Single Moms, I Empathize

This week my parents went out of town. My mom was quite nervous because she had never left my sisters and I home alone for so long without a relative coming to stay, but she knew it would be ridiculous because all three of us are well beyond needing constant adult supervision. She made me promise a million times to keep track of my sisters and keep food in the house and know all the emergency procedures (yes, we do have them) and lock the doors and don’t talk to strangers, etc. This would have been a piece of cake if I was not working 8-5 every day this week.
     After dealing with guy problems (Julia: Yeah, it’s over with that one guy. Don’t feel bad, I think it needed to happen), coming home after forgetting to go to the store, being sick and not having enough energy to clean anything up, and getting angry with a 14-year-old who neglects her chores because she sits home by herself all day and watches TV shows, I think I understand what it would be like to be a single mom. And damn, I respect what they do.
     These past few days seem to me to have been exactly like what it would be like if I were my own mother’s age (or a little younger), recently widowed (or divorced, but widowed is much more likely because I never would have been able to afford this house on my own), and supporting two teenaged daughters. And it sucks. I’m glad it’s just my own sisters and not my children because I did a pretty pathetic job of making sure they ate dinner and got home when they were supposed to! This experience has taught me a few things:
1) I need to be more careful who I get involved with, and to what degree. I don’t want to get married (or pregnant) and then wind up being left.
2) I need to get a good-paying job that I enjoy, otherwise I’ll never have any energy to spend time with my kids.
3) I am most definitely not ready for motherhood.
4) My sisters and I definitely take my parents for granted. They’re constantly cleaning up and picking up and having them gone just shows how much they do for us.
     So, Mom, Dad, thanks for the lesson. Now, please come back home!

Poem: Summer of Loryn’s Discontent

This summer hasn’t been the best. It’s hot and very dry (Texas has been officially declared a natural disaster), I miss my beau and my college town (who would have thought living at home would be the hardest part of going away to college?), and I am having a very hard time with my summer job. The heat and the boy I mostly have under control, but the job… I won’t go into detail or complain, but there are numerous circumstances surrounding this job which rub me the wrong way. I know I am lucky to have a job and I am thankful for it, but I’m counting down the days until this job (and the summer) are over so I can be back in school with my friends and a job I adore, not to mention my beau, about whom this poem is written.
     The title of this poem comes from a phrase my mother said while listening to me vent about my day at work, but I figure it applies to more circumstances than just the one. 

Summer of Discontent

A season is to a life
a drop of water in a puddle.
It is not nearly a drop in an ocean —
the ratio is far too insignificant —
but if a life were comparable to the sea,
this season would be like you,
on a hot July day,
swimming as far away from the shore
as you possibly can,
until the tide threatens
to pull you to its open waters,
stealing you forever.

In the eyes of the sun above
you are hardly a speck,
unremarkable at best,
but the ocean will remember you
and the curves of your body
as you pushed against her,
challenging your limits and her might,
just as I will remember this season,
this summer I must spend
so far from both the ocean
and from you.

Summer DIY: Twine Balls and Bottle Caps

Some days I just get into a really crafty mood. Generally this mood stems from a need I have (or think I have), like last Saturday this mood stemmed from looking at a Fossil catalog and realizing that a lot of the bracelets they were wearing I could make myself. While I was happily beading away, my younger sister stumbled in to watch, bringing crafty ideas of her own.

     She quickly pulled this crafty idea up on my laptop and I jumped right on board. I’ve seen these twine balls in several home decor stores and my mom is always looking for odds and ends to spruce up her decor.

Twine soaking in the glue mixture. I used Tacky glue because I thought it would hold better than Elmer’s.
Twine-wrapped balloons hanging up to dry. We put them on clothes hangers and hung them on the light fixture over the dining room table. The rest of the family thought we were bonkers.
Finished products! One fell apart because we skimped on the twine wrapping, so be sure to wrap it super thick!

They’re pretty simple to make, but I would add a few tips. One, cover your balloons in vasoline prior to wrapping the string. Two, use a twine with a fairly light gauge and soak it in the glue mixture for at least 5 min. Ours didn’t seem to get quite stiff enough, and I think that’s because our twine didn’t hold enough of the glue mixture. Don’t take my word, for it — go experiment! I might make some to hang in my dorm room later this summer.

Another awesome craft idea I had (although I’m sure it’s been done before) were to make my budding collection of bottle caps (beer and otherwise) into magnets.

Dos Equis, Shiner, Izze… I need to get some Coca Cola ones!

I hot glued round magnets inside each bottle cap, let them dry, then used the hot glue to sort of caulk in between the magnet and the rim of the cap and the magnet. It took me all of 20 minutes and I still have over half the pack of 50 magnets I bought. The fun ain’t stoppin’ yet!

Book Review: In Defense of Food

A few days ago a friend asked me if I counted calories, because she was considering it and wanted my opinion. I promptly recommended she read this book.

Source.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto is direct, informative, and entertaining, true to Pollan form. Just as I predicted, I loved it. I’ve already recommended it to four others besides my contemplating-calorie-counting friend.
     Pollan leads the reader through nutritionism and the Western diet and both of their histories (which often overlap). He discusses the consequences of both (and the influence of food marketing), including, but not limited to, heart disease, weight gain, and teeth that don’t last.
     After reading this book, both my mom and I have gotten in the habit of labeling processed foods “foodlike substances.” It’s almost become a game with us. Food or “foodlike substance”? Wonderful supermarket entertainment. Thank you, Michael Pollan, for finally coining a great phrase to simply define packaged, processed junk. 
     Perhaps the biggest surprise which awaited me in this book was Pollan’s take on nutritionism. When I first read what Pollan has to say about nutritionism, I nearly put the book down. I, like so many others, had grown accustomed to nutritionism dictating what we eat. It is science, after all, and our generation is so used to allowing scientists the final say. However, Pollan once again uses common sense to hit me in the face. I now strive to avoid anything that lists its carbohydrate count. This book helped me realize there is so much we don’t know about food — nature still baffles us. Nutrition science is useful for interpreting food, but as Pollan makes abundantly clear, it is a terrible way to eat.
     As Pollan suggests in his introductory chapter, this book is an excellent companion to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, however, it is possible to enjoy this book on its own, and for some I would probably recommend it. Defense is more accessible than Dilemma because it deals more directly with the averse affects of the Western diet on individuals rather than the broad-spectrum, global take Dilemma has. I would say Dilemma is for the very serious, eco-savvy foodie and Defense is more a very informative diet book, a must-read for anyone who plans to eat anything in contemporary society.
     Perhaps what I like most about this book is Pollan’s opening line: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Concise, direct, simplified. Doesn’t get any better than that.