Saturday, February 23, 2008


With The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils (French for "junior"). The book was first published in 1848 and went on to inspire numerous plays, films, and operas. I was inspired to read it after rereading The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas, senior, for my book club. I expected to lose myself in another tale of love and passion, swooning from the drama and distraction of it all. Mostly I just slogged my way through and cursed myself for always having to finish a book once I start.

This is the story of a young man who falls head over heels in love with a "kept woman." He is willing to give up everything he has for her love, and she loves him too much to allow him to do it. That part, I suppose, is beautiful. So, thinketh I, is this quote:

"Why do we make ourselves more strict than Christ? Why, holding obstinately to the opinions of the world, which hardens itself in order that it may be thought strong, do we reject, as it rejects, souls bleeding at wounds by which, like a sick man's bad blood, the evil of their past may be healed, if only a friendly hand is stretched out to lave them and set them in the convalescence of the heart?" Lady of the Camellias, pg. 25

Admittedly, I had to look up the word "lave" to fully understand the above (lave, by the way, means to refresh or soothe as if by washing), and, admittedly, were I as smart as my parents I would readily have scriptures and/or quotes to go along with that passage. But I'm not, so I don't. I do really like the imagery, though, that the passage brings to my mind: the contrast between something hardening and constricting itself, like stones or hard-packed soil, versus the releasing liberation of letting something painful go, like watching a handful of mud disintegrate in a flowing stream...I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote sometime, somewhere, about how we, in trying to protect our heart by putting it in a locked box, instead find it atrophied and hardened against future use. I am also reminded of the Bible's story of the woman who came to Jesus and bathed His feet with her tears. Isn't that what we have to do--keep our heart out and available, even though it is assuredly going to get hurt, and then wash away our sins and mistakes with tears and sorrow at Christ's feet? Yes. I like the picture of things breaking up and flowing far far away from me.

Now I know that's not really what the passage is about. It's about the compassion and healing we can give to others by not hardening ourselves in pride and judgement against them. And it calls for us to be more Christ-like in our dealings with others. Christ has promised us His help and forgiveness, in fact, a complete washing away of all stains and sins (there's that water/washing idea again) if they/we come to Him with a broken (not hardened and stony) and contrite heart. Interestingly enough--at least to me--the word contrite originally meant to grind down into small pieces, and, oh, there's that picture in my mind again of things dissolving into the stream, washing themselves away, away, away...So anyway, let's all just be nice, okay. Think how much better off we'd all be if we could look at and treat others without judgement. Believe me, I'm as guilty as anyone! Just mention the word preschool and I'm bound to show my hardness towards others right off.

Anyway, the book is all about how hardness and judgement ruin the fun for everyone. So does consumption.

A while ago my Uncle Larry asked me what made the Twilight Series so appealing to women. My proposed theory was that most women have this deep down yearning for someone to adore them, full body and soul. That's what we see in Edward and his love for Bella. That, by the way, is also what's seen in this book, but this time it just made me nauseous. Armand, our young lover boy, cries and carries on, often unable to keep his tears from falling as he thinks of his love, Marguerite. He must touch what she has touched, see what she has seen, hear whatever words she has spoken. It's obnoxious. He's ridiculous. But apparently it touched the readers of the day enough to want it produced over and over again. There's no need for you to read the book: there are over 20 films based on the story, 2 ballets, several plays, and you could always go listen to La Traviata, 'cause this is where that came from, too. Just think what Twilight could become through the ages!

Friday, February 22, 2008


Last week Evan went to the Sweetheart's Dance and he drove other teenagers for the first time. I was a little bit nervous about him playing chauffeur, but he made it home, and so did the other kids, so all was well. Plus, he sure makes for a handsome, polite, and very nice date. Smart girl to ask him to the dance! He came home that night and told us that now he understands why we've been bugging him about dining etiquette: he said he saw someone eat that night the way he usually eats dinner at home, and he never wants to eat that way again. I'm a little afraid to think what that other person looked like at dinner, but I'm grateful to whatever it or who it is that helps my boys be better!

Then came Valentine's Day. Lane asked if I could take him to buy "some Valentine stuff" and I have to admit, that scared me a little, too. I'm thrilled that he wants to do something nice for someone else, and thrilled that he's into girls...but he's just so close in age to when it all gets real and he starts dating and thinking he is king of the world (oh, wait! We're already there!). I was greatly relieved when I found out he wanted to buy "Valentine stuff" for 12 girls, and not just one! That's the kind of 15 year old boy I like, and so do about 12 other girls.

Scariest of all, though, was Joshua. A girl from his school class invited him to her birthday party, which is fine and dandy with me. Apparently, though, this made for more than just normal "yahoo-I-get-to-go-to-a-birthday-party" excitement for Joshua. My first inklings that this girl might matter to Joshua came as we were arguing over a gift for young Maddie. Joshua wanted to take my $10 (the family limit for birthday party gifts) and add another $20 of his own funds to buy her a gift card or a movie and an outfit. Joshua, by the way, never wants to spend his own money! Mean mom that I am, I would not relent. But neither would he, until I finally said that if he bugged me about it again he wouldn't go at all! He stopped bugging, and we went shopping this afternoon for the gift. I was looking at cute hair bands and lip gloss and such (the girl is 9) when Joshua said, "Mom, you don't understand. Maddie is not that kind of girl. She's much more mature than that kind of stuff." Uh, oh. My fear-factor continued to rise when Joshua wanted to hurry home from the store so that he could take a shower before the party! I didn't feel much better when he came upstairs wearing cologne and deodorant and was working for the perfect hair flip in the bathroom!

He changed his outfit twice before we left, and was deep breathing in the back of the van in order to calm himself as we drove to the party! For all his nervousness, he came home tonight energized, exultant, exuberant, and full of stories from the evening! He came home happy, and I just became terrified!

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Well I'm not, but Michael is! "Happy Birthday to Michael! Happy Birthday to Michael! Happy Birthday dear Michael! Happy Birthday to Michael!" What?! I can't hear you!

Yeah, it looks like 40 is going to be a hard year on Michael...

Michael spent the day skiing with the whole Vance clan (minus the few of us who are not worth the $$ it costs to fall down the slopes, meaning that I didn't go!). Then we went with some friends to a concert featuring some local artists. It was very lovely; most particularly the last song which was about a father's love. It was a tear-jerker.

Michael recovered enough to come home and open some presents. Here he is, digging for the goods!

He didn't find much, (since at the moment I can't afford much), but he did get what really matters: something so he can still make WHOOPEE!

Happy Birthday, Honey! We sure do love you!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The washer is broken (the drum is completely rusted through, and they don't make that part anymore). The microwave is broken (but a big thank you to friends who are letting us use theirs until I get another one...or follow favorite friend Troy's lead and just leave microwaves alone entirely). The vacuum is broken (there are some disadvantages to having your kids help with the housework; like that they might vacuum up a sock, or a plastic bag, or a fish hook. Or that there is even a fish hook on the floor to be vacuumed up in the first place...). The fridge is broken (well, the water dispenser in the fridge is broken). The sink is broken (unless you don't mind having to empty out the container underneath the sink everytime you use it--then it's not broken). The printer is broken. The car door is broken. The silverware drawer is broken. But Michael and I are great. We are not broken, and I'll take that over any house full of working parts. We work.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I have looked at this screen long enough! I've actually looked at this screen for several days now, and still have nothing to tell you. I am boring.
I get up in the morning and get my kids (including the husband) where they are supposed to be, in the clothes they are supposed to be in, with food either in their bellies or in a sack for later.
I do laundry and dishes and walk the dog and feed the bird and then maybe eventually get into the shower.
I go to preschool.
I come home and get my kids (not so much the husband) where they are supposed to be, in the clothes they are supposed to be in, with food either in their bellies or in a sack for later.
I do more laundry and more dishes and feed the dog and clean the bird cage and then maybe, if I have some extra time I a) read a book or b) watch the Gilmore Girls. Sometimes I switch it up and a) watch the Gilmore Girls or b) read a book.
That's my life. I am boring.