Thursday, November 6, 2014

Because I'm Feeling Chatty

     I know I just published that "Intellectual Loneliness" post, but I can't help it. I need to write. And not in depth on any particular thing, while touching on subjects I do want to write more on later. Like this book, "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker. I am pretty much finished with it, but even when I was only a few chapters in, I decided **EVERYONE** needs to read it. Really. It will change how you look at people, and hopefully how you treat people, in addition to teaching you tools to help you stay alive. Go get it, like right now.
    Just the babysitter. I've been feeling a lot like that lately. On the bad days, I just keep waiting for the Mom to come home, but she never does. On the good days, I'm the fun babysitter that every kid is sad to say goodbye to. 
     We have a cat, sort of. I think she belongs to a neighbor somewhere, but for the past week, almost, she has decided that she lives with us. Very friendly. I like her. Hopefully Code Monkey will remember to print out flyers for me to hang on the community mailboxes, before I end up officially stealing her from whoever she was living with first. She isn't allowed in the house though. But I do have big plans for letting her occupy the feed storage part of the chicken coop, when it eventually is built. 
     Speaking of chickens, I can't wait to get them, though we do have a lot of work to do on the yard before. Like, getting the lot(s) surveyed, so we know exactly where the boundaries are, so we don't infringe on the neighbors. There has been enough irritability going on due to this Sanitary District attempt thing. Small community politics, level stink. But I think we played our cards well, as everyone seems to think we are on their side. Win-win, right? 
     And I am once again not going to bed early, like I had said I would for this week. I've come to realize, that I am tired. Like, really tired. Like, maybe that is a huge part of the reason I'm starting to see the Irish/Italian temper come out, and let me tell you, it is not pretty. That, and hormones. Anyway, I had always been a morning bird. For the first 23 or so years of my life, I was up early, and went to bed early. 7:30 p.m. for the longest time, until we graduated to 8 p.m. so we could listen to Adventures in Odyssey. Dad had to get up at like 3:30, and we kids weren't so good at the quiet thing, so we all had to go to bed early. Code Monkey, on the other hand, is a night owl. It was a difficult adjustment, learning to stay up with him, and not go to bed when I was tired, but it worked out. Until Jose, anyway. (Ignore the lack of accent, it's too complicated to replicate easily.) But I made that work, sort of. The addition of Juanito, who is refusing to sleep more than 3 hours consistently at night, is really starting to take a toll on me. Up relatively early with the boys, and up late with Code Monkey is just too much, right now. And I miss the mornings. I find it really difficult and depressing trying to do things at night with the house closed up, so I'm not productive in the few hours I do have without anyone needing my attention. *sigh* Guess I'll go to bed, and maybe see what getting up "early" does for me. 
     

Intellectual Loneliness

     Today has been a day. You know, the kind where you really only want to drink yourself into oblivion, and it isn't even 10 o'clock yet. So I sit here, beer bottle of water in hand (no, not sarcasm about beer quality - actual water - story for another day), and I know why it is many, many women don't want to be stay at home moms, and it really doesn't have anything to do with selfish, career driven ambitions. It's because of the loneliness. Now, I'm going to make some general assertions about people, knowing full well that, as such, they do not apply to everyone. 
     In general, women are extremely social. They just need to be able to talk and connect with people. I never really knew just how much I need to do such, until I became the stay at home mom who didn't have access to a car everyday. And now, it seems, I am going out of my mind, for lack of meaningful conversation. Yes, having José around helps some, and really, he is quite a good talker, but it leaves something to be desired as far as quality of content goes. Yes, Code Monkey does provide rather good conversation, but he's gone most of the day. I guess that is what I really miss about being back home. Especially after being blessed to spend a year there between college and marriage, since we were all of an age where actual, good conversation could be held. I miss the connection to people I knew, and who also knew me. 
     I am becoming more and more convinced, that our current living situations as first world people are, well, artificial. And isolating. And suffocating. It is no wonder that social media sites are so wildly popular. Most days they are our only connection to people who give coherent responses and help us feel heard in the doldrums of a normal day. I understand how it is many women can come to the conclusion that they could never quit work to stay home with their kids, because it is mind numbing, the loneliness. The days full of complete and utter boredom and inability to get anything which feels meaningful and productive done. It is so hard to see, through glaze eyes, just how important doing seemingly nothing really is. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where Charity And Love Prevail

     So this is going to be a quick one, and most likely not the most well thought out. I was thinking the other day, about charity, and how many people are too proud to accept it. You know, "I could never accept a handout" type people. Yes, I'm included in that group; receiving gifts is not a strong point of mine. Anyway, I got to pondering the origin of such a response, and quickly decided that it was pride. Kind of a no-brainer there. But then I got to thinking on the origin of "Charity", and, though it may seem blatantly obvious to some, I finally put 2 & 2 together and realized that it was the same word as the "Faith, Hope, and Charity (Love)" Charity. *foreheadpalm* 
     Derived from the Latin caritas, "Charity" refers to the love and friendship one has for God and, by extension, all of mankind. Though it may not seem so anymore, the origin of charitable donations stemmed from a desire to show love of God and neighbor by giving to those who needed something but did not have the ability to give reimbursement. It was/is a way to show Love
     Back to Pride, now. What does Pride do? Causes us to reject Love. The Proud Man is incapable of accepting or giving Love. Love requires and demands humility, to allow oneself to be open and vulnerable to being known by another. But Pride hinders our willingness to be understood and to understand, even though it is what we as human beings most desperately need and want. 
     To decline either gifts or help out of Pride is, in essence, to deny Love which is being offered to us. It is to say, "I want love, but on my terms and conditions. Anything which causes me to humble myself, and face humiliation, does not fit the model, and thus I will have no part in it." To be too good for a charitable act is a sign of being too good for Love. Something to keep in mind as we enter this Holiday Season, where Acts of Charity are so often a major focus of this time of year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Didn't

     It is tough adjusting to being a mom, having to put basically everyone before yourself. Oftentimes, it seems as though you never get to do anything that you want to do, or sometimes even have to do. It is easy to get caught up in the "I didn'ts" of the day:  I didn't get to finish the laundry, again; I didn't get to getting us all outside (*gasp!*); I didn't get to finish that article; and so on. It is easy to start to slip into the thinking that we are failures - I mean, how hard is it to finish a load of laundry, really? Nevemind that the help of a toddler and 9 month old is really much more of a hindrance. Even finishing what used to be the simplest of tasks is now a huge deal. My huge successes last week? Actually having dinner made by the time Code Monkey got home, three days in a row. The first time that has happened in basically 9 months. But even that victory was overshadowed by the list of "I didn'ts", which it seems haunts my every move. 
     Tonight, though, my perspective was shifted a little bit, as I was thinking about the day while nursing Juanito down to bed. It started out with the typical "I didn'ts", but then I thought about how I didn't lose my temper today. I didn't yell, even when José was hitting me with the book. I didn't lose my cool when José wasn't able to keep the dish water in the sink. I didn't get bent out of shape when Juanito decided that 10 p.m. was a better time for sleeps than his historical 8 p.m. I didn't let the little things get to me today. This is a list of "I didn'ts" that I can feel good about, even proud of. I'm finally seeing, more and more, how much my actual attitude toward and view of a situation really influences how I feel about it (much to my chagrin most times). So when you get stuck in the rut of negative "I didn'ts", try and see if you can't throw a few positive ones in there as well, even if they are really ridiculous. Pretty sure it'll help make a bad day into a not as awful one.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Giving Grace


Figure 1.
          So, I'm sort of experiencing writers block tonight.  Yes, in spite of this very long list of potential topics to blog on.  See Figure 1.  I'm just not in the mood to try and tackle any of them, though Giving Grace would be a fitting one considering my current state. So I guess we'll go with that, then.  Except I think I was wanting to preface it with my meager thoughts on Pope Francis.  Which was going to be prefaced with Doesn't Apply To You. And somewhere in there Division is the Devil's Work would fit nicely.  Oh, guess I should cross off Friends Who Blog, since that was last week's.  Well, back to Giving Grace, then.

          This past week has been a doosie in regards to failings and humility and the need for grace.  I won't go into detail, but I pretty much sucker punched myself in the gut and toppled squarely into the category of  "People I Never Thought I'D Be Like".  Not the first time I've joined "Those People" (you know, those people who do X, Y, or Z, and make us swear we will never do X, Y, or Z...), mind you, but this time it was really something else.  Anyway, awful as I was (I don't recommend trying to get into such situations), it is a timely reminder about how much we all need grace, not only from God, but also from each other.  We need to treat each other with mercy, compassion, patience, understanding, and charity at all times, and most especially when we really, really don't feel like it, because they simply "don't deserve" it.  Why?  Because that is how Christ treats us, every single time we do something that hurts him.  And we are called to follow in His footsteps.  Though falling in with the "Those People" crowd isn't a good thing of itself, there can be good that comes from it.  A reminder that we really aren't that much better than anyone else, that "But for the grace of God" we could very easily be the prostitute, the druggie, the abuser.  A reminder of just how little humility can be found up there on the pedestal where we had placed ourselves.  An opening of our eyes to our own need for grace, and the understanding of just how much others need it, too. 
          So I try to give grace.  To the parents whose child is acting out, because I know that someday I'll be there too.  To the girl who's living with her fiance, because she is afraid to get married again.  To the rebellious teen, who's fighting an inner battle they are afraid to let anyone see.  To the mom who screams at her kids, because I know what it's like to be at the end of my rope.  To the dad who feels like he's a lousy father because all he seems to do is work.  
          How do I give grace?  By listening; by doing my very best to understand where they are coming from; by patiently and lovingly giving advice where needed; by not condemning them to everlasting hell fire because of their past, or even their present.  Not to say that we should overlook the graveness of sin, but perhaps focus more on the things which they are doing right; give encouragement where it is due.  Because every single one of us has a past.  Some may have larger sins than others, but each and every one of us has contributed to the Passion of Christ, each and every one of us has wounded His Most Sacred Heart.  Yet Christ fiercely desires to see each and every one of us united to Him in the Beatific Vision and treats us with compassion and mercy.  How can we do anything less?  Give Grace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Writings of Friends

     Cheap post tonight. The Juanito Burrito was not cooperating with bedtime, and didn't go down until 2-2.5 hours after the usual, and then I've just been wasting time on FB and stuff, though I did leave a comment on another blog, which took me a bit of time to word because my thinking brain is fractured into a million little pieces and has been swept under the couch somewhere. Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to list the blogs of friends and acquaintances, to try and boost some of their ratings. I love that so many people I know blog; it is so interesting and enlightening to read their thoughts - it provides a different insight into their personalities that speaking doesn't quite reach. Go check them out!

Laura at This Felicitous Life - Laura is the wife of one of Code Monkey's ex-coworkers. I've only recently discovered it. 

Mr. Janaro at Never Give Up - Ok, so I don't actually really know him personally, but I've seen him at Mass before, and his brother is the registrar at Christendom, so that almost counts, right?

Conquistadora at Riding Shotgun and Stocking Design, and contributor to Banana Bum - sister to one of my fave girlfriends from school.

Mocking Byrd at Banana Bum, Kiddos 101, and The Bug - Mocking Byrd and Conquistadora have wonderful senses of humor. 

William at Brass + Lead - father to one of my besties from school.

Katherine at Half Kindled - good friend I sorta knew at school, but have grown closer to and am honored to have her in my group of friends here. She recently started her blog within the past month or so. 

Kestral at Pisstified - Did not actually know her from school, but she sort of took my place when I wasn't able to afford senior year. Proud to call her one of the Byrds, and I look forward to getting to know her better. 

Leila at Little Catholic Bubble - Right, so here's another one I don't actually know in real life, but I won a book by accurately defining some term I don't remember now, and she was kind enough to accept my FB friend request, and a bunch of people I know in real life seem to know her too, so that also counts. 

Emily at Theological Librarian - also was acquainted with her at school; I'm sensing a trend here....

Olivia at The Musings of a Wanderer and Theatre Phoenix Jewelry - Also a good friend from school. 

MichiGoose at Musings of an English Major and Confessions of a Mother-In-Training - Another Byrd from school, past roommate, best friend. 

Well, he doesn't have his name listed that I can see, so we'll call him Mr. J. at Seeking Omniscience - friend from school. 

Bryna is my cousin, and this is her company's blog 2Fold. They do graphic design type stuff. 

Jane at Blue Ridge Buttercream - acquaintance from school. Unfortunately, she is taking some time off, but she is a fantastic baker! And her cream cheese frosting passes my super picky approval test.

Guiseppe at The Three Bs - friend from school.

Fidelio at Midnight Radio - friend from school, married to Guiseppe. 

Mar at Enjoying the Sunsets - friend from school who also happens to be a cousin to a great family I knew from back home. 

Clever Knack is home to a few of my friends writings as well. 

And Bacon From Acorns, where one of my fav philosophy profs from school blogs. 

Well, there you have it. Took forever to get formatted, lots of copy and paste going on, but didn't take much brain activity, which is what I was going for. Except for the part where it's like 12:30 and I'm not tired, and really should be sleeping by now....

Monday, July 28, 2014

Let It Go!

     Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably been party to at least one rendition of the hit song "Let It Go" from the Disney movie "Frozen" by now. If not, then I'm a little sorry for the ear worm I just gave you. Both the film and song have come under some rather heavy fire for being too much of one thing, not enough of another, such as is the case with basically any movie ever, particularly Disney ones. But I digress; that is a post for another day. Anyway, since my last post was well peppered with the phrase, I thought now would be an okay time to write my thoughts in regard to the song. If you haven't already, I suggest you go back and listen to the song. (I was originally going to link the singalong version, but the Demi Lovato cover came on at the end, and I don't really like it, so here are the lyrics if you want to read them.)
     At first listening, it does come off as very much a Y.O.L.O. song, and as some have pointed out, maybe not really the best influence for young impressionable minds, what with her thinking that freedom = no right, no wrong, and no rules. After many, many listenings, I find it has a much deeper message than simply do as you please, the world can hang. Perhaps it is because of my recent, oh how do you say it, self-examination, but this song has really resonated with me. I'm just going to highlight the lyrics which really struck a chord. 
     A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I'm the Queen - This is  basically what it is like, when you feel like you don't fit in, or you don't know who you are anymore. All alone, afraid to think about what it is you might like, want, or need, let alone actually talk to someone about it. Except you do think about it, a lot, but don't say anything, so it all just builds up, until...
     Can't hold it back anymore! Let it go! Let it Go! - It's usually around this point that I kind of, well, explode. It all just comes bursting out, in not too charitable ways. Why hold it all in? Why not just speak your mind? Because...
     Don't let them in, Don't let them see! Be the Good Girl you always have to be! Conceal, Don't Feel, Don't let them know - Because you are afraid. Somehow, you got to this place where you conformed, molded yourself to be what it seemed people wanted you to be, so that you could fit in, be liked, what have you. Goodness knows you can't let them see what you really are like! They'll reject you! You've seen it before; you've heard it in their talk - criticizing those things that you liked, once upon a time, and still do, deep down. Back to the exploding...
     I don't care what they're going to say! Let the storm rage on! - And this is pretty much where people seem to stop in relation to the message of the song, along with the No Right, No Wrong, No Rules For Me, I'm Free, You'll Never See Me Cry! part of it. Which, I guess, is, maybe, most of the song in a nutshell. What seems to be overlooked, however, is my favorite stanza...
     It's funny how some distance, makes everything seem small - This is key, I think. And for everyone, not just someone trying to reinvent themselves or whatever. Distance makes everything seem small. If there is going to be any movement forward, which life demands that there be, we have to be willing to detach from the events in our past:  I'm never going back, the past is in the past! Or even the events in the present, such as a toddler who is throwing a fit because he doesn't want to do X, and a baby who is crying in sympathy. Let it go! If it isn't helping you to move forward, let it go! In the great scheme of things, a missed load of laundry or dishes on the sink aren't really that big of a deal. They'll get done eventually, no use getting your knickers in a twist because there is something else preventing you from getting them done. You know that thing from 5 years ago that you keep festering in your heart, preventing you from getting on with life? Let it go, give yourself some distance, and see if it is really as bad as you are believing it to be. Those clothes in your closet you can't fit into for whatever reason, and every time you try it makes you want to scream? Let them go, re-home them, and find things which make you happy now. Sure, maybe someday you will be that size again, but for now, they are holding you back. Let it go. Yes, sometimes we even have to let go of the future, and it will free us up for growing. 
     Let go of the fear. The only people who analyze us like we analyze ourselves is ourself. No one is a bigger critic of yourself than you are. Pruning hurts, and you may find that letting go may entail letting go of more than you might have wanted. Perhaps allowing yourself to like tank tops again will cost you your reputation as a "nice, modest girl"; would you function better as a person without the fear of losing your reputation haunting your clothing choices? Then perhaps that crowd needs to be let go. And...That's where I'm going to end. It's late, I'm starving as usual, and my brain seems to have decided to cease thinking about this subject. *shrug*

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ask Mother Henn: What Do You Do All Day?

     Well, it is Blogging Monday once again, and it looks like I might actually post two weeks in a row! Woohoo! And today I'm going to embark on a new thing, which I shall call "Ask Mother Henn." Cute, no? Basically, unless people eventually ask me questions, I'm going to pretend that I have an advice column and answer questions I make up, or that it seems a lot of people have asked others elsewhere, and give my opinion on them. 

Dear Mother Henn, 

What do you do when you are at home all day, 7 days a week, with little children? 

     Well, first you do newborn things, like change diapers, feed the little one, sit for extended periods of time because little one fell asleep while in your arms and will wake if you move, change diapers, feed the little one, etc. Occasionally scrape up time to feed yourself, get dressed, brush teeth, and maybe even shower semi-regularly. Depending upon how well the baby really naps, you might even be able to somewhat keep up with housework, but don't count on it. And that is okay; at this time in your life, you are meant to do the newborn things, that is your job. Boring, yes; unfulfilling, a lot of the time; important, always. And so incredibly hard. It is the beginning of dying to oneself on the largest scale possible. It is so hard to let everything that seems to give fulfillment go, for days that seem so wasted, especially if one was particularly good at doing things before (I personally was not). But that is the key, to just let it go. I'm not saying that your life as you needs to be over for the next 20 years or so, but it is a time for your desires to fade into the background a bit, not so much that you die, but enough so that this new little life can blossom. And it will get easier. 
      That little newborn won't stay that way long, and soon you'll have a baby who can entertain himself for significant amounts of time. Yes, even 5 minutes so you can use the bathroom without them crying is a significant amount of time. And then you do older baby things, like chew on toys, try to crawl, giggle hysterically, and even manage to make dinner at a reasonable hour on occasion, in addition to laundry and dishes. You will be able to shower every day if you wish, and never forget your teeth. But though you will have more time, that dying to self is still so present, and even more difficult because of the illusion of time you now have. 
     But those days will pass quickly as well, and then you will be off to toddler things, like spinning crazily until you fall down dizzy, running up and down on a long strip of paper and laughing hysterically because of the crinkly noises, sitting and reading the same book so many times in a row, and finding with awe that he can amuse himself without your direct participation and sometimes without you even in the room! Alas! The temptation to try and get 'things' done is stronger than ever, and tantrums often result when you do. "Why can't you just go play by yourself a little longer!?" you catch yourself thinking, or even yelling, "Why can't I just get this one thing done that will make me feel like a productive useful person?!" Or "Why can't I just be left alone for 5 minutes to read something that is not a child's book?" In your frustration you forget that tickling is important, that vrooming around with trucks is productive, and for this time in your life, your job is to be his whole world. Yes, there is a greater universe outside of you, and you must introduce him to that, but for now it is more important that loud and silly songs be sung than blogs be written and Facebook browsed. It is so hard to let those things go, but the days are so much easier when you do.
     What happens when you have two? Well, you do newborn things in addition to toddler things. You change diapers, feed little one, feed toddler, read out loud lots, occasionally remember to brush your teeth, etc. Feel like you are never going to have it together, forget that you need to let it go, roar at little children for whom you are their whole world, cry, regroup, and begin again. You watch in awe as one day you realize they don't need you to actively play all the time. You watch with tender heart and moist eyes as they amuse each other, the younger lighting up and watching every move of the older, the older delighting in the laughter of the younger. You realize that it will not be this way forever; someday you will be able to do 'you' things again, that there is a light at the end of this tunnel of baby and toddler things. But try not to get too caught up in that glimpse of light, because someday is not this day. This day the most important thing you can do is be their world, and to do baby and toddler things, read The Tale of Jeremy Fisher for the umpteenth time, belly laugh with the baby, and enjoy these days, for the old ladies are right - you will miss these days when they are gone. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Guilty, Ashamed, and Fearful No More

     On my journey of discovering who I am and who God made me to be, I've come to the realization that I have a lot of unnecessary and misplaced guilt, shame, and fear. Over what? Well, just about everything. I feel ashamed and guilty because my life is good, that I really have nothing to complain about, and nearly everything going for me. I have a pretty face, somewhat enviable figure, and I'm athletic. I have a fantastic relationship with Code Monkey and adorable boys. We aren't exactly raking in the dough, but we aren't hurtin' either. Yes, I feel ashamed of these things, like I need to apologize for them, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. And I am afraid, so terribly afraid, of rejection. I so desperately want to fit in, and will basically conform to whatever group I'm with, so that I don't stick out in the least. So much so, in fact, that I don't even know what it is that I as Jenn actually like and don't like anymore, and what it is that I as people-pleaser only like because it will save me from being disliked.  
     But you know what? I'm done. It's over, Fear. This relationship is stifling me, and I'm not going to allow you to suffocate me anymore. And I'm not going to miss it, either, because it wasn't fun. Not a bit. Alright, I know life isn't all about having fun, but it is about growth, and Fear will at the very least stunt it, if not kill it outright. So I'm not going to hold back anymore. No, I won't be rude, mean, or obnoxious, but I won't keep my silence and allow myself to be walked on or unheard anymore. 
     I'm going to play in the rain because my toddler wants me to, whether it is "grown up" or not. I'm going sing 'Let It Go' at the top of my lungs, because I like the song. I'm going to hold fast to the country music of my childhood, because it is so much a part of who I am today. I'm not going to let my fear of spiders or ticks keep me holed up inside, cowering for fear of what might happen, on a beautiful day. As much as I need my alone time, I actually do like talking to people, even ones that I have never met before. I'm a bit into healthier, but definitely not fanatical about it. In fact, I'm not really fanatical about much of anything, and am willing to give pretty much anyone the benefit of the doubt. I love philosophy, and probably was a psychologist in another life. (No, not really, it's just a saying.) I love figuring things out, and for things to make sense, even though I can't argue logically worth a darn. I love horses, and country, and farm. Oh, I could go on, and on, and on. But it's getting late, and I'm a morning person deep down, so I shall call it quits for now.

I am so extremely blessed to have the friends that I have. MichiGoose, Mocking Byrd, Kestral, M.St.P., and my Sister, thank you all so much for the feedback you afforded me. It was superbly helpful. <3

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Merely A Woman

     Well, this post is to try and flesh out my blog title a bit, and try to explain where I hear the emphasis in "She? A Mere Woman!"
I guess we'll shoot for the emphasis first. I hear it said by a man, scoffing at the idea that "she" could possibly do/think/whatever, hence the question mark. "A mere woman" is meant to be like a put down, showing how he thinks it is ridiculous that a woman even contemplate such a thing, while at the same time discounting the fact that she accomplished it. Does that make sense? 

     And so we come to the actual definition of "mere" (I don't remember which online dictionary I took it from, sorry).

MERE:  1. Being nothing more nor better than. - This was the meaning I had in mind when I decided to take it on as a blog identity, sorta like not as good, lacking. But guess what? There is an even better meaning!

MERE:  2. a) Pure and unmixed.
2. b) Fully as much as what is specified; completely fulfilled or developed; absolute. - How stinkin' cool is that? It means practically the opposite of the first meaning! And is actually quite the compliment. So I inadvertently gave my blog a double meaning. :D 

     Read in light of the second meaning, it basically means completely a woman, absolutely a woman, which I think is really neat, though I'm not sure yet what it means to be a "woman". There are so many different definitions and anecdotes thrown around out there as to what being a "woman" entails, it's difficult to know what is accurate and true to reality and what isn't. At first, part of my reasoning of blogging was to blog on intellectual stuff, because it seems to me that society still doesn't really believe, or maybe more accurately like, that women are smart, capable, etc., apart from their looks but I think I've kinda failed at that. You don't think that society thinks that? Then point out to me the plain Jane, but smart, women that people listen to. I can't think of any. From newscasters, to sports chicks, to politicians, all of the women that we see are usually deemed to be pretty "hot". Oh, whoops, unless you count the liberal, feminist ones like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Sandra Fluke. For the most part, though, if you can read a teleprompter and look fantabulous doing it, then you are noticed and worth paying attention to. And I'm not entirely sure where I was going with this post, since I started it months ago, actually had the idea when I first started the blog years ago. 

     Now, please don't think I'm in the "All men are chauvinist pigs" camp, because I'm not. Seriously, feminists easily fall into the chauvinist category as well. And honestly, they are doing absolutely nothing to help further the cause of women in regards to equal respect and all. From my point of view, all they aspire to is to be like men, and the basest sort of men at that, with all their "free sex without consequences, we can be better than men at male things, beat men at their own game" sort of attitudes. How can you be powerful in their view? Men like sex; be the hottest, sexiest damn thing around, and you'll have them fawning over your every move and viola! you can do anything you please. Power! Power! Power! Never mind that you are selling yourself so cheap that it doesn't even matter anymore. Thus feminist propaganda, continues to propagate the first definition of mere in regards to women:  Nothing more nor better than our sexual identities as women. Why bother trying to better yourself as a whole, when you can just use sex to get what you want? 

     I am challenging that worldview. I'm so tired of being shoved into someone else's little tiny expectation for me as a woman, wife, mother, daughter, person, ME. I'm done. So I'm not going to write heavy, intellectual posts about deep topics; it's not my style, really. I'm going to start typing the way I write letters to close friends, with familiarity about things as I see them, my thoughts and ponderings about the world and my experience in it. No, I'm not going to be insisting that sexuality be shoved into places dark and secret and shameful, because it isn't. Much as it can be an annoyance sometimes, it is a part of what makes the human race tick. I do think, however, that it doesn't need to be the part in the forefront like it is; there are better things we can use to define ourselves than sexuality. I'm going to endeavor to find out who the whole, pure, unmixed, absolute, mere Henn is. I've got an inkling it will be a fantastic journey, and that there could be quite the tsunami as a result of these little ripples in the hithertofore calm waters I've been floating in. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Why I Work Out

     Because MUSCLES!!!!! Seriously, though, because the stronger my muscles are, the more I will be able to do. I've always been quite active, rather sportsy, and I don't want to lose it. Especially not now that I have kids, and two boys at that. I want to be able to do *ALL THE THINGS!* that they might be interested in doing someday. Goodness, there are things I want to do someday, like finally hike Old Rag, for instance. But I also don't want to wait forever, for when we no longer have babies that need to be carried. Because who knows when that is going to be! Sure, looking better is certainly a plus, but not my main motivation. I don't want a "perfect" looking body; I want a body I can do amazing things with! And one of the best sources of information and motivation I have found is Girls Gone Strong. They are all about empowering and motivating women of every fitness level to better who they are as people, not just physically, though that does play a huge part. Go check them out!
     
     My current little training program is Body By You by Mark Lauren. I'm starting slowly, easiest exercises in all groups, because there is no rush, no pressure to perform. This whole workout thing is going to be a lifestyle change, and there are no deadlines to hit. I don't have to be a certain size by a certain day so I can fit into a certain dress. Let's face it, a woman who chooses to bear children for the duration of her childbearing years will constantly be changing size, and shape too. And that's ok. Because my goal is to be strong, be agile, be healthier than I would be otherwise. Once I "graduate", or if I decide I'm bored, I'll be switching to The Modern Woman's Guide To Strength Training, provided by Girls Gone Strong. Someday soon, when I have make time, I'll sit down and go through mine in depth. (Code Monkey got it for me for Mother's Day, complete surprise, since I had told him I would like it, but then thought we decided no because I already had a workout program and my track record for sticking with working out has been rather, um, poor...) There is a lot of info in there, and even though I'm not going to be doing their workouts for a while, I can still utilize the nutritional manual and shake recipes. :) 

     Well, I guess that's that, mostly. I do have more thoughts on the general subject of women and working out, but I have to save those for another day. Jose is awake, and I should probably get him up. <3

Friday, April 4, 2014

Natural Cleaning Products - Radiantly You

     I've never really been a believer in natural products, especially when it comes to cleaning. I mean, if natural stuff worked, why would people turn to something artificial? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? As such, I've been hesitant to try any, lest I end up wasting my money on products that don't work. Well, a couple months ago, a friend introduced me to a new company, Radiantly You, that makes 100% natural products, and given my growing chewy granola-ness, I figured I'd give them a try, and document the results to see if they really were effective. Much to my surprise, I have been very impressed!  
         So, if I can figure it out (the pics are on my phone, sorry for the quality) here is photographic evidence how awesome this stuff is! (They say a picture is worth a thousand words; I guess we'll see!)

Tub Scrub:
So, I cleverly remembered to take a halfway through cleaning shot.
I'm still figuring out the best way to use the Tub Scrub, but I
used it straight from the container, and scrubbed with a blue Scotch scrubby.


Yes, that is a onesie - the toddler got a hold of someone's wine. *sigh*
But what better way to test the laundry detergent?
This was after it sat for a day, because I didn't have enough laundry to justify a load.

This is after being thrown into the wash, untreated.
Luckily I remembered not to dry it.

And the "final" product, after I treated it with just the detergent,
and washed it a second time. I say a quoted final, because
I haven't checked the status of it since I've washed it again.
I was pleased enough with what I got.
It also removed armpit stains from one of my shirts
that had been there for I don't know how long.

     Well, there you have it. Proof all-natural products actually do work! In addition to their Cleaning line, they also have Beauty, Health, and Baby stuff. Click HERE to learn more about this amazing company started by a stay at home mom! For the laundry detergent and tub scrub, click HERE

*And, in the interest of full disclosure, since trying the products I have joined the Radiantly You team as an Independent Wellness Guide. My choice to do so was very much influenced by the effectiveness of their products, and their affordability. I will receive no compensation from Radiantly You for this review.* 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Stretchmarks

     Stretchmarks are the bane of every woman's existence, especially when it comes to pregnancy. I noticed my first stretchmarks somewhere in my teens, much to my chagrin. Lucky for me, they weren't highly visible, though it did not stop me from being ashamed of them. Fast forward a handful of years, and I'm a new mom with even more stretchmarks, also sort of a shock, as I could not see them at all when pregnant. You would think I would not have been that surprised to see them, considering I already had them elsewhere, but I had naively thought that perhaps I would fall into that category of women who do not get them as a result of pregnancy. Silly me. I was rather pleased when they faded from red to silvery, much less noticeable that way. So I was on the look out for them with pregnancy #2, and not to my surprise, but still to my disappointment, there were new ones. All of that consternation was really quite ridiculous, considering I have long been of the opinion that scars are cool, and what are stretchmarks but scars from where the inside of a person grew faster than the outside? 

     Yes. Stretchmarks are only scars which result from skin not growing with the rest of the body. Therefore, anyone can have them, and I'm betting most people do. (Clothes do an amazing job at hiding flaws.) Fat people who used to be skinny, skinny people who used to be fat, skinny people who never used to be fat, guys who build muscle too quick (language warning), everyone most likely has some. Hence, I have come to the realization that they really aren't anything to be ashamed of, and I'm not going to let mine bother me anymore. For what it's worth, I don't see them as anything to be particularly proud of, either; sure, I guess some are my "battle scars" from pregnancy, but as I don't see that as a particularly huge or spectacular feat, there's no reason for me to be proud of them. It is what it is. *shrug* No more, and no less. Little tangent here - pregnancy and lactation are about as natural and normal as eating, hence you won't see me with any "I make babies/milk, what's your superpower" paraphernalia.  

     So, I guess the basic gist is, stretchmarks shouldn't be something to be ashamed of, but neither do you have to feel like a loser because you aren't over the top proud of them either. I know it's hard when we are told to "Love your body"; in a world where extremes are touted as the best ideals, it is difficult to be comfortable with ourselves when we obviously don't meet those ideals, or even worse, when we have no desire to meet them. And I want to say that it is okay to live in the mean; Aristotle and Thomas would say it was preferable to do so. Thus, don't despise your "flaws", but know that it is perfectly alright to not be in love with them either.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Siren Song of the Au Naturel

(This is an "I'm trying to figure this out" type of post. If it doesn't make much sense, or isn't well written, that is why)

     I never thought it would have come to this. Never pegged myself to be the tree-hugger, crunchy granola type person, you know, the kind we made fun of growing up. But, well, it turns out I was wrong. Not that I'm a full fledged "natural is the only way to go" person, not by any means. I flip flop a lot on the subject, freaking out about how expensive I imagine going all organic, etc. really would be, while simultaneously becoming rather more disturbed by the things I learn in regards to what is allowed to be put in food and lotions and things, all the while reminding myself that we're all going to die some day anyway, and it's so hard to determine what really is good and healthy, so what's the point anyway?
     I understand the desire to and thinking behind wanting to only use natural products, but it seems to me that many people take this to extremes, and it is a bit of a turn off for me. You see, we live in a fallen world, and every time someone makes claims of this or that being the miracle thing which will save us all from cancer, it causes me to pause, because there is nothing in this world that will absolutely prevent/cure disease once and for all. Nothing is going to give one a super human immune system, quite simply because everything in this fallen world is flawed. Further, in spite of what many all natural proponents might think, just because something is claiming to be all natural, but has a "do not eat" warning on it, doesn't mean that it isn't all natural. I wouldn't advise eating uranium, but that is certainly a naturally occurring substance. Or when people point out that because X is an ingredient in, say, cement or chemical degreaser, that said ingredient is therefore bad for you, which is not necessarily the case. Water is a surprisingly popular ingredient in many things which would kill you if ingested, but that doesn't mean that water is toxic. Another annoying line of thought is that which states that all man-made/artificial drug/medicine is toxic and does more harm to the body than good. I personally believe that such thinking does much disservice to the human intellect, and by extension the Divine Intellect. Surely God knew what He was doing when He endowed man with the intellectual capabilities we have which allow us to delve into the mysteries of the universe; to say that any discoveries and developments that man has in the realm of medicine only result in things harmful and not beneficial in any way seems to me an illogical conclusion.  
(So I had to leave this mid-thought, which usually isn't a good thing...)
     In spite of all those things that irk me about the "all natural is absobloominlutely the best" arguments, I find myself falling to the siren song of the au naturel. I always thought it would be cool to make medicinal compounds of herbs and stuff, so it really isn't too much of an imagination stretch for me. Though I will say I won't go all crunchy granola mama any time soon; think of me more like a chewy granola type person. Anyway, I think I'll be moving more toward the all natural, at least in regards to cleaning and hygiene-type stuff. Food will most likely follow eventually. :) But I promise to try and do my best to remain reasonable in my thinking regarding such things. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

John Michael

John Michael was welcomed into the world Monday, January 20th, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.
At 8 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 21 inches long, John is a whole pound heavier and half an inch shorter than Joe was.
Labor was very short and incredibly intense, with first contraction noticed around 5:45 that morning. We were able to make it to the Birth Center around 9, and also were able to have a water birth as well.




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where Is Thy Sting?

     Christian was dying. He had lived a good life, done his best to align his will with that of his Father, and he was ready to go Home. Surrounded by praying loved ones, he quoted 1 Corinthians: "Death, where is thy sting?" With that, he closed his eyes, and breathed his last. 
     "My sting?" Death questioned gently as he took Christian by the hand, "Oh, it's still around, though you will not be experiencing it." Christian was slightly perplexed. "If the dying are not touched, then who is?" 
     Death smiled sympathetically as he answered, "Those left behind. They will feel it when they look at your easy chair, and you are not there. They will feel it at the ocean, where you loved to vacation. They will feel it when that song you always cranked up suddenly plays on the radio. They will feel it on those major life milestones where the whole family celebrates as one. They will feel it on your birthday, the day everyone would gather together to celebrate you."
     "There will be times where your absence practically feels palpable, suggesting almost more presence than when you were alive. Other times, it will be a dull twinge in the heart of your loved ones, trying their best to carry on. It is here that my sting is strongest, in those quiet moments, where everyday life flows along, only with a piece missing, leaving a hole that simply cannot be repaired."

     This past year was one which brought with it unexpected heartache, and there are holes in my life that will never be filled. Sure, the deaths of loved ones, especially when unexpected, can be a good reminder to contemplate how fragile and ephemeral life really is, but it is a hard thing none the less. My kitchen is full of things which cause that dull twinge to flare up, and there is rarely a day that goes by that I do not remember that certain people are gone from my life, never to return. Life is not the same without you.

Dedicated to all those I have lost, most particularly:

Uncle Scott (November 2013) - one of my favorite uncles, kind, funny, generous, hardworking, one of the best. 
Grammy (July 2013) - I should have called her more, kept in touch better, I'm reminded of it every time I look out the kitchen window, where the horse sun catcher she made hangs.
Uncle Frankie (Summer 2011) - Nearly every chicken thing I have in my kitchen is from him, he was so generous, and though we didn't get to see him a lot, he was a favorite.
Grampa (Winter 2010) - Gigi - Papa - while I did not know them well, they were/are still family, and there will always be a vacancy as a result of their passing.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.