Category Archives: Movies

Inception: Pink World

Today is our last day of the Christmas holidays break from school.  We took three weeks’ vacation.  Because we can do that.*

I have a number of errands to do today, and was intending on doing them this morning… but knowing this is our last slow day for weeks to come, I’ve been dragging my feet.  Or, rather, dragging my rear end, which stayed planted in the loveseat for several hours.  My favorite part:  Snugging.  Various children come and go, dropping in for a cuddle and a chat.  We’re covered in blankets because it’s cold (even in the Phoenix area) and we’re cheap, so the heat is set at 67°, which is actually two degrees warmer than last year.

My six-year-old, Audrey, stopped by.  She proceeded to tell me about a girl from SuperChurch** who looks just like her.  I was surprised, as I am at least acquainted with most of the children who are regulars, as I lead worship in there, 2-3 times per month.  “Yeah,” Audrey continued.  “And her name is even Audrey!”

I went immediately from serious interest to skepticism laced with humor.  “Really??  She looks just like you and her name is Audrey??  Let me guess.  Her name is Audrey Sophia [our last name].”

“Oh, no,” Audrey disagreed emphatically.  “Her name is Audrey Sophia Doe.”

“Doe” is the suffix Audrey invented before she was two, meaning “this is someone I really love.”  “Daddy-Doe” was the inaugural “Doe.”  ‘Doe’ became a good indication of how Audrey was feeling about someone, and it was quite the honor for a non-family-member to be christened a ‘Doe’.  We still call Audrey, “Audrey-Doe,” frequently.  Or just ‘Doe’.  Or, as I often call her, “Rosy-Toesy-Cozy-Doezy.”

It’s one of those family things…

Anyway.

With her insisting that the other Audrey who looked like her had the “actual” last name of “Doe,” my suspicions were confirmed:  Her imagination was in full swing.

I’m all for imagination, and Audrey’s is the most active amongst my children.  Since before she could really talk, she has had an imaginary friend, Rabbiana (“ra-bee-AH-nah”).  Rabbiana started as the girl in the mirror;  Audrey’s reflection.  Aud named this other girl well before she understood that the reflection was her own self.  She seemed to honestly think that there was, indeed, an entire land in addition to our own, held in the mirror.  Over the years, her imaginary world has broken through the boundary of being limited to the Mirror World;  Rabbiana’s world is typically found on the rooftop of our own house and is quite detailed.  Rabbiana has an entire family — the key member of whom is Rabbiana’s brother, Loy.  Other family members, friends, and pets come and go in this imaginary place.  Also, most everything is pink there, named — unsurprisingly — Pink World. 

I have pushed countless apparently-empty swings at the park for Rabbiana, while Audrey gushes second-hand thankfulness…

“Audrey Sophia DOE??” I repeated.  “It sounds to me like this other Audrey who looks just like you is one of your imaginary friends.”

Audrey was indignant.  “She’s not MY imaginary friend.”

Pause.

“She’s Loy’s.”

In case you’ve lost track of the layers, that means that the other Audrey is actually the real Audrey’s imaginary friend’s brother’s imaginary friend.

I told Audrey (the real one) that she had a future ahead of her as a Hollywood script-writer.

————

*Of course, this just means we add an additional week to the end of the school year…  Except in Arizona, they recently lifted the requirement of 35 weeks per school year.  “You can be done when you feel like you’re done for the year,” the Maricopa County homeschool liaison told me, a few years ago…  I still officially stick with 35 weeks, but last year, I was DONE after the second week of June, which made 34 weeks.

**This is the Sunday school at our church for children ages 6-12.

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Thanksgiving family, friends & food; drooling over a seed catalog; a good/bad movie

  • So, Thanksgiving was awesome.  At one point, we had 21 people here —  some watching football, some snoozing, some chatting over coffee and pie, kids running around and playing,  spilling out into our courtyard, friends and family.  Perfect.
  • I made this recipe — Roasted Squash with Almonds and Cranberries — and it turned out so good.  I’m definitely making it again, and I probably won’t wait until Thanksgiving;  I LOVE root veggies.  I used parsnips, carrots, and butternut squash.  I baked it a little longer than recommended, and at 325°F because that’s just how it worked out with the other stuff that was in the oven at the time.  I made it about 1/3 bigger than suggested, and wished I had MORE.  Double recipe next time.  I also chose not to add the lemon zest at the end.  I guess I can’t make a recipe without messing with it.
  • On Thanksgiving, my mom gave me a seed catalog that she said would be right up my alley.  She was right.  Pinetree Garden Seeds is located in Maine, so many of their selections are for much cooler, wetter, more northerly climates than here in the sunny desert.  But, I can’t resist.  I’m making a list and hoping for the best.  They have all sorts of heirloom veggies, plus herbs for medicinal use and even plants for dying cloth.  Lots of other stuff, too…  I’ve been savoring the catalog, reading each description.  The seeds are really inexpensive, too.  So far, I have eight packets on my list, and the total is $10.30.  And their shipping is reasonable, too:  $3.95 for up to $19.99 in charges.  I have this book on companion planting, too:  Carrots Love Tomatoes.  ~sigh~  Makes me want to plant stuff.
  • The ones at Home Depot are the identical brand, but MUCH cheaper -- about half the price.

    I’ve been making my own cheapie windowsill seed starters for months:  You need a paper egg carton and a foam one.  Cut out the paper “egg cups” one at a time and place them in the tray of the foam one.  Fill each paper egg cup with seed starting soil, and place in your windowsill.  Absolutely free (except for the eggs!), but it’s easy to over-water (and thereby have water all over your windowsill), and they dry out really fast — no lid and all, and only 1-2 Tbsp of soil in each cup.  So… at Home Depot, I bit the bullet and purchased a ready-made flimsy, plastic, effective 24-plant windowsill “greenhouse” seed starter, complete with peat pellets that expand like crazy.  I now have lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower sprouts happily growing on my windowsill.  Bugs and birds seem to like lettuce and broccoli;  I haven’t had great success directly sowing them into the garden.  I haven’t tried cauli yet, but I figured if the birds like broccoli sprouts, they probably like cauli, as they’re in the same family…

  • Only (maybe) tangentially related to the above — just because we had wine at Thanksgiving — I wanted to mention that if anyone saw my little post on Facebook that said I was going to watch the documentary Blood into Wine and were interested, you may want to reconsider.  On one hand, the movie was REALLY interesting:  lots of wry humor, the fascinating process of growing and making wine in Arizona, and the relationship between the major characters (Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and Arizona winemaker and ecologist Eric Glomski).  I’m always interested in the… intersection of relationships.  Meaning, the events that conspire to bring two people of really diverse paths together.  I LOVE THAT.  I think of it all the time, and if you meet me in real life, one of the first things I will likely ask you is what brought you, here.  However, the movie was also full of f-bombs, sexual references, and way more all-out earth-worshiping religion than my husband was comfortable with.  I could have hung with the movie, compelled by the good parts and filtering out the other… but after an hour, my hubby asked that we turn it off.  And we did.

Date night!

My husband and I went out for a date night last night.  We were at P.F. Chang’s, our old standby.  It’s our go-to spot because it is

  • Close by

  • Fairly reasonably priced for a special occasion sit-down restaurant

  • Tasty

  • Has a very reliable gluten-free menu

Before going gluten-free, we used to never go to the same spot twice.  We loved little hole-in-the-wall mom ‘n’ pop ethnic spots.  Oh, well.

On this occasion, though, being creatures of habit paid off.  As we had our nose in the menu, cross-referencing the g.f. menu with the fixed-price dinner-for-two menu, I glanced over at the couple who had just been seated next to us, and it was some old friends, Brian and Bev.  I’ve known Brian since we were seven, and Bev since we were freshman in high school.  🙂  The funny thing was, previously, I hadn’t seen Beverly in at least a year, but had seen her just the day before, when I dropped off some homeschooling books at her home, to help her decide between curricula.  Twice in two days!  B&B had planned to meet another couple, Julie & Lee.  I’ve known Lee since we were… oh, probably four or five years old, as our families attended the same church.  Martin had never met Julie & Lee, but it was no matter.  We pushed two tables together, and proceeded to chat up a storm as we ate together.  It was great fun!

And then, Martin and I went to see Captain America.  I thought it was OK, though as far as super hero movies go, I liked Thor better.  But, I enjoyed my time with my hubby, and we’re happy to add an action movie to the mental folder entitled Appropriate for Our Kids.

My sister and I chatted on the phone as I was getting ready, and I told her that even though it’s not really unique or creative, I really enjoy dinner and a movie with my husband.  Or a baseball game.  Both of those, with the cost of babysitting added in, end up being really pricey.  Now that we’ve thoroughly tapped our date-night envelope in the budget for a good month or more, I was thinking about how my children are old enough that Martin and I could probably “sneak” out after the girls are in bed for a quick coffee up the road for more frequent, much less expensive date nights.

How about you?  If you’re married, do you and your hubby have a date night?  Do you go for less-often “fancier” date nights?  Or just out for coffee or dessert somewhere for an hour or so?  Or?  Do you pay a babysitter, trade babysitting with friends, or just leave your children alone?

Mother of a high schooler. Almost. (Plus, a good movie.)

I can’t believe I’m old enough to have an almost-high schooler.  Wow.  The good news is that he really wants to continue homeschooling for high school.  The bad news is that I feel a little intimidated by all the changes in record-keeping I’m sure to have to do.  (Transcripts!  Argh!)  The good news is that it’s only February;  I can learn what I need to in time, I’m sure.

Does anyone have a “homeschooling your high schooler” book to recommend?   I just put three of them on my hold list at the library…  It looks like most of them are along the lines of, “You can do it!” and I feel more of a need for practical advice, like, “Here’s what you need to do differently than you did with K-8.”  We’ll see.

We — my 8th grader (Ethan), and my 6th grader (Grant) — are on the last week or two of Sonlight Core 4.*  Looking at what Sonlight offers, I think we’ll start Ethan’s high school experience with Core 200.  Up to now, I have rather avoided curricula that is overtly Christian**, but it looks like Core 200 would be interesting and informative for both of us.  🙂

So, that means Ethan will have only three months with Core 5, and not do 6-8 at all.  That’s OK, I think, as Cores 6-8 study more in-depth what was studied in previous Cores.  And, the reason we went so slowly through the Cores in the first place is because we studied them more in-depth than the assigned curriculum led us to — extra books on the era of study, both fiction and non-fiction, extra videos, etc.

This is off-topic, but, speaking of extra videos, our family watched Sergeant York last week, when it aired (commercial-free!) on TCM.  It’s a biopic from 1942, telling the true story of a reluctant American World War I hero, played by Gary Cooper.  What a wonderful movie!  I cried.  It’s about equal parts morality play, patriotic war movie, and romance:  good for the whole family.

—————————

*Yes, I have an 8th grader in Core 4.  Yes, he is well-educated.  He tested at a cumulative grade equivalency of 13+ (post high school) on the nationally normed ITBS.  Last year.

**My own private, Christian K-12 education was HIGH on Bible and the history of the Jews and Christians…  All very interesting and valuable, but it should not — in my opinion — be the sole study of history that a child undergoes.  I received only a vague, cursory, incomplete education in history, and have felt the neglect ever since.

Haircut, a missed opportunity, vegan bread, Percy Jackson, and other stuff of VAST importance ;)

  • I got a haircut, the first one in nearly a year and a half, since BEFORE Fiala was born.  I like it, mostly.  Its about at my collarbone now, which is about a foot shorter than it was, but I wish it was a bit shorter.  I also rather wanted bangs, but the guy who does my hair (the last heterosexual male hairstylist in Scottsdale, almost certainly, and the only person who has cut my hair in my 15 years of marriage) said that it would make me look too “soccer-mommish” and that every 30-something mom has chin-length hair with bangs, so he wouldn’t do chin-length-with-bangs on me.  He says that now, my hair is “sophisticated” but it’s not quite the funky kind of style I was looking for.  I gave him too much artistic license.  I knew my hubby would like the cut, though, and he does.
  • Pantene detangling spray is WELL worth the 80¢ above the price of Suave kids detangling spray.  Take it from my 3yo daughter.  I mean, take her word on it.  Don’t take the spray!  (I think it must have been on sale… it was $2.59 at Target, but online, it’s selling for $4-5 or so.)
  • My Dad is coming to stay with us for a week.  He arrives on Wednesday.  It’s a mostly-business trip, so we won’t see him during the day.
  • Kicking myself for a missed opportunity:  I saw a former good-acquaintance/almost-friend who works part-time at Costco, and we chatted a bit.  I asked her what was going on, and she said, “Well, I’m just trying to figure my life out.”  Golly, what an open door!  Did I ask her about her relationship with Jesus??  No.  Did I invite her back to church??  No.  Did I even really express interest in who she is and how she’s doing??  I hope so, but I thought of 13 billion other/better/different things I could have said or asked, after I left the store.  Bummer.
  • I like Chopped.  I also really like America’s Best Dance Crew, but I don’t often get to watch it, because my hubby is extremely careful to not watch anything with scantily-clad women on it, and some of the outfits are pretty spare, to be certain.  It’s also on at 11 p.m. here, so I should be in bed, instead of watching TV.
  • We’re doing “Spring Break” this week.  I’d rather do EASTER break, but I didn’t want to wait another 2-3 weeks until we had a break;  I need one.  Plus, my boys always appreciate when their breaks are concurrent with the neighborhood kids’.  Today, I spent cleaning and working on the book I’m ghost-writing.  It was a really good day, actually.
  • I am working on a bread that is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, plus-other-random-stuff-that-Fiala-is-allergic-to-free.  I based it off of a recipe I found, but my results, so far, are not nearly as attractive as hers.  Still, I have been highly encouraged at the taste and texture of the bread I’ve produced;  it’s actually good.  Now, I just need to get the exact right amount of moisture, so that it will poof up like real bread, and not be flat across the top, a là banana bread.  I’ve baked seven loaves so far, experimenting with varying ingredients and pan sizes… I’m close!  I’ll post a recipe, once I get it perfected.
  • On Friday, on the way home from the library, I was talking with my 12yo son who was sitting up front with me in the truck.  “That’s the problem with new libraries, I guess:  They’re mostly stocked with new books, and most of the newer literature for kids and teens…”  I paused, looking for an adequate-but-kind word.  “Are junk,” he helpfully filled in for me.  Yes, junk.  That’s the bane of the popularity of Harry Potter:  LITERALLY 80% of what is on the library shelves right now are books and series that are Harry-Potter-wannabes, all full of evil and sorcery and disaffected kids looking for POWER in all the wrong places.  😦
  • Sort of along those lines, I took Ethan to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians last night.  We both THOROUGHLY enjoyed ourselves.  There were several suggestive parts — looks and turns of phrase — that I would have rather my almost-13yo son not see, but other than that, it was so good.  Knowledge of Greek mythology:  very helpful.  “Who’s the guy who ferries souls across Styx?” I asked.  “Charon,” he immediately answered.  On our drive to the movie, I told him how I would SO much rather him see a movie based on Greek mythology — which is obviously not Christian — than to have him immerse himself in the quasi-spiritual, morally relativistic, yin-and-yang, subversive, “let’s all be friends with our enemies” crap of Avatar, which was his first choice.

Lost phone, cheap oranges, etiquette, God’s sovereignty, and worship/prophetic

  • Better Than I from Joseph, King of Dreams plays in the background while I write, as my kids watch it, after lunch.  That is one of the most powerful songs, ever.  It could be my life’s anthem.  When I first saw that movie, I so NEEDED it.  Being blessed doesn’t mean that everything will be easy, and discipline doesn’t mean that the Father doesn’t love me.  “I’ve let go the need to know why / I’ll take what answers You supply / For You know better than I.”  I am convinced that the reason the movie was never released in theaters is because it is such a vivid picture of the sovereignty of God.  Americans don’t want to hear that God is sovereign.  We’ll gladly have Him work miracles.  But, submit to His plan??  Hmph.
  • I lost my mobile phone.  If you tried to call me in the last three weeks, I didn’t get the message, or the text.  We looked into getting me a new phone, but it was cost-prohibitive.  Then — DUH!! — I remembered that we still had my old phone.  A couple calls to Verizon Wireless, and voila!  No cost to reconnect it, nor to suspend my other phone.
  • This is fun!  Don’t Gross Out the World, an 11-question on global meal etiquette.  I got 9 out of 11.  My kids all got 4 to 6.
  • I’ve been way over food budget for the last couple of months… I’m recommitting to clipping coupons and being very careful.  It is extremely hard to eat restricted diets, healthily, on the cheap.  This past trip, I was able to spend about 40% less than I have in weeks past, with especially careful shopping of the sales, plus saving $11 in coupons (pre-celiac disease, I used to save $35-40 per trip, up to $60 at times), and simply doing without some things I wanted to buy.  A SCORE was finding oranges at $0.19 per pound.  I bought 16 lbs, and two days later, they’re half gone.  I also got 11 lbs of organic Braeburn apples at $0.67 per pound.
  • Last night at kinship, I had a prophetic song that was about fixing our eyes on Jesus, as the source of our peace and joy, no matter what was going on, on the left and the right of us.  I needed it today;  I keep recalling it…  Yesterday, I thought, “That little rice-reaction-rash Fiala has on her cheeks looks like it might be staph.”  This morning, there’s no doubt.  😦  It’s all over her face, and her arms, too.  Her sweet cheeks are all crusty again.  She’s only been off of her five-week round of antibiotics for… three weeks?  four?  I can’t remember now.  It’s disheartening to see it back.  I thought we were DONE with staph!!  I’m waiting to hear back from the doctor.  But, my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and I’m leaning on Him for peace, and for joy, and though it’s an effort, I will not let the enemy disable me with discouragement and grumpiness.
  • Oh!  Plus, I found out this morning that I will likely need a root canal.  I about cried at the dentist’s office.  I come home, and my husband says, “No way.  There has to be another option.  I’ve read awful things about the side-effects that can come from root canals, like life-long migraines.”  That didn’t help.  The thing that kills me is that my tooth didn’t hurt UNTIL I got a filling a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m on several-times-daily aspirin or ibuprofen because the pain radiates down into my jaw, back into my ear, into my head.  My dentist said, “Six percent of the time, we do a filling, and end up having to go back in for a root canal because the nerve is so damaged from the drilling needed for the filling.”  :\  I didn’t know that!  Plus, root canals obviously kill the root, which cuts off the blood supply to the tooth, which leads to tooth brittleness, as it’s no longer being supplied by calcium, so they have to do a crown.  Seems like a “cascade of interventions” to me.  I am not pleased.  Still.  My peace and joy don’t come from perfect teeth:  they come from fixing my eyes on Jesus.
  • Speaking of prophetic stuff, I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about prophetic stuff spoken over me, but last night, my kinship leader spoke something very short, and it completely resonated in me.  IT has stayed with me, as well.  He simply said, “God wants you to know that you’re both a trumpet and a harp.”  Instantly, I knew what he meant.  …  During kinship, we have teaching, then worship, and after worship, I just strum a little chord progression to “cover” the time of ministry and prayer.  The whole time, I kept up the same G – Em7 – D – C2 thing going over and over, and prayer was just a fountain out of me.  I sang very, very quietly.  I don’t know if anyone even heard me, except the kinship leader, who, at the very end, came and stood inches from me and started singing with me.  It was just sweet.  I could have gone on for hours.  As it was, I think it did last a good 30 minutes, maybe more…  Prophetic with strength = trumpet.  Lyrical, tender worship = harp.
  • I hope that last bit wasn’t too much Joseph-in-his-immaturity!!

Happy endings (or not)

I like it when books and movies aren’t necessarily tied up neatly with a satin bow at the end;  I like when there are a few question marks unanswered, and the finish leaves you with a little room for wonder and conjecture.  In other words, me ‘n’ chick flicks do not get along.  However, I don’t like tragedies, either, where everything is unrelentingly bleak, everybody dies, relationships are broken and left unmended.

Earlier this year, Martin and I watched, in three weekly installments, Tess of the D’Urbervilles on PBS’ Mastperpiece Theater.  (Note — spoilers, sort of, ahead.)  I started out thinking that it was Dickensian, with everyone’s lot in life apparently sad and destined for disaster, but with hope, redemption, justice, and a rich uncle glimmering around the corner.  I kept waiting for it… waiting for it…  Nope.  No one was redeemed.  The inheritance never showed up.  The plights of all were destined for disaster.  I recall watching it, wholly unacquainted with the story and realizing only at about 90% of the way through it, that there was no way that the story was going to be pulled out of the hole that Thomas Hardy had dug.  Martin and I both felt totally slimed at the serial’s end, and we turned to each other and said in unison, “Well that sucks,” as the credits rolled.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what kind of social commentary Hardy was attempting, or even accomplishing.  I felt as manipulated by his pessimistic literary devices as I do when watching an unrelentingly, unrealistically sappy and happy chick flick.

After being totally delighted by all of Jane Austen’s works last year, I decided to work my way through the Brontë sisters’ books.  It’s been much more hit-or-miss.  Villette — unsatisfying and a tad creepy (but, hey, there’s a free e-book download, here!).  Jane Eyre — beautiful and satisfying, perfect in many ways, though the plethora of fortunate, plot-advancing coincidences maddened me.

Now, I’m reading Wuthering Heights.  I’m about 40% of the way through it, and it’s starting to smack of Tess.

At the wonderful book club I’m a part of (wonderful because of the ladies involved — enough alike to thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, yet dissimilar enough to have rousing discussion, unique perspectives, and disagreement), we discussed Jane Eyre last Saturday, and my friend Erin was “outed” by our friend Allison as someone who reads the end of the book first.  I was shocked.  😀  Though I understand her reasoning — she would rather enjoy a more leisurely and thorough reading of the book, than fly through it just to see how the story is resolved — I don’t think I have ever, ever done that.  Seems book-sacreligious or something.

Oddly enough, though, Emily Brontë included a family tree (of the characters) at the beginning of the Wuthering Heights, revealing many of the shockers on the outset.  But… I am, again, wholly unacquainted with the story itself, and I have found myself referring continually to that family tree, thinking, “He marries her???  How does that come to be???  She dies when???  Tragic.  Oh, look, her death coincides with the birthdate of her daughter.  She dies in birth.  Oh…”

So, in a way, it’s like reading the last few chapters.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, trying to convince myself it wouldn’t be so bad to read the last few pages of the book, because I don’t want to invest myself in it and have the story turn out to be a tragedy.  And,  Emily Brontë already told us a good 90% of the story, there on the first page!

However, if you’ve read it, don’t tell me the outcome.

I probably won’t skip ahead.  I’m going to be really upset, though, if it’s all pessimistic at the end.

Father’s Day, My Birthday, etc.

  • We had a really good Father’s Day celebration at my father-in-law’s.  We had a cookout, watched baseball, then watched Bad Day at Black Rock, which is sort of like a Western film noir.  Very cool.  My kind of movie, for certain.  Well, pretty much everyone got to watch all that stuff.  I was off, attempting to get Fiala to go to sleep.  She woke up at 7:00 a.m. (after being up at 4:00), slept about 10 minutes in the car on the way home from church and DID NOT SLEEP at all until she was home in her bed at about 8:00 p.m.  😮  She was one exhausted baby.  Still, it was a great day.  I have to be so careful not to be envious of my in-laws.  I mean, where they live.  They’re in Desert Hills, which is just west of Cave Creek.  They’re on several acres, and their house backs up to the “landscape” of the Sonoran Desert.  They have horses.  I’m not really into horses, now that I’m a grown-up and know how much work it requires to take care of horses.  However, I spent a lot of the day looking into the back, and seeing Wesley climb on the bales of hay, and watching him train one of my father-in-law’s dogs, a big yellow lab, to climb on top the bales, and to climb into a huge wood-sided wagon and let him pull her about.  Kids just need to be outdoors and do that sort of thing.  I love our home, I love our neighborhood.  But, I would dearly love to have room to spread out, and to be in a more natural setting.  I don’t need a bigger house, but it sure would be nice to have more property.  *sigh*
  • I have a few disposables left, but I brought all our cloth stuff to the nursery at church for the first time yesterday.  One lady in the nursery, who I do love so, said a few gentle but pointed comments like, “I cloth diapered my kids, but I made sure to bring disposables along when we went out.”  I changed Fiala right when I brought her in, and told them that, unless she pooped, they wouldn’t need to change her again.  But they did change her, because that’s their SOP.  I may eventually change my mind about bringing disposables along for trips outside the house, but… I don’t think so.
  • My Dad and I have had a rocky past, but it’s been steadily improving over the last… four years or so.  I had a great conversation with my him on Father’s Day, at night, after we were back from my in-laws.  Many thanks to my husband, who wrangled our four older kids, fed them, and got them into bed so I could chat with my Dad.  He gave me an update on his life…  He really does have an interesting life.  And he’s dating, which shouldn’t be such a weird concept to me, but it just is.  Then he asked, “How are my granddaughters?”  which made me all warm and fuzzy for a couple of reasons.  The first is that, for years, he was in denial that he was an actual grandparent, so even for him just to say “granddaughter” is a huge growth step for him.  The second is that, even though I adore my boys, I found it especially sweet that he inquired about the girls.  He thinks Audrey is a hoot.  To him, she’s the classic “sanguine” which he finds amusing and intriguing, especially since there are no true sanguines in our family, like for generations, at least on his side.  Since Audrey fits nicely in the sanguine box, he could easily relate to both our joys and our struggles in raising her, because he classifies pretty much everyone with those four personality types (sanguine, melancholy, choleric, and phlegmatic).  Martin and I need her to obey (not be a robot girl, but, nonetheless, obey) but we don’t want to squash the sparkle of her personality.  And, he listened with concern about Fiala’s skin, and prayed for her, over the phone.
  • Speaking of Fiala’s skin — coconut oil makes it worse, though I sincerely appreciate the suggestion from everyone who mentioned it.  Her little body broke out in a whole-body rash after I applied it.  And I used it for a good week, just to make sure that the reaction wasn’t coincidental to something odd I had eaten.  I Googled it, and while it appears to be rare, allergy to coconut does exist.  I’m not 100% certain she’s allergic to coconut, but I’m not going to use the oil again.  I’m back to my homemade salve, which really does help, better than any topical lotion, salve, prescription, over-the-counter, etc., I have used.  However, if it helped having me completely egg- and nut-free these last two weeks, the benefit was minimal.  I had a g.f. cake with eggs and butter in it yesterday, but I still think I’ll stay off of eggs and dairy, just in case.  On Sunday morning, my pastor suggested rubbing pure vitamin E oil on Fiala.  Duh!  I slathered myself in E oil my whole pregnancy.  Why didn’t I think of that?  I will try that starting today.
  • My birthday was Saturday.  My hubby and I had a date night — only the THIRD since Fiala was born, eight months ago today.  😮  I had no problem leaving my other kids with a babysitter, even when they were tiny.  But, it’s so hard with Fiala.  Martin says that she is my security blanket.  🙂  Maybe so.  Part of the reason it is so difficult to leave her with a babysitter is, I’m leaving her with them during her fussy time of day, and as her mom, many times that’s extremely difficult for ME to manage — fussy baby plus four other children — and I’m her mother!  But, I love our babysitter, Mackenzie, when we can get her!  She is lovely, intelligent, extremely competent, artistic, lots of fun, and my children adore her.  She’s now 22, and has been watching my kids since she was 13 and we only had two children.  There is a guy at my church that I so want her to marry.  Mackenzie works at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and he comes in there from time to time.  She knows who he is, but he has no idea who he is.  She used to have responsibilities at her church, but she recently stepped down, so on Saturday, I was like, “Cooooommmmeee to my chuuuurrrrrrrrrrch,” so that she could spend time with that guy.  😀  Anyways.  On our date, Martin and I went to P.F. Chang’s, then saw Star Trek, which rocked.  And, he gave me a case of wine for my birthday!  That seems like a weird gift… but four years ago, we went to the historic La Posada for our 11th anniversary, and we had the BEST WINE EVER, and now, every glass we have had since is, “It’s just not as good as that wine.”  A couple of months ago, I finally found it online.  It was difficult to track down, because it turns out it was a custom crush with a private label.  So, I had to find the vineyard that produced it.  They did have a few cases left, but we’ve never purchased a whole case (12 bottles!) of wine before.  Martin raided my e-mail, found the info, had a case — which turned out to be the last in existence — shipped to his work, and then stored it at a friend’s house for a week.  So, it still seems weird to get wine for my birthday, but it’s such good wine, and it has such lovely memories attached.  It’s a 2004 Fairfield Pinot Noir, from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, made by LaVelle Vineyards. Maybe next year I can get a Stan Fellows painting.

And now for something completely unimportant…

Yesterday afternoon I was footballed-out (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT THE CARDINALS ARE 5-3????  Woo hoo!!  This is the first year my husband hasn’t mocked me for being a fan), and started scanning the onscreen guide for something to watch while I was feeding my baby.  I saw that the movie Secondhand Lions had just started, so I flipped over to TNT.  That movie had been recommended to me before;  I think it’s one of my friend Sheila’s favorites.  But, I’d never seen it before.  Well, about 30 seconds into it, I was totally hooked.  Eventually, everyone came out to watch with me.  It really was a fantastic, worthwhile movie — feelgood but not sappy, much about bringing boys into manhood.  I put it on hold at the library so we can watch it all again, sans commercials.

Anyways, a bit into the movie, I said, “If they ever make a movie about Peyton Manning’s life, Haley Joel Osment should play him.”  They do look strikingly similar:

Books, allegory, and block-headedness

Well.

The book club with which I’m happily involved has chosen its next book.  Or, rather, I should say, “WE have chosen the next book.”  It’s a book that two of the six of us have already read, but were happy to read again, mostly to gain the perspective of the other members.  I had heard of the book, and for some reason, had really wanted to read it, so I heartily threw in my assenting vote. 

Now, I have it in my hands, and I’m hesitant to start.

It’s The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  I don’t read reviews before I read a book;  I generally read them afterwards, if at all, so don’t tell me about it, if you’ve read it.  But, it seems to me that the book leans very heavily on allegory and metaphor.

The inside flap of the dustjacket reads thusly:

A boy

A tiger

And the vast Pacific Ocean

—-

This is a novel of such rare and

wondrous storytelling

that it may, as one character claims,

make you believe in God.

I have thought, many times, that it’s a good thing I found God as a child, and now have a long and beautiful history of relationship with Him.  My faith is so real to me — my dear Father in Heaven is so real to me — that, honestly, it doesn’t even seem like faith.  It’s tangible.  It’s experiential.  It’s real.  If I hadn’t come to Christ as a child, and someone had tried to introduce me, as an adult, I’m positive I’d have balked.

Airy ideas are not my friends.  They never have been. 

I was scandalized when, at about the age 10, I discovered The Song of Solomon in my Bible.  My BIBLE!  I couldn’t believe it, and was so embarrassed, I couldn’t even ask my parents about its inclusion as a part of our sacred text.

Similarly, at about the age of 12, I was bewildered why my church would show, during the Sunday night adult service, an animated version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I had owned a boxed set of the treasures of Narnia from C.S. Lewis for about two years, and had read all of them at least once, and most of them twice.  Yet, I had no inkling that the books were allegorical in the least.  It never dawned on me.  Ever.  I read them as purely mythical adventure stories.  And, golly, I’d been a Christian since I was four years old.  I knew the story of the crucifixion, and what its purpose was.  Yet, I didn’t grasp any parallels between it and The Lion…  Nor did I see illustrated similarities between any part of any of the Narnia books, and that of Christian life.  It wasn’t until my adulthood, really, that I saw any resemblance between faith/fact and fiction.  Now, I can see it.  Even now, as I write, the picture of Eustace becoming humbled by getting his dragon-skin layers cut and peeled off of him in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader grips my heart with a powerful conviction.  But, that didn’t happen until a few years ago, when my story-reading to the boys drove an intercept course with my spirit, and I was struck with Lewis’ truth.

So, I have a feeling that I’m not going to get as much out of Pi as I’m “supposed” to get, and all its deep, meaningful insights are going to sail right on by my concrete outlook.  All of this, I suppose, is rooted in pride, and not wanting to reveal my block-headed ignorance to the women in the group.  I just know I’m going to be frequently exclaiming, “Oh, I never saw that!” and other such expressions of lightbulb-moments as we discuss the book.  But, if there’s a group of women to do be revealed as a insightless dummy amongst, it’s that group of Godly, brainy, yet thoroughly gracious women. 

Still.  I can’t help but wish I had a copy of Mansfield Park — the last Austen novel I’ve yet to read — with which to distract myself.   

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