Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Template

Yes, you're at the right blog. I've been meaning to change my template for some time because I wanted something a little brighter, and because it always seemed strange to log onto other blogs that looked almost exactly like mine. I've never seen this template before, and it just seems to fit me better than most others I've seen. Plus, I like the little wingdings at the beginning of each post.

Of course, if I start seeing this one all over the place now, I may change again. We'll see.

Quote of the Day - "Life"

"The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead." Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Sometimes I do pretty well at this. Other times I still take life--and myself--too seriously.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Don't Worry, Be Happy

When Baby and I were out for a walk today, we encountered an older gentleman who decided to strike up a conversation with Joy. I noticed she was grinning as he spoke to her. In fact she was smiling more than I'd seen her smile in the last few days. I realized it was probably because he was smiling at her, too.

That in itself was no great epiphany, but it made me recognize that I have not been smiling at my baby much lately. Most of the time that she is awake, I imagine I wear a very serious face as I try to determine what basic needs must be met (hunger, rest, sanitation, etc.), what comes next on her eating/sleeping schedule, or how best to entertain her (you know you're a grown-up when playing requires significant mental effort). I'm so busying managing that I forget to just have fun.

Ironic that this revelation occurred right after my post about showing Joy we like her. I can just imagine her thinking, "It's great that they feed me and change my diapers, but I sure wish that mom-lady was a bit more friendly." I want to teach her that home life - and life in general - should be enjoyed and not just endured.

Monday, September 24, 2007


On our recent anniversary, Phillip and I decided to purchase The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. We're currently a few chapters into it, and it has provided some helpful insights.

A statement in his introduction particularly struck me. Chapman said a child's most important, basic need is "to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted." I think that is at the core of every relationship - we all want to feel that we belong in a group (whether it be a family, a circle of friends, etc.), and that people like us and want us to be there.

I think that is also at the heart of my relationship with Joy. First of all, she belongs with our family. Other babies are cute and all, but when I see her, I think, "Ah! There's the baby that is inseparably connected to me. I'm hers, and she's mine." That said, I need to make sure she likes this family she's stuck with, and that she knows we like her.

Funny that a book on marriage makes me think about parenthood. Perhaps that's because I've been preparing for and nurturing my marriage for years, but I'm still very new to motherhood so any new advice is a revelation.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shocking Language

My little family is pretty careful about the words we use. We eschew the major swear words, but there are also minor things like "butt" or "that sucks" that we just don't feel comfortable saying. We don't mind if YOU say them, of course, just as long as you don't mind that we don't. :)

Well, this morning I uttered a word that shocked my dear husband. We had disassembled our vacuum to replace a broken belt, and when I picked the lot up to move it across the room, a heavy part came loose and landed with a lout thud on our table. You know--the table we spent hours sanding yesterday so we could refinish it. The table that now has a vacuum-part-sized ding in its surface.

I grimaced and said, "Dang!"

Phillip raised his eyebrows. "What did you say?"

"I said, daNG." (I emphasized the nasal glottal on the end of the word, lest my dear husband think I'd said something really offensive).

Phillip's expression became very thoughtful. "Wow. I don't think I've heard you say that more than once or twice in our marriage."

So there you have it. I guess "dang" is about as edgy as we get in this household.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Anonymity is Bliss

NPR recently interviewed members of the Sikh religion about their beliefs and the post-9/11 persecution some have experienced. Since male Sikhs are required to wear turbans they are often mistaken for Muslims, and following the September 11 attacks, the first person killed in retaliation in the U.S. was an Indian Sikh named Balbir Singh Sodhi. The interviewees on NPR said they are working hard to spread awareness about their religion, because they fear if another terrorist attack occurs, they will once again be targeted by people who think they are Muslims. (Incidentally, the second and third people murdered to "avenge" 9/11 were also non-Muslims. Apparently some Americans can be just as violently ignorant as the terrorists they vilify.)

At the end of the interview, one of the Sikhs agreed to wrap the reporter's head in a turban. Of course, none of his listeners could see the result, but he said he still felt very different. He's used to wearing clothes that let him blend in. Now all of a sudden he was wearing something he knew would draw lots of attention, and not necessarily the kind he would like. Even in the privacy of his studio, you could tell the idea made him a little nervous.

This episode got me thinking. I've never experienced serious prejudice, and I do a pretty good job of blending in most of the time (unless I'm in a classroom, in which case I speak up rather more than I should). I'm white, I'm 5-foot-something, I weigh one-hundred-and-something, and I wear clothes that are just interesting enough to not be totally bland. If I did decide to wear something that drew attention, it would probably be something pretty or fun, but still not too outlandish.

What if my beliefs required me to wear something that would draw everyone's attention wherever I went? What if it made some of those people suspect me, fear me, or hate me. The prospect gives me greater respect for people committed enough to their beliefs to wear a turban or veil in spite of the possible consequences.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stress Management

People deal with stress in varying ways. Some go on a shopping spree; others eat way too many brownies. As for me, I decided to buy a compost bin.

I’ve been wanting to try composting for some time. For some reason, it rankles the depths of my soul to toss out lots of kitchen scraps and garden prunings when I could compost them instead. It would be ecofriendly and it would save me having to buy more potting soil to support my gardening habit. What's not to love? But I digress--back to the stress management thing.

Yesterday was a rough day. I won't go into the details--basically it was the usual round of too much to do and not enough time, exacerbated by the fact that Baby woke up very early from naps. Several times. By late afternoon I was getting close to meltdown stage, so I declared the second Tuesday of September Official Hendrickson Composting Day. Baby and I drove over to Rite Aid where I bought a 10-gallon plastic storage bin, then we went on a walk to collect some dry leaves to offset all the green stuff I intend to add to my “pile.” Phillip will drill holes in the bin tomorrow for drainage, and I’m going to do a bit more online research to make sure I produce useful compost rather than a smelly mess. I'm sure my neighbors will appreciate that.

All of this did wonders for my mood. That is, until I discovered the ant infestation. My husband came home to find his typically benign wife squashing wee beasties with rather more force than was necessary. I think that scared him a little. Apparently it scared the ants, too, because they haven't returned. Apparently they decided it was unwise to steal food from mentally unbalanced humans.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Cake, Not Books

I'm sure you're all wondering how my "reading day" went. Let's just say Baby chose this day to NOT take her morning nap, so I didn't even fill my daily quota of work, much less play. Sigh.

The day wasn't a total loss, though. First of all, I tried a new recipe for dinner which turned out well (always an epicurean ego-booster). Also, we had some friends over this evening. They supplied cake, and we supplied ice cream and introduced them to the delights of "Sink or Swim" (our favorite card game). Good food and friendly company - not a bad Friday, all things considered.

Of course, I'm still determined to actually crack a book open next week. Gotta feed the mind, too, after all.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quote of the Day - "Right"

"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do." --Jason Love

My brain took an extra millisecond to process this one. Maybe it was the heat . . .

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Time Well Spent . . . Sort Of

The temperatures in Southern California have been in and out of triple digits for the past week. We were enduring the heat as valiantly as possible with our little wall A/C unit, then fate (or the electric company) decided to kick us when we were down. The power in our apartment building went out last night, and stayed off through this whole, long, hot summer day. For all I know it's still off (rather than fire up the stove in our sauna-like apartment, we ate dinner out and then fled to my parents' home for the night).

In addition to sapping my strength and making me sweat profusely, the power outage presented me with an interesting dilemma. Since the computer was in a coma, I couldn't telecommute, blog, research infant-toddler car seats, or do practically anything else on my to-do list. So what to do with my time while baby napped? Of course - read! And which of the many tantalizing tomes did I pull from the shelf? "What to Expect the First Year," to read up on age appropriate baby feeding.

I am such a mom.

Don't despair, though. I've set aside Friday as my reading day, and though I haven't yet decided what book I'll choose, you can rest assured it won't have "What to Expect" in the title.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Still Life Meets Crazy Life

Last night Joy stayed with some friends while Mama and Daddy went out to dinner. The night was still young when we left the restaurant, so we decided to poke around the Barnes & Noble Bookstore a couple doors down. Books from countless genres called out to me as I strolled through the store, but it seemed most practical to use my gift card to expand Joy’s board book library (I find myself reading the same three or four books all the time). While Phillip skimmed a computer programming guide, I browsed through the board books, selected a couple I liked, then headed to the counter to make my purchase.

The plan was for me to pay for the books and then find Phillip in the computer section, whereupon we’d head for the train and home. However, on the way from the cashier to computerland I was waylaid by a book with a black cover. The photo on its jacket could have been a French still life from two centuries ago—red grapes, cheese, a meaty bone, and a mushroom. Above them were the words: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Ah, food, history, and pretentious vocabulary—three of my passions.By the time Phillip found me, I had read the entire introduction.

The author proposed some interesting ideas (which I promptly related to my longsuffering and rather tired husband as we walked to the train station), but what struck me most about the experience was how delicious it felt to read a book for sheer pleasure. These days, most of my reading carries with it a sense of duty and urgency. I keep up with friends’ numerous blog posts and try to think of meaningful responses to them. I feel it my responsibility to at least skim the news and wrestle with difficult questions it raises. I read the Ensign partly because I know I should, and I’m currently rushing through Psalms because I’m behind on my goal to read the standard works in a year (I’m considering ditching that goal—what’s the point of reading the scriptures if you go too fast to take anything in?). What’s more, all these literary liaisons are crammed into bits of spare time which could abruptly end at any moment if Baby wakes up.

Please don’t misunderstand me--I really do enjoy all this reading. However, the pleasure often has a rushed, even burdened feel to it, as if it is actually another task rather than a break from work.

I suppose this is just a variation on my recent theme of "Stop rushing to do so much stuff! Slow down and actually enjoy some of it!" Specifically, I think I need to take a little time each week to just read something I like.

Also, I think I'll forget the "scriptures in a year" goal for now and just read at my own pace.