Paradise Altered, Not Lost

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"The sun has set not long ago..."

The other night as I was fading in and out of consciousness, a line from something kept reciting itself over and over in my head like an old LP with a scratch.  Being more asleep than awake, I thought it was nice and must have been from something I read in the past and possibly analyzed to the point of where it no longer seemed pretty at the time.   You know, sort of like "WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote..." or "THIS is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless.."  Instead the next morning I realized that it was neither Chaucer nor Whitman.  No, no....  It was Boyton, Sandra Boynton from The Going To Bed Book, one of the many books that I read to Ladybug each and every day.

Ladybug is her mother's daughter and loves books.  She loves to be read to and loves to "read" to herself all the time.  I think that it is wonderful.  I really do, but sometimes I wish I had time to delve into something a little meatier than "The Story of Ferdinand."  I have temporarily traded in the wit of Dorothy Parker for "The Please and Thank You Book."   Before I had Ladybug, whenever I had the chance I would curl up with Anne Elliot or Francie Nolan or studying the Battle of Naseby.  Now, instead of "A Modest Proposal," I'm devouring "The Very Hungary Caterpillar."  Rather than losing myself in "Tender Is the Night," I know "Goodnight Moon" by heart.  My life, my little slice of Paradise, is altered.  My time is no longer my own.  All of the things I have read and studied have been crammed into the recesses of my memory to make room for "Harold and the Purple Crayon."  You know what?  That's fine with me.

These works I love, these collections of words somehow strung together into something flowing and beautiful, existed for the most part long before I did.  They'll still exist once Ladybug has gone off to college.  In the mean time, I can try to get a chapter or two read during nap times, and already I have started sharing the classics with Ladybug, even some I have yet to read on my own.

I have been reading "The Secret Garden" to her since autumn before most of her nap times in the afternoon.  At first we would only get a page or two read before she had to be put in her crib.  Now, we've made it to chapters being read in a sitting.  Also, I've started reading it to her also before she goes to bed.  She sees that book and lets me know she wants to read it.  We've really been making progress on it, and once we're through we'll start the Anne of Green Gables (a personal favorite) series, then the Little House books, and then probably the Little Women if not Peter Pan or something else.  I will continue to read the classics to her until she can read them to me, allowing the both of us to share a new kind of Paradise.

There are times when I really miss being about to spend an entire rainy day just curled up with a blanket and a good book.  The joy I receive from reading with Ladybug is a different joy, and right now I prefer it.  

If you have kids, do you find yourself reciting their books, singing their songs, and such?  

By Any Other Name

Monday, March 25, 2013

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” 
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables
It is spring....

At least the calendar states that it is spring.  The thermostat currently says something entirely different, but I think the two will see a marriage counselor and eventually reconcile.  Let's just say that I've put the couple on my prayer list.  It is spring though, and yesterday was Palm Sunday.  The coming of spring and Easter always make me think of many things and people including my Granny Scott, who loved flowers and bunny rabbits.

Me hugging Heather @ my 2nd birthday with Gran.
About Gran
My Granny Scott didn't have an easy life.  She and my grandfather were married in a wagon yard in Okemah, Oklahoma two days before Germany invaded Poland, starting WWII.  By the time Gran was my age (almost 33), she already was the mother to seven of her eight children.  She had survived the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and my grandfather serving on a destroyer in the Pacific WWII.  My grandfather passed away in 1972, and she raised my Aunt Tammy mostly on her own.  She survived both my Dad and my Aunt Reva.  She had endured enough to make her a bitter woman, but I always remember her smiling (if not in photographs).  Her delight was in her family.

With eight children and their spouses, twenty grandchildren and their significant others, and all of the great-grands who were born in her lifetime, her house was often filled and spilling over with Scotts on holidays, when my aunt and cousins would visit from Missouri, or just any random Sunday afternoon.  Ladybug will never know the joys of hunting Easter eggs so many cousins or having enough family to put together an impromptu baseball game.  I can't smell black coffee brewing without thinking of everyone piled in Gran's living room joking, laughing, and just loving being together.

Gran always did her best to take care of me when my Mom was working.  I may not have stayed with her all the time, but she would take me to dinner, keep me company, check up on me, and even once took me to Cedar Lake without any of my cousins to see peacocks.  I remember many afternoons after school when she would get my cousins Heather, Michael, and I and drive us around Heavener picking pecans.

When I was a freshman in college, she had gone to a local convenient store to get biscuits and gravy for her breakfast one morning when she was in a car accident.  The loss of blood caused her to have a stroke, and she passed away a little over a year later.  There isn't a day I don't miss her, because she was such an important part of my life.

Naming Ladybug
When we were thinking of names for Ladybug, we had her first name picked out for years.  We were at a loss for a middle name though.  Because my name is Adrienne Lane, and Ladybug's first name starts with an "L," Bart wanted to give her an "A" middle name.  He threw out names like "Alizabeth" or "Avian," all of which I soundly rejected for being too kre8tive and weird.  Then it came to mind that Ladybug was going to born very near what would have been Gran's 90th birthday.  Like me, Gran's initials were A.L. for Alice Lucinda.  Everything just made sense to give her the middle name of Alice. Bart didn't take a great deal of cajoling.  It just fit and made sense.

I haven't always liked the name Alice.  Back when I wanted to name a son "Oakley," I used to think it too old fashioned.  As time has gone by and my tastes in everything have matured, I've grown to love it for its own merits and also for the Alice that I loved.  It's German for noble and kind.  That summed up my Gran, and I can't think of not wanting that for my daughter.

I may call Ladybug by her full name when she's in trouble, but I often call her by her full name just because I love saying it.  I love that a part of my Gran lives on in her name, sometimes her features, and  even in her actions at times.  It's also very neat that my Gran, Alice Lucinda was born on February 4.  My Aunt Mary Alice was born on February 5, and Ladybug Alice was born on February 6.  I think that she was Ladybug Alice long before we decided that would be her name.  Like Anne Shirley told Marilla Cuthbert about roses if they went by any other name, I don't think Ladybug would quite the same if she happened to be Ladybug Anastasia or something like that.  She is as much Alice as she is Ladybug.

What do you think of names?  Would a rose smell as sweet if it was called skunk cabbage?  Would your children be the same under any other moniker?  Why did you name them what you did?  Please comment, because I'm really curious.

Things I Read This Week

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The March Madness Widow & Daddy's Little Fanatic

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some wives lose their husbands to the deer woods every fall, then some to the duck blinds, then some in spring to the hunt for a nice, big gobbler (turkey).  My husband doesn't hunt.  He loves to shoot guns but isn't a hunter, so I'm not a deer/duck/turkey/snipe-whatever widow.  I do lose my husband one time a year for prolonged periods though.  Unfortunately I don't get to catch up on my chick flicks at this time, because though he's not really with me in spirit, he's still very physically with me, glued to the television.  Why?  March Madness, of course!

March Madness is that special time of the year when 64 65 68 Division I NCAA Basketball teams are invited to compete in a tournament to become the national champion.  Sheldon lives for this time of year from filling out brackets and entering contests to watching game after game after game on the first weekend of play.  Sometimes he cajoles me into filling out a bracket or two to compete with the twenty or so fills (can we say addictive personality?), but unless Arkansas or Oklahoma (not State) are in the tournament and doing well, I really am not overly interested.  This year though...  This year he has Ladybug, who loves basketball, to share it with.  He even managed to come up with a way for her to fill out a bracket; with flash cards!

Some time over the past year, Sheldon decided to make flash cards of every Division I NCAA Basketball team's mascot so that he could hold two up and have Ladybug choose which she liked best in the matchup.  He worked hours on those cards and got them ready for her this weekend.  Sunday, as soon as the selections were made and we ate dinner, we started the process of letting her choose her bracket.  It didn't take too long, as she enjoyed doing it and was rather pumped up after watching conference tournament championships all weekend with Sheldon.

We expected her to pick teams with puppy dogs or kitty cats as mascots to win everything.  Ladybug decided that she really liked the Louisville Cardinal though, and had them win it all.  It's probably no small part due to the character of Little Baby Redbird on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and her Baby Redbird stuffy that lives in a felt tree with other animals from the Rocky Mountains.  All in all though, she has a pretty decent bracket.  Come on, I may not love it, but I can't live with it all around me and not know anything about it!

So, do any of you fill out brackets?  If so, how are they doing?

**** Follow up*****  
As of March 24, Ladybug's bracket is in first place in her daddy's engineering firm's group.


The Foolishness of Reality (TV)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do you ever grow tired seeing promos for so-called "reality" shows that make a point of going above and beyond in order show what has to be the worst, most depraved human behavior?  I'm so incredibly tired of all of it, and yet all of it is so popular that I feel that I must be in the minority.  Quite honestly so much utter trash litters the television screen these days that if not for our love of sports and Ladybug's love of Disney Junior and Sprout (in bits), we would cut the cable cord.  Quite honestly, I'm not just tired of it, my heart grieves when I see it.

I want to set the record straight that I'm not a television hater by any means.  I'm not one of those people who claims "Oh, we don't ever watch television." It's quite the opposite in fact.  I am a person who has a television on around her more often than not.  It's not that I'm always glued to "my stories" or anything.  It's just that over the years I've grown used to having it on while doing anything from cleaning house to reading a book.  Television keeps me company.

As a youngster often home alone in the evenings and on weekends, television was my companion against loneliness and even often a security blanket of sorts.  One of my jobs in college was a proctor for distance learning classes at night.  I would be doing my own homework at night while nursing, education, or business classes went on over television screens around the room.  I grew very adept at tuning out the other stuff enough to do my work while still making sure everything ran properly.  More recently I worked at a television station for over five years and had one of our stations running over my head all day long.  I love well scripted dramas and comedies.  I can spend hours watching well produced (and not-so-well-produced) documentaries.

Foolish Reality
All of that said though, I do not watch "reality" shows of any type.  I find them false and ridiculous.  Most importantly I think that they have created a very artificial, incredibly superficial culture.  It seems that anyone can have their fifteen minutes of fame if they behave in a reprehensible manner, spew utter ignorance from their lips, and basically glorify foolishness.  Everyone wants instant fame and instant gratification.  Working hard, being good, and having faith and morals is not only frowned upon but mocked.  Even though we know it's not true, these shows pass themselves off as how people actually live and conduct themselves.  I don't want Ladybug to grow up believing that it is appropriate or acceptable for her to ever act as people on "reality" shows do.  Those aren't our values.  That isn't how we in our house believe anyone should live or act.  At least with shows that make to pretense of not being scripted, I can tell Ladybug that it is fiction and completely made up.

The True Reality
The truth of the matter is that such shows are in direct opposition to Ephesians 5:4.  I don't believe there is any way around it, because the things listed below are the bread and butter of reality television.  That, above all is what grieves me, or the Holy Spirit within me.

Ephesians 5:4

New International Version (NIV)
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
What are your thoughts on reality television?  Do you watch?  Do you agree or disagree with me?  Please leave a comment.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, Sheldon informed me that he and a coworker needed to go to Little Rock on the evening of the 7th to attend the ACEC Gala at the Governor's Mansion.  A project they worked on was up for an award.  Also, he informed me that rather than spend the night, they would be getting back to NWA some time after midnight.  A week after that, he called me from work to say that the project's client was taking his wife, so he and his coworker needed to take theirs as well.  Enter no small amount of panic and a plan that only a couple of engineers could have come up with.

The Engineers' Plan
Both couples suddenly had to figure out what we were going to do with our kids.  Sheldon's coworker is from Ozark, so it was decided that his wife would drop their son off at his parents' house, and we would pick her up at the McDonald's there on our way to Little Rock.  She would then go back to his parents' house for the night on our way back.  Our plan was a little trickier.

Sheldon's mom and dad agreed to take Ladybug for the night.  Since Sheldon's parents live in Greenwood, they agreed to meet us at (yet another) McDonald's in Alma to collect her and her houseful of things before we met Sheldon's coworker's wife in Ozark.  They would then keep her for the night, and if things went well Friday night also.  This marked a major milestone in our family.  It was the first time Ladybug spent the night without me since we brought her home from the hospital.

Part of me was looking forward to a night out, possibly an entire day to myself while Sheldon was at work, then a night out with just him.  Part of me was frightened Ladybug would have a horrible night.  Then another part of me was scared to death that Ladybug would reach another milestone while she was away, without me there to witness it.

First Steps
As of Thursday, Ladybug was thirteen months, one day old and had yet to walk on her own.  As a mother, especially a stay-at-home-mom, that's the sort of thing we live for.  We don't give up adult conversation, careers, and a modicum of privacy not to witness first smiles, first words, first steps and such.  It would have absolutely broken my heart if I had spent every waking hour with her almost her entire life and yet somehow missed those very first, very special steps.

Thankfully God hears our prayers, even the ones we don't even really put into words.  Thursday morning as we were upstairs in her room, packing her things, Ladybug decided to walk to me.  Then she decided to do it again and again so that I was able to grab my iPhone, take some video, and text it to Sheldon at work before posting it on Facebook.  Then I cried.  I grabbed my proud girl, hugged her, cried and thanked God that I hadn't missed that milestone.

Surviving the Night
Ladybug (and everyone else) survived her night at Grandma and Grandpa's.  Yes, I just said night.  It was a rough night because she started cutting another tooth which for her includes pain, fever, snot, coughing, and discomfort.  Sheldon and I didn't rest well either, because we knew from phone calls she was having a rough night. Sheldon found out Friday that he has sinusitis, bronchitis, and possible a "touch of pneumonia."  So, he has kept us both awake, coughing and such for a while now.  Also, Sheldon made the mistake of asking Lucy where Ladybug was just as we were going to bed some time after 1 am!  Not knowing where her baby was caused that poor dog to have some sort of nervous breakdown, and she prevented us from sleeping even more!

Other than the restless night, I think Ladybug  had a lot of fun.  She especially likes their cat, Gibbs.  All of that, plus not being at home and not having Mom and Dad made for a long night, so we picked her up Friday evening.  She was visibly happy to be home and rested very well Friday night.  I think we all rested better Friday night.  We're all willing to try another night with Grandma and Grandpa when Ladybug isn't under the weather.  If we really are going to go to PEI next summer, then Ladybug needs to be able to stay with the grands for a while.

So Thursday was a pretty big deal at our house.  More than one milestone was reached.   Sheldon and I got to get dressed up, we spent an evening out with adults (even if most of them were engineers), Sheldon's work was recognized, and we even shook hands with Governor Beebe. We got to have dinner at Suzanne Sugarbaker's house the Governor's Mansion.  Of course, the most important milestone is that Ladybug is walking now!  Life gets more interesting with every day!

Pinterest Perfect Birthdays Are For The Birds

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ladybug is thirteen months old today.  We have waded in the waters of toddlerhood for an entire month now.  Only now am I able to sit down, collect my thoughts, and look back at her birthday and birthday party with satisfaction.  Why is that?  Well, it's because the Internet from Pinterest to mom blogs has made me feel inadequate and doubt myself as a mother.  Or actually it did for a while, then thankfully I came to my senses.

If you haven't done it before, I dare you to go on Pinterest, look up something along the lines of "baby's first birthday," and not feel intimidated.  Honestly look up just about anything from crock pot dinners to decorating your home and try not feel to feel intimidated and rather like a failure as a mother, a wife, and a woman in general.  Back to "baby's first birthday," you'll find pins on everything from special shirts to wear, growth charts to make out of planks of wood, pictures you just have to take on the special day, to DIY napkins with your one-year-old's handprints on them.  All of these things that you're made to feel like you must do for the birthday party of a child who most likely won't remember anything about the day at all.

Knowing that Ladybug's birthday is the first week of February, I decided to start working on it as soon as Christmas was over.  Only, feeling motivated to do anything right after Christmas isn't easy.  Let's not forget that money can often be a little tight six weeks after Christmas.  So Sheldon and I discussed her party and decided that we didn't want to have a huge affair, but we did want to do something nice for her.  After all, you only turn one once.

Pinterest Perfect
We had long before decided that her party would be a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse party, because MMCH is one of Ladybug's favorite things on the planet.  I ordered a cake from Rick's Bakery.  I started to make photo invitations multiple times but never found any I really liked, so I ended up with the old-school ones where I had to write in all the important info.  Right there I felt that I had committed  FAILURE #1.  Don't all the cool moms make their kids' birthday party invites on Shutterfly or Tiny Prints now? (By the way, if you did that, it's ok.  I'm not demonizing you for doing it.)

I fully intended to get Ladybug a personalized shirt with her name on it, possibly a ladybug, and a giant 1, but I lost track of time and didn't remember to do so until the Friday before her birthday.  Enter widespread panic and FAIlURE #2.  I even posted on Twitter something along the lines of committing a huge mom failure.  How on earth would she be able to look back at pictures and know she was one?  Then common sense came back, and the more I started thinking about it, the more I really didn't like all of the pressure I was putting on myself to do things Pinterest Perfect.

Dressing For Other Women
Being a mom is hard.  It is the hardest job I ever have had and ever will have in my life.  There are no do-overs with being a mom, and I think that sometimes being a mom today is harder than ever before because of the pressures we put on ourselves to make everything worthy of the perfect blog post, the perfect Facebook album, and the perfect Pinterest pin.  Why do we do those things?  We can say they're for our kids, but honestly they're not.  It's like I've told Sheldon in the past, "Women don't dress for men, they dress for other women."  We are our biggest enemies at times, and we shouldn't be.

That need to impress the other members of our own sex, to get complimented from them, to not be made fun of doesn't go away when we graduate high school or college.  It's always there, but in different forms.  We're more worried about what others think and not being good enough than whether or not our kids just enjoy their birthdays.

Chaotic At Best but Happy
I can promise you that Ladybug loved going to the Oklahoma Aquarium on her birthday with Sheldon and me then shopping at the mall in Tulsa.  I can tell you that she loved her birthday party the following Saturday, didn't give a fig about her cake, didn't care that Mama didn't get her a special shirt, and had the time of her life playing with her friends and being the center of attention.  She loved the helium balloons we blew up while she napped.  She loved the little Mickey decorations.  I imagine if I had gone all out with more decorations and more elaborate everything it would have been a waste of time and resources.  A one-year-old's party is chaotic at best.

I won't be posting birthday party tips on Pinterest.  I won't be submitting what I did to any contests.  I will cherish the photos we took, and the memory of my girl being extremely happy that day.  In the end, that's all that matters.  Ladybug had a happy birthday and happy party because she had a mom who didn't worry more about aesthetics and enjoyed the day and was happy with her.

The Housework Will Wait

Monday, March 4, 2013

Today is Monday.  In my world, that means laundry day, or at least the first of two or three laundry days for the week.  It's also often my laid back day with Ladybug.

Rather than spending a lot of the day cleaning house while she plays, I try to spend the day doing things with her.  Today I've already read at least nine books that she has brought to me, we've worked on our numbers, letters, and colors some, and we've taken advantage of the wonderful weather today to play outside together.

I could get ahead on the dusting, the picking up, the vacuuming, and other things.  My house isn't nasty though, and there will always be housework to do.  Ladybug will only be my little ladybug for a short time.  She's already grown up so much in almost thirteen months.  There aren't always going to be pretty days when we can find the first crocus of the season popping up, out of the ground.  She isn't always going to ask me to read to her or to just play in the floor with her.  I want to cherish and take advantage of these days while I have them.

A year ago, I remember rocking my baby girl, only a few weeks old, and thinking how I needed to enjoy those days because they would end soon enough.  Sometimes it's difficult  to cherish those days when there's all the crying, the spitting up, and just the general insanity with a little one.  I was right though.  I can't really cradle her in my arms anymore.  Her blue eyes don't quietly search my face while I give her a bottle.  She rarely does anything quietly anymore.

 I've traded one good in for another good though, and that makes the passing of time easier.  Her eyes don't just search my face anymore.  She crawls through the house calling out, "Mama?"  She comes to me, hugs me, and loves on me.  She emulates the things I do.  When I'm comforting her, she'll pat my back and try to comfort me.

I'll take the love pats, the full-facial grins with the crinkly nose, and that infectious giggle that can make the darkest day light right now. Soon enough she'll be rolling her eyes at me, locking herself in her room, and trying her best to keep her distance from me.  God has given me the gift of her childhood for only a little while in the grand scheme of things.  So yeah, today the housework can wait.

My Favorite Photos

Friday, March 1, 2013

I have a Photo-a-Day blog that I started this year in order to help get my creative juices flowing.  The ideal situation would have me taking a masterpiece on my DSLR every day, edit it, and post it with deep thoughts.  Yet I've used my iPhone far more than my DSLR so far this year.

This lack of using my good camera has happened for many reasons.  First of all, my phone is always with me.  Secondly, I keep my DSLR set to take only RAW photos, so I have to go through my photos, edit them, and save them as JPEGs.  That takes a bit of time that I don't always have.  Another reason is that there just isn't a great deal during these grey, cold winter days that just inspires me much.  It happens occasionally but not very often.  Lastly, my computer has had issues of late, and I HAD to use the iPhone.

I have taken some pictures in the past that I'm very proud of and thought I would share some of them today.  None of these have been altered by Instagram, Picmonkey, or any other filter.They're not in any chronological order.

I took this picture of the Broadway Bridge w/o a tripod, hanging from the balcony of our room at the Double Tree in Little Rock while Sheldon was at a bachelor party in 2009.

Spring sunrise on the White River at Gaston's.

My Christmas ham.

She was as angry with me as she looks there.

She has always loved Lady, even though she looks like she's going to punch her.

I love those eyes.

I love that I caught her face here.  She loves the wind.

Playing peek-a-boo!

I adore this picture.

Airplane or bird?

Sunset on the Rockies.

A fox on the side of the road in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

This was taken after the record snow we had in early 2011.  We loaded the girls  in the truck, took them to Lake Fayetteville, and just let them run in the snow.
This would have been better if Dory had been in focus, but getting two dogs and baby to cooperate is almost impossible.

Lucy is an acrobat when it comes to chasing bubbles.

This is just one picture from what was one of my favorite photo shoots with Ladybug.

I caught Lucy in a shake after a swim in the White River at Gaston's.

The Ladybug has always been good at sharing.

We thought she'd enjoy playing in a pile of leaves.  We were wrong.  This was her first Thanksgiving.

She had just started crawling, and this was near the end of the spikey hair period.

Dory showing what my friend Erin calls "Labittude!"

Autumn sunrise on the White River at Gaston's.

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