Monthly Archives: October 2008

Pillow Talk

Him: You know, I really hate it that you aren’t ticklish. It seems like an unfair advantage.

Me: Hmmm. Well, you know, control issues.

Him: Hey, I have control issues, too. That’s why I hate being so ticklish.

Me: Well, I was ticklish when I was a kid, you know.

Him: So, what? Did you just will it to go away?

Me: Um, yeah, basically.

Him: What the heck went so terribly wrong in your childhood???

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Filed under Just for Fun, The Me Behind the Mommy

Turtle Power (Powered by Diet Dew)

You may have noticed that I haven’t been around a lot this week. (What? You didn’t notice? I’m crushed.) This is because late last week, as I was talking to my mother, I said something about trick-or-treat this coming Saturday.

“It’s not on Saturday,” she said. “It’s Thursday.”

Crap.

I know. I know. If I bothered to look at a calendar occasionally, I would have realized that this Saturday is November. Whatever.

So, it occurred to me at that moment that I had two less days to make Halloween costumes. I got my fabric and spent several hours on Saturday cutting out pattern pieces.

At church on Sunday, they reminded everyone that they were doing a Trunk-or-Treat for the kids tonight.

Double crap. Scratch off one more day to make costumes.

Growing up, we never had store-bought Halloween costumes. My mother wouldn’t hear of it–too cheap looking. Why pay for something poorly made when you can make it yourself?

Well, my kids have always had store bought costumes because, until last year, I was convinced that I didn’t know how to sew. This year, knowing better, it was time to step up to the plate and make three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Honestly, I had originally wanted to make these costumes last year. My big plan back then was to make the costumes for N~, W~, and C~, and an empty shell to stick over my still pregnant at the time belly (Mommy in a half shell). I thought it would be fabulously clever (especially if I made a little turtle head and legs to stick out from my back). I asked my mom if she still had the TMNT costume pattern from when she made one for my little brother (in 1990!!!). She couldn’t find it. My kids went as Darth Vader, Spider Man, and Superman–all thanks to WalMart.

A couple of months ago, I was in my parents’ house and noticed the Turtle pattern sitting by their telephone.

“Where did you find that???” I asked, knowing that we had searched everywhere for it.

“Oh, it was in the trunk of my car,” was my mother’s reply.

HUH???

OK, I don’t think that they even made Saturns eighteen years ago. I know that particular one sure as heck wasn’t around when she made the costume for my brother (who is now 25). How that pattern ended up riding around in that trunk for at least a year is a mystery that my never be solved.

So, anyhow, I had my pattern. And, as I realized a few days ago, I had less than a week to make it. Three times.

I was up until one o’clock Monday night. Last night, I got to bed around two.

tmnt

C~, W~, and N~ showing off their costumes. I’m not sure if C~ looks more like Michelangelo or Mush Mouth. (You get this without a password since they are wearing masks)

 

As I stand to accept this award for The Best Mommy Ever, I would like to take this opportunity to show my appreciation.

First, I would like to thank Joann Fabric for having the foresight to stock solid green pre-quilted fabric, without which I would have actually had to quilt a turtle shell design on by hand. My mom pointed out that I still could put the concentric rings over the quilted pattern for added effect. I could have but, you know, monkeys, orifices…it didn’t happen.

To my mother: Thank you for teaching me to sew (even though I didn’t realize it until I was 30). Also, thank you for letting me borrow your sewing machine when mine went wacky at just the wrong time. I now know that everything they say in the commercials is true–nothing runs like a Husqvarna.

And finally, I’d like to thank the soft drink engineers at Pepsi Co. I couldn’t have pulled off the short nights without you.

 

The costumes are made, and I doubt that my children will ever begin to comprehend what a representation of my love and devotion to them they really are. I don’t sacrifice that much sleep for just anyone. Which leaves me with just one more thing to say:

Mom, thanks for all of the Halloween costumes.

7 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Kids, Patting myself on the back

The Mixed Nuts Family

Pyzam Family Sticker Toy
Get your own Family Sticker Maker & MySpace Layouts.



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Filed under Uncategorized

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like???

Last night, after a long and exhausting final excursion to Kings Island for the year, I found myself at Target shopping for birthday presents. I spent the next hour or so wandering up and down the toy aisles wondering what the heck a six-year-old girl and eleven-year-old boy would think was cool that wouldn’t, you know, prevent us from eating for the next week.

As I wandered, something eventually caught my attention. Christmas music. Oh. My. Gosh. People. We aren’t even through with Halloween yet. Could we maybe not make me sick of the Holiday season before it even begins?

Of course, the rampant consumerism of Christmastime did not end with Mariah Carey crooning that all she wants for Christmas is me (well, not me, hopefully–that would  be awkward). Oh no, there were Christmas toys out, too.

Now, I feel the need to preface this next part with a little bit of information. When W~ turned four a couple of weeks ago, he asked for a pirate themed party. Instead of trying to do something creative and piratey with icing, I bought some pirate figurines made by Playmobil, stuck them on the cake, and called it good. He was thrilled–a fun cake and an extra present all rolled up in one.

pirate cake

(In case you are wondering, yes, there is a skeleton hanging from a chain around his neck on the big rock thing in the back. I’m very in tune with keeping my children free from nightmares.)

 

At this point, you may be wondering what the heck that has to do with Christmas toys. WELL…As I was perusing the section of Playmobil figurines last night, I came across this little gem:

pirate advent

 

Um, yeah, for some reason they have a foreign version on the website. If you haven’t figured it out, though, it is a pirate advent calendar. Each day, you open a box and get a little toy that allows you to count down to the birth of Christ with cheery little purveyors of rape, pillage, and plunder. Baby Jesus not included.

To be fair, though, right next to it was this:

nativity toy

 

In my sick little mind, I can’t help but imagine that you are meant to purchase both sets. That way, the pirates can plunder the gold, frankincense, and myrrh from the three wise men and, at the very least, the baby Jesus can pop out of the treasure chest on Christmas day.

For my part, I just can’t help but wonder when Target will start piping in the inevitable new Christmas carol a la Jack Sparrow:

Yo Ho! Yo Ho!

The birth of Christ for me! 

 

Hey, at least it really would work for Christmastime at Halloween.

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Filed under A Scary Look into My Mind, Idiot Files, just plain bizarre

Contemplations, Courtesy of a Coat

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a shopping trip to Macy’s with my stepmother-in-law (heretofore referred to as “New Mommy”–yes, Sean and his brother actually call her that). I am not in the habit of shopping there, as I find it depressing. I could go nuts spending in that store if I was less responsible. My recent trip there was to do some birthday shopping for W~ since New Mommy works at Macy’s and, therefore, has a good discount.

While in Macy’s, I saw, and subsequently became obsessed with, an awesome leopard print trench coat.

alfani_trench

(Trust me, this picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It has this cool iridescent quality to it.)

 

Weeks later, I continue to think about and be in love with this coat. Today, I got the urge to look at the coat online (because I am that pathetic).

My coat is on sale.

It is currently marked down sixty dollars below the normal price. Sadly, that means that it is still about ninety dollars. Out of my current budget. Sigh.

Somewhere, deep down under the blue jeans and drooled on t-shirt, I am weeping inside.

************************************

Earlier today, sometime shortly before dinner, my older boys were trying to convince me to give them some form of junk food or another. I told them no, that it was almost time to eat real food.

W~ looked at me and said, “Well, if you don’t, we just won’t love you anymore.”

“Oh, really?” I asked. To his credit, he very quickly backed down.

“No, we still love you, Mommy.”

“Good,” I told him, “because I give up a lot to stay home with you guys.”

They wanted to know what. I explained that I used to work, and that I actually enjoyed having a job outside of the home. I also enjoyed having the extra income (if I were working, you can bet I would have ordered that beautiful, beautiful coat by now). And I told them that, as much as I liked those things, I would never trade them for the chance to be home with my boys because I love them that much more.

Some days, though, I actually do have to remind myself of that. Sometimes, it is hard to remember who the me behind the mommy is. I have thoughts and ideas and dreams and desires. And only so much time in the day. Time that has to be used clean the house, make the food, teach the kids, and try and come up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes before Halloween.

The me goes out the door, and the mommy goes into action. Sometimes, that’s hard to accept.

But, then, I see grubby faces with crinkly-eyed smiles and it is all worth it. And then I wonder, someday, when I have all the time I need to do the things I feel like I’m missing now, will they matter as much to me? Or will I just realize that I’m no longer needed as much as a mommy and, because of that, feel that I have lost me?

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Filed under Daily Life, Kids, The Me Behind the Mommy

Looking for a Big Picture

When I first asked my ethical question last week, it was with a very specific reason in mind. Before I move on from discussing  human trafficking, I want to do full justice to that topic (as well as touch on a couple of things brought up in the comments on these posts).

As a review, my initial question was:

If you were offered the chance to buy a child, knowing that if you did not, they would be sold to slave owners as laborers or sex slaves, would you do it?

Some of you said no. Some of you said yes. Those who said yes frequently said that you would view it as an adoption. This, interestingly, touches on the root of what I wanted to discuss.

The first time that I heard adoption linked in any way to human trafficking, I was incredulous. I suppose that what my family always accused me of growing up may have some truth–I can be naive. It is hard for me to look at an institution created to make families and see anything other than the positive. And, I believe, the institution of adoption is overwhelmingly positive. That doesn’t change the fact that corruption can, and does, exist.

Before choosing domestic adoption as my initial route to motherhood, I did a lot of research. That research included looking into the programs of just about every country that was doing international adoptions six years ago. Certainly, I knew that there were problems at the time. There were a lot of questions about the practices in Guatemala and Cambodia. The expectation of bribes in former Soviet countries was discussed openly (I remember reading that you should go with cash and vodka).

The information was there but, somehow, I really missed the significance of it.

As I said last week, there is a definite correlation between some of the worst countries for human trafficking and countries that have been investigated or closed to international adoption over concerns of baby buying. My initial disbelief of the idea that babies are bought, then placed for adoption, is gone. I accept that it happens (although, again, this is not a majority-of-the-time issue–I truly believe that most adoptions are done ethically).

I just don’t know the right solution for the problem.

Here’s the thing: If someone is desperate enough to sell a child, they are going to sell a child. Unethical adoption agencies are not, by far, the only option for doing so. While the method is wrong, the adoption itself may just end up saving a child from a much worse fate. However, as some of my commenters pointed out, human trafficking is a supply and demand industry. No one would be buying these children (for adoption, sex slavery, forced labor…) if the market didn’t exist.

So, which is worse? Certainly, children should not be bought and sold. Buying a child, even for a “good” reason, is wrong. Let me make it clear that adoptive parents do not go to other countries and buy babies–adoption would cost a heck of a lot less if that were the case (Average cost of a person being trafficked? Ninety dollars. That’s it.). In fact, potential adoptive parents can take every precaution possible against unethical adoptions and still end up in the middle of one without knowing it. The countries where these things occur are notorious for misinformation and scant or changed documentation. The parents are generally acting ethically, while the governments and orphanages/agencies are doing shady things.

Shutting down a country for adoption, however, does nothing to benefit the children caught in this crisis. I found it interesting that, from the comments I received on my other posts, the perception seems to be that people being trafficked are sold by “others.” I believe people kept referring to them as “the traffickers.” The thing is, while there obviously are the middle men that deliver slaves to their destinations, the initial traffickers, very frequently, are family. Parents. Siblings. Aunts and Uncles. In some societies, it is not uncommon for a family to find a wealthy “benefactor” for their daughter when she is still very young. This benefactor will give the family monthly stipends until the child comes of age, at which point she will go “visit” for a couple of weeks. Even in countries that are notorious for sex tourism, little impact would be felt if outsiders stopped paying for their unique brand of services. The cancer, largely, comes from within.

So, what can be done?

I wish I had answers. In the realm of adoption, certainly, accountability is important. Unethical agencies are sometimes more obvious than you would think (and, sometimes, not). Sometimes, however, people choose not to see the signs or question the actions. Obviously, the answer is for everyone to always act with integrity–but that can seem a tough road to travel. Choosing to wait longer for a referral from an ethical agency is hard. Worrying that something will happen to your paperwork that might prevent you from bringing your child home if you don’t pay a bribe is terrifying. But, if the problem is going to stop in the adoption world, it is necessary.

And in the rest of the world? Well, that’s a tougher question. The fact is, deeply held social mores have to change. Bone crushing poverty has to be alleviated. Things like prostitution need to be seen as a much greater evil than is currently the case. Organizations that help keep former slaves free need to be funded. Beyond that–I don’t know. People who do know more have made proposals for ending slavery. I plan on reading Ending Slavery by Kevin Bales to see what his suggestions, after many years of researching this issue, are.

I understand that this is an issue that is so large that it seems overwhelming. If you are capable of nothing else (and so inclined), pray for these people. Sometimes, the biggest changes are started by the smallest acts of faith.

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Filed under adoption, Books, Faith, modern slavery, politics

Heck with the Polar Bears–Save the People

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
– Edmund Burke

I have been amazed, over the past couple of days, by how little response I have gotten to my ethical question and follow-up information. Or, at least, how little response by way of comments. My blog stats have been up, so I know that people are reading. But the silence has been somewhat deafening.

As I was feeding my children lunch today, a commercial came on wherein Noah Wiley entreated me to donate to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF–even if the wrestlers don’t use it anymore, I couldn’t imagine making that my organization’s initials) to save the polar bears (who, presumably, dress up in lycra and body slam each other).

Now, I don’t have anything against polar bears. I’m sure they are lovely. And, since I live well into middle America, I’m not concerned about them trying to eat me (and now I have a recent SNL skit stuck in my head). In short, lack of polar bear extinction is a good thing–even if the risk of polar bear extinction anytime soon may be questionable.

But you know what isn’t questionable? Human trafficking. And when is the last time you saw an add to donate money for that cause?

I’m going with “never.”

I noticed today that I got a referral to my blog from Alltop’s slavery section for my reminder about the ethical question. My reaction to that can be summed up in one word.

Pathetic.

Really, are so few people discussing this that a reminder to give an opinion on the topic is enough to make a post part of the “top of the web”?

Wow. (I’m betting this post won’t be enough to get me on some Alltop page for saving the polar bears.)

To some extent, this astonishes me. There are currently more people enslaved on this planet than at any other time in history. Every country has laws against slavery, but so many do not enforce them. It is seen as the price of business.

We tend to look at the problem and think, “Wow, that’s sad, but it is happening in other countries. I can’t change what happens there.” Only it doesn’t just happen there. It is estimated that about 50,000 slaves cross our borders every year. Some are sex slaves. Some are laborers (I must admit suspicion over the numerous Chinese buffets in our area–so many Chinese women that you never see anywhere other than inside the restaurants). But they are here. In the open. And they continue to serve unwillingly because we don’t want to think about the fact that this happens under our noses.

And I think that has something to do with the lack of response that I’ve seen. Even when I have talked to people in real life about what I’m learning, I’m frequently met with ambivalence. Most of the people I’ve talked to have said something along the lines of, “That’s fine if you want to read about that, but don’t give me details. I don’t want to think about it.”

Here’s the thing. I’m going to challenge you to think about it. While doing some research on the web, I saw something that said October 18th was something like International Day to Fight Human Trafficking. I can’t find it now, so I’m not sure if that was exactly what it was called, but that’s what we’re going to call it here until I can find the real name (I’ve been looking all over–I swear I didn’t make it up, though). So, this Saturday, I want you do do something to educate yourself about modern slavery, or even do something to help fight it.

Buy a book. Read a website. If you live in a big city (Like Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver…) go see a movie. Buy yourself a new piece of jewelry.

Do it. Blog about it. Give a voice to 27 million people who aren’t being heard.

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Filed under modern slavery, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy