Friday, April 28, 2006

My Much More Loveable Alter Ego

Remember how I mentioned that I feel like I am acting as some sort of alternate person? Arriving at appointments early? Wanting fruit rather than chocolate? Posting on random blogs and chatting with strangers? Losing rather than gaining unexpected pounds? Well, it all seems rather odd for me, but much more desirable as far as normalcy in other people goes.

I just talked to my friend Jessie on the phone who laughed with me after encouraging me not to stress, over the fact that I am not at all concerned about the fact that I have to be somewhere in an hour and a half with a salad to feed 20+ people and I still have to go to the grocery to purchase the ingredients. I am actually so inappropriately unstressed about it that I am posting about it while my children finish watching Clifford the Big Red Dog, and then we'll go. They have to get their Clifford fix. Well, not really, I just seem to have stumbled on the long lost college-life Abby who started papers at one in the morning the day they were due and other such careless (or carefree? which one eh?) doings. I like this Abby; she really isn't any less productive than the other Abby, just less stressed (which is good) and consequently often less rested (lots of all nighters for English majors who procrastinate). But she probably needs to get herself to the grocery store and we can all enjoy her more tomorrow.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Busy Blogger

I should be teaching Amabel about the letter G. But I have been looking at blogs instead. I think she is tired anyway because she is just quietly looking at a book. I am pretty sure she got a good 200 or so of her questions out this morning at Target and Shnucks and in the car, so I guess it's about time she took a breather. She often says to me, "sometimes my mouth just gets tired of talking." Rest little mouth of Amabel, rest!

So I have noticed some things about blogs today. Some people hardly ever post, usually girls. Some people post every day, usually guys. So I wonder if I am posting too often for everyone, almost all girls I am assuming, to keep up with. I also think my posts are too long, especially if you don't check in every day (but really, why wouldn't you? surely you don't have things to do!). I also notice that I read but I don't post. And when I do post; I feel like an uninvited guest. That's what I am really. No one sent me an email, I just hopped onto their site and read about all of their personal thoughts and feelings and now am going to comment on those thoughts and feelings. But there is an implied invitation by the very existence of the blog. Right? So I posted on a couple I've never posted on before. I feel weird because I represent something. I represent myself. I represent my husband. And in broader senses, I represent people at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, Presbyterians in general, Christians in general, Southerners in general, even Chi Omegas :) (it's been too long since I mentioned my "A+, classy" affiliation!). So whoa! I don't want to say something that makes people frown on the people I'm somehow connected with. I want to "use discretion" like my friend advised. But we're just human, folks. I may say something way wrong more than once. I will go ahead and apologize in advance. And I know people sure won't always agree with me.

So all that is to say, if you're reading, you have an invitation to post. It has been fun to see new people pop up every now and then. Maybe it's just me being overanalytical and y'all don't think twice about hitting "login and publish." But in case you were shy, in case you were "waiting for an engraved invitation." Here it is (this post). Not that there's much to comment on with this post, unless you just want to say "Hey, shutup!" or "Hey, you are so so funny and awesome and cool. Chi O's are the greatest! Love, your biggest fan, (your name here)."

I just got hit with question 201. Gotta run. Surely I'll have something interesting to say by the next time y'all check in! Here's some other people to check that don't often post but still have interesting things to say when they do:
my friend evie from highschool
my friend april from church
my friend jennifer from church
More to come, lots more questions coming from the well rested mouth just now!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

There's a Punchline at the end of this Post

Last week while my mom was visiting, she sent George and I out for dinner with her credit card while she stayed home to watch the kids. Pretty nice eh? We headed out early to shop for pajamas for me as my husband is a little weary of my current sorority tee shirt sleepwear, circa 1996. Yeah, gross. I found four cute pairs on sale at Gap (not Gap Maternity!) that should fit me for a while yet and still look alright after the baby comes. We swung on by a restaurant at the mall for a drink as it was a little early for dinner but I had to have a Cheesecake Factory strawberry lemonade (so good, you must try!). And after dinner at a great little place in Clayton called Remy's Wine Bar, I found myself "settling" for chocolate mousse for dessert only because it came with a raspberry sauce on the side. Normally, I tend to be pretty firm on "if it's not chocolate, it's not dessert." I actually may have asked them not to put the raspberry sauce on any other time. But for whatever reason, I am not so in the mood for chocolate these days but am really wanting fruit. This could account for the additional pound and a half I lost in the six weeks between my last doctor visit and the trip to St. John's yesterday. That's a pound and a half more down at 19 weeks! Woohoo! All you people who thought I couldn't get away with gaining just 15 pounds this time, I now have a 20 pound margin and only 20 more weeks to go (yeah, that's right, I get to trim a week off, the only positive to having to have C-sections)!

So anyway, I've been craving fruit yada yada yada, on to the doctor's visit (this is going somewhere). So my doctor's makeup looked really nice this time and I was 10 minutes early!! I know, I know, second trimester pregnancy hormones are turning me into some sort of alternate person! Anyway, all is going well until I am sent off to the lab to have tremendous amounts of blood drawn. My doctor made some sort of joke about bleeding me dry as she explained the many many things she likes to screen for. Whatever. So the lab tech is the frowniest person I've ever met, and lets everyone in the lab know, in case we didn't notice, that she is grumpy. I found this amusing as I am a world class grump and just happened to be in a great mood because I lost another pound and a half. So she snaps at me about not relaxing my arm enough and then says nothing as she extracts my blood for the next five minutes. I have no idea how much she actually took, but I was sore for the rest of the day. No big deal but I am wondering if it accounts for last night's late night craving.

Have you seen Junebug? Well, I wouldn't recommend it; it doesn't have a very good resolution. But anyway, there is a pregnant girl in the movie played by Amy Adams (who won lots of awards for the performance and was nominated for the Oscar) who talks about the cravings some pregnant women have for dirt and chalk and other such non-food substances. I saw the movie months ago. But last night, I was sittin' on the couch thinkin' "I can just taste dirt." You know when you get a real hankering for something and you can just smell it and taste it all of the sudden? Yeah, that's what this was, for dirt. So I checked it out on the internet and it is called Pica (named for the magpie which is a kind of bird that eats anything). It is said that sometimes it means nothing or sometimes it points to some sort of nutritional deficiency, usually anemia. So that is why we thought it may have something to do with having a lot of blood taken, since it was a passing "craving." And no, I did not indulge myself with a plate of dirt. Although laundry soap, wax, hair, ashes, matches, plaster, paint chips, and even cigarette butts were also cited as examples of what women might want to snack on. I feel better about the dirt.

In one of the articles I looked at, however, I was shocked and more than a little amused to find this statement (aforementioned "punchline") : "Geophagia is the consumption of earth and clay. Geography guide, Matt Rosenberg puts it into perspective, 'Most people who eat dirt live in Central Africa and the Southern United States.'" He then refers to it as a "cultural practice."

Really? Thanks, Matt Rosenberg! The South has some problems. We're aware of that. We also get blamed for a lot of junk that a few stupid people do that the whole region ends up getting lumped in with. But everyone does. But one thing we will not stand for is the accusation that we eat dirt! We do not eat possum. We do not eat squirrel. And we do not eat dirt. Matt Rosenburg received a friendly little email from me earlier today asking for a little bit of clarification on the matter. I mean, if there is some small town in Arkansas that has a dirt festival with a dirt eating contest every year, okay. But as far as this Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida girl knows, there is no "cultural practice" of the kind. Who knows how many people have looked at that site; it was the second or third one Google brought up. What must people think of us?! I guess I know what they think of us! Well, I just thought y'all might be amused. Anyone else heard of this supposed "cultural practice?" Anyone have troubles with Pica? I think it was a one time thing. I'll let you know if it happens again. Or if I hear back from Matt Rosenberg :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Taking Another Stab At It

Inspired by my sister-in-law's very impressive portfolio and interesting teaching style (click here for a link to pictures of her class making her model White House, very cool, and these are just kindergarteners!) , I have plunged back into homeschooling Amabel this week. I actually even made myself a little lesson plan which is quite the accomplishment for willy nilly me. There is so much that seems better suited for the classroom. I confess that I headed into homeschooling with a lot of pride in my brilliant child and the amazing learning feats we would accomplish this year. I cringe at remembering a lot of the red tape we all went through in elementary school: that one kid who never could find a pencil or his jacket or his lunch, people who would not get in line, people who didn't listen or in some other way slowed the rest of us down, etc. And I thought I would skip all that and just focus in on the learnin'. But I have realized that all that "red tape" is the stuff of life. If I had learned more patience with that one kid, I might have a little more patience in traffic! Had I learned some compassion for the ADD kid or the ones who just didn't understand ('cause sometimes that kid was me anyway) I'd probably be much more comfortable asking questions myself and would certainly be more patient with questions from others- whether those others are two, four, or forty. A classroom is just a great place to learn not only about God's world in science, math, history, and language, but about how He created people. What a great sampling of personality types, learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses! The social aspect of school is huge, not just in the sense of making friends and being cool, which is the poor argument often made against homeschool (the idea that your children will be social rejects if they are homeschooled). The maturity that comes from interacting with different kinds of people and learning how to get along with and love others different from ourselves is invaluable. It is a skill we will need for the rest of our lives.

So I had sort of over inflated education. It's not that I decided education is not important. My whole view though, was sort of a reaction against every school I had ever been to where I was never challenged. I feel very minimally educated in spite of the costly tuition my dad paid and the A's on my report card. So I had done a pendulum swing toward wanting to teach my child everything that could be known in the most thorough way possible. So, it's a great idea, but she's four. And at four, she needs some four year old buddies more than she needs to know the states and capitals or the parts of her face in four languages. On the other hand, I do want her to be challenged. My idea of kindergarten was color wheels and counting to twenty and learning to write the alphabet. And I know she is capable of more than that. But I have no patience, y'all. I have so much that I want Amabel to learn. I want it to be fun for her. But I don't want to take the time to get creative.

First of all, I'm just not real creative in teaching more than just the facts. I got myself the real swanky teaching materials from Veritas Press. It incorporates art, games, and music and all manner of learning styles in the phonics program alone. So for example, instead of a cartoon dancer or dog for the letter D, it uses a Degas print of a dancer. M was King Tut's mummy, E will be a Faberge egg, etc. (it doesn't present the letters in order for some reason). I like the art. Amabel seems to be really interested as well, and we often look up the artist and find his other works when we start a new letter. There is also a coloring sheet provided so that the child can familiarize herself with the artwork further. But there are other things that seem to be educationally red tape-y. I know that repetition is good for this age, but it also tends to be a little exhausting for Amabel. This is the same child who hated vacation Bible school because "it takes too long." It seems there is extra busy work and repetition that would better suit a classroom setting. With the one on one attention Amabel is receiving, there is no need for such a slow pace. That's okay, we can speed it up. But I find myself also cutting the "fun stuff." The fun stuff is like playing a go fish game with letter flash cards or making a craft to go with the letter. A's craft was cutting an apple in half and stamping it in paint and then all over the paper. I skipped it. P's craft was pointillism and I had no desire to get out paints and do dozens of eraser points all over a pansy shape to make a big purple blob. I don't know why. Maybe the prep and clean up for just one child. Maybe the fear of other child causing a catastrophe while the painting was in progress. Or, like a lot of material for a young child, the big introduction and explanation for five minutes worth of actual work seems like it's just not worth it.

That is the reason, well, that and Christmas, morning sickness and viruses, that we have taken a "little" break from school. But I have renewed energy, or resolve at least, to make school fun for her and get her ready for real school (whenever we can afford it). I have a creative spark that I am trying to fuel. I have new little calendar doo-dads. I have the aforementioned lesson plan. And I have a goal (another huge thing for me to come up with). So I press on to attain that goal. And I have high hopes it will make the curriculum purchase worth the price we paid as I cannot imagine attempting homeschool with any of the next children. I have learned that my gut instinct never to be an elementary school teacher was right on! I have also learned that having a well rounded education includes being educated about people and how God made them all different and special and worth loving. I hope we will find a school that values the whole package, a place where our children will be challenged and live up to their full capacity both for loving and understanding God's world and His children.

These are just my thoughts after diving in afresh today. Sorry if it sounds a little rough draftish. Input is welcome. And just to be clear, anyone else making the choice to homeschool, more power to ya! I just don't have the gift, and I think our child will do better in the classroom environment. It's been humbling, so of course, I had to share!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"I'd buy you a K car, a nice Reliant automobile..."

I don't know if it is the common practice of most people to name their cars, or if it just something that the people in both my family and George's family happen to do. The two cars that George and I drive now are nameless cars, actually. We are fixing to sell my nameless car and purchase a minivan to accomodate our growing family. I am not real fired up about driving a minivan, but I can't say that I have really loved my CRV either. We traded my 1997 Jeep Wrangler for the car I drive now exactly five years ago. It was also to accomodate a growing family as I was expecting Amabel and it did not seem reasonable to ride a baby around in a Jeep. I cried when we turned the keys over. The dealer was very sweet and promised to take good care of it. I have cried several times since, enough that George knows that we probably eventually need to own a navy blue 1997 Jeep Wrangler again if we can, even if it is 20 years old and can't be driven often. My Jeep's name was Toby and I loved that car. I bought it right after my freshman year in college when it was abundantly clear that my sister was not going to share the car my dad had bought for us to share in Auburn. I had been in a pretty bad car accident in highschool which involved a fairly nice settlement and my parents allowed me to buy my Jeep with that. I had to have my mom drive it home off the lot because I didn't know how to operate a manual transmission. But I taught myself by driving around my neighborhood in circles, stalling out and starting again and again until I got it. I had so much fun going to and fro and all over the Southeast in that Jeep for the next five years. It was tough to let go of it, especially because it pretty much represented my youth and freedom. I doubt I will love a car like that again. Besides, I have children to love now :)

Before Toby, and before the car that was supposedly partly mine that I only drove like twice and got chewed out if it wasn't parked back at my sister's dorm (God forbid she walk the hundred yards to get it from my dorm), I had a little green Volvo. This was in highschool, a year after the car accident which happened the week I got my learner's permit, and years before I ever heard of George. My Volvo's name was George though. It had one of those funny sunroofs that had to be cranked open instead of the kind where you just push the button. It made me feel safe after nearly dying when that guy fell asleep at the wheel and hit my dad and I head on. It did not have anti-lock brakes however, and when I slid into another car in traffic on the way to school because it felt like the brakes gave out (never can tell at seventeen, but I was and still am pretty convinced I braked in time), my dad, who had been even more shaken up about the accident than I, decided to sell it. I don't think I cried, but I was sad to see it go. We had a few George sitings around Nashville for the next few months, but I was driving my mom's brand new Honda Accord (which she named Jamie) and recovered fairly quickly.

Hondas have tended to be the family brand. Well, Hondas and Toyotas. My parents drove Hondas or Toyotas with the exception of the Volvos for a short time and the essential station wagon for a few years in the 80s. They still have Jamie (who is 12 years old now), a Toyota Tundra, and a Toyota Solaris too. The car we were in the accident in was a Toyota Corolla so I think I am slightly biased toward the Honda. George drove a Honda when we were married- a little grey Accord, with no airconditioning and a plastic Flash Gordon hanging from the rearview mirror, that he called "Shadow George." Shadow George got to the point where it was having all kinds of troubles and we sold it for $1000 cash to a girl who was fired up about having her first car, no airconditioning, squealing engine and all. George was sad to sell it as it was also his first car. For a while, the CRV was our only car and Amabel and I drove an hour round trip twice a day to take George to and from work. My parents were generous enough to give us my dad's old Camry which accounts for why we have two cars today.

I can't really think what I'd rather have. I mean, I certainly can't drive my Jeep around with three carseats. I wouldn't mind another old Volvo someday. And I guess if you gave me some sort of bright, shiny, SUV, I wouldn't complain (until I had to fill it up with gas). There's something about being 28 and driving a minivan though. It just doesn't seem right! I know, lots of y'all do. I know I tend to lament growing up kind of a lot. What if I could just embrace that van, embrace taxes and college savings and aging skin (does anyone else already notice this too?)?! Well, when we get the van, we'll have a contest and everyone can help me name it. Maybe that's a step toward accepting it- giving it a proper name and allowing it a little personality. I know it will be great for traveling and such; we'll have a great time riding along with Dora the Explorer in the video player. Oh well, it's not like I can go mud ridin' or turn the stereo volume all the way up with babies in the car anyway.

Hey just for fun, there is a funny list on Wikipedia (of all places) of songs about cars. Click here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Melancholy Strikes Again

So in case you haven't noticed, I am pretty moody :) I can go from despair to high hope in an hour sometimes. And pretty much from day to day I find myself fluctuating between praying for a will to get out of bed and getting up running and right into the enjoyment of the day. Rarely, and by rarely I mean never in the last seven years, do I find myself waking up happily and with excitement about what the day holds. But that is not to say that I don't find myself happily enjoying the day once I get into it. And I think I have been happily enjoying the days this week. So it is about time I had a panic attack. It is now 40 days until we are homeless and I am officially freaking out. The root emotion here is probably fear. And it is mixed with sad feelings. I sort of feel like I know how this goes. This goes the way life has gone for a while. There is a last minute panic, a sudden provision, and it is not at all what I hoped for. And I am sad because I am not more content with what I get. And I am also sad that I never get what I hope for.

Since we have been married, we have rented out: a one room apartment, a large overpriced apartment that was part of a big complex which we couldn't furnish, a duplex apartment 30 minutes away from everywhere we needed to be, a darling little house that was really too small for our family and more than we could afford anyway, and the gigantic house we are in now that makes me feel like a horrible person because I hate it so much (yet I know it is a tremendous blessing and am very grateful for it). But that last place sort of shows what I'm getting at. Having any place to live is a blessing is it not? There are people without a roof over their heads. So why am I so spoiled? It's not that I want a mansion. I have no desire for anything extravagant. I just want a home of my own. I know I am only 28. But I feel old. I have nearly three children and am called a "stay at home mom." Yet I have never had a home. We had saved to buy a home when we were in Birmingham. We were shopping around and it just didn't seem like we could afford anything. Then George lost his job, decided to take the leap to go to seminary, and we used up all of the savings on living expenses. When I think about how long it took to save that money and what a great job George had had with such fabulous benefits and how we still couldn't find something in our price range, my head starts spinning. How and when will we ever have our own home? Plenty of people never do. I do not know why this is such a big deal to me. But it has been a continuous heartbreak for me to pack all of our things and move nearly every year since we have been married always knowing that I need to ask before we paint or that there is no point trying to plant the things I'd like to have (if we even have a yard) because in a year or so we will either have to dig them up or leave them behind. And maybe that's true of a home that you own, but it's all part of the investment. Renters get no return for their stewardship. Every nail hole, every paint stroke, every accidentally spilled juice box is a deduction from the security deposit which is the only thing you can possibly hope to get back from all of the caretaking you do for someone else's home.

So I am real sick of renting. I was sick of renting three years ago. And the answer I seem to get to my prayers about pretty much everything seems to be "you can handle more." So there have been three more years of renting. And now, there is nowhere to rent. And there is no money with which to rent. And people who think they are being helpful say that we can just move in with our parents or something. And I think that if I am so weary of living in someone else's house without them there, I will just buckle under the pressure of living in someone else's home when they are there. And I think how we are a family, four people- soon to be five, and it just shouldn't be that we can't have our own place to function independently. But you hear stories all the time. I think about if we just put our stuff in storage and have no idea when we'll get it out. I've heard that story before. I think about us cramming into someone's basement and putting the baby in a crib in the laundry room or something. I've heard that story before. But those stories stink.

My real problem is that the story I expected and hoped for, most people's story, is that they get married and buy a house in the next couple of years and then start having children. And my story is nothing like that. My story involves scary twists and turns and a selfish heart that hates having to be dependent on other people for housing or grocery money or my children's clothes or hand me down vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers. And I have that irrational fear that as long as I really want something, I'll never get it. And that makes me sad and angry. Because I have no idea how to stop wanting to be more relaxed and settled. There is a lot of stress in knowing that someone else is footing the bill. There is a lot of stress in only being able to guess about next year. Of course, we never know what will happen. But to have a home that is more than a one year commitment, to have my husband working a job that can support our family where he is not always looking around for another, to feel like a dwelling and a city and a church are really a home and not just sort of where we are for now, that is what I do not know how to care less about.

Someone who likes to tell people how their feelings are wrong will think that I am a bigger jerk than I even think I am and tell me how I should "have an attitude of gratitude" or "count my blessings." Someone who isn't quite able to put themselves in my shoes or is so in my shoes that they feel totally overwhelmed and panicked too will say "something will work out," which demands me saying "I know," and feeling like I am really getting on that person's nerves. Some of the girls I know around here will probably say that they know how I feel when I know that they have it much worse than me and I have no business whining about any of this as they humbly bear their own burdens. I don't know how to be like them though. And I don't know how to have an attitude of gratitude. And I don't know that it will work out except that it will be something that I can handle in the same way that I could handle eating green beans at every meal for the rest of my life. And shouldn't I be grateful for the nourishment? Plenty of people are starving. Seriously. Practically, I'm sure that we will have somewhere to sleep on May 31st and that I will survive. I am sure that I will regret these attitudes tomorrow even more than I do now, as I already know I am coming across as a demanding and sorry for myself bi-otch. But remember how I value honesty and vulnerability? Yeah, so this is the junk you've got to wade through with someone like that. And somewhere behind the frustrated, grumpy attitude is the real me who is tired and scared and feels a little forsaken. I don't know, maybe that makes it easier to stomach this post.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kid Fears- Pun Intended

I can't remember being afraid of a whole lot as a child except kidnapping and sleeping over at my grandparents' houses. My grandmother was a pretty paranoid individual and thought it necessary to tell us about every kidnapping she heard of so that we would not make the same mistake as the victims. Those "mistakes" were usually things like going down the toy aisle at the grocery store or Target, using public restrooms, or playing outside, which didn't leave a whole lot of "safe" places. I can understand her concern as she thought of this herself, but if she at 65 had a hard time coping, imagine what it did to 6 year old me! I'm pretty sure the fear of her house was unrelated to her paranoia and more to do with a long, dark hallway that went past two large storage closets on the left, and even scarier, my step-grandfather's bedroom on the right. He was not scary himself, but his bedroom, where he often slept until well into the afternoon and snored loudly in through the night, was strictly off limits. Unfortunately, the hallway must be braved and the forbidden room passed to reach the bathroom. My sisters and I had several occasions where we chose to wear wet pajamas over contending with the corridor. At least it was avoidable. At my grandfather's house, we slept upstairs in a large room adjoined to the always locked attic. Through the wall was a separate apartment that my grandfather rented out, so there were often strange noises coming through at all hours of the night. The attic and apartment housing a stranger were creepy enough to the three of us, along with noisy window airconditioning units and cold,uneven hardwood floors, but the oversized bright red painting of a clown on the wall and a large eyed doll in a burlap dress that must've originally been some sort of novelty toy from a horror film were the big clenchers. Once our mother knew of our distress, the picture and doll were removed; but the attic remained and now contained the objects of our fright and who knew what else?!

Amabel seems to be developing her own fears lately. I am pretty sure the grandparents' houses are happy places for her, and she hasn't even a notion of kidnapping. Lately it's been worms. Worms send her into a panic: tears, screaming, running for her life. She remembers the worms in bed at night and insists that she can't stop thinking about them and will have nightmares about them if we make her go to sleep. One night I was able to console her by praying for all the baby birds and baby fish to find the worms and have good suppers. I encouraged her that if baby birds who come out of eggs smaller than Easter eggs can eat the worms, there is no way a worm can get her. But the problem is that the worms are finding their way into our basement. I am not sure how they get in. I am not sure why they come in. And they really are disgusting little things- the ones that are kind of segmented and curl up when you poke them. They don't seem to want anything, just to snuggle into the carpet and terrorize our four year old daughter. But the toys are in the basement. So the suggestion of playing with her toys is now a virtual death threat. I had been going down and "de-worming" the basement for several days when I finally decided tonight that the child needs a break. So the toys have all been somehow crammed into the very small bedroom which already houses two twin beds. And our very large finished basement, the one with the floor to ceiling shelving and room enough for ten twin beds is now stripped of everything but the soon to be relocated Thomas the Train table and our old saggy baggy couch. Incidentally, anyone wanting a five year old saggy baggy couch in khaki twill, let me know.

The other fear was realized earlier today and part of the reason why I chose to mercifully abandon the basement play-heaven (heaven for exhausted parents who need a little peace and quiet upstairs). We went to Grant's Farm today and were delighted to see all the new babies. We saw baby Clydesdales, baby buffalo and baby yaks, baby deer, baby ducks, and of course, a pen full of baby goats. The baby goats are not so baby anymore by the time September and October rolls around so the best time to go into the pen to feed them a bottle is in April and May while they are still smaller than an average three year old. They are actually, a lot of them, only about a foot high this early. So I had no worries about accomodating my daughter's request and purchasing two baby bottles at $1 a piece and allowing the children to enter the pen. Oh dear! August was very nearly attacked by about eight babies of varying size, but handled it quite well with Nanna (my mom) at his side. Amabel on the other hand, was approached by only one very small one and nearly panicked until she was able to yank the bottle away and flee. Unfortunately, she fled toward Nanna and the mob of kids who had just finished off August's bottle and were ready for more. My 54 year old mother, who is the last person in the world I can picture doing any type of lifting, somehow managed to hoist my 45 pound child, scrambling and flailing in a fit of tears with her dress up to her shoulders, over the fence of the pen to me. After recovering, the same child insisted that she wanted to go back and brush the baby goats. Ummmm, I think not.

She has been kind of a mess this afternoon up until even now as I write after both the goat and worm scare in just one day. Nanna has headed back to Nashville, so I think long naptimes in addition to an all out ban on the basement may have Miss Amabel feeling better in a couple of days. For now, I am just trying to be sympathetic, to remember my own childhood phobias, and to take her seriously. It's so easy to tell her that her fears are irrational, but it's also pretty easy (and much more comforting) to move the toys, give her a hug, and say what feels like a very silly prayer. I guess the hardest part is not to let her know how endearing and amusing the whole thing is from the eyes of an adoring parent.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Some Pleasant Surprises

So what did y'all think? I thought last night's American Idol was unusually pleasant. But for that reason, I think it was more like background music than that I was really paying attention to the competition. Of course, I always put distractions aside for Taylor's performance. I think he did quite well. And Elliot's performance was so distracting with all of his annoying gestures that I couldn't miss it. It's a good thing Bucky went out last week because he totally could not have pulled off this genre of music. I don't have a good guess for tonight because I think a lot of the competition has to do with the person and not so much the one evening's performance.

We went to the Botanical Gardens with my mom today, and that was also surprisingly pleasant. They have a new glass exhibit going up all over the grounds that will be up through October. There were some really interesting and lovely pieces. There are really cool pieces floating in the ponds that look like enormous brightly colored Hershey's kisses. There is another pond with a lot of shapes sprouting out of a boat that Aug and I decided was Noah's ark. There were a lot of other things going up- lots of busy gardners and grounds' keepers today. I will look forward to seeing the finished exhibit. I normally wouldn't be fired up about something like a glass exhibit, but it worked so well in the sunlight and among the natural beauty. It is definitely worth seeing.

We got some great pictures of the children among the artwork, tulips, dogwoods, and azaleas. And my mom complimented my outfit for the day! Someone asked me if I was expecting too which made me feel pretty good I guess, 'cause I must not be so big if she wasn't sure. Right? Or the other way to look at it is that she thought I am just a really chubby lady with a beer gut. She was a nice lady. I love friendly strangers. It definitely added to the enjoyment of the day to meet new people and have a pleasant conversation. I should inititate things like that more often. Usually if I am fortunate enough to have those encounters, it is because someone speaks to me first. Then again, children in matching outfits and a lady with a pregnant belly are great conversation pieces. Evidently, my accent is too. But someone has to talk first before we make it to "Oooohhhh, where are you from?" I always notice my accent is stronger when I am talking to people I don't know. That or I am just more aware of what I'm saying.

One thing we didn't get to do was try out the new children's garden and playground. It is only open on the weekends until May, so all you St. Loiusians can save yourself the trip until then if that's what you're going for. And dress down when you go. I was kind of glad it was closed as it is a very dirt-y playgound and we were not in outfits I would have chosen for a romp in the mud. We wore ourselves out even without the playground. Everyone's taking it easy this afternoon. And tomorrow, it's off to Grant's Farm! If it goes half as well as today went, I will have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why I Hate Shopping

My mom has been here less than three hours and has already made multiple negative comments, in the form of jokes, about what I have on. I know that they are not jokes because she keeps offering to take me shopping. She offers to take me shopping every time she sees me. She also always brings some of her clothes for me to have. I have told her repeatedly that I do not want her clothes. Bear in mind that though I am not small, I am also not 55 with "women's" style or sized clothing. I am 28. I wear a regular store "misses" size. I think she wants me to feel gigantic so that she feels smaller. Or something. I also think she thinks she is being helpful.

I went shopping for maternity clothes yesterday so that I would not have this problem. I hate maternity clothes. It's like they are all made for J. Crew models. I had some humbling moments where I tried on extra larges or asked the store girl if I should look in the plus size section. She was kind to say that plus size maternity clothes would swallow me whole. I can wear my regular size. It's just that there isn't a whole lot of room for the baby to get much bigger. And when I go up sizes into extra large, etc. there is plenty of room for the baby, as well as for Hulk Hogans biceps and a major breast enlargement. So what do regular sized people having twins wear? That is what I think I must be needing- clothes for people with humungous bellies and only slightly humungous everything else. And it's depressing that I am still two weeks shy of the halfway point.

When I was expecting Amabel, I made the mistake of going shopping with my mom almost right away for maternity clothes. My mother bought me all extra large tent type stuff insisting that I was going to be the largest pregnant woman that ever lived. So I have all this stuff that makes me look even bigger than I am that I have hated each go 'round. It kind of always goes that way with her. She is the champion shopper, a digger and a searcher. I walk into a store, look, and leave or try on a few things I see right away. I hate TJ Maxx. I hate consignment. I hate department stores. I want to see everything right away, decide, and be done. My mom second guesses everything. I hear things like "did you see this (ugly, gigantic tent of a dress)?" "well, I think it's cute..." or "just try it on" until I give in. And I come home with stuff I hate. Because it's very convincing. When I was seven, she convinced me that the Cabbage Patch Kid that I wanted was not nearly so cute as the one she wanted to get me. My dad intervened, but I always felt guilty that I didn't get the Cabbage Patch Kid that she liked. My older sister had a similar experience with a pair of shoes and a coat, only she did give in and couldn't bear to wear them. My younger sister has her fair share of stories too.

My mom was here about 10 weeks ago, right after we announced our news, and took me to the maternity store after eating at the Cheesecake Factory in the mall. I begged her to let me leave. I told her I hadn't even seen my maternity clothes in three years and couldn't even remember what I had. I refused to try anything on as it was pointless at eight weeks. She insisted that I was already geting bigger (my first appointment at 12 weeks proved I had actually lost weight) and bought me something like six shirts and two pairs of pants. I took it all back except the one shirt I had said I did like.

So at this point I have just "joked" back that I don't need her to buy me anything, that I have plenty of her favorite big clothes that hide my large and lovely size that I will start wearing right away. But somehow all of the "you look great"s and "you look really cute"s that I have heard over the past weeks have melted away and my reflection in the mirror seems to have uncannily gained about 20 pounds in three hours. Imagine what the dressing room mirror would say after all the "let me get you a bigger size" s and "that (clearly matronly and homely article of enormous clothing) looks great on you"s if I let her take me shopping. It's hard to turn down free clothes. But knowing that I will hate them all anyway and feel like a 300 pound whale once I get home makes it a little easier to say, " let's just go home and play." Okay, so she probably means well somehow. It just gets lost somewhere between "your ring looks tight" and "what about a tunic?"

Better get back to it!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Memo? Mission Statement?

Once again I have been AWOL. Sorry. I had this great post ready on Saturday about how beautifully dressed up for Easter our entire neighborhood seemed to be with all the flowers and fresh cut grass. I noticed it on a walk at 6am in the pink light of early morning and felt like I just had to share the glory of the day. Plus, I noticed that my entire 3 mile route is covered in soon to be blooming honeysuckle. Can you imagine an hour's worth (yes, I am that slow) of the world's loveliest fragrance?! But then, I got caught up in the day and in finishing Amabel's Easter dress. It really did turn out very nice. And as usual, she had managed to pull out half the hem by the time we got home from church. I even used two strands of thread! But I don't think it showed up in the pictures.

So I hope you all had a worshipful and restful Easter. George's sister was home for a visit and we all had a nice family day at his mom's house. My mom comes to town tomorrow, so I may be absent a few days again. I also may be even more exhausted than I have been after the bug battling, dress making, and soul searching I have been so overwhelmed with of late. Things with my mom and I don't always go so so well. But sometimes they do.

This blog is good for me because it makes me really have to look at myself: my pessimism, my anger, my doubt, etc. It keeps me moving forward as I am totally unable to be complacent when I see my own bad attitudes staring me in the face. I guess you can all tell I value candor and vulnerability. And I suppose if you are still reading, you do too. I'm feeling better about being kinda open and out there. I did consider renaming the blog "One Woman Freak Show," but I guess the current title will stand for now. I mention this because there are people quitting blogs to avoid conflict and having angry shouting matches on blogs and also because one of my best friends encouraged me to "use discretion" on here. I have been concerned about outing my true feelings about St. Louis or mentioning broken relationships that I am trying to restore. I worry so much about how I come across and what people must think of me. But this is just a blog. It's just Abby Edema trying to work and live and love God. I don't know what people expect really. But I guess sometimes I expect that I will be this delightful witty creature who writes lovely things that will brighten each of your days whilst humoring you and filling you with hope and glee. No, seriously, I tell myself that's what this should be. And I suppose that more than anything what it really is is a very real picture of the tension of what I want to be and what I am ( Romans 7:19). But I am becoming better (Philippians 1:6). I am restoring those relationships (or really, God is). I am seeking contentment. I am digging those pits (see "April Showers" post). Reality and honesty about sin is good. But being stagnant in that reality, not so much. Not talking about sin and struggles is fine too. But I just can't help it. Okay, so maybe I will change the name.

Anyway, I have been having a Jerry Maguire moment. This could be nothing but a memo to myself and total confusion and gibberish to you. Or it could be a mission statement, a clarification of what this pink page on the world wide web is all about. I hope you don't all have a Bob Sugar moment and fire me though. Keep reading, this is going somewhere. Eventually.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Oh the Injustice!

I have what George and others have called "a heart for justice." It probably comes from my experience with injustice. Without being too much of a downer or dragging anyone's name through the mud, I will just devulge that I had one parent with a bit of a problem with violence and anger, and another parent who let me believe I was the reason. When my parents later divorced, I was also designated as the one responsible. These are things I am working through. I think I am beginning to get somewhere! All that to say, I'm pretty sensitive about what is right and just. And because of that, I tend to overreact to "small" injustices. You know, 'cause I've had it up to here. But does that really even matter? If something is unjust, it is unjust, and if I am letting it really burn me up, that is just my problem. But it is still unjust. Here are some of the big ones, also somewhat humorous when you think about it, which I try not to:

When we lived in Birmingham, we lived in a duplex way out in the boondocks for economical reasons. Our apartment management company was in the swanky part of the Ham and didn't have a whole lot of concern for us country folks thirty minutes down Highway 31. We had several maintenance problems while living there, including a gutter that leaked perpetually causing a slippery mossy type growth on our front stairs and a dishwasher that was broken for several weeks, then half repaired and left with the wires hanging out (great little colorful toys for a two year old and early walking 10 month old don't ya think?) until it was replaced another several weeks later. My point is that the managers were unaccomodating and minimally fulfilled their job descriptions, if that (the gutter was never fixed in two years of our constant requests) . And when we moved, knowing the nature of these folks, I cleaned like I have never cleaned in my life. I scrubbed all the baseboards, fan blades, blinds, closet shelves, and cabinets twice. I cleaned the oven, refrigerator, shower, etc. to look as if brand new. I went down the checklist twice and cleaned like my life depended on it, as our $500 deposit did depend on it. (Let it be noted that dear dear friends aided me in this mad cleaning frenzy). One thing that was not on the list was the drip pans in the stove. I cleaned these a little, realized they are always replaced in apartment complexes because they cost about $3, and decided to let go of that $3 if it came to that and give myself a break. Several months later, we received a check from our apartment management company for $380. Hmmm..... Not exactly the $500 we had been expecting. It turned out that they wanted $90 for carpet cleaning services (seems like that is sort of ordinary wear and tear that they should accept, but okay) and $30 for drip pans for the stove! $30!!! I was so mad. I really lost it. I mean, I was crying on the phone with these people. I had the moving out checklist sheet. It was not on the sheet. And drip pans do not cost anything like $30. Their reply was that they had actually saved me a $50 fee because we "failed inspection" and would have been required to get new drip pans and have another rep come out for inspection if they had not "graciously" hired someone to do this for us. I mean, I was irate. I was actually pretty out of control. George called, and they really had nothing to say to him. They were merciless and rude and so hypocritical. We reminded them of the lack of help they had given with the gutter and dishwasher. They did a lot of just outright hanging up on us. Finally, we gave up. I am still irate. If you ever drive by a certain real estate company in Mountain Brook with dozens of drip pans concreted to the exterior of their building so that the door cannot even be opened, you will know I have exacted my revenge. But I won't.

So then there's Ebay. Aha! You've been waiting for this! This fall I ordered a Kelly's Kids outfit for Amabel for $14 plus $4 shipping. George and I refer to the ebay shipping price as the gouge factor because the charges are ridiculous ways the seller contrives to add to a built in profit. And $14 is pretty high to pay for a used outfit, I know. But this outfit was darling and described as in very good condition with no stains, rips, etc. and it was money my mother had given me to buy clothes for the kids. So the outfit arrives and looks seriously as if it has been squirted in several places with mustard! I knew we were in trouble because already you are dealing with an unscrupulous person when the damage is so obvious and they have stated there is none. The seller said she would return my money, less shipping, if I chose to pay to send the outfit back. I felt stuck. George and I had had the experience of dealing with a dishonest seller in the past. When we left neutral feedback commenting on how the seller had misled us about the nature of the item (our nice way of pointing out his blatant falsehood), the seller retaliated with dishonest negative feedback for us. It makes me mad that there is no rule existing that demands that the seller leaves feedback upon receiving payment. Afterall, that is when the buyer has fulfilled their side of the bargain. The seller still has the responsibility for the item to arrive and to be as described. But if the buyer has a problem when she receives the item and the seller has not left feedback, to run the risk of conflict means to put their feedback, essentially their Ebay reputation, on the line. So as a buyer, it seems there is little you can do without risking negative feedback. But on top of that, it really burns me up that a seller can refuse to accept any responsibity for return shipping when they have not been honest! This lady lied to me about the condition of her item, and I spent $6 (yeah, in reality it only costs like $2 to ship a child's outfit) for nothing. But she got her item back, with no consequence, and was able to sell it again applying her "gouge factor" twice! Oooh, it burns me up!

So a few weeks ago, I ordered a pair of Gymboree capri pants for Amabel for $5. I paid a ridiculous $3 more in shipping! The pants were described as "like new." And when I received them, they had a two inch rip in the seat that had been badly mended (Don't try to pass off shoddy seamstress work on me! I know shoddy seamstress work! I invented shoddy seamstress work!). I felt stuck again. But I remembered the injustice of the last time and refused to take it lying down, come negative feedback or high water! The girl told me she would refund the price of the pants but would not help with shipping costs either way. I said that she should help with shipping since it was her error. She then asked me to send her a picture of the "supposed rip" (treating me like the dishonest one when she hadn't ever even disclosed her name). I told her it was not a "supposed rip" but a rip that I saw as soon as I opened the envelope and that we do not have a digital camera but that I would be happy to take a picture with a regular camera and send it to her once I used up the film and got it developed. Then I got up on my soapbox and told her about responsibility and justice and fairness and totally made a freak show of myself, requested her address and a full reimbursement. She finally said, "This is not worth it for $5 pair of pants. Just send them back." To which I replied, "Right, but I need your address." Then I didn't hear from her. I had to email her through ebay so my email address didn't show up. I think she had forgotten about the address part and was ignoring my emails because she didn't want to deal with me anymore (I wonder why?!). But I finally got her address and sent the pants back. I made sure to take pictures first and to get delivery confirmation on the shipping. I did have to email her again two days after she received the package to let her know I knew she had gotten it. Then, I got my refund of $5 for the pants, and the $1.30 that it actually cost me to ship the pants back (she held on to that gouge factor profit!). At this point, neither of us have left feedback. I often wish I had left negative feedback for the Kelly's Kid outfit exchange. I have trouble with regret too, but that is another issue... So should I let the feedback go without warning future buyers about this seller? Did I over react? Okay, yes, but wasn't it still unjust?

Does anyone else get fired up about such "small" things. Or should I pack myself up and head off to therapy? Well, it feels good to share and to vent. I am a "venter." Once I get it off my chest, I always feel at least a little better. But of course, your validation is always welcome :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Bug, the Birds, and Bucky

I am thinking no one noticed, but I'll go ahead and apologize for my absence of late. The stomach bug has continued to make its rounds, making a full 12 days that someone in the Edema household has been sick. And I won't be convinced it is all over until Saturday night, as it seems to sneak up on people and even attack the same person twice. It's a bad bad thing! It has made me very grumpy. Alright, so I am a typically grumpy person. But I have found myself just waking up mad with this thing to haggle with. I even broke down and had coffee one day just to help me cope. Mmmm mmmm, love that coffee. Probably gonna need a lot to get me through Sunday. Fortunately though, my sister in France has released me from my promise to have her daughter's dress to her in time for Easter, and I have finished my friend's daughter's dress, except the buttons which are going on as soon as I finish this. And Amabel may just have to wear last year's dress. However, I have high hopes that I can get the new one I have worked on for this year done before Sunday, and am not a stranger to the idea of pulling an all-nighter to make it so. Remember my big announcement about Easter being on its way two and half months ago? Yeah, this is me... always scurrying at the last minute! Didn't plan on working around so much sickness though!

We did manage to squeeze in a nice birthday celebration for George's mom when we thought the virus was in remission (the party was however, followed by late night sickness from some members in the family). We ended up getting her tickets for a Cardinals game later on this season, four tickets for George, his mom, his sister, and me. It was kind of more than we had planned on doing, but she does a lot for us. And I think we will all enjoy going together to see the Cards beat the Mets. It really is nice to have the home team usually being the winning team.

And now, I would just like to comment on how my three least favorites were in the bottom three tonight, and how finally Bucky is gone! I do not know what has taken so long. I guess they have to start with a certain number and work their way down, but it really seems like we will all be wasting our time until it gets down to Chris, Katherine, and Taylor. I'll even say that I think Kellie will hang in there until right before then. But mercy on us all if there is another Queen like night! What is up with all the boring performances? Not that I could do any better myself, but I do reckon I could pick some better songs. I actually do enjoy the song Elliot picked last night; he just seemed like he couldn't keep up with it in parts. And as usual, hurray for Taylor! And good bye to Bucky, at last. Sorry, April!

Monday, April 10, 2006

April Showers

We got our church newsletter from our now officially "old" church in Birmingham today. I say it is now officially old because the transfer of our membership is recorded in the minutes published for this month's issue. Well, it is a great church as is our "new" one here in St. Louey. But I thought the letter from the pastor this month to be especially encouraging. I thought I'd put the gist of it on here for y'all as there is no link to take you directly to it.

He's talking about being "sorta spiritually dry" and says that he has "been reading off and on in a great little book by one of the old Puritans, who generally were tremendous spiritual doctors of the soul. In A Lifting Up for the Downcast, William Bridge at one point suggests that the best and most faithful thing to do in such times is dig pits and pray for rain....the Christian, IN FAITH, must dig pits and then pray for God to send rain into them so that the dry and parched Christian can be refreshed."

He goes on to explain what he means by "holes" that will catch God's blessings, "the faithful use of the means of grace: the Word of God, the sacraments, and prayer." He is honest about how fruitless these things can seem sometimes, that even though we may feel like we are not getting anywhere, "if we do not grow weary in doing good, we will reap."

Nothing new or earth shattering here, but maybe just because it is written by someone who I have never seen as particularly human and weak and struggling (though I have known this is true of all of us), it seemed really tender and hopeful. Even if you don't know the author, I hope you find it encouraging as I did: "exercise your faith and dig a few pits, and pray for the Holy Spirit to rain blessing on your dry and parched soul. God will send showers of blessing sooner or later. He who has promised is faithful, and he will do it."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pottery Barn Kids...

For people with way too much extra money!

What is the deal with the Pottery Barn Kids people anyway? I mean, don't get me wrong, it is the cutest little playroom and bedroom and bathroom stuff. I think my aesthetic is a little more pastelle-y toile and ticking as opposed to their bright and funky flowers, fairies, and firetrucks, but it looks so so cute all coordinated, down to the smallest detail. But seriously, who is able to spend $60 on a set of kids sheets or $350 on a boat shaped sandbox or $650 on a toy kitchen set? Seriously!

We got a little newsletter thing with our college fund savings statement this month and there was a little chart about how much to save each month depending on your child's age and what type of college you plan on sending them too. Just for kicks, I thought I'd let y'all know our worst case scenario. August is almost 3, and the projected cost for a current three year old to attend four years of college at age 18 is $102,000 for a public university and $247,000 for a private college. If we want to have the cost covered, we will need to set aside $300 a month every month for a public college, or $740 a month for a private one. Now surely this is wrong! That means we could more easliy buy two Pottery Barn boat sandboxes every month for August's entire childhood than send him to Covenant College, or an ice cream truck playhouse (yes, this exists, only $198!) and all three carnival games (also exist, $29 a piece for an estimated thirty minutes total playtime ever) every month than to send him to Auburn! And all of this is the assumption that there will be an 8% annual return on our savings. This really isn't the worst case scenario. Because for Amabel, it looks like we would have to start putting away over $845 a month to pay for a private school; that's one play washer and dryer set ($250), one SUV playhouse (really? yep, it exists, $140), a pretend pie cabinet ($150, a pie cabinet? do any of you even have a real one of these?!), pretend dishwasher ($200), and both a medium and small Abigail jewelry box ($59, $49 for all your child's jewelry storage needs)! I feel like I'm on the old Wheel of Fortune where they had to use up all their prize money on those bizarre showcases with the Buddha statue and giant teddy bears! Of course, George thinks the estimated costs are exaggerated. I'm just sayin'... things cost so much because someone somewhere can and will pay it. Who are these people who can or will afford $200 ice cream truck playhouses? And at that, who are the children who would enjoy playing in an icecream truck playhouse? And furthermore, will any of us be able to afford to send one child to a two year community college, not to mention all three or four or more to a four year university, if these costs are accurate?

Then again, I seem to remember reading something in a Dynamath or Weekly Reader in the sixth grade about a pair of jeans costing $500 in twenty years (well, I remember the $500, I'm not sure about the projected year). It's been 16 and I haven't paid even $100 yet, so I guess sometimes the economy's bark is worse than it's bite (or something like that). My good friend Elizabeth had a baby boy this week, so congrats to her. On the down side though, to send him to Auburn, she needs to start saving around $225 a month (plus another $300 for her three year old and $425 for her almost six year old). Or she could buy him the Pottery Barn Kids sleigh crib, a silver keepsake music box, and the matelasse bedskirt, coverlet, and bumpers for what it would cost to save for all three children just this month! Good luck with that, Elizabeth! Good luck to all!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

But on the Other Hand

Well, after that post, which really seemed a lot lighter at 2:30 this morning, I thought I would write the post I have been meaning to write about what I like about the people up here. And I am being honest! I kind of tend to go through my days with the two guys on my shoulder scenario that you see in cartoons. Only one guy is a really gracious guy, the kind of person who says you should just be yourself, do the best you can, love God and enjoy the ride. And the other guy has equally good things to say about working hard and pursuing holiness and not complaining or feeling sorry for yourself. But you can see where the problem is with both of them. One guy might tend to ignore problems like laziness or apathy and the other problems like legalism and perfectionism. I think I tend to be more like the second guy, and therefore I love the first guy. I love mercy and graciousness, but I still fear failure and laziness. Well, we probably all struggle with this to a point. But in the South there seem to be a lot of extra rules for society. I think social rules are good because they help us know how to behave, how to make others feel welcome and comfortable. But they can make people also feel unwelcome and uncomfortable when they don't measure up to the rules. If you don't have the right clothes for an occasion, if you don't know the etiquette involved with certain events, you can feel really out of place. I think it's easy for us to pull rules into our Christian lives- ideas about how we should educate or discipline our children or run our households that might be great but are not the only way or the "right" way. But in a culture of rules, it was easy for me as a "rulesy" type person to adopt these ideas as rules. I remember talking about this standard I had adopted, which I thought was the "right" way, to someone here last year who told me point blank to "throw the books away," to take all the advice I had read or heard and trash it. I thought she was crazy. She said rules will either puff you up (because you are meeting the standard) or pull you down (because you can't measure up). I didn't get it then. But being in St. Louis for a while seems to have helped me. I don't see a general standard that everyone is trying to measure up to. Instead I see a "live and let live" sort of attitude. Christians here are concerned about righteousness and truth, but they aren't telling everyone else exactly how that will play out in their lives. I never like text book sort of descriptions of childbirth or nursing because I have rarely heard of people who experience these things "by the book." I certainly didn't. In the same way, text book Christian womanhood, textbook Christian motherhood, etc. seem hardly the same for any two of God's creatures. It is hard when there is not a list of rules that will guarantee perfect results. It is hard that we have to pray and use our discernment to determine the best way for ourselves or our families when it may be totally different from what someone else decides. But I love that the people I know up here recognize that they don't have the only answer. I don't feel anyone making black and white issues out of things that cannot possibly be black and white. And that has been a problem I've had, always wanting to know exactly what something is, black or white, right or wrong. I have been humbled to realize a lot of my "white ways" were simply matters of opinion and even that some of my opinions have changed! I have been freed up to disagree with some of the "white ways" that did not set well with me before, free to search for other ways that might better work for my children or for me. For example, did you know that it really is okay if your four year old doesn't read? Or that a two and a half year old isn't a delinquent if he is still wearing diapers or sucking on a pacifier?! I didn't. I feel a lot more free to be imperfect up here. And it could have nothing to do with cultures. It could have more to do with churches or the seminary or friends. Who knows. But I am grateful for a chance to figure out what works for me. My campus minister used to say "love God and do what you want." I think I am finally learning what he may have meant by that.

The Ugly Truth

So I usually try to be honest. And what happened was that so many people started just sort of stating that I did not like St. Louis as fact. And I didn't like that I came across that way. Because I always want to come across as cheerful and optimistic. But I am not cheerful or optimistic. We can all see that. That's just how I am. And I don't really like being that way. But I can't really say that I think I can change it. Because I tried to change it with St. Louis. I wrote my nice long post about all the things I like about St. Louis which you may not have even read because it was so long. I told my sister-in-law two days ago that I wasn't really that homesick anymore and that St. Louis was growing on me. Sorry Katie, I lied. I wasn't "out and out" lying. I was trying to be positive. But one thing about me is that I cannot live with a lie. I am up at 2:30 in the morning after having a horrible day because I lied. I have been trying to be who I thought people wanted me to be, and who I want to be. But it isn't me. And I cannot tell a lie. I am not positive. And I do not like St. Louis. I like the free zoo and Grant's farm. But I would much rather that it were a free zoo somewhere in Alabama and Lee's or Jackson's farm. NowI am going to sleep.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What to Give

American Idol was totally boring tonight. Did anyone else think it was bizarre that Bucky sang a Vertical Horizon song on country night? Maybe there is a country version of the song that I am unaware of (as I generally hate modern country music). So I don't care who loses- Bucky, Ace (okay, I hope it's Ace), Elliot- they all really bug me. And no one seemed to really shine tonight, not even the usual showstoppers.

It occurred to me today that my brother's-in-law birthday (how do you correctly make that possessive?) is in two days. Thanks George. I told him two weeks ago to be thinking of gifts for his brother and mother whose birthdays are both this week. And since Amabel has also come down with the stomach bug, and I have three Easter dresses on deck to complete soon, and I am a girl, I am completely useless when it comes to buying 26 year old mens' birthday gifts. I feel like we always get him some CD he specifically told me about when I come to him with my cluelessness or George gets him a book or tobacco, both of which seem more Georgish gifts than Rickish gifts to me. So y'all have to help me out with what to get a 26 year old single guy who works all the time and is generally not a real "gifty" person from what I can tell- meaning that he never seems either excited or disappointed about receiving gifts (or could this be because he expects nothing from us?!) though he seems to really enjoy giving gifts. And Rick, if you read this, you are more than welcome to put in a request. And also, I'm pretty sure your gift will be a little late this year :) While you're at it, dear readers, I could use some recs for gifts for my mother-in-law. She's generally a very practical person, not the type person you get bubble bath or clothes for at all, and we seem to have run the gardening and cooking ideas into the ground. I think we've overdone books too. What do y'all get your moms and mothers-in-law? The clock is ticking... Help!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Still Groggy

No one has quite awaken from hibernation yet, I guess. Not many posts out there on other blogs. Not many comments on here. And as soon as I was all zippety-doo-dah about spring, I got the stomach bug. Boo! I still feel icky. I hope I will be back to my jolly old self (ha! ha!) soon. I am so so grateful that no one else in the family has gotten it. I hope you all stay clear. And Annie, if you read this, I hope your family is better. I cannot imagine what I had times four (or did it get to all six of you in the end?). Bless your heart! I am thinking about nominating Annie for one of these moms of the year contest that the daytime shows have going on for Mother's Day. I was thinking she might could get a new car and a trip or something out of the deal. Except that I think it would totally embarrass her (as this post might too) I totally think she deserves it. And y'all totally feel free to nominate me. I mean, having my kids out of pajamas by 11am most days, limiting their pizza and hotdog consumption to no more than twice a week, and making sure they get to bed by at least 10pm has got to count for something. I know, you all wish you could meet my standards!

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