Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When God Colors Outside of the Lines

In the early-ish morning, I was watering my roses and daisies using the water hose (and watering myself in the process. I really need to remember that we need a nozzle that actually completely fits onto the hose.) I was having a pretty good time, actually, enjoying the warm morning and all of my pink and yellow blooms...and I noticed that every time I sent the spray of water soaring in this certain spot by the dogwood tree, a clear rainbow suddenly appeared...just glittering there within the suspended droplets...
I know it's the laws of light and prisms and this and that...but whatever the explanation man has come up with, I prefer to think of rainbows as mysterious, color infused whispered promises of God stretched across the sky...and when they show up in the spray of my average (leaking) water hose, I just have to smile - delighted and dazzled.

Child-Like Faith

Sean just rummaged up an old Winnie the Pooh VHS tape from the back of my closet. He held it out for my inspection - "Can we watch this?"
As our VCR hasn't worked in...oh, about two years, I had to say - "I'm sorry, Sean. That movie won't work on our tv."
His response - "Sure it can, Mommy. We just have to believe."

In the face of such pure three-year-old rainbows and storybook logic, I am left speechless.
And feeling pretty bad that I couldn't somehow use a paperclip and a piece of gum or something to make that VCR work for him...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Things That Make Me Go Mmmmm

Today was grocery shopping day...I thought I'd share some of my current product addictions...maybe because I haven't had lunch yet and I'm hungry. It is 12:30. My stomach is on a schedule, people.

The latest thing I've tried is the Microwavable Digiorno Crispy Crust pizza - the grilled chicken and vegetable. It is absolutely fantastic - and the boys gobble it up (with the red peppers and spinach. that's the magic of saying 'pizza'.)

Squash. Lightly steamed with a bit of seasoned salt...or the good southern way - fried with a crunchy outside...

These tomatoes are seasoned with basil, oregano, and garlic. Sean and I are huge fans of pasta, and the easiest thing in the world is to boil the pasta, sprinkle Parmesan over the tomatoes (bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes[thanks for that Rachel Ray tidbit, Hannah] ), and combine.

What kid doesn't love a juice box? Sean and Christian think that they are the coolest items ever. When they're acting like hard headed toddlers and are showing reluctance to come inside after playtime in the back yard, the words juice box will get them running for the door. And I love these, in particular, because it's fruit juice combined with purified water. I still mix all of their juice with water, to make sure they don't overload on sugar, and I love that Mott's does the work for me. Plus, the boxes are super cute!

If you haven't tried a Blue Bunny single, you should. The ice cream is an out of this world sort of delicious, and the size makes it perfectly you can have a sensible indulgence. No guilt!

Crystal Light On the Go Packets...they help me drink enough water and get rid of my craving for soda. I like most of the flavors, but I'm currently on a Fruit Punch kick.

Everyone knows that Cheerios are good for you - and these Fruity Cheerios are still healthy for the kids and particularly tasty. I'm not sure who eats more of them, me or the kiddos...

And last, but certainly not least, a magnificent invention pointed out to me by Carrie - the fat free brownie. Trust me, Carrie and I are the queens of brownie and coffee we've tested our share of chocolate. When she said that she had tried these No-Pudge brownies made with vanilla yogurt, I was skeptical...but she said that they were good, and so I had to try them. She was right. GUILT FREE FUDGY CHOCOLATE BROWNIES. Does it get any better than that? I don't think so, blogosphere. I really don't think so.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving Day?

So a little while ago, through a crack in the closed blinds, movement caught my eye. I looked out and saw Cat crossing the ditch that separates our front yard from the road...she paused, dropped something gray, and picked it back up in her mouth.

My first thought - is that a kitten?

I rushed out to the porch to find all three kittens removed from their box...and she has disappeared through a thicket of trees.

I tried to figure out where she went, but I couldn't spot her again.

Little tiny kittens, with opening eyes and soft baby fur - where have you gone? Why did MommyCat take you away?

I hope that you come home soon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In Memory

If you have a blog, please accept buzzdroid's challenge to remember Virginia Tech's victims and families today, April twentieth.

Here's a quote from Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey that I came across during research for my novel this morning. It seems to apply:

"A witness to the deaths, wanting to make sense of them and explain the ways of God to his fellow human beings, examined the lives of the people who died, and these words were said by someone who knew the victims, and who had been through the many emotions, and the many stages, of bereavement and loss.
"But soon we will die, and all memories of those five will have left earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love. The only survival, the only meaning."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

From The Brains of Others

It's a breezy, bluesy day here in small-town America. We've done the errand running thing today, and I'm hoping the afternoon will be filled with peaceful house straightening, new flower planting (yay!), and at least a solid hour of novel writing.

I'm a bit tired, which I can blame directly on Neil...he brought home the first season of Lost last night and we both stayed up too late watching the first few episodes. I've never seen any of the show and wasn't sure that I'd like it...but it's just so intriguing. Three and a half (I fell asleep) episodes in, I want to know what happens to these people. And why there's a polar bear in the jungle. And what in the world that mysterious monstrous creature is...

Anyway, since my own brain seems to be full of randomness, I figure I'll share with you a few interesting quotes that have challenged me lately...

"And know this: whenever you find yourself writing a single word or phrase or page dutifully and with boredom, then leave it out. Something is wrong. It is dragged in. It isn't your true self talking." ~Brenda Ueland

Also from Brenda Ueland - "For in fiction, Chekhov said, you can pose a question (about poverty, morality, or whatever it is) but you must not answer it. As soon as you answer it, the readers know you are lying, ie forcing your characters to prove something."

And this interesting view of story in our lives...
"You're given a mythology in this life, the way you're given a body, a family, a country. You can reject it if you like - starve it, laugh in its face, run away into exile - but it's still your mythology. There's always the chance of redemption." ~Ariel Gore, from The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show

To elaborate just a bit on the quote on's part of the expanded definition provided by Wikipedia: Myths are narratives about divine or heroic beings, arranged in a coherent system, passed down traditionally, and linked to the spiritual or religious life of a community, endorsed by rulers or priests. Once this link to the spiritual leadership of society is broken, they lose their mythological qualities and become folktales or fairy tales. In folkloristics, which is concerned with the study of both secular and sacred narratives, a myth also derives some of its power from being more than a simple "tale", by comprising an archetypical quality of "truth".

Looking at life in 'story' terms is appealing to me...maybe because my entire life, one way or another has been inundated in language, in the arcs of messages. Reading, obviously, brought me into this way of thinking...but I also attribute it to the years listening to my grandfathers and my dad preaching...the Bible, in itself, is a hugely taken for granted literary resource. And when ministers use it to convey some message - it's a powerful thing. Jesus Himself used parables to get ideas across to people - something in us, innately, responds to stories.
So do we each have our own mythology, our own story? I think so. Here are a few more quotes, taken from the pages of The Sacred Romance, that say exactly what I wish to say about all of this.

"We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters." ~Eugene Peterson

"Our loss of confidence in a larger story is the reason we demand instant gratification. We need a sense of being alive now, for now is all we have. Without a past that was planned for us and a future that waits for us, we are trapped in the present. There's not enough room for our souls in the present." ~John Eldridge, Brent Curtis

On scripture, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen "...or do you see scripture as being a cosmic drama - creation, fall, redemption, future hope - dramatic narratives that you can apply to all areas of life?"

Frederick Buechner ~ "It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things, too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusions and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name...That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still."

And a final note by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge that explains the importance of sharing both our personal experiences and those stories simmering in the crock-pot of our brains...

"It becomes crucial that we become a generation of storytellers who are both recapturing the glory and joy of the Sacred Romance even as we tell each other our particular stories, so that we can help each other, through God's spirit, see His plan of redemption at work in us."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inadequate Words

I'm sure that we've all seen the footage of yesterday's shooting at Virginia Tech. I was too lost in the waiting room of H&R Block and the tax deadline to watch the news yesterday, so I didn't hear about it until after nine, when Neil got home.

It's always surreal when something like this happens...I know that we're all just so sad, watching the families of those who have lost their loved ones, watching those left behind trying to puzzle out how something like this could happen.

I don't have any wise words or insights. It's a terrible, terrible thing...all I know to do is to pray for these families - and to say, I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Monday, April 16, 2007

History of My Birthday According to the Vast Knowledge of Wikipedia

Luisa tagged me to play this little historical game...and I couldn't resist. A, I love trivia. Especially historical trivia. Especially historical trivia about my very own birthday. And B, I was having a case of writer's block. So the tag was pure serendipity!

1. Go to Wikipedia and enter your birthday without the year:

August 4

2. List three events that occurred that day:

a)1821 - Atkinson and Alexander publish the Saturday Evening Post for the first time as a weekly newspaper.
b) 1944 - "A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse where they find Anne Frank and her family. Her diary was scattered all over the floor and eventually published by her father to become her well- known diary." When I discovered that this was the date of Anne's capture, after reading the diary when I was about nine years old, I felt like my birth date was forever besmirched. That diary made the Holocaust so real - here was this girl, just like me, scribbling in her diary...and she was killed because of hate. It's incomprehensible.
c)1971 - The US launches first satellite into lunar orbit from a manned spacecraft. Ah. Space travel. Did anyone else have to describe what the year 2000 would be like while in elementary school? I'm pretty sure I included easy access to the moon in that description...

3. List two important birthdays:

1792- Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet...what a life. If you've never read all of the rather (semi-sordid) dramatic adventures of Shelley's life, you're missing out.
1900-Elizabeth_Bowes-Lyon, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Today was my first time hearing this - during the second world war, "her seemingly indomitable spirit provided moral support to the British public, so much so that, in recognition of her role as a propaganda tool, Adolf Hitler described her as "the most dangerous woman in Europe." Wow.

4. List one death:

1741 - Andrew Hamilton, American lawyer. I love this quote from his defense of the press, saying that it holds "a liberty both of exposing and opposing tyrannical power by speaking and writing truth."

5. List one holiday or observance:

In El Salvador, it's Transfiguration Bank Holiday. I couldn't figure out what Transfiguration Bank Holiday actually is, but it sounds interesting. Or at least like people might get a day off out of school for it...

Now I'm tagging...Carrie and Betsy - please come out to play!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Brand Spankin' New Babies

Cat, appropriately, had kittens on Easter Sunday. Three, in fact - two completely white and one gray, just like her. She actually had them on the front porch on her bed in the middle of a family cook-out, so it was a big event. They fit in the palm of my hand and are not doing much besides sleeping and crawling all over each other in their house (also known as the recycling bin).

Normally this would be a fun thing - kittens are so cute. Adorable and cuddly...but. This. Is. Me. And the thought of new kittens? It makes me anxious.

I should start with how we came to have Cat in the first place. It was an accident, from start to finish. (I know that Cat isn't what you'd call an imaginative name for, well, a cat- but things didn't work out when I tried to actually give her a real title. I called her Scarlett [as in O'Hara]for days - a, she has amazing green eyes and b, she proved herself to be beautiful and strong -but Sean heard me call her Scarlett and I was thoroughly scolded. "Mommy, dat is not Scarwett. Her name is Cat. " Of course. Pardon me. Anyway - she has remained Cat. ) I found her underneath our front porch steps about a year and a half ago, barely more than a kitten and with an injury that looked permanent. Her entire back leg was just hanging on and much of her backside was just exposed muscle...she had been through a rough encounter with a car or a dog or something. We decided to feed her and make her comfortable until we found a place to take her...she wasn't scared of us and seemed happy as could be to have attention. And...almost two years later we are still feeding her. She lives on the front porch and follows us around outside like she's a puppy. I am still doing my best to not get attached to her (or, at least, to not acknowledge the fact that I'm attached to her).

Shall I explain? I will - but please don't judge me wholly upon the facts about to be revealed. I do not allow any of it to happen on purpose. I love animals, I really do.

But I'm not allowed to have pets. Let's talk about a little thing my family calls 'the curse'. To be fair, I have to warn you that some of the following facts are sad. And maybe even a bit PG-13. Okay, a few highlights of Christie's Pet History:

It started long ago. Like all children, there came a time when I wanted a pet. My mom has never been a big fan of fur-shedding animals in the house, so we started out with a simple goldfish.

24 hours. Fish, meet toilet bowl.

Now, I know what you're thinking. A fish is a fish. Fish die pretty easily. True enough.

Let's go on.The next animal we took in was a beautiful rabbit - black and white with the cutest tail. It had belonged to my friend Kristen, who had an array of animals at her place - rabbits, horses, dogs, etc., etc. I took it home and my dad made a wonderful home for it in the back yard - a large cage with plenty of room for Scamper.

One afternoon, I skipped to Scamper's cage to deliver dinner and took a minute to register that part of the cage has been broken. When I looked inside, Scamper's head was lying oddly near her food dish...and the rest of her body was on the other side of the cage. She was decapitated. I have never run so fast in my life as I did that day...I think I screamed all the way back into our house.

So. Next. Cat. Ferocious dog next door. End of cat.

Another rabbit. We had to give this one away when we uncle took him and sadly informed us months later that he had been acting strangely and had some sort of tumor. He'd have to be put to sleep.

I'll fast forward to high school.My boyfriend gave me a kitten. She was gray and teeny...I named her Belle and let her sleep on my pillow. She arrived potty-trained (um, why can't we receive children that way?) and I loved having her around...however, my mother didn't appreciate kitten claws in her furniture. She was given the boot to the fenced in back yard.

I didn't take it well, and neither did she. She whined at the back door constantly, and I was all upset thinking about how confused and lonely she must have felt. So I decided to give her up.

What happened next was no one's was just one of those things that happen.To the absolute horror of those kind people who took her in, she 007'ed into the clothes dryer during a round of laundry. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Since I've moved out of the house, my family has tried the dog thing...they have come to sad ends, as well.

So those fragments of my history should prove why I'm shocked that Cat is still around and why I'm so nervous about these babies. I really need to find a shelter that will take them after they're weaned...perhaps some nice folks can adopt them.

I'm trying to enjoy them while I'm here, but I'm sort of reminding myself of how I acted when the boys were newborns...sort of constantly peeking in to make sure that they're still okay. I know that I'll eventually have to get over this scared of pets thing...the boys both adore animals, especially dogs. And I know they'll want one of their own, some day.

Maybe I'm being silly. If I really tried to analyze it, I might say that it's a symptom of a deeper sort of worry about death and separation in with that thought, I guess I have to look at this thing like everything else.

This world we live in is a temporary state of one can predict tomorrow. We have to live the day we have now...we have to love and give of ourselves while we spite of the possible heart aches. Hmmm. This life thing is risky business, isn't it?

So I'm guardian to three new Easter-ish kittens. And maybe I'll just go ahead and like them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


There is nothing quite like devouring a bowl of strawberries...with cool whip, with chocolate, with a light sprinkle of sugar...if people had official fruits and trees and flowers and such, like states, the strawberry would be my official fruit. (And while we're on the fruit thing, you should click to learn a little fruit trivia fresh from California...)

I have officially taught Christian the joy in this deliciousness. He ate so many strawberries for dessert tonight that I think his fingertips and his chin may be permanently dyed red. Literally, strawberry after strawberry after strawberry...going "mmmmm" the entire time. (I think I may have heard a mumbled version of "delicioso" in there, too. Thanks, Dora the Explorer.) So I have handed down the strawberry obsession.

At times like these, I feel that I am fulfilling my duty as his guide in this big ol' world.

Of Peter Cottontail (and Santa, too)

On seeing the Easter Bunny at Wal-Mart on Friday -

Sean: "Mommy, why was that Easter Rabbit wearing shoes? Rabbits don't wear shoes."

Ummm...we dress up on Easter, so the Easter Rabbit dresses up with us. Right? I mean, wouldn't that have been a good answer?

Unfortunately, I came up with that answer....yesterday. At the time, I couldn't think of a single thing to do except distract him. ( "Hey, look at that candy the Rabbit gave you! Cool! Can I open it for you? Candy! Yay!" My only other thought was the truth - "Kiddo, that's a really tall dude in a costume. If he didn't have on shoes, you'd see his real human feet instead of big rabbit paws. Plus, this floor is disgusting." [On further thought, why didn't Wal-Mart invest in a costume that had actual rabbit feet instead of letting the really tall dude in the white rabbit costume wear those huge black sneakers? We know you can afford it, Wal-Mart. We all get up to the check out counter with, oh, five items and end up paying forty bucks for it. Every time. Probably several times a month. WE DESERVE PAWS! Or at the very least, a nice shiny pair of dress shoes instead of boat-ish sneakers. Seriously, come ON.])


I'm going to need serious guidance with the Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy/Santa thing if he continues to be this observant. He's three and already asking these things. I've always been torn on this issue I let him believe that these characters are for real until he naturally figures it out on his own or do I leave no doubt that they're fun but make believe parts of holidays? If he asks direct questions, I know that I'll have to honestly answer him...I just didn't expect him to start asking these questions so soon.

I remember knowing from an early age that Santa wasn't real, but I still loved the idea of him. I guess that's what matters to me - not that the boys actually believe that there is a physical bunny in a bow tie dropping off a basket of goodies on Easter morning, but that they can retain a fairy tale-ish view of the world...that they can suspend their disbelief enough to join in the fun of it all...I want them to feel free to imagine.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Post In Which There Is A Sundry of Items

A In Which The Day Quickly Fades

These were my thoughts when I woke up this morning: I'll get the boys dressed, run over for a quick playdate with their pal Xander, run to the store to finish up Easter necessities (a dozen eggs to color, for one extremely important item), and I'll be home by 3:30 to clean house and have a few hours for reading/playing with Sean's castle/catching up on blogs/etc., etc. etc.
What is it that they say about the best laid plans?
For one thing, I usually underestimate the time it's going to take to get all three of us out of the house. It doesn't take me that long to get dressed and ready to go...but then there are the juice cups to grab, the extra Pull-ups to remember, oh - that box of clothes for Xander, and I know I put my phone down somewhere....
Anyway, by the time everything was packed up in the car (including children), it was almost eleven o'clock. Playtime was fun - we went outside for a while, where their azalea bushes are crazy in bloom, and watched as three kids three and under attempted to play nicely.
We left about two and entered the realm of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart on a holiday weekend. What was I thinking? Especially about myself, because if I had taken the time to honestly say - I have the hardest time making up my mind about which particular grass to buy for Easter baskets or what color, exactly, I need new toddler socks to be...I might have just gone on home and ventured out after dark when the boys were at home with Neil after his dress rehearsal for the Easter play. But I didn't think it through and so the time-sucking fangs of Wal-Mart - won, yet again.
And when I had just gotten to the register - after waiting for twenty minutes in line - I got this call from Neil:
N- "Hey, where are you?"
me - "Checking out. Finally."
N - "Real quick, get out of line. I need some solid red shorts to go underneath my costume for tonight."
me - "Um. What?"
N - "Solid red shorts. Not too baggy. And not with any markings. To go under the soldier costume."
me - "That's what I thought you said."

Three stores later, I found the appropriate shorts. He has a solo in which he ends up kneeling, so the shorts really were needed, and needed by six pm...but wow. Not the afternoon the kids were looking for, to say the least. They were remarkably well behaved, though, so we all rewarded ourselves with a chocolate chip cookie and Hi-C fruit punch from Subway.
It was well after six o'clock by the time we pulled up in the driveway and by the time I had cleaned up the kitchen, found the rest of Neil's costume stuff, and boiled eggs for coloring later on was somehow dark-thirty.

B, In Which Two Sentences Exhibit the Joy of A Carrie-Friend

1. She made double banana pudding, just so she could share.
2. She voluntarily helped me to tuck my newly planted flowers in for the night, to protect them from the frost - literally, under light sheets...and she didn't make me feel that crazy for doing it.

C, In Which I Discuss Reading, Writing, and a Resolution

I've taken a few days off from the novel-writing, to splurge in a bit of a reading-fest. I'm so excited about all of the books lying around the house (from a used-book store run and the library on Tuesday) that it's been way too hard to stick to just one book...I've found myself trying to read five at the same time. You don't, um, get too far like that. I've found that when working on the novel gets a bit frustrating (as it was earlier this week), a good book binge is helpful fuel. I totally and completely concur with that age-old wisdom - if you want to write, you must read. For me, it's especially essential in a dry spell. When I read some really good writing, it makes me excited about language makes me want to try my own hand at the craft.
Anyway, my frustrated post reaped some encouragement, which was much needed and appreciated...and it inspired me to make a decision - I'm going to try to get up an hour earlier than everybody else, at least every other day, for solid writing time. Not a terribly innovative idea, but one that's been difficult to carry out, since...I'm, um, fond of my pillow. I usually don't get to bed until late, so the early morning (pre-kids waking up) thing is something I should probably already be doing but haven't had the will power to try. I figure if I make a public intention to do it, I might be more prone to follow through. So you've seen it here- my way-past-new-year's resolution.

D, In Which I Am Excited About Proust!

So Luisa over at posted an entry about how she and a friend were going to re-read In Search of Lost Time, the classic series by Proust. I have never read Proust before, and she piqued my interest with her description and obvious excitement. I checked out Swann's Way and by page two realized that I was definitely going to have to read the entire series. Anyway, we have a page so that we can all discuss the books as we read along...if you're interested in reading the books with us, or just in checking out the discussion, head over to

E, In Which I Ramble About the Nature of Hope

A certain wonderful friend of mine had some high hopes sort of dashed against glaring rocks yesterday. And I've been trying to come up with something comforting to say to her, because I know that she's feeling a bit down...this is all I've managed to come up with.

Hope is a strange thing. We try not to do it sometimes, in order to save ourselves from disappointment (though it's usually still there, down in the basement with the lights turned off and the deadbolt locked)'s an emotion of anticipation, of belief that the things that we want or need are morphing into reality. When those things don't actually materialize, we can feel let down. Angry that we let ourselves get worked up....maybe even sort of foolish, for indulging in expectation. We tell ourselves that we won't let it happen again - we will work on lowering our expectations.
Don't do it. If we stop hoping - especially when it comes to attaining our dreams - then we are essentially taking away a bit of the belief we hold in ourselves. If you lower your expectations, then you're robbing yourself of greater opportunities...and I know that good-hearted, hard-working people are deserving and capable of handling these greater opportunities. And even if it takes longer than expected, they will come. Don't lose a propensity to hope for marvelous things...sometimes we have to hold onto faith in the unexpected, in the out-of-nowhere grace that life can give. Hope has gotten us to where we are now, in one way or another. It'll get us to the next place.

and F, In Which I Say "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye"

(The Sound of Music is on ABC Family all weekend, starting tonight.) So..."I flit, I float, I fleetly flee, I fly. The sun has gone to bed and so must I..."

Hello, Moon

A few weeks ago, I went on a grocery run one night after Neil got home from work. Sean decided that he wanted to go with me- on the way to the car he stopped and looked straight up into the dark sky. "Mommy," he said, "look at the moon! Look at all the stars!"

So I stopped with him and looked up at the thick spread of stars hanging heavy over us, at the nearly full moon. "I see them," I said. "They're beautiful."

He waved his little hand towards the sky. "Hey, Moon! It's me, Sean!"
I smiled and watched as he kept his eyes trained on the glowing orb. His next declaration was said in an 'I'm 3 years old and offended' indignant sort of way - "Moon! I said hey! Say hey to me!"

A long pause, in which he stared into the sky with a scowl on his face."Say. Hey. To. ME!"

Haven't we all felt like that before?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's a Christie-ish Sort of Day...

A Christie-ish sort of day...which means the boys and I had lunch from Chick-fil-a (we love our chicken, as all good Southerners should), followed by a trip to the library(Godwin! Proust! If You Give A Mouse A Cookie!), followed by a perfect cup of coffee (made by yours truly. which for the rest of the world means way, way, way too much sugar), followed by house cleaning while watching an Audrey Hepburn movie (Paris, When It Sizzles)...
It absolutely thrills me that Sean and Christian get excited when I tell them that we're going to the library...Sean randomly told me that he wanted a Blue's Clues holiday book before we got there, and so I let him ask the children's librarian for was his first official request to the librarian. I know it seems like a small step, but to me - he is searching for books. I've somehow communicated to him the joy in that...which is happy, happy, happy. I didn't even mind having to hush him every 3 seconds when he kept yelling about something else so cool that he had seen on a shelf...Christian can't ask for specific books yet, but he sure does do a great job of flipping through all of the kiddie board books and 'talking' about them at the top of his lungs. "Ball!" "Tree!" "Happy Birthday TO you!"
I'm sure the librarians downed a few bottles of Tylenol after we left.

Anyway, today started out in an unexpected discovery...thanks to the mega brain of happened to think of googling my dad's name...I was curious to see if his church web page would pop up. I'm not sure if it did or not - I got distracted when the third search result showed up with his name on a genealogy page. I clicked it and discovered that some distant relation found that side of my family on some side of her family...and so she did the research that took my direct ancestry all the way back to 1776. I didn't have time to fully investigate all of the information, but the coolest thing I've found so far is the actual will of my great (times 5) grandfather, (James) Levi Bailey. He was born in 1776 and died in 1851...his will is on file in the Madison County courthouse. This sort of thing fascinates me in general - to be able to read the actual words of one of my ancestors like this is incredible. Some random facts that I found interesting - Levi served as a captain of the third regiment of the militia from his county in the War of 1812 and Baileys Mountain in Madison County was named for him. I'm sharing the will here because it's such a glimpse into another era of our history...I particularly love the way that he wills away five dollars each to some of his children...and also the "smith tools and still and waggan". I'm excited to poke around a little more into the ol' family's all of those people falling in love and having children and making lives for themselves that brought me into existence...and my own little munchkins, too. I just wish that there was record of more besides death certificates and marriage dates - I'd love to know the stories behind all of these names. Who were they? What did they make of their lives and what did they think of this world? It's improbable that I'll ever really know - but it certainly is fun to imagine each generation in their time, farming and preaching (as it seems every other generation chose to do), and making their place while they were here. If I could speak to them, I'd have to say thanks - thanks for beginning a heritage for my grandparents, for my dad and his siblings, for me and my own...and for my babies. I hope that I can continue it in a way that would make them proud.
And now enough of my rambling. In his own words, Levi Bailey:

Last will & Testament of Levi Bailey sr Dec'd State of North Carolina March the 31st 1851

Madison County

In the name of God amen, I Levi Bailey seignior do hereby make my last will & testament in manner and form following towit, Knowing myself at this time to be sound in body and memory, my will and Desire is to dispose of what property and estate I now have or may have at my death as follows, and first it is my and desire that my son Levi Baily and his children have three hundred acres of land and.fifty acres on the east joining said lands -2 it is also my will and desire that Elizabeth Crowder and her children have part of the 200 acre tract, all on the west side of the ridge that runs through the plantation where I now live3 and also it is my will and desire that my grandson Levi J Baily have all on the east side of the ridge4 and it is my will and desire that Sarah McMahan,and her children have one hundred acres of land beginning on the corner of the 200 acre tract inculding the building where I now live it being two thirds of a hundred and fifty acre tract and runs from east to west5 and it is also my will and Desire that my grand son James M Bailey have all the lands above the lands of Sarah McMahans first - fifty acres. 2nd, 150 acres. 3rd, 100 acres of land. 4th fifty-acres of land. 5 - also 100 acres of land laying at the head of the branch that I live on6th and it is also my will and desire that Elizabeth Crowder and her children have the tract of land that they now live on contain 130 acres more or less and if I should dye first, it is my will and desire that my wife and the family should live here together till her decease both whites and Blacks, and work together as they formerly have done, and at her decease she can dispose of what she has at her will, and those of my children not mentioned in this will, have all had their parts - towit Allen Bailey Dec. and Nancy Jervis, Dorcas Anderson, Willey C Baily Joyce Holcombe and Polly Holcombe, but these six I will five Dollars a piece at my wifes death what of my property that is left behind, Stock of all kinds to equally divide among four towit - Sarah McMahan Elizabeth Crowder & James M Baily & Levi Bailey Jr and it is also my desire that the Black woman letty be free at my death and my wifes --- and at my wifes death my will and desire is my -son Levi Baily and grandson James M Baily have my two Black boys.Jack & alfred and also it is my will and desire that my son Levi Bailey have the Cupboord and bureau and black – and it is also my will and desire that my son Levi Bailey and James M Baily have the smith tools and still and waggan --- and I do hereby appoint Riley Allen and Ira Crowder my executors to this my last will and Testament, Given under my hand and seal day and date above written under 'ined before assigned Attest Levi Baily

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sitting By An Open Window

If I were an artist, I'd paint the dogwood tree outside of my window.
It's in full bloom, the delicate white blossoms all curled up towards the sun on their thin branches...the dogwood is such a lady of a tree, isn't it? Lovely and elegant...but spunky, too - it takes a lot of courage for a tree to face the elements and keep on growing, year after year.
The world outside of my walls is a busy one right now...birds keep flying from tree to tree and it sounds as if they're in choir rehearsal at the moment (chirp-caw-tweetatweet-chirp)...a dog is barking somewhere down the street, and earlier I saw a yellow butterfly hovering over our too-long grass. One step outside and everywhere there's color, everywhere there are crickets jumping and birds soaring, everywhere there's life - and it's exuberant.
Spring makes me smile. It's for good reason that so much poetry is inspired by this season -
it's surprising and hopeful, tender and sometimes fierce, filled with so many varying elements that all add up to one eventual conclusion - new life.
God chooses to reveal His heart to me (and to you) just this simply, this clearly - through this backdrop He creates for our every day.

The sun has set since I've been sitting here. It's dark - and still, the birds are singing (the crickets have added to their musical mix). Still, there's the sweet fragrance of growing plants and still, the flurry of creatures large and small going about their errands.
And I am still in awe of His lovely, loving heart.

(A special hello to my aunt. It meant a lot to me to see that you had been here and taken the time to read some of my meandering thoughts! :) I love you!)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Trying to Keep Perspective

I'm desperately trying to get some writing done - but I'm at the point where I can't even finish a legitimate blog post. My children are my inspiration, my first priority, the greatest love-burst a girl could hope for...but sometimes I don't know how in tarnation I'm supposed to finish anything with their exuberant toddler-ness spontaneously combusting around me.
Usually I just close my notebook or the laptop and play for a while, knowing that they'll later fall asleep or get involved in a puzzle or each other enough to give me a solid twenty minutes or so of working done, but this week they've been clinging to me non-stop. Maybe it's spring fever...whatever the reason, my writing schedule has been officially disrupted. I'm just a better, more peaceful person when I have that little bit of me-in-imaginary-world let's hope I get some quality work done soon. And then let's hope I somehow alleviate the mom-guilt that goes along with this kind of frustration. (Do you know the cycle? It goes a little like this - These are my children, growing so fast - I shouldn't waste a single moment wanting to be doing anything else...but there are only so many years left of my life and if I don't write what I'm writing, then it'll never get written and doesn't God ask that I do my best with any given talents...but being a mother is the highest calling...but characters a, g, and t are stuck midsentence in that confrontation and my brain is stuck mid-plot at all times...what's that, Christian? You need juice?)
Anybody else out there ever feel this way? (Please, please say yes. Please?)