Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fat Shaming

  I have no idea how old this video is. I am not going to link it, and having already watched most of it on Facebook, I've decided I don't want to give her the clicks. The "comedian" in question is Nicole Arbour. She created a video called "Dear Fat People". Already, I'm thinking she's gonna be offensive, but I didn't realize how ignorant and bullying until I got a little ways in. So, let's dig in, shall we?
  The first thing that came to my mind, while watching this girl, is that she is the typical pretty, blonde, white girl. It's obvious she does things to make herself attractive for an audience that likes looking at persons like her. Perfect, straight hair, nice boobs, used her body language for attraction, natch. Then, she goes into the whole "hey, fat people are unattractive, unhealthy, ugly, smelly" bits. Oh, she's not talking to those of you who have LEGITIMATE health issues, just you fatty fats who can't control yourselves and sit on the couch all day. You know, the ones who are "obese", and obviously just need to be told to get skinny.
  I will be honest, the longer I listened to her ("Isn't it ironic that a blonde is telling this to you?" in a simpering, Valley voice), the more I wanted to do 2 things: stop eating (thanks anorexia), and throat punch her perfect little throat. Fuck you, person who fits the stereotype of societal perfection. You aren't helping the situation, nor do you even want to. You are acting like a catty, bitchy mean girl who got the quarterback and prom queen in high school. The family of fat people who held up your line at the airport smelled like sausages, huh. You're pissed because they got to ride in a golf cart to next area? Are you, perhaps, jealous?
  Body shaming is all the rage. You're too skinny/fat/short/tall/dark/light/feminine/masculine.
 This is just 2 minutes of searching on Google. "Fat shaming only works if people take it the right way"... that's a quote from one I didn't post. Shaming someone only works if they take it the right way... what is that? How about, use the manners your parents taught you, and keep your shit to yourself? If it doesn't directly affect you, shut the fuck up. Yes, someone looks unhealthy. Do you know them? Their story? Is what they are doing affecting your life in a way that will cause you to have major issues? Then shut UP. If you are their doctor or a family member, best friend, or somehow involved in that persons life, then speak up, appropriately. If not, you DO NOT GET TO JUDGE THEM OUT LOUD. I have no control over your inner voice. Be as bitchy as you want in there. But for the love of God, keep it inside.
  Have you maybe thought that they might know they are obese? That they are perfectly aware of how they look and present themselves to others? Something that I haven't seen addressed much is the depression factor. Let me clue you in: the more you sit there and shame them, the harder that depression hits, and the harder it is to want to lose weight. I know this personally. Being called "Ten Ton Talula" or "Thunder Thighs" all the time really tends to make someone start to think that they are just fat pieces of shit. So, in 8th grade I ate all the time. Whole boxes of cupcakes, etc. Why? Because I was depressed, and it made me feel better... temporarily. Then, my junior year of high school, I had a complete reversal. I quit eating, except for a Mt. Dew and a Snickers bar a day. I did track, pom pon, drill team, worked all the time, and worked out all the time I could. Oh, I lost weight, all right. I got to under a 100lbs, and couldn't eat. It took my mother finally addressing the issue, in her particular way, and my father, who bullied me into eating again, to get me back on track. But it haunts me. You never lose that, ever. Either the depressive bitch who lives in your head makes you crave ALL THE THINGS, or you can't even look a glass of milk in the face without feeling like a fat assed cow.
  So, what's my excuse? I know I am a bit overweight, and in relatively decent enough health to exercise. I do not have an excuse. I am at an equilibrium right now. That is the best I can do now. I am not in a place, mentally, where I can do more than I do. I control my food intake as best I can, try to make better food choices, get up and move about, but I am slowly gaining weight. I'm almost 40. I'm trying to get over that depressive fact. And no, it won't be something I can just "cheer up" about.
  The point of all this is that no matter where you are, your body is your own. Judging someone over their appearance, no matter what that appearance, is bitchy, catty, and something you should fucking keep to yourself. We're all judgy little persons. Use your manners. If you have none, just realize... I'm judging you, and your whole family now... But I won't say it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's school season!

*cue hunting horn*
  It's that time of  year when most folks get their wee ones (and not so wee ones) ready for school. Late summer/early fall are the times when parents start getting happier, and the kids less so. Instead of swimming, watching tv all day, hanging out with friends, etc, they're getting pencils, backpacks, new jeans and notebooks, and preparing to spend the days inside. I used to love gearing up for school. I loved the smell of new notebooks, tennis shoes, and the endless possibilities of new teachers and lockers. And then the 2nd week of school would happen, and I would really wish I could be somewhere else.
  Homeschoolers have it a little different. Sure, we love the sales for back to school, and the smugness of not having to get up at the crack of dawn to get to a bus on time. We smile to ourselves when parents freak out about having to buy $50 worth of supplies to help out the teachers, new shoes, new shirts, new everything. We know we still have enough stuff from last year to get us through to spring. New clothes? pfft! We live in our pyjamas all day, thank you. New shoes? Only because the kiddos have grown, like, 10 inches this summer.
  Granted, we do need to get about 10 cartridges of ink for the printer, and a few more reams of paper. Crap, that Teaching Textbooks math curriculum gets more expensive as you progress. And speaking of curriculum, am I finally going to use those resources I downloaded 2 years ago? I could really use a better printer, with color ink... or maybe I'll just have the kids color in the pages as part of art this year. Got to update that Homeschool Helper app on my tablet, so that this year I can actually grade their work accurately. Where's my planner? Did I print out the right number of worksheets? Did I create the worksheets for Spanish yet? Where did the textbooks go? Why is there an old cup of coffee and a sock on my table?
  We get you, regular school parents. This is a stressful time of year. We're both trying to get our children good, proper education. We have different strategies, but we're all in the same boat. I've spent the last 2 days cramming in 2 weeks worth of schoolwork for the boys. I've been creating worksheets, downloading work, reading textbooks, writing out goals, adding classes and books, and basically stressing myself out because the laundry hasn't been finished, the floor is in desperate need of sweeping, and the boys are bringing me offerings of coffee. We are all teachers, but man, being teacher full time for 2 grade levels, mom, wife, worker, chef, maid, artist and crafter makes for one tired lady. It's actually a break to sit here and type this stuff up.
  I'm not complaining. I'm so very blessed. I get to hang with the coolest kids I know, all the time. They're growing into the neatest humans, and by God they will know how to fold a shirt! I love this. Now I need coffee. Most of this post has gotten a bit rambly...
Coffee on!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

It's so hard to be polite

  Too often, these days, I find myself going "what the f**k?". I cannot read my Facebook feed without seeing hate, assorted falsehoods, and extremism in forms I never realized existed. "Heritage, not hatred", or "Caitlyn Jenner isn't a hero/woman/courageous. "Planned Parenthood is selling dead baby parts", "OMG, it's just a t-shirt, get over yourself!". And on and on.
  Look. I am an open person. I am all over the spectrum politically, although I tend more towards liberalism. I have friends with wildly divergent views than me. I appreciate the different views, but I just have to say a little something right now. STOP IT. Jesus Christ Almighty. I want to reach through my computer screen and freaking smack people. I am far, far from perfect, and have posted some things that I'm sure have been dumb/unresearched/whatever, but for the love of all that is holy, STOP.
  Stop posting things that have been debunked, like the Planned Parenthood crap, or the latest detox recipes/diets. Realize science is a good thing, and oh, by the way, can work hand in hand with your faith path.
  Caitlyn Jenner isn't my hero. But guess what: she's someone's hero. Do any of you who post about how non courageous she is know anyone with gender dysphoria? Or that are transgender? Probably not. I do. And this person has given them hope, something that a great many of them have NEVER HAD BEFORE. Their humanity was denied to them because they didn't fit someone elses perception of them. They have been abused, kicked out of their homes, raped, drugged, beaten, lost jobs... Do you have to worry about that simply because of your gender, or it's change? No? Then shut up about the subject. You do not have a dog in that fight. Ignore the posts, because guess what: it doesn't affect you or your gender in any effing way.
  Sexism and misogyny are alive and well in the 21st century. Wearing a t-shirt that says "Trophy" on it isn't freaking funny. At all. It says that you are only as good as your looks. And saying that your husband calls you that because he feels lucky to have you doesn't change the fact that when someone says they are someone's trophy, the first thing that will come to someones mind is "brainless, vapid arm candy in it for the money". My husband has never called me his trophy. He has called me the love of his life, that he feels blessed and lucky to have me. He tells me every day I am beautiful, wonderful, desirable, intelligent, and a decent cook. He knows he doesn't own me anymore than I own him. We are autonomous creatures who have chosen to be together. It's not "just a t-shirt". It's a mindset that allows women to believe that it's ok to be seen as an object. "Two seconds of googling found men's t-shirts that say trophy husband on them". Well, awesome. So now we can add misandry to the list as well. It's never cool, no matter the gender! Holy crap people! Have some damn respect for yourselves, please!!
  And before you think I'm all "militant feminist", and believe that anything considered feminine is bad, think again. I am all for you being girly, tom boy, sexy, whatever. Just own it yourself, and don't do it because you want the attention, and then get all weird when it backfires. I will never say that what you wear or do means that you deserve what happens to you. Own it, and fight back against those who would use power of any kind to take away your ownership. Free the nipple and all that. Wear pink and frilly skirts. Shave every hair off your body, or none at all. I don't care about those little things. I care that all of us are seen as individuals who own themselves, and do what is best for themselves. So yeah, I am a militant feminist, and damn proud of it.
  The reposts of the memes dealing with the Confederate battle flag. Please just do one minute of Google research. You will find that the flag has nothing to do with any kind of heritage that we, as white people, should be proud of. It was all about the dehumanizing of a race of people simply because they were a different color. It was about owning others, and being able to do what you wanted with your property. Don't go all "States rights" on me. Just don't. I married a man from Texas, who was raised around such values, and he will tell you straight out that sure, the rights of the States were threatened, but these were a minority bunch with the economic power to bamboozle the rest of their fellows. Once again, those with power and money fooled their countrymen into fighting their war for their economic benefit. If you want to proudly embrace your racism, then fly that flag. I will know to block your feed, and avoid talking to you in general. PS, unless you were raised in the South, as in lived there for a large chunk of time, don't say it's "your heritage". Punk, you were raised up North. Quit appropriating someone else's culture.
  Christians. Christians, reclaim your faith. Please save it from the nutcases who would take your last dollar, and turn around and demand you shun others that don't believe as you do. I have seen enough crap written about how God will change your life, if you just give to this or that ministry, or that Jesus saves, but ONLY if you say this little prayer in the back of the tract, oh and send money to this or that minister. A "minister" named Creflo Dollar GOT HIS MOTHER F***KING JET because of people believing that he is "ministering" to people all over the world. Oh. My. Goddess. Really?? He's spreading the word of the Lord? From a private jet? Meanwhile, my husband is trying his hardest to become ordained and provide for us by delivering groceries, because the little congregation he belongs to can't afford to hire him on full time. He's not asking for handouts. He ministers by simply talking to people, finding out how he can help them, even though we can't afford fucking mattresses for our kids. Yeah. Reclaim your faith, Christians, because the false prophets have already claimed it for themselves. Remove so-called Prosperity ministries, who sell faith in a bottle of miracle water. Quit worshiping the Bible, and use it as the teaching book it is. Quit claiming that it says certain things in that same book, when it clearly does not.
  On that same note, THE UNITED STATES WAS NEVER A CHRISTIAN NATION. The Constitution is NOT based on the 10 Commandments. Most of our Founding Fathers were Deists, at best. At the beginning of our nation, many people didn't even really attend church, since many of them who came of their own free will, came to escape from religion and persecution. The revisionists want to take over our textbooks and tell us that God made our country great. We are not God's special nation. Last time I checked, Christ died to save the WHOLE of humanity, not just one little slice of the Earth that wasn't even known about by the people of that area. And, also, many of the founders wanted the church and state separate. They came from a monarchy, and the king was also head of the church. Obviously, if they were trying to get away from what they previously had, they wouldn't want it brought back.
  Look. I don't want to be all negative. I really don't. I want to see the good in all, and know that there is light in this broken world. I know that most people have good hearts, and want to be reasonable. I am writing this from a place of emotion, but I also know that our basic humanity is on the line here. We are in the middle of the death throws of something horrible, and we need to not pick an extreme side. We need to find a way to get past the hatreds, racism, sexism, LGBTQ phobias, and extreme religious dogma. I'm not imagining things. Just like in the Matrix, once you take the red pill, you can't unsee what has been seen.
  Fight for what's right.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Yesterday brought many things up

  Monday, August 11th, 2014, Robin Williams was found dead from possible suicide.

  That statement is so bleak. A very profound, funny, silly, awesome person, whom the world believed to be happy, quite possibly took his own life, due to depression/bipolar issues. And it turned everyone upside down. Over, and over, I've seen posts about suicide prevention, what depression is, and how to help those who are suffering. I hate that it takes the death of someone like him for a conversation to start up about mental health. But that's not what this post is about. It's about me, and my journey. Every person with depression has this journey, and it's personal, and different, for all of us.
  When I was a kid, I was terrified of my mother. I loved her, but I was sure that I wasn't good enough for her. She sometimes hit me, sometimes wailed on me pretty hardcore, but usually it was vocal. I want to be clear here: she was not like this all the time. It was often, but it wasn't every day, and it wasn't that damn dramatic all the time. I now know that her depression was terrible, and she was angry all the time over what she felt was an unfair hand dealt her. She didn't want me to end up like she did. She rode my ass, because she felt that was what I needed to get up and out of that world. It wasn't what I needed, but how could she know? I couldn't articulate it, and she had her own issues that consumed her. I have forgiven her for all of it. I have a better understanding of her personal hell, and it helps me to deal with my own.
  I always wanted to be like her though. She was beautiful, in my eyes, and strong, and articulate. I wanted her to love me, so I thought that if I could be LIKE her, it would make her love me. I tried to wear my makeup like her. In high school, I cut my hair to be like hers. I hated it, but she loved it, so I thought it was all right that way. I practiced writing like hers; her penmanship is graceful and elegant, and I wanted to be graceful and elegant too. I didn't want to be awkward, unlovely, stupid or untalented.
  She picked on me about my weight a lot. "Ten Ton Talula", or "Thunder Thighs" were, sadly, common nicknames thrown at me, especially in 8th grade. I now understand it was her meds at that time, which made her hungry, so she over ate, and gained weight, and she took it out on me. She might deny it today, but it is still an issue I deal with daily. I overate junk food then; I was eating my depression. I was depressed because I got hips, but no real boobs, so I didn't have symmetry anymore, and I couldn't run fast in track anymore. I hated my hair. I practiced my art daily, but thought I sucked so bad. I remember I hated myself. I hated myself hard enough to want to die. I tried to kill myself with anorexia my junior year in high school. I lived on a can of Mt. Dew, and a Snickers bar, a day. My mother never knew... until I was under 100lbs, and she thought I was bulimic. I admitted I wasn't eating, and dad made me start eating. She was so worried about me, she enlisted my dad to bully me into eating.
  My dad was there, but not around, if that makes sense. He was always working, doing something, to make ends meet. Leaving the farm was hard on him, and he went through a nasty phase as well after selling out. Mom and dad did NOT get along very well during that time. The fights... I won't go into that. It was bad, and scary, and I don't like to think about that chapter in life. But I don't know if dad saw how my sister and I were dealing with life. I don't know if he could. I sometimes feel like he didn't really know us very well, or was unsure how to help. I always knew dad loved us. I never doubted his love. I may have doubted mom's, but never his. That sounds terrible, but as a kid, that was the truth.
  One of the things I have been reading is about how so many people want to die. Even after trying to starve myself away, I realize I never really wanted to die. And it was all because of something my father said to me in 9th grade. I loved to play volleyball. I had done it in 7th and 8th grades, and I loved the game. Track and volleyball; those were my sports. Then, 9th grade happened. I was convinced that the coach hated me. She kept me out of a couple of games (once because I had missed a practice, so I knew about that one, the other.. I don't know why she did. I just remember the look she gave me, and it was not a nice look.). She mocked the way I served the ball (I can't, to this day, serve overhand.). I was convinced it was because she hated my mom (I got that a lot in high school: "Oh, you're Rodney's daughter, I can't wait to tell him what a lovely girl you are; "Oh, you're Barb's daughter... hmm." Yes, this really happened, and not just once...). I was going to quit volleyball, mid-season. I was sobbing in the car after practice, and dad was driving, and he said to me,"So, are you gonna prove her right? Are you gonna be a quitter?". That hit me so hard. "Are you gonna be a quitter?" I didn't like the coach, but I wasn't going to prove her right! I finished the season, but never played in school again. It was ruined for me, but I proved to myself I wasn't a quitter.
  Every time I have wanted to just give up on life, I remember that scene so vividly. I don't want to prove my depression right; I can't quit because my brain is lying to me, again. I can tell myself, over and over, that my life isn't hard, there are others with bigger issues than me, etc, but that scene keeps me from giving up. And that is what it can take for those who want to give up on everything. Just one sentence, one hand out, one thought. That is what all this self confession here is about. It can be anyone, anywhere, who does it. I just happened to have my dad be that one.
  I also want to be very, very clear about my mother. I love my mom. She was there for me, as much as she could be, back then. Her black days were bad. Her blue days were tolerable. Her happy days were some of the greatest I can recall. I remember it all, for the simple reason that I will not be like that. I tell my boys every damn day that I love them. I hug and kiss them for no reason, other than they exist. Yes, I have blue days... and black days. I have a husband who understands, and loves me through the pain. My boys understand that mom's black days aren't about them; she's not mad at them, she just needs her space and some quiet. I have an herbal medication that keeps me even. I can still feel on it, but I can move, exist, be, on it.
  I have read several posts and articles on what a depressed person is going through. They're pretty spot on. No one's story is the same. I didn't want to say all this to provoke pity, or anything. This was my journey, and I'm now in a good place. I love my family, all of them, and every day, they help me remember to not quit.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Passing of Family and Loved Ones

  On Thursday this week, we will be back home, saying a last goodbye to my Grandpa Arnie. He died last week on Thursday, so we will have had a full week to mourn before the funeral. I wanted to write, suddenly, about all my loved ones who have gone before me, a kind of memorial to my family.
  The first funeral I can remember going to was for my Great Grandma Johnson, Grandpa Arnie's mom. She was a sweet lady, and called me Sunshine whenever we were together. I remember going to her little apartment with Grandma Joan and Aunt Susan to clean it. I recall avocado green, and peanut butter sandwiches. Her presence was soft, and larger than life to a small child. One of my final memories of her was when she was close to dying, and couldn't really speak anymore. She whispered to my Grandpa, and he smiled, and said to me, "There's my Sunshine." I was no older than 8, and was probably younger than that. The passage of time has rendered those memories dim. I later found out that she was quite artistic, and family members have several of her watercolor still lifes.
  My Great Great Grandma Karnes was the next that I recall with clarity. I remember her rather well, and her smile and love. She made the world's best tapioca pudding. Her house was small, and well stuffed with glass knick-knacks and doilies. Her husband, Great Great Grandpa Karnes, was her second husband, but he was so cool. He sharpened saws, and had such hairy ears. (I was a kid, ok?). There was always an envelope at Christmas from him, with a few dollars in it, new and crisp from the bank. Grandma had died first, and then a few years later he passed, and they did an estate sale. My dad bought a box of assorted things in it for me, and I ended up with a set of apple shaped glass plates, matching coffee cups, some of her crocheted hanging towels, and a set of root beer glasses.
                      (word of warning: these memories will be in no particular order.)
  I remember the summer that my Grandpa Taylor died. Mom and I had not gotten along, so Grandma Marie invited me to live with her. Grandpa Roy was living in a home at that time, so she had room. That summer, he passed away, and I was glad I was living with her then. I wasn't able to do much, but I think that I gave her a sense of purpose, someone to fuss over, to help her with her grief. Grandpa Roy was musical, and played the violin, the guitar, mandolin, and harmonica. He never learned any sheet music; everything he knew he picked up by ear, and practice. I remember him recording himself with an old tape recorder, singing "Skip to My Lu" in his rusty voice. He shucked walnuts in his garage, staining his fingers black. He tinkered with his car in the garage until it purred. He had a workshop in his basement, and he fixed his violins and other instruments in it. I inherited a pair of his pliers in college, and I still use them to this day. He had four violins, and my mom got one when he passed.
  The day of Grandpa Roy's funeral, we found out Great Grandpa Carlson had died. I ran to MN to be with my boyfriend of the time, and came back in time for his funeral. Oh Grandpa Walter... he was a funny, awesome man. My mom told me a story of how he once found a pot plant near one of his buildings, and he nurtured it. Apparently, it grew rather tall, and he just laughed at the thought of some law enforcement finding it. He had this hearty laugh that came from his belly, and was infectious. I have so many fond memories of the ranch style house he and Great Grandma Dru lived in. He taught my dad's family the love of camping. I remember eating plums for the first time while camping with them and my sister. He made all of us great-grandkids walking sticks, which were dowels with a metal cap at the bottom, and a doorknob on the top. Getting hit by one of those HURT. He had a little stone statue of a man in a sombrero, walking a donkey. It was faded to white, but it was one of those details you never forgot. He kept everything. When he passed, the estate sale was enormous. My mom ended up with one of his steamer trunks.
  Great Grandma Dru lived there for many more years, until a stroke and a fall forced her to sell the farm and move closer to family. She had a talent for hospitality that I strive to match. When Grandpa was alive, she made pies, cakes, cookies, bars, whatever, and on their three seasons porch she kept them. She made the best fried chicken in the world, in an old electric skillet. When I was in college, I drove down to visit her, and she brought out a suitcase filled with old photos. These were all of her family, and it was one of the many things they had been able to save from the fire from the original house. She also had this wonderful, large portrait, done on linen of some kind, of her father, Great Great Grandpa Franklin (Grandma Karnes first husband), as a little boy of 4. It's in a gold frame, that apparently he had tried to cut up with a saw, as he hated it then. I inherited this portrait at Christmas 13 years ago. She remembered that I had been fascinated with it, and made sure I got it. I also got the "gamma banket", a crazy colored crocheted afghan, that I wrapped myself in at college. It is still used, to this day. I miss her so badly. I remember family dinners, and her being the last to sit and eat, and the first to jump up and get someone anything. "Are you sure you don't want anymore?" was often heard from her. I ended up with a dresser that way. They always seemed to have something to give. As children, my cousins and I would play down in the basement, where her canning kitchen was, and they had these antique school desks. We would play school, or with the handmade animals and barn that my Great Uncle Wally had made. (I had never known him, as he had passed away many years before, from sickness) We used the antique typewriter, and wondered at the plane prop that Grandpa had mounted on the wall down there. I miss that house, and those grounds. She did get to meet both Brendan and Isaac before her passing. 5 generations all together.
  Grandma Marie passed away 11 years ago. She got to meet Brendan, but aggressive pancreatic cancer took her. She taught me how to embroider and cross stitch, and I remember watching her crochet while she watched baseball. I think she like the Chicago Cubs... or White Sox, I don't know for sure! Honestly, I think it was just for background noise while she counted stitches. I remember playing with Barbies and dolls, dressing up in her costume jewelry and shoes (she had TINY feet), and eating cookies that were so hard you needed a full glass of milk to down one (sorry Grandma!). There was always cake or pie after dinner, and bread with butter with dinner. She made Chopped Soupy (her version of chopped souy... it was different). She grew rhubarb, had a green thumb, quit smoking in her 70's (cold turkey!!), and could swear with the best of them, until she got much older, and decided to tone it down. She worried a great deal about my mom, after she and dad divorced, and to this day, I believe she still watches over mom. She kept bread bags, and shared stories of the Depression. She listened to the local radio station, which played polka. She ended up going into assisted living, and had to sell her house and possessions. After she died, and right after the funeral, we had to go to her apartment and clean it out. I inherited a picture she had done from the Creative Circle company, a small roasting pan, several spices, and a picture I had taken near her house of the neighbors garage (photography class in college). My Aunt Nancy has the photo I took of her front porch, all in bloom, with that old wooden porch swing.
  My Uncle Merlyn was a tall, slender man, who always called me Applejuice, or AJ. He was my favorite uncle, I admit. He spoiled me, and when I was in kindergarten, married my Aunt Ann, and I got a cousin, Casey, out of the deal. When she turned 16, he officially adopted her, and made her one of the happiest people. That was the kind of man he was. Always there, and while life had made him seem hard on the outside, he was the biggest teddy bear on the inside. Although, he hated cats, and I remember him sitting just inside his back sliding doors, chasing away cats with a bb or pellet gun. I gave him a book on the many uses of dead cats, and he thought that was hilarious. My Uncle Gary and him worked together, and would take this old rifle, and make it more ridiculous every year for Christmas, and pass it back and forth that way. He was my mom's only brother, and she was closest to him out of all her siblings. Cancer took him away far too soon. I wasn't able to go to his funeral. I had given birth to Brendan only a week or so before, and couldn't travel. I like to think he stops by once in awhile and visits.
  Last year, my husband's Grandpa John died. He was an old Swedish farmer. He had served in WWII, and was a proud American. He was a community pillar, and a gentle soul. He loved John Wayne movies, and raised large horses to pull his replica buggy, that he drove in parades, weddings, etc. He had a horse drawn sled and plow, and LOVED to drive fast in his little Ranger. He would get this grin on his face, as he raced around with Brendan next to him. Later, Isaac would also get to ride with him, but sadly, only a couple of times. According to Kev, Grandpa also loved to light stuff on fire, but I can't confirm that. He had a true love of life and of his family. He reminded me so much of my own Grandpa Arnie, and I miss him.
  Which brings me to Grandpa Arnie. He was a man who, even as he got older, always seemed larger than life. He had a big laugh, a big presence, and a love for my Grandma Joan (pronounce Jo-Ann) that was rivaled only by my Great Grandparents love for each other. He always had a hug and kiss for me, and called me Sunshine, just like his mom had called me. I remember the family parties, the puns and innuendos the guys would share, the laughter, games (Bunko was a favorite), and general tom foolery that would ensue. The Johnsons love life, and live it to the fullest. He farmed up until last year even, when his health finally wouldn't let him drive the tractor anymore. He and Grandma went to Florida every year with their 5th wheel camper during February, sending me a post card with who they were visiting, etc. We celebrated his birthday while camping at Devil's Lake State Park. He would wear the silly hats, let us girls decorate him, and kept us all in stitches.
  It's times like these that I wish I lived closer to home. I don't regret leaving my hometown; I needed to. But I miss my family, and I don't get to see them like I used to. They don't know my sons as well as I would like them to. I feel like a stranger there, peeking in at the closeness that the others seem to have. I know it's not true, but it's hard. We'll be going down this Wednesday, drawn together by our grief, and celebrate my grandfather's life. Rest in Peace, Grandpa Arnie. I love you.
ps: just realized that I have mashed both sides of my family together, so I thought I should clarify:
Carlsons and Johnsons are on my dad's side, Taylors are on my mom's side.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Organization, and Me...

  And so begins the Spring cleaning. I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore; I make spring ones. I tell myself to be more organized, clutter free, and fit. I drool over garden books, plants and tools. I oooh and aaah over storage bins and ideas. I re-look at Pinterest. It's a dream, and goal, of mine to be that person who really can get her stuff all together.

  And then I laugh and laugh, and go back to Facebook.

  But this time, it's a tiny bit different. I've been on my herbs for a year (or slightly less), and it's made a helluva difference in my energy output and drive. Yes, I still have black days, and a few days before my period ain't pretty, but pretty much I'm able to do what I've always said I would do. I even got my mom's birthday present done and sent when I said I would. I still need to finish Shelley's Christmas present, and Steven's afghan.... but I'm getting better!
  I've been able to keep the house clean(er), keep up with teaching the boys, and keep myself from descending into a pity party hell that normally happens. This is HUGE. I like myself a lot more now. I've embraced my nerdiness and geekiness, and I revel in passing that on to my boys.
  Boys are doing well; Lug is finally 2" taller than me. Ugh. Packie is still cute and cuddly, but he's starting to get that 8 year old lip that isn't fun. I have to create a chore chart that they can daily use. Writing stuff out on the whiteboard isn't working anymore; they need a hands on chart, and I found an idea I'm going to try, using velcro, white tagboard, and lists. Schoolwork will still be written on the whiteboard, but I won't have to write the repeatable stuff up anymore. YAY!
  What else: Keven is trying to get his kickstarter project up and going.
Pietus Secularum
This is HUGE! He's writing a curriculum for Christianity that is NOT denominational. In fact, it's a scholarly look at Christianity from it's beginnings on up to modern times, as well as how to read the Bible, Hermeneutics, language, etc. It's meant for people 13 years on up, from homeschoolers to churches to people just interested in learning about Christianity. If you're not a facebook friend of mine, you probably haven't seen me pimping this out, but I hope that you check it out! We've got some nice bits for helping fund it!
  Shelley and I will be working on our crafting blog, 2 Dainty Crafters, as a team now, as she's ready to take on subjects! wOOt!! So watch for those posts; they should be happening every Wednesday (give or take a holiday!).
  That's all I have for now! Laters!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Today is a GOOD DAY!

  Depression lies. We all know that, and my depression was trying really hard to make me believe some stupid stuff. Today, however, I felt that weight leave my shoulders, and I have the energy and attitude to deal with life. I also happened to look at my stats, and realized that I still have visitors to this little slice of the Interwebs, so I thought I would say a little something about our busy lives.
  I came to the conclusion this year that I needed to be more organized. Not in the New Years resolution sort of way, but in a if-I-don't-do-this-I-will-cut-someone way. So, I bought new Dry Erase markers, got an erasable calendar, and started making chore lists/school lists for boys. I quickly found that the erasable calendar was too small for that, so I went back to my big white board for them, and turned the calendar into a menu planning device... which works part of the time. I have a hard time planning meals ahead. I also adapted a cleaning calendar, so that I wouldn't feel overwhelmed with house tasks, and actually DO them. It's been a moderate success, and it does keep getting better, so yay!
  Boys are doing very well. I've got them doing more chores, and earning game time. We've actually cut their game time down to an hour a day (hour and a half if they earn it!), and it's working. They are doing things like making their beds and cleaning up their room so that they can get their "first half hour", without me nagging them to do it. Granted, this is not every day, but they're getting better. I did find out that Packie was cheating on his reading. He is supposed to read 20 minutes a day, and at first we supervised him, but he proved he could do it without us hovering. Well, he's been caught just watching the clock, and then skimming his book for the last 5 minutes. Now I have to make him read out loud to me again. Lug, on the other hand, has been really getting into his reading for 1/2 an hour a day. I picked out "Where The Red Fern Grows" for him to read, and now that he's most of the way through it, he's really getting into it. He will even talk about some of the characters with us, and what happens to them. Usually, I don't think he pays attention, but this time is different. I know that he's not a "reader", but being able to read, and understand what is written, is so important! So, I'm happy. :)
  Kev is working on a couple of projects right now. His job with Corborn's Delivers is going all right. He was experiencing extreme anxiety for quite a while, though, since it involves driving a giant delivery truck through Cities traffic. We finally came up with a solution for him, involving lavender oil massaged into his feet at night, and 5-htp before bed to help him sleep (getting rid of dreams about delivering totes!). We're both taking the 5-htp now, and I've been sleeping so much better. Also, taking more vitamin D has helped (damn cold, dark MN winters!). At any rate, he doesn't love the job, but it's been a boon financially.
  He's officially a member in discernment with the Minnesota Conference for the UCC. What that boils down to is another fucking YEAR of bullshit before he can officially tack that "pastor" title to his name, or get a church, marry people, etc. (mumbles about pastor that fucked us over.... ahem). My annoyance with organized religion is swiftly becoming hatred, and while I like a lot of people at the current church we attend, if I never had to set foot in those doors again, I would be the happiest camper. On the other hand, it has given Kev the boost he needed to work on his own projects, which I will talk about in another post soon (we're still working out kinks), and this is a good thing.
  I am still crocheting and knitting like mad, and need to get over to my crafting blog soon, as I have a ton of projects I want to share. I also got onto Instagram, and I should probably blog about that, and post my blog on Instagram... so much to do, argh!
  On the mega bonus side, I am over the hump with this particular depression cycle, and I feel ever so much lighter and better! I know there are going to be some rough spots in the next couple of days, but they'll be spots, not hours! YAY!
  And now for a Monday Funny... I haven't done a Friday Funny in forever, so I'm gonna just throw this atcha:
(if you get this, you are awesome!)
Alyssa :)