Sunday, February 27, 2011

A very lame class on abuse prevention

Tonight I took my teenager to a Catholic Abuse Prevention class. I had thought that this would be great-- a chance for the Catholic church to prevent some of the abuses that have occurred in the past, that have blotted her history. It was lame. The teens talked about relatiooooonshiiiips and premarital sex and waiting. It was the same lame and stupid crap that my generation heard as kids and while we parents were required to sit through it, I got the impression that the kids were speaking for us. Statistically, how many of these kids will go to the altar as virgins? How many in that room were gay? I am not worried about priests or clergy making moves in this parish because we have a lot of safeguards, but if they do and if they succeed, I will blame it on the education.

They spoke of the acronym for LIFE (Love, Infatuation, Friendship, Exploitation.) We talked in our groups about what this meant. In mixed groups of parents and youth, we were asked to write down what we thought of these four definitions. Then the moderator of the session wanted them to be read to our groups and for us to guess who said it. I told her that I didn't think this was a great idea for her to spring this after we had written these down, so she quickly told us that if someone didn't like this, to just read them. Of course when the group chose their faves to share, the woman queried, "Who said that?" Knowing who said what did not matter to what she was teaching and I have no idea why she asked. My quote was read as the best from our group, as I said that infatuation is like salad dressing. . . a little goes a long way, but it is never the main course of the meal.

They spoke of waiting for sex until marriage, but they didn't talk about the hormonal effects of sex on the body and why this might be a good thing. While I do not know if it is true,  I was told in a Crises Pregnancy volunteer class that sex produces happy hormones that make you feel attached to the person you are with, and that in a healthy relationship where there is love, it really builds your relationship up with your partner/spouse. I get that way. (I have had reason to think of it lately, bad experiences from my past, and indeed, good experiences, also, and the casual encounters, where my boyfriends didn't want to be called my boyfriends, who panicked at me calling the Sacred Act, "making love," I had to detach myself from them. One of my friends recently shared with me that if her husband is looking at his iPhone instead of paying attention to her when she is talking about her day, she feels like she did with her casual encounters when he makes moves on her later.)

I can handle that they didn't talk about abuse by clergy in the class, but they didn't talk about abuse by other people. I think that gay teens need to be warned about abuse happening just as much in their relationships and how to spot it-- and places to find out how to get out of the situations. (Of course gay youth don't exist in the Catholic church and if they squeeze their eyes shut tight enough, they can pray away the gay!) They also didn't really talk about abuse in interpersonal relationships.

The girls were wistful about what love is. It's so simple to them at this age. It was basically the crap about "True love waits!" The message of the evening was, "If it is infatuation, don't! If it is love, wait!" How simple! They didn't talk about how to get from point A (being single) to point J (being married.) Oh-- I am assigning letters to my variables. They touched very lightly on hormones which, while they are well and good, they did not over ride them. If I was 16 and making out with my boyfriend, I would not be thinking of the bookish hag that taught the class.

I think it is noble to wait until marriage to have sex-- you avoid a lot of problems, many that are too personal for me to go into here as I'd offer up my personal experiences. The issue, however, is not to wait, but how to wait. If you choose to not have sex before marriage, I think that dating is like saying that you don't want to drink, but you are going to go to a wine tasting. Don't put yourself into temptation's way! Why can't the Catholic church figure this out? They need a young adult group (not youth) director who provides outings for the singles to meet and go out just to have fun. Bowling, white water rafting, these things are all great ways to meet other singles in the group and to go out. One of my friends is an Orthodox Jew and her kids will not date and will instead be introduced to possible matches and they will not be left alone by choice, until they get married. I wanted to stand up and scream in that class, "Listen! Your bodies are made to want to have sex! Decide now what you want to do with this choice! If you don't want to have sex before you marry, going off to a party college is a bad, bad, bad idea! Involve your parents! Don't go out with your friends who like to date so they can troll!" I knitted and reserved my comments for Cloud when we got in the car. She said, "You should be teaching this class, Mom." I told her that I am the old lady who knits and covers her hair and who sits in the corner. She said that that is only believable until I start talking, and then I could be wearing a gorilla suit and no one would notice. That was sweet.

They did say that "friends with benefits" is a form of exploitation, which I thought was great. Adults need to be told this, too. Sadly, the woman giving the talk is not someone who I could see as ever having had to avoid a situation such as this. If she was pure when she married, I doubt that it was by choice. It is complicated to have kids take this advice from someone who does not seem to have ever had a life to enjoy, who was ever young and vibrant like they are.

Of course, choosing a life partner is something that one cannot cover in two hours, but this course was about abuse prevention, and I thought it did a bad job of covering abuse prevention.

The class should have been taught in a gender specific fashion. I sat in the back and watched the girls look back at the boys before they spoke, and the boys didn't talk much at all.

Overall, I felt cheated of my time. The people who put the class on felt good because they made parents and teens come together to talk. They didn't talk about anything that I wasn't discussing with my kids when they were younger.

The magic mitts

Several weeks ago, I surfed around on FaceBook visiting the pages of a few people who I didn't know-- like most everyone else, I have quite a few friends who I don't really know but we are friends because we have mutual friends who we do talk to on a regular basis. I do this on a regular basis just to touch bases and say hello. I clicked on a lady who happened to have her grandfather dying. She is in her mid-20's and her grandfather was dying of cancer. It was herself, her sister and her mother, and his live-in companion of the previous ten years who were his support. (Her grandmother was remarried and living a few states away.) They all lived in his city and her mother was his only child.

I sent her a supportive message and asked if, while we didn't know each other, if she'd mind if I checked in on her page and just said supportive words here and there and she didn't mind at all.

One of her grandfather's complaints was that he was cold. I had just finished knitting a pair of handwarmers in a washable wool (buckskin was their color) that I had intended for myself, but as the wool feels quite nice, I made another pair in baby alpaca and asked if I could send them to her for her grandfather via a mutual friend who was posting often on her page, and she consented and was quite happy when they arrived. He was happy and especially very much enamored with the baby alpaca mitts. I do not have a picture of them, but there were quite basic, what I'd make for myself, or for a man who I didn't know as they lack frou-frou frills. As he has been ill for a while, my small hand size fit him well. (They are very similar to what you can find in this picture.) He was really happy when he found out that a complete stranger happened upon his granddaughter's page and how we worked it out. (He loved that I was from Alaska-- he'd come up here in the 1970's, vowed to return, but never did.) Upon getting my mitts, his hands were no longer as cold as they'd been, and he loved that people cared enough about his grand daughter to worry for him.

I'd not heard from her in a couple of weeks, dropped by her page and saw that he'd died early last week. I sent my condolences and in the way that people say, "If there is anything I can do, let me know" I said this, not knowing what I could do and assuming, as people do when they say such things, that there is nothing that I could do. Of course I wouldn't be telling my readers this if nothing came of the offer!

She wrote me back and she seemed embarrassed, but there was something I could do. . . her grandfather had very little in worldly goods, and what he had, he understandably left to his girlfriend. There were tears over the gloved that I'd sent! His girlfriend was going to give them to my friend's mother in a few months, but she very much loved them as they were a link to a man who she loved. Of course his three biological descendants also loved him and they, too, wanted the gloves. She didn't tell me what she wanted, but simply said that she was sorry for asking and that she hoped I understood. Of course I did. I have extra hanks of the yarns and I quickly knit up two extra pair of mitts, identical to the ones that I had sent her, and told her to put one of each with his others, and I made so that my friend, her sister, mother and grandfather's girlfriend could each have a glove that he'd worn-- and a new one.

I just got a message from her. She had taken them to church this morning and his girlfriend was very happy and they went back to the home she had known for the last ten years and had cake and wine and they made the new pairs of mitts. His girlfriend had no children of her own and my new friend and her sister and their mother are bonded for, I hope, life, and this is in a good way.

I was so happy to have been involved from a distance in making her grandfather's death a little easier. My fingerless mitts are like puppies-- they are warm and soft, very tactile, but they don't have cold noses. At the ends of a person's hands, they are open so they can handle the blankets and have their hands held and have the touch of their loved ones. From my end, I like making them better than shawls because fingerless mitts can be complicated, but they don't take long to knit up, so it isn't like knitting a shawl or an afghan: what is 2 hours of tricky parts in a pattern when you only have one more to go? (Shawls take longer.) You also use less yarn which, considering that I love using nice yarn, this spreads to more people and I think they get more joy out of it! 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

She's got that personality. . . Meyers Briggs. . . INFP

So this is what you do on Friday nights when you are married and taking this night off from your usual obsessions. You take a test that is similar to the Meyers-Briggs personality test. I got on here between cleaning the kitchen and folding laundry. It's nice having my three older boys out for a couple of nights as I can clean their room.

I am always either an ENFP or an INFP. Tonight I am an INFP. I always score close to 50-50 on the Introverted and Extroverted portion of the test. I hate that I feel and don't think as much, but then again, I score close to thinking, but never test into a "T." I feel (NOT THINK!!!) like the description fits me perfectly.

Tonight I bask in the personal comfort of sharing the same personality trait classification with A. A. Milne, J. R. R. Tolkien, Neil Diamond,  and Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few. As we are all introverts and I am feeling introverted, we are only in the same classification, but probably not the same room as alone, we are working diligently on our own great things.

PS: I linked to Neil's song, "Forever in Blue Jeans." I used to hear that and think that he was singing, "Reverend Blue Jeans." It came out in the '70's and I pictured and itinerant minister who smoked plants and walked country roads with a guitar, preaching about Jesus and holding revivals. (The idea didn't appeal to me and I lean strongly toward Judaism.) The lyrics were not for me to judge and didn't bother me in the least, but I pictured him seducing (or being seduced) by farmer's daughters between revivals.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Bamboo mothering

I am very excited. Today my son with special needs, the son who I hardly understand, came home with news of an airplane club at school. The application requires that students have a math and science background, and I called the school in tears. My son was speaking clearly when he gushed over the club and asked for permission to join it, but I didn't know how he could get in. The office sent me to the teacher who runs it and it sounded like he knows my son and he said that he will help him. He seemed happy over the sudden speech improvement and suggested that maybe he will adapt to the work if he loves the airplanes. I was so happy for this. I have no clue as to what Guy will do with his life, but he isn't that bad off. His delays are mild, but he is seriously behind in math and reading. He's never been a discipline problem and the instructor was happy for this!

This weekend I have my three older boys at a winter camp. What an exciting thing for them to be outdoors and sleeping out and living outside for two days and nights.

My husband is terribly sick with the crud that I am fighting and I fear a mid-week sleep-spell. I have to put off being sick for a few weeks as my life is picking up so fast with some trainings. I feel absolutely terrible because my work is only volunteer work. A former friend really bashed me over this a few days ago and I am having a hard time enjoying it. I cannot work and I have to be only a mom for now-- but what I do is terribly important. I am not lackluster with my volunteer work!

My eldest daughter called me (psychic power?) shortly after the money focused idiot and I got off the phone and she thanked me for making her do various classes in school even when it meant that I was in bad physical shape and drove her across town to another school twice a day. She recalled several things that I made her do that she balked and whined about that she is now grateful for me having forced because she is making some serious money and she loves her job. There were some things that she wanted to do that we couldn't afford, so I quit getting my nails done and she was thankful for those things, too. (I don't know that Mr. Money would put himself out of a trip to Las Vegas if it meant that his kids got a shot at private music lessons or if he even knows what it means-- can he just not imagine having to deny himself anything?) I still wish I could "have it all, all at once," though! I could have been happy without the blow, and I had to get nasty and yell at him and I hated having to defend myself to someone to whom I should not have to defend myself. I cannot be friends with someone who could be flat on his back and still be looking down his nose at me.

My ex husband (who I can never like for reasons that I won't elucidate on here and now) once told me that "the person who inspires ten strong men is stronger than any of them." OK, so I only have nine kids, but I feel like they are my most important work.

(If my kids were acting up due to what appeared to be a lack of parental supervision, Mr. Money would have a completely different opinion. And yes, I miss him because he had some nice characteristics, but for someone with a background in law and politics, he lacked diplomacy and was horribly mean. I'll get over it in a few days.) 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where to find inspiration

A good friend told me today to find inspiration when the light is bright in my soul and I can see clearly-- and to hold on to it when I am sad. He says I do it backward, that a blow from someone I trust, is what I hold on to when I start looking up.

I did the training yesterday and I am really excited. I get to take Cloud with me for next week's session. While she is too young by 14 months, the trainer has a big group of teens for whom he wants to figure out how to mobilize and get volunteering so he can have them as adult volunteers either up here or somewhere else with our organization. I like his line of thinking. Cloud wants her boyfriend to come along and he's a nice guy-- we'll be happy to have him aboard if he wants to join us!

Starshine joined me yesterday and she was cute-- while she could have been a pill, especially since I was not feeling well, she would come in while I was watching videos and hold my hand and smile at me, giving me her googly eyes. How can you not laugh at that? She insisted that I have her orange juice that I'd bought her, so I'd feel better. I hate juice boxes, but who can refuse the ministrations of a five year old who loves her mommy? (I will so miss her when she goes to kindergarten next year!) She was good for three solid, boring hours! She was asked if she wanted to volunteer when she gets older and she said she will, but that she wants to be the boss. She's a delightful elf, not in the least bossy, but she does seem more like an eldest child when we are out and about like that! 

Games People Play

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How I do not argue with someone who thinks he knows everything. . .

I got worn out by a lawyer friend. We had a disagreement on a couple of situations. The man is a badger by nature and a lawyer by trade. I have two things in my life that I do not like to discuss and they have not come up here. I literally disassociate myself from him when he starts harping-- I do not do this intentionally, but my brain scrambles his words. I wonder if he thinks he won the argument and if he is proud of himself, but in truth, he is an ass. Somehow for him, me agreeing with him makes his world OK on matters that don't involve him. He chose to not back me and that was ok and I was never going to talk about them again nor was he to, but his constant bringing of the issues to conversations that are meant to be about other things makes me wonder if, on top of him seeming narcissistic, if he also has a neurosis. (I have brought them up a couple of times, but as a friend who does not support, you just be silent for your friend and let the comment pass: 'It is your life, I don't understand, but you hurt, so it is what it is for you.')

The friendship is probably non existent at this point because I'd told him not to bring them up, he agreed, and somehow me bringing up some other topic always brought him to the topics. He also informed me that I have wasted my last several years in not finishing my education. I told him of some of my hurdles and he said that I needed to work them out with my husband. He had spoken of so many very personal things, brought them up on his own, but found my hurdles for what he thought I should be doing as too much pesky detail.

A few days ago, he asked me, "What do you tell people in social situations when they ask what you do?" Somehow, saying that I am a housewife with seven kids still at home is supposed to hurt me, but I told him that when I say that I am a housewife with seven kids still home that people usually seem to have no problem. (My older two, who make it a total of nine children that I have birthed and raised, are in college, so I must be doing something right. I talk to them a couple of times a week and we get along well even though I have no wealth to share with them, so we must love each other, too.)

Tomorrow I have training with an organization that I care for. I am getting sick. I have two kids who are getting sick. I may have to not go in. I will be a failure to this so-called friend if he ever finds out why I missed it. He doesn't get it as he looks at me-- I am articulate and I have, in his opinion, wasted my life-- gee willikers, I could have done something with my life and I have all this great talent that I have wasted on my brats! He has four kids that he hardly knows and has managed to not figure out how child care and sick kids can impact a person's training and job prospects.  (My articulation somehow should make everything great in my life so I can have it all, all at once! And he can go to a certain city 20 times in ten years, but not see his kids as much and with all his education, he is doing so much better than me. I felt like it was the 1980's all over again with the housewife debates. I am a lesser person because I am a home and we struggle money-wise.)

Anyway, I feel gross and sad and like I should have fought and it's not worth it. I feel like in his eyes I am a failure and this hurts. How does one argue with a biased judge in one's life? It's best to not try to defend yourself when everything sounds like a big, fat, lame excuse-- were I to do anything different, I'd be neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and he'd be the first to point that out. If he got it, he'd have to realize that he is dead wrong and only experience can teach you some things and I don't wish it on him-- he missed his experiences with his own kids and that revelation would be crushing if he figured it out.

All his successes in life matter little when through my magnifying glass, he missed years of the lives of his own children because his ex wives were smart enough to leave him. I can only imagine him at the births of his children, smiling and beaming with the mothers of his children, stealing their thunder of their labor stories with the presents he bought them that he wanted to show everyone who came to see his children. . . and asking his wives, "So, when are you planning to go back to work? You look great, you can go back in three weeks instead of six!"

He needs a sterile trophy wife and sterile trophy friends.
I have gone off course in this post.

(He does not read my blog.)  

It wasn't Las Vegas, but we still had a great time!

My husband sweetly took me out this past weekend. We had 22 hours to ourselves! (The above pic is of me, obviously putting on my earrings at the hotel.)

Of course we had Life going on and we couldn't start at hotel check-in time at  11am-- Cloud had a sacred music workshop going on, and there were numerous events happening all day for the kids before Tiger and her boyfriend got over to be with them for the night. We got out of the house at 3pm. We had planned to have dinner at 5pm at a restaurant, but we just didn't have time. I was wearing a black velvet gown, but I couldn't find various underthings that I swore I had-- they were casualties of the long-ago disaster, but I maintained that I'd seen them only the previous week. We had to run by a department store en route to the hotel to get these things, and of course everything in my life is dictated by costs and I felt bad for throwing them at my husband who was already spending a fortune (for us.)

I also didn't have my garment bags, so to cover my gown and an outfit for the next day, I had to use a Glad garbage bag to cover them. I fear that we must have looked like Valley Trash with them hanging on the hotel rack used to transport the luggage!

We canceled our restaurant reservations and had dinner in the hotel room. I had wild Alaskan salmon-- it was very, very good, and a glass of champagne. I cannot drink without breaking out, but I decided to have two glasses and suffer the what I knew would happen-- I had the cream, so they were minimized.

It was funny because the hotel asked what they could do to make us feel at home and I said, "Bang on our door at 6am and demand to use my husband's laptop and ask me to come downstairs and make French toast!"

We got to the PAC a full hour early. It was nice because we had some time to kill-- for a change, we were early! I had another glass of champagne. I got compliments on my outfit-- my gown was a tea length, strapless black velvet, form hugging dress with a bolero jacket. There is a slit up the center of it and when I walk, it shows off my legs-- nothing skanky, but in this gown you notice that I have nice legs! With it I wore my cheetah heels. In the bathroom, a lady complimented me and said that I was "sophistication with a grin." That made me feel like a million dollars-- with a grin! (I like to dress like that-- when I debated in high school I had a few really nice business suits and I would wear a Donald Duck watch to remind myself to have a good time.)

We were there to see the Duke Ellington Orchestra. They did not disappoint. My husband was funny afterward because he turned to me and asked, "How do they choose first chair for the brass?" All of the musicians got solos and I think I am still dancing to their big band sound!

We breakfasted in down town, but my husband likes "down home" type food and I am into lighter fare, so what I had was infused with a layer of grease-- not so good! But then he took me to Bell's Nursery, one of my favorite places on the planet. They have coffee and delicate, pretty things, like Wedgwood china, and Lennox. We didn't buy anything other than coffee there, but it was nice.

It was good to get out. My husband really tried hard to make a great night for me and he succeeded-- I only hope that we can do this more. I would have preferred to unspool with two or three nights of no kids (and uninterrupted, noisy romance!) but we take what we can together.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I took a stupid quiz that is quite accurate!
I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Waiting on the marrow match. . .

I had seven vials of blood drawn from me eight days ago and now I am waiting. They are testing for compatability and possible diseases and conditions that would be bad for my match and that might weaken my condition if they took anything from me.

They said that it may be two months. It's not hard to wait this out because I am so busy, but I must say that I frequently think of the kid who I may give to. Sometimes I see someone who looks like they might have cancer, or I see one of Cloud's guy friends who are around my match's age and mentally will the tests to go faster because I want him to be out doing the things that Cloud and all her friends do. If he went to the marrow match registery, he probably isn't out going to the movies with his friends like they are!

It's all good. I have been healthy and strong and I take good care of my body. It is in G-d's hands as to when or if I can help him, but it certainly will be an honor if I can be the one who helps him. This picture is my hand holding seven vials of blood. When I was pregnant after my second child, any finger prick had me furious that anything had to be done to me. (I think it was because everything was routine and I felt like I had no say, then I started saying no to everything, which probably had some of my doctors snickering behind my back! I really had great doctors, but it was the touchy-feely midwife-witch doctor who I still want to backhand.) This time, I may get to be a part of what is amazing about modern medicine so it's all kind of cool. The lady who took my blood had a friend who did this and she said that the doctors, nurses, and med techs tell the donors whatever they can about what they are doing and everyone is thinking about the patient who is being helped.