Sunday, June 29, 2008


I was just looking at the new secrets and they have a video link at the bottom. After I watched the link, I saw other little ones pop up. And I watched. After seeing more secrets, I saw a lot of memorials. Most were for grownups.

One was for a baby who was born sick and passed away. There was a picture of him in a Moses basket, dressed in his burial clothes, with his momma weeping off to one side. I can feel her pain radiating off the page. Her face is crumpled and her anguish is palpable.

My heart aches for you, that sweet baby's momma, wherever you are.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Gift of Fear

Below is a post written on a board I frequent, by an internet friend of mine. These are her thoughts and I thought they bore repeating. See, a second internet friend (let's call her Susie) was harassed and assaulted by a pervert (let's call him Jim) and filed a report against him.

M.T. wrote a wonderful, thoughtful, caring response:


"I studied and taught self-defense for several years, and what you described was a near-textbook example of an aggressor spending a period of time "checking out" and "sizing up" a potential victim. You should not feel guilty about one single thing you did during the encounters, nor feel that you did anything "wrong," but I wanted to tell you a little bit about this so that you can think about it for possible use in future scary situations. Apologies for the length of the post -- I guess this stuff takes up a large space in my brain!

Okay, first off, when Jim kept coming into the store, that icky feeling you eventually got was your gut instinct -- your very body -- trying to protect you by telling you that something was wrong. Your gut instinct is your most powerful ally in a situation like this. Don't ever feel guilty that you didn't "feel funny" sooner or realize something was weird, but as soon as you do get that funny gut feeling, you have the right to act on it, and it's wise to do so.

So Jim kept coming into the store, testing you out, needling you a little, determining how much you'd 'go along' with him, which amounts to how much a risk it was going to be to him to mess with you. Because you were frightened (as anyone would be) and this made you relatively submissive, he apparently determined that you would be an easy mark. (This didn't turn out to be entirely true, btw, because you wouldn't tell him where you lived, you eventually pushed him away and yelled at him, and you have sought resources to help you now and have alerted the police! Yay, you!)

In the future, something you might do when you feel that queasy feeling of, "uh-oh, I can't tell if this person is okay or not, and he's making me feel a little scared, and is he checking me out...?" is called Setting A Boundary. Setting a boundary allows you to be really clear and know exactly what's going on, so you can decide what to do next. You can set a boundary without being really accusatory or escalating the situation. You can even acknowledge that maybe the person is a nice guy and you're just misunderstanding stuff. You simply state clearly what you want, you don't answer questions or get into discussions -- just repeat clearly what you want and see how the guy reacts. This will give you information about him and help you plan what to do next.

So, you could say something like:"Um, I know you're a nice guy and you probably don't mean anything by it, Jim, but I'm not comfortable with the way you're talking to me and hanging around in here. You've made your purchase and I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."(Note: While you are saying this, make yourself look physically strong. Stand on two feet. Don't cross your arms across your chest or try to hide your body or diminish yourself or look smaller. Let your arms hang at your sides or put them on your hips. Make eye contact. Stand like somebody who's proud of herself and ready to stand up for herself. This is actually a visual boundary -- subtle, no?)

Okay. You just set a boundary. Now let's see how Jim reacts. 1. He might say, "Oh, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. You're just real cute. I'll leave." This actually happened one time with a strange guy who I asked very brusquely to stop staring at me. He apologized and left! Okay, the fact that he respected my boundary tells me that maybe he was kind of a nice guy who just needed to stop staring at me. Fine. Great. Whatever. 2. He might say, "Oh, man, you think I'm hitting on your or something? Wow, you really think you're hot stuff, huh?" Okay, he is sneering at your boundary and this tells you he's not a particularly nice guy, is he? However, maybe he just feels insulted, so you don't escalate things, you just repeat yourself. "No, I'm just not comfortable with you being in here and I want you to leave."

In this scenario, if he just stands there and kind of argues with you like a dumbass, don't get into it with him. Don't answer questions or argue back with him; that leaves him with the power of controlling the interaction. Just say, "I'm not comfortable telling you that. I want you to leave." If, eventually, he does leave, then breathe a sigh of relief and start preparing your plan for getting the owners to keep him out of the store, or working with a co-worker, or whatever's going to help you be safe in the future. If he doesn't leave, you can threaten to take the next step. Example: "I want you to leave. If you don't, I will call the police."

3. The third possibility is, he might escalate. Coming over and grabbing you like he did was a dangerous, scary, EXTREME breach of your physical boundaries and may well have been the initial stages of a serious sexual assault; that is how you should interpret it. In that situation, you escalate right back. You scream "GET OUT OF HERE! GET AWAY FROM ME!" You scream for help. You run out of the store (for your responsibility is for your own safety, not guarding the store owner's liquor, and I'm sure he would agree). Don't worry about looking weird. People will not think you're weird or stupid --they will look at Jim like the criminal he is. Don't worry about going a little bit batshit if you need to. When he escalates to physical assault as he did, it is time to react.

It's great that you lost it and screamed at him -- maybe consider doing this earlier next time and also, instead of yelling something that doesn't tell him clearly what you want (like "I have a boyfriend!") keep screaming "GET AWAY FROM ME! GET AWAY FROM ME!" and basically keep it up until he's out. Be a broken record that doesn't swerve from the message: GET OUT! Just get a little louder if you have to! Demonstrate that you are not a meek little kitten he can dominate easily. Have a little tantrum. Call the's their job to come help out scared people. Whatever you need to do to show him that you are not the easy prey he has been sizing you up to be. Women who fight back, even in small ways, are statistically likely to be successful.

I'm 34 now, and have had a few occasions to use this boundary-setting, and it has really worked for those situations where I was a little bit uneasy or scared and felt like somebody was 'checking me out.' Once was in a French bar, and a drunk guy wanted me to dance with him. I protested politely a few times, but when he ignored my boundary, grabbed my arm and rubbed against me, I promptly screamed "GET AWAY FROM ME! LEAVE ME ALONE!" in my most batshit manner. Did people think I was weird? No. There was a chorus of "don't mess with the ladies, man," and they immediately threw him out on his ass in the snow, while I went back to my drink. Granted, there were people around, so that wasn't as scary as what you experienced, but the principle is still the same.

We are subtly trained as girls and women not to be loud, not to be rude, not to make a scene. It's very powerful to demonstrate that you are a woman who will. Lastly, a few things that might make you feel safer about the whole thing now: 1. Know that alerting the police gives you more protection from Jim, not less. Creeps like him capitalize on the fact that women might be afraid of reporting them, afraid of fighting back, etc. If he has it in his mind to harm you, then he has it in his mind to harm you, and that does not depend on whether you report him or not. Reporting him is an assertion that you are not a good victim. It is just as likely that he'll be scared to death to come near you now as it is that he'll try to 'retaliate.'

2. Take a good self-defense class, preferably a reputable one that doesn't purport to 'rape-proof' you, and one that spends time on assertiveness and psychological self-defense, rather than simply hammering in a couple of 'fool-proof' physical techniques. (The physical techniques are great, but the first and best defense is your brain, and classes that overlook that aspect are just shoddy). Look for an instructor who is interested in empowering and encouraging women, not some macho goofball who wants to remind you of how weak you are and how much you need this class because otherwise you'll never stand a chance against a Big Strong Man.

3. Is there somewhere else you could stay for a while, or someone else who could stay with you, to make you feel safer about living so near Jim? 4. Do you really feel comfortable working at the store right now? If not, tell the owner and he should understand. 5. Would it make you feel better to beef up the security around your home a bit? 6. Visualize what you might do and how you might react to take care of yourself if you run into Jim again. This isn't paranoid -- it's good planning. 7. Congratulate yourself for making it through a scary, scary encounter and visualize what you might do in the future in similar situations. Good luck, and many, many hugs to you. It sucks that so many women have to deal with freaks like this at some point during our lives."


Now another member of the board had the great idea to put M.T.'s post on her blog to spread the awareness of how a woman can protect herself. My blog post's title refers to the same-titled book. This book came up in the thread as something all ladies should read. I have to go get it so I can read it, but I was told that it talks about listening to your gut instinct can keep you safe. Basically we (womena *and* men) have fear and self-preservation instilled in us, and should "go with our gut" you know?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

No sleep

I was talking to Steve earlier and I told him how I don't sleep when he is gone. This usually lasts for about a week until exhaustion kicks in and then I sleep like a normal person. Well he hasn't been gone a week yet, so I'm up.

I made bread today, so I don't have to buy any at the store tomorrow when I go for milk. I have been buying bread lately but it goes to waste because we haven't been using it as much during the school year. The kids had been buying lunch. Over the summer we are likely to use more bread for sandwiches at lunch but not too soon. My kids are off to my mom's house on Friday for two weeks. So I just made a little loaf. It should do fine.

I also made 2 small chocolate cheesecake balls, covered in pecans, to be eaten with graham crackers. Or a spoon, whatever. I will share with the neighbor, which is why I made 2 small balls instead of the one enormous ball that the recipe made.

I don't know if I mentioned that I have been planning and cookingmeals that use what I have on hand to empty the fridge, freezer and cupboards? Well, I am. But that's about the only moving prep I have gotten done. I have been trying to maintain the house, entertain my kids (impossible) and take care of the baby, and also, I've been sick since Monday afternoon. Ugh. I
think I am on the mend, but who knows what tomorrow brings? Hopefully, it will bring a better-feeling me.

I found the second phone, which was hiding for two days. Katie painted my toenails and I painted hers. I tried to paint the baby's but she has the tiniest toes. Katie also asked me what sperm was? Only she saw it on Dirty Jobs when the host worked on an Alaskan fishing boat. He held up a wad of something that the deckhands informed him was fish sperm. Ugh.

The vocabulary lessons at my house are always fun. Previously, Jonathan asked me what a slut was, since he'd heard the kids on his bus say it. I have had to be his dictionary for many words heard on the damn bus. So he came to me and asked what a tramp was? So I told him a tramp was like a slut. He looked at me, bewildered, and asked about the Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp! Duh to me!

So I had to tell him that for a woman, a tramp is a slut, but in the Disney title, it refers to a male character who also runs the streets, is kinda homeless and like a hobo. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


My stomach hurts. It has been bothering me for two and a half days. My guts are griping. I remember when I was sick in February and April, I drank pomegranate tea by the boxful. I first got hooked on it at a local tea place where Katie had a tea party birthday last November. So my thoughts turn to tea and I remember that when Meghan moved, her packers wouldn't pack anything open and she had an open box of pomegranate tea. She gave it to me before she left.

I race to heat up water, and inhale the scent of the tea. Lovely. I get out the sugar bowl. It is hard to get the perfect balance of sugar. Too little and it is a tad bitter. Too much and it's hot sugar water that overwhelms the pom flavor. Ugh, I almost screw it up, but it is salvageable. Only slightly too sweet. I can still taste the tea. I sip. It is the perfect temperature. I hope it soothes my stomach. I drink more, and miss my friend. She gave me the box of tea, and she and her daughter Zoe came to Katie's tea party where we had the pom tea in the first place. I drank the better part of two pots of the stuff. I guzzled it, briefly sharing with the rest of them. It was *that* good.

Meghan called tonight and we caught each other up on bits of news until my phone started beeping low battery. At least I got an hour to talk to her.

I came back in the living room to blog about tea and notice that the dogs (sleeping peacefully alongside me on the couch until I got up to make tea,) have taken the tea prep time to chew up a few crayons on my freshly vaccuumed floor. Crazy weiner dogs.

Time to pump. Another cup of tea, and then maybe some sleep.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bad, bad dogs!

I caught my dogs eating out of the trash can. I had put some leftovers in, and made the rounds of the house to gather all the trash before taking it all out. Tomorrow's trash day, see. Then I was vaccuuming the hall and when I turned around, I saw two weiner dogs on their hind legs, chowing down on leftover garlic-basil chicken. Bad dogs! So they had to go into their crate. Thought you'd want to know.

I've washed the dishes, rounded up laundry and trash, maintained the living room and bathroom, and of course, vaccuumed the hall. Now it's off to feed the baby. Dinner will be "clean random food out of the freezer." Since Steve isn't home tonight, I don't have to cook.

Later tonight I will do some moving prep, which will involve sorting random crap into piles of toss, donate and keep. All in time for trash collection tomorrow. Whee!

Anyone need a rectangular 4 seater table, honey colored wood top and white scrolled metal legs? Or an almost-never-used, heavy, recumbent style exercise bike? Or a big clunker of a TV? It works fine, it just is big. It's not one of those flat screened, light models. $20 each. Come and get 'em.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So busy. So tired.

So today was therapy day. I woke up and my whole day was geared toward taking the baby to therapy. It is an all-day process. It starts at 12:30 but we have to be there no later than 12:15 because she needs to eat before her session starts. We live half an hour away so we have to leave absolutely no later than 11:45, but closer to 11:30 for wiggle room. The baby normally has a morning nap til about noon so I have to wake her early and dress her and get her ready to go, etc.

So the whole day revolves around her physical therapy. It is no big deal when the kids are in school, except now they're out. So I take them to the therapy center and they crawl over the room like ants, inspecting every corner and plaything in there. They weren't bad,jus tnoisy and curious. They didn't seem to bother the therapist. Stephie worked hard and came home tired.

But when we came home I felt like I had to do ten things all needing my attention at once. First, the baby drank her milk at the center but needed a jar of food. She snarfed it in 5 minutes and I had to put her down. I was hungry but I also needed to pump so I could refill by the time she needs to eat again at 4. Then I got to sit down and eat for a minute. I have a headache.

While I was pumping, I asked the kids to pick up the living room. It wasn't enough that I asked them to pick up the living room, I also had to go item by item. Put *this* away, put *that* away. Drives me nuts because they will be 12 and 8 and they have been cleaning the house for a while. They know what to do but I have to be a helicopter and physically make them do it.

I read somewhere that kids do that, but I thought it was when they were closer to being teenagers? I know Jonathan is close, but still. I remember reading two things on the subject. One said that you cannot just tell a kid to clean their room, they must be told specifically what to do, line by line, otherwise they will do the minimum required. It may be easier and faster to do it for them, but to teach the kids to be responsible, they must do it.

The second thing was where a mom had a few kids close in age and they had to take turns cleaning the kitchen, and she listed on a piece of paper exactly what they were supposed to do, down to "throw the dishwasher tablet wrapper in the trash" because she apparently had given birth to the Loophole Gang. Any excuse to do the minimum.

So while I was drill sergeanting my kids, I also thought about what else still needed to be done. Wash dishes, maintain the bathroom, maintain the entryway and sort through the basket of house stuff I cleaned out of the car, vaccuum the living room & clear off the coffee table, clean off the bar again even though I did it 2 days ago, and make dinner, of course. Then, repeat washing dishes...

It never ends. Well rather than jump right on the dishes, I decided to sit down and unload my brain onto the blog. I cannot believe it is 4PM now and I have to feed the baby again! Time flies when you're mentally reviewing your to-do list.

Feed baby, make dinner, wash all dishes rather than washing them twice, do a dirty laundry round up, vaccuum living room and hall, clear coffee table and bar, plan tomorrow's dinner, sort the basket of car stuff, bathe the baby and get the kids' evening routine going. Ugh. Between 4 and 8:30 is my busiest time. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One more thing

I know I said I needed to pump but I also said every time I have a topic I have no time. So the pumping can wait.

I went and saw the Sex and the City movie even though I have never seen the show. Me, Meghan and Paulette went out to eat, had a Cosmo and saw the movie. I liked it. The show had never interested me before, but it was on today and I caught it. It was nice, brainless TV. Meaning I didn't have to invest myself in it and pay close attention.

I was a bit confused because I saw Carrie with two different men and in the movie she was just with one of them, and also Charlotte appears to be married to someone else. I guess they used a different actor? I don't know. But in the show Charlotte discovers she is infertile just as Miranda discovers she is pregnant. That part of the show hooked me right in and I felt a pang. It has been hanging around all day. I told Steve that I felt out of sorts and didn't know quite why. I felt restless.

Then I noticed that there are pregnancy test commercials every ten minutes and it was irking me. I was reading something online and it put me in tears for no real reason other than it was pregnancy-related. I don't know. We are done having babies. Or at least, Steve is. I wouldn't mind another baby in a few years. But Steve is done and he says that when I am sad over the "no more babies" thing it makes him feel like an asshole. Like I set out out make him feel that way? Let me squash up my sadness into a box and shove it into my mental attic, for his ease and comfort. *insert eyeroll here*

I don't know. I am just looking at, say, 15 years of fertility to avoid. And my body does not tolerate hormones. And I would like another baby. The prospect of moving got me all excited and put this on the back burner for a little while but it is creeping back, and so is the sadness. I don't know how to make it go away. I do my daily activities, I clean, I cook, I parent. I play with and enjoy my kids. I have my hobbies. But it is always there. :-(

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I can't believe it has been a month

Every few days my brain has a lovely topic to blog about and I have no time. I have no time now, since I need to pump here in a few minutes and try to get to bed at a decent hour but I figured I could go ahead and let some of the extra thoughts out of my brain.

So. My friend Meghan moved away. I know we are a military family but still, it was hard. I threw myself in to helping her clean and check out of her house to distract myself from her moving. It worked. I tried to make a clean getaway as soon as she turned in her keys. I was going to take the kids and go out and get a bite to eat, when lo and behold, they had the same idea, so we all had lunch at a local place. I was trying to tell myself that they were just going away on vacation. I was (and still am) in denial. I didn't watch them drive away.

It hurts to look at their house, which is right down the street from my own. I love her kids as my own. I took a lot of pictures and uploaded them to and they screwed up my whole picture order and now I have to take my camera card to a Kodak machine and do it myself. Ugh. My pics are not blurry, CVS screwed up. But looking at the pictures made me sad and I didn't have the heart to harass the CVS people. I will just go to Wal Mart and do it myself. I used to call Meghan in the evening and ask if she wanted to make a run to the store with me for milk or whatever, and it was on the tip of my tongue to do so ever since she left. And it make sme sad again. I made cards for every member of her family to flood their mailbox, and I was going to include pictures for everyone and then CVS screwed up my order and now I have to get them reprinted so I cannot mail them until Monday. I wanted to mail them today and now I can't. Can you hear me stamping my foot?

So we might be moving. The Navy is yanking my chain and prolonging my agony by waiting as long as posisble to give me an answer but it appears that we are most likely moving to Boston. I am all for it. The prospect of moving is a great distraction from Meghan's moving. I am going room by room, throwing out crap and boxing up things to donate. I am starting to detail clean. I want to move. I would be back on a base, with a commissary. My food and fuel bills woudl be cut dramatically. I would be back in a military environment. My kids' schools would be right there in housing just like in California. I would be in close proximity to a ChikFilA for the first time in over two years. Obviously I have thought it over. Ha! Come on, Navy! Throw me a bone!

What else? Today, June 21st, the baby cut her first tooth on the bottom left. It *just* popped through and I can feel it but not see it yet. She will be 9 months/7.5 months corrected on the 30th. She likes to hold your fingers to steady herself in a standing position but hates to sit and declines stubbornly to learn how. She is a pain in the butt with her physical therapy because she is very resistant to do it. She is all coos and smiles when you let her be, but if you make her work, her face is somber and she looks at you through narrowed eyes. The coos are replaced with grunts and growls. She is very determined. She is finishing her last pack of size 2 diapers and moving into a size 3 soon. She just now fits newborn or size one shoes, and wears six month clothing. She is a bitty little thing, only 13 pounds. She nurses and eats food at each feed, except her bedtime nursing. She loves to eat. She is just a petite girl.

Jonathan has zits and I can't believe he turns 12 this year. He finished 6th grade. before I know it he will be in high school and I will be old. He went to a friend's birthday party tonight. It was from 6-10 pm and I thought, "Oh no, now the nighttime parties begin." It warmed my heart to hear that the last hour of the party was when the kids played Flashlight Tag outdoors, under cover of warm, summer darkness. Like kids. Not all grown up yet, eh? Yay!

Katie is still adjusting to being in the middle. We all talked about how it seems the baby gets all the attention. I told both of the older kids that it might seem like the newcomers get tons of attention for silly things, but what they don't remember is that we were just as wildly excited when we saw them do something silly. She adores her baby sister but now there is a different part of being in the middle--Jonathan is older now and he gets to do more, like go to birthday parties for *his* friends. Once upon a time, the birthday invitations might have said "Siblings welcome." Not so, anymore.

She is pretty good about rolling with it, but at times she just seems to test her limits. She will ask me the same question over and over in a hopes that my "no" will become a "yes." But I am a mean mommy who tries to be consistent, and I just tell her that I have already answered her. She is excellent at pouting and moping. Moody little thing. She reminds me of me.

Steve went to a retirement this weekend; a four-hour drive each way. He is beat like a bad dog.

Speaking of bad dogs, Cookie keeps trying to run off with a little dolly baby that I bought the baby. Cookie wants that dolly baby very badly. She also has the capability to leap four feet in the air, effortlessly. You can be sitting there and she can launch herself at you. You don't even see it coming. There is no lunge. She is just *there.* Clearly she is made of springs and a lack of self control. Well she can find that dolly baby anywhere and she takes it right to her bed and tries to gnaw on her. If I see her with it in her mouth, she runs. She really wants it. Why? I don't know.

Max is more sedate and cannot jump as high, but he still does this cute bunny run. He also runs faster than Cookie, though not by much. I love to watch them bunny run, side by side, big bat-ears flapping madly! Max is a bad dog too. He has discovered a taste for baby food and loves to inspect the baby to see if her face needs licking. Back off, weiner dog! He can be found behind Steve's chair with an empty plastic tub of baby food, licking it clean. He snitches those plastic tubs off tables or out of the trash and goes to town.

So what about me? I am working on a scrapbooking album, an ABCs of New England album. A is for autumn leaves and lord knows I got enough pictures of those. F is for Fenway, C is for CT, and I am hoping that one of the B pictures will be captioned B is for Boston. It's not just big things, I am doing little things, like S is for Snow, S is also for Stephanie. Anyway, it is fun to put together and I advise anyone in a scrapping slump to put one together.

By this time next week my two older kids will be visiting my parents for a few weeks. Hopefully if we move, it will be done while they are gone. That would be so much easier. My dad is taking a plane up here and they are taking a train down to my parents' house. They will go on their first train ride, and I am jealous. I am going to provide them with a camera so they can get lots of pictures for me.

Not much else going on for me. I am kinda boring. Meh. I have talked for an hour, and now I really need to pump. Adios for now, y'all.