Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Descent of Darwin

I give up. Early this year, in my continuing effort to expand and broaden my mind, I began reading The Descent of Man, by Charles Darwin. The less famous cousin to The Origin of Species, I began it in an understanding that it was on a list of books compiled by the BYU Honors' Department.

When I was in eighth grade my brother Soren began college as a freshman at BYU. He received a copy of their recommended reading list, and passed it along to me. I've always liked reading from "approved" lists - my innate sense of ego is stroked by knowing that I'm reading something that has officially been marked as high-faluting. So I began working my way through the list, which began near the dawn of writing and continued through to the second half of the (then) present century. Thirteen years later - twice as old as I was when I began, I'm still slowly, in spurts, working my way through this list. I even have the original copy, plus an updated and expanded one that dates back to the beginning of my marriage (now Avram can keep track, too.)

Anything that lets me cross books off in variegated colors of highlighters that gives me a huge sense of satisfaction has longer staying power in my life than most anything else. I once calculated that at the rate I was reading the books, it would take me until I was 63 to finish the list. Now, an older and more discerning self realizes that I'll never finish the list - I wouldn't even want to. For one thing, I have come to accept that I'll never finish my reading of The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann, and no color of highlighter could induce me to change my mind. Nor will I ever complete the non-fiction books, among which largely figure scientific works.

Several months ago, when I picked up The Descent Of Man, I figured this would be a good way to break into the vast regions of white spots remaining, which are filled with all sorts of scientific observations from millenia, with everyone from Aristotle to Steven Hawking putting in their sheepskin's worth of highly scientific opinions. Plus we already owned it. So I began.

And I read and I read and I read and I schlogged and I schlogged and I schlogged. I read through times where Darwin gives, as a scientific example of animals having remnants of older, lost functions a kitten with unusual characteristics that a women wrote to him about, and assured him that was true. Who can refute with scientific methods such as this? I found myself quite unable to. Not only were old women prone to assuring him of scientific facts - friend after noble friend was cited as an honourable gentleman who assured Darwin of such and such a fact of the behavior of animals or savages, which in Darwin's mind were almost the same thing. I have never so appreciated the modern academic method of writing papers with bulky citations included.

Apart from his scholarly methods, prevalent I am sure in his time, I also could not stomach Darwin's actual theory, or rather, his method of proving it. I am not against evolution. I am a creationist, but I prefer to think of myself as an organizationalist. I know that God organized the world out of existing elements. He further organized the world to the state we know it to be in today. As the LDS Sunday School manual for the Old Testament is quick to point out, the word for day in Hebrew, Yom, can also mean a period of time. Who's to say that every day didn't compose of millions of years under our reckoning? Who knows if dinosaurs roamed the earth while Adam and Eve spent untold time in the Garden of Eden? Our conception of time only began after the fall, and so anything prior to that I feel could very well include some form of evolution.

Having stated this, I still remain unconvinced by Darwin's arguments for the descent of Man. His main point, he works up to time and again is listed as such (Chapter Six, page 162): "The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies, which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution." (Ch 7, p. 188, emphasis added); "Those naturalists, on the other hand, who admit the principle of evolution, and this is now admitted by the majority of rising men, will feel no doubt that all the races of man are descended from a single primitive stock." (Ch.8, p.219); "From our ignorance on several points, the precise manner in which sexual selection acts is somewhat uncertain. Nevertheless if those naturalists who already believe in the mutability of species, will read the following chapters, they will, I think, agree with me, that sexual selection has played an important part in the history of the organic world."

Early in his book, in Chapter Six, Darwin opens with this grand statement, "Even if it be granted that the difference between man and his nearest allies is as great in corporeal structure as some naturalists maintain, and although we must grant that the difference between them is immense in mental power, yet the facts given in the earlier chapters appear to declare, in the plainest manner, that man is descended from some lower form, notwithstanding that connecting -links have not hitherto been discovered."(p. 151, emphasis added).

As his grand facts usually boiled down to appeals to the "rising man's" already assumed belief in the origin of Man, I found myself quite umoved by Darwin's repeated circular reasoning.

Secondly, I was at times amused, and at times appalled by Darwin's blatant prejudices. I felt that Darwin and Kipling, author of the "White Man's Burden" would have gotten along well. Darwin assumes that the white, European nations are the apex of humanity. He grants some small part to America, though. "There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well as the character of the people, are the results of natural selection; for the more energetic, restless and courageous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country, and have there succeeded best." A few pages previous, Darwin had this to say about the "courageous men," "The restless who will not follow a steady occupation - and this relic of barbarism is a great check to civilization - emigrate to newly-settled countries, where they prove useful pioneers."

A mere slam against pioneers is nothing, compared to some other of his ideas, which were prevalent at the time. "We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment...Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man...We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than expected."(Ch. 5, p.138-9).

Darwin goes on to discuss how the races of man ought to be classed as separate species. He gives as the first example how the lice of different races are different, "and the fact of the races of man being infested by parasites, which appear to be specifically distinct, might fairly be urged as an argument that the races themselves ought to be classed as distinct species." (Ch. 7, p. 177). Darwin dismisses that mulattoes are sterile, but does agree that they have less vitality. Darwin does not feel that fertility between the races crosses out them being separate species. Darwin repeatedly points to the "savage" as an example of the evolution of man - civilized man having moved forward. He often refers to the assured fact another distinguished gentlemen has shown, about how some savages are not able to count past four, and thus have a very limited intellectual capacity. The way Darwin makes out, he almost is convinced that the savages are the missing link with the apes. Of course, it must be pointed out that Darwin was explicitly not in favor of slavery. I did find my self, time and again, gaping at the page in disbelief as he yet again made another swipe against the "savage."

As the book progresses, Darwin falls off into an interminably long discourse, set up to last through four hundred pages, of the intricate relationships and various minutiae of sundry animals, from dogs to birds. After over a hundred pages of beetles and butterflies and such, and with such exciting treatises on Sexually Limited Inheritance of Birds yet to come, I set the book down one day in February, almost 260 pages in, and could never bring myself to pick it back up. I never reached the point where Darwin tied this back into the Descent of Man, but I can only figure it was an example of how amazing and intricate the species were, and so could not have been created - thus pointing to evolution.

The true death knell came recently, when I found my old BYU honors' list tucked away in one of our many bookshelves. Right after Darwin's as of yet unmarked name came only one title, and The Descent of Man was not it. I could not even highlight Darwin's obfuscating name, had I finished the book! Now, all motivation was lost, and I have only retained the book from venturing forth into the Goodwills of Ohio in order to more explicitly state my case of ennui and unconvinced evolutionary theory in this blog post.

As I see the various articles set up to celebrate Darwin's life and influence, I cannot help but wonder how many of those extolling Darwin's influence have ever attempted to read his actual work. The introduction to this new publishing begins, "What is the origin of our species? What is human nature? What is the destiny of our species? To answer these three basic questions, we must look to the pivotal writings of the great naturalist Charles Darwin...[who] was able to overthrow the traditional religious and philosophical interpretations of life and humankind...And while the religious objections to evolutionism will be lost in the flow of history, the scientific value of Darwin's works will last for all human time." (H. James Birx, Phd at Harvard University.)

This introduction proves a point Avram often makes. Ultimately, evolution has become a stand for atheists versus religion. No one can talk of the subject without appealing to one side or the other, and evolution has become the pillar that many scentists have built their foundation of proving religion wrong on. Hence Avram and I believe that Evolution, being such a charged theory, will never be considered with the same emotional dispassionacy given to other theories, because it is not, ultimately, about how animals change through time. Evolution, to the Charles Darwins and H. James Birxes of the world, is about how religion is wrong (he even refutes Pope John Paul the II by name).

As an organizationalist, I do not feel any need to set evolution against religion. Science and religion are not polar opposites, contrary to what many scientists (and it should be noted, many religionists) assume. I am, unconvinced by Darwin's argumentation, but that has precious little to with my religion, and much more to do with his scholarship, circular reasoning, and so forth. Centuries later, it still comes down to the fact that if you believe in evolution like a good little "rising man" you do not need to be convinced, because evolution is self-evident, and religion is evidently wrong. Doctor Birxes is certainly one of these "rising men." For myself, however, I will remain as a sinking woman, although I will never be able to highlight Darwin's name.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Wednesday Evening Light Quiz on Thora's Personal Hygeine

Today I went visiting teaching with my two girls and James, the almost four month old I babysit around two days a week. While talking with my teachee and holding James, he proceeded to pee out the side of his diaper, and all over my leg.

Here's a quiz for you. Did I,

A. Immediately cut the appointment short, go home and change?

B. Finish out the appointment after borrowing emergency towels to sop up the mess on my capris, and then proceed home for a change?

C. Stay for another half-hour, and then continue on with the original plans of going to the library for my weekly visit, since I have books due and I need to read something new, and also, who really cares, it could be water, I don't smell, and hey, by now it's almost dry anyway, and for that matter, am still wearing the same capris as I type?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thora: Your New, Friendly Neighborhood Connection to Multi Level Marketing

Avram and I were talking today about all the different financial bubbles that have burst in America, such as housing, tech and whatnot, and we were talking about how there aren't that many bubbles left to burst. What if the Multi Level Marketing Companies' (hereafter referred to as MLM Co.'s) bubble burst? Then the Government, in a desperate attempt to save the jobs of thousands of hard working MLM sales reps could bail out these companies too!

Then the Government would be in the down-line of all those MLM sales representatives. Imagine that! There could be whole warehouses, full of HerbaLife, Xango, and Scentsy candles, that the Government would have bought to maintain the economy. And then each individual state would become part of the down-line too. Although Utah has a small number of populations, so potentially would be far down on the down-line, it would actually come out on top, since most MLM companies originate in Utah. Just think, finally at last California would have to answer to Utah, and give Utahns extra money (that'll make up for all the Electricity we keep producing for them! Mwahahaha!).

To beat the system, we should all join MLM companies today, so that way the whole US government will be down our lines, and we'll make kick back until we're millionaires. Anyone want to come to my personal, no-pressure,-scented-jewelry-that-can-also-be-used-as-an-upscale-kitchen-utensil-that-ALSO-is-edible-and-will-save-your-health/marriage/figure party?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Utah, People Working Together, Utah, What A Great Place To Be!....This Is the Place!

Excuse me, I need to step on my soapbox for just a minute.

I've often heard, whether online or in real life, that people do not think Utah is diverse. They don't want to move there, because they don't think there's enough diversity to raise their children in. They don't want everyone around them to be middle class white Mormons. In my experience, they want a convenient cultural Utopia, with all of the diversity, but with none of the side effects of having newer immigrants (poverty, cultural confusion of their children that lead to gangs, small crimes, parents who work all the time to provide a better life for their children, so their children don't have as much support in School) {Don't get me started on my rant about the urban flight of public, local schools....}

Having been raised in Salt Lake City, Glendale area (part of the actual city) on the West Side, this always makes me laugh. Yes, there are parts of Utah that don't have much cultural diversity, although I'm not sure how it's a crime that your ancestors all came from similar areas, and that more people from other cultures don't desire to move there (or can't afford to, depending where you live - although this to me is another issue of economics, and not innocent). However, there are plenty of places that are incredibly diverse.

My middle school was 35% Caucasian, and 65% minority - mostly Latinos (Hispanics), and Polynesians (mostly Tongans). I grew up in my own neighborhood as a "minority." My home ward followed this same trend of diversity. Also represented were smaller communities of Vietnamese, Bosnians (after the Bosnian war), and Sudanese (while I was in high school). Some of my closest friends from my youth were not Caucasian, nor American. I've been to traditional Vietnamese birthday parties, Luaus galore, some complete with entire roasted pig baked in a hole in the ground warmed with hot stones. I've cleaned Hawaiian graves, and decorated them with leis I made myself. I had a best friend from high school who's Nicaraguan, and was a bridesmaid at my reception. I fell in love with her families beans and salty white cheese (sorry to pull the "multicultural" card on our friendship, Martha. Just so you know, I never sat around and dwelt on what race my friends were - Avram never even knew Martha wasn't white until he met her for the first time, because I'd never described Martha's culturalicity).

People lambaste Utah for not having a lot of blacks, but forget several things. First, Utah was never a slave state, never bordered slave states, and was never a place that African Americans moved to to get out of slave and former slave areas. Why would there be a large African American population? Are Tongans not diverse enough? Is South America too American to count?

Often people saying this have visited Utah, and have seen first hand the lack of diversity. Of course, it then turns out that they visited subdivisions that are upper middle class, and so only composed of Caucasians. I love Utah dearly, but Salt Lake Valley, especially the city, does have a large class division. On the West Side, the other side of the tracks, my area, there is a lot of diversity, along with more poverty, cheaper homes, and more crime. The East Side has a lot less of these. So do these people want to live on the East Side, in their insular white neighborhoods, and see plenty of cultural diversity only in public areas like downtown?

I had a fiance from Huntsville, Alabama, and when I visited his family, who lived in an upper middle class neighborhood, there was no cultural diversity at all. Everyone was white. His ward had maybe two or three black people in it. And yet when we went shopping, or to restaurants we were surrounded by black people. This really bothered me. As someone who grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood, I felt like we were living in two different worlds in the South (at least that one city I visited). Now, I'm sure there are plenty of places that are actually diverse and homogeneous in Alabama. But I feel like, from what I've seen, people want their diversity and separation at the same time.

They don't want lower income levels around them (which do go along with cultural diversity, because of various reasons), but they want to see other cultures in the stores and streets, so they can feel that their children are getting the best of a multi-cultural experience. Never mind that their children never interact with anyone of a different culture except while ordering food in a restaurant.

While I'm ranting, I'd like to take a moment and say that it also deeply bothers me when people lambaste BYU, and by extension lambaste Utah. BYU is not Utah. Provo, at least the parts that students live in and interact with, is not representative of the rest of Utah. There is a very unique BYU culture, which I happened to love, but I know others hate (although I think this is being unfair as well, but I'll try to stick to my general rant. Just so you know, one of the enduring traits of Avram to myself was that he liked both Utah and Provo). Half the drivers in Provo are not Utahns, and the driving in Provo is not representative of the way the rest of Utah drives. Time and again I've heard people cite as their reason for never wanting to live in Utah as their experience at BYU. Also, because they don't want to live around so many others of the same faith.

This baffles me. Are we not trying to convert all those around us? Who do they think the religious persuasions of everyone will be in Zion, or even later on, in the Celestial Kingdom? Now, I know some will say, "Ahh, but then they'll be perfect."

Also, these same people don't like the culture of so many Mormons. Most Mormon cultural things I never experienced (usually by people making fun of them) until I left Utah, or went to BYU (where once again, only a minority are from Utah). I've never had Lime Jello until someone made it as a joke at a BYU potluck. Same thing with funeral potatoes - I first had them in Wisconsin. I took early morning seminary at East High, when I attended it (although granted, most do take time release). This extends to larger areas as well.

I've lived in Salt Lake City, I've lived in Manti and Ephraim Utah (small towns in central Utah), I've lived in Duchesne, Utah (an even dinkier and smaller town in eastern Utah), and I've lived in Provo. I'd be proud to live in any of those places again. Do I think that Utah is perfect? No, of course not. There are plenty of problems there, same with any other state. Nor do I think that we all live in a multi-cultural harmony, and sing kum-bay-ah with our multi-cultural friends all day long. I'm aware that there are cultural difficulties associated with living in a population that's predominantly the same religion. Heck, I don't even like the desert climate that much (although you can't touch my mountains. They're just about perfection). I don't even think that you have to want to live there, ever.

But, but I do think that Utah has plenty of good attributes, and plenty of cultural diversity if you're willing to accept it, and that's my soapbox for today. So please, if you ever visit Utah, don't judge it all at once, nor by one insular experience, or collegiate life. Remember that there is more to a state than its geography, or religious persuasions, or cultural predominant heritage. Also, remember that I'll beat you up if you don't. (Just Kidding. I think.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Saga VIII - Thora Digs Herself Deeper

Today's my fourth wedding Anniversary (and Earth Day. Buy a tree, save the earth, and celebrate Avram and Thora's love, all at once!). In celebration thereof, I thought I'd write another Saga post.

After the night of love confession and awkwardness, Avram and I continued forward, mostly normal. In our relationship grew a room, with a locked door, that we tried to never talk about, ignore, and not enter. This room became the home of Avram's doubts and fears, of his love for me, and of my keeping him at Plan B, when I had moved up for him to plan A+. Most days throughout the month of May proceeded with schooling for Avram, and full time work at Wymount for me. Then we'd meet in the evenings, eat dinner together, usually at my house since Avram lived far out at 500 west, and spend the evening together walking. All normal, usual activities without much drama in them. Avram did continue to say he loved me at appropriate moments, and I continued to like him, and we both tried to be happy about it.

Avram had laid his heart on the line, and he wasn't moving back on what he'd proclaimed, either. Avram did love me, and did want to marry me - or at least have a decent chance trying to marry me, which he felt he didn't possess under the current relationship. I continued with the same feelings we'd begun the relationship with - a clear understanding that I was still planning to marry Dennis, and when Dennis came home from his mission, and I came home from my Egypt study abroad I would date Dennis, and if for some reason we didn't work out, then I would date and perhaps marry Avram. Fair? No. But in the beginning Avram hadn't minded this arrangement. He had insisted then he only wanted a chance. Well, I was giving him a chance, but in the beginning Avram hadn't loved me, and now he did. Now the same agreement tortured him.

At the time I did not understand why Avram had fallen in love with me so quickly, and even more so, why this meant that he immediately knew he wanted to marry me. Avram's patriarchal blessing told him to pray every day for the girl he would marry, so when he would meet her, he would know he should marry her. Avram had prayed for this, every day, since he was a teenager, at least five or six years previously. Then Avram and I started dating. I was his first official girlfriend, and as he prayed every day, very quickly he came to know that he should marry me. Unlike the pushy boyfriends of Mormon lore, Avram did not pound his personal revelation over my head - I knew nothing of this at the time. But behind his sudden and complete desire for marriage with myself was his spiritual knowledge that he, on his side at least, needed to marry me.

I meanwhile had never been told spiritually who to marry, and I had desperately prayed many times to receive some sort of answer that Dennis and I (or even Gui, my former fiance, and I) should marry. I had never been guided one way or the other, but always felt that this was a decision left up to me.

By May 10th I found out Dennis was not returning during the fall semester, but rather in August, and would be coming out and starting school for the fall. Part of me regretted that I had already signed up to do a study abroad, and so wouldn't be here with him for that semester. However, this meant I would see him briefly, when he came out to school and before I left for Egypt, as I was flying out on August 30th, the same day school started. The very turn of events, of me knowing I would be gone on a study abroad after dating Avram, and that Dennis would be home until after I had left, is what had contributed to me dating Avram at all. Soon I found out his exact return date - August 18th. This became the same day that I knew Avram and I would have to break up by. Four months of dating, and one of them almost already gone.

As May passed by, although I was ecstatic about the soon return of Dennis, I grew closer to Avram as our friendship and relationship expanded. Although I had firmly determined that Avram was only my Plan B, the more time we spent together, the more that I grew to like him immensely. On May 22, a Saturday, we were at his house both reading books. I was stretched out on the couch, reading The Promise by Chaim Potak, with my feet in Avram's lap, as he sat at the other end of the couch reading a fantasy book.

Although interested in the subject matter, I kept becoming distracted by Avram himself. As I kept stealing glances at him in between passages of Jewish male coming of age angst, I realized that I did love him. No, I wasn't ready to marry him, nor ready to even date him at the expense of not trying to marry Dennis. But I definitely felt myself in love with Avram. As the reading minutes passed, and as I spent more and more time meditating upon Avram instead of New York Jewry, I finally snagged Avram's attention away from his book and told him, "I love you."

Taken completely by surprise, Avram smiled, and kissed me. I didn't know what my declaration meant for mine and Avram's relationship, or for me and Dennis, or even whether I'd even want to marry Avram if there were no Dennis. I just knew, at that Saturday afternoon, warm spring moment, that I loved Avram, and wanted to tell him so. And for that moment, Avram and I were at the same level, the same understanding.

(Sorry this is short - I have an Elisheva slowly eating the peel of a slice of cantaloupe, while also trying to climb into my lap and surf the Internet, so I'm finding it difficult to write. Ahh, the pragmatism of marriage.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Giveaway (of my free agency in regards to Wheat Grinders)

I need help! I've spent the last forever, along with Avram, on the Internet reading review after review for electric grain mills. I'm wavering between the Wondermill and the Nutrimill. They are the same in many respects, but the Wondermill, some claim, can do finer flour than the Nutrimill, and therefore is better for pastry making (read; desserts). Nutrimill can do coarser flour, so cornmeal. Nutrimill costs ten dollars more than the Wondermill. Nutrimill seems to have a better warranty, although I haven't actually seen either warranty written out. Nutrimill takes up less space. Wondermill has less flour that puffs out into the air (although Nutrimill doesn't have much). Wondermill cannot be turned off in the middle of a batch of grinding, but Nutrimill can. Nutrimill can grind more at a time, but since I only need what I use immediately, this doesn't really help me.

The more I read, the more indecisive I become. Surely someone among my readers owns one (or both?) of these mills. Which one would you recommend?

I currently make all our own bread, 100% whole wheat, with a blend of hard white and hard red wheat - about two batches a week. I would like to branch out into buying soft wheat for better quick breads, like biscuits, as well as whole wheat desserts that will be AMAZING and everyone will love, and will never guess was whole wheat. Also we make homemade pizza, could do homemade pasta if I ever figure out how to not have to knead the dough by hand (do kitchen aids make pasta dough, or is it too tough?), and homemade lots of desserts. I want to be able to do courser grains so I can make homeground cornbread as well.

Ok, so now I sound like a granola nut, but I like to grind my own wheat. I think it tastes better, is a great way to rotate food storage (and learn to like all the whole grains stored in food storage), and is healthier because of the freshness - ie no lost nutrients (compared to store bought whole wheat flour, since most of the nutrients are lost within 72 hours of grinding).

Can someone just tell me which one to order? We'll call it a giveaway - of my choices. Whoever convinces me to buy one, just got my agency in that choice. (I know, real tempting, huh?) Thanks in advance.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Shady News of Thora

While reading today about the despicable plaigary of cjane's blog cjane enjoy it, I was reminded of an earlier episode of plagiarism. Several months ago Sue of Navel Gazing at its Finest dealt with the same issue of another blogger lifting her posts wholesale and re-posting them as her own.

When I read of this deplorable occurrence, my first thought, I must admit, was, "Is Sue talking about me?" This is not a back handed confession of me having stolen my love Saga from someone else, nor are these pictures of my children actually of youth living in Barbados. In truth, I have never plagiarized in my life. Rather, I am party to a strange phenomenon of always believing that perhaps I have committed a crime, an offense, an illegal or sinful act, and just don't know about it.

When I was a child I remember hearing an apocryphal story of a nun who gave birth to a child she had no memory of conceiving. She had multiple personality disorder - undiagnosed - and by night led a different life that clearly involved unlawful congress with a man who prefers women who either are wearing nightgowns or nun's habits. Although I'm convinced as an adult this story smacks of fiction, for years the gist of the story has stuck with me, like a PB&J sandwich with too much enthusiastic application of the Peanut Butter.

What if I have multiple personality disorder? Sure, I have a legitimate blog I visit by day, but what if by night I have a second, shadier blog, whose archived posts are a virtual Hall of Fame, with stolen blog posts from the greats of blog-dom? What if Sue was talking about me? Maybe I am Miss Musings, as well. Who knows, I could even be a nun by night!

Although being married, and spending my nights next to a man whom I would hope would notice perpetual night time activities, whether of the virtual or actual kind, I still get a thrill of primal uncertainty whenever I hear of misdeeds done by an anonymous party. I have spent a lot of time since marriage waking up tired - which I had heretofore believed came from spending the night dealing with nocturnally minded children. Yet, perhaps, this is due to my famous dark of the moon persona's life, and not my progeny after all....

As a female teenager, I often contemplated what I would do if I became pregnant. Not that I had promiscuous ways, but specifically if I became pregnant as the Virgin Mary - a sort of secular immaculate conception. Or as that pesky Nun's alternate night life ego. Either way, I spent much time trying to work out how I would deal with the presumed belief of others in my injured innocence. How I could convince the world that despite all evidences to the contrary, I had managed for only the second time in history to transcend Mortal means of begetting? But truly I worried, hypothetically, that all my maidenly airs would be for naught, for my alter ego would only like me to believe I am innocent.

Despite this post's evidence of the contrary, in reality I consider myself a well grounded person, who suffers from zero tendencies towards psychological disorders, nor to either plagiarism, secret night lives, or even to spending my nights in strange and forgotten immoral paths. But every time I hear or read of yet another dastardly story of guilt, once again I am besieged by the age old doubt; "What if this time, it really is me? What if cjane or Sue or the Nuns are talking about me - about The Shady News of Thora?"

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saga VII - Kisses and Weddings and Love, Oh, My!

To begin the Saga start here; Sentimentality brought on by the January Snow.

Avram played with my hair on April 20th, a Tuesday. For the next few days we meandered through couple limbo, enjoying the new spring of our relationship. My mom came down to help me move from my Homely Cottage on Ninth East to an apartment I was sharing with a bunch of Club friends more directly south of campus. Avram also helped me move, being the stevedore carrying the bulk of the boxes, and after the work was done my Mom took us out to the Brick Oven. It was a sign of the gray area of our relationship in its new stages, that I did not introduce Avram as my boyfriend yet, nor did we act as a couple.

We had not yet held hands nor kissed - both signs of monogamy and hence official harbingers of a relationship to my mind, and yet we knew that it was only a matter of time until we officially became a couple (Avram actually counted us as starting to "date" from April 20th, but I didn't know that at the time).

While at the Brick Oven Avram and I had an early relationship moment. Avram was drinking his (unlimited) Root beer mug quite quickly, when our meals had not even arrived yet. I gently chided him for doing so, and told him not to drink so quickly (so he wouldn't ruin his health). Avram proceeded to down the rest of his large mug, and then drank two or three more complete mugs throughout the evening. I would say we both learned a lesson about each other - me not to push Avram against a wall where he feels compelled to be stubborn, and Avram to not feel goaded to do stupid things.

On Sunday April 25, the day before I began my springtime work stint as a full time custodian at Wymount (the married student housing), Avram and I went for a late night walk around botany bond and its surrounding woodsy environs. As the hour grew late, Avram moved to walk me home, but as we passed the local government research botany center (a block south of Botany Pond), we sat down on its cement front steps, to talk awhile longer in the nice spring evening air . As Avram and I conversed, we moved closer and closer together, until I realized we were in a very "pre-kissing" distance apart. Avram wore glasses, which he saw as an integral part of his personality (he says his soul wears glasses). However, glasses are decidedly un-romantic up close, and besides they make my eyes cross and obstruct his fine hazel eyes, so I had removed them. I was sure Avram would kiss me at any moment, but I also knew that he had never kissed a girl before, and I wanted him to initiate the kiss. So I waited and waited. While we talked later and later into the wee hours of the morning. Hours passed, as we conversed on those hard cement steps. Painful, hours, where my eyes still wanted to cross from sitting as such close quarters to Avram. But, nothing happened. We sat and sat and sat, and talked and talked and talked, but we decidedly did not kiss and kiss and kiss.

Finally, when my body and soul had seized up from the uncomfortable seat, Avram leaned into kiss me. About a half centimeter away from our first kiss, I asked him, "Are you sure?" I knew this would irrevocably be his first kiss, and I wasn't completely sure he should want to waste it on me, to even date me at all. After all, in four months we were going to break up, and I was going to marry Dennis.

Avram replied, "Yes." (Which on reflection, did I really think he would pull back and say 'no,' and then take me home to never see me again?). Then, we kissed. All I can say about our first kiss was that I never entertained worries again about whether or not Avram and I had physical chemistry together, nor whether I could be attracted to someone of Semitic features. I had kissed eight (ahem) other young men, and I knew immediately that Avram was my favorite one to kiss. [I was Avram's as well, but it works well that I was also his only kiss.]

As we pulled back (finally! My eyes could uncross!), Avram stated, "In a lot of ways, you're far superior to my Cocker Spaniel."

I was nonplussed. "What?" I stared at him, having been broken out of a romantic reverie that I'd been waiting for for hours on that hard cement, with the bright porch light in my eyes, but had been worth it for finally kissing, only to hear that? He prefers me to the company of a dog?

Avram could tell I was less than thrilled about his commentary our our kiss, and he tried to explain how in the movie White Christmas when two characters kiss for the first time, this is the line the man says to the woman, as a sign of how much he liked the kiss. I stared at him, still nonplussed. The euphoria dampened a little as Avram received his first exposure to how little I knew about old movies, or even movies in general, as well as how little I like pre-meditated lines (or jokes). I felt that line had been more of an insult than a compliment, having missed the movie's surrounding context, and we both struggled to recapture the moment.

Luckily, kissing and talking for the next forty-five minutes on those cement steps (that we not so hard and uncomfortable any more) as the wee hours grew into the early morning reconciled both of us to each other, even if we did not see eye to eye on Cocker Spaniels. As Avram walked me home so I could get a few hours of sleep before my first day on the job, we held hands for the first time, which activity felt a little anti-climactic after kissing. We laughed together how we hadn't held hands yet, almost two weeks after we had first had a DTR (define the relationship talk).


The honeymoon stage of our courtship, the early stage (usually about two weeks), where both in the relationship are finding their footing, wore away as we worked out our small idiosyncrasies. Avram asked me on our first actual date, although we were officially "dating." Perhaps not so officially - although we knew we were a couple, for a while whenever we were around friends, I asked Avram to not hold my hand or act couple-like around them. Travis only had a week or so until he went home to Alaska for the Summer, and for a variety of reasons (mostly I knew he wasn't sure about us dating, and as a close friend to us both I didn't want to publicly explain it - at least not for as long as possible.) Avram didn't like this, didn't like keeping our relationship somewhat hidden (people knew we were basically together, but since we didn't do anything together around them, it wasn't known how much of a couple we were), but he wanted me to be happy, so as we would walk up to my apartment he would obligingly disengage from holding hands with me.

For our first date he brought me some lilies, "I LIKE LILIES" (a Terry Pratchett quote, that we both like, and lilies has always been the main flower he brings me for this reason, and also because they are one of the cheapest flowers - something I also find endearing), and we walked to the Brick Oven together - this time minus copious quantities of Root beer imbibed. Slowly I even mentioned Avram and I together in front of my apartment, full of five girls all from the same Medieval Club Avram and I were in.

Then the week of weddings hit. Within a one week period of time, two Club couples and one club girl (to someone not in club) were married. As close friends, Ken and Elizabeth, who were Dennis' sister and brother-in-law respectively came up from Texas for the weddings. Ken and Elizabeth had been who Dennis lived with his freshman year at BYU. Ken had been Club president that year, and I had gotten to know both very well until they had graduated and moved halfway through my Sophomore year. My relationship with K&E was not simple. I liked them for themselves, and respected them for their older and wiser thoughts (at the time, to a nineteen year old, a twenty two and twenty four year old are quite the elder mentors). I struggled with feeling that Elizabeth thought of mine and Dennis's relationship as legitimate or important, since it was pre-mission, and so I found myself often attempting to somehow legitimize my feelings for and relationship with Dennis to her (but not verbally, no, that would have been too simple. Mostly with trying to be mature and independent and thoughtful about it all, while being somewhat resentful inside).

Ken and Elizabeth also like me for myself. They had told me even if Dennis and I did not work out, that they would still like me - our friendship was not based on that relationship (contrariwise, as far as I could see. Our friendship would have been easier and better in many ways if Dennis and I weren't dating). When I had been engaged to Gui, they had been very excited for me (although part of me worried it was perhaps because then I would leave Dennis alone - rather silly and childish worries, looking back).

I had no intentions of writing and telling Dennis I was dating Avram. Dennis only had four months left on his mission, and I already knew I planned on marrying him when he returned, so I saw no need to complicate matters by informing any member of his family that I was currently dating someone else. As this was still in the first couple weeks of mine and Avram's relationship, and few even knew that we were together at all, I conceived of simply not telling Ken and Elizabeth throughout their week long visit that Avram and I were together. Like not telling our friends at first of our relationship, Avram did not like this subterfuge, but he once again subverted his own preferences and let me pretend away.

The first wedding was a semi formal one, and I wore the bridesmaid's dress from my sister Camilla's wedding - a metallic blue/purple dress with a boatneck collar and a large, full skirt (ok, so it sounds weird, but it's really pretty. I wish I had a picture that was digital. Camilla or Amy you should get send me a digital picture so I can post it.) At the reception I tried to play a fine line of being friendly and involved with Avram (since he did not know the couple personally, and so was basically there because of me), while still seeming casual and single. Ken and Elizabeth's two daughters were there, one a darling toddler, and I played with her, trying to involve Avram in appreciating how cute my hopeful future niece was. One may understand Avram's lack of enthusiasm in this project. Overall he enjoyed the reception - we danced together for some dances (casually, in a friendly like manner), and at the end we gather with other club members under the twilight Orem sky as Avram and Aaron sang old songs together.

The next wedding a couple days later (of course these were all temple weddings, so I only attended the receptions) was a little more awkward. There was no dancing or much movement, so after going through the line we retired as a large club group to several tables and spent the reception talking together. I wanted Ken and Elizabeth to meet Avram, and like him, while still remaining clueless as to his importance to me. I convinced myself I succeeded in this (although as I write this I realize I still don't know how this all came off to K&E at the time - whether they remained in the dark as to my dating Avram, or whether it was so obvious as to be ridiculous).Avram, our friend Tom, and I at this reception. (I'm wearing medieval clothing, as Clubbies often did at wedding receptions of club members.) I also caught the bouquet. I was being so casual and non relationshippy, that in this picture, Tom even stands in between us. Avram also wants you to all know that Tom is wearing Avram's fedora, and that Avram has a smart looking tie.

The third wedding only had an small open house, and as Avram hardly knew this couple at all, he begged off attending. I enjoyed the gathering, and then as we were leaving my old roommate Christa, now married, desire a small group of us to get together with Ken and Elizabeth and make some steaks for dinner on the grill. As Avram and I had previously arranged for him to meet me at my house after the wedding celebrations, I hedged around until I asked if we could go and pick up Avram and have him come too. We drove to my apartment, where poor Avram was sitting outside underneath a tree, waiting for my arrival. He had looked forward to an evening alone with me, in all this week of wedding craziness, but instead he came with me to Christa's house where once again he got to play "platonic friend of Thora's" for my playacting benefit.

As Steve parked the car, Avram and headed up to the apartment alone. Shortly before we entered, Avram turned to me and said, "I can't do this." We had previously agreed that after this last wedding we would spend the evening alone together, and instead I had independently changed our plans to yet another evening where he felt I was insecure enough in our relationship to keep it hidden. Avram doesn't like sudden changes of plans under the best of circumstances, and this evening was far from ideal circumstantially.

We sat on some steps leading to the second floor of apartments to talk things out for a moment before entering, and like a bombshell (to myself at least) Avram burst out that he loved me, and wanted a chance to try and marry me. I was shocked. In my mind, we were still a casual relationship - I liked Avram, but I was mentally only dating him for the present enjoyment, and then on the (small in my mind) chance that Dennis and I didn't get married I could marry him. To Avram this was the direction we had been heading all along - he didn't know saying "love" was such a large step, and as he felt love towards me he wanted to express it.

I didn't know how to deal with this new development in our relationship. I just wanted to skip into Christa and Steve's apartment, spend a pleasant evening with friends, and call it a night. I most certainly did not want to deal with deep emotions nor relationship issues. I never meant to seriously date Avram. Sure, I spent most waking moments with him, but in the five areas of love showing, I far and away show caring through time. Any boyfriend I've had I would cook with, eat with, study with, socialize with. That Avram and I did the same seemed only natural, even for a beginning, casual relationship.

I brushed over the topic, and said that we would discuss him loving me, and not wanting to pretend we were just friends anymore later, but for now could he just please march into that apartment, pretend to be happy, pretend to be my friend, and we'd talk later?

Avram, eternally trying to do as much as possible to make me happy, swallowed his frustration and march in he did.

As the entire social group consisted of Christa and her husband Steve, Ken and Elizabeth, Ken's sister Michele, and Avram and I, I'm not sure how casual and single I was appearing any more, but I desperately kept up the facade I wanted them to perceive. After all, these were my hopeful future in-laws (and I didn't know how to explain dating Avram. Especially not after dating Gui.) I managed to mostly forget throughout the evening that Avram now loved me, and instead of being fine with dating me and then breaking up (which he had said was fine when we began to talk about dating), now seemed much more emotionally fragile about the whole situation.

Avram made motions to leave earlier than I would have liked, but I knew that we needed to talk. We went to the steps of a church nearby, and as we sat hidden by the columns in the portico, Avram began to weep. I found myself holding Avram while he cried, as he poured out his soul to me. Yes, he had been fine with casually dating me - three weeks ago. Now he love me, and he wanted at least a chance at marrying me, instead of being cast off at the end of the Summer. Over the last week of weddings I had pushed him more and more to play act this, or to go here and say this, and he had been pushed far enough and snapped. I was calling all the shots in our relationship - a bad habit I had picked up in dating since having a missionary, since I subconsciously figured that if my boyfriend didn't like how things were going, then that was fine, because I had a backup plan anyway. It turns out that when you're not 100% committed to a relationship, and act unfair in the relationship that men with both put up with a lot, but also that it makes for a very melancholy boyfriend.

As I stared out into the night, holding my emotionally spent boyfriend, inside I panicked. I hadn't signed up for this! I wanted fun - I wanted someone to talk to, someone to hold hands with and kiss. I wanted to take night time walks around Provo and try and get drinks from random sprinklers with. I did not want to have difficult emotionally fraught discussions. I didn't want someone to love me, when I didn't love them back. I didn't want to be that committed in a serious relationship. I held Avram, and thought about the mess I had on my hands. I had not forced him to fall in love with me, but I had paved the way through my actions. I knew I had to stay there while he cried himself out, while he released all his hopes and fears, love and frustration about me and our maybe future. I listened, and soothed him, but I also stared out into the dark street, wishing I had never come to this point, wishing and hoping I never had to have such an emotionally awkward and depressing conversation in my life. But I was here; Avram and I were together. Only what was I supposed to do with him now?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sing it with me; Hallelujah!

Avram checked under his SS Number on the IRS website, and glory of glories, we calculated our EIC (earned income credit) wrong, and they fixed it for us. See, our government does care about the little people! And so now we're going to Mexico on a cruise. Ha, ha, ha. Avram hates to travel. No, really, he does. It's a wonder I conceded to marry him (which reminds me, I plan to do the next installment of our Love Saga soon). The only way I could get Avram to travel, besides to see family, would be to do something very importantly historical, like Jerusalem.

Anywho, we should all break out in Kumbaya together, because I won't go to jail for the extra money - it's mine, all mine! (and Avram's, and Lydia's, and Elisheva's....)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Minister of Liberia (IRS) Sent Me Money

Today we got our tax refund automatically deposited into our account. It's exactly $2,000 more than we sent in for. What does this mean?

We didn't think we qualified for the child tax credits, which would be worth $2,000, so I'd like to believe that the nice, kindly people with plenty of time on their hands at the IRS organization just took a moment of their copious time to fix
that little problem, and that's why we got more back. Sounds good to you, right?

How we felt when we saw the extra money

Maybe it's just a mistake, and next month the IRS men are going to come knocking at our door, while carrying violin cases stuffed with guns, and wearing black suits and sunglasses like in Men In Black. They'll ask me in Italian Accents where's the money, and I'll have to pay them with my blood, since I spent the money vacationing in Tijuana (or paying off student loan debt from going to Egypt, but that's less exciting, although there was in the congregate a lot more clothing involved than Tijuana in Spring Break has).

How I would feel if they took it back, now that I've been tantalized with extra money.
Sometimes in elementary school (or college) when I got something wrong on a quiz, and the teacher graded it right, even if I told her about it, she would leave it right on my score because it was her mistake to grade it wrong. And then there were those teachers who when you pointed this out said, "oh, thanks" and promptly dropped your A to a D-, where it rightfully belonged. In the grand spectrum of teacher tender mercies, where does the IRS fall? I'm thinking the D- end.

So would the honest thing be to write them, and say, "hey, you gave me a lot of money. And while I respect that with such a honking budget as we currently have, some of it should go to the little guys, and I am qualitatively about the littlest guy out here in America, I think you didn't quite mean to actually give the REAL people in America money, so maybe you should take it back?" Or should I just keep quiet and if in the next three years no UZZI men have shown up at my door spend the money then? Should I assume this is my child tax credits? Should I do a $2,000 giveaway on my blog for whoever gives me the best idea of what to do with an unexpected $2,000? (Which of course I would not then have to do anything with, you would. So you should all tell me what you would do with an unexpected $2,000. Because, as much as I love sand in my string bikinis [just so you don't collectively gasp at this point, I have never gotten sand in any bikini I've ever owned. In fact, I at first spelled it 'bakini' that is how little exposure I have to the product.]*, I really just want to pay for all the shoes I bought in Egypt. [just kidding. I really only bought five or six pairs. Which is really good for me. I own upwards of thirty pairs of shoes. I can't help it, they love me, and I love them.])

*Avram still didn't get it. So let me further clarify that I was referring to the meta-vacation of Spring Break in Tijuana. And I don't own any bikinis. I've never owned a bikini. I don't know what a bikini is (oh, wait, scratch it on the last one).

PS - wouldn't you give this girl a child tax credit?

Easter Diva

I tried doing a Photo Shoot with Lydia on Easter Morning. She thought this was not a good idea. At least she's still cute when being stubborn...

(This was the only non-frowning shot).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Literary Crushes

I was commenting over at The Dunhaven Place, Heidi Ashworth's blog, when I realized I could go on forever, so I decided to come over here and just do a whole post. The topic was the top ten Literary Crushes.

Here are mine, in no particular order:

1. Starting from my childhood, I'd have to write about Gilbert Blythe first. When I was Eleven, I spent the whole year hoping that I would meet my future husband that year, just as Anne did. He isn't really that fleshed in as a character a lot, but you know that he's smart and funny and passionate about life, and that Anne's crazy for not liking him sooner. I know I always liked him. I spent a long time wanting to marry a doctor because of Gilbert. I'm glad that he stuck to Anne, even though she never seemed to give him any hope - especially when he proposes to her at college, when she tries to stop him, and he ploughs on, even though he knows it's romantic.

2. Percival Blakeney. I first encounted Percy as played by Anthony Andrews, and I have always LOVED that movie. Sure, he's silly in public, but he's so intense in private, and when he convinces Marguerite to marry him, although they haven't known each other very long, and she's worried, I love it. In the movie Percy kisses her repeatedly, while telling her softly that she can tell him all about herself ever so slowly, so that it takes a very long time. And in the book, Percy kisses Marguerite's footsteps after she goes into the house in one scene - it makes me sigh in romantic hopelessness. Too bad they can't communicate to save their lives, but I'm sure Percy and I could have communicated. (And how!) Our car is named Percy, half after this Percy (and half after the Arthurian Percy). Our car is an almost black, metallic purple, that seems very foppish and appropriate.

3. This is a new one for me, but Elend of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson and I were meant for each other. He reads a lot of books, I read a lot of books with him in it....He meets Vin at a ball, I would love to meet Elend at a ball. See, we have a lot in common! And he's so humanly awkward - like a real man. I love the Ball scenes of the first book in this series - the romantic moments.

4. This one is obvious, but Mr. Darcy. Sure, I'll have to share him with the rest of the known femaledom, but I'm okay with that. Avram is a lot like Mr. Darcy. He's a little standoffish, but very clever and smart, and is a great guy, but isn't a socialite kind of person. Avram even gets (say it with the Mrs. Bennett accent) 15,000 a year! (Through his stipend. But it's even more than Mr. Darcy, so see how well I married? Avram says that we're not Yuppies, we're Yelppies - Young, Laterly Mobile Professionals that graduated from school, and just do more school for forever.)

5. Nathan, from the Work and the Glory. What's not to like about him? He's good, and clean and wholesome, and very faithful. I always thought of him as like Dennis, the guy I didn't marry. This may sound funny, but Avram read this and didn't think it was weird. He says it's more like something he would expect from me - comparing literary guys I liked to real guys I liked throughout my past.

6. Captain Wentworth, from Persuasion. The letter he writes to Anne, at the end, when he says, "You pierce me!" Every time I read it, that line pierces me. And he's a more mature hero, to go along with Anne being a much more mature heroine.

7.I didn't include it on my comment, but I find I'm having a hard time coming up with a whole ten, so Barney Snaith from My Blue Castle, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. He's mysterious, but not in a creepy way, and he talks like Gilbert, since it's the same author, but in a more edgy way. He's a good grown up crush.

8.Faramir. When he's with Eowyn in the Healing Rooms, and when she tells him that she no longer desires to be a that part. I will never forgive the movie for cutting out the end of that story arc. Sure, Aragorn is in love with Arwen, but it's all a little otherwordly, etc. But Faramir is a real man, and he's so good to go out and fight, when his father orders him to, although he knows it's hopeless. And he wouldn't have picked up the ring if it had been lying on the roadside (according to his own words). So strong, so handsome (I'm sure).

9. Berone, from Love's Labour's Lost. Although, I have to admit that this is mainly based on Kenneth Branaugh's performance in his movie of this play. He's so...words escape me. As they have with most of the men of this list. Often I just stop and sigh and smile while writing this post. But words never escape Berone. He's so eloquent, and when Kenneth Branaugh is speaking in Shakespeare, I swoon. "Love, it kills sheep!"

10. Wesley. And yes, I've read the book the Princess Bride. The first time I read the book, I honestly thought that it was abridged, and tried looking up S. Morgenstern in the Salt Lake Public Library system, and was infuriated that they only had the abridged, William Goldmen ones! Love, true love. Wesley as the farm boy, saying "As you wish." And Wesley, coming back for Buttercup, after five years. How much devotion.

(11.) This isn't literary, but Han Solo. Oh, how I loved him! I used to watch the Star Wars movies at night when I babysat for a family in my ward, and I loved to imagine that I was like Leia, and my current high school crush at the time was like Han. Harrison Ford is so charismatic, and when he says "I know." in response to Leia saying she loves him! It's great.

Who do you love, literarilly?

My Id Strikes Again

Last night my subconscious took over entering for the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest that I wrote about before, since I hadn't done anything about it - and since not even a single person wrote a comment to help inspire me (sniff, sniff). I spent the majority of last night in my sleep baking, three different times, the Peanut Butter Custard/Fudge pie inspired by Reeses Pieces that Avram and I made up a couple of months ago (I actually blogged about it, and now for the life of me I can't find that post.)

I spent more time cooking in my sleep than it would have to just have woken up and made the actual Pie! Plus, my Id made sure I used two ingredients from the approved lists, and I even, in my sleep, made some alterations that made it more people friendly. Now all I need to do is go out and buy the actual ingredients, and I can test my dream approved Peanut Butter Fudge Pie. Doesn't that sound yummy, though? When I win the Million dollar prize, I'll say it was all due to trying to live up to my blog audience - you were my inspiration. That and my over active sub conscious.(Elisheva doesn't have anything to do with the Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, but she's too cute to not post. This is her beatnik black turtleneck, that makes me say bad beatnik poetry, like 'She was a thief, hard to belief, she stole my heart...and my cat.')
Lydia was feeling left out, too. This is her 1950's frock that her Great Grandma Mim sent her.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday we went to one of Columbus's Metro Parks - a system of large city parks with nature reserves - for Lydia's Easter Egg Hunt. Lydia got to search for the whole family's candy and goodies, so it was quite the hunt.True to three year old form, Lydia had a hard time finding a lot of the eggs and goodies on her own.Even though we placed the eggs right out in the open, often Avram or I would point them out to her as she raced gaily by, completely oblivious to the actual loot.
Lydia loved the hunt regardless, and was always very excited when she found an egg or toy.I finally took pictures to my heart's content, after being cooped up inside for all winter. Although it was still windy and cold, it was sunny and I loved being outside. Lydia abandoned the Hunt long before everything was found.

Avram and I finished it up ourselves, while she played on the playground. Meanwhile, Elisheva tried to finish up her morning nap, and that being impossible settled for playing in her stroller and sampling the plastic eggs.

She seemed to find them quite tasty. Lydia got straight to work finding the true meaning of Easter Egg HuntsSo did her daddy (And me, but luckily there's no pictoral proof, since I'm the picture taker).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter Message

The Missionaries in our ward have been meeting with us to help us share our testimonies of the restored Gospel with others (specifically so far our testimonies of Joseph Smith, The Plan of Salvation, and the Resurrection). As I am a hermit mom, and don't know anyone outside of our ward here, and even with the people I do know I still never seem to leave the house or see them, I have yet to fulfill one of these commitments.

Plus, I'll tell you a secret. (Does it count as a secret anymore if I put it on the Internet, where anyone in the whole wide world of 6 billion could, with a computer and Internet Connection could view it?) I'm rotten at Missionary work. It's not an issue of testimony. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the single most important aspect of my life. In truth, it's not just an aspect at all - it is my life. Everything in my life is built upon my membership and underlying testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel. Avram and I were married in the Salt Lake temple for Time and all Eternity. Our family, our daughters and us, are built on this foundation of Jesus Christ, and as a homemaker for my family I do what I do every day because families are forever, and my family and raising my daughters, plus creating a Christ-centered home, is important to me.

In a vacuum, I want to shout these truths from the rooftops, to all around me. How I love my life, because I know that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected for me, how much meaning and direction this LDS church gives me. How important ordinances (like baptism or temple covenants) are to bind us to Heaven, like the Hymn, "Come thou Font of Every Blessing" which says;

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

(Thanks to Lisa for making me think of this hymn today and unknowingly letting me borrowing the lyrics from her.)

This Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is what seals my heart to His courts up above.

In reality, I get shy around others, and the more important that something is to me, the more I struggle with sharing it. My own fears and thoughts paralyze me. Not to mention I haven't been very good at making friends outside the church here, because my social life is organized through the Church. I've always struggled with Missionary Work. But, in my head, and in my heart, I still want to shout it from the rooftops. Or at least today, from the blog-tops.

Because today of all days, the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, is what sets us apart in our Christian Religion. Today we know - I know. I know that Christ rose from the tomb, and has made a way for everyone to also rise again, and live forever. And that if I, if we, live righteously then we can live with Him forever. I love the renewal of spring in Easter - the daffodils, tulips and lilies. I love the pastel spring colors and the Easter egg hunts. But most of all I love that we celebrate Jesus Christ.

I hope that anyone reading this who is a member of the restored church can reiterate what I'm saying here today. And if anyone isn't a member, let me tell you that if you are struggling in your life - if you feel your life lacks value, even if you are happy in your life--there is something more. If you're curious, email me, or check out the Church's website, for answers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

How Will You Know We Are Cool Unless I Show You?

I need to post lots of pictures, because now I'm paranoid that if I don't get my pictures online then they never really happened.

So here's our week in review.

First, after reading lots of Little House books, I had to have pioneer hair for a day.
I braided my hair in two braids, and then wrapped them around my head. I felt very pioneery, and it was surprisingly easy to do.

Then, also yesterday, we as members went to the Columbus Zoo for a special event they're doing today. We rode the train.
And got lots of candy. Not that we needed any extra candy in our lives, as we've been getting ready for Easter. Also yesterday we died eggs for our Easter egg hunt.
Lydia loved dying the eggs. I loved feeling all crafty and cute as a family. Notice that I cleaned the table off, so we even the kitchen is cute. Plus the religious lily as well. I went to a BYU exhibit once at the MOA (Museum of Art), and they had many pictures about Christ, the Atonement and the Resurrection. In the Resurrection room there was a huge vase of lilies in the center of the room, so the whole room was filled with the heady fragrance of (what to me was) resurrection personified.

I love both aspects of Easter - the more pagan celebrations of the rebirth of spring, plus the Religious celebration of Christ's Resurrection. We even have Lamb and a sort of Passover dinner every Easter, with Charoset and a Sader plate and Matzo. Can't have too much religion, we think. And the Lamb from Passover works so well to transition into Christ as the Lamb dying.

Need Food Inspiration Fast

Too bad I didn't make up the recipe to these Pumpkin Donuts - 'cause they're good

I am addicted to reading Cookbooks from the Library. Every week on my library day (Wednesday) I check out several new cookbooks to peruse over, dream about, and very rarely cook from. Currently I have a Pillsbury Bakeoff contest cookbook.

What's a Pillsbury Bake Off? I wondered this myself. It's a contest that anyone (well, 18 and over) can enter, and then win lots of money, or at least be one of 100 finalists and get a free trip to Orlando. Plus all of the associative fame (ignore the fact that I'd never heard of the bakeoff before this week.)

There's only three catches. The recipes submitted have to include two ingredients from the approved lists (this is a Pillsbury's Bakeoff, after all), be original, and the deadline is April 20 - Just nine days away. Hmm. So what if I've never invented a recipe with the approved list of ingredients, let alone ever used most of the premade ingredients in my daily (monthly) cooking? It could happen, in nine days, and I could win the $1,000,000 prize and buy me a dream house, right? Right?

I find myself dreaming of going to the bake off - not winning anything, but just being recognized as a good cook. I could wear cute clothes on TV, too. Not that I'm shallow, or anything. So, anyone have an awesome original recipe they want to inspire me with?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Fam

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My 19th Century Homemaking Inspirations

When I need some Homemaking inspiration, I look to two book series to pull me out of the duldrums of housekeeping; the Anne of Green Gables series and the Little House series (which for some reason I always call the Mary and Laura books). For the last few days I have reread the Little House Series. Especially as I read the earlier books, where Laura will describe in detail the small ins and outs of pioneer life, as her Ma makes cheese, and braids hats, and has each day of the week assigned to a specific task, plus the monumental work of obtaining the food for and then homecooking three meals a day with the technology of two centuries ago.

After reading a few chapters of this, I can cheerily go to washing my dishes in a sink with running hot water, and then fold some laundry that came out of my electric washer and dryer. Of course, as the books progressed, I started reading in longer and longer stretches, and the choredoing became more hurried, but overall my approach to home management is bettered when I spend some time in the world of Ma Ingalls. She truly is my hero. While living in England, I often thought of Ma, and I felt somewhat how she must have felt, because we lived in the country by ourselves, and as it was dark and cold all winter long, I marveled at how well Ma stood going months without seeing other women, and how happy the family is about it all. The Little House books are a great lesson to me in being happy regardless of circumstances. Sure, I've heard some people say that their life wasn't exactly like that, but that's fine with me. After all, my other domestic inspiration is Anne Shirley, and she's 100% fictional.

Today I read These Happy Golden Years, which used to be my favorite, but now I like the early books, since I relate to Ma the most (And I've always felt a little bit Meh about Almonzo and Laura's courtship. It all seems so underwhelming). Then with great trepidation I picked up The First Four Years, because I've only read it once, and in my memory I didn't like it much.

I have a good memory. I ended up lightly skimming the book. I just couldn't take it. They have no money, they're poor newly weds, and Almonzo keeps on spending money, to buy gifts for Laura. A pony here. A saddle there. A new house here (that he went into $500 of debt to pay for, and didn't tell her until after they'd been married a year. If someone tried to pull that on me, heads would have flown [this is in no way a condemnation of Avram. Avram is great at money. He never spends it, and I do the budget, and it works great.] {although he does get an allowance, I'm not Scrooge.}). A Grandfather clock there. Not to mention farm tools galore. Periodically Laura will worry a lot about money, but then she thinks to herself that this is Almonazo's job, and he isn't worrying, so she doesn't have to.

Hello, wakeup call here! I don't know if it was the time period (mid 1880s), or some backwards Christian thinking, but clearly her husband is bad with money, so why is he the only one in charge of it? I can see why this was only ever a draft found among Laura's papers after she died - it honestly makes Almonzo look pretty bad.

Sure, they have a lot of other problems too, like a wildfire that destroys their house, a baby dying, diphtheria, their crops being destroyed by the weather every year, but all this only means the more that they should be careful with their money! It makes me have a great urge to go and balance my checkbook until I feel better.

In summation, if you ever need to feel inspired to be a better housekeeper, who never just gives her work a "lick and a promise" read the early little house books. If you like to be depressed about irresponsible living, read The First Four Years.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

From the Grave of Memory, a Digital Light Shines Forth

We recently found our lost camera, complete with Memory Card that I had thought was in our laptop when it was stolen. And it was in our camera. Complete with 52 pictures from the grave, so to speak. (Well, most of them are blurry. But suddenly when they are the only extra pictures, not already posted on my blog, from the last 18 months, suddenly even the blurry ones are priceless.)Elisheva has outgrown that chipmunky stage that shines so prevalently in these photos. It's amazing how much she has changed in the last two months - she's really grown into her teeth.Here's a recent picture, for comparison