Friday, March 30, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes

(pant, pant, pant)

I'm out of breath.

We were just dancing with Little Warrior. Actually, I was dancing, Dad was watching. LW has decided Mom is the dancin' fool, and only wants her as her partner. It is bedtime, so I tried Ice Cream, Sarah McLachlan, but after 5 seconds of tenderly laying her head on my shoulder, she began head-butting me, letting me know she wanted something more uptempo. So we've been dancing to Lithium, Nirvana.

Dancing in the kitchen, amongst vanilla-bean-Italian-buttercream-cupcakes, raspberry-cheesecake-brownies and plain ole from scratch brownies. Tomorrow is the church garage sale/bake sale. So I will be getting up quite early tomorrow morning.

Last year, March 31, I also got up very early. What a difference. What an amazing, wonderful, boring, ordinary, miraculous difference.

Tonight, a year ago, notwithstanding my blog post from earlier in the evening, I went to sleep ... and cried. And got very little sleep. LW was beside me; I remember holding my hand very lightly over her stomach as she slept. Over those huge, huge tumors. But even I didn't anticipate the news that one was the size of a grapefruit, one was the size of an orange. In that little bitty baby.

Tonight, a year ago, when I went to sleep, I didn't know what would happen in the next 24 hours. I didn't know if we would go into the hospital, three, and leave, two.

Until last year, I didn't know really know fear.

Tomorrow, I will wake up early, leave LW at home with her daddy, her brother, and her two sisters, and I will go do something so amazingly, wonderfully ordinary as a garage sale, where I will hawk brownies and haggle over the price of a bicycle with a customer.

When I was in high school, I played Emily in Our Town. Such irony, having high schoolers do that play. Who is least prepared to understand it?

Emily: ... Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pop Goes the UU

Picking up on Spirituality and Sunflower's Are You a Pop-UU?, I am prepared to "out" myself:

* I watch American Idol, though I think it's inferior to RockStar INXS or Supernova
* I love Gilmore Girls, House, and now, The Riches
* Even though I don't agree with all of his online essays, I like Rabbi Shmuley and think Shalom in the Home is a terrific show
* When pregnant moms ask me what I think are the "must-haves" for when the baby comes, #1 on my list is "a tv." #2 is Tivo. Art gallery opening? Bwahahaha. Your butt is going to be home, Mommy. Have something good to watch.

And, blasphemy of blasphemies:
* I often find NPR boring

Of course, you don't have to be all one way or the other. I love studying theology and reading theology and philosophy books.

While blaring "I Love the 80's."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On being a Homemaker

Happy Feminist has me thinking about my current status as a homemaker.

Back several months ago, when the blogosphere was abuzz with Linda Hirshman's hateful opinions about homemakers, I couldn't get involved. As far as I am concerned, the things she had to say made her the Ann Coulter of feminism, another woman whom I think we should all simply ignore just as one does the obnoxious boor at the party.

Do I need to say that I am a feminist? Well, of course I am.

I'm coming up on 9 years of being a full-time homemaker. I am at odds with the other 99% of liberal women who are mothers and not employed outside the home, in that I call myself a "homemaker," not a stay-at-home-mom. But after about 5 years of being a SAHM, I came to think that a) "stay-at-home-mom" is a perjorative, and an incorrect one -- I WISH I could just "stay home," but we're far too busy and b) SAHM is a demotion. I don't just stay home with my kids, and I'm not just a mom. At present, old-fashioned as it sounds, I make a house a home. I make wholesome meals and try to keep the house clean, and repair things and even occasionally sew something. And I spend time tending to the spirituality of our home, planning family rituals and opportunities to talk about our values. But it's just semantics. Whatever you want to call yourself, go right ahead. And by the same token, I call employed mothers "working mothers." I don't feel that it implies I don't work. Sometimes, I refer to myself and others as "full-time mothers." That doesn't mean I think working mothers cease to be mothers at 8 am.

Rarely do I feel defensive about this choice -- because it was my choice, fully supported by The Husband, and I feel it was the right one for us.

But it was definitely a period of adjustment, and a long one. It took me 5 years to get rid of my business suits. It took 6 years, when asked what I did, to no longer reply that "I used to be a marketing director."

This is what I want to be doing. Just as my friend L-A wants to be a teacher. Just as my friend K wants to be a Director of Religious Education. Just as my friend R wants to be a Russian translator for a large company. Just as my friend E wants to be a vice-president in an international company.

We want to be, and we currently are, all of these things. We are also all feminists. And we all support each other.

Wasn't that the plan?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sex and Kids

Sex and kids. Damn, that's a hard topic for me.

Not the teaching about sex. Heck, with resources like It's Perfectly Normal and It's So Amazing, that's a walk in the park. But I'm not easily embarrassed. Even when my son said he wanted us to have twins and I explained you can't just "get" twins. And he said, "Well, can't you just do that sex thing twice?" (Age 5)

Or when we mentioned that his father was getting a vasectomy and he furrowed up his brow and said, "Well, if you don't want more babies, why don't you just not have sex?" (Age 9)

Or when he asked, "What does 'humping' mean? And 'boning'?" (last week, age 10)

I want the kids to come to us with all their questions, so I give complete answers, no blushing.

Where I get a little lost is in the values part of the equation.

See, when I hear about abstinence-only education, I scoff. I must admit that when I hear about kids joining True Love Waits, I roll my eyes. "How cute" -- I just want to pat their little heads. Hey, I was a Resident Assistant on the "Women's Privacy" floor -- also known as the "Virgin Vault." If there were any virgins at the start of the year, I doubt there were any at the end. And we've all heard the stats -- those who take vows of abstinence break them. And often wind up with STDs.

But hearing about how casually people take hooking up, ye gods, please not my kids!

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle. I don't want to be a hypocrite. But I want my kids to see sex as something ... dare I say it? ... holy. Sacred. Done with someone you love.

When my son was born a decade ago, we were the only ones of our siblings who were married. Some of our siblings don't share our belief in the sacredness of sex. We decided to make it simple. Unless you're married, you can't share a bed with your "friend" at our house. Ye gods! What throwbacks! Anachronisms!

But here's the deal ... if we hadn't done that, they would have already seen one aunt with several "friends" over the years. Of course, they have seen the aunt with the friends, they just haven't seen the friends spend the night at our house.

But it gets murkier. Grandma has a boyfriend. They are in a committed relationship, but they are never going to get married. It would be fine with us for them to be here -- but, ye gods, then we have to deal with the aunts/uncles crying foul. Thankfully, it's not an issue. He is an older gentleman and would never agree to stay in our house. He is from a generation where such things simply are not done.

How to parse, how to deal. One sibling is in a monogamous long-term relationship. But do we want to handle each situation on a case-by-case basis, becoming the "judge" for each relationship?

Do we want to let the adults be adults and bring whomever they are currently with into our house, and just allow 4 children, ages 2-11, to assume that it's all normal? That if you have a boyfriend, you're having sex? Some argue that you simply explain that what's right for an adult, isn't for a young person. Yes. I can explain that to my 7 year old. (rolls eyes.)

I don't know. I feel like a hypocrite. But I don't think the other way is right, either.

Snow, Edwards, Cancer and the Administration

So, Tony Snow's cancer has spread to his liver. This on the heels of the news that Elizabeth Edwards' cancer is back, and incurable.

And Bush asks for even more cuts to cancer research.

I have to wonder what Barb and George think about this. They had a daughter who died of cancer. And they are hugely involved with supporting M.D. Anderson cancer hospital and other cancer resources.

"Son, that's it. Time for a visit out to the shed."

Monday, March 26, 2007

I love the Internet

I love it for the people. I love it for the relationships.

That's right, I said relationships!

Seems like every time you turn around, some so-called expert is writing about the detrimental effect the Internet is having on relationships. (And I'm not talking about the spouse who's having an online fling or watching online porn rather that schtupping their own partner.)

They say that you can't really have a relationship with someone whom you've never met. And that we're getting our emotional needs met by exchanged words rather than with real people.

Bollocks. (A word I learned a decade ago from an online Brit friend.)

Online friendships are different than blood-and-bones friendships. Like a puzzle piece, they can give more of certain elements, while b-and-b friendships provide more of others.

I have a group of friends that an older friend of mine refers to as my "posse." I call them the Footprints Tribe. They couldn't be more precious to me. Any of them, I would drop anything, at any time of day or night, if they needed me.

But because I love them, I did not share with them my darkest thoughts last spring. I put them into this blog. And when I most needed someone to read my words, and reach out to me, you did. We have created a community -- communities. Many of us have intersecting circles of communities that visit our blogs. For me, it's the Unitarian, mommy, feminist and cancer-related communities, making an extended Vin diagram of relationships.

Then there are the bulletin-board relationships. Due to being a fan of the Sweet Potato Queens books, I was a member of some fan boards. When Little Warrior first got sick, I suddenly received a hand-knit baby blanket and a teddy bear from members of that board, who wanted to reach out in a tangible way. It was shocking -- breaking the fourth wall! -- but altogether wonderful.

A group version of Pen Pals are the email discussion lists. There is a list out there for parents of children who have or had Wilms' Tumor. What a resource! Life-saving and soul-saving. Among these folks, I could share experiences, ask for help, compare notes. No one else in the world could truly understand what we were living through ... but they could. We celebrate together every clear scan, we cry together with every notification of a relapse.

Day or night, you all are out there. At 3 am, in my jammies, I visit you, reading your blogs and catching up on your posts. When someone disappears, we worry. When they return, we rejoice.

I love the Internet.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again

I'll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again - Watch more amazing videos here

Real Moms Know Real Fear

I've been tagged by UUMomma with the "Real Moms" meme. It is amazing how fast this is spreading -- go check out some of the other responses. I'm tagging Nancy, Katy, Karen, Rev. A.C. Miles, and Peg. Here's the Rules. Here's where to post your link.

Real Moms know real fear.

Forget rollercoasters or the Blair Witch Project. Being a mom will introduce you to a whole other level of fear. Like the first time your baby sleeps through the night. The initial delight upon waking -- Wow, I got a good night's sleep! -- is immediately replaced with -- What's wrong? What happened? So we turn up the baby monitor, in hopes of hearing a deep breath or a sigh. Sometimes, we go racing in to the nursery, usually waking up the baby in the process.

Sometimes the baby doesn't wake up. Ever. And that's the fear that is always within us.

Then there's the moment you're playing outside and you turn to water a plant and when you turn back around, he's gone. Gone! And you race around, to discover him giggling in the front yard, trying to pick up a pine cone.

Sometimes, he's not in the front yard. He's in the neighbor's pool. Or you hear a screech of brakes. And that's the fear that is always within us.

And then there's the times you take the baby to the pediatrician because of a weird rash, or repeated vomiting, or a strange lump on her side. Nightmares go through your head of all the worst things it could be. And then the pediatrician says, oh, it's a yeast infection, or the stomach flu is going around, or it's just constipation.

Sometimes, it's not any of those things. It's cancer.

And that's the fear that is always within us.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Late effects (not bad, not literal) of cancer

Last night, we did the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Little Warrior was big enough this year to walk her ownself for the Survivor's Lap. Everyone lines up around the track to clap for the survivors as they do their lap. WELL ... LW really likes applause. She began dramatically throwing kisses to the audience. You can imagine the response.

Just now: Bo Peep and LW are playing together. Bo Peep: "Mama, Shuggy Elephant has cancer. But we're going to make him all better. See, we're making him feel better!"


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sickos in the Blogosphere

Literally sick. Can germs be spread by blogging? uuMomma has mumps at her house. I took Bo Peep to the doctor and she has pinkeye in her eyes and ears. (Most likely same bacteria in the ear infections.) I'm gargling cayenne pepper and water, hoping it'll cure my sore throat. Elizabeth, Mom to the Left ... all of us, down for the count.

Quick, someone, say a prayer, do a Bugs-Be-Gone spell, something!

Okay, I'll admit it, I'm kinda laughing at it all. Because a year ago, I was packing my bag for Little Warrior's surgery. I was crying every day. Every hour?

Pinkeye, schmink-eye.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Back from AWOL

Last week was Spring Break for the two older kids, plus their wonderful Aunt Amazing came in town. (She is a brilliant scientist, a marathon runner, and head-turning gorgeous, even in tshirts and ponytail.) Life is not fair, but she's also the kind of person who looks up her niece/nephew's school schedule up on the computer, then gets tickets to come spend their Spring Break with them. So we forgive her for receiving more than her fair share of God's gifts.

Let me tell you something. Single + childless + marathon runner = energy out the whahoo. The zoo, the children's museum, the park, the playground. AND cleaned out our garage. AND went through the girls' clothes, separating out what doesn't fit. (Which any mom can tell you is an onerous job.)

Tomorrow, the kids go back to school. Whew. I need a vacation.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Email Forwards and Other Evils of the Modern World

Things I’ve Realized About Myself

I’ve always thought of myself as corny/sappy and not that intellectual/cynical. But maybe, compared to some, I am/am not.

I think “Christmas Shoes” is an awful song. What, the boy’s mother is dying, and rather than spending her last moments with her, he’s trying to buy her shoes? Because Jesus is going to care what her shoes look like? Who the fudge is her mother, Carrie Bradshaw???

People whom I credit with being fairly intellectual and cynical of pap often surprise me, sending me chain emails, like the one purporting to be the Dalai Lama’s personality test, which supposedly gives you great insights based on whether you rank lion over pig. Huh?

I hate chain mail of any type. At their most mundane, I think they show an appalling lack of creativity. On the metaphysical side, I think they are an appalling type of black magick. If you don’t forward this message, bad things will happen to you? Or good things won’t? Just because I won’t forward this frigging stupid, uncreative message? And to send them to people, who then must send them on out of fear … sorry guys. That’s a very mild form of evil.

THAT BEING SAID … there are some people who are very dear to me that sometimes send on these forwards. Assuming the content isn’t an outright urban legend, I usually just delete them. (If it’s an outright untruth, and harmful, like the WalMart half-shaved-kid or wearing-deodorant-causes-cancer, I sent them a link to snopes or

When all is said and done, it is the singer not the song. Or the emailer, not the forwarded-hokey-ass-message. People are more important than emails.

No matter how stupid the latter is.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yes, there IS a right and wrong

Words have meaning. Just because some words have been misused, or over-used, does not remove them from our language.

What prompted this diatribe was reading an essay by some touchy-feely who said that we simply need to have peace in our hearts, and not go around protesting, and arguing, because there is no "right" or "wrong."


I can understand, and sympathize with those who have heard "right" and "wrong" used in so many instances, and with so much judgement, that they declare there is no such thing. However, just as I offer my sympathy to those tender-hearted folk, my teeth begin grinding. It is statements such as those that lead others to label Unitarian and/or liberals as out-of-touch; naive.

Just because a word has been misused does not remove its meaning. (And I'm not talking about accidental misuse, such as when a person says "Irregardless" when they mean "Regardless" or "Literally" when they mean "Very.")

Lots of misused/overused words. Just because no one personally asked your opinion about what color the fellowship area should be painted, does not mean you are being disenfranchised. Not everything bad is a holocaust. Just saying "No" does not mean you are participating in a War on drugs.

And, of course, love. Has any word been more misused? But try and tell a mama who is kissing her children goodnight that "love" doesn't mean anything.

Most things are objective, even math. But just because some fundamentalist says that loving someone of the same sex is wrong, does not mean that wrong has no meaning. I say, with all of the personal authority I possess, that he is, in fact, wrong.

As long as we are careful to keep the words "right" and "wrong" for when it is truly necessary to employ them, they are a useful tool. However, if I begin assigning the word "wrong" to anything I disagree with, I dilute its power. I can't stand headcheese. But you are not wrong for enjoying it. I think that breastfeeding is a terrific gift that everyone who could, should give their baby. But if you chose otherwise, I will not call you wrong.

But when New Orleans remains in shambles, when our soldiers continue dying in a futile war, when human beings are being systematically raped and killed in Darfur, it is wrong.

I will not hide at home, with peace in my heart, when there is injustice in the world. To the best of my ability, I will stand up and not be afraid to march, to speak, against what is wrong.

It's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

UU Brats and what becomes of them

In my part of the world (many, many, many miles from Boston), when you run into another Unitarian Universalist who was actually raised UU, (or raised Unitarian, depending on how old you are), there is an immediate "look" that passes between you. You are instantly kin. We are a rare lot, born-n-raised UUs. Most of us have the experience of being told by a fellow 2nd grade classmate that we're going to hell. We probably have the experience of dating a wide range of different-religioned-persons. We probably tried on another religion, ourselves. Things that kids in other religions take for granted baffle us. (In the service last weekend, the speaker mentioned that her husband -- as a child, in a different religion -- was kicked out of Sunday school for asking questions. My 10 year old couldn't wrap his head around that one.)

What is interesting to me is those of us who do come back to our mother religion tend to be so passionate about the religion. Heck, even those who never go back to church -- like my brother and sister -- will still devoutly declare themselves to be Unitarian in a show of identity not unlike the person who never goes to temple, yet sees himself as 100% Jewish. It's not just out religion. It's our culture.

All of this is being prompted by 7th Day who gave me some great ideas on my class, and also outed herself as another lifelong UU. She is also a minister. And if you don't believe she's passionate about UUism, just check out her 4 am comments to my last post.

I wish I knew statistics. It seems there is a larger percentage of born-n-raised UUs in ministry than in your average UU population.

Those of us who stay -- or come back -- do so with a vengeance. Bwahahahaha. Now in your Multiplex: The Apostle II, Doing It Unitarian-Style!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Soliciting UUr help

Okay, I did that for the title to poke fun at myself. I am so OVER all of the so-cute monikers in which we exchange random vowels for UU. "CUUking group." "RUUning group." Thank you, UU World, for not making the magazine, "UU WUURLD" ...

Okay, my point and I do have one:

I have been asked to conceive and direct a new UU class. NOT an orientation, which we also provide. This is more of a "UU 101" class.

What prompted this is that a) we have no minister b) we have few UU ministers visiting our pulpit and so consequently, we have more than a few new members who don't actually know much about Unitarian Universalism, apart from the overview they get in orientation. Our Board, thankfully, feels strongly that we don't want to just be a non-denominational church, we want to be a Unitarian Universalist church.

I have lots of materials I'm going through, but I wanted to know from you -- minister or layperson -- what is important to you about Unitarian Universalism? What would you want a new member to know? How do help a new member not just be a member of our specific church, but to actually be a Unitarian Universalist?

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Tiger Weaving In and Out

I had a dream a few months ago; I don't think I blogged about it. It was one of those symbolic dreams that's so obvious, you wake up and immediately say, "duh, what was that about?" with sarcasm dripping from your thoughts.

My family was going about our business -- cleaning up dishes, getting dressed, watching television -- and all the while, a tiger was weaving in and out, all around us. All of us knew that he was there. We all knew that at any moment, he could turn and viciously bite -- and kill -- any of us. But in this dream, we did nothing. We knew that there was nothing to do. We couldn't lead the tiger away, we couldn't kill the tiger. We simply had to exist with the tiger walking around us, in and out, circling one or the other. Little Warrior was there, too, going about her business. We didn't try to hold her away from the tiger -- we knew we couldn't. We had to just act normal, not look the tiger in the eyes, and act as if he weren't there.

Some days, it's easier than normal, living with the tiger. Little Warrior is SO fat and healthy looking, and such a bundle of spirit. Ye Gods, the spirit. The spirit that will cause her to throw a screaming meanie fit if her siblings go outside and she doesn't get to. The spirit that will decide that RIGHT NOW, Mama must sit down and nurse her, even though Mom just heated up her lunch and was just about to take a bite of hot vegetable curry. And Mom will find herself, just as she did with other children, grumbling martyr-like, that Of Course She Isn't Allowed to Eat Her Lunch, She Doesn't Deserve It. And getting irritated at Little Warrior. God's in His heaven, all's right with the world.

On those days, I can bump against the tiger, and not even notice. Was that the couch I bumped against?

And then there are the days ... you hear that the tiger in the next house has attacked its occupant. Someone has relapsed. Someone who was originally given a "favorable histology" path is given another biopsy and hears "unfavorable/anaplastic." Their tiger has them under his paw.

And then, you hear every breath the tiger takes. You hear every step. He stops to sniff Little Warrior, and you grow cold with fear. She has dark circles under her eyes. Does that mean ... She's fighting a yeast infection, which she did before diagnosis, does that mean ...

You're happy right now, and the bulbs are emerging through the pine needles, and the sky is blue. You're thinking about the future.

Does that mean.

And the tiger stretches out. And yawns.