200 years of Elizabeth Gaskell

on 29 September 2010

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth Gaskell.  And since she's one of my all time favorite writers I thought that I would jot down some thoughts and inspire all of you to pick her up and give her a read.

I read this extraordinary biography of her last year in Brunswick, called a Habit of Stories.  It talked about how she had this life that was at once very ordinary and NOT ordinary at all.  Her mother died when she was very young and she was raised by these very loving aunts.  Because she was Unitarian, she was surrounded by very well educated, progressive thinking people.  She later married a Unitarian. 

She did all the things a good, upstanding, middle-class housewife does in the mid-nineteenth century.  She bore and cared for her children, she organized and ran her household, she supported her husband as a minister, she gave to the poor and the needy, she read and educated herself.  And when her young son died at just 10 months old, she dug herself out of her grief by writing.

One of the things I love about Gaskell is that she never really LOVED writing.  She was very good at it.  But she did it more because a story kept poking at her to be told and not because she genuinely loved the act of writing.  In some of her letters she seems almost annoyed that she has to devote so much time to writing this confounded book or another.  It's quite funny but also not.

She worried compulsively about her daughters.  She wanted them happy above all.  She didn't care if they married or not so long as they were content.  She tried to provide a variety of opportunities for them, for education, for travel and for interaction with a wide circle of people. 

She wasn't the kind of self-righteous, hypocritical "preacher's wife" that one almost comes to expect in the 19th century.  She was interested in practical Christianity, in using the way one lived one's life to define the scope of their religious belief.  Of using our choices and our actions to proclaim our faith.  She didn't let societal conventions stop her from doing something she knew to be right.

But most of all she was interested in living her life to the fullest.  The happy and the sad.  She didn't want to shrink from any of it.  She didn't gloss over or edit out the seamier, seedier, shiftier, shadier parts of life.  She seemed to create this bounty around her and you really see that in her novels.  They burst beyond the two dimensional page into a fullness of flowers and landscape, of emotions and intuitions, of fully developed and complicated people.

She's absolutely wonderful.  Now go and read one of her books today.

Help! and Hmmmm.

on 27 September 2010

I'm not sure where he got it from, but apparently there is a book that we read to the Boy where one of the characters cries for HELP and then says, "Hmmmm."  It's the Boy's favorite catchphrase lately and I find it particularly appropriate today.

I am back in the office today.  Well, this morning.

Chris will be bringing the Boy to me at noon, at which point he will trot off to an interview at the hospital and I will take the Boy home for lunch and a nap.

It promises to be a strange day.

We're excited.  Within reason.  The position is a project manager.  And it's a literal project manager which means it's temporary and also only part-time.  BUT, and this is a hefty but it means working with the hospital Chief of Staff and the heads of ALL the medical departments.  Those are all good people to know.  They are all good people to work with and for and to impress. 

Chris has another interview tentatively slated for a week from now with another organization.

So here's my question for you:  If you had two opportunities, 1) with an organization you know and love and trust, in an area you really love, but it was only part-time and temporary--would you take it with the hope and faith that something full-time and permanent would come of it? Or 2) an opportunity with an organization you know very little of, but full time and permanent, but likely requiring relocation in a year--what would you choose?

I feel like it's a choice of short-term or long-term.  I think the short-term would be benefited by taking the full-time permanent job.  It would give us an immediate reprieve, health insurance etc.  But I'm not sure it would help Chris' career in the long-term.  And I, for one, don't really want to move again in a year.  I think the part-time job has more potential to become a foot in the door in a really great organization and give us the opportunity to really settle here for a while.  But there's no guarantee.  And this is all, you know, putting the cart before the horse so to speak.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, it's a bit of a strange day.  With a good chance of strangeness all week long!  Fun for you fine folks, eh?


on 24 September 2010

It's been a while since I wrote about books.  Well, I wrote about the Boy's books...but I mean books for ME.  And it's not because I'm not reading.  I'm ALWAYS reading something.  But since we moved, things haven't quite settled down so I've been rereading.  I started rereading Wives and Daughters which is a go-to comfort novel.

And then the Boy and I started going to the library to supplement his books.  We picked up all of the Thomas and Friends books and the Henry and Mudge books and then Mr. Putter and Tabby and some more books by Judith Viorst.  And I picked up Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, who is a big favorite of mine. 

He says himself that it's not a straightforward book about vegetarianism.  He's more interested in why we eat what we eat.  And then he writes extensively (and impeccably researched) about how animals are raised in this country for food.  His stories about his grandmother's escape from the Nazis is particularly lovely.

And finally I am rereading My Name is Asher Lev.  I love the Asher Lev books more than I can say in a pitiful little blog post.  I read them for the first time when I was pregnant and every time I reread them they make me want to be a better mother, a better wife, a better human being.  To use the gifts God gives us, even when they don't feel like gifts. 

And with that introduction, I'm going to mine you all for book ideas.  What are you reading right now?  Read anything good lately?

Life with Boy

on 22 September 2010

My Friend Sarah is with child.  I don't know what she's having yet beyond a human baby.  I don't know if she knows what she's having yet.

My brother and his wife have only girls.  Four lovely little girls.

And so for all my friends and sisters out there who live their life with other girls, you may not know what life with Boy is like.  And since I've run short on blogging steam, I thought I'd show you.

They can't resist buttons.  If, for example, you leave your camera unattended on your desk, they will walk right up to it and begin by pushing buttons and end by taking a series of strange pictures of themselves.

Your bathroom will become a dinosaur breeding habitat, complete with cosmic swamp.  They will insist on calling these prehistoric newbies by people names.  For example, the chubby one up front my Boy has named "Heavy."  The one in the back on the right he calls, "Tim!"  It's every bit as funny as you might imagine.

Boys prefer to eat right out of the container.  It saves on dishes and just tastes better.  They will also insist on eating YOUR food.  It doesn't matter if the EXACT same thing is on their plate, they will reject it entirely for the same food on YOUR plate.

And one last thing.  If you ask them for a kiss, this is the face you'll see coming at you:

Sunday Morning

on 20 September 2010

We don't go to church until late in the afternoon.

It makes Sunday mornings problematic.  Some Sundays look like this:

We lounge in pajamas.  We hang out.  The Boy imports cars on to my desk.  We sip some fizzy drinks and chat.

Other Sunday mornings look like this:

We can't seem to get motivated beyond the Bed.  We attempt to get up and get going and yet, we collapse back down.  The Cats seem to have their own gravitational force and we are not quite strong enough to escape from it.

And still other Sundays look a lot like this:

A father-son jam in the bedroom floor.

As for my Sunday mornings?  I make breakfast and hang with the band.

The End of Summer

on 13 September 2010

Hey, remember my whole updating streak?  Yeah, I guess that was nice while it lasted.


A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call.

From one of my former colleagues.

He was the one who called me in Georgia to ask if I would be interested in coming back up here to work for him full-time.

I was interested in coming back here, but not so much in going back to work full-time.

Anyway, so he called me.  Turns out the assistant to the chair of the department is leaving and he wondered if I was interested in the position.

Not so much.

But Chris is out of work and I am interested in being able to continue to, you know, live indoors and well, eat.  So I listen while he tells me all the stuff going on in the department and I suggest that I might be able to come back PART-TIME and TEMPORARY until Chris gets a full time job.  So he runs it by the business manager who calls me first thing in the morning (not really who I wanted to talk to first thing in the morning, but whatever).  Anyway, so he tries to talk me in to coming back permanently and full time and I repeatedly said no, not interested.  I LIKE staying home.  I like making our home.  And it's taken me long enough to learn to like those things, I don't want to have to unlearn it.

Anyway, suffice it to say we reached an agreement and I'll be back in the workplace from 8am to noon, Monday through Friday.  Until Chris gets a job or until they hire a full-time-permanent replacement.


I'm sort of giving myself some lee way on the whole updating frequently goal.  I'm also sort of hoping to get some good workplace stories for you all.  In the meantime I'm knitting lots of socks for my boy for the winter.  I've already stocked his drawers with long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Chris is still hunting and applying for lots of jobs.  He's making calls and trying to network and I'm trying to be a laid-back and encouraging wife. 

I should probably finish this up.  The Boy is hugging the life out of Agnes and she's starting to make some alarming noises.


Well, that was a family marathon of a weekend.

My sister Sherry--her in-laws came in to town on Wednesday, and then our sister Susie came in on Thursday and then our sister-in-law came in on Friday.  So Friday night we all gathered at the temple and it was amazing!

Then Saturday was my nephew (Sherry's youngest) Joshua's baptism which was lovely, and then we took a break and then met my sisters over at my other nephew's (Matthew) football game.  Let me tell you how hilarious the Boy was through all of this.  He's learning his cousin's names so he can just demand who he wants.  He sat on my lap in the bleachers and I would point out Bubba (much to Matthew's dismay, this nickname isn't going anywhere) and explain to the Boy that Bubba was playing football.  And the Boy would say "Bubba-Football" and then when we would yell and cheer good plays he would throw his hands in the hair and say "GOOOOOAAAAAL!"  It was 477 shades of AWESOME.

At half-time we packed up Susie and her 3rd daughter, 4th child Mae (May-ah, short for Maekalia) and drove down to my parents' house.  We gathered up the folks and went out to dinner to celebrate my mom's birthday.  We crowded 'round the table at a local Panera and ate and talked and told stories and laughed and Susie fed my child high fructose corn syrup and I let her because as I get older I'm starting to learn how to let other people love my child they way they want to.

We drove home (very late) and put the Boy to bed (very late) and went to bed ourselves (very late) and then decided to sleep very late on Sunday morning. 

Sherry doesn't go to church until 1:45 which is alarmingly late in the day, so we hung out and rested and had some down time until it was time to head over to her building.  Her oldest (William) is leaving for his mission in 2 weeks and so yesterday was the last time he was going to speak in church.  It was strange and wonderful to be all together during church.  The Boy fell asleep on top of me, turning us both into sweaty messes.

We headed back to Sherry's house to load up the food for William's farewell party (he had invited a ton of friends in addition to family to come and eat and chat and hug and say "See you later, tater.") and then say good-bye.  Susie and Mae are returning home today, I'm pretty sure my sister's in-laws are also heading home today.

I was hugging Susie and saying bye and it just made me so sad that we can't live closer all together.  It's so fun to get together and chat and tell stories and laugh.  I'm so lucky in my sisters.  They are smart and funny and wise.  They're strong and tough and resilient.  They're brave and selfless mothers.  I couldn't have asked for better.

Taking it Back

on 11 September 2010

My sister and I have a mutual displeasure with September 11th.  She was living in New Jersey at the time and could see the plumes of smoke from the towers as she picked up her son from pre-school.  Needless to say, it was a strange day in our family.

This year, she looked at me across her kitchen table and said, "We're taking it BACK.  We're reclaiming this day for happy memories."

And she's stuck to it.  Her youngest son, my nephew Joshua is being baptized today.  Her house is filled to bursting with family, our other lovely sister is in town for the festivities and we're all feeling a good deal happier this year.

I can't imagine that this day will ever pass that we don't think of the innocent lives lost or the violence that we all witnessed.  The people who have gaping couldas and shouldas and wouldas in their lives.  And those many, many service men and women who have sacrificed their time, their skills and frequently their lives to prevent such violence from happening again.  But after 9 years, it feels good to sit across from my sister and have her say, "We're taking it BACK."

Children's Lit and other pitfalls

on 10 September 2010

My friend Sarah, after long years of trying, is with child.  I'm happy to bursting.  She's a fellow comp. lit. graduate and so I wanted to take a moment to share some of my strong but otherwise superfluous opinions about children's books for her so that she can get her library in order.

Board Books

Good Stuff:

There's a lot of good stuff out there.  For board books I love Sandra Boynton, you can't go wrong with anything she writes or records (she does MUSIC people!  Kids music that doesn't make you want to bang your head against the wall!).  And Eric Carle is the other standard in our house, the Boy went through an absolute obsession with the Very Hungry Caterpiller and he's also thoroughly loved the Very First Book of...series.  There's the Very First Book of Shapes, Colors and Numbers, I think.  He likes them all.  We also deeply love Tommie de Paola here.  He does a lot of old nursery rhymes and children's poetry.

Not so Good Stuff:

The Baby Einstein stuff drives me crazy.  I don't believe in television for BABIES for crying out loud.  That's why they have PARENTS.  And even the Baby Einstein books make me crazy.  The Boy was given a box of alphabet books made by Baby Einstein and I LOATHE them.  But he loves them and so they're the one book I let him use and abuse at will.  He's bent them and built towers with them and chewed them and I cheerfully look forward to the day when I can dump the whole mess of them in recycling.

Other than Board Book--Picture Books:

Good Stuff:

The thing that makes me sad about picture books is that most authors seem to be a little inconsistent.  I found this wonderful book called Tim and the Blanket Thief by Jim Prater at the library, but when I went back and checked out more Jim Prater books they were AWFUL.  So picture books can sometimes be hit or miss.  You can't go wrong with Dr. Seuss unless it's wrong by age.  The Boy LOVES Go, Dog, Go!  And the ABC book but still doesn't have the time of day for the Cat in the Hat.  He loves the Little Red Hen and Corduroy and the Big Hungry Bear and the Wishing of Biddy Malone and there's a series of books Mr. Happy, Mr. Funny, Mr. Grumpy by Roger Hargreaves that we LOVE--they're funny and whimsical.  We also deeply love the Thomas the Tank Engine series.  They're wonderful books, and they teach the value of hard work, cleanliness, honesty, cheerfulness and obedience.  I LOVE them. 

Not so Good Stuff:

He was starting an obsession with Curious George but I've nipped that one in the bud.  I HATE Curious George and I'll tell you why--this dumb little chimp (that they PERSIST in calling a monkey) is routinely disobedient, causes chaos and wreckage and instead of being PUNISHED he's REWARDED!  HATE HATE HATE.  So I pulled all of the Curious George books that we had (some bought and some were given) and I gave them to Goodwill.  I'm sure there are other mothers out there who don't think this is a big deal.  I'm also not a huge fan of books based off of movies.  I made the mistake of buying him these two books that are basically a dumbed down and illustrated re-telling of Cars (for he LOVES the movie), but they are just dumb.  dumb. dumb.  And I'm wishing for my $10 back.  I also have a deep and serious loathing of books that require a lot of sound affects.  My sister, in a fit of HATING us, gave us an Old MacDonald had a Farm book and I REFUSE to read it to him.  The Boy loves it, so it's a daddy-book.  I have NEVER understood the love affair with Where the Wild Things Are.  I don't get it.  Thus, I don't care about it.

Other than Picture Books--young readers:

Technically, the Boy isn't a young reader yet, but he wants to read longer than picture books.  So we've started reading the Henry and Mudge books and we LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  We've also started Days with Frog and Toad which we also really like.  I've also found that the Boy loves poetry--there's something with the rhythm that he really enjoys.  My sister gave us Hail Stones and Halibut Bones which is so much a favorite that I have most of the poems memorized.  We also deeply love a Family of Poems by Caroline Kennedy.  I keep trying to read Shel Silverstein to him, having loved his books much as a child myself, but so far the Boy isn't going for it.

Anyway, there's not much point to this post, but to give you a jumping off point for a library for your future tot.  I was super lucky in that my sister gave me a TON of books that her kids had out-grown.  And what she didn't give me, she told me about.

One last word on reading to your child.  All of the hoity-toity parenting books talk a lot about reading to your child from the very beginning and I agree with that.  But maybe not for the reasons they would give you.  Here's the thing.  I got home with the Boy and had NO IDEA what to do with him!  I knew that I needed to cuddle him and feed him and keep him clean, but beyond that...I was at a loss.  And when in doubt, I generally fall back to books.  So I read to him.  A LOT.  But not cheezy, hokey kids books.  I read him Dickens.  Austen.  Gaskell.  Shakespeare.  I kept a small stash of books that I really loved and found comforting at every spot in our apartment where I stopped to nurse him or comfort him and when I was tired and frustrated and at a total loss, I picked one up and read to him from it.  It calmed us both down, it was soothing and reassuring and he loved just listening to the sound of my voice.  So, when you get down to the last few weeks of your pregnancy, go through your books.  Make small piles of 2-3 books and stash them next to couch or chair, on a shelf near a rocking chair, in your bedside table and when you're so tired you think your going to melt into a puddle of goo and you just can't go on, pull one out and open at random and read aloud to your wee babe.  It will comfort you both.

I'm beyond over-the-moon happy for you two.  Your life is about to change beyond recognition, but it's also about to get sweeter and more beautiful than you knew it could be.

A Very Burnstopia Birthday

on 09 September 2010

A big shout-out to my Mom today!  It's her birthday and boy, are we ever glad she was born!

Happy Birthday, MOM!

I thought for your birthday, we'd all sit quietly for a moment and contemplate what you've unleashed on the world!  Fourteen goofy grands and counting.

An Incident involving scissors

on 08 September 2010

Some of you may have noticed from the video posted on Monday that my child's head is buzzed.

If you ask the Boy, "What happened to your hair?"   He will tell you quite honestly, "SCISSORS!"

Now, some of you may be thinking that the Boy some how got a hold of the scissors and cut his own hair.  This thought is not the most correct you have ever been.  This time last week I came the realization that cutting hair is just NOT in my skill set.  I wish that it was.  It's an incredibly useful skill to possess, it's just not one of mine.


I GIVE UP, OK?!  I can tell you when to use Who and when to use Whom, I can make cupcakes that feel like pillowy clouds in your mouth, I can ask where the toilet is in 4 languages but I can't cut my child's hair!  And I quit!  I give up!  I can't do it!  And so my child shall have long shaggy hair or else I shall pay QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS from here on out.


It feels good to get that off my chest.

Now, back to the story of what happened to my child's head.

Before we moved, I sat the Boy on the kitchen counter and snip-snip-snipped the shaggy ends of his wispy hair until it was no longer hanging over his ears.  And it turned out FINE.  And so, the story I am about to relate becomes a morality tale of how PRIDE cometh before the FALL.

I knew that distraction was the key.  So I put on Return of the Jedi.  (What?  I thought he'd like the ee-woks.)  I got out the office chair and let it up to it's full height.  I got him situated with the scissors and the comb and I set to work.  It started off just fine...he was distracted by the movie and I was snip-snip-snipping along.  And then he MOVED and I took out too much.  So then I had to compensate and try to even things up.  And then he moved AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  And now suddenly my child looks like this:

only WORSE.  Shorter!  And Blonder!  And it was just so many shades of HORRIFIC  that even thinking about it makes me want to CRY.

So we got him in the bath tub and Chris took the scissors and was trying, TRYING to fix it.  And he looked at me and I looked at him and he said, "Bring me the clippers."  So we buzzed it.

And his poor head!  His poor fuzzy head!  It misses it's hair.  And HE misses his hair!  And now instead of looking like my darling child he looks like some Dickensian street URCHIN!

Ok, so even as a Dickensian street urchin, he's still pretty cute.

We've been eating a lot of cookies and reminding ourselves that it'll grow back-- it'll grow back-- it'll grow back-- it'll grow back-- it'll grow back.


on 06 September 2010

It should come as no surprise to you all that Bittersweet is my favorite emotion.  Or as the Boy says it "HAPPYSAD!"

(Everything he says lately is said in ALL CAPS!  It's quite funny, especially at nap times and bed times when he's tired and wants to still be speaking in ALL CAPS! but doesn't quite have the energy for it, so that what he lacks in volume he makes up for in exclamation points.)

I wanted to take a moment to record here some of the things that he says and that we absolutely LOVE...it's partly for your entertainment, I am nothing if not conscientious of my audience, but also partly for the record.

Please observe:

So...he wouldn't say everything I wanted, but you get the general idea.

And yes, Helicopter is my current favorite word...it's half chicken sound, half helicopter--imagine BEG-OK-COPTER!  And now imagine that he pulls down every book he owns and goes in search of helicopters to show me a BEG-OK-COPTER!  And you have me almost at my happiest.

137 times a day we hear PEESE HEP!  Because he can't get up onto a chair or because he's up and can't get down.  Because he can't carry all of his cars AND his blanket at once.  Because he needs more water or a book read or a toy out of the closet or any number of things.  It's the ever so polite PEESE that cracks me up.

Everything from the surprising to the catastrophic gets an OH NOOOO!  And I mean everything.  The big crash at the end of Cars--OH NOOOO!  Drops a cookie on the floor--OH NOOOOO!  One of the cats is playing with a sparkly--OH NOOOO!  It's all shades of AWESOME.  Which, speaking of AWESOME--it's one of those words that just popped up out of nowhere.  Right along side of OKAY (which sounds more like AH-KAY!) 

(I guess what makes all of this so funny is that Chris and I are hearing the words we say all the time but in a totally different tone and context.  I'll be muttering to myself as I work through a To Do list and say "Right.  Okay.  What's next?"  And the Boy will be puttering along with his cars and his books and start up a chant of AH-KAY! AH-KAY! AH-KAY!  It cracks us up.)

We go to the library a lot here--there are several and they're BIG so when we go it's a windfall.  Last time I brought home about 20 Henry and Mudge books and 4 or 5 Thomas the Tank Engine books.  In one of them Percy the Engine crashes into a candy factory and gets covered in chocolate and it's his favorite part.  So he picks up the book and brings it to me chanting CHA-CA-LATE-OH NO!-YUCK!  It defies description.

Chris' favorite phrase of the Boy's is still PIECE O' PIE!  My mom is a divine pie maker and she's been keeping us in peach pie since we moved back and the Boy, I'm telling you, he can sniff sniff sniff it out and he will hunt you down and look up at you with his big brown eyes and smile and say, "PIECE O' PIE?!"  Until you give in and give it to him.

It's going so fast.  He's loosing all of this charming Beginner-Talk and sounding more and more like a proper English Speaking child.  I find myself wishing that I could push pause and keep him here for just a while longer.

I wish that I could put this part of him in my pocket and keep it with me always.  I wish that I was the kind of mom who could just enjoy it and then when it's gone let it go, but I fear that I'm not.  I enjoy it, I love it, I laugh, I hug, I tickle but then this tinge of a sting creeps in when I realize that I only have right now.  He will still grow up one day.  He will grow up and away and all of that is as it should be.  But it still makes me sad, for I am greedy.  I would wish that I could keep him forever just as he is.  But that's stasis, it's the unhealthiest of unhealthy states.  And so, while it makes me sad, I also want him to grow, to explore, to live.

Which means, I suppose, that I'm perpetually stuck between HAPPY and SAD.

Fighting Fear

on 03 September 2010

Years ago in Athens, Chris and I lived in this apartment.  It was a great apartment, spacious and right in the middle of everything.  The drawback was that, being in the middle of everything, it tended to attract some less than savory characters.

Like our upstairs neighbors.

These were the guys who went out drinking until 2am and came home only to get into a violent altercation with one another.  Resulting in one roommate moving out and the other being evicted (because of our repeated complaints) shortly thereafter.

I say "our" complaints loosely.  See, it was more like I complained to Chris and then Chris complained to the neighbors, and when that didn't work we called the police, and when that didn't work we called the leasing agent.  THAT worked.  But usually it was Chris.  I was FAR to big of a chicken to do any of the actual on-the-spot talking.

Imagine if you will, that time has passed.  We no longer live in Athens, we live in North Carolina.  It's not our upstairs neighbors (though, what they're doing up there is a mystery to me) it's our next door neighbors.  It's Friday night.  And I try to be patient but when the music is vibrating MY walls, and my child is restless and my Man is asleep.  Well.  I had no choice.

I must say, motherhood works mighty miracles on the character of a woman.  I never would have imagined myself bold enough to pound on a stranger's door and calmly ask them to turn their music down because my child is sleeping on the other side of their wall and it's vibrating the whole of the downstairs structure.  And yes, I'm a bit proud of myself.  (Though I will confess to praying fervently that our next door neighbors aren't axe wielding psychopaths.)

And you know, he was really decent.  Not mean or rude in any way.  He seemed surprised, I think it wasn't quite so loud to him as it is to us.  I didn't explain that my knocking on his door and making that simple request is a big fat grown-up moment for me.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but if we didn't have the Boy, I probably would have woken Chris up and demanded that he go over there and tell them to turn it down.  And Chris probably would have.  He would have said I was completely crazy, and he would have grumbled about having to go next door because his wife can't have a conversation with a STRANGER, but he still would have done it.

What it says

on 01 September 2010

I read quite a few blogs.

Not as many as I used to read because I periodically get fidgety with the amount of time spent on the internet and all the other things I could accomplish if I just spent LESS time on the internet.  And I don't read them every day...I have a few (3 to be specific) that I check every morning, the others I look in on once or twice a week.

Today was one of those days when I was reading a blog of a woman I know of but don't know particularly well.  And I was marveling at how her house is always perfect, she gardens and travels and her kids are always well dressed and she makes the amazing meals and hosts these fabulous parties and photographs all of it. 

Of course, it doesn't help that this has been a discouraging/depressing couple of weeks.  But I found myself shaking my head and asking why I don't do more stuff like that.  And wondering if THAT--all of that fancy-pantsyness is what really defines us, and makes us some how worthy of respect or attention or love or whatever you want to call it.

And, are you ready for it?  Here's my big conclusion.


Because what we put on our blogs or facebook is like the clothing we choose to wear.  It's just advertising.  It's sign-age.  It's the statement of what we want Everyone Else to believe about US.  It's not necessarily a true statement of who we are as people, because--and let's be honest here--how many of us can narrow down who we are as people to fit the parameters of a BLOG?  It's just not possible. 

And there is a part of me that wishes that my house were cuter or bigger.  That my life were more creative and filled with adorable little things that everyone would love.  That I threw big, fancy dinner parties and had a million friends.  But people, and I can't emphasize this enough, that's not ME.  Which is probably why I wish for them but don't actually HAVE them.  When you boil M down to the bones there is nothing there that would have a fancy, artsy house or dinner party.  You know what you find when you come here?  Comfort.  Books.  Conversation.  Relaxing music and baked goods.  And usually a million toy cars strung from one end of the living room to the other.  And cat fur--EVERYWHERE. 

I might wish for more prettiness in my life.  I might wish for things that I don't have.  But I also wish for more than 24 hours in a day and for the ability to switch life into slow motion to enjoy it more fully, I wish I could press pause in the Boy's life to make a particular phase last a little longer.  I wish I could stop aging and just stay this age for a good long while.  Which means that I guess I save my wishing for things that are totally and unequivocally impossible.