Monday, May 30, 2005
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."
- Abraham Lincoln
"The purpose of all war is ultimately peace. "- Saint Augustine
Friday, May 27, 2005
This is me today. Crapped out, tired, a little overwhelmed. Except this person looks like maybe they are on a cool trip or something. That's not me.
I skipped my run today, maybe that's my problem.
David and I have been avoiding sugar all week (giving our pancreas the day off, as Dave likes to say). Maybe some brownies will perk me up.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
my new identity
I am a homeschooling mom.
When Grace was three I decided I wanted to homeschool. We regularly went to a homeschool park day and I liked what I saw there. I read a lot of books about homeschooling and that got me excited about it.
When Grace was five our school district was pretty crappy and I just didn't even consider having her start kindergarten. Most of the people I knew homeschooling were unschoolers, but I discovered The Well Trained Mind and we started doing history based on that. Grace liked math workbooks and we went to a science co-op and we read a lot.
As time went on we veered farther away from the unschooling mindset (although it still gives me comfort and informs a lot of our choices - because I do believe that a child won't really learn about something they don't care about). I found the more I followed the Well Trained Mind, the better our structured time went.
The last few years have really been fantastic. Last year we lived next door to a homeschooling family and we did science together. This year we've been more isolated during school hours, but I've enjoyed the quieter time together. We have discovered a homeschooling group here that we like. We started Latin and the girls are continuing to do well with Spanish. History is our favorite time of the morning. The girls have requested that we do it every day instead of just three days a week. This year I have required a lot more of writing of Grace and she has stepped up to the challenge.
I love having my girls home with me every day. I love looking at curriculum, planning our days and weeks, going on field trips. I like that our life centers on our family, we can do what we want when we want. I love that our girls are so close and spend so much time together.
I have never thought too long or too hard about when or if the girls will go to public school. I have homeschool friends who are adamantly anti-public school, but I'm not. I went to public school and overall I liked it. My feeling has simply been that there are pros and cons to each. There are certain experiences my kids won't have because they don't go to public school. And if I put them in public school there are experiences they miss out on by not homeschooling. I always figured we would continue to homeschool just as long as it was working for us.
It's still working, but things are changing.
About six months ago, David first brought up the idea of putting the girls in school. He wants them to have those common experiences with other kids. He can't imagine them homeschooling through high school (I can) and he thinks it will be an easier transition to do it now than wait for middle school or high school.
I think the main thing is that if David were a kid again he would want to go to school. If I were, I would totally choose to homeschool. But, the girls' experiences won't be mine or David's.
This is the first time we disagreed on something and there really wasn't a way to compromise. We talked and talked about it and finally decided that if they could get into one of the smaller charter schools we would try it. The girls were up for it, which made it easier.
We didn't get into the first two charter schools we applied to. We did get into the third. I wasn't sure how I would feel if they got in. I was afraid I would start crying, but I actually felt pretty good about it. The girls were excited when they found out. They are a little anxious about how it's going to be because they really have no idea what they are in for, but they are looking forward to it.
I have cried since then, because this is just so new for me. But, I honestly think this will be harder on me than it is for the girls. I hope it's a good experience for them.
As far as schools go, I think this one should be really good. Not that we can actually know anything until we do it, but on paper it seems like a great school. It's a small school and their curriculum choices are surprisingly close to what we are doing.
I know the biggest factor to whether or not they'll be happy in school is the friends they make and I can't control that, but hopefully that will all just fall into place.
It still a little surreal to me that we are doing this. I can think about it and be happy and I can look at it another way and start to get sad. Because I'll completely miss having them around. Now, I have to figure out what to do with the extra hours in my day. I will volunteer at their school, help with homework, dedicate more time to my work, do what other moms do, I guess. I have to figure out my new identity.
But, I'll always be a mom. That's the part that really matters.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
the corners of my mind
There are six kids in my family, and I'm the 5th. The good part of being a 5th child is that your parents are almost as relaxed as they can be. The bad part is they don't have time to take any pictures.
I have three pictures of myself as a baby, one of me at two, and a couple more at four. 1974 was a banner year. I have a picture of me on vacation at the lake, a kindergarten picture, and a fuzzy picture with my sister (although that may be 1975).
I vaguely remember having this picture taken. We would go to a cabin every summer at a lake and I remember picking these yellow flowers.
When I was eight, we moved to this town. I loved living on the lake. I like where we live right now, but if I could choose anywhere to live, I would live on a lake with a canoe. There's swimming in the summer, ice skating in the winter, and biking, walking, or running around the lake almost anytime. Just sitting by the lake or on the dock is meditative.
We had an old sailboat, a small motorboat, a snowmobile, and a couple of canoes. This provided all the fun times we could ask for.
One summer, my older brother and I got up early every morning (probably just for a week or so) and went fishing. I loved coming home with fish and scaling and gutting them, but I never ate one. We'd see how far into the lake we could swim. We would get out on the lake in the canoe, tip it, and then practice getting the canoe right side up with as little water in it as possible. One time we came home from a family trip very early in the morning. My sister and I decided to go down to the dock and watch the sun rise over the lake.
I like thinking of myself walking around the lake with my brothers and sister. I can picture myself walking around the lake at different times in my life - junior high, high school, summers home from college. I thought I'd bring my kids to that house, to that lake. But, my parents moved away and I haven't been back since Grace was a baby.
This is my kindergarten picture. The dress is pretty funky.
I don't really remember kindergarten that well. I remember the room, how everything was set up. I remember playing with blocks. I remember a few of the kids. I liked school alright, but I also remember day dreaming about blowing up the school.
We were close enough to walk to school, and I clearly remember the path we took. We walked through about 5 different yards to take the straightest route. When we moved, we took the bus. When I got into junior high, I would regularly walk home instead of taking the bus. I liked walking around the lake home. Driving myself home in my crappy blue Granada isn't a nice fuzzy memory, but at the time it was way better.
I wish this picture were clearer. I love it. It makes me smile, but it makes me feel a little sad, too. This is before we moved, and I remember this house so well. I remember laying on that black couch (which in my mind was huge) when I was sick. Mom would come home for lunch and check on me.
I don't remember that desk. I do remember sitting in the basement in one of those small rockers (so it was probably before 1974) watching Adam-12 while peeling and eating an orange. I remember playing with my sister and brother and whenever we couldn't decide what to play, we would all make lists (making lists was one of our favorite games) and we would write things like: Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians, Teenagers.
I remember the steep green stairs that led to the basement, the striped carpeting and wood paneling in the basement. The long hallway upstairs. When my oldest brother put a black light in his room. Watching Sesame Street and I Love Lucy by myself and James Bond movies with my brothers and sister.
My kindergarten year, my Gram lived with us. I remember she fed me plums and milk. I had to take a nap every day, and one day I decided to try a trick I had seen on The Brady Bunch. I put pillows under my bed to look like my body and I put a blond wig where the head would be. I then went to the neighbor's house to play. I was on their back patio and I remember the fear in my heart when my Gram came marching up to the house. Yeah, I never tried that again.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
so much depends
William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
by e. e. cummings
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.Aftermath
Compelled by calamity's magnet
They loiter and stare as if the house
Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought
Some scandal might any minute ooze
From a smoke-choked closet into light;
No deaths, no prodigious injuries
Glut these hunters after an old meat,
Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies.
Mother Medea in a green smock
Moves humbly as any housewife through
Her ruined apartments, taking stock
Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery:
Cheated of the pyre and the rack,
The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.Morning at the Window
They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.
The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
It's a Three meme - I was tagged by Julie
3 names I go by: Laura, Lo, Lo-chan
3 screen-names I've had: Laura (brilliant, eh?), chan5000, lchan
3 physical things I like about myself: eyes, wrists, skin
3 physical things I dislike about myself: pffft, toss off ya tosser (I hope that isn't too inappropriate because I don't actually know what it means)
3 parts of my heritage: English, Scottish, Dakota Sioux (1/32nd, baby)
3 things I am wearing right now: jeans, t-shirt, these cool earrings:
3 favorite bands/musical artists: U2, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams
3 favorite songs: One, A Sort of Homecoming, Oh My Sweet Carolina
3 things I want in a relationship: What. I've. Got.
3 physical things about people of the opposite sex that appeal to me: all things David
3 of my favorite hobbies: reading, running, Minesweeper
3 things I want to do really badly right now: nothing, nada, zip
3 things that scare me: sickness, injury, death
3 of my everyday essentials: David, Grace, Lillie
3 careers you have considered or are considering: math teacher, graphic artist, museum curator
3 places you want to go on vacation: Copenhagen, Rome, Washington DC
3 kids' names you like: Grace, Lillie, Davis
3 things you want to do before you die: grow old, grow even older, accept that I'm going to die
3 ways I am stereotypically a boy: I don't like to shop, I'm great at math, I'm interested in WWII.
3 ways I am stereotypically a chick: I have given birth, lactated, and my hair has highlights.
3 celeb crushes: Shaun Cassidy, Andy Gibb, Elvis (I'm over it now)
I'm not going to tag someone else. I'm breaking the vicious cycle of meme-ing! But, if you want to play, let me know in the comments and I'll come check it out.
I just found a great site, radio.blog.club
So far, I've just been listening to other people's playlists and haven't downloaded it myself. But, that's cool on it's own. I've been wanting to check out Muse, and I've been enjoying them and discovering a bunch of other bands as well. Right now I'm listening to Weeping Rock, Rock
by Mum (who I had never heard of) and enjoying the musical goodness. I expect to enjoy some frenchy goodness from Emilie Simon in a minute here.
. Enjoy the musical goodness for yourself.If you are not sure what to do, just enter in a song or artist's name in the search box, then pick a song. A playlist will pop up.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Jan or Johannes Vermeer van Delft, was born in October 1632 and died in December 1675. His work shows everyday life in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. His work and life had been forgotten for centuries, but now Vermeer is considered one of the greatest painters.
Vermeer's paintings are intimate, intricate, and truly exquisite. His use of light is phenomenal.Young Woman With a Waterpitcher, 1664-1665
The light comes in through the window and diffuses through the room. The girl's crisp, white cloth is lit up, fragile, and still. The pitcher in her hand gleams in the light. The glass of the window reflects the sky. You can sense the texture of the smooth, dense tapestry on the table. The woman's face is serene, perhaps pensive. The scene is ethereal, yet everyday.Woman in Blue, 1662-1664
The light casts a soft glow on the room. It seems you could reach out and touch the map. It hangs with real weight, the chairs take up real space. The light hits the map with an intense white blaze, but the woman is in half-light and shadow. The woman's face is tender and serious. The map suggests that her letter comes from far away. While she appears pregnant, it was not unusual to show a single woman with a protuding belly - as a symbol or the fashion of the times. To me, this looks different than the fashionable belly. This image of a pregnant woman holding her breath while reading a letter (that we can only guess at the message) is somber yet beautiful.The Lacemaker, 1669-1670
Again, this painting is all about the light. The meticulous details (the part of her hair, the gleam on the wooden knob, the shadow and light on her knuckles) are real and precious. The pillow shines on the left. The threads tangle and dangle. The girls seems self-conscious, shy. Her colorful dress and her bouncy curls quietly brighten the scene. Her cheeks have a soft bloom. Her face concentrates and her hands are sure. There is a still and silent beauty to her work.The Little Street 1659-1660
Vermeer is known for his interiors, but this outside scene has the same quality of light, color, and space. The sky is hazy, the white light down the hallway and slashed on the face of the buildings brightly shines. The bricks, windows, and doorways are all delicately and perfectly executed. The people in the scene go about their daily chores unaware of the peaceful glow that surrounds them.
Friday, May 20, 2005
10 years ago my mother had quadruple bypass heart surgery. She had just moved out of the home we had lived in for 14 years or so and it had been a really stressful move. We had lived in a geodesic dome (which I only mention because I liked that house) and it was a huge house. Like people do, my parents had filled it up. David and I helped with sorting through what to keep, what to give away and what to toss. There was a lot of each.
Among the hardest things I've ever done are say goodbye to my mother before she went in for surgery, wait, and then see her after surgery. My mother was not afraid to die, but I did not know how to deal with the possibility. Waiting was all worry and trying to remember to breathe. When it was over, it was a relief that everything had gone well, but she
didn't look well. She looked like these tubes and machines were the only thing keeping her alive, and just barely.
Thankfully, each time we saw her, she looked better and better. It was a hard recovery, and a stressful time, but she got through it.
Before my mother's surgery, she had dealt with the bookkeeping and bills for my dad's office. I did the patient and insurance billing. After the surgery, I took over my mom's job. And, oh man. That was almost as hard as going through the surgery. I had a 9 month old and a full-time job, and suddenly here was a second full-time job. And it was all stress.
I suddenly found out that when my mother said we didn't have enough money to pay for things, it wasn't just about keeping to budget, things were tight. My dad had made a lot of money and my parents weren't extravagant, but they helped all of us kids through college and none of us knew what help they needed. They were in serious debt. No wonder my mom had heart problems. Ack.
I found myself running numbers through my head before I went to bed at night. I'd feel like something was wrong, like some sort of black cloud was hanging over me and I couldn't figure out what it was. Then, I'd realize it was the money and the bills. I can't imagine how that felt for my mom. At least I could distance myself from it a little bit.
I made out a budget and plan for paying off the debt - and luckily, my dad's business in his new location was doing well enough that I could actually implement the plan - and things started to get better. After a year or so, my mom took back the job. And, things have a good ending. My dad sold his practice and they are happily retired.
One of the most important lessons I learned from this was to be careful with your money. We took a new look at the way we handled our finances, and it has made a big difference for us.
Even more important than that, I learned that nothing is more important than family, I love my mother like no one else and I'll do anything for her. I'm grateful I could be there to help out and take over. I am even more grateful that 10 years later, she is still here.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars, if only you could bar wars, let this one stay
We went to see Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
today. We had managed to get free tickets from a radio station, and when we got to the theater the station was giving away a $200 gift certificate to the best costume. I so would have dressed Lillie as Yoda and Grace as Jar Jar Binks if I had known there were cash value prizes involved.
Not surprisingly, the geek factor was pretty high. Yesterday, Lillie had said something about Star Wars being for boys. David said, "Oh no. It's for nerds of any gender or orientation." Not sure about orientation, but there were definitely more guys than gals there.
When the previews started, the audience was way too hopped up. Whenever a pretty girl came on screen, several guys would start hooting (trying to prove their orientation?). I thought this might be the most pathetic audience I'd ever been a part of. But, when the movie started, everyone settled down.
I was pretty much expecting the movie to blow chunks. I loved the Star Wars movies when I was a kid, but Episode I and II were pretty mediocre. I won't go into detail (because when I see a movie I like to go in fresh), but I thought it was surprisingly good.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
my best friends
When we lived in California and visited my in-laws on a regular basis, my girls would tease David and I that our best friends are over 60. It doesn't really sound that funny on paper, but it's pretty funny when the little pip-squeaks say it.
A few weekends ago, we were at the dollar movie and Lillie leaned over and made some joke. I don't remember the joke, but it was really funny. I was laughing at the comedy when I suddenly realized that Grace and Lillie are not only my favorite people in the world, they are David and my best friends. They are totally fun to crack jokes with. We've even trained them to have the same sense of humor.
I know, parents are supposed to be parents and not friends. I'd just revise that and say that you should be a parent first, but that doesn't mean you can't be friends (just a friend who has authority over you and tells you what to do).
But, what I'm talking about here is not us
being their friends. I'm talking about them being our
friends. Besides playing Trouble, going for bike rides, going to the movies, and things like painting with them, we don't do a lot of the stuff they like. I'm not interested in hanging out with them when they are playing. David and I aren't really useful for most of the games they like to play. But when they are hanging out with us, it's great times.
Now, I have friends who are my age, and it's not the same. I'm not going to talk to my kids the same way or about the same things I would to my friends. Their job is not to be there for me, my job is to be there for them. But, it really is a joy to have them get older.
I've loved every phase as they've gone through it. Even when things have been hard, they have been worth it. As they grow up, it's so fabulous to see their personalities emerge and bloom. If I could choose, I'd keep them just as they right now for a couple years. But, I always say that. I know that what is coming is great, too.
(I say that and I mean it, so how come I feel a little choked up when I think of them as young women? Choked up and a little scared).
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
David picked up Hall and Oates Greatest Hits
yesterday at the library. It's not a keeper, but it's pretty funny to listen to.
When Hall and Oates were at the peak of their blue eyed soul in the 80's I thought they were alright, but I didn't buy their albums. I liked them, but I didn't think they were that cool to like. Listening to them now is a great nostalgic ride.
I started thinking about what other bands are like that - at the time they were too Top 40 for me (although I secretly liked them), and now they make me very happy because they remind me of good times.
Here's what I came up with:Air Supply
Hall and Oates (duh)
Huey Lewis and the News
Abba and The Carpenters would probably be on the list, but I was too young to worry about if they were cool or not.
Maybe I should have been embarassed to like Rick Springfield, Soft Cell, Dead or Alive, Human League, and Wham! but I wasn't.
This last week, David and I have been enjoying the Finn Brothers' latest album Everyone is Here
. Tim and Neil are cranking out great music here, not to mention some fine melodies and harmonies. These guys love to harmonize and it's fantastic.
Besides the music, I like that the theme is about family. Not that new love, lost love, and lust aren't conducive to great music (we all know they are), but they are just as conducive to crap music. When you hear an album like this you start to think that's all a little overdone, overplayed.
My favorite lyric is:
Talking with my brother when
the lights went out
down the hallway 40 years ago
what became much harder was so easy then
opening up and letting go
These are intimate, personal songs with quiet power. If you've enjoyed Crowded House or either of the Finn's solo stuff, you'll like this.
Monday, May 16, 2005
the one and only true parenting philosophy
When I was pregnant with Grace, I knew that my life was going to completely change. I'd seen enough of other parents to see that it wasn't easy, but I didn't really know what I was in for. After she was born, I was surprised that when she fell asleep I couldn't just lay her in her crib. As soon as she touched the mattress, she'd wake up and scream indignantly until we picked her up.
We kept her in a cradle near our bed, and brought her into our bed. She woke up a lot in the night. I think of those early intense months sitting on the bed looking out the window, or walking her endlessly around the bedroom. I remember looking at other people and thinking, They get to home and go to sleep at night
. I read some books about getting your child to sleep, but we tried to let Grace cry it out once and it was just too hard. She wouldn't just cry, she'd scream like she was in agonizing pain.
Then, I picked up a book about the family bed, and felt better about doing that. We got more sleep when she was in our bed, and it was easier. She still had a hard time going to sleep, and I walked her for miles getting her to sleep.
I didn't really have a parenting philosophy at this point. I was just trying to get by. I couldn't bear her heart-wrenching cries and whatever worked to stop that, I liked. When she was about 18 months and still nursing and still in our bed, I found a forum online called Parent-L composed of people who were into attachment parenting, family bed, extended nursing, and realized this is what I was doing. I was doing it just to get by, but they had chosen it. I held my daughter all the time because she didn't like her stroller, but these people didn't even buy strollers. They thought it was the best way to do it.
I had friends whose children actually slept in their own rooms and I just didn't even see how they did it. One time, I was at a friend's house when she was getting her boy to sleep on his own. She was going to let him cry it out. I thought, ooh boy, this is going to be hard. She put him down, and left. From his room I heard "Aaah, aah, aah." Just a soft grumbling, a I'm-kind-of-put-out-by-this sort of thing. I could've done that
, I thought.
By the time Lillie was born, Grace was in her own bed. But, it was right next to our bed. So, she was still within arm's reach. Lillie was a completely different baby. And, just as Grace surprised me when she didn't want to be in a crib alone, didn't want to be put into a stroller, and didn't want to be in a car seat, Lillie surprised me when she preferred to sleep on her own. She relaxed in a car seat or a stroller. I had a sling this time around, she loved that thing. When she was a newborn, she'd have a short crying session at night, but I soon found out that putting her in the sling was the answer. She loved it in there and soon went to sleep. With her, I actually felt guilty about letting her sleep in her crib (just as I'd felt guilty letting Grace in our bed). But, she really slept better in the crib, and so did I.
I read a lot of parenting books. I basically thought of my parenting philosophy as attachment parenting. But, even with this there are a lot of different viewpoints. When Grace was three, I read a lot about non-coercive parenting and tried that out. That didn't work. At all. I'm happy for the folks that it does work for, but for me that was like trying out non-parenting. And, I would end up actually being more coercive for my efforts. My feeling is that kids need boundaries and they feel safe when you are the one in charge. When you try to put them in charge, they freak out.
When Grace was five and Lillie one, we put them in their own room together. I'd lay down with them, and leave after they went to sleep. This worked for us for a long time. It wasn't until Grace was eight and started taking way too long to get to sleep (I think because she didn't want me to leave), that we decided that I would lay with them for a set amount of time, and then it was up to them to get sleep. That took awhile, but now I can just tuck them in and leave (I often choose to hang out, but it isn't because I have to or my child will freak out). I wish I'd done this earlier.
Around the time they got their own room, a group of moms from La Leche League and a homeschool park day decided to get together to implement ideas from the book The Continuum Concept
. This was very different from attachment parenting in some ways, and similar in others. They believed in following a tribal idea of parenting. So, while the baby is "in-arms" almost constantly as a baby, and extending nursing is a natural extension of that, it's not all on the mother's shoulders. Husbands, aunts, siblings, friends, we should all help out. In our modern age, this isn't always possible. But, as a group, we got to know each other and our kids, and we helped each other to a certain extent.
Another idea from The Continuum Concept
was that you shouldn't be child-centered. Attachment parenting (the way I was doing it, anyway) was all about the child. My wants and needs were all secondary to what my child wanted. With this philosophy, the child should see the mother leading an adult life, she should have a productive life outside of the child - cooking, gardening, knitting, working, reading, whatever it is the mother wants to do. The child can come along for the ride, but really needs to learn to be self-sufficient. This is a nice idea, and I think a good thing to shoot for, but I could see a lot of women (myself included) feeling guilty because they weren't getting enough "done" outside of taking care of the children and the house (when that is a lot
The last book I read that influenced my parenting was The 7 O'Clock Bedtime
. This is a fabulous book, and very far from the parenting philosophies that I'd adhered to before this. But, I had seen that I didn't need to be completely focused on my child, and I knew that my child needed boundaries. This book was just a great reminder that the parent needs to be loving and kind, in control, and firm about what is expected of the child (and, no, my kids don't go to bed at 7 o'clock).
I don't really have a parenting philosophy anymore, at least one that has a label, but I've never been more sure of my parenting. I think babies need love and lots of holding, and breastfeeding is great if it works (but not essential), and older children still need love and lots of holding, and a clear idea of what's expected of them.
But I don't think there is a One and Only True Parenting Philosophy. If sleep is essential to your well-being (and, of course, it is to everyone, but different people have different thresholds), letting your baby cry it out might be right for you. If having your child in your bed makes everyone in your family happy, enjoy. If you all get a crappy night's sleep and you're starting to resent your child, make a change. If your child is over one (or two or three), and breastfeeding is still working, by all means continue on. But, if you are starting to resent it or just feel the time is right, do not feel guilty about weaning. I saw a lot of women struggling with nursing older children in La Leche League, and while my children both nursed for a long time, I don't think a lot of these women got honest answers. When it's not working, stop feeling guilty and make a change.
I hope this doesn't sound like advice for anyone. Because it's not. My only advice is that guilt is useless. Decide what works for your family, and go with that. My husband and I found the approach that works with our family, and that's all I know.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Roadway Perspective Landscape, date unknown
soot on cardboard
Today we went to the art museum and saw a James Castle
exhibit. Lillie was in a bit of a rush (I guess because we had all lingered too long when we came last time to see the Degas exhibit), so I did not stop to read the information on him, we just looked at all the pieces.Untitled (2 figures w/brown structure)
Soot, spit and colored pulp on found paper
His work was really fascinating, and while reminiscent of the Dada and Fluxus movements (and other artists like Paul Klee, Joseph Beuys, and Mark Rothko), his artwork was extremely original and very moving. Had I known his personal story, I would have been more impressed.Untitled (4 figures in blue)
colored pulp on found paper
James Castle was born deaf. He never learned to speak, read, or write. He did not learn sign language, but created his own sign language. Castle was born in 1900 and died in 1977. He lived in relative isolation with his family in Idaho.
His art is Outsider Art, but it isn't merely eccentric. There is a real heart and beauty to his drawings done on found scraps of paper, discarded cardboard, and old letters. He used soot mixed with spit for shading, food boxes to create books, and twine, cardboard, and scraps of paper to create collages, birds, chairs, and other objects. Untitled, 1900's
Paper, soot, color-printed cardboard
The texture of the found paper, the tears and rough edges, the flattened boxes, all add a depth, texture, and fragile quality to his work. Had Castle not been self-taught, had his work been naive in a more deliberate and self-conscious way, it would still be brilliant and touching.
His story makes his art that much more interesting, and dear. It could have been stored away in an attic in Garden Valley, it could have been tossed. I am glad that I had a chance to glimpse in on James Castle's silent and beautiful world.
When I run, I listen to the radio. The other day, I was listening to a classic rock station. I expected to hear the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, the Kinks, maybe some Led Zeppellin or Bob Seger. Instead, I heard U2 and REM. I thought What the huh?
This isn't classic rock, this is alternative, cutting edge...
And then I remembered. Oh. yeah.
That's right, it's not 1989.
Friday, May 13, 2005
We were browsing around Cost Plus and I saw this candy bar:
I wasn't offended, but a little confused. I know this is supposed to be tongue in cheek, and I'm sure it got a lot of media attention (it would in the U.S.), but does it really help sell candy bars?
Even though I get the joke, it still makes me less inclined to buy the bar. And, I don't think that my husband would be running out to buy it, either. It just seems like such an obvious media ploy.
Nestle Rowntree marketing director Andrew Harrison, said: "We felt that we needed to take a stand for the British bloke and reclaim some things in his life, starting with his chocolate. We're not saying Yorkie is 'not for girls' to be offensive but to let the British male know that we are for him alone. Women Yorkie eaters can switch to an Aero or Little Rolo if they like, Yorkie's feelings won't be hurt."
I guess Nestle isn't too worried about making nice with the women who are already boycotting
them. If you can't get them to buy your candy, might as well taunt them, I guess.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
When a good friend of mine had her first baby, her husband said he finally understood why when women get together they all swap birth stories. Because it's like finding someone else who had been through combat.
At Feminist Mormon Housewives
, a discussion came up in the comments about having birth naturally and with pain medication. The original question was Is it such a good thing to encourage women to withstand the horrible pain of childbirth without meds? I see women in our ward bragging about their natural childbirths all the time, and other women feeling guilty that they had pain medication
I put my two cents in on the comments already, but thought I'd do an extendo-version on my blog. I don't presume to say I know what's best for everyone, but here are my war stories.
When I was pregnant with Grace I read what felt like thousands of books on pregnancy and labor. I had decided that I wanted to do this naturally and felt pretty confident that I would be able to. I was scared of what labor was going to be like, but did my best to just put my fears out of my mind. After all, every human you see represents yet another birth (and the births of innumerable ancestors).
I went into labor on a Friday night after a long walk. By 8 pm, the contractions were pretty regular. By midnight, they were five minutes apart and we decided to head to the hospital.
I spent Saturday in labor and by Saturday afternoon I hadn't made that much progress. The nurses insisted I’d end up with a C-section if I didn’t take some drugs. At that point, everything I thought labor would be was out the window. It was hard, like I expected it to be, but it just seemed so never-ending, and I didn't seem to be going anywhere.
So, first they tried Demerol. That didn't help the pain at all, I just felt groggy and out of it. Then, they tried Morphine and that was worse. They kept trying more and more morphine and it didn't take any pain away, it just made me feel like I was losing my mind.
I still wasn't progressing, so they broke my water. After I don't know how many hours, they decided to give me Pitocin. Everything I didn't want to happen was now happening and I started to feel like, just give me a C-section now if that's what I'm going to end up with.
Then, they gave me a morphine intrathecal (which is a walking epidural). That was fabulous - I just felt normal. I fell asleep and slept and slept. Finally, it was time to push. I pushed for three hours and on Sunday at 1:11 pm (after 40 hours or so of labor), Grace was born. She was 9 lbs 9 oz.
At first I thought I was just one of those women who would have died in childbirth if I'd been born a century earlier. Then, I started talking to other women and found out that my experience was incredibly normal
. Almost everybody in a hospital setting had a similar experience.
For my second pregnancy, I decided to have a home birth. The whole idea of being "managed" in a hospital again scared me. My sister had her first at home and loved it. My sister-in-law and numerous women at La Leche League had had successful home births. But, my pregnancy ended up being high risk and we found a fantastic doctor and we decided to have the baby at the hospital.
My second hospital experience was wonderful. At home, my water broke around midnight. I waited for four hours or so before going to the hospital because I wanted to have progressed to a good point before we got there. By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions were three or four minutes apart and they were tough, but manageable.
I was brought to my room and labored there for a while longer. At one point, the labor was getting really intense. I was in transition, but I didn't know it at the time. My contractions were doubling up - one would start, peak, fall and instead of getting a break another would come right after that.
If things progressed along the same timeline as my first, I was looking at another 10 hours or more, and I started thinking that maybe I wanted something for the pain (even though before I had decided I wasn't going to take anything). We decided to wait for another 45 minutes and see where I was at. When they checked me I was ready to push. When it was time to push, I could actually push (with my first, I was so numb pushing was really difficult). 45 minutes later, after less than 8 hours of labor, Lillie was born. She was 8 lbs 12 oz.
My first daughter was incredibly sleepy for the first 48 hours after labor and wouldn’t nurse. I think (but I could be wrong) that this was due to all the medication. And, Lillie, while newborn sleepy, was more alert and had no problems breastfeeding.
The women I know who have been happiest with their births have had home births. Honestly, I don't know if that is because they feel an extra need to validate their choice, but I don't think so. I also know women who have an epidural early on and are happy with that.
I don't know what my first labor would have been like if I had had a doula who would have stuck up for me, helped me refuse medication and encouraged me that first labors are long and it will just take time. The pain before the medication was hard, but manageable. What made it less manageable was finding out that all that hard work had not brought any progress (and the freaking morphine).
I think the main thing that helped me with my second labor is that our nurse really stayed out of the way. She was helpful and encouraging, but she wasn't there much. She didn't check my progress every hour. I was only checked when I came into the hospital, and then right before it was time to push. Most of that time, it was just David and me. And, when it was all over, I didn't have to do the laundry.
There are pros and cons to using medication or not with labor. Because of my experience I would be scared to do anything but another natural labor. However, I also know the morphine intrathecal was an incredible relief. I don't judge anyone who uses anything. If it actually works for them, then great. But women have been having babies naturally since the beginning of time, and there's nothing wrong with that route, either.Postscript: Jen's comments made me realize that my post might not have found the right tone. Having a high-risk pregnancy definitely made me realize that things can and do go wrong. I am grateful for the technology and help that doctors and hospitals provide when intervention is needed.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Fourteen Years! Fourteen!
Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. David and I met over 15 years ago and it kind of blows my mind.
Right before we got married, David and his friends made a home video. One of David's lines was "15 years! 15!!" At the time 15 years seemed like a freakin' lifetime. 15 years before that, I was six and David was 10.
When David and I had been dating one year, we walked around BYU together talking about what a long time a year was. We had been dating a whole year! Oh. my. heck. That seemed amazing. Neither of us had ever dated someone for more than a few months before.
One of the things I loved (and love) about David is how funny he is. On our first date, he and his friend Crapples made more jokes than anyone I'd met before. They also kept saying moted (which my friend from CA had to explain to me; I still don't know if it's spelled moted or moated) and goodn. He'd go through these streaks of jokes and the repetition would just make it funnier.
The day we got married was great, but a little surreal. It felt like it was probably more real for everyone else. You get dressed up in these fancy clothes and walk around and get your picture taken, it's a little odd. But, great.
After we got married, the only thing that surprised me about David was that there were no surprises. He was the same guy I dated, he had no dark side, and he would make jokes even when he thought he was alone.
Fourteen years later, he's still the greatest guy I have ever met. I was young, but I loved him for all the right reasons. Now, I just have more reasons.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
a goal is just a wish written down
shared her 101 goals
that she plans to finish in 1,001 days. I think this is pretty cool.
I started thinking about this and have decided that Jen is a better woman than I am. I'm just not that ambitious. I really couldn't come up that much stuff, and if I did, is there really any chance I'd get it all done? I mean, I know 1,001 days is roughly three frickin' years, but if you plan on accomplishing 101 things, you've only got a little less than 10 days for each goal. Ack.
So, I thought I'd make a list that's a little more my speed.
Laura's 5 things to do in 1,001 days:
1. Go on some sweet trips
2. Read a large pile of books
3. Enjoy comedy jokes
4. Write something besides my blog
5. Run farther and faster
So, I've got about 200 days to accomplish each goal. And, really, I'm already working on #2, #3, and #5. I think about #4 quite a bit and I pester my husband about #1 fairly often, too.
Since my favorite thing about making a listing is crossing stuff out, I thought I'd make a list for today:
1. Eat Breakfast. 2. Make sassy comments about goals so I feel better about being lazy.
3. Grow up.
Ahh, Meatloaf was right. Two out of three ain't bad.
Monday, May 09, 2005
I just received my first order from Shade Clothing
and I thought I'd share the love. Shade sells T-shirts and camisoles that are longer than what you normally find in stores. They have a bit of spandex in them, and they're great. They're hip, but modest. Crazy.
It seems like the jeans these days get lower and lower and T-shirts get shorter. Unless you're anxious to show off your new thong, it's a bit of a pain.
I have a few pairs of low-rise jeans. One pair, I'd just given up on wearing. The others I try to wear my longest T-shirts with them, but I still find myself constantly checking my backside. This is a great answer to that.
eyes that don't see
I remember the day I first saw my sister's problem. It was 1982, the first day of 8th grade. I had spent the morning getting ready with my sister. We had walked to the bus stop together, walked toward school together. But, this whole time I didn't really see her.
I don't know what hour it was, but I know I was in choir and someone asked me, "What happened to your sister?" I was confused. What?
They said something like, "She's so skinny now. Is she okay?"
Later I saw her in the hallway, and it was like she had suddenly dropped 30 pounds or more. She was dangerously thin. She was 15 years old, 5'6" or 5'7" and weighed around 85 pounds.
How did I not see this?
I remember thinking it was so strange how you don't really notice someone change when they are with you every day. I don't want to be too hard on myself, because I was just a 13 year old kid, but why didn't I see her? I don't understand why someone else had to point this out to me.
I remember her cooking for me and I don't remember her eating with me. At some point I remember her running up and down the hallway past our bedrooms, and going up and down the stairs obsessively. At the time it just seemed odd.
Writing this has made me cry. I want to take away that little girl's pain and help my big sister love herself. If I could do it over again, I don't know what I would even do differently. But, I'd start with just opening my eyes.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Offensive Cold Case Episode
wrote an article about a Cold Case episode that portrayed a Mormon man as a psychotic serial killer. That seems kind of lame, but what are you going to do? It's TV, it's fiction. What is offensive is they showed the man in temple garments. To do that shows a blatant disregard for something that has sacred and symbolic meaning to Mormons.
If you'd like to read the article, check out: TV portrayal of Mormons mean, callous
If you are offended and would like to complain (as I did), you can go to CBS.com
. Then, go to the bottom of the page and click on Feedback, then leave your comment. You can also call CBS at (212) 975-4321.
Friday, May 06, 2005
My kids are food snobs. They're not little gourmands or anything, but the idea of going to McDonald's is repulsive to them. Repulsive! Okay, so it's a little repulsive to me, too. But, when I was a kid there was nothing better than McDonald's. Unless it was Shakey's Pizza (Lillie asked me what my favorite restaurant was when I was a kid, and I told her Shakey's Pizza - although I probably went there once or twice ever - and she said, "Oh! They had shakes and pizza?" What a great idea.).
But, my kids go out to eat once a week at a minimum. It's not a novelty to them. They'd rather just eat at home.
My kids have never had a Twinkie and I'm sure they would think I was joking if I tried to serve them Tang with lunch. They would laugh at Bit-o-Honey, Chic-o-Stick, Now and Laters, and candy cigarettes. They'd probably think Freshen-up (the gum that goes squirt!) and Pop Rocks were cool, though.
If I tried to serve them the meals my mom did in the 1970's, that would be funny. I can't imagine their reaction to creamed tuna on toast, creamed peas, meatloaf, or liver and onions.
But, my kids have a hard time picturing life without internet, videos and video games. They think we're kidding when we say that if we had sassed our parents, we'd have been spanked or even slapped. Hard. On the face. They laugh and think we're joking. Grandma and Grandpa would never do that.I don't want to give the wrong idea here. My parents didn't slap me around, but they had a level of authority over me that was backed up by the idea they could use physical force. My kids don't have that.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
it's edible, but is it food?
I'm feeling kind of crummy today. Nothing terrible, but I think I may have fed myself diluted poison for lunch today. I had a coke (I normally don't drink pop), a white bread sub sandwich with turkey-ham, and chips. So, sugar, nitrates, grease, salt, and a trace of dehydrated potatoes.
Is this really food? I don't think so.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
When I drive my girls to ballet, I will often pass a guy walking on the shoulder of the road. Think this guy with no shirt on:
And, probably no musical talent.
I don't usually think much of the guy, except he's really tan, doesn't even have a shirt on his person, and seems to always be walking. It's probably just the time of day that I catch him. But, my general impression of him is that he's a 70's burnout rocker dude. Except it's 2005 and this guy is probably my age
I remember the 70's, but I was 10 when the decade was over and it never became a part of my permanent look. I ratted my hair for short while in the 80's and I even wore leg warmers in 8th grade but the 80's is not part of my permanent look. How does a man who was probably born in the 70's come off looking so dated?
I can see cultivating a 70's look, like this guy:
But, this is just a guy with stringy hair, jeans and no shirt who looks a little down and out. Unlike Bo, he doesn't have a lot to even work with to give him that look. He's not trying to be Gregg Allman, he's just trying to get by.
My guess is that the spirit of the 70's (if you're looking at the burnout rocker dudes, not disco) can be summed up with being down, out, and getting by.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
by Ian McEwan
"On a recent Sunday evening Theo came up with an aphorism: the bigger you think, the crappier it looks. Asked to explain he said, "When we go on about the big things, the political situation, global warming, world poverty, it all looks really terrible, with nothing getting better, nothing to look forward to. But when I think small, closer in - you know, a girl I've just met, or this song we're going to do with Chas, or snowboarding next month, then it looks great. So this is going to be my motto - think small."
This is 9/11 fiction. McEwan's writing is detailed and lyrical as he follows his main character, Henry Perowne, through an atypical Saturday. A Saturday that will always stand out in his memory. The minutiae of Henry's day and the constant patter of his thoughts flutters through you in a wonderful way. Henry is a neurosurgeon. McEwan describes a typical day doing surgery and it is absolute poetry.
Henry is an affluent, middle aged man who sometimes wonders if there isn't more to life than saving lives. Because his work is saving lives, and if Henry Perowne's work were taken away, sometimes he thinks there would be little left.
Henry is a likable and solid man. He loves his children, who have shrugged off their dependent selves so rapidly, he is adjusting to being the parent of young adults who no longer need him. He doesn't care for fiction, although he reads books assigned to him by his daughter, a poet. While this is a running theme in the book, and works mostly, he has read quite a bit of fiction (of course, only thanks to his daughter) and ruminates on it more than a real person who "doesn't read fiction" would. But, I guess it is all relative. Compared to Henry's daughter and compared to the author (I'm sure), Henry is less ensconsed in the world of literature.
I read an interview with McEwan (why I picked up the book) and I liked his honest take on the war and President Bush. He met President Bush and McEwan said, "When someone ceases to be simply a set of policies with which you may disagree he becomes this oddly, surprisingly humorous and charming character. Right afterwards I joined a friend at a huge peace demonstration where people were holding "Bush: Murderer" signs and I thought, if you knew where I'd just been!"-- don't read furthur if you are interested in reading the book and want to go in fresh --
I particularly enjoyed the debate between Henry and his daughter Daisy over the war. She has been to a peace march, and he has spent a good part of the day ruminating over the post-9/11 world, a plane that he saw burst into flames, a car accident he has been involved in, and a man he operated on who was imprisoned and tortured by Saddam's regime.
(Daisy says) "Why is it that the few people I've met who aren't against this crappy war are all over forty? What is it about getting old? Can't get close to death soon enough?"
..."Death's all around, "(Henry) agrees. "Ask Saddam's torturers at Abu Ghraib prison and the twenty thousand inmates. And let me ask you a question. Why is it among those two million idealists today I didn't see one banner, one fist or voice raised against Saddam?"
"He's loathsome," she says. "It's a given."
"No it's not. It's a forgotten. Why else are you all singing and dancing in the park? The genocide and torture, the mass graves, the security apparatus, the criminal totalitarian state - the iPod generation doesn't want to know. Let nothing come between them and their ecstasy clubbing and cheap flights and reality TV. But it will, if we do nothing. You think you're all lovely and gentle and blameless, but the religious nazis loathe you. What do you think the Bali bombing was about? The clubbers clubbed. Radical Islam hates your freedom."
In his thoughts, Henry isn't sure why he's taking a harder line with his daughter then his pro-war colleague. I like that while he has an opinion, he's conflicted. He can see both sides, but his daughter can't. She gets very irritated when he admits he could be wrong and accuses him of hedging his bets. He says that he is simply being honest. And he realizes that although the issues are important, it's just an intellectual game for them "...how luxurious, to work it all out at home in the kitchen, the geopolitical moves and military strategy, and not be held to account, by voters, newspapers, friends, history. Where there are not consequences, being wrong is simply an interesting diversion."
People often make a comparison between terrorism and someone breaking into your home. McEwan centers the book around this idea. But, if the break-in is purely metaphorical, then I find it slightly irritating. And, if Henry's solution to the men that invade his life, his peace, is supposed to be a global solution then I disagree. But, at face value, the wrap-up works. Taken as a whole, the book is marvelously conceived and written with a wonderfully believable touch.
by Anne Lamott
"Hurt people hurt other people. That's the way it works."
- Blue Shoe
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers, but until this book I had never read any of her fiction. I first discovered Anne Lamott when Gracie was a newborn. Operating Instructions
is a fabulous book. It is her funny, honest, sad, and optimistic account of her first year as a mother. She is a single mother, but her experiences of being totally in love and totally in over her head are universal.
A few years later, I read Traveling Mercies
, a collection of essays in which Lamott shares her trek out of alcoholism and into Jesus. Again, she keeps it real, irreverent and funny even as she describes hitting bottom. To label Lamott a Christian writer would be to miss the mark (and probably disappoint or irritate a few Christian readers) because she doesn't have a Christian agenda, she simply shares her experiences and her faith. I loved it.
Last year, I read Bird by Bird
, which is a book about writing. Again, her wonderfully funny self just shines through in this great book. It's a worthwhile book whether or not you are an inspiring writer. Even a no-account blogger would get something out of it.
So, The Blue Shoe
. It is a wonderfully funny and believable book. It chronicles the years following Mattie Ryder's divorce. You see Mattie struggling to juggle her children, her rapidly aging mother, her ex-husband, her relationships, and her father's secrets. Her children are damaged by the breakup of their home, and so is Mattie, but she does the best she can.
Having read Lamott's non-fiction, there is much of Anne herself in this book. It was refreshing to see Mattie rely on her faith and her church. She prays to Jesus to help her daughter who is slowly gnawing away her fingers (through the nails), to give her patience when her son acts up, when she falls in love with the wrong man. And, it doesn't come off as preachy, just real.
"The crying will wash it out," she said, pulling him into her lap. He tore at his eye, rubbed hard, whimpered, and she cooed and patted him with mounting hostility... What would Jesus do? Roll his eyes and growl softly, as she was doing? She pictured Jesus and the men He lived with, whiny bachelors all - "Can I be first?" "What about me, Lord" - and saw Him sigh and head back up the mountain. Where could she go?
Her child sobbed in her arms, and she held him. Boy, she thought, when Jesus said we must become as little children to enter the kingdom of heaven, He was definitely not referring to Harry. Maybe He had been misquoted. Maybe he did not say you must be like little children, but that you should eat the little children - with a little butter and garlic.
At the beginning of the book, Mattie keeps thinking of her father, wishing he were still alive. If she could lean on him, she knows it would give her the strength she needs to keep things together. As the book progresses, she and her brother start a little detective work to figure out some questions about her father, and the answers are not what she expected.Emma
by Jane Austen
..I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman, of good fortune is always respectable and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.
Most of the last two weeks have been taken up with Emma
and Blue Shoe
were eaten up in just a few days each), but an Austen novel should be savored. Just as I think that when you read Walt Whitman quickly (only stopping to catch your breath), with Austen I recommend strolling.
Emma, like most of Austen's characters (but unlike her main characters) is interested in status and birth. She is rich, conceited, and spoiled but she has good intentions and a good heart. It is Emma's good intentions that give her the most trouble.
Emma befriends a woman below her in status, but who she believes she can help. Her help consists mainly of matchmaking, which has disastrous results. Her attempts at manipulating those around her produce only comic misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
Emma herself is not interested in marriage. But, from early on, you know who she loves (although she does not realize it yet). The beauty of the book doesn't lie in figuring out who loves who, but in watching Emma realize her mistakes and learn from them. Austen language is so lovely and precise, I'd probably love any of her books regardless of the plot.Operation Shylock
by Philip Roth
Thought provoking. I reviewed this here
.Read with the KiddosKing Arthur
by Rosalind Kerven
Beautiful illustrations, beautifully written. This subtly mentions the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere.Aladdin
by Rosalind Kerven
Fabulously written. The girls and I really enjoyed this.
Muhammad by Demi
Lovely book. Demi did a beautiful job of portraying Muhammad while respecting the Islamic tradition of not showing the prophet's face.
The Legend of Saint Nicholas by Demi
Nice book. Good starting point for discussing Saints and Eastern Orthodox religion.
I Am Eastern Orthodox by Philemon D. Sevastiades
I Am Roman Catholic by Philemon D. Sevastiades
This is a great series. A child tells about their beliefs and customs in basic terms with lots of photos. We have already read I am Buddhist, I am Hindu, I am Ba'hai, I am Muslim and I am Jewish. I'm sure we'll eventually work our way through the series. We usually talk about the similarities and differences in our religion and the religion discussed. This is a simple and sweet way to learn about different religions.
Look What Came from China by Miles Harvey
Another great series. Great photos, lively text, interesting stuff. We've also read Look What Came from Japan, and will read the books on Australia and France next.
Children's Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings
We just finished this. We started this quite a few months back. We have been reading from it for years, and read through the New Testament last year. This year we read it from start to finish and really enjoyed it. The illustrations and photos are wonderful.The text keeps things basic enough that is understandable, but covers all of the major and most of the minor stories.