Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Tarantula Whisperer

Imagine if you will a outing of two blogger friends to the Science Museum of Minnesota for an evening of socializing, Egyptology and a few tasty snacks.  That my friends would have been last night's Social Science event.  While my favorite part was the access to the King Tut exhibit (I'll share pictures of that next week) there was a lot of fun stuff going on.

They had snacks and beverages to spare, plus all the exhibits were open with some extra special guests as well.  There was a kestrel present with his owner (think falcon), there were a bunch of snacks and reptiles (I liked the ball python best), and there was Bruce the Bug guy.

Now I had heard of Bruce the Bug guy once before - he did a presentation at my church's preschool last week but I hadn't met him or his bugs before.  So my blogger friend and I turned the corner to see Bruce and saw him handing people a tarantula to hold.

Now I am not a spider type of girl - not so much, but when your friend leans over and whispers, "I once had a challenge on my blog to hold a tarantula and I've still never done it" then you KNOW that you are going to have to make her hold that giant furry spider.

And so we did...


And after that picture I *MAY* have said, "wait let me turn on the flash" and fumbled with my camera for a few seconds while she was holding that spider.

But she was a trooper and we have proof now.  She held a tarantula.

Of course not to be outdone it seemed only fair to hold him myself.  And I swear once I got past the initial heebee jeebee's he gave me, he was sort of cute.  In fact, I am pretty sure he nuzzled himself into my hand.
So perhaps I am the Tarantula Whisperer.  But little goat isn't allowed to have one for a long long (Read: EVER) time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tired

I am tired of illness, and coughing, and crud.

I am tired of chaos, and boxes, and moving.

I am tired of winter, and snow, and potholes.

I am tired of tsunamis, and earthquakes and war.

I am tired of friend's bad news, and sad news, and loss.

So the only logical thing is to go to sleep early and hope it all gets better tomorrow.

Spring, health, and a semblance order will be here soon.

Aslan will always prevail over the White Witch.

Winter is already crumbling. Spring returns.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Home

Well we are in our new home now.  This are messy and jumbled and our routines are out of wack but we are home and it is starting to feel like home.  Little goat already runs around like he owns the place, and even the cats found the courage to leave the basement by the end of the weekend.

I'll share more about the move this week as we continue to unpack and discover.  We've done a few projects already and suddenly the appeal of Saturday morning Home Depot trips makes much more sense to me.  Even my cleaning instincts seem stronger for my own house - although that might be a desire to live in a little less chaos than the last few weeks have been.

But thanks for your patience with me being gone and thank you to all my guest bloggers this week.  It was fun to highlight some great blogging women out there!  Thanks Emma, Kris, Missy and Gina!

Finally, what do YOU want to know about my house?  I'll share the details I feel comfortable with but what are your pressing questions blogland? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post: Gina on Kindergarten

Gina, who blogs at Brown's Sugar and Spice, was another blogger friend who I've met online.  Although she doesn't hail from Minnesota, I got to meet her when she came up to support her friends and the Liz Logelin Foundation at the 5k last September, the 5k I completed.  So she's had the privledge of getting a sweaty hug from me.  She guest post about Kindergarten, which I read with great interest as it suddenly seems much closer for little goat that I ever anticipated!

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Kindergarten
I knew what to expect when I was pregnant, during baby’s first year and throughout the toddler years. We’ve all heard of those books and I read them. But no one ever told me what to expect when it came to Kindergarten. You might be on the verge of having a school-age kid, or maybe you are bouncing your brand new baby and Kindergarten feels light years away. Whatever the case may be I hope you learn something from my experiences.

# 1 Pull out your pocket book. I had the idea that once our daughter started Kindergarten our expenses would go down. My one track mind was thinking, school=no more daycare. The reality of our situation is that we need before and after school care, school lunches, and, oh yeah, 100 other items. The school supply list came and I had a slight heart attack. I had envisioned a lunch box, backpack, pencils, paper, crayons and markers. We had to buy all of the expected items plus, 2 reams of copy paper, 3 boxes Kleenex, Ziploc bags, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer etc. My advice to you, get the supply list from your school this spring and buy a few items each time you grocery shop. It made what would have cost us close to a $100.00 feel a lot less hefty. You also have to be aware that you’ll be forking over dough for things like new PE sneakers, replacement supplies, school fundraisers, field trips and programs. If you have two kids in daycare you lose the second child discount, making the bill go up for one kid. All in all we spent about $150.00 more in the last year, which is not horrible but it was a shock when I envisioned more money for fancy vacations and designer jeans in our everyday budget.

# 2 Exposure. I hadn’t really thought about all the things my daughter would be exposed to when attending Kindergarten. Up to this point I’ve had a hand in who she played with and what they exposed her to etc. In a matter of weeks my daughter was discussing divorce, custody, prison, and death of parents. Things we had never discussed as a family quickly came to the dinner table as her friends had shared bits and pieces of their lives with her. I love that she is able to talk to her friends and also that she talked to me about it. My advice - be prepared for topics coming out of nowhere. I didn’t really know the facts before having to discuss things like “do only bad daddies go to jail” or “will my daddy go too?” or one of my favorites, “J says I can be his first wife and A will be his second, is daddy your first or second husband, mom?”

There is also the germ exposure. It sure ruined plans for the weekends - after about 4 weeks we caught everything going around the school. In a matter of 3 weeks she had Strep Throat, Pink Eye, a cold and some random fever. I always think it would be easier if I could plan ahead for illnesses and now I have my chance - after sitting in the same class with the same kids for a few weeks your child will be exposed to lots of new germs!

#3 Get Involved. At the beginning of the year I was leaving my daughter in the hands of complete strangers every day. I made it a point to join the PTA solely for two reasons. One, I cannot say no, ever, and two, it would give me a chance to get to know the people in charge at her school. Our meetings are for an hour once a month and the time commitment I put into it has paid itself back times 1000. I’ve gotten to know her teacher which means I am in the know on the small things that happen in my daughter’s day to day life. We communicate through email and texts and it makes a world of difference. It has also given me a chance to get to know the other people who work with my child. I know all of the first grade teachers and will be prepared for what is to come in the future with a much greater ease then I was last spring.

#4 Make it fun. Some kids have anxiety about going to school; mine had a little but she called her older friends and cousins and asked them about the first day of school. We wrote a letter to my daughter’s teacher and told her what we thought she should know about her. It was quite a cute project - here is what she had me write. Dear Mrs. C, I will be in your class next year. I want you to know I like the Iowa Hawkeyes. If you’re a Cyclone fan please don’t tell me. Love, your new kindergartener. I also wrote the teacher a quick note. I think this is a great idea if there is something about your child you want her to know. After all, you know your child best. I let her teacher know she was a preemie, but had no lasting health effects and was pretty close to needing glasses at her last eye appointment. If the teacher noticed anything, she already had some information to help her identify the problem! A note is a great idea because the first day of school is chaotic to say the least, I am sure 100 things that were said to the teacher didn’t quite sink in. I felt comfort in knowing our teacher had what I wanted her to know in writing! Treat the first day like a little holiday, take off work if you can and bake your child a cake or make a special dinner.

The biggest advice I have is to enjoy this time, it is always sad to see your children grow but it is also just as wonderful to watch then change and mature!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Post: The Marketing Mama

I have known Missy, The Marketing MamaTM, now for over ten years.  We met originally online while planning our weddings, so it was with sadness that I heard the news that they were getting divorce.  However, I know that Missy will never abandon anything without a serious fight.  She writes this guest post today about divorce and her own experience.  While I hope to never be divorced myself (so far so good), I think her message is an important one for all people to consider.  Thanks Missy for sharing on my blog today.

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About divorce

The divorce rate is still about 50% in the United States. Of course we all think we are the exception to that, right? It won’t happen to us because… we are different, our love is stronger, we went to pre-marital counseling and no one in our family has ever gotten divorced…

After experiencing divorce as a child, I was pretty determined to do things right. Plus, everyone who knows me knows I’m a super over-achiever, and failure isn’t something I easily embrace.

I did everything I could to make sure I was marrying the right man. Everything I knew to make my marriage work. And everything I possibly could to prevent getting divorced. However, I am now a divorced woman. With two children.

As one of the first of my group of friends to get divorced, there was a huge shock factor. Many people were surprised. Those who knew me well weren’t of course. (It took me more than two months to even share on my blog I was getting divorced after we split up.)

Friends, please don’t be so quick to judge when you find out your friends are getting divorced. You have no idea what’s really going on behind closed doors or how much energy they each put into making the relationship work. For themselves. For the children.

Here’s what I’ve learned first hand - divorce can still happen even when:
- you go to pre-marital counseling through your church.
- you talk about what’s important to both of you and believe your priorities match up beautifully.
- you believe marriage should last forever.
- you really love your spouse, love your children and want to keep your family together.
- you go to marriage counseling for years.

Out of respect to all parties involved, I’m not going to get into all the details on why I got divorced online. However, I wanted to share this little bit of perspective to help combat the “it will never happen to me” and “I’m so shocked they dismissed their marriage so easily” type of judging I see and hear. Mostly among young people in their 20s and early 30s who have yet to have divorce fall in their laps of life experience.

I now receive frequent phone calls and e-mails from friends (and readers) who are either thinking of getting divorced or already in the process of it. They need someone to listen to them who has walked in their shoes and won’t judge. Someone who can say, “I went through it and even though it was awful, I survived.”

It is painful, friends, very, very painful. So please, the next time you hear of someone you know getting divorced, try not to focus on how much money you spent on their wedding gift so many years ago. I promise you, that is the furthest thing from their mind. Instead, ask “How can I help?” and if you are the praying type, offer up a few prayers for them.

Then count your own blessings.

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Missy Berggren blogs at Marketing MamaTM, where she chronicles her parenting experiences and reflections on being a working (and newly divorced) mom. She also talks quite a bit about food allergies and breastfeeding. Missy was named one of the Twin Cities Top Ten Titans in Social Media for 2010 and is a founder of the Minnesota Blogger Conference. You can also find her on twitter and facebook.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post: Kris Gets Healthy

Today's guest post is from a more recent blogger friend Kris.  I've met her through blogging and as I continue to struggle on my weight journey she supports and inspires me.  Sometimes the weight loss road seems so daunting but her story makes me know that I can do it, so I asked her to share the beginning of her story here.  You can find her at http://krisgetshealthy.com/

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So how do you know when it is time to make a change? Any change is sparked by something, whether it is just a feeling or an obvious need. Some changes are easy to spot why they are happening. A growing
family transitions into their lovely first home where they can grow and make memories and have SPACE. A child makes the move to a bed because he or she can now climb out of the crib. A car switches lanes
on the highway because their exit is approaching or there is traffic ahead. All simple examples of change, that really anyone can see. So how did I know it was time for me to make a change in my life and get
healthy?

I have spent much of my life sitting on the sidelines watching others have fun. My previous ideas of any night out had been a dinner usually something trashy. Think french-fries with gravy on top or mozzarella sticks and a burger with mayo for dipping. This was followed by a movie with popcorn and a diet coke. Now, my diet coke was not a calorie decision but a taste preference but a joke none the less to the guy behind the counter selling the heavy girl a large popcorn and a large soda.

So I spent my 24th birthday alone, in a movie theater with a large popcorn and soda after having consumed a dinner alone, and ice cream alone I thought I had hit a low point. I moved to Minnesota a few months later. Little did I know that move has saved my life. I had a guy here in MN who cared about me, more than I cared about myself. Then again at that point I don’t think it would have taken much more to do so. The first few years I was here were great! I was so happy, sadly we live on the third floor of a walk-up (this means we walk THREE flights of stairs to get into our apartment no elevator option).

My weight continues to go up. I continued to climb the stairs. My health continued to decline. I continued to ignore the growing problem... and my “shrinking pants”

I started to look around at others, not anyone in particular, just everyone. I was so jealous that it seemed like everyone was so happy able to go and do anything anytime. My health was decreasing and my age was creeping up. I was getting to the point where there were days that I was in so much unexplained chronic pain that I would literally crawl from the bed to the bathroom and back again. How embarrassing is that? Seriously, to say I can’t do anything but go from the bed to the bathroom? I knew deep down that it was not a pure weight issue causing my problem. I knew I had to find someone ANYONE willing to help me. If I did not get help soon I would end up dead. My body had entombed this free spirit that needed to escape.

I started at my family doctors, where thankfully they had a scale large enough that it could weigh me, and they decided to tackle one problem at a time. As Jen (PriorFatGirl) says, “One Decision at a Time” The decision was to treat my thyroid first. Imagine this, my thyroid had been under-active (documented as such) since I was about 11. Untreated. So we started there. It was not an answer to the ultimate question, but it was a start.

From there I was bounced to the Endocrine clinic, and the Rheumatology clinic at the University of Minnesota where they ran tons of tests. They poked and prodded and more importantly they listened. I was
willing to accept that my weight was part of the problem if they were willing to admit that something else was wrong.

But what made me really want to change? What was it that made everything click? Really I was afraid I was going to die without getting to live! I spent the first 27 years of my life doing what everyone else wanted the way others said was the right way. It was just this almost primal feeling of needing to fight for my life. Fight my way out of the tomb that had trapped me, contained me, suffocated me. I was not going to miss another change to do things. I missed out on walking tours, helicopter flights and so many other once in a lifetime chances because I was too big. I missed out on too many other things because I was too scared to go alone, I am strong enough to do this.

YOU are strong enough to do this. You are worthy of your health! I don’t know if you are familiar with the song Changes by 2PAC but I would like to leave you with a few lyrics to think about....

We gotta make a change...
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes.
Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live
and let's change the way we treat each other.
You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do
what we gotta do, to survive.

So think about that, remember you have to treat yourself well, you only get one body! Don’t abuse it! I did and got to 428 pounds. I now sit at 260-ish and am fighting every day to get to a healthy weight. It is a struggle, it is a war, and you cannot give up! You MUST FIGHT!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: The Power of Team

Our first guest blogger this week is Emma who blogs at Emmasota and I originally met her through her blogoir Divorced by for 30 which she is currently turning into a book.   She is one of those friendships that has been born directly from blogging.  The community I have found through this blog is so important to me and I am so glad Emma is a part of it!
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The Power of Team

As spring is right around the corner, I'm feeling nostalgic for the excitement of a new track and field season. Growing up, track was a huge part of my life, and I went on to serve as a college track coach for five years before switching careers in 2005. As both an athlete and a coach, what I loved most about track was being part of a team. In general, I'm a fairly independent person. In fact, I like doing projects on my own, and I have no qualms about sitting home on a Saturday night. But I still love the interchange of energy that happens on a team. As I get older and my priorities shift—as they inevitably do when juggling parenthood, career, and personal interests—it's essential that I continue to be a part of teams that can help me build the kind of life I want for myself.

When I needed some structure to help me finish the book that I've been working on since November 2009, I put a call out on my blog for people interested in starting a Twin Cities writing group. I didn't want it to be complicated—just a once-a-month gathering to share our work and provide feedback. Mostly, I was looking for some structure to provide interim deadlines for myself. Our dear Luther Liz, who I'd met through the Minnesota blogging scene, was one of three women to answer my call. The four of us have met three times now, and it's helped me immensely to know that I'm not alone in this often isolating task. Not only have I received thoughtful critique of my work, but I've had fun getting to know the other women better.

Now, I know that there's a danger in over-committing, so I'm not suggesting that we all run out and join ten new clubs. In fact, to fit the writing group into my already hectic life, I chose to step down from a non-profit committee I'd served on for three years. That had been a great team experience, too, but it was no longer fulfilling me the way it once had. When I reflected on what kind of support I needed, I knew that a community of writers would help me slog through the messy work of writing a full-length book—a daunting task, to be sure. So, my question for you is: Are you on the right team(s) to help you build the kind of life you want for yourself?

If you're not sure, here are a few ideas:
* Playgroup or ECFE class to share notes with other parents
* Cooking co-op to prepare and freeze meals together
* Volunteer League (my group of friends meets once a month to do family-friendly volunteer projects)
* Workout group (walking, running, swimming, yoga—you name it)
* Athletic team (my husband likes to play volleyball; I know people who have had fun with kickball)
* Book club
* Childcare exchange
* Bible study or other spiritual group (meditation, etc.)
* Support group for a physical or mental health issue

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I Want to Know:

* What teams—formal or informal—currently help you build the kind of life you want for yourself?
* If you had unlimited free time, what kind of team(s) would you like to join or start?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sun will come out Tomorrow

Or it won't, but either way tomorrow will be a milestone.  Tomorrow we buy our first house and we kick off a super crazy week of dealing with house details that need some love, finishing packing, moving, oh and that one day that I'm going into work to do the week's worth of work in a day so that I can take the rest of the week off to help.

I know that it is going to be nuts but I am trying to be mindful that the timeline is NOT the important part.  We will get done.  We'll get out of our apartment by the end of the month.  We can do house stuff after we move in.  I've realized that professionals aren't kidding when they say that buying a house is stressful.  It is.  BUT, I am so awed by my little family in this process.  My flexible boy who we can see is stressed by the chaos but still is primarily joyful and jubiliant in this crazy process.  My awesome husband who listens to my endless random "WE NEED TO DO THIS NOW  ARGH!" freak-outs.  Our parents and family and friends who offer all sorts of help.  And even if we cannot take everyone up on their offers we are grateful.

And it is my family that is most important in my process, which is why we took 2 hrs today and went to the YMCA to take little goat swimming.  Together, as a family, just to be and enjoy each other.  And it was so needed.

Something else that is needed is to take a week off from this blog so that I can keep my focus on the most important things in my life - my family.  Know that I love you all and will have LOTS to say next week, but until then I have some great guest posts lined up (and if my internet still works I may even throw up a Wordless Wednesday. 

Until then I wish you all a good week, and if there are important things I need to know send me a tweet!  *Mwah*

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Lutheran Geek 5k Sequel - The Waddler's Return

Sometimes, definitely not always, but sometimes peer pressure can be used for good.  I haven't kept it a secret on this blog that I've been hemming and hawing about running another 5k.  It was a good goal to keep me focused last summer even if I didn't succeed in the way I wanted to - I still finished my first 5k and that was a great thing.  So on Monday night when some of my weight-journey twitter friends - Kris, James, and Sabrina were talking about 5ks and their desire to support one another and "waddle" one together, I threw my name in the ring as well.

Afterall I have waddled a 5k successfully once!  I can waddle one again!

And then twitter promptly blew up.  When the dust settled an hour later Sabrina, James, Kris, Ann, Lindsay, Elle, Jen and myself were forming our 5k team the #PriorFatPack.

By the next day a date and a race had been chosen, a facebook group formed, Couch to 5k programs started (for those of us who needed them) and race attire had been debated (penguin suits, PriorFatGirl T-shirts, there was a brief mention of Tigger appearing too).

So it looks like we are a go for the Lutheran Geek 5k Sequel - The Waddler's Return.  It is coming to Lake Como on Memorial Day 2011.  I'd better break out my running shoes.

And you can join us if you want to, because those folks listed up there are all sorts of crazy supportive, and I will be to. Just drop me a note and we'll get you on board!  Or come and cheer us on. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Lutheran Geek Book Review: A View from the Back Pew

I've never been to Catholic school.  As a Lutheran, my own understanding of it comes from the very stereotypical depictions of nuns with yardsticks from movies and a sense of very rigid Catholic doctrinal teaching, but judging from Tim O'Donnell's experience, the stereotype might not be far off.  O'Donnell was probably one of those boys that aggravated the nuns to no end - smart enough to see the logical flaws in the some of the specifics of the Catholic dogma while interested enough in the questions of religion to persist in their pursuit.

O'Donnell spent sixteen years in Catholic school alternatively reveling in and rebelling against the religious indoctrination that was taking place in his life.  After a college year spent in Rome pursuing these questions of faith, he had a religious experience that he refers to throughout as The Deal.  And in his understanding the Deal was this:  God will give him the tools to be successful in life and in turn at age 40 O'Donnell would be able to retire and return the favor to God.

And O'Donnell was successful.  He dropped out of college but went on to have a successful career as a speaker, newspaper publisher and businessman.  By all accounts, he seems to have a real knack for motivation, hard work and strong sense of ethical business practices.  And he was able to retire just after he turned 40 and then was faced with keeping up his end of The Deal as he understood it.

So in a cabin in the woods, O'Donnell faced the real questions of faith and doctrine of his upbringing vs his very real understanding of personal experiences of the divine.  The result is his book: A View from the Back Pew.

By the author's own account he has no formal theological education but rather a Catholic school upbringing and a lifetime of experiences combined with a lot of self-study.  And it is clear that O'Donnell has studied and questioned the church, the Catholic church primarily, with great abandon.  In A View from the Back Pew, O'Donnell alternates between auto-biographical chapters and chapters summarizing his questions and discoveries about the doctrine's of the Catholic church.  I say doctrine's here because while some of the things he questions are certainly held by other denominations, few are upheld with the strictness of his Catholic upbringing.  In the end, formal religion becomes a stumbling block for O'Donnell, even while the teachings of Jesus and an understanding of God are not. 

As he works through the questions about God, faith and religion, O'Donnell's faith reduces to spiritual melange of Christian and Deist teachings combined with an individualized sense of ourselves being our primary window into the understanding of God.  O'Donnell says we can strive for Oneness with God in a sense very similar to how he understands the incarnation of Jesus, that we can truly recognize and channel the part of God within us through a focus on our own "Ascending Urge" to the divine.  Religion in the end is a man-made structure that in his mind detracts from one's own sense of the divine.  Literally God is the voice and the feeling in his gut guiding him through life and the more in tune with this he is, the more he is in tune with God.

While I found this book to be a very interesting read, particularly his autobiographical sections, I found myself frustrated as the book neared its spirituality-centric conclusion.  Firstly I was frustrated with the education of the Catholic church as well as with their insistence on often avoiding the hard questions of faith, instead relying on the "mystery of God."  Growing up Lutheran, church was a huge part of my own life and it remains so, but I never felt my religious education to be limited to fact-gathering without questioning and analyzing things for myself.  Perhaps this is a difference in the denominations or the age difference between O'Donnell and myself but questions and contemplation were built into my faith experience so that they did not feel like betrayals of my God or my church.

I think O'Donnell suffered in an extreme version of what we called "Religion 101 syndrome" back when I was St. Olaf College.  There was a tendency of college kids who came from rigid or conservative denominations or churches to suddenly find all of their tenets of faith questioned in their first year religion class.  This typically ends one of two ways - with a walking away from their faith with a sense of delusion or clinging to it more tightly and disregarding the lessons of the class.  A faith without a realistic understanding of questioning, doubt and growth inevitably leads to some crises of faith.

I will say for O'Donnell that he doesn't head to either of these extremes, but takes a far more "lapsed-Catholic" approach and creates his own version of individual spiritual faith removed from the structure of the church.  This may work for O'Donnell but it also strikes me throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  I am not ready to give up the tradition and theological thinking of 2000 years of Christian thinking over a rigid doctrine of Virgin birth or the question of who really wrote the Gospels.

Still I respect and honor the fact that O'Donnell calls for real questioning to be a part of our faith, even if I disagree with his final conclusions.  Ironically even some of the precepts about God that he takes to be fact were things that we examined and questioned in my Seminary education.  My own thesis explored theories on God's temporality, a fact that O'Donnell believes is obvious enough to stand as one of his basic understandings about God discussed in Chapter 2.  Yet, for me, this searching and questioning does not separate me from my faith or my "religion."  Is that a simple difference in our upbringings or is it something more intrinsic in how we view God's ability to work within the church?

O'Donnell insists on God's real presence guiding his life, ultimately towards his book sharing his discoveries with the world, but the theological determinations of Church Father's of the past are often met with a skeptical "the church is in the business of religion" sense.  And yet it seems that it can be both.  God CAN have a guiding presence in our lives both personally and within the church (including, I believe, guiding the leaders who helped grow and shape the church throughout history).

One final critique I have in the extreme personalized faith O'Donnell presents is that it focuses on our own ego and how God can be present in our own lives alone.  But, as we turn inward, we often lose sight of the neighbor.  One aspect of the church and religion that O'Donnell did not cover was a sense of the church's outreach and mission, including many of the very worthwhile and faith-driven Catholic Charities of the world.  As O'Donnell's faith led him into the woods to contemplate God, others are compelled by their faith to work within the church, giving back for the blessings that God has given us. 

While contemplation is important, many of Jesus' teachings, which O'Donnell still revers, call us to serve one another.  In fact, O'Donnell says nothing of these teachings calling us to serve and love one another, while he focuses a lot of energy on those texts, particularly from John, that focus on a personal relationship with God.   While these are valuable and worthwhile texts, taken alone we risk isolating ourselves from the greater community of God's creation.

After reading this book I am left with a bit of a conundrum.  I find the introduction and insistence that questioning the church and our faith to be an important one and clearly something that many Catholic people grew up without.  However, I find the conclusions that O'Donnell ultimately reaches to be too withdrawn and individualized to integrate in my own understanding of faith, God and the church well.  However, if you need an introduction to the idea of questioning the church A View from the Back Pew might be a good place to start.

(I was given a copy of this book from TLC book tours in order to review it on this blog.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Oh, I have a blog?

So yeah, I have reflections and observations galore from my life right now that I want to write up and share here, but this moving thing?  Yeah, that is a beast.  My life is work and packing right now and all I really want to do when I'm not doing those things is nothing, so it looks like my blog is getting a bit of a rest this month.  I am working on some guest blog posts for the week of the move (anyone want to guest post) and have an exciting book review tomorrow but I'll be here when I get here.  I hope you will be patient with me.

In the meantime here are a few random thoughts:

* Why do we do daylight savings time?  I sort of get it but it just seems like we mess with our heads twice a year, and it seems even more difficult once you have kids.

* So Wednesday night I was told that little goat and I were "ruining church for everyone"   So that was fun.  Luckily I am staff and confident in my son's right to be there and the importance of him learning worship, but given all that Ash Wednesday means to me - yeah it was harsh.  (Also luckily the pastors and staff love kids in worship, even when they may yell Dada! and wave to the choir in the balcony, ahem)

* Why do I own so much stuff?  Seriously, we got rid of 6 kitchen trash bags to Good Will and there is still more I can get rid of - and that was just clothes and not counting the stuff worth consigning.  I really feel like I've somehow ended up more driven by material things than I want to be, and yet purging is surprisingly hard, but rewarding.

* I am giving myself permission not to feel guilt about things during the move.  I am still trying each day to make healthy choices but there is too much stress right now to worry about things after the fact.  Still I am so ready to be moved.

* I feel so bad for Japan.  My prayers are with the people there.  I also feel a bit of guilt that I have a cat named Tsunami - but we call her Tsu for short. 

* I can't decide whether to paint baby goat's room or not when we get in the new house.  It is a generic beige now, which is fine but do I want something different?  Or should I just not worry about that with everything else that is happening during the move?

* Anyone have any tips for transitioning a toddler from one home to another?

* We have a Melissa and Doug puzzle that makes noise everytime the lights get turned off - it still freaks me out every time.  I don't know why that happens.

* I think we need more kids music CDs now that baby goat listens more attently.  What are your favorites?

* Should I run another 5k this summer?

That's it.  I'm going to go take a short rest and then back to packing.  I'll be around, just not as much until after the move and then I can tell you ALL about it (won't that be fun?) (Don't answer that!).

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Dusting off

I am dusting off this post from Ash Wednesday last year. I have a whole slew of reflections, deep thoughts, and realizations surrounding Lent, my personhood, baby goat, my weight and a whole host of other things and I want to get to them.  However my life is caught up in the very real busy-ness of work, packing for our move (2 weeks!) and life.  I hope to write a reflection tonight after worship as Ash Wednesday (for reasons revealed below in last year's post) is exceedingly meaningful for me.  Until then I still remember as I did last year and so I share with you again....  

****************
My Most Precious Dust
Ash Wednesday 2010


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I was one of the people putting ashes on people's heads at church on Wednesday.  One by one adults and children in my line shuffled forward to receive their cross of ash.


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

A cross in ash smeared in acknowledgment of humanities true powerlessness and our startling ability to mess up things over and over again.

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

A cross in ash signifying that without God's grace we are no more from the dust which we came.

I said it again and again, all the while thinking of last year's Ash Wednesday.


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember...

Swollen, sick, sicker than I knew.  I remember the 80 lbs of water on my frame. I remember lying on my left side, feeling all that water weight pool around me. The baby kicking his way away from the monitors.  The grim news that I couldn't do it much longer, that the numbers were too high.

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember...

Trying to keep up the energy for my visitors.  Trying to be positive with the nurses. Trying to keep the numbers down and the baby safe for another day.


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember...

A church family stopping by after Ash Wednesday services.  They brought communion and ashes for my forehead.  I remember those words...

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

...and I was aware for the first time in my life that they were more than just words.

I remember being afraid yet comforted.

I remember then next morning. "We've bought all the time we can, the numbers are all wrong, today's the day."  Then pain, confusion, chaos.

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember strapped in a cross on a table.  The seriousness of the situation and the levity of a broken bed.  The joy of a cry, the sadness in the rush to the NICU, then suddenly I'm back in the room. Deflated, deflating, tired, pained, alone.


Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember...


Back to reality,

In another line my baby receives his own cross.  Last year we were together with one cross, this year two, yet still connected.

Such strange things to remember.  It hardly seems real a year later.

Over and over again I say it to others and it consumes me.

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

And I thank God for the opportunity to hear it again.  There is such joy to hear it again.  I thank God for my most precious dust:

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

I remember.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A Step-by-Step Guide to Packing with your Toddler and Two Cats: Lesson 1 - Books

1. Select a box and tape one end together.

2. Grab a stack of books to pack in box.

3. Remove cat from the box.

4. Remove OTHER cat from the box.

5. Turn to get the first book.

6. Remove Toddler from the box.

7. Place book in box.

8. Have Toddler grab another book and place in box.

9. Restack Toddler's book into place.

10. Re-restack Toddler's book back into place after he insists that his location was the right one in the first place.

11. Distract Toddler by sending him to pick up another book.

12. Quickly shove 4 more books in the box as fast as you can.

13. Take Toddler off shelves he was trying to climb to pick up the book on the very top shelf.

14. Coax Toddler to stop crying by letting him place the next book in box.

15. Restack Toddler's book into place, again.

16. Re-restack Toddler's book back into place, again, after he insists, again, that his location was the right one in the first place.

17. Turn to get another book.

18. Remove cat from the box.

19. Urge Toddler not to pull the tail of the cat as he trys to "help" take the cat from the box.

20. Repeat steps 7-19 until the box is filled with books.

21. Tape up cover of box.

22. Swear as the clear tape gets tangled with itself.

23. Remind Toddler that we don't use words like that.

24. Finish taping box.

25. Label box with a Sharpie.

26. Give in to the screaming and let your toddler scribble out your label with the sharpie.

27. Re-label the box with a Sharpie.

28. Grab a new box and repeat the last 27 steps again trying to beat your own record of 23 minutes and 19 seconds per box.

Stay Tuned later this week for Lesson 2 - Clothes!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Confession

Forgive me Father for I have sinned, a crime of parenting so heinous that it can barely be spoken of. I confess, we have a TV in our house and that we turn it on and that sometimes, yes, sometimes our son watches it. I pray this is not one of the seven deadly parenting sins but I can’t help it – the flesh is weak. I do know that children should not watch TV before they are 2, which my son just turned, and even then their TV viewing should be curbed. Yes, may heaven strike me down; my toddler has been known to watch TV. I have now doomed him to mediocre SATs and a state school before he is even out of diapers. How could I allow this? Have I not read the studies and done the research into all that it takes to raise a competent adult. Apparently not. I was too busy watching TV.

It all started innocently enough with the Minnesota Twins and being trapped at home most of that first summer together: a social pariah due to a raging case of prematurity. And infants, as you may recall, are not that interactive. Of their three main purposes in life, one is messy, one is demanding and the other is rather boring. So we parents watched the MN Twins play and dreamt of being at a ballgame with a crowd of people (and a beer?). And as his head control got better and he started hanging out in his exersaucer more often his eyes were drawn to the bright green expanse of the unnatural Metrodome floor. They would flick quickly away much like my parental guilt. He was really too young to notice.

Little did I know that baseball was a gateway drug to bigger and badder shows. “But look how he response to the voices” I said of the Sing-Off, or American Idol. “Look he laughed as the contestants fell in WipeOut! He has a great sense of comedic timing!”

As I realized the error in my ways we resorted to kid’s programming hoping to at least add some learning to the table. Imagine my horror when instead of wholesome Muppets singing about numbers a whole new host of horrors attacked my senses – inane pop singing at the hands of the Fresh Beat Band, sex-toy shaped monsters prancing about talking about “parties in their tummies,” whiny bald-headed boys with theme songs so catchy that it runs through your head at 3am as you toss and turn to escape, animals spelled out of letters who should just build the word M-O-N-E-Y and get some better digs. They were enough to send my previous derision of Barney packing. Oh you purple dinosaur, I’ve missed your creepy “I love yous.”

We slowly found a balance however, some shows that we as parents could stand. Sid the Science Kid is tolerable with a great teacher-to-student preschool ratio. I imagine I would have applied for that preschool on the day of Edward’s conception however, not to mention the added animation fees. Wonder Pets save the day and the music at least harkens to real music too – if I have to hum along then at least that doesn’t make me want to slit my wrists. And Sesame Street still exists of course with an increased Grover presence balancing out the Elmo bias just enough to stand.

Still, even in my confession I admit as a part of my penance that we are trying to cut back, at least until baseball season, just 25 days away.