Friday, May 15, 2015

Random Thoughts

I have a strange, but vivid, memory, of being about seven years old and hearing my friend Kirsten casually refer to one of their cars as "The Acura." I was SO vastly impressed by the professional, knowledgeable air it gave her (we usually just referred to our cars as "the van" and "the bug"; nothing so technical as their manufacturers' names!). I realized that the glamour of it all has lingered so that I still reflexively look at Acuras (I've never owned one) as kind of an impressive car. I'll read the make name on the back of one driving by and think, "ooh! Acura."

I heard a good music story the other day. In musical tradition, for some reason, the usual order for listing the people in a piano trio is pianist-violinist-cellist. The story I heard was about the famous violinist, Jascha Heifetz, who was playing in a trio with Artur Rubenstein and Gregor Piatigorsky. Heifetz complained that his name came second, not first. Rubinstein said, “Look, Jascha, that’s the way it is. If God were the violinist, the trio would be known as ‘Rubinstein-God-Piatigorsky.’”

Listening to Styx the other day with my kids, I was overcome by the memory of a counselor in our student ward's bishopric lip-synching to "Mr. Roboto." Maybe it's gotten better in my memory over the years, but wow. That was a Dance to Remember.

A few recommendations: I recently read these books by Meredith Willson, the man who wrote "The Music Man." They are hilarious and sweetly old-fashioned, in a self-aware sort of way, and full of funny stories. Even if you don't know all the people he's talking about (there's a lot of name-dropping, but it's all before my time, so I haven't heard of most of them) you'll just laugh at how he describes things. And I always have loved "The Music Man."

We've also been using this translation of the bible as we read the New Testament, and it's great. I lost my fear of other translations when Wilford Griggs, my favorite religion teacher, recommended we read from several besides the King James Version. Of course I love the poetic voice and the rhetorical weight of the KJV, but it's easy for me to get lost in the very familiarity of it all. And Paul, especially, can be so hard to follow—I can never figure out the antecedents of his pronouns, and half the time his sentences seem to have morphed onto new subjects halfway through. But I love Paul, so I want to understand! This translation is excellent. We'll often read through a chapter back-to-back with the KJV, and it's amazing how much clarity the NTME provides.

And this article is good support, for any of my fellow free-range-kids advocates out there.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stretching

It's always so satisfying to reflect on those things that used to feel so stressful, but now are no big deal. It makes me feel like I've made progress, and gives me hope that someday I'll also move past those things that are worrying me now! So for Mothers Day, here is a list of things I love about this current stage of being a mother:
  • Babies that snort
  • Exchanging glances with an older child about something funny a younger child is doing
  • Planning things I know (not just hope) the kids will like
  • Laughing at things just because my kids think they're funny
  • Kids making jokes that are actually funny
  • Older kids taking care of of younger kids, and doing a good job of it
  • Younger kids gazing adoringly up at bigger kids
  • Having zero anxiety about what/how much the children are eating
  • Knowing that all the stages pass 
  • Less embarrassment when someone misbehaves in public 
  • Holding hands, large and small
  • Homemade presents made in secret
  • Two-way gospel discussions
  • Overhearing late-night giggles coming from both the boys' bedroom and the girls' bedroom
  • Children that come to be snuggled after a nightmare
  • Private jokes between kids that leave me baffled
  • Expecting competence and getting it
  • Kids who can fix things as well as break them 
  • Kids reading to me
  • Baby-soothing expertise
  • Breast-feeding expertise
  • Being able to predict what will come next
  • The occasional total surprise about what comes next
  • 2-year-old chatter
  • Making people warm
  • Singing to and rocking a sick child in a dark house
  • Cooking dinner together
  • Hearing about when other people like my children
  • Knowing Heavenly Father entrusted the care of these amazing people to ME for awhile

Making a home for all the ones I love best, with their help, is the best work in the world. As Samuel Johnson said, "To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavor," and I'm so grateful to be pursuing that end! 

(Last year's thoughts on Mother's Day—here)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Unbounded

"The Bounded is loathed by its possessor. The same dull round, even of a Universe, would soon become a Mill with complicated wheels."
William Blake said that, and I wrote a paper on it in college, about the concept of growth and change and eternal progression in Romantic Literature. Back then, I assumed Blake meant something like: "Without change, even the most vast expanse would feel confining." And it's true, life without expansion seems pointless. I welcome the idea in LDS theology of continuous progression through the eternities. But I wonder, too, what Blake meant by "bounded." As I read his statement again, I can see that it might also mean, "When examined minutely, something that at first seems dull or repetitive may reveal its complexity." Or even, "Our loathing of something only exists as long as we see that thing as 'bounded.'"

Honestly, I think the first meaning is the one Blake intended—but it's the second meaning I've been thinking about lately. For example: every time we go to Red Butte Garden, I wonder if this time it's going to seem less amazing. We've seen it so many times, and surely we've already seen the most beautiful it can be, so how can it keep delighting us? But of course, every time, it does. There are just so many little scenes to notice—a view through the trees that catches you by surprise; a strikingly orange group of daffodils; small patches of grape hyacinth that seem, surely, to be brighter than usual.
























I guess you could say that those things are interesting because they are different from year to year, though they're in same "bounded" space. But then, of course, there are the familiar scenes too; trees we know so well and paths we've run down so often, it seems we must have gone back in time—except that the people running down them are so much bigger than they used to be! And yet, even the repetition (though living things are never truly unchanging; still, in many ways each season comes in the same "dull round" from year to year) never seems dull in the garden. And I wonder why?

And that got me thinking about Mars. We've been learning about robotics for the last while, and one day we were looking at pictures taken by the Mars Rover, Curiosity. And I was so intrigued by them. You can see the tracks made by Curiosity as she rolls along, and you can watch her picking up dust in her little scoop for analysis. It all seems so…close! Like you could just look up and there would be the two moons in the sky, and those red mountains looming up on the horizon. It made me feel so curious and wistful. I want to go there! And it's the same with the pictures coming from the New Horizons spacecraft near Pluto. It's all so exciting! I want to explore, see it all for myself, and look at whatever I want instead of just what there happens to be a picture of! 

Then I was thinking how someday, someone might get to go to Mars, and I wish so much it could be me! But of course, it won't be me, because Mars would be wasted on me! Not that I wouldn't be interested, because I AM, but because I don't KNOW anything! I don't know how to look at the rock layers and extrapolate about geologic conditions. I don't know how to test the air for chemicals and figure out how to make adjustments for human life. I don't know what radiation readings mean for the timing of the loss of the magnetosphere. And those are the types of things that would make a Mars visit worthwhile.

And even though I am interested and I think I'd love to explore because it's all so new and different, I also think I have to admit that it wouldn't keep me endlessly interested. After the newness had worn off, it would probably all just seem like a dry, rocky desert to me. It would seem "bounded" and confining, like Blake's "same dull round," and I would stop getting pleasure from it.

But—here's where I think maybe that second meaning comes in—if I were a scientist? An expert on all those things like soil and the geology and the radiation? Then, I think a visit to Mars would seem vast and unbounded. In fact, I think the more I knew, the more unlimited would be the things I could learn about it! There would always be new experiments to try and new knowledge to discover, so the more engaged and interested I would be.

Anyway, I was wondering if that's how the celestial kingdom and eternal progression might be. That is, the difference will come not only from us suddenly being in this "unbounded" space—but because we will be able to see so much more deeply and fully even the things that previously DID seem "bounded." If we teach ourselves to seek for and desire all knowledge, then maybe nothing could seem boring to us! Whether it's Mars or a garden or another person, we will see the underlying complexity with such clarity that everything surrounding us will seem like a whole world, absorbing and fascinating and delightful. To someone who has learned to see like that (as I imagine God has), what could even BE "bounded"? He is "unbounded" by his very nature—in spite of whatever "bounds" he happens to accept.

I remember my Uncle Hale (a physicist like my Dad) telling me how he believed God could never be bored, and maybe this might be one reason why. I can catch a little glimpse of it when I visit a garden. Because I love the beauty of nature so much (and that love makes me notice more things about it), it would take me a long, long time to get bored in a garden, and I don't even know that much about flowers or gardening! So then when I think of a subject like my husband or my children—who I not only love, but have spent the last fourteen years practicing with and learning about and focusing on and nurturing—I can imagine a lifetime of being interested in them. Or even an eternity. Add in the amazing chance to learn about and shape the rest of the universe as well, and (for me, anyway) that would truly be an "unbounded" heaven, worth doing anything to reach. It sounds like I all I could ever desire. And I think getting there depends on my making myself (with God's help) into an "unbounded" sort of person—because otherwise, all the space in the universe won't seem like heaven to me.

And with that, here are some more pictures of Red Butte Garden. It is so lovely at this time of year! And even more lovely with these little sweeties in it. :)
This tree was so glorious. I kept trying to get a picture of the way the light came through and across the blossoms, and it kept changing as the clouds moved across the sky. So beautiful!
Nice view on the other side of the tree, too. :)
An inviting path.
Sunny little Daisy-dill
This picture is remarkable for the fact that not one child is in focus. Not one. How did I do that??! But we have a nice clear shot of the pine tree behind…
Since last year, Goldie has become a person! One who can run down a hill! She does it with a very odd expression on her face, though. Look closer:
Aaaa!
Pretty, wispy goldie-hair.
Being held up to see a squirrel. I love the way her little arm hugs around Sam.
June-bug. Dirty face. (We did have a picnic right before this.)
Tea party in the little house.
Runners and rollers. 
I told Malachi he was making a scary face, at which encouragement he made THIS even SCARIER face. Eeeek! So scary!
Everybody likes to push the stroller.
Theo, enjoying all the new things to look at!

Oh, these sunlit hills of daffodils. It makes me feel peaceful and happy just to look at them. I love the way the sun falls over the leaves.

And here we are starting to head home. Sweet double-Daisy. We'll be back at the garden again soon, I'm sure!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Easter pictures

I remember when we first had baby Abraham and I took him to get his picture taken at Kiddie Kandids or Target, I always went through such agony trying to choose which print to order. Coming from parents who always ordered the "E" package on school picture day (one 5x7 print), of course I knew I would only end up with the free 8x10 or whatever my coupon was for. But it broke my heart to leave behind all the other cute shots of my darling little boy!

These many years later, you'd think that taking our own photos would have solved all my problems, but as we have a finite amount of wall space (not to mention picture frames), I still have to make the hard decisions when deciding which pictures to print. And sometimes there are funny, strange pictures that I can't really justify choosing (or spending much time editing)…but I love them anyway. So it eases the pain to know that I can preserve all of my favorites forever on the blog! 

Also, Easter is my favorite holiday! So, without further ado, enjoy (or forgive, if you'd rather) these millions of pictures. (And here are last year's, should you find yourself wanting more!) :)
Handsome Abe.
Abe with bunny
Oldest. Youngest.
Sebastian.
Ky looks very suave in this picture
Malachi, hugging Nutmeg.
The four boys! It was very hard to get these fellows to stick around for pictures. They slipped away like wraiths. The little girls did their share of wandering off too, but for some reason I managed to get three times as many shots of them. Must be because the girls quite liked showing off their new dresses, while the boys had no such desires?
Daisy, looking askance.
Daisy
Junie, explaining something
Junie
Bunnies
Goldie is looking particularly cute and grown-up these days. It must be that her hair is finally starting to grow, or maybe it's just that she's talking more, and wearing underpants, and bustling around taking care of Teddy. She just seems more and more like one of the big kids!
So busy!
I think she looks like our friend's little girl Neve in this one.
This is my favorite one of Goldie
And here is tiny baby Theodore.
Poor Theo, and Nutmeg
Serious?
And finally, all seven of these sillies. We love them!