Your Tax Dollars at Work

It’s been a while since I’ve had an honest rant. Let’s fix that.

I would like to address the prevalent but oh so very false idea that every other person accepting government aid is a drug-addicted uneducated whore who revels in the easy money he or she can get without having to go to work.

It’s very insulting to honest, working citizens like myself who accept government aid now, for a few years, while my husband goes to school so he can get a job, during the course of which we will pay back into the system much more than we ever took out. That’s right, folks. Sometimes, it actually works as an investment. And before you go on about us being the exception rather than the rule, let me ask you, how do you know? What research have you done, besides listening to the hate speeches your facebook friends give, or your family and friends email you? As for the idea that every recipient who isn’t a drug addict is an illegal alien who’s been “given” everything, working tax free, that’s patently ridiculous. And even if it were true, those “tax free” hours they’re working are usually worked at $4-$5 an hour… wouldn’t they deserve the break?

I am your tax dollars at work. When I wear nice clothes, they’ve come from a thrift store. When I have nice things, they’ve been gifts. I go to work, go to church, I pay my bills, and I live within my means. Sorry if I’ve disrupted your righteous anger.


How to Take a Break

Today, Kara and I went to the zoo. It was a great time. Unfortunately, when we go to the zoo, she always takes her nap in the car on the way home, so I arrive home exhausted, with a newly rested toddler. How do I regain my personal time, you know, that time I normally get while Kara’s napping in her crib? How do I entertain her while taking a much-needed break? It’s quite simple, really.

  • Step 1: Sit the baby down on the hardwood floor.
  • Step 2: Give the baby a sippy cup of water.
  • Step 3: Give the baby a washcloth.

She’ll spend 5-10 minutes shaking her cup on the floor until enough water droplets come out that she can wipe them up with a washcloth. Someday I’ll remember to get pictures of this process, but right now, that sounds like work, which is exactly what I’m hoping to avoid.

Happy coffee break, everybody!

The Year I Tried to Be a Hippie

I think 2013 will be my personal Year of the Hippie. It’s been a slow process, and most of the steps I’ve taken have been to save money, but I think I’ve officially crept across the line from frugal housewife into hippie territory when I’m trying out homemade deodorant.

I never would have imagined it would come to this. It started with trying to cut out extra sodium from our diets, which of course cuts out a lot of processed foods, so I started making more and more food at home. Believe it or not, we actually eat more cheaply without buying all the cheap processed foods. Then, of course, I had a baby and we decided to try the cloth diapering thing. And I breastfed her. (Until about 3 days ago… *sob*… but that’s neither here nor there.) Hippie things, yes, but also healthy and frugal things.

And then… then I discovered Pinterest. I saw DIY deodorant. Now, I know the aluminum antiperspirant stuff we all know and love is terrible for you, but I like having friends. And not smelling bad. The one time I tried “natural” deodorant, it was when my brother bought me some. It was ok, but I think it was mostly lavender oil and water, and it really just covered up scent. I had to carry it around with me and reapply it all the time, and when it ran out, back to the aluminum I went. But here was a recipe on Pinterest that was just baking soda, cornstarch, and coconut oil. Well, I decided to put it on my “maybe someday” list since I didn’t have coconut oil, but lo and behold, a friend made me some for Christmas. Score!

So I gave it a try. It worked all day—no reapplications needed. I worked out and still didn’t smell bad! Then I noticed in the shower that one underarm was very sensitive to that hot water and, sure enough, when I got out I saw that it looked and felt like I’d put a UV light under my arm for 45 minutes. Because my skin is stupid. “Give me cancer-contributing aluminum, cool. Baking soda? No way!” Really?

Now my pigheadedness comes in. I didn’t want to buy coconut oil just to make deodorant, but now that I know it actually keeps me from smelling bad, I wanted to salvage this. So after a couple days of treating my armpit with nice cold aloe, I bought some more coconut oil just so I could add a couple tablespoons and some cornstarch to the jar my friend gave me to see if that lowered the baking soda level enough that I can use it. I’m on day 2 now, and so far, I’m in luck.

I’ve had a couple other slightly more successful hippie ventures. I’ve also stopped using shampoo. That’s right. I’ve been using the infamous baking soda and water. I made a detangler for Kara that’s apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and water, and I use some of that when I need it. So far, that’s been a big success. My dandruff is disappearing, and my hair doesn’t frizz when I blow dry it. The detangler works very well too. I just need to get some essential oils for it. While the vinegar smell pretty much disappears when it dries, it smells terrible when I first spray it on Kara’s hair.

And now you know more than you ever wanted to about my personal hygiene.

Why I Have an English Degree

There are many wonderful differences between my husband and me. One of them is highlighted when people ask what Steve does for a living. I tell them he’s working on his Ph.D in math, they’re suitably impressed, then they ask what I do and I say, “I have an English degree and work at a coffeehouse.”

Steve is very… strong-willed (he says “stubborn”) when it comes to figuring things out. He’ll play the same level of a game 20 times until he beats it. He’ll work on a math problem by himself for days just so he can figure it out by himself.

I can be stubborn when there’s no easy alternative. But if someone else has already gone through the trouble to pave the way, why should I forge my own trail?

This difference has never been so apparent to me as it was when I came home from my crocheting group a few weeks ago.

“How did it go?” Steve asked politely.

“Pretty well. I didn’t finish what I was working on because I forgot to take the pattern with me. I probably could have figured it out, but why would I do that when I could just look at the pattern when I got home?”

He looked absolutely baffled. “If you could figure it out on your own, why would you just look at the pattern?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I will never have a Ph.D

Early Mornings

As I sit in my dark living room, sipping my cup of coffee, waiting for the sun to come up, I can almost feel Dad here with me. We were always the early birds in our house, though what he considered “early” most people would consider “late night.” It’s been tough these last couple days to leave my warm bed before I absolutely have to, but it’s been so worth it.

It’s nice to wake up before Kara, to have a few minutes to myself to reflect and, of course, to drink a cup of coffee. To hear the world wake up, changing from utter silence, to the constant rush of cars down the road, to hear more and more birds take up the morning chorus and watch the dark sky slowly turn light.

Sitting at my desk, a warm blanket wrapped around my shoulders, even the loss of my warm bed isn’t much of a sacrifice.

What’s your favorite time of day? What changes have you made so you can fully enjoy that time?


“Let Me Explain…

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

How do you sum up a year? I know it’s the popular thing to do today, but it’s difficult. I can say I’ve ended the year in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in my life. I hope to be able to say that again this time next year. Steve successfully completed his fourth exam and officially became a Ph.D. student, and it became more likely that he would finish his doctorate than that he wouldn’t. We’ve mostly just been raising a baby. That baby cut her first teeth and took her first steps.

We lived, we laughed, we loved. We existed, and we enjoyed it. And we hope to do much more of the same this year.

There could be huge changes just around the corner. Steve could have his doctorate as soon as May. More likely, those big changes won’t come until next year. We’re okay with whatever comes. This new year, I plan to be happy, to continue my successful foray into the world of healthy living, and to make things (mostly food things and crocheted things, I imagine).

I know my motherly patience will be tested much more–this year started off with yet another spectacular tantrum (on Kara’s part, not mine… yet) set off by some unknown trigger. But with coffee and a loving, patient husband, I survived it. As did Kara. And if I can say that for the rest of the year, we’ll be in good shape.

What are your hopes and dreams for this calendar?