He runs around in high heels yelling, “I a princess. Me. Mine. I a princess!” [read more at Parenting]
Archives for December 2007
Good Moms Against Fashion
I like to think of myself as pretty much the best mom ever. I’m not saying that I am the best mom ever. I just like to think of myself that way. [read more at Parenting.com]
Revising Religious History and a Possible eBay Jackpot
We have effectively wiped King Herod from the Daring Family annals of biblical history. I’m not losing much sleep over it. From what I hear, that guy was trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Power-hungry Psychopath.
Laylee has also decreed that all three wisemen were actually women. They wore fancy clothes and sparkly jewelry-like crowns so, ya know, it’s kind of obvious. When I explained that they’re called wise MEN because they are of the male persuasion, she was quick to correct my prononunciation. “WiseMINN!” she laughed, “They’re not called wise MEN! Wise MEN are boys but WiseMINN like in the Baby Jesus story are girls.”
And I should listen to her. She’s the one who’s gonna make us a zillion dollars on eBay finding the Savior’s image in milk blobs. When asked what this milk blob painting looked like, Laylee in an attempt to earn us preschool bonus points for Christian piety, declared this to be a perfect likeness. I wonder what a sighting like this goes for on internet auction this time of year.
I’m having sightings of my own. What do the words on this container look like when viewed upside down in the refrigerator at night through squinty little eyelids?
That’s what I thought too.
”˜Tis the season!
Friday night my home and the homes of several of my friends were turned into blanket factories. An initiative called Operation Blankie has been started to get warm soft blankets to every elementary-aged child who was displaced by the flood. I sent out an email asking for fabric, machines and time to be donated and within 24 hours we had a dozen flannel and fleece blankets packed up and ready to go. I was so glad to finally have a justification for all the fabric I’ve been hording. I’m sure Dan’s happy that I bought so much when it was on sale for $1/yard.
Thank you to everyone who donated money to help with flood relief. I know that many of you donated through the Red Cross and the United Way. Nearly 60 of you also sent money directly to me which I used to purchase a few specific items for people in need and so far $1800 in Home Depot gift certificates, K-Mart gift certificates, and Visa gift cards. I took them down this weekend.
On Saturday Dan and I had the best date ever, a full day rolling around in the mud in small town Washington. A friend volunteered to take both kids for 12 hours so Dan and I could drive down and work. Dan’s usually quite the dainty computer guy so it was fun to see him get down with his dirty side.
We spent most of the day removing belongings from an older man’s basement. The entire basement had been filled and a couple of feet into the main floor. Years of antiques, tools, documents and photos were damaged, some beyond recognition.
Luckily the fabulous Mary had emailed me offering to volunteer her time to clean and restore photos damaged in the flood. She was already working on some from a family Dan had helped the week before and she kindly took Bob’s stack of WWII photos and wedding pictures. This project will likely take her hours… weeks… months to complete.
Watching everyone jump in to help these strangers has given me spirit, real Christmas spirit for the first time in years. I have cried more than I’d like to admit as I’ve received donations and offers of time and skills.
I honestly sort of fell into this project and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done because it’s involved a small amount of effort from me and the huge reward of sitting back and watching people exercise compassion. Thank you so much for giving me this gift.
If you’d still like to donate, please consider sending money to the Red Cross or the United Way who continues to provide support and relief from their temporary headquarters in Chehalis.
I have a new post up at Parenting. You can read it if you like.
Raise Your Hand
I do not have the mental or physical energy, nor do I smell good enough to write anything tonight. My one true deodorant for the past 4 years suddenly stopped working a few days ago. The first day I couldn’t remember if I’d worn any or not. The second day I was in denial. Today my testimony of Dove clearance-priced smells-slightly-better-than-B.O-flavored moisturizing deodorant is shaky at best.
I’m ready to try something new. Astound me with your fabulousness. Tell me what you use to stop the stink in its tracks. I will leave my personal hygiene up to a vote by people who live on the internet. The voting starts now. What should I be wearing folks?
This weekend I plan to drive down with your donations and I’ll have stories and updates when I get back… after I sleep some… and smell better than this.
Herod and I — We’re Jerks
We’re trying to fight the media-oric power of Santa’s publicity machine and teach Laylee and Magoo that Christmas is actually a religious holiday with fun attached as a festive bonus. Some days we win and sometimes the kids get all “Manger, what? Maybe I’ll care if you tell me it was full of liquid sugar.”
So tonight for family night I asked Laylee to tell us all the Christmas Story minus the reindeer, elves and abominable snow people. She asked me for a refresher and using the Little People as props, I took her through the basics.
When we got to the sinister part where Herod told the wise guys to come and tell him when they’d found Jesus because he wanted to worship him too, Laylee went into full panic mode. “I don’t like this part. I hate this story. He wanted to hurt the baby! I don’t like this part. I don’t want to tell it.”
She completely lost control and started shaking and bawling. Holding her in my arms trying to comfort her fear, I told her it was okay because he didn’t get to harm the baby. God protected Jesus and told the wise men what Herod had up his sleeve. She didn’t care if the baby got hurt or not. It was enough to know that someone was evil enough to want to do it. It was too scary.
We’ve talked about this story a bazillion times before and she’s never been bothered by it. When we get to the Herod part, she usually flinches, gives little smile and shakes with pretend fear and a look that says, “Phew! That was close.”
What was different today?
Adult things. I’ve been talking about hairy scary adult things for days, flooding, sadness, homelessness, despair, destruction, death and loss. To her I explained the disaster in a way a 4-year-old could understand. I gave her the Bambi version. “Bambi. Your mother can’t be with you anymore.”
Then I proceeded to watch news footage, talk on the phone with friends and family and cry about what I’d seen. “Bambi. Your mother can’t be with you anymore.
“Hey Thumper, don’t tell Bambi that his mom was brutally murdered by a faceless thug with a shotgun. They’re everywhere these days. It makes me cry just thinking about it. Bambi will likely be the next to go but don’t tell him. It may stress him out.
“Like I told you B, your mom’s gone on a long vacation but everything is juuuust peachy.”
I got her calmed down with sugar cookies, something I never thought I’d hear myself say, and I now pledge to be more protective of her innocence. She’s a baby in a world that wants her to grow up way too fast and she’s not deaf and I am not equipped with a soundproof telephone booth in which to cry and muse about the horrors and tragedies of this world in her presence.
She seemed to bounce back quickly, although her mental state is altered to the point that she’s now convinced she’s a feline and will only answer to sentences that begin with the word “Meow.” But then I’m not sure that particular disorder has anything to do with me, floods or evil biblical kings. She may just be four.
Dan got home from flood cleanup Saturday night, sore, stiff and grateful. We both are. Everything in our house looks different after seeing what people down there are dealing with. This morning as he was making breakfast he said, “I’m sure glad our toaster isn’t full of mud,” not something we were particularly sensitive to a few days ago.
The family he was helping lost 2 homes and most of their belongings in the flood. They were living in a small house on their property while building a nicer place. The land had some minor flooding 10 years ago, water coming up to their driveway, in something that was referred to as a “500 year flood.” They felt pretty safe building a new home on the land since neither of them expected to live past three or four hundred years of age. Both the new and old home were filled with seven feet of water. Dan’s job was to help move all the furniture to a waste heap in the front yard so they could begin removing flooring and tearing out walls.
Apparently they had to break open their dressers to remove the mud-soaked clothes so they’d be light enough to move outside. Dan used the same words as the woman I met on Friday to describe the state of the house. “It looked like their belongings had been put in a giant blender.”
Family photos were destroyed and animals killed. Their neighbors lost a herd of llamas and the dog breeder nearby lost 25 animals.
The good news is that many people are coming to help. On Saturday over 3000 volunteers surged into the area. Good friends all over the country are helping me blog the heck out of this story and several of you have donated money through me or through charitable agencies. People are emailing asking what they can do, mailing donations, offering groups to do manual labor and one woman is putting together a group of volunteers to clean and preserve family photos. Dan knows of one stack in particular that was barely rescued from the trash pile.
Asking for help and then watching the beginnings of all of your kindness pour in is really inspiring. We’ve got a good start here but we can do more. I for one feel a little skeezy at the thought of accepting ad revenue on the site when so many people are linking to me for flood relief so Daring Young Mom proceeds for December will go to the relief efforts.
If you’ve ever been through something like this and you have some insight into what would have helped you, please share your ideas. I’d love any suggestions for relief or offers of help.
And, as our kids are bound to say when they call us collect from their freshman college dorms, “I love you. Please send money.”
For more information, please read yesterday’s post.
*Photos by Leroy Collinwood*
Flood Washington with Relief
It wasn’t until I sat down to beg you all for help that the severity of what’s going on in the flood zones really hit me and I started bawling. If you want to understand why, go watch this video from the Lewis County Chronicle website. I really need your help everybody.
I spent yesterday demolishing a single mother’s home in hopes of saving it. The main floor of her small house was filled with muddy contaminated water during this week’s record-breaking flood in western Washington. Apparently the water rose so fast that she and her 3 children were unable to get home and move their belongings from the main floor to safety.
4 days later while my 4 girlfriends and I were tearing the sheetrock and insulation from the walls of her home with hammers and shovels, she was still hauling her filthy belongings to temporary housing in garbage bags. A few of her children’s homemade Christmas decorations still clung to the higher walls.
Over 1600 homes were flooded in this disaster, the majority of which have no flood insurance. Businesses have been wiped out. As sad as it was to see Wal-Mart under water and Home Depot condemned, the hardest thing is to know that many small businesses may never recover. So even as their homes are destroyed, their livelihoods may be cut off as well, right at the busiest time of the year for many businesses.
One of my friends kept asking the disaster relief workers what the people would do now that their homes and belongings had been destroyed. Several families are walking away from homes and businesses with no idea what they will do next. The fact that Christmas is almost upon us is the least of their worries.
It was incredibly humbling to drive past homes and farms that had been completely submerged, some blasted by 14 feet of filthy water. Farms that have been handed down for generations are destroyed, their owners left with nothing. Some had to shoot their own livestock so they wouldn’t suffer while drowning. There are cars and farming equipment still under water or stuck in mud and much of it is completely unusable. We saw toys, clothes and furniture several feet up in trees. People are in shock. One elderly woman was found sitting alone in her mud-drenched home staring straight ahead, unable to move. It’s a daunting task and several hours of hard labor yield negligible results. It’s hard not to be discouraged by the slow pace of the progress.
One of the hardest hit areas is in Lewis county around Chehalis, a couple of hours south of where we live in the Seattle suburbs. My good friend grew up in Chehalis and her father is still a dentist and farmer in that area who, as a volunteer LDS church leader, is helping head up relief efforts. Taking few breaks to eat or rest, he has spent the past several days driving from home to home assessing needs, helping with cleanup, distributing donations and organizing hundreds of volunteers.
Several local churches of various faiths have been turned into shelters and clothing and food distribution centers. People are coming from all over the US to serve and help with cleanup. The main non-denominational relief organizations serving the area are the United Way and the Red Cross and they are doing amazing work.
I sent out an email to the women of my congregation asking for clothing, food and tool donations and within hours, we had a garage full of supplies which Dan drove down early this morning on his way to help with cleanup. When I got home from Chehalis last night, I talked to my neighbors about what I’d seen and they came up with 3 boxes of helpful donations.
Do you live nearby? Would you like to help with cleanup or reconstruction? Do you live far away? Would you like to help these people put their lives back together? Each year at Christmas we try to find someone in need who we can serve, something we should actually be doing all year long. This year the choice seems obvious for us. I can’t remember a time when I felt more blessed and more of an urge to give everything I can to help someone else. Even Laylee has gathered a mountain of clothes, toys and blankets in her room to take to the “flood people.”
I’m gathering monetary donations which I will use to purchase gift cards to Home Depot and other local businesses with much-needed supplies. We will drive these cards down to Lewis County and, with the direction of local relief workers, give them to the flood victims to meet their immediate needs. Personally, I believe that people are capable of reaching out and helping each other directly.
Obviously I am not a registered charity so I do not have a Tax ID to give you a receipt for deductions. However, if you have $2 or $2000 that you’d like to go directly to people in dire need this Christmas, and you trust me to get it to them, I know that together we can do a lot of good. If you’re more comfortable going the traditional route, please consider making a donation through The Red Cross or The United Way.
If you’d like to help me give directly to victims, please click here to send money via PayPal.
All money that comes into my account for the rest of the year will go 100% to help rebuild the hardest hit areas of Washington. The people are cold, they’re wet and they need our help and prayers.
If you have a blog, please pass this information along to your readers. You can lift the graphic from the top and any photos from this post and post a link back to this entry. Email me if you have any questions and please help these people any way you can. Imagine what it would be like to lose everything all at once with little or no warning. THANK YOU!