On Firearms

I’ll be spending my 41st birthday in a rather unusual fashion. I’m taking a gun class. I appreciate I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and I appreciate that I’ve got a *wide* spectrum of loved ones who may or not support my choices, and that I don’t feel beholden to them. Before you see me “carrying,” though (and ideally, you’ll never *see* me carrying), I’d like to share my processes. At the very least, it can reassure my sisters that I’ve not slipped my gourd and am preparing for a Zombie apocalypse, and reassure my brother that I’ll never, no matter the pressure, vote for Donald Trump.

I’ve picked out my first handgun after serious research and some savvy-guidance from a gun expert (I’m coining him that, for the record). I tried out different styles, makes, and calibers. I found one that seemed to mesh well with my goals and my needs. I purchased it legally, picked it up from a licensed firearms dealer who was markedly tickled to have a woman show up at his door at 8 a.m., and did the appropriate “background check” steps. It’s the perfect choice for me, and I’m looking forward to training with it.

Those of you who know me can appreciate I don’t do things half-measure, and am a researcher by trade (something I’m sure my husband finds quite amusing as I immerse myself in books on gun laws, books on gun styles, books on shooting stances, books on ammunition). In short, I’m educating myself on the process. I found a great woman’s group which meets in Columbia at a range a couple of times a month, and look forward to shooting with them to build experience. I’ve read about everything suggested by experts in the field (and confess to no small amount of hero-worship for Massad Ayoob, looking forward to the day I can take a class with him).

Nathan grew up around guns, though, and so he’s got the experience I do not. I have two other firearms. I have a 12 gauge shot-gun I got immediately after my divorce when I was living in a very rural area of Kansas, and a single-parent. It’s an Ithaca 47, a riot gun, and it was a decidedly perfect mesh for my purposes at the time. The most activity it ever saw was the summer of the rabid skunk problem, when I killed (and buried, ugh) 7 skunks. I’m sure that’s a memory my daughters look back fondly on . . . they’d be out playing in the sand pile, see a skunk staggering about in the daylight, and I’d come running out with my shotgun. When I married Nathan, he got me a lovely .243 deer rifle. I practice with it. I handle it responsibly, and I am a good shot when I need to kill a deer. I’m not a huge fan of hunting, mostly because it seems unfair to me that the deer want to move on the frostiest mornings of the year, which means being bundled up and outside at 5:30 in the morning. Oh, the injustice of it all. Still, I like the free meat, and so I do what needs doing.

I also want to share a bit about the ideology of it all. This is yet another area where I really like my man Bernie. I’m a liberal. I didn’t realize there were liberal gun-owners out there, and finding a little community of people who think like I think is quite reassuring through the process. I’m likely not going to give money to the NRA. I think they politicize issues they should not, and frankly, I don’t understand the need for assault weapons to be accessible to the general public. I also support background checks – for everyone. If you want a gun, you should be required to get a background check. If you’re not crazy, and you’re not a criminal, there’s no problems with background checks. I do not support a gun registry, but despite the NRA’s propagandizing there is no governmental push to have a national gun registry. It was actually my ignorance that led me to ask my firearms dealer if I was now on some list, and I got a proper lesson on the matter. The only people who know my serial numbers are my firearms dealers. That’s it. If I do something criminal with it, or have to shoot someone in self-defense, it might get written down somewhere. I’m not sure about that, but I’m not opposed to it either.

I think it is my right to own a gun, and I am a good guy. My “personal firearms expert” (thank heavens I have him to bombard with questions) pointed out that we have a responsibility to arm ourselves, and I think the argument is a solid one. Not only do we want to maintain our 2nd amendment rights (and anyone studying the Bill of Rights knows our rights are only as good as long as we demand them AND use them), but I could see a theoretical deterrent effect. If bad guys know more good guys have guns, then maybe they’ll pause before shooting. This is not addressing the mental health issue – we need better mental health care, period. Not even delving into that except to say if we had more resources to help people get mental health care they need, a significant proportion of gun violence could be reduced.

There’s also the Jesus issue. I love me some Jesus. I’m still reading books on the idea about Christian pacifism and all that so I don’t have a lot to contribute to this argument. The good thing, though, is that I know I’m right with Jesus. If I kill someone defending myself or my children, I’m still going to be right with Jesus. I don’t feel a moral imperative to die because some schmoe opens fire in a public place. I do believe in the idea that when it’s my time, it’s my time, and I’m looking forward to Heaven. Now, though, my children need me, so I figure God is okay with me defending our little unit as necessary. When He really wants me, He’ll really take me.

There’s also the crime issue. I consider myself a criminologist. I’ve studied crime for years. I recognize that the fear of crime is overwhelmingly higher than the actual crime rates reflect or represent. People pass through life terrified to go places, to experience new things, even to travel because they’re worried something bad will happen. Honestly, that’s not me. I like to experience new things. I am wise enough to not put myself in risky positions, but we take little risks every day. Driving, for example. I also think that sometimes, people just wind up, through no fault of their own, in a bad place. There’s been three shootings at the Columbia mall recently. Three separate incidents. Do I want to avoid going to the mall? Well, yes, but that’s because I hate the mall, and I love Amazon, but the point is that crime can happen randomly. I won’t pass through life being fearful of crime occurring, but I don’t begrudge myself the opportunity to even out the playing field a bit (by carrying a weapon).

Then last, there’s the security issue. Yes, the firearm will be loaded. It will also be loaded with the type of bullets to stop bad guys, not the type of bullets to practice. Judge me if you will. I will be adding a “gun safety” curriculum to our homeschool plan. Undoubtedly Nathan would be discussing guns with the kids anyway, but I’ll add in the elements of handling, respect for firearms, practice. I just *love* the points raised by Kathy at the Cornered Cat, where she discusses removing the taboo of guns by letting your kids handle them (unloaded, safely) when they ask, so that they don’t run to play with a gun if they come across one somewhere. That being said, I’ll be neurotic about this, I’m sure. The loaded gun won’t be left out where my children could get to it. It’ll either be on me or in the gun safe. That’s it. The only two options. On me, or in the safe. It will take some conditioning, undoubtedly, but I’ve always been a smart cookie, so I am confident (with my children’s welfare as my focus), I won’t screw that up.

So all in all, I’m looking forward to my big day. I’m tickled with my choice of a birthday present. I messaged Dad to let him know what I put his birthday money towards, and he hasn’t responded yet. It could be either that he’s curious why his baby girl would ‘feel the need’ to carry a firearm, or he’s thinking I’ve gone over the edge. It could be either. He’d probably rather I just buy some new shoes, but this is much more practical . . . 😉



I watched a harvest video this morning that had me bawling. It was essentially just 13 minutes of combines and harvesters moving around a wheat field, showing the process. There was some good “steward of the land” music playing, but beyond that, certainly nothing that would prompt tears. And yet, farming makes me cry. Any country song about farming? I’m in tears. Commercials for John Deere? You bet I’m blubbering. A facebook video about a harvest? Worthless and introspective for a solid 30 minutes after. Irrationale, yes. But farming just moves me!

This past weekend I was having a discussion with Dear Husband about pursuing our dreams (mostly rationalizing why I should finish my doctorate, and soon) and I pointed out that despite the fact that, “I hate farming,” I supported him in that dream. He looked a bit aghast for a moment. It was almost as if I’d said, “I hate chocolate” to a woman. Now, in hindsight, I realize my wording was a bit too strong for the moment (not that I’ve told him that yet). I will confess my blunder so he won’t worry about my mental state, but I just haven’t seen him yet to do so since he’s working out of state.

This man wants to farm. He wants it to be his livelihood, as it is his father’s. He wants to care for the cattle, oversee our crops, cut hay from sun up to sun down. He wants to buy more acreage, build fence for the next 20 years, and leave a big legacy of farming for our children. He wants to quit welding and be completely supported by the land. I get that – really I do. As his wife, it is my duty (obligation, responsibility, dare I say, joy?) to help him reach his dreams. As such, I’m a reluctant farmer.


While he works out of state bringing home the bacon, I tend the farm in his absence. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the chickens I haven’t yet let out of the hen houses (I will soon) and the bottle I need to fix for the (mostly) blind calf we’ve been nursing back from a bad case of pink eye. I’m thinking of the goat kid I need to check, because we’ve also been nursing her for about a month from a bacterial infection, and the carrots I reluctantly need to dig out of the ground because it’s too hard to pull them out, and I didn’t “soak them a bit” last night (as he’d very logically recommended). I need 200 more carrots like I need a hole in the head, but I can’t abide the waste, so I’ll dig them out. I’m glad it’s not winter, and I begged and pleaded with him to be home for the winter so I wouldn’t have to break ice. I loathe breaking ice. I’m convinced my death will come from being charged by a bull (or arguably worse, a cow with a new baby calf), slipping down an icy hill side to get to the pond bank, and planting myself on the ax head. Still, I’ll do it for days, weeks, months if I need to because I want to support his dreams.

Being honest, though, that’s not my entire motivation. I idealize farming. With this one task, I feel a connection to the land, to time, to God, and to my family that I can’t get from the profession I love (education). I hate the feel of dirt when I’m pulling carrots, but I love producing our food, having fridges and freezers full of our own (healthy raised) meat, and canned goods lining my shelves reminding me of how much I hate August because its’ peak canning season. Spaghetti in the winter really tastes better with my homemade tomato sauce. Miles and Ruth both adore being in the garden harvesting. Telling these kids we’ll go pull carrots is tantamount to saying, “Let’s go to Six Flags!” Just sheer enthusiasm. In fact, as I was writing this, Miles schlepped in from the garden cheerfully announcing he’d picked some peppers for me (not sure what state the pepper plants will be in when I head out to check).

When I go out in the mornings to reluctantly chore (not overplaying the Martyr role here, just highlighting how very *reluctant* I am), the sun is cresting the neighbor’s hills to the east and the grass is wet and the smell here in mid-Missouri is just fantastic. My Zyrtec and Benadryl can’t touch the allergy issues, but you can’t beat the smell. Even the smell of damp animals is appealing – not wet dog smell, just the smell of sweet animals who nudge you when you come to feed and water them, reminding you that you’re connected to something greater. I feel so spiritual at these times. I feel so grateful to have these blessings, to have the health, the time, the energy, the means to mosey about my beautiful acreage doing rather mundane tasks (and repeatedly stepping in poop of some sort). I feel like I’m part of an incredible cycle of life when I am riding the 4-wheeler (with the kids seated behind encouraging me to drive faster, even though I never do) along the edges of the hot fence to make sure the calves (it’s always the calves) don’t get out the hot fence because the real fencing had to be put off again so he could go back “to work” to pay the bills.


It’s ironic that working on the farm is about 10 times harder than MY work, and I’m going to presume, also harder than HIS work (probably not 10 times harder, though, since welding is some seriously manual labor). Then again, it’s about 10 times more rewarding (beyond a monetary valuation). I imagine much of the connection comes from knowing that rain (or drought) or critters or too much sun or too little sun or bugs can affect the crop that comes in at the end of the season (and I’ve long bemoaned to my farmer-girlfriend how I hate the insecurity, the financial insecurity, of farming). Thanks for always letting me gripe, Christy. We could lose the cows to pink eye, we could lose them while they labor, we could lose out on the crop costing more to put in than it yields. All that being said, it makes one more aware of the inter-dependency of Man-Land-God. I think that I idealize farming because it’s I honestly can’t think of any other vocation (or livelihood, if one prefers) that has such a splendid inter-dependency, and such an inspiring opportunity for introspection.

Last, I think I idealize farming because I was such a wanderer for *so* many years, and never really sunk in roots anywhere. Seriously — I’ve moved 34 times in my life. Although Addie and Rebecca turned out splendidly as a result of those gypsy days, and know greater diversity and love and acceptance than any parent could hope for, Miles and Ruth will grow up with a tie to ONE place. I can’t begin to imagine how that will influence possible differences in their upbringing, but I know there’s very little sweeter than watching a 4-year old boy run out to the driveway so he can hop up in Grandpa’s tractor, even if it’s just to unload a pallet of wood pellets and won’t take 5 minutes. I mean, this boy will RUN to a tractor. Ruth will sit there and cry because she wants a turn, but is too little to bounce around on the buddy seat at this point – but the day will come when she’ll get to ride in the tractor (because Mama is all about equality of opportunity and none of this sexism stuff). Someday (soon) they’ll be running out to gather the eggs and check the afternoon water levels for the animals, and (continue) to traipse all manner of dirt in on their boots, and Miles will bring in 10 buckeyes that get dropped around the house for me to pick up when I’m cleaning. They’ll have a tie to land and community that I didn’t know growing up, and while some part of me envies them that, the other is so glad that they can decide one day if THEY want to farm this legacy their father and I have left them. That thought gives me goose bumps. Sure, they might hate farming, decide to sell the land, or have a nasty sibling squabble over the estate when we die, leaving no one with enough money to actually run the farm. Still, they *could* farm it if they wanted. That’s justifiably weepy, isn’t it?

Now it’s time to put on some Willie Nelson, cook for my Labor Day camping trip, and clean my house.


PS — Pavla, I’m not smart enough to write about the harms of Monsanto, but I AM smart enough to know I like my food grown naturally, without chemicals when possible or genetic modifications.

Church and Politics

It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Admittedly, I’ve been super busy. My older teens are leaving the nest, my younger two are both well entrenched into toddlerhood (aka, the years of getting into everything) and husband is busy much of the year traveling for work to support our hobby farm (with the hopes it will no longer be a hobby farm at some point). So, I just haven’t had anything move me enough to take time from family and work to write.

However, I’ve really been pondering an issue lately, and want to sort through my personal responses via writing, which indeed helps me process better. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church and had finished hearing a wonderful sermon, when the Pastor announced some changes on the horizon to be added to the church articles. The statements would pertain to marriage equality, sexual identity, and rights of the unborn. I immediately felt a bit ill. I’ve known for a long time I was one of the more liberal members of my church. I’ve even visited with Pastor, one-on-one, about my position and why it made me feel uncomfortable to actually “join” the church (formally, officially) because I know my position on many social issues would differ significantly from my peers there. I also understand the church’s position – in a litigative society, they want something on the record so they couldn’t be compelled to marry someone they may not want to (like gays, or transsexuals).

Now I’m in a conundrum. I really love my church. I love the way we worship (very contemporary), I adore the Pastor (a charming, educated, personable man who is clearly devoted to God’s Word). I love the congregation (they’ve always been very welcoming to me and others that I’ve observed). Many of my dearest friends have gone there for decades, and I’ve always enjoyed their Bible studies. Their youth program is top notch, and my girls have grown in their faith through their participation. I have wholeheartedly looked forward to raising up Miles and Ruthie in this youth program. These statements, though, counter most everything I personally believe in. I struggle with having politics in my church, and previously, that has never been something I’ve felt conflicted about. I also struggle with *these* statements, because despite my religious convictions (I feel Jesus and I are pretty tight), I disagree with them.

I absolutely want separation of church and state. I recognize that for many Christians, this harkens the death toll for society, but I think they’re overlooking the fact that what they really want is Protestantism in our State, not “Religion.” If we have a Protestant-based governmental system, how would that really differ from an Islamic-based governmental system? What if, by chance, the religious ideologies of the nation shift, and we become, in the U.S., led by a faith system other than Protestantism? If you open the door to faith-based government, you run that risk. I don’t want to suffer persecution for my beliefs, and the only way to ensure that is to eliminate religion from the government. I also don’t want to see other faith systems persecuted for their beliefs under a Protestant-based government system. I love me some Jews, some Muslims, some Buddhists . . . one of my dearest friends is Wiccan, and she’s a *good* person. I can never convince myself that people who don’t believe as I do are bad people – it’s a judgment I never want to make, never want to pass along to my children as I DO try to actively socialize them to love Jesus.

I have many gay friends I love. I want them to have equal rights (marital rights, economic rights, decision making in health care rights). If I have some of my (gay) loved ones over, can I not bring them to my church? Would they feel welcomed? With such a statement on the books, I think we will intrinsically adopt a position of exclusion towards gays, and frankly, I believe Jesus would have loved them, too. Likewise with transsexuals. I realize many people subscribe to the belief that there are only two gendered options (male or female). If you believe in the idea that God didn’t make them that way, how do we explain mixed genitalia from birth? They’re called intersexuals, and as one might expect, they indicate in self-identification that they feel very torn about how to identify. In my teaching, I have a full week in class devoted towards not discriminating against transsexual/transgendered individuals. How can I be comfortable attending a church where I feel discrimination *could* be supported? I’m not positive that it *would* be, but it *could* be. Last, while I am firmly in favor of the rights of the unborn, I also support Roe v. Wade. I don’t think that the dichotomous position (pro-rights, pro-choice) are the only means to describe people (like myself) who really support life, and want to see people make alternatives to abortion, but yet also don’t want to revert to a culture where women (who don’t feel as I feel) are pursuing abortions in back alleys. Is the church taking a position that any woman who’s ever had an abortion cannot belong to the church? Cannot serve? Is there no consideration for circumstances? Is there no gray area?

Then there is how very much I have to GIVE to a church. I have a big heart for service. I admit I’m not a regular attender (err, anywhere), but I attribute that to working 50-60 hours a week, running a farm, homeschooling, and raising up toddlers. Sometimes Sunday morning rolls around and I’d rather take 15 minutes to give it up with Jesus in my personal (daily) Bible time and prayer journaling, and then cook a big breakfast for the family. And yet, I love to sign up to help with things! I can’t sing (regretfully) and I can’t work in the nursery (too much commitment), and I can’t run anything electronic (Luddite). But I can serve in many other ways! If I believe differently than these articles of faith indicate, am I to be discouraged from giving to God with my talents?

I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’ve been praying for wisdom and discernment about withdrawing from my beloved church home altogether, but I’m not there yet. I’ve tried out a couple other churches, and while they’re seemingly good places, I’ve yet to do my “Pastor talks” (where I sit down with the pastor to get a feel for church doctrine). I really wanted to raise Miles and Ruthie up in this church, which I have considered my church home for 6 years. Conversely, I don’t want to be a hypocrite about my ideological positions.

I can’t convince myself I’m the only person who loves Jesus but seeks middle ground politically. I’m sure I’ve got contemporaries out there, but I’m floundering a bit now in finding them (especially here in rural mid-Missouri). I also don’t want to bring on a “poor me” party, because I’ve got many lovely friends (many from my church) who love Jesus, know my ideologies, and love me despite them (since they don’t share them). I’m very fortunate in that regard. It might be that, even in this church, there are more there who feel as I do, but perhaps just aren’t as vocal as I am.

With a positive spin to conclude, I’m grateful to live in a country where I’m able to worship as I want, vote as I want, support whatever political causes I choose without fear of retaliation or threat to my person. So, there is that.

On Drama, Conflict, and Epiphanies

I wrote a pretty extensive blog post, and it was remarkably healthy to then hit, “delete.” I think after exploring my feelings on the matter, I’ve developed a nice epiphany for my 2015.

Over the course of many years, I’ve learned not to let others’ emotional drama infringe upon my own personal health. In fact, I would contend I’m very disciplined about this, and it’s intentional, and something I benefit from.

However, I think yesterday I also determined that I don’t have an obligation to smooth out family conflicts, even if they have to do with me or touch upon my life. I had an interesting lesson, causing me to reflect on why I desire harmony in relationships where there just may never be any. If people don’t like me, either because they just don’t mesh with my personality or perceive me to be different than I am, that’s okay. I don’t need to sort through their issues. I don’t need to discover a “why”. I don’t need to get sucked into drama, even if it’s well-meaning because I’ve desired positive relations.

Ultimately, I concluded if I know that I’m living my life trying to be kind to others and doing the best I can to not harm my loved ones, I am a step ahead of most. That’s a good place to be before 40.

Goals and Motivations

A few blog postings ago I indicated I would be covering my goals soon, and it’s probably a good time to reflect on those now. I’ve been fighting a good fight for the last 11 months. I started my weight loss journey on December 26th, 2013. I’m *almost* at my 70 lbs lost mark. I keep creeping down. Initially I lost about 2 lbs a week, and it came off a lot quicker. The last 3 months it’s been more like 1 lb, and sometimes even only .5 a lb a week. As long as it keeps going down, I’m content, but it does get discouraging that it takes so long (especially when it goes on so easily!). I know the concept that 3500 extra calories equals 1 lb gained, and you’d really think it isn’t that easy to eat 3500 calories. When I examine what I used to eat, compared to what I eat now (about 1500-1700 calories a day, since I’m still breastfeeding), it floors me. I could easily have been eating 3500 calories a day! Revisiting my goals (mentally) is important because not only do I need to “scratch them off” once I’ve reached them, but I can see how they tie into my results, which I just love. Yes, yes . . . you’ve already ascertained I’m a spreadsheet kind of gal. My goals fall into distinctly different categories (some are tangible, some are intrinsic). Here we go . . .

I’m 32 lbs from my goal weight. I recognize this is going to be the slowest coming off. To reach it, I’m watching the calories still, working hard on strength training (muscle burns fat, and it’s not going to make me look bulky like a body builder), and *not* missing my cardio more than 2 days a week.

I want to be able to sleep better each night. I’ve noticed that I am already sleeping a lot better than I have been over the past few years, but I know that somehow (not sure how yet – I need to find a book on this) the quality of my sleep does correlate to being overweight. I want to be satisfied with my 5.5-6 hours of sleep. This also ties in to not really *needing* a nap each day. Sometimes I’ll tell my girls, “I just need to lie down for an hour”, but I tie that in to also staring at a computer monitor for hours on end. It isn’t just physical fatigue – it’s a need for a mental break.

I want to be able to keep up with Miles and Ruth. This is a huge motivator for me. I want to be able to spend their childhood running and doing things with them (which, for the most part, I was able to do with Addie and Rebecca in their younger years). I want to be able to walk places with them. I want to be able to ride bikes – never mind that we can’t ride them around our house because Missouri is crazy hilly – I want to load up bikes and go to the Katy trail or something. I want to be able to run up and down the bedroom steps as much as I need to if someone is sick and needs Mom (without becoming winded). I want to be able to encourage them to be healthy themselves (to exercise!). This is important to me.

I want to be able to keep up with my husband. Not so different from being able to keep up with the kiddos, really. Nathan is just a powerhouse of energy – the man can do more in a single day than anyone I know (physically). He can get up at 5:30 in the morning and run non-stop until 10 p.m. at night, and if you ask him if he wants a nap, he’ll follow up with, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I want to be able to haul fence posts for him, to herd cows (and as established previously, I need to be able to outrun the bull), and to go hiking or hunting or riding horses (although my butt and thighs weep at the thought at this point). I want to be in fabulous shape so I can really share more with my man. And, you know, the other stuff that comes with that. Which I won’t elaborate on, because my neighbor Ted thinks I overshare.

I want GOOD health. I want low blood pressure, healthy insulin response (reading a neat book my friend Amanda recommended called “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig that has me questioning relationships between food choices and hormonal responses), I want to never have to worry about diabetes (and have a healthy blood sugar balance), I want to have a really awesome resting heart rate. Who would have thought that I would care about this at 40? I want to tackle issues like heart disease and joint problems and breathing issues – all because I was overweight.

I want to look at pictures of myself and feel good. No shame, no embarrassment, no self-consciousness about the extra chins or always try to be in the back of the photo shoot because I want to hide my body. I know that’s not healthy, mentally and emotionally. Really, I know that. I know that I should love my body no matter what, but I also know that I am more uncomfortable with pictures when I weigh more.It’s actually easier for me to tackle weight loss than it is to learn how to love myself fat, and with so many other benefits to tackling the weight loss, why focus the extra emotional energy on trying to love myself fat?

I want to wear my lovely clothes. I have tubs and tubs still of beautiful clothes I haven’t fit in in years. Granted, most of them are professional dress. You’ll show up at my door to visit and I’ll be in a lovely pink silk suit (I bought it for conference travel), and the most overdressed farm wife you’ve seen. However, I’ll be delighted to be able to fit in it again. If you see me in my gorgeous beige beaded cocktail dress from Nordstrom’s while I’m shopping at Walmart? Just give me a bump for reaching that goal. I was tickled last month when I fit in my jeans (the last pair of jeans I bought, in 2007), which are still the largest size jeans I’ve ever owned. Yes, I was *tickled* I fit in my fat jeans. My next immediate goal would be the size 14 adorable boot cut Gap jeans sitting on the top shelf of my closet. I look at them each time I pull out my clothing for the day, and it’s just a little extra encouragement to keep moving forward (sloooooowwwly). In one of my clothing tubs, I have some size 8 Ralph Lauren jeans that I remember squeezing my butt into at some point. Those would probably be my “end goal” jeans. When I can wear those, I’ll know I’ve hit my target. I’ll probably use those as my “ruler” to know how to stay on track. They’re smoking hot. I can’t wait to wear them!

I want the extra jiggles gone. I have to say this with a bit of a caveat – I know some jiggles are never going to go away. I know that the baby-pouch from my 3 c-sections is not going to ever go away (short of a tummy tuck, which my husband would never be okay with). Cutting abdominal muscles repeatedly sort of negates any amount of sit-ups I can do. I also know that some jiggles will take longer than other jiggles (because my skin will take a couple of years to shrink down). I want the under arm jiggle to go, though (for good). I want the under-chin jiggles to stay gone. I want the inner thigh jiggles to disappear altogether.

This isn’t even the full list, but it’s enough of a start to get me out of my chair on my Monday (my busiest day) and take the time for ME to get a work out in. I need to eat, sleep and breathe in these goals because they keep me motivated. Just like Rocky chasing the chicken and catching it. That’s me, baby. I got this.

Miscellaneous Clothing Rant

I was out with Addison yesterday dress shopping at Macy’s. I saw some really adorable, fit young (20s) girls walk by, both wearing leggings. It wasn’t the leggings really I had a problem with, it was that they had really short shirts and jackets on with them. In essence, they were showing every possible curve of their lower half of their body. They were lovely curves, young and firm still, but *every* curve. When I later commented to Addison, “When I get my body all smoking hot, remind me not to wear leggings like that,” and then she and I had a discussion about judgment of women wearing leggings. Her point was that leggings aren’t that much different from skinny jeans, which I agree with, because I think in many cases, those also show curves I don’t want to see.

To clarify, I’m not judging those sweet young girls. I’m not thinking they’re promiscuous because they want to show every curve of both the front AND back halves of their lower body. I’m thinking they are a reflection of the culture, and quite possibly, when women started wearing swimming suits out in public for the first time, the older generation had a similar response. Does this make me old and unhip? Possibly. In this instance, I’m okay with that.

I also want to quickly add that I don’t buy into the various crap that’s out there regarding women and clothes. E.g., “If you dress sexy, you’re inviting rape,” or similar junk. Women should be able to walk around naked, if they choose, and not “invite” rape (which is a really ignorant way of considering it, but has been a cliché surrounding sexual violence for decades). By the same token, I don’t buy into the sexist double-standard that we expect more modest dress for women, but men can run around shirtless and working some Magic Mike look. I really don’t want to see men scantily clad either, unless I’m watching Baryshnikov performing ballet. I also don’t buy into the fit/fat argument – it’s acceptable for fit women to wear leggings that show every curve, but not for fat women to wear leggings which show every curve. I don’t buy into the mindset that young girls shouldn’t be a “distraction” to young men by wearing certain outfits (which is the rationale of many school districts who are now banning leggings as daily wear in their schools). It isn’t women’s responsibility to shield ourselves from males – that’s not the point.

I guess, what frustrates me the most, and perhaps this IS judgmental, is the idea that I think women who wear clothing which shows more than “I feel” they should (see how I’m qualifying all this subjectivity?) just don’t love themselves all that much. I can’t help but think if you’re showing a camel toe that you just don’t value the many other components of your self-worth – your personality, your wit, your sense of humor. You feel the need to display your body, and this could be because you’re seeking attention from others because you haven’t gotten enough before, because you have Daddy/Mommy issues, because you are riddled with self-doubt, etc.

I’m not a prude — I think those who know me would contend I’ve got a fairly normal sexual attitude. I have no problem with soft core porn, no real hang-ups, and am open-minded about how people want to live their lives behind their own bedroom doors. Or in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or whatever. I just don’t want to see others’ body parts when I’m out in public. Arms, fine. Legs, fine. Butts, no thank you. Vaginas? Definitely not.

I also think, as far as Moms go, I’ve been pretty restrictive of what my girls wear out in public in their developmental earlier years. I haven’t permitted midriffs, cleavage (whether or not they have it, it can always be attained by a push-up bra), cut-away backs, etc. I’ve spoken out against shorts that look like Daisy Dukes, leggings that make a butt look naked, and even the low-necked shirts (whether or not they had any breasts at the time). They’re finally at an age where they can wear (for the most part) clothing of their choice, and seldom do I say, “You’re *not* wearing that out in public.” More often it will be, “Are you sure you want to wear that to —?”

I want them to consider how they’re presenting themselves. I don’t want them second-guessing their worth, but I don’t think clothes MAKE our worth – I think they reflect how we value ourselves. I want them to wear clothes that say, “I’m strong and confident and I don’t need to show my body to reflect that.” I wish that classy was sexy again. We are such a hyper-sexualized society, though, I think my perspective will be relegated to the “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” era. Good thing I have my own blog where I can rant about whatever I want, then.

Sunday morning stroll through the woods

I decided to do a Sunday morning hike (primarily motivated by the fact my treadmill is on the fritz — again, and it was so gorgeously fall-lovely outside, I wanted to be a part of it). I thought I would amuse myself with a little photo-journal of the hike, with snippets of my own reflections as I progressed. And, if it’s an enticement to draw some of my BFFs I haven’t seen in ages to come stay with me for a week, all the better!

I started out by the rail road bed. My first musing as I’m walking is how Gerald O’Hara I’m getting, “Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, that Tara, that land doesn’t mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” I really dig having property. It’s a lot of work, but when we leave it to the kids, hopefully one out of the six will appreciate it. 🙂


This is actually part of the old M-K-T rail line that runs across the southern boundaries of our property. This is where the meth heads used to come and burn the plastic off the copper wiring before we put up the gate, and gave a copy of the key to the landowner on the south side of the rail road bed. Now the meth heads just come and ask to “arrowhead hunt” which my husband generally agrees to because, in many ways, he’s nicer than I am. Or, possibly not as aware that they’re in fact drug abusers — something which I can pick up on in about 30 seconds.

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This is the “road” up the hill where husband likes to cut brush. He really, really enjoys cutting brush. Like, it’s a hobby for him. If he’s got some chump to follow and “paint the stumps” (put something on the stumps that kills them for good, so they don’t regrow) then he’s in hog heaven. He also likes to brush hog, hence my many, beautiful walking paths (center picture). Then, I just loved this shot of some redneck’s “hunting chair.” I think this has been there 2-3 years.


Oh look! Two paths diverged into a wood . . . you can surely guess which path I took.


This looks like a passel of Sunday afternoon family fun. Haul up the wood splitter, and we’ll be good to go.

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This is my *most* favorite hiking path to take on our property. He’s got about 12 different paths brushhogged off of this one. I can never remember what he calls it, though. “The old logging road?” That might be it. I also love playing the game of looking for the No Trespassing signs, which are ancient ones he’s wired up in some capacity, generally as a marker. No one but family is back in the middle of this area. Still, you can always say, “Follow the old logging road up past the old barn foundation (which is rotted away, but the cement is still there), and you’ll see the white no trespassing sign. Beyond that is the white sleeper stand, and then you’ll go left  . . . . “


This is the white sleeper stand (deer stand), but it’s somewhat creepy because critters crawl in there, and the only people who might actually want something this secure to hunt in (as versus a small seat with a small railing 30 foot up in the air, for the *real* hunters) are also likely scared of encountering a family of possums, in a small, urine-smelling stand at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark. Or namely, me.

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Who could fail to appreciate walking in such beauty on a quiet, crisp morning? Not this gal. I was half-tempted to pick up some of the acorns I kept coming across, because I was thinking like a 4-year old (or rather, thinking how delighted Miles might be if I showed up with a handful of acorns for him, since I left him wailing at home with sisters because I wouldn’t let him come along). However, I didn’t have pockets in my exercise pants (what’s up with that, anyway?) and the only other spot would awkwardly be my bra. This was my sweet hiking companion, Lady the Beagle. She was with me about half the time, but the other half she was off baying magnificently to let me know she found a trail of a rabbit. She’s sweet. She’s no Trixie, but she’s got a good heart, and the pup is on lockdown since he’s been killing chickens.

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The creek crossing was dry, but it was a doosy to get down the hill to that point. Very good for my thighs, I’m sure. My fat thighs. They need to see more hill action. Then, another lovely brushhogged path husband made for me.


This one is interesting — evidently on an iPhone you can take pictures with your volume button. Since I didn’t know that, and kept trying to adjust the volume up or down on my morning hike playlist, I got home to about 150 extra pictures. Interesting, yes? Rather looks like a hippy-lover’s acid trip. And, I would assume the majority of my reading audience has not dropped acid, so you can just trust me on this. Just say no to drugs.

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Then, a dilemma. Here are the soybeans, and here is the pasture (with cows and ragweed galore). I decided to take the path along the edge of the soybean field. Much longer way home, but walking through rag weed on a September morning didn’t sound that appealing.

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This is one of husband’s favorite deer tree stands. He calls it the “Sycamore Stand.” Three guesses why! I was so tickled when the soybean field ended, and I saw the fence row home (mind you, it was still about 3/4 mile from home). Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that the soybean field ended at the bottom of a monster hill. This next picture is me stopping to admire the fencing handwork of my husband — truly the best fence builder I know. It had nothing at all to do with gasping for breath and screaming calves.

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Oh look! Home, sweet home! And one happy, sweaty Mama. Got in 3.15 miles all told, and a nice Sunday morning.

Coming Out

I saw something yesterday on facebook that had me rolling with laughter. It was this picture:


I have been pretty candid with my close friends, when we discuss life issues, and I am pretty sure I’ve recently lost someone I perceived as a good friend because of my more “liberal” ideological position. I put “liberal” in quotation marks because I am actually a moderate, by most considerations of the continuum. I’m a liberal next to many of my good friends in the church, and I’m a conservative next to my LIBERAL (notice all caps — she’d appreciate that) girlfriend Jadi. Inasmuch as we can’t evaluate social class outside of relativity, I think we cannot evaluate ideology outside of relativity. But then again, that might just be my Marxism showing.

All that aside, I think it’s time to officially come out. Yes . . . yes, I am an Ally. What does that mean, really? It means I support gay rights. I support equality for *everyone* (people of color, people who practice a different faith than I, people of a different sexual orientation than I, people who are subjugated for whatever reason). As a straight white Christian woman living in very rural Missouri, this isn’t a conversation I have with many. My pre-Missouri friends know my position, and know it well (I’ve certainly dragged my daughters to rallies in grad school). Now I think they, too, would be considered Allies. Will that happen with Miles and Ruth? Lord, I hope so.

I probably lost a lot of people with that single plea, but I mean it! “Lord, I hope so!” I want to raise my children in a realm of loving acceptance. Yes, I am a Christian. I dig the Word. I talk daily to my Savior. I am comfortable with my walk in faith. Yes, I understand there’s much in the Old Testament that speaks out against homosexuality. However, God’s grace and Jesus changed all of that – Mosaic Law does not need to hold us captive any longer (thankfully, because some of the responses were pretty harsh). There are two things we need to be mindful of – Loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s huge to me. That stands out more than anything else in the Bible (to me). For any scripture someone can show me an anti-homosexual castigation, I can show you one of Jesus’ love and acceptance. Unfortunately, there’s this “hush-hush” perspective that anyone who *really* is a Christian can’t support gay rights. That’s so judgmental. Judgement is not my place.

My place is to offer love. It’s not to judge someone who’s gay. It’s not to judge someone who is cohabitating. It’s not to judge someone who is on their 4th marriage. I’ve heard a lot from other Christians about the need to hold people accountable for their behaviors, but I think that gets taken out of context. It was specifically addressing other Christians within the church – it wasn’t talking about us having a role being the policing moderators of sexuality in the world at large. Does that mean we don’t have a responsibility to keep pornography off the television where children can see it? No, that’s silly. We still need to be responsible for raising our children as children. So many people lump homosexuality in with pornography, or pedophilia, or bestiality, etc. That’s sheer ignorance. Please educate yourself. Opening up gay rights (in particular, marital rights) isn’t going to open the door for people to marry their dogs, marry children, or marry their toasters.

In all likelihood, you know someone who is gay. You can either be frowning upon their “lifestyle choice” or loving them as they are. I have a lot of close, gay friends, and I love them. It saddens me to see that they can’t marry, or make medical decisions for their partner, or adopt children together (in many states). I think most of them don’t even care if you accept them (it would be nice, but not pivotal). What’s imperative is that gay couples be afforded the same rights within our society as straight couples.

I don’t have a problem being friends with people who feel differently than me – I’m just not going to keep my positions to myself simply to avoid discomfiting you. I’m not going to force my opinions on you – you’re entitled to hold your own, as am I. I’m not going to argue with you about whether its right or wrong, or what God says, or whether our country is going to hell in a handbasket (which, I would argue it likely is, but certainly that’s not related to gay rights). I’m not going to worry if you feel alienated, or want to unfriend me on facebook, or ignore my emails (I’m quick to take a hint). Frankly, I think we need to be discomfited. We need to create some social change. Yes, I am an Ally.

The Bad Rap of “Controlling” Behaviors

I was reading through the Bible for my study, and it referenced the Wife of Noble Character (a/k/a the Proverbs Woman, from Proverbs 31:10-31). In this, the wife of noble character is hard working, manages her household staff efficiently, toils through the night when necessary, provides good food and a clean home for her family, is experienced with trade and brings in wealth for her household, serves the poor, takes good care of her appearance, and brings her husband respect.

I freely confess I am a *long* way from being a Proverbs woman, but by the same token, I absolutely hold her up as an ideal, and an attainable ideal, at that. I think in 30-40 years I might have mastered these things if I continue to seek God in the daily choices that I make.

Unfortunately, though, I’m often considered as “controlling,” which I admit, raises my hackles a bit. There’s just such a negative connotation with being a “controlling woman” (in particular, it’s negative when associated with women, as men are encouraged to be controlling since it’s ‘manly’ and all that other sexist gendered stuff).

When I’ve been told I am “controlling” it’s often in the context of my interactions with my children (such as not letting my daughters wear make-up until they’re 14), or with my husband (although I have no specifics on that, but he’s mentioned his family perceives me as such). I’m trying to work through my feelings on this. On the one hand, I want people to think well of me – not in the people pleasing or codependent way, but just have an overall good regard. I don’t lose sleep when people don’t like me, and I don’t go out of my way to curry their favor (it is what it is). Still, when I hear I’ve been considered “controlling” I get defensive, because I think that the choices I make about what I control or do not control are sensible ones.

Here’s my position of defense:

I think not letting kids drink sugary drinks is good – we are one of the fattest countries in the world, and soda/sweet tea/slushies contribute to that. I think that managing our food could be considered controlling by many in our culture, but I have to juggle the costs of providing healthy options with how they’re taken in. If the kids each eat 4 peaches a day and I won’t be able to afford to get more for another 2 weeks, how practical is that? Plus, diarrhea is seldom a good thing. I think teaching kids about healthy options to eat, instead of junk, encourages healthy eating habits when they are adults. Why is this something that warrants justification? Why would I want them, at 40, to be working to lose an extra 100 lbs to be fit (ahem, ahem)?

I think not letting young girls wear make-up or dress provocatively before they have the maturity to handle that is good – we are a hypersexualized culture, and I don’t want them to be immersed in it.

I think that cleaning my house every week (or my beloved ‘deep clean’) is good – who wants to eat in an environment, such as on a farm, where there could be unseen poop somewhere? Or have a toddler crawl around on a filthy floor? Or can tomatoes with flies all over the place?

I think that removing myself from a situation where I’m in verbal conflict with someone *before* I speak rashly (emotional or verbal control) is good – I don’t want to regret my words, and I learned from an early age that unchecked emotional responses can be hurtful. I work hard at maintaining emotional control (without stuffing, of course, because stuffing is not ideal). But, I like to be a happy girl, and processing through my emotions before speaking has had positive results for me.

I think that working 50-60 hours a week might be considered a workaholic in society’s eyes, but at this stage in my life, it’s necessary to contribute to building up our farm (which my husband dreams of running full-time someday, someday soon, so he can be at home with us). Keeping a thumb on my work load might be controlling, but again, if it’s for the greater good, why is there harm? Why is ambition or a desire for professional success in a woman a bad thing?

I think that keeping a texting option off my kids’ phones until they’re older teens is a good thing (or for that matter, we don’t let them have cell phones until they’re ready to drive, and then just for security’s sake if there’s a breakdown). I read a lot about how texting and messaging is changing the culture of communication – I want children who can relate, personally, to others. I don’t want them staring down at their phones during dinner. I don’t want them playing games for 4 hours a day (and yes, I think gaming can be addictive).

Ironically, I think “the family” (or our closest social networks in propinquity) assumes that because I want to manage my household efficiently, of course I am controlling of my man. I use the word “ironically” because I know of no wife who is less controlling of her husband – my husband has full charge over his life, our children, and most elements of our marriage. I give my input, of course, but firmly state that I’m not the boss of him, nor do I desire to be his mother. 🙂 Throw in that his previous wife really was controlling, and I’m sure that influences perception.

Yes, I like to have my towels lined up in the bathroom, but I don’t punish anyone who doesn’t – I just straighten them for my own aesthetic sense of order. Likewise the canned goods in the kitchen pantry. I like to spreadsheet to-do lists. I’ve planned my own funeral. I keep six separate calendars of activities. OCD? Maybe. But not hurtful to anyone.

I would also add that there are so many things I vehemently *don’t* seek control of.

I don’t have a curfew for my older children.

I’m fine with the youngers playing in mud or sitting in the middle of the chicken pen in diapers.

I encourage cross-country travel (flying, or driving, so the older teens can build experiences).

I don’t freak out about bad grades (in that I don’t punish for them, although a short lecture on the consequences of bad grades in college may arise).

I don’t control how the kids spend their money they’ve worked for (except to take it from them for phone bills and car insurance).

I don’t regulate their clothing choices (unless it looks sleazy, but it seldom does) and I’ve even been known to purchase jeans with holes in them. I’ve accepted that mismatched socks are a fashion trend.

I don’t homeschool because I have a stringent need to regulate my children’s education or ideological positions –I do so because I want to encourage creative, free thinking, dislike structured tests as the medium of assessment, and resist the boundaries of the current public policies towards education.

I don’t call my husband repeatedly throughout the day to see where he’s at – I figure he’ll straggle in at supper time if he’s hungry. I don’t snoop through his things, read his texts or email, or open his mail. If I sincerely need him to do something to help me, I make sure to request it, and not command it.

I don’t micromanage the expenses (except when we’re broke, and that’s just to say, “we’re broke – we can’t afford it”).

I don’t interfere with others’ life choices – this is a big one, I think, because I see it a lot. How others choose to live their life is their business, so I don’t put my opinions out there on how they should be making this choice or that choice.

All I want to “control” is my little haven, and to conclude, I think that’s a good thing if it yields healthy, happy children, a fruitful marriage, and an efficient household.

The defense rests.

On Hand-Me-Downs

Each year in our local “not-quite-metropolis” there are huge consignment sales from the Mothers of Multiples group, where I go and rummage through an enormous warehouse to find my children’s (the youngers) clothing for the next 12-18 months. Generally items are about $.50-$1.00, and I can leave well equipped for both Miles and Ruth (including shoes, and a couple of well-worn toys) for less than $100.

The next sale is scheduled for this Saturday morning, so I do my pre-sales preparation, where I go out to the storage area and rummage through tubs of clothing to find out what we have in each child’s sizes, what I’ll need for the fall/winter/spring/summer to come, anticipate growth patterns, and make a checklist for each child’s needs. Generally I leave babies with Nathan as we get up at 5:00 a.m. to wait in line for the 7:00 a.m. warehouse opening, and take Addison and Rebecca along so we can divide and conquer. It’s a nice little tradition, and I can’t thank my girlfriend Dawn enough for introducing me to the sale.

This year, though – funds are tight. We’re doing the whole, “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else,” and while also saving up to replace our hobbling-along refrigerator (compressor is going out), funds are just tight. No way around it. My work load has been cut since colleges are reluctant to give part-time faculty a full load to avoid paying insurance (and please note, I am a fan of the health care plan, so I’m not bagging on Obama for this). I understand the dollars and cents of adjunct faculty issues. Nathan’s going to have to travel for work (out of state), and we always try to minimize our expenses to minimize his time away from home, the kids, and our bed. So, although getting clothing for 2 kids for a year + for $100 is a heckuva deal, I wasn’t looking forward to spending it, regardless.

Hence my trip to the storage tubs, where I finally opened the bags my brother has been faithfully shuffling my way from my beautiful niece, Ella Mae. As I sort through bag after bag after bag, I was ready to weep. I’m getting weepy just writing this. It was the MOTHERLOAD of hand-me-downs. Nathan quips Ruthie could wear a different outfit each day, but he’s a man, and somewhat exaggerates anything having to do with clothing or underestimates just how much a woman needs. Still, an incredible amount of clothing, and absolutely adorable clothing – what a blessing to have sweet Ella’s diva duds! Who would have thought my brother could pick out such cute clothing, additionally??!? So, lots of gratitude as I’ve rewashed and folded up the baskets I brought in. Mind you, all of this is just 2T, 24 months, and some smallish-looking 3T stuff, so all can be worn in the next year. There’s every range of weather needs (truly, all season). This stash below is *just* what I cleared out of storage — she still has a dresser full I have to sort through for what still fits, what’s out of season, and what we’ll hand-down ourselves.

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As I’m folding, Nathan and I are in the kitchen talking about our own experiences with hand-me-downs growing up. I didn’t have a lot of hand-me-downs. My dad gave us a clothing allowance each year to buy back-to-school clothes, and when I finally got to high school and that was insufficient, I supplemented with money I earned from working. Back in the day, those $75.00 Guess jeans were the shiz-nit, and I just had to have them. Nathan has told me about either wearing Walmart clothes (which he hated to go pick out, because the kids at school teased him about it) or wearing hand-me-downs from Uncle Ken.  Neither of us were clothes-horses like our school mates, because neither of us could afford it. I tended to wear the same clothes over and over again (okay, *sheepish grin*, I STILL do). That’s just being tight, I guess.

In our house, kids get new clothes for Christmas and/or birthdays. Occasionally the Easter Bunny will bring a new top with baby chicks or bunnies on it. We shop Goodwill. We shop consignment sales. We hit the Salvation Army when we’re near one that doesn’t smell all smoker-mc-smokey. Aunt Jill gives us clothes she finds in cars when they’re repossessed (from her work), if they would fit the girls. We are *blessed* with teen girl hand-me-downs from my plethora of nieces, and from my 40 year old neighbor who is a marathoner and hip (and fit) enough to still dress like a teen. When those bags of hand-me-downs arrive, I may grumble a bit that the girls will take forever clearing out the old, and sorting through what fits (not to mention the “battles” over who gets to pick from the bag first, and who really wanted THAT skirt or THIS top), but goodness, we’re grateful. When I have clothing to “redistribute” I try to give to people I know and care for, and feel could use it (rather than hauling the bag to Goodwill, although that still happens from time to time).

In short, all sanctimonious righteousness aside (and if you’re leaning towards thinking that’s my tone, disregard that thought), WE LOVE HAND-ME-DOWNS. I think it teaches kids a lot about practicality, taking care of what you have, valuing things that are “new”, and that the friends who would judge you on the basis of your clothing are not really friends at all. Feeling the love this morning! Thanks, brother of mine!