Sunday, June 28, 2009

On Marriage....

You all know I am a common sense girl. I'm more a black and white, logical mind (although, being hyper-analytical, I often throw in the gray just because I like to do things the hard way!). So I read this article, called "On Marriage: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." It's an interesting read and you should probably read it before I proceed.....go on....yes, right now!.....I'll wait.....I need time to gear up my inner feminist anyway.....go on!!


.....now, she makes some interesting points (most notably about living parallel lives without intersection and men not having any emotional ambiguity about work and children) but she also fails to do one thing: she makes no attempt to find balance. She bemoans having too many things to do to have the energy to work on her marriage. Um, WTF?? She sounds as if she was inflexible (she hesitates to hire a nanny because she works from home, but why not someone just a few mornings a week then? or, if you have guilt about that, how about hiring a cleaner?? if you have the income, get some damn help!), she didn't communicate with her husband (whenever I feel like Charming and I are starting to drift apart, I say something...and no, it's not always flowery and pretty, I just say, "I wanna go to dinner," or HE will say, "Let's go to the movies." You can't play games. They don't read minds.) and when she couldn't juggle all the balls, she just let them all drop. She sounded like she resented what was culturally expected of her and blamed the idea of the ideal mom on her inability to participate in her marriage. When in reality, she just chose not to participate. And rather than dropping balls labeled "cleaning" or "socializing" or "working overtime" or "24/7 child care," she chose to drop her marriage.

I don't think that bashing marriage is a feminist idea at all. If anything, feminism can be furthered one man at a time; start with your husband. My husband is starting spaghetti sauce, letting the dogs in and helping Optimus with a computer game as I type....on the couch....with my feet up and a cup of tea. Now, granted, I'm pregnant. And his expectations of my level of activity has dropped. He participates more. And magically, he has begun to read my mind. I think the idea that a man pitching in without being asked is like foreplay for a woman is totally true. We take on too much. I now have a laissez-faire attitude about many things. I may work like nobody's business on my house for a whole morning or for several days in a row until the futility of spending hours straightening or cleaning hits me, when it's all gonna be a mess again once the kids hit it and then I drop what I'm doing, and do whatever I feel like: writing, emailing, online shopping, tea and chocolate, make a phone call, READ. I think that's a better example of how to prioritize for my kids then working like a crazy person and screaming about the cleanliness level of the house. Besides that, I have only one life to live and I'm not gonna spend it cleaning toilets for no pay, thank you very much. Once a week is enough!!

Additionally, I am training all co-inhabitants to clean up after their damn selves. I don't clean the playroom anymore. My boys do. I don't give in. I badger. I withold food. Seriously. When they whine about how hungry they are, I jump on it and tell them no lunch til I can see the playroom floor. This just means, straighten up. I'm not asking them to vacuum or dust or plump the pillows. Simply put the toys away. By the time they're done, lunch is usually ready. This serves 2 purposes: I get a cleaned up room and they aren't hovering and whining while I'm fixing a meal.

Now, I'm not saying these approaches guarantee a marriage. What I am saying is, it can help guarantee the sanity of a woman with too many expectations on her. And THAT can save a marriage. Screw the expectations. I prioritize like this: what do my kids need today (if that's clean laundry, I do it, if not, it can wait another day!) and then what do I most need today? It may be time to write. It may be to clean a filthy room that's been driving me crazy cuz I haven't had time to clean. It may just saying "screw it all, I'm gonna read!!" Another thing: take it one day at a time. I know that was both a TV show with Valerie Bertinelli and a slogan for AA, but it's the truth. We get mentally bogged down with not only what we have to do today, but what is happening tomorrow and what needs to be done by the end of the week and what our kids are begging for and what our husbands are trying to slide onto our plates. So here's my deal:

1. JUST SAY NO!! Say no to your kids, say no to your husband, say no to laundry. Go ahead. You may have to practice in order to get up the courage to break the cycle. Encourage your children to find something to do to distract themselves while you complete a task to minimize child whining and badgering. Tell your husbands they are grown men and they are going to have to take care of (fill in the blank) themselves. This also includes those times they are thoughtless and say things like, "Hon, I'm hungry, what's for dinner??" or "Have you seen my favorite t-shirt? I put it in the wash I swear 2 weeks and haven't seen it since!" (my husband knows better than to suggest such things nowadays!) Husbands actually function better when they are encouraged to be mature adults who are a necessary part of the running of the household, rather than as just another energy drain for you. He is an adult. You do not need to take care of his every little need or whim just because he works outside the house. Things need to be split 50/50. Trust me, the guilt disappears after a while. Just say NO!!

2. Lose the guilt. Your kids don't notice a lot of things and quite frankly, they'll need to learn to handle disappointment anyway. I don't mean that in a depressed, "the whole world sucks" kind of way, but if you hand your kids everything without making them earn anything? They will expect that througout their childhoods from every adult around them, including you. And when they are about 8 and it's getting annoying, just think how unbearable it will be when they're 16 and asking for bigger things!! Teachers and other adults around them will be telling them "No" periodically and they'll need to know how to handle that! Guilt is never good. It drags you down. It makes you realize you should have said "no" in the first place! Aoid the guilt!! Say no!! It serves no purpose in my life. If I feel tremendous guilt and regret over something, I make amends or I let it go. Guilt slows me down and I have much to do in this life! Guilt encourages you stay where you are. Guilt doesn't allow you to do things for yourself or to re-charge, both of which are necessary. Guilt is a chain our culture has used a lot to keep women in place: guilt about how we raise our children, the choices we make about how much of ourselves we give to others and a plethora of other things!! Daily, we will inevitably come across guilt, great or small, that we either indulge in or brush aside. "oh, I didn't finish that laundry....," "those dishes are still sitting there...," "I didn't bathe the kids, perhaps I should have...," and it's neverending! It's time to break free!

3. Be purposeful. If you don't like how something is going in your life, make an active change. Good things are not going to magically drift to you. Your children will not magically straighten up and be obedient all on their own. Your husband will not pay you more attention unless you ask for it. Don't complain when you make no effort to change your situation; in that case, you're looking for sympathy and are thriving on your own negativity and don't look to me to be a sympathizer! I'll tell ya like it is!!

4. Ask yourself, "what am I getting out of this situation?" A "poor me" complex? Sympathy? Pity? Self-righteousness rearing it's ugly head? Self-declared martyrdom (or perhaps, waiting for someone else to notice what a martyr you are?). I tell you what, success, fulfilling a personal goal, feeling a sense of spiritual fulfillment, looking on your life and thinking "it's good!" are all ten times more energizing than anything else!! You will only keep yourself dragged down with any situation that causes you to constantly complain. Think, "how do I want to feel about myself? about my life? why don't I feel that way? what is a concrete action I can take today to move towards that?" People that have lofty goals---and achieve them---are always planning, moving forward, forgetting past failures and using obstacles as a means of promoting problem-solving and brain-storming new approaches.

5. Read. Research. If you are having problems with your kid's behavior and it's dragging you down, search the library's catalog for books, current books, on behavior modification. Talk to a child therapist. Talk to your child's teacher. DO something but if you don't know, FIND OUT!! If you're having marriage problems, go online, find a support group, read, read, read with a grain of salt and a heavy dose of common sense. Don't take any one guru's line for it, read from a multitude of perspectives then pursue the course that makes the most sense to you. But don't just give up. That's wussing out. And too many woman are afraid they will come across as "the bitch," or that the world will crash down around their heads if they tell someone how something really makes them angry or uncomfortable or whatever. Knowledge is power and the more comfortable you feel and the more knowledgeable you feel, the more confident you'll feel. And then you can tackle anything! Women have lost their confidence in their ability to make good choices for themselves. They listen to their friends, their mothers, their favorite magazine, even if the advice doesn't ring true with them or make them feel inspired. Our instincts aren't dead, they just don't have enough options in front of them. When the right option is presented, they will light right up!!

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate!!! When I was preparing for our wedding at the tender age of 20, one of my co-workers, a 40-something on her second marriage with 4 kids, said to me: "Lara, think of the hardest job you can think of.....ok? Now multiply that by 10. That's how hard marriage is!" I have thought of that very often and she was totally right. I've also learned the hard way that a.) men are NOT mind readers, no matter how much we want them to be!!! b.) they DO want to please us and for us to be happy, but they aren't going to get very far with the "hit and miss" approach!! If you want flowers, tell him. When you get them, be very very pleased. He'll get the hint and do it again! It's very easy. Why do we make it so stinkin hard?? If you're aggravated, compose your thoughts, then tell him. Tell him why, tell him what you wished he had done, tell him where you admittedly went wrong, tell him everything. If he isn't open to this kind of communication, THEN tell him why IT'S necessary or there's always the option of kicking him to the curb! :)

And now, I'm starving and going to go eat some hubby-made spaghetti. And then do the dishes (hey, fair's fair!) and then I'll help put the kids to bed so we can watch a movie. And use the new puzzle board my hubby cut and I glued. And I know that sounds so....I don't know, domestically blissed out, but it's true! Keep in mind, we've been together over 13 years. We've had major obstacles and only one thing has kept us together: We were determined not to be separated. We were determined to be together. Sometimes only one of us at a time felt that way, but that was the glue that kept us together! So we've hashed things out, we've faced a few big ugly ideas and obstacles and came out the other side holding hands and walking into the sunset. It's doable. It's challenging, it can be painful, but it's totally doable. And totally worth it!!

So....go do it....right now....*sigh*...yeah, I'll wait!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books!!!

So first I have to share that around my house, we use the word "treat" to apply to many things: an after-dinner snack when the boys have eaten well, a new toy for no reason, playing with someone you don't get to see often---generally, anything that is earned or a special surprise in the course of a day.

Add to that the fact that I am no longer babysitting extra kids, so Optimus doesn't have anyone to play with, in his mind. I kept telling him I was working (hey, I was! on the household budget, on a Mary Kay mailing, on my email!) and he was getting all worked up because no one (i.e. Me) was playing him. And so he finally says to me with a totally straight face:

Mom, playing with me is a treat, but you're being nasty and now I'm not going to play Legos with you.

He is five.

Ok, now that that is out of my system, I just wanted to add that I saw a cool blog, namely Book Club Girl, and she had this long showing of book covers in her left-hand margin. SO, I liked it so much, I am thinking I will put some book covers down the side myself!....as soon as I figure out how to do that! :) Always diving head first into technological adventures, that's me! Pray I don't screw up my blog layout.....again. But I always fix it, right?? ....guys? I'm just very visual and I like the organized straightness of vertical rows of little square pictures....doesn't it just give you little goosebumps?? Right. Moving on.

I'm thinking this picture proposition could include movie posters and TV stills too...but only for the stuff I really like! ;)

My son just came in, having combined two toys, and asked me, "Look mom, isn't this impressive?"

Indeed. As is your vocabulary son! ;)

Coming soon:
TV reviews: Paranormal State, True Blood
Book Reviews: Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
Movie Reviews: Defiance, Star Trek

Monday, June 15, 2009

IQ Tests for Construction Workers

Ok, I'm not trying to offend anyone and I'm sorry if your spouse is a construction worker (my own husband used to be one!!) but I feel that perhaps they might need to be testing these people in some way if they are going to be directing traffic!!

So I'm a big fan of common sense, right? As I'm waiting, for 10 fricken minutes (no joke!!) for the dippy doo head who is directing traffic a block ahead to remember that no one from this direction has moved in a while, I am pondering what I would do as a traffic director. I have come to this conclusion: I would watch the rotation already in place by the traffic lights before I shut them off. Then I would try to continue that pattern to the best of my ability. At the very least, limit the number of cars you have coming through from each direction!!! Don't just stand there and let traffic from only one direction flow until no more cars are coming. During rush hour traffic, that could take awhile, num-nuts!! (See how I have it all worked out?? I TOLD you I was waiting for a long time!!)

This is what I witnessed during the course of being stuck in this carefully thought out traffic jam:

Lots of construction workers standing around

Large trucks, suddenly sticking a tail or head or crane or bucket directly into the line of traffic, unbeknownst to the traffic director, who is, of course, facing away from said construction equipment.

Construction workers leaving their posts while traffic from one direction is flowing to chat with a coworker as cars go by....for an apparently indeterminate amount of time!!

Cones set up so haphazardly and at such strange intervals that when said slacker construction worker leaves post, taking their large orange flag with them, drivers begin to weave in amidst the cones, confused as to where they are supposed to be going so that slacker has to run after them, waving the large orange flag (is that what that's for? for getting the attention of drivers going the wrong way??)

Merging to one lane set up so poorly and without any warning that ones does not KNOW there is a merge coming up until they realize that noise they hear is them, trying to run over a cone that has suddenly appeared in their lane. Don't they make giant electric signs that blink and can be seen from miles away?? Perhaps they should invest in some of those!!

Finally, I was trapped, trapped I tell you, in a strip mall parking lot, unable to get out and feeling rather panicky, as below average intelligence construction workers had coned off all but one available entrance....which let you out right where the surprise merge began! Way to plan, guys, way.....to .....plan!!


Disclaimer: No women were involved, consulted or injured during the planning and execution of this traffic diversion plan....obviously.

Tattoos

I was looking at pics of Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf at a premiere of the new movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. And of course, Ms. Fox has on a sexy number (no bra, don'tcha know!!) and it reveals some of her tattoos, namely one that says "And we will all laugh at the gilded butterflies" on her right shoulder-blade. The crazy list of comments that ensued was just....well, crazy!!

First of all, no one can spell worth a damn, their grammar is atrocious and more than one person needed to be knocked off their high horse in my opinion. The number of people who think it is perfectly within their rights to judge whether or not she should have gotten a tattoo in the first place (with name calling!!), whether or not she cheapens the words of Shakespeare by putting his words on her body...the list goes on and on! It boggled my mind! People seriously think that because she's in the public eye they have the right to comment on her tattoo, to comment that she was stupid for getting it, that because she's beautiful, she shouldn't mark up her body or she shouldn't feel the need to get a tattoo....I don't understand people.



Getting permanently marked is a deeply personal experience. Changing how you look is all about struggling to more fully express who you are on the inside. Yes, people can get stupid tattoos, or get one in a fit of bravery, drunkenness or peer pressure. But that certainly cannot and does not apply to all people that have tattoos!! Just because some people feel that way (and this may include some of my readers) doesn't mean that all tattoos are bad ideas or that all people are going to regret getting one....further, is it just me, or are women more heavily discouraged from getting tattoos then men?? There were parents on Rachel Ray who were frantic to keep their three daughters (15, 17, 19) from getting tattoos. Now, they were young, but the parents just kept going on and on about not marking up their bodies and this and that. Here's my general opinion (and I'm sure everyone reading this has one, because it seems to raise a ton of reactions!) my opinion is that everyone at the very least owns their own damn body. And it's nobody's business (not even the parents!!) what that person puts on their body. Yes, parents have control over a child until they are 18, but after that, the child has the right to make their own mistakes. Nobody should feel pressure NOT to get a tattoo because of their family or friends. If you wouldn't get one, that's fine and that's your choice and business, but don't pressure someone else not to do it just because you wouldn't.

People have been getting tattoos for hundreds of years and for some reason, they really get a bad rap! Is it because at first, only "heathens" and "natives" had them, leading more "civilized" people to conclude that people with tattoos must be uneducated or living outside of the boundaries of civilization as they knew it? Then later, it was associated with marking people as part of certain groups, such as gangs and bikers? I don't know.

But I've always wanted one! My husband has 3 and talks often about getting more. I'd like one that means something just to me and that is a permanent reminder about something important. I've been thinking for several years of getting one of a phoenix, to remind me that nothing is permanent (well, except a tattoo! lol) and that change is a regular part of life, that we can start over brand-new, any time we want. But I wanted to wait until the risk of it getting stretched out and gross was minimal! lol (that's not the kind of change I was thinking of! haha). Charming and I want to get matching ones. I would design them, doing a more feminine phoenix for myself, looking almost like a peacock in blues that lead to a flaming tail that looks more like a cross between orange feathers and flames while making his look more masculine, perhaps the flames more jagged, the phoenix's beak open like it's screaming? I'm not sure yet, I'll work it out and let you know! ;)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

And the winner is....

Logan Edward!! Sorry Princess---she's trying to claim dibs on the name Logan, even though she's still in college and nowhere near married or having kids!! I say, wait your turn! You can't call dibs unless you're already pregnant or trying to be!! lol

Shane Thomas and Roman tied for second.

Another girl's name I had forgotten we discussed was Morgan, which I really like for some reason. Ava Rose was my long-time favorite, but my niece also has a one syllable name that ends in "a" and the boy cousins already have rhyming names (which everyone confuses and calls out incorrectly as it is!) so I'm waffling on whether to stay with that or swing full-force to Violet Anise....I cannot decide!! But I've decided that, until we know the sex, I'm not going to dump a lot of energy into this! lol But we've never really fallen in love with a girl's name...it was always easy to pick out a boy's name that we liked---we've had Logan picked out for a while now! I don't know if that's a sign or what! lol ;)

Um, ew, gross!

So, we got another dog. (send all complaints, rude comments and other noise to the comment section, please, where I can ignore it!). His name is Sarge (very appropriate for our Army National Guard family!) and he is a 6 month old Lab/Husky mix. He's a little energetic, nothing we haven't handled before, although it's been 6 years since I've been here and it's not looking as familiar as I thought it would! He's potty, crate and leash trained already, used to cats and really really good with the kids! At any rate, he's already 50 lbs and as big as Trinity, so his need to chew is great, which is fine, but I'm trying to get away from rawhides (my aunt informed me they can cause blockages, which, as you can imagine, then caused a whole new crop of paranoia to pop up!) and find something natural.

Now, we used to give our dogs pig's ears, which I thought was a cute little nickname for some kind of rawhide, til I really looked at one one day and saw that there were little hairs still on it and completely freaked out and wouldn't buy them again! I mean, I know they're dogs, but c'mon! Am I being silly?! I'm looking at the grocery store; everything is rawhide, rawhide, rawhide. I find pressed treats, which are still rawhide, but well chopped and formed into shapes. However, it's hard to find ones for big dogs and the larger ones I could find were like $7 for 2. Those would be gone in 5 minutes.

I started searching online and I encountered a website that offered "bully sticks" which they kept saying were made from angus steer....but what part?! Is it like rawhide, is it the skin? Is it dried meat?? What the heck is it?? Then they list not only pig's ears, but cow and sheep's ears!! THEN they list pig and cow snouts, followed by the actual hooves of a cow!!! And lastly, not makin' this up, there are antlers for sale....yes, the shed antlers of a stag, I can then give to my dogs as a long-lasting, tastey, naturally recycled treat! Yum! I am not living in a hunting lodge in 1395 here people!! I can't believe this is the best I can find! I'm going to keep looking....and any suggestions are welcome!!

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