Eclectic Muddlehood

How's this for a perplexing beginning? I am a great many things, but none of them are me. At least not in my entirety. This is the little corner where I attempt to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts as I muddle through being a wife, a mother and a woman... among other things.

Location: Virginia, United States

Here, in no particular order, is a short list of my parts from the mundane to the pretentious, some or all of which may surface in future attempts to work on the whole: wife, mother, doula, childbirth educator, writer, yoga student, homeschooler, amature organic gardner, kitchen witch, all-around foodie, spiritual truth-seeker, daughter, clutter-bug, complusive list maker, bibliophile, homemaker, friend, homebirth/natural birth advocate, impulse shopper, wine snob, knitter, artist, lover, sensuist, and email junkie (There may be more later, but that's it for now.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Kiss Ain't Just A Kiss Anymore

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Hershey's Kiss, I have discovered a plethora of new varieties for the holiday season. What began as a short shopping venture to secure stocking stuffers has turned into gloriously delicious research. I invite you to join me!

Here is the list of decadence I have successfully located and sampled:
1. Classic Milk Chocolate- silver wrapper (also red & green for holidays)
2. Dark Chocolate- purple wrapper
3. Milk Chocolate with Almonds- gold wrapper
4. Hugs Milk & White Chocolate- silver wrapper with brown stripes
5. Caramel- dark gold wrapper with brown stripes
6. Mint Milk Chocolate- green & silver checkered wrapper
7. Cherry Cordial Creme- red wrapper with black stripes
8. Candy Cane Mint- silver wrapper with (what else?) red candy canes
9. Peanut Butter- gold wrapper with red stripes

After extensive sampling by my entire household, the top three are undoubtedly the following:
3rd Place: Peanut Butter
2nd Place: Mint Milk Chocolate
1st Place: Cherry Cordial Creme

Any good study should contain thorough research, so I am still on the look out for the following varieties listed on the official Hershey's Kisses website:
1. Dark Chocolate with Almonds
2. Coconut Creme
3. Milk Chocolate Truffle
4. Dulce de Leche

If anyone has any information on their whereabouts I would be indebted to you if you would report them immediately so I can complete this crucial piece of social research as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sweet Winter Memories In the Making

Barely able to suffer the one hour wait required before the gingerbread house could be decorated, my eldest swore she would stand a vigilant watch until the much anticipated moment the kitchen timer would chime heralding her into the land of frosty gumdrop and sweet peppermint ecstasy...

Creative Abandon

As another holiday melody drifts across the living room and into the kitchen, I find myself suspended in bliss. I smile to myself as my ears hear "fall on your knees, all hear the angels' voices." This morning I hear them in the sparkling crystal laughter shared between us as my eldest daughter and I spend the morning reveling in the reckless abandon of three year-old creativity making our own holiday wrapping paper. I just know my mother and I are going to have a very hard time throwing out the trash after the chaos of the family holiday gift exchage when we peer down into the remnants to find them covered in the tiny multicolored hand prints of my first-born child. Proof of the simple awesome beauty we are capable of in those early years when one is free from the brutal glaring eye of self-criticism. I learn more from the natural wisdom of my children than I could ever hope to learn in a formal classroom. In this and in all seasons, I am blessed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Whimsical Question for the Holiday Season

What would happen if a hippity-hop and a sit-n-spin mated?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Reunion Reflections

My husband and I attended my tenth high school reunion last Saturday and, all in all, had a smashing good time. It was filled with the usual reunion cliches of course; the people who looked exactly the same, the people who looked better and the people who looked worse. There was the assortment of lawyers I would have guessed myself to be a part of ten years ago if anyone had asked me. One plastic surgeon who made sure he left with all the lawyers' business cards in case he got sued anytime soon. And the one drunk woman who spent a majority of the time making a total idiot out of herself on the dance floor in clothes a person her age and size should probably have been advised against wearing. But there were also a menagerie of pleasant surprises as well. A dear old friend is engaged to someone it is obvious she is very connected with and they are planning an amazing wedding on the Rock of Gibraltar which just fits her perfectly. A woman most would've taken for a lost cause in high school is beautiful, healthy, happily married and the doting stay-at-home mother of one of the cutest baby girls on the planet. Another former friend is following her passion and using her gifts in the amazing field of art therapy. And I finally got to give a long overdue heartfelt apology to a former love who was horribly wronged. But the most surprising thing I walked away with was the discovery of a precious personal truth.

Lately I have been struggling with whether or not to sell my library of childbirth education materials, thinking that I no longer possessed the strong, black-and-white convictions to teach and doula the way I did before the twin's birth and that I cannot imagine when I will ever find the time to commit to more than keeping my three little people alive and fed. Then, across a gaggle of chatting classmates, someone said they heard I was now a midwife and they were curious how I got into the field. I explained I was a doula, not a midwife and spent a few minutes elaborating on how I found my way down that path. A few hours and several glasses of red wine later, another woman asked me to sit and talk with her about home birth because she was considering the option for her future first child. Something inside me opened, as if my inner birth activist ripped off the lock and flung open the doors to a corner of my spirit I sealed off the moment my midwives told me I would have to leave the beautiful, safe surroundings of our bedroom for the cold, sterile environment of the overcrowded operating room. My passion flowed as effortlessly as ever as the convictions I had taken for lost bubbled forth. But they had changed some, matured even. More compassionate, more thoughtful. Not just the cold, hard facts and party lines of the natural birth crowd I ran with mere months ago, but also the softer, wiser holistic support and advice that only a mother who has faced and survived the more complicated aspects of women's greatest rite of passage can offer.

A few weeks ago someone told me that I would now have more than ever to offer as a birth professional and I dismissed the comment outright. Now her gentle words, the words of one who knows this to be true in her own life and work, are with me. And my library of materials remains upon the bookshelf.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Mostly as a motivational tool and reminder for myself, here is a short list of things I really want to write about in the near future.

1. Money- I loathe the way we deal with the topic of money in our culture. Those who have it feel guilty around those who don't. Those who don't feel self-conscious around those who do. And since we aren't permitted to actually discuss money, we all spend our lives feeling both guilty and self-conscious as we tiptoe around the subject with each other.

2. Iraq- Today I heard a news reporter state that an unnamed military source told her Iraq will disintegrate into civil war. This isn't really news. What was different is that he told her he didn't think this was a bad thing. He pointed out the fact that America, itself, had to fight a civil war to cement our chosen system of government and way of life. Perhaps it really is none of our business how the Iraqi people choose to sort themselves out over there.

3. The Latest in Reality TV- Turns out women are lining up across the country to audition for a spot on America's Hottest Mom, a new reality show being funded by the manufacturer of a minimally invasive cosmetic surgery product. Instead of buying traditional ad time, they funded this show instead. Contestants will have the "opportunity" to receive the treatment during the show. There are just so many things I want to comment about on this topic, that it really will have to wait for a full entry.

4. ACOG's Statement on Out of Hospital Birth- The bottom line is that they stated that, in their opinion, the evidence is inconclusive so they are going to choose to continue to oppose out-of-hospital birth options. Funny, but they used the same justification (inconclusive evidence) to justify supporting non-medically indicated elective cesareans as a birth option for women. Interesting that the options that would cause them to lose clients (and said clients' money) is opposed due to lack of supporting evidence, but the option that increases their per birth earnings is supported due to lack of evidence.

(Oh, and Emmitt... I just wanted to say: You rock on with your bad self!)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Discriminatory Practices of the County Parking Police

Despite the rain today, I packed up my three small children and headed to the polls to do my civic duty and fulfill my responsibility to vote. After I wrangled all of them into their car seats and slid behind the wheel, I noticed a small damp envelop stuck under my left windshield wiper. I got back out of the car to grab it only to discover a $35 parking ticket with yesterday's date for an expired state inspection sticker. Yes, my inspection sticker is expired. By seven days. But let me take a minute to share why this seriously enrages me.

First, here's the back story on why the car wasn't inspected yet. Several months ago when I was still pregnant, a young woman in her late teens or early twenties managed to rip out the driver's side headlight of our new parked minivan with the steel bumper of her daddy's gigantic super SUV while I was inside the grocery store. We opted to wait to fix the damage until after the babies were born so we wouldn't be without the only vehicle that could hold all three car seats when the babies were just born. We finally got all of the insurance paperwork sorted out last month and the car went into the shop last week. We just got it back on Friday night. Because it was the headlight that was damaged, we couldn't pass inspection until it was fixed. Now, I know in theory, we should have had it inspected this weekend, but we ran out of time getting other household chores on the never-ending to do list done instead like repairing water-damaged dry wall and fixing the broken kitchen sink.

I am not upset about the ticket itself. Our sticker is indeed expired. What upsets me is the fact that my vehicle was ticketed while it was parked in my assigned parking space, in front of my townhouse at 11:56am. I find this highly discriminatory for two reasons. First, I believe this practice discriminates against at-home parents. Those who work a full time job and don't make the same sacrifices our family does to allow me to stay home with our children don't have their cars parked at home at that time of day. Only the handful of work-at-home and stay-at-home parents on our street have the misfortune of having their vehicles vulnerable during daytime hours. Second, I believe this is discriminatory based on our financial status. Those families in our subdivision who can afford to pay upwards of a half million dollars for a single family home and therefore a garage and driveway to park their vehicles in are not targeted as their cars are on private property. However, because the only home in this area that we could afford was a townhome without a garage or driveway, we are vulnerable even when our vehicles are parked in our assigned spaces on a privately owned and maintained street directly in front of our homes.

The citation states that I have five calendar days to resolve this issue and that I may contest it in County District Court. Even though I may still have to pay the $35, I am seriously contemplating loading all three children in the car to brave the rain again tomorrow just to exercise my civic right to speak my mind about what I deem an unfair practice that targets less affluent at-home parents. That is, after I take the car to get inspected first.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Recruiter Lied to Me

I just had to laugh at the shocking expose story on the evening news last night. In truth I nearly choked on my green papaya salad as the reporter woefully relayed the results of an undercover investigation into the dubious practices of Army recruiters as if this was something new. There is a reason that there is a cadence we use to sing on early morning physical training runs that begins jauntily with "My recruiter lied to me..." Recruiters have been bending reality to suck in young, under-educated kids for ages. I heard story after story from my troops as to how they ended up driving trucks in central Texas when they were promised other things like a few years of a cushy desk job and no chance of deployment in exchange for all the college tuition money they could possible imagine. I thought then and still do now that the Army is taking the wrong approach to recruiting. Instead of lying, cheating and begging poor kids in one-horse towns, saying "Oh please wont you join up, look what we'll give you!" they should be taking the approach that has proved so successful for the Marine Corps over the years, saying "You really think you're good enough to join us? Prove it!" The most frustrating part of the news story for me however, was not the manipulations of truths emanating from the recruiters themselves, but their commanding officer hanging them out to dry on national television. Back in my father's day, a commanding officer to responsibility for everything his command did or failed to do. End of story. And here was this officer acting appalled at his own recruiters' behavior assuring the reporter this must be the exception and not the rule among his soldiers. Amazing that the three recruiters the reporter sent his undercover students into just happened to be the three liars in this officer's outfit. Why do these recruiters manipulate the truth so adamantly and effectively? Because they are trained to do so by their superiors and then pressured intensely to make recruiting goals no matter what, no excuses. They will continue to do so as long as their command climate remains the same. I doubt this news story will have much effect of the Army's recruiting practices, but I can hope it will help potential recruits be a little bit smart when wheeling and dealing with their futures.