Rich

 

I do not, much to my husband’s recent chagrin, feel the need for large-screen plasma televisions. I don’t have diamond earrings in both princess- and round-cut. I don’t dress my children in designer clothing, or buy it for myself. My purse does not have a “C” or an “LV” or a little upside-down question mark on it. My favorite jeans are plain-old Levi’s. We lead a fairly simple life. We don’t indulge in much.

 

I’ve recently realized, however, that one of the things that is crucial and beyond valuable to me is life experience. I don’t want my children to learn just math and reading. I want them to know about different cultures and different religions. I want them to be comfortable talking with and hanging out with people who are much different than they are. I want to encourage them to explore the world, and the people in it. I want my children to live.

 

I know people who think it’s cruel that I take my kids to museums and try to teach them about the displays there. I know of others who think that I was crazy for taking my kids, when they were younger, to a nice restaurant for dinner. Why should they have to sit still like that? I paid good money to take my six-year-old to the theatre? Preposterous!! They used to express that to take my young children shopping all day with my sisters and mom and nieces was forcing them to endure something they shouldn’t have to endure.

 

And yet, my children learned so much from those experiences. They learned to be patient and how to be respectful and how to be polite. They learned to search out the things that they find interesting and to ask good questions about them. They order their own meals in restaurants, using please and thank you. They know that sometimes, life is not entirely about them, and that they should be kind when there’s something that I think is interesting, even if they don’t.

 

I am currently on an airplane after a week-long trip to Disney World in Orlando. My kids experienced airports and airplanes and shuttles from the airport to the hotel. We went to a luau and ate at an outrageously expensive dinosaur-themed restaurant. We went to a Japanese restaurant where the chefs cooked our food on a large grill at our table. They didn’t eat a whole lot, but they learned a little about Japanese culture, how to say a few words in Japanese, and they conversed with someone unlike any of the people we know at home. We rode on boats and monorails and buses and trams. We heard people speaking French and Mandarin and Spanish and German. We tried crepes and crème brulee and egg rolls and Japanese candy. They said “Merci” to the French guy at the Patisserie. They said “Hola” to the woman at the Mexican store. We talked about the shrine to Buddha that they saw and guessed at how many types of palm trees there are. Don’t get me wrong…we saw Mickey, too, and rode a bunch of rides and saw some cool shows, but more than anything, I treasure the life experience that my kids gained on this trip. They experienced life.

 

I’m not concerned with the brand of clothing my kids are wearing. I’m not going to spend my money on a purse with an “LV” on it. However, if I have the chance to take my children to Europe or the Caribbean or the Greek Isles, I will. If we can go see a volcano in Hawaii or a market in the Bahamas, I’m all over it. If we can see a castle in Germany or swim at the beach in the south of France, count me in. I’ll eat beans and rice for a few weeks if that’s what we need to do to afford it. My children, and I, will be so much richer for it.

 

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Circus Freak

I got my first tattoo when I was about 27.  It was a small little Kanji, or Japanese character, on my left shoulder that says “Faith”.  To me, that tattoo represented a lot of things.  It was for my daughter, whose middle name is Faith and whose pregnancy took a lot of faith and prayers for me to get through.  It was for my faith in God and how it can sustain me through anything.  It was about growing up and allowing myself to be myself and about taking a first tentative step away from doing only what I thought was expected of me by others. 

A year or two later I got a colorful pair of comedy/tragedy masks on my left ankle, representing my love of literature and theatre, and also reminding me that life can be a comedy or a tragedy, depending on what I make of it.  That’s my favorite, because it was drawn specifically for me and is absolutely one-of-a-kind.  Nowhere else is that exact picture duplicated.

In 2005, my husband Sarge was deployed to Iraq and I got a small yellow ribbon tattooed on my right collarbone.  That tattoo represents my strength, my loyalty, and my patriotism.  It reminds me that if I can make it through a deployment, I can make it through anything. It has, honestly, given me comfort many times when I felt like I was on the edge of losing it.

And then, a week ago, I was looking for a way to get through the day of my big sister’s birthday, the first since she died a few months ago.  I had known that I wanted to get a tattoo for her, and decided it would be a good day to go.  So I got a new kanji, one that says “older sister” on the inside of my right wrist. 

Many people I know don’t “get” the tattoo thing.  Some people in the church actually think it’s a sin, though I can argue against that one all day.  Some people have gotten tattoos and regret them.  Some people just don’t see the point.  And there have been times, in the last years, that I have been a little embarrassed of my tattoos in certain circles because I know that those people don’t understand.  To them, it suggests a lack of class or a rebellion against things they hold dear. 

But to me, these tattoos are just fancy scars. Don’t know what I mean?  Have you ever sat around with friends and compared scars?  You sit around and say, “See this scar on my ankle?  I fell off a skateboard when I was twelve” or “I got this scar on my elbow when I fell out of my grandpa’s  tree and a branch got stuck in my arm” or “This is from a surgery I had after I injured my knee playing soccer.”  Whatever the scar is, there is a story to go with it.  Those scars remind us of childhood or being an athlete in school or the friend who ran home to tell our mother we were hurt.  They remind us of the BFF who sat with us in the hospital as we recovered from surgery or the relief we felt when our child was okay after an emergency c-section.  Those scars are the story of our lives. 

Just the same, the tattoos, to me, are a kind of art that tells the story of my life.  I catch a glimpse of my wrist and remember the times I spent with my sister.  Someone asks me about the tattoo on my ankle and I get to tell them about how much I love to read or go to plays.  I look in the mirror to brush my hair and I see the yellow ribbon that reminds me how strong and capable I am.  My tattoos are fancy scars that tell the story of my life. 

I think I’m done getting tattoos.  But then again, I’ve said that before.  I’ve promised my husband and my parents that I definitely won’t get sleeved.  My dad jokes that I’ll be a circus freak, and that fifty years from now the nursing homes will be filled with interesting-looking tatted-up senior citizens.  But that’s okay.  They love and understand me, and maybe after this post they’ll even understand me a little more. 

I’ve decided not to be embarrassed about my tattoos anymore, no matter whose company I’m in.  Just as I once encouraged my sister not to be embarrassed of the scars from her surgeries or her chemo port, I won’t be embarrassed of my fancy scars either.  They are part of who I am, and if you love me I guess the tattoos come with the package.  Circus freak and all.

The Big Reveal

I am a Christian.  I go to church every Sunday (actually, I’m on the staff at my church, too!), I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, I pray, I read my Bible, I sing praise songs, and I am a Christian. 

I’ve never said this to you, my blog audience, before.  I may have hinted at it.  I may have said things here or there about my church or my faith, or said things that made you wonder where I was coming from. But I don’t write a blog that could be defined as “Christian”.   And that’s not because I’m ashamed of my beliefs.  I’m not.  I’m not ashamed of my God or of my belief in Him.  But I hesitated.  I hesitated because we, as Christians, have a bad reputation.  We are known for being  judgemental and  hypocritical and unfeeling.  We are seen by many as an extreme right-wing group of political moralists who hate anyone who believes differently than we do.  Lots of people think we hate gays, abortionists, and Muslims. 

Jesus would be appalled.

Today, I want to tell you that I am a Christian.  I want to tell you that I believe very strongly that every one of you can be changed in a hugely positive way because of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  But I also want you to know that I do not hate gay people.  I do not hate the people who have an abortion or the people who perform abortions.  I do not despise Muslims or Buddhists or atheists.  I’m friends with many, many people who fit those exact descriptions.  I do not claim to be free from sin, or to be better than you, or to have all the answers.  I just want you to know.  And I want to promise you that despite this single blog post, I don’t plan to change the way I write, or the way or I act, or the kind of friend I’ve always been. 

But I’m writing this because I want you to give us a chance.  I want you to change the way you think about us as a group.  My goal as a Christian is to stand FOR more than I stand AGAINST.  I want to stand for eliminating world hunger and I want to stand for annihilating racism.  I want to make the world safer for our children and more hospitable to future generations.  Iwant to be about love and not hate.  I want to have a diverse circle of friends and an obvious moral compass.  And there are many, many Christians who feel the same.

So I’m asking you this:  when you hear the word “Christian”, don’t immediately think of those hypocritical, judgemental, holier-than-thou types that you may have met.  Don’t judge my faith or my God in the same column with those people.  I hope instead that you can think of someone like me:  a reasonable, down-to-earth girl that is a loyal friend, a good mom, and a decent writer.  I lead with my heart more than my head, I hate politics, and I’m often way too sensitive.  I drive too fast, I like alternative rock, and I’ll travel for an hour to get my favorite Sangria.  I’m just a normal girl, who happens to have a strong belief in God.

I just wanted you to know.

A Bunch of Random-ness

My friend Rebecca recently tagged me to do a “Seven Random Things” post. I haven’t been so great at posting lately, so here goes. And look out, cuz I’m tagging people when I’m done!

The rules:
1. Post the rules on your blog.
2. Write 7 random things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post.
4. Pass on the tag.

1.  I really don’t like the color pink.

2.  Every morning, I drink a cup of Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar in it from my favorite Tinkerbell mug.

3.  It upsets me much more than it probably should that we can only make four “licenses” for MarioCart for the Wii.  Since I’m the one to play the least, I don’t get a license and have to use someone else’s when I play.  That sucks.

4.  When I find a new song I really like, I get a little obsessed.  I put it on my iPod and listen to it really loud about 20 times in a row.  Seriously.  Ask my husband.

5.  I really miss my friend Stephanie.  I haven’t talked to her in way too long and even though we’ve emailed a bit, it’s not the same as hanging out.  Hey, Steph, want to meet for lunch on Friday??

6.  I have a thing for green purses.  I have about 10 of them.

7.  I kind of want another tattoo.   But my husband says that since I have more than him, I can’t get any more until he gets another one.  I think that means I’m done getting tattoos.  Bummer.

 

So there you have it.  Seven (very) random things that are filling my head this morning.  I officially tag The Sports Mama, Stella, Lunanik because I miss her writing, Laskigal, and Melbs. Have fun!!

Watch Out Jennifer Lopez!!

I’ve been trying to become more involved at my church recently, partly because I feel that my kids are old enough now that I have a little more freedom to do my own thing.  I debated for a while about what I should get involved with, and what my passion would be.  The thing that sort of fell in my lap is the wedding and funeral stuff.  I haven’t had to deal with a funeral yet, though I’m overseeing the entire “funeral ministry” so I’m trying to get my stuff together, so to speak.  We don’t do many funerals at our church, so it’s not a big job all the time, but we have to be prepared.  I’m getting there.

As far as weddings, I’m still in training.  But soon I will officially be the wedding coordinator.  I helped with a wedding today, and it was so incredibly fun.  I love being there for a couple’s special day, to make sure everything goes perfectly and that they have everything they need.  That’s just my thing, I guess…running around making sure everyone’s happy, doing all those little things people need, giving the cues and soothing the nerves and fixing the veil and lighting the candles and making everything look beautiful. 

I took such pride today in seeing all my hard work (and the hard work of our team) come to fruition, knowing that the bride and groom felt special and knew everything was taken care of and generally seeing it all come together and work out just right.  It was nice to sit in the back of the church for fifteen minutes during the ceremony, just watching this couple start their life together.  I know the wedding’s not really the important part.  I know the marriage is what counts.  But to a bride and groom, the wedding feels important, and it needs to be just right, and I feel so excited to have a part in that.

Now all I need is one of those cool little equipment belts like J.Lo had in The Wedding Planner.  Anyone know where I can get me one of those?? 

Bunchy Defined

So you know those “about me” paragraphs that you’re supposed to write each time you build a new profile?  You know how it is…you start a new blog or join a new community or sign up for a new website of some sort, and you get that dreaded blank box that says “tell us about you in a few words”.  I hate those things.  I dread them.  How am I supposed to define myself in a sentence or two?  I’m a blogger.  I’m a mommy.  But I don’t really think of myself as a “mommy blogger” because I write about so much more than just my kids.  I’m Christian.  I’m married.  I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend, a military wife.  But is that who I am?  They’re all such a part of me, and have made me the person I am, for sure.  But really, I’m just me.  I’m sensitive and imperfect and strong and outspoken and introverted at times and a party-er at other times.  I love being a mom but some of my best memories are of times when I laid aside my “mom” role for a few hours or days and became Bunchy again. 

I’ve been blogging for over a year now, and I’ve loved putting myself out there.  I’ve loved making friends and discovering who you are and figuring out who I am.  I’ve loved writing again.  I’ve loved being funny and I’ve loved being serious.  I’ve loved knowing that others are waiting to see what I’ll write next.  I love blogging.  It’s become a part of me.

And now I’m in this new blog-home.  I’m still figuring it all out, and I’m hoping that you’ll all stick with me as I do.   But I needed a change, for a few reasons.  For one, I felt the need to be a little more anonymous in the world.  But mostly, I was having a blog identity crisis.  I was starting to feel defined not by who I am, but by who you all thought me to be.  I was starting to base my worth on the number of comments I received or the level of subscriptions my reader told me I had.  I was striving not for authenticity or true purpose, but for popularity and some skewed sense of blogging success.  I was starting to fetter my writing with some imaginary ropes made of what I thought you wanted me to be. 

So it’s back to my roots, and I can’t be more grounded than by using the name “Bunchy”, a nickname given to me when I was just a baby.  I’m not talking drastic change; I’ll still talk about my husband and my kids.  (They have new nicknames, too.)  I’ll still tell you about my struggles and my successes and my goals for myself.  I’ll still give you raw honesty and funny stories.  But I’m doing it for me this time.  And who knows?  Maybe you’ll still like it after all.

Welcome To The Bunchy Blog

This is not my first blog.  In fact, I’ve been blogging for over a year.  Some of you know me well.  Some of you may have been wondering where I went.  I packed up…I took off…I left.  And I found a new name, and a new home, and a new format.  I’m changing things up…for lots of reasons, actually.  But mostly because I’m having a bit of a blogging identity crisis, and I needed to start again.  Things will be different around here…I won’t be using real names, or identifying pictures, or gory details.  I’ll still be me, only maybe even better.  I’m not making any promises, but I think it may be a fun ride.  Thanks for coming along.