Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Namaste' 2: Looking for My Fill-Up

Note: with apologies to R.E.M.

I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you
which is of love, of truth, 
of light, and of peace.
When you are in that place in you
and I am in that place in me, 
we are one.

When I was lost. I mean, literally lost, in a nearby town a number of years ago, I found a Unitarian Universalist Church.  And had I found God or divinity there today, it would have made for a terrific irony... 

I never really understood what "Unitarian" meant, but I did have the feeling that if any spiritual nourishing center that calls itself a "church" could fit for me, well, then it'd probably be the Unitarian Universalist Church. 

After my last posting -- my spiritual coming-out of sorts -- nearly everyone who said anything was not only tolerant, but respectful, for which I am grateful.  Privately, people emailed to me their confessions of similiar struggles and that was a validating sense of community I got from their messages.  

Others shared their story of where they get comfort as a non-Christian in a Christian dominated society.  Another person simply vented about how it's too bad that some Christians find themselves religiously superior to any other religion.  I hear you. 

Namaste' to all of you who shared. 

A few reminded me about the Unitarian Universalists, and I wasn't against trying it. 

In fact, I went this morning.

The "church" is in an old gas-station.  There were eight people besides myself who attended the hour-long discussion, plus the husband and wife who are the co-presidents of the church/center.  

On a strictly human level, the welcome I was given was warm.  I grabbed some literature on atheism, agnosticism, and reviewed all the inclusive type materials they had there about respecting other cultures, races, sexual orientations, etc.  I took my seat, but not before I removed a black-bound book from it.  "Oh lord, here we go again.  I just can't get away from the damn bible!" I thought to myself.  "This just isn't going to work."

It turns out it was a song and sayings book with materials from all sorts of religions, all sorts of religious thinkers and other philosophers and wise-sorts of people with an affinity for openness, and reverence for self-discovery, so I calmed back down rather quickly. 

There was Beatles music playing, but the co-president of the church/center turned it off and then asked us to turn to #317 and "rise as you may."  Churchy-hymny-type music started playing and I felt my throat contrict and my hopes start to flat-line.  The song we were about to sing was from St. Somebody Assissi.  

My mind took off running, "She was right...My friend was right...'You're probably not going to find what you are looking for.' This is going to be a long hour.  I should have gone to that Buddhist temple.  Or hell, maybe just gone to the gym.  I always feel great when I am done there and the feeling I get there is the closest feeling I've gotten to feeling nurtured and peaceful as I'm probably ever going to get. Does it matter what I do so long as I come out peaceful and a better person in the end? Why, oh why am I here?"

We shut our books and sat down.  The co-president started talking -- I can't remember what he said, but then he passed out the lyrics to "Imagine," by the Beatles.  Soon he was banging away on the piano and we were listening to him sing, 

"Imagine there's no heaven. 
It's easy if you try.  
No hell below us. 
Above us only sky.  
Imagine all the people living for today..."  

We kept listening and by the time he got to,

"You may say I'm a dreamer, 
but I'm not the only one. 
I hope someday you'll join us."

 a few people were moved to join him, and by the time he hit

"And the world will be as one" 

we were all singing (or mouthing the words with our voice sometimes squeaking through).

Our voices only grew stronger for the last few refrains and then the song ended and the rows of chairs were dismantled and we gathered in a circle for discussion of what the world would be like with more peace and respect, less divisions brought on by government and religion, which took us to the people in Egypt, trying to empower themselves and overthrow their dictator.  This lasted nearly an hour, followed by nearly another hour of eating cookies and connecting with one another. 

I'm not really sure if this church/center is the final resting spot for my soul and spiritual side -- if I have one -- but I am quite certain that in all the eleven years that I have lived here, except for the time I was at work at the EAP with about 75 other hippie-peace-loving-liberal-fools, that I have never seen such a large group of liberal, accepting people with so much respect for difference and honor for others who worship and live differently than themselves.   Kindness flowed from them, and there was no God or ritual or doctrine shoved down my throat setting off my touchy gag-reflex when it comes to Christianity. 

(Again, if you like God, or ritual, or doctrine, etc. that's ok, I'm not bashing it for anyone else. I don't know what is right for you -- for gosh's sakes, I don't even know what is right for me.)

I met a child development professor and was able to market my business and join with her in the challenges of how to teach parents the dance of skillful parenting that honors their experience as well as their children's.  I met a young Indian woman and her beautiful brown-eyed child, and an elderly woman who gently spoke with so much grandmotherly wisdom that I felt at home with her in minutes.  Next to me sat a woman who held a straight face the entire length of the service. Her husband was that guy.  You know what I mean by that guy. There's one in every group.  The one who talks and talks and sometimes he says something really insightful, but a lot of the time we're just listening to him process every thought that hits him upside his head. 

The service needed to wrap up, the meditation time had been skipped, but one member of the group finished the time with a humorous poem. The co-president said he wanted to wrap up with two sayings he had gotten from, I believe, the Beatles.  He read the first one then he read the second saying. 

"Behind every idiot is a good woman."

Next to me hysterics erupted in that guy's wife.  Silent and straight faced the entire time she was now melting into the hiliarity -- and perhaps for her -- the truth of the statement.  

The quote had made me giggle, but the reaction of that guy's wife made me laugh outloud.  

"Next week we have a shamanic drummer coming.  He'll lead us next week and he is into the rhythms of nature and what that has to do with spirituality. He brings drums for us all to use if you want to.  Oh, and he's really funny, too.  We hope you'll come back and try it out again here."

I left smiling, still not really knowing what I believe or what I'm even looking for, but banging on a drum honoring nature with some comedic shaman and a bunch of aging hippie-types might just be interesting enough that I'll come more time...

That's me in the spotlight,
that's me in the gas station
shopping for religion.


Friday, January 28, 2011



I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells.
I honor the place in you
which is of love, of truth, 
of light, and of peace.
When you are in that place in you
and I am in that place in me, 
we are one.

I love that statement.  It's been giving me a bit of peace lately. 

I started reading "Eat, Pray, Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert a couple weeks ago.  I felt like a break from parenting books, and one particular night when I went to the gym, someone had left that treasure of a book in the basket of books in which you can "Take one and leave one."

I snatched it and the author hooked me from the beginning.  This liberal chick with a great wit was about to set off on a journey that a girl like me can only fantasize about.  And so every night as I read her book and lived vicariously through her descriptive words, I went to a place of calm, and a place of joining.  So many of the things she said, from her thoughts on religion to her desire to find peace, and her struggle with quieting her mind rang so true for me.  

And it got me back to really thinking about all my struggles with spirituality and religion.  It was bubbling under the surface and finding "Eat, Pray, Love" served to bring it out.  As a child, I prayed every night when I went to bed, every time before I ate a meal. I did so silently and secretly.  "Thank you God for the water, the air, my food, and my shelter. I love you. Amen."  Often, laying in bed, I'd make it lengthier, "Please God. Let my sister start talking by this time next year.  And let her be ok.  And keep me and everybody else healthy. Thank you. I love you. Amen."

For years this went on until I hit my teen years when someone introduced me to the concept of atheism.  How do we know there is a God?  And is Christianity right? Or is some other religion right? If there's so many different religions and do you know what works and what doesn't?

The doubt ate away at me, and as a teenager ripe for rebellion and questioning authority, I declared myself an atheist.  If there was a God, fuck him, I thought.  Fuck him for letting my sister suffer and for all the other suffering.  Now, perhaps Christianity could explain suffering away and point out why it is...incorrect, for lack of better think that, but that's just what ran through my mind. 

But still. What if I was wrong? What if there was a God? College hit and I met Dave, a Catholic.  I went to church with Dave.  I had full intentions of reclaiming my religion, but all I did was argue with the priest (in my mind).  I tried a few times, hoping it might get better. But it didn't.  It only served to highlight that I couldn't stomach this way of thinking. 

So I let go until about six years ago when our struggles with infertility and losses screamed for me to find peace.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  I tried going to a number of different Christian churches and a Zen Buddhist temple in St. Paul.  At one point, after I escaped the men blocking the doors at a very homophobic church 2 hours into it's hateful sermon, I found myself running to my car half fearing for my life.  They were saying and singing some crazy shit in there and it scared the pee-diddle out of me.

Fast forward through the blur of having twins plus one more, I'm now at that place in my life where, as a social worker, I know that I need to find a way to nurture the spiritual side of my being -- if possible. 

Desperate for something to give me inner peace, I begged myself to try a church.  At the same time, my hairdresser is finding her religion for the first time. I noticed she seemed so much more grounded and peaceful...and then she shared that she grew up never having a religion pressed on her, much like me, and how she appreciated that, much like me, and how she finally needed something to balance her after a close friend died quickly from cancer.

I went on-line and started researching a few churches and found myself so uncomfortable and even angry after reading what the churches were all about, that I finally came to a place of complete acceptance.  I am not ever going to be able to embrace Christianity for myself (don't freak out on me here -- I'm not condemning those who do embrace it).  Furthermore, I finally accepted that it's OK for me not to be Christian.  You can't fit a square peg in a round hole.


Maybe it's not about the religion, maybe it's more about finding the practice that speaks the words that speak to me.  I don't really know what a scholar would say the goal of a religion is, so I'll fall to my ignorant self and what I think religion is supposed to do for a person.  Make them kind, balanced, give them peace, give them understanding and love for others without judgment, and give them a framework for dealing with the challenging times in life.  

So maybe it's not about practicing a certain religion, maybe it's just about finding what works for me, and in the end, don't many of the religions end at the same place?  Do the words we give for the divine really matter when ultimately the meaning behind them is possibly -- likely -- the same?  Elizabeth Gilbert does a great job of articulating what I have been trying to say on page 143 of her book as well as page 13.  Really, she totally had me at page 13.

I have driven by a Buddhist temple that is nearby -- out in the country -- and twice have sat in the parking area.  The little round faces of monks watch me from the window and I imagine they are just as curious about the skinny white lady peering over her steering wheel as I am of them.  I hope I haven't spooked them.  Should I go in? Would I be welcome?  Do they even speak English?  Would I be walking in on something -- sacred or whatever and appear disrespectful? 

And so in the end, I leave, still searching for where my spiritual being belongs, but I think, moving closer to an answer.


My Mind is Oddly Busy for These Wee Hours of the Morning

I like my sleep.  A good eight hours does the trick.  I typically fall asleep easily, stay asleep, and then wake up accepting that it's time to start a new day.

But crap hit the fan yesterday afternoon in nearly all avenues of my life and sleep was the only thing that ended my ruminations...


The dog woke me up with her coughing.  It's getting worse. Maybe it's...time. To end the misery for her.
But I can't.

I should be sleeping now.
But I can't.

I'm ruminating on too many things that -- really, for the love of karma -- I should let go of.
But I can't.

I really should have gotten more out of my day yesterday. It started so well.  I intentionally left the internet off and had such a focused and productive, engaged day.  But then I turned the internet on to get work done and all hell broke loose with a string of not so supportive people entering my life via electronic communications -- and maybe they weren't being jerks on purpose -- I gotta let this roll off my back.  C'mon little duck, let it roll.
But I can't.

I should have my budget laid out and have Dave on board and informed. It's so overwhelming -- these financial times we are in -- and I can't figure it out.  And I'm stuck in the muck of all this anger about financial things that feel out of my control -- about health costs, dental costs, a used car salesman who tricked me -- costing me $1300, Wells Fargo's shadey dealings with us, the stingy former employers who stiffed Dave on his year-end bonus when he left one month before they released it.  "Quit being so entitled," I say to myself. 
But I can't. My budget relied on that bonus.

In the grand scheme of life -- and with what others go through -- my problems are so...trivial. So go back to sleep. And quit being so mean to yourself.  Speak kindly to yourself. 
But I can't.

I am fighting the anger towards a family member who has a track record of big promises, little follow-through.  I bought into their promise, and the only person to be angry at now, is me.  I'm trying to tell myself to go back to kindness because if this person -- karma forbid -- suddenly died, I'd hate to have an angry heart towards them...
But I can't.

"You have got to accept the feelings without judging them and then process them and let them go," I say to myself," desperate for the sleep that will prevent Friday morning grumpies as I get the kids to school... 

And so I write...

Hoping peace will come by morning so I can have patience and kindness for my children.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Want the Secret for Losing Weight? My Lips are Sealed

Last night Dave walked into the house with the three girls.  He had fed them dinner and taken them all to Sophia's ballet lesson.  The moment he walked in, the fumes of clorox wipes and stainless steel polishing liquid hit him. He knew -- without me even opening my mouth (which I couldn't have done if I'd have wanted to) that something was wrong.

I was home from the dentist and the turn of events there had me so anxious that I did the only thing a neurotic woman knows to do to quell her unease.  If I was a smoker, I'd have smoked. If I was a drinker, I'd have drunk.  But luckily -- because my mouth wouldn't open -- I am neither.  So I cleaned.  I cleaned and scrubbed until all three levels of the home were clean.

I told the 60 year-old-plus dentist who was to prep my tooth for my first ever crown that "in the past, other dentists have had difficulty getting my mouth numb and that it took more than a couple of injections plus a lot of waiting time."

After three or four rounds of injections, in which I noticed her hands shaking and she accidentally shot the novacaine out of the needle before it was injected she decided "let's go ahead and get started anyway,  hopefully the numbness will kick in."

This is after she said, "You told me you had a hard time getting numb, but I didn't believe you, but you really do."
Yikes.  I've had a dentist go ahead and work on my tooth while I could still feel it...but even that didn't cause me to have dental phobia you hear about people having.  

She sat down, got her drill, and I tried to open my mouth.  I couldn't.  Could I wiggle my jaw back and forth for her? Nope.

She sent me home saying she had never seen this happen and didn't know what was wrong or when it would get better.

Holy shit!  Now my inner neurotic is freaking out and so I hit google and found all these horror stories of people with their jaws locked shut for weeks on end with nothing working to fix it.


After a couple hours, the numbness was wearing out and my mouth was able to open all the way.  Today I still have to force it open and eating takes concentration.  I'm not sure what the hell happened, nor is the dentist who called today to ask how I am "Oh weird, maybe we numbed your muscles?  Come back in a couple weeks and we'll try again."  Look lady, if you don't even know what the hell you did wrong, I ain't setting foot in your office again.

I have had a bad tooth for over a year now and seen three dentists, two of which must have graduated at the bottom of their class, the other one is not covered by our new dandy insurance, but he is able to get me numb.   But the need for a crown and lack of finances for a crown leaves me with one thought...

I'm done.  I am now one of THOSE people who just won't go to a dentist.  I'd rather have to chew on only one half of my mouth than not be able to chew again.  That was too close of a call -- even if having my jaw locked shut would have served as a very handy weight loss tool.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kelli is Home

Just a quick update.  I have to get ready to see clients tonight and get dinner on the table...

After a physical therapy evaluation and Kelli's increasingly better balance as the day went on, she was discharged late this afternoon.  She is eating and keeping food down, she was more talkative on the phone with me, and while she is still pretty puffy and hive-y, it is all going down.   Mom said Kelli is sitting up and wandering around the house -- all good signs that she is headed back to normal and on the mend. 

Thanks for all the good thoughts! 


I talked to mom late last night -- after she and the nurse gave Kelli her first bath since last Thursday.  Apparently, one of the concerns with her reaction to this drug was liver failure.  Kelli's liver values seem to be moving back in the right direction.  She is still swollen and covered in a rash, and her balance is still off, though now she can walk in a straight line without assistance. But turning will cause her to fall.  She also ate dinner AND kept it down last night.  

The trouble has been trying to convince the doctors that even though Kelli has autism, she is PERFECTLY CAPABLE of walking normally.  So right now, while some of her lab values are doing better, they are overlooking physical symptoms because of, I guess, mistaken beliefs about Kelli's capabilities. 

Mom said they do have one good doctor who listens and explains things well.  The doctor came in at 2 in the morning on Saturday because she was thinking of Kelli and just wanted to check on her.  Mom is hoping this doctor is the one who is back to see Kelli this morning...and so this is yet to be continued.

Keep the love/prayers/good thoughts/healing energy coming and thanks to those who have been sending it. 


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kelli is in the Hospital -- Send Her Some Love

I'm ruminating....Should I drop everything and head to Iowa?  I don't know what to do.  Maybe I'll stay put for now and hope that the flowers, bear and balloons will cheer Kelli up...and that soon she'll be better.  Am I a bad sister for not making the three hour trip?  Is my brother ok?  He missed his trip here yesterday due to pneumonia.  Why can't I get a hold of him? 

I don't know if there is a God or anything like that. In moments like this, where my sister is sick -- and those who know me well, know that I am fiercely protective of my sister who has autism and epilepsy -- I really wish that I had some sort of spiritual belief...

(And please don't think I judge anyone else for being Christian, etc.  Whenever someone gets comfort and strength from their beliefs...and uses those to make the world a better place...well, I'm all for that..and perhaps, even a little envious)

Back to Kelli....

Kelli has had some sort of staph infection going on and the docs in their small town have been missing it.  They've come up with all sorts of explanations and write-offs for her symptoms laying the way for the infection to grow quite serious with months of Kelli not feeling well.  Finally, in the last couple weeks, one of them had the bright idea to send a culture into a lab and finally a diagnosis came.  With that, I had hoped that Kelli could finally feel better.  But different docs had different ideas about how to fix her...and ultimately, she was put on powerful antibiotics and two weeks later, she cannot walk due to severe dizziness, is not eating with vomiting and nausea, and is covered in an itchy rash.  She is breathless.

She was admitted to the hospital last night and after MRI's and CAT scans and bloodwork, they ruled out the spread of the infection to her blood stream and organs, but believe her symptoms are due to a severe reaction to the antibiotics. 

They'd better be right.

And they'd better get Kelli better in a hurry.

And they'd better listen to my mom this time when she tells them something isn't right. 

Because just because Kelli can't talk and explain how shitty she feels, doesn't mean she isn't suffering.

And just because she can't talk doesn't mean you should just send her home to suffer...for days and weeks on end.

She needs her smile and her health back. 

She doesn't have please...I beg you...for the love of karma...figure it out once and for all and fix her.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yes, Your Royal Highness

Andi has taken an interest in dressing up.  The twins headed over to the neighbor's house to play and she made good use of their absence by sorting through their princess attire and dancing around the house. 

Not only does she like to dress like them, she has become quite bossy, like one of her sisters.  "Too loud!" she yells at me, as we start the car and the radio blares on.  "Stop it," she tells me as I sing "Five Little Ducks..." and later as I try singing again, "No singing!" She may not like my singing voice or my choice of music, but she does command me to "dance" with her when Elmo is singing on Sesame Street. 

While Andi may not like my music, Ella is moving on from "The Wheels on the Bus" to Pink's hit song.  (For those that don't know, Pink is a music artist)  Ella doesn't know all the words, but gyrates around the house singing, "Don't be busy, just get dizzy..." 

Besides dancing and singing around the house, we also went on a trip to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.  Andi had two favorite things -- which mirror the twincesses favorite things when they were toddlers.  The stairs in the conservatory, and the water with the Koi.  Andi is awake from her nap signaling the end of my time to write, so here's a few pics...

Making Hot Chocolate Mix at the zoo

All three making their own penguin hat

Andi models her finished project

They could have spent all day in the room with the water that you can play in

Peeking at the fish

SOOOOO exciting to look at the fish

Up, down....up, down....up, down...up, down

No, we don't know those men, just wanted a picture of the conservatory

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cool Hippie Sing Alongs and Free Fall Off Earth

I've fallen off the face of the earth and hope to snag a ticket back home soon.  When I return, I want to introduce you all to one of the coolest hippie chick singers I've ever met...I swear she was glowing while she sang...and I sang along with her, along with a bunch of other peace loving hippie fools on a snowy night last week at a party to launch a grassroots community involvement movement.  I also want you to meet another good friend who is an artist...and I'll post some pics and updates.

But for now, it's back to constant re-organizing, re-decorating, re-purposing, and figuring out just how we are going to fit five of us in this little house for the next few years (or til the economy turns around).

Oh yeah, and I'll talk a little bit about our new financial plan -- it's all about cash.  In doing so, I hope that it keeps me to my plan and committment -- my sharing is purely selfish on my part.  But if you want to read along, cool. 

Did I mention how totally cool that hippie chick singer was?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Bonk Beds"

Cont'd from previous post...

The furniture guy came back three hours later with some hardware and 40 minutes later, we had "bonk beds," as Ella calls them.  Andi is already able to scale the ladder.  She loves to jump, jump, jump on the top bunk and only cried the first time she bonked her head on the ceiling.  Andi is going through a phase that has her wearing mittens, a helmet or sunglasses (any or all) just for the hell of it.  Perhaps she should consider wearing her  helmet for jumping on the top bunk.  In all seriousness, though, I'm going to have a heart attack sooner  rather than later.  "Girls!  Keep the bedroom door closed! Andi can NOT be in there without me! If she falls off, she'll be hurt really bad." But do they listen in their haste to clamor up the ladder and have fun?

Top "bonk" is Ella's...

Bottom bunk is Sophia's

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Meant It

When I said that I shouldn't go to Haiti on an humanitarian effort that involved parachuting out of a plane to the location because I feared it would be MY parachute that would fail to open, I meant it.  When I said in the previous post, 

"Ask anyone in my family about my luck and they'll say, "If anyone's gonna step in the gum, it's Shannon.  If anyone's gonna get pooped on by the bird flying overhead, it's gonna be Shannon. If anyone's gonna get the furniture that you have to assemble and get the box missing a part, it's gonna be Shannon."

it's because all of that has happened.  Numerous times.  

And just to drive this whole point home, I'm going to share with you that today is the GREATLY ANTICIPATED day of the twincesses bunkbeds arriving. The men arrived ON TIME (can you believe that?) and began unloading the truck.  

I was getting excited.  I had the kitchen cleaned, dinner 1/2 done at 1:30 in the afternoon, and I would have plenty of time to thoroughly clean our nursery furniture before the couple who plans to buy it stops by.  My day was suddenly going very, very well.  I felt a little lilt in my steps. 

 The  men had all the many pieces loaded into the twins room and then came downstairs, 

"Ummm...Maam?  Ummm...There doesn't seem to be any hardware with this bed.  We're going to leave and see if we can find any back at the warehouse.  You're going to be around all day, right?  We can come back IF we find some."

Shit. To be continued...

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I remember thinking not long ago when the twins had stomach flu that this sucked and I was giving in to a pity party.  Then I saw the news that told of the cholera outbreak hitting Haiti, and that children were dying -- at times -- within hours due to the violent bouts of vomitting and diarrhea.  I quickly admonished myself and realized my children and I were damn lucky that all we had to do was hop in a car and drive less than 30 minutes away for a doctor and hospital to administer fluids to get them going again. 

In Haiti, the sick can either "get over it," as I just saw reported, or they can hike down a mountain to a make-shift cholera center.  Can you imagine having to hike down a mountain while dealing with dehydration, sick children, and the worst case of stomach flu you can imagine?  I can't. I'm a wuss.

Watching the show it reminded me that I really want to be able to go do something -- like go on a mission trip.  I dream not of lush vacations, but of going and serving people. I suppose I don't care if it's in the U.S. or outside the U.S.  But the issues in Haiti are really pulling at my heartstrings as I see sick children on TV.  I just can't tolerate that very well.

Are there mission type trips for those of us not in a church?  So I sat and watched and further learned that a man, who was labeled a "humanitarian" led a team into an isolated village. "Gosh, I thought. Maybe someday I could do something like that...When the girls are bigger."

And then I learned that in order to reach the remote village, you'd have to parachute out of the plane.

Well...after careful reconsideration, I've decided just to mail off a check.

Ask anyone in my family about my luck and they'll say, "If anyone's gonna step in the gum, it's Shannon.  If anyone's gonna get pooped on by the bird flying overhead, it's gonna be Shannon. If anyone's gonna get the furniture that you have to assemble and get the box missing a part, it's gonna be Shannon."

I'd like for them not to have to add, "If anyone's parachute isn't gonna open, it's gonna be Shannon's."

And really, cleaning up my splattered body parts is a poor use of a humanitarian's time when people need help. 

Crackheads on Welfare -- Damn 'Em

I stumbled upon an idiot's blog at a moment when I had better things to do. At a moment when I was feeling peaceful and productive. And at a moment when I told myself, don't waste your time reading people's blogs.  I typically only read 3 blogs.  One is a fellow former Iowa is a writer and good friend of mine, and one is a mom of twins who has battled infertility, loss and the demons that haunt you after that battle. That's it.  That's all I have time for.

But at this moment when my heart is beating in my throat and my mind is swirled with anger towards a southern blogger who stereotyped and condemned women on welfare, I just need to sit and write.  I need to get it out so I may move on with my day.  I am so offended by his judgment and inability to think of what welfare benefits do for children, that I can hardly function.  I ripped out a response to him on his blog, and I think he responded to me, but I don't even have the patience to listen to more of his whining, nor do I particularly care what an inarticulate idiot has to say.  And I doubt I'll ever be able to find his blog again (unless I come back to the below link and decide to click on it).

Short summary. He works. Wife works. They are both able-bodied adults with healthy children -- much to be thankful for, yet he still whines.  They have twins. They can't pay their bills. He thinks he is owed assistance OVER women and children with disadvantaged social histories.  Women, he believes, who do drugs and take advantage of the system.

Well, hot damn.  Who isn't struggling these days?  Maybe we should all get assistance.  Especially people with multiples.


Though I'd caution you from wasting your time on reading the writings of this white man, should you desire to find out what I am talking about, here you go.

See here: Rantings of a Whiney Self-Entitled Ignorant White Man

Poverty is not a reason to take a woman's children away from her. Period.

A woman who is so strung out on drugs or alcohol that she can't take care of her children, though, may well have her children taken away due to neglect, or even abuse if she is using them inappropriately to get access to her fix.

So, would it not stand to reason that it is a much more likely scenario that it is a woman who is deeply entrenched in poverty and a broken system that is collecting benefits than it is that she is a "druggie"?  And, while I realize some people might take advantage of the system, many women and children aren't -- and they NEED it. And the system might be broken, but I hate to think of a day when a woman and her children are homeless, without healthcare, and hungry.

If we don’t take care of mothers, they can’t take care of their babies.” –Jeanne Driscoll

Most women on welfare have very complicated social histories, and to simply say they are "lazy" or "druggies" is inaccurate, judgmental, and shows ignorance on the part of the accuser.

I tend not to tolerate whining or self-entitlement very well.  ESPECIALLY when it comes from a white man, with good health, with a wife with good health, with a family support system in place, with a home, with little empathy for others, with little education in social welfare, with little belief in social justice....


Stupid CSMF.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Butt Doctors and the Rise of a Femi-Nazi

I've just been asked the question,

"Mommy.  Have you heard of a butt doctor?"

Hesitantly, I entered into the conversation, "No. I can't say that I have.  Have you?"

"Yes. In my dreams while I was sleeping."

Ella didn't have anything else to say -- which was fine by me.

Dave and I often have to tip-toe into conversations with Ella, never quite sure where the conversations may go. 

Two nights ago, as Dave strapped Ella into her booster seat in the car, Ella looked right into his eyes - they were practically nose to nose -- and said "I'm going to control you."

Dave became uncomfortable, but I was like "hmmm..."  I often tell myself, especially in those moments where I am defaulting to my typical soft-spoken mode, "You are raising little women. Is this how you want them to behave as full-grown women?"  It's often enough to give me a jolt of courage to behave in a more assertive or sane fashion. So when Ella told Dave she planned to control him I thought, "well, we are headed in a pretty good direction with this femi-nazi training regimen I have instituted."

As it turned out, she wasn't applying my femi-nazi training.  Ella was hoping to turn Dave into a robot and use a pretend remote control to make him do what she wanted him to.

On second thought, as I re-read the previous sentence, maybe the femi-nazi training IS sticking. ;)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Today I had an account executive come to my home to help me with advertising for my parent coaching practice.  It is a local moms website that I thought would be a great place to advertise on. I am advertising on a south of the river e-newsletter for moms and also going to be writing three feature articles on parenting topics for the newsletter.  The ads start tomorrow.  And frankly, I couldn't wait.  I check my voice mail daily to find out if any parents have called for my services.  No calls.

I checked my e-mail set up for my business.  No e-mails.

And I began to think a couple of things.

1. Do people not want parenting help? 
2. Do people want parenting help, but don't want to pay for it/have other resources?
3. Do people want parenting help, just not mine? Is my website not conveying the "right" message?
2. How are all the other parent coaches getting business on the east and west coasts? 
3. How in the world is a girl supposed to do this thing called "marketing"?  I mean, I really feel like a fish out of water.

Luckily on those days where I would be feeling badly about how hard it is to start an actual practice, I would get an e-mail out of the blue from someone in my life who just wanted to offer encouragement and excitement.  I ATE it up.  Especially when it was a blog reader.  Dave would laugh and say "That is something to think they have read your blog and STILL think you'd be a good parent coach."  He was teasing, but I had the same thought, glad I haven't looked completely incompetent. 

Last night, I was feeling a bit low about not having any clients despite posting my card around town and asking friends to pass the word around via facebook, etc.  So I went back to reading "Birthing the Elephant."  It's a book for women offering information and encouragement for starting their own business.  It normalizes all the feelings I have had.  It also gives practical advice and one thing stood out for me last night. 

"Do NOT overspend on advertising." In fact, the book labels overspending on advertising as one of the 10 major pitfalls of starting your own business. 

Well, if I'm not supposed to advertise, how do I get my name out there?  This marketing thing is so complicated.  (BTW, if any readers work in marketing and have ideas, throw them out!)  I do have a few ideas boiling in the pot such as offering a class through community ed, sending out a letter to daycares and ECFE's introducing myself, as well as some other plans.  I also continue to leave my cards with anyone who will take them or on any board I can pin them to. 

But still. No clients. (I know, I know, be patient, I just started)

Or so I thought.

Today I logged on -- again -- to check my website's email and there were 11 requests.  They were all sent in the last week and why they all showed up suddenly today, I don't know.   

Holy buckets!  I'm not sure how these people found out about me, but suddenly I felt energized and like "hey, maybe I can get this off the ground."  My mantra has been "Failure is not an option," but I wasn't sure how to achieve success. I have felt like a bird flapping broken wings.  (Ok. Yes, I am impatient. My first ads haven't even gone out and the website has only been alive a week or two, but...)

So I replied to the parents, offered my apologies for seemingly neglecting their requests...and now I get back to working with other parents who just want the best for their kids and themselves. 

I can't wait. I remember the times I sat working with clients at my old EAP counseling job and feeling/thinking "I'm lucky.  I get to sit and talk through people's lives with them all day, it doesn't even feel like work. I'd die if I had to do a "real" job." 

Writing the responses out to each parent, and thinking of ways to help them I'm starting to get that feeling again.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello Routine, It's so Good to See You Again

Without school and lessons to go to during the past few weeks, and the cold weather keeping us mostly inside, we all got a little loopy and off kilter. 

Andi has been busy.

She gave her doll a bath in the toilet last week.
Ate Dave's deodorant.
Then put a two-inch long magneat-o toy in the garbage disposal causing a call to the plumber who happily charged me $104 to pull the magnets out in less than 15 minutes and go on his merry way.  If this parent coaching thing doesn't work out, I'm going to get myself some low rise pants and call myself a plumber and gouge people, too. 

Sophia has been needy highly social which prompted the following Mother-of-the-Year comment,
"I spent 30 minutes one-on-one with her so that I could then get something done, but instead she craved my attention even more."  Good gosh, you'd think "the child could have left me alone for the other 23-1/2 hours of the day."  

Sophia will hopefully cool it a bit now that she is back in school with her friends again.  And she was moved into the 5-6 year old ballet class,  which she thinks is great to be with the "older" girls.  I think it's great because the class time is longer and I can breathe a sigh of relief that I am guaranteed 45 minutes of not hearing, "I'm thirsty. Come sit with me. Will you do my nails? I have an owie and I need a band-aid." And so on and so forth.  As an introvert, I am thoroughly exhausted having to deal with her lately.  Horrible, I know.

Ella has been Ella...cruising along, doing her thing.  She started her new gymnastics class and seems to love it.  She is moved up a level with the older girls and has her favorite teacher.  The owner of the club asked Ella to join the pre-team girls to challenge her skills more, but that was two days a week of practice and a huge tuition jump.  Good gosh.  The budget said no, as did my sanity. Little Miss Mary Lou Retton will have to wait a year or so before she can start two days a week of practice. It's hard to keep Andi corralled for two hours while her sister gets to jump, swing, and flip to her heart's content.

Now if only Daddy's schedule could really be an actual schedule.  It turns out he isn't getting home all that early with the new job.  And with less pay, crappier benefits, and the fact that he missed his end of year bonus by 1-1/2 months when he left his last position (me bitter about this? no.....), I'm feeling disenchanted with his new position as far as how it affects ME- and afterall, isn't everything about me?  Though he likes it.  A lot.  And, I suppose, that counts for something.  And they apparently like him, "You go home and tell your wife how very glad we are that you are here," the new boss told him a couple weeks ago. 

I don't know who Chuck Close is, but I am like minded with him when it comes to routine...

Having a routine, knowing what to do, gives me a sense of freedom and keeps me from going crazy. It’s calming. ~ Chuck Close

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reclaiming the Outdoors from the Cold

A few weeks ago I remembered what I used to do in previous winters. I would bundle my children up and we'd head outside and we'd all come in feeling better.

Our habit, when the weather is nice, is to go outside after lunch.  We had given this up when the weather turned cold; however, the days are long and boring and far too much TV watching has been occurring.  So it was time to do something.

And I think that my negative mood during winter comes in large part from the "I'm trapped inside" feeling.  In terms of cognitive therapy, this is an irrational thought that leads to me feeling like CRAP, so I decided to challenge that thought...

So everyday, we finish our lunch and we spend a good 10 minutes bundling up, and then we head outside. Andi likes to wander. She isn't much of a sledder.  The big girls like to sled.  And I shovel, chip away at ice, follow Andi around, and respond to "Watch us Mommy!" by watching the twins bounce down the hill on their sled.

I don't think it was more than a few degrees today when we went out, so we only stayed out 10 minutes or so...but it still counts as another notch in our belt in the battle against the cold days of winter in MN. Plus, we need a good excuse to warrant making Penzey's Hot Chocolate and Caribou coffee everyday. 

There goes the "wanderer," headed out to do who knows what she does.

All bundled up and ready to head out.

Ella puts the amount of snow we have in perspective.

Sophia against our snowbank alongside the driveway.

What a thrill!  Finally tall enough to touch the stop sign, thanks to the snow.  And this picture is so much different than the time she wore a pair of heals and a suit.

Hanging out

Monday, January 3, 2011

Andi's New Year's Resolution

Andi has decided on a New Year's Resolution.  She wants to begin using underwear.  She has started toward this goal by insisting she sit on the toilet -- NOT the stupid little potty chair -- every evening before the bath. "Potty potty potty!"

She gets the step-stool out, puts it in front of the toilet, climbs up, sits there and in the last week, has pee pee'd twice!  What in the hell?! 

Then she says, "all done" and climbs down, gets the stool and puts it away.

I watch in amazement.  Who is this child?  She's not really 18 mos old, is she?

Andi communicates with short phrases, she repeats everything, and even inquired with me the other morning, "What happened?" when she saw the mess on the stove top.

I was a bit surprised, but answered her, "Mommy spilled the oatmeal."

To further my surprise, she replied with "Woops."

I don't think Andi realizes that she isn't the same age as her four-year-old sisters...but that's ok...she provides me with something to be surprised about or laugh about everyday. 

Xmas morning opening stockings

Opening presents at Bobo's; hat provided by Uncle Pancake and Aunt Head-er