Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Modesty is Relative

That's me letting orange rolls go to waist so they don't go to waste.

Would you ever look at a t-shirt like that and think that it was immodest? Neither would I. Even if it was on someone who was in possession of a tiny bit of cleavage, it would still be quite decent. Not immodest. At least that's what I thought when I bought them (I have a purple one, too). It turns out that they are, though.

See, when you have a toddler some seemingly innocent items of clothing become much less modest. A neckline that seemed very reasonable on the hanger at the store becomes extremely revealing later when it is on your person and little hands grip it and use it to pull up onto your lap. It also doesn't provide enough coverage the twenty thousand times a day you have to lean over and use both hands to clean up a mess, help a child get out of a precarious position or stick a Baby Einstein video in the VCR.

Then there are the shirts Evie likes to buy for herself. She bought a hot pink long sleeved shirt that completely covers her: neck, stomach, arms. Very modest. But Greg doesn't like it because it has a picture of a cartoon owl on it with enormous cartoon eyes. The placement of the owl and its eyes is not bad. I think it's an innocent shirt. Still, it's not Greg's favorite.

I remember back when Greg and I were just friends we would go swimming at the Campus Plaza swimming pool and he once told me that he didn't like my (totally modest, maybe a tiny bit high cut, but not bad) swimming suit. It was royal blue with lime green stitching and a lime green "Body Glove" embossed across the chest. He told me he doesn't think girls should wear things with words in that area. Whatever is written there it might as well just say, "Guys Look Here!!"

I don't buy shirts like that anymore, but I still think he's a little overly sensitive. Unless a shirt is tight and/or a woman is particularly buxom, I don't see much wrong with it.

Then one day Ewelina told me that she found a shirt she wanted to buy. It was just like a shirt her best friend had, but with a different picture. It was a fitted gray tee with a picture of a banana on it. "A banana!" she said. It reminded me of the days when I was about exactly her age and loved things that were random and weird. I, too, would have loved to have a shirt with a picture of a banana or a cloud (like her friend's shirt) on it. Funky, cool, cute.

So she bought the shirt and showed it to me. Super cute cut, very long tee. Big, yellow, old comic style half-peeled banana on the front. "Cute!" I thought.

A little while later I realized that I didn't really like that shirt. I went upstairs and showed it to Greg and asked what he thought about it. He didn't like it a lot more immediately than I didn't like it. He said he really didn't think she should wear it. I totally agreed. I was the lucky one who got to explain this all to her. While it's not strictly immodest, it kind of falls under the same category (i.e. inappropriate (or not quite appropriate) clothing)

So now we have a bunch of new standards. Is the shirt toddler-proof? Does it contain any offending words symbols, pictures or colors? Are the non-offensive words, symbols, pictures or colors located in an appropriate area of the garment? Are we a thousand percent sure that nobody would ever think anything but the very most virtuous thoughts when glancing in our direction while we are wearing this item of clothing?


We sure know how to make things difficult around here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ode to the Period

I used to take you for granted;
You were just sort of there.
I used you countless times a day,
No gratitude did I bear.

But now I see your value.
I understand your worth.
While many consider you optional
I'm mourning because of your dearth.

And maybe I've made a mistake
by trying to write this in rhyme.
Because in this type of writing
I use you improperly half of the time.

But in other types of writing
You are the only one
Of punctuations marks, common and lesser used,
that keep sentences from over-run. (ning each other)

It's really very simple:
A tiny little dot
To separate my sentences
And make reading less headache-fraught.

Maybe it's about the order,
Organization and proper pace,
But judging by how my house looks
Those values don't hold a high place...

So I guess it's more about talking;
I'm pretty good at that.
I want to be read just the way that I sound
Not a jumble of words to fall flat.

I wish more people could understand
The service that you provide.
You're free, and you want to be used and loved
Statements happily you will divide.

But I must admit, you're a character.
I think that's your biggest flaw.
With limits on numbers of symbols we use
Your end of the deal is raw.

But still, I will never abandon you!
You mean too much to me.
You're worth every space that you take on the page,
As important as A, B or C.

note: this "poem" is the perfect example of exactly how poor my understanding of the usage of punctuation is, but the period? I'm pretty confident in my usage of that one. Dear, dear period.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Give It Up For A Wonderful Husband

I used to be a wearer of heels. Not like every day or anything, since it wasn't really such a big thing back then, but I almost always wore high heels to church. I always felt so feminine, so sophisticated, so much taller than usual.

I used to dance, too. Oh, how I loved to dance. I would dance and dance and dance at any opportunity. As a teen I was a highly skilled dancer of the Bobby Brown and a hundred other moves (the names of which escape me now, thankfully) that made younger teens, and some humble older ones, crowd around me and my sister at tri-stake dances for lessons on how to look as awesome as we did on the dance floor.

Oh, how I loved to dance. I gave up most of those specific dances that immediately shout "EARLY NINETIES!!!" when I went off to college (because by then it was almost mid-nineties and those dances were so last season), but I still loved to dance. There were few things that made me feel more happy and free than moving to music.

But one of the things that did make me feel more happy and free was when I was hanging out with my friend Grzegorz. Man, I loved that. So much so, in fact, that I thought it would be worth it to give up some of the things I loved for the privilege of hanging out with him for the rest of ... ever.

I don't wear heels anymore. Grzegorz is not a fan. Although I may have felt feminine and sophisticated (and taller) in them, he thought it just looked awkward and impractical. Bye-bye, pumps. (I did get to wear them for my brother's wedding a couple of years ago and learned that it's just like riding a bike: if you haven't done it for ten years, you're bound to be rather wobbly at it.)

I don't dance in public places anymore. My enjoyment of dances and the frequenting of dance clubs came to an abrupt halt. Grzegorz doesn't dance. I don't go dancing without him. The end.

And I'm okay with that. Of course there are times I resent it a tiny bit, but only when I forget that it's worth it. So worth it. What was that definition of sacrifice? Giving up something good for something better? Yes. That's just exactly how I would define my "losses". Something good for something WAY better.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Throw it Away so it Doesn't Go to Waist

Just after Easter we kept hearing on the radio about a campaign to keep people from wasting food. They encouraged people not to buy more than they need, gave tips for things to make with various holiday leftovers and talked about how people who throw food away are worse human beings than those who don't.

You probably won't be surprised that I'm going to share my thoughts on the matter. First a disclaimer: I try not to waste food. I plan menus before I do my weekly shopping so I know pretty much exactly what I will need and pretty much always end up using it all. I don't pile my kids' plates high with food that they won't eat, but give them tiny little portions that they must finish as a minimum but they can go back for more if they want. If I make something that we'll have leftovers of, I make sure it will be enough leftovers to have for another entire dinner so it doesn't sit and go bad in the fridge. When it's a popular dinner, this occasionally means telling everyone, "no, you can't have any more, it's for dinner tomorrow."

I am so waste conscious, in fact, that I go to great lengths to ensure that we never have to throw out cookies because they've gone stale. I'm always careful to have all baked goods eaten by the next day. Yes, this sometimes means that I personally have to be eating cookies/cake/muffins all day long, but that is a price I'm willing to pay. When people write in a recipe that the cookies "stay good for 3 days in an airtight container" or something, I'm always thinking how much more careful I am not to waste than that person, who tempted fate and almost let the cookies go bad.

Still, I've never quite understood the "think of all the starving children" thing. Yes, there are children who are starving, and that's terrible, but to a kid it's probably like the equivalent of telling a grown woman to apply her make-up liberally because there are plenty of women in the world who don't have any make-up at all.

I agree we should be grateful for what we have and use it wisely, but how does my not leaving any crumbs help the person in Africa who wishes he had crumbs? (I so wish it could somehow)

I have seen people, stuffed to the point of splitting their pants, clean their plate because they didn't want to waste any food. Isn't it more of a waste to force yourself to gag food down when you neither need nor want it?

I've mentioned before what a fan Greg is of capitalism. About all the "don't waste" talk, Greg said, well, the truth is, one of the best things you can do to help those who don't have enough food (besides donating to food shelters etc.) is to buy more food than you need." He then proceeded to explain and, while I can't remember what he said, I do remember that it made perfect sense, so if you have a better brain than me, or were raised under communism and now have an affinity for capitalism, it may make sense to you, too. (I just asked him and he said that it's about the economy and how when people buy more stuff it's better for everyone. So yeah, that makes sense. And is pretty elementary, which tells you what kind of brain I have.)

Well, I'm not going to go out and buy twice as many groceries as I think I'll use, but the next time we eat out and I have more food than I can eat, but not enough to take the rest home, I'm going to leave it on the plate and let them throw it out. Because there's one other argument for throwing food out sometimes: I'd rather waste it than let it go to waist.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Things that I think are weird:

That Greg and I rented and watched Green Zone without knowing it. Greg went to get The Bourne Supremacy and the DVD had no title on it, just a picture of Matt Damon and the case was clear. We watched and I briefly wondered why Jason Bourne was now Roy Miller hunting WMD in Iraq and how so many bad words got into a PG-13 movie. Seriously, it wasn't until the next day when I looked up the movie and found that the synopsis didn't match the movie we watched. I was glad because I really had hoped Jason would find out more about his history and was confused that he hadn't. (duh)

That Poles serve ice cream on a plate, and I've seen them eat it with a fork before (I think Greg's mom once asked me if I wanted a fork or spoon with mine, or maybe my memory is exaggerating the weirdness of this). There is a chance that this is more Greg's family than all Poles. I will have to ask around.

That the facial cleanser I use, which is all things organic and earth friendly, comes in a plastic tube. Just kidding. That's understandable, but the wooden lid that made it look so enticing to me turns out to be absolutely unnecessary, and therefore a complete waste of natural resources. I only thought about this when the wood cracked and the regular plastic lid beneath was revealed. (because I totally fell for the marketing trick: it has wood, therefore it's natural and earthy, therefore it is good. Duh again.)

The length of some little boys' eyelashes.

That the packaging on a kid's drink bottle had "SUFER" printed in big, happy bubble letters. I'm not sure if they put an F on accident where they meant to put a P or if they left out the other F.

That a word that makes little American boys giggle can be found on products and even used as company names in Poland because in Polish it means "luck".

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Biology of Motherhood and a Question of Opinion

The girls in one of my English discussion classes (two 16 year olds) are pretty much everything I hope my Evie will be. They're responsible, thoughtful, hard-working and fun. But they hate biology. I tell them that this is a tragedy. Biology is awesome and interesting, I tell them. I also tell them a lot of other things. Anything I want. This week I will tell them about EFY in Germany and that they're totally invited.

But biology really is awesome. Although I know where my students are coming from. In 10th grade I hated it, too. My teacher sat at the overhead projector and wrote notes for us to copy all class period, every class period. Extremely boring. But then I moved on to AP Bio. With Mr. Margve. Oh, Mr. Margve was the best. He looked like he was wearing one of those fake nose and mustache thingies, only without the glasses. (as a matter of fact, my AP US History teacher was his good friend/rival, and they always played jokes on each other like Mr. M would send a dissected rat as a gift to Mr. T in the middle of class and Mr. T dressed for Halloween with a nose and mustache--glasses removed--and wearing a nametag that said "Mr. Margve".)

He had a passion for biology. He drew pictures on the board and used jokes and grand arm gestures. He made the floor of the lab into gigantic cells with paper parts so we could learn about transcription and other cellular functions by physically making it happen ourselves. I loved it all and remember much of it. I don't believe I have ever used terms like knee cap, shoulder blade, collar bone, or thigh bone, thanks to Mr. Margve. (patella, scapula, clavicle and femur for me, thanks!)

I think that is why I am so deeply in love with this song. I have an affection for biology anyway (up to the most basic college level. :) and it's a true geek song, sung by a true geek. I don't claim to be a geek AT ALL, but one who can appreciate geekiness, when properly expressed.

(as a side note, I think of the term "geek" and in smaller measure "nerd" to mean one who is overly excited about and interested in science or technology or other brainy things (with or without the social ineptness. For this reason I have never quite gotten it when people call themselves Harry Potter geeks, or worse, Twilight geeks. I am still trying to convince myself that the term can also apply to anyone who is knowledgeable about or interested in most anything, and that it doesn't necessarily have to be intellectual. (I always remind myself of how Annette tells us that language evolves and sometimes people use a term improperly enough that it becomes an actual definition, and that maybe that's the case here.)

This song is delightful (to me), the perfect balance of tackiness, catchiness, humor and just all around geekiness. I have it running through my head pretty constantly since Melancholy Smile linked to it the other day. You should really watch it, just in case it brings you as much joy as it brings me. You will learn exactly why slightly more than half of everything your children are is thanks to you. A Biologist's Mother's Day Song:

And now, a question of opinion.

I have never wanted to advertise on my blog. I have only ever wanted my blog to contain things that I personally want and choose to have on it. But now I have a dilemma.

A friend of mine (or two) has written regular, Melissa-esque blog posts that sounds exactly like her and are things that I know she would write about. They're just normal blog posts. Then at the end you read that the post was sponsored. And you think, what? Wasn't that Melissa? Yes. That was definitely Melissa. I enjoyed the post exactly as I would have without the sponsorship note at the end.

So this is a new and awesome way to monetize your blog and I'm thinking that I might want to try it. But I don't want it to feel like I'm not being real or something. But I figure, if a song about biology can inspire a post (however lame) about my AP Bio teacher, why not just let an advertisement inspire a post? For example, Melissa had one sponsored by a clothing company and she wrote about how terrible her own wardrobe is. I could write a post about my wardrobe (couldn't any woman?) and it would be just as real and natural as writing any other post that was triggered by something I saw or heard.

At least I think. But I'm just wondering, not to ask your permission, but I'm just curious as to how you feel about that? Have you read posts sponsored by Broadcast Bloggers ads? Does it feel weird to you? Wrong? Do you care?

Because I've never cared if people I like have their sidebars plastered with ads (I've seen some people complain that they don't like it), but this new way to monetize, while being slightly more in your face, is also a good way to get ideas for blog posts (I think, I still don't know exactly how it works) and still write from your own brain and heart, but also make some money (which some people are rather in need of, from what I understand...)

Anway, do you have thoughts? I mean, on the subject of this type of monetizing?

Sincerely, Lisa


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

For Life

"Doesn't this muesli look so good?" I said, holding up the unopened box and pointing to the little window that revealed the freeze-dried berries and granola inside. While Evie and David agreed that it looked delicious I made fake-but-sincere sobbing sounds.

"It's cereal, mom." Ev said, with the sound of eye rolling in her voice.

Yeah. She should talk. Just a few mornings before she told me about a horrible dream she had. She volunteered to go back to the Millar's house to get something. She said it felt so weird being in that now-empty place. She walked slowly around and stopped in front of the picture of Ellyvan, drawn in marker on the living room wall by 4 year old Max. She almost cried in the telling of this dream.

Yesterday Aaron kept including Max in his listing of our family members using toys, "This one's Evie, this one's Dad, this is Spencer, this one can be Max and this one is David."

The Millars, our American friends have moved back to that country. The muesli was from a box of goodies they brought us from their kitchen as they packed up their home (there were also boxes of toys and Christmas decorations!).

We got to celebrate one last holiday with them the day before they left. We had an Easter egg hunt in a nearby beech tree forest. It was fun and warm and almost all the foliage was on the ground-- the dried brown leaves of yesteryear. Those and lots and LOTS of dry sticks and branches making what I'd imagined would be a beautiful stroll through a green springtime wonderland more of a crunching hike through a monotone (brown) obstacle course, but it was still fun.

In fact, anything we did with the Millars was fun. Holidays, FHE, having church at our house, yummy dinners and treats. Fun! But I never cared as much about what we did as the fact we got to spend time with them.

Because those guys are awesome. They share their history so openly and it wasn't always about major athletic achievements and (practically)perfect families. Those have been some of the blessings that have come to them because of their awesomeness. They have been through a LOT and, instead of taking the easy road and using their crises as an excuse to take whatever road THEY want, they've let their trials shape them into really good people who try to do what the Lord wants them to.

This includes being where he wants them to be and I know that they were supposed to come to Poland, in part to be a blessing for our family. I'm so grateful they came. I'm so grateful for their sweet, super sweet little boys. Baby Oliver of the squishy cheeks and beautiful blue eyes and friendly Max and his desire to help and knack for always saying the right and cutest things. Once he asked the blessing on our food and after he said "amen" he looked up and saw that Spencer was starting to climb up the stairs so he quickly closed his eyes and folded his arms again and asked for Spencer to be safe while he's playing on the stairs. Seriously sweet boy.

Ryan sets such a good example wherever he goes. When his volleyball games are on Polish TV the commentators (announcers?) refer to him as Ryan Millar and/or the "sympatyczny Amerykanin", the nice/friendly/likable American. He smiled more in one game than any other player probably in all the games combined. He's funny and kind and looks for ways to share the important things he believes. Awesome.

Then there's Suzanne. What can a person say about THAT lady? She is such a loving and encouraging mother and a sympathetic and helpful friend. She always has something she's read recently that she draws on for strength for herself or shares to strengthen others. I love it. I want to be like that. She's seriously beautiful, but not at all intimidating because she is just so real and open and friendly. Love her. Such an example of a woman of faith.

I'm grateful for the Millars and that they came and provided an extremely welcome break from feeling isolated and so far away from people who understand me. And I love that, even after having only had them as "neighbors" for about a half a year, they are now lifelong friends. That is something you don't get every day, and better than gold.