Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Modern Family Structure- Building on Sand

I'm not one for serious subjects, but I think this one should be addressed. So get ready for the wisdom I'm going to lay on you- it's going to blow your mind.

Here in America, we have many things, but a good family structure isn't one of them. Oh sure, we used to be the epitome of wonderfulness, but that was in the fifties; nowadays family structure is so messed up, I would compare it to rickety, rusted scaffolding. There might be a few metal bars in there that are strong, but not enough that the entire thing won't collapse the moment you set foot onto it.

Let me explain.

It's like trying to build a house on sand- if you don't have to have a strong foundation, the house will fall apart. People get married too fast. Many people have kids before the marriage (it used to be afterward), then couples find out that their six-month romance was a fleeting thing, and marriage 'just doesn't work' for them. So they get divorced and look for another whirlwind relationship. Those couples that do work out the rough spots (or are even *gasp* happy in marriage) fall for the idea that they must provide everything for their children, so both parents keep working. 'Things' have replaced 'Time' as the best way to handle children, letting them have the latest gadget or watching TV until their eyes burn out instead of taking them to a park, reading to them, or playing a game.

A parent can spend over half their paycheck on daycare and babysitting. Then when the child grows up a spoiled, unruly teenager, parents wonder what happened to the sweet child they gave birth to, not even realizing it wasn't they who really raised their kids- it was the sitters! So now we have a bunch of adolescents with bad attitudes applying for jobs- that is, if they feel like working.

Sound familiar?

Unemployment is also a big issue, which ties into the family structure as well. Think about this- say you have 50,000 married people living in an area. If just one parent stayed home to care for the kids, that would be another 25,000 jobs available for other families that can't find work. Yes, you'd have to tighten the budgeting belt, but it would be worth the sacrifice to see your children growing up before you, and knowing you were a major part of it.

Imagine that- Neighbors chatting with neighbors as their kids play with each other, getting to know people face-to-face instead of having a phone attached to our ear or hands. Not having to deal with a cubicle and a boss staring over our shoulders. If most families did this, I really believe this is what would happen. More jobs filled, less family stress, and we might actually talk with each other over coffee instead of the cell phone!

Yes, I do understand that some families really need both parents working, but I'm talking about the people who are doing it just to have the extra cash and luxuries. Sometimes it's a good thing to make your children wait for things. This world puts way too much emphasis on instant gratification.

Parents are supposed to be the ones who teach their children morals, home skills, and work ethics. Yes, I said work ethics. You do work as a homemaker- the big payoff just doesn't come until the kids have grown up. And in an 'instant gratification' society, not many want the job. But who could possibly do a better job than you at raising your kids?

Women need to step up and be good, loving, and responsible wives and mothers. Men need to step up and take care of their wives and children, and lead their children with moral guidance and discipline. Both parents must work as a team to give their kids a loving, stable environment, as well as being loving to each other.

As for the younger people still dating- You simply cannot rush into a relationship and expect a perfect marriage. Good relationships take time- and restraint.

The modern family structure is broken, and will take a lot of work to fix. The question I ask is this- how many are really ready to do the work to make things better?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Horse Poo Days

Ever have one of those days? Days that could be disastrous or wonderful, depending on your viewpoint? I like to call them horse-poo days. And we had one on Friday.

Our basement gets flooded often when we do laundry because the pipes are old and thin. My husband informs the landlord that he 'blew out' the pipes (aka removing the clog with a snake-like thingie that shoots high-pressure water into it), and all is usually well for a few weeks. Then it clogs and we have to blow it out again.

Except this time the water didn't go away right away. It decided it wanted to come up from the concrete under the dryer. Not good. And no, my husband didn't do it! Those pipes must be fossils by now- I think they were there since they built the place, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Apparently we have really old mean pipes, and one cracked. Under the concrete. That's something my husband couldn't blow out if he used a sneezing elephant. And the landlord said that the plumber can't come until Monday. Sigh.

The best part (please note the sarcasm) is I had a ton of dirty dishes in the dishwasher and the sink, as well as a ton of laundry. This cracked pipe meant no water usage in the back half of the house- which meant no kitchen water, and no basement water. I can't do any dishes or laundry!

But the bathroom water pipes are fine, so we can at least do the important stuff, like keep clean know. That's much more important than dishes.

The really best part (please note the lack of sarcasm) was God turned this into a positive experience. I got to improvise. I took our huge cooler and dragged it outside while my husband hooked up the hose to the hot water, allowing me to fill the cooler and soak the dishes while I set up a table and laid out towels. I got a bucket for rinsing, and had the kids fill the cooler with every dirty dish in the house. Then I washed, and they dried and put them away. We were a well-oiled machine.

People kept passing by asking us when we were having the yard sale. It's nice to know that our dishes looked good enough that other people wanted them!

And while I could have groused about it (and believe me, I was close to it at one point), I hear my daughter say, "Hey Mom, this is kinda fun!" And when I really thought about it, she was right. It was kind of fun to be together doing something unusual- even if it was dishes! It was what I call a horse-poo moment- you can think of it as a mess, or use it as fertilizer,
depending on your point of view. I prefer the latter!

God blessed me with a daughter who thinks like that sometimes. She helps me see the fun side of things, which is a fantastic blessing, because as we all parents know, sometimes we forget things can be fun- even the stuff that drives us crazy.

But I still refuse to do the laundry out of my cooler!

Laundry will either be done via the laundromat or by the borrowing of a neighbors machine, so that's covered. And this week will be fraught with meals that use as little dishes as possible, yet still be home-cooked. Maybe we don't even need to use the oven- I can ask the neighbors if I can use their grill, and offer to make them some grilled goodies too, turning it into a nice get-together!

That sounds awesome, doesn't it? I think I need to buy some paper plates!

So take those horse-poo moments and turn them into fertilizer- it makes a much prettier flower patch in God's garden!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm a Breadaholic!!

My name is Beth, and I'm a Breadaholic.

I don't know when it started, but it's become a really big problem in my house. Almost to the point where we need to call the producers of Hoarders.

You see, we as a family buy almost everything in bulk. We have an upright freezer for the meats and other items (like bread), and we save a lot of money when we buy a lot a freeze it. I home cook, and it's nice to have that mini frozen food market in the basement when I get a hankering for something to make for dinner.

I stopped making dinners on a whim though- there's just too much of the same ol' meals going on, and I really need to crack open some cookbooks (which I also hoard) before my husband threatens (again) to clean house and send them to the recycling bin.

So I look in the freezer (as well as the one that's upstairs attached to my fridge), and saw a Shangri-la of baked goodness. Yes there was some meat, cheese and veggies in there, but there also was a lot of bread. Jesus could have fed at least another five-thousand without having to use any of His powers, had He seen what I had.

I had rolls. I had loaves, home baked and store bought. I had white, wheat, and rye. If bread was money, I would have been a millionaire. But there is only so much you can do with it all.

Of course I could have thrown it all out, but I hate wasting stuff. Anything frostbitten and stale went to feed the wildlife in the backyard, but the rest simply had to be used, or at least given away. And trust me, it's hard to give away bread that's already been frozen!

Mealtimes became flooded with sandwiches, dipping bread with soup, and meals with stuffing on the side. Burgers and hot dogs were also eaten, because I had a lot of rolls put aside just in case we had a massive cookout. We even made poor-man's panini's (think grilled cheese but with meat and veggies too- in a fry pan, not a press), so not only am I a breadaholic, I'm a bread hoarder too. I just can't throw that stuff out!

Even after all of those meals I still have a good amount of bread left- though I admit it's nice to actually find my meats and stuff now! So I've decided to stop the bread madness, and not buy or bake anymore.

At least for a month.

And then I looked in my fridge- I forgot I had a batch of pizza dough in there...but that shouldn't really count, right? It's not really bread unless it's fluffy. So I won't think those tortillas in the freezer would count either.

I think giving up bread is going to be harder than I thought!

Wait a second, you say as you read all of this...why would you have to give up bread completely? Good question, dear readers, I'm glad you asked!

I found out that anything with wheat flour makes me really tired and sluggish.

I went to the docs and got checked out, and though I don't have Celiac disease (or anything else other than hypothyroidism), I have noticed by trial and error that the stuff drains the energy out of me more than an SUV drinks gasoline. So I have to stop eating it, or find a different kind of flour to bake with.

So I either cut it all out, or eat so little of it that it feels like I cut it all out. That also includes pasta.

Lucky for me I'm creative (and immensely humble), so I know I'll figure something out soon. There are flours out there made of rice or nuts, and I'm sure once I finagle with some of them I could come up with some awesome recipes.

So maybe I can have my bread and eat it too. I hope.

In the meantime I'll make due with ditching the rest of the bread by making meals I know my family will love (because they can eat it), and making myself a big pot of something I can freeze into one-serving containers, so I can have something different without all the effort of making another meal entirely. It might take a while to get this all implemented, but once it's done, I should be able to keep myself from eating too much bread (and pasta), if at all.

I'm Beth, and I'm a Breadaholic. But with God and my family helping me, I'll give up bread, and not be so tired!

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm A Jack O'Lantern (Part Two of 'The Whole Tooth' post)

The dentist didn't take long to remove the two teeth that had to come out. I went home feeling as of I was part zombie, looking like a jack O'lantern with half my face sliding off my skull. One of the teeth she had to take was an eye tooth, and when deadening that particular spot, she informed me I would not feel half my nose.

Of course when she was finished, I was poking my face all over, just to see what felt weird. I'm like that. Let me just say it's like feeling someone else's face when you're doing it. Even when it's only half your nose. It's been over an hour since my visit, and I'm still numb. So I thought I'd share the experience with you. Don't you feel privileged?

Some of the Novocaine (or 'happy juice' as I like to call it) has worn off, and the edges of my lips are tingling, like they had fallen asleep. My tongue now has new places to explore and toy with, and I'm sure once all of this is healed I can shoot peas at people out of the side of my mouth and no one would be the wiser. Dentistry can be fun, you just have to be creative enough to take advantage if it!

For instance, I can still smile (sort of), but I look like I should be a Halloween decoration- or at least model for them. Maybe I should hire myself out to pumpkin artisans who need inspiration, or visit Warner Brothers and become the new voice for Sylvester. Okay, maybe Sylvester's sister- that would be a little more realistic. Of course, with all these new air holes in my face, I could do a really cool horse impression- but I need the happy juice to wear off first for the full effect.

All I need now is a little light in my mouth, and I'll be set for Haloween!

Another thing I'll note here- I told the dentist I had long roots, but even I was surprised at just how long they were after she removed the eye tooth! I was surprised my nose didn't collapse. Really. It was that long. Like a dagger.

And since I have a little morbidity in my sense of humor, I also took a picture of the offending buggers. They ain't pretty. The entire length of the eye tooth was about two inches long- and the other one was just a little shorter! (But I won't show you that one unless you ask me. I promise!)

The kids are going to love that shot. Can you say 'Mandatory Dental Care' boys and girls? I knew you could!

I was given the same 'drill' as last time (forgive the dental pun); Not to eat for a few hours, soft diet, no straws, no brushing for a day, and relax as much as possible. And now that the happy juice is almost completely worn off of my removed 'fang', I can see why. No one likes to feel their heartbeat in their face. It's just unnatural.

And after a month or two of having fun with a holey face (check that...a Christian with a 'holey' face..heh), I get fitted for a new set of choppers. Apples and carrots and cel'ry, oh my! Meal times are going to be a new but fun set of challenges!

P.S. My nose is still half numb, and I feel a sneeze coming on- part of me is worried if my face will fall off if that happens...or I might just beat myself to death with my lips, since I have absolutely no facial muscle control! This might make a good YouTube video....

Riding the Dirty Clothes Horse- or Dealing With Too Much Laundry!

It happens about once a month. The dirty laundry that was supposedly under control has now taken over the entire hallway- and no one has any clean clothes. I have no idea why this family tradition started, but it seems like everyone (meaning the kids) waits until they're practically naked before putting their dirty stuff in the laundry. Then I have to mount 'Stinky Shorts' the clothes horse and tame the beast.

Eventually I had to teach my son the art of taming the clothes horse, and we do well most times. But since I have the memory of a gnat, and my son has a gift for disappearing when it's time for chores, sometimes the clothing goes unchecked until I hear the faint call of my daughter through the pant leg of a clothing avalanche. For a child who claims she has no clothing, she has a lot of stuff blocking the entrance to her bedroom. Maybe it's the house gnomes up to their tricks again.

It's almost like assembly line work; I empty the baskets, refill them, my son takes them to the Pit of Despair (otherwise known as the basement) to be washed and dried, then either child brings up the clean stuff to be dumped back on my bed for folding. It's a well-oiled machine when it works.  

When it works. 

Most times some of the moving parts (the kids or myself on occasion) just shut down and step over the masses accumulating in the hallway, and make our way to the kitchen for some eye-opening sustenance before starting our day.

We can acquire about one to two loads a day, so if at least one load is skipped, we're behind. But on days where the horse is threatening to engulf the hallway, we have to tend to it at least three times a day. And folding all that stuff is just soooo much fun. Especially when I see my kids neatly folded clothing shoved into their dressers pell-mell without any consideration as to where each item belongs. Many times I hear complaints about not having any clean school shirts, only to see that they shoved them into the underwear drawer.

It's nice to feel needed. Sort of.

I stopped having a hamper in the hallway. All it did was accumulate stuff, and then we had the joy of sorting through all the odoriferous garments. No one wanted that job, so I decided to use baskets instead. One for the whites/light colored clothing, one for the dark colors. When either gets full, down it goes. This kept the reins on the horse quite well- at least until the next avalanche happened.

'Stinky Shorts' is now going down the fairway, getting smaller as he reaches the finish line!

I love looking at the baskets in the hall and not seeing either of them full. I can also smile because I know the kids have been bringing down all of their dirty clothes this week too. It's nice to get off of the dirty clothes horse and walk in the hallway for once!