Thursday, April 22, 2010

The accumulation of stuff

Yesterday, Own the Sidewalk talked of the accumulation of stuff and of her finacee, MLB, asking her to use up ten products before she buys more. Never has this weighed more heavily on me than as Darin and I wrap up our list for what we lost after the fire. Where was Maia as I was accumulating junk over the previous 13 years? Had we taken everything of my house and put it on the lawn, how much of it could we have put back in? What astounds me is how much I was cleaning out in the month before the fire since school had started and just how much junk was still in there.

I wonder if this will change my shopping habits in the future. Had the fire not taken all that junk and rendered it useless, I'd have purged it in the coming year as I cleaned and it would have wound up at a thrift store or at the dump.


My human garbage disposals have eaten all the food that I'd bought for school lunches for the next week. We have our makeshift pantry in my bedroom which has a lock on it, but with time, they have been allowed to come in to get things to make school lunches and they left things as they come in, taking an extra energy bar that was meant for the younger ones, or other snacks, an extra juice packet. It adds up fast. I tried to accomodate them and buy several days worth of extras, but they seemed to have lifted even more, having seen an abundance. Next week they are going to budget time and take turns baking snacks. I'll save money and it's better for them in the long run.

My pantry at the old house had a lock on it, as did the freezer. I hated this because there have been a few big families who have been in the paper for abuse and who had padlocks on fridges and pantries-- I of course realized that this all had to do with worse problems. I am constantly amazed by how much even Calamity Jane eats and she is only 7 and eats more than I do, but is quite slender. (I didn't breast feed her, either.) Her brothers are the same. Where do they manage to put all of it?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Build-a-house. . . create-a-bear of a mother!

I am doing the insurance list and it is a BEAR! Why wait seven months? I couldn't do it. It made me sad. Today some friends had rented a public venue and the whole family was invited, but I sat down after church with the list and started ploughing through it. I was laying things to rest. It was sad at first, but an hour into it and I was just getting it done.

I am floored that the demo crew tossed things like jewelry. A cross pendant was tossed. It couldn't be cleaned? Really? I am only a size larger than I was in high school and I still had coats, jackets and blazers that still fit and those were all gone. I saw them-- I think that at least a few of them could have been saved.

Building a house is a hassle. I was in over my head with redoing our bathroom before the blaze. My husband and I would argue over colors or whatever. Building a house is not easy when you WANT to and have all the money you can stand. When you HAVE to build a house and you are limitted on resources, it feels pretty futile. (Or feudal. I am a flipping SERF and my husband thinks he is a lord who, because his name is on the loan, can decide what will happen.) We have a little game that I don't want to play where my husband and the builder ask me what I want. I say that I have my kitchen and my office and I want for nothing. They insist for my input. I ask for a budget to which they say, "Just say what you want!" I pitch forth an idea. I get told that I must think we are rich, we cannot afford that. So. . . I go on the cheap and get blasted because they say I am not telling them what I really want.

So. . . I have started hitting up real estate agents. We have seen some houses that we like but in our price range, they are out beyond the boondocks. My husband said that we have to be near our original house or closer to a certain road. I agreed. . . and then a house went up for sale in our size a couple of minutes away. I really hope we like it and can get it. Meimploding is NOT pretty.

A couple of weeks ago I started belly dancing and doing yoga. We can't afford it, but I have to move my body. After the fire I should have kept up with the yoga and started dancing. Belly dancing is really shoulder dancing-- I love it. I am not sore, but my muscles are having a party and screaming, "We're ALIVE!" It's great. I cannot explain how good this feels. The only thing-- I can't wear the costumes. I need the more conservative costumes. A lot of women don't have an issue with it, but I can't be showing off cleavage. I have children. Even for a fun performance, I don't feel right about showing as much as Westernized belly dance performers show. I will probably wear a version of an Indian sari.

Stephen Crewes Wylder of the Slow Train blog normally doesn't like my music, but he has turned me on to his. I've started listening to folk music. I'd love to belly dance to it.  

The kids are being kids. I am finding that aspects of parenting that I hate are just signs of the kids getting older and needing other responsibilities. Unfortunately, as their mother I have to make them master their chores at home first. The bigger they get, the more mess they make and I do not like getting served it!

PS: I know what homeowners insurance is. I am not complaining about it nor do I want links sent to me telling me about insurance companies. This is about building a house. I am not complaining about my insurance company.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

True Stress Management Techniques

When I first started writing about stress management, it was for a class onthe same subject, where I could decompress. Over the years I have been updating on the family and my fire and as of yesterday, I got back to what it was all about. My yoga teacher decided that I will start teacher training with her, period. So, in May I will begine the first 9 week course with her of practicing three times a week. I am really happy about this.

How can I do yoga three times a week while building a house and maintaining a busy household of 7 kids still at home? Since resuming yoga just once a week two weeks ago, I don't know why I didn't force myself to go right after the fire. Two classes have my body working on things and the time I spent away has my body hungry for more yoga and body work.

I am getting more body awareness. There comes moments of release with it to where I sink more in to it and get better. I was pigeon toed* as a little girl and they made me wear special shoes to bed. When I was in college taking dance classes, I told my teacher that I couldn't imagine my body past my knees as I went down in a mental exercise. I was the class klutz and a light went on in my teacher's eyes and she was so happy that I told her that-- I'd really been a hinderance to her class and drove her nuts! She sent me to a kinesiologist who asked if I wore braces on my legs as a child. I didn't, but the shoes were buckled together and I was not happy one bit with them. She said that that had a lot to do with how I related to my body. She massaged my who body and told me how connected everything was and that my legs were fine in the now that we were at, that I was strong and capable and that my body was an instrument to play with the music as I danced. After that, my dance picked up and I was invited to try out for the University of Utah's dance program in Provo two semesters later. I couldn't, but I was good!

Then there have been other things since, like the violent situation that happened to me, child birth, the fire, things that imprint on me that have been stored in my body. Yesterday I let a lot go. My instructor prays and had us have mantras that she may or may not realize came from the Old Church. We talk to our bodies as we do the yoga-- it is an odd thing, but I felt things leave me yesterday that I have carried for periods of time. My body and I are a "we"-- it serves me well and I take care of it. There is much work to be done in me yet, but yesterday was a huge purging. No one saw it, but it happened. As I worked, images came into my head. The fire stress has sat over my kidneys in my lower back and I realized this as I was doing some leg lifts on the floor-- why it sat there I don't know (because there was no room anyplace else?) and I told my body to release it, it was scary, but it took care of us and we were safe, it ws time to build more muscle. Toxins came out in my breath, I felt a snappy-sensation, and it was the same all over as I stretched and breathed and exhaled.

So now I am going back to the movement study which is critical to my very existence. I look foreward to passing what I will learn on to my own students.

*What was a problem 40 years ago is thankfully not a problem today. An orthopedist told me that they find that in most cases, the body compensates and this is unique to each person. In some cases there are problems. It's worth getting checked out.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Heights by Peter Hedges (Spoiler Alert!)

I read Peter Hedges’ book, “The Heights.” I was disappointed at the end. The story was worth the read, though, because Hedges makes the characters important. Their dialogue is real—I get the impression that Tim and Kate are based on real people who allowed him to be a fly on their wall. What makes a character important and a book successful (so far, in my mind) is that each character is someone who we know and if not, they play into a stereotype. Tim is my husband, refusing to dress for a black tie occasion and stealing Kate’s thunder when all eyes are on her and he tires of the small talk and says something very obscure and brilliant. Kate is a stay at home mom who is exhausted with her kids and takes a job so that Tim can stay at home (she is not like me in this regard, but she works for an agency that gives grants and pays three times better than she would normally get, which I would love to do, so I can relate to her) Tim has a student who is in love with him—I can relate to that student in spite of his unflattering depiction of her. Then there is Anna Brody and her husband, Mr. Ashworth. Anna is a poor girl who married up, who just wants to be like everyone else and. . . who happens to want to bag average Tim because he is average, but she uses him to get her husband to drop his girlfriends and leaves poor Tim waiting for her at a hotel room. Jeff Slade is in love with Kate and he is a former debate friend from high school who is now all fluff but Kate goes for him after he loads her up with copious amounts of booze, and then she sneaks his speech that he gave to a group of “Wish Upon a Star” (similar group) recipients and when Kate takes his notes where he has his speech, she realizes that he planned to ‘get choked up, pause. Look at Kate. Cry. Smile. Sit down.’ (My book is not right here with me so that isn’t a direct quote.) The speech is important because it contrasts with Tim giving a speech at his father’s retirement party where he was forced to retire because of a sporting sex scandal at his college where he planned to say something truthful about his father, but confetti got stuck in his throat and everyone went wild for his speech. I did not like that it kind of had a moral to it for the masses. “You poor people! Your dull lives are so good! Dull sex every six months is OK! It really is!”

I like how Tim becomes a stay at home dad who tries to blend in with the other parents and gives them all names like, “Mom with Moxie” and “Bearded Mom” and one dad who he simply calls “The Weasel.” (I do that in my head at my husband's church, but my husband gets mad about it when I tell him.) I wonder about the other moms in the story, how they would speak about Tim and their lives.

By reading stories like this, I find that I can relate to my own life better. I am isolated and don’t relate to other women or the pecking order, so reading about these characters that I can relate to helps me see myself better and understand the motivations of others. Like Kate, I have taken the kids outside to trudge through the snow only to realize that I forgot to zip up my jacket and get myself ready to be out in the cold. I can sadly see myself leaving a phone bill for my husband to “deal with this!” and to talk to him about our children taking their first poop in the toilet and not flushing until he gets home. Sadly, I can also relate to utter boredom that they both experience in their marriage.

Tim did what I have done—he blundered at a costume party. Only in Tim’s case, he forgot the costumes that Kate had made, and in my case, I forgot the costumes that I had made! Like me, Tim procrastinates. I know his professors who get impatient with him.

Is this story good? Yes. It was worth the $20.00 that I paid for the book. I underlined bunches of phrases that I have worked into my own work and FaceBook status reports. It’s great because for the most part, I personally can relate to most of the characters. Based on what I have read of Hedges, he knows people like the super rich who add flavor to the book, but he doesn’t develop them. Am I so far out of touch that I’d never be able to relate to them if he did? They don'tneed developed characters because the book was not really about them—they were supporting characters who threw in the temptations for Kate and Tim. They were predators and as it should be in a book like this, Tim and Kate were the prey. They fall, but they get back up.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Pascha, insurance issues

Last night I was happy that I eventually got to the Pascha service. It started at 11. My husband wanted to leave at 10 since Basil was to serve. I told him to go with the the kids who were up-- I was literally growling at everyone. I had wanted to sleep, but the kids and he were coming in to my room, playing 20 questions. I think I finally fell asleep after 9PM.

Around 5-6PM we were having fun dyeing eggs. The house was loud. I prefer classical music, but Dmitri wanted country and our sound was delightfully loud, with yelling, laughing, squealing (the kids fight and cause each other to make horrid sounds while they argue!) and music coming out of our house. It was great. I marinated some steaks for today’s feast and made fried chicken for the fast-break.

As soon as my mood perked up post nap-attempt, with Cloud making me lavender tea, she and I hopped around the living room playing Easter Bunny and we were silly. Yes, she saw her presents first and I think she got into her new make-up, but we had fun.

We got to church and I saw several women wearing long skirts (most do) and all I could think of was how I was wearing those damned things seven months ago. I have to admit, my heart caught in my throat a few times as young children were holding candles that flirted with igniting their mother’s skirts. (One lady’s hair did ignite very briefly as she bent over a toddler.) I can’t believe I dressed like that. Were my jeans and running shoes better than the long skirts and mostly heels and hair covers that make them look like noses with bodies attached? I can’t say that, but I was really glad that I quit dressing like that. Most looked like blobs and the Old World Look belongs with our grandmothers. Great-great-great grandmothers.

We missed the promenading around the church, but we got there in time to stand. Communion was about 150 people long. I really wished that a fire marshal had been there to say that it was unsafe. It really was unsafe. My inner insurance agent (who sounds a lot like my mother!) was yelling at me to get out, if there was a fire or an earthquake, the chances of getting out to safely with all my children. . . were not good. I kept thinking of my early morning yoga class where my teacher said that we did mantras not so we’d sweat in her studio, but so that when we were in the kitchen and the kids were yelling, or in crowded places where we felt threatened, that we’d remember to exhale.

At the fast break, one woman with a very precocious child kept apologizing for her daughter’s hilarious antics. I really started to get ticked because her 4 year old daughter is smarter than my seven year old and her apologies seemed to draw attention to how smart she is. Don’t get me wrong, I like them both, but I found her mother annoying and her daughter would have been funny if she had let her be. (Mom was knit-picking and I won’t be shocked if said daughter turns to crime in rebellion.)

We had a nice Pascha basket. Ours is never fancy or as pretty as other people’s baskets. There are just too many of us and no matter how big the basket is, we are always filled to overflowing (a blessing!) I made lots of fried chicken, cookies, and added yogurts, beer, Baily’s, cheeses, sausages, eggs and fruit that wasn’t part of breaking the fest, but still good. I ate sliced pears and cheese and fried chicken.

Calamity Jane and I wrapped presents and took presents for a few friends. Those were fun, but I hate giving presents because the receivers’ first responses tend to be, “But I didn’t get you anything!” and they are genuinely upset. These presents were pretty wind chimes that I’d found on sale and had bought several for gardeners who I know. Cloud was standing nearby and said to one person who said she didn’t get me anything, “My mom saw this and thought of you. Go home and open it, you will understand why. If you see something that makes you think of her, get it for her, but there are no strings attached to this!” I was happy for that. I hate that I can't get people something because it makes me happy thinking of them and leave it at that.

We got home to the dawg having eaten the Easter eggs that were not stuffed in shoes. He was gassy and seems ok, just gassy. (No eggs for Dawg!) I ranted about the rabbit and the kids laughed. My antics were convincing enough to have one of the boys quietly take me aside and ask if I had hid the eggs or not! The kids liked their baskets-- I didn't buy baskets this year because they get crushed in moves, so I made lunch sack baskets with candy and presents on the outside.

My husband made me a really nice basket with chocolate and tea-- that was really sweet of him.

We have a feast later today at the church. We just constructed a parish hall and it’s done enough that we can eat in it. Builders resume in the morning.

Overall, we are having fun, but I don’t feel a part of this. Is it because I feel so detached from things right now? Our insurance just cut us off and I am appealing though the state department of insurance but we lost our rental furniture. They are coming for the beds at the end of the month. I feel very unsettled again and it's worse than the fire in some regards. Money that we'd saved for baseball was used on an extra month's rent of the beds.