Archive for March 2015

Name Calling   1 comment

I recently read an article online in the Conservative Tribune about Maine’s new guidelines regulating the receipt of welfare benefits.  Here’s the link:

I don’t object to setting things up so that those who are able can get job skills, volunteer, do things that will move  themselves and their communities forward.

I do have a couple of concerns.  Any writer has a slant and will tend to lean on it.  What I mean is that at least some of the time there might be a reason a person cannot meet the new requirements.  Perhaps, he might not have reliable transportation to the scene of job training or volunteering.

The other is the tone of the article.

I would think that among conservatives who write for and read the magazine there would be quite a few people of faith, as it’s not uncommon for people of faith to have conservative values.

So if you are a person of faith, is it really necessary to call another human being a leech?

Posted March 31, 2015 by swanatbagend in citizenship, the church

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The Top Ten Mom Roles I Did Not Anticipate   Leave a comment

Every potential mother has ideas about what it will be like to have children.  We all have expectations.

OK, maybe delusions would be a better word.

There were areas I could imagine–just barely–but I could understand and foresee them.  I could visualize myself reading children books, tucking them in, taking them camping and giving them Christmas presents.

Hmmm.  That’s actually about it.  I don’t think I ever really understood that I would be cleaning up their messes, feeding them 6 meals a day, and all the rest.  Diapers were purely hypothetical until I actually had an infant and my husband and I had dropped off Grandma at the airport for her return flight. There I was in the restroom, baby on the changing table, to discover a giant explosion that could not be contained by any diaper.  I didn’t have enough wipes. There was nobody else in the restroom.  I think I called, “Help!”  (Yes, really.)

Then I did what any new mother ends up doing.  I waded right in with paper towels because that was what I could reach without moving the baby.  I don’t know if those little pants were salvageable.

So you learn the basics pretty quickly.

But there are surprises that no one could have predicted.

Here are my top ten unexpected roles.

10. Amphibian search and rescue team.  I found myself with a salamander in one hand, moving leaf litter with the other hand, so that the second salamander could be given its worm.  I had to peel back layers of rotting leaves before I found the thing sandwiched happily into the decomposing strata.

9. Chauffeur.  Needs no explanation.

8. Ship’s counselor.  I knew that I would be comforting children when they scraped their knees, and sympathising when the boy didn’t notice them and went out with the best friend instead.  I just had no idea the span of support that actual people need, and how hard it is to comfort and guide when you don’t have all the answers.

7. Home school teacher (with fifteen years of experience). Absolutely not!  Not in my plans, no way, no how; I am looking forward to my child leaving home so that I can do other things and have some time to myself already.  Hmmmm…..what’s that?  You say my child will be bored in public school and needs more stimulation?  You say, kindergarten is easy; anyone can teach kindergarten?  Give it a chance?  I turn around, and whoops!–I had to count up the years of experience to put in this list, because I’ve lost track, it has been so long.

6. Short order cook.  Again, this probably needs no explanation.

5.  Tooth removal patrol.  By this I mean the fact that you as the parent are ultimately responsible for removing your child’s loose teeth, because if they don’t come out within 48 hours of the dental hygienist mentioning their eligibility to be removed, it will cause dental damage that can only be fixed by expensive orthodontia. Thus, you are supremely motivated to get the tooth out of your child’s head.  However, it is your child’s head, not yours we are talking about here.  So, you turn into the tooth removal patrol and take up a full-time job nagging the child and getting slime on your fingers, until the tooth is finally out weeks later and dental disaster is averted.

4. Family cheerleader.  Some children need more encouragement than others. You, Mom, are it!

3. Sherlock Holmes.  Specifically, Sherlock who specializes in finding lost tiny items. Tiny items are incredibly precious and thus must be taken to bed. When they cannot be found amongst the bedding, you are the Sherlock who will find them.  At 2 in the morning, in the mostly dark.  While simultaneously averting the potential emotional tragedy of this event for your child.

2.  Amphibian Houdini rescue team.  Ah yes, this is what happens when you allow your children to keep the tiger salamander they have found because your nature-type Fish and Wildlife friend says they are so easy to keep and care for!  Not endangered so no problem there.  When your child loves amphibians, and you don’t want her to get a tree frog, you can always just keep a salamander.  Why not?  What you don’t know is that your child will occasionally get the salamander out of its terrarium, because after all everyone needs exercise.  Did I mention we actually got two salamanders instead of just one? oh well, they can keep each other company in there.  Another thing I didn’t mention is that when you first adopt salamanders they do not prefer bright open places and are always looking for some dark corner where they believe they will feel more comfortable.  So, when the active salamander takes a walk straight into the doll pants that have foolishly been left out in the “salamander play area,” it will be up to you, the amphibian Houdini rescue team, to get the salamander back out of the doll pants.  She cannot walk while encased in doll pants. You must painstakingly, tenderly, cut the pants off the salamander (who is much too fat for the pants to be pulled off of) without damaging the plumpness of the salamander, while it writhes and wriggles in your hands.

And my number one role I did not anticipate playing…Fail Mom.  Yes.  This one is worth a whole other blog entry.  This is the role you know you will never play, because…how hard can it be?

Posted March 19, 2015 by swanatbagend in parenting

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Dragon Skin   Leave a comment

Yesterday, I finished reading a book new to me this year.  I read it once with my daughter as part of school, but decided it needed another read.

I strongly suspect it will lead to another–and another–and another.  That is, if my heart turns out to be anything like Eustace Clarence Scrubb’s dragon skin.  You remember his transformation in C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  He tried on his own to remove the skin, as Aslan told him to, but failed miserably.

On his own he had gained the knowledge that he had dragon skin, and knew how desperately he needed it peeled away.  But his claws weren’t deep enough to do the job.

As I read this book, I have felt the skin being tugged.  I’ve seen the scaly bumps.  I’ve felt some scales beginning to fall from my eyes.  All I have so far is the knowledge that it must go.

I’m talking about Till We Have Faces, also by Lewis.  It’s strong medicine.

How did he know what I am like internally?  Or is it just that we all have the same battle?

Here’s what he observed through his narrator, Orual, the unlovely older sister of Psyche.  She begins her accusation of the gods by recording her life and her losses.  In the first book, she tells what happened when the gods gave her and then took away a lovely, sweet younger sister whom she loved as much as any one can love another person.

She ends that part by saying that the gods never give an answer to our questions and complaints.  But in the shorter second book, she begins to see herself as she really is and not as she had imagined herself to be all the years of her childhood, young womanhood, and rule as queen.

“For it had been somehow settled in my mind from the very beginning that I was the pitiable ill used-one.”(256)

“My love for [fill in a name from your life…was actually] a gnawing greed for one to whom I could give nothing, of whom I craved all.” (267) As I read Book II, and saw with Orual all the events she had been sure she understood perfectly before, I began to question my own life and situations I thought I had understood perfectly before. In the courtroom of the gods she reads her complaint, her book that she has been working on diligently, only to find that it is in reality a nasty, ugly scroll filled with scribblings that when placed before the eternal are revealed to be the lies and excuses they truly are.

Reading this book made me see things about myself I hadn’t seen before.  So with strokes of the pen, years after his death, Lewis has managed to begin to tear my dragon skin.

But it will take a deep slash for Aslan to finish the work, I know.


Lewis, C. S.  Till We Have Faces.  Orlando: Harcourt, 1984.

Posted March 18, 2015 by swanatbagend in reflections

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