Friday, November 30, 2012

Friendship and Facebook

It's a sad-ish day around the house today, mourning the loss of a friendship.  It was a friendship that I had been feeling less well with for a while, but it still hurts.  You know the friend- calls you when they want something done, is too busy to talk when you try to reach out, asks you to censor yourself on their Facebook posts in order to keep the peace, doesn't like to debate on Facebook but frankly that's the only place you interact.

Hmmm...  Writing this out makes it not seem like much of a friendship to begin with...

I tried to respect her wishes, and took my opinion to my own wall, where she followed and proceeded to have the argument that she didn't want on her's.  When I pointed out that she likes to "control the message," she got upset.  I'm sorry that I used the wrong words, but I don't know what else to call it when you request people remove comments in a discussion.  Things escalated, and ended with her stating "...If you don't like the way I operate, unfriend me. It's a simple as that."  

So I did.  

The one way we interacted, gone.  I don't need "friends" who don't value me; I'm not some poor little puppy.

But I still miss her.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Reason Ken's an Only

Reason #3,487- Favoritism

Yep, this actually is one of the many reasons I only wanted one kid if Dwight and I were going to have a family.  It may sound crazy, but there you have it; this is me after all, so crazy is to be expected. 

All the parents that I've ever known try to be impartial and fair with their kids, and many of them do really well at this, but too often I see them fail at not showing favoritism to one child or another.  It's never purposeful, and there's many different reasons for that bias.  And let me be clear- there are no unbiased humans.  Bias on it's own isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, it's just a way that we view the world.  Some people can relate more to children of their same gender, or the one that looks more like them, or a multitude of other reasons, and even purely by chance. 

It's the effects of that bias that gets my goat the most.  Like prejudice and discrimination, I'm not using bias and favoritism interchangeably in this sense, and it is exactly that, a sense, no more.  Where bias or prejudice is the feeling, discrimination and favoritism is the action.  It's the action that hurts people far more.  In both the cases of discrimination and favoritism, the results are real and cause potentially disastrous problems for the subject of the discrimination or favoritism. 

I don't want to risk that for my kid.  I owe it to him to be the best parent I can be to him, and for me that means not running the risk of favoring him over another child, or another child over him.  Especially since he has proven to be such a high-energy and high-demand kid. 

So we stick with what works for us, the same as every other family does.  And that's why every family deserves love and support, without judging.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Four

Sunday, 18 November, 2012- I'm thankful for being able to work with Dwight.  Especially on home improvement stuff.  All household members surviving the project is an added bonus.

Monday, 19 November, 2012- I'm thankful for technology that, when used well and working correctly, makes life easier and simplifies processes.  Skype for interviews instead of driving, word processing instead of typewriters, internet for TV instead of cable or antenna, and online applications instead of three pound application packets are the little things that save so much time and money regularly for me.  It really is the little things.

Tuesday, 20 November, 2012- I'm thankful to have a chance to have "my day in court" as it were, on the Wells-Sherman house issue and see how this last push goes.  Not a clue on chances.  Not a clue on how this will go down.  But at least this is going on the record and everything is coming out in the open.  Blarg.

Wednesday, 21 November, 2012- I'm thankful to have absolutely gorgeous weather in Ohio, in late November.  Like, take a walk with no coat on nice weather.  This could almost convince me that global warming is a good thing.  Almost.

Thursday, 22 November, 2012- I'm thankful for the time to reflect on how well I have it.

Friday, 23 November, 2012- I'm thankful not to have to go out much today, and to have (once again) no plans to shop on Buy Nothing Day.  I'm standing in solidarity with protesting Wal-Mart workers, and saving spending for Buy Local Saturday, instead.  Vote with your dollars.  

Saturday, 24 November, 2012 (almost)- I'm thankful that my younger sister was able to find her way out of an abusive relationship.  What I'm not thankful for is how much I miss that little girl.  I love you, I always will.  I'm glad that he can't hurt you anymore, but I wonder if you knew how much you would hurt everyone else.   And I'm thankful that I can still hear your laugh when I need to.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanky Happsgiving!

Today, I give thanks for many, many things, and recognize that I am so very blessed.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Family, chosen and born
  • Friends, new and old
  • Loves, present and lost
  • Animals, belly-nourishing and soul-nourishing
  • Shelter, clothing, transportation
  • Food, and there is a lot of it to be thankful for
  • Education and those who educate, in all forms
  • Plant-life, career-related, food-related, and joy-related
  • Beauty of all kinds, both inside and out
  • Time, busy and slow, together and alone
  • Comforts, minor and major
To Dwight, Kenny, J&H&E, the JAMEly, and more- thank you, you bless me tremendously.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IComLeavWe Intro

Hey, welcome if you're here for IComLeavWe!  Or if you're not.  Whatever.  New or old friends, feel free to jump in and have a look around.  Short story is that I'm a dissertating Ph.D. in biology student (graduation in May), mama to a first grader, surro-mama to two kiddos, egg-mama to three babes, and wife to Dwight.  Long story can be found in the archives, or just ask questions you want the answers for. 

I can't wait to read some of the great blogs visiting here from Stirrup Queens, because your stories are always amazing and inspiring.  Women and men who go through infertility and/or alternative family building are so strong that I can't even believe it.  You are my heroes.  To love a child that much before they're even conceived?  That takes guts.  And the future is better because of the self-confident children that you so thoughtfully raise.  Thank you.  You humble me.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lending, not Wringing

Hands, that is.

Since Frankenstorm Sandy hit New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other areas, there's been a lot of talk about how to help out, and I appreciate that.  Sandy did quite a job on heavily populated areas of the US, and areas that have some of the oldest infrastructure in the country as well.  It's going to take a lot of work, a lot of people, and a lot of resources to rebuild the ravaged areas.  This is not going to be a simple task, and the losses will take some grieving.

However hard as it may be, the rebuilding need begin as quickly as possible.  This type of urgency doesn't leave much time for hand wringing.  It's a time to lend a hand instead, so that's what some of us in Kent are doing with a non-cert on December 9th.  Songs of Hope: Music from Kent to NYC is an online event and open to the public, so you can participate from wherever you are.  The goal is to raise funds for victims of Sandy, and to enjoy some good music, and start a conversation.  Lots of them, if we're lucky. That thermometer over on the left is keeping track of what we've done so far, so check back in and see how it changes. 

How can you participate, you may be asking?  Simple.  Check back in to the event page on Facebook on December 9th, where we'll be posting links to songs of struggle, political action, solidarity, and whatever else strikes people's fancy, and a link to vetted, on-the-ground charitable organizations with each song.  You can choose from the linked organizations and contribute, if you feel so compelled.  Heck, post some links to songs that you enjoy, too, and if you're really ambitious, host a house party with some friends to all join together for the event.  Your imagination's the limit on this one, and we'd love to hear what people are doing and thinking about.

As an added bonus, Hanukkah starts at sundown that evening (thus the candle in the logo).  Maybe we can help to start a small miracle for the groups that are doing so much good in areas that desperately need it.  If we all work together, and all try and contribute what we can, then there's no reason we can't make at least a dent.

Sound good?  Let me hear from you.  How are you lending a hand?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Three

Sunday, 11 November, 2012- It's Veterans Day, and I'm thankful to all who have served in our armed forces and Peace Corps (and Americorps and related groups).  In peace time and in war time.  To all those who have helped to make this nation what it is through their dedication and service, I commend and thank you.

Monday, 12 November, 2012- I'm thankful for my chosen family, who share many of my beliefs, appreciate similar things, have similar priorities, and have still allowed me into their lives.  They had a choice to be a part of mine or not, and they chose to do so, and have stood by me and been supportive on some of the hardest days I've faced.  They love me for who I am, not who they think I should be, or who I was when I was a child.   They could choose to leave when things get too tough, but they don't.

Tuesday, 13 November, 2012- I am thankful for random emails from strangers asking for my help with a "Kent Heroes" photographic story.  Some people still take an interest in our fight to keep a small lot for children, the arts, and the community, even if the odds are getting slimmer and most of Kent has moved on and lost interest.  And I'm thankful for getting the chance to be part of a very grassroots, organic building of community against long odds and deep pockets and close connections.  I have learned so much from this process, it's unbelievable.  Now, if we could just win, that would be gravy.

Wednesday, 14 November, 2012- I'm thankful for my education and the path that this choice has lead me.  So many people don't even consider education an option, or look down on it as irrelevant, and I honestly can't imagine a life like that.  To be clear, I'm not saying degrees=education, I'm saying that I'm thankful for my education, which has occurred in and out of schools, on my own and with others, through success and failure.  Education is no where near the same thing as a degree, and I am far more thankful for my education than my degrees.  It's more important to developing a person, even if it may not have the prestige of a degree.

Thursday, 15 November, 2012- I'm thankful for the years that I've had with Dwight, and the person that he is, flawed human as we both are.  It's been a lot of struggles, but he's been there, and G-D it, I love him.  Which makes both our flaws so much harder to deal with.  Not liking him would be so much easier than this on many days.  He has faith in me when I don't, he makes me not be a hermit, and he reminds me that there's this thing called "reality" that might not match up to my ideals.  No matter where our fate lies, for better or worse, we've helped to make each other who we are.

Friday, 16 November, 2012- I'm thankful for endings.  It's the end of the week, and tomorrow starts another weekend.  Time to try and rest, time to be together, just the three of us, and time to let our hair down and have some fun.  Just one more day of wrap-up and anticipation, and we're there.

Saturday, 17 November, 2012- I'm thankful for seeing friends that I miss.  A chosen sister is coming into town today, and I can't wait.  It's Saturday, so Haymaker Farmers' Market is going on, where I'll get to see more friends than I know what to do with.  They exhaust me, but I love these people.  My tribe.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


Life sucks some days.  Recently, there's been an onslaught of bad news for many of my friends.  I feel bad for them,my heart hurts for them, but I find it hard to reach out beyond sympathizing on Facebook.  Our house is facing our own battles, but there are no doctors appointments, scary diagnoses, pills, treatments, or other obvious signs.  I know plenty of other houses that are also facing difficulties, so I know we're not alone. 

It's funny how social media lets us be so much more connected in some ways, but so much more isolated in others.  Human brains have not evolved for a digital interface, so there's a certain disconnect with this form of communication.  With today's children growing up more and more immersed in technology, I wonder how quickly we'll adjust to what technology has brought into the world. 

At the neurobiology level, our brains just don't react the same way to emails, texts, or online chatting the way they do to the voice, smell, or touch of our loved ones and friends.  Especially for people facing emotional difficulty like grief or depression, new forms of communication just don't have the same psychological benefit.  Do yourself and your loved ones a favor- pick up the phone today.  Stop by their house.  Write a letter and put it under your pillow for a night (sleep on it!). 

Remember tomorrow is International Survivors of Suicide Day.  Reach out and you could save a life.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

OK, the little things make the world go 'round some days.  And on a day that Thanksgiving preparations are occurring, and lots of friends are posting about their sister/family, and travel plans are being anticipated, and IJUSTWISHMYSISTERWERESTILLALIVEANDDADWOULDBEAHUGEBONUS, those little things are huge things.  Little things that made my day today, in no particular order:

1.  The little twit that accused Elmo of grossness rescinded.
2.  I was contacted about a "Kent Heroes" thing on Save the Standing Rock by a Kent State photographer.
3.  I signed the original bond for the restraining order against a freaking house.
4.  I submitted my application for a kick-a$$ position that I'm drooling over.  Biology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies not too far from Kent; it's like it was written for me.
5.  Little dude is a rockstar, and thrilled to get a photo book that he and I made on election day.
6.  I have awesome friends. 
7.  I got to Skype with J&H and surro-baby #2.  Even better was seeing little dude and Miss E laughing hysterically at each other. 
8.  Being called "mom" by somebody else' kid.
9.  I got to watch the new Walking Dead again.  Yeah, it's great.
10.  Potential new tutoring students.  And fun stuff like a cloth diaper consult tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful Planning

It's less than two weeks from the epic gorge-fest that is a Thanksgiving meal at our house.  My family's German, we say "I love you" with food.  We say "I'm sorry" with food.  "Please could you..." and "Thank you for..." get more food.  Yeah, I should probably try talking more and eating less, right?  It's just the way I was taught, and changing that is hard.  I try, but it's hard.  It's far easier for me to ask about a favorite dish and make sure that it's provided than to hold an awkward conversation, so anytime that I cook a meal there's been as many palates as I can manage to pull together.  There's vegetarian and meat-filled, highly processed and made from scratch organic, traditional and exotic, and everything in between.  Dwight always joked that I "cooked for the Russian and Slobovian armies" when we had family or friends over, and I did (well, do, truth be told).  This is totally ironic because when it's just the three of us, I try to cook just enough since he refuses to eat leftovers.

So this year we get to host the family dinner.  With another of Dwight's siblings having joined us in Kent, the older brother in Los Angeles not coming out, and the sister being gone for the holiday, it made sense that festivities happen in Kent.  I would happily have let the younger brother and his wife host in Kent, but this makes sense.  The important thing- I'm cooking here where I'm comfortable and have good tools instead of driving 4+ hours and cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen.  Yeah, aspie tendencies much?  Ah, well, I try, and can't do much else.

And honestly, I'm looking forward to this for the first time in a long time.  There won't be any chemically-smelly things to drive me mad, there won't be as big a crowd, there won't be hours in a metal box on wheels, I won't feel trapped, and this year I won't be pumping (I might look like this in celebration).  Possibly the nicest thing- a far smaller selection of dietary demands to be dealt with.  I'm actually looking forward to cooking a small meal.  Relatively speaking.

Of course, this poses its own challenges, namely, breaking habits.  I have to pare down the menu, and that's an interesting proposition.  Lack of youngest sibling means no Stove Top stuffing and no bag of egg noodles (YEAH!), home made noodles are a real possibility.  Father in law necessitates mashed potatoes, but can handles real potatoes.  Mother in law is coming in later for dinner, so baked brie, crackers, crudites, and munchies can wait until the evening (or do I serve them twice?  Decisions...).  Still have to have the Can-O-Berries, but I might be able to also swing real cranberry sauce.  Missing older brother in law means far less turkey needed, and I can be more creative with the bird. Local sister in law is Chinese, so do I have some Asian fare as well, add some Asian flare to traditional dishes, or just keep it traditional?

Of course, the big choice is do I go traditional or do I have fun (but make more work)?  Turkey, noodles, and veggies are non-negotiable, but endlessly variable.  My favorites are green bean casserole, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, and roasted root vegetables.  Decisions apparently don't end on election day, let's just hope that these decisions are less contentious and less stressful.

What are you cooking for Thanksgiving?  Any ideas or suggestions?  How do you celebrate?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Month of Thanks, Week Two

Sunday, 4 November, 2012- Today I am thankful for a house to clean, and people I love to make that house a home.  It's not big or fancy, but it keeps the weather out and gives us all something to work together on.  And honestly, I love this house because she just has so dang much character, like the three people who live here, and so many of our friends.

Monday, 5 November, 2012- I am grateful for the start of a new week, a new day, and the new chances it brings.  Time away from my family gives me time to invest in myself, and the work we did together over the weekend gives me the peace of mind to dedicate time to my work.  This chance to be who I am gives me the energy to be who they need me to be.

Tuesday, 6 November, 2012, Election Day- I am thankful for the discussion that this election is bringing about.  It's not an easy discussion, but nothing worth doing is simple.  From Facebook, today:

     Today is the day that (theoretically) we voice our opinion on the leaders of our nation. Those votes area
     cast based on 2 billion dollars of advertising, from various sources besides the candidates, and often
     from unknown donors. There may even be a few hours of actual research that go into the choice. And
     then the electoral college gets to cast their vote, which (again, theoretically) will represent the will of the
     majority of the people in their respective states. And the two major choices are a "liar" who "doesn't
     understand Americans" or someone who's "not as bad as the other choices" (take your pick- those all
     have been used to describe both candidates). If worse comes to worse, there's always the possibility of
     just letting nine life-appointed judges decide for us, a la 2000.

     But at least your local and state elections make a difference!

     Whatever way this whole thing ends up, look at the people you meet today. They are people, they care    
     about our country and our community, they have families whom they love, the work for the benefit of 
     themselves and others, and their DNA is *vastly* similar to your own. You do not know their story, you 
     have no right to judge them- there but for fortune and all that. Then roll up your sleeves, and stiffen your 
     back, because if we're going to be a civilized society, we all have a metric shit-ton of work to do, and 
     open your eyes, because it's hard to work without knowing what's going on.

Wednesday, 7 November, 2012- I am so amazingly grateful for the move toward equality that our country has made in the very recent time.  Last night's win for the first openly LGBTQ person to the Congress, the passage of marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, and an all-woman delegation for the first time ever (in New Hampshire) shows that we are moving toward a society of inclusion, not exclusion.  Let's keep up this momentum.

Thursday, 8 November, 2012- I have gratitude for the flexibility that my chosen career has given to me to deal with taking care of my family and myself the way I need to, the flexibility of mind that has allowed me to embrace non-typical ideas, people, processes, and aesthetics in my life, and the returning flexibility of my body after far too long focusing on just staying head-above-water now that I am making the time to be me and love me.

Friday, 9 November, 2012- I am grateful for simplicity in my life.  Call me lazy, but I prefer not to complicate matters with things like beauty routines, gadgets, battles with my kid over clothes, and things that I don't see as necessary for me. This leaves me free to focus on the things that do matter in my life.  I guess this means that I'm also thankful for an ability to ignore marketing.

Saturday, 10 November, 2012- I am thankful for an unusually warm weekend to enjoy and the time to enjoy it.  While getting work done around the house.  Because getting work done is fun for me.  And for that I'm also grateful.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Open Letter to the US Religious Reicht

You lost the election, and by a *wide* electoral margin and the popular vote.  Romney will not be appointing any Supreme Court justices.  You are not one step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade.  You couldn't get a right wing candidate through the primary.  You lost four different ballot measures on marriage equality.  The US elected their first openly gay congressional representative.  All of your candidates that threw around "forcible" and "legitimate" rape and spewed horribly inaccurate ideas on female biology lost to more reasonable candidates. 

You were sent a message on Tuesday night.  Please, will you now realize that the majority of the majority of US citizens do not agree with your priorities and do not want your beliefs running this country.  This is not a Christian nation, no matter how much history you re-interpret to try and make it so.Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, yes, but not their own facts.  To deny as many facts as you do is to act in a delusional manner.  To then demand that others allow you bring to high office others who hold those same beliefs is beyond delusional.  Your right to believe whatever you want ends when you try to force those beliefs on a country through legislative action.  This country was founded on religious freedom, not just for you, but for everyone, and sometimes religious freedom means freedom from your religion.  Separation of church and state is a long-standing tradition here, and when you push too far into the affairs of state, you risk blow-back. 

This is your blow-back.  I suggest you take a while to interpret the results of Tuesday's election.  Then think about how best to move forward, and what actions would best follow in the footsteps of your lord.  There was a brown-skinned community organizer who's mother got pregnant out of wedlock, and talked about tolerance, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and throwing out the money changers long before Obama.  His name was Jesus. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I'm Not a SAHM

Click here to view this photo book larger
Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Today's Election Day, and Ken's school is cancelled as they're a polling place, so what's an over-worked, over-educated, over-achieving, and over-stressed parent to do?  Go to the Zoo!  And plan a party for a stuffed animal's birthday!  And basically home-school for the day... 

As an added part of today's events, he and I are taking a poll- Decision 2012.  Vote for your favorite animal by liking it, and we're going to build a graph of the results. 

The day's wrap-up:
Social Studies- Voting and a lesson in the electoral college and money in politics.
Literacy- Work in activity books to practice writing (he has my writing skills), and do some reading.
Science- Trip to the zoo and animal identification.
Math- Figuring up gift shop and store purchases while running errands and helping measure stuff for cooking.
Art- Build a Halloween diorama (yes, we're late) and put together a book for stuffed animal birthday (the Shutterfly book above).

So I'm beat.  How was your day?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Report Card Reporting

Ken came home with his first report card on Friday, and I dutifully sent back the signed "Yes, I saw this" paper with him today.  I'll be honest, as much as I dislike the standardization of public education, getting his first real report card home felt like something big.  It wasn't what I think of when I think report card, so that definitely helped.  There were no A's or F's or numbers, just simple pluses, check marks, and non-standard letters (E=Excellent, G=Good, and more that I can't remember- we only had to look up those two, thankfully enough).  And comments!  Lots of room for comments (that was used by his teacher).

I may have started out as an early education major in undergrad, and I may have a bachelor's in psychology, but I'll be first to admit that I'm not at all clear on when milestones should occur, and what is "appropriate" developmentally.  Your three year old doesn't utter a word?  OK.  Your four month old isn't crawling?  WHOA!  Are you looking into that?  I have no clue as to when things are "supposed" to happen, or what kids "should" know at a given time.  Because of this, some form of report or feedback is a huge benefit for me.  Also because of this, I tend to expect more of El Shorto than is reasonable.  I'm working on that, but the kid frequently rises to the challenges faced in being my spawn. 

And for once, it was really nice to see that what the teacher saw matched up with what I saw pretty consistently.  Maybe not exactly, but the trends were there.  He does best in Science (me), and Social Studies (Dwight), and pretty well in Math (again, me).  Not so well in social interactions, and is majorly lacking in self-control (guess who?  Me).  He's performing adequately in all the other areas.  No major surprises either way, and I was happy about that.  Have we talked about how much I dislike surprises? 

It's a nice feeling, hearing that he's "on-track" and "progressing" and what have you.  A little bit of reassurance goes a long way.  And it lets mama know where she can stop pushing so hard, and where she should be focusing.  It doesn't make the pushing on subjects like reading any easier, but it's a direction, right?

In other news, Dutch citizen rolls grew by one very important person today.  That makes me happy.  :-)  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Month of Thanks

I saw this going around Facebook, and thought it was a good idea.  It's easy to focus on the negative, especially when the days are getting shorter, it's cold and dreary out, and most of the news seems to be a huge downer with Sandy, the election, the election ads, and no Doctor Who for another two months.  I didn't want to bog down feeds with daily mundane stuff, so I'll just be posting the week's list each Saturday. 

Thursday, 1 November, 2012- I'm grateful for the great programs that Kent State University puts on for our community, specifically the reading tutor program that gives him more personalized attention with his reading twice each week, gives me four additional hours of work time each week, and has really helped spark his interest (and subsequent improvement) in reading.  The fact that his tutoring falls on the days when I have sole responsibility for him is an added bonus.

Friday, 2 November, 2012- I'm grateful for the community school dynamic at our neighborhood elementary.  Ken's school is in walking distance from our house, and many of his friends also live within a very short distance.  We can come together and know the new house construction that someone is talking about, or the garage sale someone else saw.  We really hadn't been too close with much of our neighborhood until now, so this is a huge help in getting to meet other families and learn about our area of town.  Seeing everybody hanging out together at the Halloween Gala on a Friday evening let's me catch up with friends, see new babies, and just have some good cheap fun without going far at all.

Saturday, 3 November, 2012- I'm grateful for days that turn themselves around (doing the hokey-pokey optional).  Typically, if the day starts out bad in our house, it stays bad, and maybe gets worse.  Every once in a while, we manage to work together and change the household dynamic so that the day is salvaged.  Today was one of those days.  It started horribly, and late- which usually equates with terrible in my book.  But after I went off to help with Upward Bound Inspiration Day, I came home to a changed couple of boys.  Admittedly, I came home to a disaster zone and quite the battle, but after that, things improved.  We got the house picked up, cleared out some stuff for donating, and more stuff to give to a Sandy Relief effort I'm trying to make work, and another box of train stuff to send to a friend's little boy.  Yeah, our family has way too much stuff, which I guess is another thing to be grateful for.

What about you?  What are you thankful for?  Are you participating in the month of thanks?  Let me know, and/or link your blog below!