Sunday, September 9

Glad Not to Be a Skink

Yeah, it's been forever again and I've got all sorts of news and notes I could be updating everybody on ... but instead I'll just share this little thought I had while watching a nature show on Australia with the family the other day.

Praise God I'm not a skink!

Did you know that baby skinks (who often come in pairs) can weigh up to 40% of mama's body weight?

In human terms, that's like giving birth to a set of two-year-old twins.

Ouch.

Tuesday, March 20

Guilty Pleasures

Once upon a time, before I married Adam, I eschewed reality shows as the (mostly) mindless foolishness they are. I saw how the landscape of television had changed since the advent of Survivor and I wasn't impressed.

I can't recall exactly when I discovered that Adam is a bit of a reality series junkie. It may not have been until after we were married. He likes Survivor, American Idol, The Apprentice, Hell's Kitchen, The Bachelor, and probably a dozen more that I can't recall just now. I scoffed. But then I started sitting down to take a look at some of them.

Now, I still can't stand The Bachelor or Survivor, but I'll actually sit contentedly through an episode or two of The Apprentice, and Hell's Kitchen can be quite a bit of fun. I used to watch American Idol regularly before Adam started working nights (and my favorite judges all left the show).

dance sequinsI'll even confess through a sheepish blush that I've actually been counting down the days until Dancing with the Stars came back on for their 14th season, which is only 3 or 4 more than I've watched. The season premier aired last night. I haven't seen it yet, because Adam had to work, so we'll be watching it tonight on Hulu.

I'm not entirely sure what the appeal of the show is. I just find something refreshing about watching usually-pampered celebrities having to work at something that (amazingly, every season) is so much harder than they were expecting. Nobody really wins anything--there's not a cash prize or a charity donation or anything more than a goofy trophy and the privilege of saying, "I won."

It's purely entertainment. Then again, maybe that's what's so appealing. No one has their life changed with a huge influx of cash or a dream job, yet almost everybody talks about how being a part of the experience taught them something about themselves they'd never known before. And if that's not enough, there are lots of sparkly costumes every week.

And, I mean really, what could be more fun that watching macho football players becoming self-actualized while dressed in hot pink sequins?

Monday, March 12

Fruit

When I was a kid, my grandmother had a small wall hanging in her bedroom. It was a collection of tiny wooden plaques attached to one another like a long train heading up an imaginary track next to the door frame. Each piece of wood had a single word painted on it, "love" and "joy" and "peace" and some others. It was years before I connected that decoration with the verses from Galatians 5.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I read that list again this morning as part of my devotional time. I realized with dismay that my life more closely resembles the previous verses most of the time. Paul pointed to actions which make our focus on our own pleasures painfully obvious:

... hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy ...

And yet, it doesn't have to be this way. I looked at the "fruit of the Spirit" verses again. What would my life look like, I considered, if I were to truly allow God's Spirit to shine through me?

Living my life with Christ at the center, I have the power to
  • care for myself and others with God's own heart
  • delight in God's attention to every detail
  • recognize that God holds me by the hand, no matter what my circumstances
  • relax in God's perfect timing
  • make life easier and more pleasant for those around me
  • choose God's best in every situation
  • remain true in my commitments to God, to myself, and to others
  • temper my anger and my frustrations with God's grace
  • be deliberate in my actions and reactions
Frankly, that sounds like a much nicer life to live than the one I'm generally inhabiting. Which makes me question, why don't I simply allow God to work His power in me, all the time? Instead I'm continually giving my heart to Him only to wrest it from His hands, screaming like a two-year-old, "Mine, mine, mine, mine!"

What exactly is it I think I'm gaining?

Thursday, March 8

Complaint?

I have this grievance to air. Well, it's not exactly a grievance. I'm a bit perturbed by it, but it's not all a bad thing. It's hardly a catastrophe or anything. Really, it's more of an annoyance than a complaint. Even then, the issue has redeeming qualities.

Maybe I should just start at the beginning.

You see, a couple of years ago I bought a pair of sweatpants. I needed something a little roomier than my usual size (as you do when you're six months pregnant). They fit fine and I wore them for the rest of my pregnancy and for quite some time since. All was well.

Then this past summer, I really made a go of the whole low-carb diet and I started to drop some serious weight. In fact, as of yesterday, I'd lost more than 90 lbs since I'd bought those sweatpants.

Only, I wore those pants yesterday. Out of the house. Same pants: no pins, no stitching. Granted, they were roomy, but they weren't falling down around my ankles.

Which brings us to the crux of my quasi-complaint. On the one hand, it's fabulous that I've been able to continue wearing the same clothes as I've been losing weight. I certainly can't be running out to replace my whole wardrobe every 15 lbs, so the fact that this one pair of sweats has lasted me all this time is really a good thing.

On the other hand, it's a little disheartening that I've lost nearly 100 lbs and I'm still wearing the same pants!

Monday, February 27

Chocolate

(noun) A substance developed to help one get through those days when considering statements such as, "Gee, maybe we should have just adopted a puppy."

ex: Just hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt!

Monday, February 6

Notes from a Busy Household

I must have started half a dozen posts in the last month and a half. Not a one of them made it far enough along to bother with the bright orange "Publish" button that mocks me from the top of the page.

Life moves so fast sometimes. Do you suppose I've seen that Matthew Broderick Super Bowl commercial too many times? It's one of the few I really liked. As I watched most of them, I felt like I must be outside the targeted demographic because of my age. Or my gender. Or maybe my species.

It seems like I've hardly had a moment to myself since before Christmas, with the exception of a few that were very carefully carved out under heavy guard. Extra special thanks go to Adam for helping carve and guard! I'm sure I'd have gone completely round the bend without them, rather than just most of the way, holding on for dear life.

So what have I been busy doing, you ask? Well, I put 17 items on my Big To-Do list last month. As of this morning, 11 of them are done.

For the last several weeks, I've been:
  • Finishing mittens for Ian, just in time for the weather to get all warmish again. On the plus side, they're adorable, even if all they're doing right now is dangling from the sleeves of his coat. I did make notes while I was working on it, so I'm going to try making a pair for Rosi as well and actually writing up the pattern before the end of winter. (Mental note: update list)
  • Writing out three grocery lists and bought enough food to keep us all fed.
  • Doing our taxes and submitted them online. Hooray for Free File at irs.gov!
  • Developing a lesson plan on the history of Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots program
  • Writing a scientifically accurate story of how a snowflake grows and practiced making snow paint out of various ingredients. (For the record, I thought the shaving cream version had the best effect given the cost and effort involved in making the paint.)
  • Updating my resume. Again. I think I've finally got it the way I want it now.
  • Revising my professional profile. If you're not familiar with the term, that's a one-page overview of my career history, skills and qualifications, and what I'm looking for in a new job situation. It's sort of like a mini-resume, but is specifically designed for networking purposes.
  • Becoming a member of a new church. Well, the church isn't that new, but we've only been going there for about 6 months. It's nice to have a church home again, but it's really not helping at all with the being-less-busy thing. It's a good busy, I know, but sometimes I just want a day off or three. (Another mental note: Don't forget to send that e-mail about the VBS planning meeting next week)
  • Figuring out where to donate a batch of recycled heart crayons so that the next project we're doing with the Roots & Shoots group will actually be useful to some kids other than ours. We're donating them to the local Ronald McDonald House.
Add to that all the normal everyday stuff like cooking and cleaning and making sure the kids bathe regularly, learn some new stuff, and don't kill one another. Or their father. Or me.

And, hey, what's going on with my blog design? I didn't authorize a blue stripe down the middle of my sidebar! Now I'm going to have to mess with that again (attempting to make yet another mental note).

***ERROR: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT SYSTEM MEMORY AVAILABLE IN RESOURCE POOL 'MIND' TO COMPLETE ACTION.***

Oh, dear.

Sunday, December 25

Saturday, December 17

Ephemeral Art

When I was in college, one of the required courses was a four-part humanities series. For three semesters we studied pretty much all of recorded history with a focus on the arts, while the fourth provided a more hands-on experience as we each designed and created our own art projects and present them before the class.

During the fourth semester, I was first introduced to the concept of ephemeral art. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it basically means art that is designed to be temporary. It covers a broad range of types, everything from ice carving to face painting to sand castles to fire sculptures that burn up as they are displayed.

I was reminded of my general amazement with the genre this morning when I found Rosi drawing in the condensation on the back window.


Being the amazing educational facilitator I (occasionally) am, I immediately turned her play into an art lesson. As part of our study, we looked at collections of ephemeral art online. Some of my favorites were by Richard Shilling and Andy Goldsworthy, who do something called "land art" or working outdoors with primarily natural materials which then may erode or decay naturally. Be sure to check out the links; both of these guys do some really incredible stuff!

Photo by Mike and Kirsty Grundy [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 9

Genius

I got this quote in my e-mail the other day. I really like it.

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
attributed to Albert Einstein

Ironically, there are a few fish living in Africa and Southeast Asia that do, in fact, climb trees. Still, I bet they're better at swimming.

Tuesday, December 6

Finally, It Makes Sense

Tunisian Knit StitchEver since I first discovered it, some five years ago, I've thought the Tunisian crochet stitch was pretty cool. Both of my long-time readers may remember this Tunisian stitch satchel I made for my niece, lo these many moons ago.

More recently, I found instructions for the Tunisian Knit stitch in a stitch dictionary I'd gotten. The resulting fabric is such a neat knit-like look, without all the trouble of actually having to knit. The only problem was, the instructions provided in that particular book were not very clear. I tried and tried and tried, but just couldn't figure out quite where to place my hook to get the neat chained-stitch effect.

Tunisian Knit StitchThis week's Crochet Me newsletter features a tutorial on the Tunisian stitch, including a diagram of Tunisian Knit showing exactly where the hook goes. I tried it out and, whaddaya know, it worked exactly like it's supposed to!

I can totally see this as a cuff to a sweater or a mitten. Maybe I'll start a pair of mittens for myself, now that the winter weather has actually arrived in Sioux Falls with a half inch of snow dusting the ground. Or maybe I should complete some of the UFOs cluttering up the top of my piano first ...

Friday, December 2

Two Things I Learned on the Water Slide

How the heck did it get to be December already? My parents weren't kidding about time moving faster as you get older!

A couple of weeks ago, Adam and I celebrated our birthdays. My in-laws' gift to us was a couple of nights at a local hotel with an indoor water park. Alone time and uninterrupted sleep being rare and precious commodities in our house, we decided to spend our days together with the kids splashing around in the pools and water slides, then each of us took one evening and overnight to stay in the room alone.

I didn't end up spending my evening alone. In fact, I picked up my 19-year-old niece to go for coffee and we spent the next several hours talking about everything from college to boys to Christianity to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Finally, as midnight was approaching, I decided I'd better take her home, lest she turn into a pumpkin.

After a lovely full night's sleep without anyone bumping into me in bed, I took a few final rides on the 160-foot water slide before checking out. God used that opportunity to teach me some important lessons.
  1. It's okay to have fun by myself, in fact, it's necessary
  2. Rosi and I had had a blast riding the water slide together our first day at the hotel. Unfortunately, they had to close the slide for maintenance the afternoon of the second day, so she wasn't able to ride on it again. We splashed around in the other pools (there were three total, plus two hot tubs) and slid down the kiddie slides with Adam and Ian.

    After discovering the big slide was open again the next morning, I thought about picking up the kids for a quick visit. But, I figured by the time I drove home, we got them ready to go, drove back to the hotel, and actually were ready to use the pool, it would be nearly time to check out. So I went down the slide a couple of times on my own, thinking about how much fun Rosi would have had if she were there, and feeling a bit guilty that she wasn't able to experience it with me.

    As I climbed up out of the pool after my second or third ride, the thought occurred to me that I didn't need to feel guilty because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Not only was it good for me to be having fun on my own, but it was important. Nobody can be having fun all the time. In this broken world, at any given moment someone (probably lots and lots of someones) are hurting or hungry or afraid. If we limit our own enjoyment of life to only that which can simultaneously be enjoyed by everyone else, we're not going to enjoy anything.

    I don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't do what all we can to help those who are hungry or hurting, but not enjoying the pleasure that is in my life, because everyone else can't share it with me, simply leaves me miserable without offering any benefit to anyone.

  3. Trusting the one who designed the course makes the ride a whole lot more fun.
  4. Prior to this hotel stay, the last time I'd gone down a water slide was not a good experience for me. That slide was completely enclosed so I couldn't really see what was coming next. I ended up off balance, landing in the water on my belly and hitting my elbow on the end of the slide.

    With those memories at the forefront of my mind, I was feeling pretty cautious the first few times I rode down this new slide. I kept my hands pressed against the sides to slow myself down and help stay upright. As I continued to slide, I started feeling more comfortable with the ride, but I still worried that if I didn't hold on, I'd start going too fast or tip over to one side or suffer some nasty accident--160 feet down looks awfully high from the top!

    After about a dozen rides, it occurred to me that any water slide designer worth his salt would naturally design a slide that's really difficult to fall from. Furthermore, any park that installs a slide would have a vested interest in the safety of the riders, if for no other reason than because injuries are bad for business.

    Finally, I gathered up the courage to let go, just sliding down with the water and not worrying (too much) about losing control or falling off. My last couple of rides were definitely the best ones of the whole visit. I wasn't tense or worried. Splashing from one side to the other as I rode around the curves was fun rather than scary. Believing that the creator of the ride knew what he was doing and trusting that he had it all worked out to keep me where I was supposed to be allowed me to appreciate the topsy-turvy feeling, smile at the rush of wind in my face, and anticipate the splash at the end.

Monday, October 10

Excrementalism

Apparently, I wasn't the only one pondering crap this past week. Christine put up a thought-provoking post There is no healing without poo. Go on over and read it, I'll wait.

(humming to self)

Quite an epiphany, right? And it makes so much sense. You have to let the bad stuff out so the good stuff has space to fit in.

Over the past few years, two different friends have had babies diagnosed with "imperforate anus" a condition in which the anus is closed or smaller in diameter than it should be. For one friend, the diagnosis came after her newborn wasn't nursing well. She explained it this way, "He wasn't wanting to eat because he wasn't able to poop very well, so he was feeling full."

I think that's true emotionally as well. When we don't let the poo out, we aren't able to receive the nourishment we need. There's no room to experience love, joy, peace, and all the rest of it.

Something to think about the next time you visit the loo.