Saturday, October 31, 2009

If you ask me to lunch and I refuse, this is why...

Our society is too materialistic, and I am definitely a part of that society. I spend way too much time thinking of things that I want, as though they would make me happy. And they wouldn't.

For instance, having these would not make me happy:

But I can't help but want them. I don't think I've ever been so excited about a product in my life. They are copies of the Penguin Classics bound in fabric. The designs on the fabric correlate to some theme or motiff in each book. Here is an interview with the designer. I'm so impressed by how much thought went into choosing the designs and the colors, and I think they are absolutely beautiful. The collection includes some of my favorite books like like Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Cranford (yes!), Little Women, Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Crime and Punishment. I eventually want even those titles that aren't my favorites (the Oddessy, Wuthering Heights) and those I have yet to read (Oliver Twist, Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Lady Chatterly's Lover(!)). So I'm saving up. Sure, I may only have one pair of jeans that fit and I don't have a winter coat, but who cares when there are awesome books to be bought?

It's okay to want stuff, as long as we don't set our hearts on them. Right? Plus, I'll pass them on to my children, and my children's children, and my chidren's children's children... Actually, my children are too young to be having children. (If you don't know where that's from, ask me and I will introduce you to something that will greatly increase your quality of life.)


I Saw Nie Nie

Well, sort of. Yesterday, As I was walking into Michaels to pick up some picture hanging thingies, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this coat:

(I stole this picture off her blog. I hope she doesn't get mad at me.)

Pathetically, I knew exactly who the owner was. It was Stephanie Nielson, of the Nie Nie Dialogues. I started reading her blog last fall, when her plane crash was all over the news (New York Times, Today Show, etc.). Some people might hate her blog; I'm sure the creator of Seriously So Blessed has looked to her blog for some satire-worthy material. She is always dressed to the nines, she loves vintage looks, her blog has a very low word to picture ratio, and, in her heart of hearts, Nie Nie loves being a mother. I think people love her blog because she has a knack for glamorizing the life of a stay-at-home mom, and what stay-at-home mom doesn't need a little of that every once in a while? Oh, and I really like her photography.

Anyway, I sort of always hoped to run into her and get the chance to tell her blog inspires me to be a good mother. But when I saw her plaid coat and her little red-headed daughter march to the custom framing counter, I knew I wouldn't talk to her. What was I going to do? Randomly walk up to the framing counter and ask questions I didn't need the answers to? Make a complete fool out of myself so I could say that I'd talked to Nie Nie? So I got my picture hangy thingies and walked to the check-out.

So that's the story. Below are my ramblings. Feel free to skip.

As I was standing in line, carrying Summer, I looked at all the other people around me in the busy store. All of them, I realized, were really just as special as Stephanie Nielson. I wished I was one of those people who had the guts/skills to start conversations with people in line (Nathaniel is probably very glad I don't, however). Before I could think of a way to brighten someone's day, it was my turn to buy my item.

Once, when I was standing in line at our local grocery store in Evans, Georgia, the checker, a young black woman, started singing. I was embarrassed for her, especially because the next person in line was a wealthy-looking old white man. The man, in his slow southern drawl, just smiled and asked, "You singin'? You've got a mighty pretty voice." She smiled back as she scanned his groceries and said, "Thank you," and then resumed singing.

Why aren't Utahns like that? Why am I not like that?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Story, Part Six

Nathaniel has all our wedding pics on his computer, so this is a picture of us from Summer's baby blessing. It's the closest thing we have to a family picture.

It was late. Nathaniel and I had spent a couple of hours together that day, but I wanted more time. I was conflicted. I liked him. We had been spending more and more time together and it just kept getting better. Nathaniel was fun. And smart. And attractive. And best of all, he was genuine. He had nothing to hide.

I'm reminded of his reaction when I introduced him to Silk Chocolate Soymilk. He took one look at the carton and said he couldn’t imagine buying it. Referring to the plug on the carton for alternative energy solutions, he asked, “Do we really want windmills everywhere?”

I guess I loved that he disagreed with me.

At the same time, I kept dating other guys. I didn’t know when I would feel comfortable getting into a relationship, but exclusivity four months after I broke off an engagement seemed wrong. Plus, as I said before, dating other guys was fun.

I could tell, though, that my reluctance was now more about what others thought than my desire to spend time with other guys. The more time I spent with them, the better Nathaniel looked.

I realize that all this talk about exclusivity sounds sort of silly, like something from the Sweet Valley Twins series about “going steady.” But it was so important to me to make sure that I didn’t make yet another mistake in yet another relationship. My disastrous engagement had truly broken my heart and I just didn’t think that I had the wherewithal to handle something like that again. I was so sure that I had found the man of my dreams. And I was so wrong.

Nathaniel was an amazing person. Perhaps amazing enough to risk another broken heart. But so soon? Probably not.

I stared at myself in the mirror, brushing my teeth to get ready for bed. Only I didn’t want to go to bed. I wanted just a little more time with him. That wasn’t so bad, right? But I also didn’t want to look too forward. Besides making myself look like an overenthusiastic fool, asking him to get out of bed so we could hang out might be leading him on should I back out later. I put my toothbrush back in its holder.

"Oh, who cares?” I muttered to myself. I pulled out my phone and texted:

“Do you want a back rub?”

After a few very long seconds passed, he texted back.

“No. Do you?”

I offered him a freaking backrub and he said no? He clearly didn’t want to hang out. I replied:


I waited. He didn’t text back. He thought I was too forward. Too needy. Didn’t have a life of my own so I had to leech from his. Oh well, it was probably for the best, anyway.

“K. Come to my apt.”

Oh, thank goodness.

I put my flip flops back on and walked out the front door, being careful to shut it softly behind me. I didn’t let myself think as I walked over to his place. I just let my feet carry me to Apartment 206. And before I let myself think again, we were on campus by the testing center, laying on some blankets in the dark, talking.

“I have a song that reminds me of you and I want to play it for you,” Nathaniel said.

“Let’s hear it!” Inside, I was completely giddy. I loved romantic songs. They say everything you don’t have the guts to say yourself. What did Nathaniel want to say to me?

It started:

Jamie, what you doing now?
What you doing now girl?
Please, please tell me
Cause I need to know, I need to know now.

“That’s not the part that reminds me of you,” Nathaniel said rapidly and then resumed singing at the top of his lungs.

When I was down, you came to me
And promised you'd always be
By my side, now you're gone
And I'm waiting patiently
Jamie, I want you to know
Jamie, oh Jamie, I'm so glad you're mine
We'll be together a long time

“It’s not that part either.”

You are the most, you're so rad, you're so fresh
And I'm so glad I am yours, you are mine
Show me where and I will sign
When I was down, you came to me.

“It’s coming, I promise.”

Jamie, believe me, I won't let you down
Cause you are the best lawyer in town.

“That’s the part!”

Incredulous, I asked, “That’s what reminded you of me?”

“Yep. That’s it.”

So, that was Nathaniel’s romantic song dedication. I was so let down.

We looked at the two stars that could be seen through the branches and talked in Romanian and Russian, figuring out what words are the same in the two languages. I didn’t care what we talked about, as long as I was with him. Suddenly, Nathaniel paused and said, “I kind of want to kiss you.”

Kissing = exclusivity. I was not ready.

“Well, we don’t always get everything we want.”

The minute I said those words, I regretted them. It was at that moment that I really wanted him to kiss me. I didn’t let myself think about what kissing would mean, I just wanted it to happen. I hoped he wouldn’t pack up the blankets and head back to the Elms. I hoped I’d get a second chance.

Nathaniel resumed chatting. At some point, he mentioned he wished he played guitar.

“Really? Why?”

“Because girls like it.” Wow. Talk about honesty.

I thought for a minute and said, “Okay, here’s my take on it. Sure, it’s cool if a guy can play the guitar. So if a guy plays the guitar, that’s plus, say, two points. But if a guy is genuine and is just himself, that’s, like, plus twenty points. I’d much rather a guy who’s not the guitar-playing type just avoid the guitar than try to impress me with it.”

The whole time I was saying this, I pictured Nathaniel strumming a guitar in the hope of winning a girl over. That image still makes me smile.

“So do you think I’m genuine?”

“Totally.” I had to be honest.


We talked some more. Somehow, we wound up kissing. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, only that it fit in so perfectly, almost as though it was part of the conversation. And the kiss? It was great.

Do you really want details? I didn’t think so.

As we walked back down to the Elms, something about the harshness of the lights in the stairwell made me realize how dumb I had been. I wasn’t totally sure I wanted to be in a relationship, and I just kissed Nathaniel multiple times. So much for self control. I am not a nail biter, but I bit my nails constantly to make sure that Nathaniel couldn’t grab my hand. Hand holding in public would mean real exclusivity.

The next day, we went to Centerville to go to a friend’s birthday party. After we parked, Nathaniel confidently grabbed my hand.

“Your hand feels so good in mine,” he said. I just smiled as we walked toward the party, holding hands. We were together. And I was okay with that.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'll Probably Regret This Someday

Ever since Summer was about two and a half months old, she has put stuff in her mouth. It's a cool trick, but for a while now I've been looking forward to the time when she would do something else with the stuff she grabs. This morning, she was playing with a pen and starting banging it against her Bumbo. Because I couldn't leave well enough alone, I gave her this.

And a wooden spoon.

And she made noise.

It was pretty cool.

And because I just can't resist:

Spoon: WalMart
Onesie: Hand-me-down from my mom's friend
Pot: Deseret Industries
Bumbo: On loan from Jackie
Coffee Table: Anthropologie. Just kidding. It's from DI.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Early Morning

Right now it's 6:31 in the morning. It's dark outside and I'm trying to distract myself from Summer's wails. She's been making cute, tempting noises for about fifteen minutes. I am trying to stick to the latest baby sleep book I read, so I'm not going to go get her for another twenty-six minutes. It's hard.

Nathaniel is already gone for the day. We are a lot alike, but in some ways we are polar opposites. You would never have caught me at school that early, unless I'd spent the night. For Nathaniel, leaving before the sun rises is the norm.

So I sit here, awake, left with just my thoughts. They always go to Summer. Every day I think that I want to go back to the time before she was born. I want to nap and shop and earn money freely. And every day, as soon as those thoughts start forming in my mind, Summer coaxes me back into reality with her giggle, her smiles, her dimples, her latest skill, her coos. She does it with her angelic face when she's sleeping and her fascination with everything from the light switch to Nathaniel's nose. She reminds me how much I love my life with the way her eyes look when she looks up and every time she insists on lying on her tummy in the bathtub.

So thanks, Summer. I love you.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Happened to This Blog?

I got a job. That's what happened to this blog. The past couple of weeks I've been busier and I thought I didn't have time to blog. But tonight I remembered that I want Summer to have tons of pictures of herself when she was a baby, and I don't take them unless I'm blogging. So I'm going to start again.

She's asleep so the pictures will have to wait, but I do want to share this quotation from C. S. Lewis:

[God] has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created.


Monday, October 5, 2009

FHE and the Early Renaissance

I don’t want to type the phrase, “I love General Conference.” If you know me at all, it doesn’t really say anything. What Mormon, when the topic of General Conference comes up, says, “Eh. I could take it or leave it?” * Really, pretty much every Mormon loves it when a ton of old people in suits with a collective zillion years of wisdom get on TV and tell you exactly what you need to hear. But only the self-righteous blog about it.

Just kidding. But it sure looks that way, doesn’t it?

So I won’t say, “I love General Conference.” Instead, I’ll say that because of General Conference, I was reminded once again that God knows me and loves me. I’ll say that I know everything I knew before, only with greater conviction and security. I’ll say that the words of God’s servants on Earth give me hope, peace, inspiration, and motivation.

Another great perk of General Conference is that Family Home Evening for the next little while is a piece of cake. I’m always so eager to digest the words that I heard during those eight (well, ten) hours and to hear what others thought of them, and Family Home Evening is the perfect time to do that. **

I think I’ve been reading too many Mormon Mommy Blogs. This is kind of an embarrassing post. I am just reading the last phrase of the previous paragraph and cringing. But I’m really excited about our new way of doing FHE. Please, don’t laugh. Okay, fine, laugh, but don’t do it around me.

But first, after reading this article, I had some questions about parenting. Elder Oak’s talk and Elder Christopherson’s talk answered those questions for me perfectly. Now I have more questions, but it’s a step in the right direction and I’m very grateful for that.

Okay, so FHE.

I loved my undergraduate education. I loved the fact that the only thing I really had to do was learn. I didn’t worry too much about getting an education to make money; I knew I would take care of that later. Undergraduate education, for me, was a time to explore the world and its history.

My favorite classes were English linguistics classes, followed by the classes for my major: English literature. I loved, and still love, really getting into a complex text and taking something from it. I love the ideas of literary criticism: What is a text? What is history? What is real? What is art? What is the dynamic between the critic, the artist, and a piece of art? What does it mean to be human? I am getting all excited just typing these questions.

Yes, I know I’m a freak.

My third favorite class (followed very closely by calculus) was a history of western civilization through the humanities class. I always wanted to branch out from literature and learn more about music and painting and sculpture and whatnot, so Humanities was the perfect way to do that. It was such a good class and I loved every minute of the time I put into it.

But that was six years ago. I really don’t remember much, and what a shame. I have been listening to the classical music radio station lately and I have completely forgotten how to really listen to a piece of music. I had the same experience on a recent trip to the Museum of Art on BYU’s campus.

I wanted to go back to my Humanities class. I want to remember more about Bach and hear his struggles and triumphs. I wanted to know why I can’t forget the Pre-Raphaelite paintings I studied. I wanted to understand what Jasper Johns was trying to communicate and, in so doing, find my own meaning of that art. I wanted to connect with the residents of the past on an emotional level.

I loved the textbook I used for the humanities: it digests a lot of material very well and, most importantly, gives art some context. It’s not perfect because any academic subject is too complex for an anthology, but it’s a great introduction. The thing is, the textbooks for humanities classes are insanely expensive because of the fancy paper they use to showcase the art. But that’s only if you get a current edition.

I bought an old edition of Cultures and Values on for about eight bucks, including shipping (the list price for the current edition is $150). And now, our family home evening activity is going to come from this book.

Tonight’s FHE went like this (sorta):

We listened to Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk from the Prieshood session.

It was Nathaniel’s choice, and while he was interested in the encouragement to work, I loved all the encouragement about learning.

Then we read about this:

(Adoration of the Magi by Gentile da Fabriano, 1423)

And this, painted five years later:

(The Holy Trinity by Massaccio, c. 1428)

Wasn’t the Renaissance amazing? Can you imagine living in a world where all art, though perhaps beautiful, was flat and two dimensional? And then can you imagine looking at a masterful painting of Jesus Christ and feeling for the first time that the art was an extension of your reality? That, in a way, the Savior was part of your reality?

Probably not because that picture is way too small. But trust me, it's cool.

We had grapes for dessert. I think I might actually start looking forward to FHE.

*Someone help me – where does the question mark go in that sentence? Noelle?

**Aunt Kathy – in case you don’t know (but you probably do) FHE is a thing that we’re encouraged to do where we get together as a family and have some sort of spiritual lesson and then an activity like playing a board game. It’s cooler than I make it sound.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nathaniel is a Bum

I found my camera!

Where was it? Put away. I swear I looked there.

Yesterday, Summer turned five months old, which means that it’s been over five months since I’ve had a haircut. Nathaniel has a week-long break next week. Hopefully, I will get a haircut soon. But until then, I’m not the girl who is in desperate need of a haircut. I’m the girl with a signature long ponytail. If you’ve seen me lately, you know what I’m talking about.

But I digress. Summer. My baby. My sweet, sweet, daughter.

She eats. I wasn’t going to give her any food until she was six months old, for fear of allergies. But then, at her four-month appointment, the pediatrician basically said, “Go for it!” He said no dairy, nuts, citrus, or uncooked honey, but other than that, he suggested we just mash up whatever we eat and give it to her. Later that day, as I was eating the sweetest, juiciest, cold cantaloupe I’d eaten in a long time, I looked into her big, curious, eyes looking up at me. How could I resist? I took a tiny piece and mashed it in my hands and offered it to her. Of course, like any four-month old, she was elated at the prospect of stuffing something in her mouth. She didn’t look too sure about the new taste at first, which is understandable seeing as how before she’d only had breast milk, formula, plastic bags, clothing, diapers, wooden mixing spoons, etc. in her mouth before that. But she chewed (!), swallowed (!), and went for more. In the past month, she’s eaten apples, pears, peas, zucchini, carrots, peaches, grapes, pasta, beans, and her favorite: lentil soup. She hasn’t eaten solids every day, and usually only a finger full, but she’ll be a great eater soon. I’m sure.

She drinks too.

She rolls. One day, a few weeks ago, Summer just went from her back to her tummy, and she’s done it regularly since then. She is intensely curious about everything and if you’re holding her and she sees something she wants in her mouth, she’ll get it. She throws all fifteen pounds of her weight around very forcefully. Her rolling abilities come in very handy for satisfying her curiosity. Especially if I’m changing her diaper.

She smiles, laughs, giggles, and squeals. A lot. But I never get on camera, of course.

I wonder what it’s like to be five months old. I’m sure frustrating; I see that emotion in Summer’s face every time there’s a toy just out of her reach. It’s got to be confusing as well; I would hate it if I tried to get outside but was constantly thwarted by a window. But the newness of the world, the never-ending supply of textures, sounds, tastes, and sensations to fuel curiosity – that’s got to be pretty great. And having two parents who love her and would do anything for her? I bet Summer thinks life is pretty cool.