Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Curing Affluenza

We're not wealthy. Maybe by world standards, I think most Americans are, compared to, say, Haiti or Bangladesh. But we don't want for much, and therefore consider ourselves blessed.

Even so, every year when the idea of Christmas comes creeping into that dark crevice that grows and expands by the week, nagging and taunting me to GET MOVING, I cringe inside. Here it comes. The STUFF. The move-out-the-old-stuff and make-room-for-new-stuff tango I think we all do from Halloween until after Christmas when we finally figure out where to put more STUFF.

I'm tired of it. Christmas is a lovely time for my family. We celebrate the joy of the holiday as it was meant to be, being Catholic, and cherishing the true meaning of it. But still, over the years, the STUFF has become more than I can bear. You see, we have 6 kids. Six awesome, smart, rambunctious, goofy, normal, happy kids. Did I mention they all have the most gorgeous ginger heads you have ever seen? It makes me want to buy them MORE STUFF. And it's going to change. And so, I've laid down the gauntlet.

I posed it to my husband, who's eyes grew larger by the second, and I could see the "how are the kids going to react to this" look in his eye. It, being my plan. This year, the money we would spend on presents for them, and each other, would go to a charity, and we would all decide as a family where it would go. No, it's not ground breaking, but for us, it kind of is. We give as much as we can to others, but this would be bigger. A well for a village. A cow for a family. A lot of food for our local food pantry. Something. Anything but more stuff. I felt sure they would see the good and be all for it. They did not disappoint. So far.

Son the true form of a leader, nodded, and said, "sure." I expected that. It's the kind of kid he is, and at 17, doesn't ask for much. Daughter, child #2....same thing. No hesitation from child #3 or 4. Perfect. I have not raised them as indulged people, they earn money, and have to buy their own amusements. They don't have cell phones, and have bought most of their own electronics.

I have not approached the 7 or 4 year old yet. Ok, I'm a little intimidated (small children can be SCARY!!). My plan included buying a family game for Christmas Eve, and one video game for them on Christmas morning. I'm considering little stocking stuffers, just for giggles, little goofy things. I'll need strength to resist overbuying! I think they are going to survive, I really do. In the end, perhaps on Christmas Day, when the reality of it hits the young ones, I won't be the most popular mom on the planet, but this lesson is for the long haul. Curing affluenza.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This 'n That

I have an addiction. I am a night owl. I love the quiet of the wee hours, the solitude, the funny noises of the coyotes, the dogs that bark at them, the rain on the roof when the house is silent. I love the late night visits by wandering sleepy ones who forget there is a bathroom upstairs or just...can't...sleep. I get most of my creative impulses right about now.

So I have a custom order for these Victorian boots. They are so sweet. I have been battling with mock ups and getting increasingly frustrated. I am determined to get them right, so I put them down for a few days. Back at them tomorrow! Spring Fling is quickly approaching, so I need to clear the docket to give it the attention it deserves. But I will give my customer a lovely pair of these in pink first.

Liv has amazed me once again with another of her delectable projects, raspberry chocolate eclairs, for her grandmother's birthday. I am so very proud of her energy, growing skill, and joy with which she attacks each and every recipe. She is not afraid to take risks, use her imagination, and just chuck it and do it again if it's not right. I've seen such a growth in maturity in this, and I see it spill over into all she does. She may get frustrated, but she keeps at it, and produces yumminess that rivals even the seasoned pros. I wish her so much success in whatever she chooses, I just love her so much! I am looking forward to watching this process in each of my children, watching them find their way with maturity and confidence. They may change their direction as many times as I can imagine, but I will support them every step of the way!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From There to Here

I have a rule in my house. You can do any sport you want, as long as it's karate. Yea, I can hear you all now...WOW, wacko! Kind of extreme, huh? Well, no. Not really. Here's why.

I spent a year of my youth being bullied. I mean, picked out of the crowd, harassed, name called, and physically assaulted at one point. OH, you say, you're fulfilling a lifelong vow to make sure your kids can beat up a bully. Well, no. Not really. But as my parents had no clue how to help me, and never alerted the school or the idiot's parents, I was left to deal.

Fast forward 25 years. I'd since decided to homeschool, for a myriad of reasons. My firstborn, donning the shock of red hair sure to serve as a beacon for kids of the stupid and shallow variety, was enrolled at 4 in karate. Determined that he was never going to be left on his own to deal with whatever came at him, I would make sure he had the tools and confidence to handle himself in the face of any threat.

This was when I discovered something crucial which I will bring full circle soon.

I'd been bodybuilding and powerlifting for 7 or 8 years, and people seemed to assume that I could defend myself, and I had a confidence that I could at least do some damage. Anyone with legs as strong as mine surely was not going to let anyone hurt me without getting my licks in. It must've shown in my demeanor. Little guy syndrome, let's call it. No one really knew if I could take care of myself, I just acted like I could.

But in my son, it was something different. He was not cocky like me, he was quietly confident. As he grew stronger, and I added myself and child #2 to the mix, who also grew in strength and skill, I realized that what karate gave us was far more important than the ability to turn the tables on the bad guy. It was more than the physical strength, and good health it gave us.

It made us bully proof. It took away the fear of "what if". There is a confidence, a calm sense of well being you get when you're not worried someone might push you down, grab you, hit you, call you a name, or try to intimidate you. I know this sounds harsh, but once you've been punched in the face, or kicked in the head, well, then you know what it feels like (my daughter pointed this out to me). Problem solved. Nothing in life will present you with a fear that you can't handle it with the right set of skills. So I added child #3, 4 and 5, until #6 ages a bit (we've all started a new style together..."tang soo"!!).

Now to bring it full circle. Jay Sevron, radio talk show guy, was reacting to the MA bullying law. How it would "help", whether it would help. Wanted to know our questions, thoughts. So of course, since I always have an opinion, I called, rather bemused about the whole thing. Imagine, a law banning bullying. How's that law thing working on the murder problem?

I said, Jay, a law will not stop bullies. I said, every child in America should be given self defense lessons in grade school. Karate as gym class instead of wasting time with volleyball, or whatever they do these days. He pretty much scoffed at the idea, and this is where he departed from his usual ideals and totally threw me off of my mental balance beam. He said "Why should the onus be on the victim to DO something about it (paraphrased)?" To which I replied...if you take the victim away, there can be no bully (of course he talked over me and heard nothing I said). He has his preformed opinion. I went on to say, look, cops, laws, courts, can do nothing to prevent crime, and you know this. But give a kid CONFIDENCE, and bullies can't scare or intimidate them. Again, he had me muted while he went on. An actual debate would have been nice. Imagine, kids in shape AND confident, for shame!

This blew my mind. Jay is not usually this much of a pansy. I mean, we are a Christian family. We do no harm. We love our neighbors, and treat everyone as a friend. But conversely, we will fear no man. THAT was the vow I took when I grew up. We have the ability NOT to fight. Because fear of all things is the enemy, and usually is your worst enemy. It's not that the victim has to be the one to DO something, Jay, it's that the victim won't HAVE to do anything.

He didn't get it. And that's too bad. Someday I may begin a campaign to get self defense taught in all grade schools. In the mean time, perhaps you can bully proof your kids too!