homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

this moment: a new face

{this moment} - A soulemama Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.



Friday, August 19, 2011

this moment: summer

{this moment} - A soulemama Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Slippery slopes

It's funny, the connections that one can make from seemingly unrelated discussions. I read an interesting article on the usually-sarcastic but sometimes-dead-on website Cracked.com this morning, about some extreme policies in place at various public schools. It's an entertaining read in its own right, and one might think that it would be an excellent springboard for a little homeschooling soapboxing.

The Six Dumbest Things Schools are Doing in the Name of Safety

But I find myself thinking in a different direction, based on this one passage that beautifully nails the idea of the slippery-slope, panic-based, black-and-white-thinking argument:

If allowing children to be photographed playing soccer or doing a drama club performance of Fiddler on the Roof is enough to turn on pedophiles, then we probably just have to accept that fact. The next step is just throwing a tarp over the students any time they're in public for fear that someone nearby is getting aroused.

Throwing a tarp over them? Gee, that sounds familiar. Like, maybe one of my other favored soapboxes: breastfeeding support/awareness/rights...

Are we really so mired in fear that we cannot see this kind of thinking for what it is? Hiding a shameless activity (whether it be children playing or infants eating) because of the possibility that someone, somewhere, is getting perverse pleasure from viewing the event, is to acknowledge that the activity is shameful. It's pure "s/he was asking for it", blame-the-victim mentality. It's offensive and unfair and absurd.

I have an ex-friend who was extremely bold in her negative judgment of many of my actions. You know the kind, someone who will criticize you based on their values, "for your own good". One of her most biting comments was her accusation that by posting images of my pregnant belly on the Internet, I was inviting sexual deviants to use them for nefarious purposes.

Yup. Apparently I was guilty of child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, perversion, you name it...because maybe someone somewhere might see a photo of my swollen abdomen and think, "oh God YES!!!"

Guess what? Their problem, not mine.

There is a line between exhibitionism and fetishism, and people seem increasingly unable to discern it. If I'm posing in a lascivious fashion with a sultry look on my face and obviously revealing clothing...yeah, maybe I am asking for it. But if I'm just sitting on a park bench wearing my flip-flops and someone with a foot fetish gets all hot and bothered at the sight of my naked piggies...that's on them, not on me. And I'm sure as hell not going to shun open-toed shoes--or worse, attack those people who choose to wear them--because of a pretty unlikely "what if?".

Let's stop overthinking these things, could we? Maybe a mother nursing her child is exactly that, and not an exhibitionist. Maybe someone who casually observes her is just a passing pedestrian and not a predator. Maybe someone who takes photographs of children just loves photography. Or that child. If you haven't been following the news from across the pond, it may surprise you to know that there is a push in England to ban all public phototography of children...even your own. Everyone, it seems, is guilty until proven innocent. Oh wait, I haven't seen much in the way of the opportunity to "prove". Just guilty.

A friend of mine was accosted by a neighbor a while back. Her "crime"? She and her daughter were on a walk...part of a homeschool activity...and were taking photographs of various features of their environment: trees, wildflowers, etc. The neighbor saw this young mother and child on a stroll in a residential neighborhood and freaked out that they were *casing the area*.

Seriously?

Have we become so isolated and paranoid that we are instantly suspicious when we see anyone actually out on the streets? Come on, people...broad daylight. "Seen and not heard" is becoming less of a throwback and more of a social expectation, as we allow fear to convince us that everyone is out to get us. This xenophobia is robbing us of community and turning us into a society of individuals. Very frightened, mistrustful individuals.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Green Living is not Clean Living

I'm a treehugger. And I'm frugal. Both of these tendencies mean that I rarely throw anything away. I'm getting better at the actual purging...stuff *does* eventually leave my house. But even so, the collecting of things creates a number of problem areas in my house in the meantime. I know that this is preferable (to my, and my husband's, sensibilities and values) to the alternative of just blindly throwing everything into one general trash receptacle (and therefore landfill), but even so...I'm starting to feel a bit like a hoarder.

For example:

At any given time, there are piles of fabric, reusable shopping bags either thrown on the floor in the pantry (immediately following grocery-unloading) or stuffed into 1-3 master bags and waiting by the front door, to be put back into the van for their next use. And from those times when I've forgotten to take my bags into the store or have run out, I have a large bag in the basement (hanging from my laundry sorter, for reasons that once upon a time probably made sense to me) stuffed with other, recyclable, plastic bags. Eventually these get taken to the grocery store and shoved into the recycle bin there. So, I'm overrun with bags of several varieties.

We garden. Which means that we compost. Which means that there is a large bowl on the kitchen counter for plant-based food scraps. It's ugly. And often smelly. And in particularly hot weather, attracts flies. Lovely addition to our kitchen.

My BIL has a hobby farm and an obscenely large flock of laying hens. He provides us with fresh eggs, which makes him one of my most cherished relatives. :) To encourage his continued generosity, I never throw away egg cartons. Therefore, the top of my fridge is usually buried under stacks of egg cartons, awaiting our next visit with him.

We recycle the usual suspects through our municipal pickup program. This means that we have a number of bins out back by the trash cans, overflowing with various plastics, glass, and metals. This *also* means that we usually have a number of these items sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for someone to carry them out. So, empty container clutter on counters.

Also picked up by the municipal guys is cardboard. It's amazing how much cardboard we go through. We have a mountain of flattened boxes blocking the bicycle racks in the basement. We often forget (since it's a new addition to the recycling program) to take the cardboard out for the biweekly pickup, so that mountain is often pretty big.

We recycle paper in two ways. Matte paper (coloring book pages, old invoices, newspapers) go into a box near the woodburning stove. Glossy paper (magazines, junk mail) goes into a separate box over by my laundry sorter (apparently my center of operations) to be taken to the Abitibi bin behind the church.

We also *intend* to recycle batteries. Unfortunately, the last two places where I used to take batteries for donation have stopped accepting them. Which means that I have a shelf in the basement overflowing with dead batteries. Also old/scratched/unwanted CDs and DVDs. (I *did* finally close my eyes and pitch all of the old floppy disks, but obviously that still haunts me a bit.)

We have a corner of the basement--okay, TWO corners of the basement--cluttered with outdated and/or broken computer equipment. Apparently this stuff is a no-no to just pitch, but until we figure out how/where to dispose of these things, we are tripping over them.

And that's just the daily stuff. It does not include one-time purges like boxes & bags of outgrown clothing, discarded toys, weeded-out books, and other things destined for donation bins at the library and local charities.

In other words, even when my house is clean, it's cluttered. Because I'm trying to "do right". There are days when I wonder if it would be better to...

Nah. I don't think I could deal with the guilt. I guess I'll deal with the mess.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Apron Monday: Maternity Edition

Hey! Who out there remembers Apron Monday? Where I show off my impressively, impractically large collection of aprons and expound on their various virtues and drawbacks? Yeah, it's been a while. I stopped around the first of the year, when I ran out of current examples. Since then, I *have* acquired a few, but I have neither created any nor blogged the ones that were given to me because I've been a little preoccupied with other things.

Yup. Primarily *that* thing...
But there's one that I must blog PDQ, as the window for opportunity is about to close. And alas, this is going to be a warts-and-all post because despite the fact that I've had this apron for months, it's still not really ready for public sharing. Here, then, is my Maternity Apron.


First off, let me say that I am not interested in any comments from the Peanut Gallery about the shitty look on my face. It was 90+ degrees outside and God-knows how hot in my non-air-conditioned kitchen right in front of my preheated oven. And I'm in my ninth month of pregnancy. I'm uncomfortable. Eff you if you demand a toothpaste ad...sometimes I don't smile.

Next, all of the "this is real life" caveats. Yup, it's an action shot...so I'm in front of a messy counter and my apron is covered in cake batter, egg yolk, and most likely some leafy smudge from wiping clean the green beans I had cut for canning earlier. What does this tell you? This apron gets USED.

Okay, now for the "why I haven't blogged this yet" excuses. See the straps? Yeah, they are D-rings. Which are awesome and professional looking. And unfinished. This apron (Simplicity 2390, View D) was lovingly made for me by my mother, who is intimately familiar with my love of, and deep practical need for, aprons. She wanted to have it ready for me to wear while I hosted a party, and delivered it unfinished. I love my mom, but let's be honest here...finishing that after guests had started arriving was not high on my "likely to happen" list. I safety-pinned the tabs that secure the D-rings and put it on.

And it kept falling off. Until I got frustrated and just removed it and went back to one of my bib-style standbys, offending my gifter. Sorry, Mom. I love it. I just couldn't keep it on.

Part of the problem is the D-rings themselves. They're a great option if you have a heavier fabric. But on quilter's cotton, things seem to slip and slide and they just don't hold.

The other problem is the sheer size of this apron. I'll give Simplicity major props for the roominess of the body. This is a smock to be reckoned with. I'm ginormous now and still, nothing binds. However, like most pattern publishers, they are woefully UNskilled at creating garments that actually fit a gravid figure. I have a wide middle but my shoulders are about the same size. This thing could fit over my husband's hockey shoulderpads. (Okay, I don't know that for a fact...now I almost feel obligated to go test that theory. Almost.)

Rather than trying to sew this darling into something fitting, I kludged it. The straps, which should hang straight over my shoulders, are crisscrossed in the back. The strap ends, which should tuck nicely through the D-rings, are knotted around them. And yes, the D-rings themselves are still tacked on with safety pins. It's "done" enough for me. And seeing how I have three more weeks of pregnancy, I don't see this getting formally completed anytime soon. Or ever. (Sorry, Mom!)

The crisscross totally messes up the drape in the back, too...it's less of a lovely garment and more of a "look, she has some fabric haphazardly wrapped around her." Alas.

Now that I've admitted all of that, I will say some nice things about it. And maybe someday my mother will speak to me again.

1. This was made for me by my Mom. That's enough to get it high ranking in the Love category.

2. The fabric was leftover from my second son's baby quilt (made by my Mom).

I added the egg yolk myself. Tres artistic, no?
The pattern is drawings from the children's book "Guess How Much I Love You", which was the theme of his baby book, etc. Super points for nostalgia and cuteness.

3. It has full coverage. FULL coverage. Boy, if I thought that was necessary before, pregnancy has made it infinitely more so. I have an even worse case of general clumsiness, plus with this new acreage out front, less of my spills make it to the floor. No wonder this thing is filthy.

4. Giant pockets. Which, honestly, I haven't used as much as I assumed I would...but it's still nice knowing that they're there.