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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mark Twain and Food Aversions

When I was young my grandfather had a wonderful old copy of Mark Twain short stories that sat on the dresser in their guest room. I remember reading these stories, some of which still have a profound impact on my thinking today. One of the tales involved a man who is visited by his own conscience. The two engage in a lively discussion on how the conscience tortures the man but all the while the conscience (light because of the man’s current lack of guilt) slips away every time the man tries to lay hands on him. The man points out the unfairness involved with having a conscience. If he passes by a beggar without giving money he feels guilty but if he gives money he regrets contributing to an alcoholic’s habit and feels guilty anyway. He can’t win.

In the end the man’s mother shows up and weighs his conscience down with a guilt trip of epic lengths and depths, allowing the man to murder his conscience and go on a guilt free crime spree, but that’s not the point.

The point, rather, is that our moral compass isn’t always the most reliable guide. A lot of times we simply can’t win. We’re torn between neglecting our children and neglecting our spouses, between the gym and cleaning, between being polite and speaking out to point out something that someone else really shouldn’t be doing. It’s hard to weigh right from wrong. It’s hard to tell the difference between our own personal tastes and morality. Is the choice between right or wrong simply a personal preference? Like the choice between coffee and tea or apples and oranges? I have to believe that there are firm moral standards, things that are always wrong, because if it is all relative, then nothing we do, or that happens to us, really matters and that isn’t a world I want to live in.

Speaking of personal taste (and I promise this eventually winds its way back to the topic at hand), food aversions are a really annoying part of pregnancy. My first pregnancy had some mild cravings but nothing out of hand, but with this one. . . Ugh! This baby doesn’t like tomatoes, or coffee, or dark sodas, things that used to be part of my daily routine. Having this whole other person inside me has messed with my mind and my taste buds. It’s not that these items make me sick. It’s that they no longer taste good. A few sips into a cup of coffee and I realize I don’t even want to be drinking it. I put it aside and the once precious brew goes to waste.

I once had a pastor who liked to use pregnancy metaphors in his sermons (which always led my preteen imagination to the uncomfortable image of said preacher pregnant, not pretty.). I remember him telling stories of how a pregnant woman told him how glad she would be to eat what she wanted to eat again instead of what the baby wanted and how this was like having Christ in you.

While I knew that Christ in me was the hope of glory and that if anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the pregnancy thing just creeped me out at the time, but you know what? He was right.

If having a lemon sized infant in my womb can make me hate once beloved coffee, having the Son of the most high God in my very soul should make me hate what He hates and love what He loves. He should kick and fuss every time I lie or judge my neighbor rather than love them as God’s quirky creations. He should crave through me, causing me to desire good fellowship, good words, and good deeds. He should override my likes and dislikes, not destroying the nature of who I am as an individual but refining it into a more Christ-like version, a perfected version, one that sees the good but discerns the bad enough to avoid stepping in it or emulating it.

I believe that even if I get the chance to “kill” my in born conscience like Mr. Twain’s fictional man, my born again soul would have Christ at hand and that would serve me even better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Not as much energy

My pregnancy symptoms are getting better. I'm now about 13 weeks along and while I'm still tired more than I like, I'm generally feeling well. Still, I haven't had energy for things I have to do let alone things I like to do (unless by things I like to do you count sleeping and watching television in a mindless daze). I haven't been blogging at all. I've had less of an urge to crochet (though I've been making Christmas stockings and still keeping up my work on my critter crafting, google or facebook search Critters for Coryn, we're also on Etsy), and I took Coryn to the library a couple times but didn't have any desire to type up reviews.

I did keep a list of the books, and I thought I'd type up the list at least, though maybe I'll find the words to describe them now that I've gotten started.

Coryn loved Wow! Ocean! by Robert Neubecker. I didn't care for it because of the lack of text, but the pictures were fun to pour over. Each page simply said "Wow! Dolphins!" or "Wow! Seashells!" below pictures with a wide variety of the described item. Good pictures, no story.

Similarly, Angels, Angels Everywhere by Tomie DePaola had very nice pictures and limited text, but Coryn really liked the pictures.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead was my favorite in this batch. It's the story of a hardworking zookeeper who takes a sick day and is assisted by his animal friends. It's a sweet story with appealing illustrations which we enjoyed reading.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a constant favorite. Coryn is very involved with the story of how the young man tries to take a snowball home only to have it melt.

Bill and Pete by Tomie DePaola was a childhood favorite of mine. Coryn likes the story which involves an actual "bad guy" to root against and has the young crocodile hero learning his alphabet which she loves to shout along with him.

Penguins, Penguins Everywhere! by Bob Barner has cute pictures of penguins and some easy to assimilate scientific facts about them. That's all I can say for it one way or another.

Hunting the White Cow by Tres Seymour is a decent story about a girl who takes on an escaped, wild cow who no one can catch. It has good pictures and a likeable story.

Whose Mouse Are You? by Robert Kraus is one of my favorites. The little mouse starts out sad and alone and manages to bravely and cleverly solve his problems and ends the story surrounded by a loving family.

Blackout by John Rocco is a pleasingly illustrated book about a busy family, each involved with their own activities, forced out of their normal routine by an evening with the light's out.

Coryn liked Bug Safari by Bob Barner where a young boy follows a trail of ants and observes their interaction with the world and other insects. It's not a great story but as I said Coryn likes it. It's also sort of refreshing that they don't gloss over that bugs get eaten.

Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryn Falwell is a colorful, sweet story about a girl trying to learn to make origami butterflies. I like it because the girl has Coryn's issue where she gets frustrated if her art projects (or anything in Coryn's case, she gets frustrated and gives up fairly easily if things don't work out right away like she expects them to). There are also instructions to fold your own butterfly in the back of the book, but we never got around to it.

And those are our books.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Did I mention I hate "The Backyardagains?"

On our last library trip, Coryn was in an unprecedented hurry. I guess this was because I had told her she could get a cartoon and she wanted to get home and watch it NOW. As soon as she had made her selection , she ran to the children's section, grabbed a generic farm animal board book off the shelf, and tried to herd me to the check out counter while I was still wincing over the prospects of having a Backyardigans DVD in my house for the rest of the week. Even in my hurry, I managed to grab a few of my own picks, two of which she'd read before and liked and two that involved animals so I thought they would be easy sells.

It turned out, however, that she was in a strange mood all week, and only one of the books received a fair amount of attention. She asked to read Dewey:There's a Cat in the Library every night, sometimes two or three times through and completely ignored my other choices.

We did read some of our personal collection. If she likes a book enough we buy it and she has two impressively full totes (in lieu of a traditional book shelf).

Dewey:There's a Cat in the Library by Vicki Myron had everything it needed to be a Coryn favorite, the surprise discovery of an animal. She squealed in response to the librarian finding a kitten in the book drop, kids, and just a cat in general. It's a simple, cute book about the antics of a kitty who tries to find his niche as a library cat. I am not surprised that she liked it. That she liked it so much took me a bit aback, but she certainly loved that book.

We also got Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, which we only read once even though in the past it has been a favorite (and the reason 90% of her toys are named either "Sal" or "Sally."), The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (another re-read she didn't particularly want to re-read), and Swimming with Dolphins by Lambert Davis a pleasant but typical nature book with nice pictures that I picked because of the dolphins on the cover. There was also the author-less farm animal book which doesn't really deserve mentioning except in passing. The first two, however, are classics, and I'm kind of disappointed that they were so overshadowed by the great Dewey and his library life.