Crazy busy

I’ve been crazy busy this week preparing for Christy’s baby shower. I’m trying to pace myself so I don’t completely overdo it and end up useless by Saturday.

I did the grocery shopping for the shower today. One of the games we’re playing is “Guess the Poo”, wherein melted candy is placed inside a diaper, and then people guess which candy it is. It was done to me at my shower. Payback is awesome! Of course, to play the game, it meant buying several candy bars at the store. So, here’s the fat girl, leaning over with butt in the air, grabbing 8 candy bars. That was fun. Especially when I ran into someone I know.

A post about the shower will be up soon after the party. Until then, I offer up some party crafting and Rachael cuteness to tide you over.

Party decor doubles as a gift for baby boy’s nursery.

Rachael wanted to make a card for Christy and Mark. It’s a picture of a baby under a star mobile and a bunch of hearts. She asked me to spell the words out so she could write, “Your baby is special.”

And now these three remain

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Hylton Memorial Chapel was filled with hundreds of teens. I sit here and try to remember why so many church youth were gathered there. It may have been a speaker, but I think it was a Newsboys concert.
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At the end of the concert, the house lights came up a little, music played softly in the background, and an altar call was made. My friend, Kelly, whom I had invited, wanted to answer the call and asked if I would go with her. Surprised by her response, I agreed. We walked forward, ears still ringing from the loud music, and were paired with a young woman whose job it was to walk youths through committing their lives to Christ. As it turned out, Kelly was already Catholic, but wanted to reaffirm her faith. And since, in my experience, Catholicism wasn’t counted as good as evangelicalism, this was just as good as a conversion. The woman pulled out the go to tool of many an evangelizing Christian: a tract.
20140220-121132.jpg If you have five minutes, go to the website and see all the tracts they have for sale. It’s hysterical!

I don’t remember exactly what the tract said. But I do remember a cheesy and disturbing comic about a man who was just going along with the world and not making the right choices in life. He ends up on a train or in a mining car or something, heading straight into the fires of hell. I. was. mortified. I desperately wanted to distract Kelly with something shiny or ice cream, but we finished and then prayed “the prayer”.

This was the evangelical subculture in which I grew up. It parlayed dramatic conversion stories into more conversions. It used social pressure to coax knees to the altar. It co-opted secular culture for music and merchandising in order to appear “cool”, rather than creating something original. Scare tactics, like demonic possession and eternal hellfire, prevented depletion of the ranks. Men were leaders and women were helpers. One’s sexuality and sexual behaviors were of utmost importance.
People who weren’t virgins on their wedding nights were damaged goods who owed their spouses explanations. Girls who weren’t covered up enough led boys into temptation. I remember once, in elementary school, my church’s pastor lecturing and shaming me for having pulled down my pants while inside his daughter’s playhouse. You see, my body was created by God and shouldn’t be exposed that way. His daughter had told on me…right after she had pressured and dared me to do it in the first place. Homosexuality was a “lifestyle choice” caused by sexual abuse and poor parenting. One sexuality conference our youth group attended turned out to be a speaker from Exodus Ministries who “used” to be gay, but was totally “straight” now. Music, games, fellowship, and atmosphere allowed substance to be traded for style.

It wasn’t until I left for college that the trance I had been in was fully broken. Over time, I came to realize how shallow my faith was and just how much the pile of evangelical bullshit stank. I learned more about scripture and biblical history and scholarship in my secular college classes on the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Letters of Paul. My journey has led me to a place of “I don’t know”, which I’ve described as agnosticism. When I made that admission, I was worried how my conservative evangelical family would react, especially my mom. I was almost certain that she would tell me how much I was breaking her heart and God’s heart. But nothing happened.

Finally, this past Monday, my mom talked to me about it. She began by saying that between my blog and Facebook activity, it was pretty clear that my beliefs were different from what she thought they were. As she built to the emotional bomb she was about to drop, I tried to remain stoic. I had no interest in letting myself become vulnerable or getting into an unwinnable argument. As last, she said it: I don’t blame you.

Wait. What?


In fact, she was glad that I had turned away from the faith of my childhood. It wasn’t the real thing. She explained that, like me, she was learning to make her faith her own. It wasn’t all the little things that mattered; not the “rules”, what everyone else was doing, or having the right answers.
The more she and I talked, the less I was able to hold back my tears. And then, the gasps came, deep from within my chest and my soul. As I ugly cried and disposed of crumpled tissues, I was able to allow for some healing. Bitterness was eased by some understanding. As the pain I carried with me was validated, I began to let it go.

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And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
~1st Corinthians 13

He’s a keeper!


My relationship with, and eventual marriage to, Mike did not come quickly and easily. I first met him when my roommate, Martha, had him come to our apartment to fix my computer. From that night, we had a friendship and chemistry. We tried dating a couple of times, each ending in disaster. Fortunately, we still maintained a quirky and close friendship.

Mike has been different from every other guy. In addition to being kind, he’s sensitive, funny, and smart. We understand each other in ways that no one else does. We often joke that it’s good we found each other because no one else would put up with us. Like me, he has his own faults. But he is someone I hope my girls look to when they decide who’s good enough to spend their lives with.

If he spontaneously dances with you in the kitchen…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he can come up with the same lame joke you’re thinking…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he is willing to share in the household duties without complaint…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he does some of those duties without having to be asked…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he thinks it’s cute that you giggled a little at the word “duty”…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he spends his birthday with you in a hospital waiting room because you don’t want to go alone to your first MRI…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he will get up and take care of your baby during the night without complaint…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he will bring you Sprite and saltines when you’re not even dating because you are unbelievably hung over…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he encourages you in your own dreams and ambitions…he’s a keeper ladies.

If he doesn’t make you feel like you need to be someone other than yourself…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he treats you with respect, and not as a sex object…he’s a keeper, ladies.

If he doesn’t understand why you don’t want to share dessert…keep looking. I’m sure there’s someone out there who’s perfect for you.

Potions and snake oil


Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS are syndromes that vary in symptoms and experiences. This makes it difficult to treat. There is no magic bullet which will cure everyone. For some, medication and mild exercise is enough. For others, going gluten free makes a dramatic difference in the pain and fatigue they experience. Then there are people for whom no interventions make a bit of difference.

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed this morning, I came across a couple of links which touted success stories with different types of treatment options. I’ve seen vitamin blends which are supposed to fix your fatigue levels. I don’t know that I fully buy into that, but I at least appreciate that it tells you to consult your doctor. (And Vitamin D on its own does boost my energy.) What bothered me about the treatment I saw today, (I stopped after one because I became annoyed) was that it reels you in with the promise of hope and then, BAM! That’ll be a shitload of money for the cure, please. It feels very snake oil salesman-y.


I understand people need to make a living, but it stinks of bullshit to supposedly have this miracle cure that you used to heal yourself. And you’re willing to share it…for a price. Maybe this isn’t fair of me, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

That was badass!….for a girl

“So, why do you write these strong female characters?”
“Because you’re still asking me that question.”
~Joss Whedon

I never really noticed just now sexist and misogynistic the world could be until a few years ago. But once I saw it, like a disgusting, hairy mole on someone’s face, it became impossible not to notice. And I couldn’t look away. I’ve noticed it everywhere: television; news; the legal system; politics; religion. So pervasive is the male gaze and patriarchy, that it is still a fundamental part of our culture. Some of it is blatant, like slut shaming women for wanting access to birth control as a part of health care. Some of it is subtle, like the roles available to women in tv and movies. The past few days, I’ve particularly noticed it at the Sochi Olympics and in its coverage.

Photo credit Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

For the first time, women are allowed, (I cringe as I write that word) to compete in ski jumping. The reason for not allowing Olympic-level competition before? Medical reasons. Translation: women are frail and the landing will damage their baby bucket. So, while it’s been okay for men to jump, even though even 3-time Olympic champions have catastrophic accidents, there is serious concern for women because uteruses. I’m not even going to waste my energy arguing why this is sexist and fundamentally stupid! Although, I must concede, the logic is outstanding. Clearly, the internal sex organs of a woman are way more vulnerable than the external ones of a man. Of course, even though women are allowed to jump now, nothing’s perfect. Women are only allowed to use the regular jump, while the men may use both the regular and super jumps. I do appreciate Russian ski jumping coach, Alexander Arefyev’s, take on the matter.

“I admit, I do not advocate women’s ski jumping. It is quite heavy and traumatic sport. If a man were seriously injured, it is not fatal, but for all women may end up far worse. If I had a daughter, never would give in jumping — it’s too hard work. Women have a different purpose — to have children, do housework, to create a family home.”

At least he’s honest.

Image credit REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

I think most sports involving snow and ice are fucking crazy.

Oh, here is some snow on a really steep mountain. You know what would be a really good idea? Going to the top, strapping metal planks to my feet, and racing at breakneck speed to the bottom! What could possibly go wrong?

Ooh! Ooh! Let’s race down a twisty track made of solid ice at 80 mph. Dude! Even better? Let’s do it head first!

Snowboarding is no exception. My stomach churned as I watched men’s and women’s slope style and halfpipe competitions. With all the tricks, rotating and flipping upside down, is it any wonder that snowboarders have to be so naturally, (or, you know, herbally enhanced) chill?
I was so excited to see what Jamie Anderson could do, as I knew she was the favorite for gold in slope style. As the male announcers described her, I heard them say this: She’s the female Shaun White. Now, I know there wasn’t any bad intention in that comment. On the surface, it’s just the announcers trying to explain how good she is to the home audience. But underneath the comment, we see how male-centric, (especially in sports) our culture is. Rather than simply touting her own accomplishments and what she can do, they compare her to a man. Very rarely do you hear something like, Shaun White is the male Jamie Anderson. In this case, if that were true, White would also be leaving Sochi with a gold medal.


I’d like to clear something up for the male announcers. The women who are competing are strong, courageous, and determined. The women. Not girls. Women. It aggravated me to no end that, as I watched Erin Hamlin, Kate Hansen, and other lugers show off their general badassery, one of the announcers kept referring to them as girls. There isn’t a chance that they would refer to the men as boys. Again, I doubt their comments were meant to have a pejorative quality. But by calling these women girls, it diminishes them as women and undermines their accomplishments. Suddenly they are no longer equal to their male counterparts.


Finally, Erin Hamlin’s teammate, Kate Hansen, was criticized by male announcer and former luger, Duncan Kennedy, because her warm up was dancing.

“I would like to see something more sport-specific out of her.”

Now, maybe if a male luger had been popping and locking his way into America’s hearts, he would have said the same thing. I don’t know. What I do know for sure, is that his comment reveals that he clearly hates joy.
Enjoy the groove.

This blog post was tweeted by Rachel Held Evans after I finished my draft of this post. I don’t feel like commenting on it, other than to say, it will make you sad and laugh hysterically all at the same time. The author has found a lesson in patriarchy in Olympic figure skating pairs. And no, it’s not a joke.

“That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!”


I think Rachael may have her first schoolgirl crush. We spent a couple of hours writing out valentines yesterday. When we came to a particular boy on the list, Rachael suddenly decided to make her name extra fancy by drawing little curls on the ends of each of her letters. Her demeanor changed, and so I asked her if she liked this boy. She very coyly said no, and continued talking about him in a high pitched, airy voice. Both Mike and I think it’s cute, although Mike may be melting down over his little girl a tiny bit.
This made me start thinking about all the things I learned in my relationships along the way and what I would pass on to my girls. I will definitely tell them things like: don’t say I love you after having only dated a week; make sure your life is fulfilling and interesting without a relationship; “friends with benefits” never works out…NEVER; if he’s mean to you, it doesn’t mean he likes you. It means he’s an ass. I was a hot mess in college when it came to relationships. It was only in hindsight that I realized there were so many deal breakers in the relationships I had. Hopefully, passing along these deal breakers to my girls will help them avoid the same pitfalls and what Liz Lemon calls sexually transmitted crazy mouth.


If he borrows a book, “gives it to someone else”, and refuses to replace it when it’s lostthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he only calls or texts when he’s bored or has nothing better to dothat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he doesn’t stand up for you when his roommates are talking shit about you in the next roomthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he thinks tuning in Tokyo is hilarious, especially after you’ve asked him to stopthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he starts criticizing what you’re eating because you’re starting to get a bit chubbythat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he is a racist alcoholic. You’re not going to change him. Just….no.that’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he talks about nothing but himself and how awesome he isthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he tells you he tried to stab his brotherthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he tells you to get out right after you tell him you love himthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.
(No, that was not the one week “I love you”.)

If he yells that you don’t trust him because you don’t want to take a shot of Jäger medicinallythat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If you are pretty sure that he if just one step away from being that guy who makes out with or dry humps his carthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

If he doesn’t want to be seen with you in publicthat’s a dealbreaker, ladies.

So, what sort of deal breakers will you share with your kids to save them from being hot messes?

Clean up, pick up, put away…

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Our house is not the tidiest of places. Long ago, I gave up the losing battle of making sure toys were in the toy box at the end of the day. I have gotten to a point with my fibro where I don’t have the strength or stamina to take on the stress of making sure the girls clean up, let alone doing it myself. The result is floors littered with land mines of plastic dinosaurs and stuffed baby dolls, Legos and princess dolls, books and dress up accessories. Rather than picking things up, we clear paths from couch to kitchen to stairs.

But last week, I couldn’t take the mess in Rachael’s room any longer. So covered in toys, there was barely enough floor to clear a path. It became difficult to open her closet or dresser drawers because so much crap was in the way. So, before bed one night, I told her she needed to pick up the princesses, Minnie’s Bow-tique, and her princess dresses. This wasn’t a huge task; it would only take two minutes at the most. But, like most kids, Rachael’s initial reaction was to whine about having to pick up her things. Then she had the audacity to say the following: I’m tired of always being your house maid.


Oh, hell no!
When I was still in elementary school, we lived with my grandmother for awhile. At the time, she was working as a grocery store cashier. I don’t remember what possessed me to argue with her that she shouldn’t be tired because all she does is stand there all day. When my parents were told about what I said, punishment was handed out. I was to spend the following Saturday doing yard work. By the end of the day, I was begging to go to sleep.
That experience inspired me in my dealing with Rachael’s disrespectful attitude. No amount of yelling would make Rachael understand just how ridiculous what she said was. So I very calmly used my NPR voice and told her that what she had just said was very rude and disrespectful. I explained that it isn’t unreasonable to have her be responsible for her own toys, and that while I wash her dishes, her clothes, and pick up her toys, I do not make her responsible for my things. I informed her that, in order to show her just how little she had to do around the house, she would be spending the following Saturday helping me do all the chores I do around the house.

We began our Saturday morning attacking the piles of dishes that filled our sink and covered our counters. Rachael was giddy about having a chance to unload and load the dishwasher. She loved washing the baking sheets by hand. She declared that this was fun and easy, and that daddy’s job was much harder than mine. I erupted in shrill laughter and told her to give it time. It wasn’t long after that when she asked to sit down and take a break. Ehhhhhhhxcellent.

Over the course of the day, Rachael helped with two loads of dishes, sweeping floors, picking up toys in the living room and her bedroom, vacuuming, and dusting. Mike even pitched in to help Rachael with the laundry. There was some whining about wanting to be finished and there were unnecessarily long water breaks but, all in all, she had a pretty good attitude and plenty of energy. I, on the other hand, started breaking down by the time I was mopping the kitchen floor. I was getting so sore, but I wasn’t quitting, dammit! If I pooped out, Rachael wouldn’t learn her lesson. (And, more importantly, our powder room would remain super gross.) So I pressed on, fibromyalgia be damned.

By the end of it all, I spent some quality time with my heating pad and took a nap on the couch while Rachael twirled with her princesses.
How is this fair?

Before I read Rachael her bedtime story, I asked her if she still believed she was my house maid. “No!” she said with a silly smile and giggle. Good, I thought to myself. She gets it. Lesson learned. “Well,” she said, thoughtfully, “I was today.”


Patience is a virtue I can’t wait to have

The Goldbergs

If someone were to describe me, “patient” would not be anywhere near the top of the list. I would probably also say that I’m just a few turns short of tightly wound. These traits are not ones that predispose me to mother of the year. The universe, being the jackass goofy, fun-loving prankster it is, threw in fibromyalgia on top of those traits. The chronic fatigue that comes with it just drags any patience or composure I have down and repeatedly kicks them in the nuts. The result is a bear having been poked one too many times.

My self-control has been tested a lot lately, especially in the mornings before school. This morning, in particular, was epic. Rachael isn’t really a morning person. Much like me, she’d rather snuggle under her covers or stab you in the face than bounce out of bed with a smile. This morning, however, she was out of bed before I was. She came in to snuggle with me for a few minutes before walking downstairs for breakfast. As we began to head downstairs, she complained of her legs being cold and wrapped her blanket around her waist to keep her legs warm. It dragged on the floor in front of her. I told her I was afraid she would trip on it and asked her to pick it up and carry it normally. She whined and said she wouldn’t trip. We repeated ourselves a couple of times before she drama queened out, turning her back to me and shoving her face in the corner. She cried that it was her blanket and she’s the one who decides what to do with it. From there, she flopped to the floor in the fetal position on top of it. I firmly told her that if she didn’t get up and stop whining, she wouldn’t get to take the blanket downstairs with her at all. For some reason, she took this as her cue to get up and try to flee to her bedroom. I followed through on my threat and chucked the blanket down the hall. Much ugly, hysterical crying ensued. As she sat crying tears into her waffle, I tried to explain to her that it was a consequence of her choice. Eventually, because he speaks Rachael, Mike got her to calm down.
The rest of the getting ready process went smoothly until what is usually the worst part of the morning: getting out the door. This is the time that I have to scream at Rachael to put on her coat as she argues that she doesn’t have to wear a coat because she has on long sleeves. (It was 26 degrees and windy this morning.) This is the time when both girls become incapable of finding their shoes because they suddenly begin laboring under the misapprehension that their shoes are located on the ceiling. This is the time that Zoë believes I am violating the Geneva Convention on torture because I insist on her wearing gloves. All of this while we were supposed to be out the door three minutes ago. I am convinced that our neighbor is going to call social services on us at some point.

This evening, Zoë refused to eat her dinner. Instead, she insisted on only drinking her milk out in front of the tv. Being the horrible mother I am, I countered with eating her dinner in the kitchen or nothing. I did eventually get her to eat dinner; I had to bring dinner to an abrupt end when she decided to smear peanut butter everywhere and purposefully let milk spill out of her mouth.
Rachael, on the other hand, did a spectacular job eating her dinner. Her meltdown came later, when I prevented her from moving the trash can as much as she wanted. She’s been crossing days off her calendar, which hangs from a cork board above our kitchen trash. As she was moving the can, I became concerned that it would get knocked over, (it’s almost as big as she) and told her she didn’t need to move it anymore. Holy screeching crying fit, Batman! She screeched that dad didn’t do it that way and continued to scream incoherently through her tears. I sent her to her room to calm down. She walked to the stairs and continued screaming at me from the stairs. I told her again to go to her room, and that she could come back down when she was able to talk calmly. This was when she unleashed words which I thought I wouldn’t hear for at least a few more years: I’m the boss of me! You’re always telling me what to do! You’re just trying to make me like you!

“I’ll never be like you!”

Now, let’s rewind… fwurp fwip wup squip squeeeeeee wheep wurp…. and do that again. This time, let’s add in an unhealthy dose of soul crushing fatigue and hyper reactivity to stimuli, such as loud noises. Trying to handle such drama and shenanigans is hard enough when you feel like you have the resources to be an adequate mom. Remaining calm when you almost can’t catch your breath because your fatigue makes you physically feel like a human pretending to be Atlas is something the IOC should make an Olympic event.

Theory: Atlas dropping Earth because he has to scratch his balls is the real cause of earthquakes.

I’m sometimes successful in using what Mike calls your NPR voice to coax the girls into doing what they’re supposed to do. In fact, I prefer to remain calm so as not to wreck my voice and avoid pressure in my chest. But when you’re on your third or fourth time of asking your child to do something like, come here, you’re going to lose your cool a bit. The best part is when they say, Okaaaaaaay!, in an exasperated tone, like you’re the unreasonable one. If you weren’t so aggravated, you’d think it’s funny that you’re basically living out a scene from the Cosby Show. Come here. Come heeeeeere. Here. Here. Come heeeeeere!

I wish I had some sort of wisdom to share with others who live with fibromyalgia and ME/CFS and also have children, but I don’t. All I have is my hope that tomorrow will be better, that the kids will be more cooperative and I’ll be less screamy. Oh, and that their visits to the therapist when they’re older won’t be too expensive.