Camera Shy

December 15, 2013 § 1 Comment


Mom disappeared somewhere in 2001

I realize that i have been doing something stupid, selfish and vain.  Harsh words maybe, but they are real.  Stupid – selfish – vain.  I have a ton of pictures that I have slowly been scanning in hundreds of pictures that I have stored on my computer.   I have been trying to organize them and share them.  But as I was going through these pictures I noticed a couple things.   I hate pictures of myself and there are painfully few of them.


Birthday Party

The reason there are so few pictures of me and why they are so hard to go through is really the same thing:   I hate how I look in pictures because I am way heavier than I want to be.  I am critical of myself in the pictures because I see every fault, and especially the fat and I hate seeing that.   It should be a touch crazy that there are so many pictures with no me and those few pictures of me that  there are I just pick apart because I don’t look like a model.

Someday my children will be looking through these pictures and what will they see?   Lots of wonderful times, and I won’t be in the pictures with them.   They will know that there mom was there, but she was either taking the pictures or making herself busy away from the camera so she wouldn’t be in front of the lens.  They will know that she didn’t want to be photographed because she wasn’t happy with her appearance.   All those years of avoiding the camera will lead to the inevitable  collection of family pictures with mom missing.   All the family vacations and outings, the Birthday parties and Christmas mornings and Forth of July, the days on the beach and the hikes in the mountains and no pictures of mom.   A few here or there where she had been “unlucky” and caught on film – a couple big family group shots with mom standing behind someone else.   Stupid  – selfish –  vain.


At the time I was convinced I was fat and hated this picture.

It is really rather silly of me to care so much that I don’t look perfect in pictures.   I know I am not the only one to feel this way.   The “Dove: Real Beauty Sketches”  was passed around and viewed so many times because it said something that so many women know is true, “we are our own worse critics.”  Strangers don’t care about the fat or the wrinkles or the bad hair days.   The people who love us don’t see that about us.  They see their friend, their mother, their sister, their wife — they see the love and friendship.  The oddest things is that when I look at pictures from years ago I am much happier with what I see.   I was younger, fitter, more beautiful than I remember feeling I was.   In twenty years I will likely look back at today with  every bit as much fondness.  Whatever the future holds the truth is that I will be older and the children will grow up.   I will remember these days fondly as love every moment of being in this phase of my life.

I love the photos I have been scanning in of my grandparents and parents.   My grandparents are all gone, but in these photos are so many memories of them young and happy.   I look at these pictures and see people who love me and it is a blessing to have these pictures.   The children have been loving seeing there grandparents as young adults and me and their uncle as small children.  When I look at these pictures memories of my childhood come flooding back and that is a joy. The only thing I achieve in  my camera shyness is making sure that those memories aren’t around for my children.

It is a bit vain that I think I should present some perfect visage.   I am what I am and while bits of that could change I shouldn’t let my fear of people seeing me as less than perfect get in the way of living  fully and sharing who I am with my friends and family.  In the case of pictures   I shouldn’t let this vanity rob me and my children and those who love me of the joy of those snap-shots and memories.

So, for me no more excuses on this.   I need to accept who I am (not a fashion model)  and allow myself to live  in the moment wrapped in the love of my husband and my friends and my children and my family.   I am strong and full of joy and don’t need to let insecurity or vanity  creep in and steal any more happy memories.


blowing out the fires

December 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

So picture me.

I am sitting in front of my birthday cake as if I was nine.  There are candles all lit and instead of nine there are forty-one.  I blow them all out in one satisfying whoosh.  Then they start to light up again, yes, those self relighting candles….

No, this didn’t really happen, no one is that cruel to me.  But that is how I am feeling at the moment.  The second I put out one little fire another springs to life that I thought was out.  Eventually they will all go out — really I hope so.  But will the cake be worth eating covered in wax?

Radical Homemakers

October 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

This past weekend I finished up “Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture” by Shannon Hayes.   Basically it is a manifesto for the crunchy side of the opt-out movement.  It tries really hard to be a pro-feminist argument for domesticity, but I have a difficult time believing that this book will convince anyone.  It is instead a reassurance for the true believer – maybe.   It is certainly written for those who have been following the simplicity/lovavore/anti-consumerism movements.  In fact,  this really isn’t a standalone book.  There is too much assumed for the typical America consumer to make heads or tails out of this, especially when they start reading about the book’s heroes (study subjects) who forgo health insurance, live off inheritance, found a rundown, old shack and fixed it up and/or have one solid income earning spouse working while the other plays homesteader.

The Good

What did I really enjoy about this book?

For once a book unafraid to use the word “homemaker”.  Now of course Ms Hayes does take pains to point out that “housewife” doesn’t mean what you think it means.  Supposedly it means something more akin to “freeman”.  But still, it is something.

Stuff can’t make you happy.  One of those principles that I think touches so much of what is wrong with our society. “Radical Homemakers”  devotes a good amount of time to thinking through what the alternatives to “more stuff” are.

The Annoying

A lack of diversity: There is a vast diversity of thought and practice within the opt-out movement.   We see only the slightest touch of this in “Radical Homemakers”.  Ms Hayes describes that there are all sorts of Radical Homemakers, women, men, families, child-less, singles, single-parents – but all the interviewees have a certain homogeneous world view about them – I really couldn’t tell if this was because Shannon Hayes had selected a narrow band of people she considered “Radical”,  if her own writing covered the voices of her subjects up too much or if she just happened to find 20 families opting out of the consumer-driven culture who had read all the same books and echoed each other.

Betty Friedan Fan.   Betty is quoted in almost every single chapter.   In fact this book is very quote heavy.  Lots of quotes give the illusion of a well researched  scholarly study, but the quotes are all sort of laboring under the same problem as the interviews. Lots of quote from a rather limited number of sources and all carefully selected to match the author’s world view such as Riane Eisler’s rather fanciful view of pre-historic cultures.

The Bad

For the general reader, the person not sold on the anti-consumerism movement, I think this book would be horribly discouraging.  In fact it was sort of discouraging to me.  Ms Hayes doesn’t show you how step out of the rat-race.   The stories she shares of those who have managed to step out aren’t really an option for most families, at least not whole clothed.  There was no sense of a “first step” that a normal, in debt, working couple with small children, urban or sub-urban family could do.   We see people who have been given inheritances, grew up on farms, have families that helped them out – what if you lack any of those resources?  I guess you are out of luck and condemned to be another cog in the wheel.  In reality of course you aren’t, but I don’t think Radical Homemakers shows that.   

All in all

A good book for reaffirming the choices of those who have opted out and maybe a good read for those who are toying with the idea of less consumerism, but deep down inside don’t want to take it too far because that would be just way too much work.  If you are looking for a deep exploration of those who have opted to return to homemaking in opposition to the general culture or a guide-book to the way out of consumerism this is not a book you will fall in love with.  The view is too narrow and while the beauties and some of the struggles of the trail are described the location of the trail-head is left a mystery.


One month

October 4, 2010 § Leave a comment



Babymoon baby.
Hard to believe a whole month has past by, but here we are.

Elizabeth is here

September 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

No, I haven’t died or anything – just had a baby.

Beautiful little girl was born on September 2nd.

Happy siblings meet their sister

Happy siblings meet their sister

Ashley is employeed

August 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

After a couple months of steady looking the kid has a job.  Her orientation is tomorrow and then she starts work.

The Sibling Effect

July 20, 2010 § 3 Comments

One of the first things people say when the number of children I have is brought up is, “Wow, you must be busy, how do you do that?  I have trouble with my two.”    My usual response is “Oh they entertain each other it isn’t so bad.”  This is usually met with a dubious look, the eyebrow cocking up a bit  to express a bit of doubt.

But it is true.  Though it is hard to explain in the short span of a quick conversation.  There is something that I dubbed “The Sibling Effect”  that comes into play when you have a larger family.

Ashley and Sarah

Ashley(18) and Sarah(4)

Basically, the sibling effect is a result of each child being somewhat less the “center of the universe” and slightly more part of “team Family” than the normal American child.   Mom and Dad switch from being the people in charge of giving the child everything they want to “the bosses” and siblings are less competition for family resources and more fellow team members.

The Changes:  My first two children are 18 months apart.  When Rachel was born Ashley was excited to be the Big Sister – she would fetch diapers and hold things and watch the baby.  This went on right up to the point that baby sister started getting into her stuff, then baby wasn’t as much fun, in fact she was down right annoying.

By the time Christopher came around Ashley had more or less gotten over the fact that little siblings will get into your stuff.  This baby wasn’t quite as exciting as the first new sibling, but being helpful when you are 7 is still a thrill.  Plus Ashley was now old enough to hold the baby, make the baby laugh and understand more of what was involved.   There was also a fellow “victim” with the annoying aspects of older sibling life.

I suspect four children will definitely create the sibling effect and maybe three depending on the parenting style and how close in age the children are, but once the dynamic is created it changes the parent/child dynamic and creates a very different sense of family.

Among our community of larger, homeschooling, Catholic families one of the things I notice most is how open the older children in the group are to watching out for the younger ones – not just their siblings, but all the children in the group.


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