Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Death of English

Reading Beowulf

 My sister recently shared with me an article that I found to be both humorous, disturbing, and sort of sad.  Until I thought about it.  I'm still thinking about it.

So I have decided to take a close look at the journey that the English language has taken.  I have chosen excerpts from what are generally considered to be classics in our language.  I start off with the poem of Beowulf, simply because it is the earliest writing in our language of which I am aware. (See how I avoided ending my sentence with a preposition?)  Chaucer is considered to be the father of English literature, and Shakespeare is known as England's national poet.  Jane Austen I selected simply for being my personal favorite, and Stephanie Meyer I think was an obvious choice with which to end my review. (See how careful I am being?)  I wonder what Stephanie Meyer will be hailed as, a hundred years from now?

From the first line of the poem Beowulf (3rd or 4th century):
Hwaet we Gar-Dena       in gear-dagum
peod-cyninga     prym gefrunon,
hu da  aepelingas     ellen fremedon.

Let's move on to Geoffrey Chaucer of The Canterbury Tales (1300's), shall we?
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour,
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

A little Shakespeare (1500's). Let's go with Hamlet, as, yes Mrs. Springman, I still know it:

To be, or not to be. That is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.  To die, to sleep, no more. And by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.  Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream.  Aye, there's the rub for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause.  (I'll stop there. You're welcome.)

Continuing on to Jane Austen (1700's) (a personal favorite):
IT IS A TRUTH universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.  However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

And at last, I thought we'd finish with Stephanie Meyer's infamous Twilight (2000's) (another personal favorite)
I'd never given much thought to how I would die - though I'd had reason enough in the last few months - but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
I stared without breathing across the long room, into the dark eyes of the hunter, and he looked pleasantly back at me.

Wherein I play the Devil's Advocate:

What exactly is so wrong about the misuse of an apostrophe, or comma, or misspelled words? Do you suppose that Shakespeare, or Charles Dickens never made a grammatical error? In my introduction to Chaucer's Canturbury Tales the man who translated the copy I have wrote that there are some issues with the original text.  Each editor and translator takes a different approach to dealing with these mistakes, but they are there in the original.  And this is the man regarded as The Father of English Poetry. We frequently hold these ancient writers up as the ideal, and yet they were not perfect. Not only that, but our language truly goes back so much farther even them. If we were to try and resuscitate the English language, don't we really just mean to bring it back to the English we learned in our own second grade classroom? For I'm sure we would all willingly agree that it would be useless to try and bring back the English of Beowulf. Personally, I blame Geoffrey Chaucer. It was his brilliant idea to write colloquially, and I think that was one of the initial downfalls (Although, clearly not the first, as his English was already drastically different from that of the poem of Beowulf). For isn't that what is happening to our language today, for instance, on Facebook statuses when I see "i luv yuu"? (which, incidentally, I have seen.) And so, I ask again. What is so wrong with writing how we speak?

Please, discuss.  (And, please keep in mind that that was me playing the Devil's Advocate  because I thought it was an interesting position.  It does not reflect the full range of my actual thoughts on this topic.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Road Blocks

I have this weird road block when it comes to posting on my blog.  First of all, I can't bring myself to publish a new post until at least one person has commented on the current one.  Like, I'm afraid someone will feel left out if they don't get a chance to read and comment on a post if they so choose. 

That means that if, say, I have something else that I want to write about I have to either write it and save it or I have to try and hold it in my brain and remember it until I feel like everyone has gotten a fair chance to speak their piece.

I have written some 284 blog posts, give or take, and my sister has posted on all but one, maybe two of them.  She is frequently my first commenter.

Thus, when my last post went three 3 tres whole days and not a word, I was starting to feel like it was time to move on, but I was stuck. Without a comment from my sister the post didn't feel "official" and how could I write a new one if that one hadn't yet been, to use TAMN's phrase, validated?

And then I started to panic. What if she isn't commenting because something is wrong?  Calm down, I told myself, maybe she's at Susi's wedding.  I looked at the fridge. That wedding isn't until next week. (I wish I could go!) I thought maybe she just didn't like that post and had nothing to say, that's reasonable to think, so I spent hours last night "redesigning" my blog, thinking that would spur her to say something. (Am I coming across as really needy here?)

I couldn't take it anymore this morning.  I called her.  "So, how have you been?" I ask her, feeling 30% nervous, 35% foolish, and 35% hungry for tortilla chips.

"Good" she answered, still oblivious to my inner turmoil.

"So, I mean like, everything's ok? I was kind of getting worried cuz I haven't heard from you in a while" I say.

"You mean because I haven't commented on your blog yet?" She's caught on now.

"Uh, yeah" I admit.  She tells me she's been busy and we talk for a while.  A few hours later I check my email and lookee there, she has commented.

I read her comment, and feeling deeply satisfied (I ate the entire rest of the bag of tortilla chips) I thought, "Oh good, now I can write a new post."  And see how I don't let not having anything important to say stand in my way?  No, my only road block in writing new posts is all about the comments, or lack thereof.  I'm 30% ashamed to admit that, 35% hoping you will have something to say about that, and 35% wishing we had some Oreos.

Don't worry, my sister really is ok.  You know the hardest thing about living in Nebraska? It's feeling like my main connection to family and far away friends is Skype, Facebook, and the comments you leave on my blog.  So thank goodness for technology!

AND just so you know, I do have two oreos, and 2% of this post was written tongue in cheek. (But I'm serious about the Oreos. I wouldn't kid about that.)

Comments:

we will be thinking about you and your sweet family next weekend beautiful!! xoxoxoxo (Susan Takacs)

you are way too funny. i wish we lived closer. (Alisha Hillam)

sometimes I just feel like an invader of your blog and I just kind of stalk you that way! and I always think "if I comment on her blog she will know I'm stalking her" So now that the cat is out of the bag on that one I'll leave my comment! I have a bag of oreos , want to share?! check out my blog (I hardly ever post) www.dallinsarah.blogspot.com but I like to get comments too! Hence no comments, lack of postings! I have the same internal struggle as you do, no worries we are just humane. (Heather Johnson)

Just so you know, I read your blog way more than I comment! (Elizabeth)

Wow. This post I actually did relatively soon after it was posted, but I've been beaten by FOUR people.  Hallie has some really cute friends. :) This weekend was really busy. We bought a new mattress, so we had to shop at different stores. (Jeff couldn't stand waking up with back pain any longer.) Laurie had a garage sale. I had organized a carpool to the RS event, and there was a service project before hand, so that all took a lot of time. Sunday morning Jeff and Jill were on the computer the whole time. Jill watching videos of Hallie and herself, and then Jeff got on to work on things for his calling. Then church, then dinner at Laurie's, and then I went visiting teaching, and then it was bed time. (We have afternoon church.) Friday I didn't get on the computer, because I read three library books instead. I need to get on Good reads . . . 

I actually felt the same lack of Amy though. I logged onto Skype this morning for half an hour hoping that maybe you would get on.

I'm needy, too. ;) (Michelle Collett)

Oreo's and tortilla chips are sounding really good right now. (Sarah)

Yeah, I'm kind of hungry now, but I can't decide if I want sweet or salty... :) I'll miss you guys this weekend! (Ali Bies)

This song is dedicated to Amy Boling, on honor of her 284th (or something) post.
To the tune of "Oh Amy Don't Hate Me" by the Get Up Kids.

"Forgive me for just lurking and not commenting like I do.
Each night you can fall asleep assured that someday I’ll be leaving a not on your blog.
These constant reminders in everything I see.
The chance of a lifetime…let my voice be heard.

Oh Amy, don’t hate me, commenting isn't what I do.
Oh Amy, don’t hate me. 'Cause that would make me blue!

I’m sorry I can’t be the commenter you need.
This song is at the heart of what I do.
This comment's for you.

Oh Amy, don’t hate me, commenting isn't what I do.
Oh Amy, don’t hate me. 'Cause that would make me blue!
Oh Amy, Oh Amy!
Oh Amy, Oh Amy!
Oh Amy, don’t hate me. 'Cause that would make me blue!

Every time I read a post, it’s easier to lurk.
On your site, the blog is you in everything you do.
Every time I read a post, it’s easier to lurk.
On your site, the blog is you in everything you do."

Love you! You are hilarious, and I love reading your posts! (Peter Boling)

Validation. Validation. Validation. I totally understand. I live for comments too : ), and Oreos are also pretty good. (Charity Jeffs)

Ames, if I ever haven't posted a comment it's because I just can't get deep enough to say anything. Lots of times I sit there and think "I just don't know what to say to that kind of brilliance." But I read EVERY post.

And about those comments. I mean, is it really just validation? It's more like when you're having a conversation with someone and they don't respond. Did they hear you? Were they listening? It's just common courtesy to acknowledge someone. That said, I haven't read this TAMN thing. I don't know how she defines it. (Nicole Empey)

Ah, Ames, I love you. You're funny and awesome. (Melissa Oviatt)

I read every blog of my Amy and Mimi, I always enjoy them, frequently think of things to say, and then... I often get anxious and stay quiet. perhaps not feeling clever enough, or that I'm feeling my age and anything I say will be like "old man advice".

Anyway I am so glad for the postings, even if I do remain quiet. (Phil Boling)

comment #12. nice work ames. lol. you are super cute. i should comment more often. i read all your blog entries as well. sometimes i feel like i say the exact same thing in every one. so then i dont comment. but you always comment on mine, and i have to admit, if i dont get a comment from you, i think to myself, "okay al, your gonna need to be more interesting, cause if amy didnt comment, you are really boring..." then i try to think of something fun going on in my life. darn vicious cycle. oh well. i love you tons. keep blogging! (Alison Shadoin)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Growing Up

Hanna has been getting bigger, the way babies do, and as a result I have been spending time going through all the clothes that I packed up after Hallie grew out of them.  I sort and reorganize, and in the process, Hallie has seen some old favorites that she insists on wearing.  I have learned that I have to pick and choose what I say "no" to, and this seemed relatively harmless, so I helped her put it on.
The last time Hallie wore this was a little over a year and a half ago.  Clearly, she has grown some since then, although, to my surprise, I was still able to fasten every single snap.  She wore it all morning, and didn't even complain of wedgies like I thought she might.

As I watched her walk around in this ridiculous looking get up, it was obvious that she was very happy to be wearing it.  Sure, she's grown up, but has she really grown up? I wondered if I have really grown up...

Sure, I'm taller now and my body has changed shape, expanding, shrinking, drooping, bloating, and more throughout the years, but have I really grown up?


I still feel myself getting giddy with excitement as darkness falls on the Fourth of July, knowing the fireworks will soon light up the sky.  Just like when I was a child.

Why else would I spend so much time worrying about what they will dress up as for Halloween, if not for the child inside of me that is sick with anticipation thinking about all that candy, ripe for the taking?

Why else would I wake myself up in the middle of a cold winter night to play Santa, if not for the child inside of me that still believes in the magic, and wants to be a part of making it happen?

I still lick the spoon when I make chocolate chip cookies, and I still hope that no one notices a. so I don't get reprimanded, and b. so I don't have to share.

I still get excited when my grandparents come to visit, hoping they will have a treat of some sort for me.  I am never disappointed.

I still like to swing on the swings whenever I go to a park.  I still like to dig holes at the beach.  I still need my mom for comfort and when Devin isn't here, don't be alarmed to find out that I may or may not sleep with a stuffed animal. (I don't, but now that I am writing this I am wishing I had thought of it. I totally would have.)

So yeah, maybe I have gotten taller, and maybe my body has changed shape, changed again, and then again over the years, but I don't think I've really grown up.  I sort of hope I never do.

And now, Hallie wants to say something, and I told her she could have a turn. So, here she is:

jjgvnfvpflvfjxgfjvj cjcjcvfuvnjkrrkmddfkdfkowelkrkflerlkkrkkrrkrrrkkrrrrk       cc  m         j dm nddhsia8   c 9 2z
    
Hallie making her funny face.
Click HERE if you want to see another video of Hallie in action, last time she wore this outfit.  She was a cutie, no lie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I Don't Like

I don't like when it's five thirty and Devin isn't home, because he won't be home until late late Thursday night.

And when he's gone

I don't like eating dinner because the chair across from me sits empty, and all the food tastes sort of blah, because Devin is the one that makes food interesting.

I don't like taking a shower because all I see is the empty spot where his soap and shampoo are supposed to go.

I don't like to put Hanna to bed, because Devin is the one that always burps her.  He does a much better job than me.

I don't like to put Hallie to bed, because Devin always reads the scriptures and she doesn't really like it when I do.

I don't like it when it gets dark outside and the memories of too many scary movies or crime tv shows linger in my mind.

I don't like it when it's time for me to go to bed and I don't know how to fall asleep without laying with my nose nestled in his neck, breathing his smell.

I don't like when Hanna wakes up three times throughout the night because she still has a fever. (Hand, foot, mouth anyone? Apparently it's not the second verse to head shoulders knees and toes.)

I don't like when Hallie wakes up in the morning because she'll say, "Where's Daddy?"  - she always eats breakfast with him, just the two of them. It's their time.

and it's at about this time in my thought process that I mentally slap myself silly.  "Grow up, self" I say.  "Get over yourself, self." I say.  "Why do you persist in your selfishness, self? I say.  "You've tasted this humble pie before, self."

So, for dinner I am going to have pepperoni and bacon.  Because I like eating that stuff, and it might help me like dinner, and that would be a start.

I am going to let the girls take an extra long bath, because that's what they like to do, and that will be a start.

And in the end, we'll be fine and he'll come home and we will hug him and kiss him and enjoy having him here again.

But honestly, my bacon dinner notwithstanding, I still don't like it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Proof

Would you like a glimpse into how quiet my life usually is?  Let's look at Sunday afternoon. We're all relaxing after church, and a nice lunch of Spanish Rice.  I made chocolate chip pumpkin cookies

(still have a lot of pumpkin from the garden to go through!)
 and Devin is working on grilled cheese sandwiches and rice pudding for dinner.  The girls were playing...


...and this is what I wish my life looked like all the time. If I fooled you into thinking this is typical, I apologize.  I do appreciate it whenever I get it.  (Listen closely to what Hallie is saying, there are some real gems in there.)

What do you like to do on Sunday afternoons?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Almost Visited Nicky.

I do not like adventures. I am not brave. I am not a thrill-seeker.  I like peace.  I like calm.  I am like a quiet-junkie, if that would be the opposite of an adrenaline junkie. 

The first few months after we moved here Devin had to go to a lot of conferences and meetings.  He promised me in June that he would not go on any more trips until October.  Then he got invited to give a talk at a conference in Minneapolis. I told him of course he should go.  He found out there were no good flights, so he would either have to fly out the day before, and stay an extra night, or drive.  He decided he would drive. I told him that if he was going to be driving, we'd be going with him.  I had my motives.

So we get to Minneapolis and I remembered that I have some friends that live in the area, so I looked up the lovely Nicky and asked her if I could come visit her. She said ok!, and we made quick plans.  As I was packing the diaper bag and finding shoes to get ready to drive out to where she lives (half an hour away from downtown Minneapolis, where our hotel was) I started thinking about what I had committed myself to doing. Driving. Me. In the city. With all the other cars. And merging. And construction. And traffic. Me.

I tried not to panic. Normally I'm the type that would just hole up in the hotel room whilst waiting for Devin (like I did when we came to Lincoln to interview, I spent a day and a half sitting on a couch in the hotel, sewing Hallie's quilt.) The main difference this time however were the two small children who were dying of boredom in the hotel room, and the fact that I actually knew people and wanted to visit them in this place.

We went down to the car. I was still trying to fight down my irrational fears. It will be fine, I told myself over and over.  We drove out of the parking garage into the sunlight. Cars were streaming past.  I took a deep breath.  I turn left and begin heading towards the freeway.  So do all the other cars.

Have you ever been at an amusement park, just enjoying the sunshine and the cotton candy when all of a sudden your older brother has talked you into riding on the  most hugely ridiculously spirally ride ever invented and before you know it you are being strapped in to a death machine?  You tell yourself it will be ok, and then the ride slowly jerks into motion.  You grip the armrests tight and remind yourself to breathe.  And you're actually sort of enjoying yourself until your seat tilts upward at a disturbing angle and you know that the drop is coming.

They don't let you off of roller coasters mid ride, and once you have put yourself in the lane to merge onto a highway, you're just as committed.  I had a ball of furiously nervous energy coiled in my gut and hot beads of perspiration rolling down my arms.  I was two seconds away from hyperventilating and three seconds from passing out.  The one difference between riding a roller coaster and merging onto I-35W is that on the roller coaster it is permissible, perhaps even expected, to close your eyes and scream.

It was supposed to be a thirty minute drive to Nicky's house. I drove for two hours, and when I finally found the exit that was minutes from her house, it was closed for construction.  In those two hours of driving I had pulled over once, turned around five times, driven the full length of Long Lake Road-twice (Long Lake Road was nowhere near where I was supposed to be, I discovered later after looking at a map).  I had said three prayers, saved the life of one squirrel, and had twice sat hunched over a map sobbing for my mother.

Because you see, not only was I unable to find Nicky's house, but my only directions back to the hotel were from there. And in this modern world, if you don't have GPS and you don't have a cell phone and the only map you have doesn't show Long Lake Road on it, you are lost.  Very, very lost.

In the end, once I finally found Nicky's exit, only to realize that it was closed, I took a deep breath, told myself to be an adult, and got ready to face the traffic surrounding the twin cities area again.  Prayers were answered and we made it home safe and sound, hungry, tired, and very very disappointed, but home.  Well, as much home as that hotel in downtown Minneapolis was.

Next week, when Devin goes on another trip, I think I'll let him go by himself.  Besides, I have no friends to visit in that city.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Discovery

I've made a number of discoveries over the past ten minutes.

1. When Hanna chokes on something, she vomits.  The nasty kind of vomit, not your average sweet-smelling, pretty baby spit up.
2. The risks of choking are much higher than I had anticipated with Hanna. Apparently I overlooked a small factor named Hallie.
3. A quick wetted towel and some disinfectant are pretty handy to have, you know, on hand. As long as they are out of reach of both the baby and the two year old.
4. Bees AND butterflies are highly attracted to basil.

That last one I discovered when I was looking out the window of our kitchen sink, while rinsing out the vomit/disinfectant soaked towel.

Thankfully, not all of my minutes are filled with such discoveries.  Have you made any discoveries lately?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where Was I?

Where Was I?

Today as I sat on the couch, feeding Hanna and listening to the rain and the wind buffeting the house, I played a little game.

It's called, "Where Was I?" and it's a pretty simple game: I try to remember where I was at this time, in years past.

September 2000 - I was beginning my junior year of high school.  My sister was a freshman, I was on the soccer team, and I had the coolest friends around. I'm pretty sure that I was on top of the world.
September 2005 - I was just home from an amazing summer in Maine, a summer which completely changed my life.  I had a great job, great friends, and my sister came to live in Maine too.  I was still on top of the world.  I was just about to start dating Larry, and I was in the process of getting to know Devin. I was terrified of marriage.
September 2006 - Devin had proposed a month earlier.  I was just starting my student teaching, and planning a wedding. I'm pretty sure I was on top of the world, and no longer terrified of marriage.
September 2007 - I was living in the Netherlands. I was enjoying my first year of marriage. I was pregnant with Hallie.  I was (can you guess?) sitting exactly on top of the world.
September 2008 - I was getting ready to move to Illinois.  I was excited that Devin was finally done with school, and looking forward to life in Peoria. I allowed myself to daydream that we might be there for a while.
September 2009 - We were still in Peoria!! I was so happy about that. Devin was looking for jobs though, and it looked like they might be taking us to Nebraska or Minnesota.  I was trying to figure out where Nebraska was.  I was pregnant with Hanna, and trying not to be sad about leaving Peoria.
September 2010 - I am in Nebraska.  We are making a home here, discovering that we have the best neighbors, wonderful new friends, a yard that drains all of our energy and a house that we don't know how to take care of.

It's fun for me to look back because at each of those stages I don't think I ever could have anticipated the next step.  I wonder where I'll be September 2011? 2020?

I think, overall, I'm still pretty much on top of the world.

Where were you September in years past? Where do you think you'll be September in years from now?

Devin says, "I miss Peoria too."  And it is bittersweet that my dad's job takes him to Peoria all the time now.  Devin literally groaned when he heard that, by the way, Dad.  Ah, you just never know where you'll be.
Comments:
There must be something about September and looking back. I went to my September posts from last year to see what I was up to, and look what I wrote (the links probably won't work): "I really need to go to bed! But one last thing. :)

I looked to see what I was up to on Sept. 15 of last year, and lo and behold I did have a post from last year on this date (three actually!). Here's what I thought was interesting on Sept. 15 in 2008. I didn't post on Sept. 15 in 2007 or 2006, but here's a taste of 2005. Funny that I have the same haircut right now. :) And I didn't post on Sept. 15 in 2004 either, but I did post on Sept. 30, and I thought it was interesting how utterly different my life is now from then. So, if you're really bored, here ya go!" Funny, huh? Let's see . . . September 2000: I was a freshman and pretty much on top of the world. ;) SO happy to be in school with my sister again and excited to meet all of the new people from other schools that combined into Central.
September 2004: I was a freshman at BYU and was dedicated to taking way too many classes, learning how to dance as many dances as possible, and get to know my cousins better. I was determined to not date seriously and to refresh myself.
September 2005: I just finished the summer in Maine, which wasn't quite as awesome for me as it was for you, but I did learn a lot about myself during it. I met Jeff the first Sunday of this month.
September 2006: I was married and just returned from my honeymoon (because we honeymooned four months late). I was excited to begin my third and last year of college. I was on top of the world!
September 2007: I started my first "big girl" job as a writer and editor. I was on top of the world!
September 2008: I found out that I was pregnant with our first baby girl! And I got to go on a cruise to the Bahamas that I won at work. :) I had been promoted to project manager, and I was on top of the world!
September 2009: Jeff was still looking for his first job after college, and things were a little stressful, but we had a healthy baby girl and lots of family that loved and supported us!
September 2010: I'm pregnant with baby number two and get to have my ultrasound TOMORROW! We have our own home and a minivan, and Jeff has a job. I'm on top of the world!! (Michelle Collett)

I seem to always reflect where I have been on the fourth of July.  Love this post... really makes me think! Thanks for sharing (Courtney)

Oh, who knows how to take care of a house anyway? (They should sell these things with owner's manuals.)   I have had a lot of good Septembers too. Funny how that works, huh?  (Alisha Hillam)

Have owned homes for thirty years now and sadly still have little energy left for taking care of them; seems that all my time is taken up with caring for their yards, and that silly (at least it is in MI) swimming pool. (Phil Boling)

Hey Amy! I liked this post a lot. It's funny, I tend to always "think" in September. Maybe it's that it kind of marks the beginning of a new routine. It's like, Summer is over, let's get productive again kind of thing for me. I might steal your idea and post mine on my blog :) Take care! (Rigel Jackson)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's All About the Whey.

All great stories have a beginning.  I don't know if this is a great story, as it starts off with a rocky beginning, and I admit, it ends the wrong whey.... but we thought it was funny.

Once upon a time in a far away land called California a boy was growing up to be strong and handsome.  He was becoming a soft spoken, gentle hearted, tenderly handsome yet cunningly intelligent sort of man.  In his spare time he liked to run, cross stitch, and eat things like curds and whey.

He went to college to get a fancy degree and there he married, ahem, me.  (Insert years of joy, bliss, contentment, happiness, and hours and hours of endless non stop fun and laughter.)  One night, he and his lovely wife decided to make a pumpkin roll.  Oh dear, perhaps I've started at the wrong beginning.

Once upon a time there was a little girl, whose grandparents had a large garden that required lots of work.  Whenever this little girl and her family would visit they would all troop out to the pasture to toil in the endless heat of the day.  This girl, being of a wilty nature type, would find herself working in the kitchen alongside her grandmother doing such tasks as making the juice for lunch.  From these moments of hard work as a child she decided that she would someday have a garden of her own.  She went to college to get a fancy degree and there she married, ahem, the mister from the previous paragraph.  (Insert years of joy, bliss, contentment, happiness, and hours and hours of endless non stop fun and laughter.)

They talked about and dreamed of the day when they would have their own house, with a yard, and a garden of their very own to grow delicious foods for their little family.  They planted pumpkin seeds.  They reaped many many pumpkins.  They scratched their heads and looked at each other in puzzlement. What do we do with so many pumpkins? They gave some away. They cooked some and tried to feed it to the baby. They made soup. They made bread.  At last, in despair, the lovely wife recalled a treat she had once heard others speak of: the pumpkin roll.

They began to make their pumpkin roll.  Unfortunately, they had no cream cheese for the filling! The husband, being the creative and industrious sort not known for letting small obstacles get in his path decided it was no matter, he would make frosting from yogurt cheese that he would strain himself.

And that's how we had a delicious pumpkin roll. But somehow, that's still not what this story is about.  After making the yogurt cheese to make the frosting for the filling of the pumpkin roll this lively young couple was left with whey in their fridge.  They put it in a container, much like many other containers they use to store food items.  The following day was Labor Day, and they decided on a whim to invite a nice family over for dinner.  They made shishkabobs, with rice and broccoli.  They cooked down the juice (soy sauce, vegetable oil, pineapple juice, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, chopped fresh ginger) that the meat had been marinating in to make a sauce for pouring over the rice. Delicious I tell you.  After the juices had started boiling, the clever husband quickly stirred some corn starch in to the remaining pineapple juice, added it to the sauce, and off we went enjoying a lovely, albeit strangely bland, meal and delightful conversation.

It wasn't until after dinner that we realized what we had done.  It's tricky, you'd be surprised to see how much pineapple juice and whey look alike.  How were we to know that we were serving our friends whey sauce, instead of pineapple? They ate it with a smile on their faces, and I figure it's probably good for you anyway.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Rocky beginning and all.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Canning


It is time to make peach jam.
It is important to start with high quality, fresh ingredients.


It is important to have lots of good helpers when picking the fruit.


It is good, clean, wholesome, old fashioned fun.

It is hot, sweaty, unglamorous work.


It is a great way to spend an evening with your mister. 
Assuming that you both enjoy spending time in the kitchen, that is.
It is an opportunity to wear a cute apron.

It is turning summer's bounty into a winter treat.


It is sure to make your home smell like a Scentsy candle. And it is going to make Saturday's pancakes taste oh so so so good.
It is a really good life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Call it Funcie

The question "where are you from?" almost ruined any chances Devin and I had of a bright and happy future, before it had even begun.  We met the first Sunday of August at church, and had exchanged some silly, pleasant small talk.  At a gathering that evening we sat next to each other around a table playing Rummicube, at which time I devoured an entire plate of brownies. Rude, I know, greedy, I know, gluttonous, I know already, I know - but listen,  I eat when I'm nervous.  Then, the next week, we were sitting next to each other on the back porch at another activity and I was eating my third bowl of apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. (I know, but please remember that I was nervous.)  We had been again making some silly, pleasant small talk, when he decided to ask. "Where are you from?"  I stammered. I stuttered. I shuddered.  I couldn't think. Where am I from?  Born in New York, raised in various other states, my parents in the process of moving again, I didn't know where to claim.  He took this response to mean that I was not interested in him, and consequently did not ask me out on a date for over nine months, and it took a car door slamming shut in his face to wake him up.  That's kind of another story though.

Looking back now I see my life as a series of stages, and at each stage we lived in a different place. To me, a childhood belongs in the cool shady open summers of Michigan. The self discovery and awareness of middle school belongs in the crowded sweltering tropical heat of Brasil, and so on.  I know that in the future whenever I think of myself as a young mother my mind will go to Peoria and a cozy little place on Donna Lane.  But if I had a small sticker with the word "home" on it that I could put wherever I wanted on the map, my heart would tug on my fingers directing them towards a dot in Indiana labeled Muncie. My high school years.  I came to Muncie as an awkward, uncomfortable, timid, strange little waif of a person, and left it - college bound - confident, bold, comfortable, ready to take on the world and win. (ok, maybe only slightly more comfortable and confident.  Forget bold. I've never been bold.)

At church here I get to work with the teenage girls.  On my way home from our midweek activity, this time a barbecue cooked and served by the teenage boys, I could still hear the voices and laughter of this young group of people echoing in my head, reverberating within my soul, awakening the sixteen year old girl that still lingers inside of me.  I drove down the darkening streets, forgetting to worry for a minute about Devin at home with both babies trying to put them to bed as I thought back to the faces cooking, serving, eating, talking, laughing.  I see mirrored in their vibrant, eager faces those of the now adults, then teens of my own youth.

It is to those beautiful faces of my youth that I owe such a large part of who I am now.  When I think of the group of kids that I got to run with at that critical age, the adult me is overcome with gratitude on behalf of the teenage inner me. I would not be here if it weren't for what those kids in Muncie made of her.

For those brief fifteen minutes each week, driving home, the skies slowly turning grey, Justin Bieber playing on the radio, I roll my windows down. I'm alone for the only part of my week, and in the afterglow of the time recently spent with young people I find myself emerging from a cocoon of diaper cream, mortgage payments, runny noses, weeds, leaky roofs, flooded basements, crumbs and choking hazards, and I feel sixteen again.  And my entire soul is filled with gratitude towards and a longing to see again those laughing faces: Sarah*, Al, Hannah, Angie, Anna, Nicole*, Ryan, Sam, Mark, Josh, Dan, Jacob, Liz, Esther, Rachel, Bethie, Ben, and all the rest.


Then I pull into my driveway, open the garage door, and slide back into maturity and step once more into my place as wife and mother. I am ready for another week as the adult me, because I got to spend a few minutes visiting with the girl, and her friends, who made me the woman I am.

*Includes all Sarahs and Nicoles.

Monday, September 6, 2010

You're Invited

Call everyone to gather.  Welcome to Family Home Evening.

Opening Song: Choose the Right

Opening Prayer: Hallie, "Heavenly Father, thank the Christ, Amen. Please bless Family Night. Please bless Hanna and Daddy"  (we're still working on saying prayers properly.)

The Lesson:
Devin, "She said bless Hanna and Daddy in her prayer, but not mommy."
Amy, "Don't you worry about me.  Ok Hallie, today we are going to talk about how much Jesus loves you.  There are lots of people who love you very much, like Mommy, (Hallie gets up and runs out of the room. Hanna drools. Hallie runs back in) and Daddy, and sister, and Gramby, and Pappy, and Grandma and Grandpa, and Aunt Mimi and Uncle Kenny and lots and lots of people love Hallie (Hallie runs out of the room. Hanna squawks. Hallie runs back in) so much. But Hallie, do you know (Hallie runs out of the room. Hanna wiggles on Daddy's lap. Hallie runs back in) who loves you the most?"
Hallie, "Big Grandpa."
(pause) Amy, "Well, Big Grandpa does love you very much, but Jesus loves you more than anyone."
Hallie, "OOooh."
Amy, "I know that Jesus loves me, and he loves Daddy, and he loves sister Hanna, and I know that he loves you too, Hallie."
Hallie, "ok Mommy."


Closing Song: I feel my Savior's Love
Closing Prayer: Hallie, "Heavenly Father, thank the Christ, Amen."
Amy, "Ok Hallie, say Dear Heavenly Father. We thank thee for our family. We thank thee for Mommy. Please bless our home. Amen." (Hallie repeats Mommy's prayer.)

And that's how we do it around here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bad Parent, Great Neighbor

It was Saturday afternoon.  We were doing what we like to do on Saturdays.  Yard work, of course.  Hanna was sleeping after a grueling trip to the grocery store.  We had the baby monitor outside with us, issuing a steady stream of static, over which we were hoping we'd be able to hear her little I'm awake now chirping.

Hallie had been playing "I'm the Daddy and I go to work now" (so named because that is what she says every five minutes as she plays) and going in and out of the front door.  This eventually began to disturb Devin's peace, so he locked the front door and told her to play somewhere else.  Her next game was "I'm the Daddy and I drive the orange car to work." (so named because that is what she says every five minutes as she plays) so she got put in the driver's seat of Devin's car.

As I'm sitting in my grass by the mailbox pulling weeds our neighbor stops by on his way past on his motorcycle.  Now this neighbor is kind of my go to man for all things yard related.  There have been many a Saturday when I have trudged over to his house and pestered him with questions about yard care.  He's extremely patient, and helpful and kind.  So today he stops by to tease me a little bit.  We get to talking.  He gets into help mode, forgets his errand, hops off his bike and says, "Come on over, let me show you what I'm talking about." Off I go and we start wandering around his yard talking about weeds, and weed prevention and the price of eggs in China, that sort of thing.  I look over at our house, and see Devin standing in our driveway.  The garage door is closed.

If you have kids, or if you remember being a kid, you will most likely know what the "I'm the Daddy and I drive the orange car to work" game is all about.  Child sits in the driver's seat and pushes all the buttons, turns all the dials, honks the horn if they've learned about that delightful instrument (Hallie has not, yet. Phew.)  and, occasionally, manages to find and push the button that closes the garage door.

Background Fact 1 - Hallie is terrified of the garage door. I think it is the sound it makes as it shuts, but if you start to close the garage door before she is in the house she runs as fast as she can to get in the house.

Background Fact 2 - We usually have the sliding door in the back unlocked when we are outside working in the yard, because that is typically our main method of entering and exiting the house. But this particularly fine Saturday afternoon we were primarily working in the front yard, so we had been relying heavily on the, oh yes you've got it, garage door to get in and out.

Dialogue:

Amy, still in neighbor's yard, "Hallie probably closed the garage door.  She's also probably freaking out, you're going to have to go in the house and get her."
Devin doesn't move.  Amy still doesn't quite understand what has happened. She is still in the neighbor's yard.
Amy, "Devin, you'll have to go get her. She's scared, I'm sure she's screaming. Can't you hear her screaming?"
Devin, "Yes, she's definitely screaming."
Amy finally starts to understand why Devin is making no move to go get her.
Amy, "The front door is locked, isn't it?"
Devin, "Yeah, I locked it when she was playing that game, remember?"
Amy, "And... the sliding door?"
Devin, "Locked."
The neighbor decides it's time to kick it into superhero mode.
Neighbor, "Do you have a key hidden outside anywhere?"
Amy and Devin, "No."
Neighbor, "Do you have an access code on your garage to open it?"
A & D, "No."
Neighbor, "Ok, so let's see here. We're going to have to call a locksmith. Alright, well, let's get one."
Devin and Neighbor go over to neighbor's house to make phone call.  Amy sinks onto the ground in front of the driveway.  Hallie is screaming too loudly to hear any attempts to try and comfort her. She will not be comforted. Would you?

Devin and I wait for the locksmith to come. We try to get Hallie to push the button again. Her response, "No! No button!" I don't think she'll ever push that button again.  I worry about the emotional and psychological damage being done to her. She knows I'm out here.  She can't understand why I'm not coming to get her.

Our neighbor, after helping us make the phone call, remembers he had left his motorcycle in the street when he stopped to talk to me, and recalls his errand. He leaves us with his cell phone in case we need it again and off he goes.  Devin and I sit in the driveway, the sound of Hallie in distress filling our ears.  At least Hanna is still sleeping I think to myself, like an idiot. Because you know what we hear next? A chorusing cry coming through the baby moniter. Oh yes, both my babies are awake, and very unhappy now.

By and by the locksmith comes, opens us up, we run to get our babies and all is well again.  We start dinner. We still have the neighbor's cell phone.  I hear him pull up in his motorcycle outside.  I run out to give him his phone.  I start to thank him for his helpfulness.  He says, "Well, I've got something here for you."

He had purchased weed killer for our lawn, some seed to patch up the dead spots on our lawn, and some candy bars for Hallie.

That's the kind of neighbor I'd like to be someday.  We're baking his family cookies tomorrow and taking them over.  I don't feel like that's quite enough to adequately say "thank you", but we'll start there.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bright vs. Gloom

I tend to be one of those occasionally irritating "why, yes, the glass is half full!" people.  You know, the "Well would you look at the silver lining in that cloud" type persona.  I can't help myself. And, overall, even though I know that sometimes it's not what people want to hear, I think it's a good thing.  Although, last night, it struggled a little bit in returning to me.  Don't worry though, it did. For the most part.

Bright side: It rained!  A lot!!

Double Bright Side: The basement did not flood!

Gloom side: Our roof leaks.


Bright side: The storm did not wake up the babies!

Gloom side: Our house warranty does not cover the roof.

Bright side: I love a good thunderstorm, with the thunder booming and the lightning flashing can be so exciting, invigorating, if you manage to ignore the fact that you are trying to sleep...

Gloom side: While rain falling outside can be soothing, and thunder and lightning only slightly jarring, it's the steady drip drip inside my house into a bucket that really keeps me from slumber.

Bright side: The leak in the roof managed to miss the bed, so I did not get dripped on all night as I had feared, and there was even enough clearance away from the bed to put a bucket!

Gloom side: I get to spend all day looking for roofers and trying to figure out estimates and how much this is going to hurt the bank account.


Bright side: There wasn't anything else I really wanted to do today anyway, and hey, we're practically professionals at tightening our belts.

All in all, I think you'll agree, the brights have it. Leaky roof and all.

(Um, any suggestions on getting a new roof would be most welcomed.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look What I Can Do!

A few days ago Hallie wanted to ride her bike.  By bike, she means the tricycle that our friendly neighbor in Peoria gave to us over a year ago.  It has a long pole in the back so that you can push your child if they are not yet ready for the pedals, and the steering mechanism has a lock so it does not turn and wobble if you are pushing them.  When Hallie was first given this tricycle, she wasn't even 18 months old yet, and her feet came nowhere close to even reaching the pedals, let alone knowing how to push them.  So, we used the pole and pushed her around. A lot.

Fast forward to the aforementioned few days ago.  It's a good thing I'm fast and knew where the camera was, because I don't always get these first moments recorded:




And as I ran to get the camera, and jumped and clapped and cheered and possibly cried, I thought, "Wait a minute..."

Hanna started crawling yesterday.  She had been doing the rocker baby stance for a while now, and we had been encouraging her and hoping that each day would be the day, and finally yesterday she went for it.  As I was watching a recording of her doing the rocker baby that I took a few weeks ago, I thought, "Wait a minute..."



I spend so much time encouraging and applauding my babies' small efforts.  Then I sit around and worry that I am not good at anything.  Maybe I need to just scale it back, and cheer for myself when I do the little things that I can do!  We have only recently jumped on the American Idol bandwagon, watching the last two seasons, but I think that I have had my very own Simon Cowell inside my head for a long time.

Well, he's off the show now, and it's time to evict his attitude from my life. I may not be David Archuleta or anything like that, but it's time I stopped letting that attitude keep me from doing anything.  To some God gave two talents, and to some He gave five.  It doesn't matter how many He gives you, it only matters what you do with what has been given.  I've always known that, but I guess it took a two year old on a tricycle, and a crawling baby to really bring it home to me.

And thanks for all your kind comments as I've explored my ideas on Pride and Potential.