Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Perfection. Possible or not?

One can only imagine what Zen Priest Momma Zen would say about the issue of perfection. I'm sure she's addressed it. I'm know she's struggled with it herself as a mother to Georgia.

We all strive for it, even if the results are far, far away from being perfect.

What she would say to this post is you are what you are. Today is your best day. This is the year that was. All of her sound bites ring in my ears as I try and convince my girls to eat dinner, when I can't calm their incessant tantrums or bring peace over the precious wanted toy they are fighting over, and after I've lost my lid and, gulp, yelled and feel like I've just ruined their lives.

Last week was one of those weeks when the best I could do was get up in the morning and force a smile. Each day stacked up on top of each day and each was worse than the rest. If misery loves company I can't understand why we were so alone all week.

But, something beautiful happened (as it always does in Shawn's World) mid week: I read a blog post that affected me like I've never been affected. It spoke to me with special murmurs that only someone who truly understands the trenches of motherhood and life could. It gave me permission to let go of the countless worries that had begun consuming my mind, again.

The post grabbed my hand, led me in and offered the biggest, warmest hug I've gotten since being a mother. And I cried as each word passed my eyes. The more I read, the harder I cried.

And then it was over. Just like that. And so were the tears. So were the fits of rage. So were the can'ts, the don'ts, the doubts, and the millions of mistakes. I was more patient with myself afterwards. I was more patient with my miserable, cranky girls. I was more patient with my life.

I thought it was just me being some crazy blogging chick, again, but as I read my way around my corner of the blogosphere, I realized that others had been touched, too. They were printing it out -- as I had. They were moved beyond words and brought comfort by the steaming cupful.

To reach people in such a way, to me, is perfection. For a post to bring ME to tears means something extraordinary because I do not let them fall easily.

And, that is why I am awarding Karen with a perfect post award for her post The Parent's Little List of Trust. More of these awards can be read by visiting Lindsay and Kimberly. This is my first time participating.

It seems like yesterday when I Googled Karen's name in search of other moms who had read her book. Little did I know that I would find her. That we would connect in this vast world of words and images and emotions. That she would become a dear blogging friend. And, for that, I am so thankful.

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Cool Geisha Girls -- Happy Halloween!

And ... not so cool Geisha Girls.

This post was created for Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A love of labor for mothers

This list of statistics arrived today in my newsletter from Mothers. Startling, isn't? Or, is it? I can't decide today since I'm in a relatively miserable mood. I need not remind anyone of how incredibly hard my return to work was thanks to day care issues.

MOTHERS Stats - We can't believe it either ...

Bolivia - three months fully paid maternity leave

Peru - breastfeeding mothers receive a "nursing allowance" equal to twice the minimum wage

Chile - mothers may extend their guaranteed 18 week maternity leave period for up to a year without incurring a penalty from the employer

Venezuela - constitutional recognition of housework as an economically productive activity entitling homemakers to government pension (i.e., social security)

Brazil - four months paid maternity leave with a return to former job guaranteed, and free childcare for employees with children under age six.

Argentina - three months paid maternity leave, and child care expenses reimbursed for children up to age five

Colombia - 12 weeks paid maternity leave after birth or adoption - all businesses contribute to a fund which provides workers with cash subsidies to pay for child care

U.S.A. - nada, zilch, zero - how sad and frustrating!

Yes, how sad.

Again, though, why am I not surprised that our country of great freedoms chooses to spend billions on wars and killing people rather than on mothers at home taking care of their babies?

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Monday, October 29, 2007

What if ... ?

What if your house has been for sale for nearly three months and you've lost all hope that it will sell?

What if you are plugging along in your life with your writing, and your mothering of sweet twin girls, and your wifing and suddenly, and suddenly?

What if someone wants to buy your house, at full asking price, which is lower than you originally listed, and they're ready to write their offer down on paper?

What if they wanted it, but they wanted it to be theirs in just 30 days? Just four weeks?

What if ... ?

Edited to clarify: What if ... your agent just got a little ahead of the game and no such offer is going to be made? Sadly, this what if, is most true of all.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

When safety is compromised

I've always been the type of person who can spot even the smallest thing out of place. Not just where the journal was resting in my bedroom, but its precise angle displaying evidently, to me, if someone had been reading it. I recall putting a piece of paper on the top of our door when I was a latchkey kid in fourth grade to make sure no strangers had entered the house after I left for school.

So, that crazy January of 2006, the one when a team of surgeons and doctors and other onlookers, cut my two babies out of my stomach, was no different.

We had been home just two weeks and in those two weeks I can still count the number of hours of sleep we had. Not much. Not much at all. A wink here. A wink there. I might have slept nursing or trying to nurse. I might have slept holding them; I know I slept holding them.

That Wednesday of our second week home, (or was it Thursday), I had gone up to bed early -- around 1 a.m. -- for some much-needed sleep. Da! was manning the double dose of No-Doze. Around 3 a.m., he finally managed to get them settled and back into their cribs in their room, just a step or two away from ours. I can't remember now why they were in their cribs at that point, but they were.

I don't remember him coming to bed. I only remember waking at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of a baby crying, groggily getting out of bed and walking to her and grabbing her. We went downstairs for a bottle.

As I turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, I noticed the basement door wide open, with the basement light on. Odd, I thought. But, maybe The Da! did it. Turned again, this time the other way, and that's when my world turned upside down. That's when my heart flipped and flopped. That's when I've never been more afraid in my entire life.

All of our kitchen drawers were open -- not far enough to pull out the can opener or the box of plastic wrap. No. Far enough for a desperate hand to wriggle in to find something of value.

I didn't waste a single second. I ran upstairs and woke up The Da! and told him he needed to go downstairs, that he needed to see if he left everything the way it was left. He want straight to the basement, and for the longest time I heard nothing from him as I waited at the top of the stairs.

"Should I call the police?" I yelled to him.

"Yes," is all he said.

For days -- no, weeks -- all I could think about was the fact that that cat burglar was still in my house when my baby cried, when my footsteps could be heard penetrating through our old beauty of a house. Was he down there, hiding, when I was down there? I'll never know.

All I know is that he took nothing of value. It was all upstairs swaddled in yellow and pink blankets. Those bundles of joy spent the next couple months in our room.

But, he took my safety away. He took my sense of safety and he tossed it away along with my pocketbook and my cell phone.

In the end, he might have gotten a Target gift card. We think he's in jail now, where he should be, but he's never been charged with burglarizing my home when my infant twins were just two weeks old.

I'm writing this post in honor of the topic of safety and fear, which I had my writing students address last week, and which ties nicely into the fact that lovely Bella has awarded me with a very special gift of being a Courageous Blogger.

I now nominate Mama Dharma because she recently did the unthinkable and quit her job to try and be a full-time, single mom. I'm also sending this along to Laura, a twin mom who gives Real Simple Magazine a hand slap for a very good cause. Congrats, ladies!

Anybody want to share a courageous -- or not so much -- moment?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kissing the vacuum

For the longest time, Jadyn and Liana both cried at the mere sight of our very old, very outdated red vacuum. So, also for the longest time, I avoided cleaning the floors with it unless they were out of the house or alseep.

Then, they transitioned to crying when they see it to tolerating it when it was on -- because, frankly, I have to clean.

Now, it is an understatement to say that they LOVE it. They follow me around, ask to be picked up as I vacuum, pull its cord, and pretend to use it themselves.

But, the best part is that when it's time to put it away, they both hug it and then kiss it. They watch it roll into its corner of the pantry and blow kisses at it.

Imagine the love they'd feel for a nice, new, shiny pink one?

This post was written in an attempt to win a Pink Dyson vacuum.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Eat it - Or, I'll shove it down your throat

No, I haven't said that ... not yet, anyway. But, I've wanted to, especially when I know it's a food she liked just the day prior.

One of my dearest twin girls has become a fussy toddler. Suddenly. Practically overnight. She'll eat one meal with little protest and the other two -- please God let it be just two today -- with a huge battle. She will look at her plate and close her eyes and turn away in disgust, crying. She's starving hungry, but she won't touch it. To hell with people who say a child won't starve themselves. This child would.

I am on the front lines of the food wars, folks.

Luckily, I know I am not alone. My friends in the blogosphere soothe me with their kind words of honesty about this topic.

So, lunch was two fruit and cereal bars and some raisins instead of the peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, a slice of cheese and peaches. And, dinner was 8 small meatballs instead of spaghetti and meatballs and green beans. Though, a game of 10 little, 9 little, 8 little green beans with her sister, who was happily eating, coaxed her into trying -- then realizing she likes green beans. Duh. (There are some advantages to having twins.)

Of course, I'm breaking all of the picky eater rules by giving her more stuff that wasn't planned after dinner because I know she -- well, they both were last night -- was still hungry. I do have a rule about nutritious snacks only so they had an apple and Zoe's cereal. Except, unlike dinner, the apple was swallowed instead of spit out in that special, "Look Mama, I diced apples for you today" way.

Besides I fully admit that the only reason I want her to eat said meal is because I want her to sleep for her nap or at bedtime. I worry that if she goes to bed hungry she'll wake up starving in the middle of the night.

So, anyway, a new battle has been waged. But, I'm up for the challenge today. Momma Zen has done it again; she brought me peace when I thought it was burning in the California fires. I thought it was lost forever and that I would be grieving for it the rest of my life. She also brought me to sobs. Not tears, but sobs that told me the stress of everything was finally able to release inside of me.

And, then, I read Bella's recent post.

And, I wanted to fly into her comfy arms and give her a hug.

Those two posts made dinnertime better, even though it wasn't an improvement by any standards. The only thing that changed was my disposition. My mental awareness. My capacity to hold it all and watch it unfold, even the apple spit.

Today is a new day, and despite saying that three other times this week, it really is going to be a new day. We really are going to have a good day.

I am going to trust my daughter today. And, I am going to trust myself.

Food will not be an issue in this house.

This post was written for ParentBlogger's "Deliciously Deceptive" blog blast.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Snowballing Effect for Babies

I couldn't even count the number of times people told me that caring for infant twins would get easier. I remember about half way through that first year -- inundated with day care illnesses one after the other -- and thinking these people were nuts.

But, alas, it did get easier -- as soon as I stopped working, but before they officially became toddlers at 18 months.

Now, I took back with my hindsight glasses and wonder what the heck was so hard about those first several months. (I'm kidding; it was much harder.)

Still, in the middle of our days together I have these moments that take me back to those worries I had in the earlier days and think, duh, that was nothing!

The older they get the more substantial everything is compared to when they were younger. I thought when they started crawling that I needed to baby proof because they were getting "into everything." HA. That's a joke. The proofing had only begun then. Then, when they walked, I thought I had to baby proof. That was still easy.

Now, at 21 months I'm finally perfecting The Art of Babyproofing by considering moving all furniture and personal items into a motel for the next two years. I'll go there, too.

And, the crying, I thought that would have been easier by now, but it's louder and they can cling to your leg so you can't get anything done. I remember feeling like it was the end of the world when they were crying and were sitting in their bouncy chairs. Oh, how easy those days were!

Now and then (maybe now and then is an understatement) Liana will come up to me with a toy -- usually her Doodle Pro -- and hand it to me with expectations. Now, this girl is a master scribbler. She has the patience of a saint for this one task.

I have no idea what she wants so I try clearing the screen -- she throws a fit -- I try writing on it -- she throws a fit -- I try giving it back to her -- she throws a fit, this time slamming herself down on the floor. I try putting it down -- but, her fit has consumed her and I just walk away, knowing there is no reasoning with her. In the past, though, I've also tried putting the pen in its holder -- and, guess what? She throws a fit. What's left, people?

Other snowballing effects that I've noticed include the food issues. When they were infants they had trouble digesting milk. That was hard. Then, when they started table foods, Jadyn gagged and threw up until she was almost 12 months. That was hard. Then from 12 months to 20 months, I would say they ate very well. We had our difficult meals, yes, but overall I wasn't doing much complaining.

Well, now ... now is a completely different story. They can see something on the counter and set their minds to it. Or, just think about a food and want it -- and nothing else.



And, the food throwing. That was really bad when they were just starting table foods, right?

Nah, try having two toddlers throw -- in anger -- their plates that are full of foods. At once.

But, this snowballing effect works in the other direction, too -- the good stuff. Their first kisses were basically lips or tongue put on our cheeks once in a while. Now, they are clear, full-blown puckered lips with popping smacks again and again -- when they want to, that is.

Those are what I hope and pray will start our day. And, end them, too. When that happens, the middle part gets kinda blurry.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do you believe?

Part I

You’ve felt those moments before, right? The kind when you swear that you’ve done exactly that same thing before -- or, at least, dreamed of it. Or, you’ve been to a place that seems oddly familiar, but it’s some place you’ve technically never been before?

The idea of reincarnation is intriguing to me. Just how much of ourselves is from a past life? Who am I destined to meet again?

These are all great topics that are explored in author M.J. Rose’s new thriller, “The Reincarnationist.”

I volunteered to read this as my first official MotherTalk book review because I am open to seeking and wondering, because I do not know the answers to how we got here on this earth or where we are going when we leave it. Because, perhaps, this is the only matter for which I am comfortable with uncertainty.

And, I chose to review Rose's ninth novel because I like free books, which is exactly how I got this book. (Disclaimer)

If you like books like the "Da Vinci Code" then this is a must-read for you. It mixes modern day moments with flashbacks to ancient Rome. The book centers around Josh, a photo journalist, who begins having flashbacks after a terrorist bomb explosion and who decides to uncover the mysterious life he feels he has already lived.

For more information about why Rose chose this novel idea, go here.

It’s a fascinating page-turner that is written well (despite many annoying typos) and thought-provoking ideas as it delves into pre-Christian Italy and the idea of memory stones that possibly incite past-life regressions. All of this, of course, leads to a plot line that challenges the church.

“Josh had read that even past-life experiences that seemed spontaneous were precipitated or triggered by encountering a person, a situation, a sensory experience such as a particular smell or sound or taste that had some connection to a previous incarnation.

Yeah. Yes.

This book got me wondering if I chose it or if it chose me …

Part II

If there was a turning point in my life, it was on Level Two of Linthicum Hall, where I studied classic literature for four years as an English major with a strong focus on Women’s Issues.

Despite my enjoyment of reading, I wasn’t a literature enthusiast until those college years when books like, “A Room of One’s own,” and “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf, “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison and “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston, graced my life and changed it forever.

These are not books easily forgotten.

Until these books, I had been a lost soul, a wanderer who didn’t know what I was doing or where I was headed.

But, these books and many more, saved me. They whispered sweet nothings in my ears over and over and over.

For the sake of digging further, I chose one of the above authors to study for an entire semester. I went between the acts with her. I voyaged across miles to think like she thought, to try and mimic her stream of consciousness writing style. I remembered her words, line by line, and wrote essays upon essays.

I was so moved, in fact, that I wrote a piece of fiction for my short story class that weaved her fictional characters together with her real life. It was written in just a few hours, in my college apartment, smoking cigarettes and when it was over it was the most surreal moment of my life. I couldn’t believe my imagination had flowed into something so beautiful, so poetic and so freaking weird.

Fast forward a few years, you might have heard about a little old book and film that did the same thing: The Hours. (I spent the first half hour of this movie sobbing, by the way).

The day I moved out of that college apartment, just a day or two after graduating, I drove to the end of our road and noticed for the first time that the name of my street had been the exact name of my favorite author’s printing press business: Hogarth. I had been living on Hogarth Street.

I was stunned. I froze, unable to drive for a few minutes. I just stared at the sign.

And, smiled.

All these years, and her books still have a shelf of their own. I don’t read them, but I idolize them, I cherish them, I would never in a million years part with them. When I find one I don't own, I scoop it up.

Just writing this story brings chills over my body, yet it is the most comforting feeling in the world. Like being at peace.

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

Virginia Woolf,
A Room of One’s Own
, 1929

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Happy. Joy Joy.

MPJ is hosting a group writing project, inspired by my first one held earlier this month, and so I must participate. Besides, it's a nice topic: write about your happy place.

Two years ago my happy places had many of the same elements: libations that either contained grapes and alcohol or java and caffeine. It probably meant dropping a nice chunk of change. Consuming and wasting, eating and drinking without cares, without worries, without responsibility.

That was then.

My happy place is much different now, and I don't feel it often anymore. Not since becoming a mother.

Please don't misconstrue my words: I am happy much of the time, but always with a heaviness of stress or anxiety or worries or doubts.

Motherhood has been very hard for me; harder than I thought it would be. And, so my happy place is a feeling; I associate it with feeling no pain, no worries, no hardship, no struggling, no setbacks, no heartbreak.

Just bliss, fleeting as that moment may be. In fact, it lasts only seconds, at least when I've experienced it.

I'm sure I experienced it before being a mom, but I didn't know then to relish it like I do now.

The last time I felt this bliss was about a month ago. My in-laws invited us over for dinner. They live only 10 minutes away, but we do not see them more than once a month. The time of day was perfect for our schedule so there was no rushing around, and unlike most of our family events, it was just us. No other relatives to vie for the last piece of bread.

There was a ton of great, home-cooked food and plenty of it. There was wine -- and coffee -- and iced cold water in between. There was lovely cinnamon bread, and dessert. There was someone to bring me my food, someone to clean the dishes afterward and adult conversation in between. I still had to lean down to pick up food that had been dropped; but it wasn't dropped on purpose like it usually is at home.

The dinner was wonderful and toward the end, as my belly felt full and my tension relaxed, I felt a moment of bliss.

I felt, for one of the very few times since becoming a mom, truly nurtured and taken care of. That dinner, in all of its forms, took so many of my worries away. Nothing else mattered, but us. The house that needed cleaned, the now dusty-looking for sale sign sitting unmoved, the cluttered counters, the insurmountable piles of clutter in the storage room ... it was all sent out in one big breath to the universe.

So, that's my happy place. It can happen when I least expect it, though it is extremely rare. It can happen anywhere, and most of the time I don't know it will happen until I'm in the moment, and suddenly catch myself smiling for no reason, for every reason.

Sure, the euphoric state of bliss is fleeting.

I'm fine with that as long as it returns to me again and again.

URGENT: LTMD Reader Poll

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's the simple things

I am officially live blogging from my bedroom. A wireless router has been successfully installed by yours truly and my ability to roam about the house - except to the first floor (minor glitch)feels like soaring through the sky with open wings. Aahh! Freedom rings!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Winterizing for toddlers

Fall is definitely here, despite some oddly warm temperatures, again.

And all the moms and dads who are at home full-time that I know are starting to worry about what it will be like stuck at home in the winter with energetic toddlers.

I, personally, love rainy days that force me to stay inside instead of venturing into the great outdoors – now and then.

Still, a part of me is wondering what the heck we will do with all of our time, especially now that my girls only sleep once a day.

But, fear not, because I have plenty of indoor activities for toddlers on my brain. I checked out a couple books from the library. I’m gathering craft materials, reading blog posts and collecting ideas. And, just like I used to do when I first started this blog, I'll report on how well they went. Or, not.

I’ve cleaned out the storage room next to my office and created a second play and craft room so that I might be able to get a few words typed each day.

Basically, I’m digesting all the information I can to be ready for our great hibernation.

I’m looking forward to the challenge.

But, when spring arrives, I’ll be ready to dive into many, many, many hours outside.

Mamablogga had a great post on this topic a while back. And, on my other blog -- the one none of you know about -- I talk about this topic a lot. (And, if you want access to that "other" blog of mine, send me an email and I'll send you the link.)

How about we share a few more ideas here in the comments section?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cat call memo circulating. Did you get it?

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

I might as well tell you now that as a woman you will have to get used to certain things. One of those things is feeling like a piece of meat, feeling like eyes are on your bodies at all times.

From the time I went through puberty, I've experienced more than my share of cat calls, whistles and comments. I could blame it on my voluptuousness, but I have a feeling that it has more to do with desperate men needing to express themselves. Why women don't shout out at hot guys when they get the urge is beyond me. Do we not possess that Call of the Wild mentality?

Because we live in a small, poor community, even I, your prized candidate for What Not to Wear, get comments like, "Hey, you're pretty" from a passerby (who's been smoking a little too much of something, clearly). I feel embarrassed for the men who shout these things. It's like they didn't get the memo (aka graffiti down the street) that this kind of treatment of women isn't proper anymore, that women don't really buy this kind of sexist attention. That studies show that 9 out of 10 men who cat call end up going home alone and eating bon bons while watching that show, Desperate Perverts.

I've never dated a guy who yelled at me from across Main Street or winked at me from a drug-induced daze. Heck, I've never even dated somebody I didn't have at least one all-night conversation with.

But, I digress. I need to tell you about today's stranger we know and how he fits into my lesson for you about being walking prey.

There's a guy I kindly refer to as Mr. Gross. He's unsightly, he's dirty and he's eager to flirt with any woman with legs (or not). He's commonly greeted me with "Hey sexy" or "Hey pretty Mama." I kindly try to avoid him like the plague.

We encountered Mr. Gross today while walking just before lunch. I was guarded as we walked together despite my every effort to stop at least three times to find out what is wrong with your mouth Jadyn (nothing) -- hoping that he had some place to be and would just keep walking. No such luck.

"Everything OK?" he asked.

He lingered, he stalled, he waited. He gripped the can in the brown paper bag he was holding in his right hand.

I had no choice but to indulge the conversation. Little did I know that I would stumble upon a blog post while walking the span of just one block.

I smiled as I do with all the strangers we know and said all was just fine.
"You've got your hands full," he said.
"Yeah," I nod, not making eye contact.
"They both yours?"
"Yes, they're mine."
"What's their age difference?" he asked, pointing between them.
"Um, their twins."
"Oh, oh, yeah, right."
"Um, no, girls," I said, glancing at their pink and yellow shirts.
"Oh, my bad, my bad. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
"You dress them alike?
"No, just similarly."
"Oh, right ... I see. One's wearing gray. One black."
"So, um, what were they born like a week apart?"
"Um, no, same day."
"Oh, right."
"So, they're what, two weeks, no, I mean, two months, no, wait, yeah, two months?"
"They're almost 2 years old," I said, staring him in the eyes.

Then he began telling me a delightful, slurred story about someone he knows with twin boys with blonde hair who are also 2 and ...

Then we came to an intersection in our conversation and I was able to, oops this is our turn, cross the street with intention, even though it was intentionally a half block sooner than I normally would have turned.

He walked on, glancing back and glancing back some more.

You see, girls, he was harmless. Annoying, yes. Not very smart, yes. Drunk, yes.

But harmless.

Perhaps I've been wrong about Mr. Gross. Perhaps he did get the memo after all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Taking the boo out of Halloween

Dear sweet girls,

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina walloped New Orleans and surrounding towns and states. At the time, you were both fighting and kicking for space in my belly then so you won’t remember that. (Gosh, not much has changed now that I think about it.)

But, I do remember those days as the news grew more grim. I remember crying. The devastation was awful.

My sadness, though, had to do with the faces. The sad and angry faces of thousands of black grandmothers, moms, dads and all of their children haunted me as I sat in the comfort of my home. To think that days went by and those people were stranded with no food, no drinks, no hope of anything. Their homes were swept away; their lives changed forever.

And I cried because I couldn’t believe that I was bringing two more people into this crazy, over-crowded country that, in my mind, had already been shameful to so many in the world.

Then, I realized something; that I was growing two strong, beautiful and independent women who could change all of this. That thought is what guides me and Da! every day.

This does not mean I am not scared for you.

Our great country that professes freedom for all scares me. That The Today show can now monopolize the entire morning with its “pretend” news scares me. That Top News is about what the presidential – no, make that Presidential – candidates are wearing, not how they plan to get our country out of the global embarrassing mess that it has become.

That more than 3,800 young men and women – all of whom turned to the military as a way to become successful – have died for a war that no one even knows why we’re fighting in the first place. That Afghanistan is left floundering, that Osama Bin Laden is still conveniently MIA.

That 83 percent of the children attending schools in our city live in poverty and that that problem is all over the country and it is being ignored. IGNORED.

That the War on Drugs was never a war we intended to win and that it is still plaguing our communities, our families every. Single. Effin. Day.

That I find that my car has been rummaged through – probably by an addict – early in the morning while dew is still fresh on the window before yoga class. That that is something I no longer fear scares me. That I feel sorry for the addict because life is so hard and so painful and he needed the fix, the money, but he only got enough change to park his car – or bike -- for a half hour at a meter.

That anyone could be so desperate to choose our car, our home, to try and make a quick buck when we can barely afford groceries half the month.

That our street is littered with young women prostituting themselves for that same desperate need for drugs. That some days I’m walking you – my sweet, innocent daughters -- behind them as they flirtatiously wave at possible suitors. That they don’t see the ruin they are causing themselves and the rest of womankind.

All of these things, and much more, scare me.

But, do you know what scares me more than all of this … that some of my fellow American women, after more than 200 years of white men being in power, could be more skeptical of a qualified woman as president than a man.

This post was written for Scribbit's October Write-Away Contest.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Like watching water boil

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

You turn 21 months today and it's been a rough week. Colds set in and that always means Yakkity Yak for Liana. That upset you greatly and you felt the need to stay up all night and cry about it. So we had to, too.

There have been some rough patches over all, too. Tantrums before breakfast, Jadyn bopping Liana over the head with a toy the SECOND I leave the room. My inability to do anything, but sit and play on the floor with you.

You will turn 2 soon and I love your increasing awareness of the world around you, your ability to put it all into words: preeasz, thister, jay jay and na na.

I like showing you the world, too. You've been happy to see those huge blow-up yard decorations for the holidays. I was at a loss for words when you kept pointing to the deathly skeleton whose eyes were burning red.

"That's scary," I told you.

Between 10 months and 18 months I could barely keep up with your growth. Between learning to crawl then walk, learning to jabber then talk, learning to sign then learning to sing.

But, the last month or two has been different. You're clearly still learning, but everything has slowed down. Jadyn, when it's time to go out the door in a hurry, you. move. very. slowly. on. purpose.

At times I feel like my only mission in life is to sit around and wait for both of you to catch up, like watching water boil. I thought we could play with play-doh without eating it by now. I thought we could sort blocks by color by now without the two of you just wanting to scatter them all fiercely. I thought you would be thrilled by my ability to build high towers with tunnels underneath for your cars.

You are not -- at least not for more than three seconds.

And yet .... I'm overwhelmingly happy to just sit and wait and watch with you. I'm happy to push your too-long hair out of your eyes and mouths. I'm happy to brush the crumbs off your pants, the dirt out of your skirt. I'm happy to lay with you when you desperately need to be cuddled.

Perhaps it's because the best part of 21 months is the ringing of this in my ears:

"Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama."

This post was written for MamaBlogga's October Writing Project. Please join in.

Arm chair money for moms

Here are my Top 5 ways stay-at-home moms (or working moms) can earn extra cash. These take a little effort, but it's really helped with making ends meet -- like when you have to buy two pair of shoes for some cute toddlers I know.

1. eBay -- Yup, you've read it before, but have you tried it? Look through everything you have and list it. I sold some leftover special baby formula from almost a year ago online and made $100. When I know we'll need some extra money again, I have at least two more things to list in that range, including the old co-sleeper that hardly got used thanks to my failure to be able to breastfeed. (don't want to open up that can of worms, again.) And, for those large, more bulky items, try Craigslist in your local area. I sold an old poker table a couple months ago, and am now about to sell an old ceiling fan as well. And, I don't have to leave my house because buyers pick up the items.

2. Teach: OK, you have to leave your chair for this one, but much of the work can be done in your office chair. I'm teaching a very basic writing class right now two hours a week. But, if you are good at photography, beading, sewing or knitting -- or whatever -- you can easily find a community education program to teach through near your house. There are many where we live through our city, neighboring school districts and through the local community colleges. To make it even more interesting, you could gear a class to fit your old profession so you feel like you are still in the game. It tweaks the old mind, too. Plus, you get to leave the house and talk to adults once a week!

3. Write essays: There are numerous sites online these days who are buying people's essays. Uncommon Ties is one, but there are many, many more. If you are interested in learning about these, e-mail me. I will be getting a list together in the next couple weeks.

4. Sell books and CDs: This will not make you rich, but it can deepen your pay pal pocketbook, if you have one, which you will if you sell on eBay. It's also a great way to get rid of things, but you have to be very, very patient. A book I listed on months ago just sold for .75 cents, plus shipping. I might make a dollar. Not much, and maybe not worth the hassle for Da! to have to mail it, but it's at least leaving the house. Plus, one down and nine more to go for a great, cheap bottle of wine!

5. Complain: This is something I do not do very much but when a can of green beans -- the only kind my girls will eat -- turned out to taste more like a gallon of salt, I had no choice. I called to complain. Duh. Now I'll get some coupons in the mail. Every time I've ever called a company with the slightest comment or complaint I've gotten coupons in the mail. What do you say? Worth trying? I say yes. I'm going to start calling one company a week that I really use a lot. That said, there are also lots of online promotions where you can print out coupons for the things you love.

Number six should be blogging, but I am not making nearly enough in ad revenue to exploit that option. When I do, though, I'll be sure to share.

How about you? Do you have any great ways to make some extra money? Please share.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What is motherhood?

Is it a job or a relationship?

Karen is asking this on her blog, Cheerio Road, and delving into it full-throttle this week.

Interesting topic that has me thinking. I've always said motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. I say this haphazardly probably because all I've ever known my whole life is work. Americans gauge everyone by how hard they work, or how much they don't, or whose work is better, harder, easier, and how much money we make doing said work.

Therefore, to explain my existence as a stay-at-home mom, I say it's a hard job.

But, it's also a relationship -- one that I never want to live without. It's hard for me to view mothering as a relationship right now because I'm still in the trenches, so to speak, of active, physical labor (which is more like a job). I still have to lift and carry them often, I still have to feed them frequently and they rely on me for all of the basic needs in life in order to exist.

I'd like to see it turn into a relationship where we listen to each other, challenge each other and support each other as best friends do. I might be dreaming.

Mostly, though, I think mothering is a lifestyle. You live it. You breathe it. You are consumed by it every single day. There is no escaping it. There is no leaving it. The responsibility is utterly unbelievable. There are no breaks, no time outs, no days off and no moments of silence.

The other day Da! and I attended church service together. It's the second time in 21 months (and longer) that we've done that. Leaving the girls in the nursery was shocking to me. I felt naked, much like forgetting a wedding ring but a million times worse. The entire hour-long service left me feeling fidgety. I could almost reach out and grab the string that goes from my heart to theirs.

That string, wound tightly, led out the double doors, wrapped around the staircase and traveled down into the basement, where Jadyn and Liana played.

Perhaps I knew that one of them had been crying off and on since we left. Perhaps I just don't know how to be anything else anymore.

I could try all day to be something else -- a worker, a community resident, a congregation member, a wife, a writer ... but, in the end, all I am now -- and all I want to be -- is a mother.

It's my life. And, despite all the years I wasn't a mom, it is all that I know now.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just call me a Blomifer

Forget calling me a blogger. Don't call me a mom. Don't even utter the word writer. Put an end to saying the word wife.

I'm a Blomifer. You read it right.

Everywhere I turn these days, television and radio ads are combining words to create new words. I figured I'd jump in on that action before the rest of the world beats me to it.

Here are some new words related to being a Blomifer. Some have called this a mlogger, but I'm not feeling it.

1. Blogositting -- Caring for my children while composing a blog post in my head.
2. Telejumping -- Activity of letting toddlers jump on couch cushions while we watch television.
3. Phonerfending -- Preventing a toddler from pushing the buttons on a phone while she should be talking with a relative.
4. Fauxcartershopping -- Pretending to look for something very urgent in big box hardware store when really I'm just desperate to entertain two toddlers before dinner and the great big car carts seem to work wonders.
5. Yawnseytiming -- The act of yawning 100 times while drowsily reading a bedtime story. My mother was a big yawnseytimer, and now I totally understand why. God, I know why.

How about dropping some of your family's new words into the comments here? I'll edit this list later in the week to include yours.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Someday I will ...

Someday, I will tell my girls about their grandfather, the one they will never meet, the one they will never share a meal with, the one I do not know. I will tell them that I grew up without a father. I will have to explain to them that some girls do not have daddies like the one who tucks them into bed every night. It won't matter to them that their grandfather lives hundreds of miles away, that he has only seen me once in the last 25 years or that he has another child of his own that he sees every day. None of that will matter. Someday, I will sit down and explain to my daughters that life is a zippy, curvy, crazy place and we just do not know where any of us will end up, or with whom. But, what matters ... what really matters is that they have me and their father forever and ever. They could move a trillion miles away, and I will follow. I brought them into this world, and that means I'm here for them until the end of time. (Or, at least until The Da! and I scrape together enough pennies to buy that little cabana-like mansion on Grand Cayman.)

Want to read more "Someday, I will" entries? Great! Follow me. Those submitted today will be added this afternoon.

You might first start off with Karen at Cheerio Road who delightfully sends wise words our way about the ever-so-important topic these days of happiness.

Then, slowly work your way over to Bella's entry at Beyond the Map. Not only does her writing mesmerize you, she'll tuck you in for a really cozy nap.

For some inspiration for building your 100 Things to do before you die list, check out Lesley's entry about what she'd like to do someday at her site Barr Babies.

Don't forget to check out a couple newbie commenters around here: Butterfly Girl at Found a Peanut or Two tells a compelling story to her premature twins and Laura will make you laugh with a newly created mechanism to ward off arguments with her husband.

In the Fast Lane writes about a longtime dream of hers that her husband just isn't buying into, yet.

Check out The Twinkies to read Stacie's post about dreams mixing with the reality of caring for twins. In one sentence, she writes, "I’m trying to let go of the illusion that if I just try a little harder I could be irreproachably perfect."

My dear blogging friend Shannon overcame her deadline phobia to write an entry, but not just any entry. She's got a beginning, a middle and an end that will leaving your heart racing.

Late to the game, but certainly proud to have her along for the ride ... read Jen's fabulous post on her blog The Road Less Traveled. I'm sure you'll relate. We all can.

Finally, go to the Zen of Motherhood and read lovely short that takes us back to Cheerio Road.

My deep appreciation to all of you who participated in this very first group writing project. It was fun hosting it!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who have I become?

The question that keeps baffling my my mind these days is who have I become? I'm different in so many senses of the word now that I'm a mom. I have clarity. I see things in order -- in black and white. I'm less worried about the middle, the gray. I know exactly what I need on my shelves and what I do not.

Like an x-ray, I can see exactly what's inside me -- the good, and the bad. In one fell swoop I can honestly say my patience is good, and yet my temper is bad.

Yet, the me I've become is so much more than all of that. I'm evolving. I'm a woman on a mission every single day. Don't get in my way. If you don't smile at me when I'm walking, pffft. I no longer care.

I don't live and breathe for what others think anymore. I'm offended by people who work too much, and spend little time with their children.

I can see now that I've made mistakes, that I've pushed for things that were bad decisions, and that now it's time to right the wrongs.

I used to think it was funny that people walked past my house and used profanity every other word. Now, I want to hurt them for taking away my right to teach my daughters bad words.

I used to think that our neighborhood was perfect because of its crazy social dimensions, and now it's those same dimensions that I detest.

I used to care more about the news, the media, quality journalism than anything on the planet. I worked 10-hour days just like The Da! Now, I can't keep up with the headlines, and think it's a sign of our times that journalists sit around creating stories designed to make us less afraid of things we shouldn't even be afraid of in the first place -- like bed bugs. I mean us -- moms like me, and you.

The core of me is still the same. I'm still a liberal everything, a bleeding heart. But, I'm conservative now, too. By that, I mean, I'm strict with my time -- what I read, who I converse with, where I spend my money and how I spend my evenings and weekends.

I'm different.

I'm a mom now.