29 September 2009

does it make me a bad mother...

...that I'm not really that fond of my children before they start smiling at me?

It's not, of course, that I don't love them. I do. And the miracle of life is all-present in those first few precious weeks of life. But, that ball of neediness just doesn't make my heart sing.

Perhaps this aversion to the beginning time - the first weeks - comes from Ada Brooks who was, possibly, possessed for the first six weeks of life. She was reminding us all of Linda Blaire. Poor baby - i don't think she was getting enough to eat, and of what she was getting, she was spitting up a good percentage. But then I gave her a bottle and she slept for six hours and we canceled the call to the exorcist.

Some parents love this stage. This period of newness. And on very few occasions, I can see why. Paul likes this stage. "He's just so little," he says.

But what I love is a baby who smiles. Who coos. Who almost laughs. This is when I start to believe that this little ball of cells is going to one day have amazing conversations with me.

One day, when I'm talking to my baby, he just smiles back at me. And in that smile, I see his God-createdness. That smile doesn't happen on accident. That smile points to the potential for glorification. (And then he screams at you, clearly mad, and that reminds of the need for sanctification)

As great as the first, true, non-accidental smile is, it's nothing compared to the constant smiles. Collins is now smiling at me, the dog, Paul, Ada Brooks, Eason - He actually likes us. He wants to be our friend.

And, boy, let me tell you - we are all covetous of his friendship. Even Eason, who's been fairly (and blessedly) apathetic to the little guy, cannot get enough Collins time.

It is an amazing thing - to be given the unconditional love of a baby. Not the unconditional neediness - that doesn't do much for me (see above). But genuine delight. It's probably a bit narcissistic, but it doesn't just inspire happiness in me. It inspires a desire for the best for this little person.

When that little screaming ball of joy is looking up at me in the hospital bed, I'm amazed. Amazed at the miracle that is knitting together a baby in a womb. And I'm motivated, like a Mama Bear with her cubs, to never let any harm come to my child.

But, when he starts to smile at me - to listen to my words - then I start to imagine educating him, instilling good music taste, making birthday dinner for him when he's nine.

It is then, when those smiles start coming, that I look to the future - a future of happiness, discipline, formation. It is then I start to hope for a life worth living for little Isaac Collins.

18 September 2009

cheers to the goo!

Paul has this lovely plastic container that is divided into three compartments. In each compartment there is a different color of goo. You turn it upside down and the different colors of goo go down through holes at different speeds. You know - like a gooey hour glass thing. I've always hated this gooey thing. It's hideous. That is beside the point, I guess. And when the goo goes down, air bubbles come up into the goo.

Eason just brought it to me and said, "Look at the champagne!"

Funny children are such a blessing.

17 September 2009

Smell No Evil?

(The letter combination "ea" in phonics is tricky. Sneaky is what Ada Brooks calls it. Why? Because ea can say long e (eat), short e (bread), or even, and get ready for it, you didn't even know the third one because you don't have to think about reading anymore- you just do it. Ready? long a - as in great, break, steak.)

Yes, I did just start a blog post with a long parenthetical. Blogging is a relatively new genre, so there are no MLA rules yet, not to mention, "I do what I want." (yes, i did just reference south park, a show i've never watched even an episode of, but, the culture imbues what it will, now doesn't it?) (And yes, there was a hint of snobbery in my 'never watched southpark' comment - I'm working on it - i promise...)

Ada Brooks was studying the "ea" letter combination today. She was reading down a list of words that had examples of all three potential sounds in it - and she was supposed to be practicing testing one sound, realizing it doesn't work, so trying a new one. Example: deaf. There is no word pronounced "deef," so Ada was supposed to try out the short e and realize, "ah - clearly they meant "def" not "deef" - but - my sweet child didn't know the word deaf.

Probably because we are homeschooling her, don't ya think? All other five year olds know that word, I'm almost positive. Throwing my hands up and calling the public school to register her right now.

So Paul, who gets to help teach Ada Brooks on Thursday mornings because he is out of school, explained to her what deaf meant.

Canceling phone call to local public school.

And she said "oh - yeah - i get it - like blind ears"

Exactly, Ada Bee - blind ears.

It got me thinking though - we happen to have a word for blind ears - deaf - with the short e sound of the tricky letter combo ea -
But we don't have a word for blindness of many other things.

Like Social Blindness. You know - those people - who, for various reasons, don't know what to do in common social situations. You're looking at them thinking, "that was the end of the conversation - please just walk away" or "no, poor dear, its not a good time to bring up that topic" or "no one ever wants you to tell us what you just noticed while sitting on a commode"

Things like that.

Or Empathy Blindness. Those people who, for various reasons, don't empathize with anyone. And you listen to them and wonder what it must be like to really not get that everyone doesn't experience life in the same way that they do. And you want to say, "yes, i understand that's your position, but she is from another country, and that means she has a different perspective, you unfortunate soul, you."

Or at least that's what I want to say.

Or just simple Nose Blindness. My sweet husband must be legally nose-blind. He cannot smell or taste very well at all.

I was thinking if we had names for these, we might do a better job empathizing ourselves.

We don't blame the blind man for running into things.
(Let's all take a moment to laugh about Maggie Lizer on Arrested Development - and if you've never watched The Best Television Sitcom of All Time, then please rectify soon. To assist in your enjoyable recall moment, I've included a photo:


We aren't angry at the deaf man not hearing us when we say 'excuse me'

But we sure are irritated at our encounters with the Socially Blind, the Empathy Blind, and for me who tries to make yummy meals and gets no comment because my husband CANNOT TASTE ANYTHING, the Nose Blind.

I have a dear friend whose mother always tells her to judge people by what they know. Meaning that we should hold people who've been taught well, loved much, etc. to a much higher standard than we hold those who haven't been afforded such advantages. (Or who didn't breathe properly until his wife made him have his septum fixed at the age of 22)

I think this idea that some people are as blind to social cues and compassion as maggie lizer was to the book flying at her head (actually, she wasn't blind really, so that harms the analogy, but bear with me...) is the same as recognizing that judging people by what they know is fair (and freeing) way to go about life.

So, for the little boy who grew up homeschooled with the denim-jumper-wearing-mom out on the farm somewhere, we can cringe at his awkward moments, but lets not be mad. Or at the poor soul whose father criticized everything he ever did, never once understanding him as a child, we should gently try to teach some empathy, but not forever write him off as unkind.

And maybe, just maybe, I should let it roll off my back when Paul doesn't taste a difference between Chocolate Chess Pie and Chocolate Almond Chess Pie. Or even be thankful that he doesn't taste the difference between Perfectly Toasted Bread and Toasted Bread Left In The Oven 43 Seconds Too Long.

I know that I remain blind to much.

( Wait....maybe, today, I actually have reached the pinnacle of omniscience and really sheer perfection... nah - not quite there. Dammit. )

I just hope that people will understand many of my imperfections as blindness, rather than willful wrongheadedness.

Also, Paul would like to make a motion that we call Merriam-Webster and see if they'll change the definition of "deaf" to "you know, like blind ears."

11 September 2009

nine eleven

A lot of people are reflecting today - 8 years after a day that changed the world. Reflecting on our country, what it means to be an American, reflecting on what it means to be a patriot -

Well, 8 years ago, I was a patriot.

A Jackson Prep Patriot.

Yes, I was a senior in highschool. My class schedule was as follows:

1st period: Coach Crosby's Financial Management, in which I was learning how if I will only give up a lot of money now, I'll have a lot of money later.

2nd period: Mrs. Jenkin's AP Calculus class in which I was being the biggest dork in the history of the world and loving every minute of it. I was also trying to draw the fine line between helping my friends with their homework and doing it for them. I failed.

3rd period: Coach Brewer's study hall. I was forming a lifelong friendship with my dearest Mel - and building up courage to sneak out one day and go to Dairy Queen. Never felt so naughty.

4th period: Mrs. Orr's AP government class in which I was first appreciating devouring supreme court decisions and learning that there was more than one perspective on life.

5th period: Mrs. Flint's Speech and Debate class in which I was making a mockery of an expensive education.

6th period: Mrs. Roberts's English Class in which I was learning to actually write and basking in the glory of actually investing oneself in summer reading journals. See dork reference above.

Yes, my senior year in high school was the first year I can truly say I loved to learn. I became an academic fiend - late in life, really - I do hope my children are academic fiends long before then - not from a success stand point, but just so their growing up will be filled with wonder in education, not just outside of education.

I was dating a very funny boy who was constant entertainment.

My little brothers were 11 and 13.

I drove a green 1996 mazda 626.

It was 2001 and life was grand. I went to pep rally's, wrote papers, stayed up too late doing calculus problems and laughing with my friends, ate my mom's chocolate chip cookies, spent the night at mel's house on weeknights, and generally had the most carefree life a girl can have.

So, eight years later my class schedule is as follows:

First Period: Math - in which I teach time-telling, fractions, weight, volume and how not to be such a know-it-all

Second Period: Language - in which I teach how to comprehend what you are reading outloud (a skill I have trouble teaching since I'm pretty bad at it), and that penmanship is important no matter if you'll one day do most of your writing on a computer...

Third Period: Miscellany - in which I teach how to measure flour, the capitols of states, the books of the Bible, the catechism, the presidents, how the branches of government work, how to be a nice sister, what the prophets were trying to teach Israel, how the old testament prefigures the new testament, and wish i knew how to determine age-appropriate lessons.

Fourth Period: Lunch - in which I prepare Lunch.....

Fifth Period: Nap Time - in which I lesson plan, eat my own lunch, nurse an infant, make grocery lists, start supper preparations, fold clothes, do a little yoga, sneak in some hulu and lime sherbert, read cookbooks, blog or fall asleep thinking of my never-ending to do list.

Sixth Period: Afternoon Time - in which I try to make it to five oclock without Eason falling from a surface above 2.5 ft off the ground, without Ada Brooks asking an unanswerable question and without pouring myself a glass of wine.

I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a homeowner. I am an academic fiend.

I am married to a very funny man who is constant entertainment (not the same one I was dating back then, but I clearly had a type)

I drive a 2005 Black Dodge Caravan (should have known it was coming when I thought calculus was so fun).

My little brothers are 19 and 21.

It is 2009 and life is grand. I go to the park, zoo, science museum, read books, stay up too late debating theological problems and laughing with my friends, eat my own chocolate chip cookies, spent the night in bed with my husband each night, and generally have a very, very full life.

So, we can reflect on the life of America and patriotism, but really it is the day in and day out lives that matter.

A lot has changed in eight years- babies, marriages, friends, beliefs, values - I was a patriot then and I'm a patriot now - after all, I say the pledge every morning.

09 September 2009

we love the cabin

we spent last Sunday afternoon at The Cabin.

The Cabin, as the more brilliant might suspect, is a cabin. When I decided to go to Ole Miss instead of 'some super expensive ivyleague job' (as my dad referred to it), Daddy bought a few acres on a lake about 30 minutes from Jackson. He was planning to build a ramshackle, tiny place out of which he could 'rough it' and bass fish. He didn't realize that the development in which be bought had covenants. You don't have to build on your land, but if you do, it cannot be ramshackle. So, we got a cabin i much prefer - 12oo or so square feet, a/c, washer/dryer, princess beds (my request), a pool table, a big television with real tv, great sound, books we've not read in years, a big open great room, and concrete floors. we love it.

(Everyone knows what a princess bed is, right? It's a bed built into a wall. No, this is not an official architectural or decorating term - it is the term I named them when I fell in love with them as a child. I love princess beds. They are so romantic. Apparently, I've just learned, they are actually called "Dutch Beds" I prefer princess beds.)

(See example above - this is not a bed at our cabin, but a princess bed you can find my googling 'dutch bed' Do not google princess bed - you will be dismayed at what goes on in our country)

Of course, best of all, is its location. on 4ish acres on an awesome fishing lake. Watching my children fish makes my life. And swinging in the swing makes my life better. (funny story about swinging in the swing - maybe i'll tell it sometime).

Anyway - our time at the cabin:

Eason swinging in the awesome red, wooden swing.

Chubby hand trying to reel.
I think this might make a good ad for whomever makes this reel.

Blurry Pic of Ada Brooks on a hike around the lake.

She looks like such a girl fishing... =)

"I'm going to pull the boat so far, Mama"
are you really, eas?
five minutes later....
"Mama - will you help me pull the boat so far?"

Eason says boat in a faint australian accent. It's fairly amazing.

Eason, Paul and my little brother Cliff went out in the boat fishing. 30 seconds later it started to rain. This is the result. I loved it. I loved my pitiful, wet husband even more...

This is what I do at the cabin. Inspect Collins's head and get photographed by my camera obsessed daughter. I love her, even though she has no concept of 'flattering'

Eason got new 'cabin shoes' - He's in love with them.

'specially in love with taking them off and putting them on.

or just staring lovingly at them in the hammock.