Welcome to the Hypocrisy Blog!

on 31 May 2011

I was checking blogs this morning and there's a popular one that I read and I was feeling slightly annoyed because the blogger doesn't update very often anymore.  I caught myself thinking, "Why doesn't she write more?  What can she be doing?!"

And then I remembered that I too keep a blog, or should I say, "keep"?  And that it has been growing dusty of late.

Sorry about that.

I blame the heat of summer for my intense desire to hibernate right now.  I've sunk to new lows on the Hermit Scale, I don't even open my blinds anymore.    I do not go to parks with the Boy.  We do not even go to the pool, for I am very aware of the fact that I haven't worked out in a long while and my skin has grown white like a vampire's.  I don't cook much, I asked Chris to buy us bread at Costco the last time he was there and he asked if that meant the end of baking season and I declared it was so.

Speaking of Chris, he's been gone all weekend long.  He went down to Savannah for his annual get together with all of his friends at the beach house.  He's on his way home right now.  I think he had a mostly splendid time, but I know that I for sure will be glad when he's home.  For I have missed him.

And the Boy?  He's just grand.  He's started this new thing that is pretty much the sweetest thing in all the world.  When he's doing something that's not nice and I want to deter him without actual punishment (you know, some things want checking but don't warrant actual punishment), I make a very sad face and tell him that it's not nice.  He looks at me and says, "NO MAMA!  NO MAMA SAD!"  And comes up and presses his hands on my face so that the sad face will go away.  It's so cute that the first time he did it, I cried a little.  Anyway, I have declared June 1st the start of our Little School here in Burnstopia.  Which means that I get to spend today working on preparations for the next couple of weeks.

And me?  Well, I've had approximately zero motivation to work on my knitting.  I have instead been re-reading the Lord of the Rings and remembering what a lovely book it is.  It's also making me sorely miss my friends.  Otherwise, we've been doing the usual round of chores and books, church and family and friends.  I'm starting to think that we live in (quite possibly) the spider-iest apartment in all of North Carolina.  Chris and I have been talking about moving again...trying to decide if we have enough saved to try to buy a house, or if we want to do a short-term lease and then try to buy in the Spring.   I would guess that we'll do the latter...for we are very cautious when it comes to signing our life away and I can't imagine that we'll find something we LOVE and actually make the decision to purchase it in the next 5 months.  We're looking, but not seriously.  Not yet.

And now, I shall try to resolve myself to write more, if only so that I can complain about how no one posts regularly anymore!  And here's some gratuitous pictures of my adorable child from this very morning.

Adventure: IKEA!: FAIL

on 23 May 2011

The Boy and I are reading the Hobbit together.  More correctly, I am reading the Hobbit to him and he loves it.  I don't think he gets it, but it does my Tolkien-loving heart good to hear him cry out, "Mama!  Read Hobbit!  Read Hobbit, Mama!"

So after the first couple of pages the Boy started asking when WE were going on an Adventure.  To the extent of informing me that, "Mama like Gandalf!  Daddy like Bilbo!  Boy go on an ADVENTURE!"

*****

The Boy, understandably, loves his books.  But his love means that his books are scattered willy-nilly all over my house.  The chaos is making me a little crazy.  So I've been wanting to get a bookshelf for his room to centralize and organize his books.  Also, so that when he pulls them down in search of his favorites or just for a morning's entertainment, I can blissfully ignore the mess because it's in HIS room, not the middle of the living room.

The need for a bookshelf meant that we really needed to go to Ikea.  So when the Boy began asking for an Adventure, I, like a crazy woman, thought, "Hey!  Let's drive down to Ikea!"

The adventure was proposed by me and happily accepted by Chris and so we set off for Ikea last Saturday morning.

*****

Now, the closest Ikea to us is about 2 hours away.  But since Chris and I had missed seeing each other for a week while I was in Virginia and then he's been working like a crazy man, so we were actually looking forward to 4 hours in the car together to just talk and tell stories and make each other laugh.  And the day started so promising, the weather was lovely, the drive was beautiful, Chris had some crazy stories from the operating rooms for me, the Boy was perfectly happy with his Adventure.  And Ikea is always fun for us.

(I have a deep and abiding love for plain, simple, functional furniture and storage ideas.  And since my whole living room is wall to wall Billy bookcases, Ikea is a very comfortable place for me.)

*****

So we got there, we walked around and sighed a lot about how much we loved this couch or that room idea, or oooh, that pretty-pretty rug.  We found an adorable chair just the right size for the Boy but we passed on it.  We found the shelves we came for, and then we were walking through the kids' area and had the brilliant idea to see if they had a mattress for our toddler bed.

(Remember the toddler bed we bought in Brunswick?)


(We've never been able to find a mattress to fit it.  It's the same length as a crib mattress but it's WIDER than a crib mattress, but not AS WIDE as a twin mattress.  I'm telling you...it's been an enormous hassle to find a mattress for this hunk of oak.)

So we're walking around Ikea and I happen upon a toddler bed and I notice that the mattress is WIDER than a crib mattress!  And automatically Chris and I think we've struck GOLD.  We're so excited.  Never mind that neither of us had the actual measurements for the bed on our person or IN our heads.  But we're both pretty spatial, so we just go ahead and buy the mattress anyway.

*****

I suppose it was hubris.  We deserved it...we were so cocky assuming we knew the size and shape of this particular bed that we have now lugged north.

We got the mattress home and laid it on the bed and it's about 4 inches TOO WIDE.  I could have cried.  Seriously.  So we spent the weekend debating what to do about the da** bed and now the mattress that needs to go BACK to Ikea (if they'll take it back, it's not used, but we had to take it out of the plastic to get it in the car).

*****

But the adventure part was fun and the bookshelf is assembled and looking neat and orderly and beautiful.  Anyone want to make a bet as to how long that will last?

Per Request: LDSEHE

on 19 May 2011

Ok.

Since you asked, here's a bit more information on LDSEHE.  Bear in mind that this is the only year I've ever gone...so my perspective may not be the most objective.

The website declares that they're a community of Latter-day Saint home-educators that are seeking to support and inspire each other.  My sister describes it as a bunch of home-schooling moms who are just trying to help each other.  The other component is that it provides a distinct community (via a youth conference) for home-schooled kids.

I think all of these things are GOOD things.  While I haven't seen it for myself (yet), I think the theory is good that home-schooled kids need to be around other home-schooled kids so that they see that they're not alone, they're not freaks, they're just a few of many who are all home-schooled too.  Again, I've seen my sister go from being burnt out to being excited to try new things post-conferences.  So I think it's a great thing that they're trying to do.

That said...I don't think I've ever seen so many Alpha-Moms gathered in one place.  It was moderately scary, not being an Alpha-Mom myself...that first day I had an abject fear of being eaten alive.  The fear receded a bit after I taught, but I remained aware of the Alpha-Moms and made an effort to avoid them at all costs.

That said, I met some seriously awesome women.  Benta, who is my age (well, 2 years older than me) and has ELEVEN (11!) children and home-schools them ALL!  And Melissa and Katie who (along with my sister) help to organize and run the conferences.  I think what was most encouraging was seeing that there are home-schooling families EVERYWHERE.  There were several families who had driven down from Quebec, New York, Massachusetts,  and many families from Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina and Florida.

For someone who cordially dislikes confrontation, I have to admit that there are few people MORE opinionated than home-schoolers (it's not a bad thing, it just is what it is), and I have to admit that I have my own opinions as well.  It's hard to remain polite when you're faced with someone who home-schools differently from you and seems convinced that everyone in the world is WRONG unless they home-school their way.  I think this attitude is the most frustrating for me.  Part of what is so appealing about home-schooling is the choice that is affords.   I like the freedom of being able to choose what is best for my family and I respect that others have that same freedom.  So I find myself resentful of people who are attempting to limit that freedom--even when they're fellow home-schoolers.

The other point that I found frustrating is how often home-schoolers remain bound by public-school paradigms.  And here's where it gets personal.  For a variety of reasons, I have decided to start a phonics program with the Boy...probably some time this summer. 

(I know what you're all thinking, "He's only THREE!  He's too young!  It's too much pressure!  Just let him be little!"  Do you really think that I, as his Mother, haven't thought those same things?  I have.  But I'm not going to miss the opportunity to let him progress at his own pace.  I've asked a variety of people whom I trust and they all concur that he's ready to TRY.  It may be a full year before he succeeds, but I think it's time to begin.  At the risk of sounding like I'm bragging about my wunderkind, he spells out the words on the page...if I'm not reading fast enough, he takes my finger, points to the letters and tells me which letters they are.  It's funny and awesome and terrifying all at the same time.  He narrates books he knows.  He doesn't RECITE them, he tells me what they're ABOUT and then gives me commentary on them, which is just so many shades of awesome that I can't bring myself to be scared.)

At one point I inquired of the women teaching the Charlotte Mason classes if she thought it would be reasonable to start with short-mornings.  I was thinking of taking 15-30 minutes of phonics work in the morning followed by a walk outside and then some general play time.  She asked how old my son was and when I told her, she all but laughed at me and said, "No no no.  You shouldn't do anything like that until he's FIVE or SIX."  When did we decide that 5 or 6 was the magic age for reading?  Who says?  I'm far from an expert, but it seems reasonable to me that if a child is ready to read at 3 or 4 they shouldn't be held back by the whims of others who think that's not appropriate for that age.  I encountered these attitudes more than once...and it seems to me that part of what is so great about home-schooling is that we aren't bound by what the public school system is doing.

I will say that I LOVED Michael Ballum's talks--he spoke about the necessity of the arts in our lives, and he was absolutely singing my song.  And there were loads of mothers who are genuine and kind and absolutely love their kids and want to do what is best for them.  It was really lovely to see.  All in all, I'm glad that I was able to go, but I'm not planning to go back for a long while.  It was wonderful to be able to talk about education and religion at the same time without fear of imminent persecution, but it was strange too.  I kept waiting to be BOOed for it during my class, but I wasn't.  All the same, I think I'd like to take the next few years to just teach my Boy and then maybe when I start to feel bored or frustrated I'll go back and try again.

Any other questions?  I wasn't entirely sure what you wanted when you asked for more information...

A Big Hot Mess of Random Stuff

on 16 May 2011

Hi.


I'm back.

I know you all missed me.  Ok, probably not so much.  I missed you!  I missed home!  I missed Chris and the Boy and my heat-seeking cats and my kitchen and working out and taking walks and reading just for fun and not for panic.

The conference is all over.  I think it was probably a rousing success.  My class for the adults was adequate...not my finest hour but not my worst either.  But I think the youth class went really well.  I hope I got them all fired up to read good literature.  I know my dear sister is beyond relieved to be ALL DONE (as the Boy would say) with this particular chapter in her life. 

***********

I was hoping to find one homeschooling ideology that I could adopt whole-heartedly in our home.  And yes, I was precisely that naive.  But I think Chris is probably right.  It's more like a buffet, than ordering straight off the menu.  You pick from a variety of ideologies that which suits your family best.

I went to several Charlotte Mason lectures.  The first day I was totally in love with it.  It would fit seamlessly into our already existing family structure.  And then the second day it just ran off the rails.  And I don't think it was part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy, but the woman lecturing was essentially advocating pretense with your children--if you're tired, pretend you're NOT!  If you're frustrated or discouraged, pretend you're NOT!  If you HATE vegetables or well, anything, PRETEND you don't so that you're children will love it!  I completely disagree.  A) Any form of pretense is by nature a LIE and I refuse to lie to my child.  Some days Mama is tired.  Sometimes she gets discouraged.  Also, she really doesn't enjoy doing mathematics and can happily leave Brussels sprouts at the store.  I think when you show your personality to your kid, it liberates them to have their own.  And frankly, it's ok if the Boy just doesn't like some things, it's ok for him to be tired and for him to have bad days too.  It's part of being human.  And I don't ever want him to feel like he can't be himself around me.  To say nothing of the fact that, even when we don't like something (like MATH) we still DO IT.  Sometimes you have to do things you don't like and I think that's a valuable life lesson, best taught in the home.

So, I suppose we're decided.  We'll be doing primarily classical education (courtesy of Susan Wise Bauer) with the nature studies aspect from Charlotte Mason. 

**********

We finally watched Harry Potter 7 part 1 and it was SO good.  I can't wait for part 2!

**********

I've been reading that biography of George Eliot, and it's so very good, but I am so exhausted from last week that I just can't face it.  George Eliot, I love thee, but thou art so smart that it requires a great deal of concentration to follow the bend of thy mind and my mind is currently mush.  And so I shall be abandoning thy life forthwith.  Please don't take it personal...it's not you, it's me.

*********

The Boy is sitting in a chair in nothing but his Thomas the Tank Engine underpants and a white t-shirt.  His face is smeared with peanut butter and he's munching a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.  He's a very happy boy right now.

*********

I've got nothin' goin' on this week and let me just say, that makes me a very happy woman.  I've got to grocery shop one day this week, but otherwise I might just spend the week in pajama pants.  Ok, maybe sweats...I'm finally well, I need to get back to working out.  But after I work out, I'm totally putting on my pajamas again.

*********

I'm a little puzzled what to read now...if I abandon the George Eliot, I feel like I should wallow in something fun and relaxing for a little while and then attempt to refocus on something challenging.  What do you think?  Lord of the Rings?  Zippy?  Asher Lev?  Wives and Daughters (for the SIXTH time)?  I suppose I could also read some Jane Austen...I've been contemplating a rereading of Mansfield Park for a while...but I'm not sure I have the patience for Mrs. Norris right now.

**********

I've made about 20 jars of strawberry jam.  I made them when I was sick because I had strawberries that Chris had purchased that were slowly deteriorating in the fridge...I hated to see them go to waste, so I hefted myself off the couch and made some jam.  And now the sight of those cheery red jars in my freezer makes me happy.

**********

We had a family cuddle in Bed Sweet Bed yesterday.  Me and Chris and the Boy and both cats and I remarked to Chris that every time I think I want to get another cat (or dog), we should have a family cuddle because it's a forceful reminder that before we bring another mouth to feed into our house we really need a bigger bed.

**********

I literally ate nothing but chocolate chip cookies for dinner last night.  I would be embarassed, but they were homemade and delicious.

**********

I have such a hot mess of knitting projects that need finishing and I just have absolutely zero motivation to work on them.  I gave myself the deadline of Memorial Day weekend on one of them (a baby sweater for a new little Burns nephew), so that Chris could deliver it in person...I'm down to just the sleeves.  How long could the sleeves really take?  I'm seriously contemplating taking it to my Grandma with a big helping of desperate pleading to please just finish the thing.  I'm pretty sure she'd turn me down.  She loves me, but not that much.

**********

Well, that's basically my brain all spilled out in blog form.  Sorry for the chaos, but it's a realistic picture.  I'm going to try to put things in order in my house and in my mind this week and hopefully have some funny stories for you next week.  Or maybe not.  Who can tell...

More George Eliot

on 13 May 2011

"Art must be either real and concrete, or ideal and eclectic.  Both are good and true in their way, but my stories are the former kind.  I undertake to exhibit nothing as it should be; I only try to exhibit some things as they have been or are, seen through the medium as my own nature gives me.  The moral of the stories of course depends on my power of seeing truly and feeling justly; and as I am not conscious of looking at things through the medium of cynicism or irreverence, I can't help hoping that there is no tendency in what I write to produce those miserable mental states."

George Eliot

on 12 May 2011

"A really cultured woman, like a really cultured man, is all the simpler and the less obtrusive for her knowledge...She neither spouts poetry nor quotes Cicero on slight provocation...She does not write books to confound philosophers, perhaps because she is able to write books that delight them.  In conversation she is the least formidable of women, because she understands you, without wanting to make you aware that you can't understand her.  She does not give you information, which is the raw material of culture,--she gives you sympathy, which is its subtlest essence."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

on 11 May 2011

"Love of Truth is shown in this:  that one know how to find Good everywhere and to treasure it."

George Eliot and Rousseau

on 10 May 2011

"I wish you thoroughly to understand that the writers who have most profoundly influenced me...are not in the least oracles to me.  It is just possible that I may not embrace one of their opinions, that I may wish my life to be shaped quite differently from theirs.  For instance it would signify nothing to me if a very wise person were to stun me with proofs that Rousseau's views of life, religion, and government are miserably erroneous--that he was guilty of some of the worst bassesses that have degraded civilized man.  I might admit all this--and it would be not the less true that Rousseau's genius has sent an electric thrill through my intellectual and moral frame which as awakened me to new perceptions, which as made man and  nature a fresh world of thought and feeling to me--and this not by teaching me a new belief.  It is simply that the rushing mighty wind of his inspiration has so quickened my faculties that I have been able to shape more definitely for myself ideas which had previously dwelt...dim[ly] in my soul."

Hello and Good-bye

on 09 May 2011

Hi.

Did I mention I'm going to be gone all week?

Bye.

Ok...well, since I'm going WAY outside of my comfortable comfort zone this week, I thought I'd leave you with a little flare to enjoy.  In the form of Other People's Words.  You may notice that in inordinate number of them come from George Eliot, that would be because I'm half way through her biography.  I hope you find them as thought provoking as I have...I find myself mentally chewing over a lot of it during the day, I love it when a book gives you that, it's just all kinds of amazing.

So now it's your turn, tell me where you've been lately that's outside of YOUR comfort zone?

Baking FAIL: the Mother's Day Edition

on 08 May 2011

I think I'm about to throw in the towel.

I quit.

I give up.

I surrender.

My sweet sister requested her favorite chocolate cake for Mother's Day dinner.  So I got up bright and early (ok, not that early) to bake one fresh before church.

Chris lovingly reminded me not to be in a hurry because I always make mistakes when I hurry.  And I really wasn't in a hurry.  It was a nice, leisurely morning. 

Please bear in mind that I've made this particular cake 40 bajillion times.  It's a family favorite so I make it for everything.

Aaaaaaaaand this morning?  Bad.  Bad. Bad. Bad.

I forgot the baking soda, people!  The baking soda!  Do you know what this cake was like?  It was chocolate LEATHER!  It didn't rise AT ALL.  And the worst part is, I didn't even notice until Chris pointed it out!  It's like I took my brain out to go to bed and forgot where I put it!

Seriously, I quit.

Breathing

on 02 May 2011

After 12 days, 1 trip to urgent care, 1 ear infection, 1 sinus infection, and innumerable coughing fits, I can finally say that I think I'm starting to feel better.  It's been a wretched virus, one I wouldn't wish on anyone.  The Boy shook it off after 7 days, mine lingered like a bad party guest.

So now that I'm feeling better, and breathing a bit, I have declared this week to be Catch Up Week (not to be confused with Ketchup Week--though I bet the Boy would LOVE to celebrate that one).  I need to turn my attention to the miriad of tasks that have been neglected in my indisposition.  Foremost will be the consistent disciplining of the Boy--he's had a bit of a hay day since I fell ill.  Followed by getting everything in order for my total absence from the homestead next week.

In case I failed to mention it, I have been suckered in to teaching here

My one consolation is that I won't have to do it again.  My darling sister (who is the only person for whom I would undertake this venture) is QUITTING!  I don't think she's ever quit anything in her LIFE, so I'm taking no small amount of pride in her refusal for next year.  So I get to go to the conference, listen to some good stuff, learn some good stuff (hopefully) and do a bit of talking about why it's imperative that people study literature.

I think approximately NO ONE who knows me will be surprised about my topic.  As I do indeed find the study of literature to be ESSENTIAL.

Speaking of study, I've been reading a biography of George Eliot, who many of you know that I love.  I find myself regularly surprised, nay SHOCKED at how obsessed she was with being loved.  For a woman who REGULARLY defied social conventions to do whatever the heck she wanted, she absolutely PINES for love and affection in a way that is not normal.  I'm thoroughly enjoying the biography.

As you can see, I have abandoned my 2011 Reading Resolution of reading or rereading all of Elizabeth Gaskell's works--I made it through Mary Barton, but just couldn't get in to Cranford.  I think it's not the right season.  Cranford is best read in the Fall.  I'll get there, eventually.  But when an author demands your attention, it's best to give them your attention, lest they take to whining like a moody teenager.

As you can also see, I have wandered a bit from my original point which was that I am catching up on Stuff this week.  And getting ready for my absence next week.  After that I have some big plans--lunch with my Sister to celebrate her new found freedom!  And also Chris and I will be attending the reenactment of the War of the Regulation this year!  I'm such a geek because I'm totally excited about that!  Chris will be attending his 16th annual Sausagefest Weekend (my man has had the same friends since he was 12.  Am I the only one that finds that a little strange?) on Memorial day weekend.  The Boy and I will stay here and do cozy things (cuddle on the couch and read books), we might be so adventurous as to stray to the park or the pool since the weather has officially warmed up around here.

Anyone else have plans (big or little) that they're excited about?

The Year Seven

on 01 May 2011

Seven years ago today...






I spent Easter with my parents and I remarked to my Dad that I could sort of understand how people could believe in past lives.  After all, when you've changed so much from who you used to be, it seems almost impossible that it could all be the same person.  We were talking about something totally different, but as I thought about it later on, I realized that marriage is a lot like that.

I've said it before and I'll probably keep saying it because it continues to befuddle me...that so much time has passed, and yet so little.  Could be 7 years...might be 7 days...maybe it was 7 decades...or 7 seconds.

Whatever it's been, it is a truth old and long proven.  I love this man much more than the day I married him.  That day it was a vague inclination of hey, he might not be so bad...let's see how this goes.  Now it's a love deep and strong.  And who knows how much bigger it will have grown in 7 centuries...or 7 minutes.





(He still cracks me up.  That's a good sign, right?)