Saturday, June 30, 2007

"Weeping May Endure For a Night"

Or I guess in this case, it has been 108 nights, or ten more recently intensified nights. It feels a little strange to have so much grief and anxiety over people you don't know that well. As I have said before, I really don't know the Allens very well. They live a few doors down from us, but we have not even lived here a year. And I was real MIA as far as the neighborhood goes after Elspeth was born for a long time. So it seems strange that I would be so overwhelmed by Amelia's condition. But at the same time, it seems like it would be strange not to be. Of course we are overwhelmed. Of course we have wept for this family and this baby. Of course we are desperate for healing for her. Y'all please keep praying. She has been having seizures over the past few days. You may all be checking her blog every day, but just in case you haven't had the chance or have just gotten used to "pray for Amelia" up there on top, I wanted to reiterate how serious her situation is. It seems her condition is not getting a whole lot worse, but it is not improving either. I check the blog often with fear of bad news and always breathe a sigh of relief when there is no worse news to report. But I find myself wearier and wearier of the sameness of her condition. Jen described a couple of days ago all the many tubes and machines Amelia is hooked up to. I just can't imagine. And I can't imagine what she and Steve feel like when I am sitting at home just reading about it with tears streaming down my face, just as I know you are. So I tried to find us all a comforting Psalm tonight. I am sure Steve and Jen have heard a kazillion scriptures during all of this. I wonder if any of it is helpful or if everything is a blur to them as I am sure they have been feeling they couldn't take it anymore many times over. I find myself so much wishing there was a Scripture for them to find comfort in. But I have no idea what it would be. I am hoping they have people surrounding them who know and trust the Psalms and the promises of God better than I do. But I looked tonight and am even comforted by basic things like "who heals all your diseases" and "they called upon the Lord and he answered them" and "surely He shall deliver you." Psalm 104 talks about God's sovereignty and power. That was encouraging to see it in print- okay, we didn't make this up; he really is in charge! There are also so many cries for help. Again and again, His people are in deep trouble. But again and again there are pages and pages about how God is merciful and good. But those two themes seem somewhat disconnected. In the troubled Psalms, I wish we kind of heard the end of the story. A lot of them end in "Do not delay, O my God." What a cliffhanger! Did the goodness of God prevail again? It's like watching Lost! We need some answers! What is encouraging is that again and again we see "wait on the Lord" and all kids of references to "His timing" or "the proper time" so we can trust that God may seem like he's delaying, but he is not asleep (it says that a lot too!). Then in another place, we'll run into a Psalm with some sort of allusion to a past trial and deliverance that's all about God's goodness. Was that the same guy or what? (Incidentally, this is all very humbling as I went to K-12 Christian school, always had regular quiet times, and was an RUF intern. I was a pretty good little Pharisee. I thought I knew so much! But I have to say that as life has become more "real," I find myself very ill equipped and lacking in understanding.) I mean, I guess besides the case by case (or Psalm by Psalm) we can just pull a general case for God's timing and his power to heal and his goodness from the entire book. Of course, we know that. I just sort of want this one "in a nutshell" passage. Something to post, something to memorize so that I can say "it says right here." The one I decided to post in the end was Psalms 30. It is sort of what we can hope for for this littlest of God's lambs.

A note about the translation- I know we are supposed to have switched to the ESV like good Presbyterians, but NIV is what I had had in high school and it is what was familiar to me until everyone started getting The New Geneva Study Bible in RUF. I have a split familiarity between the two translations because of high school to college, and also because I had a NKJV (which the New Geneva is) Precious Moments Bible growing up. Then all of the sudden, was it in 2001?, the English Standard Version started showing up in all the church pews! Just when I had gotten real comfy with my New King James Version! So I am resistant to the idea of going back and re-memorizing (again) all the passages that have stayed with me over time, both because of sentimentality and laziness. You probably are somewhat familiar with this passage too though I am not sure what translation you all might be partial to. Here it is in the NKJV (my Bible's notes explain that the italics "indicate expressions in the original language which require clarification by additional English words, as also done throughout the history of the King James Bible"). You can click here to go to Bible Gateway for a different translation. My apologies to all good Presbyterians.

Psalm 30

1 I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
3 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

4 Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
5 For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

6 Now in my prosperity I said,
“I shall never be moved.”
7 LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.

8 I cried out to You, O LORD;
And to the LORD I made supplication:
9 “What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
LORD, be my helper!”

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Endangered Species

Sorry I've slacked on the posting. My mom has been here. So what does that tell you? Right. I've been shopping. I've been shopping so much I don't even want to talk about it. This in the same week as starting a mall walking endeavor makes me want to avoid any and all retail spaces for a long time. But what's that you say about mall walking? I know. I'm a total dork. But you have to understand that less than a half mile from my house is a really busy four lane road with lots of semi-truck traffic. And no sidewalk. And I have three kids and only a two seater jogger and really anything on no sidewalk is no good. I also just have this thing where I hate walking in the ugly. I know I should get over it, but the beautiful parks of Nashville and the quaint little town of Auburn, Alabama has ruined me. And now it's hot. So the swanky and safe, air conditioned mall is kind of a nice change. A really nice change. It's also hilarious. Because who mall walks? I know that you have a good guess and I will go ahead and tell you and you can give yourself a sticker for being right.

First of all, I have been at a different time every day. The first day I took the kids because I got there in the afternoon. Okay, so you're totally not supposed to mall walk in the afternoon or any other mall shopping hours, but this all started very spur of the moment when I had just had it with never getting the chance to exercise and so I just went then and there. I also had errands to do at the mall. I know, most people call that shopping. But I was careful to take the longest route everywhere and keep track of my laps and stick close to the wall like a true mall walker. This is so embarrassing to me. But what are you going to do when you can't afford a gym or child care on top of that? The answer has hit me like a ton of bricks- "go mall walking" of course! So going with the kids was not so awful. But the next day I went by myself, only again in the afternoon when someone could watch the kids. Without the shopping bags or stroller, I was a dead giveaway and was a little worried about getting in trouble for walking in non- mall-walker hours. But another girl was doing it even more rigorously than me. Her face was even all red. So I was less embarrassed and continued my rebellion against mall walking rules. I know, when will I ever grow up? Ha ha! I totally feel like a grown up now. Seriously, for the first time ever. Because the last few days I have been getting up in the morning. My friend Jessie was coming back from her run (she's training for a marathon!) at six fifteen yesterday and saw me leaving. She asked me later what on earth I was doing leaving the house at 6am. This is because of course she knows that I usually don't get up until around eight! That sounds worse than it is, I usually don't go to bed until around one, so it evens out! Anyway, I decided to be a grown up this week and actually stay up when the baby gets up at six and go walking with her. She didn't get up at six today though. She got up after seven. So it was all different today. Today I went at eight forty. But I have been aiming for right around six or six thirty, right when it opens.

The six o'clock hour so far is generally one of two types of people- elderly white people or middle aged black women. And I, if you haven't already guessed, am the spunky young mom with a stroller. They love me. They totally make my day! It's like being in the South again. Everyone says hello and coos over Elspeth. "Ooooh, God love 'er!" "Look at the sweet baby!" Even when she's just sleeping in the stroller or when they just saw her on the last lap, she seems to totally make their day. And the constancy of friendly smiles and comments is just the energy my little extroverted self needs (on top of the energy you get physically from getting a good daily workout). I love it! The Ann Taylor window displays are my inspiration. I think soon I will have to set a goal and when I make it, buy myself an Ann Taylor dress- once it's on sale of course, and hopefully in a size smaller than I'd get right now! Everything is a lovely robin egg blue and chocolate brown in there right now! So pretty! But today I went at almost nine. And while the Ann Taylor displays were the same, the people were not. I told George I have even more incentive to get up because I did not like the people today. He said "were they rich forty year old white women?" How did he know? I also mentioned the all white walking shoes. He said "naturally." They don't say hi. They don't care that the cutest baby ever born in the world is at that moment in their presence. They just walk. And lots of them are in a pair with some other lady just like the rest of them and/or carrying a Starbucks coffee (conveniently open at 5:30 am and located right next to the mall walker entrance). Even if you smile they don't smile back. So don't even think about saying hey. Yeah, I'm not going to be going back at nine. At least not without some sort of musical device. Incidentally, am I the only one left without an iPod? My new running shoes have some sort of sensor that sends signals to one to say how fast and far you're going and how many calories you're burning! But I have no iPod so I will just have to keep counting laps and listening to the elevator music renditions of "Strangers in the Night" and "Isn't it Romantic?"

So I' am now on my way to becoming one of the most mysterious creatures on the planet- the morning person. Who are these strange and beautiful birds? The metamorphosis has begun. But even if I can no longer be a night owl, I'll always be a Chi O. Hooty hoot! (I like to think of Rebekah and Elizabeth laughing and rolling their eyes when they read that. That's reason enough to post! ) Anyone else who wants to join my ranks as "mall walker- super dork" let me know, and to the Galleria we shall go! It's not just the night owl in me that's dying you know, it's also the child. Well... we'll believe it when we see it. At least I might become a slightly more responsible child.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Are you like me? Yes or No? Check the box.

I was trying to find an old quiz that Annie had posted on her blog for my dad. I know, like my dad is going to take and internet quiz. Anyway, I was sending it to him because it was about whether or not you are a type A personality or not. I thought he would think the questions were hilarious. When I mentioned the term "Type A" to him the other day, he seemed very proud. He said, "What's you mother then, a type Z?" Ba-da-bum! See the thing about people who are "Type A" is that they are really excited about being Type A and think that everyone else should be too. I have been told by more than one that the characteristics of their personality are "right" and even "how God is." Seriously. "God is organized" and "God is punctual." So I live with a little demon on my shoulder telling me I'm sinning when my house is messy or when I'm late. Oh! so that's what her problem is! Yep, that's my problem. Because my house will always be messy and I will always be late. But evidently that makes me a horrible person. I laugh that I get "Type B, as laid back as they come" as my result for this quiz. I am as high strung as they come. But I reckon I wouldn't be if I could just be okay with how I am and not think everything about me in direct opposition to God. Some Presbyterian would respond with "well, we are all in direct opposition to God apart from Christ." Yes, I know, but somehow unity with Christ hasn't turned me into a person with a good concept of time!

You Have A Type B Personality

You're as laid back as they come...

Your baseline mood is calm and level headed

Creativity and philosophy tend to be your forte

Like a natural sedative, you have a soothing effect on people

Friends and family often turn to you first with their problems

You have the personality to be a spiritual or psychological guru

Anyway, link to that quiz if you like, but it is clearly the bee in my bonnet, so I found a more fun quiz- because a vacation sounds good right about now!

You Belong in Dublin

Friendly and down to earth, you want to enjoy Europe without snobbery or pretensions.
You're the perfect person to go wild on a pub crawl... or enjoy a quiet bike ride through the old part of town.

But see, I think I would enjoy Europe with some of the snobbery! I changed my answers a couple of times and always came up with Dublin so I am guessing some questions trump others as outcome bringers. Anyway, who will be joining me in Dublin? Or where should we meet up while I'm across the pond? Also, this was really bizarre. I took a 12 question quiz to see "how rare my personality is" and it actually gave me my Myers Briggs personality to the letter! In twelve questions? Myers Briggs takes hours! Kinda funny! Any other people get an accurate result? Any other ENFP's out there?

Your Personality is Somewhat Rare (ENFP)

Your personality type is enthusiastic, giving, cautious, and loyal.

Only about 8% of all people have your personality, including 9% of all women and 6% of all men

You are Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

Come on everybody. Yes, this is junior high. For today. We need some lightening up. Take a quiz. Take all three! Tell me what you get. And please please pray for Amelia!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making Progress

I've gotta say that the 86 I just saw when I checked in just now really surprised me. But how come only three comments? I am just hoping that all the other lurkers are praying even if they are too shy to comment. When you see the "pray for Amelia," just please just pray right then if you can! And the actual words "pray for Amelia" are a link to her blog so you can keep right up to date with her current status. This is just so close to my heart as they are neighbors in the same building even as well as that their sweet baby girl is only several weeks younger than my sweet baby girl. I saw Steve and Jen yesterday and was so encouraged by their hopeful and cheerful spirit. I think they have as much peace as can be expected in such a scary time. More even. They are an amazing testimony of faithful followers of Christ even through the darkest valleys. Thanks for keeping them in your prayers.

I don't want to neglect regular posting as I hope that interesting reading will keep people coming back and seeing that prayer request. Plus, hey, I like that people want to hear what I have to say. My whole life I have been told that I talk too much. I told a friend one time that people say that because they think I am saying unimportant things, but I wouldn't say something if it wasn't important to me. So thanks for listening (in the form of reading!). It is so late though that I really don't have a whole lot to say. I'm just tired. I had worried so much about summer being boring and dragging on, but it has been a super whirlwind so far and I am really glad. However, I could use a spare second to do a little more sewing. But I never do really make the time anymore even when I have a second. I think I am just out of practice. I will try to get going on it soon. A friend of ours just sent us a digital camera so I may be able to finally post pictures of what I make! Hurray!

Until then, here is a link to George's blog for a picture of what Amabel made for me today. She makes these a lot. She takes a leaf and wraps it around a sweet gum ball until the little bristles poke through and make holes. Then she slides the stems of various flowers through the holes. No one taught her this; she just came up with it all by herself. Meanwhile, August has been asking George to change the channel to cooking shows while the baseball game is on! He is always wanting to help me in the kitchen too. I think we have some creative children, which is very exciting! A future designer and a future chef? Gotta work on the athletics thing though; Aug not wanting to watch baseball will be fairly disconcerting to the Edema side of the family if it continues past the next couple of years. As long as he likes Auburn football though, I think we're good on the Hawkins side! I told George we just need to get him out there with a ball more often; he has so much aggression, it would be great if he could take it out in an organized sporting way instead of by throwing books at or pushing kitchen chairs into his baby sister! I know, boys will be boys, let's just have them being boys on the ball field and not in my living room! Anyway, at this point everything is an absolute joke to him and doing anything organized (besides baking) is chaos. So every effort George has made to do anything that even resembles playing catch has turned into Silly-fest 2007. Amabel is a whole different story! She is such a grown up! Everyone says how she is Mommy's little helper. And you know, she really is my right hand man most of the time; until she tries to usurp my position that is! I am so grateful for everything about them lately, especially their health, as I think of our friends who long to have their daughter healthy and home. What a wonderful perspective Jen will have on Amelia's stubbornness (which she thanks God for already as it has made her quite a fighter in the face of her illness) while I have too often bumbled and complained my way through my own children's weaknesses without recognizing the wonderful blessings those things can be as well!

Well, that was the long and the short of it last night, but then I couldn't get this to post. I am back this morning to post and I see the numbers have climbed twenty plus more! Who are you people? So glad you're here! Please pray for our friends!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An Experiment

Okay, so this could be embarrassing, but I am willing to be embarrassed. There is a counter on my blog now. I know it's a little silly to have a counter usually, or is it vain? I don't know; it would be for me usually. Because I had thought about it before, you know in some discreet location so that I could secretly be either flattered or mortified by how many people check my blog. Anyway, I noticed earlier that on the 24 hour prayer page for Amelia there is a lot of blank space in the middle of the day. This makes perfect sense as it is pretty hard to carve out a fifteen minute time slot in the middle of the day that can be the same for every day that you wouldn't forget or miss. I know I couldn't come up with a time. But I thought that the middle of the day is also probably the time most people usually check in on here. And I just wanted to request that when you check my blog (no matter what time, really), you also just offer up even a very short prayer for healing for Amelia and encouragement and strength for her parents. And then the counter will be an actual counter of prayers being said for her! Because I am always worried about being exposed for the weirdo we all know I am, I asked George if that was dumb and he didn't think so. Of course he didn't, there is no way I could figure out how to put a counter on my blog! He set it all up. So if you think you can be counted, it would be great if you would let me know. Once the number starts climbing a little, it has the potential to be really encouraging, dontcha think? I know prayer has to do something because God told us to do it! I also have seen how he has used it to minister to this family and this dear little baby in the past few months so far as well as in the lives of so many others in different trials of all different kinds. If you think you can contribute to the experiment, really just saying a prayer for Amelia when you check the blog, which I will keep posting my regular exciting stuff on!, over the next few days or weeks or however long it takes, let me know! Thanks!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

With Heavy But Hopeful Heart

Baby Amelia is sick and has been admitted to the hospital. Please please pray for her and for her parents, Steve and Jen.

"The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

An Invitation

I tend to think people know what I know. But perhaps you don't. And then you would be sad. At least about this.

If you live in Birmingham, you really should go to Berney Points Baptist Church at 6:30 tomorrow night, Thursday June 21. Jamie Soles will be there performing a free concert.

If you live in St. Louis, you can come to my church, Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, at 6:30 this Friday night, June 22. Jamie Soles will be there performing a free concert. I will be there too, but I will not have a guitar. Sorry.

Unfortunately, I have been out of Birmingham for so long that I cannot think where that church is. However, the address is 2250 Blue Ridge Blvd. so I am sure you can mapquest directions from your home. My church is on Sappington just north of Gravois and south of Watson kind of in the general area of Crestwood and Grant's Farm here in St. Louis.

Who is this Jamie Soles, you ask? Well, he's this great Canadian musician who writes songs for kids and adults alike about stories from the Bible and also of the Psalms. He says he aspires to write a song about every story of the Bible and one for every Psalms! And they are good songs. Some are about stories you've heard all your life- Noah, Adam and Eve, Joseph- and some are about these obscure stories you may never have paid attention too, but now you know them if you know the song! And of course, if God has the story in the Bible, it must be important and there is something we can learn about Him! My favorite songs, well there are several, are on the list below. Click the links for lyrics and, even better, to listen to excerpts! And then come see the concert if you get the chance. You will be glad you did, and I know Mr. Jamie will be too. I met him on Sunday and he is a really sweet man (father of eight, so that tells you something!). If I don't have a link to one of his albums, it is simply because our family doesn't have it yet.

From his first album for children (all lyrics) , I love Psalms 141:3. There is also a beautiful song about Rahab.

From his next two children's albums, I love the Bad Guys songs (lyrics for the first two), Part One (sample) and Part Two (sample) and Part Three (sample). What a testimony of God's faithfulness to his people- "We are the friends of God and He will save us, because we worship His son!" I love that, the friends of God!

Also from his second children's album, I love both Get On Board (sample) and Jesus to the Rescue (sample)which sort of go together. Both(lyrics- scroll down) are beautiful (and fun) songs that kids love about the Gospel!

"Get on board
We’re gonna sing a song to praise the Lord
Our debts have all been paid
Shout for joy (Hey!)
He is the reason that we can rejoice and sing"

And Resurrection is my all time favorite. If you click just one link on here, that's the one. It will only take 20 extra seconds from your day, and it is so worth it! Lyrics in full below.

Rising from the grave at the end
God has promised
Those who persevere to the end
For He came and lived and suffered
Then He died and rose again

Jesus is the resurrection and the life
He who believes He will live, though he dies
Jesus is the resurrection and the life
He who believes
Though he dies, he shall live

Greatest hope of all faithful men
God has promised
All our hopes are bound up in Him
For He came and lived and suffered
Then He died and rose again

Jesus is the resurrection and the life....

A close second to "Resurrection" is King. Click on this link for sample and on this one for lyrics (scroll down). It is sort of about the expectation God's people had so long for the coming of the King. Jamie is great at getting into the shoes of the people and their stories we just sort of glaze over because we've either heard them a million times or because the stories are pretty efficient and to the point. Both lyrically and musically he builds a perfect atmosphere for telling the stories of the Scriptures. Another excellent example of this is in the song You Can Go (sample, lyrics are on the same page as "King"). I get tears in my eyes every time I hear it just thinking about how excited the people must have been being released from exile after seventy years. A lot of the songs are like that and when you put them all together in an album or a concert (hmmmm, where could I go for one of those?) you get this wonderful sense of God's constant provision and faithfulness for his people generation after generation! What an encouragement! Sorry for the short notice. You know I'm not a planner, so I would be likely to forget if someone told me way ahead of time. So I am telling you now, Thursday and Friday of this week are the days! Hope to see you there (but not in Birmingham because I live in St. Louis)! If you listen to the samples and want to buy a CD but can't make the concert, leave a comment and perhaps I can pick one up for you (but you'll have to pay me back :) ). You can also order them from the online store on his website.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And Thinking a Little More

So I'm still thinking and "blogging everything out" (I like that term, Courtney!- "blog it out"- exactly!). It turns out, my dad really liked the tee shirt! Hurray! But more than that, I talked with one of my favorite people this weekend who I don't get to talk to as much as I would like because she had her first baby a few months before I had Elspeth and well, everything has changed since Elspeth came along. About that, people have different ideas about how many kids it takes for you to feel like everything is out of control. For me, it was totally three. I mean, any semblance of order and routine and structure is completely lost. For some people it is two kids, for some it is more; I thought things were crazy with two, but I just had no idea. I am just throwing that out there as a plea for mercy both from everyone who might have noticed what a (bigger) mess I am and for everyone who I secretly or even not-so-secretly thought was a mess in the past. For that second group, I am just so sorry, I had no idea! Have I already mentioned that? I am just feeling like I am experiencing much "karma" lately! In a good way. Anyway, my friend is the kind of person is who is always ready to laugh. I love so much how she laughs at the stories I tell. She makes it even easier for me to laugh. And I was telling her about my dad and she was just cracking up. And she adores her own dad and could even tell me how her dad was very similar to mine in some ways. It was so helpful because it reminded me that some things are people's personality and not a direct response to me. I am such a people pleaser and a reactor. I am often just reacting to the people around me. But everyone is not that way. A lot of people are pretty true to who they are all the time and it doesn't have anything to do with the people around them. That's actually pretty cool. I am totally revealing how codependent I am aren't I? Oh well. I'm sure you've all known it all along! Anyway, I told my mom that that was making sense a little now and she reminded me how a lot of things about my dad really are funny when you remove yourself from it because we have always said how much like George Banks (as played by Steve Martin in Father of the Bride) is like my dad and we think all of those parts in the movie are hilarious. And it is true. My life as a movie would certainly have Steve Martin cast as my dad (incidentally, George's dad would be played by Dave Letterman as he often reminds me of him though I am not sure why. George's brother could be played by either Vince Vaughn or the guy who plays Janitor on Scrubs. Again, not sure why, but just always think that and since we're casting people for my life story... who should play me?) Anyway, I think sometimes relationships that don't feel right to me become all bad in my mind. In much the same way, people who I love, like this friend or my sister or my friend Michelle or Jennie almost can't do any wrong. It is so easy to let love cover over for people who in every way make you feel special. If they fail to in some small way, you barely notice. And conversely, in a relationship where you have not regularly received a loving message, it is easy to interpret very minor things as contributing to a negative message even further- like when someone doesn't like their gift.

But my friend told me how her dad doesn't get excited about gifts they give him and that he really doesn't get excited to give gifts either; he writes checks, but he doesn't pick out presents. I am very much a gift giver. I get so excited about sending people little surprises in the mail. I can't wait until they get their "happy"and hope so much that it lets them know how I'm thinking of them and excited about them. But some people are not this way. My husband is not really that way. So I should be used to it and know how to let people off the hook. But when it comes to certain people, this very thing seems to sink them into even deeper trouble with me. It is most unfortunate, but it is something I can totally change! Everyone is not like me! Surprise! Or didn't I just say that the other day? I know, I think I say things like that all the time. But I forget.

One of the reasons I forget is that I don't really know myself very well. I think I run around being people pleasey a lot and don't think about what I really am good at or want to do etc. and of course I think I'm just bad at everything because I also have that focusing on the negative habit. But for anyone I think, it is hard to recognize your strengths. But if you don't then you think everything you do is normal and easy for everyone, and then you feel bad when people don't respond to you the way you do to them. But if you can see yourself as different from other people for better and for worse, it is much easier to see other people for who they are. If I just know that I am a "gifty" kind of person, I can stop getting my feelings hurt when people don't seem excited about what I get them or don't get me a gift for something because I know it's not me they are not liking or forgetting; it's just not their personality. I should know better really. I have a family member that is evidently a "hugger." I am so not a hugger. A lot of people either are or they aren't. I had one really good friend in high school who gave huge bear hugs to everyone in sight. Two of my other best friends barely tapped you on the shoulder in a side hug. Anyway, I'm a sideways shoulder tapper for the most part. And this family member told me how it upset her that I didn't hug her. And I felt bad. But at the same time, I just know I'm not going to be a hugger. I tell George pretty regularly to stop hugging me so tight or just stop altogether. And I told her that, just to let her know it wasn't personal and that it's just me. And she said "I know that. I know that you just don't feel that way about me and that is just not something you are comfortable with with me." And I thought "Hello?! I just said I don't like to hug my husband!" This was so infuriating to me because it was like she was determined to take it personally. See what I mean? Karma!

So I just sort of feel like I am able to kind of look at some of these relationships that have felt so hopelessly dysfunctional in the past, even in spite of prayer and confrontation, and kind of hack away some of the extra stuff obstructing my view of the real relationship. Not sure if that makes sense. But if I can chop away at some of the things that really amount to difference in personality and have nothing to do with the relationships, I can see more clearly what the problems really are. Or even if there is a problem?! As fate would have it, most of the people I tend to have chronic trouble with have similar personalities to one another. My friend Annie would probably call them type A's if she knew any of them. And George always says there is some sort of sociological rule that says the anxiety level of a group is dictated by the person with the highest level of anxiety. So if you have a type A, who is also really impatient and irritable if things don't go perfectly and right on time and very organized as type A's would have it, there is likely to be a high level of anxiety in the group (of which I am a part). And as I am a reactor and a people pleaser, I get panicky and stressed when someone is impatient and irritable and start feeling like everyone is mad at me and that I am drowning. Yes, that is exactly what is happening, I'm convinced of it. It's actually kind of my life story in three sentences. Wow! And the only solution is to change those people's personality! Ha! I'm kidding! And I can't change mine either. What I can do is know how I am and be okay with that and know how they are and be okay with that. And that is how we can all get along! See, didn't we all learn something today? You're glad you read all of this aren't you?

Well, I make it sound like now that I have the wheels of my head turning, these things are going to be a piece of cake. I know that's not true because that whole sentence about "know how I am and be okay with that and know how they are and be okay with that" is huge (in the Donald Trump sense of the word). But I can start hacking away at it, praying and blogging it out. Oh I know, you're going to come back more often now aren't you? I know how you people love it when I get on my soul searching sprees. Chirp chirp chirp. Well, that's all right. Me and my pretty blue blog will work it out together and then we'll have lots of funny things to say and yummy recipes to try for you again, maybe sooner than you think!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just Thinking

I kind of wanted to have another post up so the first post you see when you get here is no longer the Father's Day one. The things with my parents is hard because I feel like it is such a big part of me- how I grew up, my relationship to them and my sisters, their divorce and remarriage and the circumstances around both, etc. So for you to really know me, you kind of have to know that stuff. But so often I find out people are reading that I had no idea were reading, usually very trustworthy people (as in yesterday when my associate pastor said "there was something on your blog I wanted to ask you about." He couldn't remember what it was in the end, but I joked with him that it was a little unsettling to know he has read some of this!), but it is a blog, you know. Also, I do want to honor my parents and I don't want to make a huge public scene out of our problems, even though it was pretty public (though not in the world wide web sense) when they divorced so I don't feel it is top secret that there have been "issues." But I really appreciated my younger sister's comment on that post, just to let me and anyone who read know that we are sort of on the same page and can kind of laugh about some stuff too! That's Sarah, I don't think she's commented before. She practically my best friend so I guess it is sort of weird that she's never commented before but I think she's not much of a blog reader. And Rachael and I don't always agree on this stuff which is another reason I don't say too too much. I think she is a little more of a private person than I am, most people are, and I want to respect that what I say about my family is also about her family and she may not appreciate that so much. She may not appreciate that I always call her by name when she tries to be anonymous, but she's way over in France and I don't think you could find her if you did want to steal her pretty ring (or whatever adults are worried about when they don't say who they are on the internet). No one said anything to me, I just wanted to say all of this as I have reflected. I want to be able to talk about me, but it often seems I drag in others by doing so. Kind of a tricky thing when you want to be honest and vulnerable, huh? That's been bugging me ever since I started blogging, so just bear with me.

Also, "the yuck in the PCA," was referring to Federal Vision stuff which I was sort of assuming everyone had seen my husband's many opinions on. I call it "yuck" because I fear his opinions will cost him a future job, and have been warned as such by others. Also I just don't want to talk about it because I don't think I have ever witnessed a discussion that ended up being helpful and friendly. It is so sad to me that people continue to talk past each other, to say "no, that's not what I'm saying." "Oh yes it is!" "No, it's not!" "Yes it is!" "No, I'm saying this." "No, you're saying this!" I'm not saying I agree with what they're saying, I'm just saying that nothing is more infuriating than someone telling you what you're saying and that's not it. It's fine to say that's how you're coming across, but people know what they mean. Amabel has always had a small problem with hearing. We have been to the Children's hospital for hearing screenings and she always passes, but let's just say she doesn't have excellent hearing. So sometimes I will say something like "Amabel, you need to put your shoes away." And she will say "Mommy, you called me Annabel." And I say "No, I didn't. You just didn't hear me right." "Well, it sounds like you said Annabel. Maybe you didn't mean to, but you did." And I'm getting so angry, because I named the child! Why would I call her the wrong name? "No, Amabel. I know your name, you just didn't hear me right." "Yes ma'am, but I really think you said Annabel." Aaaaagh! I mean, I have authority there and I can also just chalk it up to her poor hearing and stubborn personality. But I don't know what it to be done when a whole denomination does this to each other. And I think it's sad that so much of it is through books and blogs because it is never as good as personal interaction. I think that personal interaction must be what was hoped for with General Assembly and there was evidently a lot of disappointment with what happened. I do not know enough about this to engage anyone in a debate so that's not what this is about. It's just about being sad that Christian brothers can't get along and be charitable and patient with one another. I wasn't there so I can't be positive that is what happened, but there are many who are upset with the outcome and I am just sad that there is such a conflict within my church (denomination).

Now I'm nervous about this post and want to get another up so it's not the first one you see! See, I just hate conflict and unreconciled relationships! Why can't we just all get along?!

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's The Thought That Counts

I've been blogging a lot this week. I just haven't posted anything. I have a rule for myself that is not to blog angry (or really sad or unhappy or any extreme Eeyore type mood). But it just seems like lately there is so much conflict in my little world. There's all this yuck in the PCA. There was a huge misunderstanding and hurt feelings all around going on on another blog. There is the ever exhausting task that is trying to gather up Father's Day cards and gifts and ship them off to their proper destinations. And several other things. I have been just outright down. And homesick too. And busier than I probably needed to be. So I think it's mostly over. And tomorrow George and I will have our first date in over a month. Woohoo! So I'm back.

Today I nearly finished the whole Father's Day fiasco. I have managed to avoid both Mother's Day and Father's Day for our parents every year since we have been married. Except for cards. I always send cards. But even that is exhausting enough. "You've always been there..." Nope. "You taught me..." Nope. "You always know how to make me feel..." Unless it says "like crap" afterward, nope! But this year I got it in my head to do something nice for Mother's Day. And you can't do something nice for Mother's Day without doing something nice for Father's Day. And you can't do something nice one year and nothing the next. So I have officially committed myself to superfulous giftgiving for a "Halmark holiday" from now on. So we went to the outlet mall. It was the first day in a while that I have taken all three kids with me somewhere by myself. I guess I had gotten spoiled running errands while Amabel was at school or when George was working on the property and could keep tabs on the older kids. But it went okay. There is a Cabela's store at the outlet mall with huge walk through aquariums in the back stocked full of fish. This is quite the attraction. In the front of the store there is a large aquarium with alligator snapping turtles in it. I never even heard of these until I saw them at this Cabela's. See how it has an alligator tail? It is bizarre. Anyway, I went ahead and found my dad a gift at the Cabela's store while I was there. My parents are the most difficult people in the world to shop for. Not only do we just have a pretty severely dysfunctional relationship, but they have always treated gift giving like running people's errands for them- "Well, your dad needs a new belt. He only likes the kind with gold buckles and only one leather loop holder, not two." (try to shop for belts with those specifications; it is harder than you think!) or "I think he said something about a new hose. Oh, but your sister is getting him that. How about a sprinkler to go with it?" Seriously? Seriously. I don't want to get him a hose or a sprinkler or a belt or a package of socks! What is fun about any of those things? And where is the creativity or thoughtfulness? I mean, we all do it. I did get him the belt for his birthday. And my sister really did get him a hose. And she mailed it to him from New Jersey! So I have decided I am going to hone in on some traditions that require slight thoughtfulness and creativity each year without involving all kinds of racking my brain and emotional drain. Yes, it is emotionally draining. It just reminds me how stressed the relationship is. At any point I could walk into any store and pick out something for my best friend or husband or sister or child. Not so with my dad. So far from being the case that it is just exhausting trying to think of something. And I go through all the pain of rejection when he doesn't like it or makes a comment or says nothing or my mom shoots it down before he's even opened it. I will spend way more than I normally would because I know this is the thing and he will finally like my gift to him. But no matter what it is, he always says "that's real nice" in this sort of baby talk kind of way. One year I ran out of boxes and had to use a microwave popcorn box to wrap his gift in. I told my mom and my sister to make sure he knew to open the box. Well, they both forgot and he thought it really was microwave popcorn. He was surprisingly grateful for a box of microwave popcorn on Christmas morning whilst everyone else received gifts ten times nicer. When he thanked me over the phone for the popcorn I was stunned! I told him there was something else inside. And the crazy thing was, when he opened the gift, the gift I knew he would just love, I got that same "that's real nice" and it was almost as if he would have rather had the popcorn! Anyway, it's hard to explain; it just reopens old wounds.

So I have decided to find something moderately pleasing and run the idea into the ground for the next thirty years. Starting this year. It was going to be popcorn (right, because of the accolades the box received last time) but I made the mistake of running it by my mother. So popcorn alone became its own exhausting topic for about a week until I just decided no to popcorn altogether and picked something new.Tee shirts. They're universal. Everyone wears tee shirts. I have even seen my dad wear tee shirts, and clearly he is very selective about what he will wear. So I got him a fishing tee shirt today. He loves to fish. Except when he has just come home from fishing. Every time he comes home from fishing he says he is not going again. But the next thing you know, he is taking off work and missing someone's birthday party to go fishing. So he really does like it I think. Anyway, he gets a fishing tee shirt for Father's Day. I didn't tell my mom. Because the Cabela's store is too far and Father's Day is too close to turn back which I am sure she would tell me to do. He's getting the tee shirt! And if he doesn't obviously not like it, which he probably will but maybe not because it's a tee shirt but for some other reason like that he doesn't like the happy face life is good guy (I believe Jake is his name. Or is that the dog?), then I will get him another tee shirt next year. And on and on it will go. I know, I'm a genius. Well, I'm a genius until Monday, because he won't get it in time for Sunday, when he gets it and hates it. But for now, I'm a genius. I have struck gold.

And I also struck gold with the kids with this Cabela's store. You should go. They feed the fish at 1:00pm, at least one tank a day. The tanks are floor to ceiling all side by side to make a tunnel o' tanks if you will. The fish go crazy for the food. It is lots of fun. There are also lots of stuffed dead animals everywhere. And kids love that. Oh, and don't forget the turtles. They mostly just sit there, but they are very cool looking.

Well, this is not at all what this post started out to be. But you know, this is such a huge part of me- the struggle to work toward honoring my parents and toward healing in relationships where the other person/people involved is not really moving toward me in very helpful ways. That's not completely fair- I have other people that I struggle with this very thing over that are not my parents, people who have hurt me deeply and when I talked to them about it said outright "I'm not going to apologize for that." So I don't put that all on the relationship I have with my parents. I also don't want to imply that the relationship I have with them is all bad. They are very generous toward me. We could not be here in school and living like we are were it not for their generosity to us. And I am hugely grateful for that! But you know, it's a struggle. And I guess everyone can identify with that on some level. I talked about letting love cover over things with in laws and I think that's true in any relationship. I think it's even easier in some senses with your own parents because they're the ones who took you to Disney World and took you out for ice cream and took your picture on your birthday. You don't have that with in laws so if things are bad, there's not really a "happy place" to go to to refocus on the good. Anyway, I'm a work in progress and so are my parents. I know that and I'm working on it- one tee shirt (cross your fingers!) at a time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cyber Scrapbook- Amabel's recital

This weekend was Amabel's first ballet recital. I can't really tell how Amabel feels about ballet. She had a few weeks where she didn't want to go. I figured that we had paid for it and if she didn't want to continue after the semester it was no big deal, but that we needed to stick out our commitment. I guess that's a good value, teaching your kids to give things a chance. And for the most part she seemed to enjoy it. She's probably not going to be a career ballerina. According to the doctor's estimations, she is likely to end up around six feet tall! So I figure grace and balance could come in handy down the road and while she is a little more compact might be good for her to get a handle on poise. I have no poise. Seriously, I am a clutz! Well, it's not like I fall a lot. My mom does. That's another story though. Several other stories actually. Anyway, I'm just kind of clunky. I don't step lightly and I don't have a good control over what I'm doing. Anyway, I want Amabel to get that. It may turn into tumbling or even soccer eventually, but I just want her to have some sense of control over her movements. And to five year old little girls, ballerinas are heroes. So we have taken "combination A" this year: ballet, tap, and tumbling. I think Amabel's favorite has changed from time to time. At last check she liked the tumbling the best.

I sort of want her to love ballet. I guess it is like the baby dolls. I just love girly things. The ballet dance they learned for the recital was darling. But in the end, her class was assigned the tap number as their were too many little girls to do both dances. I was a little sad because the ballerinas got to wear pink tutus and had bunny ears and a bunny tail. Then one of the moms of the ballerinas pointed out that it was slightly reminiscent of playboy bunnies. So I guess it worked out that Amabel, who really does look her best in blue (but looks like an angel in anything, really), was assigned the tap number, "Special Date." I didn't like "Special Date" at first, for obvious reasons. But the last line redeems it into a charming song for little girls. They didn't really tap that much on stage, or sing as they were supposed to. But Amabel probably actually participated most out of the girls in her group. Mostly they all just stood on the stage while the music played and looked adorable wearing big blue bows in their hair and sparkly blue tulle skirts.

"Special Date"
I've got a date tonight at eight
I want to look my best
I'll wear my pearls and comb my curls
And wear my party dress
My makeup will look snazzy with powder on my nose
And boy will I look jazzy in shoes with pointed toes
The time is near when he'll appear and I can hardly wait
He'll say hello and off we'll go. I'm going on a date!

(A little music and twirling about, toe tapping, etc.)

I had a time! A real good time! The best I've every had!
'Cause he's my guy, I'll tell you why- My date tonight is DAD!

Then there were some sketchy numbers, one with little girls in garters and a few with little girls shimmying. Yes, little girls shaking that which they do not have! I am not so excited about what a lot of the older girls were doing either. I mean, it could have been a lot worse. There wasn't anything like what you might've seen where Christina Aguilera grew up (I mean, I'm just guessing; I'm just saying they weren't headed in that direction). You could tell that there must be an idea that the younger girls weren't going to be provocative because they were little girls so it was okay. The older girls were tamer for sure. But I was thinking to myself that if we were planning on staying in St. Louis past next year it might be good to find another studio. And the ballet numbers were all lovely. It was the modern and jazz dancing that was out of control. I guess that's what you call it. The very oldest had "senior solos" and most of them were very nice. A couple seemed like they were more "stream of consciousness" dancing. I am thinking sometimes solo dancing must just appear that way because there's not a whole group doing everything together showing what is supposed to be happening. Sometimes little half leaps and quick movements look like accidents if it's just one person up there. But what do I know? I wish we had actually gotten to see the bunny dance but they assigned the girls to all different shows too. So who knows how it turned out. I'm sure it was adorable as well.

"I Wuv A Wabbit"
I wuv a wabbit, a cwazy cwazy wabbit.
He likes to run and he likes to hide
and dance across the countryside.
He don't like cawwots. I'm cwazy over cawwots.
I'd make him happy, I know I could
but he don't like what a wabbit should.
We snuggle up in beddy-bye
I kiss him; he kisses I
But if he's been a such and such
he has to sleep in his wabbit hutch!

(music and stepping and twirling)

I wuv a wabbit, a cwazy cwazy wabbit
To treat him well, I'll never fail.
Now this is the end of my wabbit tale.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ocular Lumber

Lest anyone think I have neglected "beam research," I wanted to be clear that we daughters-in-law have our own share of faux pas. Perhaps we could all benefit from that list as well? Here's a list comprised all of mistakes made by me and me alone! Apologies have been extended where appropriate so feel free to just laugh, laugh, laugh at me. Enjoy this sampling of my "conduct unbecoming of a Chi Omega." For those who were not Chi O's, that's just a little catch all category for basically any kind of tacky or unkind behavior. And "beam research" refers to a term Paul Miller uses in Love Walked Among Us for describing the kind of behavior where we look at the log in our own eye before we point at the speck in someone else's.

1) Don't constantly refer to how differently people do things from where you come from. Most everyone will be able to tell that by "differently," you mean "better."
2) Don't say even veiled bad things about your mother-in-law to your children. This will get back to her. I know, this should be a no-brainer.
3) Don't make the mistake of thinking that because (you think) you are so obviously right in a conflict with an in law that someone else in the family will be objective and see your side. This will never happen. The dwarves are for the dwarves.
4) Don't make "passive" comments about the table manners of you in laws. Especially while sitting at the table. I will never know what possessed me to do that. And I will never live it down either!

I am sure there are other things, some of a more serious nature, but that could go for the other list too. Like I said last time, it is so important to let love cover over things. I am such a reactor and so many faux pas on my part that came to mind were poor responses to other things. But this weekend was a good time with all sorts of in laws and events and goings ons. If you'd like to confess your own blunders, place your planks right here!

Friday, June 08, 2007

With Ten Foot Pole In Hand

Durst I touch this? Yep, I'm gonna do it!

I have enough married girl friends and (admittedly) gossip enough to know that the world could really use an in laws handbook. Badly. And I think often times about compiling stories and advice but the problem becomes apparent right away that you just can't go dragging people's mothers-in-law through the mud publicly. And some stories would make it pretty easy to tell who the culprit was. And really, love covers a multitude of sins. When it comes to in laws especially, we really need to learn that. On the other hand, sometimes, really often times, it seems that these people mean well. And it seems like we could really help them, or help ourselves as we are all bound to be in laws one day, to just have a basic list of don'ts to help them out in a pinch. You wouldn't think this would be needed in some (really most) of these cases, but they have happened to people, many to people I know, so I guess someone should tell people. Please understand that these have not all happened to me. And even if they had, which they haven't, I have two mothers-in-law so don't think you know something about somebody because you don't. I just thought these were funny, and actually a little sad in some cases, but
sometimes sharing them can make them funny right? For more, you can look at this website, but I wouldn't recommend it as it is pretty much gossip and can make you really angry at the people involved even though you don't know them. I only link to it because the first on my list is from the website and I think it is hilarious, but also really mean.

1) Don't ask your new daughter in law to step out of the way so that you can take a "family picture" with your son and other children- especially not at her wedding!
2) Don't insist on being called either a formal title or a term of endearment. Offering it is nice, but since everyone else in the world calls you by your name, it seems like this must be comfortable for you to go by where calling you something besides that may be uncomfortable for the new family member.
3) Don't stand over your daughter in law as she is preparing a meal for you and make "suggestions."
4) Don't say that you like your other son's ex-girlfriend better than your daughter-in-law (even if it is true).
5) Don't make a big deal out of how much you spent. On anything. To anyone.
6) Don't greet the bride and the groom right after they have taken their vows with "I just hope you don't get divorced." This is probably not a nice thing to say to any married people ever.
7) Don't say you're not excited about your daughter-in-law having a baby. Don't say you're not excited about anyone having a baby. Babies are good. We are excited about babies (unless I guess possibly if it is an unmarried situation, but even then it might be best to keep our lack of support to ourselves).
8) Okay, here's the one that happened today. To me. Don't show up an hour and a half early for the weekend. If you know my in laws, please don't tell them about this post. They are dear sweet people and they just wanted to see their grandkids and they could care less if my house is a mess. But you know me with three kids and no concept of time? Yeah, an hour and a half early might as well be a week early! They called and said they were five minutes away and I was nursing. You should've seen me getting that baby in an exersaucer, flying around the house, barking orders at Amabel! I've never been so close to a heart attack! But all is well now. And we are so glad they're here... an hour and a half early!

Feel free to add a few that happened to someone you know.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Book and Babydoll Update

So does everyone remember my last post about books and babydolls? They are two of my very favorite things about having little girls. I just love having girls. I love having a boy too. It is almost imperative that everyone have at least one of each (but who can help it?). But having two girls, being a girl, having two sisters and no brothers, and all girl cousins makes me a real girly girl in a lot of ways. Okay, so in high school I went through some grungy phase where all I wore was hunter green and no makeup and totally wanted to be a tom boy, but before that I was a little girl for whom my mom had to buy pants to match all my dresses in winter because I couldn't stand being in anything but a dress, and since then I have been the mom who dresses her own little girl in all dresses with giant hair bows to match. That's me, and that's my girls until they express feelings or desires to the contrary. The thing about Amabel, which I have said, is that she doesn't like dolls. She does, however, love a stuffed pink Hippo named Happy and dresses her in all the latest Build-a-Bear fashions (which are unfortunately often on the hoochie momma side as they are modeled after clothes from the Limited Too if you don't mind my saying so, or really even if you do). Found this picture of Happy on ebay for those of you who have always wondered but never had the pleasure! There are actually quite a few of her on ebay, all for less than $15. I paid $17 for one about a year and a half ago as an "insurance policy." But what's a couple of bucks for a year's worth of piece of mind. I hope nothing will ever happen to the current Happy and I can surprise Amabel with the emergency Happy when she has her own little girl. Anyway, I have high hopes that Elspeth will like babydolls. I am not sure why this is so important to me. I just know that I nearly bought her a doll before she was born so that there would never be a day she had not had a babydoll. In the end, I let her go three months before I bought her her first baby for Christmas. But alas, it is too big for such a small baby. And even when she figured out how to play with things and hold things, her dolly was too big to do much with but just grab and bury her face in. And that gets old. So I had looked for a smaller doll. I came up with the one on the left made by Eden. And while it is darling, it isn't so exactly the one I wanted. It was available so I bought it, both for Elspeth and for a friend's little girl's baby shower. And Elspeth seems to enjoy it. But at the shower my friend got the doll I had really wanted and couldn't find locally from her mother. So I finally ordered the doll off Amazon last week. I was ordering gifts for George and my brother-in-law and figured I might as well throw in the doll and get free shipping. She arrived yesterday and from what I can tell Elspeth likes her a lot. I am enamored with her myself. It is a Corolle baby doll and they always smell of vanilla. What a charming quality for a babydoll!

I decided to go ahead and order a few other things off Amazon while I was at it. Birthdays can sneak up on me as I have a horrible concept of time. And they can often hit when we are flat broke. I decided to go ahead and purchase a few books ahead of time and I was very glad I did when I saw there were very few left in stock of a couple of the ones I was after. I love the Frances books by Russell and Lillian Hoban. A friend of mine gave Amabel a couple of these for her first birthday. Another friend gave Elspeth a different one when she was born. The stories are so sweet and they read aloud so well. I have no idea why I am writing about them because that's not what I bought. But they are darling for little girls and I highly recommend them if you have one. I have also lately learned that Lillian Hoban also did the Arthur books which I have a vague memory of from childhood. They are for early readers and I am excited about checking some of these out for Amabel this summer. These are not the Arthur books like Arthur the television show, in which I think the children can be a little too cutting and unkind, but are about a little monkey named Arthur and his sister Violet. I have not read them since I was an early reader so I really can't recommend them for certain. I will let you know though.

Another book I remember from my childhood is A Time to Keep by Tasha Tudor. My sister had this book and I secretly coveted it with its pink cover and dainty illustrations every time I saw it. It is now on the night stand in my old room at my parents' house. Tasha Tudor has written many charming books among which is the popular favorite A is for Annabelle. I have never purchased this one because of my daughter's name so often being confused with Annabelle. I never wanted her to confuse it herself! Ms. Tudor does such exquisite illustrations that I feel I must start a collection of her work for Elspeth. After all, Amabel has gotten almost every book for little girls imaginable! But again, I am writing about things I did not order.

What I did order was a couple of books by Mary Ann Hoberman. I ordered them from memory for Elspeth but I am thinking now that I have gotten them that it will be a while before she can enjoy such long books. They are so fun though and I am glad I ordered them even if I wait to give them to her at Christmas. One of them is called A House is a House for Me and the other is called The Cozy Book (careful, the link is to the paperback edition, the hardcover page didn't have a picture- I tend to think buying paperbacks in children's books is a total waste). A House is a House for Me is about all kinds of houses both obvious and not so obvious and who they are houses for:

A hill is a house for an ant, an ant
A hive is a house for a bee.
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!
A web is a house for a spider.
A bird builds its nest in tree.
There is nothing so snug as a bug in a rug
And a house is a house for me!

Check it out; you will love it! The Cozy Book is about all the cozy things to eat and wear and do and play and say and go. It also has a great rhythm like the other book and great illustrations by the same illustrator, Betty Fraser. It is so delightful I can't even pick one excerpt to do it justice. Here's a snippet:

Juicy peaches fat and fuzzy
Sliced bananas, Tapioca-
Sliced bananas? Tapioca?
Well, certain people think they're cozy-
You may not
Some don't
Some do
What you like is up to you
(But everyone thinks cocoa's cozy)
Whipped up frothy orange Jell-O
Chicken soup with spots of yellow
Creamed tomato red and rosy-
Cozy cozy cozy cozy.

Aren't you feeling cozy now? The whole book is just as lovely. One more author to list in this very long (but hoped to be very useful) post. Karma Wilson. Have I mentioned Karma Wilson before? She used to be over there on my profile but my profile was so sparse I deleted it. What can you really say about yourself just in the favorite books and music categories? Whatever, that's beside the point. Karma Wilson. She is our favorite, hands down! She wrote Bear Snores On and the several near as good (which I think is hard to do and very impressive) sequels, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up For Christmas, Bear's New Friend, and coming soon, Bear Feels Sick. They are so fun with great rhymes and repeat characters that my sister and I both do voices for for our kids. I have given them as gifts many times over; they are a must have. Ms. Wilson has also written many other must have titles. We have most of her work because it is all so good. One of my favorites is a board book she did called Baby Cakes. It is a sweet book that is really a song for little ones. "Baby Cakes, Baby Cakes, I love you. Baby Cakes, Baby Cakes, Yes I do." It gets better! And another favorite is Mama Always Comes Home. I gave this one to Amabel and August the first time (and only time) we left them for the weekend. It is about how mommies of all kinds of different animals have to leave sometimes but they always come back; lastly it has the child's mommy driving away, but on the last page she comes back. It would be great gift from a mommy who is going back to work or taking a trip or any mommy whose child becomes distressed in the nursery or with a babysitter. Other favorites, and most of these are good and silly (but not too much so): Hilda Must Be Dancing, A Frog in the Bog, Moose Tracks, Sakes Alive! A Cattle Drive, Animal Strike at the Zoo, Dinos on the Go, Dinos in the Snow (those two aren't her greatest literary endeavors but they are fun for little boys who love to read as much as they love dinosaurs and vehicles/transportation), and the one I just ordered, I Will Rejoice: Celebrating Psalm 118. Amazon also lists another Scripture based work coming out in September, Give Thanks to the Lord: Celebrating Psalm 92 as well as Let's Make a Joyful Noise: Celebrating Psalm 100 coming out next February. She appears to have lots of up and coming things and a few I haven't seen that have come out recently. She is thoroughly delightful,her books are both whimsical and smart, and you really should become acquainted with her if you aren't already!

Well, that's about all for now. I enjoy these posts. Let me know if you do and I'll keep them up every now and again if they help you out. Oh, incidentally, the Karma Wilson books and even the Mary Ann Hoberman ones are really for girls or boys. August has a lot of the Karma Wilson ones. They are for any child. Or adult for that matter; even if you don't have kids, you should just go hang out at Barnes and Noble, have yourself a coffee, and read a few Karma Wilson books.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Cute Inside and Out

Me! No, not me. Keep reading. I should be doing so many other things. But here I sit. I had to check up on things, you know. I have errands on the World Wide Web: have a look see into how the FV debates are going (ugh!), catch up on Annie's funny stories, check in on Amelia and how to pray for her, get some good recipes or shopping tips from Lauren, and today I found out about Jessie's sister who does charming artwork! Well, I'd seen some of her work before, it just wasn't until today when I am actually in the market for this particular type of artwork that I paid better attention. I am determined to one day have a cute baby nursery. You know, like the kind that someone from a magazine would want to come and take pictures of. It may be when the last baby is three, but I'm having one! I might just keep having babies until I get it!

The fun thing about being in this apartment is that for some reason, that psychopath in me that wants my house to look like a magazine is dormant. Is this perhaps because the arrival or the third child has made this so far out of reach that I don't even try? Is it because I am actually closer to cute than I have been before because of the hardwood floors and the size and shape of the rooms? Or is it because I am just tired of caring and I know we will move this time next year? It may be a combination of all of those things. But while I am sure my husband is very glad that I haven't cried about how ugly our curtains are in a while (nope, not kidding, I cry about lots of things though) I am sure the neighbors wish I would take a little more care. The rent check box is right outside the often open front door. What sights the neighbors see! And even when I remember to keep the chaos behind a closed door, there is still the matter of rusty bikes and plastic shovels and countless Tonka trucks strewn about the neighborhood. And even when those are put away, there's our trusty plastic dinosaur shaped sandbox sitting in the flower bed. Beautiful! Bring on the Jeff Foxworthy jokes; we totally deserve them! Lucky for the rest of the neighborhood, we're tucked away into a corner where no one can see unless they come a lookin' (or to drop off their rent check every month!).

If you ever are in the neighborhood, stop by Ami's house. Ami has officially abandoned her blog some time ago so I deleted her link. But she's still around and having a baby soon. Her little girl's nursery is magazine caliber! She has made all the bedding herself- a bumper, pillows, and quilt her daughter will cherish always! It is a total inspiration. And now I am really regretting not paying for the sit and sew classes at Eunice Farmer last month! Well, Ami, if you read this, sorry I just invited everyone who reads my blog to your house. The good news is it's only about twelve or so people so there shouldn't be too many intrusions!

If Ami's not home (she's going to shoot me, isn't she?), you can always go back behind her place and see the garden her neighbors have put in! It's amazing! And recently their neighbors on the other side have decided to start a vineyard! Is this true? Supposedly so! The whole place is on a gardening spree! There's flowers and greenery and all kinds of food growing everywhere. And I'm wondering, do dandelions count? Because we have plenty of those. Otherwise, I got nothin'!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Finally Won!!!!

I think most of you remember my ebay woes from the past. Ebay is a thorn in my side! But it is also the reason my daughters and my son have adorable clothes to wear (well that and Nanna). I hate it, but I need it. Besides just for consignment clothes and fabric, I need it. Because I have been working on a project for almost three years now that I had no idea would be so huge until I got into it. I needed a bedspread for Amabel's bed and had a hard time finding anything I liked. I saw a lot of cute bedding in magazines and concluded that it must all be custom made. One thing I found I liked again and again was vintage chenille. And there is scads of vintage chenille on ebay. But the more I looked, the more I learned about it until I became a chenille snob. There are some manufacturers and patterns that are more sought after, and I've learned quickly what I like. And even when I've found what I like it is not always easy to find big enough pieces. George thought it just wouldn't look right unless the squares were fairly large and I thought large would be fine too. But it turned out to be a huge problem. Because so many times a piece would seem huge but would only get me two or three squares in the end and I would not be able to bid very high. Over time though, I have collected a lot of chenille. I finally began making the blanket sometime earlier this year and decided it looked all wrong. There just wasn't any continuity. So I decided what I needed was one big white spread to cut up and put between all my squares to pull it all together. And the good news about that is that it stretches my collection so that I would have enough chenille to make both girls a blanket. The only problem became winning a full spread. It was insane. I would put in my high bid at $40.03 and lose at $41. It kept happening again and again. I finally went crazy and bid $70.03 and wouldn't you know I lost to $71? All for the same spread! There are enough of them out there, but it is just amazing that even when I nearly doubled the last winning bid, I still lost. I'm glad I lost the $70 bid. That was just crazy. But finally, after weeks, no months, of bidding on the same dang spread, I won! Hurray! Hurray! I won! And I won at $32.00! Beautiful! So that's my summer project, to finally make Amabel's bedspread (up until now, she's just had a small crib sized quilt- terrible, I know, but it still covers her pretty well). We-he-hell, that's one of my summer projects. I have much more on the agenda. I've got dresses to smock for my girls, for my sister's girls (hurray! she's having a girl!), for one of my really good friends that is having a girl 's girls! For Jennie's girl and boy! And I also have sewing that doesn't involve smocking. The first on that list is a grocery cart seat cover for Elsepth. And then a hundred other things, I'm sure. But I can't think of any more right now. That list will keep me occupied for a good long time anyway, dontcha think?!

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