Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parting

I just wanted to thank you all for prayers for our family and especially for Nannie. She never regained consciousness and died at about 10:15 this morning. Momma was holding her hand and reading Psalms 23. We had all gotten a chance to say goodbye. Momma held the phone up to her ear and let my sisters, my cousins, my aunt, and I, everyone who was not there, say what we wish we could've said in person. I didn't really know what to say. I told her I loved her. I thanked her for loving me and for being my Nannie. I told her I would see her again. I told her I would miss her.

She was the mother of five- Carole, Christine, Ernest (that's Daddy), Elaine, and Ross. Grandmother to five as well. Great grandmother to nine so far (with one on the way- my sister's unborn baby). And friend to many.

I am so glad the memories I shared brought back your own memories of your own dear grandparents. And I am so glad y'all shared those with me. I have been thinking along the lines of what Michelle said, about something of hers that I would like to have. It has been so long since she was home, so long since I was in her home, that I can't think what it would be. Maybe when I am there, something will catch my eye. One thing I have thought of is her cookie jar. She never baked cookies herself, but it was always stocked with Oreos or Grasshopper cookies or Fudge Striped cookies. And the cookie jar was really an ice bucket I think. Oh, she'd not like me telling everyone that! There was an old notebook with sheet music in it that she used to let us look through to pick songs out for her to sing when she tickled our backs before we went to bed at night. I wonder if I might could find it? But I would think that these things would be treasures to everyone and not just me. Or maybe she thought of all of this herself and had something in mind for each of us.

Thank you all so much for your kind words and prayers. The funeral will be on Friday. My sister is coming home from France with her family. And my other sister is coming down from New Jersey with hers. It will be the first time in years that we have all been together. We are planning to all (except husbands who have to go back to work and school) stay in Nashville for a couple of weeks and I know there will be a lot of happy times in there too. Both my niece and nephew have a birthday to celebrate during the visit! And of course we will celebrate Nannie.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reflecting

This is not about regret. I recently thought about relationships and if there are any I would regret, any I would wish I had worked harder at or reconciled. I always want to do more for my husband and children. I just get so much from George. And I don't give him nearly as much back. I take for granted that he will always be around, and I hope when the children are less helpless, I can give more to George. I hope. My children. My parents. My sisters. My grandparents. My friends. So many people to love and cherish and pour myself out for. And I am so selfish. But God is gracious to give me love for others.

I miss August. As I predicted, Amabel, being the jolly, inquisitive, and animated little girl that she is, maintains her position in the foreground always. The baby, being tiny and so needy, gets constant attention as well. And August, not minding time alone and adoring his sister beyond what words can begin to explain, usually stays pretty well out of my way. Not that him being around would be out of the way. But he had some sort of nightmare or something last night that had him screaming and inconsolable for quite a while. We ended up watching a Mickey Mouse video together at like eleven at night. The whole time I probably drove him crazy with all my kisses and squeezes, so conscious that these moments are rarer and rarer and that he, more than the girls, will not always be mine. Sure, it's twenty years or so from now, but he will take a wife someday who will and should be more dear to him than me. But not for now. For now he is mine. And already he says "I love you" less. And already he thinks hugs and kisses are the start of tickle fights. But that's okay; I'll take what I can get.

Things are going so much better with my parents. I really feel that there has been so much healing there. I know it will only get better. And my sisters, though so far as to be not even in driving distance, are dear and close, at least in spirit, all the way from Belvedere, New Jersey and Billom, France.

But my Nannie, my grandmother, is now very old. Her first husband was Daddy's father and I never even met him. I also never met Momma's mother. And Momma's father, who was very old then, died when I was nine or ten. So Nannie has been my one grandparent for most of my life. She came to visit us when we lived in Florida and would go to stay with us on trips to Disney World. Or we would go to the beach or to the zoo or to the park to feed the ducks. She always took lots of pictures and always one under the china berry tree in our yard. She loved the china berry tree. We would go all over with Nannie in Nashville too. Her second husband owned an old amusement park and she would take us to ride the rides and play the games and visit with all the other old folks that were still working from when the park was in its heyday. She had a little charcoal grill that we would take to the picnic area at the park (not Fair Park, the Warner parks in Nashville that I have mentioned before) and we would roast marshmallows and put them on peanut butter crackers. And she always had sweaters in the trunk of her car in case we got cold. She used to laugh because we thought she had everything either in her car or her purse. I remember being in disbelief when she didn't have any glue on hand. We would go to the dragon park sometimes too and she helped us climb the large mosaic dragon there. There was a checkerboard tiled on the dragon and at least once she brought checkers so we could play a game. I think she was the one who taught me to play checkers. She had a little red table with checker board painted right on it. We would play checkers at her house or dress up in her girls' old clothes (and wigs!) or play with her little dolls from all over the world. Sometimes we would set up huge tracks in the spare bedroom and played with all my uncle's old cars and trucks. Or she would let us help her in the kitchen. Once we ground up a bunch of ham in an old fashioned meat grinder for ham salad (I think?). It's funny what I remember.

I have dozens of memories like that and I mention them to George often. A few months ago, he told me I should write them down for her. I used to write to her about twice a week. She lives in a nursing home now and has lost almost all of her own memories. She doesn't seem to know us anymore, though being the polite and demure Southern Chi Omega that she is (all said with a grin, because you just have to know my Nannie!) never lets on. She just enjoys company. And I hope she has enjoyed my letters. I have not written as much since Elspeth was born. As a mother of five, I am sure she is very understanding. Momma would say she has no idea whether I'm writing or not because she doesn't even know who I am, but it is important to me. I had begun the letter with all the memories (usually I just write about the latest news) but it became pretty taxing to go through all of that when I was so conscious of the fact that she would not remember. And though she is still with us in body, in many ways she is gone.

Momma called this morning on her way to the hospital where Nannie was taken during the night last night. It is so hard to comprehend exactly what has happened, but she is on life support. Her living will is pretty particular and eliminates the possibility of her being kept alive artificially. But for now, she is being kept alive in hopes that she will respond to treatment and be able to keep herself alive in another day or so. They do not really have a lot of hope that this will be the case and are thinking a decision will be made tomorrow about turning the machines off. And so I have a headache. And a heartache. I do not even know how to pray. And I have a half written letter telling her all the happy things I remember of her that she may never get. But she was there. She thought of me before I came over and bought strawberries for strawberry shortcake because she knew it was my favorite. She thought of me when she cooked broccoli and kept a piece out for me because I don't like it cooked. She thought of me when I went to Mexico on a missions trip in high school and gave me spending money and a little pouch to keep pinned inside my clothes (so no one would steal the money, another grin for Nannie and all her worryin') and I brought her back a piece of hand painted pottery and wrote the card in Spanish- she got a kick out of that. She thought of me when I went to Ole Miss, where she had lived her best years as a Chi Omega, to be an RUF intern and had me come to visit before I left and told me all about her time there. That was not so very long ago and probably the last time she seemed completely herself to me. But she floated down the aisle in my wedding, more beautiful than even I looked, though I later found out she thought she was just going to church. She cooed over Amabel and held her as a baby, though she has only been able to admire August and Elspeth in someone else's arms. Momma always says, "And Abby made that!" showing off what the baby is wearing. Nannie says "Oh, Abby sews? She did a beautiful job." She does not know it is me sitting beside her. She cannot really think of us anymore. But I will think of her for the rest of my life.

I am not sure if she will be okay and come off the machine or if she will go in peace in the next day or so. I wanted to write before it was final, a way of working through it for myself and a way to honor her in some small way while she is still here. My only regret was that I didn't finish this one letter, but she was there, and I will see her again.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hoping in Hollywood

I'm pretty ticked off. I spent hours last night typing out recipes. Where did they go? I don't know. I mean, I am sort of ticked at the lost computer documents fairy (you know, the ugly step sister of the lost sock in the dryer fairy), but I know it's partially my fault. Because we know that this happens sometimes. And to prevent it, all we have to do is click "save as draft" every now and then. And I thought of that. With only half a recipe left to type right before dinner, I thought maybe I should just click save as draft and finish when I came back. And then I thought those three fateful words "what's gonna happen?" It's a rhetorical question that really isn't so rhetorical. Because what's gonna happen is that you will have wasted precious time and energy typing recipe after recipe while your dear husband makes dinner. That's right. He made dinner. And now it's like he never did. Okay, I'm really not that dramatic y'all! But it's really annoying. And I don't feel like trying to type them all out again today. So this might not be much of a post.

I know I've mentioned reading Jane Austen to the girls when they are babies. But what about Aug? Aug stressed me out. He was not easy to deal with. So he was more of a watching a mini-series baby than reading a book baby. We watched two then that were new to me at the time, both done by the BBC. The first one was Wives and Daughters which George got for me without either of us having ever seen it because we trusted the BBC name. It was really good, and you are welcome to borrow it if you live in any of the three cities I roam to hither and yon or if you are related or practically related to me and live elsewhere. But it may be at your library. You should check it out. It is based on a novel that was actually never finished. The author, Elizabeth Gaskell (also responsible for North and South and Mary Barton I believe) , died before completing the end of the already 700 page book. It is after the same fashion as much of Austen's work though, a young girl coming of age in society and finding love, as a base reviewer might say. I mean, there's no way I'll ever read the book, but the mini-series is superb!

The other one we watched, we checked out from the library in pieces, and when George first brought it home I was not so very excited about it. It is called Horatio Hornblower and is about a young man in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. So right, a little along the lines of Master and Commander, but this was before that came out, or right at the same time before I knew anything about it. And in spite of my skepticism Horatio was really good. I mean, it would be way too expensive to buy and the very last installment is not exactly how you want it to end and as a sort of tangent he enters a marriage that is less than wise or romantic (to the same actress who plays Lydia in Pride and Prejudice, actually). But the rest of the series can stand without the last one. They are based on individual novels, you see. Anyway, it is really good, way better than I would think. I always ask "is there a girl in it?" when George tries to get me interested in a movie. I know I will probably not be very interested if there's no girl. There is no girl in Horatio for the most part. But it is still excellent. It's BBC, what do you expect?

So the star of Horatio is Ioan Gruffudd (pronounced Ian Griffith, it's Welsh- those crazy Welsh!) and I have always thought it was too bad that he was not known by the whole world. He was Lancelot in Arthur which I was very excited about, hoping it would spring him to stardom. But Arthur was no good. Then, he was cast as Mr. Fantastic in The Fantastic Four which I thought would surely do the trick. But I still haven't heard much of him. The next Fantastic Four is coming out this summer so I thought that would help him. And all of the sudden, Amazing Grace. Still not that dramatic, y'all. I mean the movie, Amazing Grace. It is the story of William Wilberforce, the British politician who made it his life's mission to outlaw the slave trade in Great Britain. And our Horatio is the star. Our pastor had mentioned this on Sunday, but I didn't see a trailer until later this week and realized it was Ioan Gruffudd playing the lead. The writer of the hymn "Amazing Grace," John Newton (a slave trader who repented and became and Anglican clergyman), is played by Albert Finney. And Michael Gambon, "the Squire" from Wives and Daughters (if you've seen it), appears to have a somewhat significant role.

I never know how to handle these things. Of course, William Wilberforce made great strides for humanity and for the Church. Our pastor pointed out that slaves back then were as common as electricity, and freeing your slaves might seem a little like trying to go without electricity now (and we St. Louisians can attest to what a pain in the arse that is- did I really just put myself in a collective "we" with St. Louisians?! I did!). He fought a huge uphill battle for freedom and justice. I am sure that all of my information, my Hollywood and Wikipedia references, don't credit his devotion to God enough. That was probably his driving force, to do the right thing before the Lord. But is it okay that I am also excited about the movie because I really like Ioan Gruffudd and now maybe a whole lot more people will know who he is? And just maybe, there will be more credit to his Christian faith than usual in these types of movies and a whole lot more people will know who Christ is. But I think that is a little less likely. Anyway, I hope it will be a well done movie. It comes out next week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Not For People Who Like Specifics

Sorry about the weird comment approval thing that was up for a day. I hit something weird on the dashboard when I was trying to delete my own insensitive comment. Evidently, it made my blog paranoid that everyone would be equally insensitive. All is righted now. Except that I'm paying for being insensitive with a baby who wakes up every three hours all night long and still wants to nurse every two during the day. Rice cereal here we come! I guess anyone with a good baby is happy to see them in the middle of the night. That third time, that one that comes right before dawn, that's the time the bad words start to come to mind. Anyway, hope everyone with not such an easy baby can forgive me for saying how I just have so much patience with my babies. In comparison to the patience I have with my older kids it is quite a lot, but it has been very tried on no more than three hours of sleep to string together for the better part of a week. I feel my sharpness of mind really depleted. Or in other, easier words which a more well rested person might use, I feel dull- but you know like as far as my mind working goes. And I know a bunch of mommas who do this for months!


We had a great date last night. My mom slipped George her credit card while I was getting ready. We had been thinking of doing something swanky as it was both Valentine's and our very first time to leave Elspeth so George went ahead and made a reservation. We went to a restaurant in Clayton called The Crossings which has been on my "list" for over two years now. Indeed it was swanky. My mother-in-law said something about the restaurants upping the prices for Valentine's. I secretly thought this was a ridiculous notion, although I know that in Oxford, Mississippi the restaurants raise everything considerably for Ole Miss game weekends. She must be right though. The Zagat's guide price point was way less than what the menu had listed. But they don't bring you a menu until after they have brought you this fabulous blue cheese souffle with little toasts that we had already been working on pretty good. Yowsa! Thank goodness for the parents' platinum card. We had these great "tastings," as they call them, where they bring you a small portion of four courses: salad, pasta, entree, and dessert. We both had a mixed green salad with Granny Smith apples and "lemon truffle honey" (or some such combo of those three ingredients) which was quite good, but pretty "zippy" as George said. For the pasta course, I got pasta that I can not spell for you and a description would just sort of make it sound not as good as it was. The pasta was homemade and it was quite tasty; let's just say that. George had trigger fish in shrimp bisque on polenta. I would be a terrible restaurant reviewer. I sound like a hick who's never seen the big city, much less eaten in a nice restaurant with these descriptions. Anyway, his fish was fabulous. It was better than my pasta. Wah waah (wish I had that Debbie Downer sound byte!)! Then we both had the beef tenderloin on mashed potatoes with green beans in some sort of sauce. Why am I even bothering trying to give y'all this? Well, whatever, it was good. Then we both had chocolate torte with raspberry sorbet. Each little course came with it's own mini glass of wine. The waiter would tell us what kind of wine it was, even the year and the hints of this and that (I felt like I was in Sideways) and I would just smile and say thanks. I know nothing about wine. I don't want to even try. I told George it's like those British movies with four main guys who are all friends and/or brothers and all have brown hair. Who can tell them apart? That's how I feel about kinds of wine. But I like wine. Wine is tasty. I just like for the server to pick. I feel a little more confident with food. But I always have trouble deciding. And nine times out of ten I will go with salmon or a filet. I am never disappointed. But shouldn't I be more adventurous? I don't know. I like salmon and filets. And I don't make them at home. Same with chocolate torte. You can bet I will order chocolate torte if it's available. I did try to make that one time. But it didn't work out so well. I tend to blame it on the recipe. Perhaps I should try it again someday with a different one.

Well, the point is not the food, which is good because I can't give you a less than vague description. The point is that we got to go out, just us two and not power outages, crying babies, nor expense hindered our good time. I hope everyone else is having a good Valentine's. I know it's a Hallmark holiday. I read a little book to the kids at Borders last week about why we celebrate. Evidently Saint Valentine tried to help people get married at a time where men were expected to serve in the army and not to marry. He was thrown in jail and children made him cards or something. And one little blind girl brought him something and he prayed for her and she was healed. Again, I'm fuzzy on details. I think it said that he wrote her a card back and signed it "your Valentine" and that's our excuse for having a Valentine now. Excuse is a good word here. It was definitely a good excuse to spend way too much of my parents' money on a date. And it was a great excuse to get August and Amabel baseball gloves as far as George was concerned. Spring training starts soon you know. Again, not sure when. It is also a great excuse to eat too many candies and cookies. And it was a good excuse for George to replace my necklace. He had gotten me one for my birthday the first year we were married that I wore every day. But I left it where little August could reach about this time last year and he lost the silver bead that was on it. He replaced it last night with one of those trendy ones with the circle of stones. I guess most people's are diamonds. Mine, of course, are not real diamonds. It's super cute, but right, I can't really describe it beyond the whole circle thing. I always like for him to pick stuff I will wear often since he is so picky about what I wear. The one thing about having a husband with an artistic flare is that he has an opinion. This was very frustrating when trying to pick out what I considered to be my wedding china! Anyway, he has pretty good taste, so it works out.

I have to go make dinner for all these people now. And I'm not real sure what that will be either. I guess Elspeth gets milk. And I think there's some stuff in the fridge I can throw together for everyone else. But just forget about that because I probably won't be able to describe it for you later anyway! At least not until we start getting a little more rest. But thank goodness for holiday festivities to give me a nice little boost! Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

This Just In

(But don't let it stop you from reading the post I just made)

Got an email from Borders that from the 12th through the 14th a lot of DVD box sets are on special for $19.99. Among the ones they mentioned were Pride and Prejudice (BBC version!) and Season 2 of The Office. Can't beat that.

Hey Matt, that makes me a different type of blog, at least for this post huh?

Moving On Then

Wish the Babywise lady was real so she could come make some joyful little muffins out of my kids. I have left them upstairs and I don't care what happens.... No worries, my mom and husband are on duty. I think we need a nanny! But through it all, sweet little Elspeth is so darling. It really does raise the question, why is it so much easier to be patient with a baby? I guess it has to be God-given. I wish the rest of the world could get on baby time. I don't mind it. But the rest of the world, and the rest of my family is wanting to maintain their schedules. And I guess that's why people go for Babywise. They want to keep going and the baby just needs to adjust. The thing is, I have never been able to make them adjust anyway. With Amabel, it was pretty easy to just do the baby thing; I didn't need to try to manipulate her because it was just the two of us. I majorly tried to manipulate August. I wanted to be able to go to the grocery around Amabel's naptime and it was a thirty minute trip each way and I was just fighting mad about having to work his feedings in on his little baby time. (But also, he chewed me to pieces until I finally started having to pump everything. Sorry to be so graphic. He was a punk baby!) Now, it's just like "Amabel, August, there's a baby." They don't get it. Why would they get it? But all the planning guilt I've been having? All the trying to pull myself together feeling like I am just a total mess and everyone saying "no one thinks you're a mess" and me saying "Yes they do! Everyone's criticizing me!" ? Wanna know where that's coming from? It's coming from "Momma, the wrapping paper. The wrapping paper!" as said wrapping paper is being waved wildly in my face. And "Here's her sweater. Momma! Here's her sweater!" as I burp Elspeth with said sweater being waved wildly in my face. And "are we fixin' to leave? Are we fixin' to leave? Are we fixin' to leave? Are we fixin' to leave?" And "Where's my coat?!!!!" And every other impatient dramatic cry I hear all day every day. And I keep thinking that everyone else can do this. I know I know, everyone else isn't me. They didn't just move or they don't have three or their husband's not in school or whatever. This is true. I appreciate your nods of sympathy. I think the biggest difference is that I have no break. I almost think I could have twice as many kids if they were all in school or all took a long nap. But instead, I have all at home all day and one with no nap. One with no nap is worse than two with no nap. Because two with no nap can play together. But one with no nap comes to me. I am talking about something I have no idea about- what it's like to have more kids or kids in school etc. - so please excuse me if you think I am saying your life is easier than it is. I really don't know. I am sure everyone's life is harder with kids than without. And I just have a bend that makes me want to be without, at least for part of the day. You know it's bad when I, nightowl of nightowls, look at my husband at nine o'clock at night and say "I'm going to bed." This is what happened last night! It's 7:45 and we may be on our way to the same thing again! Anyway, my point is that I have a bunch of different people wanting their way. I feel like the baby wins because the baby is a baby and babies need grace. Big girls and big boys seem like they should just be patient (dammit!). Like me (ha ha!).

So I am not, nor am I making "joyful little muffins," but I did want to throw this out there. We have been making oodles of Rice Krispies treats of late. Not because of the commercial though! I think Valentine M&M's are a very bad thing. Of course any sort of M&M is a major weakness for me, but if they're all pink? Come on! I think we've been through something embarrassing like five bags since they came out! They are so good in Rice Krispies treats. My little sister taught me that. I have also learned from Rice Krispies, the real Kelloggs ones, being on special that the name brand ones really are a lot better than generic, which I had been buying for years. I usually need a refresher for the recipe which is printed on every marshmallow bag and every Rice Krispies box, generic or not, but I have found that they are all just slightly different- somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-4 tablespoons of butter and 5-6 cups of cereal and around 10 ounces of marshmallows, some a little less. I have decided they are a little better when you use the most butter to the least cereal. Gooey is good. And buttery rather than marshmallowy. Last tip: spread them into a rimmed baking sheet instead of a brownie pan so they will be more shallow and then cut them with metal cookie cutters. That's the best way to let your kids help because everything else is done on the stove and they can't do much there. We finally got around to taking a goodie bag to our new neighbors today. I think they will agree that the Rice Krispies hearts were super cute. And I sent some to Michelle for her sneaky little joke! No, I sent them because we all need a little chocolate if we're gonna keep putting up with this motherhood thing! Everybody hang in there! As for me, I'm past the help of chocolate... Time for a beer!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Mind is AWOL, But (Lucky For You) My Keyboard's Right Here

So I was trying to get away from me me me all the time which prompted me to post lighter fair. A few lurkers came out to comment which was really nice. But where did everyone else go? Perhaps you were all just waiting for me to have a meltdown and go back to my introspection? You knew you wouldn't have to wait long! I guess I'll just give the rundown.

On environmental and economic issues- My grocery sacks have arrived, but I have continued to put off and put off actually going to the grocery store. They seem like they will work very well. I still have much to sort through on grocery shopping issues- hence, in part, the putting off of the trip. Things are so whonky with our finances that I have quit balancing our checkbook. We have a fairly deep "cushion" in our account that has resulted from years of me rounding up every transaction (except I round deposits down) because of my inability to maintain perfection. Does that make sense? It just drove me too crazy to be 13 cents off. So I decided I would be off, but always in our favor by rounding. I have no real understanding of what our actual balance is at any given time, but I have a general idea of what our cushion is. When we close the account, it will probably be upon moving out of state and the extra money will be sunk into the move- this happened with our account after leaving Alabama as well. We have all kinds of weird timing on our finances due to student loans and support etc. It has taken all kinds of stress off me to just write the check and know that if the money isn't there now, it will be soon. And in the meantime, the cushion, invisible to me but visible to the bank, will absorb the trouble! Not sure if this makes sense, but I hope it does because it leads me to my next point.

On general perfectionism- I am not so bad as you might think, not nearly so bad as many either. But I have my share of perfectionistic tendencies. When I think about the checkbook or about my handwriting, I realize something about myself. There is a certain circumstance in which things can be so out of control that I relinquish control and stop worrying. My handwriting is very hard for me to keep under control. Many of you can vouch for this. In a world where most writing is actually typing, it is hard to stay in practice of neat penmanship. When I do have the task of pen writing, it is usually a stack of thank yous after a birthday or Christmas. My hand grows weary from all those notes and my penmanship gets worse and worse. I try to rein it in, but it just doesn't work. I have ceased to care. I try my best, but really, I just can't control my pen after a certain point. I'm a slob. Have we discussed this before? I realized this when trying to ice August's birthday cake. It was horrendous. Truly. I will never be a master cake decorator or a surgeon or a beautician. I am fine with this. My apologies to future recipients of my thank you notes, my children at their birthdays, and anyone who is driven crazy by seeing makeup poorly applied! It is quite freeing to leave it at that. I just abandoned it right by my checkbook balancing perfectionism. Now if only I could abandon tidy house perfectionism. I really have no way of coming close to a tidy house, small as it is with three kids to mess it up. Elspeth doesn't mess it of course, but the baby paraphernalia is a mess just in that it exists in my home. Agreed? They have recently started making black toile baby paraphernalia. Too bad I went with red toile and blue ticking in the living room. Black just won't go. Anyway, you really would think it's to that point, like the checkbook and the handwriting and the birthday cake, the point where it's just so far out of my control that I just quit worrying. But unlike a checkbook that stays out of sight in my purse or a thank you that gets stuffed in an envelope and sent on its way, my house is there. Always. Perfectionistic or not, you must admit that homekeeping is a truly frustrating job. Laundry? You wash it. You dry it. You iron it. You hang it up. The next day it's back on the floor in the dirty pile. Maybe it stays on the hanger slightly longer than one day, but at any given moment, in a family of five, there is an entire load of laundry being worn on everyone's person. So tedious! I cleaned the bathroom yesterday. Last night there were two nice gross globs of toothpaste at the top of the sink. No amount of telling them to please spit in the drain seems to be going to change this. We didn't even make it six hours with a clean sink. We have daily reminders, impatient reminders I must confess, of not throwing dirty clothes under the bed and not leaving markers under the kitchen table and not playing with things that aren't toys and not standing on books and not forgetting to flush the toilet and not getting more toys out without picking the other ones up first etc. etc. etc. I want to hit my head against a wall. Because of course, every day, there are markers under the table and clothes under the beds and all the toys are out and you can't walk without stepping on books (and this often becomes a game or turns into dancing on the books!) and even things that aren't toys turn up mysteriously, rooms away, discarded under or on or in something else that isn't a toy! So why I am still perfectionistic about all of this, I do not know. Or is it perfection? Maybe it is just that I want some degree of order, some amount of work to remain done- after all the rest of my day is spent nursing and preparing meals all to fill tummies that in just two to four hours will be empty again! I do not attempt to know how to solve this problem. But every so often, once or twice a week, I lose my mind in all the mess. It is currently out there, among undone sewing projects, un-put-away (though folded) laundry, unsorted mail, and ballet, diaper, and (now!) grocery bags that will need to be used so soon, what is the point of putting them away because then I will just forget them since I have no mind?

On reading- I am almost finished with Pride and Prejudice and have really enjoyed it this third time through. The first time I read it was in ninth grade. We all hated it. I cannot imagine understanding this book as a ninth grader. I guess if you had a good exposure to the culture, customs and history of Austen's time (in a word, the setting) and if it was explained that Elizabeth is Lizzy is Eliza is Miss Bennett and that Jane is Miss Bennett too and that Catherine is Kitty not to be confused with Lady Catharine etc. it might be easier to follow. I just remember being very confused. And at that time, the newer BBC version had not been made so we watched the older one which a reviewer on Amazon accurately described as "like it was filmed in someone's basement." I am not even sure that my second reading, which probably coincided with the release of You've Got Mail, was ever completed. So this is the first real pleasure I've had of really taking this book in for all that it is. I am excited to read Persuasion next after some of your recommendations. Speaking of You've Got Mail, I recently read Nora Ephron's new book, I Feel Bad About My Neck. I loved it. I laughed out loud. I totally related or else I wanted to. And I fell in love with New York again, from a distance, as her movies always have me do. I flatter myself into thinking that we have similar writing styles. That this might have a shred of truth to it could be attributed to the dozens of my viewings of When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail over the years. I've never been much for Sleepless in Seattle though. After completing I Feel Bad About My Neck, I put in a request at the library for one of Ephron's older books. George picked it up for me yesterday. She has so much to say about current and recent events that I am not sure it will be as much of a fun and quick read as the other, which I finished in 48 hours. But I think I will do a whole Nora Ephron post when I am finished. Other readings include a small book called The Cross Centered Life which has not been very helpful to me, but I also don't want to say anything bad about it. I just recently started where I left off with Bono after forgetting about it during our five month move and then having a baby etc. Sometimes I am right in tune with him and sometimes I literally cannot figure out at all what he is talking about. I plan also to devote an entire post to this book upon finishing.

On planning and being late- Aye Yaye Yaye! Is that how you'd spell that? Well, I have been trying to put myself on a loose schedule for each changing day as I realize that the flailing is not going to stop until there is some sort of goal to each day. On the other hand, the only goal I can hope to achieve is to get everyone dressed and fed and clean what I can. I know this will change once we are off the two hour feeding schedule. She is stretchable during the day; we can go up to three hours, even four if absolutely necessary, but I pay for it at night. She wakes up at least once a night, fortunately she does go back to sleep, but my nights are so short anyway it is just exhausting. I set a plan for Wednesday on Tuesday night and stuck to it fairly well. This plan meant that I stayed awake after the 7am feeding and worked all day. I want to do this. Normal people can do this, but midnight to three with an hour awake there and then four to seven is just not enough rest! Anyway, I tried it and was beat by dinner time. Unfortunately, I still had to clean up after dinner and get the kids to bed and nurse and still had much laundry to fold. I did get a break to watch Lost last night, and then began working again, this time to prepare for today, and did not get to bed until after one. Elspeth did her hour long 3am thing and when George tried to rouse me at seven for Bible study and ballet, I was unwilling to move. Elspeth (and therefore, I) didn't wake up until nine thirty and by that time we had missed Bible study. She did another near hour feeding, and that made us late for ballet. On the way out to the van August tripped and busted his lip open thus putting us even farther behind. I mean, he's fine, but we missed ballet. I finally just called Amabel's teacher and moved her to a different day and time. It's like my life has no meaning until Thursday and then doesn't stop until Sunday. But then Monday. And Mondays are the worst days. If Monday doesn't get me, Tuesday will. Nothing to do but try to make order out of chaos. And then all of the sudden, things to do, but still no order. So just as Mondays are horrible, Thursdays are equally though oppositely awful! I think I am beyond help. I tried the laying everything out the night before but it just meant I was up until one. I guess that means I don't have three hours worth of stuff to do in the morning, but I still need a good two hours in the morning. It sounds like a lot of time. It is. I know. But leaving with three kids for five hours is a big event. And I have an hour of driving time round trip to consider. That's what happens when you get plugged into a church and dance studio and then move across town- provided you live in a town that is way too big for it's own good (I did say I had fallen in love with New York earlier didn't I?!).

On being okay with who I am- Yeah, that comes and goes. I probably never will be as long as other people aren't. Just being honest. And the thing is, you always hear the negative over the positive. Don't you? It is sad. And kids say the darndest things. Why do I let mine upset me so? I think because I have the feeling that I am no good at this motherhood thing. But then I've said that before. Today, after our crazy morning which ended in me throwing in the towel less than halfway to ballet and already twenty minutes late and pulling into Borders for a consolation prize of sorts, we came home and I noticed that our apartment yard looked like Sanford and Son thanks to my kids' Tonka trucks, sidewalk chalk, sand toys (right, in the middle of February) and the like. With frustrated tone (for them not picking up, for the cold, for the need to nurse Elspeth and being detained, for embarrassment of being the mom of the kids with the mess all over the complex who happens to be also the wife of the super, etc. ) I started helping them clean up and reminding them where the toys go outside and continuing with the reminder of where the ones that are inevitably lying around inside go as well. I went in to feed Elspeth and was interrupted numerous times by the freaking out over dirty mittens, the inability to get a coat off to use the bathroom, the flicking of mud onto one's sister with a shovel etc. After finishing feeding Elspeth, there was much lecturing on wiping your feet, on not flicking mud, on obeying me right away, on not leaving coats and (again) toys all over the place, etc. I finally said everyone needed a nap. I know this means Amabel will be in and out of her bed and unable to sleep until midnight tonight, but I couldn't deal. Upon getting into their beds August said "Mommy is mean to us." And Amabel giggled in agreement. I asked him what he said. Of course, he didn't know what he said until I told him I knew what he said and he had better stop lying and tell me or be disciplined. Then he suddenly remembered. I told them that I thought their Mommy had gotten them a bunch of books from the library yesterday and read them all to them and baked cookies with them and that she had taken them to the bookstore and bought them a snack and read books to them there this morning, but that I must just be thinking of someone else. That was kind of manipulative huh? Or at least sarcastic. Okay, obviously sarcastic. So not only now do the words "mommy is mean to us" linger, but so does the idea that I was pretty sarcastic and irritated in response. I forget that they are three and five sometimes. And I feel bad about that too. I know that this is all forgiven and that God loves me. I just want to do better. I want to be on time to ballet. I want to be more patient with the kids. I want to figure out how to get them to respond and obey to the instructions I give. And I have bigger fish to fry. I am constantly screwing up, needing forgiveness for the tiniest things, when I have big old things that need to be tackled and dealt with. But the daily steps backward, the daily struggles that I never seem to conquer seem to keep me from those big, lurking problems that I so want to begin making progress on- the very problems that seem to contribute to me making all the little mistakes. But George always reminds me that God knows where we are. He doesn't expect us to be perfect overnight, just as I don't expect Elspeth to start nursing every four hours and sleeping for twelve for quite a while. Chipping away at it, that's the best we can do. Or it's the best I can do. I guess you can't see it, until maybe over time, but I know I'm chipping and chipping so something must be happening.

On bread baking- Yeah, right! I still have it very much on my mind. But still just that one time with the cinnamon raisin swirl bread.

On smocking and sewing- You don't want to know. All of you would, undoubtedly, tell me to cut something out of the list. I just don't know what that should be. Elspeth may be getting old enough that I can smock while nursing. I know, that sounds like it couldn't be true, but I did it all the time with Amabel. It is the only way I'll get Easter dresses done.

On internet dating- Thanks for your help. I am thinking it is a good idea still and will still be looking to that post for comments in case you're late making your suggestions. Remember, with me, you're never late! As long as the post is still on the page at hand, I'll see the comment.

On writing- Clearly making time for that! It keeps me sane. That's all I can say. Thanks for reading and making it, at least a little, worth my time!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Urban Legends and The Need for Kleenex

I have some people in my life that like to send forwards. There are forwards I don't mind, even kinda like. There are forwards that I actually get angry about. There are forwards that I know right away to delete before I even open them. There are forwards that make me embarrassed for the person who sent them to me. And then there are the forwards that I have a whole range of feelings over.

I have to confess that I enjoy the survey type forwards. Every now and then I even forward them on just to make sure I still know Elizabeth's favorite flower and Jennie's favorite mixed drink and have Rebekah's name straight (Amy Rebekah or Rebekah Amy?). I got the holiday survey forward for the first time this Christmas. But I was too busy to fill it out and forward it myself. Maybe next year.

I know right away to delete anything that says it is a warning or "this is scary" or "new kind of__" and it's some sort of crime. These things are not helpful. Why would someone think they are helpful? It is supposedly to raise awareness? But I think it is really that it raises paranoia. I also deleted all the news channels when we had free cable (alas, it has finally been cut off). I think that the news industry has pretty much become a vehicle for spreading mass paranoia. Have I told y'all about the program I watched when the bird flu first came on the scene? It is the reason I am no longer allowed to watch news magazine shows. Not that I ever liked them, sometimes you just get caught up in them. Now I just change the channel when I see the words "Primetime" or "Dateline" or the like (Incidentally, why are there several different ones on the same channel? What is the difference?). Likewise, I know I will get caught up in the scary cancer or kidnapping forward, so I delete it before I even open it. Don't send me those. Don't even talk to me about them. (Insert high pitched, "this is only a test" tone) I can't hear you, I can't hear you.

I get a little embarrassed when people send the ones about getting a bunch of money from someone for forwarding a bunch of emails. Haven't we all learned by now that that is not going to happen? What about petitions though? Is there any way they can keep up with an email petition? And would an email petition even be valid? I mean, what's to stop someone from just going through the phone book and typing people's names? But what I know can be kept track of is whether or not you forward something to ten people or not; because if you do, you'll have a good day and if you don't, you better watch out!

And what about the little cutesy emails? They sort of fall into two categories. They either make me embarrassed for the person, like when there are dogs dressed up like people with little punny phrases written underneath, or they sort of touch me. And do I really want to be touched? Well, actually, that opens the door to another category; the kind that make me angry. I don't like stories for the sake of stirring up emotion. It is invasive. The forward about the baby holding the doctor's hand? That one makes me mad. Because it is so touching. And then you look on Snopes, and it's not real! And you can bet that all the ones like that, all the ones that are just a "heartwarming story," are not so true either. And that makes me mad. Don't just make up a story, say it's true, and send it to a hundred of your closest friends just to make them all emotional during their coffee break! I realize the person who sent me the email didn't make it up, probably has no idea it is made up, so then I'm back to being embarrassed for them. And also now I'm embarrassed for myself because I have been duped, be it ever so slightly. One exception is the one about the turtle and the baby hippo that got to be friends after the tsunami. That one is true. There's even a children's book about it now. So it's not always that the sweet ones are urban legend.

So back to the true and touching emails. Do I really want to be touched by the four year old who sat with his widowed elderly neighbor and "helped him cry." Yeah, I don't know. On the one hand, maybe it's true and that is really nice. On the other hand, it might not be and that is annoying. But Hallmark commercials aren't true. I don't cry at Hallmark commercials though. I do cry reading books sometimes. When Jack died at the beginning of By the Shores of Silver Lake (I think that's the one) right after Mary went blind, I cried my eyes out. Oh, but that really happened... Well, I cry at lots of things- The Velveteen Rabbit, the ukulele version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (possibly because of the next one), the last scene in Fifty First Dates, most scenes in Life Is Beautiful and Father of the Bride, the end of each of the books in The Chronicles of Narnia,- so why not a sweet story in an email? Maybe because I wasn't expecting it, wasn't prepared? Or maybe it's alright. Maybe I should just go with it. For example, I have sprung a leak since finding that song to link for y'all on You Tube. Amabel just asked me why my face was all red. So if you are of the type who finds anything overly touching to be invasive, don't listen to that song. Or again, maybe it is that movie that makes that song so stirring for me. Or could it be the Rice Krispies commercial? Childhood is calling? Great. Thanks. As if I wasn't already sad about my children growing up too fast.

Forward this to at least nineteen people and you will receive 7.8 trillion dollars in the next box of cracker jacks you open at a baseball game provided you are sitting above third base. If you do not, your brain will fall out next time you go to the dry cleaners and in the meantime you will have severe and incurable athlete's foot.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

As Valentine's Day Approaches

I have that song from one of the internet dating service commercials stuck in my head because I am thinking of encouraging someone I know to get signed up for internet dating. I hear it's often successful. I just can't remember where I've heard it! I would love to hear any and all success stories, even if it's just that you know of a couple. Right now I basically only know that my mom knows two couples who met through eHarmony. So any one of you probably knows more than me! It would be especially helpful to know which service(s) brought success. I guess it would also help to know the general age of the people successfully matched- 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s etc. Anyone is welcome to comment on this one. Actually that's always true; I would appreciate everyone's help on this one!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Bennett, Dashwood, or Woodhouse?

I realize I am probably getting in way over my head on this one, but keeping in mind that I have only read these books once or twice (tops), I thought it would be fun to discuss which Jane Austen heroine you resonate with most. I mean, it has always been Elizabeth Bennett for me, but maybe that is what makes her so ingenious, we can all see ourselves in her! Or maybe it is just people like me. I was thinking earlier how my little sister is so much like Jane, so loving and good and perfect (which is why the book isn't about Jane; she isn't flawed, so she's a little boring for a heroine!), but I wonder if she would identify more with Elizabeth too. If you throw the Dashwoods in the mix, I definitely relate more to Marianne than Elinor. And then there's Emma Woodhouse. Wikipedia says that Jane Austen said she would take a heroine who no one but herself would much like. But I like Emma, maybe because I knew her as Gwyneth Paltrow and Alicia Silverstone before I read the book! And that is a little bit of trouble for me, I have seen these movies a dozen times and read them just once or twice. I have not even read Mansfield Park, Persuasion, or Northanger Abbey. I read Emma aloud to Amabel when she was nursing, and I am reading Pride and Prejudice (again) to Elspeth now. I guess I will need to have three more daughters if I want to finish the complete works! Anyway, this may be silly to some of y'all, but I was being crushed under the weight of my own introspection, and had become more than a little self-absorbed (so much so that I forgot the thirtieth birthday of a very dear friend! I am sorry, dear friend!). I'm not really sure how this is not introspective except that it brings Jane Austen to the table and I think she's a little bigger than me. I mean, yes, I'm a great writer, but only time will tell if I surpass one of the great novelists of all time! (Do I even need to say that I'm kidding there?) Or if there's a non-Austen heroine you resonate with more, feel free to share that too. Anne of Green Gables? One of the Little Women? Sydney Bristow? I think I'll stick with Elizabeth Bennett; she's feisty!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Something I Might Should've Stressed More Over

Sara, you will probably have something to contribute on this one. Rebekah too. But no pressure if you don't. But I could use a lot of commentary on this, from everybody.

I am realizing how bad the problem is. It started when we were in Birmingham after Christmas at the hoity toity shopping center known as the Summit. So, it's not so hoity toity, but it has all the swankiest stores. Of course, it also has a Claire's, but anyway. I noticed a lady wearing overalls. And I thought to myself, "Overalls? Now there's something I haven't seen in a while. When do you suppose the last store stopped selling overalls? Five years ago?" I'm pretty sure J.Jill had them five years ago, maybe even four. Julia Roberts wore them in The Runaway Bride about eight years ago. Jill Taylor (there she is again!) wore them a lot on Home Improvement about 10 years ago. I am just wondering if anyone was wearing them, or selling them, even three years ago. I could be wrong, they could be hanging in the window at some New York hot spot right now. But I am guessing no. I am guessing Carrie Bradshaw never wore overalls. But please let's not let Carrie Bradshaw be our standard. Even Sarah Jessica Parker has commented that Carrie doesn't wear nearly enough clothes for modesty's sake! And besides, is there any good reason not to wear a perfectly good pair of overalls? I'm thinking there is; I just wonder what y'all think.

George and I are watching the second season (last year) of The Office on DVD just to see it again and because there is nothing, besides the current season of The Office, on TV (Fortunately Lost starts back soon- we are trying not to get into American Idol and The Apprentice this year and I am tiring of the skank factor on Grey's Anatomy, but that is a whole different post. Let's have that one soon!). Remember the episode where Jim has the barbecue at his house and invites everyone because his roommate thinks he is making Dwight up? So Dwight comes in and the roommate is amazed that such a person actually exists. And the roommate says "You must be Dwight. Nice Birkenstocks." Sad! Are Birkenstocks so very out that only Dwight still wears them?! Go ahead, I can take it. They are aren't they?

Y'all know I still have two pairs.

I mean, Dwight had the Milanos (sandals with the backstrap) on with socks. Is that the joke? Because I don't do that. But that's not the joke is it? It's part of it. But the bigger joke is that he still wears Birks. So sad. I love my Birks. I have Milanos and Bostons. The only other shoes I have are New Balance tennis shoes, no not the grey ones, just regular white running shoes that happen to be New Balance, and a pair of black t-strap shoes that are also made by Birkenstock. Oh, and I have some Enzo brown boots but they have a thick heal, not the tiny heal like everyone has now. And I have some of those slide on black shoes that look like boots except they're not, they're just slides, also by Enzo. That's it. Are y'all just dying? I know I am dorky. I would still be wearing my overalls if they fit.

So I need help. I think overalls are a no go. And I am guessing Birks are kind of out. I just Googled them to check the spelling and looked at the Wikipedia article on them. Evidently, they are a Generation X thing and are comparable to what flip flops are today. So there ya have it. I am so last generation! But here's the question again, is there any reason not to wear a perfectly good pair of shoes? How important is fashion? On the other hand, we're talking about shoes I've had for twelve years, so I reckon I got my money's worth and made an adequate fashion statement! So with my purse full of gift cards in mind, though few of them are for clothing stores (but I do get to go crazy at Williams Sonoma!) and my shortness combined with chubbiness in mind, I need major fashion help.

By the by, I have a baby to carry around so I do want shoes that are moderately comfortable; I am not going to be one of you cuties I keep seeing at church with the high skinny-heeled boots. (Y'all all have them! And cute outfits to match too! Our church is surprisingly fashionable for being a suburban, conservative church that it is, dontcha think? Or have I just been in the Deep South too long?) Anyway, what's in? I could go get a Cosmo or In Style or whatever it is people read for these things, but I'd rather have the opinion of people who know me and know that I need things that are modest and inexpensive and somewhat timeless- I can't be buying something that won't be in style next winter.

Alright, let's hear it! I turn the floor over to you all.

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