Archive for the 'thinking things' Category

ollllld news

oddly enough, chewing food doesn’t seem to slow down a child’s capacity for noise.  and idiocy.  i particularly noticed this one evening while the children were arguing over who got to be what on the pop bottle.  “i’m shasta!”  “no, i’m shasta!  you’re ginger!”  “well who is going to be ale?”  and after much rioting it was discovered that everyone would rather die than be ale.  and i discovered that i would rather die than listen to any repeat of this conversation.  ever.

almanac

lucky for me i have a husband who likes to read at the table.  marc has to begin by reading quietly for a bit.  then, just before the conversation derails itself into a puddle of quivering imbecility, he jumps in and saves the day with some fascinating anecdote.  and we’re off.  we’ve had talks about the girth of henry the 8th (complete with tape measure), the history of alcohol, feminism, socialism, colliding migratory birds, the birkenhead drill, the transatlantic cable, why people in paris are under the general impression the government should pick up their dog poo, margaret sanger and her “negro project,” we’ve read about symphonies and then had to listen to them, observed “beatlemania” on the ipod, we’ve honored deaths, celebrated births, and laughed.  a lot.

i imagine for lots of people this comes naturally.  but my husband and i would just as soon stare at each other.  we can’t help it, we’re both good looking.  😉  but boy has been incredibly faithful in this regard, and it’s been wonderful.  especially when you consider the alternative.  we’ve also declined to dismiss people immediately from the table.  if you really want to get down, you can go work on the dishwasher.  and usually i start kitchen work at this point and try to get the bulk of the work done before the mass exodus.  (they keep me company.)  but i hope that someday we can clear the table only to start all over again with dessert.  because this is the place you should want to be.  incidentally, if you do get down, it only means that it’s time for saxon math.  yes, let that put the fear of god in you.

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on getting ugly

fast.

i hear it happens to everyone, but i do have my suspicions that i am being totally jacked.  what was i, 27 or so when i had jael?  anyways, that’s when i first noticed things going south.  the day i came home from the hospital i looked in the mirror and thought, “what happened to you?”  for the record, it didn’t go away.  and with rahab i got my first official wrinkle.  this was no fine line either.  it wasn’t even a smile wrinkle.  my sister says it’s my, “i don’t care” lines starting to shine through.  but you know, we can live with those sorts of things.  it’s called make-up.  but what judith did was unforgivable.  wrinkles are one thing, but baggy neck and jowls are quite another.  that and i pretty much look like someone punched me in the face.  twice.  this is more obvious since rahab broke my glasses in half, and now no one can be distracted from my raccoon eyes by my fire engine red frames.  even my seven year old helpfully pointed out i looked better with my glasses on.  i agree.  it’s just too bad that they’re in two pieces, now isn’t it?

girl

meet my doppelganger.  i don’t know who she is, other than that she’s an author of some kind.  i ripped her out of a library book at college, on compulsion.  i thought, “that’s me.”  she looks how i feel.  (and apparently how you feel eventually comes out.  so i’d be more careful about that, if i were you.)  we were instant friends.  it was like i could look at her and someone who understood me completely looked right back out.  i would always tell this to people and they would be like, “she doesn’t look like you, psycho.”  well, now she does.  except i think her jaw line is faring a little better than mine right now.  i was never pretty to begin with.  but there were three days there (i think) when i had finally figured out what colors i looked good in, which clothes flattered my body shape, and that clinique could make magic happen.  alas, those days appear to be coming to an end.

but i don’t want to be sad about it.  pretty isn’t everything.  i think the greatest encouragement to me is every time i see some undeniably ugly person in the grocery store, who has her swag together to the point where ugly is just an afterthought.  character, confidence, and style kick pretty’s butt.  and we all know what happens to pretty when it sticks around after it’s expiration date anyways.  it’s not much to put your confidence in.  i think every woman has to face getting old at some point, preferably long after 32.  our only hope is to live in the kind of way that someday, when we wake up without our looks, we’ll have such a reserve of the good stuff that we won’t even notice.  i especially love it when my girls come up to me and say, “mother, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world.”  my mom was never pretty by the world’s standards either, yet somehow i only remember her as beautiful.  she was my mother.  and i want to be beautiful to my children.  i want to be sweet, patient, gentle, and kind.  in short, i want to love them – and that is what beauty is.  because children have an uncanny way of seeing the heart.  i’m not saying i’m quite ready to go to seed and lord knows i’ll still be keeping up appearances.  but at this point in the game, it’s a good to know where your treasure is.  find the cards you want to hold tight and be ready to let a few go.  because it might be sooner than you think.

more rolls than a bakery

pinterest told me i was fat again today.  i was like, that’s it.  you and i are going to tango.  i mean, what do you call this anyways?

the poochmommy tummy

well don’t worry about it too long, because they’re actually labeled for you.  the one on the left is a “pooch” and the one on the right is a “mommy tummy.”  obviously, you have a condition.  or worse yet, a uterus.  (they’re always up to no good.)  so, quietly wondering to myself, i was trying to think if there was ever a time when the female body was really respected, for what it was.  when it wasn’t stuffed, prodded, laced, starved, pushed up, sucked in, etc.  and while i would like to think that they didn’t lace jane austin up like a sausage, i do have my suspicions.  still, the empire waist seems like the very definition of happiness.  other than that brief respite, i’m drawing a blank.  thinking a little longer i decided to peg the consistent abuse on two things.  one, we’re dumb.  and two, we’re easily prey to discontent.  all satan has to do is produce fashion plates and we take care of the rest.  even if it’s insane stupid.

ss

seriously, that look was sheer genius on his part.  and to think people fell for it.  my motto is love what the good lord gave you.  and wear clothes, that for once in the last thousand years, actually respect it.  god looked at what he had made and said it was good.  but that’s just me, i’m past the point of caring.  do you know who has really flat stomachs?  nine year olds.  right.  reading the caption for the “pooch,” it said that this person is probably a busy mom, and probably even a slave to the gym, but still has that curious part of the female anatomy: a tummy.  can we really be so brain-washed as to think we have to look like pre-pubescents into our 40’s?  cuz i think that’s creepy.  have some dignity.  think of it this way, the people who think they have to do hundreds of sit-ups and have a washboard stomach, before they “look the way they’re supposed to,” are the same people who have been lining up to buy corsets since the 16th century.  the only good whale, is a dead whale.  preach it.

i’ve also been thinking through this last pregnancy, how curious it is that my husband never stops liking me through all of these stages. which is no surprise, because my husband always likes me.  heaven help us.  we should be more concerned about getting them to stop.  a friend’s husband commented to his pregnant wife, “this is great!  make baby, make more of everything!”  amen.  the disconnect between what the world tells you sexy looks like, and what god has told man sexy looks like is quite different.  god gave man a woman and said, “this is what beautiful looks like, this is who you should desire – your wife.”  and then satan hands him a pin-up of a barren woman who looks like she’s been filling in for john henry, and says, “no, you’re quite mistaken, this is who you should desire.”  and at the same time turns to us and says, “you are not desirable, until you look like this.”  so don’t buy it.  kick him in the shins and run.

love your body, love what god made it to do.  dress in a way that honors it and doesn’t make it hang out over the top. and whatever you do, don’t complain about your weight.  let your doctor tell you whether you are healthy or not, not someone selling breakfast in a bottle or hot pants.  as for me, i think i’m a little interested in redefining fashion.  is it even conceivable that a woman could wear something in such a way that made her assets look as such?  could you honor your curves, and honor what your body does, rather than rushing out with the rest of them to heave it under the bus?  and i’m not really talking about weight, so much as shape.  as americans, we generally do have a problem with weight and being too sedentary.  so go ahead and fix it.  just don’t expect it to change your anatomy.

tunicil_570xN.447275297_8llfil_570xN.187917853empire2grecianil_570xN.422642556_jhs6il_570xN.322363309il_570xN.445835823_bdi4il_570xN.269415689       il_570xN.210917609 il_570xN.185486067 il_570xN.366342587_a6cf   empire3   il_570xN.416576464_52r0il_570xN.232467290il_570xN.370058815_4sf1tunic3   il_570xN.411024188_q0t6   il_570xN.234515453il_570xN.394362729_mlcvwrap

i was tooling around on etsy looking for clothes that don’t try to redefine the female shape.  it’s called a natural waist because an artificial one is just that.  it’s amazing how many styles are based on the concept of women having the flat stomach of a seventeen year old male.  and if you haven’t noticed, even they’re having a hard time with it these days.  women’s clothes should be full, free, feminine, comfortable, with room to breathe and move, or perhaps even make it through the first trimester without the usual crises.  that, and you should be able to curl up on the couch with the kids without bulging out somewhere.  you should be able to get up from a chair without having to hitch everything back into place.  or be able to comet out the tub without showing six inches of crack.  there should be this understated sense of ease, confidence, comfort, freedom, and contentment in the way we dress.  only because i don’t think “svelte” should have half as much sex appeal as “secure.”  because dissatisfaction isn’t hot.  it’s annoying.  your husband doesn’t want you to be constantly pointing out your pot gut, complaining about how ugly you are, how many pounds you’ve gained, or how old you’re getting.  he just wants you to be happy.  pleasant.  and not, how my husband puts it, evil.

being fat is one thing.  but being shaped like a woman, and carrying the luggage that comes from being a fruitful woman, is another.  god called us to be fruitful.  he loves life and the sacrifice that comes with giving it.  satan doesn’t.  which is why there is full on war against the tummy.  beat the bulge.  with a big fat stick.  don’t you know, you *have* to fit in those jeans.  (uhm, no you don’t.)  even plus size models have to pack their wares in just the right spots.  you never *see* normally shaped women.  and it’s not because the human race has any sense of modesty these days.  it’s because we’ve bought the lie.  so much that we’ve collectively forgotten what women look like.  and somehow it leaves us all feeling as though we are the lonely, shameful, exceptions.  which is why i think this article was so heartwarming to so many women when it came out.  she has 180 pounds,  a tummy, and yet she’s beautiful.  more than that, she has that radiance of a full heart.  i want to be that.  seasons come and  go, our body changes, but there is never anything so beautiful as a contented and happy woman.

for what it’s worth, i think it’s time to step back from the fashion plates a little, and live in the freedom that christ gives us.  the whole history of fashion has been rife with insanity and foolishness.   (need i say 18 inch waists, horeshair bustle pads, crinolines, floor length skirts, and maternity corsets?)  and when, during the entire history of the world, were women ever expected to have abs anyways?  it just makes me want to fan myself thinking about it.  we live in an era where anything goes, but we still want to subject ourselves to the arbitrary whims of culture.  just for kicks.  nah, break out a little.  you don’t have to suck it in anymore.  my guess is that that’s actually supposed to be there.  chill.

the ultimate career

the boys were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up.  they turned to me and asked, “mother, what’s the best job?”  i said, “i have the best job.”  they weren’t convinced.  “no, what’s the best job.”  i said, “i have the best job.”  ha.  take that, you poor little wage slaves.

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career. ” — C.S. Lewis
p.s.  the quote’s a bit bogus, but i still like it.

riding the birthday circuit

at some point, birthday’s begin to require a philosophy.  i’d say it’s around the same point that pinterest starts to become hilarious.  ha.  in a million years baby.  so i have begun to streamline birthdays a bit.  and when i don’t, i’m reminded of why we’re not doing that ever again.  and even with a little standardization, a birthday is still a lot of work.  so much so that you ultimately have to decide if it’s worth it.  and when the dust settled, i couldn’t help but think that it was.

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it seemed to me that it was worth it precisely because it was work.  i was thinking of all the things jael did with me; we made the guest list, she helped plan the menu, we went to the store together, picked out thank-you notes, then we baked cupcakes, cleaned the house, hosed the road grime off the front patio, had talks about how to receive gifts and greet people, we set the tables, hauled down the china, and eventually washed the china and put it all back up again.  later we itemized all of her gifts and she dictated and signed thank-you notes.  holy pain in the duff.   but it is better to give than to receive.  he who sows sparingly, reaps sparingly.  and when it comes to partying, to fellowship, and to hospitality, i think it’s always better to die trying.  it’s a good work, and i want her to be good at it.

the problem is that after having several children, it’s tempting to look for the easy way out.  it’s probably more of a necessity than an option.  but i think it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of birthdays as an obligation to be gotten over with.  as something we have to do.  when they only happened twice a year it was kind of fun.  now it’s more like, “good lord, not again.”  it becomes harder to reconcile all the excess with all of the other things on my plate and easier to say, “here, have a cupcake.”  i was wondering if doing this was a good use of my time and money, or if i was just trying to keep up with everyone else.  but i realized that a birthday is not just an annual commercial hoop i’m obliged to jump through – it doesn’t have to be something that i pay a lot of money for and then give it to her like another present.  rather, it’s a chance for her to grow, to be the host, and more importantly, for her to be the one giving herself away.  in the end i thought it was the most educational thing she had done all year.  and we almost didn’t do it.

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perhaps the easiest way to dump some birthday baggage is to simply let go of the idea that it has to be themed.  you can’t just say you’re having a “rapunzel” birthday.  no, you have to make a rapunzel cake, buy rapunzel plates, rapunzel gift bags and stickers, dress everyone in purple, and the next thing you know you’re weaving floor length wigs out of yarn for all of the toddlers and have been to six stores.  it’s a slippery slope to hell.  that’s what.  not that it’s bad, but you don’t want it to jump out and get you.  if you want to plan an amazing birthday, good for you.  but if you have 22 under your belt already, it’s time to come up with some tricks.  one of my friends with eight children has sworn off birthday parties all together.  they keep it in-house.  she says her kids are happier and more contented that way anyways.  she got to the point where she was like, “oh yeah, who said i had to have 15 kids over, with a clown, a pony, pool, pinata and a melt-down?  right, that’s what i thought.”  pinterest and 1.5 kid households set a high standard.  it’s easy to start to feel guilty or overwhelmed, or for things to get out of hand in our efforts to bless our children.  and in the end, maybe they aren’t as blessed as we thought.

so my plan is to just pick one thing and stick with it.  tea parties for the girls and potluck “feasts” for the boys.  and i’m going to make them work for them.  when birthdays sneak up on me at least i’ll know the drill and the kids will too.  i won’t have to be thinking about it months in advance, trying to come up with something “new.”  i won’t have to buy extra stuff for every birthday, or even run extra errands.  (when you homeschool and have five kids, your worst fear is having to leave the house.)  even better, i won’t feel like i have to cut back on my guest list.  we love inviting everybody.

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so we’re not going to give up, or slow down, we’re just going to try and keep it real.  for instance, this is the bunting jael helped me sew from our stash of great-grandma’s hankies.  we have enough left over even for every girl to make her own.   we kept the eye-hooks in the wall so they will hang back up in a jiff.  add that to the flowers daddy gets them for their birthdays, and what more do we need?  well, besides food.  but that’s the best part.  i’m very much looking forward to all the birthday girl bake-days in the future, doomed petit fours and all.  as for the boys, i’ve been longing for a set of pewter “man” dishes.  just imagine a saw-horse table in the back yard, covered with food and goblets, surrounded by all of our family and friends, next to a roaring fire.  i also want to include a hike of some kind.  because what’s more fun than a raucous and badly chaperoned posse tearing up the foothills at twilight, only to be eventually silenced by marshmallows?  um, nothing?  right.

red girl red state

i’ve made myself a tasty red girl red state etsy shop.   i only started it a year ago.  apparently i was finally pushed over the edge.  a reluctant entrepreneur for the good of the world.  slap this on your prius.

red girl red state assault rifle

i had to order 500 to get bulk pricing.  but now i have some to share.  i wouldn’t care if i sold a single one.  i just wanted to paint the town.  so if any of my (three and a half) blog readers would sport one, say the word, and i’ll mail it to you.  pick your poison.

red girl red state hunting rifle

guns and babies.  the right to defend yourself and the right to life for the defenseless.  (you can get the blue sticker if you don’t like guns but are down with infanticide.  i just thought there should be more shopping options.)

death by mall

just home from shopping.  harrowing really.  i think it’s all the mirrors.  and the shiny people.  there are enough ugly ones sprinkled through for morale, for sure.  but the shiny ones still do you in.  it’s hard on the self-esteem.  i think it’s because i haven’t been out in a while that the contrast seemed so stark.  home is my little buttressed oasis.  just the way i like it.  the world, on the other hand, likes to make you well aware of your inadequacies.  people approach the overtures of real world in all manner of ways.  some are along for the ride, some never knew what hit them, some are ravenous pits of envy, others pick over the shiny bits and look down on the rest, while the conspiracy theorists run away in terror.

but i don’t want to run from the world, i kind of want to bludgeon it.  that’s what was congealing in my mind as i was picking through the clothes with my daughter.  now, i don’t want to get on my holy pony and head back to the ranch in my romper.  but the racks of synthetic china insulted my dignity.  for the last time.  i don’t like coveting things i can’t afford.  and if i had the money, i don’t want to pay for someone else’s mass produced, faux originality.  it almost pains me to admit it…but i think i’m going to say something nasty about consumerism.  these last few months i’ve been trenched in with my people and we’ve been busy.  i’ve been watching the first sprouts of our own culture.  you’ve heard of homeschool nerds, right?  only i don’t want our cultural differences to be a difference of inadequacy, but rather a difference of surplus.  i don’t want to row beside the ocean liner in my dingy, with my children looking longingly over the side.  i want a trim vintage yacht that can turn circles around the hulking disney cruise liner, a.k.a. floating strip mall.  and i want it to be more fun.  because freedom always is.

you can never beat the enemy by trenching it up with the powdered milk.  you have to be better.  the engine of consumerism is insatiable, it will take it all.  it tells you what to watch, what to wear, what to think, what to drive, what to eat, etc..  which would be fine, i guess, if you didn’t have something better to do.  but we do.  life is good.  too good for plastic.  too good for fast food.  too good fore reality shows.  too good for beyonce.  too good for public education.  and too good for synthetic textiles with licensed screen-printing.  isn’t there some kind of saying about life being too short to drink cheap beer?  it’s way too short.  culture is like this mushrooming, corporate monolith, and we’re the pond scum floating on top.  it doesn’t matter if you’re in the middle or nit picking around the edges, odds are, it was still made in china.  we come and go, but brand names live forever.

anyways, i don’t want to go back.  i don’t want to suffer involuntary sidelong glances at soulless mass productions that serve as mere indicators of my income.  i don’t want to score them on sale after scouring endless clearance racks so i can fake it.  i don’t want to wear their jersey at all.  i want my own.  i don’t want my children to have the impression that we have the things we have because we can’t afford better, but because we are better.  the difference between a consumer and a creator is vast.  one can only wonder if our dependent stance in life is just another cozy kick in the shorts from the devil.  you know, people used to make stuff.  i wonder if there is some kind of redemption in that.  a kind of liberty.  a kind of dignity.

and no, scrap booking doesn’t count.

the girls and i are going to have more fun.  we’re going to make stuff.  jael lights up like a little bug when i get out the sewing machine.  so mama’s going to try a little harder.  i was looking at the cheaper end hand-made dresses on etsy.  you can have a lot of fun with things you whip up.  and no one would ever suspect you bought it at wal-mart.  they would know there was something not quite right miiiiiles away.  and it’s not that i’m ungrateful for our giant web of convenience, produced by cheap oil, globalization, and “little slave kids,”  it’s just that i’m stuck up.  mostly.

Think About It by Flight of The Conchords from feyzan ustaoglu on Vimeo.


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