Thursday, March 31, 2016
Today's prompt asks us to write about our first love and first kiss; if separate, discuss both.
My first kiss was when I was in preschool. It's probably a good thing I was a kid in the 80s and not now, because there's a decent shot I'd be hauled into the office for inappropriate behavior now. Both my parents and the parents of the other kid would be called, there would be a whole thing about it. The school might even feel compelled to institute "no touching" rules like the ones that seriously exist in schools here in town these days which forbid kids from even hugging their friends.
What the hell, world?
Anyhow, I was in preschool. There was a little boy named Tommy, one who could actually possibly be the guy that I'm married to today, on the playground. We were in one of those little tube shaped tunnels and it was weird and glorious all at the same time.
We don't need to talk about my first French kiss, which would come many, many years after that. No. No we do not.
My first love....that's a slightly loaded question. I mean, are we talking the first crush or the first time I totally fell for someone or the first dating relationship I had or the first time I actually fell in love with someone in a relationship?
My tendency to overanalyze the hell out of things is showing. Sorry.
I'm going to assume that I'm supposed to write about the last of those options, the one where I fell in love with someone who fell in love with me in an actual mutual relationship that wasn't based on fantasy.
I'm picking that one because writing about the other options is far less appealing.
My first love is the one that I hope will be my last.
We've been together since high school, though there is always that possibility that we did indeed attend preschool together and that he was indeed the little boy on the playground that day. We'll never know for sure.
We're very different people than we were when we were 15, when we were college students or newlyweds or young parents. We are different people than we were even just a few years ago.
He was the first person who loved me for me, not for what he wanted me to do or be or think. He didn't want me to change. He didn't need me to be anyone or anything else.
He just loved me.
He still does.
And I love him.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Poor as Folk wrote a TTPMOT post this week, and you need to go read it right now if you haven't already.
It's been a crazy week around here, with hand, foot and mouth running through the house. YAY VIRUSES.
Enough about that, let's go get angry.
Ahhhhhhhhhh. I watched VICE last night, and I should know better than to do that at this point. If you aren't watching it, you should be. There are so many things in this world that the media just doesn't bother reporting about, things that are hugely important, things that we all should know about. Just go. I'll wait.
Anyhow, one of the stories they covered this week revolved around the religious freedom issue. We live in a time when religious freedom no longer seems to mean the right to worship whatever you want, to attend services without interruption, to believe whatever you want. Nope. These days, people are claiming that religion can absolutely be used as a justification to discriminate against other people. Because Jesus.
That's not how this works.
That's not how any of this works.
Your freedom of religion doesn't confer the right to impose those beliefs on anyone else. They don't give you the power to harm other people using religion as a justification. It's not some divinely sanctioned right to discriminate.
While we're at it, let's talk about abortion
It seems like every week, some state is passing some law aimed at making abortion access virtually impossible. The last few weeks have seen some particularly ridiculous laws go into effect, including one that requires women to pay for cremation of not just aborted fetuses, but of miscarried ones as well.
Yes, this is actually a thing now. Well, for now it is. There is simply no way that a law like this can stand up to a constitutional challenge, but for now, we know that women are merely vessels of fetuses, nothing more in the eyes of the law.
Forgetting that famous people are human
In the last week, a singer attempted suicide and an actor felt compelled to defend himself after both were mocked online.
Kehlani attempted suicide after being attacked over accusations that she cheated on her boyfriend. People are still acting like assholes after the attempt too. After Wentworth Miller was fat shamed for gaining weight, he responded by saying that he was working on his mental health at the time, coping with life in whatever way worked for him.
Our society seems to forget that celebrities are actual human beings. They aren't just items available for public consumption, devoid of emotion. They are living, breathing people with feelings. You might think that whatever obnoxious, hurtful things you say about them online is harmless because "they should be used to it" or "they asked for it" or "it comes with the territory", but no. It doesn't.
Ah, our education system. I sincerely hope that at some point in the near future people realize that this testing obsession we have has done more harm than good. I sincerely hope that we pull our collective head out of our collective ass before we destroy the confidence of an entire generation of kids. I sincerely hope that kids can somehow believe us when we tell them that the tests don't matter when all the adults seem to care about are the scores.
If something isn't working, the answer shouldn't be to try MORE of it.
Think about this.
Two of my kids will spend more time taking standardized tests this year than I spent in finals for college each year.
The boards for students in medical school to become doctors take less time.
To become doctors.
We're doing this wrong.
Prescription Drug Regulations
SO MANY THINGS.
I hate that the process to get regular, daily medication for ADHD requires me to call every month, request a printed prescription every month, pick up that prescription every month and drop it off in person with my ID every month. There is enough stigma associated with the treatment of this very common condition without treating people like they are drug abusers.
While we're at it, the new proposals to crack down on opioid abuse seem like a good idea until you realize how badly we manage legitimate pain in this country. Yes, there is an epidemic of abuse of these medications...but that is only one piece of a far more complicated issue.
Oh, and....it's harder to buy cold medicine in some states than it is to buy a gun.
My memories of my childhood aren't actually very plentiful. I have exceptionally vivid memories of specific days or events, places and times, but beyond that, it's mostly fuzzy and unclear. I wasn't a particularly happy child and my childhood wasn't exactly a calm one that would encourage the development of ample memories worth remembering.
The funny thing about my childhood is that whenever I write about it, someone always seems to take issue with my version of events, tries to tell me that I'm wrong or that I'm not being fair or whatever.
Meh. This is my experience. My narrative might not fit with your worldview, but that's not anything within my control.
Tell your stories, people.
Anyway, the earliest memory I have. God. Most of them are bad.
There are a few that I remember fondly, though, and I'd rather write about one of those, not because I believe in historical revisionism even on the individual level, but because I've been through enough therapy that I don't need to drag old things back up just to have someone tell me that I'm wrong again.
I was almost born in a bowling alley. My Mom went into labor on a night that my Dad was bowling a perfect game. She didn't want to jinx him and ruin the game, so she didn't tell him the contractions had started. He ended up throwing the game in the 10th frame, missing out on his chance at a league sanctioned 300, but by the time he spun that last ball down the lane, no one really cared about the game anymore. By then, everyone else in the alley knew she was in labor.
Bowling was a big part of his life, and by extension mine as well. Some of my earliest memories are of walking through the clear glass doors, the ones with the aluminum frames that never quite shut all the way, to the brown patterned carpet lining the top of the alley. The wood paneled bar, the linoleum floors down near the lanes, the seats that were never quite sturdy enough and always rocked back and forth with the same squeak, the smoke filled arena filled with warriors ready for their weekly battle.
Maybe it was not the best place to take a kid on the regular, but I never minded. I never knew any different anyway. Plus, it was the late 70s and early 80s, and people didn't yet care about second hand smoke or overscheduling kids activities. Back then, our parents lived however they lived and we went wherever they did. Now, it seems like most families work the opposite...lives, social groups, weekends center around the activities of the kids.
It wasn't like that back then.
My Dad would put me up on the counter at the back of the lanes, sit me up on top of it, and teach me every tiny nuance of how to throw a curve like his. He had a routine he went through before every frame, before every ball that went sailing down the lane. His arm would hang there high in the air after his release, as if he was willing it to comply with his wishes as the ball sailed down the oil slicked wood. His curve was so tight that the spinning orb would hug the lip of the lane, daring gravity to pull it into the gutter, before it grabbed and made the final sharp right turn.
He was left handed, and had a hell of a time picking up a 7 pin spare, but there was nothing like the sound of his ball hitting the sweet spot on a full rack. It really was a beautiful thing to watch.
The guys on his team were always kind to me. They teased each other almost constantly, told wildly inappropriate stories and jokes to one another. Back then, the single ones told of their latest romantic interludes in a level of detail that would shock the conscience of most parents these days. The rest of them, hanging on the words of whoever was the last to get lucky.
They drank hard, they chain smoked, they had special towels to clean their ball that no one else was ever allowed to touch. This was my childhood.
Into my teenage years, I'd tag along with my Dad to the bowling alley on league nights. By then, they weren't allowed to smoke inside anymore, but little else changed, not even the kid still sitting on the back counter.
What's your earliest memory?
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
I'm already not following instructions because I am starting this when it is still March.
The first prompt asks you to discuss the five problems with social media. As if there are only five. Ha!
I'll just go ahead and write about the five first issues that come to mind, though this is not in any way going to be an exhaustive list.
1. It allows for false information to be disseminated quickly.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves about the internet in general, but social media tends to be the biggest offender. You've all seen it happen, I'm sure.
Someone shares a link to a satire site, not realizing that it's satire...they share it with some tagline about outrage or disgust or whatever, it quickly spreads like wildfire. Someone finds a meme that someone else created for whatever reason they created it, then shares said meme without bothering to do any research about the accuracy of the meme. Someone just makes up statistics or numbers or whatever, and posts it...it gets shared.
The thing with all of this false information is that it seems to get spread around mostly for one of two reasons. Either the false information is somehow threatening to someone, represents something they are scared of or it bolsters their views on something. Ebola is a fabulous example of how quickly misinformation spreads online. People were legitimately afraid of the outbreak, fed by the media's role in disseminating incorrect information, and social media was blowing up with that fear. The presidential election is another perfect example of this false information being shared. I could literally spend all day fact checking memes people share to support their candidate. LITERALLY ALL DAY.
2. Some people are completely different online than in real life.
Not everyone is like this, of course. I try pretty damned hard to be the same person here as I am in real life, for better or worse.
There are, though, a significant number of people who are totally different online than they are in real life. It can be quite revealing, and not always in a good way. People also seem to forget that Facebook has the stalker box, where anyone online at any given time can see what you are liking and commenting on, even if you wouldn't actually post it on your own timeline.
Yeah, I see what you just did right there. Mmmhmmm.
Also, I've been more and more disappointed in people lately. Sigh.
3. Tone and sarcasm are often impossible to interpret.
I speak fluent sarcasm, and almost every day someone out there online takes what I post literally when it isn't necessarily meant that way. One of the most difficult things about any form of online communication is that it's hard to communicate tone and sarcasm, unless of course people know what to expect from you. The problem with this issue isn't a hard one to figure out, and it's that people can quickly misinterpret your meaning and take things out of context.
4. Everyone seems to take everything personally.
This is something I've written about quite a bit in the past already, but something that keeps happening every single day. Though there might certainly be times when someone else out there in the internet land is passive aggressively referring to you in their posts and updates and memes, chances are it has nothing to do with you. I promise. The vast majority of what anyone writes or posts or shares isn't about you. It's about them.
I mean, if the boot fits....
But seriously, though, people have got to stop taking things personally. One of my personal pet peeves in this department is when I make a broad societal level statement about something that irritates me...someone will almost always come along and get huffy with me as if I am personally calling them out online.
Nope. Wasn't about you.
5. Everything online lives forever. All of it. Yes, even that thing you deleted.
When I'm wearing my Mom hat, one of the things I say the most frequently is that you should consider everything that happens online to be permanent. All of it. Even the things in those apps that supposedly vanish immediately. Even the pictures that went to the cloud and you thought you deleted. No one understands the cloud. Even the tweet that you removed and the profile pictures that you banished. Even the comments on that page that you are pretty sure no one follows.
All of it.
You should consider it all permanent because it just might be, even if you think it's gone, because there might be someone out there, some data mining warehouse, some enemy who is stalking your shit online, some future boss out there who just can't wait to dig up the goods on you.
So, be careful. Be diligent. Be intentional.
And if you're going to be reckless, make sure all the phones in the room are confiscated first. FFS.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
I also haven't been writing much because I'm having a harder and harder time working myself up to it. The writing isn't the issue, the internet is. I've become even more jaded and cynical and I'm just really fucking tired of the people in the world with nothing better to do than to nitpick those of us who put ourselves out there.
I'm just tired of it.
I also ran past one of the shittier anniversary days in this year full of shitty anniversaries this week.
I cringe still this time of year, every year, when I'll be driving across town and see the black smoke go up in any proximity to my home. I know that it's just the farmers and the ranchers and the city workers burning ditches. I know. The rational parts of my brain know that it isn't anything dangerous, that it isn't indicative of anything near my home. I know these things, and still the alarm bells sound and the hairs on the back of my neck stand erect and alert.
The rational part of my brain doesn't always win.
It certainly doesn't win on beautiful March days with bright blue skies when black smoke suddenly appears.
That was the day that I knew.
The day that I knew that I couldn't make good on the promises I'd made.
The day that I knew that I couldn't save everyone.
The day that I knew that I couldn't rely on some people, that I couldn't trust others.
The day that I knew that I couldn't make it better.
The day that I knew that things were never going to be the same ever again.
The day that I knew.
The day that changed everything.
There are only a few days in my lifetime when I've been more angry and terrified at the same time as I was that day.
It was five years ago, now.
That day has come and gone.
That day was never as insignificant as it was made out to be. It was far bigger. And it's the reason I had to do what I had to do.
Someone will probably show up soon and tell me that I need to just get over it, that whatever it is that I'm vaguely referencing wasn't a big deal. They have no fucking idea what I'm talking about.
Someone will tell me I need to calm down.
Someone will tell me that I have issues.
Yes, it is in the past.
No, it's not happening now.
The sky tries to tell me otherwise, though.
And this is why I hardly write anymore.
Monday, March 21, 2016
Each day, I have the kids write in their homeschool journals. Sometimes the topic is based on something we did the day or the weekend prior, sometimes the topic is something from a movie or television show they'd recently watched, sometimes it's just a random prompt.
Today, I had them make a list of 25 things that make them each happy. They eagerly complied, which isn't always the case I assure you.
They both told me that I needed to make a list too.
Perhaps we all should.
1. My husband. I know, I know, I know....people write mushy things about their spouses all the time on the internet and it is super annoying, but I'm not generally a mushy person. I'm particularly not mushy about our relationship, not often anyway. Our story is one that started nearly 24 years ago, nearly ended a few times and got us to where we are now. It's not perfect, what we have. It's messy and complicated and we've both picked up some baggage along the way, but we're still traveling together. By choice. With intention. And things are just different now, but in a good way.
2. My kids. I could cop out and give them each their own number here on this list, but I won't. When I do tend to write mushy things, those mushy things tend to be about them. I look back on who I was before they came, revisit the time when I wasn't sure we'd ever be able to have them at all, realize just how fast this all goes, and I'm grateful for this time. A few months ago, we reached the point where all five of them played together. They were playing hide and seek, the teenagers and the baby and the ones in between. I knew in that moment that this time we have with them in this place is so very short, but so far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
3. My puppy. He drives me absolutely nuts at times. He chews everything up, has a habit of licking my drywall and barks at the wind like it's some mortal enemy. He has to be touching me almost all of the time and follows me everywhere, even to the bathroom. I didn't intend to be his person, but he chose me...and I'm okay with that, especially since I've been teaching him to talk. I know....I have issues.
4. My cat. She's pretty and sweet and rules over the dog like a great and powerful overlord. She stands at the top of the stairs like the majestic Gandalf the great and decrees that he shall not pass. I love love love that she's in charge.
5. My brother. He's going to claim that he doesn't read this, then probably get mad at me when he reads it (like he always does) and sees that I mentioned him. Most of you guys probably don't even know he exists because I try not to write about him at all. He hates it. Oh well, he made the list. Suck it up and deal. He's my reality check, always the first person to tell me when I'm being an asshole. Which is good...because sometimes I get on my high horse and need to check myself. He makes sure I do that. He also taught me to translate autocorrect, because I'd never be able to understand his text messages or IMs without it.
6. My In-Laws. The ones that I just call Mom and Dad these days, they are the only parents I have left anymore. Lucky them, eh? They're always ready to drop anything if I need them and they make sure that they get lots of quality time with the kids. I adore them.
7. My fans. Like 99% of you, like 99% of the time. I mean, as long as you aren't telling me I need bathed in holy water, that is...
8. Warm sunshine. Especially this time of year, I love that ball of fire in the sky. Don't ask me how much I love it in August, though. For now, though, especially in the land of PPD and all the other shit going on in my head, I need the sunlight. It keeps me marginally saner.
9. Water. I'm an Aquarius, through and through. I am a water person, always have been, always will be. I stand in the rain on purpose. I don't even own an umbrella. I don't have a raincoat either. Don't need one. When life gets chaotic, the water calls me. It tells me to come and sit beside it, figure out the things in my head. It is my calm. It is my center.
10. Homebrewing. I'll warn you now that there are going to be a few things on this list involving beer, so get used to it. The first is the homebrewing, this little hobby we picked up four years ago now. At first, it was a desperate grab at something, anything, that the two of us could do together. Plus, beer. Now, it's just a part of who we are.
11. Music. Almost all of it. I need background music all the time, or it'll be playing in my head anyway. I love so many different genres of music, so many different styles, and I love exposing my kids to all of it.
12. Yoga pants. I really do love them, even and especially if they aren't actually pants. I live in them, and with homeschooling I really have no reason to get dressed until the afternoon, which is fine by me.
13. Cooking. I really do love to cook, and I'm damn good at it these days. Now, if the dishes could just wash themselves, that'd be great....
14. Forcing myself to be uncomfortable. This is a weird thing to be on a list like this, but it belongs here. Lately, I've forced myself to do a few things that made me almost vomit. Left to my own devices, I'd become a hermit somewhere far away from other people. I mean, really....all I need is internet and Amazon Prime delivery, and I'd be good. BUT I WOULDN'T BE GOOD and I know that. I need human interaction and to get it, I have to force myself to do it. So I am going to a conference this fall and I'm working as a quizmaster now and the mere idea of either or both makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but I'm always so damned proud of myself afterwards that I know it is worth it.
15. Painting. I really do love to paint. I come by it honestly, got this weird obsession from my grandmother. When things in her life got chaotic, she hauled out the high gloss white paint and painted and painted and painted. I do the same thing, though with less sheen and more color variety. Same reasons, same outcome. There aren't many things in life that we have the power to change almost instantly - but a paintbrush gives you at least the illusion of greatness for a minute.
16. Writing. It doesn't always make me happy. I've spent many, many, many hours crying over keyboards. I crave it though, can't live without doing it for any length of time. Every once in a while, though, I impress myself. Sometimes with my words themselves, sometimes with the power those words carry in the world, sometimes because of the people who reach out to me. All good things.
17. Sleep. I really love sleep. Sleeping in on lazy weekend mornings, pinned down by a stubborn dog who always has to touch me, surrounded by kids and my husband...it's pretty perfect.
18. Organization. I love to sort things. I love order. My house would tell you a different story, of course, because so many other people occupy this space, but it's not for lack of trying on my part.
19. Nerdy collectibles. I generally detest collectibles, but I've developed a deep adoration for Funko Pops and other little nerdy character collectibles. My windowsill is almost full. They watch me cook and clean and teach. They're my friends. I know, I have issues.
20. Hot showers. I know how terrible hot water is for my skin, especially with all my skin allergy issues. I know. I know that it's not energy efficient, and so I don't do it often. But there is nothing like standing under a shower so hot that it's bordering on painful. Nothing at all. The best.
21. Microbreweries. I know that living where we do means that we are spoiled in this regard, and I'll take it. I love the local craft breweries, with the patios and the flights and the corn hole games. If you've ever wondered what kind of people take their kids to a brewery and hang out for hours on lazy weekends, look no further. We are those people.
22. Cosplay. Freckles asked me a few weeks ago if we needed to start planning for Halloween yet. It's March. I've created a monster, I am afraid, with the costumes. We started it as a bizarre family tradition a long time ago, figuring that it would only last a couple of years before the kids rebelled and refused to join in. Now, they're all in, every year. And yes, we already know the theme for this year. Of course we do. And no, I'm not telling. Besides, we have to deal with Con costumes first...
23. The beach. Living in the middle of the country makes getting to the beach damn near impossible, but when I'm near an ocean, I'm at the beach as much as humanly possible. I could literally sit there all day. The whole day. I need nothing. I'm good.
24. Friends. The good ones. The ones that stick around. The ones that don't think I'm too weird, or at least have embraced it. The ones who don't take my shit personally. The ones who get my jokes. The ones who check on me. The ones in real life and the ones who live in my computer.
25. The cosmic radio gods. I find that I'm angry with them less and less these days, even when they send me a song that makes me miss the people. Instead, I've found that the songs that used to make me sad don't anymore, at least not in the same way. Now, it's more like a fond hello from the great beyond. I don't think it's a mere coincidence that every time I've walked out of an audition or training session for my job, the first song on the radio has been one that reminds me of my Dad.
Your turn. Go. Name 25 things.
Saturday, March 12, 2016
I went through the glasses first, organizing my vast collection of mason jars. They have their own shelf now, sorted by size and neck width. I have issues. For real.
I moved on to the pantry after that, tossing the few expired and opened things that had worked their way to the deep recesses of the corners. Put all the other items where they belong, knowing full well they won't be there for long.
Last, the cabinet with the plastic drinking cups. The ones that are necessitated by living with this many kids. We have cups in every size and shape. Only a handful of them are ones that we actually bought on purpose. Most are leftovers from birthday parties, the decent cups that someone got with a meal at some restaurant, Slurpee cups from 7-11. We have cups from sporting events from all over the country and cups from BBQ places we've stopped at along the way.
Every time I sort through these cups, I do a little internal dialogue thing where I convince myself that there is nothing wrong with being an adult and having a cabinet full of free cups. I tell myself that other people have these cabinets and that it isn't some condemnation of my frugality to keep using them. This isn't ridiculous. Nice, normal people have holographic Ironman cups instead of matching, civilized drinking vessels. Right?
You totally don't have to answer that question, by the way.
And then there are these.
The most precious free cups in my free cup collection, the Bingo Paradise cups. Not only are they the perfect size for a cup of ice water when it's hot outside and you're thirsty, they are sturdy and well made. They stack nicely, which is important in a house with 7 people. Everything has to stack nicely here, or it isn't welcome anymore.
That's not why I have them or why I love them, though.
I have them and love them because they were my father's.
They were his most cherished cups in his vast free cup collection, ones that he picked up on trips to Laughlin. He could sit in a bingo parlor for hours, sit at a slot machine for even longer. Every time he went, he came home with a stash of these.
We used to pick on him for bringing these home.
Now, I'd glad he had this particular obsession. I'm glad he taught me to appreciate cool free things, to be practical and frugal. I'm glad he stocked up on these cups, the ones that now sit in my cabinet here and in my brother's cabinet in his home. It's a weird little piece of him that we got to hang on to, and one that I'll never ever get rid of.
Neither of us got much else...but we have these Bingo Paradise cups.
These cups go against everything else he was and I am. He was and I am a hater of clutter. He was forever throwing things out, donating things that sat idle for long enough for him to throw it in the trunk and drop it off somewhere. He loathed the collection of stuff for the sake of collection.
But he loved these stupid free cups.
And so do I.
Friday, March 11, 2016
I've exhausted the usual suspects in terms of lotions and creams and ointments. Not only are none of them
working, many of them have actually made it worse.
I decided to try and make up a batch of breastmilk lotion to see if that helped. It is a magic cure for so many other rashes and ailments that I figured it was worth a shot.
When I put this on his face for the first time, he smiled and giggled. Usually, when I put anything on the eczema he screams and rubs his cheeks. I'm sure that it was hurting or at least stung. This lotion didn't sting at all, and he actually gets excited when I get the jar out of the fridge now. Within a few hours of the first application, it started to clear up, and one of his cheeks is almost healed completely after just a couple of days.
There are a lot of other ingredients that you could add to this recipe if you wanted, depending on the sensitivity level of the person intending to use it. Knowing he's prone to allergies (and that I have a history of skin allergies in particular), I opted not to add anything beyond the basic ingredients.
This recipe could absolutely be used by anyone suffering from eczema, not just the little ones. It does thicken quite a bit in the fridge, so when you use it, just scoop out a teeny bit and warm it up between your hands before applying.
Here's the receipe!
Breastmilk Eczema Baby Lotion
- 1 tbsp beeswax
- 2 ounces jojoba oil
- 3 ounces breastmilk
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Well, lucky for you, you have come to the right place.
I'm here to make your dreams come true, people.
|Homemade Beard Balm|
Tame that beard, gentlemen.
You can buy balms and oils commercially, of course. They're generally pretty pricey and it can take your some trial and error to find one that has the right consistency for your beard. The last time he started to run low, I offered to try and make it at home. The ingredients are more pricey upfront, but will make quite a few batches, saving a ton of money in the long run.
He's not shaving this beard off for a long time.
Anyway, enough of the celebration of the beard. Let's get to the instructions.
Homemade Beard Balm
- 4 ounces coconut oil
- 1 ounce jojoba oil
- 2 ounces cocoa butter
- 1 ounce beeswax
- Essential oils of your choice - Mix and blend whatever you want. It's your beard.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Although this is the first year we are formally homeschooling some of our kids, we've been doing little experiments like this one for a long time now. I saw this one a while back and knew that it would have to be something we attempted. It is fun to watch the process unfold, and although I thought only the younger homeschoolers would be interested, my middle and high school kids were still checking the jars for changes.
|This is after sitting about 6 hours. |
Initially, there will be no orange, green or purple
and all the paper towels will be white.
- 6 clear glass or plastic containers that are the same size
- Red, Yellow and Blue food coloring
- 2 paper towels, cut into three strips each, for a total of 6 strips
- large baking sheet (optional)
To begin, you want to fill your containers roughly 1/2-2/3 of the way full of water. Put the jars somewhere that they won't be disturbed for about 24 hours, or alternatively, place them onto a large baking sheet so that you can move them easily. Arrange the jars in a circle, sides touching with the center open.
Place several drops of red food coloring into one jar and stir. Skip the second jar, leaving it plain water. Add several drops of yellow food coloring into the third jar and stir. Skip the fourth jar. Add several drops of blue food coloring to the fifth jar and stir. Leave the last jar plain water as well.
At this point, you have 6 jars, 3 with the colors added, 3 plain water.
Take the strips you've cut from the paper towels and fold each strip lengthwise three times, smoothing the edges. Place one end in the red jar, the other in the clear jar beside it. Repeat this until there is a paper towel strip connecting all the jars to the ones beside them. Note that none of the colors are touching each other. If you are doing this as a lesson plan, ask the students what they think will happen. Make predictions and ask them what they are basing those predictions on.
Leave the jars alone. The colors will begin traveling up the paper towels and into the adjacent jars within a few hours. The fuller the jars are, the quicker the process will be. By 18-24 hours, the colors will have transferred and you will have created a rainbow with 6 vivid colors.
What does this project teach?
- Primary and secondary colors - Red, blue and yellow are primary colors in the spectrum. Mixing them together creates the secondary colors: orange, green and purple.
- Properties of water - Water is a tremendously stable molecule, one that does just about everything possible to stay together - so when water begins to travel up the paper towels, it keeps taking more and more water with it. In fancy science terms, this phenomenon can be explained by adhesion and cohesion.
- Cohesion: water is attracted to water and bonds to water easily
- This causes the water to travel together into the other containers. Notice that the levels of water in the jars remains constant, as water is actually moving back and forth between and among all the jars at the same rate.
- Adhesion: water is attracted to other substances
- Capillary action is when the water becomes attracted to the jar itself and the paper towel, and begins to move up the towel.
- There are some great videos about the properties of water available to watch. Here is one I highly recommend from Khan Academy. Though some of the terms in this video probably would place it at a middle school level, my 7 year old understood most of it as well.
- This is a great resource for even more details about the science involved in this project if you have a kid who needs to know everything about it!
Monday, March 7, 2016
One of the greatest misconceptions about PTSD is a direct result of this politicized discussion: it is the idea that PTSD only occurs in veterans who have seen physical combat, and that it simply cannot exist in the absence of physical combat.
Both are patently untrue and do a vast disservice to anyone suffering from the condition.
PTSD can arise as the result of any type of trauma, physical trauma being only one type. It can be caused by emotional trauma, psychological trauma, sexual trauma. It can be triggered by brief episodic traumas or by long term traumas. It occurs in men and women, and most of the people living with PTSD have never stepped foot onto a battlefield.
What PTSD is
Though my definition is far from an official one based on my professional credentials, I like to think of PTSD as a coping mechanism that turns on you. Essentially, you cannot both survive and process the trauma at the same time, so your body opts first for survival. As you are enduring whatever the source of the trauma is, you aren't adequately processing it, which results in the trauma never becoming a permanent part of your past. It is not and cannot be categorized and stored in your long term memory, instead taking up residence in the instant recall portions of your mind. It isn't in the past, it doesn't feel like it is in the past, it can resurface at any time and can feel as threatening and as real as when you were actually involved in the traumatic event.
- PTSD can occur to any person as the result of experiencing or witnessing any trauma.
- 1 in 5 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD, though that number is likely even higher due to underreporting.
- PTSD occurs in all categories of the population. It affects up to 10% of women in their lifetimes.
- The trauma behind PTSD can be physical, emotional or psychological. There is no requirement of physical harm or danger.
- PTSD can be triggered by combat or injuries in the military population, but neither is required for the symptoms to present. There could be some other trauma involved wholly unrelated to the deployment. The military and media are both guilty of suggesting that combat is required to develop PTSD, and they are just plain wrong.
- PTSD can be co-morbid with other mental health conditions.
- The diagnosis of PTSD is not, as the military has tried to suggest here, a complicated one. If a person has the symptoms, they fit the diagnostic criteria. Period.
- Diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI) is more complicated, and can exist at the same time as PTSD. They can exist separately as well, neither requires the other.
The Symptoms of PTSD
The symptoms of PTSD can occur immediately after the trauma occurs or can show up later on. The symptoms vary in severity and occurrence in each person, not all who suffer will have all the symptoms. For example, if you have insomnia and triggers, but not flashbacks, you could still be suffering from PTSD. As a general rule, if a person has at least some of the symptoms, they fit the diagnostic criteria. There is no sophisticated testing to determine if an individual is suffering from this condition.
- the symptoms begin to interfere with daily life
- triggers - something innocuous will bring up memories of the trauma
- avoidance of things that could serve as triggers
- altered memories
- feeling emotionally flat or overreacting
- feeling like you are always on guard
- aches and pains that aren't connected to other injuries
- depression - feeling hopeless at the situation in particular
- problems with family or friends
- difficulty controlling emotions
Left unchecked, it can and will often get progressively worse.
PTSD is especially difficult to endure when your reality means that you currently are surrounded by either the person or situation that inflicted the trauma in the first place, or reminders of that event. Interaction with the person who may have caused some or all of the damage is a struggle, particularly if they refuse to own any degree of responsibility for what they have done.
There is treatment for PTSD. It should be considered an injury, not simply a mental condition, certainly not one that is automatically permanent. The treatment may include medication to treat symptoms and usually involves intense therapy. I have personal experience with EMDR.
PTSD will not go away on its own.
I've learned that though PTSD can be treated, I don't think it will ever completely disappear. I am still triggered occasionally now, but it isn't the disabling event that it used to be. I think it is just a part of who I am now, and will forever remain that way.
Having said that, I want anyone out there reading this to understand that there is hope. You can get better. It doesn't have to be like this and it doesn't have to stay like this. You aren't broken. This isn't your fault. The only way it gets better is to admit you need help to get there. Please get help.
- Medication - there are many different medications used to help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD, and they can be quite beneficial, especially if you are in crisis mode. Anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications and medications to help people fall asleep and stay asleep tend to be the most commonly used. Individuals may need to use medication only episodically or daily, they may need them short term or long term. It is important to remember, though, that these medications and the general treatment of the symptoms may not be enough to address the actual issue causing the PTSD in the first place - the underlying trauma. Medication is not a sign of weakness in any way. I actually see it quite the opposite - an acknowledgement and acceptance that you are needing help and willing to ask for it.
- Tapping/distraction techniques - these are strategies used so that a person can remind themselves to stay in the present. The root of PTSD is the reminders of the trauma which occurred in the past. The threat, whatever it was, is not actually happening right now. Tapping, snapping a rubber band on the wrist, patterned distraction of any kind can both get someone to not focus on the reminder, and pull them back to the current time.
- Assistance animals - therapy dogs can be of tremendous help, but are quite expensive. Ordinary pets can also help in many ways, without the specialized training.
- Distancing from the source of the trauma - this one is often quite difficult, particularly if you are in a situation where a person who might have caused the trauma is still present in your life and you are forced to interact with them, magnified even more if they refuse to admit their role in your injury. Firm establishment of boundaries is important to safeguard your well being. It may become necessary to cut ties entirely with people, even family members, at times. None of this is easy, and generally would only be something to do as a last resort.
- Therapy - there are many different types of therapy, in many different types of settings from individuals to groups. The most important thing here is to find a therapist who is specifically skilled in the treatment of PTSD. Addressing the trauma is vital to the treatment of PTSD.
- EMDR - standing for eye movement desensitization and reprogramming, EMDR is a specific type of therapy targeted at PTSD. Every professional has slightly different methods, but it basically forces you to relive the trauma repeatedly while those methods are being employed until you have been able to process it completely. My therapist used a TENS machine. I have to be completely honest and tell you that this process SUCKS. It absolutely gets worse before it gets better, and there is a hangover-like recovery time following every appointment. You have to be in a safe place emotionally to even consider going through this process and be entirely committed to powering through it in order for it to work....but it will. You really have to trust the process, which is hard to do when you're living with a condition like this one that tells you not to trust anything.
- Supportive family and friends - loving and living with someone suffering from PTSD is not easy. We can be irrationally moody, and if we withdraw at times, it is often because our minds are playing tricks on us. In our own way, we may be trying to protect you from our thoughts, but that suppression is actually likely to make things worse. If someone you love is dealing with this condition, remind them that you love them, that you are there for them, that you are a safe place for them to come with their thoughts. Encourage them to talk to a doctor about symptoms, to not be afraid to take medication if needed, to seek therapy. If it is possible to help them reduce exposure to triggers, that may be beneficial as well - for example, if someone is triggered by loud noise, make an effort to reduce the occurrence of them.
- Our condition (usually) isn't about you, so please don't take it personally. If it is about you, please own your responsibility in that.
- People with PTSD, literally, cannot just "get over it". Don't tell them to. It will not go away on its own. Time will not fix it. Ignoring it can often make it worse.
- Don't try to impose some arbitrary time limit on their recovery. You don't get to decide how long this takes, particularly if you had a hand in causing the trauma.
- PTSD in its most severe form does not have to be permanent. It does not mean a person is irretrievably broken. It does not mean a person will become violent, though it can go that direction if left untreated in some people. Do not assume that anyone with PTSD is dangerous.
- PTSD is not a sign of weakness in a frail person. It is what happens when a person's brain becomes overloaded due to trauma (whether the trauma is one episode or ongoing) and loses the ability to process those experiences as it is supposed to. Instead of categorizing and storing the information, it stays on the surface and is easily accessed. Do not act as though those who develop the condition are weak. They've been through something awful. Period.
- When someone with PTSD is triggered, the fear, pain, emotions of the memory are as real to them as they were when the experience actually occurred. Do not mock them or try to minimize their feelings.
- Once they seek help, people with PTSD need a system in place that offers what they need - in particular they need their situation treated as legitimate, and they need resources well equipped to treat PTSD. The military in particular focuses on "soldiering on" and "resiliency", neither of which will help someone fighting these battles in their own mind. The treatment of this condition is often lengthy and emotionally exhausting.
If you or someone you love is suffering, please get help. Things can absolutely get better.
Saturday, March 5, 2016
My daughter is competing in a science olympiad as I type this, from the linoleum floor outside the classroom she's occupying.
Her, a ball of anxiety.
Me, a jumble of emotions all at once.
Being back in a high school as a parent this time instead of the student is strange, to say the least. It's something I should be used to by now, having spent hours and hours and hours in hallways not unlike this one for over a year now.
My springtime Saturdays are occupied by drumline and science these days.
I'm so proud of this girl of mine, the one who was talking herself off the ledge as the time ticked down and the door opened. She worries so much, worries more than anything about letting other people down.
Just do your best, I say on an endless loop.
This is supposed to be fun.
You've got this.
I'm proud of you.
I love you.
She wants to be a meteorologist or an epidemiologist when she grows up someday. The only other possible career she's ever been interested in was veterinary medicine. She was born to be a scientist.
I was too, though I never actually became one.
I stopped listening to my heart when I wasn't much older than she is now. I started listening to reason instead, following the career path that made "more sense". Found creative ways to integrate the things that I loved with the things I decided I should do.
My senior thesis in public policy had to do with the intersection of environmental science, biology and international law as I studied the overfishing of sharks in international waters. Most people in my program wrote about things like zoning. I, clearly, was the outlier.
I minored in bioethics, finding my true passion in that subject, then went to law school, planning to someday make it all come together. Added a program in public health, heavy in epidemiology and maternal/child health. I had grand plans once, this vision of meshing the things I loved with the things I should do.
Life had a few things to say about those plans, laughed abundantly in my face.
I never did the things I should do.
I never did make good on those plans. And now I just write about it from here, wondering what happened to that girl back then. Is she still here? Did she disappear? Will she rise from the ashes again someday or has she surrendered entirely to the impracticality of who she thought she would become? Has she resigned herself to this other life? Is it a resignation? Is it acceptance? Why don't men ever wrestle with this issue? Why is this place that I'm in one that mothers seem to occupy almost entirely?
These are all interesting questions, the things I think about as I sit in this hallway, reminded of who I once wanted to be.
And perhaps someday I'll find the answers. Perhaps when my children are older and grown and need me less, perhaps then I'll look for that girl I once was. Check in on her, she how she's doing. Ask her if she'd like one more shot at it all.
For now though, I've got a kid sitting on the other side of this door and she needs me here.
All of me, not just whatever fraction of me isn't longing for some alternate universe. All of me.
Here is where I am supposed to be. Right now, my job, the one more important than all the other ones I thought I wanted, is to guide her. To make sure she doesn't let her head overrule her heart when it comes to the big stuff.
Here is a gift.
Besides, I'm actually pretty damned good at this job.
Maybe it's the one I was meant for all along.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
And I can't.
When it is warm and windy in this place in this month, it reminds me of the things that have happened in the past, the things that I want to believe are firmly back there in the relics of my mind, that happened then and only then.
Those days weren't good ones.
Back then, I was tested.
By whom and for what, I don't fucking know.
I don't believe anyone is testing us, by the way. If they were, I'd have failed.
Yet, I was tested every single goddamn day in some new and novel manner. I was forced to confront ugly truths about myself and about other people. I was forced to make choices that no one should ever have to make. Forced to explain things that weren't my fault. Forced to do all of it.
And then forced to get up the next day, never knowing what that day might hold for me.
I look back to that time now, from where I am today, partially in a self congratulatory manner, which is odd, but expected I supposed considering just how bad things were. I survived them all, and though I didn't come out unscathed, I am here.
Not everyone made it out.
March, you've become, almost in your entirety, a trigger for me. The PTSD that I've dealt with, that I've owned and faced in the mirror, the one that I've screamed at the sky over, the one that has kept me awake more nights than I could count, the one that I want to believe is cured and over and done but that I know is not and never will be. That one.
It's back right now, and I blame the swaying trees outside for its presence in my life this morning.
I did what I always do when I go to this place yesterday, for better or for worse, and I went back and re-read some of my words from that March so long ago.
If only I'd known that it wasn't going to get better in any way for a long time to come.
If only I'd known just how much worse it was going to get.
I laughed, sort of, at the time about it all, about how there would probably come a day in the future when the story would be funny. How someday we'd look back on those moments and chuckle.
It still isn't funny.
Because there wasn't really anything funny about it.
(And yes, for the record, the fire was real. And no, I haven't written about it here until now.)
In that moment in time, I was forced to make split second decisions to save my home and those of my neighbors. To face the reality that not only could my mother could never be trusted to take care of my children, but that she was already a danger to them. To face the truth that I couldn't keep everyone safe all the time no matter what I did. To learn, immediately, that I would have to choose between her and them, and that it was my duty to choose them.
And I had to do it alone.
I look back now, and I know that even if I might have stood in that yard screaming into the wind, urging the fire truck to come faster, explaining the situation to the fire chief, somehow simultaneously wanting her charged with arson and talking them out of charging her, and I still believed that I could do it all. That I could keep them safe. That I could protect myself.
I knew nothing.
I shouted into the sky, asking for answers.
I dialed the phone again, screamed into it, asking for help. Begging for it.
No one answered.
I'd never felt more alone in my entire life than I did that March afternoon, standing in my yard, wondering how it all went so wrong so quickly.
I'd never felt so alone up until then.
I'd feel more alone later.
And this is why, dear March, I just can't.
I just can't do it right now.
Me and my PTSD
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
I've been busy. With things. Lots of things. More things than normal. Like the homeschooling and the baby who climbs on everything incessantly and the doula client entering her last month of pregnancy. Like the job that I just got even though it still is completely freaking me out. I hope hope hope hope that I'll get used to it quickly and not come crashing down to the earth in a magnificent ball of fire instead.
Though, I suppose that could be entertaining in its own way.
I mean, really, me screaming to the earth, flames shooting out my ass. It could be amusing.
I've been trying to do this mental health project as well. It's been almost completely good, well at least as far as the response goes. I've had so many people reach out to me and tell me that they're seeing that they are not alone, showing the videos to family and friends that mock them and their conditions. I've had people approach me about submitting their 24 hours, many messages of support and gratitude that I'm being so open about it all.
I say it's been almost completely good.
The bad, though, goddamn.
At some point, one of the videos must have been shared on a page populated by super religious men who don't believe in new fangled things like medicine, who believe that a woman's place is in the kitchen and all that. I say this not as some general sweeping commentary on men, by the way. I've had quite a few men reach out to me in the past few weeks as well, because even though most of the video comments I'm referring to pertained to postpartum depression, I talked about all my other shit too - the shit that crosses gender boundaries readily.
Anyhow, I was told that I was crazy, that I wanted to kill my kids, that I needed committed. I was asked who left me home alone without supervision. (Sir, fuck you and the horse you rode in on with that shit.) I was told that I needed to calm down and take my meds, that I needed to go see a doctor. I was told by several that they'd pray for me.
The worst, though, was the dude who told me that he was certain that I was possessed by demons and that I needed to be bathed in holy water.
It would be funny if I'd made this crap up, but I totally didn't. He actually said this shit to me.
And I wasn't about to let that happen.
So, yeah. That's been my week. Fun, huh?
Time to get to the other things pissing me off.
This is so far beyond insanity at this point. For a long time, for far too long of a time, people acted like this was some joke, that he wasn't being serious, that it was a ruse or some conspiracy between him and Hillary to jack up the election. Well, guys, joke is over.
We need to take this seriously, we need to do whatever it takes to stop him from being elected, even if that means reaching across the aisle and getting friendly with people you might not have liked much a few weeks ago.
The Hillary and Bernie die hards who refuse to vote for the other candidate if theirs doesn't win the nomination need to grow up and get over their issues, and they need to do it right quick. This isn't about splitting the party at this point, it is about saving the nation, because if you don't honestly see Trump as a threat to national security, you aren't paying attention.
I was planning to write a fairly long piece today dissecting his preposterous claims, the ones people who support him like to write IN ALL CAPS online, but John Oliver did such a fantastic job of it that I clearly don't need to. If you haven't see the video yet, grab some popcorn.
I did want to discuss the issue of "making America great again", though, because it is complete and utter bullshit. Which version of America is he planning to make great again? I have to ask this, and anyone supporting him needs to get real and ugly with that question, because the truth is that the America he speaks so fondly of is a fallacy. If it ever existed, it only ever existed for the benefit of rich white males. There was nothing "great" about America for all the marginalized groups in our short but grotesquely romanticized history.
I was telling a friend this week that for all the spinning that Trump does about the glory days, I can see Bernie handing out accurate history books and urging people to read them and learn something.
Seriously. Read accurate history books and learn so we don't make the same mistakes again.
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