Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A little bit goes a long way, so I've been told

I'm just about ready to chuck my laptop out of the house and defy any more efforts of grading.  I'm so very, very over it.  And do you know what I least want to do after hours of grading?  Blogging.  I've been a drag anyway, so there hasn't been much to share.

But today, I'm celebrating something in my month, here on the last day of September: I've caught up with it all.  The sun did come out today (I'm part cat, you know...the sun is very important to me), I'm luxuriating in a second cup of chocolate velvet for no other reason than it's delicious, I figured out a good amount of a crossword puzzle, and I have a purring furball keeping me company.  I need these kinds of days to happen upon occasion.  I'm also foreshadowing what I'll be writing about when I'm old and stodgy, I'm sure.

So it turns out that turning 32 has also given me an idea of what middle age is all about for me.  This includes sore calves after bouncing my nephew to sleep and whacky hormones.  It turns out that I'm out of putting-a-baby-to-sleep shape.  Or else I need to give up chatting while bouncing cause I was downright winded for a few minutes.

Don't be suggesting any silly ideas like "Oh, you obviously need another one."  I will hand you a bar of soap to go wash that mouth out.

Maybe you just need to produce something for me to rock.  And then I'll hand it back to you.  That's what I call a symbiotic relationship, baby nurturing style.

I could be this woman.

I could not happily be this woman.

(Why yes, I did Google that.  And why don't we talk more about the proliferation of nouns-turned-verbs in our common parlance today?)

My two are quite enough.  And I have it on record that the Younger will never stop hugging and kissing me.  She's promised me.  Under duress.  But still...a promise is a promise.  (I haven't forced this admission out of the Elder yet, but I'm still working on her.)

So it turns out that life doesn't work out well for every kid.  Sometimes little munchkins are stuck in unfortunate or problematic situations.  And it also just so happens that I'm fully capable of helping some kid somewhere, somehow, some way.  So I'm going through the process of becoming a court appointed advocate for children who have been abused and/or neglected in order to be a voice on their behalf.  I know that I'm coming into this with some serious self-imposed blinders on.  But I've been struggling with the need for change in my life for quite a while now.  I feel as if I've been trying to do so, but I've not found my for this moment calling yet.  I'm thinking pretty hard that this is it.

I don't think that I'll have the chance to rock anyone to sleep (it's one of my best auntie skills), but I'm downright positive that there's many a way we can provide comfort and security for a child who needs it.  And need is so prevalent around us.  I have some time and the desire to help; I need to use that energy on someone other than myself.  So I figure, it's just like what the Younger told me this morning as we were crafting at story time: "A yittle bit goes a yong way."  


Friday, September 18, 2015

Nothing "new" around here


I feel like the stars are aligning and singing some melodic version of Kumbaya to me about this topic I'm going to continue harping on.  Following my "wildly successful" post a few days ago, I just came across this write-up and new blog.  Even if I stay home all the live long day, I do not escape consumerism, what with the prevalence of online shopping (of which I am quite the fan when those magical words "free shipping" are whispered in my ear).  I think that I have somewhere around 4 or 5 shops, whether brick and mortar or online exclusively, that bombard my inbox with "15% off everything that is gray, a size small or will be out of date in two months!" and "You don't want to miss this because you always need more jeans!" sales.  You know how it goes: Buy one thing one time from a company and you immediately get put on their email onslaught list. 

I stay on a handful of these email lists just because every now and again, I need to slap a new size of clothes on my kids.  So most days (let's say 98% of the time, which both sounds about right and sounds pretty good), I delete these before opening.  However, since 7: An experimental mutiny against excess has entered my mind, I can't shake it.  Just in these few weeks, I've been trying to be even more conscious of not just how I'm spending my dollars but more importantly WHY I'm spending them. 

Experience trumps stuff for me, always (other than a good bar of chocolate, which is always some stuff that I can demonstrate some genuine joy to receive).  And when my daughter was lamenting the choices in her dresser drawer just the other day and said "There just needs to be more options!" we had what you might call a teachable moment right there (which we all know is called a lecture again in 6-year old parlance). 

Right now, I don't really know how to wrap this up, and I have a sweet little something all warm and snuggly from her afternoon nap asking me to watch some Jake and the Neverland Pirates with her (which BEST THEME MUSIC OF ANY KID'S SHOW THAT WE WATCH), so I'm just going to drop this bunch of possibility in your lap and leave it there to chew on.  Wrestle with it, perhaps.  Think about how this may be not only a possibility but even more importantly a necessity in your life.  Two hundred days is a big old length of time, but who's to say that 2 weeks isn't feasible?  We never know until we try, right?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thoughts on 7

Before I get all soap-boxy (hopefully not too much) and introspective with some thoughts about Jen Hatmaker's 7: An experimental mutiny against excess, here are a few things that I do know.

1.  The weather is getting cooler.  In the drop-off line this morning, I watched two elementary aged kids hop out of their mom's car wearing jeans, regular shoes, long sleeved shirts (maybe jackets), and gloves.  The temperature gauge on my car said that we were enjoying some crisp, almost fall, and delightfully sunny 56-degree weather.  I looked at those (obviously) smart girls and then watched my own knuckle-head skip around the front of my car wearing her standard fare: flip-flops and a skirt.  The only concession to the cooler morning was a long-sleeved t-shirt.  We need to move to a warmer climate, and it needs to happen NOW, if only so that I don't have to wrestle a reluctant 6-year old into clothing that touches her skin for the next 9 months. 

2.  That same 6-year old has been creating page after page of gems with a new set of metallic markers over this past weekend.  She's branched out beyond her standard fare of suns, flowers, stick figures, and buildings.  Friends, she has started to write poetry.  This stuff is SO GOOD that I have share one with you (reproduced verbatim, though I can't figure out how to emulate the fancy squiggles & stars decorating the page).

I Like
to LISN!
Lisn to me
Lisn to me
sis and [scribble scribble scribble]
and mom and
Dad I am a

That's some solid work for a kid who knows that she's the oldest.  The good news: We still have a few years to work on that understanding of "self" versus "others."  The better news:  She's just the spittin' image of her father, from what I hear and witness myself; he's a pretty solid individual now, so we have high hopes that she's going to figure it out eventually. 

3.  The BMV isn't open on Mondays.  That's another reason to loathe you, BMV.

And, now - 7: An experimental mutiny against excess.  I came across this at the recommendation of one of my favorite bloggers (and since I read everything she writes, we're basically best buds), and oh, but I was not disappointed.  So much of this idea mirrors that which I admire but don't often have the guts to go through with myself.  'Cause here's the thing, folks:  Jen Hatmaker's premise of giving up things in our lives is the SUB-PLOT, the minor point throughout the narrative.  What's really going on is her experiment with chucking all of that materialism and inward focus, which is what society (largely driven by advertising, naturally) tells us we SHOULD do.  When's the last time we've questioned why we're buying from a certain store or what it means to feed ourselves (to excess) first before we moan and moan about feeding our neighbors?  There's some amount of strength right there to challenge just about all of our daily habits in order to figure out the why of it all in order to understand the reality of consuming as we do.

The premise of Jen's book is that she challenged herself primarily, though her family did participate quite a bit, to fast from seven different areas of consumption in their "normal," middle-class, suburban lifestyle.  She fasted in regards to each category for one month at a time.  Some of these areas really caused me to question my/our own levels of consumption, namely that which pertains to clothing, food, and spending habits. 

Clothing: Jen chose just 7 articles of clothing out of the 300+ that she had in her closet to wear for one month.  Would it shock us into truly considering our needs if we each counted every article of clothing (socks & underwear notwithstanding)?  Would that cause us to adjust our consumption of clothes for the sake of having more/cuter/better clothes?

Food: Jen chose just 7 foods to eat for one month.  Who among us would be able to withstand this choice for more than two or three days?  Consider how variety has become such a necessity in our lives. 

Spending habits: Jen's family chose just 7 places to spend money (with an emphasis on local) for one month.  Honestly, I think that this would be the easiest of the three to contend with for an entire month.  And, for that matter, I could spend at just five places for an entire month pretty happily.  But if I were to adjust my spending to shop more locally, eschewing the box store in favor of spending power, then a pinch that would be.

The 7 fast corresponded with the timeline that Jen's family was living as they began an adoption process for two children from Ethiopia, so quite a bit of what Jen was learning about her family was contrasted against the changes that were coming for them, a diet of sorts before they were face-to-face with some of the physical reason for why Jen was feeling the disgust of the circumstances of her family's living. 

Her work also has begun a thought process for me (and us as I've shared a lot of what was impressed upon me with the boy) about how do we give until it pinches?  Should we do so?  How can we do so?  And, most importantly, why should we do so?

I feel the intense pressure to conform when sitting through a kid's birthday party, walking into the local Target for "one or two things" and even flipping through the newspaper.  Consumerism drives our lives in sometimes unexpected ways.  It is a jealous mistress and a controlling one.  We don't have this all reckoned with yet for how we want our family to actually engage with consumerism, for how we should be consumers, but I think that we're working on it.  We don't have to wholly fast (though I can truly believe that there's a whole lot of power in this act) in order to still understand ways that we an and should be more responsible and in control of our own consumption. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Crawling out from under my rock

Well the last couple of weeks have not been my favorite ones ever.  My ear finally decided to cooperate and return to normal, thankyouverymuchfornothingear.  My boys of summer finally pulled out of a 12-game losing streak, whichbitthebigoneeverynight.  And, I've been fighting the "we're heading toward fall and therefore toward winter and we're still here here here here and we're never going to leave woe is me" pity party, andthatmakesmelessthanhappytobearoundoflate. 

So I've decided that you can be perfectly content with life in general while also feeling wretched wretched wretched about a specific part of your life.  And that's confusing for me.  It's not hard to put on a smile and talk with friends and generally enjoy moments out of my day, but then I can fall into an abyss quicker than I've ever thought possible just by thinking about what I'm most dreadfully failing at (and we're going on a few years worth of gets old). 

One minute I'm diving into somthing gooey and chocolatey, all warm and fuzzy inside.  And the next minute, I remember "Hold on there, girl.  No one wants you."  And just like that, I'm snivveling into Les Miserables, which, yes, irony (if only in title). 

By the way, I'm reading Les Miserables for the first time ever, and it's as if A Tale of Two Cities turned French and about three times longer.  I'm also readily admitting that I just glossed over about 8 chapters detailing the battle of Waterloo last night.  At this point, that information was expendable.  But otherwise, it's a worthwhile read.

Also by the way, do do do do read 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  I forsee throwing down some thoughts about this soon.  This is a book that should leave a lasting impression, unless you're bound and determined to live under your little consumerism-driven rock.  And if so, then carry on.  (But please reconsider.  Thankyousomuch.)

And as a period on this rambling blabbing, I'm packing up two 3-year olds for our weekly gymanstics/tumbling trip.  I go with crossword puzzle in hand; it is very much one of my favorite times of the whole widey week.  I get a front-row view of 3-year olds tumbling around the gym like little nutballs, and I work to counteract the early-onset Alzheimer's that I feel plagues me at times. 

I may have left my purse, keys and iPad at my parents' over the weekend.  I was a solid hour down the road before I thought of them.  That spells winner.