Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chaos - Order - Entropy

Here, for no particular purpose but my own sanity and your entertainment (I hope), is a story about Friday:

Most people understand the concept of chaos – parents especially, since even the best-behaved children are by nature tiny chaos machines.

If you’d asked me Friday morning if I understood chaos, I may have answered yes, but more likely would have flung a screeching preschooler at you and fled.

Chaos Part 1: The Doctor’s Office

We arrive early. We have the first appointment of the day – no waiting, yay! Henry is giggly and charming, if slightly wiggly, as the nurse weighs and measures him. He balks at the blood pressure cuff, but no biggie. He’s distracted by a super-awesome dinosaur-truck book, so who has time for blood pressure? I notice his little hands trembling as we turn pages. I assume he is excited.

We wait. We play “I Spy” and “I’m Thinking of a Tasty Food” and I start getting cocky, hoping the doctor will walk in just as my barely-3-year-old is effortlessly pronouncing “stethoscope” or something. Someone does walk in, but it’s a nurse informing us that not only is the doctor late, no one knows where she is or when she’ll be back. Henry bolts behind the exam table when the door opens. I assume we are playing hide-and-seek.

Finally the Doc arrives. And Henry explodes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Year Three

Well, here we are. In just more than three hours, Henry will be 3 years old. 

Or, to be technical, in 7 hours and 2 minutes I will mark precisely three years since I first looked into the  face of my baby boy. Man he's changed since that moment. He's less slimy and screamy for one -- most of the time, at least. He walks and talks and all that good stuff. Sometimes I want to set him free in the wild to be the feral child he so longs to be, but for the most part I'm pretty fond of the little guy.

I've already gushed about him -- just couldn't wait all the way until his birthday for that post. So today I'll meditate for a moment on another milestone taking place January 26: It's been three years since I became a mother.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On containing multitudes

I was at a church event a few years back, visiting with a man I didn’t know. The conversation turned toward my profession, and I said I worked at the newspaper.

 His eyes widened. “Oh,” he said, “that must be so hard for you.”

I asked why he thought that.

“That paper is so liberal,” he said. “All those things on the opinion page. It must be really hard to deal with that.”

I let about 30 different responses, some of them less polite than others, bounce around in my head before finally responding that I actually thought our opinion page had an interesting mix of liberal and conservative opinions, as did our newsroom, and that I quite liked my job. Then I changed the subject.

But what I kind of felt like saying is what I’ll say here: “Actually, I’m kind of a liberal. And I probably wrote some of those things you don’t like.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Post: That Post On The Healthcare System

Hello, loyal Tarababble readers! The following is a guest post by my friend Melanie (of Musings of a Renaissance Girl) -- I've been pestering her about it for a while, and I'm excited to be sharing it with you.

When she was 16, Melanie was diagnosed with cancer. Her family had to face the terrifying threat of losing her -- and of losing everything they had to pay for the treatments that eventually saved her life. Here's her story.


I realized something today.  I realized that I've been putting off blogging, primarily because I had promised a post on the healthcare system, which I felt unequal to for a number of reasons.  One is a lack of organization, one a distaste for controversy, but primarily I've been avoiding the subject here because it involves going back there, and there is a place I've successfully managed to steer clear of for several years now.

However, I do think what I have to say needs to be said, and luckily it is not up to me to offer the perfect solution to solve all our problems and create a disease and debt-free paradise.  I can only point out the problems as I see them.  Sit back and relax.  This promises to be a longish post.

I was sixteen years old when I was diagnosed with stage three (stage four being worst-case, stage one best) Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.  It came out of nowhere for our family.  Someone later made a remark to my mother, as if it was something she should have done, about how they were "concentrating on prevention" themselves.  Now, my sister and I lived about the healthiest lives possible.  We lived on the side of a mountain, breathed clean air, climbed trees, ran around in fields, not to mention having ballet classes every week.  My mother cooked everything we ate from scratch, we drank soda perhaps once a year.  We were always healthy, and because we were always healthy, when our family couldn't afford health insurance, just about the time I turned sixteen, it didn't seem like a big loss.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd been to the doctor.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Henry's World

Henry was staring off into space, deep in thought, while we were eating our oatmeal this morning. 

“Mommy?” he asked. “What do chameleons eat?”
“Bugs,” I said.
A moment later: “Mommy, what do frogs eat?”
“Flies,” I said.
“And bugs!”
A moment later: “What do chickens eat?”
We discussed the chickens at his great-grandparents’ house, and how they like chicken feed and scraps and watermelon rinds. He suggested we should take them a pail of watermelon.

He was quiet for a while. Then, a special grin – one eyebrow raised, mouth on the edge of a giggle. “Mommy?”
“What do rubber duckies eat?”


My boy turns 3 in just a few days. Three years! And of course it fits the old paradox: eternity and no time at all, rolled into one.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In Praise of Gentle Men

     Tim with little tiny Henry

I’m married to a gentle man. Not a gentleman, though I suppose sometimes he is that. A gentle man.

In more than eight years, I’ve rarely heard Tim raise his voice. He roughhouses with our older son, and I’ve seen him wrestle with his younger brothers, but he has never displayed his anger with physical aggression toward anyone or anything, ever.

In fact, he’s rarely angry at all. He doesn’t hide it or bottle it up, except on occasion, as most people do. He lets it go. He pauses, he reflects, he prays, he thinks. He asks whether anger will fix a problem or improve a situation -- and the answer is usually no. Even in situations of injustice or evil, he is not fooled into believing that “righteous” anger is helpful, or even real. He chooses to use his energy to communicate, build people up, and seek solutions.

He’s probably totally embarrassed reading that, and he might argue with it, but it’s what I see in him. His gentleness, kindness, and self-control (sound familiar?) are an enormous part of why I love him.

I try to be more like him, though my impulses tell me to yell, to throw, to hit. Most people who know me as an adult think of me as fairly mild-mannered, but know that when I joke around about wanting to punch people in the nose, I really want to punch people in the nose. (I did it, once, in fourth grade, to a boy who was making fun of my brother. It felt awesome. But it didn’t accomplish much.)

So why, today, am I talking up my gentle Tim? Because I’ve been reading lately about a movement within my faith that is pretty nasty toward gentleness.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Heretic

Last week I was reading in my comfy chair, holding Danny, and I started to drift off. I did one of those spectacular edge-of-sleep muscle jerk thingies and knocked Danny on the head with my reading material. He woke up, howled a moment, then relaxed again, and we went on as usual.

I was reading a 550-page book, but the damage was minimal … because it was on my Kindle.

Confession: The book was the latest in the Percy Jackson series. (They’re fun to read, OK?)

Confession II: I LOVE my Kindle.

Fuzzy cell phone picture of lovely Kindle! Reading John McPhee's Silk Parachute. Good stuff.

My amazing Auntie Beth got me the Kindle for Christmas this year. Auntie Beth has been my book supplier since birth, and I’d say a good 60 percent or more of the books I own have been gifts from her. I owe my book-hoarding personality to her, as well: She was a librarian for years at the University of Idaho, reads more than anyone I know, and has amassed an impressive library, mainly of the mystery novels she adores. (She’s also responsible for cursing me to write, but that’s a story for another time.)

Normally, my Christmas list to Auntie Beth comprises the books I’d like, usually new hardbacks or more “literary” titles that are hard to get from the library or my favorite second-hand bookstore. But this year, after much thought, I asked for the Kindle.

I feel a little bit like a heretic. I love books, right?


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