Not Ants On A Log

Recipe time! This one is Carrots And Cream!

I always appreciated recipes for young kids and we still use a couple of them on a regular basis. What I never appreciated was ‘ants on a log’ because bugs. Because celery. Because mixing bugs and food never appealed to me, though sometimes it did to my kids. Though not often.

So recently my daughter developed her own recipe that we so far call ‘carrots and cream’. This may appear to be a disappointing let down when you learn there is no actual cream in the recipe, but at least there are no bugs, either. But then, finding out there is no cream, and finding out there are no bugs, may elicit entirely different reactions, and therein lies the one fault of our recipe. The rest is just easy and delicious.

Ingredients:

carrot sticks

cream cheese

sunflower seeds

pepper or other spice

Directions:

Basically you make carrot sticks and make sure they have a flat side. On that flat side you smear on some cream cheese. Then you add some sunflower seeds, and pepper it up. There ya go! A more adult version of a simple snack good in hot or cold weather. Now with my new dietary restrictions, I have very little cream cheese. My daughter slathers it on some of the carrot sticks for her own enjoyment. I’m not quibbling at this point. All I know is that someone made a snack and they made some of it for me. ❤

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Embracing Addiction

What an odd title, don’t you think? Why would a person even consider embracing addiction? Aren’t we supposed to be shunning addictions in all their tangible and intangible forms?

Well, according to much of our language and social cues, why yes, we are accepting and embracing not only our addictions, but everyone else’s. Yours. Mine. That guy’s over there…eyew.

See what I mean? How do I get there in my convoluted reasoning? Well, have you ever read an ad that stated that “this product is so good, it’s addictive”? Did you think “Oh, gross!” or did you think “Really? Sounds great!” I know I’ve fallen into the second trap. Addictive sounds like the ultimate in goodness, according to a warped society that feeds upon itself. Really. Since when in what world has any addiction been a good or healthy thing? It doesn’t matter if we call it a hobby or just declare with zeal that a food brand has our undying loyalty as if it were a football team or-gasp- a God.

The basest behaviors that grime up our humanity are addictive, and that includes p*rn. Celebrating addiction (and exploitative media) blurs our access to healthful living. It supports the predatory advertising methods we’ve all become so used to, even enamored with. It stunts people trying to overcome their addiction or even recognize they have one. Addiction uses people up as if they were the ultimate in addictive materials, objects to be used, bruised, and tossed aside when they’re all used up.

So when I go cruising the internet and I look up images of libraries because hey, books are a deeply held interest of mine, I come across words like bookp*rn. The first couple times I saw that, I immediately thought, “Yes!” and I clicked in excited to find a hub of library pictures, book pictures, and wise memes about the joy of reading. This doesn’t mean I was a consumer of real p*rn and had become excited about that. It meant that I recognized the intended meaning that here be pages of pictures of books for your eyes to consume. Which is good in that yeah, books, and it was also bad because I accept p*rn as a defining institution within my life. It defines my perspective, my interests, and my language. Heck, even the consumption part sounds less than healthy under poor circumstances.

Think about it: not being one who looks at p*rn, I accept its words and phrases in my life as part of my language and thinking patterns. Do I really want that? How does that help anybody that this has become an acceptable way of measuring the worth of a thing or of enjoying life? Do I really want any aspect of consumptive, exploitative, cannibalistic business practices that ruin lives and destroy families to have any influence over me?

The answer is NO. I aim to not engage in normalizing criminal, immoral, horrendous behavior and business practices. Not p*rnography, and not addictions.

Clean language: a healthy choice for spirit, mind, and body. Maybe we can take back the word ‘adult’. That would be a good start.

 

 

“Fur-Babies”: Please stop

Please stop using this

One of the things I am improving in my life is my use of language. So since I don’t swear and that seems the obvious place to start, where do I go from there? Well, believe me, swear words are not the only sloppy or offensive words we use. There’s also tone, too, of course. But I started working on my use of slang, for instance. I found out many, if not most, slang comes from horrible sources, questionable sources, and fleeting sources. So I’ve dropped most slang from my language as well. Then there are words that just serve in a kind of nickname kind of linguistic slot. One of these is the use of the word “fur-babies” to mean one’s pets. Why would I advocate against this? What right do I even have??

Well, I have the right of any English speaker to have my opinions. I can advocate for this behavior over that one. It’s not about my authority- I am just another English speaker. But in advocating, I do not demand that society immediately accept my opinion as fact and make PSAs or pass laws binding everyone to my chosen behavior. This word we’re talking about is rather a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of lives. We will simply call this one of my pet peeves. OK?

The question of ‘why’…let me give this a try.

The Family

I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘fur-babies’, but I’ve considered it. After all, my pets are loved, they have their place in our family dynamics, and the connections we have with them run deep. I was a bit tempted. However, I have these other creatures called children. It took a lot of effort to have those children. The infertility, the difficult and complicated pregnancies, the agonizing choices that have had to be made…this is part of parenthood and part of motherhood, some of the most glorious, divine, and world-maligned roles we embrace in this life. It is an essential attribute of any species to procreate and make more of the littler versions of themselves. It is also, in our place as children of a living God, one of our greatest blessings in this life.

So when someone refers to animals in a way that equates them with human children, I really do cringe. It’s not accurate. It may help contribute to other forms of language and thought that both intentionally and unintentionally muddy the word waters. If I refer to my dog as a fur-baby, is it cute, or just kind of childish? Does it demean the nature of my children? I didn’t say it changes the nature of my children. It demeans it. They are my daughters, and I can teach them so much. We can learn and grow together, laughing and crying, loving our ancestors, dreaming of the next generation, and they take such excellent care of me. What wonderful things my dog does simply do not compare.

The dog wags her tail, licks my face, is happy to see me, loves to nap with me, loves her walks, and enjoys other things. It’s all great. I can reach out and dig my fingers into her fur and my own heart is soothed. Humans can make wonderful homes for dogs and cats (and whatever else). Dogs and cats are a great blessing. They are not the blessing of children.

The family, the natural family, of our species, is under attack like no other species has ever encountered. Other species have been physically hunted to extinction, yes. Others have some protection. But the human family is under other kinds of attack as well. We’re supposed to feel bad for being naturally human families. Nobody guilted passenger pigeons into extinction, they just shot all of them because some people were stupid.

Yes, there do seem to be plenty of people who want to refer to human children with horrible slang terms. Sometimes they are the same people who want to call their pets fur-babies. I don’t know. However, motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, childhood, even girl and boy, brother and sister, are all words that are under attack. The strategy is to redefine them into so many ways that 1- we don’t know what we’re even talking about and along with that we’re afraid to refer to our own reality, and 2- we become so incredibly disconnected from one another we lose the natural love of family, the protection of family, and the sense of humankind as a family. We lose the sense of what family can be! We split into factions who oppose each other and make all life more complicated and difficult.

I have a mother and a father, brothers, and a sister. I have some cousins, nephews, nieces. I have grandparents, great grandparents, and more, going back into the past. I assume I may yet have descendants who continue to build the same links.

Our pets are part of that. They are a precious part. They are not the actual links, however.

If you do not have children, that is OK. If you have pets instead, that is OK. In fact, if anyone were to use such a silly little word like fur-baby, perhaps you have the most right. Or at least the greatest opportunity. Which is OK. It’s just one word.

The Individual- human or animal

Too many aspects of our lives are being actively redefined in sloppier and sloppier ways. Accuracy fades as people try not to offend but still can’t understand the many new words usages that are demanded of them. Language change tends to be slower than that, because people need time. The only times word change is forced on a deadline are when a tyrant wants to grasp thought, language, and behavior control from the people they control.

Oh! See what I did there? “They” as a kind of indeterminate singular-possibly-plural individual or group.

I actually find the new and rising uses of ‘they’ kind of handy.

After raising animals to the level of children, and then to humanity in general, we now have people who want animals to have the same God-given rights that we humans have. It’s silly. It’s unnatural. It’s unfair to humans and animals alike. Using the word fur-babies may or may not contribute to this. I don’t think every use of it contributes, let’s put it that way. But I suspect that most uses of the word do contribute to the rise of inaccuracy in our conversations and legal matters and social mores.

And like I said, it’s not fair to anyone. Let’s look at it from the dog’s perspective: should my dog be expected to act like a human? Is she really just a fuzzy baby? NO! She needs to be allowed to be a dog. Hundreds of animal behavior problems stem from people treating their dogs like cartoon humans. The dog is only a puppy for months, not years. The dog can’t digest some of the foods we eat. The dog can not grasp legal matters. The dog has her own natural instincts as well as her experience as a dog and her judgments as a dog. The dog must not rule over the children, for everyone’s safety. The dog is not a fur-baby, not a not-a-dog. She is a dog. A wonderful and amazing creature that has, as a group, a long history of living with humans. But not a human.

Would we decide that baby impalas must grow up in the pride of lions, and expect them to behave as lions do? There are a few real cases where a lion has temporarily adopted a baby impala or other animal. Exceptions happen. But really, how can an impala ever be a lion? It can’t. Can a lion grow up as an impala? How about that?

It’s not fair to the impala or the lion. Whether you believe in evolution or God-designed creation, you see that most of nature follows a general set of natural rules.

Finally

Nature is a part of our world, and we are part of nature. When we remove ourselves from nature we lose wisdom and stability that we desperately need. In order to learn about the cosmos, we need bigger and better words than just calling the entities out there ‘twinkly things’, or even ‘stars’. Settling for cutesy language murks up our awesome and naturally occurring reasoning organs that we as humans have. As a word game, yeah, ‘fur-babies’ has its place…with things like ‘ring around the rosy’ and ‘mama, I gotta go pee’. Which reminds me of how when I was a kid, nobody over the age of three used the word ‘pee’. Baby talk, people.

Spiritually we belong to an amazing entity who is the most supreme and grand and loving parent one could ever have. We can’t grasp His nature any more than we can grasp the totality of the universe. He knows each human just as well as he knows each sparrow. His plan for each human is very different from the one he has for sparrows. And finally, he has asked in the scriptures that we use ‘yea for yea’ and ‘nay for nay’. Anything beyond or below that is less truthful, less accurate, and therefore thus more devilish. Did I know I was devilish? Not sure how much I thought about it, in years past. But now I recognize it in my behavior, in my words, and in my thoughts. I’m trying to eliminate the dross and devilish so that I can see myself as the shining purified work of God’s hands. Anyone can do this! Start with a word or a habit. See how much each of these things is related to other things. Clean up one and see what you see afterwards. Find good alternatives. And like I say to my kids whenever they go out: “Do good, be good, and have a good time.”

Modern Lessons from Ancient Lit

My guest post this week is offered by Aesop, that most ancient and underappreciated of wise men. Having spent much of his life as a slave, encountering many layers of repulsion due to his apparently ugly appearance and some form of disability, Aesop went on to prove time after time just how quick witted he was, how keen to observe, and how cunning to act. His fables stand the test of thousands of years, which I doubt will ever be said of many modern award winning publications. But then, when I think of it, how many popular, socially acceptable, government sanctioned ancient writings do we have today? How many have just gone the way of all the dust of time?

Enough. To Aesop!

“As a Wolf was lapping at the Head of a Fountain, he spy’d a Lamb paddling at the same time a good way off down the Stream. The Wolf had no sooner the Prey in his eye, but away he runs open-mouthed to’t.

Villain (says he) how dare you lie muddling the Water that I’m drinking?

Indeed, says the poor Lamb, I did not think that my drinking here below could have foul’d your Water so far above.

Nay, says t’other, you’ll never leave your chopping of Logick, till your Skin’s turn’d over your ears, as your Father’s was, a matter of six Months ago, for prating at this saucy rate; you remember it full well, Sirrah.

If you’ll believe me, Sir, (quoth the innocent Lamb, with fear and trembling) I was not come into the World then.

Why thou Impudence, cries the Wolf, hast thou neither Shame nor Conscience? but it runs in the Blood of your whole Race, Sirrah, to hate our Family; and therefore since Fortune has brought us together so conveniently, you shall e’en pay some of your Forefathers Scores before you and I part.

And so without any more ado, he leap’d at the Throat of the miserable helpless Lamb, and tore him immediately to pieces.”

Now gentle readers, what lessons can be learned here? Enter your answers below!

 

(excerpt taken from Aesop Fables Children Classics, Alfred A. Knopf, New York)

Multitasking

The Ups and Downs of Juggling Several Things At Once, and the Key to Success

I remember, years ago, the first time I heard the word ‘multitasking’. I thought something along these lines: “Wow, those corporate types will think up anything!” If memory serves me (and it doesn’t), I was carrying a baby in a sling while folding laundry, listening for the washer to end so I could switch wet clothes to the dryer, letting the dog out, soaking dishes, letting dough rise, letting the dog in, and avoiding the phone. Multitasking sounded like a new corporate thang, shiny, vague, but obviously evolved for efficiency in a serious boardroom environment. It took me an hour to realize that all that these suits were actually doing was being a Mom.
Multitasking is nothing more than doing several tasks at once to improve output and results. People have been doing it for as long as there have been people…especially little people: the wee one who calls you from one room while another clings to your shirt and another sulks in a loud cloud of silence because he wants your help but he’s too hurt to ask for it.
Now, this practice has its place. It can be very handy to get a bunch of things done within a two hour window so that your afternoon is freed up. However, I have discovered the downside to this and so I consider carefully before implementing Multitask Attainment Zone. It is this: I am sometimes so tired from running around like a chicken with its head cut off that I can’t possibly enjoy those free hours that come later. My back hurts, my arms ache, my head is tired of thinking about so many things at once, and all I want is a nap that I don’t want. So now I implement Multitask Aggregate Assessment Incentive with caution.
It is entirely useful and possible to have eight things going at once. Some of those might be things that can run themselves for a while, like a computer security scan and a clothes dryer. Others need closer attention, like serving a customer face-to-face or knowing what you just agreed to over the phone. Some can be interrupted, like a chapter in a book; some things can never be interrupted, like certain chapters in certain other books. There is probably a formula for how many things the average person can juggle at a time without making mistakes. I would expect that the number of mistakes would rise in proportion to the number of items being multitasked, but that never takes into account the amount of sleep a person had the night before, or the distraction of someone’s smothering perfume. Needless to say, it would become more difficult to juggle more things under greater stress loads. I suppose that means that when you think you are multitasking, say, six assignments, tasks, or chores, you are more likely also juggling the stress and pressure associated with the items as well as the juggling itself. Then there’s all the other stuff going on around you and inside your own head. It becomes ugly quickly. At least it does in that sometimes frenetic place just above my shoulders.
So when I have a to-do list, which is often, I sometimes plan part of my day to actively juggle several tasks at once. I don’t usually plan on multitasking throughout the entire day. I am a low key person. I only get up early in the mornings because I am cursed with Morning Person Personality. Don’t judge my day by how quickly it seems to get underway. That would be like judging the design of the Titanic by the way that champagne bottle broke against its hull.
I multitask, knowing that at any moment my efforts might get derailed by more important things. No matter how important my plans are, there is usually something more important than that. It might be the sudden need of a child or a friend. It might be a bizarre utility letter in the morning mail that requires an immediate follow up phone call while I still care about the travesty of their New Policy Implementation. At any rate, I multitask with an open mind: it may be interrupted, and it may not work even if everything goes smoothly. Then I make sure to schedule, as much as possible, a single-task series of activities. Because single tasking has its perks, as well.
It can be stimulating to take on several tasks at once, set them in motion, supervise their progress, and feel the satisfaction when they all end pretty well after all that effort. I have a love/hate relationship with to-do lists: I make them, then I hate when something stays on the list all week, into next week, demanding my attention. Sometimes I give up and cross it off. Sometimes I make a new list and the (de)pressing issue goes to the top of the list for me to deal with when I am at the height of my curse of Morning Person Personality. It is really cool to cross off several items at once because I multitasked. So cool! Less to do! More book to read!
But as far as I am concerned this does nothing compared to the deep joy of a single task, fallen into, made blind because of, and deafened thereby. Sometimes, during single tasking, time stops and quite possibly ceases to exist. My mind is quiet; my body stilled; my spirit alive with concentration upon the experience I am given. These are precious times in life: a mother sits in no hurry with a child in her lap, reading with utmost relish to the child whose face lights up with imagination and the satisfaction of feeling loved. An artist spends a few pure, solid hours in sketching or writing or stitching. A book lover has fallen so deeply into a story that they can hear the fictional characters and not their own real world. This is what we cannot do when we multitask: we cannot be thoroughly lost in the immense concentration upon one thing that is only possible when we focus upon only one thing. Ask any Buddhist.
So I tend to save the afternoon, if possible, for the single task activities that take as much, if not more, effort than multitasking. This is because when I multitask, I am trying to use my morning energy as efficiently as possible to get as many things done as early in the day as I can because honestly, we never can know exactly what will happen in the next hour. A desperate phone call, smoke pouring from the dish washer, or a bout of sickness can derail a day. On the other hand, I hope that we can also set aside our plans when we see a sun dappled maple tree or notice the elderly neighbor struggling with their garbage can. These could be considered distractions, especially to the goal acquisitive mind frame, a.k.a. The Multitask Blunt Goal Trauma Committee. These moments might be saving graces, which we cannot afford to pass by in our ignorance. They may be reminders of beauty and impulse and serendipity and kindness in the moment. A single moment can carry the weight of a dozen goals achieved if we are in the right place at the right time and we recognize it for what it’s worth. A single moment can carry thousands of consequences that ripple through hours and years and individuals and communities.
Businesses (and homes) need clocks and spread sheets and goals. They have their place. They help maintain civilization, make money, save lives, and reduce chaos. Multitasking is not, by itself, a good thing in any situation. It is only a tool. It is used in situations that are entirely appropriate to save time and effort. It is also used in situations where it is inhumane and contributes only to the suffering in the world. Use multitasking (and single tasking) wisely.
Awareness is the key. To multitask a person needs to keep track of what tasks they are actually doing. To single task a person needs to recognize what is most important at the moment they are given, plunge in, and use their full focus. Each of us needs to develop a sense of when each skill is best applied, and how, as well as what the results might be. There is no guilt in awareness, but there is understanding. There is no fluster in awareness, only calmness in the moment. There is no pressure in awareness, only the sense of growth. With an awakening of awareness, any action we take carries better health within it in general. So when we multitask we can use it for best effectiveness rather than always for efficiency. When we single task, we can do it freely and enjoy what we are doing.
As a stay at home mom, I am grateful for the ability to be flexible, because family life is organic, fluid, and can turn instantaneously messy. I enjoy living in the moment I have, and I enjoy finding new ways to grow. I enjoy living in such a way that I am not a detriment to those around me, and I enjoy thinking about these things. I am a mom, and I don’t just multitask, I momercize. I recommend it for everyone, though they may want to change the name of it to Magnate Task Efficiency Correlation Paradigm Accrual. And no, I can’t make a pithy acronym to save my life.

First World Problem

I seem to have trouble using the vacuum these days. Every time I have to edge the living room I wave my arms over the vacuum and declare in a commanding voice, “Onboard attachments, unite!”

Yet they never do; not by themselves anyway.
And to make it worse, the kids have become, shall we say, inured.

I’m not even sure which part of this post IS the First World Problem.

 

housewife

 

 

 

Recipe: laundry soap

I was hoping to do a creative write to add to my blog today. Unfortunately, I suffered chore-induced creative block. So I thought I would at least add a recipe. This is a dry recipe for making my own laundry soap. It is easy, the kids can do it, the minions can do it, aliens can probably do it depending on, you know, digits…but I wouldn’t trust a pet.

I store it in an old plastic ice cream container, with a tablespoon measuring spoon. I also wrote on the bucket in a few places, so that others may see the instructions. Because, gladly, I am not the only one who does laundry in this place.

Homemade Laundry Soap

Ingredients:

one bar of Ivory soap, grated (with a cow bell shaped cheese grater) into aprox. 2 C of filmy white flakes*

1C washing soda, 20 mule team stuff

1C washing soda, Arm & Hammer stuff

Instructions:

After grating up your chosen brand of bar soap, simply mix it with the other two ingredients in a container of your choice.

To use:

Add 2 Tb to running water in the washing machine and let it dissolve some. If, after doing laundry, you see a lot of the soap flakes in your laundry sink, you might use hot water at first to help it dissolve more. Let it mix well with the water, or it will get pressed into your clothing and not do its job. These little details are fine for me to have to deal with because the result is brighter clothing, huge savings, and fewer skin problems.

* I use Ivory, but Fels Naphtha was the recommended brand when I did my initial research. I tried it, and then tried something else, before settling on Ivory. Any older brand will do, as far as I understand.

I buy ten-bar packs of Ivory soap and each bar comes to about 45 cents. Washing sodas can be used for so many other things as well. This particular recipe lasts up to two weeks, depending on who is doing however much laundry. All around, it’s a good investment.

Laundry: done. Self reliance trick of the day: done. Back to my book.