Sunday, December 27, 2015

52 weeks

I'm sitting on my couch, by the Christmas tree that has a few more days before it's packed away for another year, watching the grey blustery weather out the window, and browsing through the postings of friends on Facebook. Now that the hubbub of Christmas is over, the usual postings about resolutions and hopes for the coming year are revisiting. There's something almost reassuring about seeing the same things year after year, and the knowledge that the people who share them won't follow through on them. Resolutions are a promise that we're human and want to better ourselves, but accept that we probably won't.

I saw a post this morning, though, that is easy enough to do. We've all seen it- week 1 you deposit a dollar, week 2 deposit 2 dollars, and so on until week 52 you deposit 52 dollars. Well, our savings account has taken quite a hit this year with the new house, and it makes me nervous not having resources to fall back on in times of emergency. So, this is going to happen. Except I'm reversing it so that week 1 I'm depositing 52 dollars because I know that as we get back around to the holidays it will be hard to deposit 50, but easier to deposit single digit numbers.

To make sure that I do this, I created a weekly event on my Outlook. I've just been right through 2016. And as I worked my way through the year, I couldn't help but wonder what's in store for us.

My family has always had a Christmas tradition that each year we buy a new ornament for the tree representing something big that happened in the year. Looking at our tree now, I see my son's birth, mine and Steve's first Christmas together, the year we moved to the States, the year we moved to Texas, and this year- the year we bought Whanau Farm.

2015 was good to us. We have our forever home, we're all healthy, we have chickens clucking away in their awesome coop. Business wise, our website has had a major face lift and we can now easily sell online.

What surprises does 2016 have in store? There will be good and bad, there always are, but we always hope the good outweighs the bad. I have hopes for the year; things I really really want to happen. But I just have to wait along with everyone else to find out. And there's a comfort in that, too. There's a comfort in knowing that some things are out of our control, so we really can't worry about them.

And next year, we'll be seeing the same resolutions posts, the same hopes and dreams for the new year, and we'll be another year older and wiser.

Today, we're painting the lounge- getting away from plain beige and putting color back in! So, I'll sign off by wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year!

PS Steve just told me about the tornado in the Dallas area. Scary stuff! Stay safe out there, y'all. And to those who have lost loved ones, my heart goes out to you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

I got bitch slapped by a chick this morning

The baby chickens are getting so big! It takes both hands to pick them up now! Ack! We're still working to finish the chicken coop, but they're quickly outgrowing the tub. This was unforeseen.

Also, a bunch of them have discovered the joy of flying out of the brooder every time I open it. Replace their water. FLAP FLAP FLAP! Refill their food. FLAP FLAP FLAP! Bring them a tasty treat. FLAP FLAP FLAP!

Most are actually flying up in order to be cuddled. They perch close to me and wait to be picked up. It's kind of endearing, actually.

This morning, I was sprinkling grit on their food, and FLAP FLAP FLAP! She didn't aim right though, she wound up on the other side of the brooder from me. So, FLAP FLAP FLAP! Across the opening she came, smacking me in the face with a wing during the journey. Then acted all huffy, ruffling her feathers up. Crazy chicken.

I picked her up, gave her a cuddle, and put her back. Just in time for another to come out to say hi. They're really started to develop personalities!

Now if they could just slow down the growth until we can get the coop done!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I want to destroy the ugly- Updated

There is so much beauty in this world. You know? There’s so much to look at and wonder at all the amazing things that had to happen in just the right order to make that happen. Sometimes it’s enduring, other times it’s for a fleeting moment that is gone if you do not take that moment to appreciate it, make it part of your memory, and cherish that moment for the moment it was.

But there is so much ugliness, too.

I made a challenge on my Facebook page earlier in the week. The challenge is that you find something beautiful in everyone you see; even just strangers passing on the street. Their outfit is cute, their hair is perfect, they have beautiful eyes, a great smile, they walk with confidence… seriously anything! You don’t even have to say it out loud, just think it silently to yourself.

The second step is to actually say it to them. “Wow! That shirt really brings out the color of your eyes.” “I love your hair!” “That is such a cute purse!”

Of course, that’s just to strangers. When you get to know someone you might find out that they have a great smile, they’re a listener, they are someone you feel you can really rely on. Again, the first step is to acknowledge it to yourself, then start telling those people.

It’s surprisingly hard to do. The more you do it, though, the easier it becomes. The great thing is, as it becomes easier to compliment others, the easier it becomes to look in the mirror and find something beautiful about yourself.

I had one friend who responded. One who’s been doing the same thing for years and has felt the amazing impact that it has on your life. To everyone else, it’s invisible.

Are we really so ugly that we can’t even entertain the notion that we can get better without tearing each other apart?

There were two posts by “friends” today that made me want to give up.

The first was a political cartoon, that, try as I might, I cannot find to prove that it ever existed. It was a minority woman standing in front of a Christmas tree holding a big bag labeled “pay rise” facing a starving child. The text was along the lines of, “I understand your situation and we are meeting to discuss how to fix it. Now hush up and move out of the way, I have Christmas shopping to do.”

This is fairly simple. Women demanding equal pay is not causing children to starve, nor are we blind to it. Women are, by nature quite empathetic. Given a decent wage, we’d be among the most charitable to those in need. Demanding to be paid the same amount as our male counterparts for doing the same work is not unreasonable. There was a UN study that just came out stating that they were horrified at the level of discrimination against women in the US. The pay gap in the US is in excess of 20%! That is disgusting! So don’t sit over there all high and mighty and tell me that women are being callous to the suffering of others because we want to have equality.

The second was a family’s holiday photo that is going viral, so you’ve probably seen it. The wife and two daughters are tied up and gagged, and the husband and son are giving a thumbs up and smiling with the quote, “Peace on Earth.”

I’m disturbed that people really don’t get how wrong this is. And I hesitate to share my views on this because there are demons in my closet that even my closest friends have no idea about. After 12 years, it’s still a terrifying place that I don’t like visiting. But here we go because I’m tired of pretending it’s fine when it so obviously isn’t.

Girls, you are shit. When you open your mouth, all you do is whine and nag.

Boys, it’s totally ok to tie and gag girls and make them do what you want because they are stupid and you are perfect.

Yeah, that’s a great lesson to teach your kids.

People who are sharing it say it’s “funny” and people need to “lighten up.”

You’re right. It’s funny that he hit me because I mouthed off. It’s funny that he told his friends they could have me any time they wanted because I needed to know my place. It’s funny that he made me feel so scared and alone that I was unable to ask for help. It’s funny that he made me feel so worthless and unlovable that I couldn’t fathom leaving.

It’s hilarious that when I said no, he didn’t stop. And I ended up a terrified single mother.

It’s funny that he enjoyed showing me videos of him cheating on me. It’s funny that when he attacked me, the only people I could think to call for help were his parents and they told me, “He’s your problem now.” It’s hilarious that when, at 8 months pregnant, he choked me and told me he would kill me and my unborn son, and when I called 911 they said help was unavailable.

Yeah, it’s fucking hilarious.

So don’t tell me that it’s a joke. I get the joke. There’s a lot of people- women, children, and men- that get the joke. I’m one of the lucky ones that I found the courage to get out. I lived. A lot of people don’t get that chance.

When you teach your son that it’s funny to tie up and gag the women in his life, you’re teaching abuse. When you teach your daughters that it’s funny to be tied up and gagged, you’re teaching abuse. When you show your daughters that they are just annoying and will get what they deserve, you’re teaching abuse. And maybe the rest of the year you teach them to be strong and independent and demand equality. How sad then that one picture can destroy all of that.

So when your daughter is in tears because the boy wouldn’t stop even when she said no. Tell me how funny it is.

When your son is in jail because he wouldn’t stop. Tell me how funny it is.

Don’t wait until it touches your life to get the joke. 

Update: So, obviously this is a subject that is hard for me to talk about, and I don't want to spend anymore time on it. However, I was reminded, and feel I need to add, that I did have the support of my parents to survive. When I finally realized the danger the relationship was putting my son in (and me, but by then I really didn't feel like I mattered at all), I knew the road was going to be tough. My dad drove me to the Court to file a restraining order, both my parents sat by my side in Court hearings, and they supported and were a massive help when my son was born. He was an extremely difficult baby, and if I had been totally on my own, I don't think I could've done it.

There have been a few stories I've read recently of people who's parents have closed the door to them and their children because they don't agree with their choices. If one person changes their mind, lets their offspring  back into their lives despite disagreeing with them, then this little addendum is worth the time. I have two step-kids in addition to my son, and all three seem to have their moments when they like nothing more than to drive me completely insane! I think it's called being a kid, more accurately a teen. There have been times when I just wanted to send them to a hotel because I was at my wit's end! But, if they need support, they know (I hope) the door is always open. We can't always help in the ways they want, but they will always be welcome here, and we will always do all we can for them. It's called being a parent. Sometimes it's a thankless job, sometimes it's a wonderful one. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

First big job- CHECK!

We've finished the front porch rebuild! (Almost.) Yes, there's a tiny bit left to do, well, quite a bit actually, but the worst of it is done and the house looks radically different!

Realtor photo, I can't find the ones I took. 
A little bit of a face lift! 
The living room window. Is there an outside world? I don't know. 
Living room window. There is a beautiful outside world! (Forgive the mobiles. Work in progress.)
Son's room. Dark and dreary. 
Son's room now- it's actually a lot brighter. It's just really hard to get a photo of it. 
Work room, eventual guest room. No view. 

Work room/guest room- check out the pecan tree! Birds love it!
Our room. I couldn't find the before photo, but trust me, it's much better now. 
So open! Again, I can't find the "before" photos that I took. 
What will we do with so much usable space?
Where we've been having morning coffee. 
Yeah, we have a lovely sitting area out the back, but with the nightly frosts, it rains on us as soon as the sun comes out (bare iron roofing over the back porch). The sun shines on this particular spot in the mornings, though, and it's wonderful. So nice to have a choice of where to sit.

Looks much more like a ranch house now. 
There's still plenty of work to do, but it's a relief to have this job finished.

Even Zack is happy. Actually, he's just happy that the lawn prickles are gone so he can run around like a maniac and chase the ball. And the rabbits. And the deer. And anything else that moves. 
Toby's happy just to sit. Although, he's declared war on the gopher. 
Daddy leg spider. Did I mention everything's bigger in Texas?
Next job? The chicken coop! Those chicks are quickly outgrowing the bathtub!