Friday, January 29, 2010

Tails, Trumpets, and Tantrums


We took Gwen to the pet store for our family activity this past Friday night. I had no idea it was such a popular Friday night destination! So crowded. But Gwen shoved her way right up to the glass and walked along all the windows saying hi, slapping on glass, and generally trying to get the attention of every puppy in the store. So cute! We even got one puppy out for her to pet... she was super excited and went in for the hug with a big squeal... until the puppy started to lick her hands. Then she was DONE with the experience.


Eric was asked to sub for the organist in Sacrament meeting on Sunday. During the reverent sacrament hymn, all of the sudden the organ volume became about 10 times louder and French Horns and trumpets joined in the music! Startled everyone and made a few people jump out of their seats! Turns out Eric had accidentally bumped one of those lil white buttons, didn't know which one, and didn't know how to turn it off. So we sang along with the brass until the conclusion of the hymn. Then he turned the whole thing off and reset the organ. It was pretty funny, though!


Gwen is too grown up for her own good. She signs Mommy, Daddy, baby, drink, milk, water, eat, cracker, cereal, banana, more, all finished, shoes, ball, dog, bath, sleep, bed, elephant, and sometimes friend, please, and Grandpa. We're proud of her for her improved communication in signing and words.

We're not proud of her digressed communication in the form of tantrums. She has learned how to throw an actual, body-flailing-on-the-ground-with-kicking-legs-and-wailing-crying tantrum. I must admit, I was shocked to see her do it. She's not quite 15 months old. I don't know where she learned it because none of her friends throw tantrums. I thought we still had a good 6 months before she started throwing full fledged toddler fits. Every time we say 'no', there she goes. We're handling it at home by ignoring her until she finds other ways to communicate so we don't reinforce it. In public, it is just embarassing and frustrating.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Etsy Shop-- I'd LOVE a Visit from You!

A couple of weeks ago when I announced my first Etsy sale, I received several inquiries about it. I figured I ought to make a post about my Etsy shop sometime to satiate any curious readers. Yes, Shannon, the pastel of the duality of man is one of mine. 20 dollars.
I haven't really advertised my shop to people who know me or on my blog. The reason is simple. I never attempt to sell my best work on Etsy because I could never get what I think it is worth (quality paintings of not famous artists can still usually sell for hundreds) on a site that usually caters to cheaper purchases. I use Etsy as a forum to sell the art with which I'm not extremely pleased, that I have multiples of, or that might have some kind of defect (like curled edges from a hasty move or something). I save my best stuff for myself since I'm not famous enough to get what I think it is worth or ambitious enough to attempt the time-consuming business venture of getting into galleries. Etsy caters to cheaper prices anyway, so why not unload my 'less-than-professional' art for 'less-than-professional' prices? (my prices are from 7 dollars to 40 dollars.) My lofty aspiration is to make enough selling out my inventory that I can put back into resources for future art projects (since we don't have an art budget and supplies are so pricey).
I'm actually somewhat embarrassed to admit to people who know me that my shop belongs to me. Of course I would never admit on Etsy that some of my paintings are amateurish. But if someone I know goes and looks, they'd probably think I was only a mediocre artist. I guess my pride doesn't want that. Consider yourself warned: I DO make better artwork than what you'll see on Etsy. But if you are looking for decent original artwork at extremely affordable prices, please please please feel free to visit my shop: InspiringdesignsbyE!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gwen is Walking!!!!

There is something so... proud-making!... (ha ha, I just invented a new word! Kind of sounds like something from the Uglies Series, doesn't it?) about seeing your baby walk!
If you recall, Gwen took her first 3 steps before Christmas. I guess it kinda scared her because she hasn't attempted ANY walking on her own at all since then. Until Saturday night (Jan 23).

Then she took a couple solo steps, thought it was great, and showed off as many as 6 steps in succession that night! It is amazing how every time she stands up and takes a step,
my heart just swells! It never gets old!

I know 6 steps is still a far cry from complete mobility, but I think she is finally overcoming her trepidations. (but she still bawls every time she lands back on her bum, even if it wasn't that hard. I think it scares her more than anything else.) You can tell she is just tickled and pleased with herself every time she is brave enough to stand up and venture a foot out! She'll wait for you to look at her and applaud her achievement, then join you by giggling and clapping!

Oh, and there is something altering about walking. She doesn't look like a baby anymore.
The cute wiggly rearend like the above pic, the scrunched up, pokey, crawling, chubby, baby with the big belly gets all stretched out...

and suddenly I've got a TODDLER!!!

I am such a proud mommy!

(btw, both photos are from November. I am kind of behind on my camera usage. But I didn't want this post to wait!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vice and Virtue

A quote from Friedman essay about literature, but with much greater application:

"Its vices are the defects of its virtues"

This really resonated with me. Does it ring true for you?

  • The unmotivated/unambitious vices are usually paired with the virtue of being easy going and not a worry wart.

  • The vice of being high-strung, inflexible, rigid usually goes with the virtue of being organized, planning ahead, detail-oriented.

  • The vice of being sensitive, easily hurt, emotional goes with the virtue of being empathetic, caring deeply, feeling freely.

  • The vice of being hasty, blindly jumping into things, rash goes with the virtue of being a risk-taker, brave, fearless, spontaneous, eager to see an idea to fruition.

  • The vice of timidity, inaction, lost opportunities accompanies the virtue of caution, careful research, and logical analysis before decision-making.

  • The vice of shirking work, avoiding responsibility, being light-minded, shallow, cliqueish usually goes with the virtue of being social, fun, energetic, friendly, talkative.

  • The vice of eating too much with the virtue of appreciating delicious food, being able to create delicious food.

  • The vice of laziness with the virtue of restfulness or playfulness.

  • The vice of work-a-holic, busy, forget-the-real-meaning-of-things person with the virtue of hardworking provider, ambition.

  • The vice of pack rat with the virtue of valuing memories.

I am a planner, a culinary artist, empathetic, ambitious, memory lover. Now you know all my vices too. :)

I think that when the Savior promises all our weaknesses can become strengths through His Atonement, it does not mean he will root out of us those innate characteristics so that we can no longer recognize ourselves. He will simply help us to transform them over to the virtuous side of them. We will still be ourselves, but our best selves.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Conrad: The Secret Sharer and the Mysterious Floppy Hat

After encouragement from a very good friend (Thanks, Linz!), I am going to proceed to entertain/bore you with my current thoughts on the things I am doing for school.

Right now I am writing a paper on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer, a truly delightful story in the same vein as Heart of Darkness, but not depressing. I am most intrigued by the sometimes obvious, sometimes vague symbolism replete throughout the tale. Today my ideas are centered around the mysterious "floppy white hat" that the Captain takes from his own head, puts on Leggatt (his double)'s head, is left on floating on the top of the water when Leggatt makes his escape, then subsequently is what saves the ship from peril as the Captain uses it as a mark against which he can steer the ship to safety.

What saves the Captain from peril at the end-- this is a great key to the meaning of the tale, I think. The hat is his salvation, gives him a chance to steer his ship to safety, an opportunity to prove himself a capable captain to a crew that doesn't know him, and--most importantly--a chance to erase his own doubts about himself. Because of the hat, he becomes the captain he always had the potential to be.
  • If the hat represents the Captain's "floppy" character, fears, and weakness of mind, it makes sense that he would choose to get rid of it in the end once his character has grown stronger. He no longer needs it to protect his own head/thoughts and has truly outgrown it. But, if this is the case, why would he try to pass it off on Leggatt? What protection would it offer L as his subconscious incarnate? Also, how could his abandoned weakness become a guidemark to save the ship? Is self-discovery able to free him of the need for self preservation (the hat protects his head) and allow him to take risks that reveal his abilities?
  • If the hat represents the Captain and Leggatt's shared "complete" personality (since they shared it), why would the hat ultimately be abandoned as an unnecessary item? And how could the Captain get by without it any longer? Wouldn't an increased awareness of one's entire self only increase the attachment to an item that expressed that relationship with one's self? And if the water is a common psychological symbol for the subconscious, how would the hat-- a symbol of his acceptance of his "shadow side"-- float upon it and become his salvation?
  • If the hat represents the Captain's generosity and improved character, why is it described as floppy (carrying a connotation of weakness)? Perhaps generosity to accept oneself, love oneself, could enable one to have greater courage and confidence (explaining the Captain's triumph in the end). But, how does generosity steer a safe course? And, why is the theme of 'kindness' and 'generosity' suddenly thrown upon the reader at the VERY end of the tale as the means of salvation without ever making it a theme elsewhere in the story? Doesn't seem to fit...
  • Or is it somehow a combination of these? the hat represents the Captain's fears BECAUSE he does not know himself or his abilities. Coming to know and understand Leggatt (his other self) who arose from his subconscious frees the Captain of a need for self preserving fears. Why he would think that his subconscious self needs these protecting fears, I don't know. Haven't figured that one out. but once he has generously demonstrated his acceptance of himself, given away his fears to Leggatt, and L has safely returned to the sea, the Captain has a reminder of the things he learned in the form of the hat floating upon his subconscious. It provides him a mark (memory of self-discovery and discarded fear) against which he can steer the ship-- and himself-- to safety even while taking risks that prove to EVERYONE his qualification as Captain of the vessel.

So... what IS the hat?
His abandoned fear?
His abandoned weakness?
A reminder of his entire personality, both conscious and subconscious?
His generosity to himself?
What do YOU think?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas with the Harts

and Heiners.

We had a safe drive down, no inclement weather.

Well, I've still only got a few pics from my camera. Here ya are anyhow. Who knows when I'll get the rest. Don't stay tuned-- it could be awhile. :)

We visited the World's Largest Toy Museum in Branson, Missouri. Could have been great if there were more displays the kids could touch. Eric and I had fun walking down memory lane-- but the kids were tired and bored. Poor Gwen just wanted to get out and crawl around-- but there wasn't a place to do it.
She did enjoy these ginormous pink balls...
There's my dad and my nephew, Asher, in the background. He loved the trains.
We also had a blast opening more presents, swimming in the hotel pool, eating tons of delicious food, watching lots of great movies (including Julie&Julia), visiting Silver Dollar City, playing with cousins, bathing with cousins, tormenting cousins, following cousins, idolizing cousins, (those were all Gwen, btw), man-party football, and shopping!!!

The drive home was so perfect we did the entire 12 hours in one go and pulled in at 1 am ahead of a snowstorm that dusted everything in the morning.

Fish Tank Death and Subsequent Makeover

Crawdad kicked the bucket. Kaput. Bit the dust. Joined the giant fish tank in the sky. We came home from our Christmas trip to discover his demise (and his carcass).

No worries.
Gwen got the fishies some new rocks, plants, and some pretty cool pieces of wood for Christmas. Tank has a nice "natural" or "zen" feel to it now. Perhaps this fish tank makeover can console the lil guys about the loss of their... 'pal' (even though he consistently tried to eat them).
Eric and Gwen picked out 2 new catfish to replace the crawdad as tank custodians (bottom feeders)... and the Bluegill proceeded to gobble both of them up as soon as they were added to the tank!

Hmmm... looks like we're going to need a much bigger catfish....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Paper and First Sale~!

Just a fun brag sesh:
I am tickled to report that my first paper as a grad student
(a fun little research project
--I'll have to tell you some time about my revelatory experience in the library--
on Mozart's Minuet in D major K355)
was been turned in last night!
Hooray hooray!
I sold my first 2 paintings on Etsy last night!
(granted, they were my cheapest listings,
so I'm not making a killing, but still--
someone wanted my work enough to pay money for it!)
Hooray hooray!
and the peasants rejoice!

Friday, January 8, 2010

So I Thought I Could Dance

Sometimes I think I can dance like this: Until the weather turns so nasty I am forced to switch to indoor workouts (and I don't have a gym membership) so I check out a new hip hop dance workout DVD from the library...

and then I realize...

I really dance like this:
Or Heaven forbid... like THIS:

Obviously, I've got some
delusions of coordination
to get over....
Or perhaps I'll just get a new workout video.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gwen Demolishing a Cake

Actually not really demolishing it, per se. She was far too prissy and fastidious. Doesn't she look rather serious in the above photo? She wasn't too interested in getting messy. But enjoy the pics anyway. These are courtesy of Amy, a gal in Med School that has a great photography business on the side. She was very professional, very fun, and skilled at capturing those quickly passing moments with little ones. I highly recommend her and have some discount referral cards if anyone in Columbus thinks they might be interested in family, maternity, or kid pics from her!

Gwen wasn't too thrilled to get started. I made that cake just for her photo shoot. She was more interested in playing with drops of icing on the floor and staring out the window than digging in to her cake.She was bored at first, then uncertain and fastidious about the cake. I love the variety of expressions she makes: everything from startled to smug to polite etiquette. I like the top right photo because it looks like she is saying 'scuse me' and covering a burp. and the pic where she is flapping her arms cracks me up.
As soon as she realized that it tasted good, she shoved in a fistful. That's my girl. Can't stand to take a small, manageable bite!
After she realized she could have fun making a mess, she really was all smiles. I appreciate the top left photo in the following collage because it captures how Gwen walks on her knees (since she isn't really walking yet-- this is her preference to crawling), which we haven't been able to successfully catch on film besides this one. I also love that she shoved her foot into the cake.
The beads were extra fun on a suger high. Doesn't she look pleased with herself?Cleaned up
and ready to go home...still very hyper, I think. :)

Thanks Amy for a great photo shoot and adorable pictures! We love them!

Which set and/or which individual pics were your favorites?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Daily Routine

Hey folks! Well, it has been a while. I think this pattern might continue for a bit. Not that any of you readers will really be interested in knowing my daily to-do list, but I think it valid for posterity to know that I was a productive queen yesterday!
I finished all the unpacking,
wrestled boxes and suitcases up into their proper nooks in the closet,
2 loads of laundry folded and put away,
2 loads of dishes washed and put away,
living room tidied up,
prepared and fed Gwen lunch,
Gwen's clothes and toys all put away nicely,
took out all the food and scrubbed the fridge
(thanks to spilled and crystalized maple syrup, this was a real elbow grease chore),
grocery shopping completed during a driving snow
(oh, and bonus, I only spent 3/5 of what I normally spend! Hooray for thrift!),
dinner made and enjoyed,
played with Gwen for hours,
Anne of Green Gables finished,
read 2 chapters in my textbook for my music class,
had a wonderfully meaningful scripture study and Sunday school lesson planning,
put away huge stacks of books at the top of the stairs,
checked email and blogs,
updated my etsy products,
requested books and music from the library,
had Family Home Evening about the Creation with Gwen,
cut Eric's hair,
wrote about 2010 goals in my journal,
and relaxed on the couch.
Whew! I felt so motivated and satisfied with my 'accomplishments'. I love being able to cross things off the to-do list! Few things are more demoralizing than working on things all day but never getting anywhere or finishing anything so that nothing gets crossed off that list. But yesterday was not one of those days. :) Here I am giving myself a very nice pat on the back. :) The only thing I didn't get done was baking a pecan pie for family night. We got over it. :)
The beginning of 2010 promises to offer many such full days to me. I hope I have the energy to take them all. I don't know. Today I'm feeling much less enthusiastic. But maybe that is because cleaning the bathrooms is on the to-do list for today? :P
Anyway, I plan to keep posting about daily life as the only form of scrapbooking, journal keeping, and family history that I'm doing right now. But I can't promise that my posts will be very frequent or very entertaining. Most likely, things will focus on Gwen. Which reminds me that I need to ask my mom for photos from our trip down to visit after Christmas. I hardly even got out my camera because my mom is kind of a shutterbug and took a plethora of photos, so I figured I'd just borrow hers. I'll share some when I get the chance.