Friday, March 28, 2008

Kids Think the Darnedest Things

I noticed something today about my children. They truly don't believe me when I say, "I don't know." This could be a result of all the absent minded times both George and I have said, "I don't know," when being pelted by questions whilst trying to do something that requires our mental energy- say driving, cooking, or looking for something. Anyway, "I don't know," no longer silences them. For this reason I find myself more and more slipping into totally BSing my children! You know the types, the Cliff Clavins of the world, who will answer you emphatically, as if they are complete experts, if you so much as wonder about something aloud in their general proximity? Well, while I don't thrust my guesses on the children without being prompted (and that's not saying anything really as they are always prompting), I find myself more and more just kind of making stuff up as I go, pretending I know stuff when I haven't the slightest idea.

Today they asked about mud flaps. Lots of questions about mud flaps. I have never thought at all about mud flaps, but somehow I had answers for them! I think anyone overhearing me might recognize that I don't really know what I'm talking about, and that I know I don't know what I'm talking about, but to kids, it's all the same. "Why don't cars have mud flaps?" "Because trucks are taller." Is that even true? It doesn't really matter, as long as I'm not giving them answers to really important things. But sometimes I am. Theological debates even on the four and six year old level are tough, y'all! "If God loves everyone he made, then why does he make some go to hell?" Yikes! I mean, I could argue the nuances of that question pretty well with one of you, but how do I explain total depravity and election to a child while still maintaining God's love for humankind, that he declared Creation good? Plenty of whole churches get that wrong! It's not something you want to be BSing about!

Do y'all remember the lies you believed when you were a kid? Not that any of us were willfully lied to, but there were misunderstandings. My sister told me that abortions were when a baby was flushed down the toilet! While I suppose she had the spirit of the horror of the situation down, I was somewhat relieved (and I don't know why) to know that that wasn't actually happening. Although I suppose if we looked at it more that way, we might be a little less passive about "the right to choose." So that's not a very funny example. But I also remember a movie in which an unmarried woman got pregnant. I was very alarmed and wondered how that could be, to which my mom replied, "sometimes that happens." Well, I thought that blew the whole man and woman thing out of the water- if sometimes it didn't seem to take a man- and lived in perpetual fear of spontaneous conception until somewhere along the way it registered with me that my mom wasn't saying you didn't always have to have a man; she was saying you didn't always have to have a husband.

Anyway, if my kids end up only having weird ideas about mud flaps or the animals' spiritual accountability (that was a whole different can of worms), I will consider myself very blessed. But I am a little nervous to think what kind of strange things they are getting from me, especially when I know I don't know what the heck I'm talking about! In the end, even after the misunderstanding about abortion and getting pregnant, no harm done. Do y'all have any strange misunderstandings from childhood? One other one of mine was just something I heard and misunderstood. My dad's curse of choice was to say (pardon me) "damnation!" He always paused between the first and second syllable, that was just the way he said it I guess, but I always thought he was really mad at the country! For years I thought he was really anti-American because he always seemed to be damning the nation. Well, no, it was just general damnation, I suppose. Anyway, anyone else have a story?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thinking of Titles is the Biggest Pain of Blogging

George has several very dear professors who have been mentoring him while he has been in seminary. There is one in particular who has been especially encouraging to him. They meet regularly and George really looks forward to their get togethers. Do guys call getting together a get together? I don't think so. I tell y'all, I have been having me some writer's block lately! Anyway, at their last lunch date (oh, that is so much worse than get together!), his friend gave him a devotional book by Henri Nouwen. I have heard of Henri Nouwen. We even have friends who named their daughter for him (her name is Nouwen). But I just haven't ever really encountered anything he had written before.

This particular book is called The Inner Voice of Love- A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom. It is a private journal that Father Nouwen kept during a really difficult time in his life. He wrote one imperative for himself each day, a personal challenge to work through something he with which he was struggling. The book was only published years after the period of his life in which it was written. Intensely personal and honest, it was never intended to be published by the author, but his close friends persuaded him that because it could help and encourage so many, he really couldn't keep it to himself.

George encouraged me to take a look at the book because I have really been flailing about lately, and have been sort of weighing the pros and cons of sharing- wanting to hash everything out, to share and be known, to be understood and even exonerated on some level (like, there is a really good reason why I am so strange and difficult!), but also being aware that the ins and outs of such flailing usually expose other people and open myself up to much criticism. It is funny that those are the sorts of pros and cons Nouwen himself might have considered when deciding whether or not to share his private journal. But it is done in such a way that the only person it exposes is Nouwen himself, and we love him more for it. George thought it would both give me insight into how to write about my own "stuff" without dragging other people into it, and more importantly, that I might benefit from Father Nouwen's insight into his own pain and confusion.

The second entry seems like it could have been written by a friend with the inscription "To Abby" at the top. I hope some of you may find it just as helpful, whether you feel it as intensely and acutely as our author felt it, or just that you feel the need to be justified as a victim of idle gossip or incompassionate suspicion. It is the helpful explanatory companion to the old cliche your mom used to ask you, "who cares what other people think?" Because, of course, the answer really is, "I do!":

Do not tell everyone your story. You will only end up feeling more rejected. People cannot give you what you long for in your heart. The more you expect from people's response to your experience of abandonment, the more you will feel exposed to ridicule.

You have to close yourself off to the outside world so you can enter your own heart and the heart of God through your pain. God will send to you the people with whom you can share your anguish, who can lead you closer to the true source of love.

So what do y'all think? Is this helpful? Anyway, it sort of explains my absence- the writer's block and the lack of knowing how to talk about the things I am thinking about. It is freeing to just kind of know I don't need to. I plan to write more regularly again now. So yeah, that's it for now. Feel free to comment, criticize, inquire, suggest, share, give recipes or tell jokes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Always Smocking, But Getting Nowhere

I have been away from my blog for another while trying to finish up last minute Easter stuff. Hasn't happened. I am actually pretty close to finishing Easter dresses for the girls. But not close enough. Fortunately, my mom bought them some dresses when she was her. The dresses I am making are nicer, but they just won't be ready. And that's okay. It's actually a huge relief to be able to slow down. Maybe I will actually enjoy finishing them up this way. And one good thing about having rushed this far is that it has me in the habit of smocking, and I had certainly gotten out of the habit. I have a lot of near finished dresses that I need to actually all the way finish, so my new goal is to get them done before me move out, at the end of May. Not that goals really ever make that much a of a difference to me when there is no consequence. As in, what will happen if I don't finish the dresses before we move? Nothing. And no, we don't have anywhere to go yet, and George does not have a job yet. But we do know his replacement has been hired and we have to get out before June like the rest of the graduates, and does this sound at all familiar to any of y'all? Because it seems to me that we have been through this once, twice, no three times before. Yeah, something about him needing a job and not being able to find one and us having to find a place to live and having no money. All vaguely familiar. At least I can joke about it, right? As George would say, "Pray like the wind!" Because well, just because.

Anyway, having been away from my blog made me decide that Chi Omega or no, this page looks like a McDonald's from the eighties threw up all over it. I know, y'all weren't going to say anything. Should I go back to Barbie doll pink though? I do like me some pink. Well, I'll post this and play with colors. Because now that I don't have to finish two dresses with angel sleeves before Sunday at nine o'clock (and yes, I have been known to be hemming an Easter dress in the car on the way to church on Easter morning!), I can waste time like a champ!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eastertide Tidings

I've been working hard on thinking and typing through some things very close to my heart right now. But I find it very exhausting work! I am cranky and frustrated with my lack of verbal dexterity (is that even the right word?). I think partly I am just hungry. Anyway, what you get in the meantime is a cut and paste post. I have been storing this in my inbox for two years, which means it is very noteworthy as I can't stand having things pile up in my inbox! It is from a Veritas Press newsletter I subscribe to. For those who don't know, Veritas Press is a classical Christian education resource (I guess that's how you would say that; again, I am not so good with the words today!), or where I ordered the stuff I used when I home schooled Amabel. This excerpt was really interesting to me; it is a little about the history of Easter Eggs.

My parents thought that pretty much everything except Bible verses and church services distracted from the real meaning of holidays. I know there are many out there with these feelings, but as someone who was raised without the "secular" aspects of holidays, I tend to be a little more in favor of just doing things because they are fun with the idea that they add tradition and richness to our everyday lives even if they are not out and out saying "Jesus is the reason for the season." I can't even type that, cranky as I am, without snickering. That was what our Christmas stockings had on them when we were kids. There is always so much to say about all of this, and I would love to hear what y'all think about these types of traditions. This is a little of what Gregg Strawbridge, a pastor of a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania, had to say about Easter Eggs:

There are many Christian legends which place eggs in Easter. The Poles have quite a few legends about it. One Polish legend concerns Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer). It tells of a time Mary gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross. She entreated them to be less cruel and she wept. The tears of Mary fell upon the eggs, spotting them with dots of brilliant color. Another legend tells of when Mary Magdalen went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. She had with her a basket of eggs to serve as a repast. When she arrived at the sepulchre and uncovered the eggs, lo, the pure white shells had miraculously taken on a rainbow of colors. Another says that on the first Good Friday a man was taking a basket of eggs to market to sell. On the way he put the basket down and ran to help Christ carry the cross. When he returned, the eggs were supposedly decorated in beautiful colors and designs. Hence, the Easter Egg basket. We find that all other Eastern Europeans, Czechs, Romanians and Ukrainians followed these traditions. Now let us rejoice that our faith does not rest in the veracity of these legends.

Whether such legends have any truth is difficult to determine but it is certainly the case that Easter Eggs have a long and venerable history in Christendom. It is, I think, quite surprising to find that Easter Eggs were customary in the East and the West and in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions.

We know, for example, that decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England during the Middle Ages. There is an historical document from the household accounts of Edward I for the year 1290 which recorded an expenditure of eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts.

Further, in the Russian Orthodox tradition we have those most famous of Easter Eggs made by the well-known goldsmith, Peter Carl Fabergé. In 1883 the Russian Czar, Alexander, commissioned Fabergé to make a special Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie. The first Fabergé egg was an egg within an egg. It had an outside shell of platinum and enameled white which opened to reveal a smaller gold egg. The smaller egg, in turn, opened to display a golden chicken and a jeweled replica of the Imperial crown. The Czar ordered the Fabergé firm to design many more eggs to be delivered every Easter. In later years Nicholas II, Alexander's son, continued the custom. Fifty-seven eggs were made in all. Fabergé’s creations were ingenious, ranging from large clocks in ovoid shapes to elaborately decorated eggs embedded with jewels, displaying the wealth of the Russian Czars.

He also mentions that eggs were traditionally abstained from during Lent so that eggs were a gift often given on Easter and egg dishes were common on Easter menus. He also has some interesting connections to the Spring Equinox, which reminds me to put this up as well. This being something I found on Wikipedia that helps us understand exactly why Easter is so dang early this year, even though we have all been told and forgotten at least three times before. "Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastical spring, or vernal, equinox)." I think this more or less means that we have a full moon on Vernal Equinox this year, which also happens to be on a Friday, and so we get Easter the next Sunday, two days later, March 23rd. Good news for fellow smockers: next year it won't be until April 12th. So do y'all dye eggs and hide them? I have to say I always go plastic! I think this year (or maybe next year) we'll have to try hollowing them out and dying them. Martha had a neat little tool for getting the whites and yolks out the other day. I am just afraid we'd break more than we wouldn't. And I can't really think what I'd do with that many hard boiled eggs. Anyway, what fun traditions do y'all have?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Dropping By

Hey, y'all. I am probably not going to get to post until Friday. As soon as I say that, I'll end up writing a post tonight. You never know. Just wanted to stop in and say I am just super busy, which also means I am super cheery as you know I love to be busy. I have several little posts composing themselves in my mind. Whether they ever work their way through my fingertips and to a computer screen near you remains to be seen.

I am thoroughly enjoying The Watsons, one of Jane Austen's novellas, and I believe I have mentioned I am in the process of working my way through all of her shorter works. I keep thinking these would adapt really easily into movies, as no details would have to be forfeited for time constraints. Lady Susan was also a delight, and there are many others just waiting on the shelf to be devoured. I have even sacrificed my pace a little during my workouts so as to be able to sneak a few paragraphs in while exercising. Speaking of which, I am off to the Y before the Carnster arrives. (The Carnster being my mom, who arrives today and is visiting until Friday.) So you know now why I won't be posting. I shall be shopping, of course. Seersucker suits and smocked dresses for all!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Owl, The Carnation, The Cardinal and Straw

Honestly, I think I am somewhat slap happy. It is after nine on Sunday evening and I should be making Easter dresses. But I just took a look at my blog and decided the colors were ugly. I have always thought it would be hilarious to do red and yellow for a while but I couldn't get it to look not ugly. Until now. Not that this is beautiful. Just funny. Cardinal and straw.

I had an unaddressed conflict with some family a while back, where I just felt I was not being heard or respected as the parent of my children. I hope that is neither confusing nor exposing, but it isn't really that big of a deal anyway. But at the time I was really upset. I was so upset that I started having nightmares about these people kidnapping the children. I know, I am crazy. And as a crazy person, I told my friend Rebekah all about my dream to demonstrate how very distressed I was. I explained how in one dream I tried to convince George to come with me to try to find our kidnapped children but he wouldn't. I went alone, searching back roads and stopping here and there looking for information, when I ran into two girls from my sorority (at a charming boutique, of course), who helped me find the seedy motel where the children had been taken. And here my chronicle was interrupted by laughter as Rebekah recounted how my subconscious had designed that in the event of the disappearance of my children, my husband would refuse to help me, but my sorority sisters would not only come to my aid but provide the clues needed to recover my lost children. And in case you're wondering, when I found the children, they were fine for the most part, except that Amabel's ears had been pierced. This sparked a fight between me and the family member responsible for the piercings, which ended when George entered and punched him out. So George came to the rescue in the end. Only after the Chi Omegas.

It's really much funnier when I tell it in person. Especially because I can tell you about all the sketchy details without being too alarming. But I think what Rebekah pointed out was interesting. I joke about it a lot, but why do I have a warm place in my heart for something as seemingly snobbish and arbitrary as can be? I do not generally think I would like my girls to go through Rush and be in a sorority. Not at all. But if they were to pledge Chi Omega? That's a different thing. Why? I think part of it is the legacy thing. My grandmother, my aunt, my cousins, my sister, all of us were Chi Os. But that means all of us went through the mean process of scoring and cutting and pro-con-con-pro-ing. Yuck! The justification at the time was "she'll be happier somewhere else." And to a degree, that is true. I got cut from a lot of sororities and I know I would not have been happy in them. But why are we happy in an exclusive club with silly passwords, hand shakes, hymns, and initiations in the first place? I think it is that we belong to something. It is nice to belong to something. Ideally, anyone can belong to the Church. But so often our individual churches are their own little social clubs, and we sometimes feel we do not belong at all. Ideally, biologically, we all belong to families. But so often families are painful or lonely or even absent.

I take it back, I am not slap happy. This is the third post I have written tonight (George is at a friend's house for a fantasy baseball draft), and they all end in this very pensive and somber way. I am not meaning to be melancholy, this is just what keeps coming up. Something about belonging and being cared for and having a home. In so many strange ways Auburn is home to me. I met George in Auburn. I married George in Auburn. And I was a Chi Omega at Auburn. I pretty much became me in Auburn. It is weird, I know. Too bad there's no job for George in Auburn now! Well anyway, take from this what you will, I have no idea what I am talking about. I just wanted to have a Chi Omega moment for the Chi Omega colors. And I guess I am beginning to feel somewhat homeless again as graduation swiftly approaches. I have high hopes for a place to belong, to thrive and grow and serve. I have deep fears of some sort of difficult, dark and lonely season ahead, where we are sure to "learn something" and "gain wisdom" and be miserably unhappy! Oh me of little faith!

Friday, March 07, 2008

We're Sorry, There Is No Ms. Edema Here

Have I mentioned the little postal system at Amabel's school? It is really cute. Everyone has an address, and there are mail carriers, and letters are always going to and fro. Anyway, you are all getting a lesson on etiquette today because the way these letters are being addressed is driving me c-razy. And the whole point is to teach how to address a letter! Well, not to be too hard on the system, everything really is well done except for the titles.

I personally, have almost no use for the title "Ms." To me it is superfluous (Miss or Mrs. should serve) and whether I was taught something really strange in the Southern Baptist school I attended when learning elementary grammar, or whether it is actually true, I think of "Ms." as a small result (among many) of the feminist movement. But that sounds like the type of arbitrarily dogmatic opinion that I often hold without realizing it is, in fact, arbitrarily dogmatic until a rational person points it out. Nope, I just looked it up. It is pretty much from the feminism movement- originated in the US and was popularized in the 70s. So in 1984 when I was learning it, it must have been fairly new and not so widely accepted as it is now.

So call me old fashioned, but "Ms." annoys the heck out of me. I have kind of come around with older unmarried women. Not divorced women. Divorced women are Mrs. whatever their first name is, instead of Mrs. whatever their husband's first name is. For example, I am Mrs. George Edema. I will not divorce, but let's say it's an alternate universe, I would be Mrs. Abby Edema. If George died and we were still married, I would still be Mrs. George Edema. This is a terrible alternate universe! Anyway, the rules are pretty clear. I see no need for Ms. in there anywhere. Before I married, I was Miss Abby Hawkins. Now I did marry at twenty-two. So I can allow for a thirty-two year old woman not wanting to still be Miss as she has been since birth. I am pretty sure the "proper" cutoff is thirty. But I suppose it could be applied to any unmarried career woman.

Anyway, I keep fishing these letters out of Amabel's backpack addressed to "Ms. Amabel Edema." Ugh! She's six years old! I asked her if she had not been taught about "Miss." And she said they are not supposed to use the word Miss, but have been told to use Ms. instead. I say she "said" this because six year olds cannot always be trusted to understand exactly what they have been taught. I told her when she writes to her friends she needs to use "Miss" when addressing letters and to always call herself "Miss" in the return address. This new instruction was very distressing to her. Well, she's my child, so being distressed is not so unusual, but anyway, there seems to be some confusion. There are a lot of unmarried teachers at her school and so I can understand that as career women, they choose to be called Ms. If they were married and wanting to be called Ms., I have to say that I would find that odd and well, to be perfectly honest, annoying. But I would comply. What I will not comply with, is children being called "Ms." That is beyond annoying; it is simply incorrect.

I have read a lot about this today online and I will say that aside from my personal feelings, there seem to be some pretty general cultural assumptions about this issue. I read lots of places where people said that Ms. indicates divorce or left wing feminism to them. And people who want to defend Ms. tend to say that it is all purpose or "safe" (basically, "let's not offend anyone" types). So there you have it, I am anti-Ms. (and it would seem I am not alone) particularly when applied to anyone younger than thirty. What do y'all think?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Should We Talk About the Weather?

Because a lot of you don't live in St. Louis and actually live in the Deep South, you will want to know that it snowed from morning to evening yesterday, beautiful, feathery flakes, that heaped on the ground, the rooftops, and the trees, until all you could see on anything was an icing of white, nine inches deep, like a gingerbread village come to life! A friend said on her blog last week that she thinks it unfortunate that Christmas comes so early in winter. I wholeheartedly agree. What a lovely Christmas today would've been! But we shall take the snow when we can, even if it is in March and we are all ready for the tulips to bloom. Who can wish for tulips when the world is such a lovely white? Ask me tomorrow...

Monday, March 03, 2008

5.7 miles of Tunage

After a lot of trial and error, I have finally come up with a pretty good, and also extremely hilarious, workout mix. It's all over the map. We have some very old and some brand new mixed in with some very obscure. It's awesome! I think the song I am most excited about is "MMMBop." Never has a song been so embarrassingly delightful as "MMMBop." It is everything I can do to keep from singing it at the top of my lungs, because besides that that would be strange, no one else in the workout room is hearing the accompanying music. So it would just be me, off key, "Mmmbop, da ba doo bop..." (I looked the lyrics up online; there is quite the discrepancy about where the bas and das are), but honestly, can't you just imagine people wanting to join in? There is this lady that walks on the treadmills and watches Golden Girls and laughs out loud the whole time. I have thought about putting my screen on Golden Girls to see what's so funny, but I rather like just hearing her.

Well, one thing I learned from this whole super fast workout song search is that I desperately need to get some new music. Granted, the type of music I usually listen to is not workout type music, but even in just looking through our CDs to find something, I realized that a good 80% of our CDs are George's. And George likes really really boring stuff like Hem and Son Volt and Neil Young. Ugh. I gleaned what I could from what we had. And I got a couple of songs off iTunes. (No, I don't have a Hanson CD laying around. Too bad though, huh?) Anyway, here's the "final" cut (for now, I am already getting sick of a couple of these), total running time of one hour:

"All I Want Is You" by Barry Louis Polisar (this is the opening song from Juno, delightful!)
"1 2 3 4" by Feist (I don't know why, but this song makes me want to dance- er, um, run real fast!)
"Mudfootball" by Jack Johnson (Jack Johnson is just not workout material, but this song is pretty fast)
"These Words" by Natasha Bedingfield
"Like a Prayer" by Madonna
"Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra (because I have major spring fever!)
"I am Superman" by REM
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by the Proclaimers (almost as good as MMMBop, but not quite)
"MMMBop" by Hanson
"Mr. Brightside" by the Killers
"Hey Ya!" Outkast
"Grace Kelly" by MIKA (You might not recognize this one, but it is awesome- also hilarious.)
"Run On" by Moby
"Bad Day" by REM
"Light and Day" by Polyphonic Spree (I am sure this song is very New Age-y at its core, but I still love it)
"Yahweh" by U2
and, as all great things should end, "40" by U2

But an hour is not quite as long as I'd like, and I am tiring a little of "Like a Prayer" as I have been working out to it since college! So I could still use some suggestions. Especially if you were ever in the passenger's seat in the Jeep or the Volvo any time in the 90s, we always had the top down or the sunroof open and something playing really loud (like "500 miles"). Anyone remember? Or what did you play really loud with the windows down? Man, I so wish I had saved all those mix tapes from high school and college. But I left the top down on a few too many rainy days to have made that very possible. Awww, Toby! (Toby was my Jeep's name for anyone who is wondering)

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