Finding Baby Toys

you know you're a mom when 1

I’m a SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom). It’s a thrill, working 168 hours per week without any sick leave. Did I mention I also get to cook and clean? Paradise. (If my bitterness is too strong today, go ahead and move on to the next paragraph. I’m sick with a cold and working off 5 hours of sleep, so optimism can go suck a big one today.) Seriously, it’s days like today that make me wish Canada had a warmer climate. Or that Brazil didn’t have such big bugs. But I could go on and on, and it won’t change the fact that I STILL don’t have a self-cleaning sink. Life is hard.

With the family on one income (which this society was clearly not designed for), I’ve learned new levels of frugal this year. One brilliant suggestion from a veteran mom has been to scour local thrift shops for electronic toys. Goodwill won’t sell electronic toys that don’t work, so anything you find will be perfectly usable, if a bit worn. Best of all, you can get them for pennies.

Well, this past weekend, I gots me some shiny pennies and rolled out to find the bargains. Hit up the local Goodwill and Value Village. Jack. Pot.

I got a standing play area for $4.50  Retails for about $37. I also found four or five other toys for a total of $6. Not each- that’s $6 for all of them. So, for around 10 little Washingtons, I brought home this bounty:

!!-stuff-from-goodwill-and-value-village-april-2013-!They work and are in great condition. Just clean, add batteries, and BOOM! Stimulating play area. Eva LOVES the new additions, and I love the fact that three of the five toys teach ABCs. Hey, it’s never too early, right?

Since I started the post with pessimism (and snark), I’ll end it with a bit of inspiration:

zooey's wisdom

My Inner Teen Speaks

Maybe it’s the rain today, turning down the volume on my mood. Maybe it’s Boston. Maybe it’s the local paper, which now seems determined to run every terrible story about tragedies involving children. Today, the world seems dark. And I am angsty, sad and tired.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bust out with some of my navel-gazing poetry.

I’m going to bust out with someone elses.’ (else’s? else? My eyes just crossed.)

!! gorgeous image !!I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away–
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing–
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
~T. S. Eliot

What’s Your American Dream?

I have an active brain, and an active pre-toddler, so my current back-log of blog posts is hovering at around 8. I’ll get to them soon enough. For today, I want to lead with the one that weighs the heaviest on my mind.

Don't allow your wounds to transform you

I’m 32…No, that’s not the topic. I’m not panicking about that.

When I was younger, I had an idea of what my life would be like at 32. What I wanted to happen and be happening right now. I’m nowhere near that. Obviously, any dreams I made at 15 (when chat rooms were all the rage and cell phones weren’t a mandatory accessory) are irrelevant now in the Digital Age. Who could have forecast life in a world with 24/7 access to so many things? My 15 year-old-Self would be astounded. The world I was raised in and the world I find myself in are two totally different places. I straddle (hehe) two totally different worlds. Some days I don’t know what to do with that. And some days I think back on what I used to want and compare it to what I have. I’ve adjusted certain expectations, but there are a few things that I think, in American today, should still be the case. They’re not, and it’s a social failing that they’re not.

What I think should be a given in our society:

1) Medical care: I should be able to afford basic medical care without having to go into debt. I don’t mean brain surgery. I mean basic medical care. If I get strep throat, I shouldn’t have to re-think my grocery budget for the next two months. If I break an arm, I shouldn’t have to get a second job. IF I HAVE A BABY, I shouldn’t have to take out a second mortgage. (Here I will note that it is practically impossible to get a health plan with maternity coverage. Because, you know, it’s not in anyone’s best interest for women and their babies to have access to affordable health care. Go Team America Corporate Healthcare! Working great so far in the free market!)

2) College: It doesn’t have to be free, but unless you’re teaching me brain surgery, I shouldn’t be paying student loans off until past my retirement. Think “Good Will Hunting.” You know which scene I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen “Good Will Hunting,” then shame on you.

3) Housing: A roof over my head and working electricity and heat shouldn’t cost more than my firstborn. I’m not asking for a mansion. I’m asking for affordable housing that’s not in the ghetto and has some good schools nearby. No, that’s really not too much to ask.

Those are just my top three. Those are the bare-minimum-basics that I thought should be covered in the more affluent country in, oh, the history of the fucking planet. I’m not asking anyone to pay my way for me. But don’t set up a feudal system and then tell me it’s a fair, free market. And that, in case you’re paying attention, is exactly what we have. A feudal system.

make a difference signThink about it. They- the ubiquitous “they”– make us feel like it’s our fault if we’re not succeeding. If we can’t afford certain things, we must not be trying hard enough. That’s the common wisdom. And it’s designed to keep us from looking closely at the system that we have. If you’re telling me that in the most affluent society in the history of ever, a two income family has to work 70 hour weeks to afford to save enough IN CASE one of them gets sick, then I think we need to rethink the social contract. A. Lot.

The American Dream used to be a house with a family and a comfortable life. Then it morphed in to riches and fame. I think we all know how that worked out. At this point, I’d settle for financial security for me, the Hubs and this little cherub:_DSC1038So I ask you, Dear Reader, as a non-rhetorical question:

What is your idea/vision of The American Dream?

Really, what would that be for you? What would it look like?

Preventable Dis-eases

pollen_600x450It’s that time of year again. That time when the yellow haze settles onto the cars, when everyone has that glazed look in their eyes, when your head feels like it’s floating three feet over your body and everyone’s voice sounds like they’re talking underwater. It’s Pollen Season in Atlanta.

The pollen count in Atlanta today is 2,607. Parts per million…million, with an “M.” Just to give you some perspective on that number, a ‘high’ pollen count is considered to be anything over 90. Why do we have this much pollen? Because our ‘urban developers,’ (whomever they are) are supremely stupid and have planned poorly.

Pollen_tree_530It is a known fact (thanks to the Almightly Google) that urban areas prefer to use male trees to landscape. Female trees produce flowers and fruit. Flowers + fruit = costly maintenance.

So male trees are planted. Lots and lots and lots of male trees. Come springtime, male trees do what males are apt to do…they go looking to spread their seed. Not detecting female trees nearby (how they can tell that is anyone’s guess), they only try harder. More pollen, spread for longer. So now, as any 8th grader could predict, cities have a growing problem with astronomical levels of pollen. Last year in Atlanta, the pollen count hit an all-time-high of over 9,000. It was off every chart that we’ve ever made to track pollen counts.

What gets me the most about this is that we do this to ourselves! We do it to ourselves by thinking we can control/outwit nature. We could fix this by changing the way we landscape in cities. The problem with our pollen levels being so high- and there are many problems- is that we get more sensitive over time, so allergies get worse and worse the longer we are exposed. It’s enough to make me want to move to somewhere remote, like Montana…or Roswell.

pollen trying to killI hope we get over our masochistic (or lazy?) need to make ourselves sick with tree sperm soon. My take is that there’s enough in life that is not fixable that the few things we can fix should get our full attention.