Thursday, December 24, 2009
This picture is of Rob and I’s very first conversation: the changing of the guard in London (isn’t that great Pretty Mahana captured that when she took random pictures of our group?). I’ve been thinking a lot about the girl I was then and the woman I am now. Some things have stayed the same, but I’m very different in a lot of ways. Over the years, I’ve failed and succeeded, worked and played, laughed and cried, and tried on and abandoned different roles. Together, we’ve moved through cities, degrees, jobs, health conditions, and a whole lot of diapers. And I feel so grateful to have a husband who has loved the person I am at every step along the way, and has given me the support I need to grow into the person I am today. Happy Anniversary, Rob.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
For our congregation's Christmas party, we did "A Night in Bethlehem." We set up a market with food stands and activities, dressed up in vaguely time period costumes, and did a nativity pageant. Rob & I were in charge of the bakery stand, where I thoroughly enjoyed haggling with kids, and we played Mary & Joseph for the pageant. We opted to use a doll instead of Emily for baby Jesus because aside from all the gender issues involved in that, we figured her trying to crawl out of the manger while happily babbling "da da da da da!!" would ruin the illusion of being freshly born.
It was a good time, but I especially enjoyed the chance the pageant gave me to think about Mary. I love Mary, and becoming a mother has helped me gain a new appreciation of her. I have a better understanding of what it would mean to ride on a donkey when nine months pregnant, and the tasks that were expected of her once her son arrived. But the things I love most about her are applicable for everybody.
I love her responses when the angel comes to tell her of her role. I relate to her feelings of "How shall this be," when faced with a responsibility that seems beyond comprehension, and love her faithful "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." She knew who she was, and she knew what God wanted her to do. It gave her the strength she needed to face the difficult road ahead.
But most of all, I love that she was a thinking women. When others simply wondered or even doubted, Mary "kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." To me, "keeping" implies making it a part of who you are. And I love the imagery of pondering these things in her heart, not just her mind. I hope that as I come to know the savior, I can follow her example.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I love the act of praying for others. I love that it keeps me from becoming tangled up in my own life, and helps me focus on what I can do to help others. I love the bond that comes with others through shared faith and shared petitioning. I love that it reminds me that God is in control. But sometimes I get into habitual phrases if the need lasts, especially when that need doesn't change: the job that still hasn't materialized; the missionary service that lasts for a set period; the chronic health condition. I find myself grouping people's needs into categories, losing the crisp details of their circumstances into an unfocused "bless them with the health they need." And I feel something important is lost when I do that.
So I guess what I'm asking for is advice. How do you keep your prayers fresh when the need doesn't change? How do you approach praying for the long-term needs of others?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
We spent Thanksgiving with Cristie and her family up in Baltimore. This picture is of William getting dressed up to play the "Dread Pirates" board game with us. Aren't my cousins fun? Anyways, it was fun remembering that last Thanksgiving, Cristie and I were both morning sick, and here we were, a year later, with those wonderful little people to share the day with us. They were definitely worth the effort.
Saturday we met up with Rob's dad and Mary Ellen on the mall and went to the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden and National Gallery. I feel very lucky that we've gotten to see so much of them this year.
And other than that, I've been working on Christmas preparations, anniversary preparations, and watching Glee (because, really, who needs clean dishes when you've got a football team dancing to "Single Ladies").
Monday, November 30, 2009
Up in the lighthouse. And yes, I did that ladder behind us with Emily in her bjorn. I'm that awesome.
Sunday we had a bunch of people over for dinner. On Monday, Keli, Emily and I toured the capitol. I love that having visitors means that I go and see things I've just never gotten around to doing. The new visitor center was very well done, and our tour guide was great.
After Keli caught her bus down south, I went to another London reunion. Diana and her husband Rod were in town, so a few of us went a fabulous custard place in Alexandria (The Dairy Godmother - I highly recommend it). It was great to see where life has taken all of us.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
- I'm so behind on laundry, I found myself this morning deciding between wearing oversized gym shorts and maternity pants I retired 8 months ago.
- After letting Emily army crawl across the floor for a half hour, I had to change her outfit because it was covered in dirt (more efficient than sweeping, I guess).
- There's a dirty rice cooker in my sink. I'm not sure when I last made rice.
- When the bathroom repair guy came, it was quite the obstacle course getting him from the front door to the bathroom.
- I'm blogging so I don't have to deal with fixing these things.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
It got me thinking about what makes me feel powerful, and how that concept has changed over time. As a little kid, it was usually some new physical feat. As a student, it was a well-deserved A or presenting a paper at a national conference. As a professional, it was locating an obscure treaty in Russian or solving a tricky organizational puzzle. But now that I'm in a less public sphere, I'm learning to negotiate success without feedback from others. I'm essentially inventing my own yardstick, rather than using someone else's, and I've been surprised by what I sometimes come up with.
So here's my current list of moments recently where I have felt powerful:
- Arriving somewhere early.
- Having my house clean an hour before company arrives.
- Presenting a trifle to my guests.
- Saying just the right thing.
- Not getting lost on my forays around the DC metro.
- Inventing a game that Emily loves.
- Finishing anything.
A year ago I would have found this list kind of lame, but hey, it suits me for now.
When do you feel powerful?
Monday, November 2, 2009
Did anyone else have to sing that song as a kid? Or was it just my school?
Anyways, on Halloween, we decided to brave the rain that has been pouring on every Saturday this month and go down to the Shenandoah National Forest for leaf peeping. We lucked out and had clear skies for the majority of our visit. The leaves were beautiful. Shenandoah gave me a new appreciation for the yellows of autumn. In the past, I was drawn to either the reds or areas with a lot of variety. But there was something magical about passing through a forest of pure yellow. Even the light seemed golden.
We also took a brief journey on the Appalachian Trail (which we hope to spend more time on in the future, when we aren't getting rained on). Some pictures from the Trail:
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
On multiple occasions during the trip, I told Rob that Portland was so beautiful we should move there. And on multiple occasions during the trip, he told me we couldn't afford to live that close to Powell's Books. Let me tell you, I was the proverbial kid in a candy shop. But don't worry, I only picked up a few books for Emily. But man oh man, there were a lot of great books there.
Anyways, we snuck away for an afternoon to give Rob's grandma a much deserved nap, and went down to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Valley. Gorgeous. Some more pictures:
One tuckered baby:
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I had never met Rob's grandfather. We spoke on the phone on one occasion, and Rob had told me stories about him along the way. For me, his death brought on a different kind of mourning than I was familiar with. I was mourning an absence. I learned a lot about him during the memorial service. I learned about his strong work ethic, his thoughtfulness, and his generosity. I learned about the time in his later years when he fell in a hole trying to chop up the roots of a dead tree (after being strictly forbidden to do exactly that job), all because he missed being able to do work for those he loved. But I have no memories of him that are my own. And neither does my daughter. I can tell her stories about how she loved to play with her great grandmother's necklace, but I have no stories to offer her that connect her to him.
Although I missed out on forming a relationship with him, his passing allowed me to form new relationships with his wife, children, and grandchilden. I got to stay up late talking with Rob's grandmother after everyone else had gone to bed. I learned about his uncle's sense of humor and his aunt's thoughtfulness. I talked to Rob's cousins about their travels in India and the pros and cons of librarianship. They are wonderful people, and I'm so grateful that there were family gains despite the loss.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Erin: "It made me so happy that I wanted to twirl in circles with my umbrella outstretched!"
I'm an enormous nerd, but for a librarian like me, going to the National Book Festival is on the level of attending the premiere of the newest Brad Pitt movie, and getting twenty seconds of one-on-one conversation with an actress you admire.
I talked to Ana Menendez (her "In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd" is one of my all-time favorite short story collections) while getting my book signed. She was delightful. I'm still smiling thinking about it.
As for presentations I attended, they were wonderful. Shannon Hale was every bit as funny as I hoped she would be (the picture is of her rolling up a lamanated strip of rejection letters she received before getting published that she stretched across the stage). Lois Lowry was every bit as charming as I hoped she would be. Julia Alvarez was even more eloquent and graceful as I hoped she would be. Who thought that was possible? After his presentation, Ralph Eubanks read a fascinating essay on why he decided to give up his Mississippi accent, and what is meant for him as a writer and an individual. Azar Nafisi, while I certainly didn't always agree with her, gave me a lot to think about.
So a big thanks to Rob for staying home with Emily so I could go!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
There is something delicious about an experience that is entirely your own. An irony no one else caught. A moment in nature that no one else witnessed. The laugh that someone you love only uses when you do something nice for them. Your special place you go to think. A baby’s “first” that you were the only one present to see. Yes, there’s intimacy in a good secret, or camaraderie in sharing a beautiful experience with friends, but there is something magical about a pleasure you don’t have to share. It makes you feel special, and it makes you appreciate the value of what you are partaking in. It is rare, and therefore precious. It is beautiful because you own it.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I have a quirky uber-feminist-inspired loathing of conforming to the way a woman is supposed to look. I refuse to own a scale, preferring to focus on being healthy, rather than thin. I don’t wear makeup, and I usually give up on trying to locate my curling iron on those rare occasions I feel I need to look nice to be respectful (weddings, etc). I won’t wear uncomfortable high-heeled shoes because it reminds me too much of foot binding. I do shave my legs out of courtesy to other people at church, but I do it grudgingly, all the while resenting the fact men don’t have to. I have a powerful need to accept myself for who I am, not what I look like, and only surround myself with people who value who I am and don’t care about my appearance.
The same goes for my eyebrows. I’ve always left them thick, just plucking away the stray hairs, and yes, resenting the fact that men don’t have to. But I realized I’d been slacking in that regard the past few months, so I had the stylist do something about it. They were a lot thinner than I expected them to be, and yes, I realize they aren’t all that thin. I was horrified at first. But now I keep looking in the mirror and saying, “hey, I kind of like these.” I can’t explain it, but I feel really vain. Part of me feels like I sold out, but the other part of me likes it because it feels like I did something to take care of myself, which is a luxury for mothers of young kids. And now I catch myself wondering if I ought to look for some new clothes because putting them on would make me feel like I’m pampering myself again … what is happening to me?
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
I've been thinking about my own voice when I write, and how I come across. Honestly, I prefer my writing voice to the one that I speak with. Not that I'm about to give up speaking, but still. My writing voice is more polished and introspective. I have more time to think through things, and I can use care in what I say. Unless, of course, Emily has woken from her nap, and then I slop things out quickly because I've learned that if I don't post it as I write it, I never go back to it. I don't have the gift of public speaking. I have this awful valley girl habit of using the word "like" that I have unsuccessfully been trying to break for years. And "dude." When I speak in public, my mind can't keep up with my words, and I find myself using the word "um" obsessively. And I'm a lot more open in my writing. On my assorted blogs, and places I've done guest posts, I'll confide things that people I hang out with regularly don't know about me. I wonder if people that exclusively read me or listen to me have different senses of what I'm like, and who is right.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this, and Emily is waking up, so I'm just slopping this out, but do any of you have similar experiences? Do you feel like your writing and speaking voices are pretty much the same, or different? Are you more or less reserved on your blogs/facebook/journal/etc?
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This one is an Emily kiss attack. It includes obsessive giggling on my part (because really, it is too darn cute).
The quality on this one isn't great, but it shows Emily's favorite game: "Boing Boing"
Emily's other favorite game: Raspberries
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Emily has started out solid foods. Well, when I say she has started solid foods, I mean she isn't really into swallowing her rice cereal, but man oh man, does she love her spoon. She knows just what to do with it, too. She always sticks the correct end into her mouth. This milestone has really signalled to me that she is growing up. She'll still nurse for several months, but I am gradually becoming less essential to her survival. She's learning to roll to get where she wants to go. She's learning to manipulate the world around her. She's started the process of growing away from me. Which is what I'm raising her to do, but it still makes me a little wistful.
As I'm standing in line at the pediatrician's office, Emily makes friends like she always does. She loves meeting new people, and she beams at the woman before us in line (despite having just had shots - isn't she a sweet baby?). I start chatting with the mother, and she exclaims, "it's no wonder she's such a smiley baby - she has you as an example!" I smile to myself - despite Emily's growing independence, she's still learning from me. Who I am and what I do make a difference in who she will become. And I've done something that has helped her take a positive step. I realize that if I do my job well, this process will continue throughout both our lives.
Monday, July 27, 2009
In other news, I got to enjoy the fruits of my labors - I kept my tomatoes alive long enough to harvest!
Friday, July 24, 2009
I was just re-reading my pre-pregnancy post about struggling to picture myself with a baby. And here I am, loving that life. Emily is an absolute delight. She wakes up each
Saturday, July 18, 2009
- I read when I feed Emily (one of the many ways I multitask to get some me time). I've discovered that the more I like the book I'm reading, the more willing I am to feed her. I just finished Potok's My Name is Asher Lev, and I think Emily has probably gained five pounds in the past three days. The slighest little frown, and off we'd go to the chair where I feed her. Emily is lucky she didn't starve to death when I had to read Robinson Crusoe for book group. And I have to lead the discussion on it next week. I'm in so much trouble.
- I went through a phase in high school where I liked shopping, but for most of my life, it has fallen into the realm of "girly things that just aren't me." Probably has something to do with having student loans to pay off. Or the fact the 80s seem to be coming back (heaven help us all). Anyways, can I say that not having the car during the day changes that? I had the car on Friday, and man oh man, I wanted to buy, buy, buy because it meant I could stay out longer. So I've decided the library is a safer bet (don't worry - all my Target purchases were responsible).
- I went to my first Cub Scout Pack Meeting this week. That's right. I'm now volunteering as a den leader. I'll be with the Wolves and the Bears. It is going to be a lot of fun. Eight year olds are great. The biggest lesson I learned from the meeting is if you want boys to sit still, play music. We did an arrow of light ceremony and played background music, and the boys were just entranced. I'll have to remember that trick.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
A similar phenomenon has happened with my identity and motherhood. I am in a state of flux, with parts of myself expanding and parts contracting. I have increased significantly in empathy, but decreased in modesty (yes, I did flash an entire bus full of people while I was nursing at the park and ride). I have more to write about, but less to talk about. And, ironically, less to talk about, but a greater need to talk about it. I lean more heavily on some people, and other relationships have been temporarily put on hold. Some of my talents have been strengthened because of frequent use, while others are languishing because I haven’t attempted them since I became a mother. I am myself, but more and less simultaneously.
Some days I scroll through my blog and wonder where I am amid the onslaught of pictures of my daughter. Other days I skim my pre-motherhood journals and feel there is a dimension of myself missing at these earlier dates. President Brown gave a parable about a currant bush, where the plant needs to be pruned to become what the gardener wants it to become. I see this happening in my life. Parts of my identity are chopped off, and sometimes I miss them, but I know it will bring different growth in my life, and I will become more beautiful and have more to give as a result. And, most importantly, I am taking the shape that God wants me to take.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No
matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an
inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf
When President Uchtdorf addressed the women of the LDS church in October of 2008, he suggested two activities to us that would bring happiness into our lives (not the complete formula, of course): creating and being compassionate. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about the creating part. In fact, recently I'd had a conversation with a friend about how I'd finally embraced the fact I was not creative. I wasn't saying that I didn't have talents. I just meant that I preferred to emulate, rather than innovate. I had a better talent for analyzing works of fiction than writing my own. I had a better talent for doing guitar covers of existing songs than writing my own. And yes, these works are a form of creation. But they just didn't feel creative to me.
When I first heard President Uchtdorf's talk, I started looking at my existing actions a little differently. Yes, the guitar song existed before, but I remembered comments of friends that said that I was able to make them feel something different when I sang it than when the artist did. I thought about cooking, and how I desperately need a recipe to start with, but I adjust it like crazy until it becomes my own. I realized that I do enjoy these things, and just because I used inspiration doesn't mean I didn't give them life. I nodded to myself, and thought I had got what President Uchtdorf was saying.
Since then, I decided to give the creativity thing a try. I've been working a little on creative non-fiction, and on writing songs. And while I'm nowhere even close to sending things off for publication (or even letting people listen to them), can I just say that I'm really finding joy in it? Part of it may just be that I'm taking time to do something for myself, which every mom needs. But the biggest change I've realized is that it makes me look at the world around me differently. I am looking for inspiration wherever I go, and I love what I see. It makes me explore my thoughts and feelings, and notice the little pleasures in my life. It makes me capture things that I might have let slip away, even if it is captured imperfectly. And it feels good.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I love hiking with Rob because he is very observant and notices things I miss. I tend to just soak in all the colors and enjoy the conversation. Rob notices wildlife, the impact of the weather on the plants, and what direction we're heading. We hiked a lot together when we were first married, and I love that I get to look back at that period and remember him helping me find constellations at our campsight near Arches, reading about desert plants and animals, and laughing at the way the depth of the canyons at Canyonlands blew my poor Nebraskan mind. We learned a lot about each other, and I loved getting to revisit that at Riverbend.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Yesterday Emily and I went to my former office to have lunch with my former boss and say hi to all my former coworkers. I had a fabulous time. I got to find out who had become a grandma, what people's kids were up to, who had moved to a new neighborhood, and all those little details you miss when you don't see people on a daily basis. I left with lots of invitations to have lunch and email addresses to swap pictures. It made me remember just how much I like all my coworkers, and what a good atmosphere it was. But it also made me incredibly grateful for the life I live now. As I walked to the metro with my baby and my husband, I realized that although I certainly missed the people, I didn't have a single moment that day where I doubted my decision to stay home with Emily. I love my life. I may be tracking down socks instead of international tax treaties, and trying to figure out why Emily is crying instead of determining the litigation risk of one company merging with another, but I feel my work is meaningful, and I feel fulfilled.