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Archive for January 2012

The Mitten

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We have been reading “The Mitten” by Jan Brett on repeat for the last week or so. If I am not currently reading it, Darren is off in a corner somewhere, cuddled up with his beloved story mouthing the words to himself. He even insisted that we bring it along with us to the farmer’s market yesterday.

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It’s a great story. 🙂

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Written by GRSeim

January 30, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Student life

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Midterms are upon us again. Here we all are, catching a thirty minute cupcake break with dad in the midst of a swirl of classes, group projects and study sessions.

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I do what I can to make sure that the kids at least have a positive interaction with their daddy on days like this. A little goes a long way when you have yet to develop a relationship with the clock, or a need to measure the passage of time.

The difficult part, of course, is beginning my own day’s worth of school after getting the kids home, feeding them dinner and putting them to bed. This is why I am only taking one class this quarter…and why I am still struggling to keep up.

It’s weird to think that this will all be ancient history in June. We’ll be able to rent a house! Buy a dog! Pay for a nanny!

I wonder, though: will we be thirty minute cupcake break happy? What will we give up?

Written by GRSeim

January 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Blues at sunrise

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I wrote this down about a year ago, lost it, and rediscovered it today while cleaning out my drafts folder. It was interesting to catch a glimpse into my mind on a particularly vulnerable, unhappy night, especially as I touched on my struggle to find wholeness after my traumatic birth experience. It is amazing to see how much healing has occurred as I’ve carried on through life.

I’m watching the sunrise out my bedroom window right now, thinking about all the ways that life has let me down. Healthy? Don’t know, don’t care. I have decided to write my thoughts down, and if I don’t feel better after that I am moving on to the lemon gelato in the freezer.

1. I wonder what it would be like to not be afraid of being raped. I wonder, because I’ve been up at night quite a bit lately and the weather has been nice and nighttime is the only time my husband is sure to be home to watch the kids…it feels like the perfect opportunity to go for a walk, get some exercise, breathe some fresh air and clear my head. I can’t do that, though, because for generations the women in my family have taught their daughters to fear the dark, to fear being alone in public, to fear unknown men as possible rapists. Talk about a depressing inheritance. I know that most perpetrators of rape are actually trusted people in the victim’s life, but that doesn’t do much to relieve the fear. So I sit inside and stew over the injustice of it all.

2. I doubt that I’ll ever be able to maintain a friendship with a woman who enjoyed giving birth. Every time I read or hear a glowing, triumphant birth story I want to vomit, and it all comes back to me. The terror, the humiliation, the feeling of being completely and utterly alone in the universe. And maybe worst of all, the moment when my psyche bowed out, when I left my body behind writhing in agony and shame and felt my consciousness float away. I suffered through regular dissociative spells for two full years after my son’s birth as a result of the trauma I endured. Can you imagine what it’s like as a mother to “wake up” and find yourself driving with your child in the car, and have no idea how you got there or where you are going? I am alone with my kids easily 60-70 hours a week during the school year. There have been times when I wanted to go to the hospital and turn myself in just so that I could be relieved from some of that responsibility. So I’m sorry if I offend you when I shut you down in the middle of relating your own fairy tale ending. I’m sorry if I leave the room when the conversation gets too gritty and raw and real. If you want me in your life, you’ll have to learn to live with it. Considering what I’ve had to live with for the last three years, I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

3. Meet my children. One of them loves to cuddle, begs for kisses from strangers, is very sensitive to criticism and praise, loves anything cute and small and would happily spend every moment of the day in the kitchen helping me cook. The other one is pure loud, top volume all the time, loves reading and cerebral activity and hates sitting still. Guess which one is the boy and which one is the girl, hint, your sexist assumptions are wrong. I know these kids pretty damn well and I am completely offended when people suggest that my son will grow up to play football and that my daughter is already developing an interest in babies, or worse, that she’s well on her way to dieting as a lifestyle. She is a BABY. Why is it so difficult for people to think happy thoughts? Why can’t the focus be on how happy we all are in the here and now?

Written by GRSeim

January 28, 2012 at 12:04 am

10 things about Melia, age 7 months

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1. I am your mom, and I love you. I am also Darren’s mom, and I love him, too. It kind of freaks me out when you get pissed off and try to wedge your way into the middle when you see me hugging your brother. I have plenty of hugs and smoochies for the two of you; there is no shortage, no need to hoard.

2. If your inner zen baby doesn’t get its butt up and crawling soon, the doctor is going to recommend physical therapy. I do not have the time, energy or money for that, and I know you don’t need it. I’m positive that you aren’t crawling because you’re completely content where you are. So. Introduce zen baby to your inner rebel and get a move on, girl!

3. I swore to myself that, if I ever had another baby, I would make sure that child learned to sleep on its own. Did you miss that memo?

4. I am sick of talking like Minnie Mouse, but it I let my drop voice or stop smiling you look horrified and burst into tears.

5. Elephant noises. You trumpet like an elephant for an hour or more each night, in your sleep, and it’s loud enough that your auntie can hear it from the next room. You aren’t crying, which I deeply appreciate, and you sleep through the night no problem, but I’m still not sure that you’re fully living up to your end of the bed-sharing compromise.

6. This morning, a 6’5, easily 200 lb. heavily-tattooed guy with a septum piercing and mutton chop sideburns smiled at you. And you, my darling, snarled at him, I mean literally growled. The guy cracked up laughing because it was so obvious that you were totally ready to take that scary-looking dude DOWN. I know I’m biased and all, but you are a pretty kick-ass baby!

7. Your favorite toys right now are a stethoscope (a real one, leftover from my med tech days) and a wooden toy wrench. Again…stay awesome.

8. You read people well, and make communication a breeze. Random people comment on this all the time.

9. I love how you lunge for the keys on the rack every time we pass by. I have a hunch that you will love driving someday.

10. You have a celebrity crush: the little girl in the sundress who holds a rubber ducky and grins at us on the “yellow” page in your baby’s book of colors. It is the funniest thing I have ever seen. You scream with laughter every time we read that page together, and you alternate between hugging the book to your tummy and waving your arms in the air like you’re the winning contestant swimming through balloons and confetti on a TV game show. It is hilarious, and I love how easily you access and express your great big happy feelings. Stay connected. It’s important.

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Written by GRSeim

January 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Future Feminist

the babies on the bus

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Written by GRSeim

January 26, 2012 at 5:19 am

Posted in Hippy Dippy

Living it up

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I am such a huge hippie that I make my own deodorant.

There. I said it.

I haven’t actually needed to purchase any toiletries in three months, as I’ve learned to replace products with homemade alternatives, and to do without.

Society shares a special relationship with deodorant, though, so before I give you my recipe, let me tell you a bit about using homemade products to control objectionable body odor.

#1, they don’t work. I mean, they do work, they totally work. I don’t stink. I do, however, smell. No one other than my partner has commented on it and he loves it, but I have had more attention from the menfolk lately and I think it may be associated with my…smell. The attention certainly isn’t being drawn by my flourishing self-confidence because I’ve been a nervous wreck, leaving deodorant behind and all.

#2, if you screw up the recipe, you won’t just smell anymore. You’ll smell bad. On the other hand, the recipe is super simple…and if you do screw it up, you can add a pinch more baking soda to the mix and you’ll be as good as gold, as opposed to having to go out and purchase an entirely new stick of deodorant if you decide to try out a new type at the store that doesn’t end up working out for you. Hear that? You won’t have to go out to share your stench with the world!

#3, on super cold days, you’ll have to microwave your deodorant before you can apply it. I find this hilarious, but if you forget about it and leave it in the microwave to broil while you dress, you may struggle to find the humor in it all.

With that behind us, the recipe, and my thoughts on this experiment:

Ingredients:

1/4 c. baking soda
1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
5 tbsp. coconut oil

Directions:

Mix the dry ingredients. Add the oil one tablespoon and mash/stir with a fork.

Ta-da!

Really, that’s all there is to it! This is, of course, a very basic recipe. There are as many recipes for deodorant out there on the Internet as their are skin types. I always prefer to try the simplest route first, though, and lucky for me, it worked!

Some thoughts on my three months of using only homemade deodorant:

I’m never buying deodorant again.

This stuff works at least as well as any commercially-produced deodorant I’ve ever tried, and I’m one of those women who uses man deodorant because I’m pretty sure that girl deodorant wouldn’t stand up to my lifestyle post-baby night sweats!

The coconut oil in this recipe leaves my armpits super smooth. Some people have had problems with the oil staining their clothes, but that hasn’t been a problem for me. I’ve also heard that some people can’t handle the baking soda on their skin and develop painful rashes. I actually did have some issues with peeling skin early on, but I backed off on the application and gave my skin time to adjust and the problem went away on its own without ever causing me any discomfort.

It feels great to be able to glance down an entire isle at the grocery store and realize that you don’t ever buy a single product on that isle. I have kicked the cleaner habit, I can skip the cereal isle, and now I’m free from a pretty significant chunk of the personal care isle as well. But beyond being a hippie and reveling in my rebellion against “the man,” this has been an eye-opening experience for me. So much of what I’m told is wrong with my body is actually weirdly wonderful when I take the time to understand it. For example, body hair: it isn’t there because nature hates me and wants to make me crazy. It is there to diffuse those intoxicating woman smells that deodorant knocks out with with dementia-inducing aluminum. For years, I’ve told myself that the aluminum exposure was better than smelling the way I did when I went without deodorant. In reality, I can be perfectly hygienic and lovely without putting my future health on the line. I just needed to take the time to understand what my body was doing. Nature isn’t perfect; my body is still equipped to attract males across miles of empty forest land, total overkill for our lifestyle today. Given the chance, nature will catch up with our current needs. In the meantime, though, I am learning to meet my own body halfway, by learning about it and appreciating what it has learned to do on its own through millions of years of trial and error. Could be (and has been) a lot worse!

Written by GRSeim

January 25, 2012 at 6:49 am

Uphill battle

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“Hey,” the fat, pimply man smiled lewdly at my sister, simultaneously hiking his filthy, ill-fitting jeans up in the back to cover his exposed rear. “Damn, you’re looking good. Give me your number and we’ll kick it sometime.”

“She’s sixteen,” I snapped, stepping between them on the sidewalk. Cynthia looked queasy, but still managed to roll her eyes at my outburst. I was a constant embarrassment to her back then.

“What are you,” the man sneered, “Her mom?”

“Yeah, I am,” I countered, stepping towards him with more than a little aggression in my stance. “And I don’t appreciate perverts like you butting in on our mother-daughter time.”

“Jesus, alright, sorry,” the man laughed, backing away. “I didn’t realize she was a kid.”

“Well, now you know.”

“I get it, I’m going,” he shook his head, still grinning. “I’ve gotta say, though, you guys have some amazing genes. I wouldn’t have ever guessed that you were old enough to be her mother. I thought maybe you were sisters, you know? I mean that, whatever you are doing, it is working for you!”

I could hear Cynthia laughing behind me.

“I’ve got more kids at home,” I replied evenly. “And a husband.”

“Ok, I get it,” the man said again. “You ladies have a nice evening.”

And he was gone.

“Why did he just clear out?” Cynthia asked, genuinely surprised. “I’ve never seen a guy just give up like that.”

I didn’t have the heart to answer her, to explain to her the sexist dynamic we had just witnessed. I discovered a long time ago that the mere suggestion that I may be “taken” (ie, the property of a man) holds more clout than anything I can say or do on my own as a woman. As an “early bloomer,” I have been wearing a ring and deterring persistent men with mentions of a husband since I was fourteen.

Our world needs feminism. It needs feminist voices to make themselves heard. We have made so much progress, and we have so far to go.

Written by GRSeim

January 23, 2012 at 11:54 pm