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by Jill Greenwood

Sorry for the blog silence, folks. When we started O+U, we never really ironed out our schedules. For a while, Erika did the calendars, but when she was selling her house, I took it over . . . and I’ve forgotten the last few months. No real reason other than life. But that’s not to say that we haven’t missed posting here. Some months are easier than others; occasionally, we’ll come up with an idea relatively quickly. Other months . . . takes forever (remember February?). Anyway, there’s no real theme for this month, and truthfully, I haven’t even posted a calendar yet, but I’m running with this one: politics. That dirty little word that no one wants to talk about: politics. A subject on which everyone has an opinion: politics. If there’s any one subject that’s rife with opinions and tons to talk about it’s . . . politics. And my own personal political issue is reproductive health. That’s right. I’m talking about vaginas and uteruses (kick it old school and go with uteri if you want) and birth control and abortion and children and cervixes and cancer and disease. And I’m calling bullshit on the politicians. PS – If you don’t like the f-word, walk away now.

Whenever I say that I’m pro-choice people automatically assume that I’m pro-abortion. Honestly, I don’t think that I’ve ever met a person who is pro-abortion. Have you? No one that I know ever has said, “Hmmm . . . what haven’t I done this summer? I know. Get an abortion!” Contrary to what Wisconsin Senator, Mary Lazich, says, you don’t need an abortion to be a woman. No, Senator, you need a uterus to be a woman. Having a vagina helps, too. You can get away without the boobs. Then again, what do I really know . . . I’m not a doctor, so I could be wrong. But wait! Neither are you, Senator.

So back to me. I’m pro-choice. I believe that, when given a choice between having a child and raising it, having a child and giving it up for adoption, or having an abortion, that choice should be mine and pretty much just mine except for the people that I choose to share it with. In the summer of 1990, I was in that very spot. Just finished up my sophomore year in college and having a blast in the summer. I was working at three jobs and taking a few classes. Thoroughly enjoying my summer. And then I got pregnant. For some reason, I always say, “I got pregnant,” when in all actuality, it took two people to get to that point and a compelling lack of condoms, but I got pregnant. My friends found out first because they were in the bathroom when the stick changed colors. The next person? The father. I really had no idea how that conversation would go because let’s be honest, not much physically would change for him. He could, if he wanted, deny everything and be a real dick. Tell me that it was pretty much up to me what happened. Tell me to go fuck myself. Tell me to do whatever I wanted. But we talked and talked and talked, and in the end, chose to have the baby. The first place we went was Planned Parenthood, and true to Planned Parenthood form, they offered me – wait for it – prenatal vitamins. Not an abortion. Or literature to read. Just prenatal vitamins and the opportunity to listen to the baby’s heartbeat because the obstetrician wouldn’t see me until I was 12 weeks along (fun fact: only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s activities have anything to do with abortions; the rest is all about women’s health). And in April of 1991, our daughters were born because by then, there were two bambinos floating around in the “aquarium” that was my ever expanding belly.

I had every hope that my daughters would grow up in an era that respected them as equals with the boys around them. For the love of god and all that is holy, hadn’t Free To Be You and Me already established that boys and girls were the same except for the bits and pieces down there? For a little while, it seemed like we were good. I’m not even sure when the tide started to turn, but it did. All of a sudden, things shifted away from making a choice to “protecting the lives of the innocent” at all costs (which also involved vilifying any need for public assistance, by the way). Plan B? Better hope you can find a pharmacy that’s willing to stock it. Comprehensive sex ed? Not in school . . . you only need to know how to abstain. An open dialog about sex? Right here – at least I had that covered. Thankfully, getting birth control wasn’t a huge issue because we lived in a state that didn’t make us jump through too many hoops.

Last summer, I felt like I was 20 again. Not because I found I was filled with all the energy and vigor of a 20-year-old but because I thought I was pregnant again. You know what? It sucked all over. I didn’t want to be pregnant. I had no desire to have another child. I was older, which brought about all sorts of risks. All these thoughts running through my brain and just one way to squash them all: take a pregnancy test. So I went to the store and called my husband on the way. He reacted much calmer this time around (that will happen when the last time you had this kind of conversation was before Bill Clinton had been elected), but it was clear that he didn’t want another child either. I bought a test – did you know that they keep the pregnancy tests right next to the diapers? If that’s not a great big, Fuck You!, I don’t know what is – came home and found out that I was not pregnant. The relief that washed over me was unexplainable.

But had I been pregnant, the only person’s opinion that I would have given two shits about would have been my husband’s opinion. Not my state senator’s or my governor’s or my children’s or my extended family’s. Just his and mine. Because ultimately, the only two people raising the baby would be the two of us. And honestly, it’s none of Lisa Boscola‘s business if I choose to have a child or not. Pennsylvania has a 24-hour waiting period, and there are “informed consent” laws that serve only to add to a woman’s guilt. But like it or not, if I were in fact pregnant and I wanted to have an abortion, I would have had one. Because the 24-hour waiting period wouldn’t affect my bottom line in any way, shape, or form. My husband would be there to hold my hand the entire time. Hell, I’d probably even have my children with me. But not all women have the luxury of taking a full two days or have a support system in place to help.

Other states are worse than Pennsylvania. Everyone has focused on Texas and Senator Wendy Davis‘s filibuster regarding Rick Perry and his version of what kind of health care women in Texas should receive (hint: there’s a lot more at stake than abortions but it’s not “sexy” to focus on cervical cancer or that it really only will affect poor and/or minority women). Senator Davis did a remarkable job with her filibuster and was only ruled “out” after three very bogus strikes, but the Texas legislature at least put the bill to a vote . . . unlike a state that I was once proud to call my home. Because Ohio’s governor didn’t put it to a vote. He allowed it to be attached to the budget and quickly signed the whole package (although thankfully he did help out the spider monkeys and their owners by removing them from regulations: spider monkeys – 1, women – 0). So, Ohio women, welcome to the following:

  • Want an IUD? Fuck you . . . it’s an abortion.
  • Had a miscarriage and need a DNC? Fuck you . . . it’s an abortion.
  • Still hellbent on getting an abortion? Fuck you . . . wait 48-hours.
  • You were raped? Fuck you . . . only clinics that don’t mention abortion will get any money.
  • Your life is in danger? Fuck you . . . Gov. Kasich decided what that means (and good luck if you are in danger because chances are it really isn’t danger according to the governor’s list).

There’s more, but really they all amount to a giant fuck you because clearly the governor knows better. People fixate on the abortions after 20 weeks and how horrible a woman must be to abort her baby that late in the game. I’ll let you in on a little secret: those are usually the most wanted pregnancies out there. They are a beyond gut wrenching decisions of all – a baby that you desperately want only to find out that nothing will be able to save the life of your unborn child and that continuing with the pregnancy would do nothing but cause more heartbreak for everyone.

I’m unabashedly pro-choice. Because every option should be available to women . . . have the child, find adoptive parents, terminate the pregnancy. Ultimately, it’s not my choice to make. It’s yours. And whatever choice you make, I’ll respect that. Because you are the one to live with the outcome. Not me. I made my choice 23 years ago, one that I have never, ever regretted. I’d seriously love to hear your points of view . . . just keep it civil.

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By Jill Greenwood

Moments are fleeting. They come and go in an instant. Four years ago, we loaded an SUV to the gills and packed four adults into it for a two-hour drive to Philadelphia. Ten hours later, two adults came home feeling deflated and depressed but hopeful for the two adults they left behind. The moments in between flashed by in an instant. Trips to and from the train station. The occasional football game. Moving vans to get from one apartment to another. Olive in Philadelphia. Olive in the Poconos. “Can you put money in my account?” Texting at odd hours. Playing Words With Friends with one and Skyping on Sundays with the other.

Overlooking the Old City, May 15, 2013

Overlooking the Old City, May 15, 2013

And now, the moments are fleeting again. He looks out the window, one day away from graduation, surveying a city we’ve come to enjoy. Tonight, we celebrate the successes that they’ve earned from their professors. We’ll listen to a professor speak so glowingly of our daughter that I can’t help but tear up. We’ll meet colleagues of our other daughter and know that she’s made the right choice for her future. Later, we’ll find our way to a local restaurant and celebrate with our families because without their love and support, our children never would have become the women that they are. Tomorrow, we watch them proudly march in with their fellow graduates and sit through speeches from people they are likely to forget. They will pose for pictures (and get a little testy) and celebrate even more but holding on to the moments while they can.

Monday we’ll have a new theme since it is June.

it may not be official, but summer is in full swing here. days of running wild, bathing less (i think the boy just went 6 days without a bath. don’t judge, there’s been a lot of water play), collecting treasures, romping and rolling in the grass,  and afternoons spent under a ceiling fan while waiting for that second wind to get us through the rest of the long day. i don’t want to jinx anything, but i have every reason to believe that this is going to be the best summer yet.

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bed and a book

i love reading through the previous hobby posts by my fellow o+u ladies. no surprise that we share so many similar likes in hobbies.
knitting. i too loved knitting, but i have come to realize what i really love is all the squishy delicious colorful yarn. the actual act of knitting left me a bit frustrated, and so my needles sit idle.
sewing. YES! i do love my little hand-me-down sewing machine and adequate sewing skills, but once the weather breaks (like now) it too collects a lot of dust. sewing is more of a winter thing for me.
biking.  this is on my to do list. i always loved bike riding, but for the past few years i have been bikeless. that is all about to change very soon. now that both my young ones are at the riding age momma needs a bike too!
gardening. sigh. we rent, this means no garden. because of this, i have been making a concerted effort on houseplants this past year. i am happy to report i have only killed one. 1 out of 6, i am calling that a win.

right now i have not been very active in a lot of hobbies except that last one jessica mentioned, reading. reading used to put me right to sleep. i am NOT joking. if i needed to fall asleep all i needed to do was crack open a book and goodnight world! i was out like a light. this went on for years.my husband is an avid reader and it made him sad that i just couldn’t get through a book. eventually i stopped trying. magazines i could do, but any big books i suddenly became a narcoleptic. last year i decided to try again. i was visiting the library more and more since both my kids became independent readers. they LOVE bringing home stacks of books. so i tried again, and i have no explanation as to why, but this time it stuck. now i get to catch up on SO many great books that most everyone else has read and re-read long before me. i even joined a bookclub in my neighborhood. non reader me! i like it because each month a new book is chosen by a different member of the club. this has exposed me to books i would never have picked for myself. plus we get to gather and have some wine, snacks and laughs. that’s always good.

some of my recent reads:

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (though i have to admit, i loved her memoir Wild even more)
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The Bean Trees (another Kingsolver book)

i started, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, just last night.  already over 100 pages in.  LOVE it.

have you heard of Goodreads? i am probably the last one to know. i am forever the last one to the party. seems like the happening place for all book lovers. like i need another site to become a habit. LOL

most nights this is where you’ll find me, in bed, tucked in under my covers, with a book.

what are you reading these days?

and i’m a serial hobbyist.  i enjoy learning new things. if something piques my interest enough i have to try. some hobbies stick, some ebb and flow, and others  get put on the back burner.

here are just a few of my hobbies – past, present, and future.

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there was the summer (2011) i wanted to learn how to play the banjo. i bought new strings, learned how to tune it (repeatedly, because it kept slipping out of tune).  learned a few tricks through the magic of youtube and then one day i just set it down never to be picked up again. well, except for pulling it from the dark corner in which it hibernates for the sole purpose of taking a picture of it for this post. i may have even attempted a photo from a different angle, but from this angle you can’t see the 1/2 inch layer of dust on the poor thing. learning to play is still on my to-do list; i’m filing it under ‘future hobbies that will never be mastered’. for now, i just don’t have the dedication to practice as often as i should. my interests are being pulled in other directions. but, i swear banjo, one day i’ll come back to you!  *this one may not qualify as an actual hobby, but more of an attempt at a hobby.

 

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i picked up knitting about 11 years ago or so. i did the usual and knit scarves and hats. then people i knew started having babies so i moved on to blankets and wee little socks. then came big socks and sweaters of all sizes. after that, nothing. the knitting bug was gone. but, i missed it so i started on a shawl and half way through i fucked it up royally. i was so turned around on that thing. i brought it with me to philadelphia and jill (thankfully) rescued it for me. i came home so excited to finish it and then i did it again. completely screwed it up! i frogged that thing and never looked back.

okay. that’s not entirely true. i did look back . i miss the knitting. i started a scarf for my girl this winter (a year after i frogged that shawl), but it was mild here so i never felt a rush to finish it up. it’s still only half done. but, it’s practically summer here and i’ve never been a summer knitter (ridiculous and pathetic, i know). the good thing about stopping knitting for such a period of time is that my stash seems like new yarn again. and i’m tempted, i really am! but, the warmest months are when i get my sewing itch. which leads me to . . .

 

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yeah, that’s my sewing machine shoved to the corner of the table in my room. buried behind kid art, camera bags, prints that need frames, a penguin in need of an eye patch, and things that should have been mailed long ago. i’m trying to remember the last thing i made on that machine and i’m struggling. pajama pants for the kids? maybe. probably not. my iron died months and months ago and you can’t really sew without having an iron around so that’s been my excuse. erika, with all her quilt making and gifting finally gave me the push to go buy a damn iron (as long as it took me to go buy one you’d think it was an item only available at specialty stores. ridiculous and pathetic, i’m telling you!) so, the next rainy day we get i’m busting that sewing machine loose and getting to work on a super hero cape for the girl. her brother is getting pissy about her wearing his cape all the time. (if the weather folks have it right, i’m probably working on this little project at the very moment you’re reading this. unless you’re reading this in the morning. i’ll need at least a full hour awake and 2.5 cups of coffee before i get going on this.) wish me luck!

 

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my newest hobby? gardening. we’ve been growing veggies for a few years now, but i’m starting to get a little more adventurous. i love container gardening. this year i’m mixing it up and growing more herbs and a few veggies in containers along with the decorative plants. the truth is our back porch is hideously in need of replacement and until that can happen, i’m covering as much of it as possible in potted plants. i really enjoy looking up which plants will do well in our area and where in our fairly shade yard they could thrive. so far, my biggest accomplishment in regards to this hobby has not been growing actual food that we can eat, but keeping my staghorn fern alive indoors throughout the winter. i’m shocked (and thrilled) that i didn’t kill that beauty.

 
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i feel silly calling reading a hobby, but i suppose it technically is one. this is the eternal hobby, the one i’ve loved for as long as i can remember and will never stop. yet, this hobby has an odd rhythm sometimes. i go through phases where i read tons of non-fiction, or i re-read old favorites, maybe there’s an autobiography binge, or i discover an author and then devour everything they’ve ever penned because they rocked my world. right now my schtick is, i see a book and think to myself, “i’m sure i would enjoy this book. why the fuck haven’t i read it yet?”. yeah, that’s my flow right now. i’m starting with this.

tell me, what hobbies do you have that stuck? which ones fell to the wayside? any new hobbies you’re discovering?

-Erika Ray

Writing is easy for me.  I sort of just spew whatever I’m feeling onto the screen.  It’s always full of typos, but it’s always easy.  Writing is a delicious and therapeutic hobby.  But this hobby’s well is taped out, Folks.  I’ve been writing a lot these days to promote this breakout session and it’s drained my word well.  But I’ll take the drought.  The session is jammed packed with an empowering message for photographers, especially Moms who sometimes get lost in Mommyhood.  If I didn’t believe in it, I’d be pissy with the drought.  But this drought is clearing the way for a new lush garden of words.  Instead of me making up crap to fill this page, enjoy the quilt pictures.  I’m working on a quilt for a friend who sent me a card full of money and said, “I value your time.”  Right now that’s the hobby that I value because it’s letting the writing hobby sit and the new words are just starting to form new roots.

If you’re a photographer and you really want to embrace your rawness, get over here and sign up.

Yes, I’m pimping the shit out of it.

Almost done if that annoys you…

I’m a really good salesman, huh?

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by Jill Greenwood

Yup, we’re a little late getting the month started on O + U. Could be the nice weather, but it only became nice in the past few days in my region. Might be all that time I’m spending taking photographs. Only problem? I can’t find the time to process a damn thing without a small “beagleador” on my lap. So it must be all my hobbies, right? Possibly but not really. Turns out I’ve been reveling in being lazy and doing nothing except for reading the occasional book.

Even while I’m reading or falling asleep, the nagging feeling that I should be doing something else keeps pricking at my brain. What’s missing is knitting. Lucy, the aforementioned “beagleador,” doesn’t really like to share my lap. And it turns out that she’s kind of picky about wanting to play since she’s a puppy and all. Knitting, sadly, has taken a seat on the back burner, and it’s a shame considering I have enough yarn to choke a small family. You want silk? Come on over, my love . . . I have mulberry and raw. Merino? Want that blended or pure? Could I tempt you with a little qiviut? Rub it on your wrist . . . or some place else. Tell you what I’ll do. First skein is free. It’s all yours. But the next one? Well, the next one you’ll have to pay for. Sure, with knitting, you’ll start with some lovely Red Heart (and there are some lovely Red Heart varieties) and think, “This sweater will be perfect!” However, you’ll figure out quickly that you can’t block anything because it’s acrylic. So you’ll buy a nice, reasonably priced wool. Later, a friend will show you some cashmere blend, and that’s it. You’re in for the good stuff from then on. You’ll stalk certain indie dyers to try and score just a skein of the goodness. The same friend will send you links on Ravelry for another indie dyer. You’ll go into your attic to retrieve two balls of yarn and realize that you have not one, not two, but six (yes, six) separate sweaters in yarn form just waiting to be knit.

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But admit you have a problem? Screw that. Because eventually, you’ll have a sweater. Or a sock (probably not its mate). Could be a scarf. All that yarn? It has potential. There is possibility in a skein. The colors meld with a stitch, and you’ve created something magical. Twist your stitches this way . . . nothing. But twist the other way, and it all pops. Maybe you’ll get ballsy and throw a sweater that’s too big and shrink it a little (I would caution you on this; it often leads to tears and sobbing and hyperventilating and booze . . . lots and lots of booze). Save the big one – cutting your sweater – for last. Because after you do that, it’s all downhill from there.

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So why knit? It can be a relatively cheap craft. You can get wool sweaters at most thrift stores and unravel them if you like. There are plenty of small projects out there that take a small amount of yarn. A skein of sock yarn can go pretty far if you’re creative. And if you’re not creative . . . buy a pattern and get to it. Knitting will keep you focused, for the most part. You focus on the stitches and let the rest of your thoughts melt away. Nothing will destress me faster than the garter stitch. Knit a row. Turn it around. Knit another row. Repeat. But if I need to stop from thinking of anything, give me a complicated lace pattern. Because if I have to think about a pattern, chances are I can’t think about anything else. Sometimes, that’s the best part.

“if we don’t change we don’t grow. if we don’t grow, we aren’t really living” -gail sheehy

i admit, i am a lover of routine. i snuggle up in predictability. there are many reasons why i think i have become this person, but really we do not have the time for that psychoanalysis in this post. 🙂
one thing is certain, change can be a difficult for me to embrace.

having kids provides an ever constant state of change. “in your face!”, “take that!”, kinds of changes that can be shocking to someone like me. they force me to face the discomfort of change without even trying.

they go from swaddled – to crawling – to running – to driving a car  in lightning speed.
they grow hair, inches, and new teeth seemingly overnight.

we are having that sort of big change right now. our youngest fell flat on her face at the age of one.  no hands to break the fall, instead her face stopped her fall and her little baby chicklet front tooth broke in 2.  the remaining piece eventually abscessed and needed to be pulled.  she has been our gap-toothed, pirate smile, girl for 6 years now.  that missing tooth has been a constant in our every day life. her gap toothed grin and wrinkled up nose was just so “her”. i knew eventually a big tooth would grow in and fill that hole we all came to love so much, but time kept passing and the gap remained.  a few weeks ago her gum became swollen, the tooth was coming. she walks around singing, “all i want for my birthday is my big front tooth.” (sung to the tune of “all i want for christmas is my 2 front teeth”)

this coming monday she turns 7. will she get her wish? …

2008

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2009
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2010
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2011
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2012
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right this moment,
same wrinkled up nose,
brand new tooth.
change.
BOOM.

casey new tooth
happy soon-to-be-7 to my april fool baby, whose smile lights up my every day.