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Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Testosterone is Raging

Dear Husband keeps pushing for more power. He started out with a puny one for the purpose of cleaning up the woods around our property from time to time. Then he got the brilliant idea to install a wood stove and had to buy a bigger one. When he realized that he needed even more power for falling trees and splitting huge rounds, he had to get a bigger one yet. I have to admit, I've protested a bit that the stove project (that Husband talked me into on the basis of how much money we'd save not buying propane) is taking longer and longer to pay itself off with all these chainsaw purchases. Maybe that's why Husband put the new big ass saw in my hands today--he knew if I got to try the thing out I'd be sold. Either that, or he was just too wiped out to use it anymore himself.

This afternoon he pulled up in the side yard with a truck bed full of rounds, some of them at least 36" in diameter. The kids and I pounced on him, helping him unload. There were a few smallish pieces the kids got to help with. Husband and I rolled the biggest ones off the tailgate onto the ground. I'm not a good judge of size, but I'm guessing these rounds weighed between 100 and 150 pounds each. I didn't ask how he got them on the truck in the first place.

When it was all unloaded, Husband asked if I wanted to try out the new chainsaw. Now, anyone who has been reading me for very long, or who knows me at all well, knows that I love me some big ass power. I also enjoy me some good chainsaw therapy. But I looked at the 4 1/2 foot saw skeptically for a moment, wondering if I could manage the thing well enough. I didn't pause for long before I ran to get my steel toed boots. Husband buckled me into his chainsaw chaps and gave me a quick demo. It didn't take much, I know how to run a saw...I just hadn't run one that big before. Before I knew it, I had sawed at least six 36" rounds in half and my adrenaline was pumping. That's when I knew why Husband said he needed bigger this winter. This thing took on those monster chunks of solid wood like a hot knife sliding through butter. Sawdust flew all around me as the motor roared. It was almost effortless.

As I stood back to rest and admire my work, I thought to myself that I should have been a lumberjack! I'm still longing for that log cabin on the side of a mountain in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, living off the land and away from society as I currently know it. I can grow a garden, I can run a chainsaw, I can drive a big ass lawn mower pretty good, too (not sure there'd be much need for this on the side of a mountain). I can also pull fish out of a lake, but aside from fish, I've never killed anything in my life (unless you count that gigantic raccoon I accidentally hit several months ago with the family mobile). Despite all these skills, unless I decide to become vegetarian, I wouldn't survive living off the land without learning to shoot a hunting rifle or a bow...and having the nerve to kill wild game. While I have my strong reservations about that last part, if someone offered me a log cabin on the side of a mountain in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, I think I might just decide to learn.

For the record, if I suddenly disappear without a trace, I haven't been kidnapped; just follow the hum of a big ass chainsaw into the Rocky Mountains and you'll find me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tungsten Rings Online

A few months ago I was contacted by someone from Tungsten Rings Online asking me to promote their site with a link from my site. In exchange, I was offered a ring of my choice (up to a certain dollar limit). I chose the Women's Tungsten Triangle Beveled Edge 8mm Ring. I posted the link and emailed my ring choice along with a mailing address to "Nick" and silently wondered if I'd ever hear anything back from him. Sure enough, a few days later my gorgeous ring arrived. I've worn this ring many many times over the past few months. It still has no nicks or scratches on its shiny surface, and it still glimmers like it did the day it first arrived. As promised in the description, the band is very comfortable, and the weight of this ring is really nice. I've always wanted a nice ring with a wide, but "simple," band that is really versatile. What I really love about this particular ring is the "triangle beveled edge." It makes the ring positively "glimmer" as the light catches the edges. Whether you are shopping for a wedding/engagement ring or just an "accent" piece, Tungsten Wedding Rings is the place to go. They have a great selection of gorgeous rings and offer a lifetime warranty that includes full replacement if your ring is ever damaged during regular wear, and free lifetime re-sizing or replacement if your ring size ever changes. With a deal like that, how can you go wrong?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Getting Crushed

Last summer something prompted me to begin reading the Little House on the Prairie books to Dear Daughter. I can't remember exactly what prompted me...perhaps it was the idea of taking a family field trip to Mansfield, MO where there is a Laura Ingalls Wilder museum. I wanted to immerse my daughter before taking the trip last fall, so that she would appreciate it as much as possible. So I looked up the first book in the series and we dove in.

The timing was perfect when I began Little House in the Big Woods. Laura Ingalls was really close to the same age as Dear Daughter, and Laura really reminded me a lot of my girl-child--spunky, a bit naughty, more interested in getting dirty than staying prim and proper. We are now reading the seventh book in the series, Little Town on the Prairie, and Dear Daughter still loves to listen each night as we find out what Laura is up to.

Tonight we reached the chapter where Almanzo gave Laura her first ride in his horse drawn buggy. As I read, Dear Daughter's face lit up with excitement. Then she couldn't stand it anymore, and she interrupted my reading, "Mommy! Is that Almanzo WILDER?" She exclaimed as I nodded my head! "You mean the one where she gets crushed?" She continued jabbering while I deduced from what she was saying that "getting crushed" was akin to "having a crush on someone." She prattled on, "You mean they don't know yet that they are going to start loving each other and get crushed?"

Suddenly, all the drama of my dating years washed over me. Crushed, indeed! If things in my dating days had only been more like the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder, perhaps then I wouldn't have gotten so crushed.

My girl-child continued to sit and grin with twinkling eyes at the thought of "getting crushed." It was so adorable that I didn't even bother correcting her. I did, however, silently vow to cruelly torture and kill any boy who ever even thinks of "crushing" my daughter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

BUSTED!

It's cold today in the Midwest. In reality, it's not any colder than it's been all winter long. In fact, it's warmer than it has been many days this winter. For some reason, however, I've been really cold all day long. It could be related to the fact that no one can seem to get my thyroid gland working the way it's supposed to. Not my nutritionist/naturopath, not my medical doctor, no one. My nutritionist/naturopath is still working on it with me. However, my afternoon body temperature was still only 95.5. This was taken at the time of day that body temperature is supposed to peak, mind you. Besides being cold, it's no wonder my metabolism is slower than a dried up slug. By late evening I felt so thoroughly chilled that I couldn't wait to get the kids tucked into bed so that I could climb into my own bed in full sweats and pile on every blanket we own.

With the kids tucked into their beds, I went about my business of putting on a second pair of socks. That's when I remembered that we have some of those hand warmer things in the cupboard somewhere. You know, those things you shake up and stick in your mittens or your pockets in the winter time to help keep warm. Back in the day, we used to use them in the wet, dark, cold fall weather to stay warm during early morning band practice. I decided right then and there that I was going to put one of those in each of my socks before crawling into bed under every blanket I own. As I headed out to the laundry room to dig in the cabinet where I last saw them, I heard a rustle in the kitchen. I knew immediately what I was hearing. "Zoe Grace!" I said sternly. She came out from the shadows looking soooooo busted, dropping one of her Garfield comic books as she rushed down the hall towards her bedroom calling, "I know! I know! I'm not allowed to read Garfield anymore for a loooong time!" She had snuck out of her dark bedroom where she was told the lights needed to stay out, into the kitchen where there was still a light on over the sink. She was crouched in the corner with her beloved Garfield comic books, reading. This was a first. I've caught her with her bedroom light on well past the time she's allowed to stay up. I've caught her crouched in her closet reading with the door closed and light on, I've caught her with her brother's neon light saber sword in her bed in the dark, using it as a flashlight to illuminate her beloved comic book pages. I have never, until tonight, caught her crouched in the dim light of the kitchen with her comic books.

She loves to read. I certainly don't want to discourage that! She began reading on her own at age three. Seriously. I'm not just a bragging parent exaggerating the abilities of my child. She was reading on her own at age three. She discovered my Garfield comic book collection (circa early 1980's) in the storage room downstairs several months ago, and it has consumed her like a savage addiction. At 6 years of age, she reads with enough skill to decipher the words and enough sophistication to appreciate the humor of Garfield comic strips. And she is completely addicted. It's like kiddie crack.

My girl child is stubborn and determined and willing to go to almost any length to achieve a goal she has decided on. Those aren't bad qualities to have. In fact, in all my years of working with severely emotionally disturbed and behaviorally disordered kids and teens, I've learned to be strengths based in my approach--to see the good in every person and help them channel it through the qualities, skills, and characteristics they already possess. If the at-risk kids I work with have the qualities that I just described my daughter having, I get excited because I know such qualities can serve them well. Sure, these are qualities that often get them in major trouble when they misuse them. But they are also qualities that have ensured their survival through horrendous histories of abuse throughout their childhood. They are qualities that will bring them through to success and see them make something valuable of their lives if they can be directed and taught how to channel such qualities constructively.

Unfortunately, in addition to these other qualities that I have framed in a strengths-based context, Dear Daughter is sneaky. To be completely fair, in a strengths-based context, I would frame it as something more akin to "creative" or "sly." But right now I'm still exasperated and a bit fed up with her. So I'm calling it plain old sneaky. There's been a lot of sneakiness going on in her little world lately, and it's been affecting all of us in this house.

I don't want to break her spirit. I don't want to take the determination and goal-directed-ness out of her. I just want her to be good! For the love of all that is good and holy, my girl-child is a major handful to manage!

I ordered my girl-child to come right back and stand before me. She looked almost scared enough to pee her pants. And then I just stared at her in silence while I tried to compose my thoughts. Somewhere in here, I just knew there was a teachable moment. I just needed to compose myself well enough to figure out what it was.

While my daughter has had the good fortune of being born into a high functioning, well adjusted family, and she has no history of abuse threatening to destroy her success in life, she can still be plain old naughty when she decides to use her stubbornness and perseverance in the wrong ways. I stood looking at her as all these thoughts raced through my mind. Daughter was looking really uneasy by this time.

"What exactly were you doing?" I calmly demanded.

"I was reading Garfield." She said boldly, but not without guilt written across her face.

"So you sneak out here to the kitchen to read your Garfield books after we go to bed?" I asked. Without waiting for a response I added, "And this isn't the first time, is it?"

She shook her head.

"So you've been doing this for awhile?"

"Well, not if you go downstairs...because then you can hear me up here. But if you go to your room I do." She divulged honestly and matter-of-factly. "I can tell by whether the light is on down there or not." She added sincerely. I felt inwardly annoyed at the habit my husband has developed of leaving the light above the kitchen sink on all night long. I spoke to him recently about turning this light off to save electricity and using the tiny little nightlight instead. Most of the time now it is getting turned off, but it still stays on until whoever is last to bed turns it off. That means I leave it on for Dear Husband, who frequently falls asleep for a good while in Dear Son's bed with him after reading bedtime stories, thus making him the last one to bed (our bed, anyway). And he has a bad habit of just leaving that particular light on all night.

Dear Daughter had this ploy all figured out. And she has even apparently pulled it off a time or two before. I recalled at this moment that I already heard Dear Husband scold her once tonight after I tucked her in for sneaking down the hallway. Apparently that was her first sneak through the house to see if I was going to go downstairs or to bed after tucking her in.

I stared at her, this time trying to keep a straight face because I was beginning to find it all a bit humorous--the lengths this child will go to achieve what she has her mind set to. "What do you think we should do about this?" I asked.

She didn't even hesitate. "I figured no Garfield for like a week." She said with a fair amount of confidence. "And probably no desert for awhile...?" She seemed to throw that in to demonstrate to me that she understood the gravity of what she had done. Daughter loves her desert more than she even loves Garfield. She continued to stand in front of me, waiting...uneasily biting her lip. I don't pick her up much anymore because she is 6 1/2 years old now. And heavy. But now I scooped her up and hugged her tight before I set her up on the granite kitchen island for a face-to-face chat in the dimness of that blasted light over the sink. I took a deep breath....

"There's a saying that goes like this, 'Who you really are is who you are when no one else is looking.'" I paused to let this sink in. "Do you know what this means?"

"Yeah," she said. "It means that you'd better not do things you're not supposed to do."

"Well..." I said, "that's only partly right. The part that I really want you to get is that whatever you are doing when you think no one is looking...that is the person you REALLY are." I paused again to let it sink in before adding, "Even if you don't think Mommy or Daddy knows what you are doing, God sees everything, and He wants you to choose the right thing no matter who is or isn't looking."

Daughter responded after a moment, "So you are going to watch everything I'm doing now?"

"No." I said. "Not at all."

"But you're going to take away all my Garfield comics, right?"

"No." I said.

Silence.

"I'm going to let you think about the kind of person you want to be whether I see everything or not. And I want you to remember that God sees everything." I said. "And I'm very sad because I can't trust you right now. ...and by the way, are you SURE you brushed your teeth...because you told me earlier that you did, but your breath doesn't smell very fresh right now and you've lied to me about brushing your teeth before also."

Daughter completely busted up laughing despite herself. "You shouldn't have taught me how to keep the mirror clean, because then you would have at least known if I was brushing my teeth or not!" She thought this was hysterically funny and continued to laugh until she cried.

For months I have worked with her not to splatter the mirror with her toothpaste spits. She would have the mirror absolutely covered halfway to the top with toothpaste spit spots the first time she brushed after I cleaned the thing. She must be the messiest toothpaste spitter on the planet. She has only recently begun to manage not to splatter the mirror when she brushes her teeth. She has also begun to lie to me when I ask her if she has brushed her teeth. "Yes!" She will say. "I can still taste the toothpaste!" One day after this exchange with her, I took Dear Son in the bathroom to help him brush his teeth and discovered Daughter's toothbrush was dry. See what I mean about "sneaky"?

"You see!" I said to her. "Your lies about brushing your teeth has also made it so that I cannot trust you. I'm very sad that I cannot trust my own daughter. I want a daughter that I know I can trust, and it's going to take awhile for you to build that trust back up again."

She looked very serious and sad at that point.

"So what do you think I want you to do right now?" I asked.

"Go get all my Garfield comic books to give you?" she asked.

"No. I want you to take your Garfield comic book back to your room with you, and I want you to put it away, and get into bed, and leave the light out, and close your eyes, and think about what we talked about...and go to sleep."

Then I lifted her off the counter and handed her comic book to her. She walked slowly and deliberately back to her room, where she stayed.

As I sit under piles of blankets on my bed with warming pouches between my two pairs of socks, I am doing some of my own pondering. For example, I don't know if this will sink in for her yet. I don't know if this is a lesson learned yet. But I do know that she only seems to look onto certain types of discipline as a game that she continues to play at in order to "win" at continuing to do whatever it is that she has her mind set to doing. Even the Love and Logic approach (which I have successfully used with LOTS of kids and parents over the years) doesn't always work with her. I don't want her to stop doing wrong things because she fears being punished or even just because she doesn't like the natural consequences of her choices. While sometimes that's enough, other times it isn't. At at those times I want her to choose to do the right thing because she has solid character and integrity. The stakes on this lesson will get much higher as she gets older. I know I won't be able to follow her around to make sure she doesn't speed when she drives, or take drugs when they are being passed around, or cheat on her schoolwork. I also know that even with solid character, she's going to make mistakes. Probably even stupid ones sometimes. Maybe even as stupid as some of the mistakes I made. But I want to minimize the odds and frequency of her poor choices by instilling integrity inside her and helping her to channel those exasperating-but-powerful qualities she possesses. If she can be bound and determined to make poor choices, she certainly has the capacity to be bound and determined to make the right choices.

I'm wondering how parents could possibly have the energy to see their kids through the teen years. I'm thoroughly exhausted already!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Not a Chance!

After reading to Dear Daughter at bedtime tonight, there were 15 minutes left before lights out. I gave her the option of reading her beloved Garfield comic books or snuggling in the dark with Mommy. She chose to snuggle with Mommy, and it warmed my heart (especially because of how much she loves to read her Garfield comics before bed). As I snuggled up close to her in the dark and softly sang "You Are My Sunshine," I had flashbacks of the past 6 1/2 years. I told Daughter that I used to sing this song to her 6 years ago at bedtime and how much my life had changed since she came into it. I said I had no idea then what I was getting into, and Daughter said, "Yeah! And I had no idea either, until I poked my head into the world!" I giggled as she added, "And you probably didn't know that you'd still be snuggling with me in the dark after 6 1/2 years." But then the reality of that hit me, and I didn't giggle anymore. I'm pretty sure I sighed a heavy sigh before adding, "Yeah, and I have no idea what the next 6 1/2 years brings either, but in 6 1/2 more years you will be a teenager, and I'm pretty sure you won't let me snuggle with you in your bed in the dark anymore!" This time Daughter giggled as she replied, "Yeah! I'll be too busy texting my boyfriend!"

And that's when you could have inserted the telltale sound of the needle screeching across the vinyl. There were no more giggles or gaiety at this moment. In fact, the world went silent as my head spun in the horror of the thought of my baby girl texting a boyfriend.

"No way!" I protested. You'll still be too young to have a boyfriend, and don't even try to argue that one with me!

I still can't quite choke the lump out of my throat.