Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ASBC: Sisyphus, Joe, and Chad

The Anti-Social Book Club is in session! (i.e., my book is due back at the library on Friday.)

Anyway, because I don't get a paycheck for the work I do, I liked Ariely's question, "What besides a paycheck confers meaning on work?" I also enjoyed Ariely's retelling of the legend of Sisyphus and his meaningless task. (He rolls a boulder up the mountain, almost to the top, only to see it bounce back to the bottom of the mountain again.) I identify with this doomed man. Laundry, dishes, preparing meals, general cleaning--all Sisyphean tasks.

In many ways, the "work" part of my husband and I's lives are very similar. Austin goes to banks and makes sure they are financially sound and then comes back a year later to do it all over again. I spend much of my day on repetitive tasks, only to wake up the next day and repeat the same tasks. We don't mind what we do. Some days we really like it. (Remember, I'm not talking about the "I-love-my-kids" part of parenting, just the "physical work" part of parenting.)

Remember Joe and Chad in Chapter Two? They both liked building Bionicles, but Chad's get destroyed right after he builds them. Joe builds a little longer, because the experimenters hold on to his Bionicles. Austin and I are a little like Joe and Chad: "Joe could maintain the illusion that his work was meaningful, and so continued to enjoy building his Bionicles. Chad, on the other hand, witnessed the piece-by-piece destruction of his work, forcing him to realize that his work was meaningless." I just had to laugh reading it. It was a perfect description of what happens at my house after I cook a delicious meal or clean--my family takes mere minutes to conduct a "piece-by-piece destruction of my work," eating the meal or spreading toys all over the floor. Perhaps Austin can extract more meaning from his work because his reports don't get ripped up right after he writes them.

So should I give up and stay on the sofa watching soap operas and eating bon-bons all day? Ariely gives me hope: "The translation of joy into willingness to work seems to depend to a large degree on how much meaning we can attribute to our own labor." Unless I provide a greater meaning to dishes, laundry, making meals, and general cleaning, I will become bitter, hopeless, and pessimistic about life. So, here you are: I am doing service, learning to become like Christ, making my home like the temple, providing a nurturing environment, making my home a place my family wants to spend time in, etc. I could add that I'm keeping my family healthy by cleaning, bathing, wiping bums, (kids only) and feeding them nutritious meals. However, the spiritual meanings popped into my head before the physical ones, and as those are the ones that have more of a lasting impact, I should probably focus on those.

More posts on this book coming in the next few days.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can You Buttle?

A short plug for an enjoyable old movie to watch. This movie had funny physical comedy (Carlo!) and funny dialogue (Five children!). Now you'll have to watch it to get the insider references. It took my mind off of a crying, teething baby, which is a hard thing to do. Granted, it's not Thor: The God of Thunder, but it's still fairly fast-paced and definitely less predictable.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Call Me Ishmael

Privacy on the internet...I'm all for it. But let's be honest, if someone wants to steal my identity they won't scroll through my blog posts collecting nuggets of information in order to do it. (Although I should probably post some vital pieces of misinformation, like "my mother's maiden name was Jensen," and, "all my passwords start with the number 2," just in case.) If someone wants to steal my identity, they'll find me on Facebook. It's the risk I take for the ability to find my college roommates and send them a Christmas card every 5 years.
Anyway, this post is about pseudonyms. I think blogging with pseudonyms can be tastefully done, but if your blog name is something like "I Love Chocolate" and your husband's name is "Snickers," your kids are "Skittles," "Reeses," etc., then you should really tone it down. A lot.
Today my husband asked what his fake name would be if I blogged using fake names. I thought about it for about 15 seconds while I put my baby to bed and came up with "Ahab." For those who love themed names, that would make me the "Great White Whale" that Captain Ahab relentlessly pursues/annoys until the whale bites his leg off. Seeing unexpected parallels, no? I really prefer "Ishmael" though, since I am the narrator of our family life. Then we have our children "Starbuck" and "Stubb." If we ever have an annoying child we will stick him/her with the name Queequeg. And no one will ever ever know who we really are...kind of like Ishmael.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Is it Heredity or Environment?

I'm the normal one, just so you know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fun House vs. Cute House

I remember when we were growing up Mom would let us build huge blanket forts. It was super fun. When I got older and stopped making forts and started having to clean the house I would complain to her about what a mess the boys were making building their forts. (Getting older=becoming not fun)

Anyway, based on this and other life experiences, I've realized that you can have a cute and clean house, or you can have a fun house. I don't think you can have both with kids.

My recent example is the bunk bed I put up yesterday in Sammy's room. (All by myself! With 4 small kids running/crawling around!) I was all set to do a cute, girly room for her and Cici with a cute white bunk bed in it, when we found this chunkamunka slide bed in the online classifieds. A slide bed! We knew Sammy would freak out in joy. I knew it wouldn't look cute. Oh well. Sammy loves it. I'm kind of in favor of the "cute and clean" house, but for the rest of her life Sammy will probably remember her fun slide bed that was way too big for her room.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Anti-Social Book Club

I know, I know...anti-social people don't join clubs, but hear me out.

You know how some people have things? For example, they are awesome cooks, or write science fiction books, or live on a ranch, or homeschool, or take cool pictures, or save the environment? Well, my thing is that I read books. Super amazing, right? But get this. I don't just read books, I read books super fast. Even cooler, I know.

Since my thing is reading, (super fast) it seems logical that I should join a book club. But from listening to other women talk about book clubs, it kind of seems like "Book Club" equals "Excuse for a bunch of women to get together and compare clothes, houses, and refreshments, while inserting something about the book of the month into the conversation if it lags." In short, I would have to be social. And let other people tell me what to read. And feel guilty if I didn't have time to read the book. (Which obviously would never happen since I read super fast.) Anyway, who needs that?

So I'm starting the Anti-Social Book Club. The first book to be read is "The Upside of Irrationality" by Dan Ariely. Why? 1.) My husband wants to read it, and I've always been pleasantly surprised by his book choices. 2.) I've looked at Ariely's blog and he seems like a smart, funny guy. I'm considering adding his blog to my sidebar. 3.) Despite loving the study of English literature, I've always been strangely drawn to behavioral economics. Seriously.

If you don't read it, I'll never know. (The beauty of the Anti-Social Book Club) If you do want to read it, I'm going to post some thoughts on it in a couple weeks and I would love your input. I know you just can't wait!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Crazy Politics

I've found that if headlines have words like "Crazy," "Confessions," or "Crispy" in them, I'm much more likely to read the article. Actually, on further reflection, I think I learned that from Newsies. Anyway, this post is about my political views. My political views are:


Yep, you read that right. I attribute my strong political views and my ability to freely and intelligently converse about politics to my parents. It's easy to go overboard with the whole "blame the parents for all my weirdness and life problems" thing, but in this case, I think they might agree with me in my assertion that they are to blame for my lack of interest in politics. For some reason, Mom and Dad thought who you voted for was supposed to be a big secret. (Um...isn't the whole point of politics to try to get other people to see things your way?) So we don't really talk about politics in our family. Perhaps because politics = open arguing, and we are more the passive-agressive types.

Now, if you're with my extended family, you can enjoy vigorous arguing with super conservatives and people who are liberal just to annoy the conservatives and independents who annoy everybody, because everybody knows that voting for an independent is the same thing as fence-sitting.

Have I annoyed someone reading this? Good. I think I'm ready to venture into politics.

Monday, May 9, 2011

There's No Place Like Gnome

I mean, home. Sorry, I just had to use this picture of our cute little Travelocity gnome. Our Costco gnome got stolen from the yard of our Montana home...or did he leave for a gnome convention somewhere? We'll never know.

So I was really excited about grad school but I never felt peaceful about it. You know when you feel good about something and everything just comes together? Well it wasn't happening. Which is sad, because I really wanted to feel good about it--it makes so much sense to go to grad school now. I also explored my other options, such as online school, night school, part-time school, community college, etc. Not happening. I guess my babies need me. Not Cool Degree Mom, but just plain old Awesome Mom.

Was there a point to all this soul-searching anguish that I went through? I think so. I was planning on putting all this work, energy, and time into getting ready for grad school and then dominating it once I got in. Do I put even a fifth of that effort into nurturing and teaching my kids and making my home a house of God? Sadly, no. But now that I've realized that I can do better I can work on it. I kept hearing all these quotes that applied to my situation (God: Helloooo?) but this one from Women's Conference was one of my favorites:

"Sister Beck also said that women often ask her questions about whether to work outside the home. In many places, she pointed out, if women don’t work, they don’t eat. So that question may be the wrong one. A more appropriate question, she said, is this: 'Am I aligned with the Lord’s vision of me and what He needs me to become?'"

Catch the vision, Noni. Live up to your potential. Be more creative in the ways you find fulfillment as a person and a mother.

Well, I've managed to work in a picture of a gnome, pep-talked myself, and put words in God's mouth. Another successful blog post.

Monday, May 2, 2011

She Hath More Hair than Wit

Ah, Shakespeare. Thou art so quotable. This past week or two I've been very distracted with thoughts of going to graduate school. On our insurance I was listed as "homemaker/house person." House person? I don't want to be a plain old house person. I'm smart! I'm talented! I have a lot to offer the world! !!!

The exclamation mark is highly overused these days ---Love, Your Smart and Slightly Pretentious English Major

Pros: I love to learn, I would become more employable, gain teaching experience, have a better fallback if something should happen to Austin, become a more interesting person, take advantage of having a grad school close and my parents to help out.

Cons: A lot less time with hubby, an incredible amount of work, stress stress stress, it would be a while before we had more kids, I would have less time at home with the kids.

Looking at this list, it kind of seems like Grad school would be good for me, bad for my family. But then I tell myself, what if I need to get a job someday? Then my previously-acquired education would be good for my family.

I try not to go overboard on the poetry. But this is one of my favorites:

"The Choosing" by Liz Lochhead

We were first equal Mary and I
with the same coloured ribbons in mouse-coloured hair
and with equal shyness
we curtseyed to the lady councillor
for copies of Collins’s Children Classics.
First equal, equally proud.

Best friends too Mary and I
a common bond in being cleverest (equal)
in our small school’s small class.
I remember
the competition for top desk
or to read aloud the lesson
at school service.
And my terrible fear
of her superiority at sums.

I remember the housing scheme
Where we both stayed.
The same house, different homes,
where the choices were made.

I don’t know exactly why they moved,
but anyway they went.
Something about a three-apartment
and a cheaper rent.
But from the top deck of the high school bus
I’d glimpse among the others on the corner
Mary’s father, mufflered, contrasting strangely
with the elegant greyhounds by his side.
He didn’t believe in high school education,
especially for girls,
or in forking out for uniforms.

Ten years later on a Saturday —
I am coming home from the library —
sitting near me on the bus,
with a husband who is tall,
curly haired, has eyes
for no one else but Mary.
Her arms are round the full-shaped vase
that is her body.
Oh, you can see where the attraction lies
in Mary’s life —
not that I envy her, really.

And I am coming from the library
with my arms full of books.
I think of the prizes that were ours for the taking
and wonder when the choices got made
we don’t remember making.