This Bird Does It

Librarian ramblings


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All American Saturday

20160611_183154-1.jpgGood heavens, we are blessed. I worked this morning, so I missed some excitement. The middle kid had a double header, and he played fabulously. YAY for baseball! A homerun, to RBIs, a slide into home, and he was awarded the game ball. The girl had a softball game and she also played well. It was hot and everyone kept their chin up and pulled through.

When I finished work at one, I hustled over to the end of the boy’s game in time to hear the coach award him the game ball. We gathered the family for a trip out for ice cream because you HAVE to celebrate that kind of game, right?

Then home to watch these rascals soak each other with squirt guns. There was some bickering and general whining, but still a good time. Then we cooked hotdogs and brats on the grill for dinner. Now I’m watching these kids work on throwing and catching in the back yard.

FOR REAL? This is my life? I’m this lucky? This privileged? Yeah. I am. Now, what am I going to teach my children? How am I going to give them the empathy I want them to share with the world? For now, I’m enjoying watching them thrive in this privilege, but please never let them  forget that it IS privilege! Never let ME forget!

 

 

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After the stress

I’m all done. If you follow me on Facebook, or just know me in real life, you have heard this already. I’m sort of shouting it from the rooftops these days. ALL DONE! No more homework, no more assignments, no more papers, projects, or discussions. Tomorrow is graduation, and though I have elected not to attend, I’ll be officially a Master of Library and Information Science. A librarian. For real.

20151215_121607It’s not like I’m not busy anymore. It’s Christmas, after all. That’s the main reason I chose not to attend the graduation ceremonies tomorrow. The thought of dragging everyone up there for a 6pm ceremony, then bringing everyone home overtired and late, just didn’t appeal. Plus there are several other things on the calendar for Saturday, including a piano recital for the two big kids.

But somehow my brain is still processing this lack of school thing. For almost four years I’ve been in the thick of studying, or preparing for the next wave of classes. I’m having trouble just accepting that there is no next wave. Sure, I have to get a job now, and who knows what challenges I’ll find next, but this challenge has been met. And conquered. I’ve reached the shore and climbed out of the water. There are mountains to climb, and jungles to explore, but I think I’ll just sit here on the beach for a bit and enjoy my cocoa and cookies. Okay, maybe that’s not the best image.

Christmas is shaping up to be as lovely as anyone could want here. Except the weather. Not that I want to complain about something nobody can change, but I could use a few flurries. Or at least weather cool enough to force me to close my window at night! It’s like being back in Georgia. We may have to turn on the AC to run the gas fireplace on Christmas Eve this year. That’s just wrong.

Still, we’re rolling in blessings and I’m determined to remember each of them when I say my prayers at night. Enough blessings to induce guilt sometimes. I pray every day for ways to show my children how blessed we are. May they never, ever be unaware of how fortunate they are. I can’t stand to spend any more effort participating in the social media drama of the political discussions this month. I also can’t imagine remaining silent forever on some of these topics. But for the rest of 2015, I will enjoy these blessings with my family. I’ll keep teaching my children how blessed they are and encourage their compassionate natures. We’ll focus on the lessons of a tiny baby born in poverty who brought divinity to mankind. There’s no greater blessing than that one!


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This Spring

I let all of March go by without a post. Not sure how that happened, but it probably had something to do with our even busier than usual schedule. My two hardest classes ever wrapped up in the middle of the month, a week after an extra workshop with one of my favorite professors. I was single parenting while the Daddy was traveling for work for a total of two weeks, and there are two more three-day trips to go. The kids had spring breaks (separately, since the preschool follows another district’s schedule), and then there was all the usual busy three-kid-household stuff going on.

So, there were big things and little things that happened in the last several weeks. Big things first, right?

The biggest news: Girlie took her First Communion on Thursday night. She was so excited. I was so proud of her. The instruction given at the church was pretty minimal, but she went through all the materials and then came to me with all her questions. She felt like the materials she was given were written for a bit younger audience, and I agreed, so we went right to the Luther’s Small Catechism. She read what Luther had to say and we discussed it at length. I am so proud of her blossoming faith. I am so thrilled to be able to share mine with her. She’s so smart and sweet. She works out her questions so carefully. Sometimes I can’t give her an answer, but she accepts that maybe sometimes the idea is to explore the question rather than find the definitive answer. When she stepped up and knelt at the Lord’s Table, surely no more humble or earnest heart has ever received the sacrament.

bThat Middle Kid is TEN! It’s astonishing to me how fast it’s going. Everyone said it would, you know it will, but there is no real preparation for the speed at which they grow. He was just a toddler and now he’s pushing his way toward teenhood. He makes me absolutely batty sometimes, but he’s the neatest ten-year-old I know and I can’t believe I get to be his mom.

Also of note, as mentioned above, I finished my hardest semester to date. Digital Preservation and Cataloging I. I knew they would both be rough, and that taking them together would be an enormous challenge, but waiting to take one of them might have postponed graduation up to a year. Had to be done. I got an A- in Cataloging, but the grades are still pending in Digital Preservation. I really have no idea how it’s going to turn out. There were a lot of points left to be awarded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a B, though it would be disappointing. However it turns out, I made some good friends in the group project work, which I didn’t expect. I hate group projects with a passion, but I got lucky this time. All three other members worked hard and got along well together.

So, that leaves an internship this summer and just one class (Foundations of Archives) in the fall. If all goes well, I’ll graduate in the middle of December. It’s so odd to think of being done. It will have been a full three years of work, but it seems like it’s all I’ve ever done. The Baby Bird doesn’t remember a time when Mommy wasn’t in school. Then, of course, it will be time to get a job!

The littlest kid is all registered for all-day kindergarten. Here in Worthington, half-day kindergarten is free, but full-day is available for a pretty reasonable fee. The curriculum is not expanded, but they get more time to spend on each learning target. The fee is by far the best value in childcare around here, and having him at the school with his big brother and sister is well worth it. The idea is that I’ll have a little more flexibility to get a job and work out additional childcare with him in full-day. It’s awarded by lottery, though, so it wasn’t a done deal until they drew names but we made the cut.

In lesser news, both big kids read and loved Harry Potter this winter. The girl is off on the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon series) and trying to get me to read it. I want to, but discretionary reading hours are so precious, you know? And the Middle kid passed along a series he read in school, Brian’s Saga, that I never read. I’m most of the way through the first one and it is a quick read, but I almost never sit down. I will get through them all, kids. I promise. Having more reading given to you by your kids is a problem I’m happy to have.

So, tomorrow is Easter. I want to write about Good Friday. I’m so filled with emotion every Good Friday, and I always feel the need to write about it. It doesn’t seem right to tack it onto the end of a catch-up kind of post, though, and I haven’t really worked out exactly what I’m trying to say this year. I just read this post, a sermon by a friend of Nadia Boltz-Weber, and it’s good. It’s really good. I gasped several times at the sheer truth it contains. It’s painful. Good Friday must be painful.

For today, I’ll get back to deviling eggs and layering pudding and bananas. There are clothes to be ironed and kids to be bathed. We cut the Baby’s curls off yesterday. They can grow back, but for a while I’ve been thinking that he looked like a big boy with a baby’s haircut. No more. One haircut and he looks like he grew up by two years. I can’t wait to get everyone all dressed up tomorrow and take their picture.


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#DearGirlieBird #BirthdayGirl #TweenYears

Dear Girlie Bird,

Sweet girl, you are turning eleven. ELEVEN! It’s not typically thought of as a milestone year, but in these years, they all feel like milestones. Maybe even more so than in the 4-9 years. I look back on each birthday and the first few are so distinct, and though I can remember each one individually when I try, they run together for a few years, but the last couple are as distinct as the first few.

fall 19When you were born I remember praying every single minute that I could be an adequate mother for you. I prayed I could just be enough. Not because “just enough” was all I wanted to be. Like most new moms, I wanted to be Super Mom. I wanted to be perfect. But from the first second, I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. No parent is perfect, and I never harbored any illusion that I would be the exception. That’s not to say that I wasn’t certain I could do better than some other moms out there, but I knew I would screw up some things. But I kept praying, “Dear Lord, please let me get this right, or at least mostly right. Let me be the best mom I’m capable of being. Let me protect her safety, her spirit, her heart, and her intellect. Let me teach her about You, about herself, about the world. Let me be a little bit of the mother she deserves.”

It was nearly a panicked feeling. I was confident I could get through those newborn days. I knew I could clean up any blow out, power through breastfeeding or be okay with switching to bottles, tolerate the sleep deprivation. I was totally confident in my ability to get through those first few days, months, even years. I remember your grandmother and my aunts praising me for being “such a good mother” in those early days and I laughed. I had no trouble remembering to keep you in a t-shirt, make sure there was always extra socks in the bag, or researching car seats. That was the easy part! Diapers are nothing, but the hard part was out there. The hard part was a decade or so away. I would go to bed and say my prayers and break into cold sweats thinking about what was ahead. Babyhood was easy, but what about when she can talk, and think, and get into real trouble? What about when she starts asking questions, making her own friends, having opinions? What about when she isn’t pacified by a kiss and a popsicle?

And here we are. You are your own person. You are an amazing, beautiful, caring, sweet, brilliant, kind, courageous, awesome person! You blow me away with who you are. I can’t believe I know you, much less get to be your mother. I still feel so inadequate for the task, but I know that loving you, praying for both of us, and following my heart will get us through the next few years. I don’t know what those years will hold, but I know I’m just as committed to getting through them as the day your were born. And just as scared. I’m going to screw some of it up. You’re going to screw up. I will always forgive you, and I hope you can forgive me.

You have made me so much prouder than I ever imagined. I am proud of how you think, who you are, and the even the people you choose to spend your time with. I pray that you will always make such wonderful choices in friends. The group you have surrounded yourself with at school is as smart and funny as you are, and they appreciate your most wonderful qualities. I trust them to be loyal and solid friends to you for a long time. I’m proud of them, too.

These next few years are going to be so full of changes and challenges. So many things will change and develop. I am thrilled to be able to witness this transformation that has already begun. You are not a little girl anymore. You’re well on your way to becoming a wonderful young woman. Every day brings a little more maturity and a little less of that little girl. It is not going to be a smooth ride all the way. There are going to be times when you feel like the world is ending. You will hate me a little, probably more than a few times. I can take it. I promise that nothing I ever do will be motivated by anything but love for you and your brothers. I promise that every decision your dad and I make through the rest of your lives will be based on what’s best for you three, for our family. It’s an easy promise for me to make because we don’t know how to do anything else. Even when we get it wrong, and we will get it wrong sometimes, you can know that we will do what we really believe is best for our children.

I guess I’ve rambled on enough for now. You’re ELEVEN! Happy Birthday, sweet Girlie Bird. I love you so much. You are the baby that made me a mommy, you made us more than a couple but a family. You are my only daughter and I can’t imagine a more amazing one. You are the fourth generation of a first born daughter, and I have no idea what that means, but it’s pretty cool, right?

I love you, baby.

Your Mommy, Bird


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Twas the day before Thanksgiving…

Yeah, this is what I come up with when I don’t want to be writing for school. Here’s a little dream I had this Thanksgiving Eve. Enjoy!

Twas the day ‘fore Thanksgiving
And all through the land,
The people were scurrying to come up with a plan.
The news was on non-stop, crying violence and pain;
In hopes that folks could find victims to blame.
The stores were all busy, and tempers flew hot;
While visions appeared of deals to be got!
And kiddies in their pjs and I in my sweats;
Had just sipped the cocoa, as good as it gets!
When down in the basement arose such a ruckus,
I sprang from the couch to see what fuss is.
Off to the staircase I flew like a goof,
The kids were sure fighting and now I had proof!
The toys and the junk in the unfinished space,
Gave the illusion of mayhem, not a thing in its place!
When what to my screen weary eyes did appear?
But a clean little corner of holiday cheer.
With a sweet little cherub, so funny and cute,
And his brother and sister, both smart and astute.
They stood up and picked up and gathered the stuff,
The dolls and the robots, the cars; all enough!
To donate, to sell, to throw away, or just pitch,
They want it cleaned out and they just don’t care which!
To the top of the bookshelf, to the back of the trunk!
Now clean it up, sweep it up, pick up the junk!
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky;
So to the job, these children now turned,
With the dusting and sorting, oh my, they had learned!
And then in a twinkling, I felt such great joy.
They’d each like to donate a favorite toy!
As I sucked in my breath and felt ready to praise
Up the staircase they hurried, these children I’d raised.
They were dressed all in fleece, from their head to their feet
And the oldest’s top and bottom would just not quite meet.
A bin full of toys they were pulling behind,
And they looked like sweet elves, but still didn’t mind.
Their eyes, how they twinkled, their giggles, how funny!
They squeals were like music, their smiles so sunny!
The sweet little creatures moved as quick as the light
And they cleaned out the basement so nicely that night!
The piles of their toys that they knew they’d not need
Were just sitting and ready to be their good deed.
They’d sorted them carefully, marking by age
The dollies, the puzzles, that Minecraft game rage.
They were jolly and sleepy and sweetly alive
And I teared up when I saw them and tried not to cry.
A rub of their eyes, and a twist of their heads,
Soon gave me to know it was near time for beds.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work
I loaded the toys, they’d worked hard, I can’t shirk!
And driving to Goodwill as fast as I could,
I thought how I’d never believed that they would
Realize all their blessings and give something back.
But I must remember and not give them flack!
And I heard them but whisper as they started to doze:
“Happy Thanksgiving, Mom!”
They’re good kids, I suppose!

 


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Congrats, South Carolina!

Marriage equality comes to South Carolina! Though I didn’t keep up with many of them, I knew quite a few LGBT folks in college in South Carolina. Those who stayed there can now experience all the rights and joys of marriage in their home state. I’m so glad for them, though a little sad that Ohio seems so far away from this milestone.

So, it turns out this guy who went to my college is one of the first South Carolinians to get a marriage license with his same-sex partner. They’ve been interviewed on several media outlets and gotten a good bit of coverage. Lots of folks have posted on his Facebook page sharing support, and I joined them. I truly hope they are happy, though I also wish it was no bigger deal than any other marriage of an old college acquaintance. It is a big deal, though! It’s a really big deal. Here’s these two men who have been sharing their lives for 20 years and FINALLY they get to make easy legal arrangements for each other’s financial security in the event that one of them should die. FINALLY they can share insurance plans, assume next of kin, and just call each other “husband.”

Watching one of the interviews I had to giggle, though. My college acquaintance and his partner and another couple, two women, were featured. They are so sweet and unassuming. They are clearly thrilled to have these new rights and watching them, their happiness is obvious. But they are not the activists who were the first to marry in the Northeast or on the West Coast. They are clear that they aren’t trying to change anyone’s feelings about them. They don’t care what anyone else feels about their union, their lives, their sexual preferences. They have the rights they should have and beyond that, they are uninterested in changing anyone’s minds about anything. It made me smile. It made me even more happy for these couples. They’re just like any other couple getting married. Just as they should be, they’re focused on themselves, their own lives, their future.

Congratualtions, South Carolina. I’m proud of the state where I came of age. Now if my own home state would just catch up!


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I could complain…

I could whine about how I got nothing done this week in the way of basement cleaning and pre-holiday deep cleaning. I could whine about my headache, or how whiny the kids are, or how I’ve been running non-stop since my feet hit the ground this morning. I could complain about the huge amount of laundry my husband is about to bring home from his week away (though, in fairness, he’ll do most of it himself), or the gear that he will spread out for two days while he carefully packs it away for next year. I could moan about how I really have to wash the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher because the dishwasher stinks and we had potato soup so everything will be covered with potato starch.

I’m not going to, though. I’m just not. The house will get clean and Christmas will come either way. The kids are going to bed before long, and they’ll be fine. Part of their whininess is that they got flu vaccines today and I’m much more comfortable about the beginning of flu season. I’ve got a decent working washer and dryer so the laundry will get done and I don’t even have to haul it anywhere to do it.  All that gear will get packed neatly into a corner of the basement and my husband will not leave for eight days in a row again for another year. We had a wonderful, warm, comforting soup for dinner.

And it might be too early to decorate, but it’s not to early to drag out my favorite Christmas mug for a cup of coffee to try and ease my headache with caffeine. Just can’t forget that life is good.

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Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me. Yeah, it’s a list!

Have you noticed all the lists on blogs lately? Like, “12 Things Every Girl Should Know Before Entering Eighth Grade” or “8 Things I Learned Being a Parent of a Super Awesome Kid” or “25 Things I Wish I’d Told My First Grade Teacher” or maybe even “17 Things I Might Do If I Have Blue Eyed Children.” Everybody has a list. Some of them are wonderful! Some of them are ridiculous. And some of them just piss me off. Then I think about my children, or my relationship with my parents, or how college kids today know nothing just like I knew nothing but I thought I knew all the stuff, and I think, HEY! I should make one of those lists. But the rational part of my brain takes over and tells that other part to shut up! Don’t be ridiculous, there are too darn many lists out there already! But sometimes the obnoxious part wins. So, I present to you Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me.fall 26

  1. Go to church. Yes, Jesus loves you and yes, the bible tells you so. We have gone to great lengths to teach you what we believe, and though we don’t agree on every aspect of religion, we share some common core beliefs. Many people advocate letting children figure out for themselves what they believe and not “forcing” religion on them. I couldn’t disagree more with that approach. You can and should figure out what you believe for yourself, but I’ll be making sure you know what I believe, as I do with any other topic. Why would religion be different? We’ll keep taking you to church, not in an effort to brainwash you, but because only there can you learn how deeply we believe these things. Only there can you hear God’s word proclaimed every time you walk in the door, and explained by different people, maybe one of which will make the most sense to you. And only there can you experience the community of believers that is special and different from a social club. If you find yourself in a church that doesn’t feel like that to you, find a different one. If you find that you don’t believe the things being taught by the particular church you find yourself in, find a different one, but go to church.
  2. Vote. Every time there is an election in your precinct, for any issue, any office, any levy, educate yourself on the question or candidates and pick a side. Then go vote. The whole system runs better when people are engaged in the process. Not just because the people actually chose the winners, but because it makes you a more educated citizen, increases your awareness of the issues that affect not just the nation, but your little piece of it.
  3. Pick a mate who has other long term relationships and a good relationship with at least one parent. If he or she has never had long term friendships, why would you assume this person is capable of a long term romantic relationship? And assuming his parents are living, does he WANT to have a good relationship with them? Now, obviously sometimes we meet perfectly nice people who have crazy people for parents. Fair enough. But assuming sanity on all parties, does she try to keep a good relationship with her parents? That tells you a lot about a person, don’t you think?
  4. Don’t eat crap. Well, not much, anyway. Okay, eat crap if you want to, but don’t let it take over your diet. My generation was raised on Twinkies and Wonder Bread, Tang and Hawaiian Punch. It hasn’t killed us all, but Lord knows we’ve shown over and over that this is not a good basis for a diet. So, don’t worry too much about a particular diet, but eat whole foods when you can and try to steer clear of these over processed things. You’ll feel better, and you won’t crave that garbage.
  5. Do things for other people that you don’t have to do. Maybe that means volunteering somewhere like a food pantry or homeless shelter. Maybe that means just raking the leaves of an elderly neighbor. Maybe it’s just reading to a little kid. It feels good, and it’s okay to feel good about it. Feeling good for doing good is not a bad thing and you should not feel guilt for wanting to feel that! So, make meals for neighbors with they’re sick or have a baby. Donate items to the charity of your choice, you probably have too much stuff in your closet at any given moment. Participate in fund raisers and public awareness campaigns.
  6. Don’t let people tear you down. I could go on for days about society’s effect on our girls and body image issues, or boys and the macho thing, or bullies on the playground, on and on. But in the end, decide that you are a good person and act on that. Then if others don’t agree, don’t hang out with them. You don’t have to TELL those folks they’ve been cut from your life, just don’t make any more plans with them. People either build you up, or tear you down. If you aren’t being built up by someone, find someone else to hang out with. In the end, all they have to do to build you up is NOT tear you down.
  7. Take care of your skin. From adolescence to the end of your life, your skin is worth caring for. This is one I’m not so good at, and my skin shows it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, the main thing is to be consistent. Wash, tone, moisturize. Moisturize your whole body. Even when you’re in a hurry, or tired, or whatever. Even when you think your skin is perfect, it won’t always be. Stay on top of it.
  8. Don’t chose a mate based on the high at the beginning of a relationship. Sure, we all know folks that met in high school, fell instantly in loved, and lived together happily ever after, married for 60 or 70 years. But of all the people you know, how many fall into that category? Most people who make a life-long commitment based on those new love feelings are not prepared to spend a lifetime together, even if they think they are. Yeah, you’re in love, you are sure it will last forever, and maybe it will. What’s the rush? Give it a few months, a year, maybe a bit more. Get into a routine, maybe (*gasp*) cohabitate. Have a big fight. Still think this is the person for you? Great. Invite me to the wedding. I love weddings.
  9. Live your values. If you believe it, don’t sit on it. You don’t have to PREACH it if you demonstrate it. Everyone has to figure that one out for himself, but if you feel like something you’re doing isn’t living up to what you believe, you should stop doing that!


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Some Thoughts On Shopping

We’re hurdling headlong into the holidays, and, man, do I have stuff to say! Right!? I mean, I know all you out there who actually know me in real life (no comments about how nobody else is reading, please) are just shocked that I have opinions on stuff, AND that I’m willing to actually speak them out loud. Try to settle down. I’ll wait while you allow this foreign concept of Bird with opinions to sink in. HA! I crack myself up.

I’m reading my Facebook feed and there’s feed and there’s just so much to have opinions about! And some of it I might even be right about. Though (and this part might actually shock you) I am willing to admit that I might be wrong. Probably not, and you’ll have to convince me, but maybe, so go ahead and tell me if you think I am. Let’s just keep it off Facebook. That seems smart these days, no?

I have opinions on some stuff that just don’t amount to much. I mean, I’m not going to try to convince you one way or another here. Just spout. Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. I keep seeing this stuff on my feed. No, I don’t have a problem with these ideas, but it just all seems so self-righteous to post them on your wall. And I know that the folks whose walls I swiped them from are good people who mean well. I know that they feel these things strongly and truly feel that they are helping to make our country a better place by reposting these. And I also know, or hope I’m right, that they will follow through and actually buy local when they can and stay out of retail on Thanksgiving day. This isn’t about an opportunity to judge. But I can’t do it. I can’t just post it and not comment at length. I’ll put them here instead and ramble for a while about the ideas they represent, okay?

1455046_10151990479314255_799574030_n1379721_310997639040818_1215215804_nWAR ON THANKSGIVING?  Really? I’m pretty sure the retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving are not trying to eliminate this holiday. Rather, they NEED there to be a Thanksgiving to mark the all out craziness that is the “holiday shopping season.” It’s true that they didn’t use to open their doors on Thanksgiving. It’s true that the season used to begin the day AFTER Thanksgiving, but I’ll get to the Black Friday thing in a minute. For now, let’s just unpack the whole open on Thanksgiving thing. So, now that shopping on Thanksgiving IS a thing, now that millions of dollars will be changing hands that day, now that the shoppers are there, you really want more retailers to look at that money and just say no. You want them to just turn down their share of those dollars because it’s the right thing to do? Yes, you say, that’s exactly it. Well, okay, fine. I am totally on board with believing in people to do the right thing for the right reason, even if it costs them financially. It’s sort of like non-compulsory charitable giving. We can count on people to do the right thing, so we don’t need use tax dollars to pay for quite so many of the things some people need because we can count on people and private organizations to do the right thing for the right reasons, right? Hmm. Seems like we’ve disagreed on that before.

1375056_10153305787625538_5380466_nThen there’s this one. It’s not a bad idea. I have no beef with the idea of buying locally. In fact, I think it’s great if my local businesses get some business out of it. There’s a wonderful new bakery in downtown Worthington and you should totally check them out. Sassafras Bakery has gotten rave revues and I hope it thrives, but come on. A pie is like, $30. I don’t think that’s over priced for what you get. After all, someone lovingly prepared this pie from fine fresh ingredients just for you. I’ll bet it’s the best pie you can find in town. But if I decide to find money in the budget for pie that my aunt didn’t make, I’m gonna pick up one from the Kroger bakery for $8. Will it be as good? Probably not, but I’ll still have another $22 to spend on the boxed cereal and non-organic milk. Do I WANT to that local bakery to do well? Hell yeah. (At least a little bit because it’s in the building that used to hold the stationery shop where I ordered my wedding invitations, but I’m sometimes a bit irrational like that.) I want them to thrive. I hope they pay their employees well. I hope people feel all that wonderful, homey, community love every time they walk in the door. I’m thinking I need to stop by for a cookie and a cup of coffee today. (I have some time since the Baby Bird is going to Grandma’s.) But I can’t local businesses are very often much more expensive. Not because they want to be, but because of the economic issues involved. I get that. It’s complicated, but that doesn’t mean I have more disposable income. As for gifts? Yeah, I’ll likely look for smaller (possibly higher priced) items. I would rather give a lovely pair of handknitted gloves for the same price as a whole set of mass produced winter gear. But I can’t be guilted into not buying the more reasonably priced fleece gloves for my three kids because I would go broke buying them ALL handknits and meanwhile their hands are cold.

And then there’s the whole chaos of Black Friday. I know some of you love it. Some of you will set your alarm clocks for the middle of the night and then you’ll go out in your pajamas and delight in the whirlwind race of elbows and ramming shopping carts to get the two 60″ TVs that are for sale for $50. But it just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Not because I don’t like to shop. I do. It may be my most favorite past time. But not that day. The joy has been completely sucked out of it for me that day. I like to browse, to pick things up, to imagine buying it, owning it or giving it, to picture using it or how I might wrap it. I love scanning the entire department for the item that will catch my attention and call me to further investigate. I like to imagine the person receiving the item. I need to do all that to make a purchase decision. On Black Friday, none of that is possible. I don’t mind if it’s busy. I love feeling like I’m sharing all that experience with lots of other folks out because they have loved ones to buy for. I just don’t want to be knocked down at any point in the process. I don’t want to purchase anything because the sale will run out in eight seconds or because if I don’t the lady behind me will get it and that ain’t right because I got up earlier and I deserve it and GET OUT OF MY WAY!

I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving because I am one of the lucky ones. I don’t ever want to forget for one second how lucky I am. Not only will I be gathered with my family in a warm, safe place, but there will be more food than we know what to do with. We will all of us eat until it gets boring. It will be completely unnecessary to eat the food we will consume that day. Totally unhealthy, and perhaps even unsafe. Some of us will drink a little too much. No one will worry too much about where we will sleep that night. We will all enjoy the luxury of our own pompous idea that we somehow need all the excess of that celebration. That will keep me way too busy to bother with shopping on Thanksgiving. My children will never wonder if mom is going shopping on the fourth Thursday of November and hopefully, it will never occur to them to go. The day after we will look for something light to eat, and revel in the bonus day off that Daddy gets. We’ll probably have some other family obligation to see to. We will stay as far away from retailers as possible because shopping just isn’t fun that day. Except, wait, that’s not true. We will have a party on Saturday, so I will have to go to the grocery on Black Friday. Let’s hope Kroger isn’t giving away iPods or selling too many super cheap TVs. For those two days we won’t participate in the chaos. If other folks do, well, than they do. I’m grateful none of my loved ones work in retail these days, but if they did and had to miss Thanksgiving, we’d probably celebrate around their schedule in some way and remember to mention their employment in our prayers of thanksgiving.

I’ve also got opinions of UGGs and the revelation that they are made of sheep skin (uh, okay), engineering toys for girls, the governor of Oklahoma, the mayor of Toronto, and a whole bunch of other political tidbits. I guess none of them are all that astounding, though. I better post this for now. Stay tuned for a general life update in then next day or two.


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FYI: It’s NOT that simple!

Yup, I’m probably going to piss some people off, but I’m gonna just take the risk. A few days ago I came across a blog post that has apparently made the rounds on Facebook and other social media, called FYI (if you’re a teenage girl), by Kimberly Hall. Mrs. Hall is the Director of Women’s Ministry at All Saints Presbyterian Church in Austin, TX. I mention her position just to give her a little credibility that her intent is good. Doesn’t mean I’d likely agree with her on every point of theology, or even most, or for that matter all parenting points, but it does mean that she’s likely given these issues some real thought and not just rattled them off with a self-righteous zeal at the top of her mind.

So, Mrs. Hall is of the mind that teenage girls should be more careful about the things they put on Facebook. (Here we agree and I’ll elaborate on my opinion shortly.) She regularly gets together with her three teenaged sons and one pre-teen daughter, and looks through the social media scene with them. (Not sure that’s how we’ll handle social media in our house, but we haven’t had to cross that bridge, yet, so it’s still to be determined.) She blocks those girls who might be “tempting” her boys to “impure thoughts.” (Okay, here Mrs. Hall and I part ways, though I think she means well. I completely disagree with this approach, but I’ll get to that, too.)

Now lots of people are offended by this mother’s approach and she’s been accused of everything from slut shaming to irresponsible child rearing. There are all sorts of responses on other people’s blogs now, and here I go writing one, too. I was going to link to some of them, but I don’t want to get too off track. A simple Google search brings up almost 140,000 of them. Most of them are offended that she has put out the message that teenage girls bodies are bad, boys bodies are wholesome (she did include a bunch of pictures of her shirtless boys), and that it is entirely a girl’s responsibility to be sure no boy or man, for that matter, sees her a sexual object. After all, the male of our species is completely incapable of controlling either his eyes or his thoughts, right? Well, no, and I don’t for one second think that’s Mrs. Hall’s point.

Yes, it’s true, how a man looks at a woman, or young girl, and what he thinks when he looks at her, are not her responsibility. Each man, or boy, is responsible for his own heart and mind, and certainly the direction of his gaze. But why would we not tell our teenage daughters that it is silly, pointless, and degrading to ATTEMPT to control them. Posing in your bedroom without a bra, back arched, sultry pout and all, are DESIGNED to control the thoughts of the men and boys for whom they post these pictures. It is an ATTEMPT to make those males on their friends list see them as a sexual object, at least at that moment. Maybe not every pajama selfie by a teenage girl is taken with that goal, but to say that NONE of them are is disingenuous and does these girls another disservice. Will the young men who view these be destined to never see her as anything but a sexual object? No, of course not! But he has now gotten the message that she WANTS to be thought of that way. How horribly confusing to him. And NO, I’m not saying that the young lady wearing a short skirt is asking to be raped, or even to have sex. That is NOT the same thing.

We all agree that our society has over sexualized woman, and that our daughters are being pressured in ridiculous ways to be conscious of their sexuality from an insanely young age. It’s no wonder that they are trying harder and harder to “be sexy” from younger and younger ages. But that’s not what I want for my daughter. I don’t want her to post those pajama selfies. I don’t want it to even occur to her that she should post those. I don’t want her to spend one second ever feeling that she needs the kind of injection of self-esteem that might be gained from seeing how many “likes” or comments she can get from posting a sexy selfie intended to cause her male classmates to imagine being there in bed with her.  I can hope for the best and tell her body is wonderful, which it is, but why would I not also tell her to knock off the selfies with no bra? Why would I not point out how much I disapprove when I see her friends doing it?

And, boys! Yes, you are in control! Here’s a good post with the message I want my boys to get. But even that is almost too far the other way. Boys, you are totally and completely in control of your thoughts and eyes, and playing the victim or blaming anyone else for your thoughts and actions will always turn out badly. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t beware of someone, anyone, attempting to manipulate your thoughts, particularly in a sexual way. Not because she might succeed, and not because you might lose some of that control that you cannot lose, but because it says something about her. It tells you first of all that she thinks that’s a healthy way to interact with you. It tells you that she is gaining some amount, large or small, of self esteem by attempting to exercise a sexual power. She likely hasn’t given it that much thought. She hasn’t thought through the whole thing, but to say that she isn’t hoping for a whole lot of attention as a result of that post is not realistic. That attention gives her some boost of self-esteem, and I’m sorry that she feels she needs it. It doesn’t mean she’s a whore, or that she’s slutty, or that she has any intent to act on the thoughts she might be hoping to provoke.

They aren't teenagers, yet, but sometimes it feels like a freight train barreling straight at me!

They aren’t teenagers, yet, but sometimes it feels like a freight train barreling straight at me!

In the end it’s all about judgement, right? Mrs. Hall got all sorts of grief for judging those girls in their jammies. We want to teach our boys not to judge girls for posting pictures in nothing but a towel. We want to work hard, like this mother did, not to judge Mrs. Hall and her parenting decisions for her post. But none of that is realistic, either. No, we don’t want to make hard decisions on what kind of person someone is based solely on how short their skirt is on a given Tuesday. We shouldn’t BLOCK a young lady’s profile completely based on one poorly advised selfie. We shouldn’t decide a mother is screwing up her sons because of one rashly formed family social media policy. But as humans, we are always categorizing and organizing and drawing inferences based on available information. We HAVE to. Our brains are just wired that way, and we’ve been doing it since birth. The only part of that we can change is HOW we do it, and how permanent those judgements are.

All I’m getting at is that this is a tough parenting dilemma. There are a lot of people making all sorts of absolute statements and getting more and more polarized about this and SO MANY other things. Why must every issue be all or nothing? I want my sons to know they are in control of their thoughts, but it’s not realistic to expect them, as hormone-crazed teenagers, to look at that braless cutie and NOT have a sexual thought. I want my daughter to know that her body is fantastic, and a gift, and though it will give her lots of sexual pleasure, it is not dirty, but I also don’t want her posting pictures like those we’ve been talking about all week. There is a medium. There are so many shades of grey.