Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dreaming big (I mean crazy)

I do my best, most clear thinking in the shower.  Lathering up is when I remember all those minute little tasks I need to get done that I have failed to do.  Unfortunately, as soon as my feet step through the open glass door onto the rug, everything is forgotten once again.

The other day I had the most brilliant idea, and by brilliant I mean far-fetched, difficult and highly likely to shave years off my life.  I thought, "Hey, I think I might want to write a book."

In the shower, this sounded like such a good idea.  I was thinking about my proposal and what I would send in for my first chapter.  I was wondering how to find a local agent and publisher.

Through the magic glass door I stepped, a towel rubbing my skin dry and my mind free of enthusiasm for such a project.  It just wouldn't work.

Would it?

Going to church

After I wrote a magazine article about my musings over whether I should introduce my children to church, I was given the assignment to attend a church service and blog about it.

The kids and I attended a few services at the church where the kids have gone to preschool.  It is nearly April, and we are still attending though sporadically, which is kinda how I want it and like it.

That being said, when early March was busy with birthdays and Girl Scout cookie booth sales, I found myself feeling guilty for not being at church, and it rankled me to no end.  I spent years and years going to church out of obedience to my parents and guilt, and I got little to nothing out of it.  I left angry with raging headaches, and I can't for the life of me think that this is what JC would want.

So I'm am trying very hard to be of the mindset that I will go with the kids at least once per month when the urge strikes me to go.  Attending church is not like going hiking or reading a book; it is something to which I don't look forward.  For me to get anything out of it, I need to be going with an open mind and a feeling that I want to be there.  And every week I don't want to be there.

This past weekend was Palm Sunday, and while it was nice because the children of the congregation led it, I found myself wanting to attend before I got there and then feeling alienated once I sat in the pew.  It wasn't the church itself that made me feel this way.  I think it was because the focus of the service was on Jesus and what led to the crucifixion.

When I've attended in the past, the sermons have been very justice-oriented.  Very much about compassion and kindness and acting like a Christian rather than just proclaiming you are a Christian.  About Jesus as radical thinker and forgiving teacher, and these are all things I can get behind.

The rub of attending during Lent/Easter is that I don't believe in Jesus as Risen.  I think Historical Jesus died by crucifixion, perhaps his body was taken from the tomb by his followers.  But I haven't found a meaning of the resurrection that really resonates with me, and I can't force myself to believe something I just don't believe.

The Christmas story is easy.  Everyone loves a baby, and becoming a mother certainly made the story more meaningful to me.  

I am totally down with the pagan beliefs of new life, hopefulness in the end of cold and winter.  The eggs, the brightness of color, baby chicks and all that junk.

But the Jesus who dies and rises again?
That is where and why it gets complicated for me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reduce, reuse, recycle and then do it again (and again)

One of my favorite songs is Radiohead's Everything In Its Right Place.  I like the music, but I also just really like the title.  

There is a system for most everything in my house, an orderly way in which things are used, stored and/or disposed of. 

For example, my old t-shirts that are too stretched out or stained to be worn publicly become sleepwear for either myself or N.  When they become holey, they are then cut up and turned into rags that I use for cleaning.  

Paint that is used for one room but is not used up completely becomes paint for another smaller room.  My dining room paint was used in my basement bathroom as well as in a color-wash in my master bathroom.  The paint I used in the garage was also used in the kids' bathroom, which I just redid.  

D removed the one towel rack (which matches our bathroom towel rack and will be rehung in that room) and hung double hooks up for each kid.  I made their initial plates out of stuff I had around the house:  a thin piece of wood and small decorative glass beads you put into flower vases.  I had the boys smash them for me (because every kid loves to whack shit with a hammer) and then I glued them onto the wood.

I tinker around with the idea of buying different towels for each kid, but for now I just have pale blue towels for all three of them.  I did purchase N some hot pink washcloths a few years back, and G some bright blue washcloths, but M is still using baby washcloths (which will also one day become rags in my rag bin).

Perhaps when those towels are full of holes and incredibly stained and I've cut them into rags or donated them to the Humane Society for dog bedding then I will go buy specific towels for each child.  (It sorta sets off my OCD a bit at the prospect of the kids' sharing towels accidentally.)


Speaking of recycling, I bought summer stuff for the kids at a local consignment sale.  I'm not sure what makes me happier---knowing that I've bought second-hand or getting such great stuff for low prices.

For $110, I got everything below:

Two Justice tops and a pair of Justice shorts for N.

6 pair of shorts for G.

A Matchbox Wolf Mountain toy for the boys.

A suitcase for N, a Cars suitcase for M, Pop the Pig game, 2 hardbound chapter books, 3 softbound chapter books, and 6 picture books.

4 pair of swim trunks and a swim shirt.

3 pajama sets for G. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Obscene spending and why I sometimes can convince myself to engage in some

My body ain't what it used to be 10 years and 3 kids ago.  All of my pre-motherhood clothes were given away a long time ago, and I have been wearing the garb of the SAHM (t-shirts, jeans, yoga pants).

There are occasions, though, when even a SAHM needs to dress nicely.  In my case, it has mostly been wakes that demanded I look a little more formal.  I would ransack my closet, putting together things that didn't look especially good but were more appropriate for a funeral home than an "I Survived the Stampede" t-shirt and a pair of bleach-stained workout pants.

Up until about a month ago I did not own a pair of black dress pants.

I decided it was time for mommy to purchase some nice clothes, and by nice I mean something better than my typical $6 Old Navy finds (which are great for SAHM-wear, but terrible for anything else).

To make a long story short, I went to White House, Black Market, gave my usual spiel about being a complete fashion idiot and "would you dress me, please," then proceeded to be babysat for 2 hours by a salesperson named Jane.  I walked out with some nice, professional clothing (included a pair of dressy black pants) after having spent an obscene amount of money ($350).

It has taken me many, many weeks to even begin to get over the shock of this shopping escapade.
And I hate to admit it, but I think buying myself some "fashionable" clothing was sorta fun.  Fun enough that I bought myself a white blouse to wear with some skirts I own at Von Maur yesterday.  I spent about $48.

I generally think that if a person has to rationalize an activity as being "ok," then it is probably not really ok.  Because of my frugal nature and my environmental conscientiousness, I am finding myself rationalizing these recent clothing expenditures.

I googled how much the average American spends on clothing per year (over $1100 from my research).  I checked my mint account to see how much I've spent on clothing over the past 3 years (nowhere near $1100 per year).  I reminded myself that of the two skirts I own for which I purchased the white top, one was given to me by my MIL when it no longer fit her, and the other was made out of fabric that had once been used as a drapery in our first house.  (I still liked the print but didn't want it on my window so I had my mom make it into a skirt.)

Today, when I wore the drapery-fabric skirt and the white top along with a WHBM sweater to my nephew's First Communion, my black heels (of which I have one pair) began to disintegrate as I stood in the church.  My mother asked where the mud came from that was flaking off my shoes onto the floor.  I said, "Mother, that's not mud.  That's my shoes."

These shoes were purchased around 13 years ago when D got a gift certificate from work to the mall and he couldn't find anything on which to spend it.  I bought myself some Easy Spirit uber-comfortable chunky black heels.

Now I don't have black heels, nor do I own a purse (which I realized today when I went to look for something nice in which to carry my wallet).

I think this might be life telling me to quit stewing over money so much and update my fashion life.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Having a bad "mood" day and mothering

For a long stretch of time, I sorta forgot I had a mood disorder.

This aging business, though, is having its way with me.  I suspect wonky progesterone levels are affecting my moods more often than in the past.  I'm having breakthrough anxiety a bit, such as this morning when I was folding sheets. Prior to Lexapro, if I was folding sheets and they touched the floor I had to wash them again to remove the germs.  (Ain't OCD grand?)  This morning, the sheets touched the floor, and while I didn't wash them and was able to talk myself down, I felt a visceral pulse of anxiety.

Being around the boys when I'm having a low spell is truly a challenge for me.  I'm sure people think I just bitch about motherhood because it is funny or like it's just "my schtick," but unless you live with a mood disorder on a daily basis, you don't understand how frustrating it is to already be moody inside your head and then to have crazy up-and-down moods thrown at you all day long.  I've mentioned before that I catch other people's bad moods like hookers catch the clap.  A funny way to say it, maybe, but very, very true.

Three-year-olds are bloody nightmares for a moody momma.  In the car the other day, one instant M was screaming and crying because of something G did, and twenty seconds later he was laughing at something else that G did.  G is remarkably better than he was when he was three years old, but he is still a pretty moody kid.  Kids, by their nature, cannot control their emotions very well or at all.

It is especially problematic when one's 3-year-old has a tantrum in the middle of the night (like last night).  A chronically sleep-deprived momma woken in the wee hours to deal with a screeching 3-year-old who wants to get up for the day hours and hours before the day actually begins is simply unable to deal.

In addition to the moodiness, I've also got an overabundance of guilt and still fight the "shoulds and shouldn'ts" on an all-too-frequent basis.  If I'm having a challenging day (or minute or hour), I think to myself that I "should" treasure this time with my children because parents with terminally ill children would be thrilled to have healthy children who yell and are boisterous and moody to an aggravating degree.

I get very frustrated with this line of unreasonable thinking on my part.  Raising children is amazing and also the most difficult, tiring thing I've ever done in my life.  I am allowed to feel what I feel---good or bad, and I shouldn't berate myself for experiencing the same feelings that every parent throughout time has felt.

But I do, which only makes a bad mood worse.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Too much sex on the radio (and a semantics discussion)

Now that I'm a mom of an almost intermediate-level elementary school child, I worry that I may turn into a bit of an Anita Bryant, lambasting musicians for their lack of decency.

(Disclaimer:  I am not anti-gay.)

I am increasingly concerned about music lyrics especially since N (age 9) has discovered

What I hear on the radio is loads and loads of sexual innuendo.  Some of it she doesn't get like Skylar Grey's "C'mon Let Me Ride" because she says stuff like, "That is so weird.  A song about riding a bike" (even though Grey is not talking about a Huffy or Schwinn).  Or Flo Rida's "Blow My Whistle."

But there are other more obvious to a kid references in other songs, like Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" in which he sings, "Your sex takes me to paradise."

I try not to freak out (on the outside), although I most certainly am (on the inside).  I try to remember that I liked Madonna's "Like a Virgin" when I was a kid, and I can imagine that my mother felt the same way as I do now.

I neither want nor expect my kids to watch Lawrence Welk.  I certainly don't want to listen to nothing but gospel hymns.  I like pop music.  I just don't want my daughter knowing too much about funky jungle sex before she is like, 25.

Speaking of funky jungle sex, I recently bought Mars' "Unorthodox Jukebox" and listened to the song, "Gorilla."

Now I think Bruno Mars is a very, very talented singer, but that song has to be one of the dumbest I've ever heard in my life.  "Making love like.....gorillas????"

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I doubt very seriously that in Jane Goodall's research on mountain gorillas she ever referred to their copulating as making love.
Sex?  Fine.
Intercourse? Great.
Coitus?  Excellent.
Making love?  STUUUUUUUUPID. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Maaaaybe all my frugality talk has been received too well

I buy N a Lunchable once a year, and I have three reasons for only buying it once a year.  First, they are expensive.  I can buy lunch meat and crackers for way cheaper.  Secondly, they are not terribly healthy.  If I've ever seen any with fruit in them, it is fruit canned in high fructose corn syrup.  Third, I have not yet reached the point of laziness/busyness that I can't throw together a packed lunch.

So the once a year Lunchable is an established rule in our house.
We have other food purchasing rules, like I only purchase Oreos once a year (when we go on either a big trip or a small day trip).  Another rule is on the unfortunate occasions when I must take a child to the store for an extended shopping visit, if the kids get a treat from the grocery it has to be cereal or yogurt or a bag of chips (which is then shared among them).  Most of the time their selections aren't healthy but they aren't as far down on the scale of unhealthy as candy bars, doughnuts or cookies.

Back to the Lunchable.

I told N I would buy her one that she could take on her birthday last week since it was a snow makeup day and there wasn't anything written on the school lunch calendar for her to know whether she wanted to purchase a school lunch or not.

At some point, N said, "I can get some money from my bank to help pay for my Lunchable."

I had to laugh when she said this, but it also made me reflect on whether I take the frugality speak a little too far sometimes.

I certainly don't tell the kids we're poor or any such nonsense, but I do tell them that we budget our money and have to make choices about what we do, which is 100% the truth.  I tell them we consign the things we no longer wear or play with so that we can get clothes that do fit each season (which is really more because momma hates clutter than anything else).  I tell them that if they destroy something of mine, I will sell some of their stuff to help replace what they broke (it remains to be seen whether I would actually do this, but I think my kids know me well enough not to test me).

While I want the kids to be money-savvy and wise about their spending, I don't want them to become unnecessarily anxious about spending money, and I can't help but wonder if N's comment is tinged with a little of this fear.