A Dead Lion Gets Wall to Wall News, but Dead Babies Get Only a Blip?

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In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror. —Goodwell Nzou


Kate Steinle is murdered in San Francisco as a result of an immoral, unlawful immigration policy, and undercover videos reveal that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading abortion provider, is likely trafficking in the remains of aborted babies, and unlawfully changing its abortion procedures to obtain the best possible “specimens” for resale on the tissue/organ market. The same people outraged over Cecil are silent about the death of Kate and the unborn.

Anger reveals a lot about a person’s values and their priorities. In the case of Cecil, Kate and Planned Parenthood, it is evident many liberals/progressives in this country, especially in the major media, regard the death of a lion as more outrage-worthy than the death of an American woman and countless unborn Americans.
Brian Fahy & Garrett Fahy


I tried to imagine if there could be any valid reason for a wild cat to become the biggest news item in the world. On a day when another undercover video revealed Planned Parenthood dismembering murdered children for profit, I strained to think if there might be some justification for ignoring the harvesting of human beings in favor of obsessing over a large feline in Africa. 

I thought maybe the lion had cured cancer, or sprouted wings and flown into space, or stood on its hind legs and recited the Gettysburg Address. Surely, these developments would vindicate the disproportionate amount of attention it was receiving. But I quickly found out that the lion, from Zimbabwe, had done no such thing. Apparently, all it did was die.

Of course, lots of people died yesterday too, especially in Zimbabwe. Across the planet, human travesties continued to unfold – Christians were slaughtered in the Middle East, political prisoners were tortured and executed in North Korea and Iran, Americans fell prey to crime and violence spilling over our southern border, and about 3,000 human children were butchered in abortion clinics, some of which were then dissected and sold on the black market – but this one unfortunate beast in a forest 9,000 miles away trumped all of these. Human victims would have to wait yet another day to be noticed by our culture. Their plight just couldn’t compete with a cute, fuzzy mammal.— Matt Walsh


But the issue isn’t whether abortion is legal. Abortion has been legal for decades. That’s not going to change.

This is something else again: Reducing human life to a commodity, subject to market whims, where the “procedure” (meaning abortion) is altered so that the fetal organs may be kept intact, to be bartered and sold.

You can say that it’s not human life. And many do. But in this case, using euphemisms is a shield. I suppose we can convince ourselves that the research “materiel” is not human, until of course, you see a lab tech with tweezers pick up a tiny limb.

And though many avoid the implications of this, it just might be that there is a cost, to all of us, even as we shut our eyes.

Everything has a cost. Avoidance most of all. – John Kass


Were it not for having to be in the car this week driving Blondie to a class in the arts district, I might have completely missed the outrage over Cecil, a lion, dying. It is a terrible story, which I hope ends with us all finding out that the doctor responsible for the animal’s death was indeed misled by unscrupulous guides, and that he had no knowledge that what he was doing by killing Ol’ Cecil was wrong, at least in the legal sense. However, I think it is a pathetic and distressing thing that more people are incensed and frothing at the mouth over a dead LION, than are about the dismembering of dead human babies by Planned Parenthood. Seriously, 24/7 news about a lion, but the abortion clinic stuff is on page twelve of the classifieds?

Really now, “come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), You who pretend to care for humanity; you who probably call yourself “humanists;” you who likely claim to have a special interest in human rights: You! How can You sit by and ignore the death of millions of babies, some of whom are having their remains carved up and sold off like cattle in a stockyard? Disturbingly, it seems You care more about a wild beast with fangs and claws than a defenseless human baby; surely, your moral compass broke years ago. Don’t human lives, particularly innocent infants’ lives “matter” more than a single lion’s life? Strike that. ANY animal’s life? How screwed up are we as a society, as humanity, when Cecil’s death creates more fervor than babies bodies being desecrated, being treated as garbage, labeled as medical “waste” because a woman’s so-called right is to engage in infanticide? Is it also Planned Parenthood’s right to profit from it? I’ve little doubt You decry the Military-Industrial Complex and Big Pharma, but what about the Abortion Industry? Make no mistake, You, there is indeed such a thing. Oy! It makes my head spin and my soul ache to realize how far off the mark we have veered.

Concerning abortion, please, know, I do not consider myself to be any sort of Pro-Life “activist,” though I find IMG_1521restricting abortions as much as possible (while still keeping them accessible) to be an important fight to have. Abortion is not health care, nor has it anything to do with women’s sexual freedoms. What about freedom should give women the right to decide well beyond the point of “fetal” viability, or it’s ability to feel pain, for that matter, whether another human being lives or dies?

I am blessed with two teen-aged daughters, sixteen and almost thirteen, and have always held that if anything happened to them, particularly rape or incest, where one of them found themselves with child at a tender age, abortion would not be off the table. I believe it is cruel to expect a young girl to carry on with a pregnancy when she is not emotionally or physically prepared for such an event; pregnancy can be difficult enough on those of us beyond our middle and high school years. 

Nevertheless, I can understand that there are reasons for some to seek an abortion, but if it is to occur, is twenty weeks not PLENTY of time to make that decision (though twelve is even better)? After that, folks, it should be for the long haul. How can that even be in dispute? There are LOTS of families out there who would love to adopt, and lots of reasons to choose adoption, particularly if one is on the back side of puberty. “Late term” abortions, otherwise known as partial- birth abortions, are nothing short of butchery. To believe otherwise is to be willfully blind, delusional, and devoid of reason regarding the reality of what is being done to these poor babies. It is cruelty in it’s most vile form (though I’m sure you feel similarly about the death penalty). When that innocent child could thrive outside of its mother’s body, but we leave the choice of infanticide, of killing a healthy, viable infant, in the hands of someone who is quite likely mentally unstable, we, as a society, are sick. Irredeemable, even. 

But still, let’s keep worrying about a lion, why don’t we? After all, “Lion Lives Matter.” At least, to some misguided souls, they matter a great deal more than innocent human ones; and theirs are the voices that scream the loudest these days.


Below is the text from an article from writer Heather Wilhelm, which I think sums this ridiculousness up quite well:

One of the joys of the digital age, at least to many, is the thrill of discovering a new World’s Most Despicable Person. You know the drill: First, some poor sap says or does something dumb or politically incorrect. Next, mobs of wild-eyed, unhinged keyboard cops swoop in to judge, shame, excoriate, and issue over-the-top condemnations. Finally, if they’re lucky, the Mean Typing League might even manage to destroy a life or a reputation or a business or two, not to mention everyone’s general faith in humanity.

After performing this ritual cleansing, one assumes, those involved feel slightly better about themselves. This sense of inner peace and superiority has not yet been scientifically measured, but it lasts, alas, for only a few fleeting days. That’s when it’s time to find a new World’s Most Despicable Person.

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Heather Wilhelm

This week, that person is Dr. Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota with the unfortunate habit of paying copious amounts of money to kill large, exotic animals around the globe. Earlier in July, as the world discovered this week, Palmer messed with the wrong large, exotic animal: Cecil the Lion, one of Africa’s most beloved and famous lions, a favorite of wildlife researchers, and the “star attraction” of Zimbabwe’s Hwagne National Park.

I, like most of humanity, had never heard of Cecil the Lion until this week—thanks to the Internet, he now has approximately five million devoted new best friends, who had also, oddly, never heard of him until now—but there are several videos of him circulating online. He seems like a nice enough lion, I guess, if you like sexist oppressor male kings of the jungle.

I kid, I kid! Sort of. Alas, the truth about Cecil’s links to the patriarchy is all on YouTube for the world to see: the roaring and biting at those born without male privilege; the casual, utter disregard for female lion self-esteem; the skulking around like a half-hungry Marlon Brando trapped in a Mafia pizza parlor. This is because he was a wild animal, of course, and not a cartoon character. Regardless, let’s move on.

Real lions doing real lion-like things

Real lions doing real lion-like things

Cecil lived on nationally protected land in Zimbabwe, but Dr. Palmer’s apparently shady and unscrupulous guides—for whom he paid a whopping $54,000—lured the unsuspecting lion off his nature preserve. There, Palmer shot him with a crossbow. That didn’t do the trick, so a fatal rifle shot came next, but only after tracking the wounded, suffering lion for nearly 40 hours. This was followed by the beheading and skinning of poor Cecil, who certainly didn’t deserve such a cruel fate, but who also, just as a friendly, safety-related reminder, would probably happily eat you in a casual and relaxed fashion if he had the chance.

This week, Cecil’s story exploded, inciting batten-down-the-hatches outrage. Animal rights group PETA, for instance, declared that Dr. Palmer should be “extradited, charged, and preferably hanged” for killing such a beloved creature. In a heated op-ed, former CNN host Piers Morgan proposed a new sport, “Big Human Hunting,” in which he would kill Dr. Palmer with a crossbow, torture him, and skin him alive, which sounds normal if you just had a brain transplant from, say, Jeffrey Dahmer.

Actress Debra Messing argued for revoking Dr. Palmer’s citizenship; Sharon Osborne, who is married to a man who once bit the head off a bat, called for the eradication of Palmer’s home, business, and money. On Tuesday night, an emotional Jimmy Kimmel questioned Dr. Palmer’s erectile abilities before a chortling television audience, called him “vomitous” and “the most hated man in America who never advertised Jell-O pudding on television,” and then helpfully noted that we probably shouldn’t “start a witch hunt for the guy.” Oh. Okay. We’ll just ignore those first parts, broadcast to millions!

Baby-development-month-by-month

A baby, not a blob of tissue. You had a choice, shouldn’t he?

Dr. Palmer, meanwhile, is in hiding. His business is closed, piled with threats and hate mail. Cecil’s killing, the embattled dentist declared in a statement, was a terrible mistake: “I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.” This may or may not be true; Dr. Palmer may or may not be an unsavory and unethical character. It’s a sad situation; we’ll have to wait and see. One thing, however, seems indisputable: The world is, as is its eternal wont—and here I shall quote an eminent showbiz bat-biter—going off the rails on a crazy train.

Paying $54,000 to kill a wild, beautiful animal seems like a strange and questionable hobby at best; at worst, it seems downright cruel. On the other hand, some conservationists applaud the practice, at least when it’s done legally. What’s telling, however, is that the great Cecil conflagration of 2015 occurred on the same day undercover operatives released the third in a series of graphic, disturbing Planned Parenthood videos. This video, unlike the former two, featured body parts. Tiny body parts. Detailed, well formed, and unmistakably human.

But never mind. Let’s talk about Cecil, a lion that has emerged as a benevolent, finely

This is NOT the lion you're crying over

This is NOT the lion you’re crying over

sketched cartoon creature in the global moral imagination, setting our hyperactive but wildly misfiring outrage meter into a wild, chaotic spin. He’s a lot more fun to think about than unborn baby humans, apparently. The villains in his case are certainly more dramatically drawn. And really: Who doesn’t like cartoons better than reality?

Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at http://www.heatherwilhelm.com/ and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.


Extra credit reading:
Matt Walsh always has some good thoughts on the issue of abortion, too.
Feminists for Life (I found this group several years back while researching a paper about “feminism”- who knew such a group ever existed?!
A Lion’s Share of Misplaced Outrage, by Brian Fahy & Garrett Fahy
~ It’s a Lion, Dennis Prager
~ What’s the Cost of Avoiding the Planned Parenthood Videos? by John Kass

~ In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry for Lions by Goodwell Nzou

 

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Things I Just Don’t Understand…

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Every once in a while I have to do a “politics dump,” a commentary of current political events, with back up from some of my favorite Conservative or Libertarian thinkers. On Facebook I would have just posted link after link, day after day, but in the blogging world, I prefer this format as I find it to be more productive, constructive, and concise.

In this post I have chosen a few quotes from Victor Davis Hansen and Jonah Goldberg to punctuate my thoughts. The articles from which the quotes were drawn are linked somewhere below.


  • Yup, it’s ALL about “Choice.” Well, maybe for some, but obviously not the abortion industry. Could we PLEASE have a real, honest discussion about what abortion is after 20 weeks? It is murder, pure and simple. How is it I’m supposed to fret over the owls, whales, caribou, snail darters, dogs, cats, and tree frogs, but human babies are verboten, or at least passè? How can people that are often SO adamant about animals and trees care so very little for their own kind?

It’s Time to Defund Planned Parenthood;Shameful: Planned Parenthood’s Weak Response; The Nazis, Medical Research and Planned Parenthood


The recent disclosures about Planned Parenthood likewise infuriated the fed-up base. Again, they were not incensed just at the callous and sick way supposed humanitarians at Planned Parenthood talked of slicing up fetal tissue and selling organs, but at the hypocrisy of it all. At a time liberals are Trotskyzing our past to damn to memory any ancient historical figure who owned slaves or practiced racism, how does Planned Parenthood’s godhead Margaret Sanger, the racist eugenicist and promoter of abortion to curb minority populations, get a pass?

Liberals lecture about “set457181-222196tled science” and adherence to logic instead of myth and folklore. But they also insist on talking of fetuses as non-human organisms, even as they concede both that fetuses in the womb possess viable — and marketable — human tissues and that developing babies at 22 months are now viable outside the womb.

For those who bandy about words like troglodyte, it is quite Neanderthal, in the scientific sense, to believe that a baby is not a living, viable organism until it emerges from the birth canal. For a movement that talks of caring and compassion, it is hard to write a script more cruel and callous than that of the Planned Parenthood talking heads referencing a Lamborghini or a “less crunchy” abortion technique or the macabre house of horrors of the abortionist and convicted murderer Dr. Gosnell. As for the supposed questionable ethics of catching Planned Parenthood with ruse and stealthy tape, no one seemed to object over secretly taping at a private gathering Mitt Romney’s unfortunate quip about the “47 percent,” much less did liberals object to four decades of 60 Minutes ambush-style, secret-video reporting.- VDH



So: We live in a world where Bobby Jindal is a fake Indian, but it’s racist to say an older white woman isn’t a real one (the correct term being “Native American,” of course). Nimages (7)ikki Haley is a villain for “suppressing” her Indian roots, but Senator Ted Cruz is a fraud for touting his Cuban roots. (Cruz was recently grilled by Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin about how authentically Cuban he really is. At least Halperin later apologized.)  -JG


  • When the Catholic leader goes Hitler on Catholicism (do some research on how Hitler perverted the Lutheran church in the run up to WWII)…
What the....?!

What the….?!

The Pope and the Hammer and Sickle
So….Jesus was a Communist now? How do these leftists, including this pope, turn a blind eye to the butchery that has occurred at the hands of Communists since 1917? Che, Mao, Castro, Mao, Stalin- great heroes and humanitarians we should all look up to, but Capitalism is evil? Can one simply compare the economies and standard of living between the people of North and South Korea, not to mention the way each government treats its own people, to debunk this blind ideology? Makes me very glad I’m not Catholic these days. I’d have a hard time taking this pope as God’s mouthpiece.


  • I’m never ceased to be amazed by the hypocrisy of the media and the Democrats and all they have infiltrated. Why does High Faulutin’ Person X (R) get so much media and is often forced into hiding, resignation or prison, but High Faulutin’ Person Y (D) get invites to the White House?

    Once upon a time my husband was an FBI agent. He went through Quantico in 1995 with this guy. He wasn’t terribly impressed with him then and has no use for him now; he seems to be quite a scumbag.

    Dennis Hastert is being targeted for suspect withdraws, but my husband can’t get prosecutors to touch cases this small when it is TAX PAYER money being wasted or stolen? Priorities, priorities…

    Ted Stevens gets taken down, only later the injustice comes out. Harry Reid brags about being a lying scumbag.

    Yet… Al Sharpton? Charlie Rangel? Obamacare lies? Planned Parenthood (see above)? Hillary Clinton? Just to point out a few….


We’re actually making a deal with these crazies, not requiring the return of hostages, and giving them a butt load of money? Oh, yeah, and essentially telling the American people they (through their representatives) have no say so because the approval of the U.N. means more to this president than we do. How long until the election? Can any of this damage be undone?



The conservative base is tired of illegal immigration. Their furor peaked with the horrific killing of Kate Steinle by a seven-time convicted felon and five-time deported illegal alien.  They are baffled that one apparently exempt and privileged ethnic group can arbitrarily decide to ignore federal law. They are irate that they are lectured about their supposed racism from an open-borders movement predicated on La Raza-like ethnic chauvinism. They do not want to hear about nativism from a lobby that so often at rallies waves the flag of the country that none of the protesters seems to wish to return to, a country whose authoritarianism is romanticized as much as their host country is faulted for its magnanimity. Call this what you will, but emotion over neglecting federal law is much less worrisome than cool calculation over violating it.- VDH


  • I grew up in Texas, but have NEVER liked the Confederate flag. In my memory, I never saw anything positive about it, didn’t romanticize the antebellum era, didn’t think blacks should be kept “in their place.” However, when a white guy goes bonkers in South Carolina, ostensibly because hated blacks (and had more than a few screws lose), it’s necessary to question everything about him, dig up a few choice tid-bits that “prove” how racist America is today (not a single change in 50 years!? Really?), seek to destroy any symbol that he may have wrapped himself in…oh, yeah, and cry about a lack of gun control?  But when Muslims commit murder on U.S. soil or kill people over seas, CLEARLY because of their twisted, butcher-the-infidels mindset, we are supposed to delve into their backgrounds to discover what great people they “really” were, find ways to blame ourselves, boost them up, and cover their sins with in a thick veil flag-salute-silhouetteof political correctness? Wow, talk about a screwed up set of priorities. Ditto goes for crimes committed by illegals. Could we please focus on cutting the heart out of radical Islam and facing up to the fact that some people who shouldn’t be here in the first place do bad things and should be held responsible for their actions before we fret over a piece of cloth from a by-gone era? For all of their harping on the beauty of “diversity,” all I see is division in the ranks and making excuses for evil…well, for some…as long as they aren’t white!Honor Heritage with the RIGHT Flag; America, NOT Dylann Roof Should be ForgivenDo the Right Thing, Mr. President — Lower the Flag (Why did this actually take more time to decide to do than lighting up the White House like a rainbow?); The President’s Looking Glass Islamic World; America, One Nation Indivisible Why Does the Left Treat Islamic Terrorism with More Nuance Than the Confederate Flag?

In the last half-century, Americans have increasingly tended to emphasize race and tribe in promoting “diversity,” rather than seeking to strengthen the more tenuous notion of unity with their fellow citizens. We have forgotten that human nature is fond of division and must work at setting aside superficial tribal affinities to unite on the basis of core values and ideas.

Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.- VDH

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Chasing the Right Likes: Focusing Inward In Order to Focus Upward

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Back in May, just as I was planning my summer hiatus from Facebook, the article Chasing the Right Likes from Joshua Becker caught my eye. It came around at roughly the same time as the blog post by Jamie Martin that I referenced in my first posting: To the Mama Who Feels Like She Never Gets Enough Done (My Productivity Secret). Both commentaries have stuck with me these past few months and have greatly influenced my decision to exit Facebook on a more-or-less permanent basis.

Jamie got me thinking about what I truly need to spend all of my time and energy on- and it’s not worrying 24/7 about politics, or laughing at every meme, or seeing what everyone and their dog is up to everyday.single.moment.of.the.day, or trying to decode some people’s cryptic messages or passive examiner-size-woman-at-computeraggressive rants, or get sucked into their whining (mine included, ditto, ditto, ditto). I need to worry about my house, my kids, my pets, my husband, my house: my stuff. And I desperately need to get out of the “Oh, I have to post this!” mind set; the rewiring of the brain that occurs with social media abuse is simply horrific!

However, Joshua made me rethink the psychology of social media all together. In fact, he made me realize it is not a healthy place, at least not for me. Why, you may ask? The answer is simple enough: pride. One need only take a spin around “reality” T.V., Facebook, Twitter, or even the closest busy department store parking lot for evidence of society’s hyper-inflated self-importance. It is almost painful to see how full of ourselves we are. Selfies on the hour, every hour, posts about every meal, thought, gym visit, and bodily function; vanity plates, monster trucks and custom cars that scream “LOOK AT ME!”; clothes (or a lack thereof) that do the same; booming music vibrating the ground, annoying drivers or neighbors a block away, all because we are just so darned important that every one must want, no, need to see what we are doing or admire who we are.

According to Dictionary.com, pride is (among other things) a noun meaning:

1. a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

2. the state or feeling of being proud.

3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride.

Pride is rightly listed among the Seven Deadly Sins, and Pride is essentially what set off the “War in Heaven,” which led to the fall of Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, who in turn took a third of the hosts of heaven with him. The after effects of this terrible rebellion have been reverberating in our terrestrial sphere since the dawn of man and are evidenced throughout the millennia in story after story of human history.9a163183b432e70510fe1d2958e068c8 Holy scripture is replete with illustrations of man’s hubris, as is secular literature, and at no point does pride produce a favorable result. In the cosmic scheme of things, it may be possible for pride to be a positive thing, but… for the most part it is not, for the most part it is quite destructive to the self, the soul, and society as a whole.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis observed that a “proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that is above you.” Additionally, Lewis noted that the “natural man,” or what we might call human nature is “something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe.” How very true that is. Does that not explain the diseased state of the modern mind? We want to be admired, even by, and perhaps especially by, those we don’t know intimately? Isn’t it clear that man is so enamored with his ability to construct philosophies which exclude Nature or God, reconstruct scripture and society, devise experiments, and develop innovative idols to worship that he forgets to look up to the One who made this fragile, finite life possible?

In Herodotus’ The Histories, the master narrator tells the story of the ancient Lydian ruler Croesus who, while hosting the distinguished Athenian teacher Solon, came to ask of the well-traveled man, “Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?” Knowing Croesus was seeking to be flattered because of his wealth and the vastness of his conquests, Solon refused to feed the leader’s ego, and answered with tales of several men he’d known who’d not been particularly affluent or prominent, but who had had strong families, accomplished noble things in their lives, and died heroically while serving others.

Croesus was baffled by Solon’s selections and demanded to know exactly what his criterion for happiness were, especially considering the bliss that was apparent in Croesus’ own life. How could Solon have possibly failed to include Croesus? The shrewd instructor, seeing an opportunity to impart a bit of wisdom to the arrogant king, responded calmly,

Great wealth can make man no happier than moderate means, unless he has the luck to continue in prosperity to the end (death).  Many rich men have been unfortunate, and many with a modest competence have had good luck…Whoever has the greatest number of the good things I have mentioned (sound body, health, freedom from trouble, fine children, and good looks), and keeps them to the end, and dies a peaceful death, that man, Croesus, deserves in my opinion to be called happy. Look to the end…often God gives man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him.

Croesus wasn’t satisfied with this answer, and he failed to glean the lesson learned Solon was seeking to impart. In the end, he was utterly ruined. His pride led him to lose all that he had amassed, including his beloved heir and the entirety of his kingdom. The man had everything anyone could want, save the praise of one man. How many of us seek after the same thing? We have everything we could possibly need, and very likely much of what want, but we still crave more. And we allow that drive to consume us, whether we’re conscious of it or not. I have come to see that the failure to enjoy the moment we are in without first thinking, “I can’t wait to post this,” is part and parcel of that unconscious lust.

In the days and weeks since my car accident and in the time I’ve been off of social media, I’ve had lots of time to think on these particular issues. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the conclusion (though I have been 83c0777a3ca6a31d425b84a3078c3eac4768e9dc03c694e9395b3cc8af5f110afairly aware of this character fault for more than a few decades now) that I am one pride-filled little lady. While I don’t believe God “let” that wreck happen or “caused” the “Nancy Kerrigan-ing” of my knee, the time that I’ve spent sidelined has been a God send (mostly).

Seriously, folks, I’m not so blind to my own faults to have missed the Napoleon complex, a.k.a “small dog syndrome,” to which I am prone. Nor have I missed the internal burn I feel at times to be recognized. In his post Chasing the Right Likes, Joshua tells the sweet story of an orphan girl seeking the attention of her house mother. His conclusion is that many of us continue to seek that attention well beyond when it is normal or healthy; and for some, even many, social media only enables these childish desires to flourish.

Women’s “Lib,” at least the modern incarnation of that movement, is not something of which I’m particularly fond. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I detest much of what is considered 4becc80bcd522e2337dadf2c7d7666b9“feminism,” particularly the way the left-wing politicos have practiced it since the 1960’s. A few strong, truly independent women who were a part of the feminist past do stand out to me, however. Sadly, theirs are not the voices we hear so prominently today.

Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of well-know pioneer Laura Ingalls Wilder, is one such woman. A pioneer herself, Lane is often considered the mother of twentieth century Libertarianism. In her fictionalized autobiography on Lane entitled A Wilder Rose, Susan Witting Albert has Lane speculating on the origin of the relational difficulties between mother and daughter.

Indeed, it has often seemed to me that in those days (childhood)— except for a brief golden hour after supper and before bed— I had no mother, for she had no time to give me attention or affection, and I was left to ask for it or beg for it or even misbehave for it, which earned instead her sharp anger and my sullen guilt. Then, I thought this lack of mothering was my own particular privation, and I resented it and pitied myself. Now, I know that many children do not receive the mother-love they need and that they keep on needing and wanting it for a long, long time, perhaps all their lives. Do I? Do I do what I do for her now because of the lack, the emptiness I felt then? I don’t know. Perhaps. Perhaps.

I know how she feels, or rather felt. My own maternal relationship often seemed as if I was trying to navigate waters filled sharks and shrieking eels in an attempt to get the “mother-love” I craved. I’m sure there were times my mother felt as if she were suffocating under the weight of my desire for her time and praise. What she could give or was willing to give me as a child didn’t satisfy my thirst to be “noticed.” I ached to have her all to myself, but my plans for us were always interrupted by someone or something else, like a sibling, a grandchild, work, divorce, dating, remarriage….

Still, there came a time when I was a senior in high school and Mom had foot surgery. She was off from work, recuperating at home for six long weeks. By that time it was just she and I, and much like the Harry Chapin song “Cat’s In the Cradle,”  I think she suddenly comprehended  just how little contact we had with each other (and how little influence she had over me). She sought to remedy it forthwith, but it was too late. I resented her efforts to manipulate me into staying home and being a nursemaid. There was my job, church, school, friends, a boyfriend…nothing that included her. Later, in my mid-20’s I recall she came to my workplace to request the use of my car for a two or three day solo road trip; I was frustrated by her request and refused. She observed that my coolness towards her at that moment could stem from nothing more than her reticence toward me in my childhood. “I wasn’t there for you, and now you’re not here for me.”  Spot on, Mom. Brilliant.

Marriage, twenty years, two kids, depression, and her death later, and I’ve learned much about the internal and external struggles Mom had; they were legion. I needed desperately for her to talk to me, to explain who she was to me so I could comprehend her, understand the choices she made- especially 10876bfa7e09bf75034a2dddaf98afc3those that directly affected me- but that wasn’t in her make-up, not for me anyway, the baby of the brood. This lack of meaningful communication made it exceedingly difficult for us to love each other on terms that the other could truly feel. Instead, we, two little Napoleons, mother and daughter, fought with each other from atop our mighty steeds, deeply wounding but never toppling the other.

Before she passed, Mom and I found a small, rocky patch of earth on which to meet, but there was not time enough to work through our problems. I persisted in never feeling I’d had “enough” of her, starving, in the most pathetic of ways, to hear her praise me, to put my “accomplishments” on a pedestal above those of my siblings, to admit that I was all that I thought I was, to open up to me… and to apologize for not being the mom I’d needed early on. Talking past each other was a hard habit to break. The last candid picture I have of her came from Christmas 2001, a month before her death. She is holding my oldest, who was a toddler then, and I can see the tension in Mom’s jaw; I know it was because of me.

Much of what separated us in the five years between that day the parking lot at work and the frantic phone call from a sister-in-law telling me that Mom had died suddenly, was nothing more or less than Pride. We were both so full of “it,” and I was certainly not going to be the one to lose grip on the controls.

Pride is a deadly cancer. It is a gateway sin that leads to a host of other human weaknesses. In fact, it could be said that every other sin is, in essence, a manifestation of pride. This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Internally, Facebook is no different a struggle for me. “Look at me!” “Praise me!” “Like me!” “Affirm me!” Me, me, me. I, I , I. I don’t want to be a part of that anymore! No one needs me to link all of my apps to Facebook so that the world may know how far or fast I walked today (Fitbit, Map my Run), what I ate or how much weight I’ve lost (MyFitnessPal), what I’m reading (Goodreads), or what I just purchased (Amazon, Groupon). We each have our own worries, why do you really care about mine? Does it make us feel better to know some one has it worse? Or does it make us feel superior to know how good we are, comparatively, you know? Does it make us feel intelligent and astute to “correct” our friends’ views or comments (or grammar)?  Who really wants to hear me whine about my monthly migraine 50322206cycle or annual cold or bum knee? Do I really need eighty-five “Get well soon” posts to make me feel better?  I’ll bet your pets are just as cute as mine, your garden as pretty, and your neighbors just as annoying. Do you really want to give me feedback about a child who won’t listen? Are yours any better? And it goes on and on. Doesn’t it all just turn into a demand for attention that we should have gotten over decades ago? Doesn’t feeding one another’s egos just make us all into a bunch of meth addicts, craving more strokes, more likes, more approval?

Granted, there are wonderful, positive uses for social media, such as keeping in contact with old friends and family, especially when we are separated from those we love, genealogy, seeking for community services, asking for help without having to get on the phone (I hate the phone), sharing positive, uplifting messages, and supporting friends in pain, just to name a few. But, to those who are prone to addictive behaviors, social media can become poison to the soul and just another vehicle for unhealthy behaviours, such as attention seeking. Pride destroys all that could be good, twisting an opportunity to communicate into a Tower of Babel. Galatians 6:3 reads, “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Indeed, there is much we do to deceive ourselves down here. In an attempt to be something by man’s measure, we puff ourselves up and forget that the only measuring stick that matters is God’s. I hope to do better by Him in the future.

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Thoughts? Feel free, the three of you who may see this, to add your own sentiments. I promise not to get too uppity to know I have a reader or two. 😉


Some good reads on the subject:

Pride and the Priesthood        Beware of Pride     Cleansing the Inner Vessel     The Great Sin

The Great Divorce

 

Did I mention it has been a rough year for my knee?

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Last August I had knee surgery, a trim that took a third of my right knee’s medial meniscus…and about 10% of my ACL…and smoothed out some of the feathery articular cartilage under the knee cap. The tear was probably caused by poor racewalking form. Yes, racewalking. Yes, there is a correct form. Yes, it 9e31aa0ca2097f85e4fed683b3667e97looks weird anyway, but still, if you do it right you’ve got a lower incidence of injury than runners. Sadly, I can’t run…much. Never have been able to. My lemon knees started manifesting in high school whilst I was “running” the one and two mile (slower than almost everyone else). This attempt at running happened when I was a freshman, and my knees have told me every since, “Um, no. You cannot run. I will hurt you if you do.” And true to form, they have. Every time. Seems my patellar tendons aren’t attached in the correct place, which means my knee cap tracks “off” when I run, causing pain.

Over the years, I have taught aerobics, rock climbed, weight trained, and walked.  Now, I can’t even stroll without some pain. Holy FREAKING cow! I did some church work the other day, work which required me to stand up and sit down a few times more than usual, and what I had hoped would be an hour or two of service work turned into about forty-five minutes. I threw in the towels didn’t even attempt to take the stairs down one flight to the front door. Ugh!

You can go back and look at other posts about my knee, but my most recent issues have been caused by an air bag impact in March, which tore that same meniscus. Based on my fitness level, good health, low weight, and I’m sure the expectation that I would be compliant with physical therapy, my genius surgeon took a risk and tried to repair the torn meniscus, a procedure with a 40% failure rate which is not helped by my “advanced” years (I’m 44!). Well, I was pretty certain the repair had failed early on (ripping, searing, tearing pain while trying to flex my knee on the evening of the first day of physical therapy just didn’t seem O.K.), and the MRI I had last Thursday confirmed it. Four months later and I’m almost back to square one. Yippee. What does this mean for my poor knee? A third surgery; the third on the same knee, for the same meniscus, just two weeks shy of one year since my first surgery.

Sigh.

Despite expecting to hear that news today, it didn’t help keep the flow of tears at bay. I had my cry in the car after leaving the surgeon’s office, then went straight to the gym. I WAS a good, compliant therapy patient. I never intentionally over did it, though the fact that there is still some nerve damage in my knee and my hip has been all jammed up, has served as a constant reminder “take it easy.” At the gym, I do all I can to rebuilt my leg muscles, regain some cardiovascular endurance (bike and elliptical-zzzz…) and strengthen the knee joint. Alas, the odds were just not in my favor.

On the bright side, and I really truly do mean that, this is my silver lining: I have one more month to continue doing the above. Going into surgery on Good Friday, 2015, I was two weeks post car wreck. There was still significant swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the leg. A portion of my difficulty in rehab has to be attributed to some collateral damages from the trauma. Now, most of that has resolved. Swelling is still present, but minimal, and I’d like to think those silly nerves are almost ready to regenerate completely so I can get all of the feeling back in my knee. So, I’ll be even stronger in a month’s time, which will make rehab easier. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be back on the road looking stupid again by Columbus Day!

Absolutely how I feel:

 (language alert)

 

I’m OK With Being on the “Wrong” Side of History If It Means being Alright With God (and the US Constitution)

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“Eros ceases to be a devil only when it ceases to be a god”  C.S. Lewis

“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” Doctrine and Covenants 1:16

When I heard about the Obergefell v. Hodges verdict on the morning of June 26, my heart sank. It did not fall because I am a bigoted, hateful, homophobic religious freak who wants to keep gays down, as most activists, or liberals in general, would claim. It sank because I believe in the Constitution, not case law; and I believe in States’ Rights in so much that I believe the voices of the people of each state have a right to be heard, even if the opinion(s) they voice aren’t trendy or popular with some who really like trendy and popular things. Seriously, for a political party that cries so loud and so hard about the “disenfranchised” voters (think back to the hanging chads in Florida during the 2000 election cycle), one would think Dems/ “Liberals,” who are the ones screaming louder than everyone else in favor of gay-everything (and against God-anything) would care a hair more about overturning the votes of millions in multiple states that included many of the same sorts of folks who were supposedly cast on the side lines during Bush v. Gore!man-woman

I also believe that unless a judge or a panel of judges can point directly to the Constitution when they make any legal decision, and in the case of Obergefell they didn’t even try, then a decision should not be allowed to stand. No, all the five unapologetic liberal judges (well, Kennedy, he doth vacillate) did was pull that decision out of their La-La Land handbag where the unicorns and rainbows frolic (the same place Roberts found his two decisions on Obamacare, btw). By doing so, these puffed up demigods in black gave the final “middle finger” salute to the faith and freedom of conscience held dear by millions upon millions of Americans. Indeed, the religious folks, at least that aren’t just marginally so (you know, those who believe more in the “social” gospel than the actual Gospel), and particularly those Christians, Jews, and Muslims who find much to object to even the concept of “gay marriage,” were just told that they may be looking at the final act of their REAL, unambiguous, not-court-created First Amendment rights in a variety of areas.

Is it not enough that kindly declining to participate in a gay marriage ceremony or celebration can cost a business owner his livelihood? Apparently not. It is clear to me, and has been since Massachusetts got gay marriage via judicial fiat that this issue was never, ever about “love;” it is about retribution, about punishing those who deviate from the current culturally dictated, media driven norms. It is about power. Love, and certainly not tolerance, not in the traditional sense of that word anyway,  play no part in this argument. No, this whole “Love is love” mantra that has been fabricated to appeal to the softened heads of “enlightened” Millennials and their ilk, is just a red herring. If it were just about love, then passing civil union laws and using existing contract law would do just fine. But what is loving about shutting down adoption agencies because they don’t want to adopt to gay couples (when others will)? What is loving about ruining someone’s business because they express a religious objection to participating, even obliquely, in a gay wedding (when others will)? What is loving about protesting and demeaning people of faith or firing individuals who support “traditional” marriage, or not allowing judges to be judges who are a part of groups like the Boy Scouts (California)? What is loving about being a small-minded totalitarian who demands acquiescence to what SOME in society have deemed the “new normal,” particularly when such a small fraction of society is actually even gay or just plain confused?  Does the majority have an obligation not to trounce upon the minority? Absolutely. Sadly, that is only a one way street in modern society. It is a classic case of the mouse who roared, but this mouse has fangs, carries a gavel, and had been given a pedestal and a bullhorn by the shortsighted folks who are also being into to the argument that men and women are exactly the same, that gender is a “social construct.” Geesh, and they think Creationists are delusional.

Not very Christian of me, you say? I never said I didn’t esteem the beliefs and lives of others, nor did I say I wish ill upon any individual or want others to be unhappy or downtrodden, but I have read more than just a few lines out of my Bible and other scriptures, and I’m pretty sure beyond the concept of loving others and not judging unrighteously, Christ and his Apostles also spoke of self-control, overcoming our very human natures, bridling our passions/ sexuality, being sexually pure, not being party to evil or being blown about by the opinions of society, not to mention drawing near to God with our lips, but being far from Him in our hearts, or trying to serving God and Mammon. And I’m quite sure nothing other than marriage between a man and a woman was ever sanctioned in any of the more successful world cultures throughout history. So, you’ll excuse me if I don’t support the current overhaul of society just for the sake of “love.” Destroying traditional marriage encompasses much, much more than that, as does shredding the Constitution.

Still, because there is so much to say, nay “feel,” as all we feel is now sacrosanct in modern thought (and case law), I’m going to include in this post a series of links that state more fully and articulately my concerns and frustrations about this subject and the SCOTUS ruling.

“If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of’. If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips.” C.S. Lewis

#1 Judges, Hubris, and Same-Sex Marriage by Dennis Prager

#2 My own faith’s response to the ruling & The Family: A Proclaimation to the World

#3 Would You “Unfriend” Christianity? The Supreme Court Just Did

#4 The Dirty Dozen: Supreme Court Marriage Decision Launches 12 Religious Freedom Grenades

#5 Justice Roberts: “Just Who Do We Think We Are?”  (Would have been nice if he’d wondered that aloud with his atrocious SCOTUS care ruling!)

#6 The Supreme Court Ratifies a New Civic Religion That Is Incompatible with Christianity

#7 Let’s Drop the Charade: The Supreme Court Is a Political Branch, Not a Judicial One

#8 The Supreme Court Has Legalized Same-Sex Marriage: Now What?

#9 15 Reasons ‘Marriage Equality’ Is About Neither Marriage Nor Equality

#10 Here comes the bride. And another one. And another one! Meet world’s first married lesbian THREESOME . . . and they’re expecting a baby due in July   Truly, who gives a rip about the kids!

#11 Dems Declare War on the Words ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ Because mothers and fathers don’t matter, right? It’s just all about ‘love.’

#12 Thomas Sowell: Supreme Court Disasters Erode Freedom

#13 Male-Female Marriage Remains the Ideal  And not just “because”

Some Purely Secular Points, too:  Ten Arguments From Social Science Against Same-Sex MarriageThe Irrationality of Gay Marriage

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(Unless you are a harassing jerk)

Disagree? Feel free NOT to post. I’ll not be arguing with strangers or friends over this issue. Just suffice it to say that I’ll happily stand with my God, or my interpretation of His, and his prophets and apostles teachings on morality (that’s for ALL, straight and gay alike) and marriage, hence the cogent C.S. Lewis quotes. And I don’t care where that puts me in the mind of those who disagree.

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside of marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” C.S. Lewis

My opinion is just as valid as they suppose theirs to be, but mine is not based on the fluctuating opinions of a fallen world. I am very happy to agree to disagree, and to be friends with those who don’t embrace my worldview. I love many people with whom I disagree on various issues, and contend that political differences should not lead to the dissolution of friendships based on much more than politics. Others, I’ve noted, feel quite differently, however. To each his cup of tea.

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Origin of C.S. Lewis quotes in order:
https://www.cslewis.com/blog/spiritual-sins-are-worse/
http://www.pureintimacy.org/s/sex-where-it-all-starts/
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/139095-if-anyone-says-that-sex-in-itself-is-bad-christianity

10,000+ Steps Today, but 2 Steps Back: the Knee Saga, part 50

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About 7:15 p.m. C.S.T., while on a rather plodding one mile walk during my youngest’s evening fencing class, my Fitbit buzzed on my wrist, confirming I had reached my daily goal of ten-thousand steps. It was a glorious feeling! I haven’t felt the buzz of my chameleon-like friend in nearly four months, and I have missed it so. The question from here, however, is how many more ten-thousand step days can I rack upfitbit-colors in the remaining days of summer?

Sigh. I suppose I shall find out soon enough. You see, I had my twelve-week post surgery follow-up today, and while things are better than they were on 9 a.m. on March 18th, April 18th, May 18th, and even June 18th, they are still not back to where they were on March 17, when the “only” orthopedic problem I had was a two cm “high-grade” tear of the proximal hamstring tendon (under my butt cheek) in my left leg (at this point, dear reader, I will refer you back to my post of May 18, “A Day in the Life of My Knee,” for the full-story about my surgery). Due to continued pain at the medial joint line and my inability to walk a mile, let me amend that, “stroll” a mile, without pain three months after surgery, my surgeon has ordered a new MRI on my bum wheel.

Once the results come in, he and I will discuss “the future.” What, oh, what will it be? If a “frank” tear, a screaming, blatant, obvious tear is evident in my meniscus, then we will be looking at another surgery, perhaps in the fall. Dear Surgeon, thinking aloud during our tête à tête today, commented that the question would then be whether to attempt another repair or to debride the tissue, leaving me sans a medial meniscus in my right knee. I quickly assured him I was leaning towards removal. I am so sick of being sidelined, that between waiting an additional quarter plus for the outcome of a second procedure that only has 60/40 odds of healing properly and would require another $#@%^!!!! six weeks on crutches or a removal that would have me walking again within days, my answer is, “Get rid of it.”  I know that undergoing a complete menisectomy is starting the clock on a total knee replacement, but that may be ten years dfrustrated-kit-247x300own the line, not my fourth surgery in two years in three to six months if the repair fails again.

Of course, the idea of waiting until the fall if surgery is indicated, gives me time to get stronger, for my very angry hip muscles to relax, for my gait to improve, for the feeling to come back into my knee (nerve damage sucks!), and for me to be in a better frame of mind. All of those things will make recovering much easier on me (and my family), and I could use a little “easier” right now; I could also use a lot of exercise “release.” When you are someone who needs exercise, who craves the outdoors, but you have to put all of those desires upon the shelf for a season, well, I think I finally know what a castrated tom cat feels like now.

Still, through it all, I have tried to maintain a good perspective, even if I have had pockets of sadness and thrown a few pity parties here and there. A dear friend of mine suffers with MS. Her physical decline started in her early 20s, when her children were very small. She is now in her 70s and has been wheel chair bound for the last decade. Before that she progressed from requiring a cane to a needing a walker. I am blessed.

Earlier this year, combat veteran Noah Galloway was on Dancing with the Stars, a show I never watch. Fortunately though, I caught the video of Noah on Facebook several months back. And I was in tears. I feel like such a complete wuss, whining about a little nerve damage and a torn meniscus. This amazing man is nothing short of a walking miracle, and my pain, or my frustration is nothing.

Indeed, compared to many millions, I am blessed beyond measure. Like us all, I have to remember that I am an eternal soul stuck in a fragile, imperfect, mortal body. I shall run, no, SPRINT, in the eternities, even if on this Earth I have to be content to racewalk. Or even sit on the bench for a while. Since I’m not quite ready to take that final step-off into perfection, I guess I shall await the outcome of my upcoming MRI and continue to bide my time in this telestial sphere. Maybe, just maybe, I can finally get some help for that torn hamstring, too.

She May Be a Beast, but She’s My Beast, You Jerk!

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When my oldest was tiny it was pretty clear to us and others that she was a bright child. She quickly picked up on the sign language signs I taught, bobbed with rapt attention at her Baby Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven videos, chatted incessantly, and was anxious to engage the world around her in meaningful ways (like staring people down until they made eye contact with her). As new parents, my husband I anxiously looked for signs that our little bit was the second coming of Einstein, purchasing flash cards to help bolster her language skills, reading to her frequently, and offering educational programming sure to stimulate her latent genius genes. She gave us a bone here and there, gave us hope that our first born would be the next great child whiz, but nothing too astounding.

Because this stay-at-home mama needed a break from Miss Crazy High Energy, High Demand, Blondie went first a friend’s house two days a week, then to mother’s day out (MDO) the following year, where she thoroughly stressed out one of the teachers in her two year old class. Why? Simply put: the child would not nap. No, no, she insisted on being up and about during nap time, bothering the other kids and continuing to explore. The other room teacher was happy to take my active toddler to the office to make copies or walk her around through the hallways if it kept her quiet. The other teacher, however, would have none of that. She was an older woman with a military background who had had her one son, her golden child, later in life. My fair-haired square peg refused to fit into the round hole this teacher expected her to. Much to the chagrin of said teacher, Blondie fell fast asleep the moment we walked in the house. She was a champion napper for me (praise be!)!

Her strong will and quick wit made feeding, potty training, and getting her out of her crib into a different bed a real challenge. Try as I might to get her to sit in a high Jumperchair to eat, she just wouldn’t have it.  Until she was too heavy for it, I had to sit her in a doorway jumper and let her bounce and spin to her heart’s content in order to get food in her body.

I was certain she knew when she needed to use the toilet by the time she was two, maybe 2 and a half, but did that matter? No. The more frustrated I got, the more she dug her heels in. Finally, as I was heading into the third trimester of my second pregnancy, a therapist I was seeing at the time while trying to deal with my mom’s sudden death suggested I “ask” dear daughter if she “wants” to be potty trained. That was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard, but it worked, from that day forward, it worked. The only time we ever had another problem with toilet issues was right after baby number two showed up to usurp her place as “The Baby,” and even then her regression was short lived.

If only kicking her out of the crib so the new member of the household could have it would have been that simple! The “big girl bed” (a twin) and the new digs (big girl bedroom) did very little to persuade her to let go of her crib or the nursey. We finally broke down and bought the kid a toddler bed during the transition, storing the twin for awhile. Even then, it took much longer than expected for her to warm up to the change in space. It didn’t help that she was none to thrilled with the introduction of a baby sister into the family. Goodness, those were some difficult bed times.

In kindergarten, getting her moving and doing all that needed to be done, in order, every day, earlier than it had been done in MDO, became the big battle. The saving grace was that Mrs. Stewart, her teacher, was patient and loving, and Blondie adored her. When she could keep her hands and feet to herself, my little one shined, though she hated doing the Sight Words flash cards and phonics activities, which were her homework. She despised practicing what she already knew (or thought she knew “well enough”). End of story.

Blondie in the aisles at Target

We moved to a new house, town, and school district just up the road during the summer between kinder and first grade. I knew little about the new district or our assigned school except that it was “better” than our “good” old district. A well-informed, well-connected neighbor steered me towards getting Blondie into one of the two special dual-aged classes her new school offered, a class where first and second graders worked side by side with each other. Perfect for a precocious kid! Or not.

At the first six-weeks’ parent-teacher conference, my Blondie was “Smart! Bright! Amazing!” but by Spring Break her teacher, who had tried everything her young, childless, recently married self could think of to keep my square peg in her seat and focused on work, not cutting up, yapping, or playing, was done. Now the report was, “If she keeps this up, she’ll fail out of elementary school.” Really? My crazy little squirrel was already being doomed to failure at the ripe old age of 7? Dear husband and I were not prepared to put our daughter on Ritalin at that moment, so instead we put her in Montessori.

Montessori helped my kiddo love learning and doing again, and I loved the philosophy, but by the beginning of third grade we were really wondering if the kid would be “more likely to succeed” with meds. Work was just not getting completed; and while the teachers weren’t worried, we were. So, we went through an extensive testing process with her to find out that three of the four components used to measure I.Q placed her in the “high average” category, but her verbal component, the “I cannot process anything in my head, so that’s why it all comes out my mouth” part of the test was up in the 130’s. That number alone explained so much. Nevertheless, the therapist said no to ADH/D meds (they might help, but would likely make a few of her ever present tics much worse), pronounced her on the Gifted and Talented spectrum, and wished us good luck! I’m still unsure whether or not Montessori was the best money ever spent, as it seemed to reinforced a few of her less-than-helpful-for-school personality traits, such as a propensity to procrastinate, but at least she got to spend two years enjoying quirky kids like herself, making true friends, some of whom she is still in contact with eight years later, and doing real hands-on learning in areas and manners far different from public school.

Had we stayed in the area, we would probably have kept her in Montessori, but instead we moved to a suburb of Nashville, TN for her fourth grade year, then to Houston for fifth and beyond. She went back to public school in Nashville and stayed there through middle school. Blondie had wonderful teachers for the remainder of elementary, but the struggles with focus, drive, and attitude towards drudge work continued. I assured her teachers I was “on her,” not to worry. Her dear, sweet, sainted, fourth-grade teacher, even cried over a letter I penned confirming that I understood she was trying her best with my intelligent, but strong-willed and often complacent learner, and that I didn’t blame her for Blondie’s issues, like failing to turn in work. The poor woman was so used to getting letters from parents blaming her for their child’s failings, she hardly knew what to do with my note of encouragement and commiseration.

At various times I have been given predictions about the future of Blondie’s educational attainment that

Oh, goodness! Is my eye twitching again?

Oh, goodness! Is my eye twitching again?

echoed that of her flustered first grade teacher, and her dad and I have wondered endlessly about her ourselves. She loves to learn what she wants to learn, but grade or no grade, if she doesn’t burn to learn it, good luck getting the work done or getting her to take an interest. As much as I appreciate passion and know that grades aren’t everything, it has been hard for dear husband and I to watch a child fully capable of make straight A’s opt for less because a subject or a paper just wasn’t as important as watching You Tube How-To videos on Anime that particular week. Trying and falling short is one thing, but a zero, or rather lots of zeros, show nothing but a lack of effort.

Yet, just as she did as a baby, she has impressed us and others in many different areas. She began piano lessons at six, but tried to trump her teacher by memorizing her pieces by ear. Getting the child to learn to read music was torture— to all involved. She really had no patience for etudes, theory, and the traditional way of learning. Once we moved to Houston, I gave up on piano. Her abilities were evident, but her desire was nil. Thus, when she asked to take cello in fifth grade, I declined her request. However, she renewed her fervor for cello the following year in middle school, so hubby and I relented. Private lessons began in seventh grade; and in eighth, she got a cello for Christmas. Oddly, once the cello was acquired, her practice habits went kaput. Her desire to play was there, but it was not enough to override the attention she preferred to give other things. Plus, the kid had an issue with performing, or rather competing. She was good, very good, but as her middle school orchestra teacher noted, “It’s easy to be a big fish in a small pond.” It didn’t help that being the big fish filled her with no small amount of pride, and I don’t mean of the positive sort. It was the kindergarten flash cards all over again!

Going into high school, my oldest decided it was time to join her younger sister in the ranks of the homeschooled. Although, she is hardly homeschooled; it’s more like she’s chauffeured. Blondie, who is going into her junior year now, liked the idea of deciding for herself the trajectory of her high school years. It would have been very easy (on me) if she had opted to do some on-line classes like those offered through places like Keystone Academy, K-12, or Freedom Project. Alas, Blondie, as anti-social as she can be, thrives on discussion and classroom interaction with teachers and students. In other words, you have finally bought into my argument against government schooling and you want to homeschool, but you won’t do it at home? Wonderful (twitch, twitch).

In Houston, we are extremely blessed to be in an area that is home to such a broad variety of homeschool (HS) opportunities. Among the offerings available to assist the HS community, are several co-ops. They function similarly to a private school, but are typically based on a college model, allowing parents and kids to pick from an array of classes and pay for them individually each month. A child may do one class at such a facility, and every thing else at home, or vice versa. We have two such places within thirty minutes of our home, and were preparing to set up a schedule of classes for her at both, when, near the end of Blondie’s eighth grade year, I found out that Houston Baptist University (HBU) had begun an encapsulated dual-credit high school program based on the Great Books and utilizing the Socratic method of teaching. And joy of joys, they would be offering two classes at EE, the co-op closest to us. Blondie was over the moon.

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So much for seeing my daughter perform at Carnegie Hall

Because of two simple classes, HBU opened up an entirely new pathway for my oldest: doing college instead of high school. We expected she would do some college work during high school, probably in her junior and senior years, but thanks to HBU’s Academy program, dear daughter’s college started at fourteen. In order to progress further, Blondie changed campuses for her HBU classes this past year. Instead of a twenty-minute drive each way for classes twice a week, we now load up, drive fifty minutes out to the main campus, then closer to two hours back, due to rush hour traffic. Last summer, she also began taking dual credit classes from our local junior college, and this summer she’s added on-line classes from BYU. Her college transcript will look like a patchwork quilt, but two years after coming “home,” my under-achieving over-achiever has nearly thirty-five college hours under her belt. By the time she is eighteen, Blondie will have her Associate of Arts and then some, or in other words, seventy plus hours.

It has by no means been an easy path for either of us. My poor car has driven many miles; I’ve sat and waited many hours; and not being as big a wiz at math or science as Blondie is at history and English has required her to get tutored by a friend’s son for high school math, which means one more place for me to drive for classes. Because of this weakness (which is shared by both me and her father), dear daughter will have her electives and Humanities-type college credits out of the way far ahead of those (accursed) STEM areas. Nevertheless, she’s figuring out what college is as a high schooler, learning to communicate with professors (including the oddballs, the jerks, and the non-communicative ones), and understanding what kind of work is expected. There is still some continued teeth pulling on my behalf, particularly for those “Why do I have to take these?” core classes she dislikes, but she’s making A’s and B’s and is excited to launch up to BYU-Idaho in a couple of years to pursue a degree in Illustration. Not too bad for a kid who almost flunked first grade.

Having my oldest “home” has been both wonderful and utterly exhausting. In the course of our crazy driving schedule (which will get SO much better for me after she gets her license this summer. Fingers crossed!), some things have inevitably fallen through the cracks. The most important for me was the time I had to spend in person (and awake) with my youngest. Her fifth grade year, Blondie’s freshman year, was almost a wash. To remedy this she began on-line classes with Freedom Project last fall. But the second most important thing that got lost in the shuffle was cello.

I’m terribly sad about this. I love the cello; so does my daughter. I adore most classical music, as does my daughter. Unlike my daughter, though, I have zero musical talent, unless you count appreciating fine music. She had a truly terrific cello teacher who was so excellent with her, and whom she enjoyed. But… just like back in elementary and middle school, you can try and fail, but you can’t fail to try. And unfortunately, that’s exactly where she’d gotten to with her practicing. So, this past week, the three of us, Blondie, her teacher, and I, put an end to two years of frustration sprinkled with fleeting moments of brilliance. Cello lessons are no more. Sigh. There was no doubt this was coming. In fact, it was already clear to me that next school year, which will be every bit as jammed up with classes in various places as this past one had been, was going to be incompatible with the schedule of practice (one whole hour a day!) he expected in order to see improvements, let alone finding a three-hour block for her lesson, including drive time. We were prepared to wrap things up with him, but he beat us to the punch on Friday, sending us packing in a rather unceremonious fashion, asking that I contact him to confirm that Blondie was or was not going to get her crap together to continue lessons with him, at least through the summer.

Well, it took me about five minutes in the car with her for us to both decide it just was time to cut bait. He’d understandably lost faith in her, and I was tired of driving all the way to BFE for her to flounder and falter and fake her way through a lesson for which she was unprepared. Listening to that was painful on many levels! Seriously, it was time to “tap out,” and that was the exact memo line designation I gave my email to Mr. Cello. I thanked him for his time, energy, effort, and patience, but it was evident her passions had turned to other things. Add a new job in to the mix of drawing, writing, academics, and breathing, and the kid just doesn’t have anything left for cello. “You have been wonderful, but we’re done.”

The response I got back was hot, to say the least. “I hope she gets her behavioral pattern ducks in a row because when she gets to college, professors will either gleefully flunk her or (more likely) dismiss her entirely. I am out of energy carrying the whole load for her lessons and if by some odd chance she comes back, I will have no more patience in regards to her practice discipline or cavalier attitude with appointment times.” Whew! I agree, however…..

Yes, getting her out the door to a lesson forty-five minutes away is a pain, as getting her out the door has always been. Yes, sometimes, that is me that makes us two or four or six whole minutes late. Sometimes there is traffic or a wreck or a slow-moving vehicle or some other unforeseen issue we can do nothing about, and we never have an hour an a half cushion in the schedule to override these problems or ensure we are there early. No, Blondie doesn’t emote anymore, so when you gripe at her or ream her for something, she is more likely to shut-down than speak up for herself, unless it is me reaming her. She is almost the exact opposite of crazy, high-strung nut ball who I had to chase down the aisles as church as a toddler. Some where, somehow, for some reason only she knows, my dear daughter has trained herself to disconnect from her emotions to the point it is hard to read what is going on in her head half the time— even for me! Unless she’s happy, that is. We are a laughing family, and she does that with gusto, but she’s uncomfortable expressing deeper, more complex emotions. As her mom, and an emotional red-head at that, it makes me a bit crazy at times, too, but I don’t dismiss her as ‘cavalier.’ Yes, if by chance she comes back [to cello], it won’t be to you. And that’s O.K. with us.

His note gave me great pause for thought this past weekend. His angry, flustered missive contained a nugget of truth about my child, but it also sought to sum up much more about her than anyone who doesn’t live with her twenty four-seven could ever know. She is ‘in college’ and doing quite well, thank you very much! She does appear (and is) dismissive and without discipline in regards to practicing her cello, which is, of course, what we paid you to teach her, but you should see her drawings! The child is amazing, better and more dedicated to honing her craft than I ever was. You should hear her discuss Aristotle or Dante or pontificate on the coolness of Euclid (math without numbers, she CAN do!). You should hear her teach a lesson or give a talk at church. That kid has a natural talent and a love for teaching that is evident to all. Yes, I’ve had to ride her about some course work, there are things this forty-four year old mom with a college degree knows about college that a newly minted sixteen-year old doesn’t. Yes, she procrastinates, which she comes by naturally. Yes, she is still working on becoming the human being God means for her to be. Aren’t we all?! Yes, she is still trying to figure out exactly what she want to do and be. Yes, she is a bit of a punk at times, but she’s a faithful kid, a bright kid, an intelligent, sensitive, pain in the butt! But she’s MY pain in the butt!mama_bear_mode-1405984

So, yes, Mr. Cello, my kid failed to meet your exacting standards (and wasted a lot of my gas and my money in the process); yes, she has interests beyond cello, and she can be terribly pig-headed and lazy about learning difficult things, but thank heavens there is more to my kid than cello! Thank heavens! we didn’t listen to her first grade teacher, but instead sought out something that was a better fit for her. Thank heavens!I didn’t put her in military school the semester she blew off turning in half her math papers in seventh grade. Thank heavens! I can see her more for the totality of who she is and appreciate that she is a beautiful, intricate work in progress trying to find her way through a complex puzzle of classes she chose for herself. I love this kid, and I don’t expect you to see the greater proportion of what makes Blondie ‘Blondie,’ Mr. Cello. There are days when even I can’t see it. But, for now, just know others before you have made dire predictions about my daughter’s future and been wrong, too! You are not alone, and she will be just fine.

Blackberry Days of Summer

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It would be a marvelous thing if I could create a coffee table-sized book of happy, carefree moments from my childhood, but I can’t. By the time I came along, my mom and her first husband (not my father) seemed to be ummmm… winding down their marriage. IMG_20150525_174741_kindlephoto-19231427When I was eleven, they divorced. Then they both up and quickly remarried. Need I say this wasn’t a great time for me?

Seriously, after twenty-six years together, I kind of expected a bit more introspection before either would even consider marrying again; and I absolutely hoped for a little, “Hey, sweetie, we know this will affect your life in a major way, so let’s talk about it…”  Yeah, no, that didn’t really happen.

Adding insult to my emotional injuries, I’m fairly certain that three to five months before tying the knot again (especially with kids involved) doesn’t constitute cogitation, self-examination, meditation, deep contemplation, or any other deliberative act one might undertake before slipping a ring on one’s finger and dragging one’s child/ren into another relationship. But, hey! I was just eleven, what did I know about anything? Well, nothing except what it was like to live in a broken, busted, dispirited family not of my choosing.

There are millions of us out there, kids of divorce, and I feel I can say with absolute surety that at least fifty percent of those probably had it much, much worse than I. In all likelihood some of my struggles in processing the whole mess created by the adults in my young life stemmed from my personality type; some kids just don’t do well with sudden changes and being kept in the dark about important things. Even still, it took a fair bit of therapy in my 20’s and early thirties, and a whole lot of journaling and praying and scripture studying for me to start to move beyond what were some terribly difficult years.

Out of my experiences has grown a few parenting mantras. One of these is, “I want my kids to need less therapy than I, and for my grandkids to need none.” My second favorite mantra, and one of the prime reasons I have been a stay at home mom for sixteen years, is, “If my kids are going to be screwed up, I want it to be all my fault.” I’m rethinking that last one, to be sure, as I’m finding out certain children just don’t need that much outside help! Nevertheless, twenty-three years of marriage, a college degree, two kiddos, and a deep and abiding faith in God later, and I’ve got the past mostly…in the past.

Anyway, this post is about a few of my pleasant childhood memories, and for that I must start with a description of where I spent my “formative” years. I grew up in a small town northwest of Ft. Worth; Azle was its name, and it was the epitome of southern and redneck.

My neighborhood, which was called Pelican Bay, was way out in the sticks. It was essentially an over-sized, roughly one mile wide by two miles long, mobile home park on the edge of Eagle Mountain Lake (where I spent every spring dreading tornado season). Mother and her husband, who had just retired from the Air Force, moved out there from Shepherd A.F.B. in Wichita Falls, a larger, more sun-baked version of Azle, two hours northwest of Ft. Worth. Both were originally from the winter wonderland of Payette, ID,  so in retirement they opted to settle somewhere more hospitable in the colder months, and Azle was it.

Unfortunately, they had been sold a bill of goods about Pelican Bay’s riding stables, lake access, private club house, beach-side restaurant, cheap acreage, and paved roads. In the end, they, and some other suckers like them got shafted. The Bay never was more than a mobile home park with crappy roads peppered with pot holes the size of Buicks and big weedy lots in the middle of flea, tick, and scorpion prairie-land nothingness. Although, I will admit, during my time there, despite Pelican Bay’s deficient amenities, many, not all, but many of the mobile homes and lots were actually quite nice, underpinning, fences, landscaping and all. I’m sad to say none of it has held up. To make things worse, a friend recently sent me a link to an article about Pelican Bay having been part of a toxic waste dump before they “developed” it into the lakeside paradise of my misty water-colored memories. Joy.

The cake from my 25th high school reunion in 2014. Gads! Am I that old already?

Despite how nice our lot or house might have been, I had brick and mortar dreams, and in my teens I grew to despise everything about our tiny corner of Tarrant County. But in elementary school both Azle and Pelican Bay were home to my friends, some family, the teachers I loved, Karen, the bus driver who took me to and from school for almost my entire life and gave me my first cat, one high school, one middle school, one junior high, and two elementary schools, which were vicious rivals (our third elementary school came along when I was in third grade)– and we were all proud to be Hornets. From the smallest pee-wee football player to the biggest high school lineman, we were all decked out in green, white, and black. Azle was Hornet Town, U.S.A. For better and worse, most of the kids I started school with in kindergarten were also in my graduating class.

The neighborhood store closest to my house was a mile away near the lake, and I would ride my bike there for candy just about every day in the summer. One of the perks to that trip was “torturing” the minnows held in tanks outside of the store for the fishermen. By walking from one end of the tank to the other, you could cause the tiny fish to flee en masse to the oppose side. There was also one monster bug zapper hanging above the tanks, which glowed purple in the night and filled the air with rapidly occurring snaps and pops as mayflies and June bugs did their best Icarus impersonations every night during the long summer play season.

I don't think Coppertone made a "burqa" level SPF in 1978!

I don’t think Coppertone made a “burqa” level SPF in 1978!

Our neighborhood pool didn’t have a life guard on duty, thank goodness! My older brothers and our friends would ride up there (not necessarily together) and spend countless hours every summer. My girlfriends and I would have underwater tea parties, play Marco Polo, and see how long we could hold our breath under the water. We would also practice our crazy dives off of the (gasp!) diving board, doing our best to avoid belly flopping. I would inevitably get sun-burned to a crisp (because melanin-deficient red heads should never use Pina Colada Coppertone), but go right back out the next day. Heavens! Did I get some hellacious blisters?!

Anyway, around the corner and down the dirt road from our trailer was a blackberry patch. I can’t say for sure, but that patch was probably an eighth of an acre- pretty substantial for what seemed to me to be a spontaneously growing spot of heaven on earth.  Just about the time school would get out, back when humans ran our schools and we were out by Memorial Day, is when the berries would turn from hard, red, and inedible to dark and luscious, ready to be picked.

Along with other neighborhood kids, my brothers and I would brave the mosquitoes and the thorns (and I would try not to think about snakes), and we would fill Mother’s Tupperware tubs as full as we could with plump, ripe berries, eating at least as many straight from the vine as we delivered hwallpaper_20080925035435_18634803912ome. I always hoped for sour ones over the sweet, after all, I was the girl who ate lemons, but it was hard to resist those big, sweet berries with their cells so swollen with juice they were the size of toddler’s fist! They were quite simply: divine.

My mom would take our cache and make cobblers and jar after jar of jam, complete with paraffin wax caps. However, my taste buds did and still do prefer raw things to cooked. Raw cookie dough, raw batters (all kinds), raw bread dough, raw berries- salmonella be damned! Cook the item and it quickly loses its appeal, as far as I am concerned. Well, unless we’re talking about meat, poultry, and fish. At that point, please, please, bake, broil, baste or barbecue away!

We got a few summer’s worth of berry gathering out of that berry patch, but not much more than that. I seem to recall a conversation about the actual owner of that land, and ergo the berries, being 51TrXzGpocL._SY300_upset that people were harvesting his fruit and we had to quit “trespassing.” Later, at one point in my ‘tweens,’ I actually went Trick or Treating to a small double-wide on that very spot. It’s like the vines were the Wicked Witch of the East and someone dropped a house on them. The horror of knowing their house was sitting atop my beloved berry patch was a perfect Halloween ‘trick.’

As an adult, I’ve planted two blackberry bushes of my own. Having a memory of pain only slightly faded by time, I was smart enough to select the thorn-less cultivar ‘Navajo’ for my gardens. In childhood, it was ‘the bitter with the sweet,’ but now I know there are plenty of de-thorned alternatives, which allow berry lovers to have their cake and eat it, too.

The bush shown above is in its third fruiting season. I snapped that pic about a week and a half before the berries started turning dark, at which point my oldest daughter’s job became “fighting the mockers.” With bowls in hand, she would rush into the yard, scaring away the pesky, beastly mockingbirds who insisted upon stealing from my vines. Our cats are no good at that sort of thing, so my blondie would have to do. And she “did” with vigor!

What you see to the right is two day’s worth of berries. We were pulling a good half gallon a day for at least eight days, and just slightly less than that for another seven to ten days. I gave away many, many bags of these beauties during late May and early June. Our carpet installers two weeks ago each got a bag; lawn guys, math tutor, massage therapist, chiropractor, scripture group, cello teacher- bags for all! I was giving away so much that I almost forgot to keep somblackberriese for us.

As much as I love my berries fresh, I did consent to make one cobbler. Whiny oldest objected to the paleo recipe, so she went without. Younger daughter and I got it all. The girls and I discussed making some freezer jam, but nothing ever became of that. Could be I got sad every time I thought of boiling my shiny berries into oblivion…in sugar. Mostly though, just like my brothers and I once did, we simply ate them straight off the vine (and out of the bowls in the fridge).

I checked yesterday and only got a small handful off my vines. Today, there were none; our berry picking season has officially come to a close. The few remaining berries in the fridge are losing their tartness, so I guess it’s time to make another cobbler and wrap things up with a bow. It’s going to have to be a small one though…and very, very paleo! 😉

Bummed as I am about waiting another year for blackberry season to start in my backyard, I have two things to console me. First, Blackberries only fruit on new canes. Every year the old canes die off after fruiting and fresh ones begin shooting up near the end of the season. As I type, new canes are working their way out of the ground, giving me a glimpse of how much bigger my haul will be in 2016. Unfortunately, due the severe weather we’ve had recently, I’ve already lost a new cane…and it was as tall as me! Second, I have my memories of those more simple, more carefree days in the late 1970’s, hunting through thorn- ridden berry bushes with my brothers, cramming as many sweet and sour orbs into my mouth as I could before getting yelled at to “Save some for mom!” Fruiting season 2016 is only eleven months away. I think I can wait.

DIY in the Kitchen (and playing with “grains”)

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About three weeks after my knee surgery this spring, which was two weeks after the car accident with daughter no. 1, I lost it in a really.bad.way. I’m normally a very active person, but at that point I’d been on my butt for the better part of five weeks and was going just a bit stir crazy. People had been having to step in to drive dear daughter to her college classes thirty minutes away, three days a week. Dear hubby had had to take off two days a week during that period in order to get her to her furthest classes, fifty minutes away21063_261319_0815691001416237591…or two hours when coming home in rush hour traffic. Friends from church had taken me to appointments, brought me my daily fix of a medium Coke/ Coke Zero split from Sonic, brought in food, etc. Everyone had been wonderful, but I was done! It was enough.

So, despite the swelling; despite the difficulty of crutching about and having everything be so HARD(!), I got back into the kitchen (this was also spurred on my youngest asking around dinner time one day, “So, who’s bring in our free-food tonight?” Oh.no.you.didn’t. I will not raise a welfare queen (or a Democrat!)). It wasn’t fun, it was the antithesis of easy, but I planted my unstable tuckus on a stool in front of the stove and began the arduous process of DOING SOMETHING!

Besides cooking on that fateful day, I also began to explore making different DIY health/ beauty/ drink items. In years past, I have been known to go off on “organic tangents,” but eventually the grocery bill increases get to me. I also start pondering the fact that billions of people live without organic products and foods (largely because they are too bloody poor to afford them!) and they do just fine, living to healthy, ripe old ages. Besides these factors, when I start things from scratch, time constraints seem to eventually harpoon my good intentions. In all likelihood, all of the above will eventually happen this go around, too. But, for now, I’m enjoying myself (as long as I can keep the costs down) and will ride this ride as long as it lasts!

The first experiment I started began with Water Kefir grains. I discovered Kevita, a water kefir product, at Sprout’s last year, but DANG! That stuff is pricey! As in days past, Katie at Wellness Mama proved to be a fount of information for my new project. Since ordering some grains from Poseymom a month and a half ago, I’ve had some good batches and some bad ones, but what I like about water kefir is that it is so cheap and easy to make (mostly) that if one batch is bad or I screw up the flavoring, I can try again immediately. And, unlike kombucha, kefir grains aren’t too persnickety, nor do they look like some alien life form on my kitchen counter that my kids are constantly complaining about.

The only drawback to making water kefir? The grains have expanded so much that I feel rather like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice! Seriously, if you want some, I’ll ship them to you- just send me a buck or two for postage! My scant quarter cup of dried grains has expanded into over four cups of happy, active kefir love—and I’ve given away several cups already!

After I got kefir bubbling, I moved on to lotion bars. A year or so ago, I bought raw cocoa butter thinking I was going to be whipping up my own chocolate, but that never happened. So, when I stumbled upon Katie’s Lotion Bar recipe, I thought, “Bingo!” I ordered some beeswaxdeodorant containers, and silicone molds off of Amazon, grabbed some NOW Shea Butter at Sprouts, and got to work! I love this stuff! It is so simple, so easy, and one recipe goes quite far. The deodorant containers are brilliant, by the way. I bought a lotion bar years ago at our local Renaissance Festival. Unfortunately, it was pretty quickly covered with lint and hair from sitting in the bathroom. Those simple containers eliminate that problem! One note: cocoa butter has a strong odor of its own. If you want to change the scent of your mix, don’t be too stingy with the essential oils.

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What my family thinks I do in the kitchen

Whipped body butter is also pretty wonderful, but don’t chill it, then let it get warm, then repeat. When I first mixed it according to instructions, it absorbed beautifully. But when I decided to share the fruits of my labor with friends, my batch went through the chill/ warm process several times and got less willing to absorb. Instead, it began sitting on my skin more like pure coconut oil does. Blech.

This liquid hand soap recipe is easy, but I like to add a few teaspoons of vegetable glycerin to the finished product to make it a little more gel-like (and a little less likely to shoot from the pump at rocket velocity!). Actually, because of that problem, I truly prefer the Foaming Hand Soap. The only real issue I’ve noted with the foaming stuff is that it takes some time to get used to the “feel” of the added oil on your skin. It does leave a bit of a residue…to the point my picky-butt oldest daughter refuses to use any of my DIY soap. Brat!

As far as a Body Wash recipe goes, I had to search a bit more for one of those. The basis of sooooooo many such recipes is Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap.  I don’t know why, but Dr. Bronner’s, even the baby formula, even well diluted, doesn’t get along with my…nether regions. So, using either of the above soap recipes in the shower got tossed out the window- quickly! The formula I settled upon still uses Dr. B’s as a constituent, it still irritates if I’m not careful, but I really like feel of this terrific Coconut Milk and Honey blend. Kudos to Kristin at Live Simply. She also has a nearly perfect facial cleanser. I tried for a moment to love oil cleansing, but quickly went back to my old cleanser. In fact, after two days, my feelings about oil cleansing quickly became: ain-amp-039-t-nobody-got-time-for-that_o_1582005

In search of a simple hand and body cream that absorbed in quickly (and wouldn’t it be great if I could use a pump!?), I found Simple Nourishing Hand and Body Cream at Whole New Mom. I will note this is an odd little recipe. I prepared it according to instructions, filling two 4 oz. jars, but one took a good while to start solidifying (as in a week!), the other is still fairly liquid. According to Adrienne, this has something to do with the shea butter. I’m OK with that though. The one that is more solid, I love to use as a face moisturizer. The other…ummm, I’ll probably stick in the fridge eventually. Yeah…maybe even tonight. Another one I want to try is this Homemade Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion (without coconut oil). I agree with you, Kristin, I’m a bit sick of coconut oil, too!

Toothpaste! Who’d a thunk you could make such an excellent product? I seriously think this is my favorite DIY. I have sensitive chompers. Could be the 16 fillings in my adult teeth! Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t the tooth Nazi I am, and growing up, we were allowed to drink Coke and eat candy with wild abandon. It is a good thing I had a fast metabolism as a kid or I probably would have looked something like Augustus Gloop rather than Violet Beauregarde!    Due to this “parental oversight,” I spent a LOT of time in the dentist’s chair from the time I was five until about fourteen, when I finally took responsibility for my own dental hygiene. (Thanks to the multitude of experiences I had at the hands of the evil pediatric dentist Dr. Kouri, my kids have been spared even a single cavity!) Nevertheless, no conventional toothpaste, even Sensodyne and its ilk, have helped my tooth sensitivity.

About eight years ago I discovered Evan’s Garden, a mom and pop company in Florida. Well, they have a most wonderful “toothpaste” that I found did away with my brushing sensitivities in short order! It was pretty amazing; I used it for about a year, and then I got distracted and forgot to order before I ran out. So, then decided to try to find something local. I tried a few brands from Whole Foods, but nothing inspired loyalty. And then I found Trader Joe’s Anti-plaque Toothpaste. It worked and works great. It is definitely my commercial paste of choice, but it’s not like there’s a TJ’s on every corner, and ec4409cd24c39f97489d4eb4db70b643sometimes life gets too busy to make a special trip. Unfortunately, I have discovered going back to conventional toothpaste for any length of time is a non-no. The sensitivity, which is worse around my period (and was one of my first pregnancy indicators with both girls. Gotta love hormones!), comes back quickly.

I first tried this recipe from Kristin, but I was uncomfortable with the large amount of coconut oil going down my sink and leaving a gross residue in my sink. In composition it was a little…solid, and in practice it was wearing a sore spot on my gums. I think maybe substituting the liquid bentonite clay I already had on hand, as opposed to ordering the powder form she linked on the recipe, may have kept the mix from being softer; and in all likelihood the quarter cup of baking soda was the culprit working on my gum line.  Alas, my search continued.

Katie’s Remineralizing Toothpaste came across my desktop last year, but I blew off the idea of making it at that time- too much trouble. And where does one get Calcium Carbonate anyway? Oh, yeah. Amazon. That’s also where I sucked it up and ordered the bentonite clay. Hmm, how do I feel about this recipe? I LOVE THIS STUFF! At first I stored it in a small Zip-Loc bag with a small snip in a corner (how fun is it to “cake decorate” your toothbrush in the morning? Lots!), but today I remembered I had something similar to a Go Toob in a kitchen drawer! So I squeezed the bag o’ paste into the silicone tube and voila!

My latest grain play, has me attempting to make Milk Kefir. It’s been an interesting process and I’m finding the grains are a little more picky than water kefir, but I have hope milk kefir will eventually be something to enjoy- particularly when I try it with coconut milk.

Of course not every DIY try is a success. I’ve had a few here and there that just didn’t work for whatever reason. The most hideous “epic fail” of my recent experiments was this Natural, Non-Greasy Hand and Body Lotion from DIY Natural. Sorry, Betsy. I tried twice. It was a horrific mess, and it will take many moons before I attempt to emulsify anything again. In this case, store-bought stuff will just have to do.

I also trirascalafricansanddoged Katie’s Natural Shampoo. It was great going on, but gross coming out— unless I used her recommended 50/50 water and apple cider rinse. But then I smelled like apple cider vinegar…noticeably. I don’t think so. In fact, the last time I went through a big “organics” cycle the only shampoo I tried that worked in every way and didn’t make my scalp start itching after a week was from Evan’s Garden. In recent months I’ve been using Ology brand products from Walgreens, and you know, I think I’ll just stick with them. Really, I have colored (for 13 years), do color, and will continue to color my hair every 4 weeks with Miss Clairol for at least another six years (when I turn fifty)(don’t even talk to me about henna or Naturtint. I tried them both, and both fried my hair!), natural shampoo is the least of my concerns! Thanks for the pre-mature grey genes, mom and what’s-his-name. Yeah, setting color aside isn’t even part of the discussion at the moment. So, why both worrying about natural hair care?

You have any tried and true recipes you love? Post them, please!

My Wonderful Summer Experiment (meant to torture my children, improve reaction times, and increase family togetherness)

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Oh, what joy abounded in my household a few weeks ago when I figured out how to go in and change our Wi-Fi access code. Of course by ‘joy abounding’ I mean my twelve year old daughter looked like she was going to have a seizure, carrying on as she was. There was some serious wailing and gnashing of teeth echoing through the house! You would have thought I’d taken away her birthday. Gratefully, since my second born waswifi-password “fitting” enough for three or four kids, my sixteen year old took it in stride (more or less). According to the youngest, I’d just ruined her entire life and made “relaxing” a nearly impossible task. Right. Sure. You run with that. Oh, mom…

I was born a bit of an old soul, but that didn’t keep me from being an idiot during my second decade of life, a ‘the-universe-revolves-around-me’ teenager. As a parent of sixteen years now, I don’t think my oldest was fully out of diapers, precocious as she was, before I understood the phrase uttered by mothers and fathers for more than five millennia now: Just you wait. In fact, I’d bet good money it has always been said with a shaking head, twitching eye and pursed lips, and was preceded by a long sigh.

Yup, when I finally got “it,” got what my mom meant by all of those angry, frustrated sentiments uttered under her breath about me getting mine one day, it hit like a lightning bolt. My immediate reaction was, “Oh. I’m sooooooo sorry, mom.” Unfortunately, my mom passed away when my oldest was two and a half and I was just barely pregnant with daughter number two.

Trying to get kids to do their “fair share” around the house, to learn that at a certain point they can absolutely learn to fix their own lunches, wash their own clothes, and, yes, wipe their own butts, is the eternal struggle of all good parents. Slacker parents, parents who think it is just easier to let Pumpkin sit and play video games or hang out with friends rather than teaching them (and expecting them) to clean the kitchen are doing themselves and their kid’s future room mates, spouse, or employers a huge disservice. Work is good. Hard work is even better. I fear I was a slacker for a few years too long. I should have expected and required more from my kids at an earlier age. Getting them moving in the last couple of years had been like trying to get the Tin Man moving after a period of rust-induced torpor! But I’ve kept up the good fight, even on those really, terrible, horrible, horrific days when I almost threw in the towel and did “it” myself.

However, nothing has worked so well, been proven to be as powerful an incentive to work as destroying their internet access. Behold, my joy is full. Interestingly enough, when the distractions of instant access were removed, my girls found ways to connect with each other, and me. Best decision ever.