Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good-bye, Paper Towels

One of the household items I could never see myself getting rid of was paper towels. I just always appreciated the pure convenience of them. Who doesn’t like to clean up something really messy and then throw it all in the trash?
My family always used paper towels for so many things- drying off freshly washed fruit, cleaning up messes, as napkins, etc. Paper towels have always been an essential part of my family’s dealings in the kitchen.
One day, while I was in the kitchen at my friend’s house, I asked her where the paper towels were. She responded that they didn’t have any. This was a totally new concept to me. People were capable of living without these handy items? We talked about them for a while and my friend told me how horrible she thought they were for the environment.
In all honesty, I had never even thought about this aspect of my paper towel use before. I just saw it as a necessary evil, something that modern humans just had to have. At the time I couldn’t quite fathom how my life without paper towels could be. (Silly, isn’t it???)
I have come a long way since then. We are a cloth diapering family going greener by the minute. We have been gradually weaning ourselves off the use of our trusty little paper towels, only going through a roll every six weeks or so. I couldn’t quite bring myself to completely cut the cord- what if a paper towel emergency presented itself and we had none available in our house?
However, they had to go. Our paper towel holder will remain empty from now on. In its place, we now have two neat little baskets- one for clean rags and one for dirty ones. We cut up some old t-shirts to use instead of the disposable paper towels. With this system, we will not only be a little kinder to the environment, we will also be saving money.
Aren’t they cute?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Linky): Tron the Cat

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Stand-Your-Ground Law or The Craziest Law Ever

As I have mentioned, we will be moving to Florida at the end of this summer. The same state in which a young man, Trayvon Martin, was recently shot and killed by a man for ‘looking suspicious’ (if you haven’t heard about this horrible crime, click here for further info) The entire country has been in uproar over not only the incident itself, but also because the killer- a man who admitted to shooting Trayvon- has not been arrested. Or anything else, really. He basically told police when they arrived at the scene of the crime that he had acted in self-defense and the police said (not literally): “Fair enough. That seems true to us.” and left the murderer a free man.
I won’t go too far into the case itself, nor into the terrible racial problems it has once again brought to the surface for us to view in all its ugliness. Right now I just want to focus on how this whole incident can have happened- I mean, what went wrong in the judicial system that the killer, a certain George Zimmerman, gets to chill out on his couch (not literally, since he’s not a popular man right now, but you get what I’m saying) while the young Trayvon, who had his entire life before him, is no longer on this planet.
Shockingly, George Zimmerman wasn’t breaking the law.
You’re probably re-reading that sentence, just to make sure. It’s the truth- the Florida justice system protects people like him with their Stand-your-ground laws. Don’t believe it? Neither did I. Here is the 2011 FL Statute 776.012:
Use of force in defense of person.- A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1)    He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
(2)    Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
I hope you read it very carefully. It basically protects people from facing criminal charges as long as they “reasonably believe” that someone else is a threat to them. WHAT?!? Since when does it matter what people believe??? How can this have any place whatsoever in law? I am baffled and stunned.
Here an example of how ridiculous this law is: Let’s say I’m going to the grocery store one evening. Just me, without the kids. I’m in a bad mood and the driver in front of me is being an idiot on the road. I honk at him/her. Unfortunately, they park right next to me at the store and I can’t help uttering a smart remark such as: “Get off your phone and DRIVE!” I then proceed to rummage around in my purse in the parking lot for an item. The other person I just yelled at BELIEVES that I am in the process of looking for my gun because I seem angry and shoots me. He/she can go home and eat some ice cream on their couch while I’m now no longer alive.
Please, people, tell me that you don’t think this law is a good idea! Reasonable belief needs to be removed from the justice system- it just cannot have a rational place in law. Who cares what someone believes or feels? No offense, but a lot of people are idiots! We shouldn’t make it even easier for them to kill others.
Even more ridiculous is the fact that these people who have used some sort of force- be it deadly or not- against another human being because they ‘believed’ that they were in danger enjoy IMMUNITY from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force, thanks to Statue 776.032. Not only are they going to continue to enjoy their freedom despite harming another person, they cannot be arrested for it- not even for the purpose of questioning.
I won’t lie, this law terrifies me. It makes me not want to move to Florida. It makes me not want to live in a place in which people have permission to kill me if they ‘believe’ that I am trying to harm them. Does nobody else see how bizarre this is?!?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Second Child Guilt

I found out I was pregnant with my little E-man the day after R’s first birthday. I already knew I was pregnant because of the bodily changes I had noticed in myself, but I decided to keep the birthday just about my daughter and delay taking the pregnancy test until the next day.
My initial feelings were panic and guilt. The panic soon turned to joy, but the guilt remained. I felt like I was ruining my daughter’s toddlerhood. During my pregnancy, I was not always capable of keeping up with my spirited child’s needs and wants- just being bigger slowed me down physically and the tiredness slowed me down mentally.
I was very anxious about the arrival of our son. So many other mothers had suggested that two children under two would be incredibly difficult to handle. A lot of them said that I would spend much of the first year crying and being at my wit’s end.
My beautiful son was born and I had to be away from my daughter for two days. I hated it so much! Because I had a c-section, I was unable to pick my daughter up for almost four weeks. I felt like a horrible mother. I felt like I had done such an awful thing to my daughter- bringing home a new baby and being physically unable to hold her or do much of anything.
R had quite a rough time adjusting at first. However, she overcame it relatively quickly and seemed to genuinely love her little brother, despite all of the extra attention he was getting. She would sit next to him and read him books or bring him toys. She loved holding him and snuggling with him.

The first year with both kids turned out not to be that bad at all. I hit big bumps in the road at times, trying to figure out the logistics of meeting both children’s needs in our attachment style of parenting. I let R watch way too much TV, especially during the first few weeks postpartum. But I actually enjoyed it. So much so that I would definitely do it again if given the choice.
I still have days where I feel guilty. R doesn’t get 100% of my attention at all times and neither does E. Sometimes I feel as though I am depriving them of something. However, then I look over at them and I see how much they love each other- genuinely, without anyone ever having suggested to them that they should. They have a very special connection that is beyond anything that we as parents could give them. And so, I have come to the conclusion that we are a very lucky family because everything worked out just the way it should for us, even though I sometimes wish I could make a clone of myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Brilliancy of Scam Emails

I would like to share with you an email I received recently because 1. I find it hilarious and 2. I want to expose schemes like this so kind, innocent minded people don’t somehow get scammed. The email came from a certain Mark Nelson, email address – just in case you feel as though this is a valid employment offer you cannot refuse.
This is the email. There was no greeting:
Got your email through the google employment database.I am looking for someone who can handle my personal and business errands during his or her spare time.I need your service because I am constantly traveling abroad on business. I own an Art Gallery that specializes in international art.
At this point, I am second guessing my sanity and wondering if I ever entered my email address in any databases while I was too tired to know what I was doing. It continues:
Your Responsibilities are.
1. Receive my mail and Drop them off at the post office or shipping center.
2. Pay my bills on my behalf and sit for delivery at home.
3. Pick up my items at your nearby post office at your convenience.
4. When you get my mail or package, you would mail all items to where I want them shipped. .All expenses and shipping charges will be covered by me.
Of course, now I know that it is a scam. However, these shady job responsibilities make me curious as to what compensation will be promised. After all, even if this were a true job offer, the questionable duties sound as though I would be somehow involved in smuggling drugs or worse- might as well get paid handsomely for it. It goes on:
The contents of the packages are mostly art materials and paintings. In addition, there will be clothing I need for business and personal letters. No heavy packages are ever delivered!
Is cocaine heavy? I don’t know… Some more interesting info:
I am currently away on business in China. If you decide to accept the position, please read the employment requirements listed below.
1. Honest and trustworthy citizen.
2. You will be required to work between 15 and 20hrs a month
3 You need to be able to check your EMAIL 3 to 5 times daily.
Sweet! So I totally qualify, as do both of my toddler children and possibly my dogs and cats. Finally, the compensation is discussed:
THE PAY IS $500 WEEKLY and you are entitle to a brand new car after 1month if you are hardworking and honest with me, WHICH IS NOT A BAD OFFER.
OMG, I’m going to make a killing doing nothing AND I’m getting a free car?!? Even if this is a scam, I should go for it! This really is not a bad offer. I mean, what do I have to lose, right? Let’s see what else Mark needs from me:
In closing, I have a couple of questions for you.
First, If I were to mail you money to do my shopping plus an upfront payment for your service, where would you want it mailed to?
Sure, I’ll just email you my mailing address. After all, who would turn down being sent money?
Second, how would you like for your name appear on the money or check?
Of course, I would like my name to by printed on said money. How else would I possibly want it?
Maybe you can provide me with the following details below
What is your bank Name:
And that’s the end of the email. What a fabulous opportunity! Maybe I’ll just send him that info as well as my account and routing number. Hell, I should just post it to the blog so you’ll all be able to send me money more easily!
Just to be clear: there are lots of schemes like this around- some are obvious like this one, some are really professional scam artists. They must have people who fall for them or else they wouldn’t bother sending emails like this around. Please, dear readers, always use your common sense and be careful. If something is too good to be true, it usually is. Nobody gives away free money.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Our Pursuit of Happiness

I haven’t been writing much lately. For one, because I haven’t had a lot of time to- I have been working a lot, it was my daughter’s third birthday, etc. And also because I have felt a little disheartened by the whole blogging thing. Even when I do write, I don’t seem to get very many readers anymore.
However, the show must go on and I really do love writing, so you’re not going to be rid of me just yet…
My husband’s retirement is approaching fast. We had been desperately trying to decide where to move and what to do. Somehow we just weren’t getting anywhere with our thought-process. So I decided to try looking at this new phase in our lives from a different angle. I asked A to think about what job would really make him happy, something that he would truly enjoy doing. It actually didn’t even take him very long to think about it: Despite his BS in Management and many years of working in a managerial position, he wants to be a motorcycle mechanic!
He looked into different options for school and found a program he liked in Orlando, FL. He applied and was accepted, so we will be moving to Orlando in about four months.
Not exactly what I had expected. Orlando wasn’t even anywhere near any of the places we had considered moving. And with A going to school full time, we will have a lot less money than we do now. But he is going after what feels right to him and that is the most important thing for us right now.
After all, what good is a well paying job if you hate going there? What use is all the money in the world if your husband has to work so much that you never get to spend any time with him?
I think he made a great decision and that he has chosen something he will enjoy doing for years to come. We’ll just spend 18 or so months in Orlando and see where it takes us from there. I am excited!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Re-discovering the Respect for Birth

Ever since I re-watched The Business of Being Born last week, I have been carrying a question around with me that I have been trying to answer for myself. The question was: If we (the human race) continue along the lines of the birthing trends present in developed countries and we do eventually lose the ability to naturally deliver babies, would that be a bad thing?
One of the professionals in the film raised a valid point. Unfortunately, I am only able to partially paraphrase it, but he basically said that if we lose the respect for the most amazing process our human bodies are capable of, i.e. to produce new life, what does that say about us as humans?
The point of respect has been the one to stick with me the most. We as women have been given the power, the gift, the miraculous ability to make new humans. It is the single most incredible thing on this earth. Yet somehow, we have lost sight of what the process of producing new life is all about.
Birth has become something that requires medical attention, monitoring, intervention. It has become something pathological in the hearts and minds of people. It is not understood, it is feared, and it is not respected.
When a woman gives birth to a child, it is not delivered by a doctor, midwife, etc.- it is delivered by the mother who is assisted in her delivery by a doctor, midwife, etc. Women produce new beings within their bodies and then give life to them by birthing them. How absolutely amazing! We should all be in awe of this process. We should all be so fascinated by the miracle of pregnancy and birth that we learn as much as we can about it, that we want to see it for ourselves, that we utterly respect each woman in this time of her life.
Unfortunately, almost the opposite is the case. People only have a very basic knowledge of the pregnancy and birth process and do not usually search for more. Birth is something that only happens in hospitals behind closed doors and people are afraid of seeing it. It is depicted in the media as a gruesome event that only medical professionals can deal with safely.
The fact that births have moved into the hospital has subtly labeled them as a dangerous event. The thousands of years in which humans have successfully multiplied before births were considered a medical emergency are ignored. And so each laboring mother has to feel as though something is not quite right with her when she enters the building for sick and injured people to bring her baby into the world.
Women in labor in an American hospital are typically surrounded by nurses and physicians who are not there primarily to help her and support her during her laboring process, to meet the needs of the mother, but to monitor and intervene in the worst case scenario. Therefore, a laboring woman mainly has the support she has brought with her from outside the hospital. The supporting partners are often just as anxious about the labor process and have little or no experience with helping a laboring woman.
In one of the most expensive maternity care systems in the world, how did it happen that the one person who should be the center of attention is not fully cared for? As someone mentioned in The Business of Being Born, the very first question should be ‘How can we help this woman in labor?’ This does not mean how can she be helped medically. Unless a woman is experiencing complications, no medical help is needed. However, what is needed is real support. That includes a true respect for the mother’s wishes and feelings. It includes emotional guidance to help the woman discover her own strength and confidence.
Today’s hospital births are sterile and unfriendly. There is a certain protocol that must be followed, regardless of the mother’s wishes and feelings. A lot of health care professionals have lost sight of what really matters in the daily trudge that comes with going through the same motions over and over again, of seeing every mother entering their ward as just another birth.
For the laboring woman, this is THE BIRTH. She may have others, it may be her only one. Regardless- for the mother, this is the time she spends bringing her child into the world. It will forever be in her memory and can shape the bond she has with her baby. How did we as a society forget what this process is all about?
I am not suggesting that births should completely move out of the hospital. I am, however, saying that the way things are being done is not right. Something needs to change within society that will bring back the respect that the laboring mother deserves. It would be too easy to blame the health care system- they are only partially at fault. We- the mothers, daughters, husbands, partners, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, etc.- have let this happen. We have put up with care that is not optimal. If we want to ensure that each laboring woman gets the support and respect she needs, we have to demand it! The only way our society will demand it is if it re-discovers what birth really is- it is new beginning, it is promise, it is the best thing our species is capable of doing.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Day Without Timeouts

I conducted a little experiment today after reading a parenting post by Mayim Bialik with the title No More Timeouts, No More Tiger Moms: How to Discipline Your Kids by Disciplining Yourself. It was an article listing methods of discipline to stay away from when attachment parenting, as well as introducing methods of discipline that have worked for the author and her family. In it, Bialik suggests that the use of timeouts is undesirable in a gentle discipline environment and explained why she felt this way (side note: Ms. Bialik holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience) It inspired me to try eliminating timeouts in our house.
I read about parenting all the time. Not because I feel lost or as though I’m searching for truth- I am actually quite confident in my parenting. However, I believe that there is always room for improvement. I love getting inspired by other people’s perspectives and views and then re-evaluating my own thoughts and behaviors.
Regarding timeouts, I have read many pieces which suggest that the timeout as a disciplinary tool is not exactly ideal. Though it is physically non-violent, it does create a detachment from the child that cannot really be considered ‘gentle’. I have been somewhat unwilling to take a closer look at my use of timeouts with my daughter because I consider it a useful tool.
However, Bialik’s article got my brain’s wheels turning again yesterday. I examined my timeout use more thoroughly and came to the conclusion that I do not dislike the tool itself- I think it can be very useful. But I did find that I tend to misuse the tool. Looking at my own behavior in relation to the frequency of timeouts for R, I could clearly see that the number of timeouts increased greatly when my mood was not good or when I was preoccupied with something else and not fully paying attention to the kids.
I wanted to put it to the test. Today, I tried my hardest to see my children in an absolutely positive light and to communicate with them frequently. I had really fun conversations with my daughter and I could see how much she was enjoying the genuine attention I was giving her. We played more games and read more books than we usually do. When I felt as though an unwanted behavior was eminent, I tried to redirect the kids’ attention to something else. It worked! Today we had a timeout free day! It was a happy and fun day.
Of course I am well aware that this may have just been a good day. I will have tired days and grumpy days and things will be different. However, I am going to make every attempt to use other tools of communication before using a timeout. I am going to give timeins a try when a necessary situation presents itself, in which you still remove the child from the situation, but do not isolate it and instead have a conversation about the unwanted behavior.
Why am I telling you all this? Not because I think you should do things like Mayim Bialik or myself. Parenting is a very personal and individual relationship that we all have to figure out for ourselves. I just want to throw ideas out there because they may give food for thought. We are all works in progress, especially as parents.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Lazy Way to Get New Apps

As I’ve mentioned before, I am addicted to my iPhone. I seriously feel as though my life wouldn’t be quite the same without it. A few months ago, my 3GS died on me and I was so pissed at Apple that I decided to buy a different kind of smart phone. It was not for me, so I swapped phones with my husband and now have his 4G, which I love.
My husband is way more up to date on all things electronic than I am- he knows about all the different phones available and exactly what you can use these phones for. I am not really very into any of the tech stuff, so anything that I come across is usually brought to my attention by my husband or a friend.
However, there is now a new service called appSmitten which is perfect for people like me who like to use apps, but couldn’t really be bothered to find out about what good ones are out there. If you sign up for their service, they will send you daily or weekly emails with app recommendations for the type of device you have- be it an iPhone, Droid, or iPad. The best thing about it: it’s absolutely free! Just enter your email address and appSmitten will send you a list of the best and most useful apps around.
If you are interested, you can sign up for their newsletters here or just check out their website and see if it is something that might be helpful to you.

Disclaimer: I have been asked to participate in an affiliate program with appSmitten and will (hopefully) receive a small payment for new subscribers.