Thoughts while Gift Wrapping

While wrapping several birthday gifts tonight listening only to the sounds of crickets chirping, distant dogs barking and my husband's snore (probably the cause of the barking dogs - telling him to please keep it down) I had some time to ponder many things. I will list for you some random thoughts below:

#1 - Even though I'm almost 21 WHOOPS, TYPO! ahem...almost 31, I still can't get over all of my perfectionistic ways. I actually cut tape off of a package and started over when the stripes of the wrapping paper were off by several mili-somethings tonight.

#2 - Wrapping gifts on a tile floor, in the very small space between the bed and the wall is probably not a very ergonomic idea. (Can ideas even be ergonomic, I wonder...)

#3 - Wrapping gifts on a tile floor in a very small space is not good for the appearance of the gifts. Random bits of who knows what on the floor make small dents in the paper and having no room to let the paper roll out results in more than a few unsightly creases. (Just something for all of you to keep in mind, should you ever be tempted to wrap gifts on a tile floor in a very small space between the bed and the wall.)

#4 - My mom used to own and - with the help of my grandmother - operate a gift wrapping kiosk in a mall in New Mexico - the mall which my grandfather built as the construction superintendent of the project. My grandfather also sometimes pitched in and wrapped gifts and I think that with his ridiculously analytically inclined math brain he learned just enough about gift wrapping to be dangerous. I'm just saying.

#5 - In case you couldn't tell by the time you have read this far, I had little sleep last night and by close to 11:00 tonight I am what you might call "a little loopy." It is definitely time to head to bed. Tomorrow I will be the mother of a five year old. YIKES!

Life With Lucas

So...this morning I set Lucas in his crib with some toys and left him there to play while I started a load of laundry and looked up some things online. He was talking to himself and playing and having a grand time. I had left him in just his diaper since he had had an accident and I planned to give him a bath before nap. I walked back in to grab him for his bath and nap and noticed he had something white in his hair. At first glance, it looked like a piece of a white bread roll. I then noticed there were "pieces" of this everywhere. All over his crib, toys, body, face hair, on the floor, on the dog who was standing at the end of the crib. This stuff was in and on everything. What was it? It was the wet crystalline substance from inside his diaper! He was pulling his diaper apart from the outside and distributing it as he saw fit - everywhere. Good thing it was bath time anyway!

I definitely think it's time to start some potty learning!

P.S. - Sorry there aren't any pictures to go with this! I wanted to get that stuff off of his skin immediately and also needed to get the dog out of the room before he started eating it, so it was a jump and run situation!

My Opinion of Opinions

My mom said the other day that the older she gets the less she feels the need to immediately offer a strong opinion on any given topic. I thought in reply, “Don’t go getting all wishy-washy on me now, Ma!” I just said aloud, “Mmmm….” It wasn’t until a few days later, after I’d ruminated on her words that I began to see the wisdom in them. For instance, I grew up in a household where the righteousness of the death penalty was a given and the astuteness of most Texas juries was considered astounding. However, in recent years, I’ve come to take a very different stance on that issue. I no longer believe that the death penalty is beneficial to anyone. But that’s another blog. My point is that sometimes the strong opinions of our youth turn out to be misguided if not erroneous and the older I get the more I realize how little I know. Of course, at thirty, I have a long way to go before I know nothing, but I suddenly realize how little I know about what I thought I knew yesterday.

In the book that I am currently reading with my husband called The Importance of Being Foolish the author, Brennan Manning, points out that he who is insecure “finds it exceedingly difficult to listen to the opinion of others. He is so uncertain about his own identity that he has to assert himself all the time, gripped as he is by the fear that in listening to others or surrendering an opinion he may lose a part of his own shaky identity.” As I read that to my husband I could see a clear application in my own life – there are some areas of my life where I feel secure in my belief system. I have tested and approved those areas. I feel no need to jump up and down on my soapbox and propound the virtues of them, though I’ll happily tell you all about them if you have asked. On the other hand, in the areas where I am most insecure, I will yell and scream and get red in the face in my attempts to prove to you (and to me) that I am right.

Of course there are topics that need no explaining of my security in their righteousness. If you suggest to me that murder is a viable and necessary action in certain instances, I will write you off as a kook and suggest to the authorities that they keep an eye on you. I don’t believe that Brennan Manning is suggesting that we give up all opinion and turn an open mind into a blank mind. Instead, I believe he was saying that living a life searching always for the security that comes from offering a “right” opinion is a wasted life. If, instead, we searched for ways to reach out to others, to listen to them, understand how they think, get to the issues of their heart, then would we be much better equipped for a life of servanthood and joy. As Henri Nouwen wrote in his book Here and Now:
As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their "right" place.

Rice Cereal - The Miracle Food - Maybe.

Ever since Lucas starting eating a couple of tablespoons of rice cereal a day he has been sleeping eight to nine hours a night. (In fact a couple of nights ago he slept almost ten!) The only problem with this scenario is that he is sleeping through the night, but he absolutely refuses to sleep during the day. Argh! I used to be able to count on him sleeping about an hour and a half to two hours in the mid morning time, so I was able to get things done. Getting a full night's sleep again is so nice and wonderful. But that sleep is bought at the price of not being able to accomplish much during the day. I have finally come to the conclusion that I am going to have to set him in his swing (where he used to do most of his sleeping during the day) and just let him fuss for the time it takes me to do a task, i.e. clean the kitchen; write this blog; write on a writing project. Then, if he hasn't fussed himself to sleep, I'll hold him for a while, put him back in the swing and so on and so forth. For a couple of months I had a pretty good little routine going when he slept during the day, but now we have to start that process all over again - which is really what this whole parenting thing is all about: adaptability and adjustment - though I may be driven nuts occasionally by all the adapting.

I love watching my children go through all of their different stages. Sometimes, though, I catch myself being worried that they are "behind." That they are not doing the things that some other kid is doing, so I must be falling down on the job and not fulfilling my parental duties. I have to remind myself of all of the things that they are doing daily and remember to be careful not to drown their love of learning, being and doing.

Repost of MySpace Blog from November

Just reposting an old MySpace Blog so I can link to it. :)

Where are we going?

Two years ago I wrote a blog about what seemed to me to be some bleak election news. At the time, I tried to put as positive a spin on it as possible. I remembered then, as I remember today, that my trust is not in things of this world and that I have a faith and a hope in a far greater kingdom than any that this world has ever seen. I still hold to those beliefs and I am always grateful that I have that peace that holds me through all things. I remember how it held my grandmother up as she battled cancer at too early an age. Every one of her nurses fell in love with her kind, sweet spirit and she directed all the praise and glory back to her Father who always sustained her. Drawing on things that she and many others have taught me, I know that there are no circumstances in this world that can take away that peace and joy.

All of that being said, I found myself waking up this morning feeling quite depressed. Just after my dear husband left for work this morning, I lay wide awake in my bed at four o'clock wondering how it is that so many in our country could be so inviting of the socialist agenda that Mr. Barak Obama promises to bring with him to the highest office in our land.

As I pondered this for a moment, I remembered conversations that I have had with friends, family and co-workers over the last few weeks and months and even years. The troubling facts became all too clear to me this dark morning as I lay there in the dark. These events should not be surprising to me. The idea of turning our great republic into a socialist nation is nothing new. There have been many "social reforms" down through the years as our country has grown up. These social reforms are exactly that…socialist ideas that we have embraced, accepted and, often, come to think of as normal and right.

As far back as the early 1800's socialist reformers began introducing the idea of a common (or public) school system in our country. As with most of the social reforms (or socialist agendas) that have come along over the years, this one sounded good on the surface. The socialist spin: All children should have equal opportunity to education. The true socialist agenda: The state, rather than the individual should have control over when, where and what my child is taught. As usual, when individual freedoms are taken away and replaced by the "better" efforts of the government, this socialist experiment has failed and failed badly. Not only are our educational standards increasingly sub-standard, but the stated goals of its extremely socialist minded founder, Horace Mann, have never been met. There is still no "equality" in education. Not only were women and people of other races besides white prohibited from attending public schools for many years, but to this day public schools in poorer areas such as our inner cities are notorious for being places where very little learning is done. From Horace Mann to John Dewey, the "Father of Progressive Education," a clear study of their own statements shows that they all had a similar agenda – that being to create a monopoly in the realm of ideas so that their own personal vision of society could be put forward. The best way to do this? Gain control as early as possible over the minds of the young.

Another great socialist agenda propagated in the late 1800's and coming to fruition in the twentieth century was the women's suffrage movement. The socialist spin: Women should have equal rights as men. The true socialist agenda: Society should be re-defined to conform to the feminist ideal. In 1921 Lenin bragged that "in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law." Sounds like utopia, no? An article in the Atlantic Monthly from 1926 describes the Bolsheviki of Russia as hating the family and pulling out all the stops to destroy this most basic of institutions. Make no mistake, Susan B. Anthony and many of her sister suffragists held this same view. The soviet government enforced their changes immediately and with devastating effect. In his book Perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev reflected on 70 years of Russian turmoil: "We have discovered that many of our problems — in children's and young people's behavior, in our morals, culture and in production — are partially caused by the weakening of family ties." Socialists in our own country have not had the same opportunity to advance their agenda, but they have slowly, but surely undermined the family in many ways throughout the years and continue to do so. Because "pro-choice" has become the feminist byword, I find the following quote by Simone de Beauvoir, a leading radical feminist in the last century, to be quite telling: "No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one."

One major bit of socialist reform that has come down the pike in recent history is Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. This little bit of reform brought with it a program that was so unmitigatingly socialist in its origins that it even included the word Social in its title. Social Security. The socialist spin: Those affected by the great depression should have some kind of relief from their suffering. The true socialist agenda: Begin the process of creating a centralized governmentally controlled financial system through which all of the citizens will eventually be supported, i.e. do away with capitalism and redistribute the wealth. Many well known economists since then have argued that FDR's New Deal actually prolonged and deepened the great depression. In a very good article entitled The New Deal Debunked Thomas J. DiLorenzo, a professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland, quotes many of those economists and states that "it was capitalism that finally ended the Great Depression, not FDR's harebrained cartel, wage- increasing, unionizing, and welfare state expanding policies." Just one of the many travesties committed during this time period comes from my own personal history. I have heard the story of my great-grandfather's cow since I was a very young girl. During the time FDR was enacting his "harebrained" schemes, my great-grandparents owned a milk cow. The government decided that if this family no longer had their own milk cow, then they would go out and buy their milk elsewhere and therefore better the economy. The great problem with this theory is that my great-grandparents and their four children, like so many others of the time, were just scraping by. So, when the government came in and killed their cow, they didn't run out and buy milk. They simply went without.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social reforms/socialist agendas that have been slowly brought into our thinking and infiltrated the way that we live our daily lives. Over the years, we have come to think of some of these social reforms as the only way to live. Therefore, the results of yesterday's election should not surprise me.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, my hope is not in things of this world and I know that no matter what yesterday brought, today holds or tomorrow brings, I am ready.

Life Rolls On

So, life continues to roll on. Lucas has been with us 2 1/2 months now and he is a precious addition. It's hard to imagine how we lived before he was here. I took a couple months off from other pursuits to focus on getting some sleep, but now that things are a little bit back to normal (whatever that is) I'm trying to get back into the game. I've been writing, looking for new freelance projects and even actually keeping the house clean again.

A couple of days ago the heat pump (which controls both heating and cooling) went out on our house. So, to get out of the house for the day on Saturday, we decided to make a trip to someplace at a bit of a higher elevation. We headed to Oak Creek Canyon and played by the creek all afternoon. My brother, Andrew, and his lovely wife, Kami, met us there. We had a really great time hanging out, swimming, playing games, and just enjoying one another.

I am so thankful that I am past the huge emotional ups and downs that accompanied Lucas home and now feel fully back into the land of the living!!!

long memory

Nicole has always amazed me (and those who hang out with her on a regular basis) with her long memory. She uses the phrase "last night" to loosely mean any time before around two hours ago. She will come in and say, "Remember when we went fishing at the lake last night and I lost my fishing pole and we had to buy a new one?" (This conversation happened a couple of days ago and said fishing trip happened last summer.) I am just always in awe of how far back her memory will go, even though she seems to believe that everything in the past happened just a night ago.

Yesterday she really freaked me out, though. She is going to be one of those people that tell you they can remember experiences in the cradle and you may be skeptical, but I am telling you right now - believe it. :-) Yesterday Joe went out to the garage and pulled out the Graco traveling playpen / bassinet / changing table thingy that I used with Nicole. We are going to use it in our room for the new baby to sleep in when he/she arrives in a couple of weeks. It's a great thing to have around (but I digress into another blog post.) Anyway, he pulled it out and set it in the living room for inspection and cleanup. Keep in mind that this thing has been in storage since Nicole was probably 7 to 8 months old. She looked at it, picked up the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet spinning mobile that attaches to it and told Joe, "My mom used to spin this for me when I was a little baby." Whoa! What?!? She remembers that! We have not had this thing around in the house. No one has told her what the mobile is or how it was used. It wasn't even attached to the thing so that she could see it in motion. SHE REMEMBERS IT! So, here is my word of warning to all of you that know her - be careful of what you say and do around her. If it's something you don't want her repeating that you said or did in 10 or 12 years, don't do it! :-)