Mommy Soup

How soup for 7 really works.

10,000 Hours

Those last few posts have been a little intense, so let’s do one that’s a little more light hearted, shall we?

Author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.  I’ve heard this thrown around a lot and it’s even in a Macklemore song I really like.  In fact, listening to that song a few times on my recent 12 hour driving trip with my family is what got me thinking about this in the first place.

But how long is 10,000 hours, anyway?  I mean, that’s just too big of a number for me to really wrap my head around when it comes to time.  Well, it translates to about 1 year and 52 days straight.  What have I done for the equivalent of a year and 2 months?!?!  And would I really consider myself a master of those things?

Well, I’ve probably spent somewhere around that amount of time doing laundry over the course of my life.  And I’m totally a master at running things through a washer and dryer.  I’ve only dyed 1 load pink with that evil, sneaky red towel.  I’ve absolutely mastered listening to music, what with how easy and passive that is.  Hmm…what else…oh, pregnancy!  With 5 kids, that means I have spent about 3 3/4 years on successful pregnancies.  While I’m not a master of all pregnancies, I can probably say that I’m a master at my own.

But none of those things are actual things I’ve had to work at.  They’re kinda things that just happen while you’re living life.  So what have I actually worked at that I can claim mastery over?

Reading is the first one that comes to mind.  I’ve been reading voraciously since I was little.  I literally ready everyday.  And I’m not talking about reading facebook comments or road signs (though, I’m sure those count toward the overall total).  I’m talking about reading books.  Despite having a host of children and little to no time to myself, I read at least 1 chapter of a book everyday.  I love reading.  Getting lost in a book is one of my greatest non-parenting joys.

Breastfeeding is another thing I’ve mastered.  And, no, that one doesn’t fall under the previous header of “things that just happen.”  I had to work at it.  In fact, I consider myself a failure at breastfeeding my 1st child.  I tried and tried and saw specialists and consultants.  I ended up so engorged that I was prescribed a hospital grade pump.  After 3 months (which is actually pretty impressive), I couldn’t do it anymore.  It was too hard, too painful, and turning into an experience where I resented my daughter for it.  I’m a firm believer in nursing for as long as it’s good for both you and your baby and with my 1st baby that was only 3 months.  My 2nd was 1 year.  My 3rd and 4th were over 2 years.  My 5th was just under 2 years.  After nursing 3 toddlers, 2 of them through pregnancies and into tandem nursing, I can say that I’m a master at it.

I’ve also probably been sewing for close to 10,000 hours of my life, if not more.  My mom can sew and she taught my sister and I when we were kids.  I had one set of sewing lessons (30 minutes per day for 4 days) when I was 8 years old, in which I learned how to follow a pattern (I made shorts), make a 9-patch pillow, and ad lib a scrunchy.  After that, I was off and running.  I made a dress with my mom.  I made pants with my sister.  When I was 10, I designed and made my own shirts.  A few years later, I made my first quilt.  I’ve made bedding, clothes, diapers, stuffed animals, headbands, baby carriers…I can literally sew anything that can be sewn at this point.  And I love to sew!  I’ve got 4 sewing machines right now (I burn through them pretty quickly).  Persephone has her own sewing machine.  Dimitrios has a junior sewing machine that Calandra is always trying to use.  Theron likes to sit on my lap and help sew.  The only child who hasn’t gotten my sewing bug is Lucius, but he likes the way the machine works.  🙂

So, it looks like I’m technically a master of the things that I love.  Wait.  That’s not right.  I hate laundry.  But the children, the reading, and the sewing I totally love.  I don’t know that I’d really consider it a mastery over those things, though.  I’m fully willing to admit that I’ve got a lot more to learn about everything.

Except the laundry.  Unfortunately, I’ve got that down.

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100 years ago seems like a really long time.  In many of the ways we take for granted, it was a whole world away.  1914 saw Henry Ford introduce the first assembly line, something we use in the production of damn near everything now.  The Panama Canal opened.  Beverly Hills incorporated (and I’ll watch it’s Real Housewives when my kids go to bed).  The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was placed.  The first successful blood transfusion happened.  The birth of Paramount Pictures and color films, commercial airlines, Greyhound Buses…hell, that’s the year the Red Sox first got Babe Ruth.  World War I started that year!

My grandmother was also born that year.

Now, think of all that has happened since then.  2 World Wars, and a host of other conflicts the world over.  The birth of the auto industry and it’s expansion until almost every household in the US has at least 1 car.  The advent of computers and the advancement of computer technology until I can type on a lap top that weighs less than my current reading selection.  The entire Civil Rights Movement.

And my grandmother lived through it all.

I would have loved to hear her talk about all she had seen.  She was a living historical perspective.  While she did like to talk, she didn’t like to talk about her past or the past, in general.  I guess there was just too much history.  I mean, we’re talking about a black woman from the South who lived through the time before Civil Rights.  That’s a pretty dark time.

I’ve seen pictures of her when she was young and she bore a striking resemblance to me.  In fact, we looked so much alike that my parents said they used to pray that I’d break 5 feet (she was about 4’6″ while I’ve peaked at 5’7 1/4″).  I apparently also got my stubborn streak from her.  This is a woman who honestly argued with me about how long I could keep my hair in a French braid (I said 1 day and she said at least 3) and swore up and down that I didn’t call her anymore (she often confused the sound of my name with the sound of my dad’s first wife’s name on the phone).

I like to think it was that stubborn nature that carried her life beyond all the negative.  I’ve never known anyone who could pick them selves up by their bootstraps quite like she could.  This is a woman who outlived her husband by almost 3 decades but could still smile when she talked about her time with him.  She outlived her oldest son by a decade, too, but could still roll her eyes and joke about his hijinks.

I’m kinda a history buff and I wish she would have told me about her past.  I wonder what it was like for to watch the advances of the world from her tiny apartment in New York City.

I’ve been reflecting more on her life and how her experiences impacted me now that I’m living in the South.  She was from a small town that no longer exists in Virginia.  I actually drive by an exit labeled with the town that absorbed it 3 times per week.  I’m only a few hours from where she grew up, a place she couldn’t wait to escape.  10 years ago, I told her that I had started dating a boy from Lynchburg, Va.  I remember the pause on the phone, followed by her concerned little voice.  “Honey, we wouldn’t even drive through Lynchburg.”  Seemed silly at the time, but I get it now.  Not because there is anything wrong with this city, but because of where she was coming from.

People talk about slavery and the Civil War with a measured sense of detachment.  It’s something that happened a long time ago.  Most people I meet in Virginia are 5 or 6 generations removed from it.  Also, most of them are white.  This gives them a certain separation that I’m not afforded.  There are a lot of Confederate flags around here, though very little outward hate.  When I point the flags out, the most common response is something along the lines of, “It’s heritage, not hate.”    If I say it’s the heritage of a battle based on hate, people get very uncomfortable and point out how long ago slavery was.

It wasn’t that long ago for me.  Slavery was 3/4 generations back for me.  My grandmother, born in 1914, was raised by her grandparents because her mother was a teenager.  Those grandparents that raised her were freed slaves living in Virginia.  My grandmother was raised by people who had been property.  When you used to hold the same value as a chair, you view the world as a very scary place where you’re never sure of your own merit.  My grandmother left Virginia as soon as she was an adult and went to a big city in the North.  She raised my dad, who became incredibly political.  He went to UC Berkeley during the height of the Civil Rights movement.  He dated my mother, a white woman, while the Supreme Court decided if different races should be allowed to marry.  Virginia v. Loving was the case.  Yup, back to Virginia.

And now I live here.  I live in a place intimately tied to my very existence.  The capital of the Confederacy was a few hours from where I sit now.  A Confederacy that wanted my great great grandparents to remain property and not people.  A state that fought tooth and nail to keep people like me from being anything other than illegitimate bastards.  A state that is now trying really hard to embrace the changes in the world while rewriting it’s past to make it a little less horrifying.

And my grandmother watched it all.  It colored who she was and how she saw the world.  It made her fierce and strong in a way I can never imagine.  She died a few years ago, but I can imagine her watching with intense interest as her home state once again tried to stop people who are “different” from having the same rights as the majority…and the joy she would feel when they lost.   She would have been proud to see the state of her birth become listed as one of the top places for interracial couples.  I think she’d be a little scared seeing me live here, but I think she’d also be a little proud.

Maybe I have a little more of her stubborn streak than I’m ready to admit.  I just hope I have some of her strength, too, because my big mouth is going to get me into trouble in this place.  🙂

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Tiny House Living

Tiny houses have always fascinated me.  The idea of paring down your living environment to just the essentials is so cool to me.  My mom bought a summer home when I was 12.  It was small, though not “tiny” by the standards of the current movement.  The entire home could fit inside the living room of my current home and the 2 bedrooms were actually 1 small room with a 6 1/2 foot high partition/wall in the middle.  My sister and I used to throw things over the wall to each other.  🙂  It didn’t even have a bathroom when we bought it.  It had an outhouse.  No, I’m not kidding.  We had to have a bathroom wing attached to the house just so we could have running water.  And it was awesome.

Eventually, a neighbor gave us her house.  My mom had our little house bulldozed, built a walkout basement, and paid to have the entire 2 bedroom house lifted up, moved, and placed onto our new basement.  It’s still not a big house, but it’s a castle compared to the old one.  In fact, I just got back from spending a week there with all 5 of my children.  You realize just how little you need when you don’t have the space for it.

I couldn’t live in a tiny house full time.  I couldn’t really even live in a small one.  My life and lifestyle just doesn’t work for it.  I’ve got a decent size family, first of all, and the beds for everyone take up a lot of space.  We also homeschool, which requires stuff.  Granted, we do a more unorthodox form of homeschooling that leans more toward unschooling, but there is still a lot of stuff.  Work books and art supplies and projects galore!  Plus, you need a pretty big table if you want 7 people to sit together for a meal.  Then there’s my shop.  Fabric, snaps, snap presses, sewing machines, and inventory take up a bunch of space.  I’ve talked before about how I have to buy in bulk to save money on feeding a large family.  Well, you have to have a place to put all that stuff, right?  So, tiny living doesn’t really work for me.

But have you watched any of those shows about tiny house living?  It’s amazing!  There are so many things in our lives that we really don’t need.  Before the rise of convenience machines, people lived in small houses.  It’s our stuff that takes up all the space, not us.  I wouldn’t need a laundry room of I could wash my clothes in a bucket and dry them on a line.  Don’t need a tv room if you don’t have a tv.  To take it to an extreme, bookcases aren’t needed when you can’t read.

As technology advances, the things we “need” are starting to get smaller.  A lap top, smartphone, and Kindle can eliminate the need for books, tvs, cable boxes, dvd collections, and cd players.  Of course, I’m never getting a Kindle because I need my books.  And my husband is 6′ 5″ and hates small spaces.  Clearly, we aren’t going to downsizing and moving onto a bus anytime soon.  But it has inspired me to downsize some of our stuff.  We’ll probably be moving to a smaller place in the near future and I’d like to try out some of the cool storage ideas I’ve found in the tiny house documentaries.

Do any of you guys do the tiny house thing?  I’d love to hear some first hand experiences.  🙂

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People of Lynchburg

I’ve talked before about a few cultural things I’ve encountered since moving to the South in another post.  Those were the things I had observed after a short time in town.  I’ve lived here for 8 months now and I’ve been trying to get to know people and make friends.  You know, so that I’m not that sad, lonely lady with cats and kids who never leaves her house.  Don’t want that to happen.

Any way, Lynchburg is a pretty conservative place.  It’s home to the largest Christian college in the country.  There are more churches than…well, than anything.  As I’ve been told over and over again, it’s the buckle of the Bible belt.  After I introduce myself to people, the 2nd thing they ask is what church I go to.  The first is more of a statement; “You’re not from around here, are you?”  When I tell them that I don’t go to church, they all start suggesting churches.

Hunting and weapons are also a big thing here. There are excusable absences built into the public schools during hunting season and students can have loaded weapon racks in their cars (parked on campus) so long as their guns are locked into the rack. My husband got his first bb gun at 4 and 10 when he got a black powder gun (or has he playfully calls it, “a modern musket”). My brother in law, J, (you remember him) hunts, though he is the type of hunter who uses every piece of what he kills.

Now, let me say that there is nothing wrong with being conservative or a Christian.  I also don’t have anything personally against those who own guns or who hunt.  That’s totally cool with me.  Everyone has to make choices in how they’ll live their lives and I don’t care what you do as long as it doesn’t have a direct impact on me.  I hate when people are all judgy about me, so I do my best not to be all judgy to other people.  Got that?  Cool.  Disclaimer over.

This is where I start to get into trouble with the people of Lynchburg.  In case you couldn’t tell by my previous posts, I’m pretty liberal.  It’s damn near impossible to be the proud daughter of a hippie growing up in the Bay Area and be conservative.  With pretty much every social issue, I have a distinctly left lean to my stance.  I’m also not a Christian.  Not because I “don’t know any better,” but because I decided I didn’t agree with it.  My personal views are based on years of research and personal searching.  I’m very comfortable with my beliefs and views.  Oh, and I don’t hunt.  Like ever.  I don’t own a gun and never will.  I’m anti-NRA, which to a southerner is like saying I’m anti oxygen.  I was born a vegetarian, though I have since expanded to eat seafood, chicken, and turkey.  I know how to shot a bow and arrow, but I’d never turn that on an animal.

Moving to a new town is hard.  Making new friends in a new place can be really scary.  Discovering that the fundamental beliefs of the people around you in your new hometown are the exact opposite of yours is…well, disheartening.  In 8 months here, I haven’t really gotten to know many people.  The facebook groups devoted to Lynchburg moms are all populated by very loud and proud conservative Christians.  Makes for a lot of topics that I’m clearly not wanted in.  Every time a new person joins the group, everyone makes church suggestions.  That’s the social center of Lynchburg: church.  I clearly don’t go to church and my kids are homeschooled, so I don’t meet anyone those ways.  I asked if any of the many church goers in the group would be offended by me going to Bible study just to socialize.  Basically, I was told that I was welcome, but that they would be trying to convert me the whole time.  When I said I don’t need conversion, they started telling me that they would pray that I would find Jesus.  Sigh.  I then got private messages from 10 of the women in the group.  They all started off with helpful suggestions about other places I could go to find social groups and questions about where I was from and why I’d moved to Lynchburg.  From here, a few of them got a little mean.  My husband grew up here and I was told that “he should have known you wouldn’t fit in here.”  I even got a few suggestions that I move to a different town.  Yeah, that’s exactly what someone wants to hear when they’ve just put themselves out there to try and find some friends.

I did go on a “Mom’s Night Out” with a few women who seem pretty nice.  I’m still the weird one among them, but they don’t make me feel like crap for it.  We’ll see where that goes.  I also met a really nice woman at a babywearing meet up who reminds me of my dear friend, Robyn, over at Holding to the Ground.  She seems pretty awesome so far.  So the quest for new friends here continues.

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Life in Motion

Yet another month between blog posts.  I swear, I’m going to get better at making the time to do these.  My goal is to get at least 1 new post per week and maybe work up to more, but we’ll see.  Quick update to my last post: I did finally tweeze my eyebrows.  🙂

I’ve come to the conclusion that I should stop trying to get rid of the “extras” in my house.  Back in September and October of last year, I got on this quick of watching episodes of Hoarders.  It inspired me to start clearing out stuff in my home.  I got boxes out and started dividing up what we really needed and what we didn’t.  It felt great…until my husband came home early from work and told me he had been laid off.  Suddenly, all those boxes labeled “keep” had to be relabeled “move” as we struggled to figure out what we were doing and where we were going.

Fast forward to March of this year.  I’m starting to feel secure in where we are (though not with the community yet, but that’s a whole different post) and comfortable enough to start going through the boxes I didn’t have time to go through in our hast to move.  So returns the episodes of Hoarders.  And then, on a super snowy day, my husband comes home from work early.  I assume it’s because of the incoming blizzard, but it’s not.  He’s been laid off.  Again.  I start to panic and worry that we’ll have to move again.  Luckily, his unemployment is based on what he made in California and not what he was making here in Virginia.  I relax a little.  Going through our stuff takes a backseat, though, to me trying to expand my business to keep us afloat until he finds a new job.

Last month, I started to feel a little better about what’s going on.  My husband still hasn’t found a new job, but he’s trying.  My shop is doing well and I’m starting to get to know a few people around town.  I even find the time to post a blog!  So…I started watching Hoarders again.  This time, I throw in some documentaries on tiny living.  I don’t really need to live tiny, but it fascinates me (a future blog post about all that…) and offers great ideas about figuring out what you really need to keep when you have no storage.  I start going through our stuff again.  My husband even gets in on it, rearranging our kitchen and helping me guide the kids in what they can get rid of.  It becomes fun!

Then our landlady asks my husband how the job search is going.  You see, she wants us to buy this house.  We decided to rent it for a year to a) decide if we like it and the area and b) give us time to build up a year of residency and work experience in the state so we can qualify for a home loan.  We’ve been here for 8 months and my husband has now been unemployed for 4 months.  It’s now clear to her that we won’t be able to qualify for a home loan in the time frame we originally discussed.  I don’t want to buy this house anyway, but now she knows we can’t.  Plus, she some how thinks she’s going to get $100,000 more for this house than any other house selling in the area.  Anyway, she still wants to sell the house before the end of the year.  Actually, she wants to sell it as soon as possible.  So…we have to move.  Again.

We’ve been stretching out in our 3200 sq. ft. house and now it’s time to look for a new place.  Fast.  This time, I’m not going to panic and throw everything into boxes.  We’re still watching Hoarders.  I’m finding more documentaries on tiny houses.  And, as a family, we’re going through everything in this house and really deciding what we need and what we can do without.  I’m getting rid of all the clothes smaller than 2T (unless I made them or wore them as a child) because my dream of having more children will probably never happen now.  I’m forcing myself to get my genetic book hoarding under control.  I have 5 full size bookcases crammed with books, along with boxes of books that I haven’t unpacked.  We won’t have a moving company to do the work for us (since my husband no longer works for the moving company that moved us in our previous 6 moves), so having as little as possible will help.

And now, time to get back to work mothering, sewing, and paring down our stuff.

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I haven’t tweezed my eyebrows in almost 6 months. Not because of any lofty statement or to prove any point. It’s been so long because I just have had other things to do. I’d look in the mirror above my sink while brushing my teeth and think, “My eyebrows are getting a little crazy. I should deal with that.” And then someone would need something. Breakfast has to be made. Rooms have to be cleaned. Laundry has to be washed. Homeschooling has to be done.  And orders for my shop have to be filled. With all that going on every day, something as silly and seemingly selfish as fixing my eyebrows falls by the wayside.

I also haven’t written a blog in almost that long. Not because nothing is going on; because too much is happening. I like writing, but I just haven’t had the time to do it. Even now, I’m writing this on my phone while my husband drives us to a field trip of sorts. So many things are happening in my life right now that I haven’t been able to sit down and reflect on them.

That’s going to stop. I can’t let myself
get so wrapped up in what everyone else wants and needs from me that I forget myself. So, I’m going to start regularly blogging again.

I’m also going to tweeze my eyebrows tonight.

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Hey Ya’ll

It’s been forever and a day since I wrote a blog post.  Things have been a little crazy and up in the air.  The biggest and most obvious change is that I’m no longer in California!  Kinda a huge change for a born-and-raised California girl, and I don’t just mean the weather (although it is snowing right outside my window right now).  I’ve always known the phrase “culture shock” and used it to describe newbies to the Bay, but I can now understand what it feels like from the other side.

My New House

My New House

For one, I constantly have to remind myself that the people talking to me are not faking that accent.  Seriously.  I really can’t describe to you what it’s like to hear people honestly talk like this.  The accent ranges from the women on Real Housewives of Atlanta all the way to the cast of Swamp People.  There are times where I have to just smile and nod because I have no idea what they’re saying.  There are contractions of words I never thought would end up smashed together.  Things like “ov-air,” which is supposed to mean “over there.”  Or “ov-top” which is supposed to be a smushed “over top,” a phrase that doesn’t even make any sense to me (it means “on top of”).  And everyone calls my daughter’s pacifier (affectionately referred to as a binky in my house) a plug and feels the need to pull it out of her mouth even though I don’t know them.

And speaking of boundaries, people here don’t lock their doors.  I’ve always thought that was kinda cute and quaint, but there is a very weird side effect…People will let themselves into your house.  Not random people off the street (so far), but people who are coming over to visit.  If someone is invited to your house, they give you a time frame for when they’ll stop by.  It can be anything from a specific time (ex. 6pm) or a general one (ex. “this afternoon”), but that means they’re allowed in your house.  Your guest will then give you a courtesy knock before letting themselves in.  It’s not a big deal unless your spouse hasn’t told you they’re coming.  Few things are more terrifying than coming out of your bathroom to your in-laws standing in your living room.  Or what happened shortly after we got here:

My brother in law, J, told us he’d come over and help us with unpacking.  Super nice, right?  Well, he works late at night through to early in the morning.  We figured he’d go home and sleep before he came over and that we’d see him around noon.  I mean, we had just driven across the country and were in a very new time zone.  We needed to sleep just as much as he did.  Imagine my shock and surprise at hearing my back door open at 7:30 in the morning, followed by a voice saying, “Anthony?  Shaina?  Where are you?”  I had to send my mostly asleep husband out of our room (he was standing right outside our bedroom door) to explain to him that we were all sleeping and to come back later.  I mean, I can’t be mad at him.  He came over to help and he even brought coffee!  But that was my first experience with people letting themselves into my home.

After a few more times of guests walking in my front door virtually unannounced, I’ve gotten better at locking the door.  To be fair, the doors here appear to be designed so that you can’t open them from the inside when you lock them.  It’s very weird and hard for me to remember to go back, after bringing all the kids and our stuff in, and lock the door.  Luckily, my kids are so used to doors that automatically lock behind them that none of them ever approach the door.  There have been no escapes and no escape attempts.

But we gave J an emergency key and he let himself in last night while we were gone.  He was picking up something of his, but it scared the crap out of me to pull up to my house to see all the light on the 1st floor on and my front door open.  The only thing that stopped me from calling the police was seeing his truck in the driveway.  Good thing I like him…

The weather.  I’m from a place known for sun and beaches.  The Bay Area is really temperate, with no major weather changes.  The part that I grew up in never had more than a 30 temperature change from winter to summer.  I’ve never had snow fall in my front yard.  In fact, when it was shockingly cold a few years ago and we got a few inches of snow on the ground overnight, I still had to drive an hour to get there.

That's a very pregnant me in the snow.

That’s a very pregnant me in the snow.

That picture?  That’s me in the snow after a 2 1/2 hour drive from my home in California.  Yes, I’m wearing short pants.  See?  I don’t even know how to dress for the snow!  It was in the 50s there, anyway.  But here?  That’s a different thing.  As I write this, 45 degrees.  That’s the highest it’s been in 2 weeks.  Know what it was yesterday morning?  15 degrees.  A week ago we even got down to 9.  These aren’t even real temperatures to me.  When you can stand in front of your open freezer for warmth, the world has gone mad.  In order to walk to my mail box, I have to dress like I’m going snowboarding.  Actually, that’s wrong.  I used to wear snowboarding pants over a pair of dancer tights, a thermal shirt, and a t-shirt to go snowboarding.  With gloves and a hat, of course.  Here, I’d freeze to death in that.  Over the course of the day, inside my “heated” house, I can actually feel the cold working in from my extremities.  2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a sweatshirt, soaks, and slippers and I’m still cold.  It makes no sense at all.

The view from my front door.

The view from my front door.

Everyone keeps trying to re-assure me that this is abnormally cold and that it’s all because of the polar vortex.  My husband keeps joking that I brought it with me.  Whatever it is, it’s cold as hell.  Well, not hell.  Cold as…um…Canada?  I don’t know.  It’s really cold.

But it sure is pretty in the snow.

But it sure is pretty in the snow.

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A lot of people have been writing and posting today about Martin Luther King.  I wanted to put a little bit of a personal spin on it.

When my daughter was in public school for Kindergarten, she came home and told me about what she’d learned for MLK Day.  What she got out of it was, “A king named Martin had a dream and got shot.”  After some prodding, I got her to explain to me that what they had done was listen to a song about him while they colored a picture.  That was the extent of her lesson.  I think that would be disappointing for any parent, but it was downright horrifying for me.  (It was also a major tipping point in my decision to homeschool, but that’s a whole other post.)  You see, my parents were major political and social activists, as well as being a biracial couple in the 70s.  How could I get my daughter (and other children) to understand what a major impact people like Martin Luther King, Jr. had on our family?  After clearing up who he was from an objective perspective (you know, like telling her his real name), I decided to tell her a story that would help make her understand why he was so important.  Later, I told my mom the story and it made her cry.  She told me I should write it as a children’s book.  

Here is what I told her:

“People used to think that people with dark brown skin and people with light skin weren’t equal.  A lot of people even thought that people who looked like Grandpa D [my dad, who is black] shouldn’t be able to marry people who looked like Nani [my mom, who is white].  Martin Luther King was one of the people who thought that was silly.  He would get lots of people together so the could talk about how silly it was and what we could do to get rid of the rules that kept people apart because of their color.  He worked really hard and got lots of people to agree with him.  He gave a super popular speech talking about how he dreamed that, one day, the color of your skin wouldn’t matter.  That what would count would be who you are on the inside and how you treat other people.  It was a beautiful speech and it made a lot of people really think about how silly those old rules were.  But it also made some people really mad.  One day, one of those people shot him and killed him.  But that isn’t the important part of Martin Luther King’s story.  The important part is that he got so many people to think about those silly old laws, that they made new laws.  The new laws said that everyone was the same and that color didn’t matter.  And one of those laws said that black people and white people could get married and start families.  That law is why Nani and Grandpa D could get married and have me!  And without that law, daddy and I couldn’t have gotten married and you kids wouldn’t be here.  So, we celebrate all the things Martin Luther King did to try and make everyone equal because without him, we wouldn’t be here.”

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr’s Day, I invite you to think in specifics.  It’s easy to think about people like MLK and Malcolm X and their impact in general terms.  Try to think about the tangible things that actually impact you.  My parents couldn’t have married each other before the Civil Rights movement.  Even if I had been born, I wouldn’t have been able to marry my husband.  My dear friend, Robyn, wouldn’t have been able to adopt her beautiful children.  

How would your life be different without MLK?


The Campbells: An Urban Legend

According to Wikipedia, “An urban legendurban mythurban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true.”  Most of the time, these stories happened to a “friend of a friend.”  I’ve heard many in my life and was even in the target audience age range when the movie came out.  🙂

I have now become an urban legend.

Well, not just me.  My whole family has become an urban legend.

That sounds really self centered of me to say, doesn’t it.  Just give me a minute to explain before you decide that I’m crazy.

I was in Target the other day.  It was late in the evening and all 5 of my kids were at home with Ant (the husband) and Aaron (the houseguest).  I actually know about 80% of the staff at my local Target and they can recognize our family.  Anyway, I was chatting with the woman in front of me about her kids.  She asked me if I had any.  I giggled and said yes.  The cashier (who didn’t recognize me without my flock) told the woman in front of me, “We have a young lady who comes in here all the time with her kids.  She can’t be more than 25, but she’s got, like, 5 kids!  They’re all super well behaved.  I always remember them because I talked to their mom and her middle name is the same as my first name.”  I was taken aback and couldn’t help laughing out loud.  They cashier and the woman both looked at me.  

You see, I recognized the cashier.  Her name is Jamila.  That’s my middle name.  She was talking about me.  I was her urban legend.

After my laughing fit passed, I told her that she was talking about me.  “Are you sure?” she asked me.  “Yes, I’m the one with the same middle name as your first name and I have 5 kids.  But, thank you for thinking I’m under 25.  I just turned 29.”

Now, think about those urban legend stories you hear.  You know, the ones about the women who don’t know they’re in labor and give birth on the side of the road.  Or the one about that lady who has been breastfeeding for 5 years.  How about the one about the city dweller who grows their own food?  Or the family that homeschools a large number of children?

See where I’m going?

My family is a local urban legend.  🙂

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some insane things to accomplish so that my neighbors can add to my legendary status…

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Remember me?

I haven’t written in awhile because things have been super busy and extra crazy.  But now that I’m a little sick, I’m forcing myself to sit down on my couch while my kids play.  Suddenly, I have free time and an open lap for my lap top.  🙂

First off, a little review of why I’ve been so busy.  As some of you guys know, I have a small business called MommySoup.  Because I’m a “Hope for the best/Prepare for the worst” kind of person, I don’t cut out and make all of the things that I sell in the store.  That way, if a product doesn’t sell, I haven’t cut out all that fabric.  I can use it for the many clothes my children always seem to need.  Well, my store has gotten really popular.  Things are selling out!  I’m basically making the products to order with a 1-3 day window for delivery.  Not a problem if I sell 1 diaper a day…but for the last month, I’ve been averaging about 5 diaper orders a day.  And wet bags.  And bibs.  I’ve literally been sewing all night.  Like, put the kids to bed, snuggle the husband…and get up and sew after he has fallen asleep.  Not much time for blogging with that level of madness.  On top of that, Persephone just cracked compound addition (with carrying).  She wants to do it constantly.  And Dimitrios just cracked reading, so now he wants to read everything.  Really exciting, but I’m a homeschooler so I’m the only one for them to do it with!  And then I’ve been cooking everything from scratch, so that’s time consuming.

Oh, and I now have a housemate.  One of my husband’s best friends came out here from Virginia.  He’s now living with us and working with my husband.  Think about that…8 people in a 3 bedroom house.  Crazy!  Luckily, he’s actually really cool.  He likes the kids and doesn’t expect me to take care of him.  The men turned the garage into a “man cave” with a bed and stuff for him.  He hides in there when we overwhelm him.

Pretty good excuses not to blog, right?

In other news…Theron is going to turn 1 this month.  I don’t do birthday parties, but I still make special cakes.  Persephone wants to help me make a moose shaped cake and I need to make her a new moose diaper.

Calandra, who also answers to “Monkey,” is currently climbing a tree and teaching her older siblings how to do it.  Better get back to baby wrangling!

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