Monday, December 31, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
I also finished and turned in my graduate school applications. I did three of them; for a while I was considering doing more, including some in other areas of the country besides the West. Then I decided that I didn't want to. If these three don't work out, then I'll take some time to decide what to do from there. For some reason lately I've been feeling an urge to slow down and really decide how I want to spend my time. I've been feeling more domestic; I think I'd rather get my sewing machine fixed than start a dissertation right now. It's probably a combination of reading a bunch of feminist literature and a bunch of magazines like Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens over vacation. I'm feeling empowered as a woman: empowered to be more domestic!
Really I think I'm just at a point where I'm trying to make some sense of my life. For most of the last decade I've been in school. If I get into a PhD program that would be great. But if I don't, I think I'm ready to transition out of the "student" frame of mind. I'm turning 30 in the spring. I thought this would make me feel some sort of panic about my lost youth, but instead I feel a sense of expanding possibility. I look at what I've done over the last decade and realize that I've already accomplished a lot. I got married and had two children; I completed my bachelor's and master's degrees; I served a mission; I've grown and matured in a lot of ways. Many of my personal heroes are women who didn't even go to graduate school until their forties. I enjoy teaching part-time and I enjoy being able to spend time with my children. I think more than anything I'm realizing that I still have a lot of life left and that if I don't feel like doing it all right now it's OK. Now I'm going to get off the computer and go cook dinner.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
This is Loli (and me with a lovely langostino). She invited us over for Christmas dinner and it was hard to say no. Somehow the elders tracked her down although she had been inactive for years. She loved to have us over for lunch, though most of the food was fairly inedible. Loli had had a hard life and lived with her mother, who was senile and would scream swear words at her and at us (she thought we were nuns). We did get Loli to come to church with us at least once while I was there, so I hope that she's doing OK now.
I love this picture because it's pretty typical of a visit to our favorite Armenian family's house. Arrus and her husband joined the church while living in Germany (they left Armenia after a devastating earthquake killed many of their family members). Even though they were still learning Spanish, they were stalwart members of the ward. They would invite the entire zone over to their little apartment and stuff us full of Russian food. They did also have a bunch of Armenian friends that they referred to the missionaries, so the ward had a little colony of expatriates. We usually stayed late at their apartment and ended up having to run to catch the last train (they lived out on the edge of the city) with our bellies stuffed full of food.
This is another Armenian family that we became friends with shortly before I left. They had recently arrived in Madrid and had very few possessions. I gave most of my clothes to the girls when I came home. I have no idea if they got baptized or not. At the time that I was there they were still "friends of the missionaries" and taking English classes at the church. The mom barely spoke Spanish and didn't speak English, but she was always gracious and generous. They gave us a giant box of Russian chocolates that made our entire apartment smell like liquor.
This is me with Manoli and her husband on my last Sunday in the mission. Jose didn't usually attend church, but he came down to the chapel to see me before I left. Manoli had joined the church a number of years ago, but couldn't always attend because her elderly mother lived with them and needed constant care. Her husband is a physician and works some Sundays, so Manoli had to stay home. We had a set appointment each week for "merienda" (kind of like tea time) with Manoli so we could chat about church and things. She had a secret agenda--she hoped Jose would get to know us and start to like the church more. During the three months I was in the area he actually really warmed up to me and my companion and would sit and chat with us about all kinds of things, like Spanish history and politics and even gospel topics occasionally. Because Jose was working on Christmas Eve, Manoli invited us over for supper. We had traditional salt cod, with white asparagus and mayonnaise, of course. I really felt close to this couple and do wonder how they are doing. I realize as I write this post that I haven't kept in touch with anyone from my mission. Well, a few of the other missionaries, but that's it. I hope that they knew that I cared, and that I still do care about them. Christmas is often a time to reconnect with old friends and to celebrate friendship. I hope you enjoyed meeting some of my friends from Spain. I also hope some day I can see them again.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
We started the tradition with our very first Christmas, even though we had only been married for a month. The idea was planted in a Sunday School lesson about family history while we were engaged. The teacher pointed out that an annual letter is a great way to keep a summary of your family's history for each year. Mr. Fob is a creative writer (he has the degree to prove it), so we thought we'd put his talents to work. If you're lucky enough to get on the Thteed's mailing list you will know that ours is nothing compared to their yearly efforts. But I know that our friends and relatives love hearing about how we've been doing, just like I love reading their letters. So keep watching your mailbox and hopefully you'll get a letter sometime before New Year's. Just to cut the suspense, we are not copying all of our friends by having a baby next year. You'll have to wait until 2010 or so for that one.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I just remembered that there was a year when I was in college that my parents managed to get up and dressed before any of the rest of us did. You know everyone is getting older when the parents actually have to drag the kids out of bed to open presents!
Speaking of dance, another family tradition we had was attending a performance of The Nutcracker each year. My mom also used to make new dresses for my sister and I each year for Christmas, so the performance was a good opportunity to show off our new clothes. When I was thirteen I got to wear pantyhose and high heels for the first time. That was exciting for a few months afterward, but then I figured out how uncomfortable true beauty is and gave up that habit. I wore white pumps with frilly ankle socks to my eighth grade graduation--I'm just a fashion rebel like that.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I sometimes wonder what our children will remember as far as Christmas music goes, because we've started a tradition of buying a new CD each year. We have a varied collection that includes CDs from Elvis, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, The Vienna Boys Choir, Jewel, and a several other artists. One of my personal favorites is "It's a Cuban Christmas", and this year we got two new Hawaiian CDs that are both a lot of fun. What are your essential Christmas albums?
Monday, December 17, 2007
This is a set I made for her when I was ten years old. I remember that for years during high school I was deeply embarrassed when she would show it off to people. All I could see were the imperfections (like the cardboard sheep with one leg). The funny thing is, seeing it for the first time in at least six or seven years, I was impressed with how well it was made. Heck, I was 10 and I came up with it all by myself. I guess I must be growing up after all.
This is the set I bought for my mom when I was in Spain. Truthfully I'm a little jealous, since I didn't buy one for myself. But I have a cool set from Hawaii and hopefully some day I'll get back to Spain and can buy myself a new one. I also need to buy some turron--I've never been able to find any here in the US.
This is a fun one my mom's friend made for her. The funny thing is, as I was looking at it I kept thinking about making one for myself. I'm terrible at crafts and my sewing machine doesn't even work. Plus there's the whole teaching/going back to school thing. But this really gets my crafty urges going.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Now, I'm not thinking we actually have to act out the birth of Christ during our Nativity pageants. Birth is private for a reason; it's sacred. We believe that the soul of man is formed in the uniting of body and spirit, so what could be more sacred than the moment in which a living soul is formed? In our modern society we tend to be squeamish about bodily functions; like I said, I think they do deserve to be kept private and intimate, but I think we tend to view "private" as equal to "shameful". If you search the Bible, there are numerous references to birth, nursing mothers, and sexual union as symbols of our relationship with the Lord. God doesn't think giving birth or nursing a baby is in any way gross or shameful.
Both my babies were born in the summer so I've never had an infant at Christmas time. I have however, been pregnant for Christmas. With my first baby that mostly meant that I was nauseated and grumpy. However, there were moments of grace as well. I remember one time when Mr. Fob and I were driving away from the temple after completing a session. We were listening to the soundtrack to the movie The Preacher's Wife and Whitney Houston was singing a song called "who could imagine a king?". I've sometimes thought songs like that one and "Mary Did You Know?" are a little weird, because obviously Mary had received a witness from an angel that her baby was special. At the same time however, I realize that I've often lost track of the divine in my own children. I forget that my children come from God; I forget that they are special spirits trapped in little bodies. I think I like Christmas because it reminds us that we are divine beings having a mortal experience. All of us, even Christ, had to come to Earth to receive a body and all of us have some divinity within us.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Also, I love our Christmas tree. I like the fancier trees with matching ornaments and a theme, but I'll admit that I still think my family's is the best. We have ornaments that are over thirty years old on there, and it's so fun to reminisce about each one as we put them up. The foam ornament my second grade teacher gave me that has a big bite from our dog in it. The corduroy gingerbread men with rickrack trim that my mom made so the kids could have soft things to play with on the tree. The paper plate angel my little brother made that sits on top. It's so fun to have the memories. I think I would like to start a tradition for my family of buying a Christmas ornament every place we travel. We've been to a lot of cool places already, but it's not too late to start, right?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
On Sunday we were getting ready for church and I was trying to find my tights. S-Boogie had gotten herself ready earlier and was wearing a pair of tights that were too big. I assumed she had borrowed them from her older cousin so I thought I'd just let it go. Then I looked in the suitcase and realized that she had put on my tights. It was hard to convince her to switch because I couldn't wear hers.
We ran into a tumbleweed that blew across the road in southern Utah. It was as wide as the front of our car and stuck in the grill. We got it off by pulling off on an exit and braking quickly. Then we ran over it and got it stuck to the bottom of the car. It finally managed to get completely free when we went over a cattle guard.
The last few miles of Interstate 15 before you reach Las Vegas are surrounded by trash. The desert is covered with glinting plastic bags and other detritus. It's an appropriate welcome to the town, I think.
My dad has a new hobby of collecting plastic bowls shaped like Ninja Turtles. We had a few that we originally got during the early 90s, but he's decided to expand the collection. His latest find is two boxes of Ninja cereal, still in their original plastic wrapping. Some of you may inherit precious antiques from your parents; I'm getting Ninja Turtle bowls. I hope I get Leonardo--he's always been my favorite.
This morning we discovered that Little Dude likes to eat cat food. Yum.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
The main thing I'm stressed about is that we finally got the movie Volver from the library and if we don't watch it tonight we'll have to wait another four months. Of course, we could also just rent it and watch it with my parents. They might like it.
I'm also a little nervous to take Little Dude on a trip because he's been acting very difficult this week. It's like he's got some kind of toddler PMS or something. Yesterday and the day before he cried hysterically every time I tried to put him in his bed for a nap. I'm scared to try again today, but neither of us can get through the day without a nap for him. Plus he's done the tantrum over the carseat, breakfast tantrum involving throwing bananas, the tantrum over mommy going to work, etc. I think it's a combo of multiple teeth coming in coupled with increasing awareness of his own power and our power to stifle his will. Such terrible angst to have at such a young age!
I went to DI this morning to drop stuff off and, against my better judgement, went in and spent money. However, I was most happy to find a cute, knit hat for Little Dude that he actually kept on his head. Not only that, it was the perfect shade of red and blue to match his coat and it cost 9 dollars less than the hat I got the other day at Target. I'm glad I saved my receipt from that one. Of course I negated the money saved by splurging on new pants and a shirt, but we aren't going to think about that. I also found a cool cookie scoop for only a quarter. I love DI!
Does anyone out there know a good, cheap place for kids haircuts in either Utah Valley or Vegas? If you do, email me.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Now, more than two years and five hundred posts later, I'm still happy with blogging. I know this blog is somewhat eclectic in its content, but I like the fact that it reflects my interests. I like to cook, so sometimes I post recipes. I like to read and watch movies. I like to get outraged over trivial issues or perceived injustices. I like to get outraged over real injustices. Now I can do it all in my own space. I'm thankful that over the last few years I've also been able to keep my space relatively sheltered. I recently signed up for a network that provides ads as well as links to my blog. I will be honest and say that I did it mostly to get a little extra money. I also like the extra attention. However, I do have mixed feelings about this because I like my little community here. I love the conversations I can have with my internet friends and I'm always wary to expand the circle.
Now that blogging is becoming entrenched as a social phenomenon there has been a lot of debate about blogs. Are they simply showcases for narcissistic bragging? Are they just another way for people to hide behind an idealized facade? Am I just wearing a mask? Surely this is in some way true. The things I post, the links I put up, even the name of my blog, are all things carefully chosen to reflect values that I have. At the same time, I don't think this is always a bad thing. For me, sometimes masks and roles help me branch out and find new facets of my self that I want to nourish in some way. I love the many communities of bloggers that are out there. I visit a variety of sites that all speak to different parts of my soul. Most of the time, this is an enriching environment for growth. And so, I am going to keep blogging. I'm going to keep posting all kinds of things about myself and my world, from the mundane to the substantial. I'm interested to see where the next five hundred posts take me and I hope my readers want to come along for the ride too.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I'd always assumed this book was from the nineteenth century until I checked it out and realized that it was written in the 1970s. I also realized after reading it that I probably would have loved it when I was ten. Instead I read it in about an hour and wasn't all that impressed. It was an intriguing premise, but the book felt like it could have done so much more with the idea.
She Got Up Off the Couch (And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana) by Haven Kimmel
I really liked A Girl Named Zippy because it was so ordinary, not like so many recent "problem memoirs" that seem to try and outdo each other with how horrific the authors' lives were. Even though Kimmel here reveals more about her family than I expected based on the first book, I still found this to be a very positive book. I loved the fact that she can look back on her childhood and still see things with a child's eyes. She presents the world in the way she saw it at age nine, and I think that really resonated with me because my life has often been the same way. Looking back at my life I can see things that were very different from how I perceived them at the time, but I'm glad I had my rose-tinted glasses on as a kid. This is one of the best memoirs I've read in a long time, and Kimmel's mom really is heroic.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
This book was a lot easier to read than I thought it would be on first glance. His central thesis is that our abundance of choices actually wastes time and contributes to anxiety and depression because we have to spend so much time wading through information. I thought his links between choice, the illusion of control, and depression were pretty interesting. Some parts of the book I didn't totally agree with, but I thought it a good read with some useful practical applications as well.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Halfway through this book I realized that I should have checked it out in the original Spanish. I really don't know why I got the English version. The translation felt pretty solid, but I just kept getting bugged by little things that I'm used to reading in Spanish (like foods--"omelet sandwich" just hurts my ears). I thought this was a pretty good, but I wasn't blown away like many people seem to be. It feels a lot like five or six other recent Spanish novels I've read, and it's not the best one of the lot.
The Storyteller's Daughter by Saira Shah
This book was quite compelling, especially as a memoir and exploration of personal myth and identity. If you are looking for concrete facts about the history of Afghanistan this isn't really the best source, but I enjoyed it and found her story quite intriguing.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Well, now I can finally say that I've read this book. I can understand now why it made such an impact at the time of its publication as well as why it continues to do so. It's well written, and it's been around long enough to become a "classic". At the same time, I've read enough YA fiction about cynical, alienated adolescents to feel somewhat bored with this book. I guess I didn't catch it at the right time in my life.
There's No Jose Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants by Gabriel Thompson
I thought this was a very interesting look at the friendship between the author and a Mexican immigrant in New York. The author gets to know Enrique and his family and even travels with them to Mexico for several weeks. However, unlike the implication of the subtitle, I didn't feel like the book did much to draw conclusions or comment on generalities of the immigrant experience. There is some commentary about immigration, but the book itself was mostly personal. And I kept feeling bad because I had hoped the book would dispel some of my stereotypes of Mexican men as overly macho men who use profanity and drink too much. Unfortunately it didn't.
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
Although I can see some of the critiques of this book as valid, I still liked it quite a bit. As several reviews pointed out, it shouldn't be the only book you read on female behavior or adolescent behavior. It did make me very grateful that S-Boogie's preschool is already teaching her basic relationship and problem-solving skills. I never experienced much bullying or aggression in school; I wasn't even close to the popular crowd and I'm generally oblivious to all but the most overt aggression. I still drew a lot of lessons from this book, although it scared me to death thinking about my daughter growing up.
I think this book is most effective as a memoir rather than as a definitive text on Islam and women. In the first place, it covers only Muslims from the Middle East--which is where Brooks' experience lies--but the majority of Muslim women live in Africa and Asia. Also, it was published over ten years ago and some parts of it seem rather dated. At the same time, I found it well-written and engaging. I feel like I learned a lot more about Islam than I knew before and got to know a variety of interesting women.
The Lives of Others
I already mentioned this one shortly after seeing it, but I don't mind recommending it again. The story was fascinating, the acting excellent, and the cinematography well-done. A very thought-provoking movie.
Philip Seymour Hoffman does a fabulous job channeling Capote and the movie is an interesting commentary on the relationship between author and subject. But I thought it was a bit on the slow side. Beautiful, but a bit boring.
We were in the mood for a silly movie, but this really didn't work for us. There were a few funny moments, but the characters were all too stereotypical and the ending didn't feel right at all.
This movie was my first introduction to Jane Austen and will always have a soft spot in my heart. It's been a few years since I've seen it and I was glad to find out that I still enjoy it. The actors do a great job and I especially love all the details in the costuming, set design, editing, dialogue, and music.
This is the perfect sort of movie to watch after Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lot of fun and the action sequences were awesome. Plus I found myself really liking the main characters and the story itself was fairly compelling as well.
Mr. Fob wanted to watch this movie after hearing about it in a class he is taking on immigration in Europe. It was really good; the characters are interesting, the story has a lot of twists and turns, and the cinematography is innovative and original. The violence of a few scenes had me cringing, but other than that I quite enjoyed this movie.