Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 In Review

Wow, 2010 has been an amazing year for the Goat family - full of ups and downs certainly but ending on a big up.  Here are a few of the year's blog posts looking back on a great year!

January found us with an 11 month old.  I participated in Missy's Bloggers Give back event at Feed My Starving Children and met so many new blogger friends with whom I've become very close this year.  I also honored our dear friend Emilie's birthday with a group of our friends toasting to her memory.

Just look how young baby goat was a year ago...crazy
February found me reflecting on baby goat's first year of life and Ash Wednesday.  We celebrated his 1st birthday in style with all the family!

March found me wanting to get back on board with my weight loss now that I was done pumping.  You were all so supportive as I talked about my fears that I decided to take the plunge and train for a 5k!

April kept me on my Couch to 5k training as we celebrated the 1st anniversary of baby goat's actual due date and the anniversary of leaving the NICU!

May went fast with another blog gathering in support of ending childhood hunger, more 5k training, and a trip to the Zoo to introduce baby goat to real goats!

June had a personal favorite post of baby goat's top 10 preschool entrance essay titles.  It also had my last VBS at old church, complete with baby goat's first asthma hospitalization.

July was the craziest month we've had since baby goat was born.  It began with a 3 day stay for baby goat in the Children's Hospital full of tests and treatments as we figured out what was up with his breathing (asthma).  Less than a week later I lost my job.  And then a week after that I was offered a new job at New Church.  In the space of 3 weeks our lives went through some huge changes!  Oh and baby goat even when on his first train ride!

August found me starting a new job and managing the changes that go with it, our first trip to Target field,  baby goat turning 18 months and me turning 31 at the state fair (and setting 31 goals for the next year).

September I participated in a September blog-a-thon and posted everyday.  I talked about worshiping with your toddler, discovered a rogue lymph node, went to my first Blogger conference and even ran my 1st 5k with my sister by my side!

October I wrote Pink for breast cancer, talked about a worship experience with baby goat, and of course baby Halloween cuteness!  Oh and I got a little defensive about society's treatment of fat people, particularly from Marie Claire magazine!

November I put myself out there and risked being nominated for a Future PriorFatGirl.  We survived our first stomach flu and our first apartment fire.  I also told baby goat's story for prematurity awareness!

December brought illness, car trouble and SNOW which nearly threatened to derail my first Christmas program, but it happened anyway!  It had parenting lows and recommitment to caring for myself as well as others.

Wow!  Looking back I'm in awe of all that happened this year.  Thank you if you have been here reading at any point this year.  I am grateful for your presence, support and community!  All in all I think 2010 was an amazing year for us and I am excited about what 2011 holds for our little family.

Happy New Year!  May the new year bring you wonders and joys unimaginable!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Self-care

You were all right.  Today was better, which I knew deep down it would be.  But thank you for your care and affirmations yesterday.  It meant a lot having you in my corner reminding me that my feelings were normal, that toddlers will be toddlers, and that sickness colors our abilities to manage stress.

I knew it, but in the midst I couldn't realize the truth in those words, so thank you.

It also serves to highlight one of my big needs for 2011 as it approaches.  I've decided, in lieu of making any hard and face resolutions, that this year will be about self-care.  It actually came about from my new intuitive pastor/supervisor at new church.  In my annual review conversation she mentioned that she wants to know that I keeping up on self-care given what she knows about the difficulties at my old job.  Plus as she correctly points out, people in ministry tend to give and give until they have little left for themselves.  She said that managing self-care is essential to remaining vibrant in ministry, which I do know from experience.

(Have I mentioned that she is awesome?!)

So in the interest of making this a year of dedication to my own self-care I'm brainstorming a list of things that I can do to improve my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self all year long - with special emphasis on my health, my mom role and my ministry.

Here's what I have so far....

1.  Get my butt to the gym on a minimum 3 times per week basis.  (Because have I mentioned, the Goat grandparents have got us a Y membership for Christmas.  Which is so awesome and I am unreasonably excited about having a gym and a pool and classes at my disposal again!  I hardly know where to start first - tomorrow is the first day of the membership!!)

2.  Blogging - I'm going to take the time to continue my blog.  I have done this for years so it should be second nature, but it is important to me.  I'm not going to worry so much about reviews or giveaways or stats.  I'll pay attention to them when and if I want.

3. Dates with hubby - these need to be a more regular occurance.  Now that we have a sitter it should be easier.

4.  Dates with friends - likewise, these are so helpful to me.  I need to be diligent in keeping them up even if it is a casual coffee once or twice a month.

5.  Mindful food choices - this is always tricky.  I need to figure out a healthy eating plan but in a way that doesn't add stress.  Possibly weight watchers?

6.  Music - aka turn off the TV more and play more music.  Also reclaim ipod from the baby's room.

7.  Pedicures - and other fru-fru girly luxuries that help your mood instantly.

8.  Dessert - lets face it, desserts often help my mood.  I need to establish an eating plan that will allow for them in moderation so that I can treat myself when needed.

9.  Computer free night - I want to designation one night a week to be completely computer, phone, facebook and twitter free.  Probably Friday or Saturday, probably Friday.

10.  Friday's off - I need to honor the fact that I'm supposed to have Friday's off more often.  Sometimes I plan to clean and get on top of laundry.  Other times I can pull baby goat from daycare and have a special mommy-son date to the Children's Museum, Zoo or some other place we where have a membership or is cheap.

That is my list so far.  As I said, this is less about resolutions and more about an effort to make this year about keeping me in top form, maybe even better than my recent top form.  Weight loss would be nice and is a goal but is really a different issue from the self-care thing, even though they overlap.

So that's my start.  What would you add for me?  What would be on your list?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I thought it would be easier...

Post disclaimer: Much of this is out of frustration, illness and emotion.  I'm sure I will feel better tomorrow but I want to be authentic on my blog.  Still if you want to comment in support that is wonderful, if you want to be critical of me, then just keep your comments to yourself, because I don't need them.  That being said if you want to read on, please do.

I always thought that at some point in my life I would be a Stay at Home Mom.  My mom had a myriad of jobs but was always home with us too.  I just figured that I would have a chance to do that at some point, and who knows, I still might someday.  When we had baby goat, for better or for worse, it simply wasn't an option though.

And I am still lucky.  I have a daycare provider we love, I have a career I love.  Most of the time it is fine.

Dare I admit it?  I even enjoy working out of the home.  Yes, there are days when I feel like a horrible awful parent for not being there, for having to shuffle everything if baby goat gets a fever, feeling like I hardly have any time with him much less time for fun, play and learning.  There are days I'd love to have more time.  But yes, most of the time, I like getting away to a quiet office to think in (mostly) complete sentences and not deal an increasingly obstinant (albeit adorable) toddler.

Admitting that alone makes me feel like a horrible mom.  I know rationally that many moms have to work and even many moms are better moms for working but I feel like I should want to be home with him all the time.

And then there are days like today.  I've got the post Christmas cold - it may be the old cold come back after my meds wore off, I'm not sure, but I spent most of yesterday miserable in the back room at the ILs while they, and hubby, watched my son.  I felt bad enough for that.

Today Mr. Goat was sick in bed and I was marginally better, and since daycare is closed for the week I stayed home to care for him and baby goat.

And it all went to hell.

The hitting.  The biting.  The whining.  On and on.  He's feeling fine - full of energy, annoyed to be stuck in our too small apartment with nothing fun going on.  I was barely functioning trying not to cough on him, keep him engaged and from "loving" on the cats too much.

Baby goat turned 22 months yesterday.  He is charming, and smart (I think so at least), he's got a smile to melt you, but he is intense.  He's physical.  He hits - out of love and out of frustration.  He bites when you try to correct him.  People insist he'll grow out of it, but it is so hard.  My never ending refrain seems to be either "NO" or "Use your words"

It was endless today.  Even with PBS helping with the parenting, my cough and the acommpanying headache keep coming and so did he.  Everything was a battle.

Naptime was a blessing - a too short blessing.

By this time Mr. Goat went to a chiropracter to help fix a sore back in hopes of feeling better.  He also went to the grocery store which we really needed.  But again it was me and the toddler.

And it kept getting worse.  It was like he knew just the buttons to make me crazy (pretty intuitive for a toddler).  By the time it was dinner I just had to remove myself and have a good cry.  I felt beat up - physically and emotionally and just needed a rest.

Part of my sorrow in this is how is it that I can't even seem to handle one tough day with a toddler, the first real day he's home on "break"  I can't handle 1 day and I'm his mom.  Yes, I'm sick.  Yes, he's a toddler.  Yes, yes, yes.  I KNOW.

But  I'm his mom.  I thought I was supposed to be good at this.  I love kids.  I love working with them.  But I feel like such a failure to baby goat.

And it makes me sad. 

It makes me sad because I feel that way, but it also makes me sad that mom's have these expectations on them.  Do they come from society, our parents, ourselves, some deep competetive need?  I am not sure, but how awful is it that a single day can make me feel like the worst mother in the world.

Baby goat is fast asleep.  Content and happy.  Well fed.  Warm.  Safe.  Loved. 

How is it that I am a failure?  And yet, that's what I feel today.

Tomorrow Auntie Goat comes to watch him and I flee back to work.  I may still be sick but I'm going.  And the knowledge that I am fleeing my own child just to have a moment to recover from today....that makes me cry.

But it is the truth..

I love that boy, but I didn't like him very much today.  I didn't like me very much either.

So there you go.  The ugly truth.  I know it will get better, I know.  Or I will say so until it happens.  I just thought I'd be better at being a mom than this. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Following the star


When the star appeared in the heavens the wiseman didn't hesitate.  They packed up their camels and traveled from distant lands in the certainty that a new king was born.  A shining star was all the sign they needed to know that the world was going to change forever.  They were full of certainty and marched confidently up to Herod's palace announcing their intention to see the new king.

Can you imagine their surprise, these wisest of men, when the new king of the world wasn't in the Palace?  Can you imagine their confusion?  Where was the king?

The star was pointing the direction, giving them a gps to the new child, but the wisemen thought they could guess their own directions.

If the star had been a GPS how many times would it have said "rerouting..."?

Eventually they did follow the directions.

Leave the palace...

Turn left into Bethlehem...

Turn right past the inn with no room....

Your destination is on your right.

Yes, the stable.

No, the star isn't broken.

The king of the world was born in a stable amidst the dirt and dust and dung of the animals.  But the wisemen did recognize him when they finally arrived.  They fell down and worshiped and gave gifts to the new king.

Sometimes I feel like a misdirected wise man.

It is easy enough to say, "I can follow the star, I can follow God's path for me in the world"

But I get ahead of myself and I think I know the direction I'm meant to go.  How often does God need to reroute my own life after I assume I'm heading in the right direction?

For the first time in ages this Christmas I feel as though I am on the path that God intended for me.  There have been some difficult times in the last few years but the last few months have been full of blessings and gifts beyond my imagination.

Sometimes I felt like it was a gamble to say, "Yes, I want to be in ministry.  I want to deal with the humanity and politics of a church because I care about God, his church and its ministries."  These last few months I'm starting to think that I'm maybe starting to live up to the gamble God took on me instead.

This Christmas is a time of joy for me this year.  It is hard not to run around with the same enthusiasm as my toddler.  Look! Lights! Sparkles! Music! Presents!  Everything seems like a new gift to me, both in the gifts I've already been given and viewing them through the eyes of my son.

When the wisemen discovered the baby Jesus in the manger their troubles didn't end.  They had to flee king Herod, just as the Holy Family did too.  I don't anticipate life to be all sunshine and roses from here on out but today and tomorrow I celebrate with Joy the gifts of this year and pray that I may be able to percieve God's path as I continue in my own ministry.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope your blessings are as obvious to you as a star shining in the heavens!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what I needed...

I think the last 2 weeks were hard on so many people.  Lots of colds, expensive repair bills for furances or cars, the blizzard, etc weigh on people heavy.  I know I was struggling with my cold and with poor baby goat not feeling well either and so the events of this weekend were just what I needed!

Thursday
I finally dragged myself into the doctor and left with perscriptions for an antibiotic and a steroid.  The combo went a LONG way in taking care of my lingering cold/cough/asthma fun.  This probably helped make my weekend wonderful which is why I include it here.

Friday
I went to the dentist (No Cavities!), work and a few errands.  Then I had dinner with the family, put the baby to bed, and went out for a rare girl's night out.  I'm not really a bar kind of girl but it was fun to see some of my twitter friends (old and new) and hear Tim Mahoney, a local musician, sing.  He didn't have his band, just him and the guitar and it was a great time!  It was just so nice to be out and unplugged!

Saturday
We had no plans Sat.  I let Mr. Goat sleep in since he was still fighting our cold, but I had a great morning with baby goat.  He was finally back to his old cheerful self and I had forgotten how much I missed the twinkling eyes and unbridled joy of baby goat when he's well.  When Mr. Goat got up we all packed up to run a few errands and had a lovely family lunch at the pizza buffet.  We were all together doing something fun, rather than trying to run errands and leaving at least one parent home with the sick child.  Baby goat was giddy with the excitment of being out and about again and it was just nice.

Also nice was the long nap he took afterwards and playing after dinner.  Mr. Goat had a concert last night that I didn't go too but I had a quiet night catching up on some DVR and not cleaning, blogging or doing any of the rest of my to-do list.  Its ok too, the list is still there but I'll get it done.

Sunday
I had an early morning when baby goat woke at 5:15 ready for the day, but I got to church early, played with bells, got our Sunday School underway, chatted with folks and just felt so glad to be there.  I'm really feeling like I'm starting to get a hang of the new job and the new people and I still think that I'm a great fit there.  Yes, nothing has been perfect but I am so thankful for this new church home and the way it has reenergized my ministry.

This afternoon I had a sitter and got to go to Mr. Goat's other choir concert.  It is always a great joy to sit and appreciate the beautiful choral music of a great MN choir and this was no exception.  It was a testament to how my own mental state though that it was full of joy.  There were times I would attend a concert in the midst of feeling beaten down by things that the music is bittersweet.  At those times the music acts like a good movie tearjerker - a good cry to help you feel better.  No good cry was needed tonight.  Just peace and joy.  I am feeling very blessed right now and it is amazing.

The concert wrapped up with a real date with my hubby having dinner out in a real restaurant.  You can't really go wrong with that!

So in summary.  I haven't done my laundry, my cleaning, my wrapping, mailing, or Christmas carding, and I am ok with that.  This weekend was just what I needed.  A chance to be together with my family and my friends and celebrate the blessings in simple ways.  What more can I ask for really?

I'll be back at the to-do list tomorrow because Christmas is coming quickly, but for now I sit here content.  If I were a cat I would be purring.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CSN Winner!


Better late than never but I drew for my last CSN giveaway and the winner is Gina! Congratulations Gina! I'll be emailing you soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Snow couldn't keep the Christmas Program from coming

Last week was rough.  Really rough.  First there was the car trouble hat-trick I told you about last time.  That only took $850 to remedy.  (ouch)  My Christmas present is now getting to drive my car.  Then there was a duo of baby illnesses combined with a nasty cold of my own.  Then the blizzard.  You've heard of our MN blizzard last weekend?  20" of snow on Friday night and Saturday.

This of course was the weekend of our Christmas Program and Saturday was our one and only group dress rehearsal.  I drove into church Sat morning very early.  At first I was thinking, "This isn't too bad, we can still have rehearsal."  Halfway there I was thinking, "Well....?"  And once I got there I thought, "Can I go home now?  This is insane"  So we canceled rehearsal.

I did make it home fine after getting the message out to as many people as possible.  I was glad I left when I did as I got stuck in the church parking lot on the way out and needed a plow to come help me out.  (This was at 9:30am still)

The rest of the day was spent tending to baby goat and on the phone with my leadership teams trying to get a plan in place for the next morning.  (Also a little stress, and possibly some staring out the windo and possibly swearing).

And then my work email went down....

Then I found out that our "baby Jesus" had a stomach bug....

And then I just laughed.  Afterall what can you do at that point.

But in the midst of the panic a plan was formed.

And I got up early, early and headed out in the frigid snowy weather back to church on Sunday morning.  The church lot was only half plowed because the plow kept getting stuck.  There was hardly anyone there, and I wondered if we were going to cancel church for a moment.

And then people started coming in.

And the organist gave us his prelude time to practice with the mics in the sanctuary.

And the volunteers trickled in, and so did the kids.

We started with 20ish at the beginning of our ad hoc rehearsal.

By the time of our program we had approx 150 kids who found their way there through the ice, snow and cold.  The parents crowded the sanctuary beaming at their kids in velvet dresses and little ties, with animal ears on their heads.

They videotaped and took pictures.

And the kids sang.  And we helped them remember who was speaking when and they were amazing.

And wouldn't you know it....

Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem...

And the baby was born...

And the angels sang...

And the shepherds worshiped...

And the kids sang in a heavenly chorus.  Not perfect no, but human and beautiful and lovely.

Despite the weather's best efforts Christmas came anyway in the hands of the children.

And I felt like I had a Grinch transformation moment.  Witnessing something precious my heart seemed to grow three sizes as I realized that Christmas is not in the details.  It is not in the velvet dresses, or a flawless reading, or having a good dress rehearsal.  It is not in the cookie reception or using a real baby or a doll as Jesus.

Christmas comes in the voices of the children.  And I am reminded that the program is not about me, it is about God.

The same God who sent the blizzard that made the world a brilliant blanket of white.

The same God who sent his son to be born in a stable.

I imagine this God giggled this weekend, even as he worked to keep people safe in the snow.  Afterall, we are comical in our vain attempts to control the world.

And in my first year in a new church, remembering that I am not in control may have been just the Christmas lesson that I needed.

Still, if this week could be gentler God, I'd appreciate it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bad "Car"-ma or Why I'm never driving again.

Blogland,

My car woes this week are both maddening and so extreme that they have become down-right comical.  Comical enough to share with you all.  I hope you get a groan and a giggle out of it and can appreciate that you have not had the week that I have. 

Incident #1

After a busy weekend and having a bad cold I planned to take a slow morning on Monday to recover a bit before a very busy week at work (It's Christmas Program week!).  I headed out at about 10am on the way to work with plans to stop at Target for some cold meds and diet coke.  I never made it to Target.

On the way there I was stopped at a light and bang!  I was rear ended.  I pulled into a nearby lot as did the other driver.  When she got out I found she was young and really scared of what happened.  I got a whole story, she was on her way to work, didn't know what happened, so sorry, etc.  Along the way I found out she didn't have insurance (bad).  I said I really ought to call the police she said that she also didn't have a driver's license (double bad).  She was freaking out and worried about being late for work.  In a moment of sympathy I let her go getting what info I could from her (name, number, license plate number, etc).  And I let her go.

Then I got back in my car and said "wait a minute...."  I realized that being sympathetic or not this girl shouldn't be driving.  So I did call the police then and got to follow the cop to her work and ID the other driver.  The driver got two tickets (one for driving without a license and one for driving an uninsured car).  I felt guilty for turning her in but really, she shouldn't be driving without those things.

After getting an estimate on my car it seemed that the damage really was minimal to my car, thankfully.  I could replace the bumper or just have a little dent in my bumper.  Frankly I'm ok with a dent.  My bumper did exactly what bumpers are supposed to do and nothing else was damaged.  Yay!  So it really did turn out fine all things considering but it made for a crazy morning.

Incident #2
This one is all my fault, though still accidental, but it really makes me grouchy.

Our apartment put up notices that Wed morning they were clearing the snow from our parking lot and that cars needed to be out by 9am.  Cars not moved would be towed. I saw it and it registered.  Yet you can see where this is going.

Wed morning came.  I got the boys out the door to daycare and went about getting ready.  I sat down on the bed and still having a cold made the mistake of laying down.  An expensive mistake as I woke up at 9:15.  I got ready but had forgotten about the plowing until I got outside to the parking lot...

No car.

Now I should have known better.  Yes.  But in a sliver of defense, never, in the 6 years we've lived here have they ever made good on a threat to tow a car.  They have always plowed around it. 

But they started this week, with me.  Ugh.

$213.75 and several hours later I had my car back.

Incident #3
Wednesday evening I was driving home from our church advent service with baby goat in the back seat.  I was almost to my exit when my car started making a strange noise.  Suddenly I feel a tire blowout and quickly head to the side of the road.  My left rear tire blew out completely.

I couldn't reach Mr. Goat (who was in choir practice) and tried a few friends too.  Luckily one friend, K, who lived close to us came to gather baby goat.  I was on hold with roadside assistance and waiting for her when a good samaritan stopped and offered to change my tire.  I only know his name was Trevor.

In my defense, I can change a tire, but in the 10 degree weather, on the side of a busy highway, in the dark, in my work clothes, well I was going to go with roadside assistance.  Luckily Trevor was a pro.  My friend got there and took baby goat in her warm car and gave him some crackers to keep him happy and we changed the tire.  Part way through a cop came to help keep us safe and give us more light.  Once we got started it took about 20 minutes and all said and done we were on the side of the road for 45 minutes or so.

My car has sat today as Mr. Goat and I have shared cars today.  Tomorrow morning it goes in and we'll see how much this is going to cost us.  We'll probably get all new tires and they were getting due to be replaced anyway.  I don't know if the towing of the car that morning helped add to the blowout, or if it was a nail or the cold weather or what.  I just know that I'm not sure I should be trusted to drive (or park) anywhere right now.  Clearly my car is mad at me for something!

And that is my car trouble hat trick for the week.  It is only Thursday so I hope I'm not due for anything worse.  Please send working car thoughts to me tomorrow.  I'd really rather that the car place NOT find something else wrong with it.    I hope all of you are having a better week than me blogland.  Remember to stay safe out there.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Two Giveaway Tuesday - Giveaway #2

Our second giveaway this evening is also a good one.  I've done CSN store giveaways before and I love it because it is truly a versitale giveaway.  There is literally something for everyone because they have over 200 online stores.  Just imagine all of the amazing Christmas gifts you could get - toys for the kids, furniture, a flat screen tv stands, or even a cute pair of shoes for yourself (even Santa's helpers need little gifts too)!

CSN has been so easy to work with and this time they have offered one of my blog readers $65 at any one of their 200 stores.  Just imagine how far that can go for your holiday decor or for presents under the tree. 

To enter just leave a comment with the favorite holiday present you have ever recieved!

For an extra entry you can do any of the following things.  Please leave an additional comment for every entry.

1.  Follow the Lutheran Geek on Facebook (1 entry)
2.  Follow me on Twitter (1 entry)
3.  Follow this blog on the left (1 entry)

I hope $65 can go a long way to helping make a Christmas bright for one of my readers.  Merry Christmas blogland!

CSN will provide the winner with a gift code for $65.  I did not recieve anything for this giveaway, I just enjoy giving things away.  This giveaway runs until Tuesday Dec 14th at 9pm.  Which is plenty of time to still get something under the tree by Christmas!

Two Giveaway Tuesday - Giveaway #1

I've got two quick Christmas giveaways to offer to you all this Tuesday!  So here we go!

Our first giveaway is to a Twin Cities show so you must be close enough to use these tickets.  I love a good holiday show - there is nothing that gets you in the mood like Christmas music.  So our first giveaway is to a locally produced holiday review called "Christmas Again" at the New Hope Cinema Grill in New Hope, MN.  I'm giving away two tickets to the show.  It is a musical review starring two of our local talent and it is getting great reviews.   Just choose which performance you want to attend and they are all yours!  The show is offered Dec. 19th and 20th.

This will be a quick one so enter today.  The giveaway will run through Thursday, Dec 9th at 9pm.  Oh, and how do you enter?  Just leave a comment with your favorite Christmas carol!  Good luck!

I was offered two complimentary tickets to giveaway.  This giveaway will only run until Thursday at 9pm so enter now. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Ugliest Angel

My friend Missy send me a message the other day about an ornament blog carnival that she wanted to do today.  Well life and life and comcast conspired against me today and I'm just posting this now.  But I still wanted to post and join my friends.  So without further ado... The Ugliest Angel.

Ta-Da!!

This angel has been the source of pride, embarassment, joy, delight and tradition for me for as long as I can remember.

You see, that ugly little angel.  I made it.  And it has graces the top of my parents Christmas tree.  Every year it is brought out and placed at the top of a tree full of ornaments with back stories galore.  It isn't lovely, and after nearly 25 years on the tree it is a bit beat up too, but it is sits aperch each Christmas tree each year.

It is hard to know why a 4 yr old craft project continues to speak to me.  Perhaps it is the dedication to something I made.  But I think it is more than that.  This little ugly angel, with green hair and the crooked smile is a sign of the beauty of Christmas.

The reality of life is that we are all a little ugly from time to time. It isn't always on the surface too. Christmas can bring out stress and tension in even the most jolly among us.  But it is the little things that remind us that Christmas is a time of joy. 

Because really Christmas is about a gift of a small child sent to redeem the world.  And in the ugliness of a birth in the muck and the mud of a stable, in the cold, under a regime that made a pregant woman travel to pay taxes, a child was born.  In the ugliness of Herod choosing to kill all kids 2 and under to find any possible child king, a child survived.  In the ugliness of the cross, a child died... but in that death there is grace, and peace and joy.

Ultimately my little ugly angel was created by a 4 yr old hand who loved the color green, but today it reminds me that even our ugliness can be beautiful through the light and grace and gift of God's Son.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday Night Adventures

Why is this dark blurry picture of the Goat family being featured on the blog tonight?  Because last nights adventures simply needed at least one photo.  This photo was taken in the front seat of our car at 10:30 last night.

About 10pm last night Mr. Goat and I were relaxing after having gotten home from the ILs.  Baby goat was in bed fast asleep.  And then the fire alarm in our apartment hallway when off.

My first instinct was "What's that?"

My second was "Dumb College Kids"

Then I realized that I was no longer in college and it was unlikely that we'd been victim to a drunken prank.  So Mr. Goat and I grabbed our coats and the baby and high tailed it out of the apartment.  (We left the cats for speed but I felt guilty about it).

Once outside we realized a few things:

1.  There was no obvious billowing smoke so if there was a real fire it wasn't too spread yet.
2.  Even at 40 degrees and with a hat and coat baby goat was scared, cold and shivery.  Being jarred awake as you are grabbed will do that somewhat.
3.  We needed to find some place to wait out this emergency.

We hiked around to the front of the building where my car was parked outside accross the lot from the building.  As we walked 4 emergency vehicles pulled up to the apartment building.

We piled into the front seat of my car, turned it on and cranked the heat.  Soon baby goat lost the dazed scared look from the photo and he relished pushing all sorts of buttons in the car that he rarely has access too.  His favorites:  The wipers, the radio buttons and the front ceiling lights.

We camped out in the car for nearly an hour as the fire trucks dealt with whatever was going on.  People milled about - many in their cars many just around the apartment.  We weren't asked to back up so it seemed clear that while a real fire it wasn't an apartment wide inferno.

Finally about 11pm we were given the all clear.  The front hall smelled like a electrical fire which is what rumors say happened, somewhere on the 2nd floor.  I have no idea how much damage was done but on our end of the building the air was clear and everything looked normal.

Still I went to bed just a little more thankful of the things I have even while being aware that so long as I have baby goat and Mr. Goat that I will be ok.  (I still would have liked the cats to be safe for sure too but the rest really was of no major issue)  Sure there is irreplaceable stuff in our apartment but when push comes to shove all I need is my family.

The front hall still smelled smoky this morning - a reminder that it wasn't just a dream.  I hope whomever's apartment it was didn't lose too much and everyone was safe (none of the ambulances there left with anyone which is a good sign). 

Just one more thing to be thankful for this week.

50 Book Challenge Giveaway winner

I meant to draw for this last week and I never got to it.  I am sorry for the delay!  I hope no one has been fretting about who the winner is but either way, without further ado, the winner of our Signed copy of Silencing Sam is Bonnie from the Fragile X Files.  I think it was her first comment on my little blog so I'm thrilled she found me and that she won.  Congratulations Bonnie!  Expect an email from me soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The elusive Christmas Card - Shutterfly

Christmas cards have been a struggle for me.  I want desperately to send them out full of individual messages of love and joy to my friends and family.  I want the perfect photo for the perfect card.  I would love blingy envelopes and homemade calligraphied labels and the oddly shaped cool, expensive postage cards.

I want all of that....

Until Thanksgiving comes around and I realize that I haven't ordered a card, or written a letter, or even got my mailing list together from where it is trapped on an old dead laptop from two laptops ago.

Thankfully there is Shutterfly.  I have heard such good things about them and browsing there I know they have wonderful stuff and it is so easy to create a card.  The only drawback is that I maybe have too many options.  Like do you do a Christmas Holiday Card?  Or go more generic for all my non-Christian friends and go with a regular Holiday card?  Or maybe even pick up a few gifts for folks too like a baby goat photo calendar (photos of baby goat not included!).  And the color options, and how many pictures to use and everything.  The possiblities seem endless.  But it is fun to play, now I just need to make a decision!!

Hopefully the Christmas card will get out this year, unlike last year.  But if it doesn't it won't be because of Shutterfly.

I received 50 free Christmas cards for this little plug.  Since it is nearly half my Christmas list I hope you'll forgive the shameless plug - but seriously they are really cool.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Renewed

I didn't mean for it to be over a week since I blogged last.  I'm not sure what happened really other than illness and weather and holiday prep and a deep desire to sleep.  Still my blog is a place for me to share my thoughts and process my life and whether you noticed my absence or cared I still want to put the time into it.

We are at the ILs still, having come down on Thursday for the holiday.   Baby goat is napping the nap of several bad sleeping days (He just KNOWS when someone is having fun without him and woe to you if you try to put him to sleep during that time).  It is quite and peaceful and full of thankful family feelings.

Baby goat's great grandma is here and it is so lovely to see them enjoying several days together.  He is charming and loving and thinks the space to run and play at Grandmas is a wonderful thing.  He's picking up new words - most notably Auntie Emily now has a name - MiMi.  He turned 21 months yesterday and I'm blown away by the fact that a mere quarter of a year from now he'll be 2!  It is so strange, but I am loving the boy he is becoming.

It is strange to think how far our little family has come even in the last 6 months.  We've grown together and I am really loving my life right now.  Which isn't to say I don't get completely stressed out sometimes, particularly when responsibilities and illnesses and stuff collide together.

I finally got my CPAP machine this week and am slowly getting used to it.  I often find I've torn it off in the night with no recollection of it but I think I'm improving.  I'm still waiting to notice a huge change but hopeful as time passes and I get used to it the benefits will be apparent.

Thanksgiving is the start of the real holiday season for me and I'm really looking forward to this Christmas season with Edward.  We went out and splurged on a family advent wreath yesterday.  It is beautiful and I am looking forward to starting our family traditions with a child who is getting old enough to marvel in things.  ChristmasFest (at St. Olaf) and Christmas in Christ Chapel (at Gustavus) are next weekend and that will be a chance for us to get immersed in the music and majesty of the season too.

Plus my first big Christmas program is getting prepped at new church.  I have to admit it is a lot of work but I'm really looking forward to it.

As for my weight loss efforts I have decided to blog about it periodically and am still deciding whether or not that should be here or at a new place.  I've made a friend at new church and we are going to be accountable to each other - authentically and honestly real - about meeting our weight loss goals.  While I still don't have all the answers I'm starting to feel confident again in my ability to make successful strides in weight loss.

I never wrote about all I am thankful for this week but suffice to say I am overcome with thankfulness of the family, friends, communities and love I have in my life.  I count myself very very blessed.  (And full of food).  Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baby Goat and Prematurity Awareness

If I tell people that baby goat was a preemie they find it hard to believe.  It is hard to believe that my 20 month - 98+% weight, 90% height, 98+% head, daredevil, precocious, precious child was ever 4 lbs 7oz and struggling to breath.  It is baffling really the change and growth that occurs in small children.  Today you'd hardly know.

But I know.

Each moment of 46 days in the NICU are burned into my brain.  46 days where the concept of joy, fear, pain, sadness, and wonder merge into a super emotion both exilarating and exhausting.  I don't wish a preemie or a NICU experience on anyone, but whenever I meet one I know that I can relate.  I know the language, the panic and the hope of the place.

Baby goat was born at 33 weeks - 7 weeks early.  He wasn't ready to come out but my own body made it necessary.  Even so we were so lucky.  My blood pressure could be controlled long enough to give him steroids.  Baby goat hadn't stopped growing at any point.  My doctor had pre-eclampsia herself (3 times) and knew just what to watch for. 

I didn't have the birth story that anyone plans for.  Baby goat didn't have the beginning I planned for him.  1 in 8 children don't.  I didn't hold baby goat until he was 2 days old.  I know parents who had to wait even longer. 
Holding baby goat for the first time

A friend of a friend lost her baby at 23 weeks today and I've thought about it all day.  We know so little about what triggers labor or illness or any of the emergencies that can require babies to be born early.  Too many people know the sorrow of losing a child.  And too many know the joy of watching a too small child grow and thrive through overwhelming odds.

It is imperative to keep supporting the research on prematurity.  It is not that long ago that baby goat and I never would have survived my pregnancy.  And there are still mothers and babies who do not.  That needs to stop.

My child is my daily miracle.  All children are whether they have his beginning or not. 

Baby goat went from this:


To this...


But I pray for a day when no one has to endure the NICU, the wires, the fear. 

Every year, 20 million babies are born too soon, too small and very sick-half a million of them in the U.S. November 17th is when we fight! 

I fight for baby goat.




Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Becoming a Future PriorFatGirl

I was not chosen to be the next official Future PriorFatGirl.  And that...its ok.  I think two great people were choosen and I am still uplifted by all the wonderful support and encouragement I've recieved in the last few weeks because of this experience.  You can still read my nomination post over at Jen's blog and the facts of this really haven't changed.  I think I'd put myself in a holding pattern as I waited to see what happened over on the other blog.  I do that a lot.  I make a mental milestone in my head and wait until that milestone is reached to make any real changes.  Of course, reaching that milestone I tend to place another one before me.

I don't want to do that again so I'm going to get a move on.  And in doing so I'd like to ask your opinion on whether or not I should document this journey.  Obviously it is a private thing but there is power in sharing it, for me and I hope for others.  But, this has not been a weight loss blog exclusively to date and I don't want to drive people away with a focused theme.  Besides I like having my blog to talk about anything that strikes my fancy or documents my families life.  So I've got a short poll.  Would you share your input with me below?

Finally I want to thank everyone who has visited or left me a kind note here, on twitter or on Jen's blog.  It means so so much to know that you believe I have the power to do this.  I often have trouble believing it myself but your comments reinvigorate me and give me strength to keep trying.  Thank you.  Thank you.  A thousand times Thank you.  I will be a PriorFatGirl someday.



(I had to redo the poll so please vote again if you already had!)

Monday, November 15, 2010

50 Book Challenge Success and Giveaway!

I am pleased to announce that I succeeded in my 50 book challenge for the year!  I finished my 50th book this weekend.  I'll keep track for the rest of the year and give you a summary of the year then but I want to celebrate in my 50 books.  It is not so easy with a child but it is something that centers me and I would miss it if I gave it up.  I've read some great books this year and arranged a little giveaway at the end of this post in honor of accomplishing this again this year.   Be sure to scroll down and enter.

50 Book Challenge 2010 - books to date

1. Follow the Model: Miss J's Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power by J. Alexander
2. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) by Alexander McCall Smith
3. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
4. The Other Queen: A Novel by Philippa Gregory
5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
6. Blue Shoes and Happiness (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 7) by Alexander McCall Smith
7. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 8) by Alexander McCall Smith
8. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
9. The Miracle at Speedy Motors (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Book 9) by Alexander McCall Smith
10. Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
11. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
12. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
13. Shanghai Girls: A Novel by Lisa See
14. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
15. Missing Mark by Julie Kramer 
16. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
17. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Book 10) by Alexander McCall Smith
18. Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir by Susan E. Isaacs
19. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
20. God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero
21. Best Friends Forever: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner
22. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
23. An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L'Engle
24. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by  
25. Origins of Story: On Writing for Children by Barbara Harrison and Gregory Maguire
26. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
27. Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler
28. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
29. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson
30. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
31. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
32. Love, Love, Love: and Other Essays by Charles Taliaferro
33. Her Fearful Symmetry: A Novel by Audrey Niffenegger
34. Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run by Alton Brown
35. Trailing Clouds of Glory: Spiritual Values in Children's Literature by Madeleine L'Engle and Avery Brooke
36. It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita



by Adriana Trigiani


The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)
Allison Winn Scotch
Julie Klassen

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50. Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colón

Pretty cool list huh?  I'm pretty pleased with it.  I had lots of variation - theology, memoirs, fiction, children's lit, murder mystery's, classics, modern novels, etc.  I'm happy to give you a review of any of the books too.  (The links are still to Amazon, I still dont' know how I feel about that whole mess they are in fully but deep down I'm too lazy to change all the links right now)

Anyway, back in the beginning of the year I read Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer.  Julie writes from Minnesota and her main character Riley Spartz reminded me an awful lot of my blogger friend (and Channel 9 Investigative Reporter) Trish VanPilsum.  The next time I saw Trish I asked her about it and found out that she'd been co-workers with the author years before.  (Apparently there are 3 local reports who all have some claim to the character profile of Riley)

I read Julie's other two books this year, the latest of which is Silencing Sam, and thanks to Julie Kramer that is the book I have to giveaway in honor of my 50 book challenge this year.  Best of all it is SIGNED!  (I just love signed books).  It is a fun read, a gripping mystery and a great, strong female character.  Plus it is set in Minnesota which is always fun.

And so...want to win this awesome signed copy of Silencing Sam?  This is a simple giveaway.  Just leave a comment with a book that you think I should read.  I am always looking for new books.  It may be that I've read it but I will still count it :)

I approached Julie about getting a book signed for this giveaway.  She one upped me and gave me a copy that I was fully prepared to pay for.  Because she is awesome.  Support your local authors!  Giveaway runs until Monday November 22, 2010 at 9pm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Random Thoughts

* We still survived but it turns out that the stomach bug wasn't done with the Goat family this weekend.  It struck me and Mr. Goat in turn.  But it truly was a 24 hr bug it seems and we are mostly recouped.  It also struck at least 3 kids in daycare so I don't think baby goat was the source and I don't feel like an awful mother for not finding a way to avoid it.  And in the end, we still survived.  Also, clean sheets are da bomb!  Word.  (Even my sleeping toddler probably just rolled his eyes at that one).

* Giveaway tomorrow!  :)  It is going to be awesome!

* We had our first snow this weekend.  It was lovely and wet and heavy.  Thankfully we never lost power like so many others I know.  It also made me realize how ill equipped I currently am for the needs of a mobile toddler in the winter.  Thanks to awesome friends, I have some coats and snowpants and such.  Many of them are a just a bit too big so I'm waffling about whether to buy something smaller than will just last part of the year or just bundle him in too large stuff.  Also, boots, we need boots.  Target will be my after work destination today.

* Thanks to the family illness this week/weekend I feel like I dropped the ball on a few of my volunteers at work today.  I feel badly about it but I'm going to give myself some grace, make the necessary apologies and let it go.  I truly did all I could manage to make this weekend work and for 99% of the stuff it worked out fine.

* This Sunday was also Consecration Sunday at church (aka Stewardship Sunday).  Our lead pastor gave a lovely sermon and reminded me that nothing is truly ours.  We own nothing.  Even our children aren't ours.  Everything we have been given is because we are stewards of it for God.  It was a lovely message and really gave me the urge to stop more often and see abundance in my life where I often see want.  I truly have everything I need and so so so much more.  And I'm so blessed to be allowed to steward baby goat as he grows as a child of God.

* Have I mentioned that Mr. Goat LOVES trains?  I have all sorts of cute (blurry) pictures from our trip to the Train museum in WI from a month ago to share here.  He has been many times but it was baby goat's first trip.  Anyway, there is a Social Media push for Union Pacific to help design their next steam locomotive tour.  You can vote for your preferred city.  Plus if you vote using this link you can get Mr. Goat a point to help win a chance to be in the cab of a steam engine, which is sort of like sending me into space, or getting to go to the Oscars, or taking a 4 yr old to Disney world.  So I'd really really love it if you would use this link and vote for the tour.  And if you want to vote for Minneapolis that'd be great too.  (You do have to enter an email and then verify it, but that is all the necessary info you need.  I just put a first name and it went through).

*  Have you seen this?  It's has been making the rounds on the interwebs and it is quite hilarious.  There is also a Seminary one that someone made that is quite amusing as well.



* Harry Potter Movie Seven Part 1 comes out this weekend?  SQUEE!  (You know that train thing?  Yeah, its that's like that).  Anyone interested in a Sat. Matinee?  (As much as I'd like to do the midnight opening it seems unlikely I'll cave).

* I'm mentally prepping this year's geek kid gift list for next week.  If you have a favorite geek toy, product or experience that I should know about let me know!   I'm writing for geeks of all ages!

* I realized that we are less than 2 weeks from Thanksgiving and I am very excited all of a sudden.  I'm thrilled that baby goat will get to spend some quality time with his Great Grandma (one of them at least) and am really looking forward to hanging with the ILs.  Which is a great sentence to be able to write for anyone.

* Dry skin season is kicking in and I'm looking for a new good hand lotion.  Not pricy just your favorite that works and isn't greasy.  Any suggestions?

* After Thanksgiving is ChristmasFest concerts and then Christmas!  Where has this fall gone?  However, I loved that it seemed to go from 60 and sunny to winter overnight.  None of that annoying in between, windy, rainy, 40s stuff for me!

* That's it.  Mount laundry beckons.  Night blogland!  I hope you have an awesome week!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I survived

I think every new parent has a milestone that makes them more anxious than is probably necessary.  It may be labor, or breastfeeding, or vaccines, or whatever.  For me, it was the stomach flu.

I've never been good with dealing with the stomach flu.  I'm a big baby.  I don't want to see it, hear about it, talk about it or know you've had it.  Thinking about it makes me queasy.  When I didn't end up with any morning sickness in my pregnancy with baby goat I rejoiced.  If I can avoid throwing up I will at all costs.

Plus, after the New Year's Eve/Day flu experience at Mr. Goat's home (when we were still dating) my fear was multiplied.  And that is all I'll say about that, except that getting sick with your some-day ILs is a bonding experience you never speak of again.

And so the sight that greeted me at 1am early Wednesday a major bummer.  Poor baby goat had his very first stomach flu.  To be fair he'd thrown up singly a few times but it ended up being attributed to other things.  This was a true, multiple event, flu.

Yet.  I survived.  The mother instinct does kick in and you make do.  You comfort your child.  You clean up the mess, and clean it up again.  You do laundry.  You rearrange your schedule.  You cuddle on the couch watching NickJr and Sprout and PBS in a rare toddler tv session.  And you do it out of love for your child.

And then it passes and it wasn't as bad as you had built it up to be.

And you survived and so did your baby.

Still, if it doesn't come back anytime soon that'd be great.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mostly Wordless Wednesday - Baby goat speaks

Pardon the blurry crooked video but here is a clip of baby goat and his adorable voice (so turn on your sound).  As for the blur just blame the fact that he never stays still.

video

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Big words upheld by tiny hands

These last few weeks have been hard for me.  They were full of introspection and vulnerabilty and growth and hiding in  waves that are exhausting.  There are great connections that leave me spent and retreating to my introvertedness.  There have been tears of sadness, frustation and joy too.  And in the midst of it all are these BIG words that I am struggleing to define for MYSELF.  Words like:

Slavery

Freedom

Covenant

Health

Forgiveness

Grace

Self-respect

Worth

Vocation

Joy

Openness

Hope

Big words.  Big thoughts.  Big questions.

They swirl and appear in brief moments of clarity, like the pensieve from Dumbledore's office, but mostly it is a mist of thinking.  Sometimes they swirl fast with a franticness that demands my attention, sometimes they churn and bubble slowling drawing me to reflect and ponder. Sometimes thoughts are thought in places of anxiousness, sometimes from places of determination, but after two weeks the words remain swirling.

The words are good to think about.  The processing is part of they necessary way that I operate.  I know that.  I have to process and think and make those connections to move forward.  But it is exhausting.

But each day I come home to a smile and a hug and a "mama" and for a moment the words are small.  Grace, Love, Hope, Openness are real in his tiny hands building the perfect megablock tower, petting the cat, stealing mama's sweater.  His hands and heart hug the worry and wondering out of me and leave in its place... wonder.

Not the word but the living, the experience and mystery of a child of God giving and recieving love as the easiest, simplest, most joyful thing in the world.

Tiny hands.  Tiny hugs.  Bringing big words from out of my head and into my being, into my living.

Parents hope we teach our children what they need to know to live, thrive and love in the world.

But in reality they are often the ones doing the teaching, giving us the gifts of life and love in ways we've never expected.

Tiny hands are large enough to hold the biggest words and your heart at the same time.

Vote, if you want to

The voting is up today for the Future PriorFatGirl.  So head on over and vote if you want, even if you don't vote for me.  There are so many good nominations there is not a bad decision.  And every vote is a support of all our efforts and weight loss goals.  Thanks!

So if you want...vote

Monday, November 08, 2010

CSN Winner

I am pleased to announce the winner of my CSN giveaway.  Beth of Anti-Supermom is the winner!  Beth look for an email from me soon!  Thank you for all who entered and watch for another exciting giveaway coming soon.

Lutheran Geek Book Review: America's Prophet

It is probably a good thing that I'm not asked to review books very often because otherwise I would find even more books and authors out there in the world to add to my never-ending lists of books to read.  Still I love it when I am invited because that means that I get to delve into something I might not have picked up otherwise.  In this instance it was with TLC book tours and the book was America's Prophet: How the Story of Moses shaped America by Bruce Feiler.

And just to give you an idea here is the teaser on the back of the book:
The pilgrims quoted his story. Franklin and Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. Washington and Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King Jr. invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration. For four hundred years, one figure has inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses.

Traveling through touchstones in American history, bestselling author Bruce Feiler traces the biblical prophet's influence from the Mayflower through today. Meticulously researched and highly readable, America's Prophet is a thrilling, original work of history that will forever change how we view America, our faith, and our future.
 Are you intrigued?  I know that I was.  It helps that I seriously debated getting an Old Testament MA at Seminary, or that my dad is a history buff, or even that Mr. Goat has a serious History Channel addiction, but more than that I love delving into the conscious and unconscious way that story frames our cultural context.

The book starts out with the juxtaposition of two major family holidays of Feiler's:  Thanksgiving and Passover.  The reality we come to conclude quickly is that the basis of these holidays are tightly wound in America culture in ways we don't even expect.

If pressed I would have said that there were comparisons to Moses and the Exodus story in America's history but I was surprised how far reaching and purposeful many of them were.  Take the Pilgrim's - they clung to the Moses story as they crossed the waters of the Atlantic seeking religious freedom and seeking to set up a "holy nation"  If you replace Israelites with Pilgrims it seems like the same story and in their minds it was the same story.

Likewise Washington, Jefferson and the Founding Fathers grasped the image during the Revolution, going so far as to suggest an image of Moses for the US seal and comparisons between Moses and Washington.  (Crossing the Delaware for example).  Interestingly the book also talks about how Moses (and Washington) emphasized the need for stricter law and regulation in light of the new found freedom.  They both recognized, Feiler argues, that freedom and law often go hand in hand.

From the Founding Fathers connections to Moses and the Exodus narrative continue to be heralded and formative in the growth of the nation.  Both the North and the South frequently quoted from the books and story of Exodus-Numbers.  The slaves too sought for freedom from oppression and the literal slavery that makes Moses such a compelling figure to them. 

Many Moses' can be found around the Civil war - from Lincoln to Harriet Beecher Stowe to Harriet Tubman.  The nation, it seemed, raised up leaders willing to take the risk to call the world to "Let their people go"  Later Moses figures naturally go on to include Martin Luther King Jr. as well.  Feiler does not so much insist that in hindsight these leaders of our nation are seen as Moses but that during their lifetime they were viewed, participated in and even called on the story of Moses as a grounding force for the battle of liberty vs oppression around them.  To them and the people living the history of America they were the Israelites striving for freedom, grumbling in the desert and seeking the promised land.

The comparisons to Moses are not only found in leaders but also in our nations imagery and popular culture.   Feiler discusses how the Liberty Bell, the Statue of Liberty, Superman and DeMille's Ten Commandments all had ties to the idea of the Exodus story and its relevance to America today.  I for one, had no idea of the anti-Communist propaganda within the Ten Commandments as DeMille scripted it.

I found two things particularly compelling that I am still mulling over today in particular.

1.  I was fascinated by the comparison of Moses not gaining ultimate entry into the Promised Land and how it compares to the death of Lincoln and King in particular.  Would Lincoln or King have had the lasting impact on our nation had they not died when they did?  Could they have succeeded in being both the liberator and rebuilder of the nation?  It was fascinating to consider that the type of leader needed to thrive in the Promised land might not be the same one to lead you to freedom.  Feiler talks much about the importance of this act and you should read what he says on it.

2. I am also intrigued by the continued use of Moses in a much more secular world and am wondering how new Moses' may ultimately influence the current issues of our society - reconciling the Islamic world with our culture for one, or gay marriage for another.  Who will be the next Moses to stand up and say "Let my people go"?

I'm still thinking and probably will be for a while and as far as I'm concerned that always means that I enjoyed the book.  Still to be obvious, the book was interesting and well researched and it gave me a new perspective on our nation's heritage.  Even in its non-"religious" moments of history the story of Moses was a crucial one.  What is it that makes the story of Moses so compelling and easy to parallel?  Perhaps it is because deep down we are always starting again in the cycle of oppression to deliverance to covenant.  

I was giving a book to review from TLC Book Tours but was not compensated in any way, nor was I told what to write.  You can visit Bruce Feiler at his website, on Facebook, or on Twitter too.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Some Geek loves

There is no doubt that I am a geek in many senses.  If you've met me you know that I can hold up in many a geek conversation and topic.  So tonight I thought I'd share some of my favorite geek sites, shows and games currently!

1. Twitter - yes, I really mean this.  There are so many awesome geek contextions on twitter - writers, actors, producers and stars of some of the best geek shows.  They are often the "celebrities" that get twitter most.  Plus there are even many of the geek characters that tweet - including Sheldon Cooper and Lord Voldemort.

2. Epbot - This blog is written by Jen the author of Cake Wrecks.  Here however she shares all her other geek loves including steampunk, Doctor Who and Comic Con!  Plus when she makes something awesome and geeky she shows you just how she did it.  So much love for Jen!

3. ThinkGeek - This is my go-to shop online.  I love everything here.   So much geek love.  You could get me anything here I think and I'd be happy! :)

4. xkcd.com - I've featured comics from this before but I continue to be impressed by their cleverness and geekiness.  The best line is often the one hidden in the mouse selection.  It is another little easter egg in the comic.

5. Wil Wheaton - yes he was Wesley Crusher in Star Trek:TNG but he's been able to parlay his geekiness past his childhood fame.  Now he is an excellent author, blogger and geek-tacular social media fellow.  He also stars as "Evil Wil Wheaton" on my next geek love!

6. The Big Bang Theory - you have found this show already right?  I trust that you have and that I am preaching to the choir.  If not, start watching it (Thursdays on CBS at least in the Twin Cities).  This show has mainstreamed being a geek more than most other things right now.  It is hilarious and superbly scripted and acted.  Plus, evil Wil Wheaton!

7. Dr. Who - I wasn't sure if my love would continue as much this year as there is a new Doctor - Matt Smith.  But thanks to BBC America I've seen most of the new season and it was awesome.   If you don't have BBC America watch for it on SyFy soon I hope!

8. The Guild - This is a web series of videos about a band of fantasy gamers.  It is so funny and stars Felicia Day who also was awesome in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  Watch them. Start with season 1.

9. The Mythbusters - they have been around for ages now it seems but I still heart them.  They do just what I wish I could do - build stuff to prove people wrong (or right, but mostly wrong).  They do so with a good mix of real science, character hyjinks and of course, plenty of explosions!

10. Neil Gaiman - If you haven't read his books, stop reading this little blog and go to your library and get them now.  American Gods, or Anasi Boys, or The Graveyard book, or any of them really.  It takes a cool guy to take the concept of fairy tales and folk tales and transform them into modern novels.  Read them.

There you have it.  Some geek loves that are on my mind tonight.  If you have other geek-tacular things I should know about please let me know.  I'm always looking for new awesomeness!

Geek out,

Liz, the Lutheran Geek