saskia will start 4th grade, Fiona will start 1st. We will continue to be actively involved in Girl Scouts, theater and perhaps gymnastics.
  • Life goes on....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I've started a new blog!

You are all falling over yourselves with excitement, aren't you? More like laughing yourselves silly thinking "new blog, she doesn't even post here!" Yeah, yeah, I'll try to do better I promise.

This one is more of a journal, so it's not terribly pretty or anything. I know, I make it sound so exciting, don't I? Without further ado, I present: The Search for Adonai . This is a blog about my religious journey. Read if you like, or if not that's okay too.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recently overheard

Fiona: Life is horrible!
Saskia: No it's not!
Fiona: Yes, it is, I spilled my milkshake on my shirt!
Saskia: Life is not horrible. You might be president some day!

My kids are the most interesting people I have ever met.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rant On

I was all set to write a witty and sarcastic post about drivers in the metro Detroit area when I got into work this morning. Then I opened my email. And I read the news. And suddenly writing jokes about aggressive drivers seemed really petty compared to all the woes facing my community and nation.

If you haven't heard, our dear Governor Granholm vetoed state funding of 39 school districts in Michigan. My children's district is among them. I have no idea how the district is going to deal with this loss, which amounts to around $100,000 per school. As a letter from the superintendent puts it this amount equals the entire transportation budget or nearly 100 teachers. Clearly, you can't cut teachers in the middle of the school year... but you can drop the art, music and sports programs. You can fire the few librarians and library aids left in the district. Our school is down to 2 custodians from about 7 two years ago, so I don't know how we can cut them but I'm sure someone will be going. It's just so frustrating! When will elected officials wake up to the fact that the ONLY way this country will ever be able to compete globally is to have better educated workers? Michigan in particular has never been strong on education, since for generations people could get high paying jobs in auto manufacturing without even a high school diploma. Those days are gone though. Our kids will not be competing against their uneducated neighbors for jobs, they'll be competing against men and women from India, China and Europe who have excellent higher educations. Jeez, my step-daughter is better educated as a senior in a German high school than most American's with a Bachelor's degree!

Of course, Jenny says that it's all the Republican's fault, since they won't raise taxes. She's right that taxes in Michigan must be raised as the deficit is staggering. Less gas and sales tax revenue means the budget is woefully underfunded. But she's mistaken in thinking her strong-arm tactic will have any effect on the Republican Senators she is trying to bully. They don't care if public schools are underfunded, all their kids go to private schools anyway! Education is for those who can afford it, all the rest can go work at Walmart when they're adults.

And then there's the nation. Health care. Deficit. Child abuse. Drunk driving. War. All these problems, so many seem insurmountable. Is it any wonder that the most viewed articles on Yahoo News are about "Dancing with the Stars" and "Balloon Boy"? Who wants to read all the depressing crap about things that never get any better? I really wonder if there is any hope for this country at all, or are we doomed to go down in flames.

Sorry for being so depressing and antagonistic this morning. Rant off.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Daddy's Girl

Growing up, I was a mama's girl. I was prissy. I liked the things my mom liked, reading, sewing and not getting dirty. My sister on the other hand was a tom-boy and total daddy's girl. When I was in the kitchen helping my mom can preserves, my sister was out riding the tractor with my dad. As we morphed into teenagers, that pattern remained consistent, I went to mom for advice, she went to dad. I fought with dad, she fought with mom.

I don't know if I was a mama's girl growing up because I naturally shared my mom's interests, or by default because I didn't get along with my dad. I know when I was very small, I adored my daddy like all little girls do. But as I grew, adoration changed to fear. My dad was very critical. He was a perfectionist. He was demanding and loud and often in a bad mood. So many of my memories of my dad from when I was young were of him yelling at me or punishing me. Because of this, I grew away from my dad. By the time I was in high school I was an angry, bitter and messed-up teenager who thought I hated my dad. I thought he hated me, to be honest, and I was just returning the favor.

I put my parents through a lot of grief as a teen, and now as I look back I realize the one I hurt the most was my dad. Because under his cold exterior he loved me more deeply than probably anyone else on this earth ever has. Now as an adult, I can understand why he was the way he was when I was small. He grew up poor, with a verbally abusive mother. He served in Vietnam. He worked in an environment where he was hazed for years. Basically, he lived through and with a lot of awful things and he was trying to figure out how to deal with them while also being a provider, a mentor, a father. A son, a husband, an employee. A Christian, a servant, a human. Basically, he was just like everyone of us on this planet! But as a child, we don't see our parents as human. Father's aren't allowed to have problems. They aren't allowed to have their own traumas and ghosts to deal with. As a child, I held my father to such a high standard that their was no way he could avoid falling in my eyes. Why did I do that?

As an adult, I understand so much more than I did back then. I empathize with his struggles, his issues, and his way of dealing with life. I forgive him his mistakes, and I pray that he forgives me mine. I see all the good in him, I see the depth of his compassion, grace and love and know that I am blessed to have such a wonderful father. As an adult, I have become a daddy's girl.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Margo Timmins Rocks My Soul

First of all, if you don't know who Margo Timmins is, you should be ashamed. Bad internets! Margo Timmins happens to be the fabulously talented lead singer of the Cowboy Junkies. And I got to see her and her awesome band last night in concert with my awesome daughter, Saskia.

From the top...

The concert was held at an adorable little folk music theater called The Ark. When I say little, I mean it. I bet they only fit a few hundred people in there. It was a sold out show and they had clearly shoved extra chairs in every aisle. Still, it was cozy, homey and a great atmosphere. Saskia and I got really good seats in one wing, she could see the stage fine which was my main goal.

The opening act was a bit over the top for Saskia. It was a band called Lee Harvey Osmond. Honestly I thought the music was great, I really liked it, it was just a bit dark and sad for Saskia. She actually cried during the first song. Said, "I feel sad and I don't know why." After the first song the beat picked up and she started to enjoy the music better... but neither of us enjoyed the lead singers stories about the first time he did LSD or how he threw away all his money on booze and women. But eh, I take her to a grown up show, I gotta expect she may see and hear some things I'd rather she didn't. We'll consider it a learning experience. Later I can tell her, "don't do acid or you'll end up like that scary guy at the Cowboy Junkies concert.". So it all works out.

When the Cowboy Junkies came on I was blown away. You know how most bands sound better on their albums, because of all the digital stuff they do to enhance the music and vocals? Well the Cowboy Junkies sound better in person. Margo's voice is so unbelievably pure and strong and beautiful. And the band is phenomenal, the guitar players in particular created sounds that I can't even begin to describe. Pure, haunting beauty. About half way into the concert I just closed my eyes and listened to the wave of sound washing over me. It's the kind of music that can transport you to another place and time. It's the kind of music that can elicit a spiritual rapture.

Before the end of the night Saskia became tired, and as we had an empty seat next to us I was able to move and let her lie across the seats and rest her head in my lap. I sat there in the dark theater, stroking my eight year old's hair and letting myself be absorbed by the haunting music, while also remembering those many nights I sat in a dark room, rocking my babies and singing them Cowboy Junkies songs. "Misguided Angel", "Cause Cheep is How I Feel", "Crescent Moon", "Ring on the Sill", "Sun Comes up, it's Tuesday Morning".... I sang these songs and more, hour after hour, night after night, nursing and rocking and just being with my babies. They still request that I sing them "The Mama Song" (i.e. Misguided Angel) on a regular basis. As I sat there holding my girl, remembering holding my baby, I felt the thread of our lives from that moment to this. I saw it stretching off into the future. I saw that no matter what, my girls will always be my babies and we will always be bound together with a thread as strong as it is invisible. That bond is love, and song is how I often choose to express that love.

I am grateful that I was able to have this experience with my daughter. It was a magical night, and I will never forget it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Without a church home

As some of you know, I've left my church. I guess it really never was my church to begin with actually. I never did become a member, for personal reasons which are completely rational to me, but which seem to not be accepted by the church staff as valid. Anyway, if I wasn't a member? Was it even my church? I attended off and on, sometimes frequently and sometimes not, for over three years. I taught there, I organized events there, I gave money there. I prayed there and grew there and found friends there. So yeah, I think it was mine. Now it's gone.

I won't go into all the specifics of why I left here. What it boils down to is I was unhappy. I've always enjoyed the services but nearly everything outside of those 60 minutes was frustrating. Perhaps it's just that my personality doesn't fit with that of a UU congregation. Because even though I know I am UU when I read the tenants, I can't get comfortable in that space. I have a controlling nature, I am organized, I expect certain behaviors from certain people and I am disappointed when those around me are dismissive of those things. I have spent too much time ranting to my husband about things I've witness that I disagree with, too much time crying my eyes out because I was so frustrated at the lack of responsiveness, and sometimes responsibility from staff. After my last nervous breakdown, which was precipitated by many other things but initiated by extreme distress caused by communication (and lack there of) with a particular staff member at church I knew it wasn't healthy for me to continue putting myself through the stress that place causes me. Still, it took one final outrageous act to push me into making it official.

I also won't go into the responses I've received from staff, other than to say they were hurtful. But in fairness I was hurtful too so it's just a big ole ball of hurt feelings all around. The story of my life it seems.

I will say that I am really, really sad right now. I feel a bit lost. I simply cannot seem to find the right place to meet my spiritual needs. I fear it doesn't exist, at least not in this place and time. I'm at a point in my life where spirit is the most important thing I need to find and work on, but I have no path to follow or support while I walk it.

I worry about publishing this, I don't want to be seen as a troublemaker by those church members who read my blog. But it is MY blog, it's my space to work out what I am going through, and as my friend Cristina so eloquently shows me in each of her blog posts that is okay.

Friday, September 11, 2009

6 years ago today... make that 8...

Because I'm too lame to rewrite my September 11th post I'm going to republish this one from two years ago. I pretty much feel the same way now.

I was living in Frankfurt, Germany. My first baby was only 3 weeks old, and I was trying to adjust to motherhood. Honestly it wasn't that hard, as this fierce, overwhelming love, more intense than anything I had ever felt before, was carrying me through. It was afternoon in Germany when my husband called home to say that 2 airplanes had crashed into the Twin Towers. I thought he was mistaken, there was no way such a thing could happen. Maybe one small plane, but two? I rushed to turn on the TV, my baby in my arms, then sank to the couch in shock.

I spent the next several hours on that couch, switching back and forth between CNN and BBC, trying to learn, trying to understand what happened. It was only 6 am on the West Coast where my family lived, but I called and woke them up; "turn on the TV" I told my sleepy mother. We cried together on the phone.

The thoughts I remember from that day are those of a new mother who only wishes for her child to have a safe world to grow up in. I grieved for those lost, and the ones who lost them. I was angered that anyone could have such a callous disregard for life. I was also scared. Scared because Bush was in office. Scared that his reaction would lead to another World War. Scared because my home was just minutes away from one of the financial centers of Europe, and if an attack were to come to Germany we could be in danger. Scared because I was an American on foreign soil. Scared because I didn't want my baby to grow up in a world where strangers would kill strangers over ideology...

Now, 6 years later I look back to find that only some of my fears came to pass. But I think the potential for world-wide disaster is still near. For me, today is a day to remember the innocent people who lost their lives, and it is also a day to remember that it is fear, hatred, and zelotism which caused those losses. It may sound idealistic, it may sound naive, but wouldn't the best way to honor the victims of terrorism be to find world peace?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to school

Today was the girl's first day of school. It was exciting, and heart-rendering. Saskia started third grade, and I cannot get over that fact. THIRD GRADE! That seems so old somehow. As I waited with her in line, we scoped out her classmates. Unfortunately, NOT ONE of he friends from last year got into her class. I'm really pretty pissed about it. I know the teachers sort out the 'difficult' kids first, seperating those who can't get along, or who get along too well and spend all their time chattering, then making sure the shy, scared or whatever kids get together with one of their friends. I'm sure they also look at things like academic talent, social skills or whatever. Then the last few kids get sprinkled in wherever they'll fit. I think Saskia was one of those last few. She never made trouble in class, was her teacher's favorite. Was kind and friendly and supportive of all her classmates. In other words, she was too good to make it onto anyone's radar when assigning classrooms. The consequence is that she got forgotten. It bites.

Fiona started Kindergarten and at least that went better. The KG classrooms at their school are awesome and giant... thankfully because there are 28 kids in her class. Let me repeat that. TWENTY-EIGHT. Kindergarteners. God help that poor teacher.

All in all, I'm happy to see them having new experiences and learning new things, but I'm very, very sad to see them growing up. There is something about the first day of school that makes me feel like such a terrible mother. After they walk through the doors I start thinking of all the things I've done wrong as a mom. I become convinced I'm the most horrible mother in the world. I second guess and question every move I made that morning, "should I have stayed with her another minute?" "did I tell her I love her?" "did I tell her I love her enough?" Again, it bites.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

If the kittens were children...

they'd be in their "terrible twos" phase. Damage today:

  • one Barbie mauled to death (as Fiona put it, it looks like she was attacked by a shark!)
  • two very large puncture wounds to my inside thigh attained when one kitten decided to jump two feet into the air to try and get the pull string dangling from my sweat pants.
  • two dining room chairs tipped over during their "Wrestle-mania" episode
  • one dishwasher climbed into
  • one balloon popped
  • one older cat terrorized
and it's only 11am. God help us.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

8 years old, part 3, The Sleepover part 2

Alternatively titled: "Never host a sleepover if you own three cats" or "Allergies are Us"

So where did I leave off? Oh yes, the girls were peacefully watching a movie and I was taking a much needed break. Then suddenly it was 9:45 and we were expecting one girl to be picked up around 10:30 and we hadn't done the make-up bags/make-overs/fashion show yet, so I paused the movie and herded the girls back to the table. The decorating went well, we used stick on jewels to bling up some Dollar Store plastic make-up bags and I distributed little kits of comb/mirror/brush, headbands and hair-clips so the girls could start doing each other's hair.

The first thing that happens is that Saskia manages to hopelessly tangle her cheep-o brush in her friend's curly hair. I'm desperately trying to remove it when her mom arrives. Of course, this is the girl who needs to go home early. Several minutes later, still trying to untangle it, I hear crying and look over to see that one girl's face is completely red, like strawberry red. Since we haven't gotten into the make-up yet I make a leap to cat allergies. We do have three, and all the girls had been molesting loving on the kittens all night. I called her mom who says she has a sensitivity, but she goes to her gamma's house where there is a cat and has never shown a true allergy. Well unfortunately, there is a big difference between being in the same space as one elderly cat and repeatedly hugging and kissing and carrying two kittens. Even more unfortunately, neither her mom nor I had any allergy meds that would help her, and the girl was so miserable she decided to go home, which I fully understand but was still sad for all of us.

So here I am, one girl with a brush trapped in her hair and her mom ready to go, one with a swollen pink face, and now a third runs off and starts to cry hysterically because her best friend has to leave. Lovely! I'm feeling oh-so-very stressed out but I get girl #1's hair free and send her on her way, get a cold washcloth for girl #2's face, and start a game of Uno with all the remaining girl's to try and distract girl #3. Shortly there after, girl #2 goes home and the drama starts again...

Girl #3 wants to go home. She says she can't make it, so she calls mom. Mom says she needs to stay. So I'm doing my happy dance and trying everything goofy I can think of to cheer her up when suddenly Saskia disappears. For a loooong time. Guess what, she's sick! Yay! Luckily, she didn't puke... just the other. But she felt like puking and told girl #3 that she might puke in bed which made girl #3 not want to stay again... At this point I decide I am done and we are ALL GOING TO BED RIGHT NOW. Keep in mind it's only about 11:00 (all that drama in one hour?!)

Because of the various dramas, the girls want me to sleep in their room with them. So I got my sleeping bag and hunkered down with them. To keep girl #3, who is still crying, distracted I read them "The Princess and the Pea". I think this is probably the only sleepover in history which ended with mommy taking everyone nigh-night and reading them a fairy tale, but whatever works, right?

Thankfully, the girls fell asleep quickly as I laid there as still as a stone and chanted "Please don't let anyone wake up, please don't let anyone wake up, please don't let anyone wake up" in my head. I slept AWFUL, but the girls all made it through the night great, thank goodness. In the morning the girls finally got to do their make-overs while I made dairy-free chocolate muffins for breakfast. Then after breakfast we all sat around and chatted about school, bullies, teachers and honesty, which was the BEST part of the experience for me. It's great to know that these girls trust me (FYI- they're all in my troop, so I know them all pretty well), yet at the same time it's scary to know that I have the responsibility of both protecting their trust and advocating on their behalf when they need help.

The last girl went home at 11:00, at which time I had a shower, then went to back to bed until 2:30pm. The End.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

8 years old part 2, The Sleepover

The day has come for the much dreaded anticipated sleepover party. The girls and I spent the day running errands, shopping, baking and cleaning. Paul also did his fair share of grocery shopping and cleaning. By 5:00 pm the house was shiny clean, the decorations were hung, the crafts were prepared and the cupcakes were baked. As the guests started to arrive, they immediately went into hyper drive. Something I always forget (until the next party that is) is how very LOUD pre-pre-teen girls can be. There is probably a scientific formula which explains it, my guess is something like (girl + girl) * (volume)4

Once the last girl had arrived I set up an assembly line for them to make their own pizzas, which they found far more hilarious than pizza making normally is. I won't repeat the conversations I overheard during making, baking and eating those pizzas but lets just say I have at least 40 new gray hairs on my head.

Following pizza was more running/screaming/jumping/screaming/chasing kittens/screaming. At one point I heard sirens and was sure that the police and fire department were on their way to rescue the poor children being murdered in my backyard, but thankfully they had somewhere else to go. In deference to my poor ears, we quickly proceeded to the friendship bracelet making. This went fairly well, although it took far longer than I expected and I had to provide a LOT more help than I had expected. Whatever, it was fun, except for Fiona's minor breakdown because "everyone else is finished before me!"

Next came cupcakes (thanks Sharon for the awesome vegan recipe!) and presents. Saskia got three Webkinz. Which of course produced another Fiona breakdown because, "Saskia has more Webkinz than me and hers are cuter and I want one!". Note to self, if I am ever crazy brave enough to host a sleep-over party again MAKE FIONA TAKE A NAP BEFORE THE PARTY.

After presents I made popcorn ON THE STOVE! (note, I did not think this was remotely possible) and marshmallow goo to make popcorn balls. 3 of the girls helped me form the balls (note 2, butter lotion is VERY funny when you are 8) and all of them chowed down. As and aside, my grandma used to make popcorn balls whenever we went to visit her and I lurved them. Now, not so much. But the memory was a good one.

Now the girls are settled down watching "Hotel for Dogs". Well, 4 of them are, 2 of them are rampaging through the bedrooms upstairs but I'm too tired to go see what kind of mayhem they are causing. When the movie is over, we still have make-up bags to decorate and make-overs to do on each other, as well as a pajama fashion show to host. Should be fun, if I don't collapse. Thank God for beer... root beer that is. I'm on my third. SUGAR!!!!

Part 3 of the birthday saga to continue if after I survive the night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

8 years old, part 1

Saskia turned eight this week. Because most of her friends are out of town right now, her party has been scheduled for next weekend. Consequently her actual birthday was pretty low-key.

She started the day by waking us all at 7:30am. This is a kid who will happily sleep until 10 or 11 if we let her. So we all trudged downstairs at this horrific hour to watch her tear into her presents. She got:

An American Girl Doll (Rebecca)
A Taylor Swift CD
A Jonas Brother's Backpack and Lunch bag
Clothes for her doll
A gift card to Rhapsody to buy music for her MP3 player
A kitten named Zack

The kitten and the doll were the big hits of the day, while the books, clothes and school supplies didn't even register except as mild disappointments (I'm sure she was thinking, "cheep ass mom, I would have gotten these anyway for school, why did you give them to me as presents?!"). The fact of the matter was, after plopping down a shit-load of money on her doll and the kitten, I wasn't prepared to buy much more that wasn't going to serve a dual purpose. Sorry hun, you should have been born in May if you didn't want to get clothes for your birthday...

After opening presents she and I went out to IHOP for breakfast. She'd been looking forward to the free ice cream since her sister went there on her birthday. Sure enough, by 8:30 am the staff was coming out singing and presenting her with a huge sunday, which she gobbled down appropriately.

The rest of the day was spent playing with her new stuff and generally lounging about unproductively. Oh, I forgot to mention that Fiona presented Saskia with a trip to Build a Bear (which mommy paid for of course) as a present. We went on Saturday and of course I ended up buying both girls a bear and outfit... for a total of $60! Damn, I had no idea that BaB was so friggin expensive! Guess there was a good reason why we never went there before. Anywho, now-a-days BaB has it's own website where you can register and play with your bears (someone feeling the Webkinz heat?) so Saskia spent a lot of time on there as well.

We didn't get around to actually having cake until about 9pm. Since Fiona is now on a dairy free diet we made two cakes, and can I say my dairy free cake kicked serious ass. It was awesome. From now on that will be the only cake I make.

All in all, it was a decent day, although I felt very guilty for not spending more time with the birthday girl or doing something special for her. Hopefully I can make that up when I have her friends over for their very first sleep-over party!, and all the fun stuff that goes with that.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


My friends Alicia and Jess both gave me this award and in turn I am supposed to write ten honest things about myself. I'll try to be original and come up with something that ya'll don't already know....

1) I'm pretty strict, I like rules, and it really, really bothers me when I have to deal with kids from families who don't agree with my need for rules. Because of this I have a hard time understanding, accepting or even liking some kids.

2) I'm pretty sure I have OCD.

3) I hate, hate, hate being late, or when other people are late, or when things start late. This is a bad thing for someone who is surrounded by people and groups who are very lax about punctuality.

4) I'm mean and angry a lot more often than I'd like to be.

5) I wish I could afford to only work part time, or be a SAHM.

6) I'm becoming more conservative as I get older, although I don't think I'll ever go so far right as to become a Republican :D

7) I consider converting to Christianity fairly often, even though I don't believe in the core belief that Jesus is the son of God. However I feel there is a lot that a Christian church can offer in the way of moral teaching that my kids sadly don't get through our UU church, even though I think that UUs are more innately moral than most Christians. Why is that we don't bother teaching our kids those morals?

8) I am very grateful that I have girl children; I am pretty intolerant of boy's behavior.

9) There's a part of me that is really drawn to the "country" life-style: cowboy boots and hats, music, horses, ranches, farming, square dances. But I probably would be miserable if I ever tried to adopt the life as the viewpoints on most everything is so radically different from mine.

10) I have a daddy complex, I think my dad is perfect and no man, including my husband, will probably ever be able to live up to him. Sorry honey. If it's any consolation, you are a very, very close second.

Whew, that's it. I probably offended half the people who read my blog with this post, sorry. Honesty can be brutal. Now I'm supposed to tag some people to follow up:


You're it!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy birthday to me

Today is my birthday. I am a whole 33 years old, whoo-hoo. Not. Not that I have anything against 33, it's not any different from 32, to tell ya the truth, it's just that whole, I'm getting older and life doesn't even have the courtesy to notice kinda thing that gets me a little down.

I took today off and honestly, it was quite nice. Okay, so techinically I was off, in reality I was troubleshooting web problems. But it did feel kinda nice to have the boss call me on my day off to fix something, showed me that I do actually have some skillz. Nevermind that everyone else he woulda normally called first was also on vacation. I HAVE SKILLZ.

I also spent the morning babysitting for a friend's kids. They were awesome, so sweet and well behaved and they kept Fiona occupied. Despite how it sounds (work and babysitting?!) it was a wonderful morning. Around noon my friend came by and we hung out chatting, something we hardly ever get the chance to do anymore. At 1:30 she headed home and Fiona and I took a N.A.P. Also heavenly. Then at 3:00 we took off to pick up Saskia from camp.

It was great to have Saskia come home, she matured so much in the five days she was gone! It's amazing to me, the changes are subtle, but she is definitely more "grown up" now. She went away a little girl and came back... not a woman, and not a teen... but someone more in charge of herself and more independant. It's pretty damn cool.

This evening Paul cooked me a yummy curry dinner before needing to head out to a meeting. And just now, I served myself a cake (with two candles, is that sad?) and forced the girls to sing happy birthday to me. Yeah, I can be kindof pathetic at times. Then I called my granny, who happens to also have her birthday today. She turned 97! Whoo-hoo, happy birthday grandma!

So now the question is, what next? In some ways I can feel each birthday pushing me further towards the grave. I weigh more than I ever have in my entire life (next time I go into the doctor's office I'm beating that scale to pieces), and I'm pretty darn unhealthy. I am tired, boring and sometimes mean. But I'm also:

in love with my family and children, happy with my career, pursuing interests and hobbies that make me feel fullfilled, and trying to learn new things. So maybe 33 isn't so bad, after all...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Birthday Update

Fiona and I had a great time on her birthday. I had to start the day with a presentation for work, but was able to take off after that. Fiona got to open one present in the morning with papa and sister; I got her a "Friendly Fionna" doll from Troop Groovy Girls. She adored it and has been hauling it everywhere with her ever since.

Fiona took cupcakes to school which was a big hit, and since it was the annual trike-a-thon on her birthday she also took her bike with her and got to ride around with her friends before I picked her up. I picked her up at 11:00 and took her out to her requested restaurant for lunch; IHOP. She was wearing her birthday crown from school, so she got a lot of attention in the restaurant. Some lady even sent over a dollar to her via the waitress. It was sweet. Then at the end the whole staff came out and asked everyone in the place to give her a round of applause. They sang for her and gave her an ice cream Sunday. She was kind-of freaked out by the attention, but she enjoyed the treat.

After IHOP we went home and I rested on the bed and she played with her new doll for a while. I had asked her what she wanted to do: go to a movie, go rollerskating, bowling... she picked the park. So in the afternoon we headed out on her bike to the local park. She met two girls her age there and they played an hour. It was really nice, and made me REALLY miss the freedom of a stay-at-home mom to just do fun stuff in the middle of the day if we want to...

Paul came home around 5:00 and Fiona tore into her presents. She wanted pizza for dinner (urgh, so much greasy food in one day!) and afterwords we had the pink cake that Paul had baked at her request. It was Yummy! The rest of the evening Fiona and Saskia played with her new toys. It was a great day.

Fiona's party was on Sunday. It was an underwater theme and I spent far too many hours cutting out sharks, fish, seashells, crabs etc and pasting them to the walls with green seaweed streamers and blue wave streamers. I don't think the kids even noticed them. I also made a couple of games and set up a craft for when the kids got there and Paul made an awesome cake. We got those chocolate molds that you see at the holiday's in aquatic shapes and made fish, starfish, turtles etc out of green, white and orange chocolate. (Pictures will eventually be published).

Fiona invited 8 kids from preschool and all but one showed up. It was cool, the kids were really well behaved! I wish my Girl Scouts could listen that attentively. The craft and games were a big hit but as usual I WAY overestimated the time it would take them to do them so we ended up with about an hour to kill. This started off okay as free play but quickly degenerated as fights broke out over the toys. When I couldn't take it any more we went outside to play "sharks and fishes" (aka tag) but that quickly was ended when Fiona wiped out on the cement driveway. At least it wasn't someone else' kid. Mostly I was desperately trying to keep them off our playset as I didn't want some parent suing me if their kid fell off but I was a miserable failure. Luckily, no one got hurt so it all worked out in the end. I have to say, I love birthday parties and I think I'm pretty good at throwing them, but they wipe me out! I'm glad they only come once (we'll twice, two kids) a year.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dear Harvey (a.k.a. "mousekiller")

Dear Harvey,

I'm writing to say thank-you for your vigillant, and sometimes vigilante-like, defense of our house from mice. I've been quite impressed with all the evidence of your prowess you've been leaving for us lately, four mice in one week, wow! You really are a cat god. No matter that they were all babies. I would however like to make one small request. In the future, could you please refrain from leaving your offerings on the doorstep? It is not pleasant to leave for work in the early hours of dawn (your bedtime) to step out onto a freshly killed mouse in my high heels. The driveway is also not an acceptable alternative, as squished-by-car dead mice are exceedingly hard to get rid of, and I did not appreciate how I had to scrape your latest kill up in pieces. Call me squeemish, but mice guts turn my stomach for some odd reason. I would greatly appreciate it if you could politely dispose of your kills in the rubish, or better yet, on that annoying neighbor's front step. You know, the one who we caught throwing dog poop over the fence into our yard last weekend. I'm sure they would appreciate your cunning and skill in trapping wee little baby mice.

Thanks again,
Your grateful owner

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fiona's birthday and other news

I think we'll go with a bullet list today:

  • Fiona's birthday is coming up in a little over a week. I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a good theme that 1) is appropriate for girls AND boys 2) we haven't done before (last year was circus) and 3) is something Fiona is actually into. Last night the girls were helping me brainstorm and somehow we came up with an underwater theme. Yes! Fiona's really into the ocean, sharks, jellyfish, boats and all that good stuff (thank you Spongebob) so this will be great for her. And we've already come up with a ton of good ideas. We're going with a blue and green color scheme. The living and dining rooms will be decorated with streamers to look like seaweed going up the walls, with lots of fish, crabs, and jellyfish pasted to the walls. When the kids arrive, they will make "seascape" pictures. We will use these for a fishing game by dumping fish on top of the pictures and having the kids fish them into their goodie bags. Then the pictures will be taped to one wall, together, to form the seascape. Next we'll do a craft, either building boats or perhaps a sea creature mobile. Then we'll play "stinging jellyfish" (aka "hot potato") and learn the "Fishies in the water" song and swim around the living room for a while. Next come cake and presents, and we'll finish it off by moving outside for the "shark and fish" game (aka tag). It should be a blast, I'm so excited!

  • The Girl Scout year is coming to an end, and we're planning our closing ceremony for two weeks from now. I'm wrapping up financials and reports and getting ready for our camping trip the first weekend of June and our summer party at the end of June. One of the co-leaders is stepping down for next year (although she still plans to help out where she can) and I'm stepping up the the leader position. I'm very excited as I've already got a lot of great ideas for next year.

  • The girls are doing really well in the theater troop they joined. They are preparing for a "Series of One Acts" play for the end of June. They will be doing a scene from Annie, Jack and the Beanstock, Rapunzel, and a shortened version of The Wizard of Oz. Saskia will be playing Molly in Annie and the giant's wife in Jack and the Beanstock. Fiona is an orphan in Annie and the cow in Jack (she's going to be SO cute). They will both be munchkins in the Wizard of Oz. It should be a great show! Saskia is doing really well and has memorized all her lines. She's definitely got a future in theater!

  • I've been spending most of my time on the weekend working outside. Our yard has SO much work that needs to be done. We've dug up the front lawn and reseeded it and the grass has started to grow. I've also cleared a lot of lily of the valley and ivy from various flower beds. Next weekend I hope to have the bed running along the driveway, next to the house, totally cleared out and replaced with river stones. I love seeing progress being made, but I sometimes wish it was going faster (and that it made my back, shoulders, legs and hands hurt less!)

  • I'll be going to see Blue October in concert with a friend on May 16th, woo-hoo!

That's all for now. Take care everyone!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Concerts and kids

As most of you already know, my two daughters and I attend an Indigo Girls concert last night. It was a unique experience. I don't regret having done it, but I know now that four is too young for a formal concert experience. Boredom or tantrums I could've handled better than the emotionally distraught and disappointed. But first things first...

The concert was set to start at 7:30. Being a very anxious person (an anxiety which I unfortunately seem to have passed onto my youngest to a high degree) I was worried about parking, lines, etc, so we left the house at 5:30. It was an easy 30 minute drive to the town where the concert was held, and we found parking right away in the garage next to the theater. With 90 minutes now to kill, we decided to look around town. This was easy, since we were smack downtown with a Borders across from the theater and a Biggby Coffee next to it. We spent 30 minutes in Borders and each of the girls got a new book. This turned out to be a great decision, as Fiona's book came with one of those cheep magnetic drawing boards and this kept her entertained while waiting for the Indigo Girls to go on.

After Borders we went over to check out the theater. There was no line at all, so we went to Biggby's for hot chocolate for the girls and a much needed cappuccino for me. It was much needed mostly because the girls were practically having panic attacks as they were so worried about being late for the concert. My reasurances that we had an hour to wait fell on deaf ears though, so we ended up going into the theater and finding our seats a little before 7. The girls were still being really good, if anxious, and sat playing with and reading their new books.

We were in the fifth row from the front, great seats. We were also right in front of the speakers, good thing I had ear plugs for everyone! Actually, a really nice bouncer offered to give us all ear plugs, but prepared mama didn't need 'em.

Waiting for the opening act Fiona got more and more wound up, until she was in a frenzy of impatience. Thankfully the show started on time, and the opening act was nice, but Fiona wasn't into it at all. So we abandoned our seats after a few songs to go and get snacks and drinks. I should mention, at this point the theater was less than half full. I couldn't figure out where all the people were, as clearly the seats were sold... that is until we walked into the lobby. It was packed, you could barely move. See, there was a BAR in the lobby. Everyone was getting toasted, and it was not a cool vibe with kids. About half the women had that "mom" air about them, and smiled kindly at us. The other half looked at the kids as if they were dirt on their shoes. That sounds harsh, but it was a pretty clear attitude from a large number of people we encountered as we wound our way to the kiosk.

Another thing I'll throw out here, several people came up and asked me at various times how old the girls were, did I think they could handle it, wouldn't it be too loud for them, etc. Honestly I was surprised by the negativity. My memories of Indigo Girl's concerts on the West Coast in my twenties were of lots of happy, smily, girl power types. I don't know if it's a Michigan thing, or if it's just that we've all aged and the fans that were hippies back in the day (a whole 12 years ago!) are hardened now, but the vibe was not the same.

So, back to the story line, the girls and I got our snacks and headed back to our seats. Of course, right then the opening act ended, and we had to sit for 20 or 30 mintues waiting for the Indigo Girls to come on. At this point Fiona had enough of waiting and was starting to get vocal about it. Don't get me wrong, she was still doing fantastic for a kid who'd been waiting for something for 3 hours and was now at her bed time. Finally they came on and started playing songs off their new album. Uh oh. This is where the disappointment comes in. More like total heart break. Fiona started sobbing uncontrallably because they weren't singing anything she knew. Even when they played older songs, they weren't her songs. She was crying so hard she was shaking, it was awful. Consequently I didn't get to pay much attention to the show. Saskia at this point was polite, but also I think disappointed that she didn't recognize the songs. Still, she was interested and enjoying herself. But Fiona... after 6 or 8 songs, I'm not sure, I took her to the bathroom to calm down. Thank goodness, as we came back in they started playing her all-time favorite song, "Get Out the Map." She grooved to that, but started crying again when the next song was unfamiliar. At this point I pulled out my secret weapon, a massive bag of M&M's. Unfortunatley she just kept sobbing as she ate.

I guess we were at least half way through the show at this point, maybe more. This drunk guy kept screaming at them to play "Chickenman", so they did and Emily went into this really long, really awesome jam seassion on her guitar. It was so great. Everyone was standing at this point, so I went out into the aisle and started dancing with Fiona in my arms. Finally, she stopped crying. After the song the nice bouncer made everyone else go back to their seats, except us. He asked if I was okay and said we could stay there as long as we liked. The guy must have kids.

So that's how we watched the rest of the show. Me standing in the aisle, rocking Fiona. Towards the end they played two of our other favorites, "Shame on You" and "Closer to Fine" and Saskia got up and the three of us danced in the aisle. It was great, and just the experience I had been hoping for with them!

We took off after "Closer to Fine", it was 10:30, the show was clearly winding down and we were all exhausted. Driving home was awful, I was so spent emotionally and physically that I wasn't sure if I could get us home. In fact, a couple of times I seriously considered pulling over and calling my husband to come get us. Somehow we made it home.

To wrap it up, if you've made it this far... I don't regret taking the girls. Yes, Fiona was too young. I feel bad that the experience ended up being painful for her in some ways. I feel bad that Saskia got nothing from me during the concert, no girl bonding, because I was so focused on Fiona. But if we hadn't have gone, who knows? I've regretted not doing too many things in my life to have passed up on this opportunity. Hopefully it will come again, when they are older (and know more songs!) but if not we will always have their first concert, with me and a band that has been very influential on me. I suspect this entry reads as being very negative, but really it wasn't. I cherish this experience and I think that both the girls and I will look back on it fondly in years to come.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The horror

Today we received a package from my parents. It contained Easter presents for the girls, and a variety of memorabilia from my junior and high school years, including five separate yearbooks.

Oh my. I knew things were bad, but I didn't realize HOW bad. I found the most horrific sayings scribbled across those pages; words which I didn't think a seventh grader in the mid-1980's should have known. I found pictures labeled with, "jerk", "b****", and much, much worse. As I glanced through the photos, names jumped out at me.

The girl who pinched my ankles and called me a whore in fifth grade.

The boy who grabbed my rear and made me scream all through junior high.

The kids who taunted me, teased me, made fun of me and insulted me.

The friend who's heart I broke, by dumping her for another crowd in high school.

My best friend, the girl who stuck with me through thick and thin.

The chauvinistic, abusive teachers.

The teachers who made me think, who made me learn.

In the end, I suppose I gained a few good things, but the vast majority of my school experience from age 9 on was one of exclusion, bullying and sadness. Viewing those yearbooks brought it all back, and it wasn't a good thing. It made me realize, that no matter how hard life may get as an adult, it has NOTHING on the horrors of middle and high school. Yet, at the same time, it gave me hope. Because many of those pictures labeled with anger... I can't even remember who the hell those people are! So as much as I may have hated them 18 years ago, I can't even remember them now, and that gives me hope. Hope that our worst experiences are over-comable, and that in the end we can define for ourselves who we are.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A memory

In church today the sermon was on the "Divine Feminine". This stirred up a memory of mine which I'd like to share:

When I was 15 or so I was very involved in my then Methodist church. I attended Bible study every week, was on the Youth Council and participated in all the youth group events. That summer I went to Church Camp, and that, funny enough is where the event occurred which precipitated my move away from Christian belief.

We were participating in a guided meditation in which we were supposed to imagine ourselves in a beautiful place. Mine was a gorgeous old-growth forest (think the mountains of western Oregon or Washington) beside a stream. I can still see the image today, and it was my idea of heaven on Earth. In this meditation we were supposed to imagine a conversation with Jesus. But he never showed up for me, instead this beautiful woman appeared. She was God. I don't remember what we talked about, but I did come away from the meditation with an understanding that the Divine was far more than my narrow Christian upbringing had led me to believe. It also became clear to me that while Jesus' teachings were to be respected, he was not the conduit to (nor the Son of) God.

That night we had a bonfire and I remember standing under these beautiful pine trees in the mountains with a gorgeous, starry sky above me and feeling so very connected to the universe and this new, unfettered version God that I had just met. It was an amazing moment.

Later, back home I continued to take part in my church activities but I refused to worship or pray to Jesus. I wanted a direct connection to the Divine. I also began to explore information about the Divine Feminine, or Goddess. These heresies were a source of consternation to many of the older members of the congregation and I was removed from the Youth Council. Then I stopped attending church altogether. I began a period of intense longing for an alternative religion. (This is also the time I first attended a UU church, but I moved shortly after to Missouri where there was no congregation) I explored Wicca for a few years, but without the support of a religious community I eventually moved away from having any spiritual practice at all.

Looking back now, I know that this period of exploration, and most importantly this understanding that I gained during that meditation has shaped much of what I believe about God, the Divine and spirituality. Today in the sermon, our Reverend challenged us to think about what shapes our image of the Divine. For me, the Divine is sexless, genderless, and neutral. It is also all encompassing, ever present and at its core is a boundless love.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Children can be so observant

Fiona's sitting at the table, having breakfast with me when she points to a picture of me holding Saskia as a baby. She says "see that picture mama? You look so happy in it." I say "yes". She says, "you aren't usually happy" I mutter something... she says, "can you try to be happy like that sometimes?" I say "yes". She says "good, because your smile in that picture is so pretty" and goes on her way.

You know, I've always thought that saying "when mom isn't happy, nobody's happy" was kind-of BS. Sometimes mom has to do things that don't make her happy, but are necessary to keep her family together and give them a stable home. And when mom is so busy making sure everything keeps functioning how is she supposed to do anything to make herself happy? I honestly don't even know what could make me happy, I just don't think it's possible. But it makes me even more sad to know that my inability to be happy is such a sorce of concern for my child. A four year old shouldn't have to worry about her mom, it should be the other way around. Maybe there's some truth in that saying afterall, but I'll be damned if I know how to make it happen.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Retail and music therapy combined!

I could bore you with tales of all the stress I'm under, the emotional rollercoaster I've been on and the number of people who've ticked me off lately. But instead I'll just tell you about my latest bout of retail therapy: I just bought tickets for me and my two girls to see the Indigo Girls in concert! Ever since Saskia was a baby, I have dreamed of being that cool mom that takes her kids to an Indigo Girls concert. I've seen them live three times, and each time was an amazing, energetic experience. To be honest, the idea of taking an almost five year old and seven year old to a concert where they are expected to sit for many hours is daunting, but the recent death of my Aunt is reminding me that we never know when a postponed opportunity is our last opportunity to do something. Every time I've skipped something I really want to do for reasons of money, inconvinence or whatever I've really regreted it. So this time I'm taking the chance, and taking my girls to see one of my favorite bands ever perform live! Wish me luck and lots of fun. Regardless of what happens, it will be an experience to remember and surely a balm to my troubled spirit.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Joys and Sorrows

At my UU church we have a traditional piece of the service where we share our personal joys and sorrows with each other. Since thoughts of both a joyous and sorrowful nature have been weighing on me the last couple of days, I though it best I share mine here.

I have a sorrow, and a joy.

My sorrow is that my Great Aunt Fern (always Aunt Fern to me) had a stroke last Thursday. We don't know if she is going to make it yet or not, or what her life may be like if she does pull through.

Aunt Fern is a difficult case. She has caused a lot of consternation in my immediate family. Some in my family focus on her tendency to be self-serving, and she does have a selfish streak, but I believe there are more than enough psychological reasons for that behavior that I won't go into here. What I've been focusing on these last two days is not her mistakes, but the fact that she is one of only a few examples of living in joy that I remember from my extended family. She has always seemed to take great pleasure in life, and in living it to the fullest. She is patriotic, and religious, an all-around all American lady in the old-fashioned way; yet she is also feisty, and independant, and shrewd. What I take from her example is that a smile and confidence that you have the right to be, do and say exactly what you choose will take you further than just about anything else. I pray that she will recover, and continue on living her life to the fullest, but even if she doesn't I'd like to thank her for being a smiling face in my memory, reminding me that we make our own happiness.

My Joy.

As most of you know, I'm a Girl Scout leader. In the last couple of days this has been causing me stress as I try to be the willow and bend in the winds of my parent's needs. The problem is that lately I've felt as if those winds have become gale forces and that rather than accepting a compromising bend, they want me to snap to their will. Or, in other situations, they aren't a wind making themselves present to my tree at all, they are simply blowing away, leaving wasted money, time and effort in their wake when they don't show for meetings or pre-paid events.

Probably I'm being too sensitive, with my family stresses and all, but this behavior has left me questioning why I bother with Girl Scouts. Then I got to spend time with some of my girls at booth sales today and I was reminded how much I care for ALL the girls in our troop.

These girls are all unique, yet they are all graced with a loving kindness that is so beautiful and precious and I am so happy to be a part of all of their lives. Being at our troop meetings I may get stressed out or pushy about scheduling and rules, but when I take a moment to just enjoy what is going on around me I feel really blessed to have so many truly great kids as part of my life. It may sound kooky but I really love these girls and I am so inspired by the knowledge that amidst the sea of indifference, hatred and selfishness that is our society and our younger generation there are these beacons of light shining a love of life, a joy in helping others and a compassion so deep it puts us grown-ups to shame, into the world. So, these children, these bundles of goodness are my joy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Camping, pirates, and other fun stuff

We've been busy lately so I thought it was time to give a little status update...

Today Fiona went to see a pediatric opthamologist(which is apparently better, or at least snootier, than an optometrist, at least if the Doctor's reaction to being called the wrong term is any judge). Despite the snooty factor, I liked this Doctor and her staff. They were very nice and great with kids. Happily, Fiona doesn't need glasses yet, although with a diagnosis of "nearly normal" vision that may change eventually.

While discussing the family history, and in particular Saskia's vision problems, with the assistant I found out that her one really bad eye is actually a treatable medical condition... if it's treated before the eye stops developing, which happens around the age of 7. Shit, she IS 7. Sure wish that optometrist at Lenscrafters had mentioned this before. So Saskia has an appointment in late February (this woman is so overbooked) to see if there is anything that can be done for her. Of course I'm kicking myself for not finding out about this earlier, when her vision might possibly have been improved to the point where she wouldn't need glasses except for reading. The worst bit though in Saskia's opinion is that the treatment involves wearing an eye patch over her good eye. Can't imagine much worse for a self-conscious pre-pre-teen than going to school looking like a pirate. I can only imagine how awful the tantrums are going to be if she does need to wear a patch. Argh.

In happier news, yesterday we booked our first REAL vacation since 2004 (not counting weekend camping trips with friends). I am so excited, we rented a cabin up near Traverse City, in the Sleeping Bear National Forest area in August. We are going to be right on a lake, with canoes, boats and swimming a few feet away as we step out the door. Some very good friends went there last year and had a great time, they went to a different place each day and all were gorgeous (trust me, I've seen the pictures). Oh yeah, and the best part? OUR FRIENDS RENTED THE CABIN NEXT DOOR! I'm so excited, and so are the kids. The thought that they can get up each morning, run outside and jump in a lake with their best friends has got them screaming with glee. And that they get to spend a whole week with their friends is better than any present I could come up with. I can't wait to sit out in the morning with my friend and watch the kids play, or watch the men barbecue something while we toast our toes in front of a campfire. Vacation here we come!

Let's see, in other news, we celebrated the induction of 3 new girls into our Girl Scout troop last Saturday, and rededicated the 11 girls who were with us last year. I must say, I grow to love Girl Scouts and in particular MY scouts more each time we do something like this. It's great to watch our girls grow up, becoming more thoughtful and more patient. It's great getting to know them and know that you are an important person in their lives. I truly care about and enjoy the company of ALL of my troop members and I'm so happy to know that the work that my co-leaders and I do for these girls is valued by them and their parents.

Lastly, I joined a "small group ministry" at my church which had our first meeting this past week. It was very interesting, a little intense, but thought provoking too. The best part was carpooling with a neighbor and getting to know her better, I'm very happy to find a kindred spirit close by and look forward to more thoughtful conversations with her and other members of my church.

That's probably more than enough for one post, besides, the nasty, messy kitchen is calling.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dirt Room

Blue October's new video "Dirt Room" premiered today. The album goes on sale in March. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Life Resolutions

I didn't make New Year's resolutions this year. I think I was too busy to stop for a moment and think about what they should be. But I had a lot of time to think in the last 24 hours and I've decided to try to make some New Life resolutions. New Life, because I don't want them to just last for a year, and because they are something I started as soon as I woke up this morning. A new perspective if you will. It's very simple and revolves around one simple sentance: I will work to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

Body: I will respect my body. I will nourish it with healthy food, some exercise, and enough sleep. I understand that I will not run marathons or turn into a health-food nut overnight, and that I will continue to have many days that I do not succeed at meeting these goals, but I will overall increase my health level.

Mind: I will take steps to improve my mind by reading. I will let go of negative thoughts and people which make me feel bad. I will focus on the things which make me happy: my family, my friends, and my volunteer work. I will make my life, and thoughts, less chaotic and more organized through better scheduling and more self-discipline.

Spirit: I will nurture my spirit through meditation, and through the small group ministry I have joined at my church. I will focus on making myself, my children and my husband happier to create more peace in my home.

In order to help me implement these things, I am going to have to focus very intensely on what is happen in my home, my body, and my mind. Which means I will need to spend less time distracting myself with the Internet and surfing and may not be around as much. Wish me luck, I am happy and excited about the potential of this decision and hope I am strong enough to carry it out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Inauguration

I thought the rush of emotions I felt when President Obama won the election was over, but listening to the inauguration on NPR today it all came rushing back. I do believe that this election is not only historic for all the reasons we've already heard, but because it represents a shift in American focus from one of partisanship and petty bickering to one of getting things done for the good of all. I believe we have a chance to finally make the world a better place for our children, and I believe that though the next years are going to be extremely hard, there is no one better to lead us through them than our new President, Barack Obama.

Excerpted from President Obama's speech:

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it)."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CPSIA or : One of the stupidest things the government has done in a long time

Many of my blog readers (all 10 of you, LOL) already know about the impending economic disaster called the CPSIA, doomed to hit America in February, but I am writing about it myself because I am so concerned with it's impact. My friend Cristina has a great post about the impact of this legislation on small business owners which you can read on her blog. She also includes a list of things we can do to protest this legislation so if you haven't checked her post out already, please do so.

Now, I'm concerned about this legislation on a number of scales. Of course I do not care to have lead in my children's toys, but since I rarely bought plastic crap from huge chains anyway I never had all that much to worry about anyway. Still I agree that regulating children's products mass produced in overseas factories is a good thing as I don't want any child to have suffer from lead poisoning. The problem with this regulation though is it is far too broad. As many others have pointed out, it will destroy small businesses and grind production of specialty items for children to a halt. For example, the folks at Boutique Cafe called around and found that testing just one of their custom made shirts would cost them $1,025-$1425. Talk about insanity! The end result will be that big chains and mass producers (from China, where everything with lead content came from originally) will be able to test one of a batch of say 100,000 Dora dolls, and sell them legally, but any small business owner or maker of custom toys, clothes, bedding etc will go out of business. Tell me how this is good for our economy OR our children's health? Because I'm fairly sure it would be easier to slip a bunch of lead infested toys through in a unit of 100, 1000, or 100,000 than a unit of 1.

As scary as all of this is, it gets worse. I was shown a blog post today on C3 about the effect of the CPSIA legislation on libraries. Even if you aren't a librarian, as a tax payer or patron you need to be outraged at the huge costs libraries are going to incure due to this legislation. The costs of children's books (which have to be tested although who ever heard of a kid getting lead poisoning from a book?) will soar astronomically. Libraries won't be able to have book sales to raise funds anymore. They won't be able to have give-aways for summer reading programs, they won't be able to accept donations. They may not even be legally allowed to lend the books they have on their shelves now! Even computers and equipment in the children's area may fall under this regulation and have to be replaced or tested. Considering the absimal state of library funding to begin with, this legislation could very well spell the end of children's libraries (and children's librarians too) as there is no way libraries can cover all of these costs.

Still not scared? Say you don't buy from small businesses and you don't attend libraries. Do you ever had a garage sale or shop at one? Buy or sell something on Craig's List or Ebay? Get your kid's clothes at Mom to Mom sales? Well forget it. Even second hand sales are covered by this legislation which means all of those sales will become illegal without testing of the products. How many stay at home moms, families and internet sellers will lose supplimental income, maybe their only source of income in some cases?

So as you can see, this impact of this legislation is far reaching and utterly terrifying. If you are as scared as I am at this point I highly recommend you take action by taking one of these steps (borrowed from Cristina's blog)

What can you do?
1) Email or call the CPSIA - the office of the CPSC ombudsman 888-531-9070.
Comments on Component Parts Testing accepted through January 30, 2009.

2) Email or snail mail your representatives.

3) Call your representatives. For their contact information just enter your zip code.

4) Make your voice heard by voting on this issue. The top 3 in each category will be presented to President-elect Obama.

5) Sign the petition.

6) Spread the word! Write about this on your blog. Tell others about this issue and encourage them to do the same.

7) Join others in fighting this cause.

Join the etsy community in the virtual chat with CPSIA Small Business Ombudsmen or send a handmade children’s item that will become “hazardous goods” as of 2/9/09 to Bobby Rush, founder of H.R. 4040.