Friday, January 29, 2010

Ten Years Ago Today

Can't believe it's been ten years since Micah was born. He was born at about 3 p.m. on January 29. My dad's birthday is the 30th, but at that point I wasn't going to wait nine more hours so they could share a birthday!

It was Super Bowl weekend, so the day after Micah was born, John brought pizza to my hospital room and we watched the first half of the Super Bowl together. The pizza was a big deal because I had a c-section with my first birth and had a liquid diet for several days. Micah was a VBAC so I was cleared for pizza. This must be why now Micah's favorite food is pizza.

We didn't know then what a joy Micah would turn out to be. He has a great sense of humor and even a sense of timing to go with it. He is thoughtful and tender-hearted. He hates eating anything remotely vegetable-related and has a hard time focusing on the task at hand, always getting distracted by something infinitely more fun and interesting than finding shoes or cleaning up his bedroom. I have every confidence that even these will turn into a strength of his at some point down the road. Micah has an infectious giggle and big brown eyes that twinkle with mischief.

We love you, Micah!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another busy week

Here it is, already a week and a day since I last put a post on here. Time just flies around here!

Exciting news in the world of sports: William got a basket in Tuesday's game! This is now his highest scoring season to date with a total of one basket and one free-throw. That's only the beginning, folks. We expect to see Timberwolves scouts at his games any day now! Well, okay, we won't hold our breaths or anything. But still, he's doing well, steadily improving.

I have a cough this week. I can't ever have brief, dainty bouts of coughing. No, I always sound like I'm hacking up a lung and it goes on for days and days! Nothing but codeine seems to touch it, but I bought some NyQuil for tonight and we'll see if it works. If I have another sleepless night, I'll have to break down and go to the doctor. No offense, Joel and Jeff, but I avoid going to the doctor if at all possible.

Tomorrow night is our church's congregational meeting, so John has been busy preparing that as well as two sermons for Sunday.

Tomorrow is Micah's birthday and Saturday afternoon, we're having a party with four of his friends.

Saturday morning, I have a baby shower to bake for and attend. That event is just up the street, so at least I don't have a long drive.

So, we are busy, but doing well. We are so blessed. God is good.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life in the Land of Perpetual Snow

When the snow lies thick on the ground and the temps plunge below zero, here's what the Shaws do for fun. Read a good book. Well, okay, Waldo might not qualify as a "good" book, but it did keep the kids occupied for quite a while and in my world, that makes it a good book!
If the temp isn't too cold, play in the snow!

Here's Nanook of the North ready to go out and play. He's gotten pretty nimble in all of those layers; I still can't catch him if he decides not to be caught. The only advantage I have is that with so many layers on him, I'm likely to catch onto something in my wild, desperate grab.
And, occasionally, we do use the long winter nights to sleep. Aaaaahhhhh!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


As I searched for pictures to go into my Shakespeare presentation to kick off this year's 4th/5th grade production, I came across this gem. Here, we have four Ohio State fans, dressed in Renaissance garb, acting out the four most famous letters in Big Ten football: OHIO! Though John and I don't know the folks in this picture, they have managed to capture the essence of our marriage. This picture nicely melds my world with John's world: Renaissance costume with Ohio State football. It's an odd mix, admittedly, but obviously, as the picture shows, it works.

On some level.

Some bizarre level.

Like the same bizarre level as the mismatched, freaky toys in Sid's room in Toy Story.

But my point is, it works.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Shakespeare as Marketing Tool

Well, why not? It works!

Today, someone gave me a present. Any day I get a present is a good day. And when it's a Shakespearean present, it's even better.

Now, of course, I never knew that I needed Shakespearean Insult Gum, but now that I know it exists...

...of course I need it!

Each tiny box, decorated with the bard's fiz, contains two gumballs.

And printed on the inside of the box is a lovely and inspiring quote from Shakespeare, such as this gem from The Comedy of Errors (which I saw live at the Globe Theatre. Have I ever told you about it? Let me do so...What? Oh, sorry. Back to my original topic):

"Thou art deformed, crooked, old and sere, ill faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere, vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind, stigmatical in making, worse in mind."

My favorite part is "ill faced, worse bodied." In other words, "Get thee to the plastic surgeon!"

From King Lear:

"From the extremest upward of they head to the descent and dust beneath they foot, a most toad spotted traitor."

From Henry IV, part 1:

"Thou sweats to death and lards the lean earth as you walk along."

Sounds like an advertisement for a fat farm for intellectual high-brows.

From Henry VI, part 2:

"Base slave, thy words are blunt, and so art thou."

Direct and to the point. (Get it? Point...blunt? Never mind.)

From Henry IV, part 2:

"Thy wit's as thick as a Tewkesbury mustard."

I've never been to Tewkesbury, but we can safely say that they have thick mustard there.

Well, I won't spoil the "fun" by quoting all of them. Go and get your own Shakespearean Insult Gum. You can share the gum with your mom, but I recommend saving the insults for you brother. That's what I plan to do.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Eve

Since Micah had pink-eye and an ear infection and we weren't sure who might be the next to succumb to the plague, we decided to stay home for New Year's Eve.

If anything can be said about our family, though, it is that we can par-ty! We know how to throw a rockin' party even if Scrooge, the Grinch and Alan Greenspan show up! We got it goin' on! Of course, I was so busy partying that I hardly had time to take any pictures but I did manage to capture the peak of excitement around here!

So, who's coming for next year's party? Anyone? *tap*tap* This thing on?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Round Three

And...Sam is down for the count. As we were getting ready for church this morning, he complained of his throat hurting. Uh-oh. But, he is three and not ten minutes later, he said that his throat felt better. Hmm. What to do? Assume the worst, be overprotective and keep him home or assume the best and end up infecting every other child at church? Having a twelve-year-old made this a much easier decision: we left Sam with William. By the time we returned home, Sam had a low-grade fever and was complaining that his ear hurt. After Tylenol and a nap, he obviously felt some better, but as the evening progressed, his energy level dropped and his eyes got goopier and pinker. So, we're off to the doctor again tomorrow. I am so glad that I decided to err on the side of caution and leave him home this morning!

Now, only William has to get it and we'll be 4 for 4! I'll settle for 3 out of 4.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Girl Meets God

At John's prompting, I picked up Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner. Winner is biologically half-Jewish, converted to Orthodox Judaism, then became a Christian. Her story is fascinating and her knowledge of the Torah and Jewish tradition gives her unique insights into Christianity. She is extremely intelligent - undergrad at Columbia, graduate school at Cambridge, and, at the time of the book's publication, a doctoral student in Virginia. She left Judaism for the Episcopal church, frequents coffee houses, wants marriage and a family, and daydreams of a professorship at a Christian college. I ought to like her.

I'm not sure what I dislike about her. It may be partly that I'm trying to read it quickly before it has to go back to the library and this much of anyone's rambling internal dialogue would get annoying. It may partly be her writing style.

She writes a fast-paced stream-of-consciousness which is exciting at first, but, eventually, annoying. She flips from the past to the present to the middle past and back again at an astonishing rate, sometimes using three different verb tenses in one sentence. I don't think of myself as a particularly linear person - just ask my linear-minded husband - but Winner's vague and confusing timeline is disorienting. She throws in experiences and conversations which must be very post-post-Modern because they don't seem to relate to any other themes or topics in the book. Just like the phrase the teen-agers are throwing around willy-nilly these days: "That was random."

Her writing is compelling despite these drawbacks - her command of language is, not surprisingly, excellent (although she tends to do what I just did - stopping the sentence short for a qualifier - which works when it's done occasionally but loses its charm when over-used). She has some flashes of brilliant description and, as I said above, some fascinating insights into Christianity.

I sympathize with her in many ways: a tendency to over-analyze conversations, a preference for "lifestyle evangelism" rather than tract-passing or in-your-face confrontations, times of extreme self-consciousness, academic aspirations, times of spiritual fervor and times of spiritual depression, and so on. Maybe her neurosis is too like my own, maybe she's needy and I'm unsympathetic, maybe I can't take the emotional roller-coaster of her many romances. Maybe I'm jealous because she has succeeded in ways I wish I had succeeded, or because she has a dramatic story to tell - Orthodox Judaism, New York City, Cambridge, Episcopal liturgy - and I have the story of "converting" from one conservative Reformed denomination to another and childbirth. I don't know. And I feel bad for not liking her more. Here she has poured out her heart and soul for the world to trash on and I'm trashin.' No, not trashing, really. I appreciate what she's been through, what she's done, what she's written. I'm just pretty certain that we wouldn't be BFFs if she lived next door.

After all that, I doubt that I have instilled in you any sort of compulsion to go out and read Girl Meets God. Let me share a bit from the book, bits that stood out for me for some reason: insight or good writing or both, and you can decide.

Writing of the value of liturgical prayers: "One, it is important to pray with other people, in a group, a lesson that gives the lie to the lie I like to believe, which is that prayer is just about this vertical conversation between me and God and God and me. And two, liturgy is dull, and habitual, and rote, and you memorize it, and don't think about what you are saying and it is, regardless, the most important thing on the planet. It is the place you start, and the place you come back to."

And later: "Habit and obligation have both become bad words. That prayer becomes a habit must mean that it is impersonal, unfeeling... If you do something because you are obligated to, it doesn't count, at least not as much as if you'd done it of your own free will... Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I've chosen to do. I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real, love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time. But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is acutally happening. It is a great gift when God give me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer. But work is being done whether I feel it or not. Sediment is being laid. Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head. They are becoming the fallback words, drowning out advertising jingles and professors' lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologue."

Writing of her college boyfriend: "And I loved him, loved him with that startling, easy college love, the kind you can just fall into carelessly because you are only eighteen and you don't have any idea how much it will hurt."

Writing about skits in church: "I never like these little bursts of theater, which pop up in church services every now and again. They feel infantalizing, like someone thinks the gospel needs to be dressed up and made entertaining rather than just being straighforward and read and dramatic enough in its own right. Skits in church annoy me."

These are some of the bits that keep me reading. They make it worth the sketchy verb tenses and young academic angst. These bits even inspire me a little and allow me to say that I do recommend Girl Meets God. You may want to space out the reading over time, though - this is best taken in small doses.