Thursday, June 29, 2006

What's in a Name

I'm getting a little slack about the whole secret identity of our baby thing. I may just spill the beans to everyone in another week or so. I figure enough mystery swirls around the future of the Edema family without us trying to be all mysterious. But for now, the secret is being kept... sort of. One thing we'll never tell is the name. The name is the thing that, as we learned with "Amabel" and "Augustine," can put you in the way of a lot of unsolicited criticism. I don't do well with criticism. I know that's a weakness. But I think I'm like most people in that I spend a good bit of time criticizing myself, and having the confirmation or expansion from others is just not something that I consider very helpful. I can still tell when people don't like Amabel for a name too much. Usually though, people find that it is a beautiful name that suits a beautiful child very well. It means "lovable" and I think she is living up to her name quite well. "Augustine" is named for the saint but goes by plain August to avoid an ugly mispronunciation. We pronounce his full name like uh-gus-tin, but most people want to say o-gus-teen (yuck!). Some of the family got it into their heads that he goes by Auggie sometimes, another variation I don't care for. But Amabel herself called him Baugus for a while when he was first born so I reckon he's learned to answer to anything. I have a similar type name, one that can be turned into hundreds of crazy puns and shortened forms. Augustine, Abigail, lots to work with there.

I put a lot into choosing a name. And naming this one is rough. George and I both had fairly uncommon names for our generation. My name is among the top ten every year now, pretty consistently, but when I was born, the doctor was horrified at my parents' choice. The only Abby anyone had heard of then was Dear Abby. I never got the cutie personalized barrettes and my name was almost never spelled correctly, but on the other hand there was only one me. Now, I hear people calling out "Abby" nearly every time I'm at a park or shopping center, and it is rarely misspelled. I figure I can make Amabel some personalized barrettes if she wants them; it is fun to be the only you. George is a common name among older men, but seems to be increasingly less common. I only knew one other George in all my different schools while growing up. I am surprised at the amount of Augusts I hear about, but social security never has it ranked higher than the high 500s in the last 50 years.

In addition to considering popularity, I like to consider meanings. I have a tendency toward vanity so I wanted to avoid names that meant "beautiful" etc. with Amabel. I felt like I wanted to give her something to strive toward besides beauty because it is so easy to put too much into that pursuit in the first place. I hope her character and her choices will make her a loving girl who is easy for others to love. And Augustine means "majestic" but is really named more for the namesake than the meaning. Saint Augustine, in George's words, protected the church from error and was well ahead of his time in his theology and practice. I'm not real sure what all that means, but I've listened to enough CD lectures on Augustine to just say "Okay, Honey." Plus, majestic is good, don't ya think?

Well, anyway, what to do with this baby? You can't help because you don't know what it is. And let's face it, none of you would have picked Amabel or Augustine. So I'm on my own because George gets super sick of the baby names book. But listen to some of the gems I've seen in there lately:

For a Girl:
Hausu, which means "like a bear yawning upon awakening"
Heltu, which means "like a bear reaching out"
Hoala, which means "seed-filled club"
Lusela, which means "like a bear swinging its foot when licking it"
Luyu, which means "like a pecking bird"
Pakuna, which means "deer bounding while running downhill"
Takila, which is a form of Tequila
Toski, which means "squash bug"

For a Boy:
Hesustu, which means "picking up a yellow jacket's nest"
Kono, which means "squirrel eating a pine nut"
Lanu, which means "running around the pole"
Lise, which means "salmon's head coming out of the water"
Lokni, which means "raining through the roof"
Molimo, which means "bear going under shady trees"
Momuso, which means "yellow jackets crowded in their nests for winter"
Nokonyu, which means "katydid's nose"
Telutci, which means "bear making dust as it runs"
Tilmu, which means "caterpillar coming out of the ground" (or Tukuli which means "caterpillar crawling down a tree"- I think those would be good for twins)
Tiktu, which means "bird digging up potatoes"
Wilu, which means "chicken hawk squawking"
or, of course, Utatci, which means "bear scratching itself"

Evidently, we have the PC/ post modern name book. And no, I seriously didn't make any of those up; they are all in there. I really like that we know the bird is digging up potatoes specifically and the bear is swinging its foot while licking it ('cause "bear swinging its foot" is so overdone). Y'all vote for your favorite for each; but seriously, don't you think some of these could go either way? I would totally name a girl "katydid's nose!" Any other interesting names you think we should consider are welcome. Oh, and I guess this list sort of demonstrates why considering the origin of a name can come into play a lot of times too!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I Need This!

I've been laying low for the sake of adhering to the old adage "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." The lack of comments on my recent posts makes me think we were all thinking the same thing. Well, no progress on the home search. But look what I found online today. It even plays the fight song! That's pretty awesome. They have tons of these for the school of your choice (why the school of your choice would be anything other than Auburn is beyond me, but I do have an unusually high IQ and try to remember that everyone isn't as smart as me-kidding, of course!). You can also purchase a carseat to match (links by clicking)!, what will you think of next?! I also stumbled across this website in my google search for "Auburn University layette." It is called Amy Baby and is run by an Auburn alum who just happened to be a Chi Omega in the pledge class above me. Kudos to Amy, she seems to have done well for herself and her baby things are darling! What I'm really looking for is just a plain white unisex layette gown with a little Auburn logo on it. I have tons of Auburn stuff for both girls and boys so don't ask me why I want more, but a baby born in the midst of football season needs to be especially prepared. Wouldn't you agree? War Eagle, y'all!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ten Tiny Testimonies

For everyone thinking yikes or yowsa after that last post, I thought I'd check in again to let you know I still have my wit(s) about me. The situation has not improved, but three weeks is some time so we'll have to just keep looking (looking looking looking- that's from Finding Nemo). I suppose I could use a little reflection time on things I'm grateful for, and perhaps it will encourage you all to see God at work in our family even if it is not with that one big thing we are asking for just yet. Just so you know, my intent in publishing my struggles is always that of encouragement. Different people respond to different things, but I think for some it is helpful to see that other people struggle with the same doubts and fears and all kinds of feelings that they do. I have a tendency to think of other people as flawless and way more together than me (which, let's face it, is probably at least a little true- the "way more together than me" part), but if I can see someone for who they are in the muck of things and feel a little more like it's just part of being human instead of like it's psychotic and deranged, I feel a little less alone and more like this is just what God puts his people through to accomplish his purposes. Plus, when things do work out for our family, as you have all reminded me they will, you will have a vivid testimony of God's faithfulness to cite in your own time of doubt. Here's some "tiny testimonies" in the meantime:

1) We sold the CRV! Hurray! I have sort of hesitated to be whole heartedly thankful for finding the new van because of the major financing we had to do on it. They didn't want to give us much for the trade in and refused to go down on the price. George was wise to decide to sell it on his own. It made me terribly nervous, but he managed to get the dealer to come down $1500 on the van and (just yesterday) sell the CRV for $1600 more than they wanted to buy it for! And now of course, we will just pay off the financing. So you can see, it worked out very much in our favor to have patience. If only there was some area in my life that I could apply that lesson in patience to right now....

2) Guess what they have in St. Louis? You never will. It's a Books-a-million! It's way up north at St. Louis Mills, the outlet mall. I had heard of it but never been there because it sounded too far, but guess where we are subletting now? Way up north! I went to Concord Mills in Charlotte with Jennie and we have Opry Mills in Nashville. It registered with me that both outlet malls must be owned by the same company as they are set up very similarly and have many of the same outlets (plus the whole "mills" thing; I know, you'd think that would be a clue). And I thought to myself, "if there's a Books-a-million in Concord Mills, there must be a Books-a-Million at St. Louis Mills." And there is! And why do I care so much about Books-a-Million? Because inside every Books-a-Million is a Joe Muggs Newstand. And inside every Joe Muggs Newstand are the greatest chocolate chip cookies in the world! I'm coming, cookies! Mmmmm, I can just taste them!

3) My swanky new cell phone. I already pretty much knew that my sister in law is the cat's pajamas. I mean, she just is. Then she goes and renews her cell phone plan and they tell her she can have another phone and number on her plan for free or some kind of really great price and so she gets it for me! I can take pictures and access the web; I can call people.... I actually have no idea how to do anything but call people because I've never had a cell phone before, but George has already hijacked it to take pictures of the crazy fat birds (I mean really fat) that roll around in the dust in the back yard where we are staying. So number 3 -my first cell phone, number 4 -my ever thoughtful and generous sister-in-law, and number 5 -morbidly obese birds kicking up the dust beside the patio (it really is funny).

6) If you have to live in someone else's house with all your stuff packed away in storage for an indefinite period of time, this is the way to do it. This little off campus seminary community is like college with families. I mean, I guess that's exactly what it is. Everyone's hangin' out, all the kids are playing, even just going to your car provides a moment of interaction that was completely lacking in our old suburban neighborhood where everyone had big fences and pulled their cars in and out of the garage. We totally know our neighbors here better in one week than we knew our other neighbors in an entire year. Of course, that is because the only time we ever even saw any of them was on Halloween. So a two minute trick or treat stop versus a weeks' worth of in and out and playing outside. There is not supposed to be much chance of an apartment opening up in this little neighborhood, but we're on the list just in case (I think we're second though).

7) Everyone is praying for us and trying to help us. I always have a very hard time accepting help, even rarer is the occasion I just come out and ask for help. I feel blessed to be surrounded by loving people with initiative. We haven't had to ask for much of anything, people just are praying or bringing meals when we move in or out or actually physically doing the moving in and out alongside George. And I am managing, though maybe awkwardly at times, to accept help- with much gratitude.

8) Comic Relief. I just got up to grab a sip of Coke, walked into the kitchen and heard a loud *thunk,* and looked up just in time to see a little flurry of feathers and one of the chunky-birds flying back to the bushes a few feet back. Those funny birds. I'm sure he's fine, he was cheeping rather embarrasedly but other than that, I'm sure his big belly protected him from any bodily harm. Also, the other day a guy called me back about an apartment and asked me what my qualifications were. I guess he could have meant what my stipulations were, but for most of the conversation, I felt like he was kind of interviewing me. You know, 'cause $500 apartments have such an elite status, you can't just let anyone in. In general, we seem to know a lot of funny people (you know, you attract people who are a lot like you- did I mention we know some really good looking people too? And sharp, lots of sharp people among our friends). The jokes about living in our van down by the river or shopping for just the right bridge to live under help break up some of the tension and remind us that at least it won't come to that.

9) My sister has a friend who has agreed (and is excited) to take flowers to our grandmother every week or so. I don't know how much I have said about my Nannie, but she is in a nursing home. It is a very nice one, but her husband, who certainly means well, has her in a private room when she is the most socially energized person I have ever known. And the rooms are left plain so the family can decorate for the individual's tastes. But all of our efforts to bring nice things over to make the place a more pleasant environment end in her husband taking them back to the house for when my grandmother "comes home." But we all know she never will come home. And I fear the plain white walls and lack of interaction with anyone other than her husband might be somewhat depressing to her even if she doesn't realize it. I try to write to her often and my parents, who are in town, visit her every week. She doesn't seem to know where she is or whether or not she has had any visitors even in the past ten minutes. But I think that even if it is on some unconscious level, having nice things about and times of interaction could be very helpful at least in keeping her from getting worse. My sister's friend lives very near the home and actually used to be a florist's assistant. So she is going to bring flowers to her, with our limited budgets in mind, when she thinks they need to be replaced. We are pretty sure her husband doesn't take home fresh flowers because he does realize she will at least be there a little while longer. I'm so glad my sister is chipping in with me and that she was so eager to do something too. Her friend has already gone once and said that she didn't realize it was mealtime but went ahead and brought the flowers into the cafeteria. She said that though she was only bringing the flowers to one, all of the others around who had been quiet and to themselves before started talking to each other and were visibly cheered by just one of them receiving the bouquet. Incidentally, I got the flower idea from an article, "It's Angels' Work" about a group of gardeners who started bringing flowers to hospice patients, in the May/June issue of Cottage Living.

10) Baby clothes. Can't say much about it, 'cause you people are sneaky in your attempts to try and find out if it's a boy or a girl. But I have managed to win some darling things off ebay at fabulous, no miraculous, prices. I sort of regret telling y'all about the ready to smock stuff as it would appear some of the great deals I got were kind of a fluke! Seems like things are going for about twice as much as they were a couple of weeks ago. Unless of course, you are all buying stuff to give to me; and then I say "Bid, bid like the wind!" (that's a little twist on something from The Three Amigos)

Please do keep praying, if you feel so inclined, that our family will find a home. Absolute musts seem to be: legal occupancy for five, washer dryer connections ('cause there's just no way to take three kids and the laundry to the laundry mat, and we do have our own washer and dryer), reasonable proximity to church, school, and a Bank of America (George could possibly transfer branches), a safe neighborhood, affordable rent, and preferably a yard for the children to play in. And if we're just going for the longshot, since it seems to be that way anyway, we would definitely appreciate: a fence around the yard for my fearless children, central air (especially in this last ten weeks of pregnancy), and a dishwasher (but hey, that's just a crazy bonus, nice for sterilizing all those baby bottles and things). Oh and trees, how I have missed having trees (again though, we can survive without them). Feel free to pray above and beyond what we actually need. If you know somebody that is offering a free mansion to the sorriest suckers out there, don't hesitate to let us know!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

home sick

So I grew up pretty spoiled: private schools K-12, a reliable car to drive when I turned 16, clothes for the new school year when I needed them, a generous Christmas, a monthly allowance to provide a little spending money, etc. The thing is, I never knew I was spoiled. My idea of being spoiled was going to the private school, driving a brand new swanky car at 16, getting clothes whenever I wanted whether I needed anything or not, an ultra over the top kind of Christmas spent at some exotic destination, and money whenever I wanted without having to do chores or anything in exchange. I didn't know people that had that life, but I guessed it existed. Kids on tv had that life. My dad seemed to have a notion of people living that way, as if maybe he knew parents that were doing that with their kids. And of course, by comparison, my life seemed pretty modest. Anyway, it took me until just recently to realize how spoiled I was, even maybe compared to my friends who I thought were living the same reality as me. I regret assuming that friends would want to go out to eat often in college, like they had the same amount of spending money I did. I regret thinking I really needed Gortex boots to walk to class on wet days or a new dress for every sorority formal. But those seem like such obvious things. I wonder how much more I demand that is not really necessary.

We are looking for a house to live in right now. Although I would love to rent a charming little bungalow on a tree lined street with hardwood floors and quaint little architectural details, it is certainly not a priority. I don't think it is wrong to have tastes and to spend money on things we enjoy or appreciate. Our problem is that full time sudents don't generally have money to do that with. And that's okay. What I'm unsure about is where the line is between making do with what we have and realizing we just don't have enough to make do with. It's an age old question isn't it? I find myself sort of pushing myself around saying "oh wah, get over it!" People asked us if living in George's mom's house was an option and I just kept saying that George's sister was home now and there's only one bathroom and that it would be a little too crazy. But in the back of my head, I was saying "oh wah, suck it up." And then we went and stayed there the night after we moved out of our old house and I slept on the couch and George slept on a futon and it was fine for one night, but it totally confirmed that we absolutely could not live there. And yet I still think I'm being spoiled as I write this. How can I know whether I am being spoiled or just realistic?

It wouldn't seem so puzzling if we could ever actually find a place. Everywhere we can afford or even dream to afford is a two bedroom. I have no problem cramming all three kids into one bedroom. The problem is that the city has these codes that determine maximum occupancy, and most two bedrooms max out at four, many at three. If we actually magically find a house or apartment within our price range that will allow us to put two children in the same bedroom ( we will probably just have to explain that I am really fat or something because there's no way they will let us put three kids in the same room) as we did today, it ends up being rundown and a little "sketchy." And here's where the battle within really starts. Should I really be afraid of a house next to a house with a bashed in door that backs up to an alley? Am I really afraid, or am I just spoiled and snotty to think I'm better than that? I suppose whether I am afraid or not is beside the point because I probably should be especially as the mother of young children. One of my young children remarked as we did our drive by that the house was "kinda tacky." And that, as hilarious as it was, made me aware of the ideas that I have that are so evident that I am passing them along to my children. Why is the appearance of something so important to me? Is it just how God made me or is it snobbery? If there wasn't an alley and a house with a beat in door, would I feel any better about the house?

On the one hand, I'm a twenty eight year old with nearly three kids that I stay at home with and I want a home of my own(dammit!). On the other hand, God isn't and hasn't given me that so it feels like I'm being whipped into shape and I need to get over it. That I'm not over it and can't seem to get over it makes me feel even more beaten. I suppose there is a difference between having a secure and comfortable place to live and always wanting more compared with moving from house to house year after year and never feeling quite settled in. It's easier to understand why, but perhaps equally problematic- I'm still not content with what God is doing. And if it's not cruel of him, because we know his character is not cruel, then why does it feel so cruel? And anyone else in this situation, would they find it cruel or merely inconvenient? I seem to have stumbled into a land of ever content and faithful people in St. Louis. By contrast I am the most discontent and whiney person imaginable. So not only do I have this situation that is tearing me up, I find the torn up me repugnant and unpardonable a million times worse than anyone I know. And the only thing I can say to that is "I can't help it." I feel like a little kid, and that's what little kids say, with all sincerity and desperation, I just can't help it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Calling All Cooks

The other morning my dad offered me some Dunkin' Donuts coffee commenting that it is ranked among the very top by Consumer Reports. My dad swears by Consumer Reports. I find it hilarious that he uses the same people to advise him on everything from cars to shampoo to microwaves (and microwave popcorn) to coffee. What are these people not claiming to be experts on?! I actually value their car ratings and weighed them as we shopped for our van recently. I guess the idea that they are equally objective and accurate about coffee is a little too much for me. Let me say that I also feel this way because I have had Dunkin' Donuts coffee and I am not quite sure what the big deal is. I have never actually had it from the store, nor has my dad I'll wager, and perhaps that makes a difference. In general though, even when it comes to Cooks Illustrated, I don't always put a lot of stock into food recommendations. I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to listen to what a bunch of other people say on matters of taste. Because the whole thing is, it's taste. A whole bunch of people are running around saying that Pepsi Cola is a tasty drink. I will have to say that this is just simply not true for me. My brother-in-law has challenged this, wondering if I don't just have negative associations with Pepsi. And being easily swayed because I don't know myself (see how it all comes back around?) I have settled for Pepsi a few times in the past year or so and I really do find it pretty much undrinkable. A whole bunch of other people are running around saying that mushrooms are not gross or that green bean casserole is delicious. Again, I find these things to be simply untrue. I realize I am the only person in America to hate green bean casserole, but my point is that I think food ratings are sort of weird and subjective. I do appreciate the comments, like when they say a chocolate cake is too fudgy and then I know I will love it because the denser and richer the better or that something is not salty enough because I always try to cut out as much salt as possible. Anyway, that being said, it should be pretty clear that I am a very picky eater. I love the idea of being a "foodie," something my friend Jessie confessed recently. It would never work for me though because there are too many things I just flat out don't like. I do, however, very much appreciate a really great recipe or a good cup of coffee or a great restaurant. I love my grandmother's meatloaf, Cooks' smashed potatoes, Rebekah's roast chicken and pesto (oh, and her parmesan dip too), Panera Bread's hazlenut blend, Joe Muggs' chocolate chip cookies, Mellow Mushroom pizza, Traditions' (of Auburn) honey mustard, Phillip's (of Brentwood, TN) pasta salad, salmon, cheese grits, fresh fruit, and pretty much anything pumpkin. Yeah, most of those things are eating out sorts of thing, I know. That's my problem. So here is the big "calling all cooks" post you've all been anticipating since I mentioned it a while back. What do y'all have in your repertoire? I mention the things I love because I think it might give insight into which of your favorite things I might also like. But maybe it's just random. Anyway, if you have a recipe that you love, pass it along to me and the other twelve people who read :) I promise not to say mean things about it if I don't like it! I mostly need stuff to make for supper, but I've never turned away a recipe for dessert :) And just to be fair, here's the recipe for another favorite around here; delicious homegrown tomatoes will be ready before you know it:

Tomato Pie
-4-6 tomaotes
-6-8 basil leaves
- pie crust (storebought refrigerated or homemade, either one)
-1.5 c. mayonnaise- or less, light might be better too (another thing I can't help but love is mayonnaise)
-1.5 c. white cheddar or monterey jack cheese

cook pie crust at 350 for 5 minutes. slice tomatoes and pat dry with a paper towel. make a layer tomatoes inside pie crust and sprinkle with flour, salt and pepper, and several basil leaves. continue layering until tomato runs out or dish is too full. mix may and cheeese and spread over top. bake at 350 for thirty minutes. yum! it can easily stand as the main course.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bringing Home a New Friend

I'm heading back to St. Louis tomorrow, the last leg of our tour de middle America. I so wish I could have found the enrgy to head down to Birmingham. But Father's Day beckons us home. Plus, that's an extra six hours (round trip) I am just not willing to drive. Travelling is that thing that always has me wishing of I Dream of Jeannie powers. *Blink* You're home. Oh well, five hours of Dora the Explorer (plus Amabel's recap of everything that happens) and boring Kentucky and Illinois highway is completely bearable when George is at the end. I have felt so calmed from all the housing and financial fiascoes of the past months, I am a little nervous that they too are at the end of tomorrow's drive. But for a while at least, it has been nice just not to talk about it. So I won't.

Nashville has been a better time than it usually is. I feel like God must have just put His hand on me, which is the type of thing I hate when people say but I have somehow just not been as upset as I usually get from being here. In fact, the most upsetting thing was that we went to the fabric store yesterday, The Children's Corner, which is the fabric store especially when you are in St. Louis where people don't sew for children as much. I actually like The Smocking Bird in Birmingham a little better, but Nanna doesn't come with her checkbook to The Smocking Bird! So what was upsetting? Evidently there is some huge sewing expo going on at the Embassy Suites near the airport, which I am convinced does not actually exist because I drove my sweet children around for 45 minutes this afternoon trying in vain to find it, and all of the fabric from the entire store had been taken over there 30 minutes before we got there! The more than redeeming thing about no new fabric for Amabel's birthday dress or the new baby is that there is another fabric store fairly close with a lot more fabric, just a wider range (not exclusively for making children's clothes) that also carries sewing machines. So while I browsed through bolts and bolts of cotton prints, my mom went back and made friends with the lady who runs the sewing machine center. We had called the day before to see about trading in my machine. They asked what model it was so they could look it up in the blue book. Who knew there was a blue book for sewing machines? Well, they couldn't even find it in there. They said it was pretty much worthless as a trade in. But then again, I would have to agree.

Let me tell you about my machine. I got it when I first learned to sew, the fall right after Amabel was born. We weren't sure that I really would like to sew, so we (my mom and I, for my birthday) bought me a less expensive, as in $280 instead of what can end up being thousands of dollars, "student machine." The thing about any type of "student" product is that it is crap. Seriously. I dated/was good friends with guys who played guitar all through highschool and always thought it would be fun to play. They would try to teach me stuff but I had no way to really improve without my own instrument. So my mom decided to get me a guitar for Christmas but didn't want to invest a lot in it if I wasn't going to really take it up. So she got me a piece of junk student guitar from Service Merchandise of all places. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand her line of thinking. But what I have learned after the guitar and now the sewing machine is that the student versions are so crappy that they are far more difficult to operate which means you are shooting yourself in the foot as a novice because you are trying to learn a new skill on a very poor and much more difficult to use instrument. It is like how I learned to drive a manual transmission on my friend Paul's old, tempermental CJ-7. You pretty much had to put all of your weight on the clutch and then jam down the gas before your leg gave out and the clutch came out. Needless to say, I stalled out again and again and that was a little like what riding an automated bull thingy must be like. After driving an old Jeep, or even a new Jeep which is how I really learned well, driving a Honda with a manual transmission is the weirdest experience. Who knew it could be so easy and smooth? When I practiced and practiced on that junky guitar and then picked up a friend's nice instrument, I was amazed that I didn't stink near as bad as I thought. I really could hold the strings down! But I didn't really stay with the guitar. We still have my "student" one, but it is just too hard to play. Maybe if we ever did have a real one I'd practice. So what you have to figure is that I must really love sewing if I have done so much with such a bad machine. I have actually thrown it several times. The glass on my sewing table got broken in the last move and the wood underneath is not very strong. So my machine has also been bouncing all over the place as I press the pedal. And oh, the pedal! It has to be sort of jammed in to go, like a go cart or something, and then it's off. You can sort of let up to make it slow down some, but you pretty much start off at full speed ahead. So with the violent vibrating (the thin wood makes it really problematic, but really it just shouldn't be bouncing!) and the inablilty to sew at less than eighty miles an hour, I have had no control over my machine. I think I have improved a lot over the past four and a half years, but I have sort of reached a stalemate with my skills and my machine. I have tried to learn new things like applique, but it is difficult to applique without an actual applique foot or stitch and at eighty miles an hour.

So my mom made friends with the sewing machine lady. She said she was interested in a Bernina because I had told her that was a really nice brand. The lady said "Okay, those start at around $1000." So my mom said "Well, is there something you could recommend if you didn't want to spend quite so much?" And the lady said "No." I think there was a short and sort of awkward stare off and then: However, she did have this one that had been the floor model of a machine that was recently changed and therefore the particular model was "discontinued," so she was selling this last one at a discounted price, like way less than even half price. And if I had a little way to pipe in the Alleluia chorus right now I would. Because I pretty much have a $1000 machine with a 20 year warranty now. No, not pretty much, I do. My mom recalled that she had told me she would upgrade it if I got into sewing- this was, of course, when the lady who sold me my piece of junk "Huskystar" promised I could trade it in for an upgrade- and said if I liked it, she'd get it for me. And what's not to like? It can go slow. It can also go fast. It has all sorts of functions that are designed to do what you need instead of all the stupid makeshift instructions for manipulating the machine and fabric to sort of do what you want after a lot of seam ripping. And it doesn't bounce!

The only thing is, I'm afraid my vacuum cleaner will be a little jealous now that I have a new appliance that I love more than it. Sweet sweet sewing machine. It is a beautiful thing. It's not a Bernina; it's a Pfaff, Bernina's (which is Swiss, I believe) German competitor. The sewing machine lady described them as "the Roles Royce of sewing machines," and I reckon it's the closest I'll ever get to the Roles Royce of anything (except maybe chocolate). She seemed very amused by my stories of my old Huskystar and explained that Husqvarna machines are not actually made by Husqvarna, the quality tool company. It is sort of like the old Honda Passport tricking everyone into thinking it had a Honda engine when it really was just an Isuzu Rodeo with the Honda name on it. That's great if you want an Isuzu or a Japanese sewing machine. But I felt a little tricked. I have wondered why I have never encountered another store who deals Husqvarna machines except this little one I took my smocking lessons from. Another thing that is all very clear now. Well, if anyone wants the Huskystar, I'm thinking of putting it on Craig's List for cheap, just to get a little money for fabric since I never got to the Children's Corner. I'm not sure what a fair price is, but if you sew the occasional curtain or pillow and nothing more, it might be something you could use. Do I hear thirty dollars? Twenty? Ten? Y'all let me know what you bought yours for if you got it at a yard sale. It has served me, not well, but tollerably anyway, these last four years, but it is time to move on. I told my mom I think it might be like going from driving an old Geo to a new Mercedes. Of course, I have neither driven a Geo nor a Mercedes, but I guess you get the idea. Thanks momma!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Random Thoughts on Self Awareness

Have y'all seen The Family Stone? I think it is just now out on video from being in the theatres at Christmas. A lot of people seemed to dislike it because the family was "so disfunctional," but I thought it to be quite a loving and pleasant family and only tollerably disfunctional. I related a lot to Sarah Jessica Parker's character. She is being brought home as a girlfriend, soon to turn fiance, for the holidays and the family is none too happy about this. At one point the dad sort of defends her and says that she just seems not to know herself very well. She has a lot of perfectionistic tendencies and even dresses for perfection with no room for self expression. I obviously could never be said to dress perfectly, but I do understand the idea behind trying to get everything right so no one can disapprove. She can't let anyone disapprove of her because she has no idea who she is if she is not acceptable to everyone. And when the family doesn't accept her, it really burns her up. Well, the family doesn't even try to accept her; they are hostile from the beginning. Except Luke Wilson. Luke Wilson convinces her that she has "freak flag, [she's] just afraid to fly it."

Anyway, I realize or remember every now and then that I don't know myself very well either. I overextend myself and am surprised when I hit a wall. But shouldn't I have an idea of my mental, emotional, and physical limitations? I hear someone say something about themselves- the way they learn or how they handle certain things, etc.- and I think, "how do they know that? I have no idea if I'm that way or completely opposite of that." I agonize over any kind of personality test, not because I'm really afraid of getting something wrong, mostly just because I have no idea. People say to just go with your first answer, but my first answer is usually "Aaaagh!"

So I have no idea how people know themselves. I am always kind of excited when I realize people know me. I don't want to be this person who says "let's talk about me." But it would be really interesting to see what other people have observed and could help me see. Anytime someone says "you would get along with this person" or "I knew you would [or wouldn't] like that," I am both really interested and confused. I think "How did you know? What else do you know?"

Well, I'm not sure anyone else has this problem. I bring it up only because I have learned something new about myself. It is something very small and silly, but it is almost a treasure to me because it is something I can put my finger on. I get homesick. I mean, I can't really be homesick when I have no home. But travelling for this long makes me want to settle down. And thinking about that makes me remember all the camps and retreats growing up that I enjoyed so much less than I would have because I was homesick. Sometimes I didn't know that's what it was, but there was always this sort of nervousness and uneasiness. It's all very clear now! So perhaps that explains why moving to a new region of the country and moving to different houses several times is so nerve racking to me. I mean, I guess it is to anyone, but I really just don't bounce back like most people. Now that I realize that even staying at my best friend's house or in the house I grew up in, while having a great time is still stressful, I feel like a little less of a freak and more like a normal person who just likes having a home and doesn't do well with sudden change and displacement. There are people like that, right? I suppose it is one of my many "freak flags," but at least I am aware of it now.

I guess I sound a little like a baby. Babies cry but they don't know what's wrong. They are just somehow upset. I think that is true of me a lot. Babies have parents who can anticipate their needs and care for them. My sister said she felt like a mean mom this morning making her baby take a nap when he didn't want to. I told her she knows he needs a nap even though he doesn't think so, and the reason he was crying so much was probably evidence of her accuracy and not his insightful rejection of his mother's mistaken diagnosis as she seemed to think. I am so grateful that God knows all of my needs and promises to provide and also doesn't question his decisions when I make a big enough fuss. And yet, I still fuss anyway. A lot of times it is my insightful rejection of His mistaken diagnosis. Only it's not so insightful on my part, nor mistaken on His.

I'll probably hear he crickets chirping again on this post. Who knows if it makes any sense. Bottom line, I'm like a baby who has no idea why I am upset or what the best solution is, but somehow I still fall into thinking I do. And some good news is that I have a new piece of the puzzle that is the many things that upset Abby. It's always nice to know yourself a little better, even if it is something bad. You know what GI Joe says, "knowing is half the battle."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Postcard from Charlotte

I'm not actually in Charlotte anymore; we left this morning. I am at my parents' house in Nashville now. My sister is also here with her new baby. It should be a good time. George is leaving in the morning though and Amabel especially is really upset about that. I am pretty upset myself, but then, if we went back with him, we'd be crammed into his mom's house and miss out on time here with my family, so it's best to stay the week out as we planned. Amabel loves her grandparents, so I know she will be fine, it's just the anxiety that comes with knowing things are fixing to change in a way you wouldn't have chosen- kind of like my attitude the past few months, right?

We have had a wonderful time travelling together as a family. I mean, actual hours in the car are not my favorite way to spend the day. But there were many moments where I just sat in the car riding gratefully along just because we were all together. Seminary families, and probably all families really, don't often have the luxury of several days together without Daddy being gone for long spells of working, studying, or going to class. George was also very generous to give a lot of the free time to me, meaning that he took on the kids and said "sleep in and get some extra rest," "go shopping with your friend," "take a nap," or "talk to your friends at the wedding without worrying where the kids are every second." It's in thinking about how blessed I am to have George that I begin to feel helpless without him; I think that may be where Amabel is coming from too. The other morning George was running all the trash from the car over to the trash before beginning another day of driving. Amabel said "Mommy, Daddy's great. He does so much for us." Yep, she's only four, but her consciousness has already grabbed on to knowing who it is that makes her feel so secure and loved in life. I'm really glad my children have such a loving and giving father.

Well, this post is not so much about Charlotte. Father's Day is coming up though. And George's birthday was just on Friday. I guess it's appropriate to honor the man of the hour (or week) on one's blog: The man who drove all miles from St. Louis to Grand Rapids to some retreat place an hour away from Grand Rapids and then back to Grand Rapids to Charlotte to Nashville- all save for the three hours Katie drove on the way to Grand Rapids the first time and thirty minutes I drove somewhere in Ohio. The man who got nothing but cards and cake for his birthday because the trip and move had so consumed me I hadn't found time to shop. The man who is returning from our family's first ever "vacation" early to work and register the cars and sell the old car and begin looking for a place for us to live etc etc. The man who never complains and always finds compassion and sympathy for other (okay, me especially). The man who daily lays down his life for Abby, Amabel, and August. The man who all my words could never honor enough. The same man who also now has a really cool pair of Ralph Lauren pants with tennis rackets embroidered on them. Hey, they were on sale $20 from $165! And they're cool too; you just have to see them!

Oh yeah, and Cahrlotte was fun too :) It was really good to see old friends. Thanks for everything Jennie Jennie!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Postcard from Michigan

You know how y'all get frustrated when you try to post a comment and it doesn't post and all your work is lost? That is what happened to the entire entry I wrote from yesterday. Boo!

Well, anyway, mostly I was saying thanks a lot for not shooting me. That was meant to be sarcastic. But then I wanted to seriously thank everyone who lended yourself or her husband to us for help on moving day. Particular and neverending thanks goes out to Katie Sue, the greatest sister in the world, who stayed long after I had maxed out from pain and stress and sent everyone else away (yes, I really did this) to help George pack the POD until the wee hours of the morning, woke up and did errands with my children the next morning so I could get more rest, helped me clean the house until three o'clock in the afternoon, and then drove our van halfway to Michigan. I know I sound like I am accepting an Academy Award, but in truth it is a far greater achievement to have moved and cleaned out and driven to Michigan in 36 hours with a six month pregnant lady and two rascally children. And none of it would have been possible without Katie! I am kind of used to fear of an emotional breakdown of sorts or to fears of not being able to pay bills or buy groceries - both fears were hovering as we worked to move out of our house; one thing I am blessed to have rarely even thought twice about is my health. I never get sick, and in spite of being a generally whiney person, have a fairly high threshold for pain. But for about twenty four hours during the crunch time of moving, I was really afraid of having to be hospitalized or losing the baby altogether. It may have been an irrational fear, but I appreciate George's and Kaite's sobriety and concern and all the extra work they took on to insure mine and the baby's safety. I was nearly unrecognizable due to fatigue and swelling on Friday, but thanks to what has probably added up to be gallons of bottled water and hours of putting my feet up, I am "de-puffing." I still have nervous moments over the baby, but it is moving and kicking more now so I think it has just been tired too.

We have gotten a lot of down time in Michigan. It has been great for the children and I to meet friends and family we have heard so much about, and to now be able to put faces with names. We have also enjoyed being reunited with those we have only met once or have not seen in a while. The weather is beautiful too. How nice to be able to rely on nature for cooling instead of the old AC. Actually, nature has it about four degrees too hot for the prego, but for everyone else it is absolutely perfect. And with all the family around, I haven't had to do a thing. My kids are occupied, my meals are made; it's fantastic! I actually went out to Target yesterday just to feel normal; it had been too long since I'd done an errand! Today I'll do one more act for the sake of normalcy and travel munchies, make rice krispy treats! We'll be back on the road again tomorrow. Off to Charlotte and more reunion and people taking care of me (right , Jennie? ha! ha! I'm kidding, my fellow prego. We shall make men grill for us and order pizzas!).

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