Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Great Laundry Detergent Disaster of 2012

On Wednesdays, Will attends classes at ORLA--a homeschool co-op that is part of the Olympia public school district.  So, this past Wednesday, we started with a little school before running some errands.  On my list was Walmart (gag) and Costco (which I actually enjoy) and the library (which is my version of going to an amusement park).  
At Walmart, we had a few random items to pick up, one of which was one of those clip-on air fresheners for the car.  Earlier in the week, Will told me the car smelled like “someone stepping on nuts with their bare feet.”  I have no idea what that means, but I figured it wasn’t a good thing, so we entertained ourselves scratching and sniffing the packages of car air fresheners until we picked one made by Febreze called “linen and sky.”  When we got in the car, I placed the clip on the passenger side vent and immediately smelled fresh laundry.  I set it to the lowest setting, as I have a super sense when it comes to smell and didn’t want to get nauseated.
We finished up at Walmart and headed next door to Costco to stock up on fruit and cleaning supplies, two things that must be bought in bulk in our house.  We made it through the store with only three impulse purchases (damn you, Costco food carts!)--a bag of pine nuts (yum!), a box of taquitos for Ben, and some “Simple” Go-gurt (Star Wars with glow-in-the-dark light sabers on each tube, so we totes magotes had to get some).  As I approached the check-out, I grabbed a container of chocolate-covered almonds for good measure.  So, four impulse buys.  Not too bad.
I loaded everything, including a monster-sized container of laundry detergent, into the back of the car and headed to the library, our last stop before heading home.  We spent about half an hour in the library, looking for some new books and picking up some movies I had on hold to use in school this coming week.  When we got in the car, my first thought was good God, I need to turn down that air freshener--too strong.  I leaned over to the passenger side and realized it was on the lowest setting.  I’d have to give it to Scott or something and get a different kind.  
We drove home, and when I opened the hatch on the car, I found this:
That’s right.  160 loads worth of liquid laundry detergent in the back of my car.  Or as I refer to it now: the world’s most effective car air freshener.  The container was EMPTY.  (BTW, these things NEVER happen when Scott is home--disastrous back seats, trips to the ER, car wrecks--always when he is gone.)
Thankfully, I had loaded these four storage containers that I use to store things that are leaving the house (Goodwill, give away, gifts, and library), so all of the food and supplies from Walmart and Costco were for the most part elevated.  After removing all of the food, I took stock.  Will’s karate bag was the only victim.  Someone gave it to us for free, and we are never short on bags around this house, so it went the way of el trash can immediately.
After that, I did what any smart woman would do--I called my dad.  He confirmed what I was already thinking and gave me the proper amount of perspective to stop me from falling to the ground in a toddleresque tantrum.  I mean, at least it wasn’t milk.  Or dill pickles.  Or paint.  Right?
Did you see, though, how BLUE this detergent was?
I heard Will yelling for me right about the time I heard Ben scream-crying, so I hurried upstairs to see what was happening.  Will told me quickly that Ben was trying to go poop and needed me.  Anyone who has ever had a three-year-old knows that a pooping child takes precedence over pretty much anything else you can think of.  So, as I was helping Ben finish up, I heard Will yell from the other room, “Mo-om!  Bokonon pooped in the kitchen!”  I swear our dog’s mission in life is to find the worst possible moments to be an idiot in an effort to have me locked away in an asylum.  Years later, my grown children will come visit me, and they will find me humming Ralph Covert’s “M-O-M-M-Y Needs C-O-F-F-E-E” and mumbling about how the kitchen smells like dog pee.
After cleaning up the pee and poop with Clorox wipes, I told Will, “We have a bit of an emergency on our hands here.  I’m going to need you to be my big helper, okay?”  After instructing him to start a movie for Ben and to play his DS until I told him to stop (because it doesn’t really matter how much idiot-boxing my kids had done at that point--I just needed them to be occupied), I went to work.
I started by literally scraping the top layer into a box.  Next, I used an old beach towel that I didn’t really like to soak up the next layer.  The beach towel also went the way of el trash can--I mean, it’s not like I could stick it in the washing machine to wash it--I’m not that dense.
Who knew something so tiny could make me so angry?
About the time I threw away the towel, Will yelled down, “Mo-om!” (Note: the six-going-on-thirteen voice.)  “Mo-om!  You are taking FOREVER!  WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BE DONE?”
I thought about knocking him out with the detergent container but realized it probably wouldn’t actually knock him out since it was empty.  Luckily, he was saved from loss of consciousness, and I was saved from going to jail when one of the neighbor kids showed up, asking to jump on the trampoline.  (Sidenote: the trampoline is the single greatest purchase I have made in my mom-lifetime.)
When we moved to WA, the movers had packed our boxes with these giant sheets of packing paper.  I kept stacks and stacks of it to use for homeschool projects like this:
There is no way we will ever make enough collages to use it all, so it made a great third step material.  Lastly, I started using paper towels (which I had purchased during my last trip to Costco).  And wouldn’t you know it?  One of the things I’d picked up at Walmart was a box of 13 gallon trash bags.  I felt like a boy scout!  Always prepared.  For laundry-related disasters.
Two hours later, I had done as much as I could, so I cleaned up my area and headed upstairs to find Ben like this:
After instructing him to get off the dining room table, I gave the boys a fantastic dinner of taquitos, pine nuts, and Go-gurt (no joke!), while I swiffered the entire kitchen floor to make sure there were no dog remnants.  Then, I tucked them into bed without baths because I didn’t want to clean anything else for the rest of my life and snuggled down with my vat of chocolate-covered almonds to catch up on Top Chef.
The next day I made an appointment to let the professionals take care of the rest (for the car, not me) for $40.  A prudent investment in my personal sanity.
So, what have we learned, kids?  Travel with your detergent in the front seat, and always listen to that tiny voice inside you that tells you to buy whatever the sample lady at Costco is selling.
Happy Sunday, and I hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important. --Aibileen Clark

Nine days ago, I posted something a lot of people found worth reading.  (If you need to get caught up to speed, grab your glasses and a bowl of ice cream, and settle in for a long read HERE.)  Within the first few hours of posting it, I knew I was going to need to write a follow-up.
First, THANK YOU to everyone who read the piece.  There is always a certain amount of trepidation involved in posting something on the world wide interwebs--what if the wrong someone reads this?  Or worse, what if no one reads this?  The fact that ANYONE reads my blog is a miracle in my eyes.  We are all so busy, so involved, so scattered.  If you take the time to read my blog, that tells me that you care enough about what I have to say to spend your very limited time on me instead of something else.  It’s gut-wrenchingly humbling.
So, for those of you not in the blogging world, there is a way of tracking how many people are reading each post, the hit sources (i. e. link from FB, googled terms, etc.), and even what part of the world in which each reader resides.  To bring some perspective to last week’s piece, my average audience for each blog post is probably somewhere around 150-250.  How many hits I get is affected by the subject matter (re: not everyone cares to read the ones about being a mom), and especially by the timing of when I post.  People are much more likely to click and read on a Monday night than a Friday night for obvious reasons.
So, that said, about a year ago, I posted the first piece of a series of posts titled “It’s in the Bible.”  I commented on another blogger’s blog with a link to my own, and because this blogger has an astronomically large readership, I had some major traffic.  Over the last year, that post has had (as of today) 843 hits.  That number is inflated, though, because of the link to the other blog.  For someone who started a blog as a creative outlet and to make people laugh, that’s a pretty big deal.  I mean, when it comes down to it, I’m really just a mommy blogger in a world of professionals.
This post, “I Am a Christian, and I Do Not Tolerate Gay People,” had 839 hits in one week.  One week.  It’s the second highest read post out of all the pieces I’ve posted in a year and a half, and it got there in one week.
What this says to me is that there are a lot of people out there wanting to have this conversation.  Sure, the title is provocative, which I am positive brought some people to my blog, but the reality is that once people opened the link, they stayed for the read.  You know how I know they didn’t just see where I was going and dismiss it?  Because of the OVERWHELMING response.
People commented here.  People commented on my original post on FB.  People wrote on my wall when the post was buried by other things later in the week.  People sent me private messages and emails and texts.  People called me on my phone.  I tried my best to respond to everyone as best as I could.  My family, my closest friends, people I haven’t talked to in years but am friends with on FB.  Then, there are the strangers--so many strangers who have contacted me with responses.  I am most thankful for them because they are without bias in reference to me as a person and writer.  If a stranger tells me that I made him think, it means something different than when my dad says, “I love my daughter!”
The variety of responders was astounding.  People who identify themselves as followers of the "big five" (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) were all represented, along with many people who identify themselves as secular humanists, agnostics, or atheists.  The age range, socioeconomic background, and racial make-up was all over the place, too.  And obviously, both gay and straight people responded.

One of my friends said it must be such a self-esteem booster to know that so many people are reading my blog, and I know what she means, but I am well-aware that less than a 1,000 hits on a blog does not a famous blogger make.

You know what makes me feel the best?  Without exception, the people who entered the dialogue kept the peace.  I worried one time when someone made some snide remarks on my FB post, but it didn’t elevate.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen ridiculous arguments on FB or on blogs or on internet news stories because people can hide behind a cloak of anonymity and shoot verbal daggers in an adult I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I match.  But that didn’t happen here.  People were kind.
People were kind.  And smart.  And everything that was communicated is important.
People were kind and smart in an arena where we could have very easily been brutal to one another.  It felt like a genuine conversation that I was happy to facilitate.  People had really intelligent, thoughtful, provocative (in a good way) things to say.  And they were kind.
I’ve said about as much as I want to say about this for now, but I want to share some of the responses I’ve received, so you can get an idea of what was happening on my end.  If there is a name in the response, it’s because it comes from a public response or the people gave me permission to use their names.  If it’s anonymous, I’m protecting the person or respecting his or her wish to remain anonymous.  I can’t post everything, so these are just a few of my favorites in the order in which I received them.
If you just can’t get enough of this conversation, take a look at the responses on the original blog post, too--especially the posts from the three women who disagree completely with what I had to say.  Even in their disagreeing, they were kind.  If you are tired of reading about this, then please just accept my deepest gratitude for taking a part in the conversation!

Update: the day after I posted this, the original post became the most read post of all time on my blog.  Hooray!

"You've got my support. Tho I'm chicken shit and I keep my opinions on this topic to myself. Glad there are some vocal people out there that aren't so quiet.” --Anonymous

“Thank you SO much for posting this. I feel like you said things that I've been thinking for a very long time and didn't quite know how to say it. I have no doubt that it took a lot of guts to put your true thoughts out there. I, along with many others I'm sure very much appreciate it.” --Danielle

“This was really great and made me think, Leia! It was very bold for you to share your thoughts on this in such a public medium, and I have much respect for that. I don't like how the church avoids discussing this and other "elephant sized" topics, and I'm a pastor! I don't often discuss the issue, but I think it mainly because I'm still working on it, ya know? Anyways, thanks for sharing your heart, Leia!” --Jacob

“I love your ability to be bold! And your conviction to share with others. We've talked at length about the downfalls of the church as well as some of the benefits. I still hope and pray everyday (yes, literally everyday) for a less judgmental world. And my true wish is that it would start in the church because I really believe that we as Christians should be an example of not only how to live but how to love. To love unconditionally is not only what I strive for daily but also what I strive to teach the children I work with. I grew up hearing a phrase repeated weekly, "If you love the Lord with all your heart say Amen. If you love one another say Amen. You can't do one without the other!". I desperately want to pass on this legacy.  Have you seen the movie For The Bible Tells Me So? If not, you should. I talked about love but the movie deals more directly with homosexuality.” --Janie

“Amen. Is that appropriate? ;) Didn't lose me as a friend...but you already knew that.” --Dan

“Thanks for sharing Leia! This is an issue close to my heart and I am always looking for Christian perspective on it. I am open to allowing the Holy Spirit to re-shape my ideas and opinions on things and I am eager to squash out any misconceptions that I may have picked up over the years in traditional Christian circles and though Christian education. I support you in your search for truth and I am proud of you for being open and honest about your thoughts!  As a fellow Christ-follower, my heart, at this point, does not resound with what you posted. How can it be that two people who love the Lord, respect scriptural authority and who desire to give the Holy Spirit full access to their mind and soul come to two different conclusions? That right there would be a fantastic blog post if you are ever up to it :)  In the mean time, I will join you in your quest to love. In your quest to know God and to have a heart that beats in unison with His.” --Jenna

“‎’and especially your choir benches!’ ... love it” --John

“...I used to have the same questions, and received vague answers. But then, as I was reading a Ted Dekker book, (he's awesome, BTW) I realized that as Christians we need to love more and scorn less. We need to love everyone the way Jesus loves us. Which, is hard, especially for the terrorists responsible for 9/11. But the pastor at church once said, "Jesus died for those terrorists just as much as He did for you or me." there's a perspective. So, I try to love everybody, who cares what their sexual preference is, as long as it isn't kids because then I'd have to shoot them, Jesus loves us all.” --Amanda

“‎‘I think the reason this issue is so divisive is that many people feel conflicted when they are told one thing, but their spirit tells them something different.’  When I read this my heart sighed because you put into words what I've felt for a long time. Great post Leia- I hope you don't mind if I pass it along to others that are struggling with this issue.” --Kristen

“Well, Leia, it's your old grad-school dyke friend, and I've read your post and all the comments. I, too, am amazed at the fascination you breeders seem to have about gay sex! Here's a question: I'm currently single, not engaging in lesbian sex, but I'm still a lesbian, so am I sinning? As you know, I'm a Secular Humanist, so the struggle Christians have with accepting homosexuality doesn't make sense to me. I grew up in a Christian church and have studied religion extensively, including evidence that Ruth and Naomi were a couple, as well as Daniel and ... oh shit, I forgot his name. There is also strong evidence to suggest that many anti-gay scriptures were mistranslated by King James's biblical authors for political reasons; he was bisexual, and since they hated him, they decided to attack his sexual behavior by inserting a couple of not-so-supportive lines in Leviticus. I don't know or care if any of this is true. What I do care about is finding the rare Christian who "gets it" -- and that is you, Leia. I knew that 7 years ago, which is why we became friends. Jesus is credited with saying, "Above all, let love guide you." And I do like I Corinthians, Chapter 13. I don't exactly understand why this post was so emotional for you, or so difficult, but since it was, I thank you for doing it. I don't solicit, need, want, expect, or care about gaining acceptance for my identity from closed-minded, ignorant, uneducated people. But when I witness someone of any faith or lack thereof attempting to spread tolerance and love, it touches me. So may the universe bless you. And btw, 30% of all seagulls are gay.” --Kerri

“I just finished your post. And I'm pretty much in agreement with you, only I got there with lot less research. Seems to me that there is no point-system for sin. So being gay, if it is sinful, is on par with all the ones I'm guilty of on a daily basis. Not to mention that being the type of hateful anti-gay that appears too often from misguided Christians is counter to what I think is Jesus' main point - to love God and love your neighbor.  The contradiction is so irritating to me. From the people I know that are like this (my dad) it seems to come from fear and ignorance. Fear of the unknown and those that are different. And an ignorance to keep them from having an open mind.  Now if you want to turn this semi-political, I also find it hypocritical that these seem to be the same people who are radical right wingers. So, they don't want the gov't telling them anything, controlling anything, or forcing anything on them. But they can't wait to get prayer back into public schools, forced doctor's visits before abortions, etc. Insanity.” --Anonymous

“I don't know if everyone has one of those moments where the questions that had been dwindling in the back of their minds are finally allowed to break free and cause a frantic rush to consult one's bible, but I remember mine. It was in sixth grade and I had just fallen deeply, madly in love with geology. I GOT geology. It made sense to me. It was concrete, real, and in the sixth grade at least didn't involve a great deal of math, even then my archnemesis. Our teacher was discussing the age of Earth and one of my Evangelical friends stood up and announced that Earth couldn't possibly be over 4 billion years old because the bible says it's only about 6000 years old. I wanted so much to agree with her, because I was of course a good little Catholic, and we Catholics are nothing if not set in tradition, but something about it just refused to sit right with me. I got out my bible later and tried to figure out where this 6000 years thing came from, but neither my patience nor my understanding would allow me to do so. I decided then and there to believe that Earth was over 4 billion years old, because science could explain it to me in ways that the bible could not...[This response was 4,000+ words, so I edited it down, not because it wasn't all great, but because it would have been three times longer than my post!]... I'm certain the town of just over 300 people I grew up in has gay people. I know about my dad's best friend's sister. And possibly our Church's organist. And maybe that one kid. And my friend's dad. There are others, certainly. People I don't know about it because they're not ready to let it be known or because they're ashamed to admit it or because it's none of my damn business in the first place. But in towns of just over 300 people, it's NOT something you talk about. Brian knew this about me. And he chose to tell me anyway. I felt closer to him at that moment than I had ever felt before during all our discussions of life and the universe and whatever other deep things teenagers feel the need to discuss. And not once, not ever, did I think that Brian had chosen to be that way. And if it wasn't a choice, then he was made that way, and who was I to argue with the way God had made him...I didn't get the title of your post until I read through t the end. Then I understood and appreciated it. Thank you for being brave enough to say it.” --Marly

“One of the reasons I left my church was because of this issue. I can see your points better then the theologians who where trying to "teach" me. I am asked by God to question my leaders, I guess most churches forget that. Thank you for being an inspiration to everyone who reads your blog, even if they don't want to admit it.” --Anonymous

“I know we barely know each other, other than mutual friends, but I wanted to thank you for that blog post. What a powerful and bold statement you are making.  I serve on the **** GLBT Anti-Harassment **** (we counselor and provide resources to students who have been attacked, been discriminated against, or have been targeted because of their orientation), and we recently talked about the idea of allies. One point that I feel is so incredibly important, is that I, as a gay man, can defend GLBT people all day - it makes sense, I care about my community. Consequently, when straight individuals do the same gesture, it means so much more.. you're fighting a battle, pioneering in some aspects, that is outside of your zone.. and it means all the world to me. Thank you again. I mean it. Thank you.” --Anonymous

“So I'm still recovering from years of spiritual oppression and evangelical I still "hide." But I'm with you on your latest blog.  And I also don't think anyone is going to hell. And Mark Driscoll is pretty much Satan. Now you know. Don't tell anyone.” --Anonymous 

“The Bible is an amazingly complex book that has been gifted to us as a guide to knowing and understanding God. However, it is just that. We have elevated the Bible so that it is now a part of what I refer to as the Quadrinity, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Book. We have cast off the right of the Holy Spirit to guide the conviction of what is, or is not, sin and placed all our hope in something static and textual. The sacred scriptures were not intended for static reading. They were not intended as a replacement for that which was breathed upon mankind during Pentecost. When we find ourselves at odds, in the grand scheme of socio-evolution, with things the bible says, I say it is because God is bigger than the pages of a book, and that which is written within its pages. God made man in His image, with a heart and a brain, and a kindred spirit in the humanity of Christ, and a guiding force in the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The bible is a rich and glorious text that tells us how others have found and seen God, and is a workbook for how we can, also. It gives us accounts of others who have encountered similar hardships, similar victories. It gives us a written account of the life of Christ. But lest we become strayed into making the Bible a deity, might I remind that before the first written Gospel (Mark), some 40 years after Christ's resurrection, there was the kerygma, the oral testimony of Christ's work. It was no less profound and no less true than that which was written. Paul, I believe, in his ultimate humility at the end of his life, is rolling in his grave to see the letters he wrote to assist the burgeoning body of the church be elevated to a status higher than the Holy Spirit. And that is what we have done. We have taken the written words of the Bible and made them God. Every living person on this earth was created with the ability to be led by the Holy Spirit. Using the Bible as a condemnatory force is counterproductive to the greater message of Christ. As was mentioned above, we are to Love God and Love Others. Beating a drum against homosexuality because the Bible told you it was wrong, is wrong. God cannot be contained in text. His commandments cannot be written. The Holy Spirit cannot be contained to the presupposition of your judgments. Live the life that Christ commanded, led by the Holy Spirit. Do justice. Love Kindness. Walk Humbly with your God. And let others do so, as well.” --Sarah

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Operation Actually Do Something I Pinned #1

Okay, so most of my friends are on Pinterest by now (and if you aren't let me know, and I'll shoot you an invitation!), and we all post a few things every day that are SUPER NEATO.  I have tried out quite a few of the recipes, and I've even done a couple of things around the house that were pinspired, but I hadn't really done any of the things that I had posted under "Kideas."

WTF?  I'm a homeschool mom!  Why am I not doing these things???

Well, today marks a new beginning.  We did a pincraft, and it was GREAT!  The thing I decided to tackle was "chalk paint" that I found HERE.  I picked it mainly because I had all the "ingredients" on hand, it took very few steps, and it involved colors--one of the things we talk about A LOT with Ben, my preschooler.

So, we started with: 
We added equal parts corn starch and water and mixed.  We poured the concoction into a muffin pan and added a few drops of food coloring in each one.
Ben was in the other room crying because he's a brat  three and gets frustrated easily.  When he couldn't squeeze the dropper and refused to let me help him, he burst into flames tears, so I told him to calm down in the other room and join us when he was ready.
He recovered and joined us to do some mixing with toothpicks.  We ended up mixing nine different colors (the suggested mixes on the back of the food color box), and we were ready to paint!
I figured out pretty quickly that it wasn't the kind of paint that you could really cover a lot of space with, but that was okay.  The boys had fun smearing and splattering, and the best part is that the "paint" dries like chalk, so it's not that messy.  Once dry, the paint on the ground looked just like chalk.
Our hands got cold because it's 45 degrees out here, so when we were finished, we ceremonially dumped the rest by flinging it across the ground.  I think this was the best part--especially because it inspired me (like real live inspiration without a pin board!), and we came inside for an unintended lesson in art history.
I bought this book at B&N for something like $8 a long time ago, and I didn't know why until today!  We compared our painting to the work of Mr. Pollock, reading a little bit about abstract expressionism in general, and then perused a few of his works.

Ben said he thought the Moon-Woman from "The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle" looks more like a dragon, and Will decided "Convergence: Number 10" was his favorite because he found Darth Vader's head somewhere in the painting.

Ben also mentioned that a lot of the paintings reminded him of mazes, and his favorite was this because it looks like an invention.  He then decided to title it "Invention" since it didn't have a title:
Pinspiration complete!