Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five Questions

My friend Lisa at Fat Chick Fed Up wrote a really neat post about getting to know her. I am not a very regular blogger, and those who read this already know most about me. But she addressed 5 specific questions and asked her readers to do the same, so here goes. I bet you find something in here you didn't know before today...

What are you really good at? What are you really bad at?

I am really good at sorting laundry and getting it washed & dried. I am TERRIBLE at getting it folded & put away!

Have you ever been in a car accident? What happened?

When I was a kid, my dad & I were on our way to pick my mom up from work. We got hit by a car that had crossed the center line. I remember my dad pulling me out of the window because the door wouldn't open. I remember hearing someone say our car was on fire, and wondering why we weren't all doing that slow-motion run and dive in the ditch move that I saw on all the TV movies when vehicles caught fire. :) I will also never forget the smell of burnt car...yuk! A few years ago, my dad & I drove by that same spot, and he told me that was one of the scariest moments of his life.

Why did you attend your college?

Because it was free. Seriously! I decided to start college when Kate started kindergarten. My mom heard about a scholarship for "non-traditional" students. When I called to ask about the details, I found out I had less than a week to pull together 5-yr old transcripts, get 3 letters of recommendation, fill out a lengthy application, and write an essay. The lady on the phone very nicely wished me good luck.

I did my best & turned in the papers, and they called me for an interview. I was mortified - I am not very good at interviews, especially the kind that has me at one end of a conference table and five people at the other end asking me questions. In the end, it felt more like a conversation than an interview. I got a call at work the next week telling me I was awarded the scholarship - 4 years paid tuition and a yearly book stipend. It was like hitting the lottery - everyone in the office cried with me. Somebody sent me flowers for the first time in years.

I stayed local because I needed the support of family & friends to do the working mom, full-time student thing. In my heart, I was as far away as I could get once I graduated. Over those four years, my heart was changed...by God, by a man that I did not yet know would be my husband, and by the Lafayette community itself.

How did your parents’ relationship influence you?

Um, this one's a little hard. I've never really discussed this with my parents, but I'm also pretty open with them, so should they read this they likely won't be surprised. I don't remember much about my parents when they were married - no fighting, no yelling. Just that if one of them said no, the other one backed them up. Every time. I couldn't get either one of them to crack! :)

My parents divorced when I was 12-13. I remember my dad (who was in grad school for psychology at the time) telling me (a lot!) that their divorce was not my fault. Apparently a lot of kids blame themselves. I thought he was nuts - I never blamed myself, I blamed them!

After the divorce, I lived with my mom for the rough teenage years, and visited my dad when I could (he lived out of state a lot of the time). I never felt like I was in the middle of my parents, but I always had a feeling that being loyal to one parent meant being disloyal to the other. I don't know why - neither of them perpetuated this idea at all.

Unfortunately, my first marriage was a lot like theirs - just shorter. Kate's dad & I divorced after 3 years of marriage. Divorce is a horrible thing to go through - no exceptions. I finally realized I could have a close relationship to both parents without being disloyal to anyone. I was also able to look at how my mom & dad continued to parent together, despite not being married. I try to use their example to this day as a model for my parenting relationship with Kate's dad. I guess I won't know until she grows up and answers a question like this, how well it worked!

My dad has been with the same lady since the divorce. They are not married, but their relationship has influenced me. They give each other freedom to chase their dreams and to be who they want to be, regardless of tradition, or what people say. If my dad wants to come visit his family and she doesn't think it's the right time for her to take vacation from work, she stays home. That's how they roll, and I respect that. To be able to separate out what I really want from what I think everyone wants me to want is an important life skill.

My mom stayed single for a long time, but is now remarried (to a man with the same name as my dad). I wish my stepdad would have come into her life (and ours) a lot earlier than he did. For one thing, he's a much better cook...lol! They are still giddy in love - sometimes nauseatingly, but mostly it's just wonderful to see her happy. He loves my mom and that makes us all happy. And he is such a steadfast & godly man. He's got one of those quiet but powerful personalities - I know when he has something to say, I need to listen. Their relationship is a model for the spiritual life of our marriage.

What were the three happiest moments of your life?

I don't like questions like this, because it means excluding memories, and also because I have a bad memory. But I will try:

1. My Great Banquet weekend. I spent most of it crying, but it has led to a secure happiness and a joy in life that I did not have before that weekend. I've been in church my whole life, but it was this particular experience that I finally understood what a community of Christians looked like. God captured my heart that weekend and I have been growing ever since. (If any of you are curious about the Great Banquet, I'd be happy to talk with you about it!)

2. The moment I realized I was going to marry Rick. He will tell you he knew he was going to marry me after a month of knowing me. He was always trying to have "serious relationship" talks and I hated that. I was newly divorced, and generally am not a "get back on the horse" kind of girl. I was ok with being single, and when he started saying words like "future" I would change the subject, every time. I don't remember when it happened, but we had known each other for at least 5 years, and we were sitting in the car outside of our church. I thought we were going to discuss where we should have lunch, but he started his long-term talking. I tried changing the subject but it didn't work. I was told frankly that he was serious about this, and one day I was going to have to answer the question and I better prepare myself for it, one way or the other. The words were harsh, but the tone was not - it was exactly what was necessary to get my stubborn heart's attention. I was committed from that moment on - the wedding was just a formality ;)

3. My kids - they were, they are, and they will be sources of happiness for me. I know they will be sources of other emotions as well, but this question is about happiness. The little things make my heart smile - toddler Kate singing "American Woman" with her dad, reading Max Lucado's "You Are Special" every night before bed, Ben making teenager Kate scream because he's trying to lick her (gross!), teenager Kate's decision to donate all her Christmas gift money to charity, or her increasing logic during arguments with her mother. That sort of thing - it is a beautiful privelege to watch them grow.

Hope you learned something new about me. How about you? Care to share a little about yourself?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reflections on Mother's Day - 1996 vs 2008

I have been loved today. Actually, I'm pretty spoiled and feel loved almost every day, but today is the official "show your mama some love" day, and my family rocked it. :) I've had some time to reminisce about the two moments in my life when I found out I was going to be a mommy.

I sat in a doctor's office alone, listening to the doctor & his nurse argue in the next room about which one of them had to come in and tell me I was pregnant. I was supposed to be getting my pre-college physical - expecting a clean bill of health, but got so much more. I cried. My mom cried. Everyone cried. I wasn't sure I could be a good mommy - but how I loved that baby.

We had only been married for 6 months before the "pink plus sign" showed itself. I showed it to Rick, watched him do a victory dance around our bedroom, and then we cried. My mom cried again. Some of Rick's family cried too. I still doubted my mommy skills - but how I loved that baby.

Two very different situations that led to two of the biggest blessings of my life. I absolutely love being a mom. I was born to do this. I'm not perfect at it, and I never will be. And that is okay.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Word for 2011

Tap tap tap - is this thing on? Tomorrow will be 1 year from my last blog entry, if you can even count a cute baby video as an entry. I guess I don't often have much to say that can't fit in a Facebook status!

I'm not an every day listener of K-Love radio, mostly because they play the same 20 songs for months and months. But I do listen once in a while, and managed to hear about their "one-word" campaign. I think the goal is to pick a word that will be your theme for the upcoming year. Supposed to be similar to a New Year's resolution - which, if you listen to the latest statistics, most of us have already broken by now anyway.

So the one word thing has been in the back of my mind as 2011 has begun. I have seen a lot already this year in the lives of people I know & love deeply: serious injuries, car accidents, divorces, unemployment, cancer. And the word that comes to mind is - relentless. That is 2011's word to me.

"Relentless: unyieldingly severe, strict, harsh"

Well, 2011, I have a word for you, too. And it is this: mercy. For every relentless thing you bring to the table, I will match it with mercy.

kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, compassion, benevolence"

  • When I see an email from my boss with a time stamp of 10pm, I will stop and say kind words to her the next day because I know that she stays late because she does not want to go home to the house her husband has moved out of.
  • When I read the blog of a 20-something woman who has lost her husband in Iraq, I will do more than just tear up. I will send her an encouraging note, even if I cannot relate whatsoever to her situation.
  • When a conversation seems to run a little long, I will actively listen, because sometimes people are lonely and just need to talk. I've even been that lonely person before.
  • When a friend just bursts into tears, I will hug and not be the first to let go. I will not offer "words of wisdom" when all that is asked is my presence.
  • When a coworker calls in "sick" on the busiest day of the month at work, I will work harder to lighten her workload for her return.
  • When I hear teenage snarkiness coming from my firstborn, I will be slower to respond. How can I forget how dramatic those years can be!
  • When someone tells me of a family in need and I don't know what to do, I will pray. I will not always know a way to show mercy, but I will always ask for it.

Mercy - it's more than just being nice. What's your word to 2011?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bhopal Anniversary - 25 years and counting...

A few weeks ago, Rick & I watched a documentary called "The Yes Men Fix the World." Great movie and I highly recommend it (though not with your kids). One of the issues they address is the Bhopal tragedy. There are several sides to the story, but what everyone seems to agree to is this: In 1984, 40,000kgs of a poisonous gas leaked out of its tank at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal India - killing roughly 4000 people within hours. And yet I hadn't heard of it until 2009 - shame on me.

Activists like the "Yes Men" and other groups claim up to 23,000 deaths and birth defects in children born from people exposed to the chemical. I've read about cancer rates as high as 49%, seen pictures of kids with 6 fingers on their hands - weird stuff. And heartbreaking. And it makes me mad.

I am mad that people are still suffering. I am mad that it has been 25 years and that even though the plant has closed down, the remnants are still there, and nothing seems to be getting done to clean up the mess. I think what upsets me the most is people pointing fingers and not taking action.

I have a strong dislike for anything described as "corporate," but I find it hard to believe that a company would just kill thousands of people and not do anything to make it right. So I went to Union Carbide's website to see if I could find anything - kudos to them for having a link on their homepage dedicated to Bhopal information. I honestly didn't expect that.
I have read everything they posted - the whole Union Carbide story, and am bothered by 3 things:

1. They blame the 1984 incident on employee sabotage, but have never released the person's name. I might believe this if it were for legal reasons, but it is not. According to their site, the Indian government is fully aware of the guilty party but only wants to prosecute the corporation itself, seemingly accusing the government of monetary greed. That's believable enough...but wouldn't releasing the name of the saboteur bring public pressure to the government to prosecute? Wouldn't it also be good for the "corporate" image to name the culprit and clear their name?

2. Union Carbide has quite a list of things they did to respond to this tragedy. Financially, the initial response was a $2 million dollar donation. I was a little disappointed in that. They say they made additional attempts to donate but the Indian government refused the funds. Wait, isn't this the money-hungry government that won't prosecute the individual so it can go after the corporation? That doesn't make sense to me. However, I was surprised to learn that after the government rejected corporate money, Union Carbide funneled money through Arizona State University to set up a vocational center in Bhopal. Nice move...until the government found out and not only closed the center down, but completely leveled the building. (Such quick action would be great at the former plant site!)

3. The site has still not been cleaned up. Come on guys - it's been 25 years! Union Carbide claims it never owned the site, and that it belonged to their Indian entity - Union Carbide merely "held just over half of the stock." I'm not a business expert, but sounds like ownership to me. Again, the government of India is to blame and has had full responsibility for the site cleanup since 1998. I guess we are supposed to be ok with the fact that Union Carbide didn't address this during the first 14 years after the gas leak. They also claim that activist groups have been prohibiting clean up of the site, but give no examples.

I also checked out the information on this from the Indian government (http://www.mp.gov.in/bgtrrdmp/profile.htm), and am not surprised to see that like Union Carbide, they also have biased information. The website describes that night as a "holocaust," among other things. What I don't see is direct accusations, like on Union Carbide's site.

Why can't someone just step up and clean up the mess? It wouldn't have to mean accepting responsibility for the whole event, but it would be a heroic move. And the right thing to do.

I started reading about this after we saw the movie, with the goal of being more globally minded. But now I just feel helpless - I can't travel to Bhopal to volunteer, and I don't have a giant financial gift. I guess being informed can be depressing sometimes, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I know it's been awhile...

Oh dear blog, I've thought about you often, but haven't really had a lot to say. I get this idea in my head and never follow the thoughts to completion, so I convince myself it's not worth writing about. Let me tell you about the last year or so.

I'm a mom...again. Wasn't sure I was ready to do it all over again, and can't really say I enjoyed being pregnant. But I am in love with little Ben, and it is so fun to compare him to baby Kate. He is so sweet & beautiful - Rick is already using him as leverage to have more. I'm not sure what to think about that yet.

Kate has 4 months until she officially becomes a teenager. She is gorgeous, and I am so glad she has yet to go boy-crazy like some of her friends. She & Rick seem to be getting along a little better these days, and she does seem to like Ben when he's not crying or smelly. :) She spends a lot of time on the cell phone with her friends, discussing the latest social scandal, but never really seems to be in the middle of any of them. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that's really true...

As for me, I'm going green. I can't pinpoint what happened, but at some point in my pregnancy with Ben, I became obsessed with living a more natural, environment-friendly lifestyle. My new slogan is "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without." I am FB fans of sites like Treehugger, participate in Meatless Mondays, and read books about Raw Milk laws. We no longer buy laundry detergent, household cleaners, and very soon we will be done with disposable diapers. More recently I've been trying my hand at homemade bath products - couple of failed attempts at lotions, but have lip balm down pretty well. :) Next goal is to get rid of napkins & paper towels...

Rick is still the best husband ever. He lets me be who I am, encourages my crazy ideas (most of them anway), and just loves me. We are a good team, as long as it's not a home improvement project! :)

Well that's it for now - a lot more going on outside our little family, but gotta leave something to write about later. Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Our UAV is online..."

Anyone who knows the source of the phrase can sympathize...  :)