Thursday, June 28, 2012

Snorting With Laughter

Okay friends -- I am supposed to be taking a shower and getting ready to take my progeny to swimming lessons (at which they are, of course, shining stars), but I just have to share this link to one of my favorite blogs to read, Inner Pickle. The author and her husband live on a farm in Australia. The photography is wonderful, and the writing ... oh, Fiona is so amazingly hilarious and honest and down-to-earth, and if this post doesn't make you laugh so hard you snort, you haven't read it properly! Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


This Binki-Sucking Babe is almost 12. Hoo, boy. And yes, that's me -- from an odd angle and with surprisingly long hair.
I think that I've now pondered and sort of sifted through the following topic now -- but it's taken a few days! And, as it fits (you'll see), I'm including some really, really old pictures of the children so we can all take a small Trip Down Memory Lane.

Recently, Scott and I (am I the only one who wants to scream when women refer to their husbands as "hubby"? Anyone less fitting for that sort of name than Scott, I cannot imagine -- unless it's Sven Wilson, for those of you who know who that is ... somehow, it's just a really cringe-inducing term. Does it really take too long to write "husband"? Don't get me started on things like "hubster"!) were at a friend's wedding. During the reception we sat at a table with a couple of Scott's nurses and office staff, and one medical assistant who no longer works at his office -- she began staying home with her two children (about 3, and 2 1/2 months) a few months ago. One of the other gals asked her how she was liking being home full time. "Well..." she said, "it's okay. But I'm really bored out of my skull! I mean, it just doesn't take any brains to be a stay-at-home mother! I've had a job since I was 16, and I used my brain every day, and now I just don't have to! It doesn't take any brain-work at all to stay home with two kids."

Those of you who know my usual inability to keep my mouth shut, and also my feelings about at-home motherhood will now be waiting with some anxiety to learn what smart-ass thing I said back, which made the whole table uncomfortable. Amazingly, I managed to stay quiet. The first thing that popped into my head was, "Boy, are your kids going to turn out badly." Scott later told me that he was looking for the blood running out the side of my lip from my lacerated, bitten tongue. HOWEVER, I contained myself, feeling that I should keep things light and friendly at a happy occasion. But it bothered me -- it's not the first time I've heard that sentiment. And I don't understand it AT ALL.

One of the only pictures I have of Steven at this age -- he was SO colicky and unhappy that I was almost always trying to comfort him, and hardly ever thought to take any pictures! Isn't that awful??

I can tell you at first-hand that sometimes being at home with my kids full time felt exhausting, lonely, frustrating, demanding, isolating, and like way more work than I could possibly do. But never did I EVER feel that I wasn't using my brain. If it doesn't use your brain to figure out how to keep three young children happy, learning and occupied (while not setting them in front of TV or computer for hours a day), and then work in meal preparation (making sure it's healthy), laundry, housekeeping, any outside activities, time for your own self on occasion, and still being at least somewhat responsive when your spouse arrives home, I don't know what it does take. Any meal-preparing, recipe-reading mother (or father, or aunt, or grandparent ...) who has ever answered yes to "can I help?" from a 4 and 7 year old, and then managed not to burn down the house and still serve a meal which does not involve accidentally-added eggshells in the casserole has had an extremely active session of brain-work.

And then there's the question of the best way to relate to and discipline each child. If you sent Emily to her room when she was little, it was the most fearful punishment ever imposed. Sending Steven to his room was something of a treat -- telling him he had to miss his afternoon computer time, however, was slightly worse than bamboo under the fingernails. I am trying to resist adding here ... okay, can't resist it after all ... that the above-mentioned mother, who by her own report never uses her brain, told her three-year-old (as we were setting up for the wedding) to go to the car with his father. His response? "No." "That's not the word I want to hear," was all she said. A few minutes later, she asked again. "No." Finally, his father just picked him up and took him. I can only think of one time (each) that each of my children has said "No" to me -- the resulting firestorm, I hope, was enough to clearly express my dislike of that response (and, I'm sorry, but no 3-year-old actually grasps the irony of "That's not the word I want to hear." He just thinks, "Oh, sorry about that. It's the word I'm using, so why do you care?").

If you hold the baby right (it's Mara), you can get their hands in the right position, and they hold their OWN binki in .... (yes, I know "baby" is singular, and "their" is plural. I'm making an informed use decision).

I'm not really trying to rant here, just trying to understand what seems to be so inherently stupid in so many people's minds about women who are home with their kids. Why do we feel like we have to respond, "Oh, I'm just home with the kids," when others ask what we do? (I *still* do that! I hate it when that comes out of my mouth!) I know that many of the maternal Victorian platitudes were a disguised way of expressing men's desire to keep women out of the public sphere, but there's a certain wisdom in that old one, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Why is it more intellectually stimulating to run, say, an office than run a household? Having been a secretary for an academic office at Loma Linda, I submit that the facts show that handling people of any age is similar! Surely, to be in charge of training characters and raising healthy bodies from the home must be significant. I can tell you it beats the holy hell out of any other job I've ever done in terms of sheer difficulty and scope, and the amount of self-discipline involved.

Thank you to those of you who are still reading after this lengthy exposition. I feel better now, and hope you do, too. This afternoon, I'm making raspberry jam with the kids. I'll be trying to quadruple the recipe on the pectin box, and considering my math skills and the amount of chaos likely involved (despite the advanced age of some of the participants), I can tell you I sure as heck will be using my brain.

Neurologically yours,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Look! I AM Ma Ingalls! ... Oops, No, Sorry, False Alarm

So yesterday I made 8 quarts of strawberry jam, with 10 more to do today (I forgot -- seriously forgot -- to make it last summer and the family reaction this last winter was memorably horrified). I just use the regular-old freezer jam recipe on the pectin box. It's so good ... I can still remember H.M.S. Richards, Jr., sitting at our dining room table when I was about 11, talking to my dad after Sabbath dinner was over, and eating my mom's strawberry jam out of the crystal bowl with his spoon! As a total aside, I consider it one of the luckiest things in my life that I got to sit at Sabbath dinner listening to people like Alden Thompson, Clifford Goldstein, Leonard Bailey, and the aforementioned Elder Richards debate theological and philosophical things with my dad. If there's a better education for a broadened religious mind, I'm not sure what it is (short of somehow getting C.S. Lewis et al in there, too).

ANYWAY, my point (and I do have one) is that I gotta tell you I felt quite smug about my homemaking talents, and I do really feel so satisfied when I make good stuff myself. Here is my lovely assistant, the talented and 6-year-old-with-a-wiggly-tooth Mara, looking absorbed and serious as she fills a freezer carton:

And, after that moment of smugness, let us now observe what the rest of my country home kitchen looks like -- surely, it must be sparkling clean and homey!
Sigh. Now, if I were Scott's grandmother (my personal standard for homemaking excellence -- that woman was a MARVEL, and lovely to boot), or even my own mother (pretty darn excellent herself!), I would not have left that kitchen until it was cleaned up and counters cleared. Wanna know what I did? I laid on the couch and watched: #1) Euro Soccer Cup -- Poland vs. Russia (Up Germany! -- sorry, getting carried away); and #2) NBA Finals Game #1 -- OKC vs. Heat (in any rational society, the Heat -- with the possible exception of Shane Battier, who I love -- would drop off into the deep blue sea). In between game moments, Scott and I made snarky comments about silly commercials.

I get SO close ... and then just fall off the bandwagon. On the other hand, I rather enjoyed my evening. Like I told Scott, if it had been up to me to settle the West and tame the wilderness, we'd all still be packed into the East Coast. I must go now {ahem} the Kitchen Fairy appears to have missed this house.

love, kristin

p.s., Benita, it's more fun to make the jam with you! I thought of you!