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I trust and still feel jealousy?   Leave a comment

It came up a little while ago in a discussion. Excessive jealousy. Don’t get me wrong, a little jealousy has it’s place in a healthy psyche. We are talking ‘you talked to a member of the opposite gender? How could you? ‘ or ‘you had an impure thought about someone else? You cheater!’. The kind of jealousy that puts unreasonable burdens on one’s partners. 

It is very harmful to relationships and it is one of those things only the jealous partner can really change. The object of the jealousy had no real obligation to mitigate their partners unreasonable expectations. They will only get worse if pandered to.

That, though, is only a part of what I have really been thinking of. What I am actually thinking about is where these emotions come from. They are real emotions, very powerful ones at that. Why do they afflict people, even when they know better?

I have an idea, and I don’t know how good it is. So please, humour me by giving it a little thought. The idea is very simple – it links back to how we define ourselves. I think trust and jealousy are related but different. I think jealousy, at least this kind, is less about trust and more about how one sees oneself with respect to one’s partner.
If one thinks of oneself in relation to one’s relationship then small things that normally wouldn’t matter become about oneself. One sees finding another person attractive as a direct threat to one’s self, instead of a natural and unimportant event. One finds all things in the relationship personal, even things that really are outside of the boundaries of one’s relationship, because one has not allocated ones own, and is therefore not allowing ones partner sufficient.

Anyway, what I am driving at is if one finds oneself unreasonably jealous, then maybe what one needs is a clearer sense of oneself as a separate entity. Healthy relationships always involve a certain amount of independent personhood. Things that belong to yourself without needing your partner’s approval or encouragement. Things that are yours. Maybe that could help? Hobbies they are not involved with that say ‘this is a part of who I am’

I don’t know. Normally I would read about it, but I lack the time lately. Perhaps I am wrong.

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Posted 8 October, 2013 by erynnsilver in Relaionship

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How did you get dad so involved?   2 comments

So, mini update. I get this one a lot with mums (who see my baby in a carrier on dad’s chest cooing away). How does one help get dad (This also goes for second mum, step parents, and so on) involved? A lot of the time fathers really don’t know where they stand with the tiny baby and mothers have very strong ideas about how they want things done.

The most important factor here is trust – trust that dad will figure it out. The relationship between babies and their caregivers is unique to each care giver. The key is to provide for the baby quickly and with affection; as they get older giving them time and love and responding to their needs. There are many different ways to do this and the best way to find out what they are is abandonment – leave dad and baby to it. Be there if he wants help, but he is on his own. Settling the baby is between them, and your confidence and trust bolsters theirs.

Another factor is keeping the relationship unique. Having something that each of you does between you and the baby – something that reinforces the relationship’s unique nature. Something that says ‘I am important as more than just ‘a person’. Often dads feel shut out of baby rearing because they just do the same things everyone else does. Sometimes people get a bottle so daddy can feed the baby too – the truth is that that falls short of what is needed here. Daddy needs to be ‘the one who reads at night’ or ‘the one who takes baby for adventures in the kitchen’. Daddy needs something unique. It can change, but there always has to be something that says ‘daddy’ to baby. As they get older there can be games and stories between them – but having something unique between them (just as you will have unique things between you) cements a stronger bond.

I have found a few books for dads to read that help with young children. I personally recommend “My Love Will Be with You” by Laura Krauss Melmed, and “Daddy Cuddles”/”Daddy Kisses” by Anne Gutman. These are books which paint fathers as figures of affection, something which is difficult to find in children’s books which often relegate fathers to figures of activity. It can help fathers be more comfortable in an affectionate paternal role.

Push for the time now, and let them have it. All children need face-time, dedicated time, with their individual care givers to be at their best. And this can really help.

Don’t they know this is America?   Leave a comment

There’s a poem I think most of us know the last four lines of at least. I’ve been thinking about it lately. It goes:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

That’s what I think of when I hear the words “United States of America”.

At least, it was.

You see, I have been here for four and a half years. Not very long, all things considered, but long enough to have encountered a problem with this ideology.
People here – and I do mean here, where I am living right now – seem to feel that huddled masses are all ok… as long as they are white, English speaking, and christian. I hear things all the time. A 50 year old women mimicking Cantonese. The word ‘chinks’ used in polite conversation. ‘Go home’ shouted from a car window as a woman in a turban walks along the street.
This is normal. Somehow the idea that America was founded on the ideology of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness seems to exclude those who conform to a different norm. I hear ‘Don’t they know this is America?’ a lot. I may be an outsider, but from my perspective the problem is that these people who use such casual racism have failed to realise that they are in America. The melting pot. The country founded with colonies and immigrants from the world over. Many places have strong cultural differences that they have kept from the very beginning.

This America is a place built on the ideal of ‘E pluribus unum’ – from many, one. America was founded on many ideals, the principle of which was freedom. A freedom which many Americans seem to feel only appropriate if it is the freedom to speak, look, and believe as they do. This seems so far removed from the America that Americans themselves have been selling for generations that I find it hard to reconcile the ideal with the fact.

Why is it so easy to dismiss those who are different as less? Why is it ok to joke, insult or even harass them? I find it sad. America is supposed to be more. It could be more. It should be more.

That is all well and good but how does one save money?   Leave a comment

So, last week “how does a stay at home mum stay at home” came up.

As it so happens I’ve been dirt poor most of my life, so I know a few things about saving money. I’ll share a few now. Don’t worry, there are more.

  • Research. Don’t just read my blog. Read everyone’s blog.
  • Budget. Know where your money is going and how much you have to spend. If you have trouble staying on budget in the supermarket, take cash only. Then you won’t have a choice.
  • Budget with what you already have where possible, not what you expect to have.
  • Credit cards are for a credit rating. Only spend what you have in your bank account or on your person. Pay it off ASAP. Carried balance does not increase your rating. On time payments do.
  • www.Mint.com
  • www.Creditkarma.com
  • Put up curtains; energy saving blackout curtains. In the summer they keep the heat of the day out, and in the winter they keep the warmth of your home in. No money? Hang summer sheets up in the winter. They’re light and they’ll help.
  • Keep summer temperatures as high as you can and winter temps as low.
  • Maintain these temps; don’t have them just when you are around. The energy it takes to maintain is far less than it is to create.
  • Always cook multiple things in the oven if you can; it takes a lot of energy to get it hot – but again, not as much to maintain that heat. Might as well only heat it up once.In fact not just in the oven; whenever possible cook things together.
  • It is cheaper to steam veg over pasta than cook it separately. So invest in a steam basket.
  • Keep your hot water a 140F/60C or just above. It’s the lowest you can go and still sanitize.
  • Cool wash when possible if you own your washing machine. It saves a lot of hot water, and most things will come out in a cool (40C) wash.
  • Line dry. Use a clothes horse inside in winter. It is cheaper than your dryer.
  • Walking is very low cost, and good for you. 20 minutes is not a long walk if you have a healthy body.
  • Second hand holds no shame; boot sales, garage sales, second hand shops, craigslistgumtree and freecycle are all good resources. Use them!
  • Plan your meals out.
    • Know how many calories you and your family need – this will take some time to tweek correctly because everyone is different – and plan your meals around this, sufficient protein, and 5 portions of fruit and veg AT LEAST. Erring on the side of veg, but fruit still matters. 1/2 cup is a portion.
    • Based on age and activity levels and age, younger needs more  calories and protein as do more active people, and nursing mothers. My husband needs about 4000 calories and umpteen thousand proteins because of his job, or his ribs start showing. I need closer to 2000 calories and 50g of protein.
    • Do not force anyone to finish their plate. I know it seems wasteful but you encourage overeating and excess hunger by overstretching the stomach.
    • Use smaller plates to control portion size better.
    • Slightly too much is better than too little; as long as no-one is overeating on any one meal you can slowly reduce your amounts.
    • Keep some meals you made in the freezer; that way on days where you can’t or don’t want to cook you have a microwavable out.
  • Buy your meals with this in mind. Calculate price based on what you want the items for – weight, grams of protein, calories. Freeze what you are not going to use.
  • Freeze what you didn’t use: leftovers are food, too.
  • If fact, even fat is leftovers – you can cook with it. Keep it refrigerated and be aware that chicken fat can carry salmonella.
  • Organic is out of your price range, make peace with it.
  • Eating out and ordering in are not a thing anymore. Make peace with that, too. If you need to create or buy microwave meals to have for sick days. Tinned soup also fills this roll. Beware the BPA.
  • Eggs are good for you.
  • Protein is usually your highest food cost. You can cut it by couponing, sales, bulk buying, or showing up when the daily switching out of old stock happens and buying the freshly marked down food.
  • Dried beans are, sadly (for us meat lovers, anyway), cheaper than meat.
  • Stock is made by simmering your off cuts with a little white vinegar. It makes good flavouring, soup base, and gravy. Do not use tomato stems or rhubarb leaves.
  • Peas pudding is made by boiling dried split peas in  a cloth in stock; traditionally ham or bacon water, but any stock works. It is quite good.
  • If you have pets, costco memberships pay for themselves in cat litter or dog food.
  • Always be on the lookout for cheaper versions. Name brand medicines, for instance, do not work better than generics. Check out the ingredients lists on your food and decide how much cheaper you can live with.
  • If you can make it instead of buying it, do so.
  • Consider whether or not everything on your list is *really* a necessity.
  • Write down what you spend. Electronic updates on your cards will *not* instantly update.
  • Something to know about sell by, use by, and expiry dates: No health body governs them. They are set by manufacturers. Often with good reason, but often a little earlier than they need to be. Bread is, for instance, only good for a few days. Honey, however, lasts forever. Check items before you throw them out…. and before you use them.
  • Unplug or switch off at the mains any electronics not in use.
  • Switch off lights.
  • Use energy saving bulbs; LEDs if you can afford them – traditional energy savers release mercury if broken.
  • Use your laptop or phone instead of your desktop when you can. They use less power.
  • Netflix is cheaper than cable.
    • Amazon prime is cheaper than netflix.
    • Hulu is free (or BBC Iplayer, if you happen to be in the UK)
  • Your library has a lot of resources for entertainment… Use them! An audiobook can be a great family activity.
  • Take a look at your phone plan. How much are you using, how much do you need to use? Skype, for instance, offers excellent flat rate internet calling subscriptions. Would that make it cheaper?
  • You do not need a smart phone if the data plan is hurting you. I know. I know. It hurts.
  • Magazine subs and newspaper subs aren’t worth what they cost unless you are extreme couponing, and your magazine allows for this.
  • Speaking of which: Unless it’s free, only buy it if you were going to buy it anyway, stock up on when it is on sale, or it can replace something you would already buy. Even if you have a coupon.
  • You would be amazed what you can make at home; google ‘baking soda shampoo‘ and ‘home made deodorant‘.
  • You can also make a great cleaner from vinegar with citrus peels left in it for two weeks.
  • Failing that, hydrogen peroxide is near as effective as bleach on surfaces – and you can get it in the dollar store! It’s also safe for use around children, which bleach is not.
  • If you have babies, use cloth nappies. I recomend also using a specific detergent like ‘rockin’ green’, but otherwise they’re STILL cheaper. $25 size changing daiper good from 7lbs to 30lbs +washing… or $25 for what, a few days? It really does stack in your favour quickly. The name brand rule? That does not apply here. Some off brands are good – individual etsy sellers can be great… but cut price on eBay will cost you in the long run.
  • On this subject, with babies, breastfeed! Don’t just breastfeed, *full term breastfeed*. Your milk is virtually free, and milk has something like a 98% energy transfer. It’s the most efficient food known to man. Your gut works better than your child’s will until quite late in their development. The milk top-up will save you a lot in groceries *and* they will be healthier. Don’t worry, they won’t breastfeed in to college – most children stop breastfeeding on their own between 2 1/2 and 4.
  • Babywearing is cheaper than a stroller, and allows you to use a trolley or stroller to carry shopping if your local stores are within walking distance. Ergonomic devices start around $30 for an infanto mei tai, and many ring slings are available at a similar price form individual sellers…  there are also lots of different kinds of carriers you can make quite cheaply if you would rather. Personally I also find it easier to travel with a baby strapped to my chest than lugging around a stroller.
  • Baby led weaning. It’s a thing. It’s a thing in which you don’t feed your baby expensive mush, you give them little-finger chunks of whole food to eat as best they can. The goal of early weaning is not to get the calories of the food – it is to get your infant used to taste, texture, and chewing. Yes, even toothless infants. Breastmilk provides everything an infant needs, and formula is still better than whole foods at this stage. Just let them play with the food and feed themselves. No purees required. Just make sure the food is small and soft (steamed carrot, ripe pear) enough that they don’t choke! Gagging is normal. Know how to react to an infant choking, regardless of how you wean.
  • A final point on children. You don’t need fancy gear, and you don’t need to get them fancy toys. Children are creative, and so too can you be. Who needs a highchair, you can have a picnic on the floor with a towel. Who needs an electronic car, you’ve got a box and markers! They won’t always love this, especially as they get older, but there are far, far worse things. Also, cardboard toys can be pretty cool if you plan well.

Well, that was today’s info-dump. Nothing too out there, I am sure, but there’s the basics. There are two more points, however, that will help you be successful.

Do not spend windfall money as soon as you get it. If you NEED things, get them. Otherwise SAVE THE MONEY. Having money in a savings account means the difference between freaking out when your microwave breaks and saying ‘it’s ok, we can handle this’. It’s unpaid sick leave. It’s peace of mind. You want at least 3 months rent and food if you can save it.

That said… keep a slush fund in your budget. Have money for small things. For silly things. Not much. But if you don’t, you’re going to start feeling trapped. It needn’t be much. A bar of chocolate a month if it’s all you can afford. A microwave meal. $10. Some little thing built in to the rules that it is ok to have. Your discretion. But when it’s gone, it’s gone. I strongly recommend keeping such  fund in cash form so it is physically present and impossible to overspend. Should you wish to spend it online, it can be deposited back in the bank or used on a shopping trip first so the money is converted back to digital. A personal house rule with us is we are aloud to save up our slush fund if was wish to, as well. We try to base our spending on what was made last month, rather than anticipated paychecks.

Posted 9 August, 2013 by erynnsilver in Advice, Financial, SAHM, Saving money

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How does a SAHM SAH?   Leave a comment

So this question came up. How does a stay at home mum stay at home?

There’s lots of reasons for a stay at home parent (Yep, stay a home dads count, too!) to stay at home. Most of them relating to wanting the best possible carer for your children – which is you. Preschools and Schools are not bad choices, but your children will never get the one on one attention,  customised classes, or the emotional security (which only leads to a more successful children) that comes from you. Not every family can do it – not everyone wants to. If you do, this one is for you.

There’s lots of money saving tips out there. This entry isn’t about that. I’ll be adding to that body with my own collection next week. Before that, though, here is some advice that has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with success: Be good to each other.

The world has not become a better place for the worker in recent years. A lot of places which previously had excellent rights and a least a reasonable minimum wage no longer have. I live in the USA, so we have never had the former and it’s been a very, very long time since the latter.
Well, of course you know this. The thing is that this matters not just to your wallet, but to your relationship. Financial worry is stressful. It is also all but inevitable in your relationship as a working parent, child-rearing parent partnership.

So be good to each other.

Stay-at-home parent, remember that working parent is working a job that 40 years ago would have paid all the bills and still gotten you a holiday once a year. These days, they’re lucky if you can eat out (which you absolutely should not do… but that is for next week). There will be times when even though they work so very hard they feel they are failing when they can’t provide things you want. Please be understanding of this. Be understanding of their hard days, be appreciative of all the days. Acknowledge their contributions – even the small ones.

So be good to each other.

Working parent, remember that stay-at-home parent works as hard as you do. They don’t get lunch breaks, they don’t get days off. Even when you’ve been working a 14 hour shift and just want to get your footwear off, remember that stay-at-home parent has been working it, too. Your time off is their time off – share it. Help out. A good parent gives the child or children all the attention they need, and children need a LOT of attention for a secure attachment (basically the key to a life of success). That isn’t easy. You’re part of it, too. You need to be a part of your kid’s life (lives) as more than a breadwinner. Caring for them and fulfilling their needs does this. It also lets your stay at home partner spend 20 minutes playing Halo, napping, or knitting. That means a lot when one spends the rest of one’s day attending to the needs of others.

So be good to each other.

Remember that your partner is not a mind reader. No one is. If your needs are not being met, talk about it. Tell your partner how you feel. Even for the little things. Lots of little silences build up in to one big silence before too long. Remember to listen, too. You don’t always talk when you should, either, so even if it is something that’s been going on for a while, give it serious thought. Break downs in communication are a huge problem, and they start by saying yes when you mean no or worse, saying nothing at all when you want to speak.

So be good to each other, respect each partner’s contribution and talk to each other. Be the equal partners you are supposed to be. Sometimes you will disagree, but you are partners in this adventure. THAT is how stay at home parents stay at home.

I can’t believe you are so angry about…   Leave a comment

So, internet arguing came up. I know, right? Who would have thought it. This is a mini update on that.

Here’s the thing. A lot of the time, arguments really could be real discussions. Real discussions are good. They lead to understanding, and change to be had.

Well, how would one make a real discussion out of an internet argument? The way I see it, there is an invisible ring around my counterpart’s person. Their personality, thoughts and motivations are all inside that ring. That is a private place that only they know (and maybe not even they do). Anything they say they put out of their ‘ring’… Things they do are outside of their ‘ring’. However, no-one is a mind reader. When we begin to speak as though we are, insult and rudeness are the inevitable result.

If they step over my line, that is their bad. I am in control of myself, however, and mirroring that behavior does no-one any good – least of all myself. Acting on aggression reinforces that aggression. It is when we deny our aggression that it becomes easier to control. I do find people far less likely to step within my own boundaries if I don’t tell them what their motivations, thoughts or experiences are. Most of the time when one guesses… one is wrong. I know, another mind blowing concept.
This principle can be expressed as the following: “Read what is said – and no more”. If you put it in to practice, you read what is said by the person you disagree with – but don’t read between he lines. When you start filling in the blanks yourself, it leads to the idea you understand this person. Of course, you really don’t. You are not a mind reader, any more than I. In feeling you know more than you do, however, you have prematurely ended the conversation. Understanding them is now that much harder, because you must first lose your own ideas about them. Helping them understand you is also much harder because you are not in a position to respond to them as they express themselves.
Is this the same as ‘don’t judge me’? Well… no. Judgement is normal. It is natural. What this is is basing your judgement on evidence, and only evidence. Evidence based human interaction, if you will. This is, instead, where the phrase ‘for no reason’ comes from.

Nothing in the history of forever has a single thing occurred ‘for no reason’… but when one does not know what the reason is, one might default to ‘there must not be one’. There is. I promise. If one works until one finds it, one will get better at uncovering reasons. Sometimes one will fail, but one will have further developed one’s empathy in the attempt. One honestly can not lose anything from striving to understand and to convince others through respectful discourse.  If nothing else, on the internet one always has an audience. One may just convince them through better behavior.

I have friends I’ve gained through actually trying to bridge an ideology map. We’re all human. We all have certain things in common. Find them, and you can only benefit.

I’m not perfect. I am writing this because I lost it and broke my own rules. They’re still good rules. If we all tried to stay outside of the personal ring, and read what is said (No more), we would all be better persons for it. . Especially if we apply it outside the internet, too.

Armpits4August. It’s a thing.   Leave a comment

So, this came up.
Most of what I could say is in this article. Please do read.

What I’m going to do is tell you why I don’t shave, and it’s not because I’m a feminist.
It’s because I’m a mother.

I first stopped shaving when I was 3 months pregnant and nearly slipped in the shower. Anyone who has a baby knows how terrifying those first few months are. There is a constant, and somewhat valid, fear of doing something and loosing the baby. Shaving became one of those things I just did not have the guts to do.
I’d been shaving for years. The menfolk in my life seemed to prefer it, and I always thought of it as cleaner. Who wants smelly armpit hair? As for my legs, well, I have PCOS myself. They look like dude’s legs. I also have a small beard.
I was very, very self conscious. I still remember crying many, many times because I just felt so self conscious about it. Once my husband even stopped on a trip somewhere to get some razors, because I would freak out about it.
Then I got pregnant.
Everything changed. I stopped shaving my legs and everything else, too. I was still self-conscious, but at least I no longer feared being mistaken for a cross dresser (which I also feel guilty for, because there is nothing wrong with actually being a cross dresser ). A Pregnant belly is an unmistakable mark of femininity. Suddenly I was confident in my gender identity as never before. I am a woman. I like being a woman. I am happy being a woman. Finally, I am secure in being a woman. It doesn’t work that way for everyone, but for me, it did.
Then i had my baby.
Getting out became a goal in and of itself. Who cares what I look like? If I got my hair brushed every day it was a miracle; shower once a week was impressive. Everything became about pushing through those hard, hard first months. I had to refocus on what what important: Getting my hair brushed, and wearing my shirt right way out. I stopped caring about my hair. I didn’t even notice. I was so wrapped up in caring for my baby that some how I stopped worrying about how other people see me.
Then I was showering every second day and even got out for walks with my baby. I could walk without pain and my mind felt clear again. It happened some time around the six month mark that I woke up.
I realised that I didn’t hate myself anymore. I actually feel *good* about myself. I am happy being this way! There is nothing wrong with arm pit hair and a bit of a beard! I have nothing to prove. Not to the world. Not to you… and not to myself.

Then came the next realisation.
I am my daughter’s model. When she looks at me, she will see what she will look like when she grows up – even though she may, in reality, look nothing like me she will still think this way. If I show her that I am not happy with my body, then how can she be happy with hers? In her mind, I am judging her when I judge myself. Mother is the model of all things to daughter. I can teach her self love. This is my opportunity to make her happier than I ever was. I can teach her to love herself by not changing myself. By saying ‘I’m fine as I am’ I can teach her that so, too, is she. I can teach her to be healthy instead of thin; by happy instead of shaven. I am going to. If she chooses to shave later on, that’s her choice. But I will not have taught her from her youngest days that she has to to be a woman. She will not know how much self doubt I was tourtured with because I had a few hairs on my chin.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is where I will now explain something even more mind blowing than my journey to self acceptance with the help of a litle baby.
There is not a single part of your anatomy that does not serve a purpose.
Even your hair.
I know. I know. Pubic hair is icky, right? Wrong. As icky as public hair seems, what it actually does is keep the skin underneath clean and free of harmful bacteria. When you shave, you actually cover your skin in harmful bacteria and open it up with micro-tears in to which the bacteria can travel. Other removal methods are just as harsh. You actually make yourself more dirty by removing it.
It also makes things more comfortable. It reduces friction when you move your arms… and during sex. It cushions one against bacteria carried by one’s partner during sex, too. If you’re having casual sex, keep in mind that those micro-tears that let bacteria in also make you more likely to catch STDs. I found my regular UTIs disappeared after I stopped shaving. Nothing else worked.
So yea. It’s there for good reasons.

Put some though in to Armputs4August ladies – and gents. See if you like the freedom it brings. I sure did. You might be happier – and healthier.