Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tawaret, Pottery Barn, and The Poisonwood Bible

Shhhhh....I'm hiding in my bedroom/office, where I'm supposed to be editing Avram's paper for the Maxwell (used to be FARMS) Institute conference for this fall. Except I can't access the paper, since his email in encrypted with a crazy password that has more symbols than letters, and although he left me the password, it isn't working. So...I'm hiding from my kids, anyway. Maybe I'll even be able to squeak out a whole blog post. Not that I can completely blame my children for not blogging. The truth is, my best Internet time is in the afternoon, after I've completed my household chores for the day, or otherwise given up on completing those chores. However, with advancing pregnancy, I find that I increasingly nap in the afternoon quiet time instead. We don't do quiet time like many people do - instead of the girls getting quiet time in their room, I shut my door, and I get quiet time (always nap time), while the girls play around the house. I seem to have singularly un-curious children, because this method works very well, and since Lydia can't open either the front or back door - they stick; adults can hardly open them - I never worry about them wandering off into the street. The most damage they do is when Lydia decides to find her own afternoon snack, and rummages through the fridge or cupboards.

But, as today has not even passed the lunch mark yet, I suppose I shall try and crack my hand at the old writing pasttime, instead of sleeping. As regards my pregnancy, I feel increasingly like Tawaret.She is the Egyptian hippopotamus goddess, who is always depicted as pregnant. Just imagine me as a vertical hippo, and you've got it about right. I'm almost 33 weeks, but it feels like every week currently measures a complete revolution of the Earth about the Sun in my life. Looking back over the last two pregnancies, I remember that the second to last month was always the hardest one for me. By the last month, I'm suddenly remembering that when a baby arrives, she's going to need lots of care and midnight feedings and endless diaper changes, not to mention time. Plus my house always needs to be better looking (ahh, nesting), and I have about fifty items to complete before the arrival. Don't forget the whole labor part, as well. But in the seventh month, none of these worries are imminent, and I only remember that I've been pregnant forever, and I may well be pregnant for the coming forever. Imagine, being pregnant for forever - that must be what hell is truly like. Then there would be no anticipation for the coming baby, which means you'd just be stuck forever as Tawaret.

In other thoughts, our local library had a booksale, where you could get a grocery bag's worth of books for five dollars. Of course we loaded right on up, and now our children's shelves are loaded with many books that look as if they've been looted from the library, which they have, except there is no due date attached. I picked up a coffee table sized decorating book from Pottery Barn, since the price was right, and I love decorating books. I do not love, or even like, Pottery Barn, but I figured I could still find plenty to interest me inside. While I have picked up some useful tips, I find myself disgusted while reading the book. Not so disgusted I stop, just enough to feel comfortably self righteous and castigated for being a part of a consumerist nation.

Besides not really liking the actual style of many of the rooms they showcase, I struggle to relate to the luxury based, more is better, and large is best mentality of Pottery Barn. The rooms are all huge, and the houses all full of useless junk, like personal spas with Japanese special soaking tubs, and guest bedrooms complete with all new toiletries, slippers, and bathrobe for your guest to not only try, but take home with them. The amount of glassware and china they espouse makes me embarrassed to be American, and part of a culture where new is best, and remodeling and updating a past-time.

We met last week for the first time as a book group (this is related to the Pottery Barn, just wait), to discuss The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. The meeting went great - it was everything I hoped for, with great companionship, good conversation, and herbal tea and muffins and fruit that made me feel genteel and lady-like. I thoroughly enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible, despite my mis-givings, and, as I hoped it would, it affected me long past the final page of reading. Although not the main point of the book by any means, I was left pondering a lot my place as a steward of the environment and earth, and how I use, or mis-use, the expansive resources I have available to myself as an American in in a first world country. As a result of these ponderings, I have finally at long last begun recycling here in Ohio, and am amazed at how, only three weeks in, almost half of the waste we produce can be recycled. If I had a back yard, and hence could have compost, I think another quarter of waste, at least, could be reclaimed.

With these thoughts in my mind recently, reading about how a kitchen really ought to have two sinks for better food prep, plus my bathtub should be larger, for more water, and my shower heads can be installed to release more water at once (called the deluge showerhead, meant to imitate a rainshower), not to mention updating my pillows, furniture, storage options for all of this extra junk, plus special wine refrigerators available for my kitchen. So much of the emphasis on this book is in comfort and relaxation, and I can see why - after two adults working overtime to pay off their mortgage on these over-expansive houses, plus cleaning and maintaining a dwelling of this size, I can imagine that all they would want in their lives is relaxation - without any time to do so.

I'll be the first to admit that someday, someday soon, even, I'd love to move to a larger house than a 1000 square foot townhome. I'd love amenities like a separate office/libary for Avram to work in when he's home working, which is often. Or a large enough bathroom to include built in drawers instead of only a pedestal sink. I know that what I have is nicer than what so many people have, and will ever have, in their entire lives. In the Poisonwood Bible (spoiler alert) when Leah and Anatole move to the states while he is a part time instructor at the University, they live in married student housing. Many around them complain about the plywood walls, and the cheap furniture. Meanwhile, they can hardly believe how nice everything in the apartment is (and they are in their thirties and forties at this point, not just young and naive and in love), and how far his stipend from the university goes for them and their children.

This was a very humbling bit to read, because Avram is a part time instructor here at OSU- he recieves a stipend as well. Although we don't directly live in student housing here (we did at BYU), we do live in an apartment of the same size and styling. More often than I'd care to admit, I've coveted having more money, and someday owning a house, where I can paint the walls, and have more space, including beautiful storage space not part of our limited closets. I don't want to decorate in the Pottery Barn style, but I would someday like to decorate my house, with furniture that is more than just what I found in the moment at Goodwill, and with exotics like installing architectural detailing (mouldings! window seats! Dormer windows! Built-in library shelves floor to ceiling! - ok, so the middle two are probably just pipe dreams). I don't want to ever reach the point where my physical belongings become so much that I am chained to their preservation, up-keep, and re decoration when style inevitably change.

I don't think that just because there are people in Africa who live in one room homes, and are consistently going hungry, and live at the mercy of thoroughly corrupt governments means that I should sell all my belongings, and either move to live like them, or feel guilty everytime I turn on my hot water, or wash my clothes in my personal washer and dryer. I do think that being a good steward, however you term it, is appropriate. We've all heard the cry to finish our food, because there are starving children in Africa. Of course, we are not going to then box up our un-eaten food and then ship it to Africa, only to arrive weeks later covered with mold, as a token of goodwill. However, the less that we consume overall, the better our "carbon footprint" if you want to sound trendy, is. In the terms that I like, the better stewards we are of what Heavenly Father gave us, the less food we through away from having eyes larger than our stomachs. And ultimately the less we consume, whether food or plastic or new belongings just to have new things, the more resources there are for others in the world. Now I sound like I'm espousing the trickle down economics as given by Reagan, but you get my idea. I'm not sure exactly the best methods, once we use less, of giving the extras to those in need, but my personal favorite areas of helping (and this is sadly mostly theoretical until Avram makes more than a part-time stipend) are the LDS Humanitarian fund, and the PEF, or Perpetual Education Fund.

I would expound some more, but I now have two children clinging on me - I guess quiet time is over.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

State of Our Family

Wow, I haven't written in a long time. I shall do a bullet format, since I don't feel like writing a cohesive essay.

  • Elisheva returned for an Orthopedic appointment on the Monday following her accident. The five days between the accident, and this appointment were spent mostly with Elisheva deposited squarely in my lap. With the splint Elisheva could not walk, and even crawling was cumbersome - she usually chose scooting if independent transportation was required. Mostly, though, Elisheva used my person as her personal transport. Elisheva, with Avram as her personal Easter egg hunt helper. She found more eggs than Lydia - I guess the extra vantage point helped her.
I was given insight into what a 27 pound newborn would feel like. Heavy, mostly. Thankfully, on Monday they decided that she neither needed surgery or a pin, since she is so young that her bone should naturally straighten out as she grows. Also, thankfully they gave her a cast, which color, pink, Lydia decided on. Lydia insists that when she was a toddler, she fell off of a kitchen chair too, except her cast was red and pink. I love how Lydia can't be left out of anything. The first day Elisheva ever walked, Lydia ran around saying, "I'm walking! I'm walking." Same thing when Elisheva started saying words. The opposite is true as well - if Lydia is doing something, anything, Elisheva wants to be doing it too.
With the cast Elisheva refound her mobility, and although they said she would take a while to walk on it, using the aid of a special "shoe", that very day found her toddling around with hesitant steps.
Elisheva showing off her new walking. Also the first real pregnant shot of me, at almost seven months. The frumpy socks and shoes are only because we went on a long walk, and comfort is paramount over fashion. The frumpy clothes can be excused for the same reason - the outfit was comfortable, even if in pictures the pants remind me of decades' past. They were hand-me-downs, so I'm sure they even came from decades' past.
Now she walks almost as comfortably as normal, and can even half-run as well. I love whoever invented casts with walking shoes. Plus they gave us the tip of buying Glad Press 'n Seal, a fancy self adhesive cling wrap. We use it to cover her cast, and then I hold up her leg while Avram bathes her. It's a miracle; it's easy, and doesn't have the complications of plastic bags and rubber bands that carry the potential complication of a homemade tourniquet. And at this writing, there are only three weeks left of the cast.
  • I'll be 31 weeks tomorrow. Here I am, at almost 7 months. When I transferred over Lydia and Elisheva's winter clothing to spring/summer, I also pulled out the baby girl clothes. My sadness at potentially never having a boy was amply swallowed up in all the darling, teensy girl outfits. Baby girls sure do get cute clothing. Besides moving into the third trimester, everything is going swimmingly with the pregnancy. I don't have anemia this time, which I did with both Lydia and Elisheva, so I have more energy in this pregnancy than I've ever had before. Having said this, I don't find pregnancy so exhilarating that I don't often remind myself that if we have six kids, this pregnancy will mean I'm halfway through with childbearing - Hallelujah!
We've basically decided on a name, although as always we retain the right to change it at the hospital if we so choose. It is Guinevere Rebekah. Guinevere because it's a stately English name, and also after Queen Guinevere, Arthur's wife. Not the adulterous, wimpy Guinevere, formed through the French Romantic Retellings (no thanks to Chretien de Troy and Eleanor of Aquitaine and her accursed Courtly Love), but the Welsh Guinevere of the Mabinogion, who rides around with Arthur, righting wrongs and just generally being awesome. Rebekah is for Rebekah in the Bible, who is also awesome. She is the most active woman in the bible (excepting perhaps Ruth at the promptings of Naomi), and every story with her in it has Rebekah as the main character. The verbs that go with her are active, and it is Rebekah that ensures the blessing given to Abraham and then Isaac is passed on correctly. I'm sure Isaac was a nice man, but for that generation of Patriarchs, Rebekah is the mover and shaker.

  • To end randomly, here's a picture of us taken the week before Easter, which because of Conference was "Easter" for church purposes.
  • Also, here's some more pictures, so my Mother will love me.
The result when Lydia is let outside on a Sunday, and decides to make "chocolate milk" with a water bottle and dirt. The most amazing part? I got it all out, with the help of Oxyclean. I love that stuff.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If Only This Were April Fools

Elisheva tipped over a kitchen chair yesterday while standing on it. She cried for much longer than normal (yes, there is a normal in my house with toddlers and falling), and soon I realized that if I tried to set her down, she couldn't put any weight on her right foot - without crying horribly, that is.

I'm not really a doctor, doctor person. The last time I went to the ER was when I was a young child, and the last time I went to Urgent Care was when I was 17 (turned out I had appendicitis). So I took the "wait and see" approach. Soon except if her foot was bumped Elisheva stopped crying at all, and although she did not regain mobility I still thought it was probably just bruised, or strained.

Avram has class until 6:18, and then goes straight from campus to Church for Young Men's (this is only on Wednesdays, Thank God), so he didn't see Elisheva last night, but I had him stay home this morning until she woke up, so that he could give me a second opinion on her foot. I know that my natural tendency is to stay home unless the child is actively on fire, so I definitely didn't want to depend on my own judgment. Avram thought we should take her in, and after a long hunt we found our secondary insurance cards.

Seeing as we have two insurances, it would be a shame to not bring both identifications in, but we had never used the secondary insurance yet. To tell the truth, Elisheva had never been to a doctor in her entire born life up until today. She has had her immunizations at the county health, from nurses, but has never been to a well visit (mostly because we moved, and I never found a Primary Care Physician, and she was obviously well, so I just pronounced her so myself. Plus I'm cheap - never mind that we're currently paying COBRA rates for our primary insurance, the thought of paying a co-pay always convinces me to wait and see.)

We made our way to the Urgent Care, where it was so nice to have the whole matter out of my hands. For today, at least, I really enjoyed being at a hospital (the Urgent Care was attached to a hospital), and feeling 'taken care of' instead of having to make the big, grown up decisions myself. I half thought that they would just bandage her up and send her on her way, but they had x-rays taken, and when the doctor went to look at them, he didn't come back for a very long time, I became convinced that there probably was something wrong.

Sure enough, her metatarsal was broken (the bone that leads to the big toe), and not only is it fractured, but it's also bent. So they put a splint on her leg, and in a week we get to go to the bone doctors to see if she'll need a pin, or surgery or something, plus to see whether they'll keep her in a splint, or change over to a walking cast. Although they are fairly sure that the problem will self-correct since her bones are so young, and she won't need surgery. Which is a relief - can you imagine having surgery from

Despite being as clingy as a newborn, Elisheva has dealt with all of this very calmly. She's even sort of accepting that she has to crawl now, even though she doesn't like it. Not that she does crawl - she just has me carry her from place to place, and has me keep her on my lap at all times.

Life happens, and I'm glad that our first family injury was not a major one. Also, I hope that it's the last family injury for a long time. I'd philosophize more, but Elisheva is getting increasingly impatient with my current activity.