Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Poem of the Month: "For the Children"

I've been meaning to blog. But, well, you know how it goes. I just came across this poem while I was looking for a book and thought I would share it as my poem of the month. It reminded me of being in grad school at BYU and driving to Westminster to hear Gary Snyder read his poetry. Aaahhh, the days of going to poetry readings. Did I really live that life? But anyway, it also was a good reminder in this last week of summer vacation (not last week of summer, unfortunately) of keeping my priorities and my head as I try to maximize the summer fun with my kids while minimizing the increasing sibling fighting. Maybe it's also me getting ready to send my oldest off to kindergarten next week (sniff, sniff). So hear you go . . . This poem is beautiful, simple, and deep, all at the same time. Enjoy!

For the Children
The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
The steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light.

~ Gary Snyder

Sunday, July 20, 2008

who needs a fishing pole . . .

when you have your hands?

She's setting her sights on it now . . .
I just downloaded these pics and had to share Sweetie's first experience fishing at the 4th of July park activities in small-town northern Utah. They had a rectangular area divided with hay bales and large tarp over the bales--you can see them in the pic above. They filled the area with water and dumped a bunch of fish in. They let the kids in according to age groups. At the end, the fish were getting tired of swimming away from all of those grasping fingers and were a little slower, so Sweetie went in for the grab. Ahhh, a girl not afraid of a little slip and slime. That's my Sweetie!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Strong Women

I come from a long line of strong women. My father's mother was both orphaned and widowed as a young woman, with her newborn first child. She weathered the trial and, when I was a child, I always knew Grandma would say exactly what she thought and would do exactly what she wanted to do, even if that meant going on a European cruise alone because my grandfather refused to go. Her own mother was strong. She raised her 4 children alone after her husband died and managed to run and keep the family farm during the hard years of the Great Depression. Her mother, in turn, was also strong. She carried on when her husband went to the Klondike in search of gold, found it, and returned back to their small town to live with that gold and with another woman. This is a picture of the last of my strong grandmothers--the only one currently living. Although nearly blind from macular degeneration, she walked all over Lagoon with us 2 weeks ago, and at 88 years old, she went on almost all of the rides. Here she is taking Mister on the kids' roller coaster.

I've always wondered how the women in my family managed to maintain their strength. My interest in strong women has, of course, leaked into my academic interests. For the 13+ hour drive back home last week, I listened to hours of interviews I conducted almost a year ago with the women who graciously agreed to participate in my dissertation study about their online writing. I typed notes and transcribed sections, balancing J's laptop on my lap, while handing back drinks and snacks to kids, switching out DVDs, and finding dropped crayons. It was almost enough to make me car sick. But I loved it. I loved hearing the women talk about how their blogging and their contributions to their discussion board empower them. They didn't use that term, but they talked about being strengthened and supported by other women when they didn't know what they were doing as a mothers or when they didn't know what to do with a challenge in their lives. They also talked about needing to help and support others, needing to feel like their advice and life experiences are worthwhile.

I love this stuff because it resonates in my own life. The type of feminism that I have experienced isn't necessarily the postmodern feminism that's popular in academics today, but it's the cultural feminism that's been mostly rejected. Cultural feminists celebrate the uniqueness and power of women and argue about the importance of connecting with other women and finding a voice. Even though this isn't academically popular, I do see the women in my study talking about this need for connection and about how this connection, through online writing, gives them voice.

Last Sunday, I was sick in bed, and I picked up a book I love but have never finished (ironically enough, since it's called Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry). I re-read the intro and loved this quote by the author, Katrina Kenison: "Yet I do believe that, as mothers, we all walk a common path, through a rugged and ineffable territory of love and fury, exhilaration and exhaustion, self-doubt and self-discovery. . . . Over the years, I have been grateful to all the women who have gone this way before me and have been willing to shine a light upon the trail, that I might find my own way with a bit more confidence."

Well, I guess I'm long-winded tonight. You made it to the end of my post! I should end with a huge Thank You to those of you who are the women in my life--friends and relatives--who have shown a light or who are currently shining a light on my path.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

i'm back

After almost 2 weeks visiting my family, I'm back. I just might get around to uploading some pics. You know, after I finish unpacking the clothes, the kids' car box, the car snacks, and the random vacation purchases; finish the laundry; replenish the cupboards and fridge; reply to emails; sort the snail mail; scrub the dishes J left for me (grrr!) since he was here a week after we left; and find out what's smelling in the fridge.

So, I am back. I return invigorated by a weekend in the mountains at my parents' cabin. I return exhausted by our constant activities (my brother's wedding reception, trips to the dinosaur park and Lagoon, afternoons swimming at the city pool, evening outings to the park, late-night movies, light-night game nights with my family, and 4th of July activities galore). I return rejuvenated by being with family. I return determined to finish my dissertation so they can all come see me graduate next spring. And, tonight, I return very sad.

Sad because my home, which I love, can often be very lonely. As I've worked around the house all day to take care of all of the afore-mentioned vacation aftermath, it's hit me again, as it does every time I come back from visiting my family, how lonely stay-at-home mothering can be at times. For 2 weeks, I have had my mother or my sisters or my sister-in-law there to talk with as we fix dinner together, do the dishes together, watch the kids slip n' slide together, and shop together. Of course, it doesn't help that J flew off to California this morning for work, leaving me here with the kids. So, I have come online to the cyber world that includes other stay-at-home moms to commisserate with!

1. a refridgerator full of fresh fruit
2. an afternoon attack by "the kissing monsters"
3. a nighttime talk and hugs with Mister, always signaled by: "Here, Mom, I saved you a spot in bed next to me"