Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Haps

Well! I just gave Blogger some [solicited] feedback on their new interface for blog authors.  My review included the words "lame-o" and "profesh" (with an indication that it wasn't the latter).  Reverted right back to the old style, yes indeedy I did!

I'm sorry I've been MIA from the blogging world for so long.  It just kinda happened.  I felt like I needed a break from the social media world in general, and while I by no means performed a complete fast -- I'm a heck of a lurker -- I do think I benefited from staying quiet for a little while.  As I've mentioned before, I've found young motherhood to be a rather lonely road, and I think I made the mistake of putting too many eggs in the virtual-sense-of-community basket.  Backing off a bit, focusing more on in-person friendships, and accepting that most of my daytime hours involve communication with just one other person -- my 14-month-old daughter -- have all helped to give me a fresh perspective.

That's not all, of course.  The fact is, the aforementioned 14-month-old usually protests vociferously when I attempt to use the computer, so that puts me in a bit of a pickle.  I wasn't online much this past week because we were visiting my family in beautiful Ohio once again.  There's a bit more to it, but I'm gonna be a big ol' meanie and leave that for another time.

But lest anyone rush to conclusions, I will say this: I am not pregnant.  I do have a related story, though.  I recently thought that maybe just maybe (and it really was a stretch to even think it) I might possibly be expecting.  Colin knew of these thoughts, so we were both just sort of waiting around, wondering.  When I realized I was not, I delivered the news by telling him, "You're a daddy, but Elise is not a sister."  He looked bewildered for a moment.  "I'm not pregnant," I explained.

"Oh, I wondered...I was gonna say, we've always known she's white."


Friday, August 12, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

Thank you to our lovely hostess, Jen!

1. How sweet is this?  My talented friend Ashley from Introverted Mama made this baby print in honor of Elise's first birthday:
I still need to put it in a frame!
Isn't that beautiful?  Thank you, Ashley!

2. I'm sure glad that the letter J is the second-least frequently used letter in the English alphabet. Why?  Because my dear little Elise managed to remove the J key from our keyboard.  (Don't worry, we have it, she didn't swallow it!)  Now I have to hit the little round button that sits beneath the key in order to make J's.  Just jolly.

3. My college roommate called me yesterday to catch up, and when she asked how things have been going, my entire response (I later realized) consisted of updates on Elise's recent accomplishments and Colin's teaching and research.  All great, but methinks I need to work on carving out some time for endeavors that are simply my own.

4. Have you tried Spotify?  It allows you to stream millions of songs legally and for free.  I saw some rumblings about it on Twitter and decided to try it for myself.  It's pretty awesome!  If it weren't for the fact that you can easily find a YouTube video for pretty much any song you want, I think I'd be much more excited.  But I still like it.  The invite I requested came to my email inbox within a day, so there isn't a long wait right now!

5. I just said something to my daughter in a Strong Bad voice.  I miss watching Strong Bad and the other Homestar Runner 'toons!  I'm sad that the site hasn't been updated since last December.

6. It's finally cooler!  The 100-degree temperatures we had a few weeks ago made for some miserable days in our central-AC-free house, so the temperate days and cooler nights are most welcome.  I hate to admit it, but I'm feeling ready for fall.  Once it comes, I'm always a bit blue because I know winter's not too far behind.  But right now, sitting outside wearing long sleeves, sipping hot apple cider, while enjoying the grandeur of brightly colored leaves sounds wonderful.

7. I need a new breakfast food.  This week was blueberry bagels, and they're awfully good, but I'm ready to move on.  I did cereal for a long time, so I'm not feeling that.  Oatmeal only appeals to me once every few weeks.  Actually, I kinda prefer eating regular lunch or dinner fare in the morning to most traditional breakfast options.  Anyone have any great breakfast ideas?  (Elise has eaten chicken for breakfast a couple times. She's my daughter, oh yes she is!)

Happy weekend!  Enjoy your partyin', partyin', yeah!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Possibly Regrettable Philosophy

"Live without regret."  I see that quote all over the place: on people's Facebook profiles, in advertisements, spelled incorrectly on Hayden Panettiere's back.  In some ways, I think it is a good sentiment.  We have to forgive ourselves for our own transgressions; we cannot torture ourselves forever over past sins.  Nor should we dwell on decisions or actions that seemed good at the time, but we realize now were mistakes in judgment or just plain bad luck.  Also, it can be a good reminder to make every effort not to do things today that we may regret later. 

However, I have a feeling that many people who espouse the regret-free philosophy don't mean it those ways, or at least, don't only mean it those ways.  Most times I have encountered this quote, it has been coupled with photos of crazy drunken hijinks or quotes about the pleasures of debauchery.  And when taken in that context, its meaning is not of forgiving oneself or keeping one's actions in check, but of shamelessly indulging in immoral behavior and refusing to feel remorse over it.

For when we look up regret its first definition is just that: sorrow or remorse.  And if the "live without regret" philosophy is, at its core, a decision to never feel sorrow or remorse or guilt over doing a bad thing, then it's not the mantra for me.  I do live with regrets, many of them.  The sins I have repented, I have forgiven; the unwitting mistakes, I have moved past -- but it would be ridiculous to say that I feel no sorrow or remorse for anything I have done in my life.  What sort of way would that be to live?

Now, to live without egrets...that would just be a shame.
I suspect that many of the folks who "live without regret" do so because they want to live life to the fullest.  That is my desire, too -- to live a life full of joy, full of beauty, full of goodness.  A life full of love, the only thing which makes us full.  One of my absolute most detested famous movie quotes is from Love Story: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."  Rubbish.  We may wish we never had reason to apologize to the people we love, but heaven knows we sinners fail constantly, even in the relationships we treasure most.  So if my life is full of love, chances are I'm going to have some regrets to go along with it, like it or not.

What do you think?  Do you like this quote? Am I being (regrettably) overly-critical about the whole affair?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hunk of Burning Love Blog + Meme!

The beautiful, sweet, smart, and fantastic mother Ashley of Introverted Mama has presented me with a blog award!!
Woo!  I'm so excited to be the author of a blog on fire.  Awesome!  Thank you, Ashley!

As part of this dealie, it is incumbent upon me to share seven deep thoughts about myself and then bestow this award upon seven other bloggers.  Coming up with even one "deep thought" was proving a difficult task, UNTIL I remembered that the lovely and talented Emily from Day in the Life tagged me for a "7 Links" meme almost 2 weeks ago!  Perfect!

So, without further ado, I will attempt to both share seven deep thoughts about myself (for the award) AND link to seven of my favorite of my own blog posts (for the meme).

1. Most beautiful post: The Essence of Mother
I was happy with how this post turned out, and I did think it was beautiful.  However, I mostly chose it because I think motherhood is beautiful.

Deep Thought: I never felt more beautiful than I did when I was pregnant, even at the end when I looked like a big ol' whale.  Now I don't focus so much on how beautiful I feel, but how beautiful my relationship with Elise is and what an amazing role God has given me.

2. Most popular post: 10 Facts About Me and My Better Half
Not because of anything inherently awesome about it (although I am a huge fan of anything related to our love story, hehe), but because the wonderful Betty Beguiles linked to it and all of her other commenters' "10 Facts" posts on her very popular blog.
Deep Thought: Fact #11: I can't imagine the woman I'd be today if it weren't for my husband.  His love and example and encouragement have shaped me so much during the last four years of our marriage (and even before that).  I am so thankful for him!

3. Most controversial post: Slacktivism
Hahaha, not really.  As I mentioned in my last post, I haven't tackled very controversial topics.  But, I suppose this one could be considered slightly controversial, since it explored how I believe breastfeeding mother should approach non-breastfeeding mothers with understanding.  Wait, is that really controversial?  I think to some moms it might be.  Who knows.

Deep Thought: Elise's three favorite foods are peas, cheese, and Weez*. 

4. Most helpful post: A Matter of Great Importance
This is a joke, of course, because I'm not sure if I ever have posted a particularly "helpful" entry.  Eh, maybe I have, but...a review of Dunkin Donut's Blueberry Waffle breakfast sandwich sounds pretty helpful to me. 

Deep Thought: I like all kinds of foods that are bad for me.  Doughnuts, waffles, sausage, cookies, cake, ice cream, pizza, McGriddles, even Taco Bell via the drive thru (which, apparently, makes me "raw as hell" according to Fergie.  Really?  No.)

5. Post whose success surprised you most: Homesick and Heartsick
I was quite overwhelmed by the kind and loving response I received from my readers after posting this!  I can't tell you how much you all helped me get out of my funk.  And it's not that I didn't anticipate any comments -- I admit, part of my motivation for writing it was fishing for a little love -- but I got a LOT of love, and it affected me much more strongly than I could have guessed! 

Deep Thought: I never realized how much I love Ohio until I moved away from it.  We drink pop, not soda, darn it!  I used to love the idea of moving closer to the East Cost,  I'm a Midwestern girl at heart, for always!

6. Post you didn't think got the attention it deserved: Love Letters to Central Pennsylvania: Hot Pepper Cheese
That's another joke.  I don't really think any of my posts necessarily "deserves" attention.  I enjoyed writing this one, though, and it didn't get any comments.  But really, what is there to say, unless you share my love of hot pepper cheese -- Meyer Dairy hot pepper cheese, specifically, which most of you cannot access?

Deep Thought: I eat that cheese just about every day.  One of my good friends bought me a quesadilla maker when I got married and it is AWESOME!  I have been lunching on bean and cheese quesadillas every day for months now.  I never tire of large part due to the CHEESE!  (Get with it, Firefox: "quesadilla" should be in your dictionary!  Stop underlining that!)  Oh, and no, Elise doesn't like hot pepper cheese, since she's not into spicy foods yet.  (Um, I am bad, and I tried, and she cried.)  She's a colby jack girl.  Which is admirable.

7: Post you're most proud of: Say a Little Prayer
I had a hard time picking a post for this category, but I decided on this one because I'm glad I was willing to call a spade a spade.  Actually, maybe this one is more controversial than the "Slacktivism" one.  Whoops!

Deep Thought: What is with all this "the universe wants it" baloney I've been hearing lately?  The universe has agency now?  Come on.

Yes, I admit that some of those thoughts weren't exactly "deep."  All the more humorous to see them prefaced with "Deep Thought" in italics!
*I realize drinking, say, cow's milk would not be the same as eating beef.  Just let me have my rhyme-y fun.

Now, I get to present this shiny award

to seven other bloggers!  How fun!  I would like to pass this award along to:

1. Dacia of Praying Twice
2. Emily of Day in the Life
3. Kendra of The Nerdy Wife
4. Lindsy, whose blog is named after her!
5. Maren of Thoughts from Inside a Hazelnut
6. Maria of Intimations of Grace
7. Sarah of Fumbling Toward Grace

You girls are all on fire!  WOO!  But seriously, ladies: better stop, drop, and roll.  And share seven deep thoughts about yourself, if you so desire. :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Risky Business

I've never been much of a risk-taker.  It was obvious from early in life that I'm athletically untalented, so I never played any sports.  I've always shied away from activities that could potentially invite public humiliation, like singing alone in public or competing publicly in contests I had little chance of winning. I've never had a desire to do any "daredevil" stunts like skydiving or riding a motorcycle.  Even on this blog, I tend to avoid writing about controversial topics.  It seems I just don't deal well with the possibility of failure, so I carefully avoid situations that aren't reasonably safe.

Naturally, nobody can live entirely risk-free.  Going to graduate school turned out to be a much bigger risk than I had anticipated, but I'm still glad I took it.  The position I held for the year and a half prior to Elise's birth was an uncharacteristically risky choice -- I had no teaching experience whatsoever, I was working in a geographic area that had significant cultural differences from the one where I grew up, and I'm terrified of being the center of attention.  I know I wasn't perfect, and I'm sure I would have improved had I done it longer, but I was still pleased with how I did, and extremely grateful for how well it all went.  Certainly a worthwhile risk!

Not long ago, I remarked to a couple friends of mine that I don't really take many risks anymore.  Despite its  trials and hard lessons, motherhood does not necessarily entail much day-to-day risk, at least not in the public sphere.  Nowadays my biggest risks are all teensy little social ones -- will I find someone to talk to at La Leche League this month? Will that mom email me back about scheduling a playdate? Will I get shy and tongue-tied for some silly reason during a mommy-baby excursion and alienate myself from the other others forever?  -- etc., etc.  For an oft-lonely, socially-awkward, lifelong introvert, these are genuine fears, and I suppose I could avoid all social risks by just staying home all the time.  But even I recognize that they don't amount to much.

So here's what I'd like to do to kick-start the amount of risk in my life (um, among other reasons, of course): try to start a mothers' group at our church.  Incredibly, despite having a membership of 5,000 people, our parish does not have a mothers' group.  (We had a small Elizabeth Ministry chapter for a couple years, but the leader recently moved away, and I fear it will probably cease to exist.  I did go to a meeting and it was a lovely group, but as its focus was mostly on infertility and child loss, I did not feel it was the right group for me.  Don't get me wrong, that kind of support is awesome and very much needed, but those sorrows have not been my cross.)  The risk, of course, is that the project will fall flat on its face and I will look like a miserable losery failure...or wait, I won't, because if it does blow up that badly, it will be because nobody was paying attention anyway. :)

There are other risks, too: what if it does take off, but a power struggle ensues?  What if it gains members, but I don't click with any of the other moms and feel like an outcast?  Or if someone else doesn't click and feels like an outcast?  Am I paranoid or what?

Of course, there would be no reason to bother if there were no possibility of reward; that's what makes risks worthwhile!  I can see great potential in terms of reward.  Admittedly, this idea is the brainchild of my own selfish desire for more friendship and camaraderie (that's gotta be at least a $50 spelling word, whew), but there have got to be more women at my parish pining for such an opportunity.  And is it really selfish to want more friends?  More fun?  More spiritual connectedness?  I don't think so.

So please pray for me that I can muster up the courage to take this risk, and that, if it's meant to be, it will work out.  If nothing else, it will allow me the opportunity to focus on something other than my wife-and-mother duties, which, while certainly the focus of my vocation and life, have comprised the entirety of my life for a bit too long.