We Have a Code Dress


For the first time since Rachael began school, they had an assembly that included an emphasis on a dress code. Rachael informed me that any tank top had to have a two finger-width strap. An abridged Rights & Responsibilities packet that was more for kids came home, and a section specifically addressed dress code. There was nothing in it that set off alarm bells for me: cover your tummy and underwear; no inappropriate logos or swearing; wasn’t divided into a boys section and girls section. So it hasn’t been a problem, until this morning. 

Today, Rachael put on a dress that she has worn to school countless times. It is the dress seen above: a halter-style dress with spaghetti straps. 

Here it is again, making you feel uncomfortable because a 9 year old is showing off so much shoulder.


If it were inappropriate for school, I wouldn’t let her wear it. As we were walking out the door to the bus, Rachael stops, with an awful look of sudden realization on her face. 
“Mom, these straps aren’t two inches!”

There wasn’t any time to change, (and even if there were, I still wouldn’t have made her change.) So, now Rachael is going to be focused on worrying that she’s going to get in trouble for violating the dress code, rather than focusing on learning. I’ve at least raised her well enough to be indignant about the fact that the reason for the dress code rule is so too much skin isn’t showing. 
“That’s ridiculous!” she railed. “As long as you’re covered and there’s nothing hanging out, it’s fine!”

I told her that if she did get in trouble for some reason, that she had my permission to wear the dress and that I would get in someone’s face. Still, I know that her joy of making a cookie map of Virginia today has been slightly tainted by the fact that the school has made her self-conscious about what she’s wearing. 

My Children, My Chore

An artist’s rendering of the girls.

Online source, modified by me

My kids are spoiled, entitled, lazy, brats.  And it’s our fault.  Despite the fact that we say no, put our foot down, and don’t allow them to get away with shit, we’ve still managed to foster an environment in which one minute our children will be complete angels, and in the next they will be complete and total assholes. (I will say to be fair to Zoë, she does have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which I’m sure half of you will say is a made up disorder that is simply the easy way out from disciplining my child. To you I say, Bwahahahahahahaha! Oh, shit; you’re adorable!)
One of the ways in which this lazy brattyness manifests itself is through whining over chores. We have told the girls to help by cleaning their rooms, the living room, the basement where they have their playroom, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the cats, and putting away their clean clothes, but not with any regularity. On the rare occasion they follow through without the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but their marching orders are usually met with stomping, screaming, “Why do I have to do everything?”, (a personal favorite) and whining at a pitch that makes me surprised that the words “Some Pig” aren’t woven into a spider’s web at the tops of their door frames. These reactions are increased ten-fold if we have told them to turn off a screen in order to carry out these chores, at which time their screen privileges are threatened, and they shut the fuck up for awhile.  If the task involves cleaning a room, they will stand in the middle of the room, survey the damage, and then suddenly forget what anything they own looks like. Furthermore, they will flail about because they have temporarily lost the use of their arms and hands. The force of gravity will increase on their butts, and we will find them playing 10 minutes later, often having made the mess worse. When they are discovered by Mike or me, they will immediately jump up and plead for their lives by saying, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I got distracted!” Oftentimes, one will throw the other under the bus and say that it was their sister who had distracted them. It is also at this time that they will take the opportunity to ask for a snack, because they are absolutely dying of hunger. They, having done nothing and it having only been 10 minutes, are denied their request. This will set off a great and deep wail of hunger, in which they writhe around on the floor as though they are dying from demon possession. They are told that the sooner they finish, the sooner they can eat.

                                                                Image source

This process goes on loop for the next 1-3 hours, depending on who gives up first. Sometimes I stay with them to help them stay on task and, lo and behold, Rachael is able to remember that books do indeed belong on bookshelves. Sometimes I end up cleaning it up with them or for them because it’s easier and less exhausting than keeping them on task and yelling at them. And sometimes we hear them playing upstairs together nicely for the first time all weekend, and decide that’s more important that following through on being able to see carpet to walk upon.
And then, I had this amazing idea! I put my psychology degree to use and thought, What if we created a set list of chores for the girls to complete on a regular basis, for which they receive monetary reinforcement upon completion each week? I’ll call it, a Chore Chart! I can’t believe no one has thought of this before! I’ll take it to all the parenting magazines and blogs! It will revolutionize parenting and how children learn responsibility!

cfb0Zi46

…………………………………….. Ahem.

So far, Rachael’s like, Fuck yeah, I’ll do chores for money with a good attitude! We’ve tried rewards for chores before, money and candy, but I guess having it laid out for her helps Rachael understand and value what she can earn and how she can earn it.

Image via Pinterest

Zoë, on the other hand, took a lot of convincing. Once she understood that she would be saving money and be able to buy things she wanted that mommy and daddy didn’t want to buy with their own money, she thought it was awesome! However, when it came time to actually do said chores, I would have preferred my chances with an angry gorilla. Zoë’s funny, (in this case, funny uh oh) in that when she decides that she wants to do something, she’s a fantastic helper! She will actually do a good job of cleaning her room by herself, (sometimes of her own volition) if she’s in a good, amenable mood. When she’s not, there is no positive reinforcement, no bribe, no negative reinforcement, nor any punishment in the world that will move her to do what you want her to do. You could offer her a kitten party, on the beach, with all the ice cream and lemonade in the world, followed by a week at Disney World if she would just put away her clean clothes, and she would tell you, Yes, please! I would love all those things so very much, BUT I’LL NEVER, NEVER PUT AWAY MY CLOTHES BECAUSE I HATE HATE HATE IT SO MUCH! The way I managed to get her to put away her clothes yesterday was by staying with her and naming an animal for each letter of the alphabet for each item she put away. 27 items took around 90 minutes. She made up an extra letter called ölazella, and it makes the “biz” sound. No, I didn’t have anything else to do. Why do you ask?

I feel like I did have a small bit of genius by making weekly bonuses available. Each child will earn an additional 25 cents for each room if their bedroom, living room, and basement does not require cleaning at the end of the week. Each child will earn an additional 25 cents each week for a good attitude about their chores. This means that they do their chores without having to be asked or do not complain or have to be told multiple times to do their chores. Rachael suddenly became very eager to do all the household chores, including those which were not assigned to her.

So we’ll see if this helps with the lazy brat attitude. It already helped me this weekend; the kitchen stayed cleaner because Rachael stayed on top of unloading the dishwasher. This intervention is long overdue. I actually apologized to the girls this weekend for having a part in creating their shitty attitudes, right before making sure they understood that that doesn’t excuse their shitty behavior. In the meantime, maybe I should make a parenting chart for Mike and me. Gold stars for not giving in to girls’ whining! Rainbows for following through on punishments! Laser cats for less screen time!

Let’s Talk About My Uterus

The Wonder Years

I mean, everyone else is talking about my uterus.  Well, not mine specifically.  But what happens inside, outside, and around the uteruses of our nation’s women is deemed so important that they get their own special laws and Supreme Court rulings!  Hooray!  Don’t you just feel like there are so many legislators and jurists out there who are super concerned for women’s health and just want to protect us from ourselves?  I sure do!

For years, Republican state governments have been trying to weasel their way around Roe v. Wade, passing laws which make it increasingly difficult for women to have access to good healthcare and safe abortions.  The vitriolic pushback that met President Obama’s Obamacare rule for birth control coverage in insurance policies was astounding.  I wasn’t aware that we had time traveled back to the 60s and 70s, when only married women with permission from their husbands could gain access to birth control.  Eventually, after hard fought legal battles, the birth control provision went into effect, (with a few notable exceptions, (I’m looking at you, religious zealots!)  Now that President-elect Trump has a Republican House and Senate, who knows what sort of laws will be passed which strip women of their autonomy? And with Trump’s potential to fill more than one vacancy in the Supreme Court, will Roe v. Wade be relegated, a Vice President-elect Mike Pence said, “…to the ash heap of history.”

I used to believe that birth control was the gateway to parenthood.  What do you call people who use birth control?  Parents!  I used to believe that abortion was the easy way out and you were being selfish after being a slutty slut.  I even had a t-shirt from the Christian bookstore that said “Endangered Species” at the top and the Earth surrounded by animals, including elephants and panda bears.  But smack dab in the middle, with the Earth as its amniotic sac, was a white fetus.  Yeah.  I was that asshole.  I calmed down significantly during college, (you know, because those ungodly liberals exposed me to dangerous things like “ideas” and “critical thinking” and “other points of view”) but I remember when I had my lightbulb moment on abortion.  It was after my rape-adjacent experience.  In the morning light, he noticed that the condom had broken.  Shit!  So not only did I get to feel gross and guilty and ashamed of allowing someone to have sex with me, even though I didn’t want it, because it didn’t seem like my consent really mattered to him anyway, but I had to worry about whether or not I’d be knocked up with this shit-for-brains’ kid.  I don’t remember why I didn’t just go get Plan B* at the Health Center.  I remember thinking, There is no way I’m going to have the rest of my life ruined because of this.  If I end up pregnant, I’ll need an abortion.  

Oh.  It hit me.  What was apparent to plenty of other people had finally broken through the life-long pro-life programming- This was my body and my decision.  Whatever I thought was best for myself and my life wasn’t anyone else’s business.  And if something like this was happening in my life and I wanted this access to abortion and proper healthcare, without interference from outside forces who know nothing about me nor my body, then who the hell was I to limit other women in their choices?  I sure as hell wasn’t going to be one of those hypocritical people who justified their own abortion, but denied that choice for someone else.

Fortunately, I did not get pregnant.  Thanks to access to good healthcare, education, and a dose of good luck, I’ve only ever been pregnant on purpose.  (Tell a non-OB doctor some time that you might be pregnant because you’re trying to get pregnant.  It will confuse the hell out of them!)  I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to make that choice.  But I’ve thought about what Mike and I would do if I were to accidentally get pregnant now.  He and I have talked about it, and the reality for us right now is that another pregnancy and baby would be a catastrophe.  Both of my pregnancies with the girls were miserable; Rachael had me barfing until I delivered her and Zoë caused me to have a horrible case of PUPPPS for 20 weeks.  After experiencing pregnancy, I don’t think anyone should be forced to go through it, especially if the pregnancy is the result of sexual violence. Add that to fibromyalgia, which includes chronic fatigue as a symptom.  Now add one child with ADD and an executive functioning disorder and another with ADHD and Oppsitional Defiant Disorder.  Yeah, no.  We’re barely coping now.  So we take precautions.  I have a hormonal IUD which, not only prevents pregnancy, but also regulates a very painful uterine condition called adenomyosis.  Of course, now that I think about it, there are scientists people who feel the IUD is an abortifacient.  It’s not true, but that’s how they feel, so laws and mandates need to be changed so women don’t have access to not just medical and surgical abortions, but different forms of birth control.  But let’s not pay attention to the nitty gritty details of women’s healthcare.  That ruins all the fun, fun, fun!

Last night, I watched the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  Spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up.  

Main character, Rebecca’s, paralegal and best friend, Paula, has been accepted into law school.  At the same time, she discovers that the rekindling the passion in her marriage has led to her accidental pregnancy.  Paula has a full-time career, two children who are the worst, and a husband who, (bless his heart) is trying to pick up the slack at home so she can have the baby and go to law school.  But their family just isn’t in the right place to add another child, even without law school.  So, after agonizing over the decision, Paula makes a choice.  She chooses to have an abortion, not because she’s selfish or a bad person, but because it’s the best choice for her, her family, and their future.  Given the taboo nature of the subject, I was heartened to see it talked about in this context.  

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend


We see her, after having been to the doctor, lying in bed.  She’s not a devastated mess, but you can see the sadness in her eyes.  It wasn’t a decision she wanted to make, but she made that decision with her husband and her doctor.  Thank goodness no one was standing in her way, presuming to know what was best for her.

*I did end up using Plan B twice during college.  Again, thank goodness for access to healthcare.  And, no, those don’t cause abortions either, because science. 

And….They’re Off!

   

Our school year has finally begun!  And not a moment too soon, I think.  I had a difficult time doing much of anything this summer for some reason.  Mike had a hard time picking up the slack because he was under extreme stress from work and worry for the health of his parents.  So the girls had a massively high level of cabin fever and were ready to be among their own people, having recess and music, art and STEAM.  Even if it meant homework and getting up early on purpose.  
 

Our geeklet

Rachael is in 3rd grade, which is insane, and I refuse to accept it.  She’s approaching tweendom, with the rolling of the eyes, the annoyed attitude, and the noticing of boys.  After Back to School Night and Open House, I was a bit concerned over whether Rachael would have a good year.  And by a bit concerned, I mean I was kind of panicking and burst into an ugly cry after we got the girls into bed that night.  I had heard that third grade was a big jump from second grade, but after her teacher’s presentation all I could think was, Oh my god!  This is where the magic of learning comes to die.  I was also completely turned off when her teacher announced that there was no excuse for failing to complete the homework for each night.  After all, if she can teach all day and take classes at night to earn her doctorate, then our families are certainly able to ensure that our children complete their homework.  Look, I don’t have a problem with insisting on homework completion; that’s not the issue here.  Her seemingly myopic view of reality, in which she seemed to preemptively take offense at the notion that we all don’t have our shit together, (because she has hers together) just gets my back up.  Believe it or not, it is actually rather hard to squeeze in time for homework when you only have four hours to do a combination of the following: have a snack and recover from your day; spend time in time out for rolling eyes at mom/talking and/or screaming back; any after-school clubs and activities; dance class; dinner; chores; parents can’t help you read a word in your homework because your younger sister is having a complete meltdown; shower; read before bed.  But, I’m trying to let it go, (obviously, because I’m blogging about it) and hope that this is just a case of a not so great first impression.  Rachael seems to really like her. Also, they’re going to be studying rocks and soil this year, which is totally in Rachael’s wheelhouse, especially after just having gone to geology camp a couple of weeks ago.

I also hope that Rachael will work at establishing some more friendships this year.  Rachael is such a shy introvert that, prior to this year, she’s really only put her time and effort into her one best friend.  Unfortunately, her best friend is going to the gifted and talented elementary school this year.  Rachael will still see and play with her, as they just live around the corner.  She complained last year of feeling lonely.  I have explained to her over and over again that it’s fine to be an introvert, but if you want someone to be friends and want to play with you, you have to put in the effort now.  You actually have to speak to people and try to engage with them.  I asked her if she played with anyone at recess yesterday.  She said no, she did her own thing.  “But, I talked with people at lunch and at my table in class.  Happy?”  This morning, I introduced her to the older brother of Zoë’s new kindergarten best friend.  He is also in third grade, and doesn’t know many people because he has been homeschooled prior to this year.  I figured, he needs a new friend, she needs a new friend, win win win.  Right?  Guys, if the scowls little girls give could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this.  

A little anxious, but ready to go!

In the days leading up to the first day of school, I had never seen Zoë so anxious about anything.  Maybe because it was one of the few times when she managed to put her fears into words, rather than simply acting out.  Oddly enough, she was really focused on worry over not being able to operate the computers and their programs correctly.  I think she felt a bit of relief once we met her teachers and saw her classroom.  Fun fact: although she has a teacher who is new to the school, it’s the same classroom Rachael was in for kindergarten and the same assistant teacher!  I’m thankful for the teacher Zoë has.  She’s been teaching for 20 years, holds degrees in both general and special education, and has four children of her own.  So, just like the Femputer on Futurama, she know what do.  There will be an additional special education teacher in the room to assist Zoë.  While Zoë is fine, academically, for kindergarten, she does have an IEP for ADHD and the social behavioral issues which stem from that disorder.  So we feel like she’s in really good hands and feel good about our decision to send her on to kindergarten.

It was exciting on Back to School Night to find out that a friend from Zoë’s preschool class would be in her class this year!  Zoë was also introduced to another little girl by her teacher that night who, lo and behold, we found at our bus stop yesterday!  They were so excited to see each other!  I know it made Zoë’s apprehensiveness, with regard to riding the bus, lower just a bit.  Once the bus came, Zoë knew the drill and dutifully walked toward the bus steps.  I practically had to grab her in order to kiss her goodbye because she was so focused on her mission.  At the bottom of the steps, she paused and looked up at the driver hesitantly.  With some gentle encouragement from the driver, Zoë almost literally climbed those huge bus steps.  Mike and I watched Zoë and her friend as they tried to figure out where they should sit, finally settling on the seat behind the driver.  And, in all the chaos and focusing on Zoë, Mike and I failed as parents and accidentally didn’t say goodbye to Rachael.  I made sure to give her extra hugs and attention when they got home.

Zoë was exhausted when she came home.  She had had a great first day of kindergarten!  She was terribly excited to have gone to the library and checked out her first book, Silverlicious.  (Okay, I like the Pinkalicious series, but can we all agree that Pinkalicious is a giant brat, and it’s probably because her parents never seem to punish her for bad behavior?)  The class took a tour of the school, under the pretense of looking for the mouse from, If You Bring a Mouse to School.  Zoë giggled as she showed me the movements they learned during the movement activities her class did, forming a potato with her arms over her head, and then peeling the potato one arm at a time.  She made a fish tail with her hands on her lower back and wiggled her toush, demonstrating how the students maintain their personal space in line.  As Zoë chattered on and on about the things they did at school, her new best friend from class and the bus stop, and how she wanted to make a pretend school classroom of her own, it was clear that her anxiety about kindergarten had been dropped on the ground and left behind.  After all, she had better things to do.

Mike told them to make a silly face.

Checking In

I realized my last post was a month ago, so I thought I had better check in so I didn’t lose your interest to a blog with a post this month about knitting your own clothes from dryer lint. (I know I can’t compete with blogs like Gwyneth Paltow’s Goop and learning to get in touch with your inner baby spirit guide by mixing your tears with organic, single-sourced kamboucha. That shit’s just on another level of realness.) 

Since I last posted, I’ve had what feels like a ton of meetings with special education for our county to get an IEP, (individualized education plan) for Zoë so she can begin kindergarten in the fall. First, we had the meeting to determine if she’s eligible to be evaluated if she’s eligible for services. Then they evaluated her to determine if she’s eligible to be evaluated. She was eligible, so they evaluated her. Then we had the meeting to go over their findings and under which criteria they would try to make a case for her to be eligible for services. Then we had the meeting saying, Congratulations! You’re eligible for services! And next week, we’ll have a meeting to make Zoë’s IEP and which services to include in it. Phew! I’m out of breath just typing that. In addition, we had Zoë tested privately. The results came back with ADHD, combined inattentive and hyperactive type, (to which we and anyone who knows Zoë said, Duh!) ODD- oppositional defiant disorder, which we weren’t totally surprised by, and the need to rule in/out an additional mood disorder. So that’s a lot to take in. It’s one thing to know it for yourself, but another to have it confirmed. And I swear to god, the first person to suggest that I just try and fix it by modifying her diet will be cunt punted into a locked room with Zoë for a week. 

I made myself pretty. Then I made my bedroom walls pretty. For the third time. This week.


I finally bit the bullet and had a sleep study done so they can diagnose the sleep apnea I don’t have. 

It’s pretty amazing that I slept wonderfully well with all this equipment on. And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell ya. 

We also had our week at the beach. For some reason, it was kill Julie week. The sunscreen we brought didn’t work two days in a row on my shoulders, so I ended up with a super sexy second degree burn. 

I was also assaulted by our umbrella on the last day we sat down on the beach. It was incredibly windy and Mike was having a difficult time getting the umbrella to remain anchored. I didn’t even see it coming; I was futzing around with the camera when, all of a sudden, SMACK! Right in the forehead with the heavy wooden stake. Fortunately, a few guys rescued the umbrella while others checked on me and gave me ice for my head. 

I’ll end the post with the obligatory spamming of pictures of my children at the beach. The thing that had Mike and me in giggle fits, and what I’ll always remember about this trip, was the girls pretending to be ninjas, taking on the ocean. Little sister, always wanting to do what big sister does, followed Rachael’s lead. They twirled, kicked, jumped, and chopped with sisterly synchronicity. I’m pretty sure my favorite move was the funky chicken. 

Digging Out

 

No Weeping Angels were harmed in the making of this blog post….because they’re quantum-locked.

 
Greetings from the melting land of Snow Pussies, which we Virginians apparently are.  Several days after northerners finished making fun of us for freaking out over 3 feet of snow, (we don’t usually get this much snow, and so aren’t necessarily equipped to deal with this much.  So, yeah, we’re the assholes) we’re continuing to melt….and melt down.  In the past two weeks, Zoë has only been to school twice and Rachael has only been once.  If Rachael doesn’t have school on Monday, I think we’ll all lose our goddamn minds.  
  
  
Mike has taken the girls out to play in the snow twice.  The first time ended in a massive number of tears, not because they were hurt or had to come in too soon.  No, it was because the snow was too powdery. Seriously, Rachael had a teenage level of angst over the fact that they weren’t able to throw snowballs or make snowmen.  She yelled at me that she was never going out in that snow again, as though I had caused the wrong kind of snow to fall. So, naturally, she was out there a few hours later, making snow forts and throwing snowballs with her friends.  

 

Note my child in the orange coat, preparing to throw a what? A snowball!

 
I’ve been pretty worthless as a mom this week.  I’ve managed to engage with the girls in a few activities other than TV watching, (Legos, bead-making, painting) but the pressure changes from before, during, and after the storm have bitch-slapped me up and down.  I managed to take them to a bounce house yesterday, and then spent the rest of the day in bed from a migraine.  I haven’t bothered trying to wrangle them outside by myself; I know it would land me on my butt from pain and fatigue for days.  On Thursday, the girls made a pillow fort, over which they promptly argued.  My solution was to yell at them to stop yelling and show them the feebleness of their fort by making one for them.

 

Rachael asked to watch tv within 2 minutes of me finishing this.   

…..*whispers* send help…..

Hope for Kaidence 

 
This is Kaidence, my cousin’s 4 year old little girl. Kaidence suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, which makes her ineligible for the traditional treatments. She has suffered over 350 seizures since they began at 11 months old. Her entire story is here.

They weren’t able to fully enjoy trick or treating last night because Kaidence seized while going door to door.  Kaidence is not getting a chance to have a normal childhood because epilepsy keeps stealing it from her. 

Kaidence and her parents need your help.  They’re unable to afford treatment from any doctors who might actually know what they’re doing.  They don’t have a spare $15,000 lying around, which is the cost for their portion of adopting a seizure dog for Kaidence.  In the last 48 hours, when the campaign began, several fantastic people have given generous support. But we’re still a long way from the goal. Please, please, if you are able, please find it in your heart to help this happy, little girl who fights and struggles every day.  Please share Kaidence’s story with anyone who is willing to listen and may be willing to help. I have hope that with the right resources, Kaidence will be able to get what she needs. 

Her mother, Samantha, said to me today, “That is truly amazing and such a blessing. Alex and I have been so used to struggling and going without and taking out loans to cover things and it’s just amazing that our friends and family and people we don’t know are so willing to donate for Kaidence.”

America Needs You to Stop

Image via Huffington Post

  There have already been dozens of op-eds, articles, and blog posts about gun control in the wake of yet another mass shooting in Oregon, (and now another in Arizona!  There was another school shooting between when I began this post and now.  What the actual fuck, people?!) but I decided I needed to pile on anyway.  Once upon a time, people changed minds with well-written essays or impassioned speeches.  Anyone who is completely against new gun control regulations will not be a fan of this post.  While I don’t expect to change any hearts and minds, I hope that you will at least listen to what I have to say.

You don’t need a gun.

Correction: unless you’re an on duty police officer or military personnel, living completely off the grid and need to hunt and gather your food, or are training for the Winter Olympics biathlon, you don’t need a gun.  You may want a gun, but you don’t need a gun.  This is not to be mistaken with the idea that you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun.  But so far, I haven’t heard a single persuasive argument as to why someone needs to have a gun.  For example:

“I like to go hunting.”
Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.  And truth be told, I don’t have a problem with someone hunting and eating what they’ve hunted.  I mean, Bambi is delicious!
“And I need a high powered rifle to hunt with.  It will allow me to get a cleaner shot so it will die quickly and not suffer.”
Nope.  You lost me.  You want a high powered rifle.  Plenty of people were able to hunt just fine before high powered rifles.  Hell, if you want to be an impressive marksman, go back to bow hunting.  And as far as not wanting your kill to suffer, that’s really sweet.  But if you’re so concerned about the welfare of the animal and its suffering, I suggest maybe not hunting.  

“I need to protect myself/my family.”
I really and truly do have sympathy for that idea.  Nothing is scarier than being attacked while defenseless.  Whenever I hear a strange sound in the house, my thumb hovers over the “send” button for 911.  Sometimes I might take a large kitchen knife with me.  In my mind at those times, I think I’m going to be like fucking Jack Ryan or Katniss and defend myself like I know what I’m fucking doing.  Here’s the thing, though.  None of us are Jack Ryan or Katniss Everdeen.  The likelihood of someone successfully defending themselves with gun in a home invasion is low, while the possibility of someone in the home being injured is high.  How often do we read stories about children accidentally killing their sibling or friend because they were messing around with a gun?  What about some asshole kid in Tennessee who murdered an 8 year old little girl the other day because she wouldn’t let him play with her puppy.  How about the girl in Arizona who accidentally killed her shooting instructor, even though she had learned proper gun safety?  The father who killed his own son because he believed him to be a home invader? Then there’s the fact that a gun in the home significantly increases the likelihood of a woman to die because of domestic violence. I will grant that there are a handful of stories where a resident was able to fight off their attacker with a gun, but that isn’t the norm, and it still doesn’t make having a gun in the home a good idea.  People survive parachute accidents.  That doesn’t mean we should all start jumping out of planes without chutes.

“I like to go shooting at the shooting range.”
Blink. Blink.  How liking to go shooting is more important than people’s lives is beyond me, but okay, I’ll play along.  Rent the goddamn things at the range like a club at putt putt.  And yes, I’ve been shooting…with a gun my ex-boyfriend was able to buy on the Internet.

“2nd Amendment rights!  Constitution!  Founding Fathers!  Liberty from a tyrannical government!  Hitler!
Let’s make one thing very clear: if you have always lived in this country, (with some obvious exceptions) you don’t know from tyranny.  And do you honestly think our government is going to come after you?  1) We liberals who aren’t pacifists aren’t usually fans of war anyway.  2) It’s highly doubtful that our military would follow orders from President Obama or a liberal Congress or any other liberal in power to war against its own citizens.  The portion of our military that isn’t Republican and telling our  liberal government to go fuck themselves would likely object to such action.  3) Let’s assume they do come for you, (for… reasons?) I seriously doubt the small arsenal you possess will do much against a tank or five.  But seriously, they’re. not. coming. for. you.  And the whole Hitler reason is bollocks.  And as a wise person once said to me, “If you invoke Hitler in an argument, you automatically lose. Those are the rules.”

The fact of the matter is, if your desire to have a gun is more important than the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of victims, then you’re a bad person.  Full stop.  If you’re arguing against or preventing gun control because you don’t want to make it more difficult for you to get a gun, then you have some seriously fucked up priorities.  Stop using bullshit arguments in order to keep your precious metal penises.  

Stop using Chicago as a reason to not regulate guns.  That’s like saying, Passing laws against driving drunk hasn’t stopped everyone from doing so, so we might as well not do anything.  It’s an excuse, nothing more, and you know it.  One must be true: either banning handguns in other countries has worked to drastically diminish this sort of gun violence or our country has a disproportionate number of the world’s murderous people.  Otherwise, I look forward to ceasing attempts to ban abortion and the decriminalization of  marijuana.

Stop saying that we just need better gun education and safety.  If that were true, there wouldn’t be accidents all the time.  My cousin wouldn’t have accidentally shot himself in the torso and then fought for his life. The fact is, people are stupid.  We just are.  We make mistakes.  We think we’re invicible, (I’m looking at you, 16-22 year olds.)  Then again, sex education has totally eliminated unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Wait…

Stop saying that we need to fix mental health care.  It may be true that mental health plays a part in the reason people go on these shooting rampages, but deflecting to mental health as the only reason is insulting to those of us who live quietly with mental health issues every day.  But thank you for continuing to propagate the stigma of mental illness.  Also, many times, the first indication that someone is seriously mentally disturbed is after people have been murdered.  And even if there are indications, that doesn’t mean they have been adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous, as in the case of the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre.  

Stop saying that only good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.  If that were true, Chris Mintz didn’t get the memo.  Nor did Aleksander Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Spencer Stone, (who, I am happy to say, is recovering from being stabbed last night.)  Not to mention, the late Colonel Bill Badger, who tackled the gunman in Tucson, AZ during Gabby Giffords’ campaign stop.  These heroes, and countless others, subdued these attackers without guns.
Then there are the would-be heroes who create problems, accidents, or get themselves killed.  Armed civilians have yet to stop a mass shooting. 

 Furthermore, escalation by putting guards with guns on school campuses will only open the schools up to accidents, (or “accidents”) and scare the shit out of the teachers and students.  It’s a place of learning, not a war zone.  I sure as fuck don’t want armed guards patrolling my girl’s schools.  And yes, I know about the meme from school shootings past, that suggests we should be like Israel and have guards at schools with semi-automatic weapons.  Well okay, but then I think we should have the car bombs and suicide bombers to go with them, then.

Finally, stop saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” and that if they don’t have guns, they’ll just use a knife or a baseball bat, etc.  Fuck off; guns kill people.  And as we’ve seen over the past two decades, they cause a lot of damage.  Plus, it’s not like you have some magical plan to make people change.  So we need to make it as hard as possible for anyone to get ahold of such devastating weapons.  Weapons which have the potential to be far more devastating than a knife or baseball bat, and you know  it, so cut it out.  

I’m too weary to write a real conclusion.  It’s beyond me why people are fighting tooth and nail to hold onto this culture of death. Even if you’re just having target practice, they are still deadly weapons.  A friend pointed out that we put people through more paces to get a driver’s license.  Why are we not taking more care with guns?  Fewer deadly weapons leads to fewer deaths.  It’s just common sense.  

I know this post has probably read more like a jumble of words I just threw at the screen. I’m angry. I’m exhausted. I’m incredulous. I’m a little hopeless. I need this to stop. America needs this to stop. 

Kids and Cats

This bed is mine now! My crazy eyes make it so!

Since becoming a parent, I have seen many articles on whether having pets is just like having children. You have one camp who only has pets, sometimes by choice and sometimes not, who claim their pets as their babies, while people with children shake their heads and smile smugly because these pet owners just have no idea. 

Now having both, I feel like I can definitely declare that having pets is more like having human children than those smug parents would like to admit. True, I don’t have to put away money for Kitty College. Nor do I have to worry about whether or not my parenting will lead to my cats being self-involved assholes with “affluenza” once they’ve grown up. But I keep adding to the list in my head every time I realize that I’m doing the same exact thing I’ve done with my own kids. 

Get cats, she said. It’ll be therapeutic, she said.

1) I have to feed them.
Pretty self-explanatory, though not always as easy as it would seem. As with children, I can’t just give my cats any old food.  I have to make sure that the food I give them has good nutrition.  Last week, Bridgette and Belle’s dry food gave Belle wet, sloppy shits, some of which ended up on our carpet.  Parents, don’t tell me you have had to deal with horribly messy poo because your child ate something s/he shouldn’t have eaten.
And once you do find food that’s right for your pet, they have to want to eat it. Cats can be especially picky, looking at you like you’re a fucking sociopath before they haughtily saunter away, because you dared to feed them salmon when they much prefer turkey giblets in gravy.  

2) I have to clean up their shit. 
Congratulations! They’re using the litter box you provided for them. Now, get down on your hands and knees and scoop it out.  If that isn’t analogous to changing a diaper, I don’t know what is. There are even times when I have to check and wipe my cat’s ass because it wasn’t clean enough after going potty, just like when Zoë hasn’t wiped well enough. 

3) I am paranoid about their health.
New parents, especially, all have had those nights when they’re trying to decide if their baby’s temperature warrants a call to the doctor.  Then there are the nights they can’t fall asleep because their child is coughing because of a cold, and they’re pretty sure their child is in the next room choking on their phlegm.
Similarly, I now have two more lives in my care, which means I get to make Bridgette go through a deep clean ear wash, and then worry about whether or not Bridgette shaking her head means that it didn’t work, she has ear mites, and they’ve caused her to have an ear infection. Last week when Belle wasn’t eating her wet food as much and began having wet, gloppy poo, I did what all parents do and searched the Internet for what my poor kitty was afflicted with. And, like all parents who have foolishly searched the Internet when their kids are sick, I became freaked out that she had parasitic worms that are difficult to eradicate and that I would have to follow her around for the next year catching her anal leakage and cleaning up whatever I didn’t catch.  This is compounded by the fact that I can’t exactly ask them how they’re feeling or where it hurts. Well, I can, but the only cat I speak right now is, “food”, “get up”, “sit down”, “pet me”, “play with me”, and “Mama!  Halp!  That crazy girl, Zoë, is chasing me again. Gah!  Now she’s touching me. Dude!  STAHP!”

4) I have to get a babysitter.
While someone doesn’t need to supervise them at all times, we can’t just take off for a week and hope they don’t have a kegger while we’re gone. As with a babysitter, I have to find a friend or boarding who will meet my cat’s needs and ensure that my feline family is alive and well when we return. 

5) I have to keep them from getting into things.
Anyone who’s had a toddler knows the feeling of having to constantly bird dog someone. You’re constantly on the move saying, “Don’t touch that!  Don’t eat that!  No going over there….and don’t do that either!”  As Belle is still a kitten, we have to do this with her more than Bridgette. Her specialty is locating ponytail holders; she’s obsessed! If there is one in the house that isn’t put away, rest assured she will find it. Then there’s chewing on paper, the living room rug, and kid’s toys.  This morning I had to stop her from chewing on a pushpin. Many of you know the feeling of asking your child, “What did you just eat?” and prising their mouths open, hoping they haven’t always swallowed whatever was in there.
I have to stop them from climbing on certain pieces of furniture.  They mostly have free reign, but the dining room table, countertops, and entertainment center are no-no’s. So naturally, Belle has to be on them all the time. She swaggers onto the table, sniffing around until I shoo her off. Of course, most of the time, she just looks at me quizzically like she’s thinking, “What?  I do this all the time when you’re not here.”  Trying to guide/push her off the table leads to her sitting down, clearly having performed the permanent sticking charm.  (Professor McGonagall, is that you?)  Have you ever tried to make a toddler go somewhere s/he doesn’t want to go?  Dead weight is my favorite.  And of course, I have to repeat this exercise with her several times within the span of a few minutes.  As far as cats and kids are concerned, “No!” is just an opening bid.  

6) Sibling rivalry is a thing.
Why do siblings fight?  They fight because they have different personalities. (Rachael is an introvert; Zoë is an extrovert.)  They fight because they have different agendas/ideas of fun.  (Rachael wants to watch tv.  Zoë wants to role play Team Umizoomi for the millionth time.)  They both want the same thing at the same time.  (“Nooooooo!” Rachael shrieks as Zoë tries to take a toy away.  Zoë whines back, “I had it first!”  I frequently refer to the noise they make as listening to feral cats fighting.)  They both want to protect their territory from the other.  (“Get out of my room!”; “I was in this chair first!”)
It’s not any different having cats. Energetic kitten, Belle, believes that now would be a great time to jump on Bridgette’s back.  Generally more sedate, Bridgette doesn’t agree, looks at Belle as if to say, “The fuck is wrong with you?”, and pushes Belle away.  A fun rough and tumble can quickly give way to Bridgette smacking the shit out of Belle because she wants to establish her dominance and possession of the cat tree at that very moment.  As with kids, she didn’t give two shits about the cat tree until that very moment, when Belle wanted up. 

“Come and get it, biznatch!”

 
It’s actually almost easier to deal with the girls when they’re not getting along. I mean, I can intervene if the cat fight gets too intense, but telling them that they had better stop or they’ll lose TV for the rest of the day hasn’t had the same effect that it does on Rachael and Zoë. 

7) You wouldn’t trade them for anything.
When you adopt a pet, they become a part of your family. You know, unless you have extenuating circumstances…or you’re a monster.  Those sweet faces you fell in love with grow into creatures with unique personalities and quirks. Fairly soon, you don’t entirely remember life before you had your furry companions.  

An Update in Pictures…and Words

Image via howtogeek.com

I have to be honest; I didn’t really feel like writing this morning.  Or lately.  Mike and the girls are at church on this cool, dreary day, and all I want to do is drink coffee, eat pumpkin donut holes, read Harry Potter, and get off my lawn!, etc. etc.  So I’m totally phoning this one in, but I felt like updating y’all on my life.  

We adopted two little, fluffy girls at the beginning on August.  We had been talking about getting cat(s) for awhile, but wanted to wait for a slightly less inconvenient time.  The timetable to move up the adoption to now from Mike holding off on it indefinitely came about as a result of my well-reasoned argument of, “Fluffy kitties will cure my fibro,” and big, sad eyes.  

  
We ended up adopting Bridgette, a 3 year old black shorthair, originally from the island of St. Thomas, and Sweetie Belle, a 5 month old gray tabby, from King Street Cats in Alexandria, VA. They’re an all volunteer, no kill shelter, and are fabulous.  Mike really wanted a black cat.  He grew up having two black cats, and also wanted to give a black cat a good home, as black cats are adopted the least. Why?  Because we’re a nation of superstitious numbskulls. She was very shy the first time we went, but hopped into Mike’s lap and adopted him the second time.  Sweetie Belle, née Thunder, adopted me.  She jumped into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.  Now, we hadn’t intended to get a kitten, but I made a well-reasoned argument that Bridgette didn’t seem to like me, and it was pointless to get a cat if it didn’t like me, too.  On top of that… 

 
Adding them to our family has not been without its stresses. They didn’t totally get along for the first couple of weeks.  Time, our cat whisperer, Holly, and a Feliway pheromone diffuser have now made them cats who sniff and lick each other and pummel each other with sibling affection.   Otherwise, having cats has been easy. (Besides Belle feeling the need to eat and climb on everything.) Having cats and Zoë has been a challenge. Zoë is very much like Darla from Finding Nemo. She feels the need to chase both the cats, get in their faces, pick them up or pet them like she’s trying to juice an orange, and doesn’t understand why they run from her because she’s certain that they love her. So yelling at her constantly to leave the cats alone is a teensy bit stressful.

And now, for your entertainment, I present cat videos!

 

 
Peekaboo!


Lay down and take your bath like a man, dammit!

School Daze

Both girls are finally back to school. Rachael began second grade and lost her first tooth.   

How did this happen?

 
I felt completely unprepared and freaked out about school beginning again.  She seems to be enjoying her class, and she hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, cut her hair or hidden under her desk like the beginning of last year.  She also hasn’t had any homework yet, so I’m pretty sure I’m just being lulled into a false sense of security.  Zoë had a good first two days at preschool and has a few friends from her class last year in there.  Plus she hasn’t burned anything down yet, so that’s a plus.  

The Bitch is Back

By July, I was in a good place: my pain was at an all-time low and my energy was at an all-time high.  So, naturally, that’s not the case now at all.  I stopped going to acupuncture because it was almost $400 per month to go every week.  Shortly after I began treatment, my acupuncturist began accepting insurance from the company with which we are insured.  But, of course, our plan doesn’t cover acupuncture.  I need to start going back a couple times per month, though, because it seems like acupuncture was the key to reducing my pain and increasing my energy, which annoys the fuck out of me for some reason.  I say it seems to be the key because it was the only thing that changed over the summer.  My meds didn’t change.  I was still going to physical therapy 1-2 times per week.  Yet, my neck and back began aching all the time.  The pain in my feet and legs forced me to hobble to my destination upon standing.  My pain was waking me up at night. My morning stiffness, or as Mike jokes- pain boner, wasn’t eased by stretching. My energy has plummeted, forcing me to take accidental naps during the day.  

I am really thankful for physical therapy.  I highly recommend The Jackson Clinic, especially the clinics that offer aqua therapy.  The therapists were warm, supportive, and would genuinely get excited for my progress.  They never pushed me past my limits and really listened to me.  My strength and flexibility significantly increased between the spring and the end of August, when I was graduated.  I’m now able to shave my legs without feeling the need to amputate at the knees.  When I began PT, it was hard work for me to lie down and tighten my core while pushing down on an exercise ball with my arms for five reps.  Now I’m able to step up on a box and balance on one leg while pushing/pulling a resistance band for 15 reps on each leg.  I learned how much orthotic inserts for my shoes eased the pain of walking and exercise.  (Of course, every time I read or hear the word “orthotic”, I hear Hank Hill saying it in the episode when he learns he has no ass and needs an orthotic so he can sit without pain.) Even squats, which have always killed my knees, became painless.  They also showed me how changing my posture relieved a lot of pain in my lower back.  Tuck that booty and tighten that core, people!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sit with the posture they wanted from me, as it caused me to feel like I had weighted meat hooks stuck in my shoulder blades.  

So, what have you all been up to?