Tuesday, February 27, 2007

We are outta here!

Shedding this cabin and hopefully the fever that has gone with it! We're heading to the Great Wolf Lodge! The kids are so excited! I am so excited! Plus we will get to see a good friend of ours who happens to be in town while we are there. We only get to see him every couple of years.

very very excited!

see you all Thursday!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dark night of the soul...

I need to share something with you. I have been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Mainly manifesting itself as Religious Scrupulosity. I'm bringing it up now, because while Chowder is interviewing for new positions and our household future is up in the air, my OCD is "flaring." I am not on medication because I am breastfeeding. My therapist suggested that I try journaling to help rid my mind of some of my obsessions.

After panicking so badly that I almost threw-up, I explained that to write down the horrendous morbid thoughts that plague my mind would make them concrete. It would ensure them actually happening. There was no way. He suggested then that I write them down using fictional characters in the role of my various loved ones. I'm not completely sure that I can do that, but we'll see.

So, I started another blog. WAIT! Do not go rushing over there. There are images there right now that you do not want to see. They are horrid, tragic, and unfortunately real. The content over there will be, by intent, incredibly morbid and melodramatic. I will also not be censoring my language. I will post this link, just once. (you can reach it through my profile) The comments are disabled.

My reflections over there are not of my true faith. my true belief in God. They are distorted by this mental illness. I welcome any prayers that you would like to offer up for the healing of my mind, but I don't need advice on reading the bible more or any other theological teachings. I am seeing a therapist and soon a spiritual director. Chowder has tried to help me be more rational and understand the nature of God. This is not the problem. I know the obsessions are irrational. I know that worrying about things out of my control is not productive. I know these things.

My obssessions focus around my motherhood and the undeserved blessings that have been bestowed upon me. I feel the need to be the perfect mother, so as to deserve the children that God has given me and not incite him to take them back. That is the big umbrella. The smaller compulsions that fall under it are many and varied. My first post on the other blog is an example of one of my "penances." I couldn't figure out at first whether my morbid behavior was an obsession or a compulsion. But, after writing it down and thinking more about it, I realized it was a complusion. A penance. Because I have done nothing to deserve living my life in the company of my beautiful children, and yet I have been crabby and distant with them lately. Since, I have my children with me I owe it to them and those that have lost their children, to be a perfect mother. If I'm not, God might notice that and take them back.

I know I know. You are chomping at the bit to try and make me feel better. to tell me how we are all crabby and distant sometimes. how God doesn't work that way. And some of you, my darling friends will still try. I love you for that. But the reason I put that paragraph in italics is because it is completely irrational and I know that. I will continue to post about my faith which is seperate from my mental illness.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Time for another Boobfest Rant...

According to a Tacoma, Washington mother she and others have been kicked off MySpace for posting pictures of themselves BreastFeeding. People! It's a Freakin' mammory gland! That is it's purpose! Does it also participate in other activites? Yes. yes it does. Is it participating in that activity in these pictures? No. no it is not. I'm sorry. I just don't understand the confusion?! My husband understands the difference. When I'm feeding one of his children he responds by feeling protective and loving. When I slip into bed in my skivvies, he responds...well, that one you know.

I get so angry about this stuff. I just don't get it. I am a very discreet public breasfeeder. I wear nursing tops when I'm in public or nurse with the baby in a sling. Most people never even know I'm nursing. I'm not interested in exposing myself to all number of people.

Every night on TV, every time I open a magazine, every movie I go to see there are breasts presented in the most sexual of manners and many times completely exposed, but a mammory gland...doing it's job...offends and disgusts people. I don't get it. I just don't get it.

ahhh forget it. I've got nothing more to say on this one.

If you're interested, here's the online petition.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I took Behemoth in to get washed today. As I was waiting for the poor guys to finish vacuuming and washing the windows, a man standing next to me waiting for HIS car to get finished said,
"Um. Ma'am, Your car is done."
"Your car. Isn't that your car?" and he pointed to this cute little sporty coupe.
Stifling back a laugh (and some tears) I said, "No. THAT is mine." and pointed at Behemoth.
very surprised "Oh! I just assumed that one was yours."

I almost asked him if he wanted to steal it with me and we could run away...but the patch of hair peeking out from under the back of his collar woke me from my moment of insanity.

me. in a sporty coupe. *swoon*

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Love is....

letting go of hate. even when you don't know it's there...

A neighbor today, referred to us as "Urban Pioneers."

I cannot tell you how crazy offensive I find this term. It's a rather common title that young white couples call themselves as they rehab the crumbling mansions in our neighborhood. They will tell you that they aren't racist and that it isn't a racist comment. But, they are wrong. As I have mentioned before, we live in an inner city neighborhood that we happen to love. We are firmly in the minority (30% white), and this has been such a cool thing for my kids. One of their favorite places is the Natural Uhru hair salon on our corner. They love my kids there. They have a giant butterfly painted on the wall, and handmade dolls dressed in traditional African attire. They also usually have pastries which my kids gobble down. When we walk by on the way to the playground, the owner or another of the women there, will come out and call the kids in, or wave happily to my children's noseprints on the windows. And they laugh when Jellybean wants them to style her white blonde, pin straight, baby fine hair. She wants braids.

My kids love running to our next door neighbor's house and ringing her doorbell to find out what that wonderful smell is coming from her Puerto Rican kitchen. My kids love watching Jade and Jasmin (identical twin girls) rollerskate. Jellybean likes to chase behind them yelling, "Black girl! Black girl! I love your rollerskates!" I used to cringe when she yelled this. But Jade told me it was because she couldn't tell them apart. or maybe it was Jasmine. My kids love running across the street to pet Sr. Jeanne's cat. They love shouting "hello!" and "What a beautiful day!" to the "boys that have their pants falling off." They love Enrico's dog (whom I hate) that has managed to get into our house.

This is our neighborhood. Are there problems with gangs? Yes. lots. We have to be careful around initiation season. Our 95 year old office volunteer was mugged outside of the church in broad daylight. (What 95 year old lady do you know who carries cash around with them?!) There are drug dealers on the next block up. We face alot of anger and skepticism because we are white and serving a black neighborhood.

But, the idea that we are "Pioneers?" It just boils my blood!

As if we have come to settle this neighborhood and reclaim it from the "savages." What in the world, people?! But, really. I mean the reality. This is exactly the mindset. Chowder and I have commented before on the "reservations" that the African Americans in our city are pushed onto. We lived near a reservation in Minnesota and the similarities are striking. Neighborhoods that time and white government forgot. The people are living in falling down buildings, not getting any education, turning to drugs and alcohol from despair and hopelessness. There are actually neighborhoods that white people don't even know about within the urban city limits, that don't have paved roads! Paved roads! Generation after generation, on the Rez. That is until of course someone wants to "reclaim" that neighborhood and make it all bright and shiny for themselves again. So, they call on their old friend Eminent Domain. Give the woman in our church $15,000 for her house where she is raising 3 grandchildren and call that a fair price. Of course she can't afford to buy one of the houses that will be replacing her own, so she has to move. With all the other poor people. Relocate to another reservation.

And now I am no longer surprised by the comment from a teenage girl in our church. The daughter of Congolese refugees. She told us, "You know. Since I've met you guys, I don't hate all white people anymore." indeed. Somedays, I need to intentionally, forcefully let go of the hate, myself.

Happy Love Thursday

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Well, let's just say...

My week started out with Chowder and I sitting in the family room watching TV. We hear something come tumbling down the steps. This is an hourly occurence so we don't pay it much mind. Then, Jellybean comes in. Rather meekly she says,

"I made a big noise. Did you hear it?"
"Yes, I did hear that noise. What was that?"
"ummmm. It was your camera."


more calm than I feel, "Could you go get it for me?"

Jelly bean crumbles into tears. "ok."

In the hall I hear her whisper to Meatball, "Could you go give this to Mama?" and she runs upstairs.

Meatball brings me my camera. Well, what is left of my camera. Chowder tries to stick pieces back on it, but it's done. And here I thought I was going to get to buy a Dyson with our tax refund. ah well. Chowder announces that this is where children cost more money. Replacing the things that they break. Two weeks ago we had to get a new optical drive for our iMac. not cheap. Now, the camera. At least it was an older, obsolete camera. I mean 3 megapixels?! C'mon!

but I really wanted that Dyson...
Are the Fisher Price pictures that bad?

Monday, February 19, 2007


For whatever reason, there are two topics about larger families that seem to hold the imagination of people with only one or two children. The first being the grocery shopping/grocery bill. The second being laundry. If I enter into a conversation that turns to the size of my family, one or both topics are sure to make an appearance. It doesn't bother me, it just fascinates me. The quick answer to both questions is -- They are big jobs. Since today is one of my two designated laundry days each week, I'll talk about laundry. My friends with larger families than mine will probably give me a patronizing giggle at the amount of laundry I have, but we will all pretend not to notice.

Now, let me set things up by telling you how much I lurve my laundry room. I mean deep devoted lurve. I have for years done laundry in dark, dank basements until this house. We live in a renovated 110 year old two-family flat that has been converted into a single family residence. They brilliantly decided to turn the upstairs flat's kitchen into my beautiful laundry room. Yes, that means it's on the 2nd floor, you know the floor with all the bedrooms and two of the bathrooms. That's right I don't have to carry laundry up and down 2 flights of steps. It is 12ft X 10ft. It has two gi-normous windows and get this, a balcony that gets full sun. So, In the spring, summer and part of the fall I can put my drying racks out on the balcony. *yay* I get giddy just thinking about it. There is room for my ironing table and my big laundry table and my hanging rack and oh! It has a nice little closet. No lie, one of the things that causes me great anxiety as Chowder searches for another job, is the idea that I will have to go back to basement. The only thing that would make this room perfect, would be a lovely set of high capcity, high efficiency washer and dryer. but alas, I have a hand-me down washer and basic of basic dryers.

When I do laundry, I must have new bag of Runts candy from the bulk bins.

First, I only do laundry two days a week. That's it. You don't get the favorite dress you want to wear to your playdate into the laundry basket my Sunday night, you're out of luck. Mondays I do clothing and Thursdays I do household laundry. On Mondays I do roughly 7 or 8 loads plus 1 load of diapers. Each person in the family has a washtub that is their "laundry bucket" they are all (ok. not Ladybug) responsible for putting their own clean laundry away, and putting their dirties into the hamper in the laundry room. Everything is folded and sorted into their buckets except socks. (All children's socks are kept in a bin under the bench by the front door along with the bin of children's shoes.) I then iron about six or seven shirts and four or five pairs of pants. I do not sort adult socks, they all get thrown into the white laundry basket for you to find yourself.

On Thursdays, everyone strips their beds (ok, except Ladybug) and I then put new sheets on and remake the beds. Once a month I wash quilts, mattress covers and shower curtains. I wash all of the sheets, table linens, towells, cleaning rags, pot holders and rugs. Usually another six or seven loads, plus 1 load of diapers. I then iron all of the table linens and a couple of sheets Grandma bought that are a horrendous mess when they come out of the dryer. I only iron the top sheets and pillowcases.

Both days usually are completely consumed by the laundry task, but I never could do the one-load-a-day thing. I'd rather take two days a week and get it all done instead of leaving loads to mildew in the washer or never get folded out of the dryer. This system works much better for me. Plus, I get alot of alone time. That's a lie. I always have lots of "help" and a little help.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

So...I've been trying to spend less time on the computer

and I'll tell you why.

The other day, I gave all of my children their breakfasts sat them down, grabbed my cup of tea and sat down at the computer to read my email and catch up on my message boards. Jellybean came upstairs and asked if she could have more cereal. I told I would get it for her in just a second. She told me that she could get it herself, and she can, so I agreed. A few minutes later the boys were clamouring for the same cereal Jellybean was eating. I was a bit thrown off because the don't like the oatmeal clusters, but chalked it up to that sibling, if she has it and I don't it suddenly looks delicious. I told them to wait a second. They start screaming that she's going to eat it all. I told them I had just opened a new box, relax already. More panicky screams sent me downstairs to discover Jellybeans cereal.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Charity of the Month: February

Ok..so, if it hasn't slipped your notice I haven't written about our financial resolution. You may be gracious and think this is an oversight. But, no. It is far from it. This is always our toughest.

Charitable giving has always been a very important part of our family finances. I'm rereading the book, Worry Free Family Finances by Bill Staton. I highly recommend this book. Though it could have been a much shorter (he uses lots and lots of people's stories to illustrate his points) the simplicity of this book makes it genius. It is based on three principles: Save More, Give More, Invest Wisely. Now, we haven't done the invest wisely part yet (we contribute to our retirement and college savings plans at this point) I have found the first two parts of his plan invaluable. I have read many personal finance books, and most actually tell you to cut back on your charitable giving. Since, that goes against everything we hold dear, their plans don't work for us. But, this one makes giving a priority.

Now, sure he presents it in a way that would make most Gospel of Prosperity preachers very proud. I have to confess to being very put off by the idea that I should give to the church so that God will reward me with more money. or as Staton (this book is secular) puts it, but not nearly as strongly, what goes around comes around. Both ideas are basically using greed as an incentive to give. This bothers me quite a bit. (Along with what I call "The Birthday Party" theology, that I should be nice to Jesus and do what he wants so I can get into heaven and stay out of hell. Sounds like what junior high girls do to get invited to the popular girl's birthday party.)

Anyway...I think there is something to be said for this concept, just not it's application. I have personally seen our money grow and our belts loosen a bit when we are purposefully giving. There is no doubt. Is it divine or cosmic? I don't think so. I think it's two part. 1.) When we aren't grasping our money so tightly and can open our hands to give, it also allows us to receive with that same open hand. and 2.) When we are purposeful with our money, we are more in control of our spending. And this is exactly why giving is an essential component to our Christ directed lives. God knows what is best for us. He knows how to best live our lives in health and well-being. When we follow his plans, our lives run much more smoothly and the stress level in infinitely lower.

But, like all his plans, this one is still a toughie for us. We have to stay constanly vigilant about our money. Whoever said that a habit is formed in 90 days, is full of Horse Hockey. We fall apart at about 6 months when we think we have the hang of it. When we let our guard down. We are still finding our leaks and plugging them, I'll post more about that when we get it squared away. But, I was doing our taxes and noticed the huge difference in our charitable giving from 2005 vs. 2006. 2006 was disatrous. It was shameful. So, now we are recommitted.

Chowder and I follow the Catholic tradition of tithing which is based on the Old Testament 10% that is generally followed. Where it differs from some is that you give 5% to your parish and 5% to another outside charity. Because our family has two churches that it supports, we divide our giving in fourths. We give 1/4 to Chowder's church, 1/4 to my parish, 1/4 to a local charity, and 1/4 to a global or national charity. So, if our tithing amount equaled $400 a month, than we would give $100 to each every month. This year, we have decided to leave only the last fourth as a monthly choice. Our local charity is going to be fixed as our local food pantry that serves our neighborhood.

Our rotating national or global charity is a family decision. I'll post each month's selection on my sidebar so you can have a look at it. Our picks generally follow where are family is in that month. So, this month's is a charity that provides assistance animals. We were drawn to Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans because of its new program providing dogs to combat veterans. We research all of our charities and make sure they are legit and that their practices fit with our beliefs and values. We are always open to new ones, so if you have a favorite, post it in the comments or email me about it.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

as promised...

Here is the Beaner. This was taken two summers ago when she was in full health. I think what's been really sad for me, is the regret. Her last few years were nothing compared to her previous nine. When we lived in Minnesota we went mountain biking all the time and hikes and lots of other things. Then I became pregnant with the twins, put on bedrest, and then the mother to newborn twins. After that, she was sorely neglected. I try to take comfort in the fact that the last few years of her life she was in fact older. Her activity level couldn't have been sustained. She wouldn't have been able to do all of those things as before. Heck, I know she couldn't because the last few times we went biking with her, we had to go back early or leave her home. But, still. She didn't have the same attention. And that makes me regret.

I haven't talked about this guy. This is Fargo. He was Beaner's canine companion for nine years. That's how old he is. He has never known life without her. He was a very attentive and protective companion, eventhough his early years were filled with the jealous Beaner bullying him. (pushing him down stairs, yanking him off beds) When they would play fetch with us out in the fields, Beaner would fetch and Fargo would run holding onto her tail. During Beaner's end days, he would try to cheer up by bouncing around enticing her to play. And she took great comfort in his presence.

Now, I remind you, I was raised by scientists. I have always been strongly cautioned about anthropomorphizing. So, whether Fargo misses her, or is sad, or depressed, or lonley doesn't matter. He is plainly out-of-sorts. He is factually not eating. He is observedly listless. The kids and I are doing what we can. He has the same full bowl of food he's had since Tuesday. I went and bought him new bowls because when Beaner was declining, he wouldn't eat until she had eaten. I worry he is still waiting for her to eat. The kids have been giving him his senior nutrient dog treats and trying to get him to perform the same silly tricks he did before. But, that was before...

The kids appear to be alright. But, as I learned Thursday appearances really aren't what they seem. Jellybean was a right pain in the butt. She was completely obnoxious and difficult. She had not spoken of Beaner other than a casual mention of her being dead, now and then. When she finally was sent to her room she threw a nasty tantrum but was screaming and crying, "I want BEANER!!!" This broke my heart. Jellybean became Beaner's never tiring caretaker in the end. She would set her bowl of water right before her face. Jellybean handfed her, and since Beaner would never want to disappoint a child, she ate. She would sit and brush her and sing her songs. It was all very dear. Sometimes Porkchop will simply cross his arms defiantly and demand, "I don't want Beaner dead! huh!" and stomp his foot. Meatball will just look at you out of the blue and with a croak of a voice say, "I want Beaner to come home. to our home. not God's home. She's our dog. God can have another dog." God suddenly seems selfish...

Me? Well, I don't feel like I'm mourning. Chowder and I have talked about how disconcerting it is to have a life in your hands. To make the decision, to have the power to put that light out. To take from the world Beaner's life force. But, I haven't been crying. Maybe, I'm more like the kids. I was a wreck right up until she was gone and I laid her head down on the table. Then, the nurse told me we could have some time with her and I asked her, "Why? She's gone now. I just wanted to be here for her when she went." And I washed my hands and blew my nose, and haven't cried since.

But, I can't stop thinking about it. about her. I can't stop seeing her shadow.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's Done...

note: My computer is in the shop, so I'm making due with the church's. I will add a photo once I get it up and running again.

This morning we took Beaner in to be put down. It was an agonizing decision for me to make. I've had her for nearly thirteen years and she has been a very very good dog. Chowder went with me, we left the kids at my sister's house. Skaterboy was in agreement with the decision, though he hated that it had to be made. We thought there was hope because my mom's vet gave us a couple of new prescriptions and she had started eating again, but only my mom's designer dog food. Well, she stopped eating. The medications didn't help. She was just getting worse. She couldn't stand without help and even though I would carry her outside a few times a day, she lost control of her bowels and was pooping all over herself in the house. It was horrible, and it was time.

We have been talking to the kids about the fact that Beaner's time was coming. We never explained euthanasia. Not quite a topic for 3 and 4 year olds to grasp. They began sharing their sadness at the idea but we came up with all of things that she would be able to do again once she was made whole in God. This is where things get a little goofy for us. While I loved Beaner as much as one can love an animal, I still believe that she was an animal. And while I believe that in the end all life returns to God, I don't believe in a doggy heaven that has become a great comfort to the children.

What struck me, as it always does, as I held her head and whispered into her ear while they injected the dose, was that death is so final. I know. I know. duh. right? but the profoundness of the loss is always beyond words. the finality. the doneness. the emptiness left in life's wake. the expansiveness of the silence following the last breath. the fragility that is...life. It shakes me to my very core. Because every life I love is attached to this simple, profound truth. my love can not spare them. It stops me in my tracks. It steals my breath. It puts the darkest of fear in my heart.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Love is....

God and God is love.

When I was at a Mother's retreat a few years back, we did an exercise that I now do on a regular basis. The thought behind it is that we as mothers entrusted with God's children should try to emulate God as parent. And since God is love, we too, should try to be love. So, we took the familiar Corinthians reading, famous for weddings, and exchanged our name for the word love or it. Give it a try. Put your name in the blanks and see how well you match up to divine love.

__________ is patient, ________ is kind. ________ does not envy, ________ does not boast, ________ is not proud. ________ is not rude, ________ is not self-seeking, ________ is not easily angered, ________ keeps no record of wrongs. ________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ________ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (New International Version)

ok ok. so we probably don't score very high. but it makes you think, doesn't it? Thankfully, eventhough we are not perfect, we start anew every morning. And every morning we can cry out for help in trying to live out our lives of love.

Happy Love Thursday