Friday, December 30, 2011

For My Pinterest Buddies

      I just saw the most amazing ring on Pinterest, but my stupid phone failed to repin it. It is THE ring I want for our 5 year. I need you all to help me find it again!  It is a beautiful emerald ring with a band made of a vine of leaves just like my wedding ring.

      The emerald is square cut, I think, and surrounded with small diamonds.  Please let me know if you see it.

The End is Near

      Both yesterday and today, I started end of the year, cop-out meme posts just to get something up here so you all would know I wasn't dead.  I lost interest in both posts half way through.  So I figured a random train of thought post might work out better.

      I'm not dead.

       The holidays, so far, have been amazing.  Just absolutely and completely enjoyable.  Even minor disagreements and stresses I thought were unavoidable with the crazy family visit were somehow sidestepped.  The family has come and gone, the pictures will probably appear some time in mid Jan.

      2012 is right around the corner.  So, if you believe in abstruse Mayan prophsies (or calendars), the End is near.  MacGyver and I are huge Mayan Apocalypse geeks.  While we don't really believe the world is going to go down in flames, we DO see it as a great excuse to have a party.  With that, you are hereby invited to MacGyver and My Mayan Apocalypse Party.  To be held sometime mid-December in Michigan.

       Also with an eye to the new year, I've been contemplating participating in Project 52 with the lovely Karen.  Normally, I don't do resolutions, and I don't make blog related committments.  I am a married Marine Lawyer and still a  complete committment phobe.

      But reading Karen and Katherine's recent Project 52 posts, I started to get jealous of all their fun and motivation I realized that this might be just what I need to push myself a little harder/further this year.  So far, I have 43 things.  Nine to go.  Any suggestions (please!)???

      Best wishes to all of you for a safe and happy New Year.  With any luck, I'll be back and posting in a week or so.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Longest Night

      Last night, we attended a beautiful Solstice Ritual at our church.  It was something of a culminating point for our Earth-Centered Spirituality group.  Our friend PaganGuy and I have been fighting the board at our church to recognize and incorporate this group for about a year.  Many, if not most, UU churches have Pagan groups - usually (but not always) CUUPs, Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, groups.  But this church is rather small and homogenous, and many long standing members of the congregation were worried that our forming this group would change the "flavor," if you will, of our church. 

      Well, it probably will, but the church is growing, and the flavor is changing with or without us.  After much peaceful struggling and trudging forward, we are finally a recognized official group within the church, and while Solstice was not our first ritual, it was our first ritual under our new official covenant.

     And it was a huge hit.  Attendance was very high, and the ritual was absolutely magical.  It included a visit from the Holly King/Father Yule and walking the labrinth*.  At the center of the labrinth, each participant received a rune from the Holly King, a portant for the coming year.  I received Othila.

      I haven't yet uploaded any pictures from the ritual, but I did get a couple of cute ones of Flintstone on my phone afterward.  And, because they came out of my phone looking aweful, I caved and did a little photo doctoring.  Which only proves, once again, that I should leave my photos well enough alone.  Still, Flintstone is so adorable in his Solstice jammies:





      Tonight, we're celebrating the Solstice at home, reading A Visit to Mother Winter and making Mother Winter's Gingerbread house.  MacGyver and I will be laughably trying staying up all night, symbolically keeping the Goddess company as she gives birth to the new born Sun, who we will welcome at sunrise.  Punky will be sleeping with a dream satchet (to include her Rune) under her pillow for portant dreams.

      In a major Pagan fail, I realized we actually should have done this last night.  I knew the Solstice was on the 22nd this year,  but I never bothered to check the time, and it was actually at 12:30am today, meaning the longest night was last night.  Oh well. 

      I am so far behind on everything right now.  The other attorney in my section had to leave earlier in the week for a family emergency, leaving me with doubled cases all week and THEN we got slammed with clients.  My office is ridiculous right now.  My stacks of cases are everywhere, amidst a chaos of unwrapped gifts, paper, and ribbon.

      Because I still haven't wrapped half the presents for Christmas morning.  And I think we're still short some stocking stuffers, too.

      Oh, and I realized we need to get my mom at least one more gift.

       And the kids never made their crafts for the grandparents, so we need to do that, too.  We had friends over for an impromptu dinner party the night we had been planning to do crafts.  It was wonderful, but a little hectic in a week I'm already so far behind.

      And some people will be getting holiday cards around New Years (if they're lucky).

      And I should be on my way home from work now, but here I sit, typing a blog when I should be doing 65 million other things.

      And there was something particular about the holidays that I wanted to put in this post, and I can't remember what it was.

      I am so excited about the holidays!  But so stressed, too!

      Ok, really, I'm not that stressed.  I'm not really an easily ruffled person.  But I'm not thrilled with how far behind I am.

      Man, I wish I could remember what this post was supposed to be about . . .

       HAPPY SOLSTICE ALL!

* Our church meeting room has a large labrinth for walking meditation on the floor.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Sausage" Casserole

      This started out as just a fridge clean-out meal and may become a comfort food favorite.  READ MORE>>

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lighten Up

      I posted something big and important (to me) this morning.  Then I immediately thought, "Man, that post is WAY too heavy (and preachy, and loooong)."  So this is my randomness post to make up for it.  AND to link up with the wonderful Shawn and IA for Talk to Us Tuesday, the link up with no rules!






 
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      Yesterday, I was informed by Flintstone's teachers that he is an absolute genius.  Ok, so maybe those aren't the precise words they used, but it was close enough.  They were certainly all atwitter (and I mean that in the true meaning of the word; not like they were all up on the internet talking about my baby) about his amazing communication skills.  It started when I dropped him off in the morning and he stopped me and signed that he needed to be changed.

      I love that Flintstone can tell me when he wants his diaper changed.  I never have to worry about him being uncomfortable or being wet for too long.  Though it's not exactly the most thrilling sign to have waved in my face at 4am - an hour or two before I usually have to get up.  (Seriously!  This kid pees GALLONS at night.  GALLONS).

      So, he told me he needed to be changed, and I changed him.  His teachers thought it was the neatest thing in the world.  Then, that afternoon when I picked him up, one of them told me excitedly, "He is SO smart.  Guess who said 'Bu-bye' and 'Thank you' today?"  Awesome!  He's already said bu-bye a few times, but that was the first time for thank you.  I'm so proud of him.  He signs "please" when he wants something and now says thank you!  Smartest. Baby. Ever.  15 months old.

       AND, by the way, the cutest thing known to man:
Sorry such a cruddy pic, but I still love it.  This is my little veggie monster hanging out in the garden.  He has a half eaten sweet pea in one hand and a tomato in the other.  Kid loves picking veggies in the garden.
       Work remains crazy as ever.  I've been trying to develop my professional website, but to no avail.  I only have so much engergy that I can devote to work in a given day, and my clients tend to suck up all of that and more.  Last week, I had one of the saddest cases I've ever encountered (which is saying a lot).  This week, I have one of the most obnoxious clients.  I keep reminding myself that the matter I'm handling for this client is very important to them, and that I would be equally impatient.  But seriously, getting HOURLY calls and emails doesn't actually make me work any faster.  It just annoys me.  Deep breath.  Treat others as you would want to be treated . . .

      I'm wondering if that's always possible as a lawyer.

      Of course it is.  It would just be easier to think it's not ;-)

      We got most of the Holiday cards out in time (read: I think MacGyver is mailing them today).  I got most of the gift shopping done, but haven't wrapped any of it.  And if McGyver shows up in my office before I get this stuff wrapped, I'll frigging kill him.

      Punky has a boyfriend.  I'm not thrilled with this.  I was shy and socially awkward and a total late bloomer.  I didn't really start dating until about Sophomore year of high school (though, granted, I started with a vengence and more than made up for lost time by being a total player - but NOT a sl*t).  Punky is very social, confident, pretty, and she has a boyfriend.  Of course, she's spending all day today (and yesterday) with a different boy (and an absolutely fabulous one, I might add) . . .

      Oddly, what I think bothers me more than anything is that she says she and LittleBF "are dating."  When did 9 year olds start saying that?  No, you are NOT dating.  I'm pretty dang sure if you had gone out on any dates, I'd know about it.  Whatever happened to "going together?"  Is that dead terminology?

      Perhaps it's geographic.  One of the sad consequences of having dragged Punky all over the country at the whims of the Marine Corps is that she's picked up a lot of geographical terms that I do not use, and it annoys me for no real good reason.

      I say: Hot Chocolate
      Punky says: CoCo

      I say: teenager
      Punky says: teen

      I say: pop
      Punky says: soda (or soda pop)

      And there are pronunciation issues:  I pronounce syrup (sir up), Punky pronounces it (see rup).  Granted, this is because of an episode of Friends (for an explaination of why we have a freakish love of Friends in our home, read this).

      There are more, but you get the idea.

      We are still embracing the new holiday traditions at home.  Tonight we're making ethical gingerbread to be used Solstice night.  MacGyver is We're almost done with the first incarnation of the Wheel of the Year Tree.  I say first incarnation because I've already come up with a couple ways I want to change and perfect it.

       The Wheel of the Year Tree is something I came up with (though I'm sure I'm not the first to have come up with it) a while ago, but never got around to putting into practice until MacGyver came up with a couple of ideas that would work perfectly with the Tree.  The Wheel Tree is basically a year round holiday tree. 

      It is made of a few tree branches lashed together into a smallish tree, which will go in the center of our dinner table (MacGyver's brilliant idea).  From it's branches, we will hang seasonally appropriate objects.  Next Solstice season, it will serve as our advent calendar:  We will hang little numbered ornaments that open up from it's branches.  For Thanksgiving, we will hang leaves with things we are thankful for written on them.  At Ostara, we will hang wishes, probably in eggs.  You get the idea. 

      I'm very excited about this new tradition.  The tree is almost ready to be placed on the table.  I'll be sure to put up a post once we get into the swing of using it.

      I wish you all a happy and not-too-chaotic pre-Solstice week!

     
Guess Who!?

Someone got into the kitty's stocking and decided to go "fishing" with his catnip fish.


The Universe is Screaming at Me

. . . or, at the very least, it's nudging me very, very hard.

Note:  I started this post days ago, and have written it in chunks.  It may not be cohesive, but I want to get it published because I have follow-up posts I need to write!

      All Fall, I found myself in a cleansing phase, both literally and spiritually.  I went on a cleaning and organizing bender all over the house (which the holidays have since completely undone, sigh).  At work, I pushed through huge numbers of cases, tying up loose ends that had been plaguing me for months and smoothly transitioned into my new position.  Socially, I vowed to stop wasting my attention on negative and dramatic people in my life.  I even READ MORE>>

Friday, December 16, 2011

Look at All the Sky Fish!

      Yesterday morning, when I got Flintstone out of the car at his school, there were birds flying all over the parkinglot. 

      Flintstone "ooo"d and "aaahh"d excitedly.  When I put him down he clapped, pointed at the birds, and triumphantly signed "fish!"  "Fish!"  Flintstone, like his daddy, loves fish.  He runs up to the fish tank and signs fish until we pick him up to look at them at least once a day.

      I tried to show him the sign for bird, but he was too excited watching the birds to look at my hands.  This morning, when we got out of the car, he was looking all over, signing "fish," but, alas, there were no sky fishies to be seen.

      Now, enjoy some random, obligatory pictures:


Flintstone does not enjoy cold weather.  Mostly because he does not enjoy his coat.
Note: I went against my own rule and tried to edit this picture, which is why Flintstone's eye is black.
A kid after my own heart:  Starbucks!
Note: I drank the tea from that cup, not him ;-)

The coat Flintstone is wearing in this picture was mine when I was a baby.  It was the coat I was wearing the first time my mom left me alone with my dad.  There is a hilarious picture of when she came home to find me chilling in the back of the Jeep next to a keg, wearing that jacket.  Of course, no one knows where that picture is now, but still.

I made a centerpiece!  I never to stuff like this!  It even has a candle on top!

I took this picture through the french doors that open to our back yard.  I love looking out back and seeing the chickens wandering around.

Yes, a picture almost the same as the one above.  I couldn't decide which one I liked best.  You'll deal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Traditions

      Well I am still not fully in the Holiday spirit, but I think with work as crazy as it will continue to be and the complete lack of snow at this latitude, I probably won't be until the Solstice itself.  I do, however, have more holiday spirit than I did last week because we've finally picked up with some of our holiday traditions.

      We got our first visit from the Elf on the Shelf. 


Who ever would have guessed he'd show up amidst the wine bottles?

       And we finally got a nice, reusable wood "Advent" calendar.  We fill our calendar with activities more often than candy or toys, and I'm looking forward to linking the calendar activities with the Elf's mischeif.  For instance some time in the next few days, we're going to go to the beach and make sand angels (because there's no snow here in the south).  I suspect that the Elf might follow suit . . .  I will try to put pictures here as we go.

      As of yet our Elf does not have a name.  He is a dark skinned elf*, and we have decided that he is most likely of Indian descent.  As such, we want to find a nice Indian name for him.  I have been putting my foot down when it comes to allowing Punky to name things after shiny things and random astrological/meteorological phenomena, and I firmly told her we are not naming the Elf Sparkle-Fairy Glitter-Butt or anything of the sort, which elicited much amusement.  Tonight, I'm going to ask NotDonna's husband, The Engineer (who is Indian) how to say Sparkle-Fairy Glitter-Butt in Tamil . . .

      In other news, MacGyver thinks the Elf might be starting to creep Punky out a little bit.  This morning he was hiding under the entry table, hanging upside down and took Punky quite by surprise when she bent down to pick something up.  Yesterday, while he was hanging out on top of the fish tank, she remarked a couple of times that she felt like he was watching her.  Isn't that the point?  Ha.  I'm sure he'll seem less threatening once he starts getting into mischeif.

      A couple nights ago, we all sat around the table and filled out Holiday cards (which we are only half done with and don't have any of the addresses to mail them, ahem, so maybe I should say Valentine's cards . . .).  We each wrote a short message to the recipient and we all signed our names.  I find this much more time consuming meaningful than sending cards that just say "Happy Holidays X!"  It gives us yet another chance to take stock of all the people we're grateful to have in our lives and why.

      We also have a special holiday tradition surrounding the tree.  We've begun purging all our meaningless ornaments and simplifying.  Our "basic" ornaments are now limited to squirrels and owls (MacGvyer and my totems, respectively), and fake icicles.  Then, each year, we each get to make or buy one new ornament, which gets labeled and dated.  Eventually, all our ornaments will be meaninful to us.

      I'm very much looking forward to our Solstice night traditions.  The night before the Solstice, we will attend a ritual at chuch celebrating the Solstice.  We will also, some day shortly before Solstice, bake vegan gingerbread.  On the night of Solstice, we will read A Visit to Mother Winter from Circle Round (highly recommend!).  After the story, we make Mother Winter's gingerbread house. 

       MacGvyer and I stay up all night together, symbolically keeping the Goddess company as she gives birth to the new Sun.  Since the kids can't stay up all night, we do a dream ritual for them.  What exactly we do isn't a set tradition yet.  This year, I'm thinking we will do dream satchets - small pouches with herbs said to bring about portent dreams combined with a little solstice symbolism (maybe some holly).  I'm also thinking of including the seeds we will plant at Spring Equinox.  The kids (well, really just Punky) will go to sleep with the satchet under their pillows and dream about the new year.

      In the morning, we go watch the sunrise, to greet the new born Sun.

      More traditions:

      We read The Grinch.

      We watch The Grinch, Rudolph (the clay-mation version with Herbie the Elf), A Garfield Christmas, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th St. - perferrably one of the versions with the Post Office ending (Check.), A Christmas Carol (Check.), and Elf (perferably with Uncle Boo).  MacGyver also likes A Christmas Story.

      We give something to charity and/or do something for charity.  Last year we did St. Jude's and Heifer International.  This year we're donating a lot of clothes to a local charity as well as to a village in Ecuador.

      What are your family's holiday traditions?

* MacGyver was quite disheartened when, as he was standing in the store looking at the elf a woman peered over his shoulder and oh-so-helpfully said, "Oh, that's a dark skinned Elf.  If you want a white Elf, they have more back behind the counter."  Yes, I get that she was trying to be helpful.  And honestly, if the situation was reversed (if MacGvyer had dark skin and the woman had told him where he could find a dark skinned Elf), I wouldn't have thought twice about it.  I may even have found the woman helpful.  Backwards and hypocritical, I know.  But true.  Either way, MacGvyer was did not like the woman's tone or implication.  We didn't care about the skin tone of the Elf, and MacGvyer told her so.  He told her that he was happy to know that the elves came in diverse variety and wouldn't expect Santa to segregate.  And the dark skinned cashier who overheard the whole exchange seemed to agree.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Doing All the Things!

       Recently, I was on a super motiviation high.  I got tons of stuff done, had tons of energy, and was a full-on productive adult.  Today, I am - um - less so.  So, even though I told myself I was going to start writing substantive, useful posts, I am once again reverting to my old favorite:  Pointless, random, disconnected bullets.

  • I seriously lost the motivation to even write this post after that first paragraph and skipped off to read all your posts.
  • I had the perfect gift idea for MacGvyer for Solstice/Christmas.  I just found out that it doesn't get released until February in the form I want for him.  EF!  Now I'm all scrambling to figure something just as good out.  But at least his Miniversary present is taken care of!
  • No, I have NOT finished my holiday shopping.  Hell, I've barely started it.  We all have birthdays leading up until December AND I like to procrastinate.  What?  I perform better under pressure . . .
  • Both of my parents (who are thrice seperated/divorced from each other) and my ever entertaining brother, Boo (of What's wrong with Boo Now? fame) will be driving down from MI in my mom's tiny Kia to spend the holidays with us.  My dad will be riding in the back seat with my mom's massive german shepherd, Scully.  It is going to be a hilarious debacle and just another day in the life for my crazy family. 
  • Boo has aparently come up with a new drink.  His new drink of choice is Vodka and Pickle Juice.  I am disturbed in so many ways.
  • I have put up some posts on my sub-pages lately without copying them to the Cheap Wine and Cookies main page.  Subsequently, very few of you read them, even though they were linked in other posts (not that anyone follows those links - why do we all even bother with them?).  So here's my little plea that you read:
  • I finally decided to give in to the tradition that is Elf on the Shelf.  Probably because of Pinterest.  Not that I do anything because of Pinterest *ahem*.  Of course, now that I'm all excited to start seeing where the little bugger can hide in our house, all the stores are sold out of them.  Maybe it's a sign.
  • We put our Yule/Solstice/Christmas tree up a day or two after Thanksgiving.  There has been lots of holiday music on the radio.  I'm still not really in the holiday spirit.  I think it's the weather.  As much as I love beach life and Jimmy Buffett, I don't think I'm cut out for the South.
  • I have such big plans for my herb garden this year.  I love my veggie garden, but that's really become more MacGyver's territory (surprisingly!).  The herbs, though, are all mine.  I really want to do a whole post about my plans, but then again I really want to do whole posts about 60 million things.  Damn job.
  • Since you read Plodding Along like I so nicely asked you to above, you know that I'm on a mission to read more because I've been missing books so much but I just don't have time to read if I ever want to sleep.  I have been reading two books, though, and doing pretty well with them.  So I added two more.  Brilliant, right?  The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell seems very interesting so far, but I just started it and am only 12 pages in. 
  • I also started Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong.  It is amazing so far.  I'm actually listening to it on CD in the car (much to Punky's chagrin I'm sure, though she hasn't said anything yet).  I'm so glad to have finally started listening to books in the car, too.  I'm loving it so far.  And this book, I can't even put it into words.  It NEEDS a whole post.  It needs dozens of posts.  I'm only 1/4 of the way through and there are 5 posts I want to write about it.  Seriously EVERYONE - EVERY HUMAN BEING - needs to read this book. 
  • MacGyver is also going to listen to the Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life CDs and may also read The Tipping Point with me.  It has been a while since we've read (or listened to) a book together.  I'm excited about it.
  • Punky continues to excell at everything, blowing test scores out of the water and being always on honor roll.  I suppose that's good reason to let her recent aversion to peanut butter slide.
  • Flintstone is the cutest baby ever, still.  He signs "wash hands" and "change" now in addition to his favorite "bath" letting me know this kid is going to be just as obsessed with being clean as his dad is.  He also learned the sign for "fish" just a couple days ago and listening to him try to say "kitty," which actually comes out sounding like he's hissing at the cat, is super adorable.  I really, really need to do a milestones update post.  You know, with all the other posts . . .
  • We've called him Monchichi for a long time, but lately I've been calling him my little Monkey because the kid was obsessed with bananas.
    And he LOVES to share.  Whether you want any or not.  ;-)  And, yes, he is sitting in his folded up stroller.  His idea.
    Lovin' Mama' cookin!
    Watching the train set the day we decorated the tree.  Flintstone loves to sign "train" now to get us to turn it on!
    Our humane, local, organic Thanksgiving Turkey - because I never got around to doing a Thanksgiving post.
    My boys.
    Walking with Daddy
    This is what I saw the other day when I showed up to breastfeed him at daycare.  Sunbathing like a lizard.  So cute.
  • There's so much more to say, but you've all probably all stopped reading by now.  Have a great weekend!  Ours is shaping up to be busy but fun.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tea - Not Just for Throwing in the Harbor Anymore

      Growing up 1/2 Canadian, I've always had an appreciation for tea.  While I drank more coffee, tea did make regular appearances in my hot beverages rotation.  I love hot beverages - coffee, tea, hot chocolate, hot cider, and hot toddies!  Just to name a few.

      For the last few years, tea has quickly been overtaking coffee - and everything else.  It started when I was researching trying to conceive (long before we actually could start trying). Living near a Teavana store, I quickly became a loose leaf tea addict.

      With my Ethical Eating journey, the way I look at tea (and coffee) has developped even further.  I urge you to purchase Fair Trade or Equal Exchange coffees and teas.  It makes a huge difference in the lives of the farmers and the global economy.

       These days, I start every morning with an excellent cup of Organic Fair Trade whole leaf green tea.  My current favorite is the Wulu tea from World Market, and I can't stop singing it's praises.  The health benefits are amazing.  And since I don't have to add sugar or creamers like I do to coffee (though admittedly creamers are half the fun of coffee), there are zero calories, just gobs of benefits.

      Since switching to green tea, I've seen many improvements in my health, mood, concentration, and mornings as a whole - much more so than I ever acheived with coffee or bagged teas.  I've incorporated it into some new herbal remedies I've been working on, and have acheived outstanding results so far.  Seriously, if you ever suffer from allergies, you have to read this.

      Herbal remedies and herbal teas have always been the realm of non-conformist hippies in my mind.  Sure, I'd recognize a few here and there, but the thought of creating my own tea seemed to be taking it a little far.  That is, until I found the mountains of scientific research backing up many of the health benefits of certain teas.

      Being easily swayed by science, and a lover of plants and all things natural, I've really started to dive in, with excellent results.  And I've drawn a new conclusion:  Just as a tiny bit of research opened my eyes to the fact that our culture has been completely brainwashed into seeing birth as medical instead of natural, we have also been "trained" to turn to chemical answers provided by large corporations when nature provides us with excellent answers.

      Now, I'm not talking about chewing on tree bark instead of taking pain killers after a major surgery or trying to treat cancer with tea (though study after study has shown that green tea very much helps with cancer treatments).  I'm talking about depending on a diet consisting mainly of vegetables to keep us healthy; using natural products to clean our homes instead of hazardous chemicals; and treating minor ailments with TRUSTED plants (see my Cold Remedy Soup).  READ MORE>>

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chores

The weekly blog hop with no rules!
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      "Why don't you do the dishes?" I whined.

      "Because I have you," my dad informed me simply, with a smirk - probably the millionth time he'd made such a proclaimation.

      Both my brother, Boo, and I replayed this banter with our parents on a constantly repeating basis over any number of tasks - the dishes, cleaning, dusting, pet care, you name it.

       When I was growing up, it was no secret that we were free labor for our parents.  When I was a little older, even my friends knew that staying too long at our house put them at risk of being put to work.  Growing up, for us, there sure as heck wasn't any sort of free ride.

       Everyone in our house contributed.  My parents worked long hours at hard, physically demanding jobs in order to provide for Boo and I, and we were expected to do our share.  We had a lot of chores over the years - regular, everyday chores like clearing the table, doing the dishes, chopping, stacking, and hauling firewood, feeding the animals, and keeping our rooms cleaned - to periodic tasks like dusting, window washing, and couch "fluffing."  (we had a really strange couch when I was growing up . . . ) We were also routinely wrangled into all manner of home improvement and landscaping tasks.  One of my friends still bemoans the ditch she ended up helping me dig one beautiful summer day when we were both about 12 (or maybe a year or two older?) and thought we would be spending the day sitting around gossiping. 

      Given my upbringing, it goes without saying that my kids have chores.  Too often today, I see kids (or, even worse, young adults striking out into the world) who are accustomed to having everything done for them.  Eighteen year olds who don't know how to do their own laundry* or prepare themselves a meal, and who, even if they did know, don't see why they should have to do those things for themselves.  I see 10 year olds who take their parents' actions completely for granted, who think laundry is Mom's "job," and believe that money comes from ATM machines.

      I find this a very disturbing trend.  I can see why some parents don't want to give their kids chores.  They want their kids to have happy, carefree childhoods.  They want them to have it better than they themselves did.  Our kids are so overscheduled anyway, why throw one more thing on the pile?  And, really, if we're just going to have to go behind them and fix it anyway, it's faster to just do it ourselves.

      Unfortunately, the consequences of these seemingly innocent thoughts can be dire.  The "real world" is a much harsher reality for individuals who grew up feeling entitled.  A young person who isn't accustomed to doing things for themselves and contributing to a group is extremely poorly equipped to function as a productive member of society.

       And what sort of examples are we setting for our children's future homes if we teach them that every chore that needs to be done is someone else's job?  We end up with adults who either expect their spouse to do everything for them or who don't expect their spouses to contribute at all, feeling like they have to now model their mother who did everything herself.

       Ultimately, even though they may will complain, chores are good for kids.  Chores make kids better people.  And, eventually, they lighten the load around the house.  Chores help children feel more like a cohesive and contributing member of an integrated family unit.  They give a sense of pride in one's actions and contribution (as opposed to the much more negative pride just for the hell of it).  There have been thousands of articles written and numerous studies done on the benefits of having children to chores.  I personally like this article from Psychology Today (because it is written from an anthropological standpoint, which we all know I LOVE).

      So it goes without saying that Punky has chores.  She has a dry erase chore chart on our fridge (that used to have little magnets, too, but those are long gone - thank heavens!) that details her daily tasks.  They have changed as she has grown, starting with little things like picking up all the toys in the livingroom and feeding the dog, to her current chore set, which includes:

-  Feeding and watering the dogs and cat, and cleaning out their bowls periodically
-  Cleaning out the litter box
-  Setting the table for dinner
-  Taking the silverware out of the dishwasher and polishing it (though on many nights I do the dishes too late or while she's doing homework)
-  Getting herself ready for school
-  Folding and putting away her laundry
-  Collecting, washing, and dating eggs from the chickens
-  Checking the mail

      Those are her daily chores.  She is also responsible for cleaning her room and her bathroom (not with chemical cleaning products), and she helps out with a wide variety of other tasks, depending on what we're doing.  She will wash windows when we're cleaning the house.  She takes the compost out to the bins and brings in the recycling bins after they've been emptied.  She is also a major source of entertainment for Flintstone while I'm getting dinner ready.

      All in all, the kid has a lot of responsibilities, and she is better and happier for them (though she may not recognize that right now ;-)).

       The author of the Psychology Today article mentions three results of having her children to chores, and I wanted to share them because I see exactly the same things in Punky:

1.  Punky glows when someone tells her what a help she's been or how shoveling the sidewalk has made it easier for some of our older neighbors to navigate. It's not a big deal - something said in passing.  But it's another little positive in her day.  And it happens a lot.
2. The number one thing that EVERY teacher and EVERY adult tells me about Punky is that how polite and helpful she is. 
3.  Punky has an enduring and pervasive sense of gratitude.  She thanks strangers, friends, MacGvyer, and me for little things we do for each other.

     Even Flintstone pitches in!  He loves to help me put away silverware (he takes it out of the dishwasher, one peice at a time, and hands it to me to put in the drawer).  He is very good at putting all his toys back in his bins when asked to, and he really loves helping "fold" laundry (read: throwing already folded laundry on the floor and dragging it all over the room).

       Do your kids do chores?  What are their chores?  How do/have their chores changed with age?

*  Ok, I actually didn't know how to do my own laundry when I was 18.  I had to call my mom from the laundry room in my dorm at Tulane and have it explained to me, but that was because we were so tight on money growing up that my mother was extremely protective of the washer and dryer.  After many years of lugging all the laundry and both us kids to the laundrymat, once we got our own machines in the house, NO ONE under the age of 18 was allowed to touch them.  Or even look at them.  Twenty some years later, she still has the same washer and dryer - very much worse for wear.  The washer is missing the knob, so you either have to turn the flat surface with friction from your fingers or use a wrench, and the dryer door has to be held closed by leaning a sledghammer against it while it does it's job.  But they both still work, which is pretty darned impressive.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Not That I Don't Love You . . .

If your comment box is embedded below your post.  As in, it doesn't come up in it's own window when I click "Post Comment," then I can't comment on your posts.  I'm sure it's my government computer system, since I haven't noticed anyone out in blogland complaining about it, but it is still completely frustrating.

Then, if I try to email you the comment and you're a "no-reply blogger," well then I'm just annoyed.  Because I liked your post.  And I really wanted to tell you that.  But I can't.

So just do me a favor andchange your settings to make your comment box appear in it's own window.

Because if you posted something wonderful today about Bourbon Balls (Kaity) or about 10 posts I've tried to comment on lately (Freckles!), or something horrible like how many days until Christmas, Hanakkah, AND Yule (!!!), then you missed all I had to share with you.

For the rest of you, my loves who I can comment on and who I can't, I'll try to have a real post tomorrow.  My backlog is getting pretty severe, but on the bright side I am blowing through cases at work!  For now, check out the post I just put up on the Reading Site.

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