Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Good Reading

There hasn't been much to write about (that means nothing has gotten my ire up recently). However, I did recently read two very good books:

Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs
Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs by Brian Copeland
Very interesting book on race relations in California. I thought the West Coast was a little more progressive than us stodgey folks in New England but I guess stupidity can be a national past time. Made me laugh and cry all within one chapter.

Shockwave : Countdown to Hiroshima
Shockwave : Countdown to Hiroshima by Stephen Walker
Very interesting (notice a trend here?) book that documents the countdown to using the bomb. I thought is was a very evenhanded approach (nobody is the obvious villian/hero perhaps because this was written by an Englishman). Its amazing how decisions are made regarding people's lives.

I know I mentioned "To Hell With That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife" by Caitlin Flanagan in a previous blog but the interview with the author in World magazine turned out to be more interesting than the book itself. Although I did like the line about family dinners neccessitating a family who is unambitious enough to be all hanging around the house at 5:30 pm every day.

Right now on the old side table by the bed is a book on the history of the Pill and "The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter" by Katherine Ellison. I thought I'd let the two books duke it out.

Any one of the above books are available at your local library, one of my favorite places. I swear if they served coffee there, I'd never leave.

Feel free to leave some book recommendations of your own.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm Sorry

This has been something I've been thinking about recently. Whenever us moms see a particularly thin mom (that is, someone thinner than us) we have a tendency to just go nuts. However well behaved and well spoken we were before, amongst ourselves we unleash a torrent of "Oh my gosh, that's so not fair! Do you see how skinny she is! She's had three kids and she looks like a model! That's just not right!" etc., etc. and so on and so forth. And sometimes we say to the thin moms themselves "You're so skinny! Look at you!"
Why do we do this? Its not like these gals cut in line ahead of us at the metabolism counter. Did they mess with our DNA in a lab somewhere? Have they done anything to us personally to make us bigger than they? I've come to the conclusion that I've merely been acting out of jealousy and that's just stupid. Besides which, we ladies put up with enough image issues from our culture, we don't need to pile it on each other. As the mom of five kids, I've gotten a lot of comments myself (Are they all yours? Don't you know what causes that? You must have you hands full!) and I wonder why people say these things. The comments are not really critical of me but they're not particularly helpful or edifying either. I can imagine its the same for the thin moms. How does it help her that I voice my jealousy to her or even worse, behind her back?
So, to any mom I've might have said this about or to, I now humbly apologise and will endeavor not to do this again. The rest of you can help me be accountable.

A Lesson from a Body Function

So I'm nursing my two month old baby John when he pulls back and flashes one of those smiles. All you Moms know the smile I'm talking about. The one that makes you forgive the baby of everything he's done today, tomorrow and up to when he's 18 (perhaps further if its a really big grin). "This is why I'm a stay at home mom," I say to myself (proudly, which is perhaps the problem),"Why, if I were working I'd miss this precious little smile. Its smiles like this that make it worth being a stay at home mom" Then John passes wind and fills his diaper (he's still smiling, mind you). And that little toot makes me realize that its not about me, its about what the baby needs. I shouldn't stay home with the kids so I can get these cute little moments but because its what's best for them right now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Notes on Today

Both of these comments pertain to events today.

To the black Plymouth Neon waiting in line at 8:30 am at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru in Central Falls, RI (you know who you are) regarding the bumper sticker on the back of your car "Any man who can render himself unconscious with a pretzel isn't smart enough to lead the free world": It's called choking! Most people do not voluntarily submit to choking or choose what they'd like to choke on! I can only hope that if by some freak chance you "render yourself unconscious" on something (perhaps it will be your foot but hopefully something more "significant" than a mere snack food), that some kind soul will look past your spitefulness and save your sorry tush.

To the kind lady at the Stop N Shop deli counter in Attleboro, MA at 11:00 am upon seeing me with three boys: My comment was "I'm concerned about when they grow up." I meant to clarify my concern was that they will eat me out of house and home. She replied, "Oh, don't worry. I've got three teenage boys and they're wonderful." She did not, I repeat, did not give me standard line number 56 "Just wait until they're teenagers!" I could have kissed her for that but that would have set off a whole other chain of events (which probably would have made for great blog fodder)

Hey! blog fodder! I've created a trendy term! First Web 2.0, now Blog Fodder!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Finally, A Post!

Wow, close to four months since I last posted. There's probably cobwebs on my site.
I have not been inspired to write on any particular subject so I'll just do one of those insipid "random thoughts" kind of posts (there's a columnist in my local paper who monthly does one of these and gets paid for it!!!!)

Anyway, here goes
1. What have I been up to that I haven't posted in so long?
Playing Spider Solitaire until my eyes bleed!
Seriously, I gave birth to our fifth child on May 22nd (for all you groupies, that's five days past the end of Holy Week). I went to the hospital for a routine test and was told I was in labor. Good thing I got that iced latte before the appointment! John Owen was born via c-section (with enough time for the ob/gyn to make it to his Red Sox game!). Let me tell you what a surreal experience that is, being cut open while still conscious. The little slugger weighed 9lbs, 12oz. I'm hoping for an NFL scholarship for the kid.

2. Bad Mommy Award goes to....
Me! for letting my kid get so tired that he fell asleep with half an ice cream sandwich melting under his leg.

3. Pleeeaase, make them stop!!!
All those people who feel the need to say
"Are they all yours?"
"You must have your hands full" and my personal favorite
"I can hardly handle the two I've got"
I'm doing this to save the Social Security fund! I'm doing this to off set the population implosion in Italy, Germany and well, pretty much most of the world except Ireland (must be the Guiness...)

4. A book I'm dying to read
"To Hell With That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife" by Caitlin Flanagan. Just the title alone makes me want to skip over to Amazon.com. Check out this little tidbit of inflamatory writing (from an interview in World Magazine, July 18, 2006)

"...remember that the women's movement was built on a powerful notion of liberation-liberation from unjust laws, from unfair customs and expectations. The movement achieved powerful aims quickly...What has lingered, though, is a sense that women are still being oppressed and that they have to be on guard all the time. You end up with these crazy arrangements-the wife decides to stay home with the children, but she's darned if she's going to clean, or cook, or do the laundry. She's been liberated from those horrible chores! And the poor husband who works all day to support the family comes home to no dinner, no orderly household, and a cheesed off wife who hands him a cranky baby and complains about her day."

Now ladies, before y'all start sending me death threats, I am by no means saying we should be Stepford wives. However, but the above comment does make me think, how much do I complain about my day and more importantly, I am legitimately trying to find help or just complaining? "Better to live out in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife." Pro 21:19 (MSG)

5. On a less Preachy note
High mucky muck Vladimir Putin got some bad PR as of late for giving some kid a raspberry on the belly. From Vlad the Impaler to Vlad the Raspberrier. Is this the kinder, gentler Russia? (yes, I know Vlad the Impaler was Romanian) Now Mr. Putin's defense of his actions was that the kid looked too serious and Vlad just wanted to pick him up and "cuddle him like a kitten". Not that I think what he did was outrageous, but Putin doesn't really strike me as a kitten and puppies type of guy. Wasn't Putin formerly of the KGB? Am I to believe this former master of espionage just needs a cuddle every now and then?

Well, that's enough mindless blathering for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More Fun Facts or Why You Should Play Nice

I found this in the Providence Sunday Journal Lifebeat section this week (April 2). Just further proves the points made in previous blogs.

Spouses try a little tenderness
You care about your heart, so you don't smoke and you exercise. Maybe you should also lay off the negativity and controlling comments when you talk to your spouse. A three-year study of older married couples conducted by the University of Utah found a link between the quality of relationships and atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the heart.

In the study, researchers evaluated videotapes of dialogue between 150 married couples, (At least one member of each couple was between 60 and 70 years of age) Sitting across a table from each other, the couples were asked to talk about a subject of disagreement in their marriage, be it money, in-laws, children or household duties.

Two days later, husband and wife underwent a CT scan of the chest to determine his or her level of coronary artery blockage. The findings differed according to gender. For a woman, hostility in the marital relationship -whether on her part or her husband's - was associated with a build-up of plaque in the coronary arteries. For a man, the important factor was not hostility but control. Men who were controlling toward their wife, or had a controlling spouse, were more likely to have atherosclerosis.

"A low-quality relationship is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," concludes study co-author Tim Smith. However, it appears that men and women focus on different factors in gauging a relationship's "quality."
-JOURNAL WIRE REPORTS


Moral of the story? Play nice-live longer!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Women vs. Men, part II

Wow, two posts in one day!

This is the partner to the post containing Hubby's recent opinion survey of women regarding men. He went to the church men's dinner and asked the guys, "What is the one thing you wish women understood better about men?" Below is his report of the responses. As usual, I've interjected some comments because, hey, its my blog and I'll pontificate if I want to!

I think the men responded well to the ladies' survey responses although there may have been a few men that were surprised that the number one response from women was "listen."
Overall, I think men would like women to understand that, while we are different, we are not mindless neanderthals that need "fixing" like the sit-com husbands (not everybody loves Raymond).
My hope is that these surveys would spur conversation among men and women so that we can learn to understand and love one another better. That we could use our differences to complement each other rather than using them as a wedge to divide us.
I love that last paragraph. I told you Hubby was a great guy. Okay, let's continue....
We Are Different (and that's ok)
• Please have respect for our interests and hobbies (even if you don't understand them).
If you want them to have respect for the things you do, you have to show respect for what they do. You can guild the lily by taking an actual interest in their hobbies, but don't try to fake it. I think being patronize hurts more than being ignored.
• Understand that our sexual needs and desires are different from yours.
Men are visual. Make peace with this and then go to Frederick's of Hollywood and have some fun! Read Tommy Nelson's "Book of Romance" (a teaching on the Song of Solomon) and have even more fun!
• We are not always "thinking about something." Sometimes we just vegetate.
I think only women are capable of worrying 24/7 about something (hormonal pregnant ladies take the gold medal in this division)
• A result of our God-given "need for adventure" is that sometimes we do spontaneous things.
Communication
• We are not mind readers.
• Our communication methods are not as complex as yours and sometimes a short answer is sufficient to explain how our day was.
Face it ladies, we've made talking a sublime art form. There's actually a statistic out there that compares how many words are spoke by women each day compared to the men. Let's either not expect them to talk as much as we do or be patient while they catch up to us.
• We need time and space to think about things, especially if it is something important.
James Dobson's book, Bringing Up Boys talks about how early in a baby's development in utero, the hormone surge that creates the male genitals also messes with the synaptic connections between the two hemispheres of the brain. This does not mean men are brain damaged, it just means that thoughts and emotions do not move through their heads at the lightening speed it does in a woman. Come to think of it, we could all benefit by slowing down a bit...
Relational
• We would like to be forgiven when we've apologized and move on. A corollary to this is a request to not project onto us how other men in your life may have mistreated you.
Amen! Holding a grudge or keeping score of when your partner messed up is like taking poison and waiting for the other guy to die. It will make your life miserable.
• We are vulnerable sometimes (we can be hurt) and not always the invincible tower of strength in every situation.
I think a lot of women assume that since men aren't as emotive as we are, that they don't get hurt as easily or that they will recover quicker from a hurt.
• We need some understanding at the end of the work day and time to adjust to being home.
Now here's a touchy subject. I'm going to say somethings that might cheese some of you off. Sometimes we stay at home moms have a tendency to look at ourselves as martyrs. i.e "Nobody else has a tougher job than we do, if your day was bad, mine was worse because I was stuck here with the kids, I don't get a break, etc., etc."
Consider the following:
1. you chose to get married, have kids and stay home with them.
2. even if the kids are horrible, you can discipline them and send them to their rooms for the rest of the day. Can hubby do that with his co-workers?
3. you can completely blow your job and have chance to try again tomorrow. Hubby completely blows his jobs, he could get fired.
4. you can phone it in by having the kids watch two hours of tv. Hubby cannot set the boss up in front of Tele Tubbies and hope that he leaves him alone for a bit.
5. watching the kids grow, listening to their funny statements, getting sponteous smiles, hugs and kisses from them is priceless. When I was working outside the house, I didn't want any hugs and kisses from my co-workers!

If your man has a job he goes to day in and day out to support the rest of you, cut him some slack and give him a nice place to come home to.
• We do have emotional needs. Sensitivity to and affirmation of this would go a long way towards winning us over.
I don't think a lot of us realize this because a lot of men act like neanderthals, but I'd wager that half of that off behaviour is to cover up an emotional need or hurt.

Shaunti Feldhahn, a Christian columnist and author said at a retreat she was on, the participants were asked, "Given a choice between feeling alone and unloved, and feeling inadequate and disrespected, which would you rather feel?" Overwhelmingly, the women chose to feel disrespected rather than alone or unloved. But men said they would choose to feel alone and unloved rather than to feel disrespected. Interesting, eh?

Okay enough sermon, time for chocolate

Can't Help Myself Any Longer

Yesterday I was in the midwife's office and I overheard yet another conversation regarding raising boys versus raising girls (mind you, I was not eaves dropping as these ladies were seated right next to me). Its seems our society has bought into the lie that it is harder to raise girls rather than boys. The usual reasons given are that girls are whinier than boys, more emotional and just generally more difficult. While I realize I'm still in the early years of child rearing, I really feel the need to say a few things about this line of thinking:

1. ALL children are a challenge to raise, girls or boys. Hear me? ALL CHILDREN
2. Where the !@#$ are the feminists to rebuke this reasoning, this somewhat baseless, subjective attack on girls?
3. What blows my mind is that the people usually saying girls are whinier are the women, and quite frequently in front of their daughters. Don't these women remember that they were once girls, or were they the non-whiney, compliant types? Do they not think comments like this affect the girls standing right next to them?

Which brings me to my final comment (advice which I often need to follow as well)
For the love of all that's good, if you can't say something nice about your kids in public-SHUT UP! Stuff it! Pretend you suddenly lost the ability to speak!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

hitting a nerve...

My dear hubby, who co-leads a men's group at church, sent out the following question in preparation for a presentation he was making. Since a lot of the respondents wanted to know what the overall results were, we decided to post them on this blog. And since I can't help myself, I've interspersed my comments in his. Justin's original text is indented.

What Women Want

Thanks to all of you who responded to my survey question:
"What is one thing you would like men to understand better about women?"

The results were enlightening. I distilled all the responses into five categories and then assigned each category a percentage of the total responses.
Since it was an e-mail, we were surprised how many responded and how quickly some responded.
1. Listen (33%)
Most of the comments weren't "we want men to read our minds," but "simply listen to what we say and don't be so quick to offer solutions." Empathy seems to be highly regarded among women in general.

A great book to read about the different way men & women communicate is "You Just Don't Understand" by Deborah Tannen. Its a facinating look into how men & women use language differently. I would make it a must read for any person thinking of getting married. Heck, its a must read for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

2. Recognize we are different (22%)
Aside from obvious physical differences, women commented that they want men to understand they are fundamentally different. The way they speak, think, feel, what excites them, what they need, etc.

Another book to read if you want to understand your man better is "Wild At Heart" by John Eldrige. For those of you with boys, you will read this book and go "Ohhhh, so that's why..." about every 15 minutes. He has another book he wrote with his wife about women for men but I haven't read it yet.
Another comment I would add to this, ladies, is until your man embraces this truth, try to communicate what you need, think, feel, etc. in a way that doesn't make him feel like an idiot
i.e. avoid statements like "Why do I always have to tell you!?"
"Well, duh!"
"Do you think you could....." or the variation "Would it kill you to...."
"That is so like you to not...."

3. Validate us (22%)
I thought it was interesting that this had equal weight with #2. While distinctly different from men, women want to be treated, not the same, but equal. They want to feel they have just as much value as men and that what they say and feel is important too.
This could be a whole other discussion on the impact of the feminist movement has had on personal relationships between men & women, which is a blog for another day. There's also discussion in here for how society views women in general (supermodels, pornography, men with breasts, etc.), how we view ourselves and how we should be viewed.

4. Treat us like a friend (11%)
I don't think this one needs any explanation.
AMEN!! Women are relational beings. I think for a husband to tell his wife "I appreciate your friendship. Your thoughs and opinions mean a lot to me" would send her over the moon. I don't think the same is always true for a man. He would appreciate the comment but I think he finds his value in other facets of the relationship. Find out what sentence would send him over the moon (Yes, "Hey baby, ya wanna..." is a valid sentence. Like the comments show-we are different beings and we value different things.)

5. Respond to requests in a timely manner (11%)
I think this one speaks to the communication gap between men and women. Probably could have been folded into #1.

I think this has more to do with respect. We don't want to be treated at the "little misses" or the "ol' ball and chain" If we ask you to do something and you do it in a timely manner it means "I heard your request and you matter enough to me that I made it a priority"

I apologize for the preachy tone of this blog. I am by no means the authority on relationships between men and women but am merely sharing what has worked well for me and what I've read. I feel I must insert this last comment though. For the love of all that's good ladies, treat you hubby like he's the best thing that happened to you, because on most days, he is!! If you think about it honestly, who else would put up with you? Orlando Bloom is busy, Mel Gibson is taken (with 9 kids, mind you) and George Clooney, Heath Ledger and Russell Crowe are unreliable. On the days when hubby doesn't act like the best thing in you life, he's more likely to rise to the occassion if you treat him well than if you treat him like a pebble in your shoe.

Ok now that I got that off my chest, I'm going to go have some chocolate.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Phoning it in

Well, its been a while and there hasn't been an article or event that got my fur up so.....gasp! I don't have much to say!
Some random thoughts then...
1. I hope y'all watched John Stossel's report on 20/20 entitled "Stupid in America" (I would have watched it just for the title. I especially loved a friend's comment "Gee that was going to be the title of my autobiography."). You can check out an overview report at
http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=1500338.
Then check out this commentary about it at http://www.gopusa.com/theloft/?p=196
VIVA LA REVOLUCION!
2. I'm thinking of starting a list of books called "All Good Americans Need to Read..."
I would love to get everyone's input. I'll start

  • book #1 (actually more like an item) THE CONSTITUTION! Yes, if you are older than 20 and you haven't read an actual word for word facsimile thereof, you should be thrashed with a wet noodle.
  • book #2 John Adams by David McCullough
  • book #3 The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky

I could go on but then I'll sound like one of those wacko conservative pundits.
Wait a minute.....
3. My friend Arlene has a new blog. She's a darling person and its worth checking out: http://dancingtothebeatofadifferentdrum.blogspot.com
4. Justin is as wonderful as ever (I warned you about this in an earlier blog so don't gag at your computer like this is the first time you've heard this!!)

Ok that's enough rambling for now.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

About Sunday School

For those of you who do not attend church regularly, you might want to wait this post out. But for those of you who do, read on!

Dear Church Family,

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? Is it to lose weight? Spend more time with the family? Get more involved in God’s kingdom? I’m writing about a particular mission field that needs your help. Some consider this people group uncivilized or unreachable. I say they’re just misunderstood. Their language is similar to our own and the food is actually quite palatable. They’re often overlooked as being insignificant to the larger kingdom but I think they will perhaps be bigger players on the world scene than we given them credit for, but only if we help. Have you guessed this people group? It is the children in the Sunday School classes.

What we do with them now, what we teach them, the time we invest will shape the future of the church. What is our vision for the church? If its big and far reaching, then we need to consider where we’re going to get tomorrow’s leaders from and how they will be made, formed, and prepared for their jobs in the kingdom.

We can think of lots of reasons why we can’t help in Sunday School. We’re not qualified, we don’t “do” children well. Some might think its an insignificant ministry to be stuck downstairs with the kids. But who will say “Yes Lord, pick me! Yes Lord, I will follow!” ? If you do not, then who will? Are you sure there’s a “someone else”?

Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Say it again. Say it loud. The big prize we all strive for, hope for, pray for is already theirs! Are you not the least bit curious why? Do you not want to learn what it is about these little people that God has given them the kingdom? His own magnificent creation? Then love like Jesus loved and love on the children through this ministry.

Kids won’t ask for your credentials, they won’t review your resume. All they need is for you to care, to share a bit of your time and the faith that has changed your life. For the sake of the future of the church, that is not too much to ask.

If you volunteer, you won’t be thrown to the wolves. You can simply assist with a craft on up to teaching a whole lesson. But no job is too small. Anything you do for the smallest of these you do for God. In Matthew 18:5 Jesus said, “And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.” You will make an impact in the kingdom. And one day, one of these great warriors for Christ will look back and count you among others in their “Spiritual Hall of Fame”.

I use to think I knew about God until I had children. Now I can empathize with God. What I have learned about the nature of God through these kids I do not have enough paper to record. So I invite you to partake. Give and receive. And here’s the big secret (don’t tell anyone): its fun! Yes, honestly. Doing the work of God can provide some of the biggest laughs you’ve ever had.

So take up the challenge. Don’t say I can’t . Say “Yes Lord! Pick me!” The mission field is waiting and the kids want you.

Love, Your Kids' Sunday School Teacher