Category Archives: Books

The Nookie Jar

This evening, while in the car, I turned to my wonderful husband.

“I’m thinking  I’m going to buy a cute jar and label it ‘Nookie Jar,’” I told him.

His eyebrows raised.

“Now THIS has the potential to be interesting.”

Ahhh, but alas poor husband, it is nothing like that.

For quite awhile now, I have been admiring the Amazon Kindle. OK, coveting would be a much more appropriate word. I’m a woman with an English degree and a love of cool electronic things…it’s a no-brainer that I would want it.

But today. Oh, today. I opened my email and found a big, pretty advertisement for the new Nook from Barnes and Noble.

MAJOR GEEKGASM.

People, I WANT ONE. More than the Kindle. In a perfect world, someone from Barnes and Noble would offer to give me one to review for them. But, alas, the most exciting thing I’ve ever been asked to review was tooth-whitening strips. And I couldn’t even do that because I was pregnant at the time. So, I have hatched a plan wherein I am going to start selling the contents of my bookcases and stashing the money in my Nookie Jar (get it—Cookie Jar, but for a Nook…) so I don’t have to feel guilty about buying one (which fits in perfectly with my current determination to declutter my house).

Still, my husband’s stuck on that “Nookie Jar.”

I suggested that if he were putting forth noticeable contributions to ensure I get my toy faster, well, that jar just might accomplish both of our goals. He said that’s doable, but he would probably have to start diverting money from our vacation jar. And the kids might start asking questions.

That’s fine. When they do, he’ll just have to tell them to talk quietly…Mommy’s reading.

6 Comments

Filed under Books, The Me Behind the Mommy

A Simple Kind of Life

First, let us pause to observe a moment of silence for Skippy the Squirrel, who tragically lost his life at his own paws yesterday when he decided to explore the breaker on the electrical lines in our back yard.

Skippy, we saw the light as you scampered towards it (and heard quite the pop, too).

Private to our local power and light company: Isn’t there something you can do to that box? Because, really? I’m not a fan of barbequed squirrel. Or power outages in the middle of breakfast. Or my kids oooh-ing and ahhhh-ing over smoking, contorted, hairless dead squirrels.

R.I.P.

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

The weather is starting to cool down around here. Autumn is in the air, and I love it. This is my favorite time of year. This year, though, as everything dies and prepares to sleep through the winter, I find myself already excited about the possibilities of the spring.

While it now looks as though it has suffered an apocalyptic event, I consider my gardening experiment this year to have been a success. After yesterday’s canning, I now have 27 quarts of salsa to attest to a decent tomato crop. But I’m already plotting how I can make it better. I am reading a book about lasagna gardening. I now have a bucket! for rotting things! sitting on my kitchen counter! because I’m apparently off my gourd and now become excited about stuff like that.

Off course, the bucket of rotting things is nothing compared to the big pile of rotting things in my side yard that we plan on making a little fence around. Because rotting piles should have picket fences. Maybe I’ll wear pearls to dump my bucket into it. If all goes as planned, it will all turn into super-dirt for me to use in my garden and around my house where I finally, after almost six years of living here, plan to plant decent flower beds. I’m not at all behind on landscaping or anything.

And as my garden is dying off and my canning is winding down, I have now been looking for good orchards around our area. I’m ready to start making freezer applesauce. (Of course, we don’t have nearly enough room in our freezer for how much I want to make, so I’ll be trolling Craig’s List soon for a chest freezer.) And, since I’ve enjoyed the garden so much this year, I am planning on planting a small orchard in our yard this spring. I’m thinking about six apple trees, two pecan trees (now that’s a total act of faith), and maybe some apricots or pears. Oh, and maybe I’ll top it all off with a beehive. Because my mom’s honey is yummy.

My dad is currently building a new shed/mini barn in his yard. He is giving us his old one with the idea that, with some work, we can turn it into a play house for the kids. A couple of days ago, I asked Sean if he was still thinking that we were going to take on that challenge.

“Yeah, we can do it,” he told me.

I gave him a sly smile.

“Because, you know, we could always turn it into a chicken coup instead.”

“I had thought of that, too,” he said.

What???

Heck, we could keep white rabbits in there, too. Then they could invite the Mad Hatter over for tea because I definitely just landed on the wrong friggin’ side of the looking glass. He’s always acted like I was crazy when I talked about looking into raising chickens. I still don’t think that it will happen any time soon, but the fact that using that shed for chickens had crossed his mind, too? Unbelievable.

So, there you go. Gardens, chickens, compost, and bees. These are the things that occupy my mind on these chilly early-Autumn evenings.

 

And all I wanted was the simple things
A simple kind of life
And all I needed was a simple man
So I could be a wife*

*A Simple Kind of Life, No Doubt

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Daily Life, food, Healthy Living, The Me Behind the Mommy

Week 39–Perspectives

Awhile back, my mother commented to me about the fact that I had stopped posting regular pregnancy updates. There really has been a few reasons for this, but the main one had to do with what I had to say. You see, this being my fourth pregnancy, I don’t have the same wide-eyed wonderment that tends to be felt by those going through it for the first time. And, this being my fourth pregnancy in FIVE YEARS, well…It wears on a girl.

And while I know how thrilled I am about the impending arrival of my daughter, most of what I had to say about being pregnant may have come off as a tad whiny. The truth is, pregnancy is frequently a pain in the butt (both literally and figuratively). When I stopped writing about it was about the time that I didn’t feel I could write about it honestly without frequently mentioning that fact.

The thing is, I also understand that a significant portion of the people who read my blog would give anything for the opportunity to experience all of the hemorrhoids (again with the literal and figurative) of pregnancy. You can’t go through four years of infertility without it leaving a permanent memory of just how desperate that desire can be, or just how annoying whiny pregnant women who don’t know how good they have it are. It’s all about perspective.

So, in what I DESPERATELY (imploringly, please, please, please God I’m begging you) HOPE is the last of my pregnancy updates, I’m going to talk a little bit about how my perspectives on pregnancy have changed over time.

blackandwhitebelly

I’ve Always Wanted a Big Family…

Even before our struggles with infertility, I always wanted to have a lot of kids. I just never considered how hard it would be. And it is hard. Last week, my neighbor agreed to watch my kids for me while I went to my appointment with the midwife since my mom was out of town being a politician (she’s keeping her schedule pretty clear right now, but it IS a reelection year for her…). The stars were all aligned, and I was home in under an hour and a half.

“I don’t know how you keep up with it all day, every day,” was the first thing she said to me.

I just smiled and looked around my house.

“Um, obviously, I don’t,” was the best I had to offer.

And it’s true. Lately, I’ve felt like I’m standing next to the Hoover Dam, trying to plug cracks with bubble gum. I never stop moving, but I just don’t feel like I’m making any progress.

For a long time, I have wondered how truly huge families do it. I mean, I get how you make it work when you have 16 kids and half of them are 12-years-old and up. That’s a no brainer. But I’ve wanted to ask one of those moms how she managed it all when she only had little kids.

Recently, I got my chance.

My sister-in-law is the fifth of sixteen (!!!) kids. Her parents came for a visit recently and we all went to a local museum together. As we were walking back to our cars, I asked her mom how the heck she made it all work before she had older kids to help with cooking, cleaning, and wrangling younger children.

She smiled a wise, sweet smile and said, “I’ve got nothin’.”

OK, that’s not verbatim, but it’s close enough. Basically, she told me that having five little kids was the hardest time period of her life and that it was virtually impossible to keep up with it all.

I feel like I finally made the pilgrimage to Mecca, only to find a plastic fortune-teller in a sealed phone booth.

All My Bags are Packed, I’m Ready to Go…

I have never—in any of my pregnancies—nested. Who knew that it would just take carrying another estrogen-bearer for me to finally start acting maternal. I have made it through my “To Do” list, thought of more tasks, done them, and am running out of things to burn off my nervous energy.

I have rearranged bedrooms. I have sorted baby clothes. I have picked produce from my garden. I have made a regular habit of going to the local farmer’s market (this week, I found out that “cukes” is gardener slang for cucumbers—word to yo’ Mutha Nature…fo’ shizzle). I have packed the baby’s bag for the hospital. I have made a list of things for my hospital bag (I refuse to pack that early, since no amount of nervous energy will lead me to deprive myself of makeup for a couple of weeks).

But as I have prepared for labor, I have realized just how different my perspective on what I “need” is from my first pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Wyatt, I took childbirth classes, read books, and scoured the internet for hospital bag packing lists. On the big day, I showed up with an MP3 player full of music with subliminal relaxation messages, unscented oil, lotion, essential oils, focal points, comfort objects, socks full of rice, candy to suck on, snacks for Sean, slippers, and my blankie. Honestly, people, I needed a bellhop.

A couple of weeks ago, I told Sean that this time I will be happy as long as I have my own pillow, a slushie from Sonic (I need to find out how late that place is open, just in case I need to take that into consideration when timing my departure to the hospital…), and this book:

pride and prejudice and zombies

Yes, seriously. I have always loved fractured fairytales, so the idea of fracturing classical British literature? It is taking every ounce of self-control I have not to start reading it yet. Sean thinks that I am a tremendous dork. I think that he is completely lacking in creativity and vision.

Oh, and my MP3 player? Since I haven’t taken the time to remove Sean’s playlists from my Zune, there is a good chance that I could be delivering this baby to Sammy Hagar.

Timing is Everything…

A month or two ago, Sean mentioned to me that his office mate’s soccer league was having sign-ups. Our older two having been talking about doing soccer for quite some time so, what did I think?

I thought I wanted to know when it would start, would they be in different age groups, and how many nights a weeks would this involve?

Well, they would be in different age groups. It was a two night per week commitment (each), and practice started last week. But, since we had connections, we MIGHT be able to get their practices and games on the same night. NO PROMISES.

I told Sean that he needed to decide if HE was willing to make that big of a commitment, since I was going to be dealing with a newborn, thankyouverymuch. He signed the kids up.

A few weeks later, his office mate, Brian (the league’s director), called with a proposition. If Sean agreed to be the assistant coach on Noah’s team, they could put Wyatt  on Brian’s wife’s team and there would be no question that practices and games would be on the same days. As I sat listening to Sean’s side of the conversation, he agreed to the deal. Then they started talking about coach training sessions and what not.

At one point, I heard this:

“Um, that could be a problem.”

Pause.

“Well, because my wife is supposed to be having a BABY that week.”

Pause. Chuckle.

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure she’d agree to do that for you.”

I looked at my husband, smiled, and said, “Oh, he wants me to have the baby a week early? That’s fine by me!” And I gave him a big thumbs up.

Sean shook his head.

“No, he thought it might be better if you held off an extra week.”

“Adequately expressing how I feel about that,” I informed him, “would require an entirely different single-digit hand gesture.”

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby…

It’s true—I’ve reached the point where I feel like I’d do just about anything to be one person again.

Between friends, relatives, and people that I go to church with (most of whom also fall into that “friends” category), I know SIX OTHER PEOPLE who were due within a month of me. All but one of them has now had her baby (or babies, in the case of the one with twins). The lone hold-out is due basically the same day I am. But I’m the one with the tendency to go late. Which means, Angie, that if you have your baby this week, I fully expect you to show up at church on Sunday with a pillow shoved down your dress—just in case.

And while I sat this week wondering if the intestinal bug my kids were passing around might work as well as castor oil and Who wants to share a drink with Mommy??? I know the advice I’m bound to get from my midwives:

Sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Ahem.

Yes, I understand the concept. It all has to do with prostaglandins and cervical ripening and what got the baby in will get the baby out…blah, blah, blah. 

Whatever. There is just something very wrong about having to look at my husband with the same sort of functional equivalence as a tampon dispenser. And he’s done this enough times that he knows what’s up on that subject. I mean, honestly people—I WADDLE when I walk. And there is nothing less sexy than feeling like a duck.

This is one area where infertility and pregnancy are a whole lot alike. Whether you are desperately TRYING to get pregnant, or desperately trying to NOT BE pregnant, marital relations just aren’t the same when they are planned as a means to an end. ‘Nuff said.

Of course, I have a theory that it isn’t really the prostaglandins, anyhow. I think it has more to do with the fact that anyone who has ever needed a drink of water at JUST THE WRONG MOMENT knows that kids just don’t want to acknowledge that IT even happens. And there’s just no denying IT when you’re that close to what’s going on. Of course the baby would do anything it could to get out of there if IT is happening that frequently.

Not that my theory helps me any. After all, I don’t think that lesser measures like just making out in the kitchen would seem nearly as disgusting to the baby as it does my other kids. It may send them running, but I doubt the baby would care one way or the other.

So I have to be content with just waiting it out. At the very least, I can take comfort in the fact that my stomach is now so enormous that my butt once again has the appearance of being a normal size (I’m all about the silver linings).

See? Perspective is everything.

belly collage2

5 Comments

Filed under A Scary Look into My Mind, Books, infertility, pregnancy

And the Winner Is…

OK, so it has been no big secret that I really don’t get all of the hullabaloo over the Twilight series. I mean, they were kind of a fun read, if you ignore the dysfunctional relationships, repeated use of the same three words, and cheesy ending to the series.

But the obsession? The twitterpating? Just. Don’t. Get it.

And, of course, up until now, my older sister has been about the worst of the Twi-hards. She thinks I’m dead inside. I think that she’s going through a mid-life crisis. Whatever–we just have to agree to disagree on the merits of the series.

The point of all of this, though, is that she’s no longer the queen of the vampire freaks. Oh no, she has definitely been dethroned.

Yesterday, we had a big Christmas party with Sean’s family. I walked in the front door and his twenty-year-old cousin came running up to me.

“You have to see my new tattoo!” she gushed (although, if she were a character in the books, she would have been glaring while she smoldered it).

Now, this cousin already has a couple of tattoos. The first one was a tiny flower on the side of her foot. Nothing horrible. The second one is a huge, heart-shaped Celtic knot thingy with her son’s name under it. But at least it is on her rib cage and, therefore, usually hidden.

She held out her arm. On her wrist, in thick, black lettering, is the word “Twilight.” She just took the book with her, pointed to the title, and said, “Do that.”

You know, some day she really isn’t going to care about those books. And there is no covering this thing, unless she wants to wear really long sleeves for the rest of her life.

When you can live forever, what do you permanently scrawl on your body?

Yikes.

7 Comments

Filed under Books, just plain bizarre

If a Five-Year-Old Can Get the Concept…

I had the greatest conversation with N~ today. Quite ironically, we started working on an African folktale yesterday that hits on a very current issue. The story, Guinea Fowl and Rabbit Get Justice, talks about a Guinea Fowl (imagine that!) who has a wonderful farm because he works hard and tends to it. Rabbit plants his crops, but never does anything to take care of them. He then becomes jealous of Guinea Fowl’s largesse and blames it on things out of his own control (claims that it must be raining on Guinea Fowls land and not his). Instead of committing to working his land better, Rabbit decides to put all of his efforts into stealing Guinea Fowls crops because he feels he somehow deserves them.

And that is how I had a conversation about wealth redistribution with my five-year-old today. Which is awesome because, well, it has been a month or two since we read Barack Jack and the Beanstalk and he was getting a bit rusty on the concept.

Really, it is amazing how insightful a kid can be. When I asked N~ why he thought the rabbit felt he deserved the guinea fowl’s crops his response was, “Well, the rabbit had a family and it didn’t seem like the guinea fowl did. So maybe the rabbit needed the crops more to feed his family.”

“So, should that mean that the guinea fowl has to give up what he worked for?” I asked.

“Well, maybe,” he said.

“What if Daddy asks you and W~ to clean the toy room and tells you that you can each earn a dollar for it if you do. So, you work hard and clean it up, but W~ doesn’t. You earn a dollar, but he doesn’t because he didn’t work. Later, you go to the store and both want candy. W~ doesn’t have enough money since he didn’t work, but you have enough to buy two candies. So Daddy takes half of your money and gives it to W~ so that he can have candy, even though he didn’t work.”

“That’s not fair!” N~ practically shouted.

And that’s how I know my five-year-old is smarter than Joe Biden*.

N~ and I discussed the fact that it is always good to help people out, and we should try to serve willingly. But forcing it at the barrel of a political gun? No.

We finished up the conversation later when I asked him if he remembered asking me the other day why we weren’t voting for Barack Obama. He said “yes,” and I told him, “He thinks that Rabbit deserves Guinea Fowl’s vegetables.”

 

Today I am Thankful For:

  1. The fact that my son isn’t getting the standard issue government school liberal indoctrination education.
  2. That my morning didn’t end with me being extra crispy. Note to self: If you are going to set a running hair drier on the bathroom counter, close the toilet seat first. Just in case.
  3. Antibiotics. I’m afraid my ear may end up needing some soon. And, really, modern medicine is just miraculous.
  4. The Halloween candy is almost gone! Death to sticky fingerprints!
  5. That Sean’s grandmother actually asks to come over, spend time with my kids, and help with housework. Even when I have conversations like today’s:

Her: You’ll have to put the other half of the load of laundry in the drier later. I split it up since it was big and full of towels.

Me: Oh, you don’t have to do that anymore. Sean cleaned out the blocked ducts. It dries just fine now.

Her: Well, it doesn’t wrinkle as much this way.

Me: I have way better things to worry about than wrinkled towels.

OK, OK, I didn’t really say that last part. I mean, she asks to come help out. I sure as heck don’t have anyone else asking to do that. And when you are a mom of four small kids, there isn’t much better to be thankful for than help. Even if it is concerned about your towels getting wrinkled. 😉

 

*In case you are wondering, I am not opposed to having programs to help those who need it if they are really working and plan on it being a temporary situation. But this whole, “Paying taxes is patriotic,” wealth redistribution crap? I think it’s insane.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Daily Life, Homeschooling, Kids, NaBloPoMo, Thirty Days of Thankfulness

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.

5 Comments

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

Ethical Question

This weekend, I started reading the book, Not For Sale, by David Batstone. It is a frank look at modern day slavery. Obviously, it is a tough read (emotionally). Since I started it Saturday morning, I can’t stop thinking about the millions of people who are bought and sold in our world.

So, I’ve got a question.

I want everyone to tell me what they think and why. Discuss amongst yourselves all you want, but I’m not going to give my opinion for a day or two. I just want to see what everyone out there thinks. I suspect that some of you will have strong opinions on the matter.

My question: 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? Would you be justified by the fact that you would be saving them from a horrible fate, or would you be condemned by the fact that you had purchased a human, no matter what the reason?

Ready. Set. Go.

15 Comments

Filed under Books, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy