Friday, March 30, 2012

Sloop John B

"Though you are homeless, though you're alone. I will be your home.
Whatever's the matter, whatever's been done. I will be your home.

I will be your home. I will be your home.
In this fearful fallen place. I will be your home."  - Lyrics by Michael Card

You know that tired you feel, as you are walking to the car after a long day at Disneyland? The fun is all over, every bone in your body hurts, you are as fussy as the kids. You really want to complain the whole way, though you know it would do no know you are almost to a place where you have to drive in a car for three hours in order to actually be home in your bed. But all you can think about is just getting to the car so you can sit for a little while?

Yeah, that is how I feel right now at 8:55 in the morning. My body is beat up, my head is pounding. My eyes are a little blurry and all I want to do is just be home in my bed. Of course technically I could be in my bed right now. Ayla has a show and I just put Kaylee down for a nap. But usually her naps last about 30 minutes (at most) so that means I only have about 17 minutes left and by the time I laid down and closed my eyes she would be waking up again. I get angry at my kids when they wake me when I am trying to rest, and I hate being angry at my kids just for needing me. So that means I don't take rests.

Instead I am sitting at the computer drinking a very large cup of coffee. My second very large cup of the day.

As far back as I can remember, regardless of my present physical location; whenever I was in a hard place in life, the phrase "I want to go home" would always go through my head. Sometimes over and over. I imagine it is my mind's interpretation of the unspoken need to crawl up into the lap of Daddy God and let out the breath it feels I have been holding for too long. I forget to breath sometimes. It is very bad for living, the whole forgetting to breath thing. Makes it very difficult.   

The last few days, no the last few weeks have been like that. But the last few days have been worse. I was sick all last week. An "I want to just lie in bed and sleep" sick. But I couldn't just lie in bed, I had to make sure my house still worked and my children were still cared for. Try being sick, laying on the couch, but every time you take that "I am going to sit and rest" breath you have to jump up and rescue the baby from a previously unseen choking hazard or bring her back from crawling down the hall or out the back door the big kids left open. You can't keep the house clean because rescuing the baby is taking all of your energy, which means it becomes less and less safe, which means you have to rescue the baby more and more, all while feeling yourself winding tighter and tighter, unable to end the cycle or even stop for a moment to brainstorm how the cycle could be ended because just dealing with what is RIGHT in front of you is taking everything in you. Only to finally sit, and have your 4 year old ask with those big eyes to "please sit on your lap." Of course you say yes, because she has been neglected and yelled at one to many times in the last few hours for leaving paper on the floor AGAIN (which I then have to fish out of the baby's mouth). So she sits - only to have to make her get up because you realize you are late to another doctor appointment, or lunch has to be made, or big sister has to be picked up from school, or the baby has discovered she is now tall enough to reach the items piled on the next higher shelf...oh goodness my coffee is cold. Hold on, I have to go heat it up again...

This week the baby has been sick, fever hitting over 104 and not sleeping well. I feel so bad for her, snot everywhere - flushed cheeks and coughing. Wants mama to hold her, I don't blame her - and she wants to nurse constantly. But lately when she nurses she pinches - HARD. She takes a very tiny amount of skin either on my chest or under the arm that is holding her and pinches it in her tiny fingers. It hurts so much it makes my eyes water and I have yelped more then one time. But she is not aware she is doing it. She will do it when she is sleeping, it is not like biting where I can just pull her in close or say "no biting" and end the session. She has no idea why I am yelping or why I am not letting her nurse (or why I keep grabbing her hand). Which stresses her out, which makes her want to nurse (and pinch) more. Which stresses me out... and the cycle continues.

I want to go home!

"Please help me God, I am losing it!" has been going through my head a lot lately. It is about as fancy a prayer as I have had it in me to fashion.  And it has helped, I think... At the very least it helps me know I am not all alone.

There is the Monkey. She made it....35 minutes this time. A good long nap! I almost got one cup of coffee finished and Ayla has only come in and interrupted me 4 times (I counted) as good a break as any I suppose.

Thank you God for a break - for a place to vent. Thank you for your lap where I can breath, for a home I can rest in. Thank you for a warm sunny day, for a warm sunny Friday! Thank you for the weekend to come and please help me find rest in it somewhere. Thank you for a baby that is better today (first day in almost 2 weeks with no fever!) Thank you for a 4 year old that still loves to sit on my lap, and give me more energy to fill her needs. Thank you for a car that is working, a living room that is clean and vacuumed (make that 5 times interrupted) and a kitchen stocked with food. Thank you for a loving husband that works long hours to feed his family (and that wakes me with a kiss, turns on the shower for me and makes me breakfast and coffee every morning). Thank you for the many, many baskets of clean laundry - and a working washer and dryer. Thank you for a cup, make that 2 cups of coffee today. Thank you for my kids, I love them so very much. And while they may drive me crazy, I wouldn't trade that crazy for the world (make that 6 times). Please help me to find rest today and this weekend. Give me your incredible strength to make it through, your patience so I can be a good mom. And your peace that I can always go to you, and you will be my home.

"I will bring you home. I will bring you home.
From this fearful fallen place,
I will bring you home. I will bring you home"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Granola too

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
          ― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 It is supposed to be Spring.

Spring in my head means sunshine. Now, I know that for many, Spring simply means no more snow. But spoiled CA girl that I am, spring means sunshine and flowing skirts and having tea parties where you say "Dahhh-ling" a lot. This, is not spring.

Spring is not the dreary rain that insists on piddling down outside. It is not even a proper rain, just enough drips that we can no longer say it is sprinkling. Spring is not the clouds that insist on over-staying their welcome. This my friends, is not spring!

Luckily my children have been enjoying the rain. And so I can love it through their eyes. But for myself at the moment? The rain makes me grumpy. Of course my drippy nose (not unlike the rain) and my cough and sore throat do not help. It is very hard to have a good attitude I have found, when one is sick. Especially when one is a sick mom that has no one to chase the baby or generally be mom while I lie in bed getting better. Having a good attitude (and not feeling too sorry for myself) is taking a lot of will-power at the moment. And prayer from babies helps lots.

And hot tea, I want some hot tea.....

Alright, water is heating.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about being "crunchy." I find I have been paying closer attention since writing that to see where else my life leans that way and why. I know a lot of what I count as normal is from my childhood. For instance, you are supposed to have a garden.  Did you know that?  Not that I look down on those who don't, I promise. I think I see it rather in the same category as a car. I understand that some don't have one, for reasons either in or out of their control. Some want one and cannot because of financial or other reasons, some choose not to have one, either because they simply don't want or need one. That is their own choice, but for me? My current life would be much harder without a car, impossible even. I feel the same way about a garden.  There are things I like to do, places I like to go, items I need to achieve or accomplish and in order to do them - I need a garden.

However, I have a problem this year. I first planted baby seeds in one of those indoor green-houses. they sprouted wonderfully! But once I was hardening them to prepare them to go outside they were accidentally left out overnight - the one night in weeks it froze. And my baby plants were dead.

So I started over, using the "bury in the ground" pots so that there would not be the same issues - and they would hopefully be a little stronger. They again grew wonderfully!

  And when they were about 6inches tall I put them outside...only to have the torrential rain beat them into the ground. Now I have only about 1/3 of my baby plants still alive.

Perhaps I should be thanking God for the rain today? It is the perfect drinking rain and my green babies probably love it. It is not cold outside, I think Jack Frost has finally melted back into his warm weather hibernation. And so perhaps, without this rain there would be no garden at all.

I still could buy new baby plants from the store. But I HAD plenty. And they were so happy! It has felt like this year Mother Nature has not been my friend. Perhaps I should just throw all my extra seeds onto the dirt and see what comes all on its own. My garden wishes to be wild this year! Come to think of it, this is likely the perfect weather to do that. My children are even now playing out in the rain, should I hand them the seed packets and let them have at it? Tempting...but I will admit I have trouble giving up that control. Could there be a life-lesson in my garden this year?

Taylor says it is too cold outside. And I know that the cat has used one of my boxes to do her business recently and it has not yet been for now my answer will be no wild seeds. But perhaps tomorrow, a children's veggie garden, I will admit I like the sound of that. My wise mother says that she has never met a child who would not gladly eat the vegetables he had helped to plant and grow. That is the secret you know.  And Frances Burnett herself says:

“As long as you have a garden you have a future and as long as you have a future you are alive.”

I like that. So I suppose even if my garden is small this year, I do have one. Oh, and I have potatoes too! I am very excited about these. We found a whiskey half barrel 50% off and bought it on a whim. I planted potatoes and hope to see them emerge soon. I can't wait to try them!

Apparently I did not take any pictures of my potato barrel. I will have to fix that, after it starts to sprout.

So all that to say, I would say one of the things that makes me "Crunchy" is the fact that I usually have something good to eat growing in my garden.

Goodness I hate coughing! It comes at such the most annoying times. And try putting a baby to sleep when the need to cough catches you unexpectedly. She is not amused. And poor sick baby as she has also been, it simply makes it worse. Perhaps it is good it has been raining. We match the rain my child and I. Drippy noses and all.

The next thing I will add to my list is coconut oil. I used to make my own lotion. Using coconut oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil and Vit. E oil. I used beeswax to bind it and the whole process took about 45 minutes and had to be repeated every month since it went rancid pretty quickly. And it never felt like there was really enough moisture for my skin type - so I switched to just plain Extra Virgin, 100% Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil. I get it in the supplements section of pharmacies like Rite Aid. But I am almost out and I think next time I will get it from amazon. It really is amazing stuff. I use it on my face, I use it as a lotion or as a hair conditioner. I use it in the bath, just a little added to the water for soaking. I use it after shaving as a sooth-ant, my husband does too - it makes for no in-grown hair or razor burn.

Speaking of hair I suppose the next "crunchy" thing I do is no 'poo. I have technically not washed my hair since about... November of last year. So 5ish months? I use about 1tsp - 1.5tsp baking soda for about a cup of hot water. Mix it and pour it over my head, rub it into my scalp and rinse. Then I take about an ounce of Apple Cider Vinegar and mix that with about a cup of hot water - I do the same. It makes my hair ooooh so soft! And the vinegar smell goes away as soon as my hair is dry. I have been meaning forever to get some essential oil to add to it as well, but that has not yet happened. So for the moment my hair usually smells like...well, hair. But the shampoo smell so far is the only thing I have missed. And who really needs that anyhow. A few drops of oil will take care of it, just have to pay for the bottle. I am thinking I will go with grapefruit EO whenever I do happen to get around to it. I also tried the Oil Cleansing Method of face washing for a while (similar concept) - but since the whole idea was to replace harsh soap and I only used hot water on my face anyhow..I found it unnecessary.

Speaking of paying (heehee, go back and look if you need to, I did speak of it! Gives you a little glimpse of  how my mind works), I am also a HUGE deal-finder. I am not what you would call an extreme coupon-er because I do not have any sort of hoard. If I do not need it, I do not buy it. Regardless of the deal and the chance of maybe, sort of, possibly, kinda, by chance needing it later. I need to KNOW 100% I WILL need it in the next 0-6 months to have anything stock-piled. But I do use coupons, not sure if that matches the crunchy lifestyle, or just makes me frugal...or just means I have a little extra time on my hands. I consider it part of my job. You see, I do not bring in a paycheck. But by staying home with the kids I figure I save us many hundreds of dollars a month in would-be childcare which is almost as good as earning cash. Not to mention keeping the house clean (mostly) and cooking the food. I say spending the time to hunt down, match up and cut out coupons can count as the money I would be bringing in if I was working.

As far as cooking is concerned you know my thoughts on fad-diets. So no, I am not organic, vegetarian or gluten free. I don't insist on eating raw and my family has not "gone paleo." I am not against these things in any way, and who knows, I may even adopt one or all of them someday. Just not until they at the very least, are no longer a fad (ok, so the no 'poo thing could be under the "fad" title. But not hardly to the same extent). I simply cannot jump on the bandwagon just because every other mom is doing it. Remember back when everyone was jumping on the Atkins train? And they were all swearing "they just felt better and they were losing so much weight!" and then people started having heart-attacks and would gain huge amounts of weight back the moment they stepped foot off the train? Yeah, no thank you. I will wait and watch, then I will give you my answer.

I do, however make all my own bread. I make 2 loaves every 3 or so days, stick one in the breadbox and one in the freezer and it is from that we make sandwiches and toast and everything else you need bread for (Assuming you have not gone gluten free that is...) I make my own sandwich rolls and hamburger buns (assuming you are not vegetarian...) I make bagels for my husband to eat for breakfast every morning and they are REALLY good. Especially with a little butter right out of the oven. Trust me on this one! My general rule of cooking is: If it can be made from scratch and all it takes is a little more time, I make it from scratch. I do not buy boxed/canned much - much to my box-top collecting daughters despair "mom! We need to buy more junk-food so we have more box-tops!" I like my family, and me, to eat as healthy as we can. Minus the chocolate chip cookies...

I am a work-out fanatic, I love it. Not sure that makes me crunchy though - or even hippie. Just weird according to some. I love being sore, knowing I worked myself. Knowing I burned extra calories, knowing I gained muscle. I love knowing that I am getting stronger, and a good work-out followed by a hot shower and a nice cotton dress? So comfy!

I do jar my own jam and veggies - not as much as I want to but some. Jam anyone?

I use vinegar as a cleaning agent in order to avoid harsh chemicals around my kids. Love it when the kitchen floor has that fresh pickle smell!

Funny, I read this back and I feel like all of a sudden there really is not as much "hippie" things in my life as I thought. Adding "I wear flow-y skirts a lot" to the list just seems like I am over-doing it. I suppose I do not really fit the whole:

"Hi, my name is Rain. I have my own kiln, and my dress is made out of wheat."

(a homemade loaf of bread to the first that can name that quote!) Ok, maybe I do a little...

I feel a little as if the list of things I want to do is bigger then the one I actually do.

I want to own chickens, but my City does not allow it.
I want to make my own soap and laundry detergent - just haven't gotten around to it.
I want to do more canning, more of my own "grow in the garden" veggies. I want to learn to make pickles.
I want to figure out a way to safely ride my bike places with kids in tow. The streets around my house are not bike friendly sadly.
I want to make my own clothes...I even have the sewing machine and some fabric, just have not had the time/motivation yet.

Oh me, my brain just stopped working! Perhaps I shall add to my list later.

As for right now - may your bread be fresh, your bagels full of holes and your gardens large and covered in glistening drops of rain!

Monday, March 12, 2012


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
 - Albert Einstein

I have a pet peeve. Ok, so I have several. But since complaining happens to be one of them, I try not to dwell too much on them. Ok, so this blog is one of the few places I allow myself to dwell a bit...but on to the point:

I have one really big pet peeve. Big to the point where there have been times I have wanted to cause physical harm to those that display this behavior....for the record I have never done that. But I have wanted too. This peeve is big to the point where I very much want to walk out of the room every time it happens. I hate it when this is done in jest, since there is all too often a little too much truth to this jest. I really hate it when this is done in earnest. When this happens over and over again in one conversation, that is the very worst, and I have no idea how to handle it.

I hate it, with a passion, when people put themselves down.

I hate it when people put themselves down physically. I hate it when they cut themselves up emotionally or list their self thought-out short-comings to the point of self abuse. I hate it when they laugh at themselves in a nasty way, or when they can't hear a compliment or take admiration because they are so far into the pit of self-hate they have created that they cannot recognize the truth when it hits them like a shoe in the face. I hate it even more then when people are boastful or self indulged, though I will argue that self-depreciation is a form of self-indulgence. But when hateful self-damaging comments spout from someone so casually that you know their brain is working at it constantly and you are hearing only what spills out? Then I want to take them by the shoulders and shake them while yelling, "You are more then this!"

I was at a social gathering recently, one in which I knew exactly 1 person. That 1 person I knew well, but there were many others around of whom I knew exactly zero. One of the members of said social gathering had a tendency to put themselves down. Now, it happened once and I smiled, not really sure if this was a joke I was expected to laugh at or whether I was expected to come back with an encouraging "don't say that, I am sure you have many talents" or something to that effect. 

A word of warning? I will never flatter just for the sake of flattery. Ever. I think it is insulting and cheap and I refuse to play that game. This means that when I give you a compliment, you can know that it is always something I truly believe. I hope it holds more weight that way. I really do.

Back to the subject at hand - I had known this person for approx. 11.3 minutes when I first noticed this behavior and felt immediately trapped and deeply saddened by it. If I am to find these comments funny then that means that this person has made an assumption about my character that I don't like. I would like them to know I am generally a kind person that does not judge or criticize or find humor in other people's folly. This means my first inclination might be to compliment them, claim the self-statement they just made to be false. Whatever form of "I'm sure you have many talents" comes to me fastest.

But no, you see - I also hate to be manipulated. And whether this person meant it or not, was aware of it or not...this was a form of manipulation. So I smiled just a little and changed the subject, praying it would not come up again.

My prayer was not answered that night.

It came up again, and again, and again. I never once offered empty encouraging words, claiming a relationship there is no way I could have had - knowledge about the person's life, habits, hobbies and/or abilities be hanged. "I will make them take back every self inflicted wound and force them to love themselves again!" Never crossed my mind.
Perhaps it was rude of me?

But honestly I am sometimes certain I am missing some crucial social cues. I think it comes from being home schooled honestly. There are things you are "supposed" to say to certain comments here in America. A dance of sorts, somewhat like the "oh I will get the check this time" dance you play at the end of a dinner out with friends. It is cultural, social, etc. The norm that everyone knows. 'A' happens and you respond with 'B'.  I remember studying people in social settings very closely while in High school. I was a student of people. I had only a few hours a week to make sure that I "got it all" as far as how a normal high-schooler was supposed to act. I can remember piecing together the personality that I wanted to emulate, based on what I admired of other people. That is probably why my mother worried she would lose me if I had been given the opportunity to be a normal kid in high school. She recognized parts of what I would present as my own, as parts of those I had recently been around. And perhaps she is right. I was experimenting with personality, "finding myself" if you will. Watching how others reacted to different quirks, comments, gestures. Watching the body language of those that presented themselves as confidant and mimicking that, regardless of how I felt. And watching those that displayed self loathing or simple naivety and working to avoid that. I also watched the people I did not want to be like. The mean kids, the ones that seemed to be going no where, the ones that could be counted as the "wrong crowd". I was a very practical person and I was usually aware of my future, unaware as I was of where I would be in the years to come. I wanted to be prepared emotionally, physically and socially. I wanted to know what and who to avoid. What behaviors indicated what habits. I also watched how others reacted socially to me and how it was different and why, and I worked to change myself until I got the reactions I wanted. It worked.

I still watch people. Public speakers, authority figures, people whom everyone just loves - seeing what they do, say; how they dress, act. It is why I love doing monologues, one of the reasons I love theatre so much. The world is your textbook. And there are endless opportunities for practice.

Perhaps my past practice is why I see this sort of thing in people. And why it bothers me so much. Why would someone present themselves as someone who dislikes themselves, especially since there is a very good chance that is not true. Was this person aware of what they were doing, who they were presenting? Was I getting the real them or a picture, either purposefully or not.  I"m not sure, and perhaps that is what bugs me. I still have no idea who they are, regardless of how much time we spent together.

I realize - I do not care what people think of the real me, the true me. So long as I am being the person I feel I was created to be. However, it bothers me when I am perceived incorrectly. And on the flip-side of things, it bothers me greatly when I feel I am perceiving someone else incorrectly. I know this "put myself down" all the time is a subset of one of America's standard created personalities. One of the "in the box" ones that people adopt either because they believe it, they are in the habit of it or because of issues they have with their childhood - and please don't think I am judging. If there is another category I have missed please let me know. I do not mean to offend, I do offend on accident sometimes I have discovered. And know you have my deepest apologies, as I said I do not always say what I am supposed to say. Perhaps I need more study-time?

I also do not count in this category the ability to see ones own limits. I am a terrible dancer. This is a fact. Ask anyone who has seen me that has any knowledge in this field. It is truth. Now, if I said this 12 times a day, whining about it. Wishing I was a better dancer but never ever going out and doing the work to become one? Then you may take me by my shoulders and give me a good shake. And if I ever do fall into that habit please do! On the other side of this I will claim I am a good cook. I have been told this, most people especially like the bread I bake. I love baking bread. But if I were to bake a loaf and immediately say "I really suck at baking bread" to a chorus of "No, this is really good!" every time? Would that not be manipulation?  Now, sometimes my bread comes out crappy because I am terrible at following a recipe. I feel it limits me. But that is my own thing to work on...

Am I making any sense? Is this all just me being overly sensitive?

Einstein said that to expect different results while doing the same thing over and over is insanity. I disagree. I call it blind hope. And I call bluff to those of you that do it in the form of insulting yourself. We all do it every so often - but I mean if it is a part of your normal conversation. And listen the next time you meet someone new as that first impression we present can be so important. I have started listening. Ah yes, listening. Perhaps that is the lesson in all this. And once again I must cut my post short because the restaurant is closing. So I leave you with the wisdom of the ages:

A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

 - Author Unknown