Sunday, July 31, 2011

Clever Title or Not?

Okay, I know I'm super lame, but I really want a thirteenth post!  I told my husband I'd be done in 20 minutes, and I only have 5 left after publishing my last post and trying to figure this one out.  I decided to do a quick survey thingy.  (I found it here.  It's really 100 questions, but I'll just stick to the first 10.)

1. Red rose or white?  I'd say red.  I love the color red.
2. Salt or pepper?  I do love me some pepper.  But I probably don't realize how bland most food would taste without salt.  That's a tough choice!  I guess pepper.
3. Pink or blue?  Pink. I'm girly.  I love blue, though.  My favorite Crayola crayon will always be cerulean.  (Shout out to Lindsy!)
4. Hamburgers or hot dogs?  Hamburgers!  I must admit that I love hamburgers.  With ketchup and mustard and onions...mmm.  And sometimes cheese!
5. Music or moves?  Music.  I listen to music a lot more than I watch movies.  Plus, Rebecca Black's yet to have a movie cameo, as far as I know.
6. Comedy or horror?  No contest, as I love comedy and loathe horror.
7. Action or adventure?  Adventure.  I get bored during action scenes.  I figure my husband's -- oops! -- Colin's rapt attention can make up for my lack of interest.
8. Summer or winter?  Seriously, too easy.  Summer all the way.
9. Sun or stars?  Gee, I hate to tell you, but...I get what you're asking, though.  I'll take the sun, since none of the other stars make Earth an inhabitable planet.
10. Hott or cute?  (Um, yeah, with 2 T's.)  Annnnd it becomes totally obvious that I'm at least 13 years older than anyone else who has ever taken this survey.  I guess I'd have to say cute, as I find supposedly "hott" guys to be off-putting at times. 

I'm really going to try to be a better blogger this week!  Please say a prayer that Elise's teeth give her (and her parents) a break! :) 

Introducing...

I've stuck with the "my husband" and "my daughter" routine whenever I've posted on this blog.  Some of the blogs I read do not identify family members by name, and as a private person, I decided to follow suit.  However, many of my beloved readers know their names anyway, and since all of my readers are awesome, I see no reason to continue avoiding naming them.  So, my dear readers, I'd like to introduce to you
Elise and Colin!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Night

I love rum.
More than I did during our honeymoon in Jamaica, when we got so tired of the smell of Appleton Estate that we started requesting virgin strawberry daquiries.
That is all.  Hey, I gotta get to 13 posts somehow, right?

Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday: OOPS MYBAD

See Jen for more, and thanks for hosting!
1. As I mentioned last week (in my most recent post, which was also a quick takes, which probably makes me less than a real blogger), I wanted to write a post on NFP this week in honor of NFP Awareness Week.  Well, I started it at the beginning of the week, but it's still sitting as a several-paragraph stub among my drafts. Sigh. I shall blame my week-long post-birthday hangover (KIDDING, KIDDING).

2. I can probably boil down the point of the post I've been trying to write in just this one take: We practice NFP and I'm very thankful and glad that we do.  And it's a travesty that healthcare providers know so little about it.

3. This has just been a really rough week for all things blog.  I'm not only behind on posting, but behind on commenting too.  If you're wondering why, I've got one word for you: toofers.  (In English, that's "teeth.")  When my baby is teething, which lately is pretty much always, nothing in the world helps except noms.  Wait, you're unfamiliar with noms?  Normal people call it "nursies." 

4. It gets worse: once I publish this post, I'll still have 3 more to go to make my goal of 13 posts in July!  And only 2 more days!  I'm gonna have to write some short ones, I guess.  Or I could abandon my goal....NO!  Patterns are awesome!

5. Speaking of my love of patterns, I also love math. (Seriously, even though I make redonkulous errors. I made another one the other day, when I asserted that the baby slept seven hours straight when she slept from 9 PM-5 AM.)  I had a dream this week that one of my former students asked me to tutor her in calculus. I miss calculus.

6. I tried to get Rebecca Black to follow me on Twitter during one of her following sprees.  It didn't happen.  I was getting excited, too.  Not really even so much at the prospect of her following me, but at the prospect of telling my husband about it. :)

7. If it weren't for the stupid moany noises toward the end, I would seriously consider downloading the song "Muffin Top" from 30 Rock for a ringtone.  This is serious bizz-nass, as I have never downloaded a ringtone before ("A dollar for that! forget it! I shall listen to the crappy one that came on my phone every time it rings instead! Time to get a $3 iced coffee w00t w00t!").  Let's look at some of the lyrics for funsies:
My muffin top is all that
Whole grain, low fat
I know you want a piece of that
But I just wanna dance!

Happy weekend.  Here's hoping that I get some blogging time soon. Sigh.

Friday, July 22, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

Much more quick take action at Jen's!  (Thank you to our hostess!)

1. Remember how I wrote that we were going to Washington D.C. this weekend?  Well, here's the forecast:
We're not going to Washington D.C. this weekend.

2. Not that it's much better here.  Our house was 87 degrees yesterday.  And it was 100 outside.  I pray it doesn't get that bad again today!

3. I must sorrowfully admit that I'm not a huge fan of Rebecca Black's new single, "My Moment."  I find that it lacks the singability factor that made "Friday" so infectious.  I'm still a fan of Rebecca, though! :)

4. We're working on the baby's sleep situation.  Thus far, it's been going well!  Up until this point, she was waking between 2-3 AM every night for a feeding, after which she would always just sleep with us, because we were too tired to deal with anything else.  She would then wake up at least one more time (and sometimes 3-4 more times) for another nursing session before actually getting up for the day.  It was really wearing me out.  We'd like to wean her off the night feedings entirely, but we're taking it one step at a time.  The last few nights, our first step has been to put her back in her crib after the first feeding.  She cries, but it hasn't been nearly as bad as we anticipated (just 10 minutes the last couple nights!).  And then she doesn't get up again until it's time to wake up for the day!  Tuesday night was the first night we tried it, and I honestly couldn't believe how much more well rested I felt on Wednesday.  Better than I have in months.  I can't wait to have my first uninterrupted night's sleep of 2011.  It's coming!!!  Before too long, I hope!

5.
Showers are amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  Sometimes, when I'm basking in the glow of a recent shower, I think about how incredibly blessed I am to live in the present day.  (Then I wonder if God thought, "Well, this one's too much of a pansy to live without indoor plumbing, so I'd better have her be born to an American family in the 1980s.")  Just think: for most of human history, showers simply didn't happen.  And we take them for granted! 

6. Here's my free hint of the day: don't do a Google image search for "I love showers."  At least not with SafeSearch Moderate.

7. NFP Awareness Week starts on my birthday this year!  I'm hoping to do some NFP-related posts next week.  Yippy-skippy!

Fun, fun, fun, fun, looking forward to the [insanely hot] weekend!!!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

4 YEARS!

And still going strong. I love this man!  Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband!
This photo is actually a couple years old, but I've always really liked it. Even though my poor husband's head is cut off. And hey, I'm wearing that same shirt today!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Make it Stop

I included a photo a couple entries back of the cover of Justin Timberlake's single "Cry Me a River."  Maren made the hilarious observation in the comments that his backup singers in this particular song sound just like seagulls.  I hadn't heard the song in years, so of course I had to look it up on YouTube to check it out.  She's right!

Unfortunately, instead of just clicking on a lyrics video, I put on the actual music video, which I'd never watched.  I was barely paying attention to it, but maybe two-thirds of the way through I happened to look over, and what did I see?   A sultry dame undressing herself in front of JT while he held up a video camera to film both of them.  Close tab.

I didn't see what happened after, and I don't want to.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, there is some kissing and that's the end of it, but it's a lustful scene regardless.  Sadly, there's tons more repugnant garbage available in recent music videos, which feature everything from a woman making out with her own doppelgänger (Pink's "Sober") to a chick wielding whipped cream guns attached to her breasts (Katy Perry's "California Gurls").  And I only know this from accidentally stumbling upon Vh1 every now and then before we canceled cable; I can't even imagine the depths of available filth.  As Trista pointed out recently via Twitter, most music videos are "basically soft porn."

Is it any wonder that I'm devoted to Rebecca Black?  For Heaven's sake, at least I can watch "Friday" (*cough* hundreds of times *cough*) without feeling like I need to take a shower. 

On other fronts, we've been availing ourselves of streaming Netflix this past month, and just a couple days ago we decided to try out a new-to-us drama, Damages.  I liked it right away: the concept was interesting, the pilot presenting plenty of "story questions" to capture my interest as a viewer, and I enjoyed the acting, especially Glenn Close's.  The first episode featured an, I don't know, 20-second sex scene between one of the main characters and her just-proposed fiancé.  No thank you, but it was fairly quiet, so at least I could look away and enjoy the music.  Well, last night, we watched the second episode: partway through, I was assaulted by a scene wherein a different character has loud, angry sex with a prostitute while shooting coke.

Please.  STOP.

I've long since given up watching music videos with any regularity, but I enjoy television dramas, and this is the kind of thing that just makes me sick.  Yes, the character was about to do something absolutely terrible, and this scene demonstrated the horrific pit of evil he created for himself in order to make himself able do it.  But you can't tell me there isn't another way to get that point across. 

It's hard for me to get a scene like that out of my head (and trust me, as soon as I realized what was happening, I shut my eyes as tightly as I could).  It's difficult to move past it, and it's not because I enjoy thinking about it -- actually, it's downright terrifying.  It's enough to make me want to stop watching the show entirely, because who knows when I'm going to be subjected to something similar again.

And really, it's not just the extreme sex scenes that bother me.  They all do.  I don't want to see that stuff.  I'm not a prude, but I'm trying to be pure, and I'm tired of having my mind polluted left and right.  I don't want to see (or hear -- gosh, I'm starting to think that's even worse) people acting out sexual encounters, ever, even if a particular encounter would be morally acceptable within the show's universe (and let's face it: they usually aren't).

So please, powers-that-be in the media, here is my plea: make it stop.  Make it stop, so I can enjoy an intelligently-crafted drama (or comedy) without feeling like I need to visit a confessional immediately afterwards.  Make it stop, so I can purge my memory of all this disgusting soft porn.  Make it stop, so my only memories of sexual encounters can be within the context of my own marriage.  Thanks.

P.S. Yeah, I know it's not gonna stop.  Sex sells.  I just wish someone were brave enough to make some good entertainment that didn't include sex scenes.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

P.P.S. Don't miss this brilliant post by Heather King on writing good sex scenes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Sillies

1. My husband was perusing my blog last night, and I was making his task all the more enjoyable by peering over his shoulder as he did it.  I looked over at my archive area and realized that I published 13 posts in March, 11 in April, 13 in May, and 11 in June.  "I should write 13 posts this month!" I remarked.  What can I say; I'm a pattern-lover.  Anyway. after I explained to him why, he pointed out that I'd better get hopping if I want to achieve that goal.  "Yeah," I agreed, "I have five so far, so that makes nine more to go."

"Really?" he said.  "Nine? To get to thirteen?"
I'm using this photo because, to her credit, my daughter graciously resisted doing this.
I deserved it.  Like everybody else, my husband makes simple math errors sometimes too, and I always tease him gently for it, since he's a physicist and all.  So he finally got me back. "Hey, I'm trying to make you feel better!" he continued.  "You really have only eight!"

"Seven now, 'cause I'm blogging about this," I replied.

2. Later last night, I was bemoaning the fact that, thus far, our daughter has demonstrated a strong preference for Happy Baby puffs, which are organic and expensive.  We've tried giving her the non-organic cheaper ones; she just hands them back to us or throws them on the floor.  Sheesh.  "Hey, she likes high quality," my husband said defensively.  "I mean, you didn't see me datin' no broke."

3. Our girl loves to lounge these days.  We have a few pillows lining the fireplace ledge in the living room, which I put there months ago as a safety measure.  So now she likes to lie back on them and chill, sometimes with a book.  Earlier today, her daddy and I were both cooking in the kitchen, so that's where she wanted to be, but there was a problem: nowhere to lounge.  No, wait, no problem -- she just brought a sofa pillow in from the other room, set it down on the kitchen floor, and snuggled up right beneath our feet.  I tried to get a good photo, but when I scurried into the other room to grab the camera, she followed me, and I could never get her to duplicate her adorable lounge pose.  But yeah.  That's our daughter.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thanks for hosting, Jen!

1. Baby girl's got rhythm.  She especially likes jamming to the songs on her toy laptop and the theme song from 30 Rock.  Her dancing abilities have already eclipsed those of both of her parents.

2. We went to a local arts festival tonight...to eat deep-fried Oreos.  That was the only reason.  We didn't look at any of the art.  We can't afford it.  Well, I guess we could if we never went to Baja Fresh again.  Nah.

3. I'm happy for all your Harry Potter fans!  I have never read any of the books, and I only saw part of the first movie.  Maybe some day. :)

4. I need to get my driver's license renewed.  I think I'm going to get my photo taken on Saturday, so the big question is: wavy (natural) hair, or straight?  It will be my fourth license -- I got my first at 16.5, my second when I turned 21, and my third just a year later when we moved to PA.  Amazingly, even though I often straighten my hair, I went wavy in all three of those photos!  So do I stick with precedent...or switch it up??  (Straightened hair has the advantage, on me, of looking more reliably nice in photos.  Wavy hair has the advantage of requiring little effort.  Wow, what a tough call. :P)

5. My husband, daughter, and I are planning a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. for a couple weekends from now. We've only ever been there before on a class trip during the 8th grade (yes, we went to the same school and were in the same grade, and no, we didn't really know each other then). My husband's most vivid memory of the trip was a tie between the terrible pizza we had on the first night and the fact that on his bus they listened to "Sunscreen" as part of a cassette tape about 9 times. [Note: this quick take was written by my husband while I was doing...something?...with the baby.]

6. I love that my daughter was born on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  St. Peter especially is one of my favorite saints (yes, I know St. Paul is beyond awesome too, I just have a special fondness for our first pope)!  Two of my favorite Bible passages concerning him:
Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?"  Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:67-69)
When Jesus went into the region of Cesaerea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, other Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.  I will give you keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-19)
Saint Peter rocks!  Pun intended.

7. Graham crackers + peanut butter + strawberry jam = YES.  Wait, how many quick takes did I do about food now?

Have a fantastic weekend!  Rebecca Black's NEW SINGLE debuts Monday!
Love,
Louise

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Gratitude

You girls are the best.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of the kind and loving comments.  I feel so much better today!  Your sweet words are an answered prayer.

I hesitated to post yesterday's boo-hoo blog post.  I try to restrain myself from proclaiming the blues when I'm down; I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm always bummed out, and complaining reveals the ugly ungrateful corners of my heart, which I'd usually rather keep hidden.
I don't own the rights to this photo, nor do I own this song. I listen to *N Sync on YouTube sometimes, though.

But I decided to go ahead with it, and I'm glad I did, even if it did demonstrate my weakness.  Partly because it's nice to know I'm not the only gal who's been struck with homesickness, but mostly because reading all of your kind, sweet, beautiful responses lifted me up far, far away from the pity-party pit I'd dug myself.  You made me remember how much better it is to look at my life and delight in its countless blessings instead of dwelling on its disappointments and struggles.

Thank you for that. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Homesick and Heartsick

I need to be more interesting.  Or funny.  Or attractive.  Or something.

It's cycle day 3, my non-air-conditioned home is burning up, and I'm in the middle of a post-Ohio-trip slump.  I'm sick and tired of being lonely as [insert expletive here].

It's been almost 4 years now since we moved here to State College, and today's one of those days when I would consider it a "failed experiment" for myself socially.  Practically every social outlet I have oh-so-hesitatingly explored here has blown up in my face.  In the meantime, I've failed to keep up with some of my friends back home as well as I'd have liked, mostly because I'm afraid of the telephone.

I know that we live in a "mobile society" where people move around quite a bit for jobs.  What befuddles me is how so many people seem to really embrace that.  Maybe they're just much better at accentuating the positives than I am, but I think mobility is awful.

My daughter's grandparents have only seen her a handful of times, as has her uncle.  Her aunts saw her last July, last November, and this May.  When she and I visited my family last week, I couldn't even leave her with them to run to the drugstore for twenty minutes that she wasn't completely distraught, because they are strangers to her. 

I'm so homesick it hurts.  Homesick for my family, homesick for my friends back home, homesick for the parks and ice cream shops and stores and schools that I grew up with, homesick for going to the grocery store and running into someone I knew from high school or someone my mom or dad or brother knows...instead of my graduate advisor, who, while kind enough, reminds me of a time in my life that I'd very much rather forget.

Does anybody else feel this way?  Does anybody else think that living away from home, maybe forever, is a pile of suck?

I know it's me.  It is, really.  I'm shy and socially awkward, and somehow I manage to alienate almost every potential friend I meet.  I don't know how I do it, but if I ever figure out my formula, I'll get right down to authoring How To Lose Friends and Influence Nobody.

Sorry for the rant, but it's all I got today, folks.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Motherhood: My Success Story

[Source]
When I was in college, I was a part of my school's University Scholars program.  It was a huge blessing: it came with a full-tuition scholarship, and I was able to live in my university's honors dormitory for free all four years.  Scholars even got free food at the campus dining facilities!  It was a good life, indeed.

This past year, the program published its first ever Scholar Magazine, much of which was devoted to the "success stories" of people who have graduated from the program.  I enjoyed reading it.  I'm thrilled to know about the successes of other scholars, whether I knew them personally or not.  But I couldn't help feeling a little pang of sadness as I read it.


My college years were successful ones.  I had an amazing scholarship, was a student member of the university's board of trustees my last two years, held multiple on-campus jobs, served on the Academic Senate, the Re-accreditation Committee and Student Government, and graduated with a 4.0 GPA.  Halfway through my tenure there, quotes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy became very popular, and the joke that I was "kind of a big deal" came up.  Positive reinforcement abounded.

Four years after graduation, I am not a "success story."  Yes, I did earn a master's degree, and when I worked, I stayed within the education field.  I'm sure that the program administrators would be very pleased with these developments.  But a little over a year ago, I became a stay-at-home mom, which isn't the sort of story you see in alumni spotlights.

Now, my days are consumed with taking care of an affectionate, sweet, hilarious, demanding, high-spirited one-year-old.  Most of my time consists of nursing her, attempting to get her to eat solids without covering herself in filth, comforting her, reading to her, playing with her, and cleaning up her bowel movements.  I cannot eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom without my little buddy tagging along.

And yet, as I told my mom this past weekend, the things that I do now -- the nursing, the playing, the feces-cleaning -- form the pinnacle of my life's success.  Years before I found out I was pregnant, before I was married, before I was even dating my husband, I knew that I wanted to be a wife and mother more than anything in the world.  I enjoyed my successes in college, but in the back of my mind, I always felt that my achievements were paving the road to my real vocation.  I wanted to be educated, I wanted to be (at least somewhat) wise, but I wanted to be these things for more than just myself.  I wanted to be them for my children.

I know I will likely never be featured in the Scholar Magazine, and that is okay with me, even if it sometimes makes me feel a little wistful.  I understand that stay-at-home mom alumni do not "sell" the program.  But, truth be told, my time at YSU in the Scholars program enriched my life and prepared me for my vocation in many ways.  For example, as we are currently living on just my husband's graduate student stipend, I doubt we would have been comfortable with my being a full-time stay-at-home mom if we were saddled with student loan debt.  But thanks to my scholarship (and his at Westminster College, which, incredibly, was also full-tuition and full-room-and-board), we do not have to face that.  Furthermore, being in the scholar program allowed me to meet some absolutely wonderful friends that I probably never would have known otherwise.  One of those friends is Lindsy, with whom I often chat online about our mothering ups and downs. 

Most of all, anyone who thinks education is solely about getting a job is woefully mistaken.  I used to be one of those people, actually.  And I can still understand why people think that -- after all, especially in this economy, getting a decent job can be very difficult, and livelihood is a very important part of life!  So certainly, job preparation is a huge part of education, but it's not everything.  My college courses shaped and expanded my mind in more ways than I could imagine.  More importantly, they taught me how to learn, a skill which I try to use daily. Whether my children are schooled traditionally or at home, my husband and I will be their primary educators.  What better way to use my education that to teach my own children?

The baby and I stopped by our local natural foods store this afternoon in search of organic green bell peppers, which are much cheaper there than at our supermarket.  Sadly, there were none.  As we were walking out, I noticed a couple getting out of their car to go in.  It was "Jeff," my graduate advisor, and his wife.  I had not seen him since defending my thesis over two years ago.  It may have been possible to avoid him entirely, and my awkward, introverted self considered it, but I decided to go ahead and say hello.  He and his wife were very kind to me and complimentary of the baby.  As luck would have it, I happened to be wearing a t-shirt with the name of the school where I used to teach across the font.  Jeff's wife asked me how it was going there.  I smiled. "Actually, I'm a stay-at-home mom."

They both reacted nicely to this news; we exchanged a few more pleasantries and then parted.  I was happy with the encounter.  I don't know what they really thought, but I don't mind.  I love what I am doing.  Being a mother is the most difficult, most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Don't get me wrong: I don't feel like I'm better than moms who work.  But I don't feel inferior to them, either, nor do I feel inferior to my former classmates who are racking up resumés full of "success stories." 

College life was good.  I enjoyed the awards, accolades, recognition, and free food, none of which I receive anymore.  But my life as a mother is infinitely better.  Even on days when I feel exhausted, unappreciated, lonely, and like the biggest failure on earth, I unwaveringly believe that motherhood is my calling.  It is a beautiful, miraculous, and humbling honor, and it is my success story.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back!

Dear Readers,

I miss you!
My dear baby girl and I spent an extended 4th of July weekend with my family, so I haven't been online much this past week.
[Source]
We had a blast!  We just came back to State College yesterday.  We're settling back in, and I'll be getting back to my regular blog reading and writing very soon!

Love,
Louise