…This Is Lighthearted! Um, Kind Of (Ahem Cheating)


Drinking In College: Guys vs. Girls

Because yes indeed, alcohol has a TON to do with those “gray area” rape cases in which women don’t feel comfortable coming forward, or feel they have no proof of actual assault.  Women try to teach/lecture each other all the time about being safe at parties, bars, on the street… ALWAYS.  But maybe men need to teach each other about being careful when they’re drinking too.  Cuz clearly there’s either a) a lot more actual awful, criminal, serial rapists out there than we’d like to think, or b) there is indeed a problem with a culture that encourages and promotes taking advantage of women physically when they’re drunk and leads to men having a very unclear concept of what sexual consent means- one that apparently becomes increasingly more unclear the drunker they are.

And do let me also address that drinking too much just in general leads, for the vast majority of people, to making progressively stupider/more destructive decisions.  So, you know… I also for sure plan to talk to my kids about not abusing alcohol, I promise.  Like, we’ll probably talk WAAAY more about that than rape!  Just so we’re clear. :)

Another Kind of Talk

I know- another sort of boring and sort of serious post.  I’m a ray of freakin’ sunshine!  Seriously though, I’m sure that a chatty, funny and lighthearted post is on its way soon guys, have heart.  But read this first.  Humor me.

Something else besides plain ole sex which I/we will need to talk to our kids about in the somewhat near future is rape and rape culture.  These talks can- and should- certainly happen during talks about sex in general, but the topic is one I specifically want to take pains to discuss, and I want to have these discussions with both my boys and girls at the same time so that they understand that rape IS EVERYONE’S PROBLEM.  Swistle wrote a wonderful and thoughtful post about this which linked to this article called A Gentleman’s Guide To Rape Culture and I just loved it, so I thought I’d pass it along here too.  I wish every high school kid in this country had to sit and read this and then maybe write an essay reflecting upon it before he or she was allowed to graduate.  I hope you’ll read it, that’s for sure, and maybe reflect on it in the comments!

All right, as you were.  Back to your weekend.  Something fun and breezy next time, I promise!

The Talk

So with at least one child getting to the age of asking questions about sex that require more detailed answers than “Boys have penises and girls have vaginas,” I have been thinking a LOT about how to go into these discussions.  Saw this article recently and thought it had a lot of important things to say.  I’d love to discuss it with anyone who feels like commenting.

Sex Positive Parenting

Ta Da!

Well, here I am in all my inked glory…


Also with some lovely bra strap lines on top and weird Ergo baby carrier strap lines around my waist! Ha.  My friend Jess took this picture for me after a hot, sweaty walk around the park with the kids, so, you’ll have it.

I had the initials and birth dates start in order from the bottom and work their way up the tree since trees grow… you know, UP…  even though my tattoo artist had it the other way around originally.  Other than that, and choosing the font of the letters, this is pretty much all his own design.  The shading on the tree looks amazing up close- we spent lots of time looking at different branches, believe it or not, and selecting which type of wood I preferred!  And I love all the little details at the base of the tree- we actually walked around his yard and chose them out of the landscaping while sipping wine!  A very fun experience.  Getting all those details imprinted on my flesh: not so fun. Ha.

(Sidenote: I feel weird saying this because: My body!  No apologies! etc.  But I’d like to mention, due to my OWN reaction when I saw this picture, that my ribs really do not stick out nearly as much as it looks like they do here.  I was lifting my bra up and holding my arm over my head so you could see the tattoo, so I’m all stretched out, and… yeah.  I have lost a little weight, yes, but I’m really not wasting away.  TRUST me.)

Newsy Update

Oh my gosh, I have not given up blogging, I promise.  This summer has just been very distracting, for reasons not bad but still not blog-able.  I’m actually having a great summer, mainly since I, like Swistle, set the bar veeery low in terms of expectations this year.  As long as we have food in the cupboards, clean dishes to eat the food on, and clean underwear in everyone’s drawers, I consider it winning.

So here’s a very cursory update on the summer so far: I’ve read a ton of great books, the kids have done several fun day camps this year, we took a week long trip to the beach on Lake Huron, and our sweet old dog finally passed away after a long (generally) happy life with us.  He was only really unwell for a day or two before he died, but unfortunately this all happened while we were gone on vacation, so my kind brother in law and neighbors were the ones with him when he passed away.  I am so grateful to them for taking care of such an unpleasant issue with such delicacy.  And I still feel really sad that we weren’t there to pet and talk to him.  That part was the hardest to get over, really.  He was fourteen years old and a very big dog, so frankly we (and the vet) were amazed he had lived this long.  And I’m really thankful he was never very sick or suffering much, that we knew of.  Just wish I could have been there to tell him thank you for being such a sweet, patient dog.

In other news, I got… a tattoo!  A pretty huge one actually.  I’ve been planning to get one for the kids basically ever since I had Adelay, but always in this vague, nonspecific way.  I just knew at some point I wanted to get one. Then a month or so ago, in a wine bar, Jim and I ran into an old friend from years ago who is a very good tattoo artist.  It felt like fate- Talia is two now and I am still totally sure I am done having kids, I’ve actually lost all the baby weight and then some, finally, so my body is in good shape to get one, and now here was this guy back in town, ready to help me design the perfect tattoo.  And we did!

It’s a family tree type thing, on the left side of my waist, from the top of my ribs all the way onto my hip (bonus: we designed it so all my stretch marks on that hip are covered!)  It has all the kids’ initials and birthdates, and the Greek word storge (which is a word that I found in the novel The Hungry Season this summer, describing familial love, or “love that is a gift,” between parents and children) going up the trunk of the tree.  It took seven hours total to do it, and wow, it hurt.  Like, way more than I realized it would going into it, even though everyone warned me it was a hard place to get one.  Partly it was the location on my body, partly it was just how long it took, and partly it’s that every pain coping technique I generally use (position change, deep breathing) is useless while getting tattooed on your waist- you can’t move, and you aren’t supposed to breathe while they’re doing the lines, just in between.  But it was totally worth it, and I LOVE it so so much.  It’s so unique and special to me.  I will post a picture of it soon, but I don’t have a good one yet and it’s not a hundred percent healed.  Most of it is, but I had to go for a second session to get it finished so that’s part’s a bit raw still.

All right then!  I feel caught up with you all a bit.  I will try to be better about posting.  I promise I haven’t forgotten about my poor lil blog wasting away out here.  I’m sure when the winter depression hits and I’m holed up watching Downton Abbey reruns and eating my feelings I’ll be checking in waaay more often again!

Full Frontal

It’s always been a running joke among my family and friends that I’m the “naked” one.  I was always the sister who could never remember where she left her bathrobe and who ran in various states of undress from shower to bedroom to bathroom and back again, in search of various beauty products but not in any rush to put on a bra or pants.  I just feel clothes are overrated.  I’ve never had an innate sense of modesty I guess, in the context of my body.  I wouldn’t say I’m attention seeking with my body, and I’m really really not an exhibitionist, but I’ve never felt like there was anything embarrassing or even inherently sexual about nudity in and of itself.  It’s just a body, y’all.  I know I’m in the minority, and Lord knows I was actually raised to be more “modest” physically, but for some reason it just never took with me.

I got to thinking about all this because I read this article in the Huffington Post today about nudity among women and just loved it.  It’s pretty short, so if you have a minute I really recommend it.  I’ve said it before, but the disparity in the comfort level with one’s own body between men and women (in general!) in our culture is something that has always irritated me.  We all have parts of ourselves we dislike, even the thinnest or tannest or biggest breasted of us, oh yes, and we all probably have quirky little things we secretly love about ourselves too.  But end of the day, we’re made of the same basic stuff.  Everyone feels like their bodies hide these deep dark secrets and I’m here to tell you it isn’t so- you are flesh and blood and skin and hair and cellulite and genitals, just like the rest of us.  No surprises.

“…real women have bumps and lumps, cellulite in places you didn’t even know you could have cellulite, scars, tattoos, and funny-shaped breasts and areolas. Skinny girls can have flabby tummies, and fat women can be gorgeous. I would say that nudity is the great equalizer, except it’s actually the opposite: nudity reveals how immensely varied we are. And it also demonstrates how grossly manipulated we’ve been when it comes to seeing our own bodies.”

I love that: nudity is the great equalizer.  It is so comforting to look around, on a nude beach, for instance, or in a spa like the one she talks about, and confirm that yes indeed, here we all are, bodies in all shapes and sizes, colors, etc, a myriad of differences but the same basic parts- some beautiful, some funny, some bumpy, some hairy.  And then move on.  Because we’re really just all here to feel the sun or the water on our skin and not mess with wet Lycra.  That is the point of it all, to sprawl out luxuriously like a cat.  A cat who doesn’t give two craps if they have saggy boobs thanks to their big ole litter of kittens.

But that’s not to say we have to unilaterally celebrate every little thing about ourselves.  I’m all for being a realist, looking at things frankly.  Very few of us have bodies that are universally appealing or which entirely meet even our own standards of aesthetic beauty, and I think that’s ok to say.  One doesn’t have to celebrate their stretch marks or fat dimples anymore than one should feel reduced by their presence.  It’s all right to just accept the reality that they are there, and that we would change them if we could, but we can’t, or don’t want to do what might be required to change them.  That’s such a gasp-inducing thing to say out loud in our society: “Yes, I have a fat roll.  No, it doesn’t bother me enough to spend my free time fighting it.  And it’s my body, so that’s my decision.”

Ex: my least favorite body parts are my thighs and my jawline.  This is pretty well known.  Even when I’ve been my personal adult thinnest, I still had unusually round, thick thighs and kind of a double chin thing going on.  I’ve come a long way in terms of acceptance of these body parts, but they are not things I personally find attractive about myself.  If I were drawing myself, I’d erase those and start over.  But here we are.  I could get plastic surgery for the chin (no,) or diet hardcore for the thighs, but even then I doubt they’d look quite like what I see as a beautiful set of legs.  And it would be a lot of effort, and I don’t get paid to be beautiful or thin, so I don’t care enough to work that hard.  There, I said it.  I own it.

My favorite feature is my lips.  Definitely.  And here’s something kind of funny- my favorite body part is my collarbone.  I have always thought I had a nice collarbone area, and if you know me irl you know I tend to wear shirts on the lower-cut side.  This is not a desire to constantly flash what little cleavage I possess, but simply a natural inclination, when purchasing clothes, to choose things I think highlight my assets.

I used to dislike a lot of things about my face, if I’m honest.  My body I was mostly ok with (thighs aside!) but I could pick my face APART, man.  The jawline thing, which still annoys me.  My round cheeks.  My hair texture.  Bump in my nose.  I wore makeup to try to hide and disguise things, not to accentuate them.  I have come a long way from that person, thankfully- I have finally found a haircut I love and which I think suits me, and now I like my hair!  Never thought that would happen.  I have made peace with my nose, and no longer try to “contour” it with bronzer (insert giant eyeroll here, I know.)  And even the round, chubby cheeks I am starting to view as an interesting, distinguishing feature now.  While we were on vacation a month ago, this lovely older woman who sold me coffee said to me haltingly, after taking my order, “I just… I just love your face!”  English was obviously not her first language and she gestured for a second as she searched for a word.  “It’s just so… soft.”

I kid you not, I will probably remember that compliment til the day I die, it meant that much to me.  A stranger observed my soft, chubby cheeks and found them lovable!  This made me want to cry with gratitude.  And cry for myself, that I am almost thirty years old and needed the kindness of a stranger to help me love my own face.

I’m really curious today to hear from you all- what are your feelings about your own naked body, about the face in the mirror?  Would you ever go to a nude beach, take nude photos, or go to the type of spa the author of the article above describes?  Do you think you view others’ bodies and faces the same way as you do your own? What are your favorite and least favorite body parts or facial features, and why?




Trailing Wisps of Glory

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
(Edit: So sorry about the formatting.  Word Press is once again randomly refusing to allow double spaced paragraphs… WHY?)
I haven’t posted in so long, but when I heard today that Maya Angelou has died, I felt like it was time to write again.  Lots of authors have touched me, lots of poets, lots of women.  But I felt that Maya was so unique because she dealt with truly heavy, dark topics in her writing (just as she had to in her own life) and was nonetheless one of the most determinedly, unabashedly optimistic voices I have ever read.  I also felt she was gifted in her ability to deal very specifically with race issues and yet in her wisdom and her attitude, transcend race altogether.  She was a truly empathetic and wise human being.  Every time I saw a picture of her I wished (this is weird, but I’ll say it) that she could give me a hug.  I feel like she was probably a great hugger.
Maya was, in no particular order, a poet, a prostitute, an author, a fry cook, a dancer, a civil rights activist, a producer, and an actress.  She is a great example of how to learn from the past and take those lessons forward without dragging the baggage and shame along, too.
One of the best gifts I was given when I graduated was a journal, from my Mom, with Maya Angelou quotes on every page.  I still haven’t filled it fully, but I use it to write down all kinds of things that inspire me.  Some of my favorites, though, are the ones that were already on the pages.
This is my life.
It is my one time to be me.
I want to experience
every good thing.
Each of us has the right and responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve, and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction.
If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.
We need art to live fully and to grow healthily.  Without art, we are dry husks drifting aimlessly on every ill wind; our fortunes are without promise, and our present without grace.
Everything has rhythm.  Everything dances.
Love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
Love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides.
Each of us is created of it,
and I suspect
each of us was created for it.
The Art of Living Well
Take great pleasure
in small offerings.
Believe that the world
owes you nothing.
Understand that every gift
given to you
is exactly that.
Realize that people who
differ from you
can be founts of fun.
I will write upon the pages of history what I want them to say. I will be myself. I will speak my own name.
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.
While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
That last one is something I try to keep in mind whenever I do doula work.  I may not remember every massage technique I ever learned or the exhaustive list of potential side effects from a certain pain medication, but if I can help a woman feel safe and empowered, well, that’s not a small thing.
Maya’s last tweet was five days ago (yes, an eighty six year with a twitter account- she was a woman who knew how to adapt gracefully) and it’s so simple and touching.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
Goodbye, Maya.  I hope you passed peacefully.  Thank you for all that you left behind.

Family Creed

Eight plus years into this parenting gig, I am now convinced that my kids’ unofficial motto is “Never EVER pass up the opportunity to have a bowel movement in a horrifyingly dirty public restroom.”  Their dedication to this credo is impressive.

Their OFFICIAL motto is yet to be released, but I’d guess it has something to do with breaking my spirit and goes along the lines of, “United we push her over the edge, divided we only make her another crabby wino.”

The Best Mommy Ever

I remember Swistle or somebody talking once about what we perceive to be our biggest parenting weakness, and she and many others cited short temper as their own.  For myself it has almost always been selfishness with my time, or at least that’s what I thought.  But I think I may have switched camps somewhere along the lines without realizing it, because I just threw a temper tantrum to rival any of the kids (though I didn’t throw anything and I didn’t tell anyone I hated them, so they still win.)

It was a Perfect Storm, it really was- I still have a cold, and Talia’s had a cold all week and been very clingy, grouchy (could have something to do with that head injury! haha!) and also sleeping poorly due to the new bed sitch.  So that sucked, and since she was requiring so much Lap Time during the day, and not napping, the house was unusually gross going into the weekend which just automatically makes me crabby anyways.  I am left with the choice to either a) knock myself out doing a week’s worth of scrubbing in two days, leaving me kind of manic and exhausted but also mentally soothed by The Clean, or b) scratch the chores and try again next week, leaving me somewhat relieved but mostly agitated because mess makes my brain hurt.

Also, Adelay had soccer tournaments in Cincinnati Saturday, so I was at home all day with the three little kids while Jim coached.  I tried really hard to make sure we had a fun day- took them to lunch, then took them to the coffee shop for smoothies (where one employee noted to me, apropos of my boys clambering around putting on the show called This Is Why You Can’t Take Us Anywhere, that he’s getting more and more sure he doesn’t want kids) and then we went to the park AND the playground.  But after all that, do you think anyone was happy or content or grateful?  Nope.  In fact the whole way home one of my kids threw a screaming fit, complete with throwing of shoes and threats to leap from the moving vehicle, because I wouldn’t take them to the pharmacy to buy more Pokeman cards even though we had JUST BOUGHT SOME THE DAY BEFORE.

The afternoon sucked as I tried to clean our filthy house while Talia whined and cried from her room because NO CRIB, and hooligan boys ran around thwarting me (ex: ten minutes after I cleaned the boys’ bathroom mirror and sink, I found Jameson “cleaning” same with toothpaste) and beating each other over the head with toys.  I tried giving the boys a bubble bath to distract them from killing each other, but while I was in the other room folding laundry, they turned the jets on in my tub and my hand to God, when I walked in my entire bathroom was covered in foam, with two sheepish but kind of gleeful faces peering out from these MOUNDS of bubbles.  You couldn’t even see the tub anymore.  I had to laugh or I would’ve cried.  Then Jim got home with Addy and everyone was so very happy to see him and I just felt like chopped liver, inside cooking dinner while they all flocked joyfully around him outside as though they’d been trapped with Mommy Dearest all day.  Oh and then no one would eat.  Of course.

Today was even worse.  Jim and Addy had to leave at five thirty am, so I was home with the littles again.  I couldn’t do church because Tali’s still so germy looking, plus I still had lots of laundry/cleaning to do!  Yay!  But I back burnered cleaning for the morning, played outside with the kids instead, then we all went to the store to get birthday presents for the two different parties my kids were expected at this afternoon.  I resisted the siren song of fast food and made us lunch at home, put the baby down for a nap (at least that part went ok today!) and took the kids to their parties while Jim dozed.  BTW, I don’t begrudge him a nap, he had an exhausting weekend too.  Plus he totally killed a rather large snake (which, wtf! snake!?) in our yard within minutes of getting back from Cinci, with a shovel, and I didn’t have to even lay eyes on the thing, so I think that earned him some points.

Anyways, I ran an errand, then got home and chilled for awhile before I had to leave again to pick the kids back up.  As soon as I got them home, the shenanigans began again.  I asked them to clean their rooms while I made dinner, and…

Actually, it’s occurring to me that someday my children may not appreciate me detailing their behavior in such excruciating detail.  But let’s just say that despite lots of patient guidance and attempts to help with the cleaning without actually doing it for them, the fit throwing and procrastinating and refusal to cooperate whatsoever left me with a bit of the rage.  One child attempted to run away, twice, because I am SO MEAN, another kid bit his brother so hard he left teeth marks, another kid tried to hit ME, etc etc.  And during this time Jim had unfortunately had to leave to do his own errand, so I was on my own with what appeared to be demon possessed children, frankly.  After about an hour and a half of chaos, in which time I did dishes and cleaned the house while putting one kid in time out, taking another kid’s toys away, thwarting two different runaway attempts, and speaking very sharply quite a lot, Jim got home and went out to grill the burgers I had prepared.  And lo and behold, the damn grill would not turn on.  Totally dead, even though it was fine a week ago.  So then I got to cook burgers on my griddle and spatter myself with hot grease.

Whatevs, no big deal, at least everyone ate and loved their dinner and was being very polite to me after a Come To Jesus talk from Jim about straightening up and flying right.  But then he had to leave again at eight thirty, for a previous engagement to watch Game of Thrones with his HBO-having coworker.  And I know I am being a baby but this makes me a little jealous because I love that show too but someone has to stay with the kids and obviously it’s going to be me since I barely even know this guy.  This is perfectly fair, and I get my nights out too so it’s not like a martyr thing here, it’s just that I really do want to watch it.  So off he goes, and here I am with two kids in the bath and dinner to clean up and tucking in to do.

All goes well at first, kids get pajama-ed and are meant to be brushing their teeth while I change Talia, when suddenly I hear screeching and chasing and this weird wet sound as well.  I turn around and there are puddles and bits of wet toilet paper all through the bathroom, freshly mopped dining room and hallway and the boys are running around chasing each other with a sopping wet roll of toilet paper.  What.  The.  Hell.

I picked up Talia, half dressed and diaper less, and marched them back to the scene of the crime where I handed out towels and ordered, very angrily, that the mess be cleaned up immediately and that teeth brushing happen.  Everyone just stood there staring at me as though puddle mopping was a skill that was utterly beyond them.

“Guys!” I yelled.  I got down to give a visual demonstration of my request.  “Bend down and clean up the water!  Now!”

More blank stares and reluctant whining and protesting about who actually made the mess- hint: apparently no one.

“Jamie!” I yelled again.  “This is your mess, you clean it up.  Take your towel and clean it up NOW!”

Jamie glared at me dolefully and sucked his fingers.  “It’s too hard!  You do it!”

And that it when my brain died, you guys.  I just SNAPPED.  I haven’t felt that nuts since I was a hormonal teenager.  I screamed, I screeched, I grabbed shoulders, I just acted like a lunatic.  There was lots of incoherent venting about how I am not a maid, how it’s too much, cleaning up after a whole houseful of people who seem to completely disregard me, how I am so tired of being treated this way, blah blah blah.  It was ugly.  I was crying a little, even.  Everyone backed away with wide eyes from the blubbering maniac.

“Just forget it!” I yelled weepily.  “Just go to bed, everyone- I’ll clean this up since it’s obviously too much for you!  Just go!”  I marched them back down the hallway and into their room, then sat on the floor, shaking.  Eli approached me cautiously, as one might a feral cat, and said in a soothing, manly tone, “It’s all right, Mom.  Just take a deep breath.  You’re just a little worked up right now.”  He patted my shoulder kindly.

Then I did start crying, OBVIOUSLY.  “I’m sorry,” I wailed.  I grabbed Jamie into a hug and sat on the floor sniffling and babbling about how sorry I was and how badly I’d behaved and how I didn’t control myself and, you know, all the sorry.  Lots of sorry.  Sorry sorry sorry.  I felt sick at how unhinged and scary I must have seemed to my kids.

I tucked them in very gently and kissed them and said sorry again and explained that it had just been a long weekend and I was worn down from people not cooperating with Mommy ahem ahem but that of course that was no excuse, and I just needed to go relax and settle down now huh?  Jamie patted my cheek from his bed and said, in his little voice that is so cute because it’s still lispy and babyish but his tone is so serious, “You’re the best Mommy ever!”

And then I died.  The end.  Blergh.