December 28, 2011
When I think of all the stupid 2-minute-long videos I watch and then remember I have this blog for you, it makes me cringe. What am I wasting my time on?
Yes, it's ok to admit that there are things in the world besides you that matter to me. Politics, religious issues, societal woes... fashion... But it's not as if everything I spend time on is important. I mean, really! How self-righteous would I be to pretend that what takes me away from "Sofia blog time" is essential?
I will try to write something to you every day. And I will try to do it without expectations (which is really difficult, because I have high ones for my writing and presentation). I will try to write without so much self-consciousness. What a wonderful thing that you don't know what that is.
So... all that aside...
Do you know what we did for Christmas this year? We went to the 'burbs as usual, but this time saw your aunties & uncles (including Jon, who you'd never met before!), my cousins, your cousins (2/3 of them), two sets of Grammas and Grampas (or, "Namp-na" as you say) and my extended family. Whew.
When your mama (that's me) was little, we did the same thing as you and I did last week: drove to one side of the family for Christmas eve, then to the other for Christmas day. Funny how I've tried to get away from reliving memories - and toward making our own - but somehow they ended up overlapping anyway.
You were a very good girl at both houses, lovin' on everyone and letting them lavish you with attention (not that it's difficult for you). You opened all but one present before losing interest, and played with everything at least once. We dressed you up as Santa Lucia and your cousin Connor helped you by presenting the cookies. Since the crown of lights was itchy, I just held it over your head like a halo. Adorable! Thank you for doing that... we haven't had someone little enough for Lucia in a long time. In fact, the last people to do it were adults - your daddy and I!
We have yet to do Christmas at home because Daddy hasn't found the perfect gift for you. He went shopping at will (a great feat for him, trust me) but dismissed everything as not special enough. He puts great thought into everything he does. You will learn that in time.
I'm anxious for you to open your gift from me. In the meantime, I built you the table fort, complete with white lights. This morning you crawled in there with crocheted bunny and read a book to yourself. Just when I think my heart can't fill up with love for you any more, you do something like that.
October 31, 2011
A short entry. I owe you a hundred more, just to catch up. I will remember these days, when and where and how you took your first steps.. your first birthday party.. the "year of firsts." But you won't! You're caught up in the moments because they're YOURS.
So, I need to be more diligent about capturing them for you. Because maybe, someday, you'll ask me how you were when you were itty bitty. Pictures won't be a complete picture, you need the words.
September 21, 2011
I have expensive taste and I'm not sure why.
Neither your dad nor I grew up in homes of plenty. True, we never experienced hunger or doubted if our lights or heat would stay on through the winters. We would call that "poverty" and many in this country live steeped in it. We did receive free hot lunch at school (once a week) and ate a lot of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, but I don't remember ever feeling like I wanted something I didn't have.
Now, that might also be credited to my parents, because we were not raised to covet other peoples' things. We shopped at the thrift store, which I never thought was strange. We got new school clothes every fall - $50 a piece to shop, then later it was bumped up to $100. When we could convince mom to give us the money early, we could shop in Chicago on our summer vacation. This was the highlight of my year because we could find unique items, and not have to dress like every one else in small town, MN.
I liked new things - who doesn't? - but was never hung up on the novelty of them, nor on brand names (except for a brief period in 7th grade when I was being influenced by my awful peer group). I simply liked things that were fun, funky and fit well. That still defines my style, though I am more conservative than I was at, say, age 17.
Sometime during late high school I developed a strong interest in high fashion, designer and couture (this is almost like costumes, but is defined by its attention to tailoring and finery). But I only liked it for the sculptural aspects and the creative mind it takes to design them. Bold graphic prints always caught my eye, no matter the designer name, as did ultra-feminine details like ruffles, pink, beading and overall delicacy.
Maybe it's my eye for finely-made items that necessarily translates into having expensive taste, and has nothing to do with how I was raised? I appreciate quality over all else. I can spot a well-made handbag and would pay hundreds for one (if I made the kind of money that requires). I don't find anything wrong with paying for what an item seems worth, be it a bag, dress, pair of shoes or even accessory.
Now, the fashion industry is a trend mill, which can inspire both positively and negatively: seeing runway fashion gets you out of a style rut, and often. But it can also influence you to compulsively spend, trying to keep up with everything you see. As if anyone past the age of 19 actually thinks that's realistic! (Or healthy.)
My penchant for expensive items just keeps biting me though. I don't need these things - far from it - but I want them. I want the structured Fendi bag, I want the Burberry trench. It's a dangerous type of thought, the desire for that which you don't need, and I have to work hard to keep it in check. Thankfully since I am nowhere close to being able to purchase anything I have my eye on, I'll never spend the money and the temptation loses it's power!
Here are a few of my current favorites.
P.S. Have I already mentioned I hope you share my interest in fashion?
Here's that Fendi bag. In green, to boot.
This purple trench makes me swoon!
A little edgy. Love the jacket.
The trench skirt, a new classic.
August 25, 2011
Mama LOVES fall fashion. Love digging through all the fall runway photos, perusing the 700 page magazines and giggling over all the silliness.. you know, lots of people take fashion way too seriously, as if it were really important or could change the world.
It can't. But it is fun to check in and see what's going on with it every now and then.
Today's post is over at my (seldomly blogged on) fashion blog, One Third Life Chic.
Here's the link: 2011 Fall Fashion Preview
August 18, 2011
We still have no car of our own. The camry's transmission (part of the engine, what gives the power to the car so it moves) is busted, and we couldn't afford to fix it. So now we're driving a borrowed coworker's truck. We borrowed the truck, not the coworker.
And I found a car online.. but the guy won't return my phone calls or inquiries. I basically told him I would buy it upon test driving, so what gives? This is one of those times when I am truly baffled by another person's behavior.
What else? Sadly, there's nothing else going on. Mama's promotion at work so far has yielded a big fat 0 for more actual work to do. So I'm just a glorified receptionist. Mind you, I make good money for answering phones, so I'm not really complaining. Boredom is setting in as fall is just around the corner and there are no "new" plans. Last year we had you - something to look forward to, prepare for, anticipate.
Right now you might be thinking, "What about my birthday party?!" and if you are I'd be thinking you're pretty keen for a ten month old. Yes, I am planning the party. And it's gonna be great.
But I need more than that. Somewhere to go, someone to talk to, something to break in the long chain of burdens. Something funny, something inspiring. I miss the days when a painting, a song or a good book could do that for me.
I'm supposed to find hope in the Lord, and I do. I just don't get inspired by my faith. I suppose there are different kinds of faith, and I happen to have the burden-laden/heavy kind, as opposed to the lighthearted/joyful kind. Seems like the lighthearted kind is more inspired.
I'm not sure how to compartmentalize my life, put the burdens aside so I can enjoy something. Just seems like the burdens overwhelm everything else. The only thing I cherish is time with you, and right now you just want to be independent, roaming free. I don't blame you, but it stings.
August 4, 2011
I haven't written in a while.. I'm sorry. I've been busy planning parts of your first birthday party! I'll post some preliminary photos soon.
We've also been enjoying the fruits of the garden. Rainbow chard, spinach, purple beans and tomatoes like crazy (or, they're green right now but we will soon have an explosion of ripe ones in three varieties). Not to mention the free raspberries from the overgrown bush of our garden neighbor (who doesn't mind that we sample them).
Next year I will plan better and hopefully be able to provide more food for you. But I'm learning! There are no limits to the garden, only my time and ability to get out there.
I wanted to mention.. we've had a lot of rain here lately. A LOT. It's one of the reasons our garden has grown so well. We are blessed here in the midwest to have pretty good soil - not too silty, sandy, loamy or acidic. We don't have too many bugs - even the Japanese beetles (I hate them!) don't like anything I've planted, thank goodness. The sun is nice and hot for long
But the rain is what has been the catalyst for our garden's success. Without it, plants would wither up. The rain is a great blessing to us.
It's not like this everywhere - God doesn't give the perfect amount of rain everywhere. Some places have too much and it destroys crops (plants in large amounts). Other places have too little, and plants dry out. Not to mention many locations that have a lot or a little rain, but the water gathered in pools to drink is dirty and unsafe to drink.
I've been thinking a lot about how blessed we are. I know I complain a lot about bad drivers (sorry you have to hear that; I am trying to curb it for your sake) and how money is tight (not enough to do much with) and other things. But we are richly given everything we need.. the car manages to survive day after day.. my job provides a lot of income for us.. the garden gives good food..
We do give some of what we have to charity. But I'd like it to be more. Here is something I'm considering right now, since I've been thinking about rain and water:
Donate to World Vision's clean water program and your donation triples
I'd like to encourage everyone who stops by this blog to contribute also. Water... such a simple and necessary element. What a wonderful thing to be able to give that gift to someone who doesn't have it.
July 13, 2011
Is signing a document that says one-man-one-woman marriage benefits both spouses and their children in a number of ways a bad thing?
There's an uproar about a "Marriage Vow" political officials have been presented with and their interest in or refutation of what it contains. Here's part of the preamble:
"Enduring marital fidelity between one man and one woman protects innocent children, vulnerable women, the rights of fathers, the stability of families, and the liberties of all American citizens under our republican form of government."
It goes on to state that:
"Our exceptional and free society simply cannot endure without the transmission of personal virtue, from one generation to the next, by means of nurturing, nuclear families comprised of sexually-faithful husbands and wives, fathers and mothers."
The group who penned the 'Vow' asks those who sign to publicly pledge fidelity not only to their spouses (obviously), but to not signing into effect any legislation that would threaten to redefine marriage as anything other than one man, one woman. They also include statements about child rearing ("children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy"), "anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control" such as Sharia Law (Islam), reproductive rights ("robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security") and rights of the yet-born and children.
Here's a passage I particularly like:
"[I vow to uphold] Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy – our next generation of American children – from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence."
"Stolen innocence" truly is contributing to a disintegration of our society.
I read this vow and wondered, why is it so controversial to sign it? Politicians - including our President - do not hide their affiliations with special interest groups or "special" groups of people they'd like to show favor to in their legislation. So why is making it public that you plan to uphold the institution of marriage, thus protecting children's well-being in the process?
We live in an age of "do whatever you want." Men and women commit adultery at the drop of a hat (sometimes out of mere boredom) with no care to the consequences befalling their children. Or, if they are childless, the pain and suffering it causes the non-offending spouse, and the disrespect it shows for marriage itself. All in the name of selfish desire.
When people marry, they take a vow. It's in front of witnesses of some kind, who hear the couple pledge their fidelity which extends to the grave. How, then, is signing a paper that effectively says you're going to govern with the same "you" as made a verbal vow such a crime?
I don't get it.
July 11, 2011
We're being hit hard by the "recovered" economy. That's mostly because the economy is still a mess; very few jobs have been created despite our government officials saying the opposite.
Your dad is looking for work - which is about 100 times more difficult than it was even two years ago when I was last looking. You and I are going on Friday for our WIC interview. What's WIC? It's a government assistance program that provides food stamps and such to those in need. I don't have any pride about it because right now we can definitely use the help.
A report today said there are nearly 5 people per every job opening right now. A measly 18,000 jobs were created in June of this year, not nearly enough to provide for the millions of Americans now receiving aid like WIC and unemployment benefits.
A lot of people think (and this has been proven, to a small extent) that people who receive unemployment stay on it longer and without simultaneously looking for work. But that isn't everyone, and when there aren't jobs to even apply for, why would people even bother to look?
That's no excuse for people to sit around and smoke cigarettes, watch daytime t.v. and generally be lazy while they collect a check, mind you. I come from a liberal family, but they have a good work ethic. I had my first job at age 12 (working at a pet store informally), and my first legal job at 14. And, with the exception of a short stint in the state of Michigan - which currently pays benefits to 267,000 people and has been a terrible state for jobs for years - I've been employed full time ever since.
I like to work. I don't like to be idle; an idle mind is the devil's playground. The main thing I dislike now about work is not being with you during that time. However, my job makes me feel purposeful (at least enough of the time to defray some of my guilt).
My point is, having work to do is good for people. It gives them a feeling of self-worth, of pride in being able to provide for their families, being part of something bigger than their own small corner of the world, having the opportunity to contribute their own ideas, having people with shared experiences ready at hand.
When there is no work to obtain, is it any wonder people sit on their heels and waste time?
People want to work. Where are the jobs?
A funny post script: Last night, your dad and I scraped together all the change we could find in the house to buy a treat (ice cream). I paid 65 cents of it in pennies! Not that we need ice cream, of course, but it goes to show the kinds of ridiculous things people do when they're so broke...
July 6, 2011
I've been having so much fun away from work that I completely lost track of the date today. I had to look at the computer calendar to find out it is July 6th.
You, me and your dad have mostly just been hanging around. You go to bed early and we have some time together as adults, to eat dinner and watch a program.
On the fourth of July, we had no special plans. You did have a very patriotic dress to wear (a gift from auntie Becky). I made a red, white and blue garland that you couldn't stop admiring (thanks baby!), we baked shortcakes for dessert and dad had to scooter to the next city over to find some fireworks for us. But you loved the sparklers so much it was worth it.
We almost went to the zoo, but didn't. We tried to go swimming in the lake, but it was too smelly (from algae or something). I planned to take you strawberry picking, but changed my mind.
No matter. We had a great vacation anyway. When you feel like you're always somewhere else - work, visiting, in your own mind - then home is your getaway.
June 30, 2011
This is your first Independence Day!
How are we celebrating? Well, we didn't make it to the all-American family farm in the heartland... and we won't be going to see any military family either... instead we're here in Madison, amongst the international students in university housing - ha!
Hopefully by today we have gone berry picking in the fields surrounding the city and I am making a gluten free strawberry shortcake for us all. Mmm.. gluten free biscuits. It has been my hope you would make it to one year without having sugar, so I will need to modify the recipe somewhat.
You have a lovely red, white and blue sundress to wear, from your Auntie Becky. And, if you get that messy, I have a felted star onesie for you, too. If I get a crafty bug in me before I post this, I may also make some paper banners and find us some (mild) fireworks.
If there are festivities downtown at the capital, perhaps we'll head down there, too. What says 'celebrate America!' better than a protest against American-despising liberals?
June 28, 2011
You love to try and snatch your dad's glasses from his face. And he loves to watch you do it. Why? Because the look on your face during the attempt is one of pure honesty.
Unfortunately, you will come to know eventually that pure honesty is rare, if not impossibly found in humanity. Honesty often takes a mutated form - bluntness. Beneath the disguise of "just being honest," many people will say horrible things to each other. The idea being that the stark truth should never be offensive because, well, you can't argue with something being what it is. I, too, am guilty of thinking that the truth must be revealed, no matter how ugly.
Your dad and I aren't perfect. We're not great, or even good.. not by ourselves. God's grace has been given to us and that is the only reason we are motivated to act with gentleness toward one another.
It's refreshing, soul-invigorating to watch you interact with things and people with such pureness. When you grab my face and smush your nose into mine, I know it's because you love me and want to show it. No hidden agenda, no worry that your affections won't be interpreted correctly.
If I could say, "Lord, I thank, love and trust You" with as much honesty as you smush my nose, unbelief and anxiety would melt away. Thank you for being my daily reminder of this.
June 15, 2011
What makes a woman a woman? And how does she develop and retain her femininity when everything around her is screaming for her to be 'one of the guys?'
Feminism is a hot topic around here. Like certain pop stars, celebrityism, "reclaiming" of derogatory terms and other accepted cultural phenomena, I have never bought into "feminism" as it is presented today.
What is feminism? There's a two-part answer to that question: At its inception, feminism was simply the radical notion that women are different people than men. Meaning, they have different needs and wants, thought process, emotional behavior and method of relationship-building.
I agree completely with that theses. It's a very Christian idea, actually. The Bible speaks in terms of differences often, making great strides to convey that femininity is cultivated in a woman, not inborn. We can learn a lot about how God has created women differently from men by reading their biographical stories (Ruth, Naomi, Bathsheba, Mary, Martha, etc.).
The role of the Church in relationship to Christ is explicitly female; as His Bride, she is pliable and encouraged to behave adoringly (but not passively) toward Him. But the Church is not always loyal in her behavior, inviting rebuke from her Lord (who calls her a 'harlot' and notes her promiscuity).
If feminism today were packaged with those ideals - loyalty, steadfastness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, etc. - how lovely it would look!
Unfortunately, these terms in no way describe what women today are encouraged to be. Instead, we see in general secular culture that young women are emboldened to be 'independent' (though the meaning is obscured depending on the situation being addressed), rely on their emotions for decision making, act on a whim, be 'bold' (again, definition depends on the situation), and develop an overall sense of self-sufficiency, making personal desire the axis on which all major decisions turn.
If you think I'm being too hard on the culture-at-large, which does have its tiny glimmers of truth here and there, I need only point to some current examples for emphasis.
The first example is the recent walks being performed in honor of promiscuous women. Participants wear only pants and bras, writing on their stomach one word to signify their sexual wantonness, "sl--." (I don't even want to defame myself by typing the whole word.) The idea is that they will give sl-- a new connotation by being proud of the behavior it refers to. It's a twist on the reclamation of the n word by black people (which is also misguided; why not just phase out the term entirely instead of breathing new life into it?).
The second example is a movie out now called 'Bridesmaids.'* The protagonist (although she does more to antagonize the bride-to-be than be a character one wants to cheer for) is the reluctant maid-of-honor who, because of her self-loathing, seeks to sabotage her friend's upcoming wedding. The characters act decidedly more like men than ladies, lewdly spouting off about all kinds of sexual subjects, as well as grossly embarrassing themselves (and their husbands) with their thoughtless and inward-focused behaviors. Actually, they don't act like men, either; they act like teenage boys.
Apparently the message of the movie is "love your friends out of their behavior," meaning a true friend is one who stands by you through your darkest moments, hoping for you to snap out of it.
You can see the contrast between this picture of a woman - one who is allowed to behave impulsively, childishly until she 'gets it out of her system,' grows up and finds her friends are still anxiously waiting for her on the other side - and God's picture of womanhood - in which a woman is nurtured, chastened and imparted wisdom from those older women in her life who are truly feminine - are in the highest contrast.
Lord, let me be in the latter category, and be a feminine blessing to my baby girl.
*Which I have not seen except for a preview, but have read copious synopses of.
May 27, 2011
This weekend we are taking our first big family trip together!
We are flying to Minnesota to visit your grandparents (my mom and dad). Your auntie Becky and your cousins Eli and Connor will be there, too. You've never even met them! And the grandparents haven't seen you in person since you were three months old. Wow, are they in for a surprise...
Our extended vacation is due to this Monday being Memorial day. This is a day we use to honor our fallen (deceased) soldiers, who have given their lives to serve our country. A lot of cynics will say, "Yeah, soldiers don't really 'fight for freedom' like jingoistic people say they do. It's just a paycheck for them."
It may be a paid job, but does that make the details any less extreme? For pete's sake they are sent overseas into foreign lands where it's crazy hot and dry, and sand is perpetually in their boots and eyes. They're covered head to toe in combat gear in the scorching desert. The only people they have to spend free time with are their fellow soldiers who are not always like-minded individuals. Plus they go months, even years, without seeing their families.
Aren't those enough reasons to give them one day - it's only one day we take to honor them, unless you count the fourth of July, too - during which we think about their sacrifice? Even if soldiers are 'dumb' or have been 'tricked' into enlisting by recruiters who think they have no other viable options... why does that make the soldiers themselves dishonorable? Simply put, it doesn't. Whatever the reason they enlisted, each and every one of them puts their desires aside to work for the good of the nation.
Do the troops always know why they are fighting? What the higher imperatives are? Definitely not. But they follow orders, they obey the chain of command, they sacrifice their time and put their lives on hold to serve our country.
We will pray on Monday for the wounded soldiers and those who gave their lives fighting in all our wars, past and present: WWI and WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many more.
May 25, 2011
There are forces in nature that we do not understand. In all of God's creation the most intriguing - and frightening - element might be wind.
I don't even know how to explain it to you. It can't be seen... until it acts on something else, like a tree (which bends in it). When it hits water, wind stirs it up and creates towers of water called waves. When there's only a little bit of wind, water just makes ripples, tiny waves.
Wind can be warm or cold. It can be wet-feeling or dry. It seems to come out of nowhere a lot of the time. One minute it's perfectly calm, and the next - a blast of wind is pushing you over. Usually this happens right before a thunderstorm. We've been having a lot of those lately.
When wind from one direction in the sky swirls together with wind from another direction, it makes what is called a tornado. Remember the funnel-shaped water thing we saw in the bathtub when the water was draining? That's what a tornado looks like. But tornadoes are in the sky, but near the ground, not way up high like a cloud.
There have been so many powerful tornadoes sweeping across the lower part of the Midwest this past week. The wind inside a tornado is so strong that it pulled houses apart and threw full-size cars around in the air like they were toys. So many people lost their homes; many people lost their lives.
I've thought about living in the near-south, in Oklahoma or Kentucky. Those states, and Missouri, Kansas and Alabama, were among the hardest hit. Tonight in our bedtime prayers we will ask God to be present to those people, who have been struck by a force they could neither predict or prevent. God, on the other hand, is steadfast and predictable in His love for His creation. I hope that is a comfort to the poor families that were hit.
May 23, 2011
You haven't seen the commercials because you don't watch t.v. but just so you know.. Those "google" spots about a dad writing to his daughter (whose name happens to be Sophie), well, that was my idea first, and it's what sparked this blog.
So if you ever wonder if I was uncreative and just copied that.. I didn't. They copied me!
And also, for your information, I am not usually one of those "that was my idea first" kind of people - because who cares; if it's a good idea for someone then another will probably also think of it, too. I just wanted you to know.. this wasn't some contrived thing. It just.. happened.
And now I've probably ruined the sweetness of it by drilling the point of whose idea it was! Arrgh, moms just can't win can they?
Whatever. I love you and love writing about/to you.
May 18, 2011
We had a lot of fun on mother's day with you at the botanical garden! Here is one picture of you amidst the blooming trees. What a lovely, sunny day and setting. And of course you are the prettiest flower of them all.
May 16, 2011
Your Auntie Lea (the middle sister in my family) is having some surgery this week. I don't talk with her enough. Today I am thinking of and praying for her as she goes through what could be a troublesome time for her.
Not that she's worried. Auntie Lea is many things, but worried doesn't seem to be one of them. She's a mom to Maia and Joe (and I keep hoping for more), wife to Nathan and daughter to our parents. She's a friend to so many it's borderline unbelievable.
And to me, she's my sister. My special sister who told me a lot about growing into a woman before I asked, because I was too shy to ask anyway and she knew it. My sister who let me be her bridesmaid but asked first if I would mind when they got married, the date being so close to my high school graduation. My sister that I called to tell I had gotten into trouble at school, who sensed something was very wrong and never judged me (although she had every right to).
This week we will be praying especially for your Auntie Lea and her family. We will probably call her on the computer, too, so she can see you sitting up by yourself. I think she would like that. I would do anything for her, but the best thing we can do is pray.
May 5, 2011
Today is your cousin Eli's birthday! Would you believe he is now a teenager? I guess since you've never met him, you wouldn't have any reason not to believe it, huh? =)
Eli was the first grandchild in the family, the first boy, my first nephew (now I have four), your eldest cousin. I remember when he was born and how happy I was to be an aunt! As a baby he was a bundle of energy - and he got into everything. We would find him splashing in the dog's water bowl, behind the couch and on in every room of the house exploring.
And he was so much fun. I was a senior in high school when he was about your age now and your auntie Lea was getting married that June (just like your auntie Chelsea is getting married this June). Eli was the ring bearer and flower boy since we only had one little person in the family back then! He walked to the front of the aisle perfectly, then dumped the whole basket of petals in one spot. It was hilarious!
He was always very smart and a quick learner. And had a boisterous, joyful personality. Truth be told he is the same way now; he has a lot of friends and is crazy intelligent. In fact, I think he is just like your auntie Becky (his mom) in so many ways. They even make the same squinty little smirk and shake their heads when someone says something corny - which seems to happen a lot in this family.
Eli is a nice kid. He has participated in several national missionary trips and enjoyed helping boys his age who are less fortunate. He has been a good older brother to his three siblings and I hope they continue to look up to him as they grow up.
Happy birthday to my first nephew Eli! I hope he has a great day.
May 2, 2011
I want to do what’s right for you. But you’d be amazed at how conflicted my thoughts about what that means are.
I don’t want to work, not really. But I do. I bring you to daycare (which is provided by a great woman and is only five minutes away from my office) and then I spend nine hours at the office. The people I work with are, for the most part, tolerable. Yet all but one aren't believers and some are downright hostile to God and everything I put trust in. (That’s the reason I took Good Friday off this year; after hearing what some had to say about our Lord last year, I knew I couldn’t take it again.) So, it’s a less than pleasant – and it’s in no way spiritually profitable – experience working with them. But I like my boss, who I think is a Christian, so I stay.
I’d rather be home, doing virtually anything else that would afford me to have time with you… and would also help pay the bills. Your dad and I are in a role-reversal of sorts, where I am the primary moneymaker. He even stays home with you one day a week (which is wonderful). I admit, I’m pretty jealous of that.
But.. my job is a blessing. It must be; it has allowed me to get maternity care and birth care, has exposed me to some really nice people (mostly in the other half of our building) and has given me opportunities to become competent in my field. I don’t want to “look a gift horse in the mouth.” I AM thankful for this job.
Why is working so heavy on my mind? For one, because it always is. I daily regret not getting to spend time with you, wonder if I’m missing out on any milestones, feel sad and guilty about coming to work. Feel guilty, too, about not “trusting God” to provide for us financially (although I will argue that I did trust God to find this job for me).
And secondly, because I’ve been offered a promotion. That means I will be making more money (about $5000 more/year) and have greater responsibilities (which is good for my mind and confidence). It also means I will have a more flexible schedule, which will allow me to take more time off to spend with you. If it doesn’t work out, or if I need to resign in the next couple years, I think my boss would completely understand. We have had candid conversations before, and it’s fully encouraged.
So a promotion is a good thing… right? For now, while your dad is looking for a new job, I should be making as much as I can and saving as much as possible. Without his income, I don’t see what other choice I have.
And yet.. I still feel incredibly guilty.
I love you so much. I hope I am doing the right thing.
April 29, 2011
I'm sure someone is going to cringe at this statement, but I will never call you a princess.. or hope that you look up to any of them - fictional or real - or comply with your pretending to be one. And while that might be a lot easier said than accomplished, I'm going to do my best to encourage you away from it all.
Because if I hear you gabbing away for several hours about what the princess was wearing and how she was standing and pouring over every single detail of what is, essentially, just a wedding... it's really going to bother me.
I already anticipate the difficulty in explaining being fashion-conscious versus fashion-obsessed, image aware versus narcissistic, pleased with your appearance versus being proud of it. I'm certainly not going to muddy the waters even further by introducing an infatuation with being a princess.
As mentioned... someone will disagree. They'll say "Oh, it's harmless fun to look at pictures of a princess and enjoy the fanfare of her wedding." But is it harmless? Do children have the wherewithal to absorb all the visuals and have their thinking not be affected? And how is watching a princess's moves any different from tracking the relationships, pregnancies, divorces and style choices of any other celebrity person? Isn't a princess just a celebrity of a different ilk? What makes her so different from the rest of them to garner a free pass to be idolized?
"Idolize" may be too strong a word for some. I don't know... I'm tempted to say that, if we Christians are being really strict, then we shouldn't put any mortal on a pedestal because we know they're all flawed with sin. And, the more time we spend thinking of them, the less time that are minds are on our faith and our God.
The response will be, "You're making a mountain out of a molehill!" Perhaps. But all idle thinking starts somewhere. Not everyone has a spiritual mind like a trap such that they can flit in and out of worldliness without getting ensnared.
Baby, I have enough trouble with my own appearance and confidence issues to spend time enumerating on the lives of celebrities. Call it a personal pitfall - I can't make my mind stop focusing on things that a) don't concern me and b) serve to distract me from the tiny, weak faith I have, so I have to stay away from it. Period.
I'll do my best to shield you from the horrible grocery store magazines and celebrity hoopla. I hope you won't become enthralled with it...
April 28, 2011
Your mom loves to sew. I could handsew by about six years old and am so very much looking forward to teaching you! My hope is that you will enjoy it and find your own projects of interest. If you're like the rest of your family - on both sides - you will have creativity to spare. =)
I've been sewing a ton of block sets lately. Still haven't found the perfect color combos for your set yet. [Probably because I like funny combos like goldenrod/brown/ivory!] But I've only got a little while until you'd have fun with them... I let you play with some sets last week and you were having fun grabbing and shaking them.
I don't usually like to use this blog for direct advertising, but I can't resist because of the cute new sets I have listed on etsy. Below are some pics and the links. Gosh, I really need to learn how to take better pictures, seriously! They are amazingly cute in person and every baby I've given a set loves 'em!
My etsy shop: Butterbean by Victoria
Little Block set of blues
Little Block set in pink and blue
Little Block set in green and brown
Little Block set in pink and green
Little Block set in pink, green and brown
Little Block set in pink and white
Little Block set in black and purple florals (pictured on right)
Little Block set in lavender and green (pictured on left)
April 25, 2011
We do love the things of the earth. We love planting, growing, tending, eating fruits and veggies. We love the thunder and clouds of a spring storm, a fresh breeze and the idyllic lake-woods-and-willow-lined area that we live in.
But we love them because God made them. God is Who we worship, and we recognize that He isn't IN the things of the earth, only that He created them. Wonderful as they are, they are not to be worshipped. That is especially difficult this time of year for some, when the earth seems to renew itself like magic. Thankfully, we know this is God's doing, not "mother nature's."
Below is a good piece regarding this topic.
A Christian Response to Earth Day
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)
All men are religious because all men have an object of worship. All men have faith in something. In the end, men will either worship and serve the creature, or they will worship and serve the Creator. But they will worship something.
In the 18th century, many began to worship the mind. The religion of that day was rationalism. In the 19th century, this god morphed into scientism. But science failed to provide the answers to ultimate questions. The men of the 20th century looked for a more immediate solution to the problems of humanity — they chose to worship the State. This failed. Statism proved to be a harsh taskmaster. In the absence of any real solutions from rationalism, scientism, and statism, men fixed their attention on a new god — or rather, an ancient God that just needed a new facelift.
That god is the earth.
21st-century men are earth worshippers. They are sanitized pantheists. Of course, they don't call themselves pantheists or earth worshippers, but religious devotion to the material world is the essence of this modern faith.
This religious devotion to the material world as god comes in many shapes and sizes, but it has become ubiquitous in our culture. The new pantheism is at the heart of the green movement. It is reflected in the priorities of Hollywood, in the agenda of politicians, and in the curriculums of the government schools. It is found in the marketing campaign of Madison Avenue, in the reality TV shows of cable television, and sadly, even in pulpits across the nation. The worship of the creation has become a defining undercurrent in our culture, even as it is reshaping many of the cultures of the modern world.
And this is one reason why this Friday, April 22, millions of people (perhaps billions) representing the countries of the United Nations will stop to celebrate the high holy day of this religion as they pay homage to the earth God. Of Earth Day, evolutionary anthropologist Margaret Meade once explained that:
EARTH DAY is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space. EARTH DAY draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way — which is also the most ancient way — by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another.
Should Christians care about the earth? Not only must we care about it, we have a holy duty to engage the earth. The difference between the objectives of biblical Christianity and radical environmentalism can be found in the religious assumptions of both groups.
Four Lies of the Radical Environmentalist Movement
With Earth Day comes billions of dollars worth of environmentalist propaganda driven by their religious worldview. Some of the themes you can expect to hear repeated this year include the following:
The Earth Is Our Mother: The very expression “Mother Earth” is popular parlance in our culture and reflects the old pagan longing to worship the physical world. Modern environmentalists, with their devotion to the idea that man is just another life-form to spring from the womb of the earth on the evolutionary journey of life, speak openly about earth being the mother of man.
Human Life Has No Greater Intrinsic Value Than Animal Life: The notion that man is an insignificant blip in the universe and that our planet is almost as insignificant as man is an oft-repeated concept of the modern environmentalist movement. Radical environmentalists complain about the carbon footprints of humans, and the sin of “Speciesism” — man discriminating against lower life-forms.
The Greatest Crisis Facing Humans is the Despoiling of the Earth: From the media campaigns of former Vice President Al Gore, to the film agenda of Avatar, radical environmentalists want you to believe that the single greatest problem facing humanity is the environmental destruction of earth.
Absent a Radical Shift in Private Practice and Public Policy, the Environmental Crisis Will Lead to the End of Life on Earth: Modern pantheists care deeply about the future. One thing is clear: Radical envioronmentalists have their own eschatology. They see the end of the world coming because of nuclear waste, global warming, the loss of rainforest in the Amazon, or any of a host of perceived environmental hazards.
Four Christian Assumptions About the Earth
The Earth is Witness to the Power and Authority of God the Creator Who Alone May Be Worshipped: The Bible teaches that the very existence of the earth is a reminder to all men of the eternal power and Godhood of Christ, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20). It reminds us that as long as the earth continues, the promises of God will remain faithful (Genesis 8:22; Deuteronomy 7:9). Significantly, the Bible warns us that the consequence for man rejecting the witness of creation is that he worships creation itself (Romans 1:22-25).
The Earth Was Made for the Glory of God and the Benefit of Man Who Was Made the Pinnacle of Creation and of Infinitely Greater Value than Animals or the Earth Itself: Man is the pinnacle of creation and has more eternal value than the earth or any of the creatures who live on it (Psalm 8:5). Man is not a carbon footprint; he is the image-bearer of God. This means that the most "insignificant" human life (insignificant only in the eyes of man) is of inestimably greater value than that of a blue whale, a snail darter, a spotted owl, a mountain, or a tree.
The Earth Has Been Placed under Man who Has a Moral Obligation to Subdue it and to Exercise Wise Stewardship over the Earth: Man is God’s appointed steward on earth, and his core mission is to be His agent of dominion over it. Toward this end, God has placed all things under man to be used for his benefit and to be carefully stewarded and cultivated for God’s glory. “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6).
The Earth is Not the Problem: The reason why the earth suffers is because of man’s sin that has plunged the earth into judgment. Man brought death and judgment to earth. In fact, the whole creation is groaning and waiting redemption (Romans 8:22-23). Despite the righteous judgment of God on earth, He is merciful and promises the continuation of the seasons and the fundamental stability of the planet until the end of time (Genesis 8:22), at which there will be a new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13).
All men are religious because all men have an object of worship. In the end, they will worship and serve the creature, or they will worship and serve the Creator. But they will worship something.
Earth Day, and the radical environmental movement that spawned this high holy day of pantheism, are at war with the Gospel because they perpetuate false worship. The Christian response to the idolatry of Earth Day might be reduced to this simple thought: Jesus Christ is the Creator, and He alone is to be worshipped. He created man as the pinnacle of creation and determined that humans would be the only part of creation to be made in the very image of God, and that man as the image-bearer of God would rule over the earth.
On a practical level, this means that Christians need to stop allowing the radical environmentalist movement to define the issue. We must cease from being the tail and become the head on the question of our duties, privileges, and responsibilities vis-a-vis creation. The Bible has a great deal to say about our use of the resources of the world and our relationship to the earth. Of all people, Christians who honor the Creator should have a passion for creation. We are losing the debate through subversion, silence, lack of vision, and because of the Christian community’s fear of the God-ordained, perpetually valid, creation precept called “The Dominion Mandate.” This mandate directs man is to rule over the earth, subduing it and taking dominion over it for his benefit and for God’s glory. Implicit to the Dominion Mandate is the duty of man to cultivate, wisely manage, and carefully steward the planet.
Finally, man’s problems will never be solved through the elevation of human reason, the power of science, or the interventions of the state. Nor will rescuing the biosphere of planet earth save man or ensure him a future on this planet. You cannot save the earth. But human beings can be saved. And the only hope of salvation is found in Jesus Christ — the Creator! It is this Creator through whom we live and breathe and who by the very power of His word holds the worlds together. He will someday establish a new heaven and a new earth and will bring all of His people into Glory.
April 13, 2011
I have nothing new, unique, trenchant or sentimental to say today. Sometimes it's as though you're in my thoughts so much, to write about you is redundant. At least to me.
You are at home today with Daddy, listening to the moonlight sonata playlist he made for you and grinning every time the cat saunters by. I can just see you - the sunlight streaming in the office window on the back of your strawberry-golden hair, your head bent down studying the contours of a toy. I wonder if I spent time like this with my dad in his office when I was a little one, he grading papers while I wrangled some primary-colored plastic links? The symmetry is worth pondering...
Your mind must be swirling these days with all the newness you've been experiencing: touching tree bark, smelling the spring air, hearing birds chirp and seeing squirrels hopping across the lawn. You don't smile at these things, you study them. Well, sometimes you smile. You certainly did when we went on the swing together yesterday. Your giggle is infectious, by the way.
Daddy asked me, what do I think it's like to encounter all the things of the world for the first time? Big question. I know what it was like to encounter newness as an adult, one who is used to ignoring most of the world as it passes by (or, at least trying best to do so). But through the eyes of a child? I don't know. It's not a question of just seeing, but the entirety of the experience. I don't know, but I wish I did.
Is it wrong to live vicariously through your children? I think no, in most circumstances. And besides, a parent can't help but do it.
We heard a song yesterday morning about not wanting to "go through the motions." Most songs of this genre have pretty typical evangelical wording, which gets generalized for the sake of radio-friendliness. This one followed suit, but the chorus gave me pause: "I don't want to go through the motions," the singer sang. It made me think of you and how easy it is to do what you're "supposed to" as a parent. Start solid foods at X months, wean off pacifiers and rocking to sleep at Y months, encourage self-sufficient playtime at Z months. When is one told to begin telling a child about the Lord? Or to start reading the Word to her? If new parents are inclined to follow the typical advice, they may miss many chances to build up that knowledge.
I will try my best not to go through the motions with you, Sofia. I will try to remember God in everything I do, reiterate that He lights my path (and darkens it, for His purposes). I will take time with you, answering your questions about Him as best I can. I will examine my mind and heart carefully, and lead both by example and by verbal dispensation of the truth.
Hmm... Maybe I had something to say after all?
April 8, 2011
In fact, they don't even give women the facts about what a baby is (a living being), rather they call a baby "it" and "a mass of cells" that "can't feel pain" anyway so abortion "won't hurt it." They tell women that it is more dangerous to go through a labor and delivery than an abortion, because it could be life-threatening to the mother to labor!
Well... maybe there could be complications, but most of them will be foreseen by any doctor worth his/her salt while giving pre-labor care. Of course, a "Planned Parenthood" worker will likely only see you once or perhaps twice at most; they have to size you up in one look as to whether or not you seem like you'd make a parent or not. As if they have the right to do that!
Baby, I could tell you the same thing over and over again, that from the moment I saw your little body - complete with heartbeat - moving around on the ultrasound screen, I was smitten. I think I said "Oh!" and nothing else, because the joy was too much for words. I still have that first ultrasound picture, you were 15 weeks old, and carry it with me all the time.
Our House Speaker, John Boehner, said very little today about the budget that is being stalled by Democrats who want to keep Planned Parenthood on the government dime (meaning, that our taxpayer money goes to funding their cruel, misleading, demonic practices). Speaker Boehner's curtness on the subject spoke volumes: keeping PP funded is not an option. Put together a budget that excludes them and we'll talk. Exit the room, no questions taken.
We should take note that some topics are so undignified and downright wrong that we shouldn't even discuss them. Abortion is wrong and we shouldn't have to pay for it, period.
March 29, 2011
Today I am home with you for half the day - hooray! I am loving every minute of it, and catching up on political news while you nap.
I'm all fired up now, because I've been reading about the current attack on Wisconsin State Supreme Court nominee Prosser, who is the avowed conservative candidate. The union thugs are rallying support for his opponent - Kloppenburg - simply because she is not conservative. Now, you don't have to be a genius to realize that's a pretty dumb reason for voting FOR somebody! But, here in Madison it seems that people love rhetoric more than they love choosing the right candidate for the job... so "a vote for Kloppenburg is a vote for Walker" is spreading like wildfire.
I'm not worried though. There is plenty of support for Prosser around the state (believe it or not, the rest of Wisconsin is pretty conservative - just look at the November election results!) to get him into the seat. I just hope people remember to VOTE ON APRIL 5TH! =)
In other news, I dug up this list of major contributors to political campaigns and figured I'd pass it around. There are many reasons a company might contribute money to a politician, baby, but one obvious reason is that the company stands to benefit by using their financial influence. Meaning, they give money and hope that will convince the politician to vote for things in their favor.
So, seeing that AT&T is a big supporter of the DNC ("Democratic"* National Committee), it makes me wonder if they are being allowed to charge so much for miscellaneous fees because of local tax laws? They sure are making a lot of money by squeezing out the competition for cell phone coverage, internet and cable. In Madison, you pretty much have two cable choices - AT&T and Charter. Pretty scary when there is no competition! It means you can either give in to one of two companies and suffer under the costs and poor service they offer, or you go without. (Hint, hint: capitalism is good for everyone.)
I'll just post the list below for others. I've been wondering about big donors like this since a coworker told me that Madisonians are planning to boycott the annual Brat Fest because some of the meat comes from Johnsonville, a Republican campaign donor. Yes, they are going to boycott an event that donates its profits to charity because one of the sponsors supports candidates they don't like. Candidates, mind you, not elected officials! Sheesh. People around here need to get their heads straight.
Here is the list. I know this is your first lesson on money, so I'll explain all this again later. For now, we'll just think about where our precious money goes, and maybe someday we'll share a Johnsonville brat!
March 11, 2011
You are a beautiful creation of God. He made you a certain way, with a certain personality and preferences. He intends for your life to be a certain way. We praise Him for you and every way that He has blessed you with your uniqueness.
However, along with your unique personality and preferences, you have a sin nature that will come out in its creative ways. Will you be rebellious like your mom, pushing the boundaries because you need structure? Will you be a "popular" kid who manipulates her peers and is very insincere? I don't know where your sin will first show itself, but I am certain it is there.
A certain pop singer says that no matter what you were born like, you were "born this way" and there is nothing wrong with it. Nor, she says, is there "any other way" for you to have been. This includes, for her, the group you identify your carnal passions with. [Which I won't name here specifically because I'd like my daughter to hear about these things from me directly, not read them on a blog - even if it is intended for her. But I think my adult readers know what I am referring to.]
I've read Christians and non-Christians debating these lyrics. Some say her message is godly, because she encourages people to accept how they are as God's creation, different as that may be from the "normal" types they see on television and in the media at large. That's a good thing, right? I loathe the day in the future when you come to me with a magazine picture and say, "Is that what I'm supposed to look like?" I'll likely respond in a similar way as this pop star sings, "You're beautiful in your way." As in, God's way. Women really are beautiful only when they allow themselves to be molded by God. Until then, it's just vapid, worldly prettiness they harness.
But others lament these lyrics as being in abstinence to God's sovereignty, since they are also encouraging people to embrace their sin natures (i.e. within the context of sexuality). Throughout the rest of the song the singer also brings a message of universal love ("just love yourself and you're set") while claiming that God made everyone "perfect."
Did God create perfection? Yes! In Eden. But then something happened: the fall from grace. Adam and Eve, it could be said, decided to "love themselves" more than God when they chose to live how they wanted to, not how God commanded them to. And ever since that Fall mankind has been created with that sin nature present. You might interpret the introduction monologue to the song as touching on this truth; the singer ponders how a truly good (righteous) race of people could exist without the simultaneous existence of evil. The answer, obvious to a Christian, is that it doesn't.
The singer got the message wrong in the most important way. She says that there is "no other way" than to live as you were born. To us, that means you'd have no choice but to live as a sinner. Thankfully, this is not true! There IS another Way, and that Way is Jesus Christ. He gave Himself as our sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God against sin. We were not born perfect but, through Christ, we are imputed His righteousness and perfection.
We did not start out perfect. Not even close. But through Christ, we can be reborn this way!
March 7, 2011
While I'm at work, I overhear a lot of conversations. Today's was about kids' toys.
"I bought him the [branded] truck and he only played with it once!"
"He has so many toys, I want to just donate them all to goodwill because he doesn't play with them."
"She'll just throw it in the corner after she opens the package and plays for one day."
It's important to ask this question: What kind of toys are they talking about? Even though they are different functioning toys - some action figures, cars, electronic games, dolls - they all fall into one category: branded toys. Meaning, toys that are associated with a movie, tv show or other type of media.
Well, baby, I will not be buying you toys like that. Plain Legos, generic dolls, pretend kitchen and plastic food, yes. Dora the Explorer activity backpack or Leap Pad electronic learning center? No. Bratz dolls? Definitely not!
It's not that we can't afford to buy you those branded toys. We don't get them for you because we know their value is only in the name and, outside of the prescribed story associated with them, it's likely you won't imagine other stories to put them in. It will limit your imagination, your creativity, your ability to think abstractly.
That probably sounds like a fancy way of justifying not spending money to you. But I really have thought about it. I've already spent a lot of money on you; when I think something is quality and you will enjoy it for a long time, I go ahead and buy it.
Branded toys are boring. You have to play with them a certain way otherwise, you're not playing "correctly" with them. Branded toys are dumbed-down. You already know their names and what they are "supposed" to wear, how they are supposed to act. It takes the thinking out of playing.
And, branded toys can be dangerous because of what they represent. See those Bratz dolls pictures above? That is not what real women look like, but you'd be alarmed at how many results you'll find on a google search for "Bratz make up tutorial." To be nice, you could say it makes girls look like clowns. But there are a lot of not-so-nice terms along those lines that people are likely to think if you walk into the grocery store in a Bratz-style get up. [Also, they're call BRATZ. As in, brats (misbehaved, rebellious girls). That's not a name I ever want applied to you, Sofia. And I'm certainly not going to encourage it.]
You'll have no shortage of things to play with. Pots and pans, water, the outside world (hopefully, someday, a garden), blocks and legos, dolls and dress-up clothes (I already have a trunk full waiting for you), me, daddy and your cousins! You'll have plenty to do and you'll never miss not knowing who Dora is.
March 4, 2011
Help me out here if you have a minute. Please visit my etsy shop, see my items (yes, I know I need to take better pictures; weekends projects abound...) and then answer this question:
What type of logo or clip art would suit me? Beans are out, unless you think there is a way to make a cute one (but butterbeans themselves are not all that pretty). I like birds, owls, matroyshkas (nesting dolls), whales, bright colors and graphic patterns. That should be obvious just by looking at what I make!
I'm tired of using something different for every thank you card I send. My business cards have an owl clip art but I can't use it for mass production. My mind is too fickle, and I need some help marketing what I sell! I honestly believe my analytics would reflect growth if I have consistency to my label. Gosh, don't I sound market-savvy? =)
Anyway... if you have a moment and could give me some advice I'm all ears. I won't be defensive because I know how I'm packaging it all now isn't working! Thank you in advance.