A few more “moments”

Mothering Transitions

I used to believe that transitions were occasional and temporary.  For the past few years it has felt like one continuous transition, as if I am continually trying to process the latest piece of life.  I’m beginning to realize that life is just one giant transition.  And I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m not as smooth a transitioner as I would like to believe.  Starting this summer I’ve definitely been transitioning through my role as a stay-at-home mom.  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 14 years.  It was something that I really wanted when I had our first kid and I’ve been at home for all 5.  The first 3 kids were all 2 years apart and having 3 preschoolers and under at one time was tough.  Then they started going off to school but there were always kiddos at home, and more than 1.  This year, #4 headed off to Kindergarten!  I couldn’t believe how quickly that moment that seemed forever off was finally here.  I still have #5 at home, and will for a couple more years, but he also started part-time preschool, and is with his dad some of the time as well.  Suddenly, in over 14 years, I have hours or days without any kids at home.  And it’s not quite what I expected.

I think, aside from missing those little moments, most of us get to a place where you dream about all the kids being in school, wondering if you should go back to work or continue to stay at home.  I think my wife and I are in agreement that there’s still so much work to do around the house, I don’t want to go out to work at this point.  Between the kids having days off, being sick, running to the ortho or the dentist, cooking dinner at 2 in the afternoon so we can eat in between swim lessons, flag football, running practice and hockey, it’s still worth giving up a dual income for now.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have tons to do.  I still am on my feet most of the day and the day still flies by just as quickly.  I still wonder where the time went or think I just dropped them off at school and now it’s time to pick them up again.  I still can’t quite imagine squeezing work on top of everything, and admire those who can do it all.

Staying at home does require a special type of skill:  Well, several, I guess.  One is to not go crazy with the chaos and the redundancy to your day, and the tantrums and sweeping the same floor 5 times a day, and so on.  Another skill is having to be self motivated, to still have a schedule when you don’t need one, to know that you should still get dressed everyday and make your bed just because you’ll feel better but not because it really matters.  You have to be able to force yourself to clean regularly and know when to start dinner and clean up projects and do projects and make lists and go grocery shopping so you have food in the fridge.  It’s always a challenge, but I’ve realized now that I have those free days it’s even harder to stay focused or motivated at times.  You dream of these free moments and picture getting all these projects done that you’ve been putting off for years.  Or catching up with friends.  Or sitting down and reading a book.  Perhaps I haven’t quite hit my stride with this free time but so far I’ve only managed to get the usual done:  Make breakfasts, clean, cook dinner, get people where they need to be.  I know it’s still work, but for some reason it doesn’t feel as impressive when I used to accomplish all that with toddlers under foot.  It’s strange but you feel more accomplished with a trip to the grocery store lugging babies than on your own.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s really fast and luxurious, but is it an accomplishment anymore?  Or am I living the high life now?

Picturing myself reading a book or napping now during the day would just make me feel quite guilty.  It’s like there’s a trade off to being the one staying at home.  You have to earn your keep.  Sure, there are chunks of my day that I’m definitely more than earning my keep,  and it’s hard to have perspective when it’s quiet and naptime or during preschool, and know that when 3:30 hits I’m required to be in 5 places at once.  When your job goes from 5:30am to 8:30pm, it’s not a continuous dash, but with sprints and rests, it’s hard to see the whole day objectively.  And, again, it used to be like that only with 3-5 kids in tow.  So how do you assure yourself that you are still working just as hard?

Part of the struggle is that now there is time for all the other things.  But there are so many other things I get paralyzed with indecision and become overwhelmed by the tasks.  I could reorganize the garage or finally sew that quilt or clean out that closet, or sweep under the couches or make myself write for an hour every day.  I could squeeze in a run or a bible study or build my birth business back up.  I sit there and know that perhaps I only have time for part of one thing and end up quitting before I start.  I can’t accomplish it all so I won’t accomplish anything.  I find myself checking facebook and email more and more to pass the time.  Time that is so precious I could be doing so much with!

I’m hoping this is all just so new that I just haven’t found my stride.  I’m sure it’s in part the next level notch of self motivation.  With small kids you automatically meet their needs all day long.  You have no choice but to do so.  No matter how tired you may be you know that you need to launder the pee-soaked sheets before bed, nurse the baby, do the dishes in the sink before the next meal and plan for dinner.  Now, I get large amounts of time where I’m free to do anything.  Too much freedom.  Do I take advantage and go for a run in the middle of the day?  Is that heavenly or too luxurious and therefore guilt-ridden?  So many possibilities.  I know I need to break it all down and just begin somewhere.

Who knew that the light at the end of the tunnel would bring about so much transition and internal turmoil?  Perhaps the guilt factor is a bit heavy and I feel I need to continue to be extremely productive in order to prove myself.  I’m not sure to whom I’m trying to prove myself.  I’m so blessed, however, to be in this position.  I know it’s a good place to be and that it will all come together and work itself out.  I never imagined this chapter in my life at the beginning of the end, and how much of a change it really is.  It seemed like an eternity away and now it’s beginning.  And like all things beginning to end, the next steps that are unknown can seem daunting.  But for now, I have dinner in the crockpot and need to wake up #5 to go pick up #4 in 10 minutes, get back home to take #3 to running practice, run back home to finish up prepping dinner, pick #3 back up with #4 and #5 and take them all to swimming, run home and feed everyone before taking #2 to his 2 hour hockey practice.  Maybe things aren’t totally different yet after all.IMG_7521

Closet Hockey Mom (11/15)

Hockey.  You either love it or you hate it.  I never had much exposure to hockey growing up, I just knew that hockey parents are intense, dedicated, indulgent.  Watching hockey just seemed cold.  Sitting there.  Freezing.

So when #2 begged for an entire year to try hockey, I wasn’t too excited.  Hockey is expensive.  Lots of travel.  Expensive.  Cold.  Huge time commitment.  Did I mention expensive?  Of course, he instantly fell in love.  He eats, sleeps, breathes hockey.  He collects cards.  He studies stats.  He’s happy to share them with anyone in listening range.  He’s constantly ranking teams and players.  He’s in his 3rd season now and he’s dedicated. Of course!  The most expensive, most dedicated sport out there!

I love to complain about hockey.  There are at least 3 hrs of practice a week (more if you want), and games.  I hate being cold. But here’s a little secret for you:  I actually love hockey.  I love the sport.  I love the passion.  I love the dedication.  I love the aggression.  Yep, I love that there are still sports out there that tap into the primal human.  I love that kids, even at the age of 10, are either dedicated to the sport, or they lose interest.  It’s all in or out.  Maybe the first year you can coerce your kid to play.  But after that?  No way.  They have to be driven.  I love that they spend an hour to the minute on the ice, using up every precious second of coveted ice time.  I love that they skate non-stop, working skills the entire time.  I love that boys that play hockey are tough, and girls who play are super heroes.  I love that hockey is bad-ass.  I love that it’s an action packed sport with little stopping.  This is a serious sport!  I love that he picked hockey to be passionate about.  I’m sure hockey is one of those sports that can get out of hand.  Can teach over-aggression.  But I’m thinking it’s going to teach our kid a lot of positive things.  He’s not a type of kid who’s overly aggressive, or wild, or a jock even though he loves playing sports.  I think hockey’s going to teach him confidence, and assertiveness.

But what moves me the most isn’t hockey per say.  It’s that our son has a passion.  (Yes, I’m kind of gloating that he picked such a cool sport).  Even before I became a parent, I saw all around me kids that have passions.  It seemed like all kids have passions.  The weirder the more awesome.  Every kid is a geek about something, right?  Dinosaurs.  Soccer.  Battleships.  Tractors.  Heavy Equipment.  They grow older and fall into something they are driven at.  Then our kids started growing and I was so excited about this!  What would they pick!?  As years went by, I became a tiny bit saddened and frustrated that none of them picked anything.  As little ones, sure, they had phases where they liked John Deere, or kicking a ball.  But it never developed into anything.  They were somewhat interested in trying sports, they may have had a mediocre interest in it for a while.  Then would fade.  Nothing really grabbed any one of them.  I wasn’t looking for a child prodigy or genius in anything, but hoping for a kid who fell in love with something would be nice (even if it changed over time).  Watching #2 this year makes my heart swell.  Yes, he’s getting really good, which is fun and makes me proud to see.  But this year he’s put his whole heart into it.  He studies his team.  He listens.  He doesn’t get distracted.  He loves to practice.  He may never be the best guy skating out there but he’s got that drive to be.  He has passion and dedication and it’s combining with his growing skill level.  It’s a beautiful thing to see in a kid!  I’m hopeful that each of our children develop this.

Now, I know I’m not ever going to be a full-blown hockey parent, but I am warming up to the role (I think his other mother is going to be though!)  I’m not going to drag the family to every tournament in the middle of winter, across the state to play.  I probably won’t invest thousands in his gear.  (I’m too cheap for that)  I may never own a cow-bell or air-horn.  I may never be an “A Team” parent. But I’ll be at all the games I can be, and brag about my hockey guy, and looking forward to when the little boys are old enough to start.

I’m Gonna Love You Like I’m Gonna Lose You (11/15)

PictureMy person’s been gone for 12 days. I will see her in 44 hours. (But who’s counting?) It’s been painfully hard to be away from each other. We’re super magnets to each other. We can’t stay apart from one another. She’s a person I WANT to be with. Often. It’s painful to be apart.

She’s out of state right now for military training. I’m so proud of her for her service, her willingness to sacrifice. She takes even her part time job very seriously. She works crazy hard. She’s worked weekdays and weekends nonstop for several weeks at a time. I love listening to her describe what she’s learning. I don’t get it at all, or keep it all straight but it’s not because I’m not paying attention. I love listening anyway because she has passion in her voice. She is the kind of person that can sit in a class and find it interesting, intriguing, and she puts her full attention to it. Even when her class is pass/fail she tries to get the best class score. She’s driven, motivated, and always strives to be the best. She’s not just putting in her time. She’s giving it everything she has. (Who couldn’t love this!?)

Allow me to be mushy for a moment. I miss her like crazy. We text, call, snail mail, FaceTime. The benefits of living in this era are not lost on me! I cannot wait to see her. I can’t wait to meet her at the airport. I cannot wait to wrap my arms around her. She belongs with me.

I’ve been at home with the kids. To tell you the truth, I have it really easy. For the most part I have a lot of help. The dads definitely take the load off. I don’t miss her simply because I can’t handle the home life. I miss her. Just her presence. I miss talking to her, being near her. Having her hand there whenever I need to touch her. She’s my person that I don’t want to live without.

Being apart for a bit really drives home how important she is, how we know to cherish the times (much more often than not) that we are together. With her, I will never take her being next to me every night for granted. I will never wish to have my space. Never need to take a break.

There will come a time she may deploy. I’ve known this going in, and fully support her. It will be very hard. For both of us, for the family. But we’ll do it gladly. Because I want her to know that her goals, career, sacrifice and service are ours to share. Not to get through, or survive, or bear the burden. We’ll be all-in.

Ode to the Washing Maching (11-15)

This has been on my list of topics, but must put this out there today in honor of our trusty appliance.  The fridge went out today, and the dish washer is all backed up.  So, in order to appease the appliance gods, I should probably say a few kind words to the washing machine, lest it up and quit as well.
I used to be pretty good at poetry.  It’s been a few decades since I was all polished up, but I’ll give it a go:

Oh Washing Machine, Our Washing Machine
You’re the hardest working member of the family, I have to say
You’re running non-stop all night and all day
You clean all our underwear, clean all our jeans
The things you must deal with, the things you must clean!
You scrub all the bedsheets when little boys pee
You never complain about anything, it’s easy to see
You’ve washed 25,000 cloth diapers or more
You’ve dealt with the towels that mop up the floor
Whether it’s tutus or jerseys or grass-stained shorts
Or blankets kids used from building their forts
You try your hardest I have to think
I won’t even mention the pillows dyed pink
We go through detergent by cases of box
And all you require is to eat a few socks
You run and you run, at least 4 loads a day
You’re amazingly fit, I just have to say!
With zero complaining you’ve moved ‘cross the states
Stacked up or stacked down, neither position you hates
I hope you can see how much we adore you
So please don’t give up for the next decade or two!

Hope the washing machine feels appreciated today!  Go give your hardest working appliance some love!

Am I an Oxymoron? Living the Faith Part 1 (11-15)

PictureHere’s me. Apparently a rare species. A paradox. An oxymoron. There are some people that don’t think I can be both. There are others that don’t think I should be both. There are even others that don’t know me as both.

Obviously most of my friends and family now know that I am in love with and have chosen a life with another woman. Most of my friends and family also have known me as a Christian. What is probably unclear is whether I still am or if I have gone down a different path. I am gay. I am a Christian. I am both. I can be both without sacrificing the other. This is a hard concept for most if not all people. The 2 sides seem to be, on the surface, mutually exclusive according to both sides. They are either: I am a Christian and therefore living in sin and therefore cannot be a Christian, or I am gay, and cannot be a Christian because they don’t accept me and therefore all of Christianity’s beliefs must rejected.

This is a big, huge, lets-agree-to-disagree or let’s-spend-our-lives-fighting-about-it or I-can’t-speak-to-you-ever-again kind of topic. I am sure there will be many posts and parts, so I will try to break all the points out one at a time.

Can a person really be both? I have been accused of “turning away from the Faith”. At most, in the church, am accepted “in spite of” my sins. After all, living in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship is a given sin, even in the most of accepting and affirming people of faith. Or is it? What if we don’t agree on that first basic point? Frankly, I really have a hard time feeling guilty for loving one person, wholeheartedly committed, raising children with her, loving her with a love that is not only romantic but sacrificial as well, not unlike any other couple that is committed to one another.

I don’t have all the answers. I may eventually dabble in the theological argument (as I love to do on many topics). But this is about me. A person. A person that God loves. A person who’s chosen to believe that once God has me in His hands, He will never let go. I believe in grace. I believe in love. I believe in the Creator and God’s love and God being bigger than anything we can fathom. I believe that the Bible is a living document, created to be purposefully written for interpretation on grey areas, to expand with time, growth, and knowledge. I do know that God must love me an awful lot. I know that He has expanded my world, my family’s world to include exponentially more love, blown out of the water my idea of grace a hundredfold, and decimated my limited imagination of how He is capable of working. We limit God when we take it upon ourselves to decide what He deems acceptable.

I do believe that the point of the Gospel is quite clear: Christians are called to love their enemies, take care of the poor, and overcome evil with good. (It doesn’t read, “Love those who you disagree with but hate and argue with what they are doing”) The second greatest commandment, besides loving God, is to love others. The Gospel is almost completely focused on showing love to the poor and the oppressed. I feel bad when I read and write this because this is really where my shortcomings fall. I am not doing a great job at that. I am just as detracted as those who are arguing the political issues of gay rights and marriage and whether it’s a sin, and who’s right and how we should address things. I am detracted by just thinking about this and spending time and energy concerned with how to defend my faith. How much time I’ve spent making sure I’m good with the conclusions, that I’m at peace with who I am. I’ve spent more time dwelling on vocabulary and wording of civil unions or marriage than I have learning how to love the oppressed and fight for justice in a world that desperately needs that right now. This is where I’m failing my faith. No, my faith (or lack of practice sometimes) is nowhere near perfect, but it isn’t because of or depend on who I love.

Our (Mostly) Paleo Pantry-Guest Blog (11-15)

A guest blog post by my better half!

One of the things I gave very little thought to when I jumped into this relationship was how my diet would change. I mean, really, who thinks about that when they join lives? Plus, it’s different entering a new relationship more than a decade into adulthood. I got married relatively young. We grew up together. Our habits, the few we actually had, adjusted to one another. Mostly, we built a way of daily living that worked with the other.

With my partner, a few day-to-day habits had to be adjusted. Some are obvious and worthy of their own blog post: living with a woman, 5 kiddos instead of 1, new finances, a daily schedule bursting to accommodate new responsibilities, etc. The one the surprised me the most was a change to the way I eat. First, she does the grocery shopping. That had always been one of my tasks. I wasn’t sad to see it go. It was nice to have it off my to-do list. It was odd, though, not to have my go-to snacks in the home: a particular kind of granola bar, hummus, pretzel chips, cereal, toast, these brownie bars I loved, my energy drinks.

It was different with my partner. She eats (mostly) paleo so many of the items on my list would not make it into her pantry. In fact, I brought a loaf of bread home once when I was feeling ill. Kids 1 through 4 each commented on it and couldn’t believe their luck in having bread in the house. Recently, number 3 went out to eat with friends. She ordered a PB&J from a menu that included steak, burgers, and the like. She couldn’t have been happier and left our friend scratching her head.

The paleo thing wasn’t a new concept. My ex-husband had moved to a primarily paleo diet about three years before, so I was familiar with the concept. I enjoyed the meals he made, but always supplemented my dinner plate with a piece of bread or a big roll. I used the bread to fill my plate and my gut. And, I had refused to give up my favorite late night snack: a bowl of sugary cereal.

About two weeks into my new living arrangement I noticed something: I was famished! I remember telling her that I was having a difficult time making it through the day without feeling hungry and weak. She was hurt by the news and asked what kinds of things she could add to the grocery list to rectify the situation. I didn’t want to compromise her hard work with eliminating grains from the household, so I asked for a few concessions: my granola bars, a certain kind of apple, granola instead of cereal, and hummus. In return, she taught me to snack in a healthier way. I find that I eat even more often than I did before, because I’m munching on grapes, carrots, strips of fresh pepper, avocado, cheese, kale chips, and almonds.

It’s been 10 months now. You know what? I feel better. I can tell when I’ve eaten a bunch of gluten. It makes me feel sluggish. I still splurge every once in a while, because you know- eating is rarely linked to strong logic. Nettie laughs when I order pumpkin bread from Starbucks minutes after I rant about how she’s ruined me for gluten and how ordering pizza for dinner would be inappropriate.

The only real complaint I have these days about the way we eat is how difficult it is to do on the road. It takes creativity to stick to the no- grains rule when eating out. I have a spotty record, too. During a recent drill weekend, I ordered a chicken sandwich and ate it without the bun. I was literally holding a piece of chicken, tomato, bacon, lettuce, and mayo in my bare hands. It took extreme concentration to spare my ABU top from splatter. My hands were slick with mayo and chicken juice and I attracted quite a few glances. Paleo is messy!

One of the best parts of this adjustment is the quality of food. My partner’s a fantastic cook. Between her and the ex (he always cooked more than me), our family eats well. They dream up some lavish meals to serve mid-week and I pitch in on the weekends. I marvel at my guacamole-making skills (and talk the others into complimenting it- “best guacamole on the block”) and wow the kids with my paleo-divergent desserts.

So Who’s The Guy? (11-15)

This is a co-authored blog that we’ve wanted to do for a while now. Happy Thanksgiving!

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J: This is a question that we’ve been asked more than once. Who has asked? Friends, family, and strangers we’ve met. Surprised? So were we! Here are the possible answers: A) She is, B) I am, C) neither of us is, D) both of us are, E) who really cares. My answer? A combination of C and E. Although, it can’t just be E, or else we wouldn’t be writing on the subject. Truth be told, we’ve gotten a lot of entertainment out of the subject in our home.

S: I suppose we all have preconceived ideas of couples. I know I’ve seen a same sex couple on more than a few occasions and have labeled one of them the more masculine or feminine one. I think it’s a normal idea, but once you really think about it, it isn’t really the case. We are all used to gender roles and can identify masculine or effeminate traits in men and women. But when it becomes personal, one has a way of broadening their worldviews and understanding it’s always more complex than it first appears.

J: Remember when I first moved in? One of the boys, #2 I think, asked if I was going to be the guy or if you would. And, when we first talked with the kids about getting married someday, they wondered how that could happen if there wasn’t a guy to propose. When you told them that you might be the one to propose, they asked if that would make you the guy. Later we were talking with friends about this subject and one told us that her favorite response to this question was: “There is no guy and that’s kind of the point.” I like that response but I’ve never been brave enough to actually use it.

S: So, who IS the guy? I guess even we feel a need to get this straightened out (no pun intended). I’d have to say you, sweetie. You’ve got the short hair, the military career, super strong arms. You work outside the home. Play more sports. You were a tomboy growing up, right? Let’s see…you’re kinda competitive and like wearing long shorts. 😉

J: Hey! I’ll counter that. I’m pretty sure it’s you. My evidence? When you were a little girl, you wanted to be a football player when you grew up. You wore boy clothes handed down from the neighbors. When we fight? You’re the logical one. You fix things around the house, mow the lawn, change the oil in the cars, wear flannel shirts, and expect me to pick up after you. I mean, I have taught you how to be neat and tidy.

S: Whoa whoa whoa! Who does all your laundry, unpacks your suitcase, and washes your dishes?!! Who has to get the ink stains out of your uniform when you forget to take the pen out of your pocket?

(Insert break for a small tiff)

J: Okay, okay. I changed my mind. You’ve just proven that you ARE the woman. Besides picking fights, you take care of the children, do the bulk of the cooking, take care of our home, grocery shop, pay the bills, get up in the middle of the night when the children need something, and nurture our family. Sometimes you even cry when it doesn’t make a lot of sense to cry. I guess you are wonderfully woman. But, what does that make me?

S: Maybe, you might be the woman. I’m pretty sure you pick the fights, dear. You do take forever to get ready every morning, and spend a lot of time on your hair. You like to get manicures, fru-fru drinks, and oh, ya! You own so many shoes. And clothes! I remember when you moved in. I had to clean out our only storage closet for your own personal walk-in closet. You keep pulling out never-before-seen outfits! I don’t know where you are keeping them!

J: You’re right. I think you’ve benefited greatly from these things, though. I mean, I’ve drastically expanded your wardrobe. You can’t wear my shirt while you rant about how many clothes I have. Right?? How about this? Can we agree that we are both women and that really, at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter? I love you, you love me. I love the serious parts, the ridiculous parts, the fun parts, the girly parts and everything in between.

S: Ditto, sweeets. I think the best part is how we don’t have to stick to gender roles all the time. I love taking care of you but also love when you cook breakfast on the weekends and bring me coffee. I love fixing things and changing the oil but love that you start my car for me in the winter. It’s nice not to have to have a specific wardrobe. I can wear a dress, jeans, flannels, or skirts any time. I think we are both surprised that I’m usually the “big” spoon, but not always! But it can and often does switch around depending on what the other person needs. There’s no “This is clearly a guy job”. We have to split these jobs equally.

J: I LOVE that too! I love that I can buy you flowers and be surprised when you send some to me at work. I love that I can be comforted by you and do the comforting. It’s freeing really. It doesn’t have to be one way.

Our challenge to our readers? Appreciate all the unique qualities of the important people in your lives. Who cares about stereotypical gender roles? Break out. Be who you are.

The Treehouse Project (11-15)

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What happens when you have 5 kids that have been begging for a treehouse and 2 dads that happen to be engineers?  A.  Very. Big. Project.  Let me tell you about The Treehouse.

It’s hard to ignore a 3 year old’s nightly pleas, big blue eyes, and “I found daddy’s safety glasses for when he builds my treehouse.”  They tried for a few months, but finally caved.  It’s big.  It’s going to be deluxe.  It attracts on-lookers every day.  Walking by it you can’t help but look up.  Way, way, up.  Because a normal sized, normal height treehouse just won’t do.  It’s a mathematical, engineering wonder.  Or will be!  As soon as the dads have a few days that they both actually have off together.  (Or, to be fair, when we haven’t begged them to help with a million other projects)

The treehouse has gone up bit by bit.  I think they started with some semblance of an idea, but nothing written down.  One dad (Dad #1) builds for a time, while the other one is out on business.  Then while he’s off to work, the other (Dad #2) may put in a few hours.  They spend most of their time figuring out where the other one was going with the building.  This looks like:

  •  “Hmm, I’m not sure where he was going with this, I guess I’ll have to cut down this branch to get it to fit.”
  • Dad #2, sitting in the grass, head in hands, “I just need him for an hour.  Just an hour.  Why!?!  Why can’t he be here with me!”
  • “Pretty sure we discussed the next step, but it’s cool.  We’ll just change that wall.  At least he’s a whiz at figuring angles.”

They are pretty adept at altering the original plan based on the previous work.  This treehouse is being built one idea at a time.
I’m giving them crap cuz I love em.  🙂

Dad #1 is a “get ‘er done” kind of guy.  The other is a perfectionist maximus.  He’s also spent much of his work life on projects where safety comes first, second, third, and may prevent a project from ever getting done.  This kind of meeting of minds is sometimes good, sometimes bad.  Luckily they are both so laid back they just roll with each other.  The get-er-done dad was happy that the safety officer would be away for a bit so he could actually move forward with the project.  It was a beautiful day, and he had the older boys helping.  Kid #1 came in the house and said this dad may need help, he may be hurt, we should probably go see.  We came flying out of the house.  Dad #1 was casually kneeling in the grass by the frame he was building.  He casually mentioned to us that he accidentally nailed his finger flush to the frame with the nailer and could we please go find a Sawzall in the shed?  He was going to just cut the nail so to free himself.  After he pounded the nail back out a bit to fit the blade, of course.  He was so casual about it, a neighbor walked by, and, not wanting to alarm this poor soul, he just waved and pretended he was busy working!

It took us several trips to the shed, back and forth, to find said tool.  Then the blade was wrong.  Then we didn’t know how to change the blade.  Dad #1 walked us through step by step.  All while nailed to a frame.  At one point he decided it may be easier to call an engine, and of course, did that himself too.  We finally got the saw ready and he cut himself free, and canceled the engine.

There are many lessons here:

  • Make sure your tool shed is organized in case you need to saw yourself free at any time.
  • Be careful assigning 2 engineering dads a project like a treehouse.
  • Safety precautions, while a big pain in the butt, can occasionally save you time.  And pain.  And several thousand dollars in the ER to remove a nail.
  • And miracles do happen.  Can you believe the nail didn’t hit a bone or tendon?
  • It’s good to have a plan sometimes

The safety engineer did get many gloating opportunities out of this (“Hey, you in charge of the safety moment at work tomorrow?”) but the get-er-done guy is still ahead as far as work productivity.  Sure, we had to change our front yard “Zero work days lost” sign.

Now, the snow is flying and life has come indoors.  Will the treehouse be finished?  Stay tuned!  I’m sure there will be more to this story.


Happy DADT Repeal Day!

Happy DADT Repeal day to my amazing wife!  I love you and I’m so proud of your service!

Six years ago, the military rescinded the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.  Six years ago, I didn’t really notice.  I was busy with my young kids ages 8, 6, and 3, pregnant with #4.  It was not on my radar.  If you had asked me then what DADT policy even was, I would have given you a vague answer.  Something to the effect of, “Sounds reasonable to me.  Just don’t talk about it.  It’s nobody’s business.”  I was studying midwifery, helping women in labor as a doula, a certified breastfeeding counselor, and opening a shop downtown.  This policy, and the rescinding of it, certainly had no bearing on my life.  My future wife was married as well, buckling down in her civilian career, and had recently been selected for an officer position with the Air National Guard.  I’m embarrassed to say I only took its meaning at face value:  Sexual orientation just doesn’t need to be talked about.  Don’t tell us, we won’t ask, and everyone gets along.  I had no idea that it still meant that if you were outed, you could still be discharged if someone found out and didn’t like it.  Perhaps the majority of Americans felt the same way.  After all, a very low percentage of Americans are in the military.  Little did I know that 6 years ago this decision to rescind DADT would have a huge impact on my life!

Three years ago I fell in love with my best friend and my life changed in every respect.  Today I enjoy and live life freely in the open, proudly married to my Air National Guard wife.  She is free to be open about her private life in her job.  We frequently discuss how amazingly different we are living as a couple, compared to just a decade ago.  When she came out 2.5 years ago, she determined she would be up front and open.  She freely mentions that she has a wife, and talks about her family.  She has not once received even a strange look, let alone anything negative.  No one really batted an eye.  I think that in part it’s because she’s been determined to be open and free about it.  But, in large part it’s because of these decisions at the highest levels that have paved the way to our family feeling welcome in the military, not to mention her being able to give her best and her all for our country without fear of someone deciding to out her.

These policies aren’t on our radar until they become personal.  Once they are, they become invaluable and life-altering.  I can’t imagine how our lives would look had this policy stayed in place.  I love being able to talk about her, and she about me.  Each time she goes TDY she comes out to new military people around her.  She happily takes me to the family picnics, the Governor’s Ball, the awards banquets, the Christmas parties, and we host get-togethers at our house.  Our children enjoy health insurance benefits.  They can also talk about their other mom without feeling guarded.  My military ID has her listed as my spouse, and I love being able to meet her at work for lunch.  I love that we can walk down the street in our town holding hands and without being afraid that her job might be in jeopardy.  Just as DADT ending has been a blessing for us, I can’t help but feel for those individuals living in fear that the ban on trans members serving openly in the military may be reinstated.  It’s not important until it’s personal, and I hope that we can move past the misinformation and let these people, who are fully qualified and willing to serve, give their best for our country, just as my wife has been able to do.

So today we celebrate DADT ending because it has paved the way to our family living a full, enriched, blessed life of love.  And after all, LOVE WINS.      img_5341.jpg

My Environmental Rant

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My family of treehuggers

The only thing I’ve found humorous the past few weeks on social media, besides getting a break from president craziness and the hurricanes, is the occasional post about the causes behind the severe weather we’ve been experiencing lately.  Between the hurricanes and flooding and forest fires, seems like many are quick to jump backward in time to the pre-modern era and discover some superstitious reason behind it all.  Whether it’s God punishing us for accepting same-sex marriages or God punishing our country for electing Trump, it’s all quite humorous, I must say.  I love the idea of a vengeful god as much as the next guy, and enjoy picturing that the only reason behind natural disaster is an angry god.  Surely, there can be no other explanation.  I love modern folks happily skipping along each day, sitting behind their computer, their wi-fi, their voice activated controlled world, driving their almost-self-driving cars, and, upon seeing natural disaster, go right to, “The gods must be angry!”  Now, I’m a Christian, and I believe in God, and believe he has omnipotent powers.  However, there MAY be another reason behind natural disasters.  There are the obvious ones, like, say, weather.  But there actually may be a more direct cause, and while it may not be caused by God being angry at human behavior, it may just be actually HUMAN BEHAVIOR.

Severe weather may not be shocking at all, it may be the consequence of us raping our planet and not keeping in place the safety nets the environment needs in order to “behave” the way we need it to, if you will.  I won’t go in to great detail, because it took me 4 years of college to learn it all, but the ecosystem is apparently fairly fragile and we haven’t cared at all, until we get devastated by the consequences of our actions.  No, not that we’ve sinned and we are now being punished kind of consequence, although if you want to keep that mindset you just need to refocus where our sin is (gluttony and disregard for Creation would be good starting places).  We are dealing with the natural consequences of not managing grasslands, forests, and wetlands.  For example, if overgrazing hadn’t led to grasslands disappearing and then poor forest management hadn’t led to forests with too much fuel as well as inviting invasive species like the pine beetle to kill off our pine trees, we wouldn’t be dealing with devastating fires.  If we hadn’t destroyed 99% of wetlands, which act as water sinks when flooding occurs, other places wouldn’t be experiencing flooding.  We all learned in 8th grade social studies that the Dust Bowl of the 20s and 30s were in fact caused by poor farming practices, and not angry weather gods.  I’m not sure there is any dispute over the cause of this, nearly 100 years later.  It’s pretty cut and dried.

Again, it took me 4 years in college to learn a lot of this but it’s really simple science.  People can affect the environment around them.  In little ways and big ways.  It’s not a political belief but an actual, real live fact.  You can see it in your own backyard if you plant flowers, have sod, or leave it bare.  You can plant flowers that attract butterflies.  You can fertilize your garden and it grows better.  You can spray herbicides and things die.  You can cut down the tree in your yard that’s shading your house and know that your house will be hotter in the summertime without it.  I didn’t even go to a crazy liberal college to learn all this.  I was taught this at a very conservative, very Christian college by Christian professors who taught me I can be both a Christian and a scientist.  I could learn about scientific fact and sort it out from opinion.  I also learned that my primary job was to be a steward to the earth.

I’ve notice that it’s often Christians who are the ones to be thinking that God uses weather to show us the error of his ways and yet the same group is the most likely to deny the obvious:  That people affect their environment in mostly detrimental ways.  And maybe God IS using the weather to show us his disappointment but it’s not because he’s protesting gays or our last election or abortions.  He may be using natural consequences to show us we aren’t doing a good job taking care of His creation.  And not in a “I’ll show them!” kind of way, but in a “when you kill off predators and let deer overpopulate this kind of thing tends to happen and I’m not going to stop it” sort of way.

I’ve mellowed (read: I’ve gotten super lazy about it since having kids it’s gone on the back burner but I’m slowly trying to reignite that flame because that’s no excuse) in my environmentalism in the past decade but it’s always been an issue that speaks to my heart since I was a child.  It’s one of the clearer issues as a human I’ve had to deal with.  And, as a Christian, it’s always been crystal clear as a mandate from our Creator.  Even as a child, one of the biggest disconnects I’ve ever seen with the church and its people is its inability and blatant disregard for the earth.  I often felt like the only Christian who saw the connection between the Earth and the Creator.  Was I missing something?  Today, 30 years later, it hasn’t changed much.  How are these things even related?  I shake my head even more as an adult.  One of the FIRST things in the Bible is the story of how man was put on the earth to tend it.  Man was given a mandate to care for creation, take care of the animals, and exhibit our creator-like tendencies to care.  So many Christians believe this actually means that we should dominate and conquer the earth and do what we want to it.  I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a fellow farmer-at-the-time about caring for God’s Creation.  He spoke, unfortunately, as many people believe.  He said, God will provide a new earth one day, so it’s fruitless to care for this one because God promised something better.  Worrying about the environment is a waste of time because of the sin of man.  You just can’t fight it.  I was so blown away.  How can it be?

The President wants to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement.  To me, the environment is a perfect example of how the theory that “every man (country) for himself” is flawed.  The environment isn’t isolated.  Our air, our water, our land are not separate entities unto each square mile of the earth.  The attitude we exhibit when we pull away from the rest of the world is indicative of pure, selfish, evil.  There cannot be an attitude of “Me first, at the cost of the rest of you.”  Not with the environment, our country, or our future.  I think I can fathom the attitude and reasons behind this, and it just doesn’t match up with the group of people that push for it.  I get that I am generalizing here, and if you are not part of that group don’t take offense, but please take up protest and grassroots efforts instead!  In what other example would a group that claims to care be able to push this attitude?  I think mostly of what we want to teach our children.  Would anyone agree that we should sit them down and say, “hey, Billy, if you want to get ahead, take the shortcut!  Don’t worry about anyone else but yourself, and if you see other people take shortcuts you should think, hey, I should be too!  Why should I do things the right way?”

Since when is not leaving a mess to our kids a political, partisan opinion?  I thought that’s what we all wanted?

I’ve seen articles complaining that The Paris Agreement “isn’t fair!” because the US agreed to be more strict than other countries who haven’t caught up yet.  I read this and I can only picture a spoiled, fat, ugly brat of a toddler, stomping his feet at the perceived injustice in his limited world.  I’ve seen people take to social media proclaiming that we should all just recycle more and do our part and that’s all we need to worry about.  Hmmm…I agree with we all should do our part, but it’s a very skewed view of what makes up pollution, degradation of our soils, our oceans, our air and our water.  Industrial controls and regulations are the ONLY reason we wake up to clean air, our lakes AREN’T ON FIRE anymore, and we (for the most part-sorry Detroit Michigan) have access to clean drinking water EVERY DAY OF OUR PRIVILEGED LIVES.  We can all and should all do more, recycle more, use less, shop environmentally, buy Prius’, and walk to work.  That would be great, but the largest percentage of impact falls mostly to industry.  The people that are willing and able to put their money where their mouths are cannot make up the difference.

All environmental “facts” aside (double tongue in cheek my friends), as Christians we are called to care for creation, lead by example, and care for everyone, including the poor, widowed, and orphans.  As one of the wealthiest populations on earth, pretty much everyone else falls into the “poor” category.  We are mandated to care for them.  At least let’s not make them suck our smog on the way to extreme wealth and greed and gluttony.  Even if, and please know I’m only saying this for the sake of argument, there were ANY doubt that humans can impact the earth (I can barely type that hypothesis without laughing in pure dismay), I feel as though we are called to err on the side of, “let’s take super good care of the earth just in case”.  Or, “let’s take care of something that God created because it’s the right thing to do.”

I know I’m ranting, but I am not interested in raising our children in a world where we are taught to put ourselves first and others last.  The funny thing is, we are only hurting ourselves when the natural consequence is natural disasters in our own country.  If we could only stop and think through our actions, perhaps we would see that not only is this selfish, but not even self-promoting in the end.  Clean air and water is far from a political opinion.  There are facts, and there are things we can do to change the environment around us.

I have no conclusion to this, no idea how to take those next steps except to pause and decide what I am doing to contribute to the problem and the solution.  Which am I part of?  What can I change?  What can I talk to our kids about?  But maybe the first step is to call a spade a spade.