24 October 2009

The Power of Unity Video

I puppet the Lime Green puppet, my sister puppets the Orange one, and I do the voice-over for the Yellow puppet.

23 October 2009

Fluffy Babies

So I've been sewing the dresses for my sister-in-law, Bahiyyih's, upcoming wedding.  She will be married in Jamaica, and we are all going.

Which, of course, means that the three girl cousins absolutely HAVE to match.

Nathan is groaning in disgust at this very moment.  He HATES matching.

Here's a problem - wedding dresses are WAY too expensive.  So I'm making them from scratch.  With the help of the internet and DIY pages.

Here's one of the babies' dresses, not quite finished.  It is a most exciting dress for a three year-old, who tried it on:

and spun and spun:

But not so exciting for a baby who can't crawl in it.  It was fun to see standing up, but once she sat down, it was all over. 

Oh, well.  She only has to look fluffy for a little while, then she can be naked.  She is only a baby, after all.

Dishy Drama

It always happens like this - I think that our family is running on an even keel and then... BAM!  Something happens that throws us all off course, and we need almost a month to get back together.

Like these past three weeks, for instance.

It all started when I left the house one Friday morning without washing the dishes.  I should never do this again, but I probably will at some point.  We were leaving for Rockford to visit Nathan's family and celebrate his father, George's, birthday.  Nathan writes on Fridays and Olivia has an Ecology class that we three ladies attend (Elsie chews blocks, mostly), so our morning time was pretty hectic.  This, coupled with the fact that the house was a bit messy as we had been in Ohio the previous weekend for my brother's wedding... the sum result was a rush to leave while Elsie was asleep and dirty dishes in the sink.

I ended up staying a few extra days in Rockford to work on my sister-in-law's wedding dress, while Nathan came back home to go to work.  I returned only to find those same dishes in the sink.  I refused to wash them, justifying this with the fact that I had two children to watch and other people had been home without ANY children - plus, I recall that I had cooked the meal that those dishes house which, in our house (ideally), means that someone else gets to wash the dishes.

As if passive resistance ever works in the chore war.  They lay there, mouldering, while we again whisked off to Rockford, this time to help Bahiyyih move her belongings into her new house.

We all came back together this time, and returned home to be greeted by those same dirty dishes.  Seeing that they were not going to wash themselves (hope as I might), I dug in and violently washed every single one of them.  Our counter was full of clean dishes.

Which stayed there for less than a week, at least.  I'm going to go put away the last ones right now.

No one eat anything else, please, unless there are no utensils involved.

06 October 2009

I think I have a razor somewhere...

So I've been thinking about body image.  My body image, specifically, and how it applies to my dear darling dumpling babies.  I know that the way that I feel about myself and the way I feel about my body seeps into the minds of my children - mostly subconsciously - and serves as a foundation for the way that they will view themselves in the future.

Why so deep?  Because it's easy to think about food and nutrition (as I've been doing off an on in my Sweetgrass blog) and how they affect the body, but even more difficult to assess how ideas of self-image affect the body and the psyche.  These ideas may not cause weight gain, but they do affect the way one interacts with the world and as little girls especially are bombarded with images of "beauty" day in and day out, I want my girls to feel confident with who they are as humans and comfortable in their own skin - regardless of weight or color or acne - all of those things which our society puts so much importance on but which are the most difficult to change.

Which brings me, dear reader, to the point where I reveal some shocking (to some of you) news:

I have hairy armpits [gasp!]

(My mother is probably groaning at my revelation of this to the entire world.  Hi, momma!)

It all began when I was fresh out of high school.  I had started shaving my legs when I was 12 - at summer music camp, because all of the other girls had bare legs and because my mother wasn't there to say "no" - and I hadn't looked back since.  I could never quite master the knee area, and usually left the shower to look for bandaids to cover the little nicks that I had made, thereby dripping water and blood all over the bathroom floor in the process.  The armpits were worse - I never really cut myself, but they were always itchy bits and sometimes while trying to remove every trace of my dark (almost black) hair, I would shave several of the topmost layers of my skin raw.  It was, dear reader, not as glamorous as the magazines touted, and I could never get my legs to quite forget that hair grew there.

The worst part, though, was that, despite all of my efforts, it always grew back.  I would get maybe one good day of hairlessness, but by the second day, I'd be stubbly.  It was an exercise in futility.

So there I was, out of high school and embarking on a Baha'i year of service in Minnesota.  Exposed to nine other souls who each had different viewpoints and life stories, and we would all impress our ideas and struggles upon each other in some way as we traveled the central states over the course of the next year.  I was ripe for change and hungry for new views.

In our travels, I recall stumbling upon the idea that shaving - which at that point was one of my greatest nemeses - originated in Roman times, as a means whereby the wives of pedophilic aristocrats (which may have been almost everyone, according to some accounts) could please their husbands by emulating the nudeness (meaning hairlessness) of young boys.  Regardless of the validity of this claim, it certainly made an impression.  No way was I going to cater to the fancies of some old fat Roman guy.  Ick.

Here was my out - I could turn my dislike of shaving into a political statement, thereby winning "cool points" from all the deep thinkers among my peers.  Except in any large social gathering.  Then I would have to shave, to save myself the embarrassment of explaining this entire story, or being compared against other girls, which is the prime pursuit of every young person, male and female alike.  The boys do it to see which girl they like best, and the girls do it to see which of their compatriots they need to trump to win the favor of the boy they prefer.  Good lord, what a complicated mess.

Fast-forward to my almost-married self - confident and hairy, and assured that the affection of my husband was not contingent upon my lack or presence of body hair, which I was very good at growing.  Those of you who are entirely fair or entirely dark may not appreciate this, but I was in one of the worst predicaments - pale skin and dark body hair do not a model make!  I had embraced my creation, and appreciated this aspect of my nature.  However, the night before my wedding, I recall an interaction where I raised an unshorn arm to stretch and the friends in my presence raised eyebrows and exchanges glances.  I felt belittled and embarrassed.  The next morning, I got up early, pilfered a disposable razor, and shaved.

Thus began my sordid and complicated affair with my razor.  If I shave, there are fewer "points off" in the beauty contest.  If I don't, I feel better about myself.  To a point.  I still can't reconcile the ideas of beauty and body hair.

When I began this post, I thought that, by the end, I would reached some epiphany, wherein all would be made clear and I would be able to proudly declare myself either hairy or hairless.  But, like all things in life, there's a bit of confusion and compromise.

I suppose it is best summed up by Ms. India Arie in one of my favorite songs, which starts something like this:

"Sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don't..."


Our friendly neighbor Kiko, who is an Alaskan Malamute, loves to come over to our house.  Not for any real companionship reason - it's just that he always finds tidbits of yesterday's (and sometimes last week's) meal under Olivia and Elsie's chairs.

I think Elsie must be getting back to her roots.  DEEP roots, I mean.  She's been nipping off at the strangest times, only to be found underneath the dining room table, thoughtfully chewing secret things.  I'm not even sure what, since I swept only yesterday, but this is her favorite place to find food.  Not in a high chair, or even on my lap.  But on the floor.  Under the table.

I thought it might be that she likes to eat close to the earth.  So I would give her a biscuit or a rice cake and plop her down.  I'd glance away for a second and she'd be gone.  A scattering of rice cake to throw me off the scent, but I'd soon find her in the usual place.  Chomping away.

I recall a study I did in college to determine whether squirrels preferred whole peanuts to "shelled" (i.e. no shell - I'm not sure why they call it that) ones.  My findings led me to conclude that they preferred the whole ones, and that it was because it stimulated an ancient response where one had to struggle for food in order to enjoy it.  Maybe this is the same thing.

So now I'm debating putting her regular food on the floor for her to find.  Or getting a dog.

05 October 2009

My Brother's Wedding

This weekend, we welcomed a new member of the family on my side - my brother was married to Ms. Jessica Greenwalt, of Ohio fame.


The ceremony and reception were held in a beautiful lodge in Oak Openings MetroPark, which was a beautiful, serene setting for such a sacred event.

Here's a photo of Olivia gettin' down with my Gramma, who is in her 90th year.  Gramma stayed later than we did at the reception and word is, she got busy on the dance floor.  Yay, Gramma!

Elsie, on the other hand, was plumb tuckered out:

I wish I was still small enough to be carried around.

I think Olivia had the most fun with her cousin, Liam, who went for a walk in the woods with her:

One more photo - this time of the bride & groom (along with the mass of our family).  Can you find them in the red?