Makes-Me-Smile Monday Preview: Declare your independence!

picasso-flower-bouquet-logo-copy1.jpgIn honor of the Fourth of July, MMSM this Monday (July 2) will follow the theme “I declare my independence from…” I hope our great founders wouldn’t mind my being inspired to throw off the tyrannies, both superficial and profound, that keep me from being free. Here are some of my favorite lines from the Declaration of Independence. God bless America! 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness … it is the Right of the People … to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; … that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, … And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes and our sacred Honor.

If you can read the whole declaration (and if you’re American) without getting just a bit teary-eyed, you might want to see someone about that: you could be missing some vital organ.

Are you working?

The other day I was at a playgroup when a mother of three who works as a physical therapist asked me that searching philosophical question: “Are you working?” Okay, okay, I know she probably didn’t mean it as an opening salvo in the mommy wars. She just wanted to know if I get paid for a job I do outside my home. Or maybe a paycheck for a job I do inside my home would count too? Or if my husband and children paid me for what I do? Can I bring myself to quit the field, say “No, I’m not working,” and leave it at that? Apparently not.


Are you working?

No, I’m just…

  • Producing more milk than a Jersey cow

  • Stimulating the minds of extremely brilliant, one-might-even-say-gifted (if one were the bragging sort) children through constant activity and meaningful interaction.

  • Shopping for enough food to stuff the faces of 5 people every 3 hours

  • Changing 11 diapers, 2-3 of them poopy, 1-2 of them toxic

  • Reading Dr. Seuss over and over till I dream of green eggs and ham

  • Driving a (very small but very loud) band of hooligans to the mall, the Y, the park, the beach, the library, the zoo, and Busch Gardens

  • Turning neon Mac & Cheese into a gourmet feast with peas and wieners

  • Smelling one too many pairs of stinky panties while trying to separate the laundry

  • Keeping a smallish house relatively clean (not in-law-drop-in-worthy every day, just enough-to-fool-husband-that-I’ve-been-extremely-busy-all-day)

  • Reading, writing, blogging, thinking (ask Thoreau: this takes a lot of energy).

  • Nodding supportively to husband in appropriate places during extremely thought-provoking conversations

  • Running miles upon miles to retain (regain?) my girlish figure lost through 3 1/2 pregnancies and too many brownies to count

  • IM’ing and emailing people of the highest character about earth-shattering items of national significance (other stay-at-home moms about the (non)progress our toddlers are making in potty-training).

Or, as I tell my husband on those rare days that he badly phrases a question and I answer in kind:


(Dick): Are you doing anything today?

(Me): No. I thought I’d lie on the couch all day and watch some soaps.

How the other half lives

Well, we made it to Zion (Utah) a couple days ago. I realize that Zion: the promised land, the land of milk and honey, Xanadu — the Coleridge fantasy, not the Olivia Newton-John musical — is different for everyone. But for me it continues to be Utah, despite the fact that my eyes are burning and my skin is scaling off and I get lightheaded when jogging thanks to thin air that has dangerously low levels of oxygen and moisture. Perhaps I can convince my family to join the nation-wide exodus to Tennessee (or is it North Carolina this month?).

Our flights were on time and luggage was not lost, permanently. Thanks to my wonderful parenting (or a confluence of good luck and stars in the right alignment), the only way our travels could have been better was if I had not been flying with three hooligans; the hooligan husband who could have been of some help when not falling asleep at the slightest provocation is joining us in a couple weeks).

We’re staying first with my sister Marcy and her family (husband Adam and three kids Livvy, Ali and Zac) in their fancy new house. Sally and I each in our own way confronted the reality that we are experiencing in small part how the other half lives. Sally (wiping her bum for the first time here): “Mom, this toilet paper is so soft.” And mom (drying off after her first shower here): “Wow, these towels are really thick; I wonder if Marcy has upgraded to the luxury line of linens at Target?” Nope — they’re from Pottery Barn. I dream of Pottery Barn towels, but, fortunately for my budgetary well-being, thick towels like that would never work in humid Florida.

Now, if she just stocked premium lip balm for my poor cracked lips…

Makes-Me-Smile Monday: Food

picasso-flower-bouquet-logo-copy.jpgWelcome to the Food edition of Makes-Me-Smile Monday. Favorite foods, strange food experiences, weird food allergies, and anything else related to food are on the menu today. I feel rather conflicted about food because I have so recently come to the conclusion that I must restrict myself if I want to be healthy (also: not-fat); whereas previously I have always assumed that I could eat whatever I wanted as long as I exercised more.

Food and drink appeal to the sense of taste (obviously); I could say the taste of my husband’s skin also appeals, but only if he’s showered recently. For the other senses, various art categories appeal. For hearing: music, sight: paintings/architecture, etc, touch: textiles/sculpture, smell: perfume (I’m probably reaching on this one; it’s very rare that a scent appeals to me, though the price of designer scent certainly makes it seem like Art). Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that food is an art form in some circles.


I loved trying new foods when I backpacked through Europe in college. I ate the best hotdog ever on the grounds of Notre Dame in Paris; the street vendor impaled a baguette and stuck the hotdog in. Divine. France has the best street food anywhere. I remember crepes on the West Bank and custard in Austria, yogurt (the real stuff) in Switzerland and gelato in Italy. Hmmm. None of these foods were “new,” but they were certainly much superior to their American incarnations. If you’re ever in Cairo, on the other hand, prepare to be unimpressed. Big time.

When we lived in New York City, I discovered that there are actually people who honestly like stinky cheese and gourmet olives you buy out of a barrel. Oh, and Dick and I learned that you’re not supposed to chill red wine. Good to know. We walked past an Ethiopean restaurant to get to Columbia everyday, and I couldn’t help thinking about the starving children as I walked past — why would anyone want to eat Ethiopean food, I

In Japan I had an allergic reaction to a plant we encountered on one of our few ventures into the countryside. For a week my face was covered with insanely sensitive, weeping blisters. I can’t ever leave Dick because he is the only person from that time that saw this (not sure why I feel like I need it documented); somehow we managed to not take a picture of Jane looking like the Elephant Man.

I couldn’t leave the house without scaring large men and small children. The Japanese doctors were reluctant to examine me. A few steroid shots later and I was fine. I later discovered that I’m allergic to an oil in certain plants similar to poison ivy. This includes mangos. Now I crave mangos all the time.

Which brings me back to my original thought on food. Why do I crave what I shouldn’t have? You’d think that after a while the obvious health and appearance benefits would outweigh the primeval desire for Publix white cake. But alas, that hasn’t happened yet.

I hope you have a food story or three to share. For details on the blog carnival, see the Makes-Me-Smile Monday link above. Bon Appetit!

Good thing photogenicity is not genetic (or I’d have more to apologize to my kids for)

First, our by-now-almost-regular Sunday church re-hash. I was about 20 minutes late today. And yes, this time it was on purpose; Spot fell asleep right when we should have been leaving, and I didn’t have the heart to wake her up (which only seems like a good reason when you’re already in this habit). Then, as luck (or something else) would have it, the Sunday School lesson was on the sacrament/Last Supper (John 22/Luke 13), and I couldn’t remember clearly the last time I was on time enough to take the sacrament. Probably two or three weeks, anyway. Hmmm. Well, good thing we’re on our way to Zion (Utah) on Tuesday. I think I can count on my family to whip us into shape.

Here are our latest pictures:


Sally thought Spot needed a bandana to be a cowgirl. Spot’s this close to crawling. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and … (what else?).


My poor Susan sure does have the middle child syndrome. Here she’s wearing Sally’s panties and Spot’s hat. Maybe this conflict is why she’s so hot and cold on the potty-training.


Busch Gardens is great at night! In the summer we go from 4-9 pm. (Don’t worry, that’s ice water in my special cup).


And finally, some pictures from after church again.

The carnival formerly known as Makes-Me-Smile Monday …

… will continue to be known as Makes-Me-Smile Monday for three reasons: 3) The best alternative I came up with was Mull-it-over Monday, which not only sounds like a bad hair choice, but has an even weirder-looking abbreviation (MIOM). 2) As Dick pointed out, people smile for a plethora of different reasons. One can smile in malice or with coyness; in happiness or wryly, with a little twist at the edge of the smile.

My original feeling was that anything in life (almost) can be greeted with some sort of smile as long as one takes the time to think about it in perspective and, even better, create some sort of written (or otherwise artistic) account of whatever it is that one is confronting.

But the number 1 reason to keep Makes-Me-Smile Monday is that Continue reading

Higher IQ’s and Virginity, too

What do higher IQ’s after age 12 and being twice as likely to still be a virgin at age 21 have in common? Apparently, birth order. Being the firstborn, to be precise. The average difference in IQ is 3 points (4.5 between first and third children), and seems to hold when all other factors (parent’s education, income, gender, etc) are accounted for. In cases where the oldest child dies, the next oldest obtains the higher IQ; sounds sort of mess of potage, doesn’t it? Continue reading