2014

2014

Saturday, October 19, 2013

4 Months

Jude is SO big.  Like yesterday night he wore some pajamas that Eden wore when she was ten months old. I know that's hardly a fair comparison (she is, after all, a very tiny person), but I'm just constantly blown away at how big Jude feels to me.  He's 15 pounds now and nearly 25" long. 


It's not just size though.  Jude is big in all sorts of ways.  A week ago he moved into his crib in his very own bedroom.  He might as well have packed his bags and hopped an ocean or two.  This is big kid territory, and I'm thinking it's coming awfully fast.   


He's a coo-er and a giggler and nearly impossible to catch on camera doing either.  Whereas Eden was born thinking that everything is hilarious, Jude's not so sure.  When I make a weird face at him or emit a funky noise, he's just as likely to cry as anything else.  He's our tender little guy. 
  

And independent.  Jude's already rolling over from his back to his stomach and occasionally even stomach to back.  He spends a lot of time on his tummy just mad as a hornet because he can't crawl yet.  I used to think that he would NEVER obtain a form of locomotion because he would just lay there like, "Oh, I'm on my stomach?  Well that's cool."  Nothing ever seemed to get him down.  Now, alas, he's found his ambition and ushered in the fall of his discontent.  I really believe that he'd like to walk himself to kindergarten already, if only his stupid baby body would just hurry up and cooperate. 

 
Eden loves him just as much as ever.  She's very patient when Jude pulls her hair on accident and thinks she is his proper mother.  When he is sad she covers him with whatever "blanket" she can find (towel, burp cloth, t-shirt, etc.) and sings his namesake song.  He's mostly just in awe of her and loves to watch the amazing things she can do. 

We all love this little Jude dude. Has it really only been four months?  It feels like we've loved him forever.  Which we will.   

Friday, October 11, 2013

Agri-tourists!

Eden's new favorite word is "party".  She knows that its use is always followed up with awesome things like swimming, friends, and (now) pony rides.  Perfect, right?
 


Some members of our ward own and operate an agri-tourism business.  You know, the old corn maze, barn swing, pony ride sort of place.  Once a year they host a ward party where everyone gets to go hog wild for free. Eden was in heaven.
 


I just LOVE this stage of her life. Everything is magical and new and (to quote), "I so 'cited!"



Can you believe this big kid, riding a pony all by herself?  I only wish I had better pictures.  The memories are golden.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Furlough

Day 1:
Wait...what's happening?
Day 2:
Vacation? Deal!

Day 3:
Still having fun

Day 5:
Furlough beard in effect

Day 6:
This is getting old

Day X:


Monday, September 9, 2013

On Paula Deen

Let me start this off with an unequivocal statement: Racism is NOT ok.  Attitudes and behavior embodying the belief that a person is in any way lesser based on race or ethnicity are great injustices.  My son (my own adorable, chubby cheeked, delightful son) is Mexican.  The first time someone discerns that in his face and treats him as anything less wonderful than a human being, I will want to wrap my loving mother fingers around that person's neck and squeeze. It's not ok.  Not toward my family, not toward your employee, not toward the person with whom you cross paths on the street.  Not ok. 

That said, I feel pretty deeply disturbed by what has happened with Paula Deen this summer, and it's not because my favorite butter beating maven used racist language in the past. (Disclaimer: She's not really my favorite.  I've never seen an episode of her show.  I've never met her.  I certainly don't know all of the details of this case.)  As it has been reported, the facts are these: In a deposition for a lawsuit filed by a former employee alleging racism and sexual harassment at a restaurant Deen co-owns, Paula admitted to using the N-word during extreme situations in the past, "but it's been a very long time."  The fall-out has been a loss of millions of dollars in business deals as sponsors and partners reacted to her admission.  Now you can analyze this set of facts a dozen ways and speculate all you want (Has it really been a long time, or is Deen just saying that? Is the employee simply out to make her millions, or is the suit legit? etc.) but none of those questions gets at the heart of what has me so worked up.  I'll try to explain.

Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream that one day his children would be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.  I love that.  I love the idea that we have agency in determining who we turn out to be and that our reward or punishment derives from our own merits rather than appearance.  That's both powerful and beautiful.  Here's the part I'm uncomfortable with: the way society judges as we seek to create a culture of greater equality.  Most of what I have seen and read in social reaction to Deen's deposition is downright venomous and hateful.  Rather than an attack on behavior, it's largely been an attack on the worth of a human being.  The sentiment is "See, we knew her appearance was too good to be true!  What an awful person she is."  It feels like jealous little girls pettily triumphant at discovering a weakness in the popular girl at school and using it to ruin her.  I'm disturbed that we want to focus on a person's weakness to the point of obliterating any notion of their goodness.  May I share with you an inconvenient truth?  (My grandfather just rolled in his grave to hear me sharing language with Al Gore...)  A person can be a decent, kind, funny, AND a racist.  A person can be honest, hard-working, charming, AND a homophobe.  A person can be compassionate, wise, healthy, AND hate all 14 million Mormons.  A person can be artistic, brilliant, insightful, AND mean to kittens. OK?  I said it.  We human beings are mixed bags, every single one. 

As we strive to evolve our culture into one of greater kindness, acceptance and compassion, shouldn't our response to someone who violates our ideal be more along the lines of, "Look, there is something about yourself that you will need to change.  We love you.  You can do it."  I believe that in any other reaction, we simply become the thing (intolerance) we claim to hate.    To the degree that Paula has repented of her former racist language and attitudes, let it go.  To the degree that she has not, help her see the better way and support her as she follows it.  If she refuses?  Love her anyway.  Appreciate the good.  Gently correct the bad.  Accept the place of imperfection. 

That, my friends, is tolerance. 

Alright already, tirade concluded.  Since I'm pretty sure that no one who reads this blog is also leaving hate-filled comments on online news articles, I know I'm preaching to the choir.  Sometimes I just have to say it anyway.  Happy Monday, everybody! :)            

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Signs

For us adoption has meant offering the same prayer over and over again: Please let our children's birth parents know when they have found us.  

Muriel had a lot of reasons for meeting us.  She liked our profile, loved the idea of her baby having cute little Eden as a big sister, thought Kris had the perfect "Jim Carey" face (we're still a little puzzled by that one, but it works!), and liked Sam's taste in music.  She felt like we would be a good family for her baby.  

When we met Muriel, the caseworkers had already told us that she wanted to keep the baby's gender a secret until she felt like it was the right time to tell us.  So we went through a whole two hour meeting just talking about ourselves, and only occasionally talking about "the baby."  At one point Muriel asked us if we liked The Beatles.  I answered that I consider "Hey Jude" to be one of the best tunes ever written.  We could tell right away that my answer had touched a nerve, but we didn't know why.

 
At the very end of our visit, Kris worked up the gumption to ask Muriel when we could know her baby's gender.  After a lot of giggling and whispering with her friend, she countered with a question of her own: What do you think of the name Jude?

It was only after our little guy was born that we learned how during the five and a half months when Muriel thought she was going to parent her baby boy all by herself, Jude was the name she whispered to him in the dark, rubbing her swelling belly and worrying herself sick over how to do this thing she was too young to do for this little person she loved so much.  When I fingered "Hey Jude" as a a song of all songs, it was a sort of sign to her that she'd found her boy's family.  It was an answer to all of our prayers.  

By no means did we have to stick with the name Jude, but it just felt right.  For one thing, it meant he would have the same initials as his dad and grandfather.  On another level, in the Catholic tradition Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and there was certainly a time when the idea that we would ever have a son seemed like the most lost of all causes.  I love it too that Jude's adoption into our family took "a sad song and made it better." Better for Muriel, better for Jude, better for us.  

Today I spent some time taking pictures of this nearly 3 month old boy.  Isn't he cute?  He grew almost four pounds in the last month!  You might notice that the record on top is a single from the song...you guessed it..."Hey Jude"!  I picked it up off of a hippie on a street corner like ten years ago and it  hung on my wall for a long time.  Some things are just meant to be!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our First House

Well, here it is.  We bought her high and sold her low (love that housing market bubble!), but we lived there for four years and were happy.  It's this house where Eden came home from the hospital.  It's this house where she learned to smile and roll over and walk and talk.  I love it for those facts alone.  
 
 
I love the roof we almost died on, and the roses we planted for each of my dead grandparents.
 


I love the yard and garden where our Robinson Ranch rhubarb will grow forever.




I love the kitchen where I made so many meals for so many family gatherings meant for a larger house.


I even love the nursery where Eden puked on me at least thrice daily. Perhaps especially that room.


I miss our basement bedroom where the temperature never climbed above 68 degrees...perfect for snuggling.




And I'm thankful for the guest bedroom where the Bell Hotel housed so many visitors. 


I miss our dear back fence neighbors, the Westons, and their orchard of eternal hope and produce. 

We are happy where we are now and look forward to adventures yet to come.  But we'll always be thankful for our first little home.  Farewell, Ogden House!  You were worth every penny of our lost ten grand (especially since most of that came from Obama). 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Survival

We made it.  Through the NICU, through 2-1/2 weeks of hotel living, through a 2,000 mile drive and a flight with a newborn and toddler, through (sort of) unpacking our things, through Kris's first few days at his new job... we made it.  Hallelujah!

I should add that we wouldn't have made it at all without Kris's dad driving with him, Susan (Kris's mom) flying with me and doing almost all of the unpacking, my sister dog sitting and cleaning, my mom acting as the hotel room and nanny service, and several friends helping out with Eden.  Bless you, every one!

I now take a moment (which should really be used for the shower I haven't taken since Sunday) to post a couple of pictures.  One day I will get around to our neighborhood and house and maybe even a few stories from these last few weeks.  That day is not this day.  I give you Jude on the day we brought him home (or at least to the Marriot Residence Inn...same thing, right?)


He weighed five pounds and four ounces and had already grown to 19".  For comparison, Eden was three months old before she reached that length.  And speaking of Eden, here she is loving Jude.  And, oh man, does she love him!  She nearly had a nervous breakdown at the hospital when we picked him up because we wouldn't let her hold him and feed him and shove his binky into his mouth immediately.  She was born for this sister stuff!


So this is Jude today.  He weighs in at just about seven pounds and is 19.75" long.  Can you tell that all of the extra weight is in his cheeks?

 
 
We are loving this crazy adventure called life!  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

And then there Was Jude


Jude Kristopher Bell


4 lbs. 10 oz., 18-3/4" long

Surprised?  So were we!  But we also couldn't be more thrilled. Jude was born by emergency c-section five and a half weeks early. His birthday is the day after Eden's and they share the same placement date.  Weird, eh?  (Moral of the story:  No baby due in mid July is ever born in mid July if she or he wants to be a Bell.)  We first knew that his sweet birth mom was considering us a couple of weeks before he was born, but we didn't learn of her decision until a few hours after Jude made his debut.  He is doing really well and we are head over heels for the boy.  He's already a good eater and an excellent snuggle buddy.   

The movers came today.  We close on our Utah house Friday and on the Louisiana house next Friday.  Kris begins his epic road trip with his dad the following week, and the rest of us will make the journey when Jude is released from the NICU.  I'll post more details sometime when I get a moment, but who knows when that will be.  Life is insane and so are we, but in the best possible way!  Eden is going to be a fantastic big sister :)      

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2

Today Eden is two.  Two!  That's insane.  Nevertheless, it is true and Eden will tell you so given very little prompting.  We just had a simple family celebration tonight, playing in the back yard.  What a precious time to be the three of us!  I took a boatload of pictures and will post a few of them while I tell you about this little loon. 

We begin with the moody model shots:


At two Eden is a delightful little creature.  She has occasional "terrible" days with a meltdown every second, but those really are rare.  Though these first two photos don't demonstrate it, our girl is just happy and hilarious most of the time.
  

Eden has developed quite the sense of humor, which mostly revolves around doing deliberately naughty things and watching to see what we will do about it.  I'm sure that I make matters worse by laughing and chasing her when she tries to hide her pajamas as a bedtime avoidance machination, but I can't help it.  Besides, I think kids need little ways to tease and rebel.  (Remind me of that later.) She doesn't have a mean bone in her body, so her naughtiness is all fluff.  She is quick to cry if she hears someone else crying or if she thinks someone is being unkind. 

Here are some shots of what Eden looks like most of the time:


She is engaging in more imaginative play and is currently obsessed with being a mama.  She straps her baby into the high chair for regular meals, brushes the baby's teeth, shushes me when the baby is sleeping, and takes baby for soothing walks.  Her bedtime routine now includes sharing her sippy with puppy, sheep, baby, and kitty before they can all settle down in her now-crowded crib, where I have to kiss all five of them goodnight. 
 

We are in the early stages of potty training, with Eden sitting happily on the potty every day and sometimes even using it.  Not too surprisingly, then, our play often involves poop.  She loves to make her animals defecate so that I have to say "Yucky poop! Let's clean it up and throw it away!"  It's nonstop glamour around here, I tell you what! Other favorites for play time include Mr. Potato Head, play dough, coloring, reading books, and going down the tallest slides at the park.  Eden is gaga for nursery and loves discovery time at the library. We also go to the local children's museum a lot and it's a blast. Perhaps our best activity is going to gather sticks at the Riverwalk and throwing them into the river.
 

Eden's verbal skills have really taken off in the last few weeks and she is beginning to form very basic sentences like "no eat cake," "daddy car," and "mama come."  Contrary to two-year-old tradition, her very favorite word is "more." She picked up the expression "Oh, no!" during the four days she spent with Grandma Bell, and has been well coached by my mother to say "Poppa stinky!" 

Kris and I are absolutely in love with little miss Eden Emerson Bell.  We've had several opportunities to spend time with her birthfamilies as we approach our move and we continue to be profoundly grateful for them and the many gifts they have given to Eden (life, love, and the happy home we have made together). 

I've never seen a more beautiful miracle.  Love you, sweet girl! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

10 Most Blessed Things

My post of Southern negatives nearly made Kris weep with despair.  Nearly.  And I even forgot a few things, like how the roads can get so thick with frogs or turtles that it is impossible to drive without becoming a murderess and you just have to grit your teeth and bawl your little head off because you have to get to where you are going (still very much traumatized by that one!).  Forget it.  Let's just take a peep at the bright side, shall we? It's pretty dang glorious!

SPANISH MOSS.  There is simply nothing in this world more simultaneously haunting, magical and romantic than silvery skeins of Spanish moss dripping from the tips of a live oak.  Poetry made flesh.

LET'S BE BEST FRIENDS AND TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING, says the behavior of your bus driver, the lady in the checkout line, the man at the library, the cop who pulled you over for speeding.  And (here's the best part): I'll do all of the talking, if you want me to!  Seriously, the South is an introvert's paradise.  All that's required is a friendly smile, a few "oh no he didn'ts," maybe a "mercy!" or two, and you've found your new bestie for life, regardless of whether or not you ever see each other again.  Perfection.
Spanish Moss Pink Flowers
FI'IN' 'A'.  Along with it's semi-formal variant "fittin' ta" and the formal "fixing to", this is just one of the many gems of Southernese.  I don't know what it is, but I absolutely adore the strange and wondrous things Southern dialects do to the English language.  I guess I just love the chance to let my English teacher hair down and gleefully murder the rules once in a while. 

THE WORLD IS ABLOOM.  So the South has a few smells you don't necessarily want to inhale.  Things like roadkilled opossum, paper factories (the absolute worst), and garbage that's dumped willy-nilly.  I think that's why God gave it a corresponding number of to-die-for perfumes.  There is simply nothing sweeter than taking a deep inspiration of gardenia, jasmine or magnolia, and on any given spring day you can often find all three.  Plus about a bajillionty other flowering plants and trees that I don't know the names of.  Welcome to the subtropics!

RAIN.  You know what they say: When it rains, it pours. As Wendy noted, this one could have made my previous list due to the accompanying and totally terrifying lightning.  I've included it here nonetheless because I am a daughter of drought.  A ranch in the West is so dependent on such miniscule quantities of rain (the difference between breaking even and total ruin) that I possess an inherent and physical need for precipitation. I literally become ill when too many days pass without rain.  Because of my Western calibration for appropriate rainfall, that NEVER happens to me in the South.  Ah, relief! 
         
BBQ, SEAFOOD BOIL, BANANA PUDDIN', OKRA, GUMBO, COLLARDS, GRITS, PRALINES, ETC. ET AL.  I do not expect these three years to treat my waist kindly.  Bring it on!

HUMIDITY.  I know, I know, you now think I've totally LOST IT and forgotten all about the perpetual shower mold and stale food.  But in the balance, I really like humidity (remind me of this fact when we arrive at our new home in July). Dry skin and cracked lips?  Kiss them goodbye!  Dryer sheets?  Who needs them!  Hair straightener?  Obsolete!  (which makes my vanity cry and my laziness whoop for joy...actually, come to think of it, either way may not be good for the content of my character...).         
     
blackberriesTHE GOOD LORD WILLIN' AN' THE CREEK DON' RISE. I get the biggest kick out of collecting idioms and the South is a veritable treasure trove of unique and colorful sayings.  I'm sure Louisiana has a few that are all her own, and I can't wait! 

BERRIES. Blue, black, rasp, straw, whatever. I've already located the pick-your-own farms in our area and plan on a bountiful jam season...if I don't just eat them all first.

Y'ALL HAVE A BLESSED DAY. Forget how our Louisiana realtor looked like I'd revealed myself as Satan when I told her that we are LDS.  And let go of the fact that a few parents will probably forbid their kids from playing with ours...Overall I love the religious fervor you find in the Bible Belt.  This is a place where people still believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent, and they are not at all shy about saying so.  I like that.

Ok, so am I forgiven?  Perhaps not by the snake experts, but by the rest of you?  We completed our house hunting trip a little over a week ago and are more excited than ever to get ourselves down to God's country! :)     

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Awesome Adoption Profile

Serendipity: happy accident, pleasant surprise, something useful you didn't really look for but found anyway.  When Jenn Shugart of Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan, Canada walked into the dorm and became my very first missionary companion, it was nothing short of serendipitous.  I spent the entire week before entering the Missionary Training Center helping my dad move one bunch of sheep and lamb the other.  This means I went from sleeping about five hours a day and whiling away the other 19 hours covered in sheep poop and placenta, to this place of total cleanliness and 8 hours of mandatory sleep literally overnight.  Oh, and I now had to have another human being near my side every second of the day.  My head considered exploding.  Enter the farm girl who shared my love of open spaces and need for solitude.  Serendipity. 

I'm hoping for another happy accident and I'm hoping maybe you can help.  Shug and her husband Paul got married a few months after Kris and I did and they are still waiting for a baby to join them.  Still.  It breaks my heart.  So here's what I'm asking you (oh tiny, faithful little readership) to do: Click on this link https://itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/27896956/ourMessage.jsf to read their adoption profile.  Aren't they just the cutest, and won't they be wonderful parents?  If you happen to know anyone who might be considering placing a baby for adoption, can you send that person to Paul and Shug's profile? 

Thanks, friends.  You are gems!      

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post for the Childless Mother

I was just in our kitchen making biscuits while Eden ate crayons when something I think I've wanted to say for a long time hit me.  So now the biscuits are baking and I am writing and maybe also crying.  Eden may still be eating crayons. 

It's Mother's Day in a few days.  I won't let Kris make a fuss about it.  I love making a fuss over my mother and his mother and every other mother in my life, but there's just a little something there I can't celebrate for myself.  Make no mistake, I AM a mother and that is something I revel in each time Eden breathes.  Still.  I just can't do it on Mother's Day.  Survivor's guilt? 

I guess I'm thinking about it because I stumbled on a blog post today about why men and children should step up their recognition of what their wives and mothers do.  It was all about the sacrifice and servitude mothers are required to give.  The laundry-folding, three-meal-cooking, poop-wiping, dish-doing, aching hours of sacrifice. Two years have taught me that everything in that post is real.  I wish in no way to take away from what women who raise children do.  Today I suppose I just want to celebrate and appreciate the sacrifices of every childless mother (those woman whose circumstances and not choices leave their arms empty). 

To every Mother who doesn't have children (yet):

Thank you for enduring every week-long, once-monthly, makes-you-want-to-die disappointment.

Thank you for having the heart to become the extra special aunt/neighbor/primary teacher in my child's life, loving her in a way that no one but you can because you love her in place of what isn't yet yours.

Thank you for having the courage to sit in that fertility doctor's waiting room and for not punching him when he delivers the bad news again.

Thank you for wanting a child so much.

Thank you for going about your daily life while suffering one of the hardest waits the world will ever know.

Thank you for not tackling the pregnant lady who is complaining about how hard it is to be pregnant, because you know that you would complain too if you were in her boat, just as she would sink in yours.

Thank you for having the courage to try.

Thank you for staying married to your trying-to-understand-but-missing-it husband.

Thank you for having the faith to adopt, if that's where your journey leads you.

Thank you for passing through immense sadness with your fists clutched tightly around such slender bits of hope just to arrive already nearly spent at the beginning of the years of sacrifice and hardship every mother gives. 

Thank you for making it through another empty-armed Mother's Day.

Thank you for being important, contributing, beautiful women whose worth is in no way diminished by the opportunities you still await. 

I won't bother to wish you a happy Mother's Day.  But I do hope you know that you are not unheard or unappreciated. I hope you know that you are loved and your sacrifices understood.  And I do, from every part of my heart, wish you a few small moments of peace.     

Friday, May 3, 2013

Top 10 Most Loathesome Things

I know, I know, my last post waxed rhapsodical about the southland.  I stand by those statements and will make more in the future, but it's not all twelve layer caramel cakes and peaches.  When we were making the decision to move to Louisiana, I felt obliged to point out some of the negatives for Kris.  If there's one thing I believe in, it's preparing for the worst!  So here goes:

1) SLOW TALKERS. Here's something I can't reconcile about the South.  All y'all drop whole syllables like hot potatoes and yet somehow speak 80% slower than those of us who go ahead and finish our words.  How can this be? Tell you what, I'll finish your sentences and stories for you, just to save time.  Nope? Won't work.  Even after it is abundantly clear that I know what you're about to say, you're gonna say it anyway and take your sweet time.  Imonna try not to choke ya.


2) THE FUTILITY OF AN OPEN WINDOW. I think that about sums itself up.

3) SNAKES.  I occasionally feel stupid for my nearly paralyzing fear of snakes.  But in my defense, what isn't creepy about a set of sharp teeth attached to the end of little more than a writhing muscle?  Besides, if it's good enough to scare Indiana Jones, it's good enough for me.  There are seven venomous varieties in Louisiana.  Oh, goody.
  
4) STALE, STALE, ALL IS STALE. Flour, chips, crackers sitting out for half a day, cookies, bread, air.

5) BUGS-- With the sole exception of the whimsical firefly, what is really to be gained by so very many creepy crawlies of ridiculous size and prominence?  And palmetto bugs?  Please.  A roach by any other name...

6) FIRE ANTS.  This only seems redundant to item #5.  Trust me, though, an ant that causes open weeping sores that last weeks deserves its own item.  Death to the infidels!

7) SWEET TEA.  I don't drink it.  So sue me, Southern Lady, for not offering you any or accepting yours in return.  Mmkay?  Can we just bless my heart and agree to disagree here? 

8) THE CREATOR'S ONE BIG DESIGN FLAW.  Really?  I'm sorry but 536 feet does not a mountain make.  In moving to Louisiana I am eschewing the possibility of ever again seeing a sunset or a horizon of any distance, and forget about my life-long schema for navigation. Thanks.


9) THE OPPRESSIVE NATURE OF TREES.  Yeah, yeah, deforestation is an ecological nightmare, blah, blah, blah.  Look, I recycle, ok?  I even reuse, and yes, on occasion, reduce.  So can't I please have just a tiny little three thousand acre clear cut so I can see a little bit of what's around me and hear myself think?  I give so much to you, Mother Earth, when are you going to start giving a little back? 


10) CHIGGERS. I don't actually know if these are a big deal or not.  What I do know is that I spent nineteen months in Georgia avoiding the mere feel of grass, just in case.  No laying on my back with a grassy pillow to watch the clouds pass by.  No sir, not me! 

Pretty bad, huh?  Well though this post has likely offended all of my future friends and neighbors, some environmentalists, most ophiologists, God, and fire ants, you may well suppose that I'll redeem myself with a list of the best things about the South.  Coming soon...  


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The South Will Rise Again

For several falls when I was a kid we had a deer hunter from Florida who tried his luck at the ranch. Curtis Turbeyville. His lasting legacy to my young mind was that the South is a place of woman-hating racists who dribble tobacco down their chins and speak as though their mouths are nearly hinged shut. This is true.  And it formed one half of the reason why I told everyone before my mission that although I was willing to serve anywhere, "God loves me, so I'm sure he wont send me to Georgia."  (The other half of my certainty involved a boy I had reluctantly sort-of-dated who was already serving there...May I just say to my friends who doubt the existence of a Supreme Being, God is funny.  Really, really funny.  And in order to be funny, one must exist.  Ergo, God exists.  The evidence?  Take a look at my life.)

So ten years ago in June I stepped off of a plane in Atlanta and began a long falling in love with the Dirty South.  I discovered that it is the place our Floridian Hunter exemplified.  Also the place unconquerable by hair straighteners and a world of so so so much roadkill.  Which is just one side of the coin.  Most of the people I knew in Georgia were thoughtful, intelligent, kind, wonderful people who knew the value of a glass of lemonade and praised Jesus for waking them up every morning.  People I still love.  They inhabit a world of fabulous food and family, of gorgeous rain storms and perfumed magnolia trees.

This June I'm headed back to the South with my best friend and the cutest little toddler ever.  I can't wait to help them love it the way I do.   

Surprise!

Kris was offered and we accepted a good promotion for his job.  In Louisiana.  The plan is to be there for three years and then come back West.  It will be hard to be so far from family, but we are  really excited for a little adventure.  We are also counting on having plenty of visitors, so consider yourselves invited.  Yes, kids, book your tickets now!             

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oh Cadre, My Cadre!

Are you ready for a little known fact about me?  As much as I hate to go giving away the bombshells of my future best-selling biography, here goes: I was once in a band.  The cleverly titled Mark and Sam Band.  We were pretty important to the indie-folk roots-rock scene at our University.  If this last sentence has you thinking, "Huh?"  I can only reply, "Exactly." We were that good.  Actually Mark really was that good (the man is a guitar wizard!), but I just provided a few wavering harmonies and occasional lead vocals for our covers of  Dylan, Old Crow Medicine Show, Emmylou, Woody Guthrie and even a few original tunes.  We practiced a lot, but sadly had to disband after a few months.  Our reason for parting?  We fell in love.  With different people.  And suddenly had other things to do with our time.  This turned out to be win/win as Mark's wife became one of my best friends and Kris (of course) became my husband.  Not a bad way to end a band, especially one that was destined to end in fame, wealth I couldn't handle, and a drug addiction-fueled series of broken relationships.  Ah the curse of the truly creative!

Mark (of the Band), his adorable wife Stephanie, and Little M
 

I bring up The M & S Band because I am now co-founder of a very prestigious book club that reminds me of it.  Why? Because the Wendy and Sam Book Club (can we call it that?  too much?) also sounds a lot grander than it is.  We're not just the charter members, we're the ONLY members. So can that really count as a book club?  Not sure.  But let me assure you of this: It is AWESOME!   Call it what you will, I'm going to look forward to our reading and chatting every single month.  We've only had one meeting so far, to discuss Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Drukerman.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed having an excuse for an adult, analytical, academic conversation.  Such a breath of fresh air!  
      

I won't go into too many details about the book, but I'm glad we read it.  It seems to me that (from Druckerman's perspective) the point of American parenting is to avoid all potential stress for our children (stressing ourselves out completely in the process) while French parents tend to allow their children more small struggles and enjoy less stress themselves.  It's an interesting idea, and has definitely made me think more about letting Eden face a little more frustration in life so she can learn to overcome it.  The other big idea that stuck with me is the cadre, a French word for setting strict boundaries and allowing great freedom within them.  I love that plan.  I'm having a hard time figuring out what the boundaries should be.  For example Kris and I both remember that blowing bubbles in your milk with a straw was something of a cardinal childhood sin.  Why?  In the name of table manners, I suppose, but it seems to us like a hill not worth dying on.  Does that mean we are going to raise a spoiled brat child?  I just don't know!  Where do the boundaries start?  Or more importantly, where should they start?  Good things to ponder. 

In the meantime, long live the Wendy and Sam Book Club!              

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Egg Hunt

We went to an egg hunt a couple of weeks ago, sponsored by Families Supporting Adoption.  Thankfully Eden's ambitions are pretty small still, so she was completely satisfied with the two-egg haul her larger and faster peers left to her. 




This morning she got to have her own hunt, and let me tell you, she was a machine!  I was so surprised and impressed to see Eden dart from egg to egg with precision focus.  She dutifully shook the first two to make sure her notion of this game was correct.  Ears registering the sound of candy within, Eden wasted no more time in locating and collecting every single egg in the back yard.  There was no stopping to open them or distraction from the birds cawing overhead.  Before her tiny hand had placed an egg in her bucket, her eyes were already focused on the next target. 

She conquered. 




Only then did Eden sit on her daddy's lap to examine the spoils.  She loved the candy, but was also pleased with the balloons, stickers, and little felt animals her eggs contained. 



May I say that I am dreading the next year of Eden's life?  I fear that in it she will complete the transition to child, and I am busy loving every moment of her toddlerhood.