Friday, December 31, 2010

Peace out first decade of 2000

It's been real, as I say.  :-)  10 years since everyone was convinced the numbers wouldn't switch over on computers and thus would begin the spontaneous combustion of all living things on planet earth.  I'm willing to bet people still have bottles of water from 1999.

In ten years, I've graduated from high school, road tripped across the country, had my car stolen, found a whole new way of living, got my stolen car back, got knocked up, graduated massage school, found yoga, drank too much, went on a self-discovering binge, moved to colorado, fell madly in love, broke a couple hearts, kicked ass in a "real" job, stopped drinking, had a baby, stopped working, started home schooling.

Those are just the big highlights.  Fortunate me.  I've spent most of these past ten years with Zane, who has helped me grow up, pretty much at the same rate as him.  Fortunate him.

The past year, alone, has brought wonderful things my way.  I've done a lot of healing on my heart and that's been a little tiring, but I like it!  I've learned to cook better than ever before.  Learned more about food than ever before.  I've started the back-end work on a business.  I've worked on a PTA and got nominated for a board position, which I turned down.  I've forgiven people and decided to not forgive others.  I've carried guilt and I've released habits.  I've "met" Moms all over the country online who I adore and who teach me more than my Mom did.  I thanked the Moms from my childhood and adolescence.  I quit breastfeeding.  Forever.  I shared my views.  I worked on empathy and communication with others.  I managed a budget.  I did not manage my relationship with food.  I quit drinking coke.  I learned to ski-ish.

Lots and lots of things.  A good year, it has been.

I asked Zane what were his favorite things of 2010 and he wrote a list.  IT is on paper, but I'll put it here for you.  I was surprised at what he put.  I thought there would be big, monumental things.  But, I love his everyday sense of simplicity.  It is as follows: fun, snow, rain, sun, toys, legos, cars, figures, toy station, mcdonald's, walmart, illinois, science center


I asked Stori the same question and she said: Happy Birthday.  I said, "anything else?"  She said: Happy Birthday.  Seeing as this has been the theme for a couple of weeks now, I find it fitting.  She learned the joy of birthday and she learned to sing Happy Birthday.  I say that fits. :-)

I'm off now, to play with my kids and enjoy some shrimp that didn't come from China!  :-D

I hope all the best for us, and you, in 2011.  Here's getting off to a good start!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hyperparenting Success

I read this a few days ago and was just giddy with excitement while reading.  Why? Because we've been working our tails off on being more loving and less controlling over the last couple of years.  And we never saw a post like this ahead of time.  And I felt PROUD.  After posting it for my friends to see on Facebook, I realized that this is cause for celebration.  Jon and I have rocked it.  We still have lots more to go, but we've done great in recreating our parenting and our kids' lives.

So, I decided I'd come here and put it down on "blogger paper" what we've done.  No need to wait anymore, I'll go right along with the aspects of that article that we've succeeded on.

1. When you get angry, pick them up and hug them.
I used to yell a LOT when I was angry at Zane.  I really got tired of hearing my own voice so I started on this habit.  I still yell and am not done with this, but I'm better than ever.  Often when I am angry and I want to yell I'll whisper instead.  Or, I'll sing some ridiculous song.  Or, I'll do a dance.  Or, if I'm just THAT angry I'll walk away.  When I'm angry at Stori and I begin to lash out I see it right away and I do pick her up and hug her or hold her.  When I see it in Zane I either hug him or do something goofy with him.

Through doing this I've realized that most of the time I'm angry at them because they want something different than me and ::stomps foot:: I want it MY way, damnit!  Should I really yell at my kids because I'm not getting things my way? Um, no.  Glad to be stopping this one and so proud of the steps I've taken thus far.  I won't stop until it is my nature to hug, love, and listen rather than yell.

2. Make this your mantra: treat them with kindness; treat them with respect.
Sometimes we really like to indulge in a Hot & Ready from Little Caesars.  It's cheap and easy and yummy in that gross-yummy way.  We always get Pepperoni because we figure if it's the same price then get the one with the most flavor and extra topping.  Zane always wants cheese.  We always tell him he can pick the pepperonis off and then he'll have cheese.  He always tells us it's not the same.  He always accepts our refusal respectfully and always voices his opinion respectfully.  We always ignore his desires for ours, disrespectfully.

I don't know what it was that hit me a few weeks ago when I stopped by to get one, but in the moment I was walking in the door to buy one I saw the situation as it really is; as I explained it to you above.  What arrogant assholes we've been, really.  Because what we want is more important than what he wants?  I got a cheese and walked through our home door with it as excited as a schoolboy the day after Christmas break.  I was THRILLED to show him a cheese pizza and he was THRILLED to get it.  He feverishly thanked me and enjoyed that pizza so much.  I told him it wasn't fair what we've been doing and that I was sorry for that and that sometimes we'll get pepperoni and sometimes we'll get cheese.  He enjoyed hearing that and I enjoyed saying it.

I could fool myself all day long with excuses as to why we should get pepperoni instead of cheese, but what it comes down to when I'm getting real with myself is that it's not about a topping.  It's about control.  I want to be in control of the pizza because I'm the adult and this is my break from cooking, damnit.  Jon wants to be in control of the pizza because he worked for the money for the pizza and he wants pepperoni, damnit.  But, we don't really need to be in control of the fucking pizza, we need to be in control of ourselves because we wanted the children and we'll take them ANY day over a freakin piece of fake-ass meat.  'Scuse my cussing, but when I looked at what was really going on I got mad.  It's not okay for our childrens' opinions to be less important than ours just because we CAN control what we're doing.  For a very, very long time Jon and I told Zane "screw your opinion kid, take off that pepperoni and while you're at it lose the cheese you wanted too, cause it sticks to the meat anyway!"  And that's simply not the message I want to send to him.  Over a $5  crummy old pizza.

3. Drop your expectations of the child.
Zane has a funky sense of style.  So does Jon.  So when Zane gets dressed there will often be one-piece footy pajamas under shorts with a shirt (or sometimes not) over it.  Of course he also squeezes his feet into flip flops (remember, footy pajamas...).  He's also not a fan of haircuts and sometimes he picks wild styles (like when he shaved the left side of his head but left the right side long).  When Jon gets Stori dressed there'll usually be a tank top and capris in winter or ya' know... stripes on a shirt and pants with boots or something wild.  And he's REALLY CONVINCED it's SUPER CUTE!

It used to ruffle my feathers and I'd change Stori's clothes or I'd beg Zane to change (I never have MADE him change, as I've always believed he should have the freedom to wear what he wants and it's his hair, not mine).  I'd tell Zane how ridiculous he looks or how uncomfortable he'll be.  In general, I'd tell Zane that he made a bad choice and that he would feel terrible about it if he didn't change that choice.  That's a kicker for some good old fashioned self-esteem issues!  Now, when he wears craziness I breathe and recognize this is his outfit and his choice and if he thinks it looks great then who am I to tell him different?  I let it be.  Sometimes, if I'm in a particularly controlling mood it will get me annoyed and I'll say something but when I do I hear it coming from my mouth and I always retaliate (against myself) with "It's your outfit, not mine".  Also, I've found a love for Jon's method of getting Stori dressed and for Father's Day I dressed Stori the way Jon would have just to celebrate his Dad-awesomeness!  Oh boy, how I appreciate my husband being an active guy who doesn't mind trying to figure out skirts for our daughter and letting me off the hook of dressing people all the time.

While writing this one, I thought of something fun.  Since I went to the post office the other day in teal pajama pants, a pink shirt, a green-and-white-striped sweater, and my aqua vibrams obviously I have an appreciation for flair.  So, I think next time I'm in one of those controlling moods and he's wearing something that drives me bonkers I'll just march downstairs and wear and equally exciting outfit.  That'll show me!

4. Let her play, let her explore.
Thankfully, this is one I've always has a pretty good handle on.  I'm not one to condemn my kiddos to a life of misery-based reactions every time they want to do something challenging. "Don't climb that honey, you'll fall down."  "Spinning's not good for you, don't try it."  "Come inside; the world is full of molesters."  These things have never slipped off my tongue.  But, I do think there's room for improvement everywhere.  I've been known to say, "You've fallen 13 times in the last hour, just stop trying." or "Why do you keep doing that?" or, my worst!! "What's wrong with you?"  All these things I've said have been out of love, of course.  I don't want Stori to fall anymore, I'm frustrated with non-stop comforting a frustrated small person, I want to know what's wrong when someone's upset.  But the reality I'm creating for my kids with these statements is "You're not good enough" "You won't learn" "Something is wrong with you"

That's not what I want my kids to live.  These slips are getting fewer and farther between, but they still happen and I want to be the "I've gotcha' if you need me" "Practice makes better" "How can I help?"  Mom.  Because I think the more I instill that in them the more faith they'll have in me later in life when they've hit a tough spot.  I hope.

5. Say yes, or some version of yes.
This doesn't mean become a martyr for my kids and do what they say when they say and make sure I jump as high as they want me to.  Jon and I were very, VERY "no" oriented.  It was our gut instinct.  Anytime a question was asked we said "no" and then thought about if we should change our minds.  Not only did this set the tone that when we say no it doesn't actually mean no (which we're still coming back from), but I think now that this fosters a lack of self belief for our kids.  I mean really.  Think about it.  Almost anything Zane said he wanted or asked for we said no to.  Our immediate reaction to him was always something negative.  It was always denial.  How would he be able to feel confident in his own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires, anything?  He's always hearing "no" which means, "You're wrong".


I've super-improved here and recognized how many nos don't need to be nos at all.  And how much I was controlling him by saying no when I shot him down a lot on great ideas or perfectly acceptable questions.  I even said YES to ice cream for breakfast the other day! GAASSPP!!!!  But, they each got a small scoop of ice cream and while they were eating it they were able to find more healthful answers to my original question "What do you want for breakfast?".  So, after their couple tablespoons worth of ice cream we had oatmeal(real oats, not from an envelope, ya' know... we eat THAT stuff!) and bacon.  You wouldn't have guessed it though, because all those kids remembered about breakfast was MOM GAVE US ICE CREAM!!!  So, what's in their heads now?  Mom said yes and did something fun that she hadn't done before.  What's in mine?  I gave them a little and then got what I wanted as well, which was their bellies full of good food.  But oatmeal is a distant thought in their minds.  It's cuteness, really!

6. Stop trying to overeducate, and get out of the way.
Also, not a big one for me.  I think because I grew up legitimately neglected and am pretty stinkin smart I just have faith in a person's ability to learn.  I've not had to do much on this one and thankfully so.  Jon has though, but I'm not speaking for him.  Maybe someday he'll come post on here.  We'll see.

7. Just focus on making the next interaction with them positive.
I've spent DAYS worth of time saying, "hold on... wait a minute... not now... what do you need now?"  This is  my biggest struggle right now, in fact.  I want my kids' experiences with me to be remembered as when they wanted me or needed me I supported them or stopped for them.  I'm struggling with this one daily and while I do make sure to have happy, positive time with them daily I get tired of the same books over and over again and the same legos over and over again.  If YOU have any tips for me and my readers in this area please, please post them below!  I love them so very very much, but I'm pretty sure they'll have lots of memories of waiting around for me to "finish this" or "do this".  And, blech!  I don't want it.  I know where this stems, which is my being selfish and wanting my agenda to be top priority, I get that.  I see the undertone.  But, I need help in changing it.  Thanks!!

8. Take a moment to pause and see things from your child's perspective.
"Sit down quietly and wait for your food" i a great way to get kids yelling and crying at a table in a restaurant. Jon and I downright STOPPED eating out several years ago because we were SO TIRED of the fits Zane would throw just because we wanted him to sit down and wait quietly.  Crayons and papers didn't work, trains didn't work, our phones didn't work.  The kid HATES sitting down to wait.  He hates it.  And we hated fighting and threatening and scolding.  So we stopped.  Then I remembered something I learned from my home economics teacher in high school.  **If a child wants to play puppies under the table why not?**  Gut reaction: "Cause it's dirty under the table and it annoys me when my kids aren't acting civilized."  Their floor is probably no dirtier than yours, in fact it's probably cleaner.  I know I mop my floors once per week and each time I've worked in a restaurant we mopped our floors twice a day.  So, that's B.S.

Than I had to get real with myself.  I want my kids to act civilized.  "I don't want to be 'embarrassed' by their childish behavior."  Sorry, what's that?  "I don't want to be embarrassed by my CHILD's CHILDISH behavior."  Oh, ok.  You want a grown up at the table with you?  Great, go to dinner with Jon, weirdo.  If you want your child at dinner with you then guess what?  You'll have your CHILD at dinner with you, acting CHILDISHLY.  Oh, ok.  Thanks, me!  So now, I'm totally the lady who's kids crawl under the table while waiting for food or waiting for a check.  And I giggle the whole time I hear another lady fighting her kids during their screaming fit cause they're supposed to be not acting childish.  It took me a while to get used used to having my legs knocked into every now and then because at first each time it happened it angered me to know that "my kid wouldn't behave" but in time it's become a reminder that "my kid's not screaming their face off at me and I'm holding a conversation with my husband". WIN!

Children are children and we are helping them grown into well-adjusted adults.  I think the more we can help foster their childish behavior while they're children the more likely they won't throw fits over pepperoni (see #1 and #2, I'm talking about myself here) as adults.  They get to get their childhood now so they aren't fighting for it later.  I hope.  I know a LOT of selfish adults who throw fits and I've yet to meet one adult who was allowed to crawl under the table.  I'll let you know how this pans out later. (Gimme a decade or so, k?)

9. If the kid is "acting up", try to figure out why, and meet that need.
Zane used to throw big fits and we'd throw equally big fits, fighting a non-stop battle of the time-out chair.  He'd pour chocolate into the gallon of milk, he'd sneak goodies out of the cupboards when we were sleeping. We'd yell, we'd fight him, we'd punish him, we'd do all the things we were "supposed" to do.  Hell, we even spanked him!  A lot.  That's all anyone could advise us to do.

I started this therapeutic parenting stuff over the summer, after recognizing that Zane had every.single.presentation of Reactive Attachment Disorder.  That's when I was introduced to this whole idea of asking your child what's up when they're all kinds of outta whack.  I've been BLOWN.A-WAY. since.  I can smell it now, before it gets too bad.  I know when they're "off" and it's almost always because they want one-on-one with me.  Which, Stori can verbalize but Zane cannot, ironically enough.  Probably because I spent a few years teaching Zane to shut it and Stori hasn't gotten that.  When I feel them getting frenzied (which is what happens before misbehavior, by the way... really.  Take a moment and notice it, it's like CLOCK WORK, people!) I can stop whatever I'm doing and we can play hide and seek or we can get a game from the shelf or we can sit with a book and them literally sitting ON me or we can jump into some other form of one-on-one play and I engage until they're bored and the rest of our day is swell.  I suppose as they both grow it won't always be time-with-me they need and I'll learn their new languages as they evolve but for the time being this has changed our lives in extraordinary ways.

I still need serious improvement in doing this when we're with other people.  I'm selfish-ish and I want to have my conversations, ya' know.  I want to visit with people.  But, I'm working on stopping in all situations to feed them.  Make a love deposit (Oh, the Michael Scott in me is screaming... "THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!!!") to their little hearts and let them know that if they need me I am here.  Even if I really, really want to be doing something else.

10. The kid is already perfect as he is.
Done.  Nuff said.  Get it.  Learn it.  Live it.  Love it.  They are perfect!

I'm proud of myself.  I'm proud of Jon.  I'm proud of our kids.  I'm grateful to have the family I have.  SO incredibly GRATEFUL!

***Again, I want to point out that these numbers and the bold sentences behind them come from this post and they are not my words.  They touched me deeply and helped me remember to celebrate our accomplishments but I, in no way, take credit for them.  That all goes to Leo Babauta.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I'm anxiously awaiting Jon's arrival home from work.  I almost always look forward to seeing him, but sometimes I NEED him to come home and hold me while I sob.  He truly is my knight in shining armor.  It's unbelievably common for RAD to cause big marriage problems.  There are numerous reasons, for sure.  But there's one that's interesting which is that a lot of RAD kids show most of their RAD behaviors to their Moms only.  They put on a big fat act for their Dads and keep their anger for their Moms.  Most RAD anger is for Moms.

I believe that's because at the heart of RAD is a hurt child, a fetus, an infant, a toddler.  No matter how progressive we become in this world it will always be the case that a child begins as part of their Mom.  Which means it lies at the very first cell of who we become that our Mothers will provide for us, care for us, rock us, love us, nurture us, protect us, sympathize for us and empathize with us, fight for us, and flight with us.  We "are" our Moms.  So when something traumatic happens to a child (that plays a part in the future of RAD) it is beyond their control that they believe it's because their Mom screwed them over.  Their Mom didn't provide, care, rock, love, nurture, protect, sympathize and empathize, fight for, or fly with.  Their Mom failed them.  And the only reason is because THEY aren't worthy of their Mom's said duties.  Or, well, that's what is ingrained in them anyway.

Fortunately(????) for Jon and I a portion of Zane's experiences was his dad (I use lower-case this time, cause this guy lost the privilege of the upper-case, but like my own mom) disappearing.  This is fortunate only because Zane doesn't really hide any of his behaviors from Jon.  He's just as insecure with a Dad's love as he is with a Mom's.  Why does this matter?  Well, because this is a very lonely life.  That doesn't even begin to sum it up.  Zane occasionally acts out in front of others, indeed.  But, he doesn't bring out his RAD behaviors.  He saves those for us.  Cause we're the ones he wants to trust so badly.  But, because he doesn't hide this from Jon I do have a partner here.  Someone who really understands what it's like.  Adequately expressed here, we need others that we can speak with and who get us.  This little community I've found online isn't much, but it is growing as I get to read other blogs and "meet" other people.  But, it's nothing like having someone come home and know what you mean when you say what you've experienced.

That's why I'm looking so forward to ORLANDO!!!  This was a big decision for me to make.  It's a super financial commitment that I'm still not quite sure how we'll pay for, but thanks to some absolutely beautiful and wonderful readers, I've been awarded a scholarship for my room and board and meals.  Which means I have to get there and back, that's it!  I don't drink so I don't have to find alcohol money and as much as some time in the spa sounds great that's just not on my plate right now.

I'm a little nervous about probably being the only biological RAD Mom there but I also look forward to sharing information and experiences with everyone.  I'm not even sure if I'll pack real clothes.  I *might* just hang out in pajama-esque pants the whole time.  I might not even brush my hair.  I told Jon the other night while discussing my concern that I look forward to being with other Moms who know what revenge pee is.  :-)  Cause I really do.  I look forward to not feeling alone for a few days.  I look forward to meeting other Moms who probably spend a lot of time crying until their whole face is swollen as well.  I look forward to meeting others who know the turbulence of our life.

Until then, though, I'll be seeking out some support in my physical life.  I've been on the search for attachment therapists who are covered by our insurance and so far, no luck.  There's even a RAD specialist RIGHT HERE in our town.  But, nope...  Not covered.  I'll be calling tomorrow to see if he makes arrangements for families who aren't covered.  I feel like things have been escalating here and that we could do some powerful healing with all of this, but as much as I've learned I still feel like I don't know diddly.  It's funny...  We've spent 4 years in therapy with Zane and because we weren't treating the right cause we've made no progress.  Now we know.  We actually know.  And, it just so happens to be a non-covered illness because it's not life-threatening.  Bologna!  I'm completely against this Obamacare thing, because I think it was poorly created, but I'm 100% for legitimate Universal Healthcare for this very reason.  When someone needs care and there is a provider who can help access should be granted to that help.  And, I get it... we can pay out of pocket, certainly.  But... healthcare's not set up that way, so it's really an unfair argument.

I digress...  What I mean is that I've got to get more community here that understands us and our lives.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my friends, indeed.  But I don't have anyone I can call and say, "Come spend the day with us, please.  We need the company."  And that's what I'm looking for.  For all of us.  Jon's in need, too.  Of a RAD Dad.  I haven't found any.  Maybe I should go looking....  And then he can come home and hold me and hear me and understand me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I'm currently handling things.  You know those times when you can only say you're "dealing with things" because you feel like you're sludging through quicksand wearing swimming flippers and your bikini bottoms are on backward when you have no business wearing a bikini in the first place?

That perfectly describes the past few weeks for me and my relationship with Zane.  It has been hell.  I've been so angry that I've lost all touch with what I'm supposed to be doing.  I begrudgingly cuddle him every night and read him stories.  I do the things for him that I'm supposed to do but I'm just going through the motions.  All along I'm mad at him and I'm on the edge of a cliff that doesn't even hang over water, for goodness sakes.  And when I'm not actively mad at him, but I'm back in the place of compassion and understanding I'm mad at God for doing this to us.

I've been known to cry out to God pleading for an answer to my big, fat, overwhelming, omnipresent


I've yet to get a real answer, but when I back away from the ledge and I come back to reality and I stop feeling so damn sorry for myself I recognize some answers to the why.


A lot of parents would see him as a bad kid and add to the damage with brutality.  Jon and I are willing, if not eager, to learn what we can about how to best help him.  We're open to nearly anything that will heal his heart and we're really determined to never give up.  We definitely have our days of fear that we'll be visiting our adult Zane in jail, but most of our days are ones with faith that he is going to be nurtured and loved through this and he will find a way to be healthfully loving and loved.  We currently play this for him nightly, both while we cuddle him and for the rest of the night, on repeat.  We reinforce the positive statements by saying them to him along with the lady.  Because we really do believe in him.  We just fear some of the possibilities.

I have a really, really troubled background.  My parents have failed me across the board in numerous ways and Jon is downright amazed at how "healthy" I am, given where I come from.  Frankly, if Zane hadn't started presenting symptoms of RAD years before we knew what it was I don't know how invested I would be in putting an absolute, 100% end to the legacy of abusive and neglectful women in my family.  But, because I've watched Zane hurt and I've seen him struggle -and reach out for what hes most afraid of even though he usually fights it as soon as he gets it- I know, firsthand, how much having someone's unconditional love can heal that.  And the love I have for Zane is immeasurable.  I have experienced immense pain by being his Mom.  Things I could never explain to you, because the layers of the actions are just too complicated to write down.  And, I don't love him because of that.  I don't love him in spite of it.  I love him because I see what's really going on.  He's SCARED TO BE LOVED.  A crazy concept to most, but it is exactly that and the more I push to remind myself of that the more I can offer him in terms of absolute, unconditional love.

This has allowed me to see my own behaviors that directly related to my lack of attachment with my Mom.  Thankfully, things never progressed or whatnot to the degree of RAD, but I had a very different first few years than Zane.  Regardless, however, I've seen how easily I can detach when I'm getting close and I see how I can be cold and feel entitled and be afraid of those closest to us.  I see how I can push people away who are here to help, because I'm quite certain that the more they get to know about our family the more they will be repulsed.  And, it's all in my head, as it is in Zane's.  As Christine has said before... raising kids with trauma will force you to deal with ANY shit you have been holding onto yourself.  She knows what she's talking about, cause it sure does!  I appreciate the opportunity God has given me to see my own shit and to deal with it.  It may cause big anxiety sometimes and it may be extremely uncomfortable but I don't want 20 more years to pass and be in a separate place from my own feelings.  I don't want to be miserable with myself and not even know why because I never spent the time to figure it out.  I don't want to be stagnant.

So, sure.. there are some extravagant "why"s that have been answered, but when my heart is feeling like it's dying inside it's easy to fall in the trap of believing I'm doing it all wrong and I'm not helping him and I'm not a good Therapeutic Parent and I should just go away and he'd be better off.  But, alas... that's me dealing with my own shit and that's my traumatized heart dying and providing room for my healthy heart to grow.  Growth hurts.

So, during these past few weeks because I've allowed myself to lose sight of the positives in our lives and the change that is happening in our house I've not been doing what I should be doing.  I've only been able to really help Zane out of his big feelings a few times and I've yelled more than I'd like to admit.  I AM SUPPOSED TO whisper and I am supposed to reach out to my support and I am supposed to watch my therapeutic parenting videos and I am supposed to keep all of these tools and all of this hope at the very front of my mind.  I haven't been and you know what?  It's not okay, but it is okay to carry on forward and not dwell on it any longer.

So, I've decided to give it another go at the Attachment Challenge!!!  I'm excited, of course.  I know I need to get back into the groove of doing what I need to do every day (okay, well... during my period, I'm kind of forgiven, but I'm still aiming high) and I'm hoping that bringing this back up will help me do that.

And this, friends, is how I've moved from "dealing" to "handling".  I put my hands back in the game and I'm not going to sit back and give the cards to everyone else.  I'm getting back in the driver's seat and giving it another go.  This time, though, I have no intentions of documenting it every day.  I've got lots of pants to make in the evenings, anyway.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't you tell me I'm lucky

I got back from the grocery a little bit ago.  While in the checkout line I saw Zane's classroom best friend's step-Mom.  We said our "hi"s and she said she hadn't seen us around, so I informed her that we started home schooling last month.  She said, "I wish I could do that, you're lucky!"  I said, "Why can't you?"  She said, "I have to work."  I said, "I'm lighting the torch under the NEW feminist movement so stay home if that's what you feel you should do and the economy will catch up."  She said, "I wish my bills agreed with that, you're so lucky."

I shook my head and it was my turn to cash out so I did my stuff and we said bye.

I wish this was a rare occurance.  But, it's not. At all.  I hear it all the time, even before we were home schooling, but just because I choose to be home with my kids.  And you know what?  I'm pissed off.

So, this is kind of a rant-ish post, k?

Firstly, I'm not lucky.  I haven't bought a new pair of underwear in 2 friggin years.  True fact.  And every time I need to buy razor blades for shaving I cringe at the $9 JUST TO SHAVE MY LEGS!  We're hardly swimming in money.  Don't get me wrong, we're also not impoverished by any means, but what I'm getting at is that we choose this.  Consciously and intentionally.  A couple of months ago things were rough enough that I was looking for a PT job and I was looking hard.  I decided, instead, to throw my heart and soul behind Rumptastic!! so I didn't lose focus.

Now, I'm pretty open, like I've talked about before.  I'd be happy to share with you all exactly my husband's salary, but his work kinda' frowns on it.  So, I can't.  But, in the few circles that I have shared it (usually making my point as to why people need to quit assuming stay home Moms are in wealthy families) I A.L.W.A.Y.S. get a "Wow!"  And, it's always a "Wow" that means... on *that* salary you make it work with a mortgage, 2 kids, 3 pets, and ZERO credit card debt (which is now no longer true as we did put something on them for the first time ever, but it's for Rumptastic!!, not for our every day living)!?!?

Yes, yes we do.

How??  Well, I get a new purse when mine breaks, not when it's no longer in style.  We buy a lot of stuff used (and this month-everything!) and this is more for the environmental impact, but it sure does help out in the wallet division!  I make food more than buying food.  Ya' know... I buy ingredients then make meals, I don't buy meals in a box or meals in an envelope.  When we need things for the house (like a toilet) we go to ReStore, again more for the environmental impact but a big saver as well.  I don't "go to the hair dresser" but even if I did we'd definitely go somewhere like Great Clips.  We don't have cable tv(although we mostly don't want to watch it anyway, what we do like we can get on Hulu).

Does this mean we go without?  No way, Jose!  Our bedrooms are all filled with things we need/want/use/used to use, as are our living rooms, but we haven't been able to afford putting siding on our house or doing the landscaping in either of our yards.  It's all a balancing act.  What we can do now vs. what we can't and what we need to do now vs. what we don't.  It's funny when we really take a look around we realize how much we really have!  We moved into an apartment together 5 years ago (this month) with next to nothing.  No couches or living room furniture, no real bed for Zane, no bed for us (although it was at Jon's parents' house we didn't get it for several months), and we ate on the floor, cross-legged, and with Zane usually on one of our laps.  For entertainment we'd put some music on the laptop and dance around the living room or we'd all do family yoga or we'd go for a walk or we'd play in the big field next to our place.

We've never "gone without" even when we really were, because we chose to not go without.  We chose to live well under whatever circumstances we were in.  We've been very blessed with people around us getting rid of furniture for free or very cheap and having wonderful people in our lives who have helped us along the way, even giving us nearly new carpet!  We were blessed when Jon initially got his job, because prior to that we were both waiting tables.  We are very blessed, indeed and I don't intend to downplay that at all.    But, we NEVER chose to be lucky.

I worked for a couple of years after moving here and it was good fun and boy were we doing well financially. No worries for us.  But, we realized that the kids NEEDED me at home.  Zane was having big problems in school and Stori was colicky at day care.  Jon and I were both exhausted and even though we'd looked at our budget many times before and saw NO WAY of it working, we decided it was what we needed to do.  So, I quit my job.  At the time, Jon made about 60% of our income while I made 40% that's a HUGE loss.  But, it was even more of a gain.

Because zoning in on our kids while they're young and 100% dependent on us is more important *to us* than all of the other things in the world that we can get in 10, 15, or 20 years.  Home improvements will never go away, nor will the supply of brand news cars, big, fancy tvs, or Blu-Ray players.  But our childrens' youthfulness will.

I walk into other people's homes and often I feel envy.  I see their things and I feel inadequate or less-than.  I feel like I know who I will and will not invite to my home based solely on their environment.  Because I don't want judgment held against me for being "poor", because I'm not poor.  I'm just not invested in my things right now.  One day, I'll have time and energy, and money, and interest in that but right now, I simply don't.

Not because I'm a better Mom than you.  Not because you're a better Mom than me.  Because we're different, that's all.  There's nothing wrong with it at all, so please... Working Moms stop acting like we (stay home Moms) look down on you for working!  WE DON'T! I think it's great that we women DO have a choice in the matter.  But, I do get really, really offended when you look at us and tell us we're lucky while assuming that we are living the same way as you, but are doing it on one income.  I guarantee you we are not.  We are choosing this.  You are choosing that.  We're happy to help pick your kids up from school or watch them while you work late.  We really are.  Just, please, PLEASE stop belittling our choices and giving the power in what we do to our spouse's imaginary income.


AND...  if you really do want to say home but really feel like you can't or that it'd be too hard, talk to us and trust us.  Every stay home Mom that I know has made a big financial sacrifice to come home with her kids.  Every. one. of. them.  I know there are plenty out there who didn't, but if I have a pretty large network of Mommas and every one of them did, then you're definitely not alone.

This all comes back to feminism, which I used to really, really not like.  Economics 101:  A society's standard of living adjusts to what the people in the society deem appropriate.  True story.

Prior to the feminist movement it was standard issue for a man to work and a woman to stay home and care for her family.  Thus, the economy supported that.  Home prices were valued proportionally to one-income families.  So were groceries.  Car prices.  The whole works.  Because that is how our society worked.  Then, women said... screw you men, we want to work!  So they started working.  Now, our economy supports a society that has two-income families.  Viola!  It took a bit of time for the economy to catch up to the women working and that's why the housing boom was possible.  Suddenly there was so much money that inflation hadn't yet caught up.  Now, it's up to speed and people who live in homes where there are two working adults live "average" lives.

If you really want to stay home, do it.  The money WILL come.  The economy WILL catch up.  And, really.. given the current state of affairs, now might just be a great time for us to revolutionize the American economy anyway.  It's fluctuating and trying to straighten out; it's coming out of a very deep recession.  There are people out of work already.  Now, rather than debting ourselves with all the out-of-work chaos, we CAN transform as it rebuilds itself.  It's true, I promise!  IF YOU WANT to be at home and it is what your soul calls out to you then do it.  You WILL figure it out and you WILL be okay and you CAN join us.

If you don't, then please stop telling us you want to and just own your stance.  Please.  I own my faded carpet.  Please own your new car.  Please.

Stop telling us we're lucky.  We're only making different choices than you.

And there's NOTHING wrong with that if we can all own. our. choices.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

You get what you ask for

it's up to you whether or not you'll accept it and what value you put on it.

The other day, in preparation for this cleanse I asked my Visionary Moms for any advice they had for me.  Again, this is my first time and I know at least one of them had done a cleanse before.  She said to make sure I have a solid reason why I'm doing it and stick with it, because when it gets hard I have to have that reason to fall back on.  My thought reaction to this, "Eh, it won't be that hard and I'm doing it cause...well, why not."  and I left it at that.

So, tonight after dinner (lentil soup) the kids wanted to have some oatmeal as well.  When I was mixing up that delicious honey and cinnamon with the warm gooeyness of oatmeal I lost my drive and ate a bit.  Then, I had the leftover crackers on the table (half eaten and a little gooey from Stori).  Then, I had a cookie.  And another cookie.  Then I said, well... that didn't work!

And you know what?  I'm not upset with myself, or angry, or sad, or disappointed, or negatively self-fulfilled.  I recognize it for what it was.  Something that I can't say I was fully driven to do.  Something I wasn't dedicated to.  Something that just plain and simply didn't happen right now.

I also have an awesome week of meals planned out that I'm so stoked to try, 'cause they're almost all new to me, woot!  But, I'm just not following the rules of the cleanse.

Sorry to disappoint, I know you were REALLY looking forward to seeing pictures of my poo. :-P

Fall Cleanse Day 1

I've heard a lot of people doing "cleanses" either by barely eating anything or taking lots of supplements, or eating only a strict cleansing regimen diet, or by ingesting nothing other than lemon and cayenne water, or...  Ya know, lots of cleanses.  Frankly, I've been intrigued since the first I heard of it.  My whole life ebb and flows, it's the way I work.  I do then I rest, I buy things then I purge them, I clean a lot then I don't, and on and on.  So it only makes sense for me to do sporadic cleanses, yes?

So, I signed up to do this cleanse for the fall a couple of weeks ago and today it begins.  The past several days I've been on the brink of downright panic over having no cookies, no breads, no pastas, no BACON.  But, last night as my mind and my heart were preparing during slumber I dreamt of being done with my first day ad having found it was easy and felt good.  I'm crossing my fingers it goes that well.  :-)

I'm not going to tell you all of Hannah's secrets or instructions, because that's her information that she puts lots of hard work into and if you want to play, you ought to head over and sign up to play with us.  But, because this is my first-ever cleanse I do want to share a bit.  I intend to start my days before anyone else here in this casa and journal a bit about how it's going.  Because I'm not certain what all to expect, physically.  I'll be taking pictures of my face today, midway, and last day.  I'll also be taking pictures of my poo.  Mmhmm, I will be.  I probably won't share any of my pictures here though, so not to worry.  The only reason I might is if there's such an obvious and resounding difference in my skin or my beaming-full-happiness-and-joy level or if my poo takes an incredible journey toward beautiful poo.  I think I might share what I'm eating, too, and my take on it all.  I've spent an entire week looking up recipes of new things to try and by golly-cleansing or not-I think I've found some YUMMY stuff to eat!  xx <--that's me crossing my fingers.  Food is my vice, after all, and if I'm not enjoying it then there's just no point in life at all. :-P

I think the toughest thing will be seeing how the kiddos react to the meals.  I do have plans to offer them each meal I make for myself and Jon, but won't be forcing them into it.  If they find they're not satisfied then they'll have something different and that's okay.  Although, this isn't one of those crazy insane cleanses I mentioned above and so it's perfectly healthy and fulfilling for all of us to eat I can definitely see the kids getting tired of the different, sometimes weird, but mostly just different food.  Hopefully they'll be good sports about it, otherwise I'll be doing LOTS of cooking.  :-/

Anyway, I'm off now to start my day and I'm looking forward to experiencing this week of honoring my body with GOOD food.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sometimes I feel like a lot of things happen and inspire me to write, but I often feel like I can't throw out a whole bunch of words about most individual subjects, since I'm no real writer.  I'm also a new homeschooler, an entrepreneur, a Mom, a wife, and a person who likes time to myself, so my blogging is hardly a daily activity... :-/  Let's just call this a smorgasbord!

Standing up to the Bully and FOR "Big Phil"

The other day Jon and I went to a haunted house.  We went at the earlier, advised time to minimize our wait and were having a really good time.  While in line, we were in front of a moderately sized group of teenagers.  Overall they were good kids, but at one point, I overheard this: boy: "Oh shit, big Phil's here." girl: "Who's big Phil?" boy: "Dude he's like 400 fuckin pounds man and he's so fat.  He runs so slow and always makes us run more laps, he's fuckin fat."

This was clearly an athletic boy based on his conversation and his build.  He was very healthy, probably 6.5feet tall or so, and confident.  Reminder of this for you.  I'm the "bullied" not the bully.  But, it's true what we were talking about a couple of weeks ago.  It is the responsibility of the adults to change what's going on.  I didn't do exactly as I should have, but I did my best given the adrenaline-charged shaking I had going on: "Excuse me, boys..." boy: "Yeah?" me: "I'm sure you've heard of these teenagers who are literally killing themselves over words like that.  That shit hurts people, for real.  Find different words." boy: (With snide and embarrassed expression)"Okay" me: "Please" boy: (Same expression)"Okay" girl: (to me) "Thank You"

It wasn't *much*.  And I really think I could've empathized more with the boy.  But, again... I was actually shaking.  It was SO.SCARY. for me to say anything to the boy.  Terrifying.  I don't know if it's the general idea of standing up to someone or if it was because his words were so chilling in the first place, or if it was because I was standing up to things in my past as well, or if it was the "embarrassment" of acknowledging to myself that I am, in fact, the old lady who tells teenagers to "cool their jets" so to speak.  Whatever it was though, it was a rush.  I felt good, I felt proud, I felt accomplished, I felt hopeful.  I felt a little bit bad about calling him out in front of the others, but it's not quite like I could say, "Hey, come with me, please..."

I also felt like the girl who thanked me might feel more courage to do something similar in the future.  I don't know for sure, but it's like nursing in public.  Every time someone sees it for the first time it affects them and let's just hope she'll walk away from that feeling that it's better to speak up in the future.  I hope so.  I kinda' wish I could've given my phone number to the whole group of them and said, "If you ever need anyone safe to talk, please."  But, yeah... not quite there yet.  :-P

It's kinda' chilly! Brrr.

I live in the mountains, ya know.  It's the time of year when it starts getting quite cold little by little.  Our house has a "no furnace till November" challenge.  If a blizzard comes we'll turn it in, but pretty much anything else won't warrant a change-of-plans here.  Why?  I can't really tell you...  I'm not certain.  Partially because I like the idea of allowing our bodies to move into the next season.  We must be a little chilly to recognize what's coming and I think internally, we expect it.  So, we let ourselves get a bit brisk.  Also, it's a good way to check what sweaters do and don't fit, who has enough socks for the winter, how everyone's stockpile of warm clothes is.  Even during the winter, we don't turn our furnace more than 62 degrees F so we need to keep our stuff in stock.  Currently, it's 59 in our house. Brr.  :-)  It's also a nice way to ring in the season with cuddling in front of the fireplace and embracing whatever kinda' lovin' comes next! ;-)  More than anything, I guess it's just a fun way to be in a little bit of denial that winter is really almost here.  Until we hear the furnace fire up, we can pretend it'll be 70 tomorrow (okay, Friday... but we'll make it!)

Have you ever thought of doing a furnace challenge?  Or, more so, an A/C challenge?  Tell me about it if you decide to join in the game.  If you've already turned your furnace on, it's okay.  Go turn it off and join us now.  Join the wintertime bandwagon and keep your furnace low all winter, too.  I'll touch back on that in several weeks.

Super-Great-Awesomely-Fun-Random-Neat Challenge for the CO Roots!!!!

I thought about it the other day and I'm so stoked!!!!!!!

We aren't going to be buying anything that's brand new (other than groceries, supplements, and the like) through the month of November.  If all goes well (which that is the goal) we'll continue this new way of shopping indefinitely.  You see... I was thinking the other day what big consumers we are.  Any of you who know us know that we are pretty modest folks.  We prefer it that way (aside from gizmos and gadgets).  Even with our modest ways of living, we buy a lot of stuff brand new that we don't actually need to buy brand new.  Can you imagine how many dishes are thrown away every day?  How many dishes are made in factories(not in America, either of course, but that's as far into politics as I'll get right now) every day?  How many bras are thrown out?  How many dog leashes?  Candles?  HAIR BANDS?????

We can find all of these things and a boatload more at second hand stores, on Craigslist, at garage sales, etc.  It's so easy for me to thrift store shop for clothes, but I rarely think about all those other things I "pick up" all the time.  So, I thought how fun it would be to change the way I think about getting what we need.  It all started with our need for a new dog leash.  Rootie eats through his every few months or so.  We're always getting new ones.  So far we've gotten the one we got with Rootie, a hand-me-down from Jon's parents, the freebie that came from the Humane Society when he gotten taken in by the doggie truck, and a lost-and-forgotten one we found at the off-leash dog park.  He just ate through the latest last week and we need to get him a new one.

The Universe hasn't plopped one in our lap yet, the way it has so far, so we went to the store to buy one.  As we moseyed around we were surprised at the price of a new leash (that Rootie will have eaten by spring, I'm sure) and we were equally surprised that Martha Stewart has a line of pet products.  But, anyway...  My eyes were also being drawn to every dog in there, both in puppy school and not.  I realized than... we've gotten all of these used leashes before...  We can EASILY get a used dog leash from someone on Craigslist or at a secondhand.  So, we looked at the silly things in Petsmart, had some fun, googly-eyed some puppies, and made our way on with our day.  As I was thinking about my whole train of thought I realized that there's a whole aspect of our lives that we're more wasteful than we give ourselves credit for being.  Yuck!  Thus, the idea was born.

Buy used.  Duh.  But, buy lots of stuff used.  Yay!  I'm really excited about it.  I'm going to search for an inner tube for my bike on CL now.  Keeping my fingers crossed for this one.  You wanna play too?  Think about how many things you bring in your house each week, each month that you could get just as good not straight from a package.  Play with me!!!  Tell me all about your good finds and your good sales, too!  :-D

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bye Nipple... Bye Breast... Bye Mama Milk.

Stori said this to my breasts as she was nursing for the last time and directly thereafter.  It's kind of a big deal.  You see...  I'm a believer in child-led weaning.  I'm also a breastfeeding advocate.  I literally walk up to nursing-in-public Mommas and say "Right on, sister!", I cheer on new Moms with the desire to breastfeed, and I'm straight forward about the false claims by those in the medical community and in grocery supply who state that women can't breastfeed or that formula is an equal.  That's not to say that I'm anti-formula, because I'm not.  But, I definitely am pro-breastfeeding.  The reasons why are endless and some can't even be explained.

But, *I* have chosen to stop breastfeeding. GASP!!  If it were Stori's choice, she'd be hanging on all day like my little chimpanzee baby.  The girl is a "nursing Nelly".  But, I'm done.  I've been mostly done for quite some time, but again...  I'm sensitive to her needs and desires and my plan was to let her choose when to stop.  So, I put some limits on it several months ago.  I cut it down to 3 times per day.  We were there for a couple of months then I decided a couple months back to cut it down to just in the morning after waking up.  I've not been enjoying it anymore.  After all, it IS a relationship and I'm kind of part of it.  :-)

So, I found myself talking to Jon about my decision to just be done and he supported me.  Then I realized, as I was talking...  I'm done breastfeeding.  Really done.  Done.  Not done breastfeeding Stori.  I'm done breastfeeding.  We're not having any more kids and while I'm happy to provide milk for ANYONE who wants it for their child, the likeliness of me happening upon this type of opportunity any time soon is pretty slim.  Which means that my career is over.

I've nursed two kids.  I've spent 3 years 4 month and 27 days nursing those two kids.  Zane spent 1 year, 3 months, and 15 days at my breast and Stori spent 2 years, 1 month, and 12 days.  Yeah, I know.  How.many.days.  It's a big deal, like I said, to be done.  Countless midnight trips to the crib side, immeasurable hours of cuddling, numerous times of frustration.  Breastfeeding is a way of life while it's happening.

There are a few things that only a woman can experience and I am so grateful and blessed to be a woman to experience these things.  I menstruate.  Lots of women complain about it, but I think it's pretty stinkin' neat.  I can carry babies inside of my body.  EXTRAORDINARY!  I can breastfeed.  ABSOLUTELY AMAZING, I say!  Not only did these two people begin in me, but they developed outside of me because of what was coming from inside of me.  I really don't have the words that are adequate to explain even a glimpse of my passion for this stuff.

Even though this choice is self-made I'm experiencing loss with it.  The fact that God made me a woman and provided me the opportunity to experience all of these gifts made only for women is something that overwhelms me sometimes.  The completion of my time as a breastfeeding woman is over.  Breasts are the truest life-giving gift of all time.  I kinda' feel like mine are about to lose their meaning.  Of course Jon'll disagree! ;-)  And while we all know that Mom's breasts make the best pillows during tough times I guess I'm just dealing with the idea of no longer lactating.  In some amount of time it won't matter what I do to them, I won't be pulling milk from them.  I'm trying to deal with that.

The plus side is that this has ROCKED my world!  It's rocked Stori's world and it rocked Zane's world years ago!  It's even rocked Jon's world as he learned his own feelings about watching his child and his wife share milk.  While there are lots of humps along the way and breastfeeding is not an all-out easy path, I've been blessed to have two relatively chaos-free experiences with full term breastfeeding.

I've come to the decision somewhat slowly and am certain that this is the end.  I'm so happy about it and am feeling free and liberated.  I'm excited for under wire bras and colorful bras.  I'm excited for the future to get here and the 2 year-old groping to be a thing of the past.  I'm excited to wake up and be able to comfort Stori in new, different ways.  I'm just really, really excited!


Bye Nipple...  Bye Breast...   Bye Mama Milk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

All the bullying going on

It's everywhere right now.  The talk of bullying.  Brought upon because all too many kids killed themselves after being bullied so ferociously they felt they had no value.  Because they were gay.  Good freakin' Lord, y'all.  Because they know they like people they get tormented?  Not 'cause they're bad in any way.  Because they like people.  And those people happen to have the same sexual organs as they do.  Tormented.  Verbally assaulted.  Beaten down.  Drawn to death.  Bullshit.

I could never find the words as eloquent as this dude who's awesomer than awesome in his ways of speaking.

And I won't try.  Most of the people I know will say they were bullied.  I don't know if it's a general perception during any given time in our lives or if the problem is so fierce or if everyone lives bullying in a different way.  Frankly, I don't care.  I do think that if we all could live as more of a community we *might* not have the same issues so young in life.  I can hope, right?  Just as so many other people do, I have a story.  Mine isn't of how I wanted anyone to die.  And, I've never been quiet.

I had no problems when I lived in Oklahoma.  That came to an end, however, when my Mom decided that screwing our Karate sensei was more important than ya' know... us.  So, my sis, Dad, and self moved to a little town in Illinois.  My Dad had a job available to him there so that was our landing spot after escaping the divorce.  On my first day, I got my locker assigned to me and went through the uncomfortable "I'm Shannon" introduction stuff.  I had a couple of people who were nice and reached out to me and helped me out on that day.  At that stage in the game, lockers came with locker buddies.  Unfortunately for me, my locker buddy was an elitist and the 2nd day at my new school I was informed that my locker buddy was no longer my buddy.  She wasn't very good at being sly and soon I found out that it was because my -fake- fur coat smelled bad and/or was ugly and took up too much space in the locker.  I was definitely off to a great start.

Since having Zane, I've thought a lot about childhood bullying, both my receiving of it and my giving of it.  (More on this in a minute...)  I've apologized to one person that I was really mean to after seeking them out on Facebook for that exact reason.  I still have a couple more.  It's such a scary thing to do.  When I did apologize I got a response that I didn't expect at all.  I got a "eh, it's nothing we were teenagers, nobody meant anything they did." Now I'm scared to do more apologizing.  I'm fearing that this stuff I've been holding onto for YEEEAAARSSSSSS (my guilt over my own behavior) is nonsensical and that what I did didn't really hurt or affect anyone.  I hope I didn't really hurt anyone, but the fact is that I believe I did.  And I believe that even as a grown woman the recipient of that apology may still feel that her feelings aren't important.  But, they are.  So, I'll do my other couple of apologies because it hurts to know that I hurt others and I don't know how it affects these people as adults, but I know that I am STILL affected by things done to me as a child.  I think it'd be just grand to hear from David, Anne, Billy, Mr. Culbertson, and Mrs. Spivey and find a real, raw reason for their disgust of me.  I think it'd be great because it wouldn't undo anything, but it'd help us all get to the point of why this happens.  It'd mean that those people are thinking about themselves in the meaningful, hard ways and they're seeing themselves and understanding who they are and who they have been.  It'd mean they're finding personal growth.  It'd mean that we might have one more approach to a kid who's bullying, or a teacher who's bullying.

I didn't endure physical brutality or endless days of torture like some other have.  I think I was the "average bullied" kid.  It was general knowledge that I wasn't liked and no one hid it, but only on certain occasions was it deemed fun to exploit my sense of self worth.  Like when a boy was my boyfriend and his friend asked him how he could go out with me and referred to me as "it" directly in front of my face.  When the same boy made fun of me for being "flat" in 6th grade.  When the same boy came to my house for my birthday parties but escorted a huge group of people away from my house until it was time for parents to pick up then they all swarmed back.  When a different boy in a higher grade asked me to be his girlfriend and in my naive adolescence I cooed "yeah" to him.  He got me on the phone with his friends listening in on the other side a couple of times and 2 or 3 days after the prank began he finally ended it by publicly announcing the whole thing was a joke at the school play.  When my basketball coach opted to not teach me how to do a drill properly, but rather had everyone stop and watch me do it wrong, because I kept messing it up.  In 7th grade.  Not freakin' varsity basketball here.  When that same teacher taught algebra and told the whole class about how bad I was at basketball.  When my 5th grade teacher mocked my last name during class by chanting "Rumpshaker" (my last name was Rumps) repeatedly when I finally got a good enough grade to throw a foam basketball in her class for a prize.  When that same teacher stopped the whole gymnastics class one evening to find my smelly feet and make me smell someone else's feet that didn't smell, rather than recognizing that I was too stinking poor for new shoes or enough socks and that maybe my Dad didn't wash my laundry and all I really needed was a $5 pair of Keds given to me quietly by someone who cared rather than laughed.

Yeah, all those times...  They were some of the random times that I was bullied and while it wasn't ongoing torture and no one was throwing me in trash cans it was still enough.  Enough to prove to me (right after my Mom left the country for a dude) that no one, in fact, gave a rat's ass that I was around.  I never fantasized about killing anyone or wishing they died.  I've always been an internalizer, not an externalizer.  So, I'd sit in the brush on the side of Foley Dr. and visualize myself jumping in front of the next car to drive by at 55MPH. I'd try to gain the courage to do it.  But, I was so afraid that I wouldn't die and that I'd be hurt instead that I never did it.  I always knew that even though it felt like the whole world hated me my Dad and my sister wouldn't be okay with me killing myself.  There were plenty of times that those two things kept me alive.

I retaliated in my own ways.  I got really good at making fun of myself FIRST.  I figured if I beat 'em to the punch then it'd seem like they were just playing along.  Of course that never happened.  I just annoyed my friends who really did like me and I formed an internal dialogue that I'm still fighting to this very day.  I also kept friends who weren't so good to me and who were my best friends only because they were as sad and lonely as I was.  I was still their whipping boy though, receiving loogies on my forehead and getting chanted to through a window after I got squeezed out of a sleepover "Homeward Bound" like I was the dog in the movie.  I was still her friend the next day, too.  Shame.  I found people "lower on the totem pole" than myself and I teased them.  I remember getting in a heated argument with one girl in the computer lab and just being mean to her.  Coming up with all sorts of really harsh insults such as "Can you come over for dinner?  We're having spaghetti and I need to rub my toast on your head to grease it up"  Totally lame.  Terrible "joke".  And, yet... people laughed and cheered me on during that.

And that felt good.

I hate that I did that to her.  I hate that I pretended to like a boy who I actually did like and I think he liked me but he was more of a nerd than myself and so I dared not expose my true liking for him and instead teased him for liking me.  I hate that I resorted to drinking and smoking cigarettes with the outcasts similar to myself at such a ridiculously young age.  However, I found a place there that was safe.  I had my boys and none of them treated me poorly.  I was never pressured into sex stuff or...well... really anything.  But, we all got together and drank away our 12-14 year old problems.  Chaos.

I think that guy has a good way of telling us what we can do to help, especially when he writes directly to the young people.  It's true.  We do have the responsibility of talking to kids, asking them questions, and putting our arms around them no matter what the stupid school rules say about no touching.  We have the privilege of speaking up when we do hear something inappropriate happening and not by doing so forcefully but rather with compassion.  I can absolutely guarantee that the only reason I was mean to others was that I was trying to defend my place in the pecking order.  The bullies really do need us to be their safe place, too.  Not their excuse, not their silent witness.  Their safe place.  We should provide, to them, a person who can be spoken with and trusted.  A person who will point out their most positive qualities and still hold them accountable for their negative behaviors.  We've got to open our hearts to ALL kids to show them that they ALL matter.  They are ALL struggling in similar ways and we are here for them.  We can stop telling them they're "bad" and start showing them that they're good.  I betcha' they don't even know it.  And, we can share all sorts of writings (especially responses to the recent suicides) age-appropriately-edited with them so they can see that we really get it.  We're not just grown ups who are telling them things but that we are grown PEOPLE who have experienced things.  We can even speak up when we see parents bullying their own kids.  But, that's an entire area to explore...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today, it happened.

Zane had a tough time at school.  I came to pick him up.  The principal said (with Zane present), "He said something about home schooling?" I asked Zane what he said.  He told me, "I want to home school 'cause I don't feel good here."  WOW!  That's fucking powerful from a 7 year old RAD kid!!!!  He's been really fighting the idea of home schooling and Jon and I have been really supporting him in school, but we have made him aware that if he ever changes his mind he's welcome to come home anytime.  I read this last week.  I've been applying it to our daily doings.  Really being okay with what is happening.  Finding authentic reasoning when I'm noticing I'm fighting something because of my conditioned reasoning.

Such as: We rode bikes to Wendy's after dinner to enjoy a free Frosty coupon Zane got today at school.  Zane was eating his as slowly as absolutely possible.  I've never seen this child eat anything sugary as slowly as he was.  Barely nibbling snippits off the tip of his spoon.  So, I told him, "Hurry up so Stori doesn't get bored."  Immediately I recognized what I was doing and said, "Never mind dude, take your time and enjoy it."  He should enjoy it.  This type of event is so very rare, why should he rush it if he actually isn't.  If he's savoring the moment why should I rush him to not be present in the moment?  Duh, Shannon.  Whew!  Glad I caught myself so quickly.

Tonight I'm seeing that the same thing happened when I accepted school for what it is.  His desire to be there and my desire for him to succeed.  Even if it's at something I don't want him to succeed at, I still want him doing well.  And now... he realized his own feelings.  And his worth of feeling better.  Woot!

So, tonight we applied for the COVA program and I'm pretty excited.  Less afraid than I was a couple of weeks ago when Jon and I were going to decide for him.  We'll still have transition, but I learned a few things this summer about parenting him, keeping everyone safe, and establishing boundaries that he will not cross.  I guess a benefit of parenting an emotionally disturbed child alone(well with Jon, but you know...we don't exactly have a community of people who have invested in learning about him) is that I've given myself a crash-course in RAD parenting.  Thanks a TON to ChristineCoreyAlicia, and others.

One of the things we did learn this summer is that Zane and I need a focal point.  We need it to be lighthearted and not too heavy or demanding.  We need flexibility, but we DO need something to focus on.  So, our initial idea of unschooling won't work for us.  There's just TOO much to choose from in that arena.  This is why we're signing up with COVA.  The principal also offered to allow Zane to come to school for music class (he said as we were leaving "I get to go and keep learning to sing really good so I can be a music teacher when I grow up!") and allow him to be in either game club or chess club when they start.

I'm feeling good and hopeful about the way we'll be approaching home schooling at this point.  We still very much parent in the philosophy of love which encompasses the theory behind unschooling.  Our brains just work differently and we've learned that.  Sweet!  I'm so incredibly proud of Zane to recognize his feelings today. So! Proud! Of! Him!

Many thanks to God and many thanks to us being us.  We could choose to be a lot of different ways (like the lady who was yelling at her daughter that she is BAD, BAD, BAD at Zane's school last week since her Mom had to sit in class with her through the day).  But, we do choose to be who we are.  I'm glad for that.

**If you really knew me, you'd know that if I call my Dad while he's watching a DVD he will tell me he's watching a movie and can't talk and you'd know that my Mom has repeatedly told my sister and me that she has other things to tend to and can't handle us, even when we're offering to pay for family counseling with her.  My parents have never put us first.  I don't think we've ever even been second.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Let's talk about sex.

I haven't gone here yet.  Mainly because I started this about unschooling and then things changed.  Now I don't really know what I'm blogging about.  HA!  I can guarantee one thing though, it'll almost always be opinionated.

I have strong feelings about sex, too.  :-)

In fact, we all do.  It is the most intimate of interpersonal energetic exchanges.  It can carry many faces, many pressures.  Sex is never boring.  Even boring sex.  And we ALL have boring sex sometimes.

Have you ever really thought about your feelings or thoughts during sex?  Do you remove yourself sometimes?  Do you think about your grocery list?  Your dinner? Your penis? Your feet?  Your performance?  Your kids and their challenges?  Your partner's performance?  Your breath?  Your breasts?  Your relationship?  Do you bond with your partner?  Do you bond with YOURSELF?

A short while ago, I was introduced to this movie about penises.  I watched it and thought it was great.  It truly hurts me to know how sad men are about their penises.  Maybe not sad, but insecure.  That's not fair, in my opinion.  My take on the subject?  Size does matter, of course.  One inch won't do much, doesn't matter how you work it.  Equally, 10 inches seems like it'd be painful.  I say YEOWCH!! at the thought of it.  I think, however, the vast majority of penises aren't 10 or 1 inches.  Of course I haven't compiled a list of measurements, nor have I performed a study on the subject (official or otherwise).  But, I have girlfriends.  I have a sister.  I have gay friends.

I also have someone who trusted me recently to talk about his sexual trouble.  While I fully respect his desire for anonymity I think it's a damn shame how much we are all afraid of talking about things WITH THE SAME SEX.  Like we have to measure up to one another or something.  Admittedly, women don't seem to be as uncomfortable with this and share a lot of insecurities with one another.  What is it in the nature of men that make them compete unintentionally?  I don't know.  But, it makes me sad.  Watch that movie and be brave and recognize that we women walk around all the time with the size of our breasts up for public display.  I've never met a single woman who's single because of her breast size.  Nor have I heard of a woman who got breast cancer, lost a breast (or two) and ended up being alone forever.  Guess what.  Wouldn't happen to men either.  So STOP BEING WORRIED ABOUT YOUR PACKAGE!!!  What's going on in your pants is not going to be a deal breaker or a deal maker for the things in a relationship that succeeds.  I promise.

There is also the problem with a shit-ton of women afraid of doing this because they think they should be doing this.  We're truly shown all.the.time. that we are supposed to be the latter to be sexy or attractive.  But, we're told all.the.time. that the prior is truly magnificent.  We're all confused and while we know that the first is perfect, we feel imperfect for being those women.

Bring into play all the emotions we have about who we are totally unrelated to sex, our obligations to family, work, friends, our partners, and what we want for ourselves and we can't even begin to believe that ANY of us could possibly begin to think that sex is simply an "act" to be done.

Yet, this is portrayed with the overuse of the word sexy.  I think people have forgotten that the root word of sexy is sex and it's meaning is a direct correlation of the "act".  People are sexy, movies are sexy, music is sexy, dancing is sexy, frickin hair is sexy.  Now maybe I'm the only one, but...  I've never been mid-sex and my partner stopped to play with my hair.  Or start dancing.  Or watch a movie.  Also, this is super honest but I'm a pretty good dancer.  Actually, I'm a really good dancer.  And, I do mean club dancing.  "Sexy" dancing.  In exploring my sexual nature I've definitely tried to move my body in the same ways I do when I dance.  Dance moves do NOT make good sex, let me tell ya!  ;-)  So, sure.  Sexy dancing looks sexy, but it doesn't have anything to do with sex.  Now if Beyonce's thinking about groceries AND trying to dance during sex...  I wouldn't want to participate.  HA!

I haven't really explored my observations on energy and experiences in this blog yet, because it's so hard to put into words, but I'll be working on it because it's pretty well the way I live my life.  To try to put it simply, however, I think we all need to be a little bit nicer to ourselves and each other about sex.  There are very few people in our lives that we'll share our sexual nature with (even in conversation) but it's something we all are and have.  We (almost)all get naked to the core with lights on and share ourselves with a partner at some point in our lives.  We allow someone else's body into ours or we place a part of our body inside of someone else's.  That's big.  We ought to stop being so judgmental about it all and we ought to step inside of ourselves and notice who we are during sex.  How we are during sex.  What we are during sex.  At any given time.  And explore that part of ourselves.  Super challenge: pay close attention to your mind and heart when you masturbate.  You'll really get to know yourself then.  Compare that with sex and you won't have time for any blog reading.

Because it's really fucking fascinating.

And for my new segment...
***If you really knew me, you'd know how complicated my sexual feelings are and how a large part of that comes from the complete dysfunctionality and lack of boundaries my parents had in our family when we were still all one family.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coming out of the Closet


I've been in hiding a little bit.  Not really on purpose, but with lots going on in different arenas.  So much in so many places that it's been hard for me to sit and focus on writing anything, especially since all of my life intertwines within itself.  So, what am I coming out about?  Well, Zane has RAD.  Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Terrible/Great news!  Our parenting of him has taught us a ton over the past four years.  We've never stopped trying to help him or our family.  We never will.  For once, though, we have finally come to a diagnosis that actually FITS!  100% fits.  Why this matters?  Well, because now we can get it, really GET IT.  We can help him in a way that we haven't been able to before.  We're finding support from an online community of parents who are doing this too.  We do have a little twist in our story, because most children who have RAD are adopted, but that's not entirely true in our case.   Regardless, now that I've come out about it and said it, I can now feel free to speak openly about that and become part of the community that has helped me so much over the past few months.  YAY.

Jon and I have been working hard on getting our business up and running.  Our goal is to open and fully launch in November.  There's a LOT more work to be done yet.  Whew!  What started off as a great idea of some pants and a website has morphed into a reality and there's a ton of work that goes into it.  We're having fun learning new things, working together on something other than parenting, and watching each other accomplish things.  It's been really nice for our marriage, particularly because we're enduring enormous amounts of stress with parenting with very little outside support.  Experiencing all of this with him just feeds my already overfilled cup of gratitude!  We are so very blessed to have one another as partners and I love that all of these things brings us closer, not against each other.  Thank God.

Stori's been developing like a...well... like a toddler.  She's talking up a storm, helping with chores, being ever more affectionate, and her imagination is going wild.  She's also fallen absolutely in love with her BFF and she talks about "Baby River" almost every day.  I honestly didn't know that toddlers fell in love with their friends in this way.  Haven't experienced it before.  Very cool.

Lastly, after all of our chaos in June...  we're certain we'll be home/un schooling Zane at some point next week.  School is NOT working this year and the stress on all of us is too much.  It's also working directly against the way we need to progress with our parenting to attach with him and guide him into healthier relationships with people and, most importantly, himself.  We came to a decision today which is that we talked with Zane and let him know he seems to not know what he wants.  He says he wants school, but he's not doing his school work.  He says he doesn't want to home school, but he doesn't want to go to school.  So, we said...  Yo, if you want to be in school do your school work, if you don't want to be in school then come home.  Since you seem confused, we'll help you.  Three more days of refusing your school work and we'll home school.  Today, he decided to not to his school work.  Two more days.  We'll see, but I'm pretty sure we'll be at home next week.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Shout out to my homies!!

Friends kick ass, that's all there is to it.  I've been in the Springs for 4.5 years and it's taken a while to make some friends.  I, of course, had acquaintances right away.  It's only been within the past 6-12 months though that I've made the type of friends that make the world go around.  You know... the ones you tell about your embarrassing problems (and we all know I'm open about poo and such), you can share with when you're vulnerable, and those that you call and say "Can we come over even if the toddler's screaming?" and they oblige.

Those friends.

Several months ago I was on the phone with one of my dear friends, who lives away and I was explaining how hard it is to have been here for YEARS and not have a real friend yet.  She made a really great point that helped me feel less inadequate, but it didn't take away my feeling of isolation or desire for a sisterfriend.  But, what she said put into perspective the fact that I'm a Mom and a wife.  I don't have the time to invest as quickly into friendship.  It made sense, but I hadn't thought of it that way before.  I guess I figured since I knew other Moms and none of us got to the point of comfort yet that we just weren't clicking or that I was lacking a friend-gene.  However, when she said that I realized the difference.  When you live in the same area you grew up, you have friends who you bonded with in your younger years.  The days when blossoming friendships were put into high gear thanks to excessive hormones, self-exploration, parties, television shows, and enjoying an empty house while parents were working and we were given some independence but wanted someone to be independent WITH us.  :-)

I was explaining to Zane, last week, that bad things have to happen in life.  I was telling him that without bad things, we wouldn't really be able to appreciate the goodness and that the different types of badness we experience and the different ways which we react to the badness ultimately build who we are and what type of lives we carry.  That every time a bad thing happens we get another choice to experience that badness with faith and sorrow or with bitterness and anger.

 A few months ago, some bad stuff happened to a friend of mine.  This particular friend is someone I like a LOT!  She's vibrant and excited and SO.FULL.OF.ENERGY.  She's brilliant and thought-provoking, she's inspiring, and she's WILD!  LOVE her!  But, again...I'd been missing that piece of whatever that leads to two people calling one another and making an individual plan.  I hadn't gotten to the point yet of being able to call her just to chat.  But, then... the bad something happened to her.  And she called me.  That was GREAT!  It's nice to know when people find comfort in you or they feel safe-for whatever reason.  She opened up a new level for me to feel comfortable with her.  Lucky me!  Oh, and all the bad stuff?  She's dealing with it quite beautifully and it will be an ongoing affair for her.  I have no doubt she will absolutely flourish from this.

Last month, bad stuff happened to my family.  It sucked and was terrible and we felt alone and vulnerable and scared and hurt and -insert tough emotion here-.  When a semi-friend offered to help us out by making us a meal I was floored.  I didn't want to add anything on to her life, but it was really nice of her to offer.  She also offered to take care of Stori if we needed while we tended to our matters.  It was hard and scary, but I accepted both offers.  I had a yummy meal in my fridge and a wonderful caregiver to help care for Stori.  I had been in the same stale-mate position with this friend prior to my bad stuff happening.  Every time I'd seen her I was so into her lifestyle, her way of being so demure, her inner-child that she let me see sometimes, and her laugh.  OMG, her laugh.  Greatness!  She's warm, loving, nurturing, and thoughtful.  But, I didn't know how to make the next step.  She helped me and after I accepted I've felt much more comfortable with our friendship growing.  She's a really great person and the one I called yesterday to invite myself, my tantrum-ing toddler, and my bored 7 year old to her house.  Spending time there yesterday was just what the doctor ordered and I let her know before I left.  "You know how I feel?  I feel like I CAN make it through the rest of this day!  Thank you."  <3 Greatness!

THEN..... last night, another semi-friend came over.  This one's a gem, too.  She's quiet and private.  She loves her kids like nothing else and she endured her husband's military deployment with grace.  She kind of keeps to herself, but she sure likes to be around others.  She's mysterious, but I know that whatever she's hiding is good stuff.  She's been going through a terrible month with her oldest daughter being very sick.  Again, she's being so graceful about it.  I don't know what her inner dialogue is, but I'm certain she's got some big feelings in there that she's not getting out.  She came over last night and there was much crocheting being done, some chocolate ice cream eating, some infant-breast-epic-battles happening, and lots of heart opening. She cried, she laughed, I cussed, she taught, I served, I watched, she smiled, we sat.  She shared some personal things with me and I shared some similar ones with her and I listened to others.  It was grand.  Last night was the most I've ever heard her talk and I look forward to more nights like that.  I keep praying for her and her family.  They're going through so much.  Jump over to the blog and see what she has to say.

My husband will always be my number one, best friend in the whole wide world.  He's inspired me to heal myself, to know myself, to accept myself.  He's loved me no matter what I've done, where I've been, where I've come from, or what I've experienced.  He holds my hand through middle-of-the-night anxiety attacks and holds my hand on ice-skating dates.  He thinks I'm pretty and he thinks I'm wonderful.  I think all the same about him.  Well...he's not pretty, but he sure is sexy-hotness!  I can share all things with him and I'm incredibly grateful to have be been blessed in such a way to have him as a partner.  Anyone who knew us through our courtship, engagement, and early marriage knows good and well we worked for this.  We both got vulnerable with each other, we both got honest with each other, we've spent time with marital counseling, and we just, plain old decided to be happily married.  We try to be considerate of one another and we've learned each other's love languages.  I think our marriage has taught me a lot about friendship in any context.

It's true that we may no longer bond over googly-eyes at our favorite television heartthrobs, and so, it will be more of a long-term investment to make solid friends as a family-woman.  I couldn't be happier about the people I've grown to love here.  They're all people who do live beyond the surface, which explains why it takes a while.  We can't just go around talking to anyone about the way we think, or the fears we have.  But, at some point...when we've decided that what we really want is to bond with someone, sure enough the energies will find themselves.  I'm feeling very blessed after the past month of struggle.  It's been one of the hardest months of child-rearing I've experienced yet and I don't know if this will get easier sooner or later, but it's so nice to know that at this point, God has provided me with the support I need to endure it all.

If you have a dear or old... call them today and tell them they rock.  Or write a big, fancy, blog-post, love-letter to them and say thanks.  For not only being my friend, but allowing me to be your friend as well.  It's a true privilege!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why I don't hate Wal-Mart


This is SO open-ended now that my entire focus isn't on unschooling.  I have so many thoughts and so many passions that it's hard to choose which one to talk about, plus the past month has been CHAOS in our family.  So, I guess I took a break.  I thought of doing this post a couple of months ago, but thought...what does this have to do with unschooling?  So, I didn't make it happen.  Now, I don't have to follow any plan, so I'm just gonna spill it! :-P

I don't hate Wal-Mart.

Obviously, a LOT of people don't hate them, that's why they are what they are.  But, in the social circles I involve myself...I'm usually the only one who goes there. Weekly.  Mmmhmmm...I admit it.  I used to be SO embarrassed...humiliated...worried that I'd see someone there and they'd know my dirty little secret.  It's where I do a fair amount of my grocery shopping and almost all of my "household goods" shopping.  It's where I manage to make my husband's salary provide everything our family-of-four needs.  We don't have debt like most people do.  Our debt is 100% medical (and we have insurance!!)  We buy what we can buy and we don't "charge" anything.  If we need help purchasing something, we put on our grown-up underwear, take a deep breath, and ask our parents.  I think it's only happened a couple of times.  Why?  Because we live within our means.  Thanks Wal-Mart! :-)

I've done some serious comparison shopping(again...I'm kinda' really good at what I do-running this house.)  I've done the Whole Foods ingredient checklist, I've shopped there for produce, I do go there for my local honey, cheese-substitutes, and seafood.  I'm not anti-Whole Foods.  But, I do think their stuff isn't worth the LOADS of extra money it usually costs.

I've shopped Safeway.  Same brands on lots of things, but at significantly higher prices.

Natural Grocers has REALLY clean foods.  I LOVE that.  But, most of it is out of my price range and with two stores-each of them clear across town-it's simply not feasible for me to go there for much at all.  If I'm in the area, I'll swing by and get whatever produce they may have on sale that I can use.

Super Target is just stupid.  LOL!  Most of what they carry is ready-made stuff, they have very little that fits our family eating style, and they're overpriced on what we would eat

EVEN THE FARMERS MARKET sucks in some ways.  Last year, I made it my mission to find the best one in town, since we have so many on different days.  Well... most of them have the same vendors, so if you're wondering like I worries.  The same ones go everywhere(smart, right?  That's their job, Shannon.)  What I did notice, though, was that more often than not, produce is not organically grown.  AAAANNNDDDDDDDD what really pissed me off was how many of them get food shipped in to them and they bring it over like it's local.  Jackasses.  Next time you're at the market...ask them for each item you want to purchase.  Ask 'em, I dare you!  "Did you grow this?  Is it organic?"  I got so many "no"s last year you can tell I'm still mad about it.  Grrr.  The local, free-range goat's milk cheese I was checking out, too.  Nope, the goats aren't really free range.  They have pens they're kept in.  So, why do they even say free range?  Cause when the goats aren't lactating they get to roam free.  But, when they're producing...they're penned.  Stupid.

What's this have to do with Wal-Mart?  This is how I see it: If I'm going to get food that's shipped in (like at the Farmer's Market), I'd like it to be clearly labeled where it's from (like at Wal-Mart.)  I know which tomatoes are from Mexico, California, and Argentina.  And, I can pick which one I want.  I also have a clear label for organic produce.  Woot!  No asking someone who may or may not be honest with me about it.  And, I do see the associates switch out the labels when new product is placed, so I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be true.  Wal-Mart knows most of their customers don't give a rat's ass where their food comes from, but they also know that some of us are watching and they're catering to us.  I think that's nice (and, well, of course... commercialism.)  I know that EVERY PACKAGE of seafood from Wal-Mart is from China.  So, I don't buy any there.  Gross!  They can't get lead paint right...I'm not eating food from there. PERIOD!  But, again...Wal-Mart tells us these things, in plain sight.  If we want to make conscious choices about food, we do have the option.  Now, I think I'm fortunate to be living in an area where people are more particular, because I can get the following at my Super Wal-Mart: locally-raised and packaged (although not free-range or loved, so I don't buy it, but point is they're catering to us little by little) sausage, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, goats milk (and organic of a few of those varieties), gluten-free pastas, cereals, baking mixes(I make my own and I'm not gluten-free, point...), various organic produce, LOTS of Kashi cereal, cracker, snack bar choices, true free-range whole chickens, organic ketchup, organic canned veggies and fruit, as well as a whole myriad of food choices that aren't organic or local, but don't have a bunch of additives.  Really!

I know food isn't the only thing available there, but I think it's a starting point for what sets people's shopping experiences apart.  I also buy lots of baking soda there (we haven't used shampoo in, I think, 2 months and counting and I'll be whipping up my first batch of homemade deodorant here shortly as well as toothpaste.)  They don't offer a lot of clean products for keeping house-dish soap, laundry soap, regular soap, etc.  But, they do have most of the products necessary to make your own.  And if you make your own, you probably already have your favorite suppliers.  I don't really know.  I'm still using up all of my fancy detergents for cloth diapers and I use Dawn dish soap so I can help support the funds and supplies given to clean up the animals who fall victim to oil spills (the oil is still a problem, by the way... It's still there...just in case you forgot!)  As for clothing and toys, I prefer to buy second-hand.  Wal-Mart is no better than most other large retailers (they all get most of their stuff cheap, from overseas.)  But, I feel like I can't advocate enough for buying things USED!!  There's lots of really good stuff out there and it's still usable.  I can't stand the idea of how much is wasted and perfectly fine.  Again, we make our choices...  Everywhere.  With every purchase.

Does Wal-Mart ship in tons of things from overseas that are made cheaply, by (I'm assuming...)children?  Mmhmm.  So does Target, Toys 'R Us, K-Mart, and every other corporate retail store you can find (yep, even all over every mall in America).

Does Wal-Mart pay their employees "retail wages"?  Mmhmm.  So do so many other retail stores (and even locally-owned ones!)

Does Wal-Mart do everything they can to turn a large profit?  Only one way to go being a CORPORATION.  Of course, they do.

Does Wal-Mart donate a lot of those profits to charities?  Yep.

Does Wal-Mart provide an opportunity for people to work even weird, odd, part time hours?  I can't say first-hand, but I ask employees a lot and they all say they're really flexible (a plus to NEVER closing, I guess.)

Does Wal-Mart allow people to sleep in their parking lots in their cars, RVs, trucks, vans, etc?  Yep.  Always have a well-lit porch if you need one. ;-)

I could keep going on and on and on, but it's late and I'm getting distracted.  My point, however, is that Wal-Mart isn't the devil himself and while the gargantuan status of the store is intimidating it's not all bad.  It suits our family very well as PART of our shopping experience.  Conscious choices can be made anywhere we go and, often, what seems "better" is really just equal with a different light.  So, there.  My secret's really out now.  

Oh.  And, sometimes you just want to eat something really crummy that's yummy.  At Wal-Mart...the choices are plentiful!