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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sickness for Christmas

I have decided that next Christmas I am not going to plan A DANG THING before Thanksgiving. This year I had the Christmas cards laid out, one gift for each kid purchased, and my sisters' gifts all ready to make before Halloween. That's right, BEFORE Halloween. This was going to be the year I would have a chill Christmas. We would go ice skating downtown, see the trees at the festivals, do an old-fashioned Christmas by Candlelight, see lots of lights, watch lots of Christmas movies, make lots of Christmas treats, and I was going to crush my pushup goal I had set for the end of the year.


And then three weeks ago I had chest pain. Which was just disconcerting enough that I thought, "I don't want to be THAT mom who dies because she ignores chest pain. You know, the place where most of your VITAL organs are." So I drove myself to the ER one Sunday morning and after a stream of tests a clot in my lung was discovered--a pulmonary embolism. I decided that was one of the least horrible of the options they suggested could be the cause. And even now, after three weeks of discomfort and pain, 5 1/2 more months of blood thinners to go, and missing out on my family's big Thanksgiving brouhaha, I still think it was the best of the bad things to get. (Especially since I am one of the lucky people who did not die from having a PE--hooray!)

I was out of commission for a few weeks. Some days the pain was really frustrating and it was hard to breath just walking up my stairs. Lying in bed got old really fast and I wanted to go DO and to ACCOMPLISH and to TRY. Every time I pushed myself, I would pay for it the next day. The blood thinners messed with my appetite and fatigue. I just felt crummy. Add to that the stress and guilt I felt for being the only one of my siblings not traveling to Arizona for Thanksgiving and it has been =AWESOME!=

But I am feeling better. Unless you count the cold and fever I got a few days ago. Whatever. My body must have taken notice that I was close to enjoying Christmas and said, "Ok, now is our time to make her take notice. What else is she gonna do?" 

I have watched a lot of Christmas movies. Mark that one off the list! Do you know what I have noticed about most made-for-tv Christmas movies? They are horrible. I used to think they were horrible in a wonderful kind of way. Nope, I was wrong. They are just horrible. I could write one right now and it would probably be produced. That's the kind of writing required for these kinds of shows. All you need is a self-absorbed MAN/WOMAN who has forgotten what is really important in life. Then decide from one of the three choices on how they get that "Christmas spirit" back:
  1. They magically have the opportunity to live an alternate life. Is it a dream? It sure feels like it, for the first 30 minutes. Then an hour later--when they get their real life back--they realize how selfish they have been (like the opposite It's A Wonderful Life).
  2. Someone from their past comes back into town and makes them question who they have become. Could be a former nemesis or someone who tests their life's path. Hopefully there is a singing number to make it extra awkward.
  3. They meet Santa. They don't realize he is actually Santa until the end. We all know it the entire time and can't believe they don't see that it is the real Santa. Also, Santa helps them save (fill in the blank store/shelter/restaurant) from shutting down.

There is one I am halfway through right now as I was writing out my Christmas cards that has a town all up in arms about a Baldwin brother wanting to take the cost of a nativity out of the tax payers' funds. When someone DARES to say, "Happy Holidays" offense is deeply taken. This one is KILLING me, because for once I actually side with a Baldwin brother who is not Alec.

Last time I watched this many horrible Christmas movies was the December of 2009. That year I had also prepared early for a relaxing Christmas because I was about to have my fourth child. Then I got facial paralysis and months of all kinds of doctors and tests. It was the least relaxing Christmas of my life. 

So, yeah. Next year I am not doing a single thing for Christmas before the end of November. I want it to be stressful and anxious and completely consumed with Christmas.

And little time for made-for-tv Christmas shows. 

a

** Let it be written that I am feeling much better and plan on Christmas being a breeze and a blast this year. The only things I won't be able to do are ice skate and meet my pushup goal. So, not to shabby. I'm incredibly lucky and yes, I will say it, BLESSED!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

mas mass


Cathedral of the Madeleine from HERE
Saturday night, Maggie and I were at Anticipated Mass at the Catholic Church of the Madeleine. Maggie has a project in one of her classes where she is asked to visit important Utah places she has never previously experienced. We thought that a visit to the historic Catholic cathedral downtown was a great (and close... and free) option. 

We walked in on Anticipated Mass. The ushers were extremely friendly and showed us to some empty seats and handed us a sheet of announcements and upcoming worship hours for the Advent. The choir sang as the sacrament was being prepared, the smell of incense surrounded us, the murals and construction were sincerely magnificent, and the one kid throwing a fit was quickly brought to the back of the room by his father. It was a beautiful experience. 

When we walked outside, Maggie mentioned that she had felt uncomfortable. I asked her why and she said that she felt she didn't fit in and had no idea what was going on the whole time. I tried to explain that churches were a lot more similar than we think if we can get out of the "ours is the right one" mentality. Maybe she could even try to consider why others would feel that they didn't fit in at our church. She's almost thirteen, so you can imagine that her shoulders slumped a little and she placated me with a hollow, "Sure. I guess."

We then drove to the Road Home shelter to drop off the huge load of jackets, scarves, and hats she had collected to donate to the homeless. (A big thank you to all that donated is coming soon!) The gates to the donation area were surrounded by, well, homeless people. It was pretty dark and I'm not too proud to admit that it was a bit frightening. We honked and the gates magically opened. As we filled up the large donation cart, we both small talked a bit with the volunteer.

And then we were in our car. Minutes earlier, I had contemplated returning to donate at another time when it was lighter outside and there were less people milling about. Now we were done. It was quite an evening of new experiences with my eldest daughter. I felt inspired.

Not two hours later, I am reading an article by an alleged BYU AND Utah fan (ahem, don't believe it) who anonymously posted a hyperbolic message to forgo the "Holy War" rivalry (by, of course, kowtowing to BYU because you're Mormon and BYU is Mormon and stuff) while I was sitting in a Utah basketball game with my husband and oldest son. My thoughts and words from earlier to a daughter who should learn tolerance and acceptance were out the mental door. I rolled my eyes and gagged a little at the elitism of the author who epitomized the BYU self-importance that so many Ute fans abhor.

I tried to remember that a few hours earlier, I was in a beautiful church and hoping my daughter learned tolerance and beauty in religious difference. I firmly believe in my church's 11th Article of Faith: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

I feel like I am consistently fighting for the little Mormon guy--the people who don't fit in and look the Americana 1950s part, who don't have a collection of The Work and The Glory in their bookshelves, who aren't quilters/Republicans/network marketers and so on. Don't be offended if you are these things. I am some of these things. But not all Mormons need to be all the things. And I feel like the LDS community allows all other religions the same privilege to worship how, where or what they may... but not all men (including those WITHIN the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Saturday night as I huffed and puffed about the stereotype American Mormon, I had a little moment of self-reflection. Maybe, just maybe, my frustration with those I feel seem un-accepting should really be a reflection of my own unfavorable and unChristlike rejection of them. Perhaps I don't let others be what I might view as oppressive, but they might feel is righteous and good. I say things like, "I don't care if they want to appear a 1950s bourgeois archetype, but they shouldn't assume the entire worldwide church should be as well." (1 Corinthians 12:19-25) And even as I write it, I can see my lack of acceptance for those very people.

So, here is my public garment-rendering. I see how I am being less gracious towards those who want to be staunch, western, letter-of-the-law Mormons. If my hope is that those of us who are more spirit-of-the-law and questioning Mormons to be accepted for "worshiping almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience," then I should allow others to do so as well. Even if their version seems more severe or less sincere... because HOW do I know? I cannot judge the sincerity of anyone's beliefs and worship, just as I hope others do not judge mine. 

But as for being Mormon and a Utah fan, but liking BYU as well? Pisha! Real BYU fans are just as fired up about Utah being "bear"-throwing heathens as Utah fans are about Cougars being self-righteous egomaniacs. It's fun. It's a rivalry. And we are better than you. "Ours is the right one!"

Except, you know, tolerance, not judging, love and generally serving your fellowman. And stuff. 

Go Utes!

a

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Leggings Rule

The last few years as the weather gets cooler (even for you friends in Arizona and California--stop acting like you don't get cold), the leggings find their way back out of the bottom of the drawer and on to legs of women and girls everywhere.

As do the articles, blog posts, memes, and pictures telling everyone that "Leggings are not pants!"


AS IF

Well, here is a little blog post that says, "Go Leggings! Or not! It's cool!"

Not because I like to show my bum to your tender teenage boys' eyes. In fact, I do most things to avoid teenage boys' eyes, because I remember how cruel those boys' mouths are. So, do me a favor and don't tell me what your boys DO or DO NOT like, get aroused by, prefer, think, hate. Teenage boys should have NO VOICE in what any woman of any age puts on her body. They will be aroused regardless of what anyone wears. I am two and a half years from having teenage boys for thirteen years (look how that works out). Hopefully I can shut down their vocalization of any sort of physical judgement of what and how girls and women dress. I am gearing up for that time in our lives. 

Teenage boys are nimrods. Not even exaggerating. 

My daughter told me how the boys at her junior high punched out the ceiling tiles in their locker room and then put said tiles in the drinking fountain to see if they disintegrated. Then they lit paper airplanes on fire and flew them around the locker room. And you think I care if these brains like or hate leggings? Yeah, no. 

In full disclosure, I wear leggings. I like the stretch, the waistband, the ease of wearing them to work out, put on a long sweater and boots and then pick up some milk at the store. I like the way they make my legs look slimmer and you can see that I have really strong legs--because I work out really hard and my body isn't one of those thin builds. So, hooray for seeing how strong I am. I like that I can wear them under the dresses that shrunk in the wash because I was an idiot who put a $10 cotton dress in the dryer that then shrunk too much to wear without leggings. 

I don't love flesh-colored leggings because those make me uncomfortable. Peach and tan leggings make one look naked. But if you love the peach leggings and like the double takes from people who think, "Oh no, is she? Nah, she's not. Wait, is she?" then WEAR THEM! Wear them with all the legging love you got in you.

I also don't love wearing leggings with tops that rest above my booty because I am acutely aware of showing too much of my good things. Of my own body. Which I don't want to do. Me. I choose this for me. And I admit that I suggest that my daughter cover her bottom as well when wearing leggings. But, if people want to show their round rump in a pair of leggings and it offends you, don't look. Don't make it your problem. 

There are a lot of fashion choices I do and don't make for myself. Don't worry about it. Make your own fashion choices. My daughter's middle school has no rule in the dress code about leggings, but it does say that the kids cannot wear biker shorts. Biker shorts! Ha! I am seriously considering wearing some of those under my jean cutoffs in the spring. White ones. Just for fun.

Then there are those lists of what you shouldn't wear if you are over 25 or 30 or 40 or whatever. One of them said if you are over 30, you should not wear fur, cheetah print, or hoop earrings. Who is making these lists? Most likely these are written by someone who has never walked into a Chico's or met an octogenarian--those women ONLY wear cheetah print and fur. Stop letting dumb random list makers tell you what you should or shouldn't wear.  

Do you like leggings? Go get 'em, sister (or brother, who am I to discriminate?)! Do you think cheetah print is the most amazing print ever made? RAWR! Do you love furry boots and hooped earrings and biker shorts? Do you like to wear them together? You sound amazing!

Do you like to tell people what is and what isn't pants? Boo. You sound sad. Get happy! Go light a paper plane on fire and see what happens.


a

Friday, November 14, 2014

Did you hear about John Smith's wives?

If you know me well at all, you know that I hate sensationalism, that I steer far away from biased news sources (the Blaze, Fox News, and MSNBC, I am looking at you), that precocious children in television commercials will ensure I NEVER purchase said item, that I find MLMs untrustworthy, and that I am completely cynical when it comes to apologists. 

In other words, I am super sunshine and easygoing.


A few weeks ago, I read the statement from the LDS church about Joseph Smith and his plural wives. If I can be completely transparent for a moment, I felt sick when reading it. I even cried a little later that day while in the car running errands. It wasn't NEWS to me; I was aware of the allegations and the history of the church. But, I am a writer. Not a great one, by any means, but a writer that understands word choice and the power of the written word to express a certain emotion or direction. Usually when I read, I try to read with awareness of syntax, mostly to learn, but also to scrutinize and form my own opinion without the burden of someone else's clouding the content before me. There were parts in this statement that made me shudder and probably caused some of the later tears. I won't point them out, because these are not the reason I am writing. 

Point is, I felt uneasy. And I spent the next week or two privately working through my unease and frustrations. Why was this so hard for me? What made me cry, exactly?

I've written before about my struggles as a MORMON (here, here, here and here), so it's not new that I have questions and concerns about the religion I vehemently support and believe. This last week I thought about a moment I had while living in France when I was 19 years old. I was studying at a school in a tiny city in Provence, living in a restored village from centuries ago and only speaking french with twelve other foreigners. Whenever I talk about those five months of my life, I feel like I am making up some fantastic story. Needless to say, I was the only Mormon girl there. I was mocked for not drinking wine (who goes to live in the south of France and doesn't try the world-renowned wine? I see their point), I was teased for traveling the hour (each way) with complete strangers to attend church the few times I was able, and on more than one occasion, I was asked really bizarre questions about the religion I had "known" for almost two decades. Why do we care so much about our ancestors? (Try explaining that one in a second language in which you know NO religious words.) How can we pretend we are so righteous when we "founded" Las Vegas? Why did John Smith marry a teenager and then never admit it? I just laughed and said that they didn't understand our religion at all if they didn't even know the prophet's name was Joseph and not John (or Jean si vous parlez fran├žais). 


Aren't 19 year olds adorable?

As I got older, I started to learn more about the church and its early years. I discovered more things about Joseph Smith, more things that I hadn't known as a child and young adult that some people had teased and guffawed over. Things I had denied and defended, with no prior knowledge. So, I felt a little hurt. A bit bamboozled as it were. I started to struggle with Joseph Smith as a man. I had a hard time singing Praise to the Man. Hey, I'm trying to be honest here. 

But I tried to keep learning and consider my own testimony. What is it that I believe? What do I feel is right and true? Do I believe in the Gospel? Do I believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God and lived on earth and died for all man? Do I believe in God, that He is our actual Father and that He cares about me? Do I believe the Book of Mormon?

Well, I am still a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints almost twenty years later, so I bet you know the gist of my answers. There are times when I learn something new that does not feel right in my heart and I have to ask myself the above questions again and then cling with my fingernails to those answers. Then I study and ponder and work through those things that make me cringe and cry and shake my head. Sometimes I figure out my place and thoughts, sometimes I have to let them go and revisit later. Never has it made more sense to leave the important things because of my worries and concerns. I feel I can empathize with those who have left, but I have not.

This latest head shaker lead me to read this quote off fairmormon.org 's home page: 
“No one knows anything about Christ’s work simply by being born a member of the Church, and often he knows little about it after years of unmotivated exposure in meetings or classes. He must learn. And learning involves self-investment and effort. The gospel should be studied ‘as carefully as any science.’ The ‘literature of the Church’ must be ‘acquired and read.’ Our learning should be increased in our spare time ‘day by day.’ Then as we put the gospel truth to work in daily life, we will never find it wanting. We will be literate in the most important field of knowledge in the universe, knowledge for lack of which men and nations perish, in the light of which men and nations may be saved”
—Elder Marion D. Hanks, First Council of the Seventy


Well, shoot. You mean it takes work? You mean to tell me that I cannot just get upset about something and let it fester and rot at my soul until I just decide to ignore it altogether? SHOOT! Because, guess what? I tried understanding how they got a probe to land on a comet without it bursting into smithereens and I can't even begin to comprehend it. Physics what? No, it doesn't make sense to my brain. They're all lying jerks. Because I don't get it. I don't understand physics. 

Insert in my head something about line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little (here). If I try to understand and learn the smaller things and then KEEP ADDING to them with more knowledge and more study, maybe I would even understand physics. Is that how learning science works? Is that perhaps how learning about God and His desires for us works? Maybe is that how all things worth knowing work? By studying and adding to prior knowledge, perhaps?

But back to the topic at hand, what have I come to think about this latest "disclosure" about Joseph Smith and his many wives? I am okay with it. It wasn't a surprise to me, because I have tried in the last decade to increase my learning about him and the early church. I appreciate the church trying to make more readily accessible the things that many have claimed to be hidden or hushed. I have been frustrated at times in my life that I did not know more of these "black eyes" of church history. I wish I knew more when Estan asked me about my church when I was a 19 year-old in France. I wish I knew about the seer stones and the run for President, and Joseph's desire to open a bar. I wish I knew more about Emma Smith as the woman who struggled. 

But, I am learning it now. I am finding out things and taking time to process and consider them. Here is what I do know: 

I could completely be written as a jerk on paper. I know I am a good person, a fiercely loyal wife, a mother who loves her children, and not the dumbest person I know. I am also kinda lazy, I have hurt people in my past (and probably a few people currently that I am unaware of) because I can be brash and speak before I think, I have done things I am ashamed of, I roll my eyes too much, I forget names of people I've known for years, I forget important dates and arrangements, I am always late. If five different people were to write a synopsis of my life and who I am as a person, I would have some people who liked me and some people who think I am a total jerk. 

C'est la vie! (see, I do speak french-ish!)

So, maybe I give a whopping huge grain of salt to Joseph Smith. Maybe I try to understand that as a feminist mormon of the 2000s, I have no frame of reference for what it was like to live in the 1800s. Maybe marriage and polygamy and age were totally different then than they are now. No, not maybe. Most definitely. Maybe I take a hot second and give the writers of this recent church statement a break for their writing and word choice. And maybe I could let other people be upset about it and work through it the way that I have been able to.

I refuse, however, to read anything about it that is written by a precocious child on FoxNews who is also selling face cream that can change my life (and make me loads of money if I choose to sell it as well).  


a

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

kid movies

Rhett and I are watching Home Alone. This isn't the first time I have seen this movie as a parent, but I swear every time I see it, I think Kevin is more of a turd and his parents are freaking saints. As a child, the opening ten minutes made me see that Kevin was under-appreciated and ill-treated by his siblings, cousins, parents, and that mean Uncle Frank. Poor Kevin.

As an adult, I think that Kevin is a stinker. If my nephew were taping me while I was in the shower... uhhh, I'd be a bit uncomfortable and maybe upset. If I told my kid to pack because we were traveling to PARIS and he was sassily talking back to me, uhhh... booo, kid! Go pack your bags because somehow I was nice enough to invite you on a trip to Paris, France!

I'd say that I have watched Home Alone over twenty times in my life. I might have slept a bit during some of those twenty viewings, who knows. What I do know is that the older I get and the more times I have watched the classic holiday film, the more I feel like I can empathize with all of the characters. The scary neighbor? He's just a nice and lonely old man who made some bad decisions. Ok, that one was obvious even in 1990. Uncle Frank's wife? Is that me in the not-too-distant future? John Candy's musician? Love him, poor sad, kindhearted (although annoying) fellow. Old lady that wants the diamond earrings in exchange for her airplane ticket? I feel your pain, sister! And you're not as old as I remembered. 

The great thing about movies and time is that you can rewatch the same moments over and over again. You can use your own time and experience to change your reaction and understanding every time. 

God bless the movies. Am I right?

Then there is actual life. Womp womp.

No, I'm kidding. Kind of.

Now I am in a state of watching the movie of my children's childhood. Except it is showing ONE TIME ONLY and playing all season, every season. And it feels a lot like a remake of my own childhood. I have the time and experience to see similar scenes play out and understand what is really happening, or at least how it should be viewed. The parents, just as in Home Alone, are surprising saints (wink wink). The kids should be nicer, but in the end it is obvious that they love each other. 

Time has given me a nice hazy recollection of my own childhood. Recently it has played more like a feel-good movie. And then my daughter goes to junior high and the haze lifts. Oh yes, now I remember how hard friendships were, because I see my own daughter struggle with the same kind of friend uncertainties that I did. I see her be kind and full of energy... and then alone. Everyone assumes that the outgoing girl has a lot of friends, but she doesn't seem to have anyone to walk to school or home from school with. She feels like groups are forming and she is both a member of many and not included in any. It is a special kind of lonely, and I felt it. Oh boy, did I feel it. 

I see my teenage life being played in a new theater with new characters and a new lead--one I care about a whole lot. My oldest sister used to say that watching your kids grow up is harder than growing up yourself. I didn't think it was possible, but it DOES HURT! A lot. My daughter has a personality so similar to mine; it makes me proud and happy, but also really sad and guilty. Sometimes I wish she was the super popular girl with all of the boys and friends... for like ten seconds and then I am glad she isn't that girl. I told her recently that THAT kind of popular is really difficult to maintain and people can be really cruel to that roller coaster pretty. Other times I wish my daughter could be the super smart girl that had one friend 'til the end and a full-ride scholarship to college. But, she's not because I wasn't. Nope, she is the outgoing, kind of loud, thinks she's funny, nice, insecure, uncertain girl that nobody worries about and everyone thinks is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

And she worries that she is annoying, alone, overbearing, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not enough enough. 

And I am so happy she is mine, but my heart breaks because I know how she feels. I have time and experience to tell me that she will be okay, to tell her that she is great and that I understand. I have mothering eyes that see how incredible and beautiful she is, even though I KNOW she doesn't see it, because I never did. She is much kinder, funnier, sweeter, and prettier than I ever was. And way more creative. Holy moly, is that girl creative. When she cries, I want to cry, but I know that I can't. I have to be the somewhat director in this movie, but let her freestyle most of the time. It's her movie, after all. When she comes to me needing help with some lines or to understand a character, I am ready to give her my interpretation. But, it's not my movie. Dangit, it's not my movie. I wish I could take the hard lines for her. I wish I could put my experience in her brain so that she is more confident and more hopeful. She is going to see Kevin as the hero of the movie for a while longer. And maybe he is. 

This movie of my daughter's childhood is difficult because I can remember being the lead in a very similar movie. My son's childhood movies are, so far, totally different characters in completely different genres. Still hard to watch; still difficult to be a somewhat director with such little control. 

What I really wish I could direct in my children's lives movies is to see each character in it as someone who the Producer loves. Someone with a reason for being in the movie and someone with a backstory. Just as I kind of don't hate Uncle Frank as much now and I see that Fuller was just excited to drink a lot of Pepsi because it was the holidays and he didn't mean to wet the bed. I wish I could give time and experience to my kids to be a little kinder to all of the characters in their movie, but I guess I still need to work on that for my own filming in progress.

Except for Buzz--that kid has been and always will be a turd-nugget. Especially in Home Alone 2. Buzz bugs!

you know it's true

a

Friday, October 10, 2014

As much soul as you

I saw this picture a few weeks ago and it has been haunting my thoughts:


I mean, really. Doesn't that say so much? Fashionistas and a homeless person, completely oblivious of the other. I can't take my eyes off of it.

It kills me that I can relate so much more to the brightly dressed and seemingly self-concerned threesome. It's probably part of their job, for all we know. I don't want nor mean to condemn them. There is a crowd behind them that presumably will also walk right past this homeless man. And crowds and crowds after them. Just as there are countless other homeless people sitting on other steps throughout this city and thousands of other cities.

My daily concerns are not of where to rest my head, how to eat, or how to keep myself and my children warm. My daily concerns are usually centered around how I can better manage my finances and bills, how to keep my kids healthy and growing, what I can do to grow my business and talents, how to be more creative, healthier, kinder, etc. It is not and never has been how to keep my family from dying of starvation or cold. My concern is not and never has been about sacrificing my or my children's safety in order to eat. In fact, I am so ridiculously comfortable that when there are ants in my home, I call an exterminator and demand he come out and rectify the small infestation as soon as possible. Can you imagine how laughable that would seem to someone who is homeless? 

We live such cushy lives. We get down on ourselves for not being as thin, popular, well-dressed, creative as the Instagrammers we follow. Don't you ever want to shake your own body and say, "Snap out of it"?

I sure do.

One of my favorite books in the world is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I think of this quote often:

“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart!" 
I recently heard a talk by Jeffrey R. Holland where he hit the most recent strings of my heart when he said, "I openly acknowledge the unearned, undeserved, unending blessings in my life, both temporal and spiritual. Like you, I have had to worry about finances on occasion, but I have never been poor, nor do I even know how the poor feel."

I have considered myself "poor" on occasion and maybe even used that term to describe my situation, but I realize it was used in an unsympathetic exaggerative manner. I do not know how the poor feel, but I do know that for whatever reason, I have never been destitute. 

I also recently saw an article (see HERE) about a mother who claims that government benefits have made her obese and without more financial aid, she will not be able to lose weight or join a gym. I get that. I am actually sympathetic to the lower class and that government money programs DO favor junk food over healthy options. Heaven knows I spend more money when we are trying to eat healthy.

BUT... it is articles like this that fail to elicit sympathy and instead intensify opinions further into political dogma. Readers look at this woman with her intensely dyed hair, piercings and tattoos and respond with, "Don't spend the money on your hair and tatts, and get some walking shoes." or "Buy some lettuce!" (actual comments I read) And I admit that part of me agrees. 

Those who think government assistance is a "handout" increase their resolve after seeing public stunts like this. 

It remains, though, that there are many who don't have a cupboard and home like this mother where they can store their junk food... or any food, for that matter. There are hundreds in my own city, sleeping the day in a park or on the lawn of the downtown library, then heading back to the shelter for dinner and maybe the night. I don't know how or why they are there. All I know is that I am not.

And, believe me, I write this with tears running down my face. I do not know why I am not. I do not know what and how I am here in my comfortable home with four safe kids and a really great husband who has an income that affords us food whenever we want it and clean water coming out of multiple spouts whenever we turn a lever. 

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another," said Charles Dickens.

"No one has ever become poor by giving," said Anne Frank.

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself," said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I am no longer content to say that my only concern is to raise my children and then I can devote myself to humanitarian means. There is no then. Now is then. My children need it as much as I do. I cannot continue to see myself in the women in the above picture. 

It's time. Who's with me?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cable Complications


For a whopping 29 days, cable television was running in our home. I'm not going to lie, it was kind of exhilarating having hundreds of channels and options to watch. I got to see the Saved By The Bell story on Lifetime (horrible!), discovered new shows (namely Fixer Upper on HGTV and Rhett loves Paw Patrol), and we saw a few sporting events as well.

We initially got cable tv because Alan was tired of not watching sports. I don't blame him. He has been a trooper over the last few years while we tried life without cable television. He has begged friends to watch college football at their home, stayed at work late so he could catch a game, or watched the score change online while listening to the radio.

Okay, truthfully, it wasn't just about Al and his sports. We were changing our internet provider anyway. So, it was all... BUNDLE TIME! We got the quadruple play (but I like to call it the four play, because it is more fun that way). The salesman was genius on the phone and convinced me that we wouldn't be paying more than X amount of dollars a month.

Turns out, he was wrong. By a lot. So, I cancelled it. 

The kids were pretty bummed. Alan missed another game. I can no longer watch my new favorite show or a fun recorded movie while doing my chores. Rhett is mourning Paw Patrol.

But, honestly, it is wonderful having it disconnected.

This is by no way a judgement on those who have cable television. For ME, here are FIVE REASONS why I am glad we are not tied down to cable TV:

1. Incessant Watching

When the kids were done with chores and homework, the first thing they wanted to do was watch Adventure Time or another asinine (although funny) cartoon. And, seriously, if I had to hear the overacting on Disney channel shows for one more day, I think my ears would have started bleeding. Oh Disney, stop teaching kids to be SO RIDICULOUS. Plus, the laugh tracks are killing me.

It wasn't just the kids, Alan and I found ourselves watching tv at night when we would have been walking, reading, or finding ONE movie on Netflix. It was already becoming a bad habit and we both noticed it.


2. "Getting Our Money's Worth"

Probably an excuse for #1, but I felt justified watching and recording television shows I was lukewarm about, because I had to get our money's worth. I even watched a good portion of Look Who's Talking with the kids instead of a movie we owned or Netflix for this very reason. That show is, ummm... more mature than I remember. Not my finest parenting moment.

3. The Whining, Oh, the Whining

"Who deleted this episode?" "If I do one chore, can I watch another show?" "But I only got to see half of it and [insert other child's name] got to see two!" 

Ugh. Now, I am not saying that there is no more whining in our household, but we did not need another reason for my kids to whine and complain. The first day it was disconnected, I heard double the complaints. And then, none. About the television, that is.

And how weird is this? Everyone started playing outside a little bit more and reading more, too. So weird. 

4. The Couch

I have an issue with our couch, or any couch really. As soon as a movie starts and I am remotely cozy on a couch, I fall asleep. It's my kryptonite, apparently. About an hour later, I wake up totally uncomfortable and frustrated. But, I am too tired to actually stand up and walk to my own bed. I sleep-rationalize that if I do get up and go to bed that I will not be able to fall back asleep. This happens every hour of the night until I finally am too uncomfortable and move to my ridiculously comfy bed at 3 or 4 am.

The return of the cable was the return of my couch nights. I am glad they are (mostly) over (again).

5. Empty Brain Calories

Do you ever watch a tv show that hooks you at every commercial break and you just have to see what happens next? Then, as soon as it is over, you feel duped? Because you realized that it was total unimportant drivel. You are no better off, the story doesn't keep your mind thinking, you actually feel a little dumber for the wear.

I can name a dozen shows like this over the last month that fed me completely empty brain calories. They aren't even worth discussing with friends later on. I could hear a faint WOMP WOMP in the distance each time one of those shows finished. A reminder of the hour fail that just occurred in my too-busy-for-that life.

It's no coincidence that I haven't written on my blog in the last month, that my work has suffered, and that my creative juices have been stifled. We still watch old shows on Netflix, catch up (a week later) on Hulu, and beg my friends to let me come watch certain shows (ahem, Bachelor franchise). I am not eschewing all television forever, but for now the pros outweigh the cons for our family.

Rhett said to me the other day, "When I grow up, I am going to get cable for my kids." Oh, Rhett, you are going to be a good daddy, I said. "But first," he said, "they will have to do chores. A lot of chores. Some for money. Because I don't want my kids wasting all of my money." He is going to be a really good daddy. 


Cable was wasting my money. And there are still chores to be done. Time to get back to it!

a


Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Booty Moment

What's with all the booty?

No, not the pirate's treasure (or is it?) but the backside. More specifically, the large female butt.

Some JUNK in the TRUNK, if you know what I'm sayin'

Are we having the year of the bum?

Some of the most popular music right now is centered on the buttocks. And not just any ol' buttocks, but the BIG BOOTY. JLo and her Big, Big Booty, Anaconda from Nicki Minaj (holy crap, was the original song always that explicit? I remember singing to it at 9th grade cheer camp... what a young idiot!), and Meghan Trainor's All About that Bass. Pomplamoose even did a mash-up of All About that Bass and Super Bass, which is probably the only one I would suggest watching. (speaking of, THIS is the only version of this Cher song I can listen to.)

Meghan Trainor's All About that Bass is probably the most catchy of the summer BUTT SONGS. It's ALMOST an anthem for body acceptance: 
"Yeah it's pretty clear, I aint no size 2, but I can shake it shake it, like I'm supposed to do." She tells me/you: "Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top." 
She even calls out the overuse of Photoshop in magazines. We're not fools anymore, mags!  

Hooray! Some good positive body acceptance music. Thanks Meghan!

Ah shoot, but wait. Listening closer to the song you can hear some "advice" from her mother that  tells her not to worry about her size... because BOYS LIKE A LITTLE MORE BOOTY TO HOLD AT NIGHT on a girl. 

Gag.

Because now your body worth is based on a BOY and his acceptance. Uh, no thanks.

She also calls out skinny girls in a derogatory way.  Why, oh why, can we not celebrate one type of body without slamming on a different version? Curves are beautiful, it is true. But that doesn't make skinny unattractive. We are all built totally differently. I could do squats all day long and I would never have the backside of JLo (not that I'd even be able to walk around and show it off after doing squats all day long. I can barely walk up stairs after doing 15 minutes of squats). I could juice diet until I'm 50 and I'd never look like a 6ft, size -2 model, because I don't know how I could gain half a foot in height. And if I did, I would be *just* taller than my husband and I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing my 4-inch high heels. And THAT would be tragic.

I also follow a few accounts on Instagram that motivate you with exercise and health ideas. I appreciate about 10% of their content, BUTT I still keep following them. What do so many of them keep pushing? THE SQUAT. One even mentioned the other day that we squat because nobody ever sang a song about a flat tushy. 

Well, someone should. Because I know a lot of beautiful and healthy women with pancake-flat bottoms. And boy oh boy, do dresses hang well on them. 

I also know a lot of beautiful women with huge boobs, some with no boobs, some with big birthing hips and some with the tiniest frames you worry about them birthing. I know women who run marathons and they can't lose weight. I know women who aren't able to run but are so svelte that people ask them if they are marathon runners. 

Point is? Duh. Same old song and dance. Be healthy, but LOVE YOURSELF. Don't look for external acceptance from boys or girls or likes on Instagram or Facebook.

You look great. Someone write THAT song in a really pop-y way so we can dance and celebrate and high five everyone on the street. 

Ok. I'll write it. Do I have to do everything?

a

Monday, August 25, 2014

If I got a penny from everyone who read these thoughts, I'd have a dime, dagnabbit!

Penny for my thoughts? Cuz Momma needs a shiny new quarter!

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #1------------------------------------

School is back in session today. I joked with a friend at school drop off this morning that I feel like myself again. And then I realized all day today that the statement was true. Goodness gracious, I love my children, as much as any other woman publicly professing how sad she is that her kids are going to school again. I feel very little guilt that I am glad for the structure, change, and responsibility that a new school year brings. And this is coming from a girl who doesn't know how to handle structure. So, there's that.

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #2------------------------------------

Two of my kids were nominated for the ALS ice bucket challenge. Call me Scrooge McDuck, but when elementary kids have commandeered a social media fundraising effort with NO INTENT TO RAISE FUNDS, then it is over. Like, officially. I am very pleased that ALS has received all of this attention lately. I feel acutely sensitive to motor neuron and neurodegenerative diseases. I think these kind of mysterious diseases get so little fundraising and attention because they are baffling and less pervasive. Then, because of the popularity, there are the outcries about ALS research testing done on animals. Which brings me to...

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #3------------------------------------

How does medical testing work if not on rats and monkeys? No, I am serious. Allegedly, their genes mimic 99% of our own. So, we can test these horrible and sometimes mysterious diseases, their causes, their cures on rodents or on people. Right? Or just let people suffer and die. PETA and their celebrity spokespeople (who MUST have used an aspirin once or twice in their lives) claim that US labs kill over 100 million mice and rats a year. I'm a bleeding heart as much as the next tree hugger, but if my heart WERE to be bleeding, I'd say "KILL THE RATS AND HEAL ME!" I am so confused by this one. 

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #4------------------------------------


Speaking of wanting to live, my birthday is this week. Just reminding you. 

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #5------------------------------------

The primary elections are also this week. Here is what kills me about primaries. Republicans want THE MOST CONSERVATIVE option to represent them in the November election. Some may even call these candidates "Tea Party Members." But what they seem to be blind to is that most Democrats AND Independents want NOTHING to do with the Tea Party mentality. So, you vote in someone who is the most conservative and THEN YOU LOSE in November. What am I missing? Mitt Romney played to the Tea Party and ultra-conservatives in the Republican Primary and then he lost (didn't mean to spoil the surprise ending for you) when he had to show he was the more moderate candidate (which I believe he really was). Republicans are going to keep losing if they keep voting for the extreme conservatives in their primaries. 

--------------------------------------THOUGHT #6------------------------------------

Bachelor in Paradise. It's so horrible. I love it. Anyone else? Who knew these kids were SO CRAZY?! I mean, legit crazy. 

That's all the thoughts I have for today. What are you thinking about these days? Do share. I love a good discussion.

a

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Literally" Edna

Dearest Edna,

I have missed your blog posts and can't hardly wait to read your editorial comments once again. I mean, I literally watch this blog day and night and I could care less what Ahhnna writes (or doesn't write, because she hasn't written a whole lot lately), but I anxiously await your sartorial remarks.

Sincerely,
Gartholomew


Oy to the vey, Gartholomew. 

I don't want to appear the villain after your attempt at flattery (and Heaven knows I enjoy flattery as much as the next under-appreciated editorial genius), but your two sentences wreaked such havoc on the English language that I must come out from my summer slumber.

1. You mentioned that you "can't hardly wait" for my return. Do you recall a movie featuring twenty-somethings who acted as though they were high schoolers preparing for "real life" titled this very phrase? Atrocious. In idea and in perpetuating this incorrect idiom. Have you heard of the grammar concept of a "double negative"--such as "we don't know nobody" or "he didn't want none"? (Oh, just thinking those phrases has made me a bit dumber.) "Can't hardly wait" falls in the same territory. Hardly is an adverb that means barely, or only just and is treated as a negative in the English language. So to say that you can NOT HARDLY wait implies that you CAN WAIT, since both negatives (not and hardly) cancelled each other out. Perhaps you intended to convey that you could wait, thereby negating any flattery I felt to return. 

2. Literally. This literally deserves an entire post. Have you ever watched the movie, The Princess Bride? There is a scene where a man continually says the word "inconceivable" and another actor responds with: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Literally the same response I want to use almost every time someone says the word literally.  It means EXACTLY with NO EXAGGERATION. Which is hilarious, really, because people use it to EXAGGERATE. Literally. 
"I literally died last night when Adam called." Really? Did someone perform CPR? 
"We are literally inseparable." Seriously? Like conjoined twins? 
"Those are literally the cutest leggings ever made?" Where is the Gallup poll that confirms this exact statement?

3. "I could care less." Not that I watch the Bachelor franchise as Ahhnna does, but from what I have heard, this statement is frequently used/misused on these shows. Without the NOT, you are implying that it is POSSIBLE for you to CARE even LESS than you do. So your threshold for not caring hasn't been met. Imagine a glass of water and the water is how much you care. You still have water in your cup if you COULD CARE LESS. It could even be full. If your cup is empty, then you COULDN'T CARE LESS, which is usually what you mean to say. I couldn't care less what Ahhnna writes, either, but she seems to get a kick out of this blog. 

4. Sartorial. No. You mean satirical. Because I am funny, not because I dress well. See above photo.

Thank you for caring, anyway. 

Until next time, 


Edna