Well as I mentioned in my blog last week, my grandmother has been ill.  She passed this morning.  I have been going over this in my head all day.  What does this mean to me?  I’m still not sure.  I was with her on Saturday and she was not doing well so I know that she is at peace now and for this I am grateful.  I had visited her several times over the past month with my children and they were lovely visits and for that I am also grateful.  And I’m grateful for the chance to have this venue to reflect on what having her in my life meant to me. 

What I realize is that my son is more like me, than I even knew.  He tends to grab onto the bad things and remember them as opposed to remembering the good things.  I do not think I do that any longer, but upon reflecting on my grandmother, I think that I had that same tendency when I was younger.  I mostly remember my grandmother yelling at me, especially about getting out of the trees (we liked to climb them, a lot).  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were a lot of good times.  We used to sit for hours and work on puzzles.  We used to play cards, a lot.  My aunts, my mom and my great aunts would come over and we’d have huge card games.  They were very competitive too.  We’d bet pennies and these games were viscious.  No one wanted to lose their $2.  I looked forward to those nights.

The most fun I remember having with my family, the times I felt most loved, was during those card games.  Working on puzzles taught me patience.  Being yelled at to get out of trees made me realize that whatever a lady was, it was not something that I wanted to be!   These were all important lessons.  I guess the most important lesson, though, was the lesson it taught about women needing other women.  I always came out of those card games feeling validated, knowing that if there was no where else in the world I belonged, I belonged there.   I was a member of the women’s club.  Thank you grandmom for welcoming me there, I’ll miss you.


It was a bittersweet holiday weekend.  On the one hand, it was spent with friends and family, which was great.  On the other, it is probably the last 4th of July I will ever spend with my grandmother.  She is not doing well and it’s only a matter of days before she is no longer with us.  However, because of her condition, the family picnic had the best turnout that it’s had so far.  It was nice to see relatives that I have not seen in a long time, particularly my cousin Tabitha.  She is 10 years younger than me, so my husband and I used to take her and her sisters to Great Adventure, the Zoo, or just to hang out at our house.  Those were always fun times.  Now she is a grown woman and we had not seen one another since she was pregnant with her first child.  It’s been too long, far too long.

How does time get away from us like that?  How do we stop it from happening?  My aunt emailed me a birthday greeting on June 15 and I finally emailed her back last night.  How did those 2+ weeks get away from me?  I think it actually happens more frequently when I’m not engaged, that is, when I have things to do to occupy my time.  I am better about staying on top of things when I have many other things on which to concentrate.  That sounds ironic, but that ‘s what works for me.  I feel like I am currently in a funk.  I have no deadlines, either at work or at home.  It is difficult to not let time get away from you in that situation, at least for me.  I prefer to have structure and most importantly, deadlines.  I guess that’s why I enjoy school so much.  It’s also why I enjoy having employment in which I am fully engaged, even if it’s over the required 40 hours a week.  I just feel more alive.

How do others stay motivated when there are not deadlines?  What do you love to do that makes you “work” even when deadlines do not exist?  These are questions that I am currently asking myself.  I will not be in school after May of next year, at least not for 8 months, so I will really need to figure this out or waste way too much time being unmotivated.

Well since I have vowed that I would post every Monday and low and behold, it’s Monday, I need to post.  There is nothing getting on my nerves in particular today, so I thought it might be fun to write about summer.  Watching the Phillies game prompted me to think about this.  I love baseball, although I have only just recently rediscovered just how much.  Last year, my husband and I went to a Phillies game for our 20th anniversary and we had a great time!  Almost as much fun as we have going to the theater (to which we also renewed our subscription this year).  We’ve already been to one game this year and have decided that it will be our new anniversary gift to ourselves every year.  So in August, we have great tickets for the ballgame on our anniversary.

I also remember when I was a kid, going camping.   We went camping every year, usually to Lancaster, PA, sometimes to farther away places.  We had relatives in Ohio who owned a campground and I remember driving out to visit them a few times.  Camping was always fun there.  I remember one particular time when we were playing softball and I caught a line drive and thought my thumb was broken.  But I kept playing because my dad was actually playing with us!  It was always a lot of fun.  I loved camping then.

With my own kids, we haven’t really established any traditions as far as summer goes.  I’m kind of sad that we didn’t and they’re teenagers now so I’m feeling like it’s too late.  When they were little, we used to go to Lancaster often because my son was a train fanatic and they have some of the best train stuff around.  We always stayed at the Fulton Steamboat Inn because they had an indoor pool and we had to get back to the hotel early enough for them to swim.  That was fun.  More recently, we have not really done anything spectacular and this year will be no exception, lol.

Mostly though, summer meant freedom.  Getting up every day to the new possibilities available to you.  Running barefoot in the yard, riding my bike, swimming in our pool, hanging out with friends, the possibilities were always endless.  I’m sure there were times that we were bored, what kids aren’t, but I don’t think of those times.  Summer is still refreshing to me as an adult.  It’s a break from all of the hustle and bustle that the school year can bring when you have children.  Work seems a little slower, but the weekends do go by much faster!  It still reminds you of all of the possibilities, if you only you stop a minute to dream about them.

I just read two posts by women who are anti-Natural Birth.  They seem to think that because doctors are involved, a hospital interventionist birth is the safest, best way to have a baby.  And these are women that are posting on the Skepchick blog (http://skepchick.org/blog/2010/06/reader-rants-doulas-vs-doctors-vs-dolphins-lexicakes/).  Women who supposedly look at scientific evidence and use their brains to come to logical decisions.  But see, here’s the thing.  You can’t prove almost anything about birth because you can’t do controlled studies.  Every woman’s birth is different, period.  So the OB’s don’t know any more than the midwives.  All they know is what others have taught them, what they choose to believe is true and what their observations have told them.  The skeptics use the example of an epidural slowing birth.  Apparently, there are statistics floating around that epidurals slow down the birth process.  She goes on to say that this can only be seen as a correlation, and causation cannot be proved because there is no way to know where the woman’s birth would have gone without the epidural.  I completely agree with that argument.  At the same time, OB’s will tell you that a baby’s heart rate dropping during birth is a sign that the baby is in trouble.  However, from what I’ve read, that’s a “cover my ass” response.  All baby’s heart rates drop somewhat during contractions. 

Which brings me to my main point – you cannot discuss birth in a purely scientific manner.  It is emotional and I will argue with you to the end on this.  For the same reason that you cannot prove the epidural slows birth, you cannot prove that it doesn’t.  For the same reason you cannot prove that a baby removed by a caesarean section was not in trouble, you cannot prove that they were.  Unfortunately, the only way to know these answers is to let the process go without any interventions and risk losing a mother or a baby.  Not an acceptable outcome.

Here is where we disagree and why I bring this up – I choose to give birth with no interventions.  That was MY choice and it was my right to make that choice.  With my second child, I was forced to have Pitocin (which really freaking sucked) and, if it were not for my husband, other interventions that may have led to a C-section.  If you choose to do as the OB tells you and you end up having a C-section, that is YOUR choice.  We should both be allowed to make these choices for ourselves and all of the choices in between without being treated with condescension and disrespect. 

Why should I have to listen to women who say that no rational woman would choose to give birth naturally when I am very rational woman and did a lot of self-educating to come to that decision?  Why is my decision less rational because it does not match theirs and why is it less rational because I chose not to put all my faith (that’s right, because during birth it is more faith than science) in the medical establishment?  Why can’t women support each other in their choices, no matter what form those choices take?  Until that happens, we are going to continue to be second class citizens in this world. 

Another blog that I frequent, The Feminst Breeder, has the right idea.  Although I am sure if you were to direct the oh-so-thinking Skepchicks to the link, they would say she is too conspiracy theorist.  Maybe partially true, but she has the right idea (and she’s also a thinking, intelligent woman). http://thefeministbreeder.com/indepenent-women-will-be-cut/

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I thought I would talk about parenting.  I was always what you would call a “Daddy’s Girl.”  Of course, now that I’m older, I realize that’s because my Mom always had to be the bad guy because my Dad wasn’t home too often.  It was easy for him to be the hero.  I’m not saying that my father was a bad dad, because I’m not.  I idolized my father.  But what I am saying is that my mom was a far better parent than I’ve ever acknowledged.  My dad was great on vacation and at Christmas, when he would be there to participate in all of the fun.  And he’d be really there and I remember many of those moments as some of my favorites.  However, I’m sure that my mother planned those vacations and those holidays and did a lot of the work (if not all of it) to make them happen.  Yet, it was the time spent with dad that I remember most.  Fair, no.  Now that I’m a parent, I get it.  And boy do I ever owe my mom a big thank you and a big apology.

My husband is a very involved father.  He participates in my kids lives completely.  I am still usually the bad guy, but he’s the bad guy enough that he doesn’t always get to be the hero.  Parenting is a tough job and doing it as partners is even tougher.  It’s easier to say, this is how I do it and so this is how it must be done.  It is very hard to say, well you do it your way and I’ll do it mine.  Not to mention that there are a million things that you have to come to a concensus on.  But it is better, oh so much better, for the kids. 

I used to play my parents off each other because I knew my mom would say no and my dad would say yes.  That really hurt their relationship with each other and it hurt my relationship with my mom.  My kids do not try to play that game because they know it will not work.  My husband and I talk to each other constantly.  Granted, sometimes with stuff like me floating my son a few extra dollars or letting my daughter have a few parakeets (in addition to the rest of her menagerie), I get to be the hero, my husband the bad guy.  But for the really important stuff, we stand together.  After all, when they are gone, we’re still going to be here together.

Here is my serious effort to keep this blog active.  There are many crazy things going on in my life right now, so I’m not sure where this might go.  I guess I’ll start with my grandmother being on hospice care.  I grew up next door to my grandmother, so I saw her almost as often as my parents growing up.  However, she was not the stereotypical sweet, spoiling grandmom.  She was mean and I was generally afraid of her.  However, now she is dying and I feel that all of that does not matter anymore.  We have visited with her a few times since her diagnosis and they have been very pleasant visits, in fact, probably some of the nicest time I’ve ever spent with her.  I guess my problem is that I really just don’t know how to feel about it all.  My aunts have been taking care of her and one of them had just lost her husband in January.  She’s never really had the chance to mourn him and I’m very concerned for her well being once my grandmother passes.  Apparently, her son has already made it known that he’s not coming to my grandmother’s funeral.  Other relatives just can’t be bothered to rearrange their schedules to make sure they get one more visit in.  Let’s just say that I’ve learned things about some relatives that I’d just as soon not have known.  Has this happened to anyone else?  It seems people’s true natures come out when loved one’s are dying/die. 

These issues are also forcing me to look at my own personality.  Why do I have such a hard time accepting that people are different?  I really have strong feelings that there are right ways to handle things and wrong way to handle things.  I know, intellectually, that everyone has experienced life very differently from one another and therefore come to each situation with their own baggage.  However, I still just can’t get past feeling like there is right and there is wrong.  This causes me to take issue with many people.  Yes, I am judgemental.   Truthfully, I wish that I could get past this.  I actively try to and have conversations with myself over it.  Yet, I just can’t seem to let it go.  Why is that?  Is being judgemental wired into us?  Is it the next step in my “development?”  I think that the right way to be is to accept people for who they are, bumps and all.  But if everyone did that, isn’t it possible that the world would be a scarier place, not a happier one.  Doesn’t others judgements of us cause us to “behave?”  This is something that I struggle with and I suppose I will continue to struggle with it until I accept that it’s one of my bumps or manage to best it.

I view this whole experience as another journey of my life, an opportunity to learn more about myself and those around me, even if some of the things that I learn are not pretty.

Wow, where have the months gone?  Since my last post, I finished another semester at school, won a research scholarship (which will occupy a lot of my time for the next 11 months), been told I should try to have a paper published and made Dean’s List.  Oh, and did I mention completely renovate my main bathroom with my wonderful husband?  It’s been a very busy, very productive 5 months.

In that time, I’ve become a regular reader of many feminist blogs out there.  There are some amazing women in the blogosphere and I’m very proud to be among them.  Of course, they are all much more read than I am, but perhaps that could change if I ever started to post regularly.  I finished an amazing class on global women writers in May.  It was a great class with everyone engaged and many interesting discussions on various feminists topics.  The paper in which it was recommended that I have published was about the important of literacy for women.  This goes back to a former post of mine about the importance of education, especially for women. 

Currently, in New Jersey, our governor is at war with education.  Yes, the state is running a deficit, but is it ok to take it out on future generations?  It seems like all of the cuts that are planned hurt the middle class and hurt children.  Really, I thought New Jersey had a comprehensive program to combat bullying in our schools.  Unfortunately, it was not in place in time for our current governor to have gone through it.  He is picking on the weak and those less fortunate than himself.  We need people who care to speak out and let them know that his cuts are unfair and misplaced.  We need EDUCATED WOMEN to tell this bully that we will not allow that type of behavior on our playground.  So, if any other New Jerseyites read this, please comment.  Perhaps our voices will be loud enough to be heard in Trenton…

I don’t really have a good idea of what I’m going to write this evening, but I feel compelled to put something down since I haven’t posted since November and I want this blog to thrive.  I will be better once school starts again as it will give me “food for thought.” 

We’ve recently attended two wonderful celebrations this month.  First my friend Carla’s wedding and today, my daughter’s good friend Meredith’s Bat Mitzvah.   They were both wonderful in their own way.  The most wonderful thing about them, however, is that we got to spend time with an extended family that we chose for ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the family I was born into.  However, that being said, they’ve all moved away and when my parents moved a few years ago, I was left feeling very alone.  This month has reminded me that I have family all around me, all the time.  At Carla’s wedding, I was reunited with women that I had met at her Bridal Shower, others that I met at her “Hen Party” and friends that we had in common before.  These are all wonderful, dynamic, interesting women with stories to tell and I was grateful for the opportunity to spend a little more time with each of them.

Meredith’s Bat Mitzvah was difficult in some ways and beautiful in many others.  Difficult because her father passed away last year and it was hard to not have him there.  However, I believe that we have become much closer to her family since that tragedy occurred.  I felt so proud of Meredith as if she were my own child.  She did great and honored us with lighting a candle on her cake at the party afterward.  I felt like I belonged there.  Again, I had the opportunity to reconnect with the many wonderful people that I’ve come to know through Meredith’s family over the years. 

It’s so sad how disconnected we become from those who mean the most to us.  I’ve made it my resolution this year to make an effort to stay connected in some way to all of those people who mean so much to me.  Also, I am going to finally listen to my mother and if I don’t have anything nice to say, I’m not going to say anything at all, even at work.   Well, I’m going to try.  This has been the best beginning of a year that I think I’ve ever had and I hope that it’s just a taste of the year to come.  Real family and the family that we choose for ourselves are the most important people in the world.  This year, they’re going to know that I feel that way.

I’ve had some very interesting experiences while at college.  Being in my 40’s in college is so great because I really appreciate all of the knowledge that I am receiving.  It still amazes me, being in classes with older, non-traditional students, how many people are just there to “get the piece of paper.”  Most of those pieces of paper are worthless as the person receiving them has made no real effort to expand their sphere of knowledge while in attendance. 

In my sociology class last night we were discussing women and religion and whether religion was anti-feminist.  It became obvious to me, very quickly, that no one in the class had any knowledge about anything outside their own sphere.  In other words, the Catholics knew nothing outside of Catholicism, the few Jewish people didn’t know much outside of Judaism, etc.  The professor asked questions about religions specifically, if we knew of any religions that were more “women friendly” etc.  The subject of Atheism came up and the opinion that people in the class had of Atheists obviously came from a place of ignorance.  I had no choice but to come out of the closet.  I discussed how I was an Atheist and how I knew many who were Atheist.  None of them were Atheist because they “wanted to do their own thing” and “not be bothered by rules,” rather they became Atheists after much thought and scholarly inquiry.  Also, all of the Atheists that I know are very liberal and strongly believe in equal rights/opportunities/justice for all and work to make it happen.  Speaking only for myself, I try to follow the Golden Rule as best I can because it’s the right thing to do, not because I am afraid of future consequences.  If the class had been quiet before, you could now hear a pin drop. 

I had several people in the class remark to me afterward “How do you know so much?”  It’s simple – I read.  I read a lot.  My husband reads a lot and then we talk, a lot.  You get the idea.  And this isn’t the only example that I could give you.  This happens over and over and over again in my classes.  People do not attempt to educate themselves, they do not attempt to stay informed.  They trust someone else to tell them how to think.  I think that is sad and I think that it is a big reason that our country is falling apart.  So go ahead and blame it on the godless heathens if you must, but my money is that it’s more the fault of the mindless lemmings.

This weekend, I was in rare form since I started to debate with someone on Facebook about what actually constitutes Socialism.  This was after they made some blow hard statement about racism that somehow changed into socialism but was really a rant about Obama.  Then later at a picnic, some other idiot started blustering about how no one will  invest in bonds because of how the government took over the car industry.  So, the government has never done anything like this before?  Give me a break.  Try Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman.  Learn your history.

These people just spew what they hear on Fox News and they assume that everyone agrees with them.  Normally at a family function I would just walk away, but this time, having just gotten off of the previous mentioned debate, I couldn’t help myself.  Plus this guy comes to every one of these picnics and let’s his kid bug everyone else there.  So basically after I told him he was full of crap, in a completely intellectual way, he got up and walked away.   I then apologized to those at my table for not remaining the meek woman that I’m supposed to be.  They just laughed.

Why do these people (it seems men in particular) think that they can just go around reciting Fox News and that everyone should just allow them to do so?  I’m tired of this.  We people who do not agree with this propaganda need to get angry and fight back.  To hell with politeness.  It didn’t work while Bush was in office and it’s obviously not working now.  I have personally made a promise to myself that when someone is saying these things in front of me, I will confront them.  If they have better facts then me, great!  At least that means they’re thinking for themselves.  More than likely, however, I will win the battle.  They will never concede, but maybe they’ll shut up for a while.

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