My City Wants to Send Parents to Prison for 6 Months for Birthday Balloons: The Balloon Wars

“BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – City Councilman Michael Scott is looking to let the air out of balloons on Bainbridge Island…

The new ordinance would regulate balloons under the city’s litter control codes. Violations of those ordinances are misdemeanor infractions that can carry a maximum fine of $500 or jail time of up to six months.”

No doubt, trash can be very detrimental to the environment, and it is crucial for our conservation energies to be directed towards recycling, reusing, green energies and genuine biodegradable alternatives.

Recently my community banned plastic bags, and I think the ban on plastic bags was a fantastic move in the right direction for protecting the environment.  Similarly, I can see how reducing the amount of non-biodegradable balloons discarded every year would be a great boost not only in environmental recovery but also in awareness.

The problem that I have is the extremely dangerous measures for punishment the city council has tacked on to their environmental legislature. Issuing thousands of dollars in fines for balloons might be a deterrent for parents, but the punishment far exceeds reasonable measures.

Furthermore, issuing prison time for having a balloon in your house is clearly outrageous.

The fact is that although I can see how balloons might be perceived as useless…every single item in our grocery stores is covered in either cellophane or mylar. Pop tarts, granola bars, bags of chips, dog food, etc etc.

This is a picture of just a few items in the grocery store which uses the same non-biodegradable materials as balloons:

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Balloons are hardly even the beginning.

I applaud our island for continuing to place environmental conservation at the forefront of legislature, but threatening the citizens with prison time and hefty fines is now how you create awareness or institute changes.

There are better ways to do this, and I will be encouraging our city council to look at less aggressive and less threatening methods to promote conservation within our community.

  1. Environemental Impact

Goodness knows environmental conservation is important to all of us. We can clearly see how important protecting the environment is to us islanders by the fact that we continue to reduce our speed limits to 25mph in order to reduce emissions on the planet. Considering we have about 23,000 people on this island and at least 20,000 of them are old enough to drive…those numbers add up! Every little bit counts. However, if we want to put our impact into perspective, one large cargo ship in the Puget Sound as the ability, and does, generate approx 5,200 tonnes of sulphur oxide pollution in a year.  This means that 15 of the largest ships now emit as much SOx as the worlds 760 million cars. So that is significant. 

Furthermore, “a mid-size cruise ship’s diesel engine can use 150 tonnes of fuel each day, which would emit as much particulate as one million cars. “ I couldn’t summarize the number of cruises available in the Port of Seattle so I have a picture of the schedule:

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According to environmentwashington.org, “Too much of the trash comes from single-use plastic bags, which can choke, suffocate or kill thousands of whales, birds and other marine wildlife each year. We saw the effects of this last year when a beached gray whale was found in West Seattle with 20 plastic bags in its stomach.” Which is why the plastic bag ban was so progressive!

However, are there not still plastic bags in the produce section? Cellophane covering the meat in the meat department? Vacu-sealed foods on every single aisle of the grocery stores? And don’t get me started on the fact that we are encouraged to pick up our dog poop with plastic bags.

The point is that while every single little change matters, the fight against balloons is hardly the tip of the iceberg.

What the council is clearly missing is the progress we could be making together as a community, rather than issue prison time for families celebrating birthdays with balloons, or celebrating graduations, or encouraging a loved one in a hospital, or making balloon animals during our 4th of July parade.

What the council should be doing is leading our island towards environmental conservation by rallying the cause of the use of biodegradable balloons, rather than threaten their citizens with prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.

II) Balloons are not the beginning of the problem, and they are not the end of the problem.

Mylar:

We can clearly see that although our local grocery stores provide us with dolphin shaped mylar balloons, they also provide us with Pop Tarts, which are sealed in mylar packaging. The granola bars we send to school with our children is also wrapped in mylar. The aisles and aisles of chips we have lined in our grocery stores are also packaged with mylar. Beyond these very obvious uses of mylar, mylar is also used in drum heads, jibs for yachts, and it is used to preserve pharmaceutical products, seeds and tissue samples.

There is the issue of releasing mylar balloons, or mylar balloons escaping and getting caught in power lines and causing power outages. However, due to the innumerable power outages our island experiences due to falling trees, I can conclusively say that mylar balloons are not our biggest problem with our power system.

Death by balloons:

According to The Balloon Council, “Even one child’s accidental death from choking on a latex balloon is unacceptable. The balloon industry emphatically agrees and every retailer, distributor and manufacturer is committed to helping create widespread public awareness among consumers in an effort to eliminate these needless events.

There’s still a way to go, but thankfully there’s been improvement. A look at the Consumer Product Safety Commission records from 1973-1998, shows that the number of annual small child choking deaths caused by balloons reached a high of 17 in 1989, but by 1998 the number was 4.”

According to the CPSC, 17 children died in 2010 from toy related deaths. Although balloons were on the list, other items listed were tricycles, rubber balls, non motorized riding toys, toy boxes, stuffed animals, balls, and powered riding toys.

According to the CDC, the leading causes of death in children are accidents, congenital malformations, or assault. Also according to their figures, 2,626,418 people died in 2014, from causes ranging from heart disease, cancer, respritary diseases, and diabetes, to name a few. over 55,000 people died that year from influenza. As we can clearly see, balloons are not on the CDC radar as a factor for death.

III) Environmental impact on Orcas in the Puget Sound

  • According to orcanetwork.org, 42 orcas have been born and survived in the Puget sound between 1998 and 2017. 71 orcas have been killed in that time.
  • The environmental impact on orcas will continue to decline with the new trans mountain expansion project in British Columbia, “the project will increase traffic in coastal waters to about 350 tankers per year. According to the company, this accounts for roughly 6.6 percent of all large commercials vessels trading in the region.”
  • There is a significant decrease in salmon populations in the Puget Sound which are directly affecting the orca populations, but I don’t see Doc’s Marina Bar & Grill taking their salmon burger off the menu.
  • whalereasearch.com needs donations and volunteers to keep whales protected.
  • What conservationists need is funding, donations, volunteers, and greater awareness. What they don’t need are families spending time in jail or donating thousands of dollars to pay fines. These punishments are not helping awareness to latex and mylar alternatives, and the city council needs to go back to the drawing board and reframe their goals.

IV) Where to begin on shifting the conversation

Let’s understand what is real and what is not:

-Latex rubber and the balloons made from latex are naturally biodegradable. They will decompose on their own in about six months. Sunlight speeds up the process, but just like an old log rotting in the forest or the kitchen scraps in your compost pile, microorganisms and the air will eventually break latex rubber balloons down.

-A good example: Qualatex Biodegradable Helium Quality Balloons

Finally,

“I am expecting the Bainbridge community to be very supportive,” Scott wrote in an email to the Kitsap Sun.

Not so much, Michael Scott. You have a lot of work to do before we see eye to eye on this one.

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Washington State – Intent to Homeschool: Forms and Deadlines

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Homeschoolers need to know what subjects to teach, what science projects need to be explored, which literature covers each grade…and how the law applies to homeschool families!

Washington state has a very accommodating system for homeschoolers, I believe. Parents are acknowledged as perfectly competent teachers for their children, which I thoroughly appreciate. We are not required to meet with a public school representative, we are not required to submit work samples to a public school, and we are not required to associate with public schools on any basis.

We are required to prove our competence as a teacher, keep records of work samples and curriculum used, keep attendance, and file an Intent to Homeschool form every September.

If you have not gone over the legal requirements for Washington state homeschooling, and you’re kicking around the idea of homeschooling…or if you have already bought all your curriculum and are jumping in with two feet…here’s what you need to know!

I) The legal requirements for homeschool parents are:

(you can read more on WHO’s website)

Parent Qualifications

RCW 28A.225.010 (4)

To qualify to homeschool you must fulfill one of the following:

  • Have earned 45 quarter units of college level credit.
  • Attend a Parent Qualifying Course.
  • Work with a certificated teacher who meets with your student on the average of an hour a week.
  • Be deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of your local school district.

 

II) Also, the deadline for the Intent to Homeschool form is September 15th. So you need to get on this if you haven’t already!

The intent to homeschool form “It informs the school district that they are no longer responsible for the education of your child(ren). It protects you from any truancy prosecution.” (who.com) You need to get the form which you can download right here, and send it to your Superintendent’s office.  Which begs the question: where on earth is your local Superintendent’s office??

Here is a list of every single Superintendent office in the state of Washington and their contact information. You will need to get the form from your local Superintendent office, fill it out, and hand it to them. That’s it!

List of Washington state’s Superintendent Offices

 

III) More information about the form, for anyone with questions:

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This article was originally published by the reputable Washington Homeschool Organization

 

For the Declaration of Intent Form, click here.

RCW 28A.200.010
Home-based instruction — Duties of parents.

Each parent whose child is receiving home-based instruction under RCW 28A.225.010(4)shall have the duty to:

(1) File annually a signed declaration of intent that he or she is planning to cause his or her child to receive home-based instruction. The statement shall include the name and age of the child, shall specify whether a certificated person will be supervising the instruction, and shall be written in a format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. Each parent shall file the statement by September 15 of the school year or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester with the superintendent of the public school district within which the parent resides or the district that accepts the transfer, and the student shall be deemed a transfer student of the nonresident district.

Parents may apply for transfer under RCW 28A.225.220;

Q 1. Why file a declaration of intent?

A. 1. A declaration of intent form is required by law for homeschooling children between the ages of 8 and 18.

2. It informs the school district that they are no longer responsible for the education of your child(ren).

3. It protects you from any truancy prosecution.

Q 2. Who files the declaration of intent?

A. The parent or legal guardian of the student who will be homeschooled files the declaration.

Q 3. Do I ever file a Declaration of Intent for a child under 8 years of age?

A. No. We do not declare any children under the age of 8. Read more here.

Q 4. When do I start declaring and how often do I file a declaration of intent?

A. The first declaration is filed on the 8th birthday of your child, regardless of the time of year. We declare every year after that by September 15th.

Q 5. Where do I get a declaration of intent? Where do I file it?

A. Contact the superintendent of the school district in which you reside and request a declaration of intent. The declaration must be filed with the superintendent of your school district. Your district may choose to forward your form to another department. However, once filed with the superintendent of your district, you have met the obligation of the law. Your district’s mailing address will typically be on the form. It’s not necessary to have your form stamped “Received” by the district. Also, there is not obligation on the part of the district to mail the form to you each year.

Q 6. My district’s declaration of intent asks for more information than is shown on the above prescribed form. Do I have to provide it?

A. No. Any information you provide that is not on the above form is optional. We recommend that if your district’s declaration is not in compliance with the required format, that you print and submit the above form. For further clarification, please read “Declaration of Intent – Let’s Be Clear.”

Q 7. What does, “Supervised by a person certificated in Washington State.” refer to? Do I need to be supervised by a teacher?

A. No, you are not required to have a supervising teacher. Having oversight of a supervising teacher is one of the four ways you may qualify to homeschool. In this case, the parent is not considered the supervising certificated person. IF you are qualifying to homeschool by using the services of a supervising teacher you must check that box on the declaration of intent. You do not need to supply any information about that teacher.

Q 8. Do I need to provide proof to the school district that I am qualified to homeschool?

A. No.

Q 9. Do I need to meet with district personnel concerning my decision to homeschool or to file my declaration of intent form?

A. No.

Q 10. Is there any provision in law that allows a school district to refuse a declaration of intent filed at any time?

A. It’s important that a parent first meets one of the four qualifications to homeschool. Once qualified, there is no provision in law that allows a school district to refuse a declaration of intent filed at any time.

3 Ways To Watch the Eclipse Through Unconventional and Possibly Risky Methods

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If you aren’t staring directly into the sun during the eclipse, clearly you are doing it wrong.

Every media outlet these days has tips on what eclipse-safe glasses to wear during this celestial event, and every Facebook group has discussed whether you can look at the sun or not.

The bottom line is: no, you can’t look at the sun.

Yes, you should use some ridiculously safe glasses to use while watching the eclipse.

No, no one is going to listen.

I mean, honestly…it’s like this is the first eclipse that has ever happened and we are just witnessing it for the first time. Despite that there was a partial eclipse a mere 3 years ago, and somehow we all survived that one and didn’t need to focus the sun through a telescope and shoot it into pig eyeballs to show the dangers of staring into the sun.

A pig’s eyeball, people.

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So here’s what I’m going to do for us.

I’m going to list 3 other ways you can look at the sun, which might be unconventional, and they might be risky…but darn it, they’re all solid bad ideas…and that’s what we’re looking for!

  1. Spaghettisafe-eat-uncooked-pasta_5d03df19442011a0.jpgimgsrc

Do not underestimate the ability of gluten to ruin your digestive system, your friendships, your holidays, nor your eclipse. Think of all the fun times you will have today, staring at the sun through a bushel of spaghetti. Now, the real question is: cooked or uncooked? And that really is the kicker, isn’t it. I think uncooked would be safer, since theoretically the water in the cooked spaghetti might harness the powers of the sun and melt your face off. I mean, I don’t know. But you don’t want to chance these things.

2. A Sheep

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Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth, and all the little lambs will come to Him. If I were you, I’d just call it safe and wait for our impending doom of the eclipse by watching it through a sheep. I’m not sure if sheep are translucent, but I also have never tried. I think the wool would be the safest bet to viewing the sun as it fades away, though. Not sure on whether or not this is a heretical joke, either, but I’m going with it anyway.

3. A Toilet

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This piece of art started a revolution in America, changing the entire nature and perspective of art. Surely, you can view an eclipse through a toilet and have the same life changing experience.

 

I wish us all the best of luck this morning, and please. Do not look at the sun.

If you do, post it on Facebook so we can all laugh at you because omg that would be soo hilarious. 

10 Alternatives Uses For Alternative Medicine

This article was first featured on 

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I couldn’t listen to another puerile sales pitch in someone’s living room, promising the moon and then selling you something that “tastes just like sugar.” (It doesn’t. Not even sort of.)

 

That’s all the warning you’ll get for this one.

 

If you are an American woman, because I can’t officially speak for other countries who may or may not have similar circumstances, you have been invited, and have probably attended, a home-based alternative medicine meeting.

A home-based alternative medicine meeting is where someone you know is selling something you either already have or never thought you needed and they will bring someone into their house to do a song and dance about why you not only need it, but your life will improve because of it.

Think of it as LARPing informercials.

I have an EO that will cure orcs….

The thing with home-based alternative medicine meetings is that they suck. So much. I have no love for home-based alternative medicine meetings, and real friends don’t invite me.

My snark is available in glossy catalog form with a tear-out page in the back for subscriptions. Pro-level snark, my friends.

There was one year when an essential oils company got ahold of my church, and I went to a different essential oils meeting every few weeks forever.  I have watched these meetings showcase healing oils to cure headaches (fine), aches and pains (totally helpful), necklaces that cure epilepsy (wait), and diets that cure sciatica (what?).

Yeah, so anyway, that was when alternative medicine meetings really, finally jumped the shark for me.  I was done. I couldn’t listen to another puerile sales pitch in someone’s living room, promising the moon and then selling you something that “tastes just like sugar.” (It doesn’t. Not even sort of.)

We have all been there, and I know some people who love these meetings so much they have made it a part of their life.  And more power to those ladies! It brings them joy in life, and I can’t disagree with that on any level.

However…the rest of us are stuck with mystery vials, amber necklaces, and gluten-free cakes with the density of Krypton.

What do you do with all this stuff?

I’ll tell you what you do:

 

10 Alternative Uses For Alternative Medicines:

1. Essential Oils

We’re getting the big guns out of the way first.

If you are a friend of mine who uses essential oils, I just want to tell you that I love you. But maybe you should skip to the part where I tear apart amber teething necklaces…

I think essential oils are really amazing oils. No two ways about it, they function in pretty amazing ways.  I think you can burn warts off with the lavender, or maybe it was the basil? Even if you have a cold, the aromatherapy is very helpful. But I draw the line when they start curing epilepsy or sciatica. I seriously draw the line when women tell me they spray their backyard chickens with lavender essential oils.  It is just snake oil and crazy women at that point.

So — what do you do with the bottles you are stuck with? Because you bought a few bottles to support your friend. I know it.

Lavender: Use a carrier pigeon to carry it away.

Frankincense: This is a great anti-fungal oil, and you can spray it on windows — or Facebook — to wipe the smug off.

Peppermint, Grapefruit, Chamomile, Lemon: Apparently, this is helpful for mood-enhancing. Possibly time-travel.

Tea Tree Oil: Great for healing and re-growing limbs.

Essential Oils for Cats: Because they weren’t imperious enough, as it was. I would suggest rosemary, if you must. Or lemon. Honestly, if you are putting essential oils on your cats, maybe you should ask them what they like.

It is important to remember that essential oils do have the ability to turn you into a vampire, and will render you unable to stand in direct sunlight after applying.

2. Coconut Oil

The ugly step-sister to essential oils, coconut oil will cure diabetes, help you lose 50 pounds, and fix your broken sprinklers.

Experts in the field highly suggest using coconut oil to lubricate sticks lodged in difficult places.

3. DIY Everything

Have you ever thought, “I could probably make that”? Sure! We all have!

Have you ever thought, “I should make my own sunscreen?” or “I should build my own goat”? Of course you have, and you have a Pinterest page to prove it.

If you say things like, “This is like soap,” then it isn’t soap.

An alternative use for something that is like soap could be to plant it in the ground and grow a Sanctimoni-Tree that produces it’s own Self-Righteous Sap.

4. Amber Teething Necklaces

You can chew on them all day long, and they still won’t give you the DNA you need to make dinosaurs.

Might as well just hang them on your rear-view mirror.

 5. Sugar

Sugar could possibly be the downfall of Western civilization.

It could be.

Is it really an alternative medicine, though? Well, Mary Poppins thought so…and are you going to argue with Mary Poppins? Have you seen anybody argue with Mary Poppins?  Of course not. Because, technically, they don’t exist anymore.

If you know someone who believes sugar is the work of the Devil, and thinks it is completely normal to make birthday cakes out of whipped cashews, palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and almond paste…then maybe they need to step slowly away from the naturopath cookbook they bought at an MLM meeting, and remember that sugar is actually OK. It’s OK. We’ll all just say that together: sugar is not our enemy.

But these Pinterest alternative recipes sure are.

Because saying something is like a cake does not make it a cake. It makes it a gray, gelatinous goo in a cupcake liner that has the consistency of toothpaste.

And no one should blow out a birthday candle in toothpaste.

6. Gluten

Oh yes. The Gluten.

Gluten is also not the downfall of Western civilization. Gluten-free is not the alternative to life.

Simply put, anything replacing gluten is an alternative to taste.

I don’t have a choice in the matter, but you still do! Go! Save yourselves from the overabundance of rice flour and potato starch!

An alternative use for gluten-free cinnamon rolls: solar panel epoxy.

Gluten-free pasta may be used for: fish bait

Gluten-free tortillas could possibly substitute for: bridal wedding veils.

 7. Fermented Anything

For a while, anything fermented would cure anything. A cold? Autism? Measles? The pox? Syphilis? Fermented green beans will cure them all through the magic of ferment.

If you have to hide something in the back of a hot closet in a pot for three weeks, then bring it out and try to convince me that it is the best wet moss I have ever tasted, I am going to tell you my opinions on the matter. And unlike your 3-month-old, mostly-forgotten sauerkraut, my opinions are fresh and zesty.

Fermented foods can be great. Truth be told, I do love me some good sauerkraut. From a jar. That I bought. From a store. That has the FDA backing it up.

The back of someone’s pantry that has mice and pantry moths traveling through it does not.

So, what else can we do with the thousands of mason jars filled with seasonal vegetables, fermented with milk and forgotten in time?

You back slowly away and do not make eye contact with the jar.

8. Any Drink That Rhymes With Pink.

If you think

any drink

that rhymes with pink

might help you shrink…

Perhaps an alternative use for the money you spent

would be better used, in a large percent,

On a bridge I have to sell

through a certified London cartel.

 9. Bone Broth

Bone broth is not an anagram for bourbon.

 10. Hugs

There is no alternative to hugs. Apply liberally and with great umph.

You will cure many ills and ailments with this one, though.

Motherhood And Impostor Syndrome

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“What am I doing? What am I doing with this? I don’t know what I am doing as a mother. I’m out of ideas, I just know it . . . I am all washed up. My children are doomed. And I’m not even 40. Now what?”

-my mind

 

Twelve years ago, the Mom train rolled in to my station, and I have been singing “I-Think-I-Can” ever since.

What surprises me most about being a mother is how much I don’t feel like a mother.

When I was pregnant, I thought that some ethereal hormone would magically show up in my system and turn me into the mother that existed in my imagination. A mother with a firm countenance and gentle smile, always ready to tackle the conflicts of life with a plate of freshly-baked cookies. Suddenly, I would know how to style my hair to look respectable. My lapels would be starched, my pants ironed. This was the mother I believed I would become, once my uterus was activated with life. I was going to be the perfect mother. I just knew it.

None of this happened.

What actually happened was a rough pregnancy fueled by hives upon hives that lasted for a solid five months, followed by a swollen nether-region that was only comforted by the frozen infant diapers that clung to my mesh underwear, and every inch of hope that it wouldn’t look like that forever.

My new reality was sleeping when I could, eating like a horse, nursing with bleeding nipples, and ordering my husband to restock the lanolin, immediately.  My new reality was planning days for me and my kids to learn, explore, and thoroughly enjoy this incredible life we had together.

Starching lapels and baking cookies weren’t even on the radar. Not after the Mom train rolled in.

The thing was, I thought the train that rolled in was the Mom train. In the beginning, I was so distracted by all the expectations I had for myself — who I wanted to be, what mother I was going to become, what child I was going to raise, and all the other things I thought would be on this train and Amazon-Primed to me overnight — that it took me a long time to realize that it actually wasn’t the Mom train that showed up on my doorstep.

It was my train.

With my name on it. And everything I was, and everything I had become, was on that train. The bold woman with a never-ending supply of opinions was on that train. The slightly overweight woman who looked amazing in a corset was on that train. The woman I became after five years of marriage, after a college degree, after holding my children in my arms and listening to their beautiful little stories about mermaids and dinosaurs, was the mother I had become.

I never received that ethereal hormone, or an instruction manual on what a lapel even looked like.

When my train rolled in, I already was the mother I had actually always wanted to be.

I was my children’s mother. And we were going to do amazing things together.

The other morning, I woke up with a Mary Poppins song stuck in my head. Really, for no good reason whatsoever. I haven’t watched Mary Poppins in years, although I have the whole darn thing memorized. Why wouldn’t I? Mary Poppins is what all mothers should be, right?

(Julie Andrews is the bomb. There is no denying that.)

So, my brain goes retro that morning, well before coffee, and puts the Nanny song that the children chanted, while kneeling on their studio-set living room rug, on repeat:

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort

You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets.

A little on the demanding side from the kids, if you ask me. Always cheery? Very sweet? Rosy cheeks? 

Maybe this singing duet never saw their mother prep the house to host a birthday party with 25 guests, only to discover that the Pinterest cake would fail miserably and the trendy games would fall flat. That the brilliant idea of having Frozen-themed karaoke would also fail, because, unbeknownst to her, the other children aren’t allowed to watch TV. They don’t even know the songs that you have already heard 5 million times.

Not only is this mother out of ideas on how to save her daughter’s birthday at this point, but she spilled that spoonful of sugar, the one that can magically fix anything, on the cat.

Perhaps they had they never seen their mother after spending weeks prepping for a year of homeschooling and scouring the Internet for the best curriculum for each of her children, trying to figure out which math books to use for each child’s individual needs. Maybe they haven’t found their mother staring off into the distance, her hands still in the kitchen sink, while she worried about her son’s asthma this summer.

I don’t know if they ever wondered how their mother battled her own demons, who insisted she was completely inadequate — an outright impostor — after a playdate in a home with cream-colored carpets, zero screen time, and matching bento boxes lined up on the counter. A counter that doesn’t have jelly staining the edges, thanks to the toddler who has discovered how to make breakfast for herself before the crack of dawn.

Impostor Syndrome is the unwanted caboose on the train of motherhood. It is the trailing thoughts that give you the absurd ideas that you are a fraud. You suck at baking cookies. All of the decisions you have made for your family are wrong: Bottle instead of breast? Disposable diapers instead of cloth? Have you actually vaccinated your children? How is your marriage?

Who are you, anyway?

Impostor Syndrome makes us believe there is a Mom train. The Mom train doesn’t have mothers who have tattoos, or who homeschool, or who think iPads and Netflix are awesome. Somehow, this train defines us all, creating an expectation we can’t meet. It creates this ridiculous idea that there is something all mothers should become, and that anything less will destroy their children, their families, and themselves.

Rosy cheeks and cheery disposition, my butt.

The fact of the matter is . . . Mary Poppins wasn’t the mother.

She was the nanny. When her shift was over, she popped that magic umbrella of hers open and flew away.

Their mother, Mrs. Banks, was still there. She encouraged their father to interact with their children more lovingly. At the end of the story, she was the one holding her children’s hands as they walked home from their infamous kite-flying adventure, the one who got them into their pajamas and tucked them into bed. She was the one who, presumably, watched them sleep at night, grateful for every bump, scrape and hug she got to spend with them.

Mrs. Banks was not an impostor.

Mrs. Banks was mother. In her story, Mrs. Banks was involved in the suffragette movement to change the future for her children. Mrs. Banks had order in her house, and made sure her children were taken care of. Mrs. Banks never baked cookies to solve a crisis in the house, or even once picked up the iron.  She was a strong woman who loved her family, and in the end she was a damn good mother.

Just like I am.

Just like you are.

Sometimes it’s all Sunshine and Rainbows, and Sometimes it’s Water Coming Out of your Ceiling.

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I have been enormously lucky for a very long time.

Well, part of it has been luck. Most of it has been a mosaic of prayer, micro-managing, working my tookus off, praying, hard work, micro-managing and agendas.

But either way, I have had a really good streak of luck for a long time, and for that I am grateful.

Because those days are ovah.

Okay, they’re not seriously ovah, but today has been a long day…and I realized that it’s been a while since this has happened to this extent, and honestly, that is something to be grateful for.

But before I get to honest gratitude, I get to whine about stuff.

I have a lot of homework to finish. I’m confident about it, but it’s still a lot. I have one paper that is due next week where I had to redo the entire thesis/primary source/secondary sources…which is fine. This one is going to work better, and I will hopefully do very well on the paper in the end. But it’s still starting from scratch, and that’s work. The dishes are backed up (which is normal for us). The laundry has piled up beyond what I am even normally comfortable with. The kids rooms need to be cleaned/detrashed (which is an effort in the girls’ room). Ben did a load of towels yesterday, and then the kids used them to clean up the flooded toilet downstairs, so now we’re doing towels again. Last night the toilet upstairs flooded (what is going on), and now there is a bubble in our ceiling downstairs. We’ve called contractors and they are “booked for months.” At least it isn’t dripping anymore. Ben went in to work today and the parking lot was entirely full because there is a Boston/Mariners game today, so he had to drive onto the ferry (which is a pretty penny). And then there were a bunch of streets blocked off for hours around the ferry terminal at that time because Grey’s Anatomy was shooting some car chase scenes on the Viaduct, so everyone was running late for work. I would like to just lay in bed and watch meaningless movies like Overboard all night, but Ben is out for the next few evenings and I need to take the time to spend working on the essays and crank them out so I have ample time to edit all next week.

The kids are fine, they are happy and being very helpful and productive. I am very proud of how well they are handling my suddenly extremely busy schedule, which they have never encountered before. This is the first time I have had a very serious and time-intensive schedule outside of homeschooling/home-tendering, and I was worried how it might affect the kids on the first round, but they have been very patient and very helpful, and that has been a delight for me.

Ben and I are wonderful, as always.

But all these little cracks crinkling around? They’re being filled with wine.

 

The Tortilla Makes The Taco

Street Tacos

I have to admit something:
I got a bad queso needing tacos.
So let’s not burrito ‘round the bush.
Let’s taco ‘bout how awesome tacos are.

 

If you’ve not seen The LEGO Movie, I actually highly recommend it. It has cute, wholesome characters, a ridiculously predictable plot but lots of fire, explosions, chase scenes and witty one-liners. Those are the kinds of movies you can watch over and over.

I mean, granted, I have kids so I have already watched it 5 million times.

But, you know what they say: Everything is Awesome!
(inside joke for those who’ve seen it)

You know what they also say in The LEGO Movie?

Taco Tuesday

I love tacos. I really don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like tacos. Tacos are the best way to eat anything, since just about anything can become a taco:

Chicken? Taco.
Beef? Taco.
Fish? Taco.
Seaweed and tofu? …yes, it can be a taco too, but really? Seaweed and tofu tacos?

But there are differences in tacos that shape the person you are: soft tacos, street tacos and hard tacos.

While the proverb, “The clothes make the man” may be fine advice, the same should be said about tacos:

“The tortilla makes the taco.”

Because, let’s face it. There is a world of difference between chicken and shredded lettuce sitting in a hard shell, and chicken and slaw sitting in a fluffy street taco tortilla.

Tortillas will make your taco.

And you need to get ready for Taco Tuesday!

 

1. Make Your Own Classic Flour Tortillas

The best way to start any kitchen experimentation is to start with the basics! Flour tortillas are wonderful. Homemade, warm flour tortillas are divine. Especially with a little butter… you might want to make a big batch of these so you don’t run out before you get to the actual tacos!!

I will say I have made these before, and although they turned out amazing, they do take a bit of time. They also rise a bit, so roll the dough a little thinner than normal.

 

2. 5 Minute Flour Tortillas

For those of us who have problems with delayed gratification, but still want the satisfaction of homemade tortillas comes the next best thing: 5 minute tortillas!! Just think. You could be having fresh tacos almost immediately with this recipe. This is awesome!!

 

3. 3 Ingredient Plantain Tortillas

And now for something completely different: banana tortillas. Plantain bananas are not the most ubiquitous fruit, but it is definitely worth the trip to a store which is out of the way. I always fried plantains like french fries before, so this is a fun new way to use them! Besides, they are so packed full of vitamins, it would be a fantastic boost for your balanced diet, anyway!

 

4. How To Make Your Own Flavored Tortillas

If you really want to raise the standards for your tacos, you can coordinate flavors between your tacos and your tortillas. For instance, maybe a sun-dried tomato tortilla with fresh cilantro and lime chicken tacos? Or rosemary garlic tortillas for lamb tacos? Maybe even lemon zest tortillas for fish tacos??

 

5. Making Sundry Corn Tortillas

Now, some of us, admittedly, have trouble with flour. This is where corn tortillas come in. But corn tortillas have the irritating habit of breaking and crumbling in your hands (you are toasting corn tortillas first right?), which is never good eats. Perhaps, though, you could make your own? And maybe, perhaps, you could have some fun and create a fleet of spinach tortillas, or sweet potato tortillas??

From A Child’s Perspective…

If you have ever wondered (because I know I’m not the only one), “why is medieval spelled so weird? Why isn’t it mid?” Then I’m the gal for you!

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Ah, the land of etymology.

A land in which I may, or may not, have spent hours if not months of my life.

We didn’t spend nearly as long as a time in the Medieval Faire, but we had a good long visit, and that was good enough for my vintage soul!

For the record, I may have gone to many (many) Scottish faires, but I have never been to a Rennaissance faire. I don’t like the time period right now. Lately I have been researching Medieval philosophies, royalties, timelines, country borders and who knows what else.

Why?

I don’t know. Don’t ask. It is what it is.

But it is crazy interesting because it is such a misunderstood and misrepresented time period. It has boggled my mind that this period lasted about a thousand years, and very very little modern progress came out of this time. So, what were people doing for a thousand years, really?

Wars, farming, families, the Crusades, the establishment of British feudal society, the creation of Scottish royalty and nobility, trading, the shift from Anglo-Saxon to Normans (officially in 1066 under the first Norman king, William I) and consequently the formation of Middle English which then became Early Modern English in the 1600s (which would have been during the Renaissance, Shakespeare, James I, etc), the printing press in 1470 which changed everything, the progress of primarily theological philosophy through Aquinas, Bacon, Maimonides and Wycliffe, along with the establishment of British universities, such as Eton College, and finally ending with the Protestant revolution.

That may not be the invention of the combustion engine, but it is still a lot to cover!

So when I found a Medieval faire (not a Ren faire, which is a completely different time period), I was all over that.

However, I don’t like being that person who walks around behind her camera all day.

So I gave my phone to the kids and told them to take pictures for me.

This is a tactic I’ve used on many occasions, and I cannot tell you how amazing my pictures are with this method. I get to see what the kids see, and what is important to them…

What is particularly interesting is how many pictures of other kids I find on my phone! They notice where the other kids are, and what accessories they come with. One kid in particular had a pretty rockin’ archery gig going on, and I had many quiver pictures!

 

They also notice people who are in costume, and stick out!

I also loved the picture of the parasol alley. Apparently that caught someone’s eye…

The girls found a dance lesson and engaged immediately.

Conrad was drug along extremely reluctantly, and I allowed him to sit out for most of the lessons. However that left Nova to dance with the instructor’s husband, who was much more light on his feet than all of us, combined.

We also found some woodworking and the kids were able to help build a bucket. I’m not sure that was the most entirely enthralling adventure, but they liked helping.

 

 

 

 

And fortunately we got to see some swordfighting!

It wasn’t exactly Braveheart fighting out there but, then again, Braveheart wasn’t exactly historically accurate either. So, who’s counting.

 

Summer Swimming Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

Lake Swimming

Precaution is better than cure.
-Edward Coke

 

My daughters are obsessed with mermaids.

They have checked out every mermaid book in our local library. They have watched every mermaid movie on Netflix. They have mermaid coloring books, and for one of their birthdays they got a mermaid tail they can wear in the pool (or bathtub).

These little girls are eating and breathing mermaids right now, and I couldn’t be happier. Because you know what is the cutest thing in the world? Listening to mermaid stories they come up with in the back of the car, complete with mermaid names in a mermaid land and figuring out what they’re going to eat as mermaids.

Mermaids are a thing here.

A big thing.

They are obsessed with mermaids in ways only little girls can be.

Know what their mom is obsessed with?

Swimming safety.

Because you can watch all the mermaid movies on earth…it isn’t going to teach you how to swim, how to walk safely next to a pool, or how to stay safe in the water.

We are enjoying another summer full of swim lessons and beach trips, and you bet I am making sure we have sunscreen, towels, bathing suits, mermaid tails and a good, healthy dose of water safety reminders!

Because a happy mermaid is a safe mermaid!

However you love the water, whether in water wings or on a floatie, these are good reminders for everyone before hitting the waves!

 

 

Summer Reading Resources!

josh-applegate-149609

Summer is a great time to escape: to the beach, to the mountains, or to the world of a great book. This year, I found myself drawn even more than usual to books that took me outside (and I don’t mean the great outdoors). The books on this year’s summer reading list pushed me out of my own experiences, and I learned some things that shed new light on how our experiences shape us and where humanity might be headed.
-Bill Gates on his 2017 summer reading list

 

I remember in the 4th grade finding the shelf in the library with the Nancy Drew books. This shelf took up all of my time and a good chunk of my mother’s gas as she drove me back and forth to the library after I’d devoured yet another handful of stories and required more.

That summer was the easiest summer reading list I’ve ever had, because once I was done with that I went on to Trixie Belden…and then on to The Babysitter’s Club…and then Sweet Valley High…and then…
….school started 😦

Coming up with a summer reading list isn’t always this easy, though.

Finding the right books for picky readers might be more difficult.

I’ve made many lists of books I intended to read, but either I couldn’t find them at the library or I couldn’t find them in a bookstore, and I was left with Kindle or Amazon to finish my list…
But I’d kinda rather not have to buy every book. I’m a hardcore library type of gal.

When it comes to finding a good summer reading program, libraries always have a summer reading program for kids, so that is a good place to start.

And there are thousands of free Kindle books available on Amazon, believe it or not.

But where else could you find good summer reading for you and the kids, besides random free kindle books?