March 28, 2011

Because Every 2nd Grader Needs Falsies...

Whether we actually feel we have them or not, breasts are a big part of a girl's life.

I was reminded of this very thing today when David flipped on the television and people were outraged by the new bathing suits that Abercrombie and Fitch are currently hocking.  In case you live under a rock and haven't heard all the commotion, they are selling a variety of bikini tops that seem to have the boobs already built-in.  They cleverly call them 'Lightly Padded' and are targeted to girls between the ages of 7 and 14.  Supposedly, they initially referred to them as 'Push-Up' but have taken that particular description off their site. 

Geee....I can't imagine why...

Upon hearing about this, I couldn't help but think about what my own reaction might have been when I was a kid.  I couldn't WAIT to get my own set of knockers from as far back as I can remember.  My mom loves to tell people the story about when I was about three or four years old and she walked into the bathroom to find me crying in the bathtub.  Upon asking me why I was crying, I answered her, "Because I don't have any boobs to wash!" 

I think I cried those same tears all through high school...


I don't think my mom would have bought me a padded bikini top.  In fact, I know she wouldn't have.  Aside from the whole 'sexualizing young girls' argument, my mother just didn't buy many things that weren't practical.  I'm not sure how she would have felt about it morally, but she certainly got her share of laughs when I would take the plastic eggs that her L'eggs panty hose came in, pop them under my shirt and strut around to show off my new 'rack.'  That being said, a bikini with built-in boobs?  I would have totally wanted one!

I'm really not sure why I was so focused on the whole idea of having boobs as a kid.  It became even more of an issue when I was one of the last of my friends to get them.  I would have never stuffed my bra, though.  I saw too many things on television where girls tried to get away with that, drawing even more attention to themselves and eventually getting 'outed' and being ridiculed.  Being exposed as 'fake' seemed even more humiliating than having a flat chest and having the whole world know it.  Besides, I could just wear baggy shirts and slouch a lot to keep them guessing.  (In my head at the time, that made perfect sense.)

If I really stop and think about it, I wasn't visited by the 'Boob Fairy' until I became pregnant for the first time.  Unfortunately, she didn't arrive until she could bring along her sisters...the 'Thigh Fairy,' the 'Ass Fairy,' and the 'Stretch Mark Fairy.' 

For me, they seem to be a package deal.

I've been truly blessed by the fact that my 'girls' have served me well.  They have fed three babies and filled-out their share of cute tops.  I look around and see so many people who have been affected by breast cancer and lost theirs and I think of a friend from long ago.  She passed away years ago, but she had already conquered colon cancer and lung cancer by the time I'd met her.  She broke it down plain and simple one day:  I know a lot of women are completely devastated when they lose a breast.  After losing my colon, all I can say is, "Take my breasts.  Let me keep my colon!  The colon is a much more inconvenient thing to lose, trust me." 

That really put things into perspective for me.  I also remember her for her phrase she used a lot when she was feeling the effects of her chemo and someone asked her how she was. 
"I've been worse!  It can always be worse, you know."

I miss her.

However you look at it,  breasts are a big deal for most girls.  (Okay, boys too!)  I don't see anything wrong with a little girl wanting to play 'dress up' and wanting fake knockers.  Most of the time, it's on the same level as wanting to walk around in high heels or wear lip gloss.  Little girls usually grow up wanting to be like their mommies.  And that's usually okay.  Usually.

But little girls wearing falsies as a part of their regular wardrobe?  Totally not the same thing.  It will be really interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.  I'm curious to see which of my daughters' friends (if any) will own one.  Just like it is with everything else, there will always be parents on the sidelines, waiting to judge the one who breaks down and buys the controversial 'thing' that everyone is talking about at the moment.

In the end, I don't think any of the girls who get these particular bathing suits are going to be scarred for life or anything like that.  This is just one more thing to blur the lines a little bit more between fantasy and reality.  I know I won't be buying them for my daughters.  My 8YO could care less...she has no interest in makeup or anything like that.  She enjoys just being a kid.  My 5YO....she would totally want a 'padded top!'  (Gee...I wonder where she gets that from?) 

But, instead of making such a fuss that something like this actually exists, I embrace the opportunity to say 'NO' and stand my ground.  This world is full of things that we don't agree with.  We can't change everything around us to suit our own needs or wants, so we need to arm our children with confidence and common sense.  I am raising my daughters in hopes that someday they will make smart choices on their own in this world, not the protective bubble most of us instictively want to keep them in.  Those bubbles can't last forever, and why should we want them to?  To quote a brilliant character from a profound animated movie about being an overprotective parent: "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him.  Then nothing would ever happen to him.  Not much fun for little Harpo." 

Thanks, Dory.  I couldn't have said it better myself!

So in my humble opinion, I don't think these 'lightly padded' bikini tops are hurting anyone.  Yes, they are tacky.  No, I won't be buying one for any of my daughters.  (And if someone else buys them one, they still won't be allowed to wear it.)  But a bathing suit alone should not be able to actually affect who a child is as a person.  Aren't we trying to teach them to see beyond that anyhow?

However, this is a nice change of scenery from all the Charlie Sheen chatter...

March 24, 2011

Skunks, Septic Tanks, and Dogs Who Don't Learn

Sometimes, I think my life could be a sitcom.

Living in Rural Suburbia certainly has its perks.  For one, you can see a ton of stars...most nights anyway!  Just twenty minutes away, the lights of the city seem to make so many of them disappear.  Another great thing is that our houses spaced-out pretty well.  No one is so close to anyone else that they have to watch the volume of their television or anything like that.  We do have a few neighbors who like to occasionally blast mariachi music into the wee hours of the morning, but I don't care as long as it's on a weekend.  We can, if we so choose to, have chickens and goats and horses get my point.

The upside of living out here is so apparent that it's often easy to take for granted.  The downsides aren't so obvious most days.  We rely on a well for our water, which basically means that running the sprinklers too much can affect our power bill as well as the life of our well.  (Can you just pull $20,000 or so out of your arse to dig a new well?  I certainly can't....)  We also have to have a propane tank for our heater and hot water heater to function.  We live too far out to be able to hook up to our local power company for gas.  We have the option to buy appliances that only require electricity, but we just use what we have and spend a large chunk of money to fill our propane tank annually.  (Always buy it in the summer.  The more you need it, the more they can charge you!)  Another detail that keeps us separate from most of modern civilization is the need to have our own septic tank.  Since we are already accustomed to being responsible with our water use, our septic tank is normally not something we worry too much about.  A toilet left running or something like that could cause some expensive problems to our septic system...not too mention some foul-smelling side effects!

Evidently, too much rain can cause very similar problems.  It appears that our septic tank became full of water recently.  A few days ago, David noticed that the toilet in our back bathroom was flushing 'more slowly.'  It would still flush and a plunger made no difference whatsoever, but it hesitated before the water would actually flush down.

Red flag.

It was also pointed out to me (by David) that, when our front toilet was flushed, the back toilet would gurlge. 

Another red flag.

The final straw was yesterday morning when David discovered the front bathroom to have a large puddle of water in the floor.  It's still not clear whether that water was from the toilet or the shower.  15YO had just taken a shower and isn't always good about closing the curtain the right way.  It was, however, the motivation we needed to realize we could really have a problem on our hands if we didn't get it corrected soon.  David went outside and discovered that the mud directly over the location of the septic tank smelled like it belonged IN the septic tank.  It's been raining a TON for our area.  We are not used to this much rain, even if we do need it.  We have a dry well that branches off from the septic tank and collects any overflow from said tank  David was able to get the day off so he could stay home and figure out the situation.  He started digging down to the tank itself and looking for the cap.  He knew he could open it up and see if it were actually full or if there were some other problem.  It's not easy to find the cap for the septic tank, but if the guy who came out to pump it had to so much as pick up a shovel and find it himself, it would cost anywhere up to another $100.00. 

Yeah, ouch!

From what he could tell us, the tank WAS full...but it was mostly water.  We have some cracks in the top of the tank, but nothing he's really concerned about.  All that rainwater might have been able to seep into those cracks and fill the tank.  (That's just a theory, though!)  We don't really know for sure, but things seem to be back to normal now.  We won't really know for another month or so when then rain dries up enough for things to go back to 'normal' around here. 

Whatever that means!

To be safe, we have to tighten our belts on water use even more.  We will be taking what David likes to call 'RV SHOWERS' for the next 2-4 weeks.  (Wet your hair and body, turn off the water.  Wash hair, lather body, turn on water.  Rinse off, turn off water.  You see where this is's like CAMPING!)  He also wants us to limit our toilet flushing, but I have hard time accepting that one.  (That one is WAY too much like camping for me!  Why don't we just dig a hole in the ground and build a little shed around it?)

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

As it was, 8YO stayed home from school because she didn't feel well.  It was cold and rainy and windy and all we really wanted to do was lie around snuggled under a blanket together reading or watching television.  We had just finished dinner and were sitting around in the living room watching 'The Middle' when the dogs went outside.  They weren't out there but a minute or so, but came back in after being sprayed by a SKUNK.

Because our day needed more excitement, right?

I had been burning candles all day to keep the smell of HUMAN EXCREMENT at bay and it had worked, but those poor candles didn't stand a chance next to that freshly-sprayed skunk smell.  The dogs are hunkered down in the dog house outside and I am cranking up the heater so I can bring them in the house (one at a time, of course!) and treat them for the smell.   This is the second time this year that I have had to treat these dogs after being sprayed by a skunk.  I'm just glad I have plenty of baking soda, peroxide, and dish soap on hand.  Despite what we have always been told, tomato juice doesn't really work. 

And the peroxide will give them some lovely 'highlights' in their coat, just in time for spring!