Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Administrative Changes

In light of recent excessive whining and tantrums, I (the mother of this household) am instituting the following rules, effective tomorrow, November 23, 2012:

1. If you can do it yourself, do it yourself.

2. When Mommy comes home, she and Daddy get to spend a few minutes relaxing and spending time together.  Kids stay in another room. Do not disturb Mommy and Daddy unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding or choking or otherwise in imminent danger.   

3. Kids have to do the following each day: brush hair and teeth, pick up room, complete homework, complete one chore.  There will be no having of fun until these items have been completed.

4. TV/Computer time is limited to 1 hour per day.  

5. Mommy is not the entertainment committee.  Kids figure out how to entertain themselves.  If Mommy is doing something-- even if that something is holding very still or reading a book--she doesn’t need to be disturbed.  

6. Whining, badgering, and tantrums are not tolerated.  They will be counted mercilessly.  They can be carried out in the privacy of one’s bedroom.  

7. The cleaning up of all messes, including messy underpants, is the responsibility of the mess' maker.

**Mommy and Daddy’s responsibilities: keep kids safe, teach independence, ensure good hygiene, provide healthy, regular meals, enforce 8 PM bedtime, read to, talk with, cuddle, and love kids.  

**Mommy and Daddy’s responsibilities do not include: providing constant entertainment, being a playmate,  performing slave labor, etc.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Journal

I love Roald Dahl.  I mean, what's not to like about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (except for horrifying film adaptations)?  Or The BFG?  Or Matilda?  Or The Witches?  His stories are a little dark, a lot hilarious, and all kinds of charming.   And if you've ever wondered where it all came from, you've got to read Boy, a collection of memories from Dahl's own childhood, which reads almost exactly like his books for children.  I chortled for days afterwards.  Good stuff.  

And one can't read Boy without wanting to know what happened when Roald took a job with Shell Oil Company in East Africa and then joined the Royal Air Force.  This man had no shortage of life adventures.  While not as amusing as Boy (a lot of it was, after all, about war), Going Solo is an interesting and perspective-broadening memoir.    

Monday, November 05, 2012

In Which I Tell You How to Vote

Don't worry.  No presidential candidates will be mentioned.  People support presidential candidates with a religious fervor and I harbor no illusions that I might be able to sway anyone's opinion about who to vote for.

But.  I do want to talk about two Idaho voting issues that are near and dear to my heart.

First: for you Shelley/Firth people:  the library bond.  Vote YES!  I have heard a few people say that they think that libraries are outdated and that we shouldn't put any more money into our public library than we already have.  This could not be further from the truth.  Circulation at the North Bingham County Library has been increasing steadily over the past decade and doesn't show signs of stopping.  The NBCL serves our community extremely well, catering to the needs and interests of the people in the region.  They provide many excellent literacy, educational, and community programs for all age groups.  Adding additional space-- at an average tax-payer increase of about $20/year-- will enable them to increase the number of available materials and provide even more services, including tutoring, classes, and learning manipulative for children (not gonna lie, not exactly sure what a "learning manipulative " is-- a fancy word for toy, mayhap?--but it sounds awesome and I think we need them.)  If you care about literacy and life-long learning, THIS is the place to invest.  Click here to learn more.

Now, Props 1, 2, and 3.  Vote NO!  IGNORE the idiotic propaganda about how ULTRA-LIBERAL NATIONAL TEACHER'S UNIONS WANT TO RUIN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE.  That's a bunch of crap.  Props 1, 2, and 3 are simply stripping teachers of their voice, increasing class sizes, decreasing overall teacher salaries, taking away teacher incentives to work with children with special needs or lower socioeconomic backgrounds, creating an even greater focus on "teaching to the test," and taking money out of educators' pockets to fund unnecessary extras like laptops for every high school student.  I don't know any educators who support these propositions, and you shouldn't either.  It is TEACHERS, not buildings or technology or standardized tests, that provide education.  We need to put money into supporting teachers and make sure their rights and voices are honored and upheld.  A vote NO for Props 1, 2, and 3 is a vote YES for teachers-- and a vote YES for teachers is the BEST vote we can give to our children.

Read arguments both for and against Props 1, 2, and 3 by linking from this page.  Then realize that I'm right and vote NO on Props 1, 2, and 3.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Love Journal: Protect and Border and Salute

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer describes one of his bouts of serious clinical depression.  He was frozen, paralyzed by sadness, completely unable to feel joy or sense beauty.  Many well-meaning friends would visit and try to help, but he was completely unable to connect with them.

He writes,

blessedly, there were several people, family and friends, who had the courage to stand with me in a simple and healing way.  One of them was a man who, having asked my permission to do so, stopped by late every afternoon, sat me down in a chair, knelt in front of me, removed my shoes and socks, and for half an hour simply massaged my feet.  He found the only place in my body where I could still experience bodily feeling—and feel connected with the human race.

He rarely spoke a word,  and when he did, he never gave advice but simply mirrored my condition.  He would say, “I can sense your struggle today,” or, “It feels like you are getting stronger.”  I could not always respond, but his words were deeply helpful: They reassured me that I could still be seen by at least one person, life-giving knowledge in the midst of an experience that makes one feel annihilated and invisible.  It is almost impossible to put into words what my friend's ministry meant to me.  Perhaps it is enough to say that I now understand the Biblical stories of Jesus and his foot washings at new depth.

The poet Rilke says, “Love . . .consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.”   That is the kind of love my friend offered.  He never tried to invade my awful inwardness with false comfort or advice, but simply stood on its boundaries, modeling the respect for me and my journey— and the courage to let it be— that I myself needed if I were to endure.

Early in my college career, I went through a nasty romantic breakup that seemed to me to be the very end of the world.  I look back now and I'm like, "Um, okay?  And your problem was?"  but at the time I thought that I would never know happiness again, ever.  For months I was a complete wreck.  There were shouted phone calls.  There was dramatic crying.  There was loud music.  There was sprawling poetry on butcher paper and acrylic paintings of nude women.  It wasn't a pretty picture.  

My beautiful best friend, Holly, responded to all this perfectly.  She rode around with me in my car in the dark while I shouted along with Alanis Morissette's "You Outta Know" at damaging decibal levels.  She appreciated my frightening art.  She patted my back when I sobbed until I hyperventilated.  She kept a hand on my knee the time that I bawled during the three hour drive from Pocatello to Provo.  She climbed into bed with me at night when I woke up crying.  One night she drew me a hot bath.

Had our roles been reversed, I surely would have gotten sick of all the drama.  I would have become impatient and rolled my eyes and said, "He was not that fabulous.  Seriously.  Get over it.  You deserve so much better."  But Holly was just quietly, patiently present with me in my suffering.  Her quiet vigil was the thing I needed most and I will always be grateful that she was there to protect, border, and salute me during that time.

Sometimes when things are hard, you don't need someone to give you advice.  You don't need someone to say anything at all.  Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you while you struggle through the darkness.  It's so tempting, when others are sad or hurt or angry, to try to offer comfort or well-meaning advice.  But sometimes all they need to know is that you see them, that you love them, and that they're not alone.

Thanks, Holls.

Halloween 2012

The weekend before Halloween, my little niece Sylvie came to visit.  Isn't she gorgeous?

We also went to the U Pick Red Barn Pumpkin Patch and did some pumpkin carving.  

Soren's Jack-o-Lantern.  His was the only one that ever got carved.  (And painted.  And glued.)  

Liam painted his.  

The bat that Soren made for our entryway.

More kid-made decorations on display.  

Now for the awesome part.....

Briar and our co-worker Alex both dressed up as Angry Birds.

 Look at that amazing make-up job.  Yeah, I did that.

Jasmin and I dressed up as Sociopaths.  Scary, eh?

Aren't my little ghost and jaguar just adorable?

My childrens' mother was too lazy to make fancy Halloween food, so for dinner we had "monster faces."  

I gave up and put on a real costume for trick-or-treating, at Soren's behest.  

We trick-or-treated around the block and capped off the evening at Grandma and Grandpa's house with a spooky episode of Spongebob Squarepants.


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