Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Blog Hop: The 30 Word Story

I just remembered that I wrote something for a writing contest a while back that I never ended up submitting. The challenge was to tell a story in exactly 30 words.
So then I just had the fabulous idea of making it a blog hop! Blogger friends, do any of you feel like writing a story- it can be about anything and everything you want- in precisely 30 words? If so, please link up below.
Here is mine. Let’s call it “Motherhood”

She bore him of her womb. She fed him from her breasts. She clothed him, kept him warm. She taught him. She loved him. He left. She was utterly alone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Letting Daddy Do His Thing

When my daughter was first born, I was completely reluctant to leave her with my husband for more than a few minutes. I was so worried about being away from her that I took showers in record speed, running out in a towel, still dripping wet, to get my crying baby. I really am a bit of a controlling person (that sounds horrible, but it’s true…) and I just couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to influence my baby’s surroundings. It bothered me when things weren’t being done exactly the way I usually did them.
Only now do I know how hurtful this must have been for my husband. It was also hindering for the father/daughter relationship. On top of that, I was making my own life much harder than necessary because my daughter would cry a lot when left with her daddy, which stressed me out and kept me from getting much of a break during the first year of her life.
I became pregnant with my second child and finally let my husband take over some of the duties. For example, he started putting R to bed each night and they really enjoyed this time together.
Suddenly I realized: daddy doesn’t have to do everything like mummy. My daughter didn’t expect him to nor did she want him to. Because daddy isn’t mummy- he is his own person and a different parent. He is daddy and he does things the way daddy does them! Now my daughter will often say to me: “No, I want Daddy to do it!”
It is important for us mothers- especially the ones who stay home with the kids and are around them 24/7- to surrender some of that control and let the daddies do their thing. After all, isn’t that what we have them for? Every child wants their daddy to be involved in their life- we need to let them!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My 200th Post or What the Hell Am I Doing Here?

Wow! This is the 200th post I’ve published on here. Over the past 2 ½ years I have had almost 21,000 page views. Unbelievable! I somehow feel as though this post should be something spectacular, something very meaningful. I had fantasies about writing a short story so you guys (I use this term in a unisex kind of way…) could read some of my fiction.
All I can come up with tonight is the question of ‘What the hell am I doing here???’ I love writing, I love my blog, but really, why am I doing this? Writing these posts has exposed so much of myself, leaving me vulnerable. I get criticized frequently. I get misunderstood even more often. And every single time I try to explain myself, to justify what I’ve written. I’ve even alienated people, who have either become annoyed by my posts or angry with me.
Tonight, I’m not sure why I do it. I feel drained by it. I feel as though a lot of people think I’m a joke. Because who writes a blog? Only losers, right? You don’t even get paid!
I used to tell myself that if at least one person’s life is touched by a post I have written that it has been worth doing. I have received a few notes of thanks by people who felt encouraged by my posts. But overall, is it really truly worth it?
The thing is, I’m no expert on any of the subjects I write about (except my life- I’m quite the expert on that…) I have read a lot about parenting and I do it daily, but so do most other parents. People have called me arrogant, full of myself, saying that I think I’ve got it all figured out.
You’re wrong, people! I know nothing. Every day I get up and hope that I can find the energy within me somewhere to do this whole parenting thing over again. One more day, until bed time. And the entire day I’m winging it because my children challenge me all the way. My brain goes into overload thinking about what I ‘know’ in theory vs. what I am actually doing.
Then some days, I have moments of clarity and I feel as though I’ve figured one little minute detail out. And I feel like sharing it with everyone! I tell my husband and he kinda sorta cares, but not really. So I blog about it and hope that my snippets of crazy thoughts make sense to someone and help them make sense of their own craziness.
But when I am by myself, like I am now, it all seems pointless and wasted. I should be cleaning or studying or doing something to make myself look pretty or… Instead, I’m fighting windmills.
In the grand scheme of things, I know nothing. I know what ‘the truth’ is for myself and possibly my close family and that’s as far as it goes. I used to think that I knew a lot, but now I know that I’m just like one of the people who knew that the world was flat.
So forgive me, but I have no answer to the question of what I am doing here. Truth be told, I hardly have any answers at all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

BlogHer Book Club: The Book of Jonas

When BlogHer offered me the opportunity to take part in a book review program, I jumped right at it without even reading what the book in question was about. Stephen Dau’s The Book of Jonas arrived in the mail and I read the synopsis on the cover- the story takes place during an American war in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. To be honest, this was not my subject matter of choice, as my husband is in the Army and has had to experience war first hand. However, after reading the first few pages, I was drawn into the story and knew that this was going to be an incredibly good tale.
In Dau’s debut novel, he tells the story of three people mostly from a third person perspective. There is little dialogue. Each story is connected to the others and they are carefully intertwined. The book focuses mainly on the life of Younis- or Jonas- an orphan from a war torn country who has lost everything during an American raid on his village, is rescued and taken to the US to start a new life. We also learn about Christopher through diary entries and find out that he is the US soldier who rescues Jonas. Rose is Christopher’s mother, the third main character in the book, and we are shown what her life is like with a son who is MIA.
The chapters are relatively short and the language is easy to read because of its pleasant flow. It is a very engaging book, difficult to put down. Throughout the story, there are elements of a mystery that is only completely revealed at the end.
It is the best book I have read in a long time. Although the subject matter is difficult, it is definitely worth reading and shows the reader three different sides to the same story. Since Younis’ country of origin is not specified, it is a book that universally conveys the tragedies and consequences of war.

Come and join the BlogHer discussion of this wonderful novel here.

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Annoying Complainer (AKA Me)

I complain a lot. I can’t help it- it’s my coping mechanism. I know it gets on other people’s nerves and quite honestly, it gets on my own. Yet, I have so far been unable to stop myself from doing it. My attention was especially drawn to it when a friend of mine told me that she had given up complaining for lent. It somehow heightened my sensitivity to my own vice.
It’s totally a habit of insecurity for me. When I am able to find negative things to say about certain issues or circumstances, my own shortcomings don’t seem as bad anymore. It is also an issue of caring too much about pretty much everything and the only way I know how to deal with that  is to verbalize negative thoughts. I have noticed that the more comfortable I am around a particular person, the more freely I feel I can complain. Which of course is awful because that makes me be a total downer to the people I love the most.
Thankfully, my husband is able to tune out a lot of my nonsense. He is able to take my comments and turn them into something constructive or just ignore them when there is nothing constructive to be done. He is more of an optimistic opposite of me, which I am very grateful for.
So, I really want to stop the complaining! Not just for the listeners’ sakes, but for my own. I dwell on negative things too much and it isn’t good for me.
Help me out, people: What are your coping strategies when it comes to emotional stress? How do you keep from complaining?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Ass Bucket List

I asked the lovely Marianna Annadanna to write a little guest post for me. Because she is awesome, she was more than happy to oblige and wrote a funny post for your Sunday evening entertainment. If you’re on Twitter, please follow her @snappysurprise. Please check out her hilarious blog Snappy Surprise!

When Vivi put it out on the twitter that she was looking for a guest poster, I jumped all over it. 
I love Vivi (although I haven't asked if I can call her that - she might hate it, but it's too late now), and I love her blog, and I also relish the idea of posting something somewhere on the interwebs that might not be read by my entire real life social circle.
But because y'all might not already know me, I'd like to tell you today about my wonderful adoring Hubby. 
Hubby's been the light of my life since I was 16 years old (even 10 years old, if you really think about it).  He's clever, relaxed, funny, and he has a cute butt.  And he's remarkably handy around the house.  Several must-haves in any hubby, I think. 
But what an efffing ASS BUCKET

Seriously.  He knows I love him dearly, but FRIG that guy is gonna be the death of me.

So.  Behold my list of annoying Hubby habits that have been really PISSING ME OFF lately. 
First, he's been playing a stupid game on his iPhone. 

It's some sort of obnoxious paper airplane game.  Problem is, Hubby is an addictive gamer.  And this game fits his addictive personality perfectly - it has shooting and fighting, and the worst part?  He can TALK to the idiots on the other side.  And they can HEAR him.  Ugh.  Makes me sick.  I have to REMIND HIM to turn off the mic so my words aren't heard by strangers over the internet.  And then he has the nerve to compare it to twitter, WHICH IT IS SO CLEARLY NOT
Second, whenever I ask him to do anything, he almost always instantly refuses. 

He doesn't even think about it.  He just jumps right to the NO.  Can you empty the dishwasher? NO.  Can you strip the sheets?  NO.  Can you clean up the kitchen?  NO.  Can you stop being an ASS BUCKET?  No.  He doesn't mean to.  It's just a weird habit.  His usually excuses it by reciting some other recent chore that required a comparable level of time and effort... entirely ignoring the fact that the whole time he's been chilling on the couch prior to my request, I've been cleaning the bathroom, or doing the laundry, or making the breakfast.  Not to mention that he's never once pulled out the vacuum voluntarily. 

Finally -- and this one just came to me this exact effing minute when he walked in with his sushi takeout) -- he eats at the living room coffee table. 

That part doesn't bother me.  I do it too.  It's that he INSISTS on pulling the coffee table as close as possible to his godforsaken knees so he can shovel food into his mouth directly over top of his plate, block my view of the tv, bunch up the rug underneath, "forget" to put it back, and then leave it for me to fix every damn night before we go to bed. 

Forgive me.  I love Hubby more than anything, and I wouldn't trade him for a billion dollars...
But goddess almighty I might ring his damn neck. 
So when Vivien gave me the opportunity to write something on a new corner of the interwebs, and then she even knew me well enough to suggest I write about my complaints? I soooo could not resist. 

Tell me I'm not alone.  Lie if you have to.  Just tell me you can't stand your husband either. I cannot be the only one. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Maybe "Fine" Isn't Good Enough Anymore

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times from different people: “We did XYZ and our kid turned out fine!” You can hear it in connection with anything parenting related- from nutritional advice, over methods of discipline, through potty training methods, etc.
For example, one mother once told me that they gave their baby cow’s milk instead of formula and mixed in some grits so that the baby would sleep. The doctor never knew the difference! And of course, this child turned out just “fine”. (Unless you take a closer look and see that actually, the child has terrible gastro-intestinal issues that nobody can figure out and is on a whole battery of different medications.)
I could fill multiple pages with examples such as this. And the question presents itself: what do these people mean by “fine”? Do they mean alive? Do they mean that their child has not become a drug addict, serial killer, prostitute, etc.- at least not that they know of? What exactly is the definition of this “fine”, this mediocre adjective that is just “alright” or “ok”?
If we think back to our pregnancies, I think we can all agree that we have high hopes for our unborn children. That we have strong feelings of wanting to nurture and protect our children. We don’t have babies thinking that they’ll turn out to be “fine”- we want them to turn out in the best possible way.
Yet, at some point, many parents decide to settle on “fine”. Raising a child is more work than they expected and “fine” becomes a condition that sounds attractive, that is good enough. Because researching and gathering information on what the best choices are is strenuous and time consuming. Making decisions based on ones own primal instincts and in accordance with what the baby is telling us he/she needs is hard labor.
Maybe “fine” just shouldn’t be good enough anymore. Maybe we should all parent in a way that we feel is the absolute best the baby can get, no matter how much work we have to put into it. Because the people who are “fine” today have severe depression and insomnia and terrible allergies and gastro-intestinal issues and …
If all the time and energy people spent on making their family look nice to the outside world with beautiful nurseries and clothes and bows and pretty pictures was spent on what the child needs, maybe we could finally live in a world that was not just “fine”. Maybe we could be the ones to make it fantastic!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Celiac Disease Sucks Sometimes

Most days, I don’t mind having Celiac Disease. I don’t really have to think about it much anymore- it’s just the way my life is now. Sometimes, I even feel as though having Celiac Disease is a blessing in some ways and has made me an overall healthier person.
However, every now and again it sucks! There are certain social situations involving food that are just no fun for me anymore. Unless I am invited to a fellow Celiac’s house, any breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner always turns uncomfortable for me at some point.
It always follows a very similar pattern: I cannot eat the food that is being served, so I don’t eat. I don’t comment on it, I don’t think about it, I just mind my own business while not eating. A well-meaning participant tells me that I should eat something. I then tell them that I cannot. If the person knows about my disease, they promptly drop the subject, apologizing for having forgotten about ‘that’. If the person does not know about it, things get interesting- the conversations can either get cut quite short or become very detailed or very awkward.
Just the other day, I explained very simply that I am unable to eat anything containing flour. My conversational partner, after considering this for a moment, replied: “Oh… I wish I had that!” and then went into a detailed account of how much she loves breads and cake. I just nodded and left the table.
Because she doesn’t know! She has no idea how much it sucks sometimes to not be able to eat any food that your friends prepare. Or to eat at restaurants. Or to eat a regular delicious baked good. She doesn’t know the impact it has on your life to give up all gluten containing foods. She doesn’t have to read the label of every product she buys, including things like toothpaste or lip-balm. She has never had to make sure she doesn’t kiss her children after they’ve eaten a slice of birthday cake at a party for fear of cross-contamination.
Of course, there are a bazillion diseases that are much worse. I am actually very lucky to ‘only’ have Celiac disease. When my doctor told me they suspected either Celiac or Crohn’s Disease, I prayed that I would get the less severe diagnosis of the two.
But some days, it sucks. Some days, I just want to eat a Big Mac (even if they are horrible for you) or a donut or a slice of pizza or the delicious smelling fresh bread. Some days, I wish that people would invite us over for dinner. Some days, I wish I didn’t have to ask my daughter not to touch my food or my glass.
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that is well controlled by sticking to a gluten free diet. It is not an allergy. It is also not like e.g. lactose intolerance, where people can take an enzyme to help them digest their food. It doesn’t go away- it is a life long illness. It is often accompanied by other autoimmune disorders and puts you at an increased risk of developing intestinal cancer. There are worse things, but it is a disease nonetheless and I wish people would take it more seriously.