Thursday, June 26, 2008

My latest business idea

I just finished writing the rough draft of my first children's book! I am very excited. My sister has some great story ideas and is a born marketer and my stepbrother is a fabulous artist, so we agreed to team up to write children's books. I have never written anything for children, so I guess this could be a complete disaster. And I look at the thousands of children's books available (and thousands of other books, for that matter) and wonder how an author sets herself apart from the scores of other writiers...or even gets published! My sister is supposed to handle that side of things so I will try to let her worry about it. And on the off-chance that she finds a publisher, writing children's books could be a great work-at-home business. Now that I'm inspired, I'm going to get that first draft off to my sister and stepbrother...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Daughter's Birth

I know I have not posted here for months. I have wanted to, but it just hasn't happened. I have gone through so many topics in my head over the past few months that I have wanted to write about, but my problem is this: I need a job. My husband and I move back to Saint Louis in a couple months so that he can finish his final year of school. This means that we won't have his salary for about ten months. I'm not going to put my daughter in daycare, which complicates the process of finding a job. So, on my list of things to do is to figure out how to make money for ten months while stying home with my daughter. Hmmmm. But why does this problem cause you not to blog, you may ask. Well...when I have a problem that needs worked on but that also causes anxiety, I tend to work on everything else that needs done instead--like cleaning the grout in my shower or cleaning up my email inbox. When I do sit down at my computer to write, I feel guilty because I really should be looking for a job--so I get up and start working on the grout again. Sigh.

However, last night I wrote out the story of my daughter's birth. It is a bit late in coming since my daughter was born over thirteen months ago, but I think I still needed some sort of cathartic release as it was a somewhat traumatic experience. And I don't think I have ever completely dealt with everything that happened that day. No one goes into the hospital in labor hoping for an emergency c-section, and after it is all over, you begin to wonder if there was anything you could have done differently. Maybe I could have not tried as hard to get myself to go into labor, maybe my body was not ready. Maybe I should have tried to wait longer to get an epidural. Maybe I should have practiced the natural childbirth relaxation techniques more. Several of my friends have birthed a child completely naturally...why couldn't I? I have felt guilty and inadequate, I have felt like I have needed to share the details of what happened as if to justify the surgery. I have felt fearful of another pregnancy, knowing that I will either have to go through labor or a c-section (or both!) again.

I always come to the same conclusion in the end, though. During my pregnancy, I was planning on being in control of my labor and delivery. I read natural childbirth books, talked to friends, researched online, scheduled a doula to be there, wrote out a birth plan--I knew what I wanted to happen and what I wasn't going to let happen. Yet throughout my labor and surgery, I learned that I am not the one in control. Nothing happened the way I planned, and yet I still ended up with a healthy and beautiful baby girl. God held both of our lives in his hands and got us both through the trauma of childbirth completely unharmed. Month-by-month I let go more and more of what happened that day and focus on trusting God to get me through childbirth again if he happens to bless me and my husband with another pregnancy.

ps - I'll start posting more often, I promise!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Curse of the Cheerio

I'm sure you have all had those moments when you have said, "my children will NEVER do that." Well, that is how I have always felt about cheerios. Riding in some mom's minivan with old cheerios hidden between all the cracks, cheerios stuck to sticky spills in the cup holder, cheerios crunching underfoot as I sat down, I vowed I would never be one of "those moms" who lived in a filth of cheerio remains.

I think I have become one of those moms. The good part is that cheerios have not yet made way to my car. However, my kitchen has been taken over. My daughter loves cheerios. She doesn't just like to eat them: she enjoys banging on her highchair tray and watching them fly onto the floor, she smiles at me while she grabs a fistful and tosses them over the edge, she thinks it's hilarious to fill her mouth and then laugh at something funny, sending soggy cheerio bits spraying everywhere. She especially likes to eat them off of the floor.

I do my best to contain the mess. I pick them off of the floor several times a day and I wipe down her high chair every few days, but invariably I find the remains of a cheerio ground into the carpet, hidden in some unlikely place, or stuck in my daughter's hair. Yesterday I even found one in my purse.

While a cheerio takeover is definitely gross and exasperating, the real issue for me is this: I always thought I would be one of those easygoing moms that let nothing phase them. I am finding, though, that I am becoming more uptight than I ever thought I would be. My roommate in college, Kathleen, and I would always joke that when we had kids, my kids would be the ones running around naked while her kids would be spotless in cute Gap Kids clothes. We talked yesterday on the phone and realized that we have reversed rolls: it drives me crazy when my daughter's face and clothes are dirty and we are off our schedule and she has become a baby-wearing, living in Seattle without a car, riding the bus everywhere mom.

I think that the longer I am a mom and the more kids I have, I will probably go back to my old hippy-granola ways and stop letting the messes, the sheduling upsets, and the cheerios ground into the carpet bother me. I may even let my kids eat cheerios in the car someday! For now, though, I am doing my best at figuring this whole mom thing out and loving every precious moment of it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Vampires to Christ

I finished reading Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice a few days ago. Yes, you read me right--the Anne Rice of Interview With A Vampire fame. She became a Christian a few years back and decided "that if I believed in Him as completely as I said I did, I ought to write entirely for him," in her words. What resulted from that commitment is a truly wondrous fictional account of Jesus's childhood. Rice brings to life to the human side of Jesus in a way that will probably forever impact the way that I think about Jesus and his life, while not at all diminishing the side of him that is God. She writes with reverence about Jesus and his family while adding fascinating details from her extensive historical research and from her own imagination. Her next book, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, comes out in a few days.

I could write so much more about this book, but I'll leave it at that and encourage you to read it yourself. Rice writes two short essays at the end of the book explaining her conversion and detailing some of her research. She spends some time explaining the role of faith in her coming (back) to Christ and I found her words particularly thought provoking.

She writes (sorry this is long): "I didn't have to know the answers to these [theological and social] questions precisely because God did. He was the God who made the Universe in which I existed. That meant He had made the Big Bang, He had made DNA, He had made the Black Holes in space, and the wind and the rain and the individual snowflakes that fall from the sky. He had done all that. So surely He could do virtually anything and He could solve virtually everything. And how could I possibly know what He knew? And why should I remain apart from Him because I could not grasp all that He could grasp? What came over me then was an infinite trust, trust in His power and His love. I didn't have to worry about the ultimate fate of my good atheistic friends, gay or straight, because He knew all about them, and He was holding them in His hands. I didn't have to quake alone in terror at the thought of those who die untimely deaths from illness, or the countless millions destroyed in the horrors of war. He knew all about them. He had always been holding them in His hands. He and only He knew the full story of every person who'd ever lived or would live; He and He alone knew what person was given what choice, what chance, what opportunity, what amount of time, to come to Him by what path. That I couldn't possibly know all was as clear to me as my awareness that He did."

Maybe reading this should have been a "duh" moment for me, but I must admit I have a hard time trusting God with the unexplainable parts of life: I struggle with fear and my faith is severely tested when I dwell on death, sickness, evil. Rice's thoughts on faith have made me question whether I can truly lay my fears and anxieties upon Christ and move on in faith, fully trusting that God is in control and that I really don't have to worry.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

why the cicada?

I have not done much advertising of this blog among family and friends, so if you stumble here unawares, welcome and thanks for reading! I am starting this blog to get back into the habit of writing. In high school and college I loved to write, but since exiting academia, I have largely been consumed with the other things of life, namely taking care of a baby and husband, which takes more time than I could ever have imagined. Here I hope to use a little of my own time to reflect on my world, conjure up bits from my past, and possibly do some writing exercises to make my brain work harder than it has become accustomed to.

But why the cicada? In Colorado, there is no cicada song. Actually, there are few insects here at all. I grew up in the Denver suburbs, but I remember hearing insect songs for the first time when I visited my friend Amy in Texas as a child. Since then, I started listening for nighttime insect orchestras every time I drove to see my grandparents in Kansas in the summer. In college I camped in Baton Rouge with some friends and could hardly sleep for racket. Before moving back to Denver my husband and I lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. In the early evening of summer I loved to sit on the front porch and listen to the cicadas sing. And this is the why of the cicada song: it makes me feel soulfull. Complete. Sad in a satisfied sort of way. It brings back bits and pieces of memories that I might otherwise never remember. It is the song of the Midwest, the exotic and mysterious to one who grew up without it. It is hot, humid summer days that fade into hot, humid summer nights.

Summer is coming. It is only February, but yesterday we had the window open in our apartment. The noise of the street drifted in along with that springtime breeze that subtly announces the end of winter. And I started feeling the way I do every spring: sad, yet filled to overflowing; longing, yet full of hope. Denver summers are hot, but not humid. And Denver summers are silent at night. In August we move back to Saint Louis, where the cicadas sing.

Following are a few excerpts from essays I wrote in the past regarding cicadas:
Warm, humid Midwestern summer nights are different. I think it’s the cicadas—some unquestionable, invisible and powerful force, their melody rising and falling in unity, each bug sings with one voice. Do they sing each sweet melody in romance to each other, or does the insect army compete, each voice fighting its way above the rest? The cicadas are less obtrusive than the armored brown-shelled beetles that dive bomb me on the porch in Kansas. They are more pleasant than the dirty black cockroaches that squeeze their way into my basement. It is the cicadas, the damp oppressive air, the warm nights that make me restless. These nights recall the huge trees, dripping with moss and filled to overflowing with insects, of Baton Rouge. They recall the huge spiders, the sleeplessness in the dark unbearable heat, the stickiness of skin that I despaired would never dry, the drowsiness of long, hot days. Saint Louis is not the same. The cicadas are the same, but I can never forget the swamps of Louisiana. 7/9/06

At the campsite [in Baton Rouge], a strange old Indian man led us to our space, walking in front of the van while we followed slowly behind. While that was strange and slightly comical, at the campsite we spilled out of the van to find enormous, moss covered trees overhead, filled with unimaginable insects that filled the night sky with incredible noises. We set up our tent, Amy and I tried to go on a short run, and we finally took showers and settled down to go to sleep. Louisiana was hotter than I ever could have imagined. Shortly after our showers we were once again covered with sweat and the incredible heat was unbearable for sleeping. Dash and Amy slept in the back of the van while I again slept in the tent with Kevin and James. Actually, slept is the wrong word, for we did very little sleeping. The three of us laughed and joked into the night and then when we got quiet, I stayed awake for long hours, conscious of the heat and listening to the beautiful sounds of the insects in the trees. 4/04