Monday, January 29, 2007

More on Poisonwood

If you can't tell, the book, The Poisonwood Bibles gave me so much to think about! As I finished it and discussed it at book club, I had a couple more thoughts I wanted to record.

I think a huge theme of the book is forgiveness, forgiveness of ourselves and of others.

One of the characters is held back by a physical ailment, and later finds out that much of it was mental, and what she thought she could or couldn't do. How often do we hold ourselves back based one what we and others perceive our talents and abilities to be? I'll never forget Sherri Dew's talk at TOFW in San Antonio a couple of years ago. She told the story of how she wanted to join the girls basketball team, went to the try-outs, opened the door, observed all the great athletes and left, figuring she didn't have a chance. Many years later she met the coach of that basketball team, and after some discussion realized that the year Sherri had chosen not to try out, was the only year the team was one player short. The coach had never been able to find a player for one position, it just happened to be the position Sherri played. Sherri's point was, no one can take your place. There are things you maybe be meant to do, but unless you do your part, you are denying yourself privileges, opportunities and blessings. Sometimes we are the only ones holding ourselves back.

One of the couples represents a joining to two worlds. I think it's a beautiful union of two good people, who both sacrifice so much for the other. Despite their backgrounds, they find happiness together. Don't know what I learned from that, it was just one fulfilling part of the book.

The Park

With the cold weather, our park days have been very hit and miss. We took these photos a couple of Sunday's ago.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Training Wheel Free Photos

It wouldn't be a milestone without some great pictures to celebrate the accomplishment! Go Porter!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mama's Helpers


My kids love to help! Their favorite chores lately include vacuuming with the new Shark vacuum given to us by Grandma Barbara for Christmas (they fight over whose turn it is), sorting clean clothes in a fury (they pull out their own clothes, and put them into which ever drawer pleases them at the moment-- but it's a start-- isn't it?), helping dad do ANYTHING in the yard outside, helping me blog (Sophia just crawled into my lap) and cooking (as seen above). It doesn't matter what part of the cooking project it is, they want to have their hands in it... measuring, cracking eggs, turning on the mixer, or stirring with their own spoon.

Sometimes I have to remind myself, I want them to help, it takes longer, but it's still quality time together. It's how they learn, and as we develop those habits now, it's more than likely how they'll feel comfortable confiding in me in the future. I know with my mom and even my mother-in-law, there's something about working together in the kitchen that makes me more chatty and helps me to open up more. I know that working together also teaches our kids work ethic. So often Porter doesn't want to do any chores by himself, but if we do it together, the complaining I hear from him is a lot less.

The other day we made cinnamon rolls together. Kind of a big undertaking for me, considering I have trouble getting bread dough to rise. But we had a lot of fun rolling the dough out and sprinkling the sugar. Porter thought cutting the rolls with dental floss was the coolest thing in the world! They also like to help me make this yummy sweet and sour chicken recipe I got from friend. They like it because there are so many steps they can help with. Cutting chicken, dipping the pieces in egg and then again in corn starch. Sugar cookies are another fav, but I tell you, every time we make them they love to cut them out and decorate them, but they do not eat them. I don't know why! It's more like a play dough experience!l

So I guess my pledge to myself is to try to enjoy their help more, and to look for more opportunites for them to "help" me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grateful Sunday

Having almost finished The Poisonwood Bibles, I have to say I am grateful for the life I lead. For the last week I have been immersed into life in the Congo. I guess this book could classify as Historical Fiction. It starts in 1959 and goes into the 80's. I have to admit I would much rather have my "challenges" than their trials any day. I use the word challenges very loosely because after reading this book I feel like I have absolutely NOTHING to complain or worry about! In fact the blessings I am counting today come from thoughts and comparisons from this book...
  • I have food on the table every day.
  • Medical care, while expensive, is readily available. I have the medicines I need, and easy access to health care professionals. I do not have to worry about catching malaria, the sleeping sickness, and a host of other jungle diseases.
  • I do not worry that my husband might be put in jail for expressing his political views.
  • My parents were kind and loving parents who respected my opinions and allowed me to make my own choices.
  • I do not live in a country full of political unrest.
  • I do not have sanitize my water by boiling it.
  • I do not have to kill my own chickens for dinner. And even if I did, I would have chickens to kill!
  • My eyes have been opened to the excess in which we live.
  • I love the African spirit of sharing of your excess. (I need to go through my closets with this in mind, it will make parting with things so much easier!) If you have more than you need, you share. Even though by American standards, their idea of too much is our idea of way too little. In one of the sequels of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency the main character hires a maid, not necessarily because she needed one, but because she had the money to pay one. She didn't have a lot of excess, she could have saved it up for tougher times ahead, but it would have been selfish of her to not offer someone the opportunity to work and earn a living.
  • My children will have an education.
  • I'm grateful for my faith in a loving Heavenly Father, and a respect I feel for other religions. I feel like my mission really helped me to cultivate a respect for different beliefs. In the BRT, building relationships of trust, I felt like one of my strengths was finding out and trying to understand what other people believed. I have met many good and honest and pure people of other faiths, and I can honestly say I respect them. It doesn't mean I don't want to share the gospel with them-- I do and maybe I don't try as aggressively as I should, because of the respect I feel and fear of violating. This book opened my eyes to the different African religions and why they believe and worship their different gods as they do. It gave me insights I'd never considered before. It gave me more of a respect and understanding of why they may think the way they do.
  • I think this book teaches many different lessons, and the author tries to open her readers' eyes to many different things. It's going to take some more pondering to absorb much more, but I think a main theme was about judging people and cultures. One can't use the same standards by which to judge different cultures. What works for one culture, doesn't work in another culture. Disrespect for how another culture functions and has functioned for hundreds of years is terribly short-sighted. How much better to observe and learn from the different cultures, rather than to judge, condemn and try to change. I think this lesson applies not only to cultures, but to people (individuals and groups) and families as well. Doug and I occasionally, upon hearing about a decision a couple has made, will say, "That's why they're married, and that's why we're married." Meaning, they made a decision that we wouldn't have made, and that's okay. They were in agreement on what to do, and Doug and I would have been in agreement as well. So I'm grateful that this book has gotten me thinking about judging people, and the standards by which I may pass judgement.
  • I am grateful for the following reminder: The mother in this book talks about Lot's wife, and how she looked back and turned to a pillar of salt. Orleana says, "All I was thinking of was how to get Mama Tataba to come back, or what we should have brought from Georgia. I was blinded from the constant looking back: Lot's wife. I only ever saw the gathering clouds." Rather than looking forward and forgetting the things she couldn't change, she allowed those memories and regrets to cloud out her awareness of the problems she could change. The phrase, "I was blinded from the constant looking back," was very powerful for me. How often do I deny myself peace by wondering what could have been, or what might have been? Do I fail to see things I need to do, or ignore promptings on how to be an instrument in the Lord's hands because I am blinded from looking backwards rather than forwards?

This post turned out to be longer than I had anticipated, but I guess with over 600 pages of material, it stands to reason that my mind would be whirring with many different thoughts. I feel like the other blessings I felt his week kind of pale in comparison to the basic blessings I have of food and shelter and good health. It goes without saying that we are, each one of us, so blessed! I think each bullet could be a blog entry in and of itself. So much to think about!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Ultrasound Reveals...

Well, we postponed the final decision until we were in the waiting room of the doctor's office with our ultrasound just minutes away. But we determined that we would wait for a delivery room surprise regarding the baby's gender.

Unfortunately we forgot to mention this to Porter, so at the end of the ultrasound, he said, "So, is the baby a boy or a girl?" We did some quick explaining, but I think he was still disappointed to leave without our classified information.

The main problem I see is that the name debate will be double the hassle, (oh, and I have to tell my mom, I think she was really looking forward to knowing the gender.) Over all, I'm really excited. I thought it would be fun to find out today, but I think it will be really special to find out in the delivery room. I know there are arguments both ways, but we found out for our other two, so we decided why not make this one a little different?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Look Ma, No Training Wheels!

Porter's big accomplishment last week was the successful achievement of learning how to ride a bicycle with no training wheels. Doug and I were both surprised at how quickly he mastered this challenge. We went out early one morning, and Doug spent 20 minutes running next to Porter helping him balance and get the feel of being free.

Later that morning Porter wanted to go to the park. Because I had to pull Sophia in the wagon, I couldn't run next to Porter, I helped him get started, then off he went. I was amazed at how well he did, and I was so proud of him. He is growing up! The park we went to is set in dirt, so Porter rode around and around on the dirt, practicing his start and stop. Then he rode all of the way home, with only one little spill. He jumped right up, declared that he was fine, jumped back on his bike, and continued his trek home. What a big boy!

Pictures will follow shortly!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Grateful Sunday

I hope Leslie doesn't mind, but I'm borrowing her idea of a "Grateful Sunday" post. I agree, that it's a great way to start off the week, and I'd like to start mine off the same way!

So here goes... Today I am grateful for...
  • The fact that we could FINALLY renew our cell phone contract this week and get new phones. My old one was super glued together, my old one had been dropped about twenty too many times! (My children and I were all guilty of fumbling the phone!)
  • I finished The Spy Wore Red this week. It was one of those books that I didn't want to put down. It was so fun to read, and so good to be finished, so my life could return to normal!
  • Beautiful weather last week. I feel like if I have to put up with such hot humid summer days, then every winter week should be like last week, park weather in the low 70's. It's not fore casted for this week, but I enjoyed it while it lasted!
  • I am feeling the baby move so much. It's such an amazing feeling to feel the little life inside of me.
  • I got released from my calling, not at my request. So now I feel guilty about my Primary Plights post. I really was planning on sticking it out. But I got put in as the 2nd counselor in the Primary. I just love the new Primary president, and I am excited to be able to work with her!
  • Porter memorized his phone number this week. To the tune of the Mickey Mouse song.
  • Doug and I went on a real date last night. We even went out to dinner and made it to the temple. Both Saturday night session were full. They had so many people (around 50) who could make it into the sessions that they opened all three sealing rooms, and called in the sealer and the temple president so we could still serve.

Some goals (among others) for the week:

  • Start The Poisonwood Bible so I can have it read in time for book club.
  • Pick a paint color for Porter's room.
  • Study my scriptures every day.
  • Laugh more with my kids.

Monday, January 08, 2007

American Idol

There are no television shows that I currently watch on a regular basis... That will be changing on Jan 16th and I can't wait! At the end of American Idol's season last year, I happened upon one of their shows and really liked it. I mourned when Chris was voted off and regretted the fact that I didn't vote. True my one vote might not have made a difference, but at least I wouldn't have felt guilty about it! I just enjoyed the talent and watching people achieve their dreams. I've never watched an entire season, but I don't plan on missing an episode this time! I know American Idol is not a new series, so I kept asking myself last year, why did I wait so long to check it out? I guess I'd watched a few of the other reality shows, and wasn't impressed. I also heard about the much publicized elimination rounds where people are severely criticized for even trying out... so maybe I won't like it as much when I see that part, maybe I'll like it more. Either way I can't wait for Tuesday night!

Primary Plights

Nine rambunctious 5 year olds+ One small classroom = One Frazzled CTR 6 Primary Teacher

Compared to my class of three angels last year, my new class, whom I taught for the first time on Sunday was a shock to my system! I'm sure I'll get used to it, or maybe they'll be successful in locating an assistant for me, or well, let's not think of the alternatives... they range from finding a new church (joking!) to throwing some of them (my son included) out the window (kind of joking!:)

Needless to say it was a new challenge for me to deal with relentless chatter, my son and his comrade hiding under the table, throwing the new CTR rings around the room until I was able to confiscate them etc etc... Being kind didn't work, offering rewards didn't work, withholding the treats that I'd brought for the class didn't work... Nothing was working!

Did I mention my lovely son? I think he was the main reason I was getting so frustrated. He was supposed to be setting a good example, not leading the pack! In our little post church chat I warned him that if he didn't change his behavior I would ask to teach a different class. He really wants me to be his teacher, so hopefully I can use that in my favor!

Anyways, I'll be putting a call into my retired kindergarten teacher mother this week to see if she has any helpful hints, or at least can sympathize with my new Sunday plight!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Sophia's Style

Sophia has a very unique sense of style. I wanted to preserve forever her very endearing outfits and hair styles. I know in the future every time I think of them I will smile. They're so Sophie... and despite my desire to have a girl adorned in curls and ribbons, her outfits define her and who she is. I love Sophia fiercely and while this stage will pass, her two year old sense of style will forever hold a tender spot in my heart. I don't want to forget!

I don't know if she uses her clothing and hairstyles as a conscious means of self-expression... But I am convinced she uses them as a way to illustrate her very strong sense of self will and power... It is a power struggle that I can not win, every time I try there are tears and long drawn out tantrums with Doug in the background saying, "I don't know why you care so much."

So I've stopped trying to fight, and resorted to explanations, "She picked her outfit today." "She won't leave any accessories in her hair, but see here's the pony tail holder or headband I brought just in case she changes her mind." I guess it's good she's not worried about her appearance. In regards to her unrelenting determination, I do feel some fear for what's in store for us during the teenage years... But I try not to think about it now.

In the above picture Sophia is sporting her favorite hair style, and carrying her favorite flip flops, and wearing those fabulous red cowgirl boots!

Swimming suit underneath, walking her "dog," vest on top... It's probably 40 degrees outside, and when I asked her to pick a jacket she found the vest in her basket, and no other jacket would do!

This was one of her favorite combinations for a while! Striped shirt, plaid shorts, church shoes...

The Baby Monster!

Sophia's preferred way of wearing shades, upside down. I love it!

"There is Sunshine in my soul today... more glorious and bright..."
It's hard to tell, but she's been eating one of her fav's, salad... Until Sophia I didn't know kids would eat salad, but if ever I forget to give her her own portion, she's jumping on my lap and spearing my greens off my plate with her fork.

I have to explain about the Dora shirt and the Elmo shoes, both seen in the above picture. We saw the shoes at Kohl's, and every day for three weeks Sophia would ask me "Elmo shoes?" She would not, could not, forget about the shoes that she saw and wanted. She didn't need new shoes, I had just bought her some cute brown shoes that I wanted her to wear, and I worried if I bought her these tennis shoes, she wouldn't wear anything else. But she would not forget about them.

Day after day and week after week, she asked for her Elmo shoes. She didn't scream or cry, she just kept reminding me, "Elmo shoes?" Finally I gave in and bought her the Elmo shoes, I started to feel bad for her, I mean, if she wanted them that much, who am I to stand in the way of a girl and her shoes... and I can sympathize with her desires, (not for Elmo shoes, but other fashion items!) I have to say I made her day, and she still reminds me (she even said it today), "Mommy got me Elmo shoes!"

Now for the Dora shirt. She pulled this off the clearance rack at Kohl's. Now I'm not a big buy my kids character stuff kind of shopper. I'd rather not advertise products on my self or my kids. But she found this shortly after the Elmo shoe incident. It was only $2. I did my best to persuade her to select another shirt, to no avail. I thought, I don't want to have a repeat Elmo shoe experience with this Dora shirt, so she proudly marched out of the store with the Dora shirt in hand. Now the Dora shirt gets almost daily use, Sophia will sneak it out of the dirty clothes if I'm not covert enough in my hiding.

A close up of the much sought after Elmo shoes.

Another aspect of Sophia's wardrobe is that she changes clothes constantly. Wash day is the worst, she sees dirty clothes in the hamper, and wants to put them on. Then when everything is washed and we're putting clothes away, she ecstatically finds all of her favorite treasures that have been out of sight for several days. It's off again on again, as she tries on her favorite shirts shorts and skirts until she arrives at her preferred combination for the day. On a normal day she changes her clothes about three times.

Today I wouldn't let her go to the park until she donned pants and a long sleeved shirt. She finally agreed to my terms, but the second we walked in the door from our outing, she made a beeline for her room so she could change her clothes into her preferred summer attire.

At night after her bath, she will no longer put jammies on. For a while, she would put a dress on, but now I'm lucky if she will put on a clean outfit, sometimes she insists on wearing the outfit she took off before she got in the bath. I figure I'll save my battles for something else!

Sophia loves this little shirt. It's actually a 12 month size dress, but I happen to have shorts that match it exactly, so it's graduated from a dress to a shirt.

This doesn't have to do with clothing, but it's a part of Sophia. She doesn't know how to say her "l's" yet. She uses an "h" instead. So instead of saying, "I love you mommy", she says, "I huve you mommy." Instead of saying, "Please turn the light on," she says, "Please turn the hight on." When she wants a sippy cup, she used to ask for a "hat", the top of the cup, but now as her awareness of language has increased, she asks for a "hid" instead of a "lid."

I realized as I've been typing this that an account of her wardrobe is not complete with out a picture of her Strawberry Shortcake outfit given to her by Great-Grandma D... So I will add a picture of this one shortly.

You may wonder about Sundays. She has to pick her dress, but she will pick a dress, Thankfully we haven't had to fight a battle here regarding her wardrobe .... Her hair, on the other hand is a completely different story... Sunday is the day when the most hair battles used to occur, (before I realized I couldn't win the hair battle...) There is something to be said for boys and their short hair... Most of the time it doesn't even need to be combed...