Friday, February 26, 2010

Green Burials and Home Funerals

One of the more interesting classes I took over my trip was on the concept of Green Burial. I did not attend the class on Home Funerals, but after Barb informed me that the class changed her life and shared her notes with me, and pretty much lacking anything else interesting at the time, I went to the follow up course on Green Burial. I am very glad that I did as it was very thought provoking at the least.

At the beginning of the course, we were shown two videos on the concept of Green Burials and then Nora, the presenter went over some of the highlights from the previous class. Did you know that every year in the US, we bury 827,060 GALLONS of embalming fluid? 104,272 tons of steel for caskets and vaults? Enough to build the Golden Gate Bridge over every year! What about 1,636,000 tons of concrete for grave liners? All of these facts, and more can be found on Nora’s Website. They are kind of shocking when you look at them that way. Did you know that Embalming is not legally mandatory in most cases after death? Did you know that most funeral companies and homes will lead you to believe that it is legally mandatory? You can find links on Nora’s websites to a book that reprints every few years with the updated laws for each of the 50 states revolving around funerals and embalming. Some states have caveats that state that if a body is not buried within a specific time frame that it must be embalmed, but in most cases, the caveat gives one enough time to bury the body without the necessity of embalming.

The way in which we deal with our dead, our loved ones, has changed drastically over the years. Home funerals ARE traditional funerals. It used to be that when a loved one passed on, the family cared for them and for their body until it was time to lay them to rest, and our ancestors didn’t use embalming fluids, harsh chemical baths, and steel and exotic hardwoods. They cared for their loved ones themselves, bathing their bodies with the same soap they used every day in the shower, they dressed them in their own clothes, and they buried them in the earth in simple boxes and shrouds. In the class Nora spoke about how in times before the Civil War it was normal for families to care for their own dead. The bodies would be laid out in the parlor and the family would spend time in remembrance of their loved ones. During the Civil War, we began to hand over the care of our dead to “professionals,” which is where the first Funeral Parlors were born. Later on, advertisements in Ladies Home Journal were published stating that “No longer would any Lady have death in her home and that from here on out the Parlour would be termed the Living room.”

These days, it’s all about the bottom dollar, and while there may be some sympathetic funeral directors out there, most of them are all about the bottom dollar, preying on the grieving in their most vulnerable state with statements such as, “Shouldn’t you do the best you possibly can for your mother?” The bodies are whisked away from their families by strangers almost immediately after the death and brought to funeral homes and laid out on a cold steel slab. The body is then hosed down with disinfectant, soaped with a chemical soap, and then hosed down again. In the embalming process, all of their organs are ruptured and the bodies are then massaged to release all of the bodily fluids which are then replaced with embalming fluids including ethanol, methanol, and formaldehyde. One of the ladies in the class expressed that, being a larger woman, her greatest fear is that they would simply flop her body around and possibly even drop her after death. I’m sure it’s happened more than once. (A point was also brought up in the class by a funeral director who attended stating that the use of such harsh chemicals is to insure that the embalmer does not catch any diseases from the bodies. Nora stated that in all of the bodies she has helped wash and bury, even in the cases of some who had full blown AIDS, NO ONE has ever caught a disease).

These days there is a new movement stirring to return to Home Funerals, and Green Burials. In these cases, a home funeral guide, sometimes referred to as a Death Midwife, guides the family in taking care of the body. They body is preserved naturally with dry ice, and the family bathes and dresses the body, and employing the use of items such as coins and a scarf, they arrange the body for viewing. Nora, who calls herself a Death Midwife states that this kind of care is far from creepy and that in nearly all cases helps to facilitate the grieving process among family members.

After a home remembrance service or memorial, the families can then either seek out a funeral home that will allow un-embalmed bodies to be buried on their premises, cremate the body or bury it themselves in a green burial site. In green burial, the bodies are placed in simple boxes and there are a large variety of options including mediums such as papermache’, woven bamboo or willow, or simple woods like pine. Family members have the option of decorating the shroud in the form of art therapy, utilizing images that were favorites of the deceased, or that remind them of their loved one.

For a long time I have known that I didn’t want to be embalmed and buried in an elaborate box. When my grandmother passed a few years ago, I remember being disappointed at her viewing. She didn’t look anything like I remembered her, like she had looked in life. I felt the way they made her up with makeup was cheap and unnatural, and I found no solace or comfort in viewing her body. A few years after she passed, I began working at a Nursing Home and one of our jobs as CNA’s was to bathe and dress the residents after they had passed. Having done that on quite a few occasions, I can say that I never found it creepy or gross or any such thing. Perhaps that is just me, but *shrugs.* I found it was almost comforting in a way as it gave me the opportunity to do one more caring thing for those residents, especially the ones I was close to, and their families.

Up until this seminar, I had thought my only other option would be to be cremated, which I was fine with. However, after learning of other options, I have a lot to think about. This is something that I would prefer to do for my own loved ones, and an option I would like to explore for myself. I would much rather be laid to rest by my family and my loved ones than handled by strangers. I would much rather be lovingly and gently bathed than hosed down and disinfected. Again, maybe this is just me, but I thought I would share my experience anyway. There is so much more information on Nora’s website that is worth looking into, including what 6 forms you would need in order to insure that your wishes for green burial are carried out after your death, more facts and examples of home funerals and green burials. If you are at all interested in this option either for yourself or for loved ones, I strongly urge you to visit her website. I will say that her web page and practices could be termed as very “New-Agey” which could put some people off, but after speaking with her after the class, Nora informed me that the majority of her clients are not necessarily New Age religious people, and she has helped with several Christian faith based funerals as well, so always remember that that is an option as well. Remember, this used to be the norm for all faith bases!

Back and Stuff

Well, I am officially back from my trip up to the frozen North. I actually flew back on Monday, but the last few days have been spent recuperating and trying to get all my clothes washed and put back into my closet and catching up on snuggles with the kids and so forth. And then yesterday, Ya-Ya missed school due to frequent barfing which I must say was awesome! (in a very sarcastic kind of way)

I have also been trying to catch up on every one's blogs, which I have to say is making me kind of suspicious. The week or so before I left NO ONE was posting ANYTHING. I'd log on every day and NOTHING. NADA. Now I'm home, I log on and it was like everyone went post crazy and it's going to take me forever to catch up on all of what has been going on around blogland. It's because none of you like my comments right?! *snuffles* I KNEW it. *laughs* Just kidding.

As for my trip, it was AMAZING. Just one awesome experience after another. I took a Henna class, went to a drum circle, danced in front of TONS of people (if you don't know me, understand that this is a HUGE feat, as usually it's something I would be mortified to do), took a spiritual drawing and painting class, went to a masked ball, learned about green burial and home funerals, met an AWESOME author, bought his book, had him sign it, made lots of new friends and connections, and most importantly, I learned a lot about where I am, who I am, where I am at spiritually, and lots of other really important, really amazing stuff. (do you notice I use those words a lot? amazing, awesome... they are so wonderful)

Of course, throughout all of it, I missed my kids and family terribly. My husband apparently missed me as well, considering I got teased the whole weekend about my repeatedly buzzing bag from all of his text messages. All in all though, it was a fantastic trip, and I hated to leave. I would have much rathered just stayed and moved my family up there with me instead. I can't wait to back next year, and then Barb is coming down to visit us in November which doesn't seem nearly soon enough.... but somehow I'll make it.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I'm going to try to keep my book review posts separate from all the other little tidbits from my everyday goings ons. The last few weeks have been very stressful and exhausting. I have felt simply horrible. Nauseous, achy, and TIRED. Zomg... SOOOOO tired. Even if I get a full night's sleep, and even if then Tim lets me sleep in until say.. oh... noon, I still feel like I'm just dragging through the day like a zombie. ... wondering when I can go back to sleep. For the most part I find I have no energy to even THINK much less DO things.

And the nausea... I am SO OVER the first trimester crud. OVER IT. I have been subsisting off of things like Ritz crackers, cheese, and fruit cups. Occasionally, I'll really want like a cheeseburger or a steak or a cookie... but then I eat it and get horribly sick and regret it for the rest of the day. Then it's back to the crackers and lime flavored seltzer water. Ugh.

On top of all the general crappiness, we had a bit of scare this past week when I started spotting. I spotted a little with my first pregnancy, so initially, I wasn't too worried... but then it just kept on coming, unlike with my first pregnancy when it stopped after two days. I had been and am still having a lot of lower back pain on the left side only as well, so after 3 days I started to get a little freaked. I went in to see the doc and even though I'm only about 9 1/2 weeks, he was able to get the baby's heartbeat to pick up on the Doppler and I was told to just go home and take it easy and to let him know if it got any heavier. All in all, I spotted for about 5-6 days, and then yesterday it finally stopped. It never really got any heavier or any lighter... it was just kind of the same for all 6 days and then, just like that, it stopped.

Everything is still okay with Baby, as far as we know, so I'm significantly less worried. I'm going in tomorrow just to be sure though and am hoping he will be able to still find the heartbeat just to put my mind at ease. ... Have I mentioned that I'm a chronic worrier? *sigh* Anyway, my plane leaves out on Wednesday morning, and I'm SO ready to just GO. I'm ready to see my best friend and just get to spend some time with her. It's going to be awesome!

Book Review: Percy Jackson Book 1

Before I get started, let me just say that it is VERY difficult.... nay impossible for me not to compare any book written in this genre for this age group to Harry Potter. I can't help it. J.K. set a standard for me in young literature... which leads me to be very disappointed in most other series which have tried to follow suit. This one is not excluded.
It was.....kinda....well... boring. And sure, maybe it's because it was written for a younger reading audience than myself... but still... in comparison I was not bored with Harry Potter. *shrugs* Call me biased.
It wasn't ALL bad. I liked the IDEA behind the story. I really liked a lot of the concepts expressed in the story... I just felt like they could have been expressed in much more colorful detail and made to be more interesting. In short... I think that the story/series has A LOT of potential.. it just kinda falls short for me in the first book.
I'm holding out and hoping that as the series progresses the author's writing style will mature with her characters. Kinda like in, you know, Harry Potter. Has anyone read any of the other books in this series? What did you think of them? Is it worth the time to read further?
Hrm... anyway, books have been fairly disappointing for me lately. I can't seem to find anything to hold my interest or really even peak it for that matter. Maybe I'll have better luck with the next one. I picked up a couple of Paulo Coelho's books awhile back. I loved his book, The Alchemist. I'm hoping that the two that I picked up will live up to my expectations. Who knows. I also picked up a couple more of Jodi Picoult's books. I have loved every book I've read by her so far, so here's hoping I'm not disappointed in those either. I need a good read to lose myself in.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear Mr. Weather Man

This cold, frozen white stuff on the ground outside my house is terribly misplaced. See... I live in ALABAMA. And I mean, below the belt, on the Gulf, 20 minutes from Florida, ALABAMA. This "snow" stuff belongs up there. You know, in the NORTH. *shivers*

Poor little manic depressive snowman.... he knows his days are numbered.

Unsure of how to respond to the snow, our cat, Wishes, decided to attack it.

Calvin was very unsure of the snow. He just kind of stared at it and then decided it was time to go inside

Ya-Ya on the other hand, knew exactly what to do with the snow and has been begging to go back out ALL MORNING.

Wizard, another of our cats, says, "Kiss my furry butt. I'm going back inside!"

Me too, Wizard. MEEEEE toooo.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last Night's Project

I have been seeing these tutorials for freezer paper stenciling all over the web lately and decided that I just had to try it. Also known as the "poor man's silk screening," freezer paper stenciling is a pretty easy and cheap concept. You need freezer paper (of course), designs/ideas, pencil, exacto knife, cutting mat, iron, and fabric paint. You start by free handing or tracing your design onto the non-coated side of the freezer paper. Then you cut out the area you want to be painted. Iron your stencil coated side down onto your t-shirt or fabric. Stencil in with Paint. Wait for it to dry and Voila'! Pretties!

This t-shirt is my very first attempt at freezer paper stenciling. Sure, I could have and probably should have started with a much easier design, but eh.... I had some free time. Okay, so actually this stencil just turned out to be more complicated than I thought. See, once I cut out all the parts that I wanted to be painted, what I ended up with was a big blank hole. I had to piece it all together like a puzzle to put back in the negative space pieces. Is this making sense? I found it easier to first iron on the part I removed, the part that you see painted. Then I put back in all the blank pieces and ironed them on. Then I peeled up the part of the stencil that you see painted. It saved me from having to do a lot of guess work and trying to line up all the pieces in the right spots. In any case, I LOVE it. This is probably going to be my new favorite t-shirt. I was very pleased with how crisp all the edges turned out.

I tried stenciling a few more things onto some canvas tote bags. Just so you know, freezer paper stenciling does not work as well on canvas material as it does on the t-shirts. The canvas is very porous, so the wax seeps in and then the paper doesn't want to peel away all nice and clean like it does on the t-shirt. You know how when you find a sticker your kid has placed like... say... on the window or the bathtub or the table.... and you go to peel it up and no matter how careful you are it tears and leaves behind that layer of white sticky papery goop? Yeah... it's kind of like that, only more frustrating because you CAN'T GET IT OFF!!!!! I had to sit there with the exacto knife and very carefully scrape the stencil remnants off of the bag and it still looked like it could use a lint roller. Only that didn't work. They were black canvas bags, so I just took a black fabric marker and filled in the white spots. It looks okay. Just not nearly as neat and clean and pretty as the t-shirt.

Oh well, live and learn they say! And now you know too, so you can save yourself the hassle. However, if you feel like whipping out a t-shirt for your little ones, freezer paper stenciling is a lot of fun and easy enough that your kids could help.... or at least you can give them a piece of freezer paper and some crayons while you do the shirt. You know. I'm just sayin.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Growing Girl

My Ya-Ya is GROWING UP. While this is something that I've known and observed for quite awhile, recently it seems to be ever more apparent. She has spent most of this past week away from home. At the first of the week, my father-in-law's girl friend (of 10 years) passed away in her sleep. To those that know me, it's no secret that she wasn't exactly my favorite person, but please don't misunderstand and think for one second that I wanted for her to die.

She was a diabetic who refused to take care of herself, or take responsibility for herself or her illness. She used her illness to manipulate people, including Dad into doing as she pleased. For example, on Christmas Eve she didn't want to visit with his family, and so while he was at Grandma Wade's with the rest of us, she went on a full fledged hunger strike and refused to eat. So Dad spent all of Christmas Eve and Day in the ER. She did that kind of thing so often that even the ambulance drivers got tired of responding to her calls. She wouldn't work or provide for herself or her children, she would go on hunger strike if Dad came to visit Tim or his grandchildren, or Tim's sister. And as sad as what it is, her death, while far too soon, was not really unexpected. Just about everyone who knew her responded in the same way, "well... she finally let it go to far, huh?" Which is exactly what happened.

Dad worked swing shifts like Tim does and was on night shifts. She went for the day, refusing to eat in a response to a fight she had with her son and went to sleep. Her sugar dropped in her sleep and she simply didn't wake up. Dad found her the next morning. Now as I said, I didn't want her to die. I would have much rather seen her grow up and take responsibility for herself and take care of herself. And for whatever reasons he had, Dad cared for her, and we all care for HIM, so it was quite a week. He mostly just seemed lost the first few days as though he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing, since most of what he used to do was dictated by the girlfriend. Angela and Tim both took time off work so that we could be out there with him as much as possible.

We had to explain to Ya-Ya what had happened, and though I was worried about her, she took it in stride and stepped up like a very big (too big) girl. She has been busy keeping Dad busy. She has spent nearly the entire week with him, helping him to feed the animals, asking him to put on this movie or that movie, and eating WAY too much Lucky Charms in the process. She has been an enormous comfort to him, but I have to admit... I'm starting to miss my kid.

In the next couple of months, we will celebrate her 5th birthday. So far, she has consistently asked for a princess themed cake and party. Which is good, usually she has a new idea every week, but this year, it shall be princesses. There will be lots of pink and purple and sparkles and white ponies and unicorns and rainbows and tiaras. It will be....... um....very princess. And I will be trying not to sob in the corner about how she is already 5 years old.

This very week we have kindergarten registration. KINDERGARTEN. ALREADY. Before too long we will buying crayons and paper and scissors and backpacks and lunchboxes. We will get a sign to put in our yard that tells the bus driver she is a new student. And she will be gone, 5 days a week until 2:30 in the afternoon. While, with the new baby, I am sure we will be very busy, the house is still very quiet without her in it.

Not to mention she is a tremendous help. She loves her brother and will make silly faces and play games and sing songs ALL DAY LONG. She will zip diapers to the trash can without even thinking about it, much less complaining. She can be kinda bossy and sassy, but she protects the baby from other kids when they are around, making sure they don't whisk away his toys or accidentally step on him. In those moments she seems so big to me. She likes to help with house cleaning, and she cleans her own room most of the time. And if you take out hamburger, she is in the kitchen on her stool lickety split because she is "Daddy's Hamburger Helper" and she refuses to let you forget it.

She is a very big KID now. There is hardly any baby left in her at all. It makes me, at the same time, very sad and very excited.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Last Night's Project:

This is what my "new" dining room chairs looked like when we bought them.

Here is another shining example. Each of them was nastier than the last.

But! One $10 table cloth and a staple gun later.....

And you can't even tell that they aren't brand new.

I am in love with my new table. In Love I tell ya. I can't even tell you how cheap we got it for thanks to those stained wouldn't believe me if I told you. I'll give you a hint's *maybe* 1/4 of what we would have paid for it brand new. Ha ha ha haha.... those suckers! *laughs*

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I can't think of any clever way to intro my post, so I'll just cut right to the chase. It's been awhile. I'm behind on reading your blogs and commenting and posting.

BUT, on the other hand, I got my sewing room done.....sorta. Okay, so we just kinda threw everything in there and closed the door to make room for the "new" table, but at least I can get to the sewing machine without the use of grappling gear or rope, and I can actually sew in there. So that will be about as done as gets in there for a bit.

The house has gone completely awry. Everyday my OCD goes to war with my First Trimester woes and so far the FT woes are undefeated. I'm TIRED. ALL THE TIME. Usually by 3 in the afternoon, I am out of patience and dragging around like a zombie in a B movie. One thing I have been doing a lot of though is COOKING. I had so many leftovers in the fridge I couldn't fit the new gallon of milk in there... so I did at least clean out the fridge. We still have no laundry and I must confess that yesterday, I actually bought the kids each a new outfit so I wouldn't have to do the laundry. However, I obviously can't do that everyday, so I'll have to wash at least one load tonight. Boo.

In other news, our tax refund finally came, so all of the bills are caught up and we even paid off the furniture. While we were in there, they were having a "buy it as is" sale for items they had had to repossess. One of them was this HUGE dining room table set. It's one of the bistro-ish tables where the chairs are more along the lines of bar stools and it was the same color wood as the china cabinet that my Papa gave us as a wedding present. It has an optional leaf in the center too, so when it's all put together it seats 8. The fact that another family has owned it is just a plus for me because it already has imperfections and nicks and things so I won't freak out about the kids messing it up. It's better that way. The only issue I have is that the seat cushions are a cream color and stained to high heaven. But hey, for what we payed for the table, it's a steal. I borrowed a steam cleaner, with no luck at all with the stain removal.... but lucky for me, I know how to re-upholster and I live near Glen's. I love discount fabric! Yay! So, that said, our table problems are now officially solved.

In other news, I finished off the Sookie Stackhouse series and I must admit, I'm kinda bummed. I'm really hoping there is another book in the works because if that's how the series ends, I was highly unsatisfied. I'm currently reading Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief. It's going to be really hard for me not to compare this series to Harry Potter because it's right along those lines, and so far not nearly as well written. But the story is interesting at least and is starting to pick up quite a bit... so who knows how it will turn out. Nadia and I are reading Junie B. Jones, The Toothless Wonder, and LOVING it. Junie B. has a LOT of sass and attitude and she is hilarious! I'm trying to get her more into the reading scene, and the Junie B. books are working pretty well. I also found a collection of Amelia Bedilia stories. I LOVED Amelia Bedilia when I was little and am hoping that she will too.

I think that pretty much covers everything. I'll catch up on all of your blogs soon!