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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I finally figured out what was bugging me about stores being open on Thanksgiving. I wrote a song about it. Wanna hear it? Here it go...

    Recently, I posted this picture on my Facebook page because 1) I agreed with it and 2) it's my page. I'll do what I want. Despite the fact that I was stating that MY family would not be shopping on Thanksgiving, the responses were a mixture of positive and negative with a few people asserting Thanksgiving is a day for family and a few pointing out that not everyone in the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving, people need the extra money that working on a holiday brings in, people are looking for a bargain in "this economy" and the economy could use the boost. I conceded that they were all valid points and that people who don't celebrate Thanksgiving should be able to do as much Christmas shopping as they want on Turkey Day.
   Wait. What? Here's why it didn't sit well with me, all disgusting Black Friday displays of greed and whatever the heck it is that drives us to chant,"push the doors in!" and stampede into a store or  fight one another for the last Turbo Man Action Doll aside. The U.S. is a culturally Christian nation. We may not go to church or worship God any more, but we follow a calendar based on the Christian traditions. Our Founding Fathers may have been Deists or Clock Winders and may have referred to God as Providence, but they came from a Christian background and that's where a lot of their ideas came from. Most of us who were born and raised here in the States are at least culturally Christian. Which means we celebrate Christmas AND Thanksgiving. I hate to Should on anyone, but here it is. I think, if you're going to celebrate a Christian holiday, you should honor it fully. If you celebrate Christmas, you shouldn't go shopping on Thanksgiving. I know some of my readership of 20 will be offended by that statement. I know it's not politically correct. If you fall into that category, remember that my blog is called 'Dusti's Domain" for a reason.  The majority of people who don't celebrate Thanksgiving also probably don't celebrate Christmas (although I have read that the holiday is becoming more commonly celebrated in other cultures around the world), so they're probably not in a big hurry to go Christmas shopping. Sure, I guess they can work while we all rush out after a dinner celebrating being Thankful for family and friends and all sorts of intangible gifts from The Universe formerly known as Providence and fight to get the cheapest presents so we can get more, More, MORE!, but I don't think we should.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

   I've been seeing a lot of posts on Facebook about walking away from the drama and BS in one's life, not doing things that don't bring you happiness or removing negative, difficult people from your life. This is supposed to make your life simpler and stress free. Because life is supposed to be easy, right?  I call BS.
  First of all,  people are generally difficult for a reason. Maybe they had a bad childhood. Maybe they had a child hood that was too easy and they never really learned how to appreciate the people in their lives. Maybe they just received some terrible news. "That person shouldn't be so bitter about their cancer diagnosis. They should appreciate what they do have right here and right now". By the way, you're an ass if you've ever said something like that to someone. OK, maybe you WERE an ass. People can change. I'll give you a pass if you're a reformed ass and have the humility to admit it. You have your reasons for being an ass.
   Second, everyone is "difficult" at some point in their lives. Even you. Even me! (I know, you're shocked, right?)  I am, personally, very glad my husband, after seeing all the kinds of crazy I can be, hasn't just thrown his hands up and said, "I fold". I'm fairly certain I have, at least once, caused him a little stress. But he sighs, smiles and says,"I'll always love you". Which is probably only half the thought. It's probably more like, "If you don't stop that, I'll make your demise look like an accident". Sometimes you can be a little difficult. No. Not the person to your left. You. And I'm sure you have your reasons. Should we "just walk away" when you're having a rough time?
  Third, where do we draw the line on whom to walk away from? What if it's your kid with special needs or who's getting their butt kicked by puberty? Parent with dementia who needs round the clock care? Busy body Know-it-all coworker without whom we couldn't do OUR job? This isn't a call to codependency. If someone is abusive and there is no sign of them getting better and you are able, then yes, go. Or send them packing. This is just a call for compassion and patience.
  What about not doing things that don't make you happy? Do you mean like changing diapers? On your kid or your parent/ grandparent? Your job? If you hate your job, should you just walk away? Maybe. But at least wait until you have another one. And maybe if you hate your job, it's because it's not where you should be and you should do some soul searching and find your calling and take steps to get there. But, I digress. In some cultures, not doing something because it doesn't make you happy is unheard of. You do it because that's your role and other people are depending on you. I'm not saying that's the best way, but, ya know, try to find a middle ground between the great emphasis on the individual in U.S. culture and responsibility to the group in other cultures.
    Sometimes when you just press through the Idawannas, you get a great return on your investment. I'm the treasurer for the PTA at my younger kids' school. I'm not a numbers person and my training was fairly minimal. Since I'm the money girl, I have to go to most of the meetings even if I'm not on that committee. Of course, I'm on most of the committees because there are only a handful of parent volunteers and we wear a lot of hats. Sometimes, I really hate it. Really, really, really. But, then we put on an event and the kids have a great time and nobody sees what didn't go as planned or what was forgotten because they're just having a good time. They're smiling and laughing and it's because we went to the meetings we didn't want to go to and we did the shopping we didn't want to do and we set up the dance/ seasonal event even though we were tired and we're glad we did.
      Life is a lot of difficulty peppered with some occasional great moments. The difficulties make us appreciate the great moments. It's kind of like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The uphill part is ROUGH but the view from the top of a mountain is amazing.  So, I guess what I want to convey was best said by Kenny Rogers. "You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." There is a time to walk away from the negative and the oppressive, but there's also a time to suck it up, soldier on, cowboy up, and put on your big girl panties. But without sounding all advice-y. Just wanted to say, "what's up with that?"

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Couch Surfing USA Part 1

  As most a lot some really big undertakings do, it started with a very simple idea.  My in-laws had been to visit us about 1000 times since we moved to Portland 3 years ago and I hadn't seen my family since my mom's funeral so it was time for us to go to them. I carefully calculated  pretty much guesstimated how much we'd need for travel expenses and activities and talked a lot about saving up for our trip. Then I realized that, unlike our previous cross-country trips, I wasn't under a deadline. We could take as much time as we needed. I started thinking about sights we could see along the way. Then I thought about people I could see along the way. Again, it started with one person and branched out from there. A simple 5 day, 2600 mile trip became a 2 week, 2900ish mile expedition. We stayed with several friends, saw a few planned sights and had a few impromptu side trips. It was poorly planned,my budget got cut in half due to some vehicle maintenance issues on our other car, I over packed and very quickly let go of a lot of ideals in the name of survival/ maintaining my sanity and the kids and I ran through a gamut of emotions on a daily basis. And I look forward to having the chance to do it again. I have a lot of ideas of how I want to write about it and just may try them all out. That's the great thing about my blog. It's MY blog! All mine! hahahahahahaha! Can't wait to get started!
  I'm calling the series Couch Surfing but that's a bit of a misnomer. Couch surfing, to me implies that one is crashing with strangers. We were graciously welcomed into the homes of friends and family members who took great care of us.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer!!!

We're having a bit of a heat wave here in PDX. Fortunately, it's supposed to break in a few days. Which is great because we don't have air conditioning in our 1944 concrete house and, "It's too hot to care about anything" as my hubby put it this afternoon when I apologized for the house being messy. I was really frustrated because I got the front of the house cleaned up but it's been a struggle to maintain it. It finally occurred to to me that "if I couldn't keep it clean while the kids were in school, why the heck did I think I could keep it clean while they're home?" Also, my kids have been surviving on watermelon, popsicles and chicken nuggets because, in addition to the heat, I can't seem to keep any counter space in my tiny, poorly designed kitchen uncluttered so cooking is a huge pain. This is sad because a local organic farm delivers fresh veggies weekly to the hospital my husband works at. There's usually something we recognize or know how to cook, but there are a lot of things I've never cooked and haven't made to effort to figure out what to do with them. Long story short, we have too much crap and I'm tired of dealing with it. It's getting in the way of us having a full life. I'm ready to get rid of the junk and all the negative "stuff" that goes along with it.
  Anyway, we're gearing up for a cross country trek in a couple of weeks. Ian, Lia and I are driving to Alabama. Well, I'll be driving and they'll be asking, "are we there yet?" and requesting frequent bathroom stops. The kind that never seem to coincide with, gas or restaurant stops or any locally available bathrooms. My kids have become experts at weeing on the side of the road discreetly(ish). I mean, I tell them no one can see, so that counts, right?
  Despite that, I'm really looking forward to the trip. We're taking a less than direct route so we can work in a few visits with some friends along the way and we'll stop and see a few sights as well. We plan on camping some nights provided a campsite isn't as much as a hotel room. I looked up KOA and the price of a tent campsite wasn't listed. If you don't show me the price up front, I assume it's probably more than I want to spend. A lot of national parks also offer camping so we might give that a try. Another thing I'm actually excited about is what we're going to eat on the trip. I'm going to scout out farmers markets and other whole, healthy food sources along the way and my goal is to blog about not only our great experiences on the open road, but eating healthfully along the way. I'm a little concerned that Ian isn't going to like it because he's never really enjoyed vegetables beyond green beans, broccoli and salad stuff but, I also think that since we're in the middle of nowhere and the choices are take it or leave it, he'll take it. I'm not too concerned about Lia. She's a bit of a garbage disposal not picky.
  In the interim, we're getting vehicles up to snuff (yay, new tires! I mean brand new! I didn't realize treads could be that deep!), arranging play dates and birthday parties, and wading through an endless sea of Lia's clothes to pack for our trip. That's another thing I'm kind of excited about. We're going away for approximately 6 weeks and bringing 4 days worth of clothes, plus a few extra items like a sweater for evenings in the desert and a bathing suit. If we absolutely need anything else once we get there, such as a dressy outfit for church, we can get it there.So, in addition to visiting family and seeing things we've never seen before, I'm hoping that we'll be able to enjoy the experiences and people in our lives and this trip will provide a much needed change in perspective and when we get home, we'll see that we can live without all this extra stuff we're constantly picking up, storing, washing, and just tending to in general.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our house, in the middle of our street

     I don't gripe about housework the way my mom used to. I've really developed my own style. I think she would be proud of me. All kidding aside, my house looks like a federal disaster area. I'm not going to MomShame and upload pictures because I don't want my kids to get teased at school. For a while I would try to clean up if I knew someone was coming over but I've since given up. People come over, my kids have play dates, they make comments about the chaos, whatever. I can't put everything on hold indefinitely.
    In reality, it looks like my kids have been home for two weeks and one of them had a baby in the middle of those two weeks. 'Cause that's what really happened. But if you dig a little deeper, (go ahead. Just be careful. I can't guarantee your safety at this time.) you'll see that it is the home of a somewhat overwhelmed person who's been trying to hold it together and be what other people need her to be. This hasn't been working out for me. I'm not really "present" for anyone and I'm about to do some re-evaluating and prioritizing. But more on that another day.
   My 15 year old daughter had a baby on the 22nd of December. It's been a rough 9 months. She's always dealt with anxiety and holds herself to very high standards. Teen pregnancy did little to improve upon either of those. Deciding to keep the baby was an angst ridden choice- for all of us. At one point she was hospitalized for almost 2 weeks due to the anxiety. She was already behind in school and after being out for 2 weeks, she just couldn't get caught up. So she dropped out the last quarter. She was now cut off from her friends at school as well as her roller derby team mates. Again, not helpful with the anxiety. Being the polite, perfectionistic kid she is, she would wait until I had wrangled her younger siblings into bed and to sleep before letting me know she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So, I would stay up until 3 a.m. with her, talking, crying, watching Dr. Who (which I could never follow because she was so far into it, so don't ask me about it. I don't know). Then I would get up around 7 and try to get the younger two kids to school on time. We were usually late so I got "a bit" of flak from their teachers about tardiness, attendance, blah, blah. In all fairness, once they knew what was going on at home, they didn't say anything else.  If I didn't have a PTA function going on at the elementary school, I would go home and try to get some sleep. I knew I needed to do a lot around the house but I really felt like my family needed me to be rested and not grouchy.
     My two youngest kids have ADHD, heavy on the H. I know somone, somewhere is going to 1) suggest a therapy they read about or 2) try to tell me ADHD isn't real. Save it. I don't care. I know what I live. Every. Stinking. Day. My son was medicated but the meds were making him very whiny and emotional. My youngest daughter was not medicated because I couldn't find anyone to treat her until she was 7. She gets bored and antagonizes her brother until he blows up at her and then she tells on him. Both of them are champion mess makers. Neither one of them is good at getting rid of things or picking up after themselves. Trying to get them to pick up or help out is a struggle. I offer incentives. I impose consequences. I make checklists to help them remember to clean up after themselves and help around the house. I have helped them set up their bedrooms into "zones" to facilitate cleaning. I have made my son a very detailed Room Cleaning Checklist so he can clean his room without me. I still end up doing it myself because I catch myself losing it when they whine, argue, cry and generally spend more time trying to get out of work than the job would have taken in the first place. It's not always like this. In fact, lately they've become much better over all about helping. But not always.
     I can hear the advice. My thought is this- we only have so much breath allotted to us in our lifetimes. You can use that breath telling me I'm doing it wrong and this is how I SHOULD be doing it, or you can be telling your loved ones how much you love them. The choice is yours but, remember, my husband and I have big families. I've heard it for the last 15 years.
     Add to that the once weekly counseling appointments for my son and 15 year old daughter, her ob appointments, and later counseling for my 7 year old daughter, most of which I tried to schedule while my husband was at work so it wouldn't interrupt his days off. He's an ER nurse who works two to four 12 hour night shifts and alternating weekends. Somewhere in there, I managed to get elected Treasurer of the elementary school PTA. For some reason that I can't remember now, I accepted the nomination. Throw in phone calls at odd hours from my 20 year old daughter who's in the Navy and stationed on the east coast. The most notable phone call being the one in which she called to tell me she had locked her keys in the car.
    Then there's the stuff. Oh my freakin' dog, the stuff. I got rid of so much stuff when we moved and I vowed never to accumulate so much stuff again. But my smaller children will have nothing to do with this vow. I don't know how they manage to bring more stuff into my house because I always tell them "NO!" when they ask for stuff, but they do.  I'm currently deluding myself with an 8 Weeks to Declutter Your House plan a friend posted on Facebook. One room a week, they say. Thirty minutes to an hour, they say... And I don't want to just get rid of my kids stuff when they aren't looking, for various reasons. I'm afraid they'll become stay hoarders because they're afraid someone will throw away their stuff when they aren't looking. I also don't feel like they'll learn some decision making skills and take pride in their accomplishments if they aren't a part of the decluttering process.
    I know this sounds like a lot of whining. It is. I know a lot of people have a lot more going on and they handle it just fine. And I have days where nothing bothers me. And I could stay home and organize etc. but I go out to lunch with a friend because, if that friend died tomorrow, I know I'd be much more glad I had that memory with her than a nicely organized cupboard.
   I was writing a condensed version of this to a family member who will be arriving in 2 days to explain why my house didn't look ready for company and I realized that despite everything, I'd lived to tell about it. And that sometimes, things are out of your control and there is no "taking the bull by the horns" and mastering the situation. You just dig your heels in and hang on until it's over. You respond the best way you can. And that's good enough. And sometimes "good enough" is great.