Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exhaustion

It is no secret that in the third trimester sleep declines. The quality and the quantity. Back pain, heartburn, bathroom breaks, the list goes on. All these things interfere with restful, restorative sleep.
I wonder why sleep would be elusive.

So far I've been okay. I've had a bit of decline in quality, but I've never been a good sleeper. And I am blessed with a husband who lets me sleep when I can. He's really picked up a lot of my slack and I appreciate it.

But certain days it is worse. I've had a few bad nights. I've had a few early mornings. And I've had a few long days. Today, however, has been especially hard for me as it combined all three. I didn't sleep well last night. there just didn't see to be any comfy positions available. Then I woke up in the early morning and just couldn't get back to sleep. I finally got back to sleep about an hour before my husband came in to wake me for the day. (He gets up automatically, eliminating the need for an alarm clock. It's very convenient.)

I had put in my wake-up call for earlier than my normal time to get up. My Bountiful Baskets pick-up is just before my body wants to be awake. But it is so close that I choose to rise earlier rather than have to drive farther.

Then I filled in for a friend at a Baby Shower for military wives. That took all afternoon. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did it. But it was right over potential nap time. I stifled more than one yawn, especially during the never-ending speechifying.

The rest of the day I'm taking it easy. This is my second day of sleep deprivation, and I'm definitely feeling the effects. So forgive me if this post is less than coherent. My higher functions have shut down.
What is this "sleep" you're referring to?

The real effect this has had, though, is to remind me that, come October, this will be my natural state for a while. With Squiggle, I was a zombie for a good 6 months. No that wasn't when she started sleeping through the night, that was just when she started to sleep, instead of screaming herself into passing out. I never got more than 3 hours sleep in a row with her and I truly hope that this time is better. But even if I have a typical experience, exhaustion will be the buzz word for a while. Newborns wake up a lot. That means as a breastfeeding mom, I will be waking up as well. Unless I can teach my husband how to latch the baby on to me while I sleep.

But I'm pretty sure that's just me dreaming.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Baby X has a Nickname!

So, you already know about Squiggle and how she got her nickname. We felt sure that a nickname for this baby would come to us. (Admittedly, I thought it would come before the last quarter of my pregnancy.)

Not knowing the gender, we couldn't call this baby by name if we wanted to. Which I don't think I'd be comfortable doing anyway. Now we no longer have to call our baby "Baby X" or "the new baby" or "it."

There isn't really a cute story to go with how it came to us. I even asked my husband afterward if he could recall how it came to be and he couldn't remember. We were just talking about our new baby's movement patterns and he came out with it. The perfect nickname. To go with big sister Squiggle, we now have....

Wriggly. We have Wriggly.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Punctuation: The Period

This is fairly easy. A period marks the end of a sentence.  It is a lovely thing to offer your readers.  The period will let people know where one thought ends, and another begins. Traditionally it is followed by a capital letter to further clarify one's meaning.

Things can get confusing without a period if you don't use a period then I can't tell where one thought ends and another begins things just run together we can avoid this by simply using the most basic punctuation mark my words it will increase comprehension of your writing

If you don't use periods I will most likely give up and move on to something easier to read. My time is valuable and there are many things vying for my attention, whether it is on a blog, Facebook or anywhere else. I have friends whose status updates, stories and other written items I refuse to read because it is just too much work to decipher them.

And I am not alone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family Reading Hour

One of the things I always wanted in my house was a library. Shelves filled with books, comfy seats soothing atmosphere, you get the idea. For years I thought it was a pipe dream. Just too impractical. We'd never have a house with enough space. Well now we do. In fact, the "loft" was one of the signs we felt were drawing us to the house. It was even painted a deep rusty orange, my favorite color.

So far, we haven't made use of it. Reading is a time consuming venture. I've lost more hours to books than I have to my bed. I just knew that if I sat in my chair up there that I would be in danger of never escaping.

The problem is, I am still wasting much of my time. In unfulfilling pursuits. Television, surfing the web, sitting around not accomplishing anything due to self pity; none of these thing enrich my life at all. Plus, they are definitely not how I want to raise my children.

I grew up reading all the time. The only times I got in trouble at school were when I was reading a book for fun instead of doing my schoolwork. One of my goals as a parent is to have my children follow in my footsteps. (The love of reading, not the getting in trouble.)

We read to Squiggle, but I don't feel it is enough. So I suggested that we have a nightly family reading hour. Okay, it isn't really an hour. My Squiggle is called that for a reason. She won't sit still that long. But still, a bit of time, every night, spent up in our beautiful library reading something. I envisioned it as a "read out loud" sort of thing, my husband thinks it should be an "everyone reads their own thing" ritual. Clearly there are some things to work out. Perhaps it can be both, a chapter from a shared book followed by independent reading. I don't know. What I do know is that I've been bitten by the bug to do this.

The current frustration I am trying to work out is due to my toddler's disinterest in any book not made out of a board. I'm not sure if I should just read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" 800 times in the 15 - 30 minutes we spend up there, or if I should persevere in reading more advanced books. (ie. Anything with more than one sentence per page.) If anyone out there has ideas or advice, please let me know.

Squiggle and Big Jake at Storytime With Miss Judi.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tightening the Belt: My Resolution to Meal Plan

Not anyone's favorite thing to do out of necessity, right? Most of us don't like needing to sacrifice. Even when we are willing or happy to do it for other reasons.

Around here we tend to go in spurts. Unfortunately frugality usually comes from a financial crisis. We are again in financial trouble. Part of it is out of our control, unexpected circumstances and all that. But some of it is due to our relaxing our spending controls.

Looking over our credit card bill, we found that we really don't have anything huge to point to. It is just a bunch of little things that, what do you know, do add up. For us, a lot of it comes from eating out. Very often I don't feel like making dinner. Maybe I've had a busy day and get tired, perhaps we are our of the house during dinner time. While Jake is the one to suggest it, I always go along. After all, it is much easier.

This is my fault. It is almost entirely due to my lack of planning and laziness. I hate to admit it, but there it is. I do not have a job outside the home. Therefore it falls to me to do what I can to improve our financial situation by saving money. And I am failing.

So here's my new plan. I will meal plan. I will order my Bountiful Basket on Monday. After I pick it up on Saturday I will write up a meal plan. Then I will do my shopping. Here is the most important part: I will stick to it. If there is prep that is needed I will do that on the weekend when Daddy can play with Squiggle. If I can hold to it I will eliminate both of my reasons to take the easy road of take-out.  The plan will let me know what I am doing each day that week and pre-prepping will mean that I won't be facing a time crunch on any given day. While I may stumble I will not fall. We just can't afford my weakness in this area any longer.

This blog will hold me accountable. I detest failure. Especially when it is public.

This week I will work with what I have. Starting tonight. No procrastinating. When my darling husband offers to pick something up, I will decline. All my baggage of the day will be set aside, I will get off my lazy butt and I will cook. It may not be fancy, but it will be. My family deserves it.



Raising Mighty Arrows

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Swim Diapers

Before I had kids it never occurred to me to consider how non-toilet-trained individuals went swimming. That was one of many things that changed when I became a parent. I love the water and wanted to share that love with my daughter. So a friend told me about swim diapers. Disposable, obviously. Just as obvious was the near heart attack I experienced at the price.

Imagine a photo here of Squiggle in a disposable swim diaper.

Another friend told me that I could just use a regular diaper. Sure it would get waterlogged and soggy, but who cares? Uh, me? Isn't there any other choice.

Enter friend #3. She told me about reusable swim diapers. They are designed to contain solids. Sure they let urine through, but let's face it, we all know that someone has peed in that pool. Our babies and toddlers are not making any great contribution in that area. I found one and loved that cute little thing. It kinda reminded me of a cute version of those plastic pants my mom used when she used to cloth diaper, back in the day.
Yeah, it's blue. For $2 I didn't care.

Sadly my beautiful baby kept growing into a beautiful toddler. What to do now that she no longer fit into her little baby swim diaper? That's when all my internet research came in handy. Some brilliant woman discovered that an unstuffed pocket diaper can moonlight as a swim diaper. Oh happy day. I have enough of those (since I wash diapers everyday and prefer contours & covers) to cover an all day swim session.
They're also great for sprinkler play.

Now I just need more friends who have pools.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pride in Accomplishment

Squiggle's block tower.

Happiness and self-esteem really can't be given. It isn't external. I felt this first-hand today. Lately, I've been rather down. This has been due to many factors, external and internal. By this I mean that I have allowed the external problems rob me of my internal peace. My motivation had fled and I was descending into hopelessness.

I am not an optimist by nature or upbringing. It was never modeled for me. Life was a challenge to be survived. This is not a productive attitude. I noticed long ago that happy people didn't have "better" lives. They had problems just like everyone, they just dealt with them differently. Now the ante has been upped because I want my children to have happy lives. And I know how hard it can be to break patterns learned as a child.

Last night was bad. I just couldn't sleep. I was in bed thinking about all my failures and frustrations. Obsessing is not too strong a word. Not healthy, but what could I do. Sleep is never easy for me, and stress makes it worse. My choices were to lay there and continue to obsess or to get up and do something.

Historically when I get up I read. But that just didn't appeal to me. So I went into my closet instead. I saw my boxes of unpacked clothes and decided to deal with them. Either way I was going to lose sleep. At least this way I would get something good out of it.

I ended up unpacking all my shirts, blouses, and two-piece outfits. Then I neatly stacked my specialize clothing on a shelf. It only took an hour, but after I was done I felt capable of sleep.

The next morning I got up, at my usual time, feeling better than I had in a while. Today I felt like accomplishing something. So I did. I unpacked more boxes than I can remember. I set up my vase with the cattails that I've never displayed. Photos were set out and laundry was put away. I made dinner for a friend who just had a baby and watched another friend's kids to help her out of a jam.

Now as I sit here, I feel good. Especially about myself. Sure there is some muscle soreness. But I totally seized this day. And I am proud of myself.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Word Choice: Your v. You're

This one is really easy folks.

Your is possessive. As in it belongs to you. Example: "Your grammar could use some help."

You're is a contraction of the two separate words "you" and "are." Example: "You're going to seem so much smarter if you use them correctly."

If you're in doubt, just ask yourself if the sentence would make sense if you substituted the words "you are" in for your/you're. If they do, it's you're. On the other hand, if you can easily substitute the words "his" or "her" or "my" your choice is"your." Try the substitutions in the examples above and see what I mean.

Crock Pot Yogurt

Confession time. I had a crock pot for roughly ten years before I ever used it. I just didn't know what to do with it. It was new (to me) technology and it scared me. All I knew it could do was pot roast, which I never cared for as a kid. So my motivation to learn about it was low. But I held on to it because my grandma gave it to me before she died. Yes, I'm one of those people.
Not mine, but looks like it.

So, eventually I pulled it out and looked at it. By that time I had married and had a child and needed ways to make food quickly and cheaply. I spent a lot of time looking things up online. That's when I stumbled on the idea of yogurt.

Obviously I realized that people could make their own yogurt. After all, it doesn't come from a special breed of cow. I just never realized that real people do it. At least without the aid of a special gizmo imaginatively named a yogurt maker.

So when I realized that I could "make" yogurt with nothing to purchase other than milk and yogurt, I knew I had to try it. Now I say "make" in quotes because to make yogurt you first need to buy some for a starter culture. I believe they also sell it in other forms, but that is probably more work and expense and I just never bothered to look into it.

I like ingredients that are as close to natural as possible. So I found a full-fat, Greek yogurt that had very few ingredients and got a half gallon of whole milk. (Perhaps this would be a good time to tell you that I'm not afraid of dietary fat from natural sources.) Full-fat milk makes the thickest yogurt, and it still won't be as thick as the stuff you buy without some work or additives. The way commercial low-fat yogurt get thickened is by adding stuff. This wasn't an option for me. But I'll let you know how to do it if you want to.

Here's what you'll need to make my version of Crock Pot Yogurt.  

Note: Ultra-pasteurized milk has all the bacteria in it killed. This makes it shelf stable and longer lasting. It also means the yogurt bacteria will not have anything to work with to make it into yogurt.

1 crock pot (or whatever slow cooker you have)
1/2 gallon whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup yogurt (plain, full-fat with live cultures is best, I use Greek)
towels or other cloth to wrap your crock

Put the milk in the crock pot and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. (This kills any bad bacteria that may be present and heats the milk.) *One of the ways to make a thicker yogurt would be to add 1/2 cup powdered milk at this stage.

Turn it off for three hours. (This allows the milk to cool to a temperature that won't kill the good bacteria in your starter.)

Gently add your starter yogurt. I use a whisk with a slowish folding motion. *Another way to thicken it up would be to add an envelope of unflavored gelatin here.

Then take your towels and tuck your crock in for a long nap, at least eight hours. I usually time it so this part is taking place overnight. Often it will be twelve hours or so before I get around to tending it the next morning. I've heard that it can be left up to 24 hours. The longer it is left out, the more tangy it gets and the more lactose is eaten up. Many people with lactose issues can eat yogurt, but if you're worried, leave it out longer. After 24 hours almost all the lactose is gone.

Edit: I now leave it out for longer, it works well and does thicken up more.

Since I like thicker yogurt, I strain it. Just line a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Preferably over a bowl to catch the whey. (Whey is the liquid that drains out.) I do mine in batches and scoop the yogurt into a container when it reaches the thickness I like. If you have a big enough colander you could probably do it all at once. Depending on how long you let it drain, you could end up with a lot of whey. Don't throw it out. It is great to use instead of milk or water in other recipes. I've used it in pancakes and bread with amazing results. It is also a nutritious addition to smoothies. I'm sure you can come up with many other uses that I haven't thought of.

Edit: I no longer drain it. It ends up thick enough now that I don't bother with the extra work. Plus, the runnier stuff works better for smoothies.

I honestly can't tell you how long it stays good in the fridge because it always disappears too fast.


Edit: I have since discovered that if you use a gallon of milk and 1/3 cup of starter yogurt, you can double the recipe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Friends

Recently we have had some frustrations. Usually either my husband or I gets upset. It tends to depend on the type of issue. This past week it was mainly yard related, so he was very upset.

First came the plumbing. After running through the sprinklers, Terri noticed that, though the water was off, it still sounded like it was on. A bit of investigation led to the irrigation control valve. Not that I could tell that at the time. At the time all I noticed was the flood, and that the quicksand it had created was not letting go of my shoe.
After the draining.

I called my husband at bible study and asked him how to turn the water off. After walking me through it, he left his study early. He said that just minutes before I called he had been advising his friend that doubt over a good deed was the devil messing with him. I guess the devil didn't appreciate his interference.

Then we checked our mail the next day. Our HOA sent us a courtesy letter about the "dead plant material" in our yard. Upon review, the only thing they could be referring to are the "leaves" that have fallen from the trees. Now the reason I put "leaves" in quotes is that our tree's leaves more closely resemble long pine needles. They fall into our water efficient desert rock landscaping and wedge themselves in, defying all attempt to rake them.

Squiggle grabbed fistfuls of our leaves to show you.
Bug was pretty upset by all this. We really can't afford to pay landscapers to care for our yard, and had no idea who to call for our sprinkler problem.

I put the call for advice and help out on Facebook. (Because that's what it's there for, right?)

We already knew that plumbers don't do sprinkler work. It was recommended that I call the city utilities phone number and ask their advice. I did and got no help, in a baffling way. But that's a different post. The sprinkler post ended up being a bust, as far as getting help was concerned. But we had a friend offer to loan us a leaf blower for our "dead plant material" problem. That lightened the load a bit and we headed out to celebrate a friend's birthday.

While at the birthday party Bug mentioned that we had this sprinkler valve issue. Another friend offered to come over and take a look at it. He not only looked at it, he fixed it. For just the cost of parts.

Thanks to two friends we had two stressful issues, that could have been financially costly, taken care of inside a week.

Friends can be found anywhere.
To top the week off, someone anonymously dropped off a bag of cloth diapers for my new baby. So now I have a bunch of diapers that I don't have to buy.  Friends are good.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sprinkler Time

Lately I've been really wanting to take Squiggle to the local park's water feature. Living in Las Vegas it tends to get hot in the summer. I decided to plant myself in the middle of it and hold really still. That way people could think I was part of it. Maybe not reality based, but it's HOT here. In my defense, Squiggle loves the water as much as I do. So the idea isn't completely selfish.

However, lately my darling child has been getting up no earlier than 10am. Even if I packed the night before and served breakfast as a picnic, it would still be the sunniest part of the day by the time we got there. And somehow I doubt my adventurer would understand why we could only stay for minutes.
"You wouldn't really take away my fun, would you Mommy?"

The afternoon is taken up by a nap and then it's time to start dinner. So there hasn't been time to take her. But the idea was stuck in my head to get the two of us wet. What to do?

Then it hit me. Sprinklers. Back in the olden days, when I was a kid, we didn't have "splash pads" or "water features." We had hoses and what we called "rainbow" sprinklers. Now our backyard has a high tech sprinkler system, but the basics are the same. Water shoots up from the ground and waits for someone to run through it. Sadly, it is normally disappointed as no one shows and it is left to soak into the earth. I decided that it was time to change that.

So I invited Squiggle's friend Big Jake and Big Jake's mom, aka Terri, over to share our sprinklers. Then I asked my husband to teach me how to turn them on. (I really miss the days of turning the knob and having water shoot out.) He spent a minute at the control pad and then told me the button to push when I was ready. Then he left for his bible study. Did I mention he's a great guy?


Mommy and Mommy ushered the little monsters outside and I hit the button. That's when the squealing began. Squiggle was especially excited. She kept making her happy growl at the water then turning to me to make sure I saw it. Seeing that she wasn't taking advantage of the full course, I picked her up and ran the length of the yard with her. Terri followed suit as soon as I was away from my camera. I choose to believe that was just coincidence.

After they stopped there was a big puddle in the middle of the lawn. The children decided to help the water sink into the dirt by stomping the ground as hard as they could. They are good-hearted monsters, you know, like Sully.
Big Jake stomping the yard.

Watching them dance in the sprinklers and stomp in the puddle reminded me that I don't have to do anything elaborate to make a special memory. Children like the simplest things. Sometimes we just have to give them a chance to add something extra to the ordinary.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Emotional Crisis

This is where I decide to be brutally honest. It could lose me some friends if they ever read it. But I really am in a crisis right now. I need someone to talk to, and can't think of who would be the right person. My husband knows the problem, but he doesn't need me whining to him. He has enough of his own problems. I won't add to his burden.

I have a Facebook account. I have many friends from all over, including my church. I have political views. I have lost the ability to keep quiet. Unfortunately, most of my political views are opposite of those of the church. At least the leadership. Over the past year or so, I have posted things that have gotten some harsh words thrown at me. Words like bigot, prejudice, unChristian. None of which are true. None of which have anything to do with the posts I have made.

We have chosen to stay with the church because the majority of the people are great. They really are. When we were looking to move our church was one of two reasons we had to stay in town. It was the reason that we only looked on one side of town, after we decided to stay. The first time we attended, we felt welcomed. People were so friendly and warm and just plain wonderful. We joined and didn't look back.

Then came the comments. At first it was one person, then another. Some would comment on a one of my posted links without even going to see what the link was. He later admitted he had just assumed he knew what it was about and replied based on his assumption. He did apologize, in private, IF his comment had bothered me. No, really, I don't mind being accused of advocating vandalism based on bigotry.

We have debated on whether or not to leave the church we had formerly loved. Each time we decide to stay. Because the majority of the congregation is still great. But increasingly I have felt unwelcome there. Because the few people who have a problem with me are important to the church. It seriously detracts from my worship. And tonight another person has joined Team Name-calling.

I am worn down. I don't appreciate the hostility directed toward me. Debate the issues all you want, but implying that I'm a bad person because of my political views is uncalled for. At least I think it is. This crap has been going on for a while, and we have many other worries dragging on us. This is the time we need a supportive environment, not more people to tear us apart. This latest comment was just my straw. I'm not sure I have anything left.

Church should be a safe place. It should be supportive. Instead it brings back memories of how I felt walking into school. Friendless, insecure and surrounded by hostility. I didn't understand it then, and I still don't. Not really. But I know that I don't feel the way I should about my spiritual home. Or my spiritual leaders. I don't want to leave the second church that I've ever loved. But I don't feel love anymore. Just condemnation and judgment.

I had dreams of our children growing up in this church. Now, I'm not even sure I want Baby X to be baptized there. That thought alone makes me cry. I just don't know what to do. My reserves are gone. Depression is reigning. And I feel alone. It is hard to feel that God is with me, when many of His followers think such bad things about me. So maybe this letter is to God. I don't have many people who read my blog, but He knows. He's really the only one I can turn to. And maybe I should have realized that before.

I hope to have a more cheerful post tomorrow. Not that God will need the electronic update. He, of course, already knows.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Microfiber is Neat

Recently, I got a microfiber cloth for free. I decided to try it out. Sure, there's a lot of hype, but I really thought cloth was cloth. Turns out, I was wrong.

Our banister was filthy. Like, caked on dirt filthy. I knew it would be a huge job to deal with, time consuming and no doubt requiring specialized equipment. I pictured myself with a Magic Eraser spending hours detailing the area.

I went to a party where a certain microfiber cleaning cloth was being sold. Needless to say, I couldn't afford it. But I did keep it in mind. When this other cloth was dropped in my lap I decided it couldn't hurt to try it. So I wet it and rubbed it on the paint. This thing attracted the dirt like a housecleaning Pied Piper. Hardly any elbow grease was needed, and no chemicals. I only did part, and I didn't take any photos to share. But I will. And I'll try to figure out how to post them to a blog that has already been posted. I'm not sure if that's even possible. Maybe I'll ask my wonderful new cloth. It's already done one "impossible" thing. Perhaps it will surprise me again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Origin of "Squiggle"

One of the few newborn photos not blurred by movement.
As I sit here I can feel my baby wiggling inside my belly. This baby has not earned a nickname yet. By this point in my previous pregnancy Squiggle had already received hers. We chose not to find out if we were having a boy or girl. So we could not cal our baby by his/her name. We usually referred to "the baby" in discussion.

However she definitely made her presence known. She rarely stopped moving. I always felt kicks, jabs, somersaults, acrobatics, ballet, etc. I loved it. I adored watching my abdomen move on its own, shifting one way, then the other. I thought it was neat the way a bulge would appear on one side and trace a path across my stomach.

So I remarked to my husband that the baby was always squiggling. I liked the word so much that I used it a few more times. One day he turned to me and said, "I think we have a nickname for "the baby." And so we did.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hummus

Hummus is a delicious dish of Middle Eastern origin. It is great as a dip or a spread, warm or cold. Traditionally served with pita bread, it is also good with roasted red pepper strips, grilled zucchini and eggplant, or raw veggies.

Nutritionally speaking hummus is great. The chickpeas give it fiber, folate and protein; tahini is a rich source of many minerals; lemon juice has vitamin C; and olive oil is a good source of antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. Also, if you follow a vegetarian diet, combine it with bread and it is a complete protein.

Ingredients:

15 oz. chickpeas/garbanzo beans* (Same item, different names.)
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. tahini/peanut butter*
3/4 c. lemon juice*
1/2 c. olive oil
1 T. cumin

*Notes on ingredients:
Chickpeas and garbanzo beans are the same thing, they just have different names. I use canned for convenience but hope to try dried in the near future.

Tahini is the traditional ingredients. It can be difficult to find and is slightly more expensive than peanut butter. I prefer the flavor of tahini but it turns out just fine with peanut butter too.

While I'm sure fresh squeezed lemon juice would improve the final product, I admit to using the cheap bottled stuff. I use it a lot and lemons can be expensive and hard to come by in the off season.

Instructions:

In a food processor, a blender will work if that's what you have, puree the chickpeas.
Add the garlic, tahini and lemon juice. Puree again.
Through the feeder tube, slowly add olive oil while pureeing.
Add cumin and, you got it, puree again. If you like you could add some salt and pepper to taste.
Midway through the process.

I usually pour it into a bowl and refrigerate to make it thicker, but if you can't wait you should feel free to dig in. These are the proportions I found work best for me. We generally use it for lunches or snacks. I make a batch to store in the fridge for whenever one of us needs something healthy to eat, asap. It lasts about a week in our family.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Unapologetically Proud to be an American

This is inspired by a Facebook conversation. A friend posted one of those paragraphs that gets circulated as people who agree with the sentiment keep re-posting. Here it is:

The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it. American soldiers don't fight because they hate what's in front of them...they fight because they love what's behind them." Re-Post this if you support our troops. Thank you for my FREEDOM!
A mutual friend took offense at it. He challenged her asking if people in other countries would not say the same thing. She said that didn't matter. She is American and how others felt about their country had no bearing on how she feels about hers. He told her that her post implied an American supremacy attitude that Americans are somehow superior to others.

I've done a lot of thinking about that. Does pride in one's affiliation, whatever it may be, mean that everyone not in that group is inferior? Or is it possible that we just naturally identify with others who we have something in common with. Is it possible that certain ______ are superior to others? Whether it be ideals, talents or anything else you choose to insert into that blank.

Let me start my opinion by saying that I do not believe that one person is better than another based solely on geography. There are good and bad people everywhere. (I do believe that there is an absolute morality. I am Christian and believe that God has given us a good code to live by. Perhaps there is a difference in interpretation, but that is a topic for a different post.) An absolute morality means there is a right and a wrong, a good and bad.

That said, I do believe that the American system is superior to many others. Yes, there are flaws, although getting two people to agree on what they are would be difficult. Yet that is part of what makes this country great. Too many people take the freedoms we have for granted. We can disagree with our government. We are not thrown in jail for it. It is true that in certain places we are losing these freedoms, but the American people are giving them up willingly, so whose fault is it really?

Just the act of publicly questioning the superiority of one's country would be a punishable crime in many other countries. I believe countries where you don't get jailed or executed for disagreeing with the government are superior to ones where that occurs. Other things I believe make for a superior country... well, the American Constitution and Bill of Rights are a good place to start. It's true the freedoms guaranteed by these documents are no longer being granted, but again, the American people are to blame.

Any place a person is free to improve his/her life, unhindered by anything but personal attributes and the restriction that it can't harm another, is my definition of a superior government. At this point, America comes closest to this ideal. So yes, I am unapologetically proud to be an American.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why I may never hear a sermon again.

Our church went to their summer schedule a few weeks ago. The 8am and 9:30 am contemporary services were combined into one 9 am service, and my beloved traditional service was moved from 11 am to 10:30 am.

Rare photo of a sleeping Squiggle.
Many might think that half an hour is not a big deal. It may not be to most. But when that 30 minutes means interrupting a toddler's sleep? Then we have a problem.

My Squiggle is not a great sleeper. We can't "make" her sleep. If we put her in her crib before she's ready she just plays, kicks the wall or screams. So we wait until she's ready to go willingly. It may not be the best method, especially when the new baby arrives, but it works now. Happy toddler = happy parents.

Of course this means that if something occurs during sleep time, we miss it. I will not wake her unless absolutely necessary. And, with apologies to God, church does not fall under the heading necessary, at least in this instance. I will also cancel playdates, reschedule doctor's appointments and ignore almost everything to avoid throwing off her sleep. If we had a house fire I might try to gently move her, depending on how severe it was.

So Daddy went to church solo today. Maybe we'll catch it next week. Maybe we will miss all summer long. Maybe we will continue to miss in the autumn when the schedule changes back, due to new baby syndrome. (This is where exhausted Mommy and Daddy choose to sit at home and do nothing but tend to basic needs.) Baby X may be an easy baby, but history is not on our side. So perhaps I will watch Baby Miracle with Squiggle again tonight, for our dose of religion.