Snuggles Instead of Pies

If I were being completely honest, the last time I felt pure, unexplainable joy during the Holidays was probably a year that I still believed in Santa and purchased my family’s gifts from my Elementary School’s make-shift Dollar Store.

As enjoyable as Christmas with my ever-growing family can be, pure joy has not been on the menu for some time.

Presents, yes.
Warm hugs, yes.
Fireside chats, yes.
Food that warms your soul, yes.
Great friends, yes…

But PURE JOY, not so easy to come by.

But this year was different:

This year I finished my shopping on Christmas Eve at 3pm. This year I only sent 25% of our Christmas Cards. This year I invited my family into a dirty house. This year I ‘bagged’ 90% of the gifts. This year I doubled the flour in TWO apple pies… Oops. This year the apple pies were disgusting. This year I wore my hair in a pony-tail. But this year…. was full of pure, pure JOY.

My husband asked me if I had smoked pot before this year’s family gatherings…

My mom joked that I had consumed a cup of Christmas ‘cheer’…

No, I didn’t smoke anything. And Yes, I was completely sober…

So what was different?

EVERYTHING.

I experienced the joy of Christmas through the eyes of another. My younger, wiser, 9 month old son.

This year his laughter filled all the voids.

He cackled as he saw his reflection wearing an elf outfit. He cooed as he tried new foods for the first time. He babbled while his Grandad prayed. He sang aloud during the Candlelight Service. He found hilarity in cardboard boxes, wooden spoons, and ceiling fans. He clapped when he was happy. He slept when I was tired… He made me realize that everything I was doing for the holidays, and even for others, paled in comparison to the pure joy that laughter, relationships, and love can bring.

His joy set an example of peace and simplicity, and for that, I am so very thankful.

I enjoyed snuggles instead of pies, hugs instead of presents, and laughter instead of stress. And what a magical Christmas it was.

Merry Christmas friends and family. I hope you have a wonderful New Year full of laughter, love, and PURE JOY.

Love,
Emma

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I am The Poof

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I’m not sure when I became so comfy.

Maybe it’s my softer than usual post-baby-belly? Or maybe it’s because I constantly smell like food — smashed baby food and dried breast milk have become my constant aroma… But you can go ahead and call me the ‘Poof’, the Poof chair that is. You know, the GIANT BEANBAG chairs that don’t fit through doorways and swallow you whole until you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner? Yes, the ‘Poof’, the worlds most comfortable human being.

I realized tonight that I am my family’s snoozing point, their ‘Poof’. If it’s not the baby, it’s the dog, and if it’s not the dog, it’s the husband… Sometimes I think if I just sprawled out on the floor, all by my lonesome, the beings would sniff me out and pile on.

I am the dumping ground for all Zzzzz’s, toots, slobbers, wet noses, dirty paws, and hairy beasts.

And tonight…I got frustrated.

So frustrated, in fact, that I passed off my crying baby to my hairy beast of a husband and plopped myself down on the hardwood floor, ALL BY MYSELF — for an entire 90 seconds. Then I was wallowed by the dog and succumbed to the fact that my boobs bring joy. So much joy that I got back up and nursed my little boy until he fell asleep in my arms. He cried and he nursed, but then… he fell asleep. And in my whirl-wind of frustration I realized that I am the ‘Poof’. One giant Poof, where all beings go to sleep.

Then I smiled. Because I am not just any Poof, I am the Momma Poof…

Yes. I get the slobbers, and the poots, and all those dirty paws, but I also get the love. All that love! The puppy love, the baby love, AND the hubby love. I get all the snuggles, all the kisses, all the laughter, and all the love. And tonight, I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Go ahead family…lay on me, breathe on me, fart on me, sleep on me. Do what you gotta do, because all I’m going to do is love on you, and cherish every stinky, slobbery moment.

*poof*

 

 

 

Never Pay Full Price for Fabulous!

Why hello there, Joplin here!

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Well, I’m not sure if my real name is Joplin, I’ve been called many things, but I was in the wild so long I’ve nearly forgotten my former civilized state.  The new humans are calling me Joplin, and they seem smart enough (I mean, they watch Jeopardy every night) so I’m going to go with Joplin for now…

This is my first adventure blogging so I thought I would borrow my new mom’s WordPress page. She seems too busy with the little human to notice anyway.  She definitely didn’t seem to notice when I ate her slippers, flip-flops, and bottle caps… Anyway, this past weekend was Legend…. Wait for it….. SQUIRREL! So, I wanted to share my adventures with the world.

Ever since I found these humans wandering in the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon I decided that I wanted to use them for their amenities. I mean come on, it is really too easy.  I keep quiet, look up with my big brown eyes, and voilà! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served without me even lifting a paw.  Which is great, don’t get me wrong, that is why I followed them home in the first place.  I knew they were weak, they took in a mini-human for ‘Lassie’s sake!’ That thing is not even house broken! Come on, of course they love me.

So anyway, back to my story… breakfast, lunch, dinner…. Voilà! Perfectto! Extraordinaire! Just what I was going for. But you know, I can’t help but miss the hunt from time to time.  The fresh air, wind in my jaws, soft grass beneath paws… AHHH! Wild game: ehhh, it is so-so, unusually under cooked, full of bones, and no gravy to be found, but the food is not what I am missing— Just the hunt, the game, the catch, the DEAL!  And that brings me back to Saturday…

The humans decided to take me to the land of ‘Smart Pets’.  Having heard rumors of this land, I knew that this was coming, it was only a matter of time…  I had already proved my worth (pooping less than the small human), all they had to do was wait for the weekend, the time that their owners let them out to play.

So Saturday rolls around, we all get in the car, I stay calm, keeping up a facade of innocence…  Then, after a short drive, we enter the Land of Smart Pets!!  And don’t let anyone fool you, it is just as amazing as all of the rumors combined.  Civilized canine, EVERYWHERE.  Some are at the spa, some are in school, and some are shopping, just like me.  The humans let me pick out my preferred jewelry, bedding, snacks, and toys… They were a little pushy with the jewelry, insisting that I wear each piece for a set amount of time before deciding which one to purchase.  But in the end, I got exactly what I wanted: simple, sophisticated, and comfortable.  You know the classy, single banded collar.  No need for all that extra banding and bling, it only makes you look cheap, or worse, WILD!

So I patiently waltzed around the store while the humans tested the strength of my new necklace.  They even paraded me around the circus cats (crazy caged beasts!) and pups in training, just to be sure I had a snug fit.  I was SO ready to go back outside at this point, but Mom got all weepy watching the school pups…  She must have been remembering her former pup, how sweet he was, etc. etc…

So, I’m slightly annoyed, but still putting up a good front (classy isn’t cheap, and the humans are paying today) but that is when I saw her, ‘Lassie be’, she was a beauty,  I usually go for the dudes, but this lady could win anybody over.  I just had to be near her, it was exhilarating, she was intoxicating,  a Mastiff, a 160 pound Mastiff, right there in the store, right in front of me!  I knew I had to keep my cool, the humans were at the checkout counter, and soon enough we would all be outdoors, me with my new accessories, and that Mastiff in all her beauty!

Then it happened, just like that, it was all so fast.  I smelled her, she smelled me, we totally hit it off, but then I got a whiff of something ever greater!  Greater than the lady, greater than the hunt, greater than all of it combined… I could smell the DEALS!! Only 3 shops down, deals like you have never smelled before…

So I pulled and I squirmed, leaving behind my new necklace and stunned family.  I took off down the parking lot, past the pup professor, (aka: Trainer) past the sea of parking, past the traffic, and past all of the onlookers.  Mom and the Mastiff were chasing me, but I had much bigger plans in ‘store’!  They only thought I was running back into the wild… then BAM, I made a sharp right and then it was like ‘Lassie’ herself wanted me to get the DEALS — the doors opened up, without even a hint of an opposable thumb… There I was, in Marshalls!!!! Finally!! Brand name and designer fashion for the entire family.

“NEVER PAY FULL PRICE FOR FABULOUS!”

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So I ran and I ran, taking it all in.  Past the registers, under the clothing racks, back to housewares, and even into the children’s department (I thought mom would appreciate me thinking of the little one).  Then just like that, a friendly human slowed me down.  I could hear mom in the background yelling for someone to stop me.  I know she just didn’t want to spend any more money, but what she didn’t know was that I didn’t need to buy a thing!  Just smelling the deals was enough to last me a lifetime!  What a rush!

Mom seemed so worked up and out of breath that I thought I’d give her a break and walk slowly to the car.  She kept apologizing to the employees, she must not have known that their security cameras could make them rich on YouTube… oh well. Silly Mom…

What a glorious day!

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends (of WATER),

IMAG0714Responses to my recent blog, West Virginia Girl, All Bottled Up,  have been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.  Your remarks and feedback have given me, and many others, a lot of hope for a cleaner future and I can not thank you enough for sharing, reposting, and getting the word out!

I would like to share with you a bit more of my story, as well as a few of the links and thoughts that have been brought to my attention over the past few days.

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I cannot claim to be a daughter of coal, however I am without a doubt a daughter (and granddaughter) of the ‘Chemical Valley’.   Both my father and two grandfathers have built a career and life from the success of the Chemical Industry in West Virginia.

Growing up during the boom of Union Carbide, now Dow Chemical, my family has much to be thankful for, including the chemical industry itself.  This industry helped raise me: financially, educationally, and socially; they provided my Dad with a very stable salary and benefits.  He worked hard (in a sometimes dangerous industry) and came home with dirty hands, but was always able to put food on the table, allow my mom to stay home with us kids, and even take a hefty amount of vacation so that we could spend quality time together.  The industry itself has never before left me scared for my well-being.

Yes, I grew up practicing ‘Shelter in Place’, a safety procedure in schools, similar to a fire drill, but for chemical leaks.  Rather than exiting the building, we would walk single file to the most secure room (usually a hallway or gymnasium) and the faculty would then seal all doors and openings.

And yes, occasionally a valley-wide alarm would sound signaling a REAL ‘Shelter in Place’ and we would proceed, as practiced, until the alarm was lifted and we were told the air was safe.

AND YES, I have worried for my own Father’s safety from time to time.  Here in the ‘Chemical Valley’ most all of us have known someone who was injured or even killed on account of accidents of the chemical industry.

However, I always felt comfort in knowing that I was informed, that there were alarms, and that the chemical plants were taking all necessary precautions to insure my safety and the safety of my family.

What happened two weeks ago was entirely different:

There was NO alarm, there was NO shelter in place, and there was NO hard information provided until hours after the spill.  ‘Freedom Industries’ did NOT report the accident, in fact, many residents SMELLED a problem before they were INFORMED of a problem.

I snapped this screen-shot of a google search on my phone January 9th (the day of the spill) at 7:38pm.
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I was baffled that 3 hours prior to my search our news read ‘water source not affected’, and 11 minutes prior to my search, Governor Tomblin had issued a STATE OF EMERGENCY, WATER BAN.

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Recently I heard a very crude, but very honest, statement saying “West Virginians have Stockholm Syndrome”.

This is extreme.  It is also a terrifying reality.

West Virginians have been abused and treated so poorly by ‘big-money’, and our ‘job-supplying’ industries that we have completely lost the big picture.  It is quite true that much of our state praises the ‘industry’ and has such strong emotional, financial, and political ties that they would never utter a bad word against the hand that has always fed them.

Several people have advised me to “get out”, “find a place that agrees with your way of life, health, and safety”…  And while this appears to be advice worth considering, I can’t help but wonder…

What gets left behind??

Just because I leave WV, does not mean that the irresponsibility of one of my states’ primary industries goes away.  All it means is that it gets pushed to the back of another citizen’s mind, and is then one step further from being resolved.

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This is such a complex issue, and unfortunately, I am positive that the Chemical Spill in West Virginia is just the tip of the iceberg for environmental hazards in our country and in our world.

Personal ties to my state and family have made it easy for me to share my story and reach an audience larger than I even dreamed possible.  I thank you all so much for your concerns, support, prayers, help, and information.  Please don’t stop here. Get involved where you can, and always remember that YOU must be the change.

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Here are just a few of the helpful links that have been sent my way:

Friends of Water:

https://www.facebook.com/friendsofwater14

Bottled Water info:

http://free.sourcemap.com/view/5570#stop-14

Stories from the WV Chemical Spill:

http://whatshappeninginwv.tumblr.com/

Hydrant Readings:

http://www.dhsem.wv.gov/Documents/OPERATION%20LOG%20Non%20Detect%2010ppb%20as%20of%201555%20hours%2021JAN2014.pdf

Climate Ground Zero

http://climategroundzero.net/

West Virginia Girl, All Bottled Up

“We are not going to change our life because of the Water Company”…

This post is a little different than my usual, but then again, my life is a little different than usual.Image

As I walked into one of my favorite coffee shops in town today, I cautiously asked, “Are you still using bottled water?”  The cashier politely responded, “No, sorry, we are not” So I longingly looked at the perfect slice of tiramisu behind the glass and replied, “Ok, that changes things then, I will just have a bottle of water”.  I then took my water, reserved my usual seat, and jaunted to the restroom.  As I left the restroom, I imeadiately realized that I needed to dig out my own personal stash of hand sanitizer before unscrewing the cap of my bottled water and pulling out my laptop to work.

As I settled in, I began to reflect on the past 2 weeks:

From the announcement that Freedom Industries had a chemical spill, to my church providing my husband and I with bottled water, to the national media seeming to ONLY report on Chris Christie while my home state was in a panic, to my ‘zone’ being cleared for the ‘big flush’, to the steam from my dish washer burning my nose, to my husband and basement being covered in contaminated water after a valve broke on our hot water tank during the ‘flush’, to only having 3 showers in 13 days, to seeing the flashing warning on national television for pregnant women to, once more, discontinue use of tap water, to the pile of dirty dishes in my sink, to the loads and loads of laundry that need done, to yesterday’s conversation with my OB, reminding me to stay away from the water at all costs until more information is released, I realized that this is A LOT BIGGER than my 34 week pregnant self having to turn down a tiramisu craving.

I no longer feel safe bathing, drinking, eating, cleaning, I am even leery of the hospital visit I know WILL occur in the next 6 weeks, and I am even more concerned about how I will wash my little one’s clothes, or give him/her a bath, or the dangers that could occur if I make one mistake while breastfeeding.  I am worried for the health of my unborn baby, and I am worried that my life will never be the same.

As these thoughts flashed through my head at 100 miles per hour, I overheard the sweet cashier remind her boss that people were continuing to ask about the coffee shop’s water source.  At first her boss explained their machinery to her. He described the filtration system and hot temperatures that the water was raised to before dispensing, but then he followed by saying this: “We are not going to change our life because of the Water Company”…

Well, I would agree that this situation is much larger than West Virginia American Water, and believe it or not, it is even larger than Freedom Industries, although their name does imply that they would be much more concerned about my inability to consume water on their behalf.

I realize that there have been many, many oversights on local and national levels, and that I am nowhere near educated enough to point fingers at exactly who is responsible.  But here is what I DO know:

I am 34 weeks pregnant, and as I approach delivery I am closer and closer to NEEDING a safe water source every day, and despite my favorite coffee shops’ “life not changing” I am scared in knowing that my life and ‘freedoms’ HAVE changed dramatically in the past 13 days, I am terrified that I do not see an end in sight, and I am even more terrified that local businesses, politicians, and the  government as a whole seem far more concerned about getting back to ‘business as usual’, than they do for the health and safety of my community.

I am not sure exactly where to go from here, or what action this extremely pregnant and distraught girl can take to truly make a difference, but I would like to let everyone reading this know that life HAS CHANGED for me, and it may never be the same.

Please, get out there, share this news, and do what YOU can to help protect our country’s PRIORITIES and WATER SOURCES.