Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Flashback: 49 Years of Easter Awesomeness

The eeeeevil carpal tunnel syndrome is keeping me from doing much typing at the moment, so I'm keeping today's Friday Flashback simple --- it's Easter picture time! (Thanks to my mom for sending me most of these.)

Hope you enjoy, and I hope you come back next week for more Easter posts, both silly and serious. (And here's Ode to a Marshmallow Peep, in case you missed it.)

One Year Ago:

Painting Easter eggs!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ode to a Marshmallow Peep

I took an introduction to poetry class my freshman year of college. It was taught by an earnest grad student with a taste for the mopey -- the darker and whinier and more depressing the poem, the better. In retrospect, I'd call her emo. At the time, I thought she was just kind of silly.

I tried to like those poems, I really did. I clapped as my classmates read their woeful rhymes. I attempted to meet her ever-so-serious assignments, but mostly came out sounding grumpy. (Grumpy isn't the best emotion for poetry.)

I didn't hate the class. We actually read some poems I still love, like Billy Collins' "Marginalia" and Li-Young Lee's "Persimmons," even though after "Persimmons" we had to write erotic poetry and I almost died. (I was 18; I was innocent; the word "erotic" made me giggle because all I could think of was the Simpsons bit about erotic cakes -- the part from the end of the Treehouse of Horror episode "Homer3" when he falls into the real world. I'd link to it, but "erotic cakes" is just not something you Google.)

For our final assignment, we created chapbooks of the semester's work and were allowed to add in a few new poems. We all got together at the gyro shop to read our work aloud.

I wasn't going to read. I smiled and clapped through everyone's performances, most of which were very good but several of which required restraint from eye-rolling. The last girl who signed up to read closed her eyes and chanted her poem, a long thing about death and futility, and when she was done my instructor scanned the audience. "Come on, anyone else?"

So I got up and recited this:

Ode to a Marshmallow Peep

Saturday, March 24, 2012

[Satur]day Flashback: A Weekend Away

Friday Flashback is coming to you on Saturday this week because we spent the weekend (our weekends always happen midweek) visiting various family members to the north. And a fabulous weekend it was!

The snow followed us around -- but it's March in Idaho, so that's not too strange -- but we stayed warm and dry and had good time with in-laws, cousins, and my maternal grandparents. (My other grandpa and grandma live up north too but have the flu -- so here's a feel-better shout out to them!)

Two days ago we spent the entire day goofing off with Grammy and Poppy. I spent eight years of my life living about three giant leaps from their house, but being farther away now has the advantage of making every visit to their house a special time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Read and Respond

When I shuffle through my Facebook feed every day, I inevitably run into a post -- or three or ten -- that makes me want to slam my face on my desk.

Sometimes it's because I strongly disagree. Sometimes it's because I agree strongly but am frustrated with the way the thought was expressed. A few times lately it's because I've seen people I really like picking fights with each other, sometimes directly, sometimes with subtle, indirect jabs that are still so well-placed. (And yeah, sometimes it's also because I'm friends with my teenage cousins, and most of what they say is like a secret code to me, and that makes me feel old.)

Day after day, I keep running into these posts and news stories and ideas that make me want to respond, but the idea of responding makes me feel like a scared little rabbit with a too-small cage and a too-fast heartbeat. (Unless they're sleeping, I imagine that rabbits have a running commentary in their heads something along the lines of "Ohgoshohgoshohgoshohnoohcrapohgosh...")

Part of me feels like a wuss for never, or at least very rarely, responding. When I do, it's usually to request clarification, to make a joke, or to offer up something along the lines of "this is just my personal point of view, but ..."  Something very safe. Something couched in fluff. Something that keeps the little rabbit in the too-small cage because at least that's better than the too-big world.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Flashback: Spring Breaaaa---ughhhhh

Where'd Spring Break go? I'll tell ya where it went. It was devoured by the evil monster known as Influenza.

Here's Henry reading at the book store today --
trust me, you don't want to see us the rest of the week.
The flu just doesn't work for my hair.
Back in November the whole family got flu shots, but this wicked little booger was a "new strain" so it snuck right past all our defenses. Stupid mutation.

Anyway -- One Week Ago Today I was starting to feel a little yucky, so I thought I'd take a walk in the glorious glorious sun! What a lovely day! Spring Break awaits! I shall be revived!

Of course by the time I got home all I could do was the lie there on the floor like a sock filled with rice (which, incidentally, does wonders for earaches). And the week pretty much went from there.

Looking back at less-germy times ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012


The Paper Mama

Hey look! I joined a blog network! Does that make me official yet?

(And if you came here to read this and are like, "Dude, that's it?" Well ... too bad! Ha.

Oh, fine. Here are some posts that you might not have read yet: )

Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Career Planning for Babies

In that silly part of my mind that thinks far, far too far into the future, I've created a nice little list of Careers I Hope My Boys Might Have.

Practicing for spacewalks
In no particular order:

1. Astronaut
2. Medical missionary
3. Professional baseball player (Seattle Mariners preferred)
4. Folk-rock singer/songwriter

If you think it's weird that I cultivate such a list, then get this: I also fret about what might happen should they actually become any of these things. Medical missionaries are often in harm's way! Professional baseball players are often jerks! Singer-songwriters often live in vans! Astronauts FREAKING GO TO OUTER SPACE! 

Et cetera.

We've been thinking a lot about careers in this family lately. Mostly because none of us (babies and otherwise) have them. Wished-for careers, maybe. Magical things called "career options" that our college degrees are supposed to give us. But like anyone who's done any job hunting in the past couple years knows, "options" is a pretty meaningless word. (That, and I just really like bumming around my house doing made-up things like "mothering" and "blogging" and "reading books for fun.")

I get a little down on careers sometimes. I like the quote "Careers are a twentieth-century invention, and I don't want one," even if I don't really dig the story it comes from (Into the Wild. Overrated.)  Why can't Americans be things like hunter-gatherers anymore? Tim would have made a great hunter-gatherer.

But you can't buy cars or houses or every Toy Story action figure known to man as a hunter-gatherer. Or as a stay-at-home parent, or a worker in a low-paying but enjoyable and easygoing job, or anything like that. Nooo, you've got to work your butt off, then work off the layers of muscle and bone beneath your butt. And if you don't, you're lazy, or a moocher, or unmotivated, or whatever -- no matter who you are otherwise.

I haven't solved the problem of work, or money, or rat-races, or any of that, and I don't suppose I will by the time my boys grow up, unfortunately.

I can't guarantee they'll be any of the things on my list, or any of the things on the wish-lists they'll have someday. I can't guarantee they'll like those jobs if they have them. I can't even guarantee they'll have jobs they like even a little bit at all. But I can start now telling them it doesn't matter.

If my kids want a career, great. But I don't want them to need one. I don't want a job to be what makes my babies happy someday. I want them to find their joy and peace and identity in God, in their families and friends, in their communities, in all the things they do that they're not paid for. I'd love it if they loved their jobs, but I don't ever want them to think their worth is in their career. My parents never put that expectation on me, and I'm thankful for it, especially on days when I start beating myself up over lack of big paychecks and important credentials.

Someday, when my boys are grown up and someone asks me "So what do your kids do?" I'd like to answer with something like, "Well, they spend a ton of time at home with their families, they have wonderful adventures wherever they go, they serve God and their neighbors, they build and create and explore."

(And then -- maybe -- I'd like to add, "on Mars.")

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Flashback: Self Portrait With Palm Tree

This is me, seven years ago:

I am lost in Tempe, Arizona.

At least it may have been Tempe. I got on the bus in Tempe, after all. Waved good-bye to my friends at the edge of the sprawling ASU campus. Started reading. Listened for my stop. Got off when the driver called out the street name.

Funny thing about big cities: sometimes the streets go all over town.

It was my first time on a city bus. I was 19. I had just gotten engaged. I was in some sort of industrial area with blocky, faceless buildings.

I should have called someone. Obviously. But I found a copy shop and asked for a phone book and looked on the map. Three miles between me and where I was supposed to be. Three miles in flat Arizona, mild in March.

I decided to walk.

I stopped to take my own picture under a palm tree. Someone once told me that unkempt palm trees become havens for rats, that you can prod the dead leaves with a stick and rats just come pouring out. I saw a palm tree for the first time when I was 17. I love palm trees.

I meant for it to be a good picture, a self-portrait in the pre-Facebook days when self-portraits weren't so common. But the wind picked up, and I blinked, and the shutter snapped after my smile ended.

I remember thinking when I took the picture that it proved I was brave, setting out into the unknown city by myself.

I remember thinking it proved I was reckless, at least I could be reckless.

I remember feeling like I was on the edge of something.

That feeling hasn't gone away since.


Check out other Friday Flashbacks here and here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Post: The Baby Name Rules

I'm fascinated with baby names -- not just what people name their children, but where those names come from, how naming patterns move through communities, how cultures create rules and rituals for naming. I always read the baby announcements in the paper, eagerly await the yearly Social Security names index, and have read books on baby names just for kicks.
Henry David - too cool for rules from Day 1

That's why I'm delighted to share with you this guest post, from my friend Savannah at Preconceived Notions. I've mentioned her and her fabulous food blog, Appetite, before, and I'm excited to bring some attention to her newest project of blogging with wit and snark through "life, marriage, pregnancy, and motherhood" as well -- because those are all things I'm kind of involved in (or in the case of pregnancy, have been involved in) too, you know.

I loved the post you're about to read, and I hope you do too. I also hope you enjoy arguing with it! Because while I wholly support the rules that would discourage the names Promise, Field, and Tree (yes, I have known people by all those names!), I have broken the Obvious Clause of the Literature/Pop Culture section myself. (Complex, these rules ...)

So read on and share your thoughts on The Baby Name Rules!


The Baby Name Rules

I'm already being asked by people if we're thinking about baby names. I find that pretty funny, seeing as how I'm not pregnant, people expect me to already have named my not-yet-conceived spawn. And yes, actually, we have. At least, if we have a boy first. If we have a girl, we're fairly clueless. This is all assuming I manage to get pregnant and then give birth to a child that looks like the name we picked out.

I've had many friends give birth in recent years, and baby name selection has ranged in difficulty — from friends who knew what their kid was named from the minute sperm met egg to those who didn't name their child for several days after birth, and even a friend who is still luke-warm about her child's moniker.

Now, as a copy editor, I see baby names all the time — especially in the weekly "birth" announcements. I think this makes me qualified to pass on some advice to all parents out there who are considering naming a child.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Flashback: Leap Week

Happy March, Babblists! February flew by -- even with the extra day! -- and I shall today repeat the cliche of all who live in four-season states: I can't wait for spring.

To entertain you as you while away the slushy hours, returning this week is Friday Flashback. (For those of you who missed its inception last week, read it here.)

Are you ready for it? Here we go!


Today: Today we had a family day. We got up early, awakened by a phone call, sad news from a dear friend. We couldn't fix the world today so we just stuck together. We watched cartoons, ran errands, went to the playground, took it easy. We had lunch together. We played with the camera after lunch.

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