A Fitting Close

on 30 April 2010

As things wind down over here at Burnstopia, in preparation to a permanent move to The New Digs, I thought that this post, from Smitten Kitchen was, perhaps, the most perfect union of what we're all about.

Regardless of what we call ourselves, regardless of the clothes we wear, the words we speak or those left unsaid, please know that Pop Tarts shall live forever.

And how, HOW have I lived this long and NOT realized that you can MAKE Pop Tarts from scratch?

The idea has me a little teary just thinking of it.  I know what I'm doing this weekend!

And for your Pop Tart flashback:

I was 16.  A Great and Mighty Fourth Year at my church's annual Summer torture event known simply as Girls Camp.  Every summer we girls, from 12 to 18 would gather together for a week in the wilderness.  (At the risk of sounding OLD I would like to say that back in my day it was HARD!)  We actually had to rough it!  There were showers and flush toilets but you had to hoof it to the center of the camp.  By in large it was cooking over a fire and putting up with the endless supply of melodramatic teen-aged girls that was the real trial.  The wilderness doesn't scare me, but group together 50 girls under the age of 18 with their attendant hormones and socio-political issues and it's rife with tension.  I seriously contemplated hitchhiking out of there for the first 3 years.  But then!  Then!  I was a FOURTH YEAR. 

Traditionally Fourth years Plan Camp.  They choose the theme, the structure, the activities and classes and, most importantly, they conduct INSPECTION.  See, every morning BEFORE the flag ceremony (the flag is hoisted, we say the pledge of allegiance, someone usually has to retrieve their bra etc.), we would make the rounds as a GROUP.  And let me tell you 16 Fourth Years all sleep deprived and mean is a fearsome thing to behold.  Anyway, we poked around the camp sites making sure that things were tidy and that fires were put out appropriately etc etc.  It sounds quite boring, but there were always awards given out at the end of Camp and Cleanest Camp Site was one of them so we wielded our own sort of power. 

Anyway, back to why my Fourth Year was so magical.  My Dad was supposed to go with me on the Fourth Year hike--come to think of it, that sort of requires its own post, perhaps another time--anyway, he developed bursitis in his knee so he couldn't go but he still felt bad about it.  And being a mean and selfish 16 year old, I let him.  I also let him shower me with things that we NEVER would have normally had access to--like Pop Tarts.  My Dad took me to Costco with him to buy food to help me survive camp (there was NO WAY I was eating the nasty stuff they tried to foist on me the previous 3 years), so he bought me a giant box of Pop Tarts and a box of Teddy Grahams and some granola bars etc.  I had a nice tidy box of prepackaged (terrible, cancer and diabetes causing) foods that I gleefully consumed whilst my envious Fourth Year colleagues looked on.  Never had Pop Tarts tasted so sweet.  It still sucked that my Dad couldn't go on the hike with me (that was a whole different kind of torture) but the Pop Tarts made actual camp much more bearable.

And so this weekend, in a fit of nostalgia, I'm going to make up a batch of homemade Pop Tarts.  Being more conscientious of my health I shall probably substitute part wheat flour and I'll use jam and nutella for fillings and no glaze whatsoever, but it shall still prove a charming blast back to the past.  I may just call my Dad as well.

Hi, there.

on 29 April 2010


Well, the new digs are set up.  I'll import Burnstopia over here in another week or so, that way all of the archives will be in one place.  So for most of you, the changes are merely aesthetic.  The reason for the move is...well...it's complicated.  Suffice it to say that there's been some mighty changes this past year.  A move I resisted, the hellish residency, travels, and then...well, a fairly substantial falling out.  I found that to feel safe again I needed some relocation.

It is my nature, when I feel hurt and scared and sad, I hide.  The instinct fades as time passes, but it's necessary to obey that particular instinct if I am to continue to function in the rest of my life.

I'm hoping that with the new digs I'll feel more comfortable writing again.  It's been a hard few months.  My brain feels like a clogged drain.  So much in there and yet so unable to move any of it at all.  My friend Ellie gave me the idea for changing the blog and I'm hoping that acts as Drano on the clog and I'm able to process more.

As for now, if you need some refreshing on who we are and what we do here, browse the archives...I'm hoping to have some news for you all soon...on something, anything.  We're working on so many things over here that it would be mighty nice if something were to progress!

Insights from my CAT

on 27 April 2010

I must admit that I am a pet-person.  I think it's one of those things, either you are or you're not.  And if you're not, well that's ok.  But you may not get what I'm about to write.

See.  12 years ago I brought Leike home.  Don't blame me for the weird name, my brother named her just after he got home from his mission in Holland.  Anyway, she's was tiny, the runt of her litter, when I brought her home.  And maybe it was the rather unpleasant relationship I had just escaped from, but I absolutely freakin' loved this cat.

Anyway.  She and I have survived quite a bit together, she trekked across the country with me, sat with me as I practiced french verbs and russian declensions.  She's sat on my feet while I've written, I don't even know how many papers.  And aside from the comfort aspect of our mutual friendship, she's been giving me the occasional insight.

See, Leike is a bit deluded.  She thinks she's a mighty huntress, Queen of the Wild Outdoors, Fearsome One to Behold, Leike the Destroyer of Birds and very small Rodents!

But really, she's just an over-grown, pampered feline who doesn't know the first thing about hunting.

I was watching her yesterday.  She was rubbing my legs and pawing at the back door and HOWLING (all caps) to go outside...it was sunny and windy and there were birds a-plenty.  And I kept shushing her and reminding her that she is not quite the fearsome hunter that she thinks she is and I realized something...

What if the majority of our frustration and dissatisfaction with life is precisely for the same cause?  What if we're all delusional, we all think that we're one thing--talented and smart and pretty and special--but really, we're just quite average and ordinary?  And what would happen if we were to accept our ordinariness and admit that it's not only ok, but pretty darn fine being ordinary and moved on with our lives?  Would we be more successful?  More fun to be around?  Happier?

Or--just the same but phrased a bit differently, what if we accepted and acknowledged that everyone is talented and smart and pretty and special in their own ways--we may just not know what those ways are just yet?  What if we admired more and questioned less?  What if we started off thinking the best of people instead of assuming the worst?  What would the world look like if we actually lived like that?

For now, I'm feeling decidedly less delusional.  I'm ok being fairly ordinary.  I know certain things about myself...I'm not a fashionista, I will never have an etsy shop and while I do just fine with pets, I can't seem to keep a plant alive.  But you know what?  I know how to ask where the toilet is in 4 different languages.

Cracking up over here

on 26 April 2010

Can I just say, y'all are cracking me up!

I keep getting these emails from various and sundry of you all along the lines of, "Hey!  Remember me?  We were _________ in _________?  I wanna come to your new space too!"

You crack me up!  And yes, I remember you, all of you lovely people!  You're hard to forget, so different, so varied, so lovely.  Keep the emails coming, I didn't know that some of you were readers over here! 

And now, I must go and shift laundry.  Today I actually thought, "Why did I ever give up going to lavanderias?  I could get all 8 LOADS going at one time!"  And then I remembered that if I were to do that, I'd have to schlep everything TO the lavanderia before I could get all 8 LOADS going at the same time.  So yeah.  I LOVE my washer and dryer.

Redirection, not Misdirection--post edit

Well, hello there.

How have you been?

I'm doing pretty well.  Well, as well as can be expected all things considered.  Chris is still job hunting and thus, still Foul.  The Boy remains fabulous.  It's hot already down these parts and the bugs are out in force.  My feet look like  a connect the dot puzzle of ant, gnat, chigger whatever whatever bites.  I itch ferociously.  I have several projects going and I've given up hope of reading new books and am rereading an old favorite.  It's so restful to my mind right now and I find that that is precisely what this Spring is calling for.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Thinking about our home, our family, our life and this blog.  And how all of those things are intertwined.  And I have come to a conclusion.

I need some space.

Well, ok, that much you probably already knew.  But I think what I really need is a NEW space.  And since we know we're looking down the barrel of another move to another new place, I thought it time to create a new blog space.  Burnstopia has been good to us, but alas, it is time to bid it farewell.  I am going to try to transfer my archives over, so the record will be continuous, but it is time to start fresh.

I'm guessing it will take a bit of time for me to get everything moved over and up and running so I'm putting this up now:

If you would like to continue reading and frequenting the random and occasionally odd inner-workings of my mind and my family life, please send me an email [burnstopiaATgmailDOTcom].  I think that for a while anyway, I need the new space to be private.  It's not that I don't love the random lurker, it's just that I need to feel secure and security for Moi, always, ALWAYS equals hiding.  And so that is what I shall be doing.  For a while anyway.

EDIT:  For the record, I don't mind if we've never met.  I don't mind if you just happened upon me randomly and took up reading my blog.  You can still send me and email and be included in the love.  We're all about inclusion 'round these parts.  If you haven't commented, I just don't know who you are so I need the email to include you, yo.

I'll update here when Things start happening--when we get a job and we know where we will be geographically.  When the Boy does hilarious and endearing things.  When the occasional insight smacks me in the head and reminds me that I should probably write that down. 

Until then...

You've come to the right place

on 25 April 2010

Blurry Boy says, "You've come to the right place.  We're drinkin' some milk right about now, but I'm pretty sure M will post something sooner or later.  Until then, pass the Honey Bunnies."

A Random Collection of What's in my Head

on 20 April 2010

Hi there.

Miss me?

It's been busy busy busy here and I haven't had time to write anything cohesive but I feel bad not writing anything at all, so I thought I would just assemble this random mish-mash in my head and let y'all sort it out at your leisure.

  • I've given up my goal of reading 12 previously un-read by me books this year.  It's a hard year.  It's been a hard year.  I'm giving myself leave to reread to my heart's content this year and will try to do better next year.  That said, I'm up to my elbows in a series of novels that is less than...academic.  The first time I read them was the summer between my first and second years of grad school.  I had done the reading and prep work for the course I was to teach in the fall and had some time on my hands.  I literally laid, sat, lounged and read these books for the remaining 8 weeks of summer.  It was AWESOME.  The only problem is that when I reread them, I want to repeat the original experience and dag-nab-it but LIFE keeps getting in the way of my LOUNGING.
  • I started running again.  What they say about muscle memory is true.  I didn't do ANYTHING at ALL, all winter long, and yet, it hasn't been bad at all.    I bought the Runner's World guide for women runners and I'm doing their 6 week training plan.  It's going well.  Not sore, no injuries.  I keep telling myself that my other muscles remember running so when my heart feels like it's going to collapse in a heap, I remind it that it is also a muscle and should remember that we used to do this.
  • The Boy is getting more words here and there.  So far he says, pickle, daddy, purple, baby, chicken, bubble, peaches, whale, bye-bye, meow, and uh-oh.  He has other words that he uses for things-- goooo for pool, dat for that, buh for bird, dooo for shoes, BO for milk, choo-choo for train, geee for green,  ray-rays for raisins, ree-bees for frogs (he's going for ribbit there) and vroom for car.  He doesn't say no but rather shakes his head.  It's pretty amusing.  I keep thinking about when we went off the pill.  How freaked out I was.  And then when I got pregnant, I was scared scared scared.  And then when we brought him home and I cried and cried because I didn't know what I was doing.  And now I love him so much I can't imagine my life without him.
  • Last night the Boy and I were hanging out waiting for Chris to come home for work.  We were both sitting in a big chair and cuddling and I was amusing myself by making odd faces at the Boy and he would try to imitate them and I would laugh hysterically and then he would laugh and then we would start all over again.  Who needs TV?
  • My parents have been here this past weekend.  We had a great time!  The Boy especially.  He adores his grandparents and given how they dote and spoil him ROTTEN it's not hard to imagine why.  If they had treated me like that when I was a kid I NEVER would have left home.  But since they did NOT and I DID leave home, I have Chris and the Boy and a whole apartment full of books and a whole head full of cool but not terribly practical things I've learned.  It's a pretty fair trade.  
  • I got an email from my brother.  He's...um...abroad...for his work...and while I know where he is I'd really rather not say because I am DISCREET like that.
  • We're counting down how much time Chris has left at the hospital.  He's beyond ready to be done.  I'm ready for him to move on too.  And while I shan't miss Brunswick in the least, I shall miss my very lovely friends that I've made here.  I want to wrap them up and put them in my pockets and take them with me.  Also their adorable children who are much beloved of my Boy and I.  I was reorganizing in the Boy's closet the other day (packing up clothes which are too small for him but which fit him just FINE last summer) and I started to think about it and sat myself down and had a good cry right there.  I came here dead-set against making new friends and putting down anything resembling a root.  I wasn't going to break my heart again in saying good-bye.  And yet.  Here I am again.  I'm starting to wonder if it's just an inevitable part of human life.
  • There's nothing like a boy HOWLING at the top of his lungs at 6:30 in the morning to get you up and out of a warm cozy bed to go run at DAWN.  I had planned to laze in bed for another hour and then go for a long walk at the park with the Boy instead of running but with that HOWL, I plopped him in his father's shower and went running instead.  
  • Our anniversary is coming up and we have no plans so far.  Any suggestions?  We've talked about trying to take the weekend away...do something fun the 3 of us.  But since neither of us is planning anything what will likely happen is that we'll get Thai food for take out and watch a movie.  We are wild and crazy cats that way.
Well, I was going to try to come up with a 10th but all I can think about is the stuff that I need to get done that I'm not doing because I'm trying to come up with a 10th so I'm just off to get stuff done.

Peace out.

Welcome to Wherever You Are

on 09 April 2010

Let me tell you what it's like in our house lately:

Me:  Hey, Boy--did you poop?
The Boy:  MEOW!

Me:  Do you need a clean diaper?
The Boy:  MEOW!

Me:  Want a banana this morning?
The Boy:  MEOW!

Me:  How about some cereal and milk?
The Boy:  MMMM.  BAY-BEE!
(His cereal is Mighty Bites by Kashi and shaped like little people.)

Me:  We're going to Target this morning, wanna come too?
The Boy:  MEOW!

Me:  Hey, Where's Daddy?  (Usually when I ask this, he runs to the door and says, Bye-Bye.  It's pitiful and adorable all at the same time.)

Me:  What should we eat for dinner?  Want some leftover raviolis?
The Boy:  MEOW!!

Me:  I'm sorry, son.  We don't eat cat in this country.

Love to you all.  Have a great weekend!

Aaaaaaaaaallllll Aboard!

on 07 April 2010

I don't think it will surprise anyone when I say that I'm rather well educated. 

And yet, I routinely am forced to come to grips with the knowledge that I am woefully unprepared to be the mother of a little boy.  The mother of ANYONE other than a dead Russian writer.

My child is experiencing a fierce and requited love with Trains.  My sister gave us this great train track with magnetic train cars before we left North Carolina.  My parents are coming for a quick visit next week, so I was putting stuff away and shifting stuff around in the Boy's room (where they shall stay) and in the process I pulled out the train set. 

The Boy sat to examine it and I, deciding that I needed a break anyway, sat down with him.  I pulled out the tracks and put them together.  I lined up the cars and showed him how they fit on the track.  And yes, I completed the toy with the appropriate sound affects.


 He was utterly captivated.  He played with that train set all.day.long.  And the next day, when we went in to get him out of his crib he met us with:  "CHOO-CHOO?!"  (The Boy is speaking in all caps all the time lately.)  So, out came the train set and he chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo'd all morning long.

The problem is, I don't know much to tell him.  I know that trains transport freight and sometimes people.  I know that they're big and heavy.  I know that long, long ago they were the primary means of long distance transport, but much beyond that...

I have no idea what the different people do who work on trains.  I don't know what the different cars are called, or where they go and why they go by train and not truck or plane or whatever else.  I find myself contemplating a visit to Wikipedia to look up Trains and try to inform myself in the most rudimentary way.  I have no idea if my child will even CARE.  He seems relatively content with his chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo-ing, but surely, I should be making it a more enriching activity than just chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo-ing, right?

This awakening to my own ignorance has led me to wonder, what else am I going to end up learning about as my Boy grows?  Space?  Dinosaurs?  Construction vehicles?  Legos?  Heaven and Earth forbid, SPORTS

And as my mind reels over this plethora of topics of which I know nothing about, I think about what my friends who are mothers of daughters have to learn about...

And I think that no matter who you mother, it's a whole world of new stuff you have to learn.

Easter Morning RAY-RAYS

on 05 April 2010


Did you have a Happy Easter? (Eleanor, did you have a good Passover?  I never know if it should be a Happy Passover or just a Good one.  I know the story so I generally opt for Good over Happy but if I'm wrong, correct me, please.)

We did.

It was quiet, Chris was on-call with the hospital so we were home by ourselves all weekend.  It was also our conference weekend so I made some wheat cinnamon rolls and we lounged around listening to the general authorities speak.  Well, I listened.  The Boy napped or colored or played and Chris dozed through most of it.  He's not feeling so hot lately.

And then, what do you know?  Easter dawned.  It was sunny and cool with the sure knowledge of heating up as the day goes on.  I had made the Boy an Easter basket, a little blue and white striped crocheted number and filled it with yellow shredded paper and plastic Easter eggs full of his favorite snackies--different cereals and his beloved raisins.

Which brings me to my point.  I'm not sure if he just came here like this, or if it's something in his genetic make up, or if I did something right somewhere back in the cloudy beginning of his infancy that I can no longer remember, but I have the sweetest child known to man.

He's starting to talk more, and he has his own words for things.  Most of the time it's vaguely related to that actual word for things, for example, when he says BEEE  he really means BEANS.  And when he asks for RAY-RAYS, with a big smile and squinty eyes, you know he wants more raisins.  It's not an exclamation point time of request, it's soft and sweet and chewy and filled with adoration for those shriveled little would-be fruits.  He absolutely LOVES them.  (This is all a complete mystery to me because I HATE raisins, but I keep them around and dole them out like crack to my child because, lo, he loves them with a love that will not end.)

Anyway, bringing this back to our sunny and deliciously cool Easter morning.  He had popped open and discovered all of his Easter treats and they were all combined in a snack cup with a LID so that I didn't end up running mad from Easter Treats trailed through the apartment.  We were happily sitting in our "sun room" watching the birds and eating our breakfast (mine was leftover cinnamon roll and his was his Snack Cup of Goodness), and I asked him, you know--casually, if Leike (our beloved and AGED cat) would like some raisins.  Now, the Boy loves his RAY-RAYS so much that to share them is a difficult thing.  But he stood up and toddled over to her cat post where she sat surveying her vast kingdom and principalities and he stretched up on his tippy-toes, reached his hand with his beloved RAY-RAYS up to Leike and smiled and said:


Leike passed on the RAY-RAYS.  But she enjoyed watching him all morning long.  As did I.  I am humbled by how often he teaches me.  How to have fun, how to let go, how to laugh at myself and the silliness of life, how to sit and enjoy a quiet morning rather than hurrying to get stuff done.  And most of all he teaches me the sweetness of simple things.

Now.  You go and spread your own RAY-RAYS.

The Life of Henry Brulard

on 02 April 2010

I don't know what I am: kind, unkind, clever, stupid. What I know beyond question are the things that give me pain or pleasure, that I wish for or that I hate.

  •  Stendhal