Friday, October 07, 2011

It is so wonderful how you learn from your kids.

In a conversation with “the boy” this morning, we were

discussing his future entrepreneurship as an inventor. His latest addition to his creative repertoire:

Frog Suits.

Yes. You read that correctly – frog suits.

Evidently (according to Sam), frog bodies do not have enough protection. Therefore, they need utilitarian suits in which to better defend themselves from the perils that are associated with being tiny thin-skinned amphibians. A brief description follows:

-Primarily made of metal

-Plastic (not glass) helmet shield “force field” for the head (see-through, so you can tell it’s a frog)

-Jointed arms/legs so the frogs are not “stuck like they are dead”

-Heart replacement device in case they die (or “croak”—har har—I added the pun myself)

-Mechanical gloves that will allow frogs to move their fingers

I asked Sam just how many frog suits he thought he would need to make. His first guestimate was one hundred. After pondering for a moment, however, he realized he would need more like “a billion trillion” to cover the demand of all frogs on the planet.

Sam then commented that his room would be his workshop. I said it would probably need to be more like a factory since there would be such a high frog suit output. I also recommended that he consider hiring a helper/employee:

Me: You know; that’s a lot of frog suits. You might need someone to help you make them.

Sam: Like an automaton?!!

Me: Or a human friend…

Sam: (silent for a moment)….. Maybe Cameron (a friend from school). But I will have to tell him how to do it because he is not good at it.

We were almost late to school this morning as a result of this conversation. But I felt it was worth it. I found it to be sooooo fascinating. It was so the masculine version of my own fantasy life when I was little. Where I was thinking about unicorns and sparkles and rainbows as a child, my own child is thinking about turning frogs into cyborgs.

But even more interesting to me was Sam’s response when I suggested he might need human help with his proposed endeavor. He was reluctant. He didn’t think his friends would have the mental or inventive wherewithal to be capable of such a task. He was the expert, and the only one who would know how to do it right.

I remember playing unicorns on the playground with my friends when I was little. I was forever exasperated because my playmates were constantly failing to live up to my vision of the perfect unicorn life. “You’re not whinnying right!” and “You’re not galloping pretty enough!” are a couple examples of “helpful advice” I was
constantly dishing out in the schoolyard.

I look back at those years with complete embarrassment. I was a bossy jerk of a child. And I kind of knew it. Thankfully, however, my long-suffering friends loved me enough to stick with me in spite of my officiousness (some of them may actually even read this!). But honestly…I did not set out to be a third-grade fascist. I had my idea of how things should go, and I knew that if I could just transplant my brain into the brain of someone else, they would see just how brilliant my imaginings really were. I desperately wanted the world to be shiny, rainbow-y, and gorgeous. And I had nowhere else to look outside of the people closest to me. But they were just people and they were definitely not making my vision happen.

I feel sorry for Sam because of this. I see how unique he is, and he is definitely showing signs of feeling emotionally isolated. I see just how similar he is to me. But maybe he will be different enough to not be disappointed when the world doesn’t go his way. Maybe instead of retreating out of frustration, he will really come up with ways to make the world a shinier (more robot-y) place. And maybe he will learn to adjust when other kids aren't exactly how he wants them to be.

Maybe I will grow out of it someday, as well.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Songs from Before

So I thought it might be fun to occasionally post a blog about music I have loved. I *strongly* associate music with previous experiences and life events. Songs bring those moments back almost as vividly as a smell. I suppose it has something to do with my hippocampus. I will be walking down an aisle at the grocery store and will have to stop in my tracks because a song will stir a memory so intense it's like it has transported me elsewhere. I was going through my song collections last night. Lots of fun. I thought I would start with:

"You Are My Sunshine" is the first song I can remember hearing. It was my favorite in a set of songs my parents would sing with me in the car. We would be going on long trips and we would sing "You Are My Sunshine", "Home on the Range", "Skiddle MuRinky" (questioning the spelling on that one), and others. This song also brings back memories of my first bedroom living with my parents. My bedroom looked out an open field full of tractors behind our house. The back of the house faced west, which made for a lot of struggle on my part in going to sleep during the summer. I remember light streaming in and hearing the voices of other kids playing outside. It was so completely unfair I couldn't be outside too. But my mom would sing this to me and it always made my heart happy (even if it wasn't showing on the outside).

It always was and always will be my dad and mom song. I sing it to my kids and it makes me think of them, still.

This particular version is by Elizabeth Mitchell and is on her album with the same title. It is the sweetest rendition I have found (other than my dad playing it on guitar, of course).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

My Two Cents

The other night I was on facebook. I began to leave to go look at another site, but as the new page loaded, I did a total double take. Had I just seen what I thought I saw? I pressed "back", and sure enough, "Bin Laden is dead". My friend Elaine had posted the news.

Immediately, I felt.........

I am not sure I want to say.

I am not sure I want to share my current feelings on the matter because there are a lot of judgmental comments floating around. I have found that different people are reacting in different ways to the news. My frustration is that some people are seeing this event in our history as yet one more opportunity to judge one another.

There are valid points coming from both sides of the issue, but I just want to underscore the fact that most of what we are experiencing is so much emotion, and so little reason. Since we can't actually do a whole lot about the situation, all we can do is feel things about it. But to say that one's person's feelings is right or wrong is to attack their character. Feelings are an intrinsic part of who we are--they are ingrained, and they are unstoppable.

Should I be happy? Should I be sad? Should I be relieved? Should I be numb? For now, I am trying to remain as neutral as I can because I am afraid. I am afraid of what people will think of me if I disclose how I feel about the whole thing. I am afraid that others will think my feelings are not the feelings I should be experiencing. And that is what I feel is more messed up than any other part of the issue. I definitely have opinions, but thanks to certain individuals I mostly keep them to myself (I had to learn to be mostly discrete the hard way when I voted for Obama).

I feel the people of our country are in constant defense-mode. Not against terrorists, but against each other. I am so tired of hearing about Republican vs. Democrat, Obama vs. Bush--but at the same time, I can't look away. It's like watching a schoolyard fight--it's fascinating and horrifying at the same time. I don't want to get beaten up, so I just stand there on the sidelines, trying to decide what I should do. In the meantime, I feel the very infrastructure that this country is built on is crumbling, and all anyone wants to do is argue about who punched the first hole in the wall.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Seeing the World in Negative

I have mentioned before that Greg has this thing for painting and drawing. He has not had much time to take part in this "hobby" (though I think it's more than that) since we had kids. I have always found his art intriguing and more than a little sexy. One of the things he takes great joy in is drawing in negative--looking at the world backwards--filling in the negative spaces with dark so that the content of the art itself becomes light.

Some mornings I wake up and have epiphanies. This was one of those mornings.
I have been so backward in my thinking for the past seven years. I have become cynical, frustrated, angsty, and pissed off at God. People often ask "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" I am one of those people who has never had an answer, and has never been satisfied with the answers I have heard.

The other morning I was griping about this with Greg on a more specific level. "Greg? Why is God still making all this crap happen to us?" (this was about impending layoff notices--again). Greg looked at me and said, "What if God isn't the one who is making the crap happen? What if God is the one who is keeping worse things from happening?"

Well, I have been mulling this over for the past few days, and all of a sudden, while laying in my bed this morning it hit me. Greg was right! Just look at Job in the Bible. Pastors often talk about the last chapters of Job as being God just showing off His power. This is true, in part. But I think it was more that God was saying to a very whiny and depressed Job, "Look.. I could wipe this whole world out if I wanted to. I could destroy every single thing I have made." Essentially, "I brought you into this world, I can take you right back out."

I realized God does not "allow" bad things to happen to Greg and I any more than we "allow" Sam and Aunica to get hurt. They climb bookshelves and brick walls and then act surprised when they fall down and injure themselves. They hit each other and then act surprised when we discipline them.

This isn't to say there aren't bad things that happen to them outside of our control, but those things are just a part of living in this broken messed up world. God has gotten us through those things, faith-in-tact.

Noam Chomsky wrote of a Language Acquisition Device he believed we are all born with. According to him, we all have the capacity to learn language from the moment we are born, and actually begin learning language in the womb. Well, I believe God has put a Morality Acquisition Device inside the souls of each of us. We are born with a conscience, allowing us from the very beginning to tell the difference between what is right, and what is wrong. When bad things happen to good people, we know it is wrong because we have a sense of what should and should not be happening. God never intends for bad things to happen to us. But even when bad things do, He is not gone. He has not forgotten us. It is very likely that He is getting us through more than we know.

I believe every breath is a gift. Every single good thing in your life is a miracle. I look at my cat all curled up at my feet, hear my kids talking to Greg in the other room, realize I drove over 20 miles today without getting in a car accident. It could have been otherwise.

Jane Kenyon
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

This poem ends sounding somewhat pessimistic, but it is true. We all will die someday, we all will face the same end. BUT we have hope! And in the meantime, we should not spend our days being sad about the bad, but looking at the good. Because after all, it might have been otherwise.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moving On

Sometimes it will hit me that I am done making babies and it makes me *really* sad. Other times I am so relieved I want to do a happy dance. These kids of mine! I know, I know.. the kid blogs get old. But they are such an intrinsic, important, ridiculously perpetual part of my life, I can't exactly help it. To ignore them, would be to ignore myself.

Aunica is energy on speed. Sam is a skinny little enigma. I get tired of them. I love them. I wish they would grow up. I wish they would stay young. I hope they rebel so I know they are becoming independent. I hope they are good so I don't have to deal with the drama. I don't want them to get hurt. I want them to learn from their own mistakes. I want to have them near me. I want my own space. I want to buy them everything. I don't want to spoil them. I want hugs. I don't want to catch their colds. I want them to be childlike. Won't they please be quiet? I want to spend time with their dad. I want them to have a good relationship with him too. I want to be a good home-maker. I hate housework. I love watching them play outside. There are so many dangerous things in the back yard. I can't wait to play tooth fairy. I wish Sam wouldn't lose his adorable baby teeth. I hope they are brave. I hope they are careful. I hope Sam stays this vulnerable. I wish he'd stand up for himself more.

I want more. I don't want more.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Friday, December 10, 2010


When I was little there was a view of a large blue house across an acre-sized field that we could see the back of from our own front windows. It was an old grand victorian--probably one of those that people bought all the supplies and blueprints for in a Sears and Roebuck Catalog from 1899. In the wintertime, that ornate old place looked positively ethereal. After the snow fell and the clouds had cleared and there was a full moon, everything reflected blue and white and grey. Because of the moon and colors, the house itself looked like it was glowing a bit. The field sparkled as did the icicles hanging from the neighbor's roof. Occassional deer would wander through the scene, looking for food. I remember standing in our dining room, staring at that old blue place -- yearning.

Another time we were driving home from Cedarville. We had just put on an MPAT Christmas performance. As we drove through the mountains, the uncontaminated snow silently waited on pine trees. Shadows played games with boulders partially hiding under drifts, and stars shimmered. I was with my friends, the car was warm. I was happy.

I inwardly dwell in winter. Sometimes, when I am feeling sad or anxious, thoughts of those scenes pop into my brain. Pine trees and moonbeams, twiggy leafless branches and stars call to me. I think I love Southern California for living life, but I think I love the mountains for dreams. I picture myself living in a house full of brass and bronze, tarnished silver and mahagony -- Christmas trees as tall as my 14-foot crown-moulded tin-embellished ceilings will allow -- wearing kid-gloves and capes and dresses with trains (and not having it be just "dressing up"). Candles and lanterns instead of flourescent bulbs. Violin Music. Burgundy-reds and forest greens. Our neighbors are at least 1/2 a mile away and the only thing you can see is occasional slices of stars through the giant fir trees surrounding our house.

But I want it the way I want it, though. The winter can't be cold. There must always be a fire to keep us warm. Aunica will love wearing dresses (she doesn't right now). And Greg will always be home.

My mental heaven.