Friday, January 30, 2009

100 Days Smarter!

That's what Mister and Sweetie are, thanks to today's 100th day of school. (We subscribe to the no-discrimminating-against-preschoolers philosophy over here, so we're pretending Sweetie has had her 100th day of school too). So we celebrated in the typical way--by eating junk, which in this case was a little cake for each, slathered in icing.  Hooray! 

It only took us as long to find Mister's 100 rocks for school as it did to make the 100-day cakes. Because 100 rocks is not good enough. It has to be 100 cool rocks.


1.  Learning            2. Eating treats          3.  The Weekend

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Please bless Mommy not to snap at me."

That's what Sweetie said in her prayer tonight. 


Part of me is glad she said it. I could use all of the help I can get. So if she can pray for me and I can pray for me, maybe something will actually improve. Today was just one of those overwhelming days where I felt like I was doing too much and none of it even remotely well, including mothering. It's easy to get down on yourself on those days, especially when your 3-year-old prays that you won't snap at her. 

Tonight, as I was searching through my Word archives, looking for a specific example for one of my dissertation chapters, I came upon this quote by Toni Morrison that I'd saved:

"There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal 'other.' The children's demands on me were things that nobody else ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody else could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me--whatever that was--but somebody actually needed me to be that."

Now I don't know that I would describe being a mother as "the most liberating thing that ever happened" to me. Some days it feels like just the opposite. 

But today the part of this quote that resonated with me is the end: "I could not only be me--whatever that was--but somebody actually needed me to be that." There are many things that make up "me," and unfortunately, one of those things is impatience. But if I look at the whole picture, I can think of a whole bunch of other things about me that Sweetie needs me to be, even if that means she has to put up with my impatience and pray for my soul occasionally. I can draw confidence from that thought that despite my inadequacies, I am what she needs.

And Morrison is right, there is something valuable in the frazzling and abnormal demands that my children make of me. Maybe by the time they're 18 or 20 (or 30 or 40), all of those "Please bless Mommy not to snap at me" prayers will have kicked in and the "me" that my offspring will need will be a little bit more mellow than "me" that they are currently getting.  Maybe.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaining Wheels, Losing Coolness

I think it might be official now. I am no longer cool. Why am I just realizing this now? It's all due to my new wheels.

We got the van 2 weeks ago, and the bike was a generous gift from Santa. Do you like them? I love them both! 

However, the van is forcing me to come face-to-face with my coolness factor. You see, even though I am 33, I still imagine myself as 24 or 25. I still imagine myself as hip and stylish, as sporty and outdoorsy, as fun and fashionable. It's very possible that I was never any of those things in the first place, but, regardless, it's kinda hard to perceive yourself as hip, fashionable, sporty, etc. when you realize that you really are the 30-something-year-old mom driving that mini-van. I thought maybe the bike would redeem me a bit, but when I was biking to get the mail last week, the neighbor said, "You look like Pee-Wee Herman on that bike." Um, okay. So, there I go sliding down another knotch (or 10) on the coolness chart.

Oh well. At least my kids think it's the coolest car they've ever seen. And really, from the inside, it is pretty cool!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


When you spend 10-14 hours a day for 5 1/2 days in front of your computer, revising your dissertation chapters . . . 
  • Your eyes hurt from staring at the screen.
  • Your head hurts from trying to come up with brilliant thoughts.
  • Your legs hurt from lack of use.
  • Your hiney hurts from overuse.
  • Your stomach hurts from, well, from the plethora of starbursts, sugar babies (those things are good!), rolos, gingersnaps, and breathsavers. Your fingers really needed all those empty calories to keep typing.
But you get a lot done! 4 7/8 out of 6 chapters revised. Yay!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catching up--A visual narrative of December

So, it's been a while. December is a blur of dissertating, trying to meet my Dec 15th deadline, while sick, while trying to enjoy the Christmas goings-on. This visual narrative, like most, shows the good parts of all of that. Hopefully, we can all forget the bad parts :)

Here's a summary of the pics: we decorated the tree, wrote letters to Santa, went on the Polar Express, mailed the letters to Santa, made a gingerbread house, wrapped presents, made sugar cookies for Mister's school performance and cookie swap, went to the performance, went to Zoolights and got cool and expensive "light sabers" (yes, what were we thinking), enacted the Nativity on Christmas Eve, had a great Christmas morning, Mister got pulled on a tub behind the snowmobile by Mom while Dad took Sweetie out, J took a turn on the tube, Grandpa manned the snowmobile and carted loads of sledder cousins to the top of the hill, we met other cousins at the temple to see the lights, Mister and Sweetie built a snowman/snowwoman (the gender was hotly debated) and did snow angels with Grandma. Hooray! What a December!

Catching up--Poem of the Month, December

Ever since I studied T.S. Elio'ts poem "The Journey of the Magi" in a literature class, I have loved it, although upon first reading it, it doesn’t make much sense.  I love the poem because it speaks of wisemen who give so much to travel to Jesus and celebrate His birth.  But along the way, they see the betrayal and violence of His death, and, not knowing, as we do, that He was born to give His life for us, they are left feeling ambivalent at the meaning of His birth. Years later, the persona speaking in the poem does not know if he was led all that way for birth or death. I like that T.S. Eliot does not separate Christ’s birth from His death because we celebrate His birth because of the glory of His life and the supreme gift of His death.

I also like that the wiseman speaking in the poem has been changed profoundly by the experience.  He returns to his place in a kingdom but is “no longer at ease here” because the people do not believe in the true God. The wiseman is not the same as he was before he journeyed to see Christ.  This, of course, is symbolic of how it should be for all of us. On our journey to come to know Christ, we should be changed, no longer at ease with aspects of our self before we began the journey. And, as it was for the wiseman, our journey itself and the death of our bad habits will both be difficult—“hard and bitter agony,” the wiseman says. 

T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death. 

1.  watching football, 2. homemade bread, 3. open windows and the smell of spring