Wednesday, January 30, 2008

All On His Own

Teaching our kids self reliance has always been very important to us. Probably because we are both first-borns, doing stuff for ourselves is something that we both put a high value on. With the exception of letting the babies feed themselves in the high chair, I encourage our children to do anything for themselves that they can. (Once I got past 2 kids I just couldn't stand the high chair/floor/wall/kid mess every meal. Especially with Monster Truck(2) as he truly believed for almost a full year that the reason God put hair on his head was so he'd have a nice abrasive surface to clean off his hands with. I could be standing there with a washcloth wiping one hand and he would still be carefully cleaning the other hand on the top of his head.)
The results of our children's independence are sometimes funny, (Mr. Yuke(4) putting his jeans on backwards so he's walking around with a fly on his bum all day long) and sometimes scary. (The Pinkiest(5) recently "learned" to put her own ponytails in her hair and is now refusing help. The knots around her rubber bands make me cringe when I see them but she is so proud of herself she won't even consider letting me adjust them.) Most of the time they do great. Our kids make their own lunches (the three older ones), make their own beds (some of you may not think this is a big deal, but I can't tell you how many moms I know who make their kids' beds every day), and sort their own laundry. They also each help make dinner one night a week. I have to admit that this is the one that I find the most challenging. Anyway, all this self-reliance gives them a lot of confidence. They all feel very capable no matter what the situation. Such was the case the other day.

Monster Truck(2) decided he was hungry and would like a snack. Without mentioning anything about it to me, he went down to the kitchen, pulled a chair over to the pantry, got down the Kix cereal and proceeded to fix himself a bowl. See that white stuff? It's not milk.
Did I mention he REALLY likes sugar?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Eating Crow

Well, good. I'm glad that the hometown rag covered that story. I must say I am very surprised. That publication has come up the tiniest bit in my esteem. Not all the way out of loathing, but up a little nonetheless.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What You Didn't Hear About

I can't stand it anymore. It needs to be said. The news is worthless. And not just that ridiculous newspaper in Tracktown either.

Two weeks ago, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent was killed while on the job. You did not hear about this. Even the local news where it happened refused to cover the story. Here is what happened. Border Agents were pursuing illegal aliens who are known drug runners south. There was an extensive high speed chase. When an agent further south finally got out of his car to throw down the spike strips (used to stop a car in a high speed chase-) the agent was run over by the illegal aliens. IN A HUMMER. And they didn't even swerve. The bad guys got away. And you didn't hear a word about it.

Last week, a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot an illegal alien. Headlines all screamed out against him and the terrible tragedy of it all. If anyone bothered to read all the fine print, he had made a vehicle stop and was standing on the side of the truck when the illegal aliens took off. He was caught on the truck and was dragged for 20 feet before firing a single shot into the driver's leg, obviously NOT trying to kill him. This was highly publicized.

Does anyone else see the glaring one-sidedness and injustice here?

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Have A Dream

At the start of every new year, our family spends one of our family home evenings reviewing and making goals. We go over our family long term goals, assess how we did the previous year on our family short term goals, and set new short term family goals for the current year depending on what we need to work on. (e.g.- prepare for church on Saturday, etc. Have you ever tried to get six kids dressed and out the door? It takes at least 48 hours.) We put all of the long- and short-term goals on a poster that we put up on the dining room wall where everyone can see it. We then are able to review our progress every few weeks. Those of you who knew me from way back when- aren't you impressed? Who new I had a left half to my brain? Anyway, after discussing the family goals, each member of the family also chooses one personal goal to work on for the year. We hope that it will be something geared toward self-improvement (e.g.- The Pinkiest chose getting up on time in the morning for this year), but sometimes it is a skill we would like to acquire. (Potty-training, shoe-tying, etc.)

This year, Little Mommy(9) chose learning to ice skate as her personal goal which I felt was a stretch and I suspect is just a ploy to get some recreational time without having to earn it by getting her chores done. We let it go because we want to be supportive and not discourage the kids from setting goals for themselves- in spite of the nature of her choice.

We went down the line asking each child what their goal would be for this year. When we got to Mr. Yuke(4), he didn't have one in mind. Husband suggested learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Mr. Yuke(4) jumped up and said breathlessly and with reverence, "Ok. But when I grow up, I want to be-

a baker of chicken burritos."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Jane Austen Book Club

by Karen Joy Fowler. Maybe you've heard of it? It was just released as a major motion picture. Those of you who've been reading the blog for a while know my stance on screen adaptations so I read the book this weekend. I have not DISLIKED a book so much since 6th grade when Mr. Percy ruined by spring break by forcing me to wade through 300 pages of politcally motivated talking bunnies. There is not enough I can say about how much I did not enjoy this book, but here is a start.

A Little to the Left
If I were in a ballroom filled with hundreds of people and this author, I feel almost certain I would not meet another person who so totally disagrees with my personal view of the world. This book is extremely politically "correct". The characters are a smattering of mid-20's to mid-60's women, only one of whom needs a man- and this is passed off as acceptable because she and her husband are a mixed latina-caucasian marriage. One woman is homosexual and the author states that this is due to "a genetic code" as if this is a proven fact. The only main character who is a man is made pc by the emasculinization of him in a flashback to his childhood in which he is for the hundredth time helpless and he comes to the realization that he will rely on his big sisters to rescue him in any situation for the rest of his life. The author ends the account with the statement that, "no one who'd known Grigg since infancy could have doubted he was born to be a heroine." (Italics added.) This leaves the question of his sexual orientation dubious until the end of the book when he hooks up with one of the women.

Of the other two men who appear in the book, one is the evil-husband-who-leaves, and the other is the perfect husband who is not really wanted or needed but is a nice thing to have. Yuck. To think there are all these men in this country who experienced such a serious lapse in judgement and had the audacity to be born white, masculine men. The nerve. Let's punish them.

Also, the author is preachy about other leftist issues including such things as the environment. I quote, "A few shells were washed over at the water's edge, small and perfect, but everyone was too ecologically well behaved to pick these up." (Italics added.) Would someone please mind telling me when it became bad for the environment to pick up seashells at the beach?

Literally Speaking
For those of you my friends who stand far to the left of me and Dr. Laura, I want to explain why this book is still garbage even if you share the author's political opinions. First of all, there is almost no plot. None.

Second of all, the women are snotty, pretentious, and clearly think they are superior to men. There is a scene in the book in which the characters openly mock a published author at a fundraiser dinner after he comments that, "I don't read much women's stuff. I like a good plot." This is written as a blunder of conversation and the women very unlikeably and condescendingly make him pay for it for the rest of the evening. (It reminded me of Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice when she begins criticizing Elizabeth Bennet's performance at the pianoforte by saying, "I never learned to play the pianoforte, but if I had learnt, I should be a true proficient.")

It is possible that the author may have written the nearly plotless book as a nod to Jane Austen. Many critics contend that nothing happens in her books. I believe this shows great ignorance. So much happens in them that when made into a good movie it has to be six hours long. Not only that, but even holding to the argument that Austen's characters move about very little in their humdrum lives, you still care about them deeply. The author of The Jane Austen Book Club did not achieve this in spite of the enormous effort she put into writing them each a tragic backstory. There is not enough of a now-story for you to care or not care. Their background stories- which take up 3/4 of the book, are for the most part, those moments in our lives that each of us are most ashamed of and which, if given a chance, we would go back and change. They are not very likeable people and as I was reading, I kept hoping that all the unpleasant histories of these people would somehow either be overcome or that they would be better people in the end because of their experiences with the books or each other. Not so. While one or two may have found minimal happiness in spite of their previous experiences, the attention the author gives this is so miniscule in comparison to the long drawn out accounts of misery, that it affords the reader almost no satisfaction at all. The compensation for wading through all their personal garbage is too little to make it worth it. I think the author must be aware of this on some level because at the end of the book one of her characters thinks to herself, "What if you had a happy ending and didn't notice? Sylvia made a mental note. Don't miss the happy ending." It's that obscure.

A couple of the characters use the f-word a lot. (I stopped counting at 11 times.) I suspect that the author was trying to make this a literary device to denote the demarcation between the younger and older generations, but this distinction was unnecessary, distracting, and added nothing to their already established personalities. It was extraneous and offensive.

You all know I am the queen of throwing out random quotations and movie references mid-conversation. And yet, when the author unashamedly steals phrases from Jane Austen, speaking of her characters without giving the credit to Austen by the use of quotation marks or in any other way (e.g.- "It put her in mind of something...", and a hundred other turns of phrase that are period-derived syntax) I found it very grating. I think she did this intentionally to illustrate how much the books permeated the characters' lives, but it came off as contrived and pompous. (Look at me! Look at me! I'm writing like Jane Austen!)

The hands-down most irritating thing about the writing in The Jane Austen Book Club was the perspective it was written from. It is third person omniscient so the narrator knows what everyone is thinking, yet it is written in the first person so the narrator is repeatedly saying, "WE" did this and "WE" thought that. The narrator is never identified as any one of the characters and in the end the best the reader can do is to assume the narrator is some nebulous collective psyche. The other alternative is that the narrator is Jane Austen herself, since she is the only other "person" there who is not one of the main characters- but if that was the intention, it was unclear and presumptuous.

Patricia T O'Connor of The New York Times Book Review said of this book,
"This exquisite novel is bigger and more ambitious than it appears... Fowler's shrewdest, funniest fiction yet, a novel about how we engage with a novel. You don't have to be a student of Jane Austen to enjoy it, either...Lovers of Austen will relish this book, but I envy any reader who comes to it unfamiliar with her. There's no better introduction."

Wow. I don't even know where to start. What a load of crap. Sorry. But it's true. If this not-funny-at-all book is her funniest, pity the reader who's read any of her other work. I am a lover of Jane Austen books and I did not enjoy this at all. The book discussions were minimal and they assumed you have a working knowledge and memory of every single one of the books. Not only that, but the people trail in and out of points they're making as if you, the reader, are expected to be able to finish their thoughts on your own, they are so obvious to the author. Anyone who has not read at least some of the books will be lost during every book discussion the club has. To say "there's no better introduction" to Jane Austen is tantamount to saying, "Hey. I found some old rotton produce at the bottom of the vegetable bin. Let's serve that as the appetizer to all our guests. Then when we bring out the main course they will be REALLY excited to dig in." Please. I hope that nobody anywhere reads this before reading Austen's own works. I would hate to think that they would forever have this book associated with her books. In short, I would not recommend this book to anyone. At all. Ever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Well, the D&C went fine. No complications. It was a bizarre experience. HOURS of waiting to get in and then in a second it was over and I was waking up. Anesthesia is very strange. If you've had it, you know what I'm talking about. If not, you'll just have to take my word for it.
My little happy pills seem to be kicking in. That is a very good thing. I have felt like getting up and getting dressed the last couple days. I started feeling yesterday like I wanted to clean the house so I'm planning to actually do something today. I feel a little less numb all the time.

The funeral for Grandma went well. It was nice and we made it there and back without weather trouble on the road. Any grief I might have felt at the loss of this good woman who lived a very full life was completely overshadowed by my grief over the loss of my baby. I had a weird sensation of just sort of floating through the motions while we were there.

Father-in-Law is now in the hospital in That Place They Took Her To Be Buried. Turns out that in addition to the blood clots he has a major infection and has to have his galbladder removed. There is some additional risk with the procedure due to another condition he has. Husband is really worried, and I'm worried for him. I sat wondering yesterday just how much more could happen this month.

"Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but for a small moment, and if thou endure it well..."

Happy day. All is well.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Verdict Is Out

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. Your encouragement and support are greatly appreciated. We went for our first official prenatal appointment today when they give you all the papers about what to do if such-and-such happens, and a gift bag full of useless crap and coupons, etc. When the doctor went to listen for a heartbeat she couldn't find one. She sent us down to ultrasound where we discovered that baby A's heart has stopped beating. I am going to the hospital tomorrow morning for a D&C and hopefully will recover soon. My heart will certainly take much longer to heal than my reproductive system. Such a roller coaster ride to think- they're not fine, they are fine, one is not fine, the other is doing great, the other has died. I am exhausted. Thank goodness for anti-depressants which I am starting immediately after my surgery. Keep us in your prayers. We'll probably need them for the next little while.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Verdict Is In

We will be having just one baby. That's all I have to say about that at this time.

Husband's grandmother may be leaving this world to be reunited with her husband. I am leaving right now to pick my kids up from school to drive down to where she is in the hospital to say goodbye. Road conditions are safe at the moment but a big storm is coming in tonight and your prayers for our safe return would be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Which candidate do you agree with?

Here is a really cool link that I think is totally worth the three minutes of your time it will take. It is a short survey on current issues and your opinion on how important the issues are. When you finish taking the quiz (it's REALLY short), it compares your answers with all of the presidential candidates and lists all of them in order of how much they agree with you. I thought it was extremely interesting and I hadn't even heard of one of these guys. The site is legit- it's a t.v. news station's page. Go check it out!

The Donzerlee Light

I love New Year. It is one of my favorite holidays. This is for two reasons:

  1. I get to have a big party with lots of food which is not obligatory (read: Thanksgiving). Planning parties is my favorite.
  2. It's a good chance to start out fresh. For example: I have said my morning prayer every day this entire year. Sounds encouraging, doesn't it? Try one.

Our party last night was so much fun. Brother, Cute Sister, and Slugger Jr.(3) sent us a movie kit for Christmas. It had a whole bunch of boxes of movie candy, mini microwave popcorn bags, tickets which read "admit one to [Aberjaber] family movie night", and the DVD of "Surf's Up". So last night we brought the t.v., dvd player, and the wii down from the playroom to the living room. We moved the furniture around and we watched the movie. After it was over, we ate a ton of other party food and played the wii for almost two hours. We had a great time. Mostly.

It used to be our policy that just the older kids got to stay up until midnight. We would send the younger kids to bed around 9:00 when they felt like they'd stayed up really late and were super tired anyway. This was a good plan. Unfortunately, nobody informed the little kids of the details. See, we'd send them to bed and they would get up. Every ten minutes. All night long. They would sneak ever so subtlely (like a stampeding herd of buffalo) to some vantage point where they could witness the goings on of the party until they were sent back to bed. Again. So this year, we decided to just extend them an official invitation to the party rather than deal with Bedtime Tourette's all night long. Mr. Yuke(4) was particularly thrilled about this. All day he kept talking about how he was going to stay up UNTIL TOMORROW!!! I kept telling him that it would still be dark and that he would have to go bed as soon as the party was over. He looked a little confused by this the seventeen times we had this conversation but he always agreed with me. At midnight we did crackers, toasted the new year, and exchanged hugs- then I promptly banished them all to bed so Husband and I could play some serious wii. The other children went right away, happy to have stayed up so late and have so much fun. Mr. Yuke(4), however, was LIVID.


Me: "Honey, it is tomorrow. It's the new year. It's after midnight. Remember when I said it would still be dark?"

Mr. Yuke(4): "BUT IT IS NOT MORNING!!!"

Me: "You need to go to bed. I love you. Goodnight."

Husband: "Goodnight, [Mr. Yuke(4)]. I love you."

Mr. Yuke(4): LOUDLY under his breath- "This is NOT what I signed up for."

I don't know where he gets that stuff from. So funny! Anyway, in spite of Mr. Yuke(4) melting down as only he can, and Monster Truck(2) throwing up at about 10:30, we had a really good time. I hope you all rang in the new year as cheerfully. Good luck with your resolutions!