Thursday, August 31, 2006

Movin’ In

Freshmen moved into the university last Saturday. Apparently it is tradition for all faculty and staff to show up on freshman move-in day and help out. I convinced Jay that no one would fault him for spending the day with his infant son (and wife) rather than helping, but we did think it would be fun to swing by and view the bedlam from afar.

I had a visceral reaction. I think I actually shuddered.

That is one of those events that I’m glad I will never have to relive. It wasn’t the actual process of moving in at DePauw that was awful—it was the anticipation of it. And as if the weeks leading up to move-in day weren’t bad enough, I then got to stew and fret over the whole business during the five-hour car ride to get there. (Although we may have stayed with my grandparents in Louisville the night before—mom?) There were so many factors to worry about:

Timing is always an issue. Get there too early and you risk looking too eager and totally un-cool. (Like I had anything to worry about. You should see what I was wearing that day. There was very little else that was going to harm my cool factor). Get there too late and you risk missing out on the bonding process with your floormates.

Attitude is serious business, too. If you seem to gregarious, you risk looking un-cool (Unless, of course you’re wearing the outfit I was wearing. Then you save everyone the trouble of having to make a determination about whether or not you are cool). Act too aloof and people think you’re a snob.

The parents are another factor. How long is too long for them to stay? How involved is too involved when it comes to helping you try to get organized? (I don’t remember this being an issue. My parents balanced everything quite well. However, several weeks later my mom saw an episode of Oprah featuring mothers who were paralyzed with grief after leaving their children at college. My mom had some guilt about not being as torn up as Oprah’s moms were. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t bitter that she didn’t break down at the car when we said goodbye).

Of course, in hindsight, none of this made any difference at all. It just happened that those were the only things over which I felt I had some control in an otherwise overwhelming situation. In reality, everyone was way too involved in their own business to take much notice of anyone else. That would take a day or two.

Much to my surprise, I actually survived move-in day, but it wasn’t without its special moments. I had already corresponded with my roommate by letter, so we weren’t total strangers. But I think both sets of parents chuckled inside when I pulled out my “Phantom of the Opera” and “Gone With the Wind” posters while Gwen pulled out her muscle car posters. And when I pulled out my Bible and put it on my desk while Gwen pulled out her empty bottles of SoCo and arranged them on her desk as decoration. Despite our obvious and massive differences we got along swimmingly. So well, in fact, that in my later RA years I had very little sympathy for roommates who couldn’t seem to make things work out.

But moving in? You couldn’t pay me to do that again.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

First Day of School

Joshua and I just came in from the front porch where we waved goodbye to Vati on his first day of school! The reality of his new life didn't really hit me until the other night when he was using words like syllabus and homework policies. He's been going to school for the last few weeks, but a lot of his time has been spent in workshops and orientation.

Today he actually teaches.

He's been working towards this goal since we've been married, starting out as adjunct faculty at an extension campus while he was stationed at Edwards. He liked that so much he decided he wanted to teach full time. But of course there was the issue of that pesky PhD that took five years. So here he is.

I hope he loves it.

Ritz!

Another sister has been accounted for and added to the blogroll. You should go visit. I just did and my side still hurts from laughing. I didn't think it would be possible for her to become wittier than in college, but it has happened. Enjoy!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mom Needs Book Recommendations

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to educate myself on a need-to-know basis.

Well, now I need to know.

We’re getting to the point in Joshua’s young life where his daily existence is becoming slightly more complicated than eat, sleep, play. So far I think we’ve done a pretty good job…at least we haven’t done any major damage as far as we can tell. But I’d like to be a little more prepared for the upcoming months and years.

I would appreciate any and all book recommendations regarding cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development (both general information and how to encourage development in those areas). I am also interested in reading more about infant and toddler health and nutrition.

So bring it on! Books-a-Million is waiting for me!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Small Things Are Good for the Soul

Several of the vendors at our Farmer’s Market accept WIC. From what I understand, WIC doesn’t typically cover the purchase of fresh produce, so it’s nice that families who need WIC can buy fresh fruits and vegetables if they like. Also, I saw an interesting sight yesterday. Our Farmer’s Market is located in an area of town that includes a lot of soup kitchens and other outreach programs to the homeless, so there are more than a handful of indigent folks hanging out. I saw a homeless man pull up his chair at one of the vendor’s tables and cut up some tomato and cucumber from the vendor’s bounty. I’m not sure if the first gentlemen received the food because he had helped the vendor, or if he just needed something to eat and the vendor gave it to him. Heck, for all I know he bought the food, but even if he did it was good for the soul to see the vendor share his table with someone he probably wouldn’t normally sit down and share a meal with.

Last night Jay and I attended a faculty/staff dinner at the university. We were standing in the buffet line when I glanced over and saw a woman with whom I had gone to church when I was younger. We expressed mutual surprise at seeing each other. She and her husband both teach there. We talked for a few minutes before she had to leave for another event, but also exchanged phone numbers. We talked for almost two hours this morning, catching up on each other’s lives and giving her the chance to help me make some sense of what is expected of me in the next few weeks at the university (there are lots of social-ish events coming up that I’m trying to negotiate. These are made even more difficult by the fact that I also have an infant). So after these next few crazy weeks are over we’re going to get together. It’s been good for my soul to have someone nearby with whom I have such an extensive shared history, and with whom I can talk about so much.

We left Joshua with my cousin and his girlfriend last night. As the report goes, things went well for awhile before going south. David and Amanda did just fine, but Joshua has apparently hit that great age where he wants mom and no one else will do. I was gone for all of two hours, but when I returned home, Amanda was pushing Joshua in his stroller, which was what I advised as a last resort. She said he’d been crying off and on for an hour but that she didn’t want to disturb my evening. But as soon as I picked him up and we snuggled for a second, he was fine. I hate that the kid was so upset, but at the same time it feels good to know that only I will do.

Big things are good for the soul, too. Like this big thing that came yesterday afternoon.

No more handwashing dishes that just came out of the dishwasher!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One Sunday, Two Churches

Sunday was a banner day for the church-hunters. In the morning we attended the Big Downtown Church (hereafter referred to as BDC) and I really enjoyed it. It was more liturgical that any of the others we’ve visited. Hymn selections were good. Choir, check. The sermon wasn't delivered by the Senior Pastor, but I'm looking forwrd to hearing him preach soon. The nursery was super. This being our fourth week, we’ve finally cracked the nursery code: Pick up Joshua before the service is over since he seems to start his meltdown about 45 minutes after being deposited. Jay dropped him off in the nursery and was provided with a pager. When I went to get him he was sitting quite contentedly in the lap of one of the nursery workers, sippy cup in hand. She said that he had been a little teary at first but ended up being fine. The Information Desk lady was on the lookout for us since our neighbors, who also attend the church, had told her we would be there. That was nice. The church is very mission-oriented, both locally and abroad. It’s also multi-generational…lots of activities for all different ages. I like that.

In the evening we went to an ice cream social at the Small Nearby Church (hereafter referred to as SNC). Our other neighbors, as well as the people from whom we purchased our house, go to this church. We haven’t been there on Sunday morning because their worship service coincides almost exactly with Joshua’s morning nap, and there’s very little that I will allow to get between my child and his nap, even church. So we decided to take them up on their offer. The District Superintendent happened to be there, so I got to meet her. And most people already knew who we were when we showed up (“Oh, are you the people who bought X and Y’s house?” We started to feel guilty after awhile, like we’d kicked them out or something). There were a surprising number of infants, children, and youth there as well. It was extremely friendly and reminded me a lot of the church I just left.

I think Jay is going to go to SNC on Sunday. Joshua and I may meet him for lunch afterwards (they have potluck lunch every Sunday) or we may go to BDC. I haven’t decided yet. But either way it’s good to know that we’ve found a place we like and one to which we’re happy to return.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Sisters

I just found out that several of my sorority sisters are also bloggers. I've added them to my sidebar, under "The Sisters." Hopefully there will be more to add soon!

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Blogroll, She Just Keeps Growin'

I've added a few new friends over on my sidebar.

Angela is a friend of mine from fifth grade! She was kind enough to stop by several months ago but I have neglected to add her until now. She's a very talented photographer. There's a link to her work on her blog if you'd like to see some of the great stuff she does. And she has two way-cute kids.

Montana Dave and his wife are good friends of ours. Dave was Jay's RA in college and we've been lucky enough to stay in touch with them ever since. Dave used to stay with us in Chicago when his work brought him to town and for a few awesome months he even lived in the same building. That was the same time frame in which my sleeping habits took a turn for the worse as we stayed up way too late trying to best each other in Settlers of Catan. He and his wife now have a ranch in Montana. His blog is all about their adventures. It's fun. You should go.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Let's Hear it for the Boys!

Welcome to the world, Adam and Andrew!

Adam is the brand-spankin' new son of Jenny and Tim, weighing in at a whopping 8 pounds and 14 ounces.

Andrew is Adam's cousin, born on August 11 to Brian and Tara, at a slightly less imposing 6 pounds and 13 ounces. Both are healthy and happy!

How cool is that! Cousins born four days apart!

And I'd also like you to be aware that I happen to know the bravest little boy in the whole world. Our friend Nathan, the almost-four-year-old son of our friends Rachel and Scott was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. He's already had surgery to remove the tumor on his kidney, and he's already been through his first round of chemotherapy. The latest news is that he finally got to go home today and is chemo-free until after Labor Day. He and his family need a lot of prayers and good thoughts to come there way, so get thinkin' and prayin'! You can read more about this brave little guy here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Few of My (New) Favorite Things

1. The Farmer's Market

The West Tennessee Farmer's Market is open every day except Sunday. It's huge. It has every imaginable specimen of in-season produce. It's ridiculously inexpensive. I feel guilty leaving with the basket of Joshua's stroller overflowing, having only spent $10, but I'll get over it. And I just feel healthier sitting down to dinner with a plate of locally-grown fruits and vegatables. Not to mention that everything tastes so good. My cousin David, who, as far as I know has never eaten a vegatable other than a green bean, took a second helping of yellow squash at dinner the other night. If that isn't a testimonial to yummy produce, I don't know what is. Our first trip was on a Tuesday. It seemed pretty busy for a weekday, but on Saturday it's just bursting at the seams. And on Saturday, the Amish farmers come with their real butter (two ingredients: cream and salt), fresh eggs, fresh milk, and real ice cream (Dr. Atkins won't mind that Jay and I split a pint of vanilla on the way home the other day, will he?) It's sounds cheesy, but I just feel lucky that I can get fresh, local food and support my neighbors who make a living this way. Yum.

2. Neighbors

Jay and I have never had neighbors quite like these before. In fact, the only place we've lived where we even knew our neighbors was in California, and we weren't exactly pals with them. Our relationship consisted of a nod or wave if we happened to be outside at the same time. Now we have real neighbors. We've had two loads of home-grown vegetables, bread, and preserves delivered to our door by two different sets of neighbors, and yesterday while Josh and I were out for a stroll we had another loaf of banana bread forced upon us. One neighbor, upon seeing Jay mow part of the yard with a push mower, came to the door with an offer to use his riding mower. Another neighbor called Jay the other night to invite him to a pick-up softball game at his church. It's just so friendly! And so...neighborly! It makes me feel much better about being at home all day with Joshua since I know that, most likely, someone is going to be around (most of our neighbors are retired) if I need them.

3. Free Stuff

I had a flat tire the other day. Jay took it to a random place to get it fixed. When it was done, the proprieter said, "Jay, come back and see me some time." Jay said, "What do I owe you?" He said, "Come back and see me some time."

I bought a pound of green beans from my favorite produce lady at the Farmer's Market. After I'd paid, she went to her truck and got 5 new potatoes, stuck them in my bag, and suggested that I cook them with the green beans.

I went to another lady at the Farmer's Market to buy a head of cabbage. She also had white eggplant, which Jay wanted me to try. I asked if I could have just one or if I needed to buy the whole box. Her response, "Why don't I just give you one, you know, between you, me, and the fencepost."

OK, so it's not the free stuff, and I'm not naive enough to believe that all this generosity has nothing to do with business and marketing, but it seems that folks are more concerned about the relationship that the bottom line. I like that.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Care and Feeding of My Inner Dork

This time last night I was sitting in the Green Hills 16 movie theater with my friend Jason watching the quarterfinals of the Drum Corps International World Championships.

This was the first time (as far as I'm aware) that DCI has attempted a live satellite feed during Finals Week. It wasn't as good as being there live, as you might guess, but a lot of fun nonetheless. The show started at 5:12 and ended at 10:30, but Jason and I saved our places in the theater and then sneaked away to get some dinner after the first corps performed, so it was a little more bearable than sitting in a theater for five hours straight.

I used to be an avid follower of drum corps when I was in high school. I even subscribed to Drum Corps World, partly because I had a boyfriend who marched Star of Indiana one summer and partly because, well, I'm a dork. There were a surprising number of concept-based shows last night, shows in which the directors dream up a theme and then have music originally written to go along with it. When I was a fan, lo those many years ago, most of the shows were composition-based: pick a great piece of (often recognizable) music and see what happens when you have 135 brass, percussion, and color guard try to perform it on a football field.

Jason and I agreed that many of those shows that we loved in the late '80s and early '90s influenced the music we listened to, and that many of the tapes (not CDs, of course) that we bought were because we heard some great corps perform that music. William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Respighi's Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals became part of my collection because Star of Indiana performed such compelling and impressive shows. I'm sure I would have eventually become a fan of Aaron Copeland, but it didn't hurt that the Cadets played beautiful renditions of Appalachain Spring and Letter from Home (which I have only been able to find on the soundtrack to He Got Game. I highly recommend it). They also made me a fan of John Adams when they played Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and Leonard Bernstein when they blew everyone away with the Overture to Candide. The Phantom Regiment created a breathtaking show using Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, which I purchased the very next day, and they made me a fan of Camille Saint-Saens after their show in 1990 consisting solely of his compositions. I went to see Carmen and Les Miserables because Santa Clara Vanguard and the Cadets so moved me.

I could write pages, but I'll spare you. Sitting in that theater last night may have been one of the dorkiest things I've done in awhile, but it was good to remember how excited it once made me about music. That was a huge influence on the person I've become. I hope I will pass it down to my child.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I've Been Tagged!

I feel like I've hit a milestone in my blogging life...I've finally been tagged, thanks to Jenny!. This one's about books, so I have to offer a disclaimer or two early on. Almost all of my books are packed and stored in the garage, so I have to answer this without benefit of perusing my collection. And I simply haven't had as much time to read A.J. (after Joshua) as I did B.J., so I hope my answers aren't too lame.

1. One book that changed your life.

The Preaching Life by Barbara Brown Taylor. More than anything it changed my vocational understanding. Her wisdom about what it means to be an ordained minister helped me clarify my own call.

I actually think there are some books from seminary that probably had a profound effect on my life than that, but I simply can't remember that far back right now without being able to look at them.

2. One book you've read more than once.

I was much more guilty of this when I was a pre-teen and couldn't get hold of books fast enough. I don't think I've read it all the way through twice, but I certainly go back and read parts of The Heart of Christianity by Marcus Borg quite often, and even more frequently when I was preaching every week.

3. One book you would want on a desert island.
Easy. 1,001 Crossword Puzzles from the New York Times. I usually stay up way past my bedtime anyway finishing them. Why not have them with me when I actually have time to do them?

4. One book that made you laugh.
I'm going to cheat on this one. In my life, a book that makes me have to turn my head toward the window while riding the bus so that other people don't see the tears running down my face counts as a book that "made me laugh." I can think of three right off the bat. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel, and Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. Actually, anything by Anne Lamott makes me laugh.

5. One book that made you cry.

I don't usually cry while reading, but by the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany I was a big blubbery mess.

6. One book that you wish had been written.

Jesus' Autobiogaphy. It would take away a lot of the guesswork, don't you think? But I suppose when the guesswork is eliminated, so is the fun.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

I don't suppose there's anything I wish hadn't been written, but one book I wish I hadn't felt obligated to finish is Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I realize that many people find this a brilliant book, but I didn't get it. And I wanted to get it. So I kept reading. And I was sorely disappointed at the end. Maybe that's more of a reflection on me than on the book, but those are hours I will never get back.

8. One book you are currently reading.

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson. He makes me laugh, as I mentioned before.

I'm also still trying to finish listening to Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. I started listening on the move down and just haven't finished it yet.

9. One book you have been meaning to read.

When I was working at the Presbyterian Church, the pastor was leading a morning study on A History of God by Karen Armstrong. He really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to read it ever since.

10. Now tag five people.

Anna
Martha
Sara
Tiffany
Josh. Might this be his debut at Life Actually?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Two Blogs Collide

The families of Pastor Mom and Diary of a Palindrome finally reunite! On their way home from a beach vacation, Jesse, Anna, Sydney, and David stopped by for a few days. There was much eating, laughing, talking, Wal-Marting, game-playing, staying up later than any sane human being should, and entertaining each other's children. These visits are quite rare, but when they happen they are good for the soul.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Development Question, Attempt #2

Blogger ate my post yesterday, so lest any of you think that Brian and Jenny are suffering from severe delusions (see the comments on the previous post), I'll attempt to recreate it.

I tend to be a gal who educates myself on a need-to-know basis, so I don't know a whole lot about child development past the age of oh, say, 9 months. So I have a question for those of you who are or have been parents of three-year-olds.

Do three-year-olds share?

I'll tell you why I ask. Yesterday Joshua and I went to our first SAHMs get together (that I found on Meetup, a handy little site). It was a lovely time--lots of fun moms, lots of fun kids--and it was at a UMC that I hadn't heard of before but that we will definitely be visiting on an upcoming Sunday. The posting said that we were to bring our kids, toys for our kids, and snacks for our kids. Since we're not exactly snackers yet, I loaded up the diaper bag with favorite toys and we were on our way. I discovered after a few minutes that the ethos was such that everyone brought lots of toys and if there was a unclaimed toy sitting around, it was fair game. Joshua was uncharacteristically intimidated for a few moments, but as soon as he figured out what was going on he climbed out of my lap and started to explore. I pulled his blocks out of my bag and immediately a three-year-old, we'll call him Aaron, gathered up every single block (even taking a few from Joshua's hand) and absconded with them. He didn't go far, so Joshua crawled over to play with them, too. But Aaron pulled the Heisman on him, pushing him back with one hand so that Joshua couldn't get to his own stuff. Fine, I thought. I have other toys! So I pulled out Joshua's measuring spoons (they're fun if you hold on to one and sling the other ones around). No sooner had Joshua taken them from me than Aaron dropped the blocks, plucked the spoons from Joshua's hand, and took them to the other side of the room. Of course, as soon as Joshua went for the blocks again, there was Aaron, ensuring that he couldn't get to them.

Aaron's mom seemed genuinely concerned about Aaron's behavior, even going so far as to tell him that if he couldn't share then they were going home. But at the same time, she was also tending to her five-month-old (which leads me to believe that Aaron may be having some issues with brand new baby sister). So he was obviously familiar with the concept of sharing, and I'm pretty sure he had at least a few months of being three under his belt, so I'm not sure what was going on.

I was a little nervous around him, though. At one point, while Aaron was playing with Joshua's blocks, Joshua engaged in the Stability Test (pushing on an object to see if it's stable enough for him to pull himself up on) along with the Show of Strength ("Look how strong I am! I can push on this and make it move!") on Aaron's back. I quickly pulled Joshua away, but his mother insisted that such wasn't necessary as "it'll be fine. He's used to it." But Aaron's other impulse issues led me to believe that it wasn't a mistake to think that he might just throw an elbow. So Joshua and I moved to a safer place.

In the previous iteration of this post, my question was, Do three-year-olds-share? The answer is that, obviously this one doesn't, so I'll rephrase.

Is it developmentally appropriate for three-year-olds to share?

Thanks to Brian and Jenny for answers already posted.