Category Archives: Sunday Profundity

Philosophy of Clothing

IMG_1455In the first years of being married, I ran the gamut from being a teacher, a student, a professional, to a full-time mother.  I’d always been a bit of a clothes horse. I recall a whisper about me as I walked by my classmates in grad school. I’d just hopped off my eggplant purple scooter in a leopard-print skirt: “She always looks so put together.”  After living in Seattle for a few years where the homeless lady next to you in PCC could actually be a Boeing exec, I learned to enjoy a more “laid back” style.

Three years later I moved south and was thrown into a social circle with gals from Mississippi and Louisiana. The first time I showed up at a playgroup for our babies, I was the only one in yoga pants and sneakers.  Every other mommy had on boots. With heels.  Did I even put on lip gloss? I can’t remember.  My girls were still in their sleepers and the other babes wore Gap outfits.  Wow, I’d let things slide!

Eventually, my kids grew up and started walking.  They got so dirty playing outside that I developed what I called a “philosophy of clothing”.  I bought half their clothes, which were bound to be ruined, at the thrift store.  A quarter of their clothes came from a clearance rack and the rest were more intentional purchases from nice catalogs.  I had graduated to skinny jeans, tees from J. Crew, and boots with heels.  When I threw in a scarf and earrings, I was dressed up.

My kids are in school part time now, and sending them in their “grubbies” isn’t a great idea.  I can still find great things for my son at the thrift store, but my girls need a few new pieces. As for me, I’m turning 38 soon. It’s harder (and more costly) to look nice as I age.  Yoga pants only come out when I’m doing yoga.  A friend has demanded that I raise the bar, and I’m trying. Garnet Hill seems to have captured a nice look for women my age.  I like Boden, but a lot of their stuff is just boring design that looks good on swizzle stick models.  J. Crew’s last catalog was somewhat inspirational. For a couple of seasons there, they looked like they dressed their models and styled their hair in a dark closet. Where can a formerly “put together”  grown woman go to look fashionable, but not freakish? Elegant, but not old?



This month marks ten years since we found out I was pregnant.  It would be nearly four months before we discovered I was carrying twin girls.  I should have been suspicious when my mom, upon seeing me three months pregnant exclaimed, “Gosh, you’re big!  Are you sure you don’t have twins in there?”  I chalked it up to being sort of a small person.  At 20 weeks gestation, two babies were declared and I spent 24 hours in a sobbing shock.

How things change.  Now a mother, my four living children are tenuous treasures.  I live in a near-constant state of Code Orange, especially after this month has reached critical mass for violence in our country.  I was proud to hear President Obama speak from the heart of a parent when he addressed our grieving nation from Newtown.  Never since mass shootings became commonplace have I seen or heard a president so broken for the families of the victims.  He is not a perfect man, but I appreciated him in that moment the same way I appreciated George W. Bush after September 11.  Love him or hate him, no one wants to be the president in a time of great suffering that requires great decision.

There is suffering and then there is horror.  It’s not new, but more rare and more destructive. The horror of the Israelites in Egypt when Pharaoh massacred the baby boys. The horror of the Jewish people when King Herod did the same thing thousands of years later.  And much more throughout history.

What sort of enemy do we have that would seek to destroy a thing so sweet as a little child? What sort of fame does that kind of monster seek?  How long must the blood of innocents cry out until there is justice?

Suffering I am slowly learning to abide with, but I don’t know how to live with it’s evil twin: the threat of horror.

Other People’s Underwear

Can I get a IV drip of Midazolam until the election is over?  Actually, I love Midazolam–it’s the only reason to get a colonoscopy.  And screening for cancer–that’s good, too . . .

I digress.

It seems to me that we think of our personal politics as our most prized jewelry and election season as gala time. We flaunt what we’ve got all the way down the red carpet and into the voting booth. And why shouldn’t we?  Who hides their sparkly diamonds at a big party? They make us look glorious! Do we show up in our frumpiest attire looking slovenly so others can shine? No. We wear something that we believe to be beautiful and flattering. I’m not saying that people choose their politics for how they look in them per se, but I am saying that I never hear anyone express embarrassment or meekness about them. To date, I cannot recall someone referring to their politics with, “Oh, this old thing?”

It’s nice when folks treat their political convictions the way they do their underwear: it holds things in place, but it’s not for anyone and everyone to see.  It can be full-coverage or demi-, beautiful or basic.  We can’t see it on each other, but we’re pretty sure it’s there.  Some people wear none. And a handful–JUST a handful–of people look fantastic in their underwear.  But we hate those people, right? Well, I do.

There are only a few people on the planet who see me in my underwear. The responses can run the entire spectrum of happy-to-see-me to horror.  Best I spare the general population from seeing either my underwear or my politics.  Both of them do little more by themselves than reveal my aging flaws.

The Fairest of Them All

My husband and I handed the kids over to a very capable sitter this afternoon and took off for 7 hours.  Our agenda was to visit a friend in the hospital, shop for some work shirts for hubby, and test drive cars.  Car dealerships are closed on Sundays, so we had to be content with perusing the parking lot looking through the windows.  It was nice having no salesman around adding pressure to a relaxed day.  We capped off our late spring suburban-esque  night with dinner at a chain restaurant and a trip to the local cineplex to see Snow White and the Huntsman.

Beauty. It’s a slave master. When I graduated high school in 1993, I weighed 87 pounds. People either assumed I had an eating disorder or just hold me how lucky I was to have such a high metabolism. I hated being so gaunt and binge ate to gain 10 pounds before I left for college. Regardless, I was rather beautiful with long, chestnut curls, a pearly smile, and good cheekbones. I would have been better received in this decade, though. The early 90s was about being thin and voluptuous, and I was just thin.

In Snow White and the Huntsman, Queen Ravenna’s beauty is her only power.  As long as she is the fairest of all, she is also the most powerful of all.  She is a slave and a queen: a slave to physical beauty and a queen with magical powers sustain her beauty until someone more beautiful comes along.  If she isn’t the fairest in the land, she has no reason to live.

It always happens, doesn’t it?  Just when you think you are the prettiest, the smartest, the cleverest, the most talented person in the room, some bitch comes along with more than what you’ve got.  You strategize: crush her, flatter her, ignore her, vanquish her? You can’t sustain being on top without exacting high prices from others. And it makes you ask, “What on earth am I living for, anyway?”

I’m getting older and my beauty is fading fast.  I’m a bit horrified by it and tempted to make lame jokes about getting older, but I refuse to stoop to that. And while the beating heart of a virgin bombshell couldn’t help me, a trip to the vascular surgeon will. I’m heading there tomorrow to start zapping the spider veins that have shown up since I started having kids. I live in the South and it’s just too darn hot here to not wear shorts. But, it’s going to cost some change to get my legs done. I’ve thought about this a lot. So yes, I know that 26,000 children die each day of malnutrition, dehydration, and preventable diseases. I’m doing something exciting to help with those things, too. And lest you still think I’m only concerned with vanity, I leave you with this. Parental discretion is advised.


I’ve read a couple of local lifestyle magazines lately, mostly when I’m stuck in a waiting room.  The first mag showed an advertisement for a local gated community.  At the top of the page were the words: “Investing in a Lifestyle.”  I realized that vision was one I could not have for my life–one that emphasizes constant upgrades, upkeep, and keeping up.  The second mag I read featured an article on a local plastic surgeon and his wife at their new custom home.  I’ve met this couple, so it was intriguing to get a peek into their life.  The home would have been beautiful to most people, but I was nonplussed.  Besides the fact that the style of house is very traditional, every empty space was filled with expensive art pieces that demanded attention.  There were no areas for your eyes to rest.  In the interview, the couple spoke of their daughters being the main reason for this collection that they will pass on when they die.

I prefer a less ostentatious house with a few really nice things that we can enjoy looking at. But, I want my home to be a place where people look at other people, not my stuff.  And, I don’t want to pressure my kids to be in relationship with me because they anticipate some crazy inheritance.  I hope my grown children will share a common understanding about how we do life, not how we style it.  I hope to successfully mentor them in the things we believe are most important. And when I die, I hope I pass on some really beautiful memories that will stay with my children the rest of their lives.

Mother’s Day 2012

I’m happy today. The milestone of Friday is past, which is a relief. I’ve had a wonderful day with my family, including tacos for breakfast and French toast for dinner. The weather has been cool, grey and rainy–the kind that sends most people to bed for the afternoon but inspires me to get out my sewing machine and finish the kids’ Easter presents. Today has been a calm-hearted day. I am well.

Little Women

I picked up a paperback copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women at a thrift store recently.  I thought I’d keep it around for my girls’ reading list next year. After all, fourth grade is when I read Little Women. Or, rather, fourth grade is when I didn’t quite finish Little Women.  I am a voracious reader and I always finish any book that I start, so not finishing Little Women in fourth grade has loomed as a failure. Now that I’m a grown-up, I read the introduction to every book.  This introduction was very interesting and I assumed I would finish this time victoriously.  Not so. This book is exhausting!  Of course it is– a book about four young girls is bound to be wordy and hyper! That must be why I didn’t finish it 28 years ago in Mrs. Yarbrough’s class.  I remember lounging on the living room sofa on grey chilly days, covered in an afghan trying to read this classic.  I can’t tell you at what point I gave up, I’ve always known that I have.  But, I want to read it before my girls get their chance next year.  I think it’s teaching me to cherish those precious girls.  I have such sweet 8 year-old daughters who are growing so quickly I can hardly keep up. This book reminds me to enjoy being a mother to girls.

Scarcity and Abundance Models

I’m researching these two paradigms and the theories about how they make people think and behave.  Stay tuned . . . I am one and my husband is the other. I am looking for a source (a book, a journal article) on how those paradigms affect marriage and parenting.  Feel free to email your thoughts to me. —–


It’s the Thought . . .

Today is my son’s fourth birthday, and as usual, I have indicated quite strongly that no gifts are expected at his little party.  He’ll get several from us that he can open. In the past, I’ve tried to curb the gift influx by asking people to make a donation toward a gift of two goats for a family in a remote village.  Fail.  Someone always brings a gift, anyway.  The last couple of years, I have requested no toys, but if someone is really motivated to spend money on my already over-priveleged children, gift certificates to local ice-cream parlors or such eateries are appreciated. Partial win.  Most people like this idea, but we still get the odd gift.  Some of them have been pretty darn cool, like underwater cameras or an unusual book, such as the entire Narnia series in Español.

This is going to sound really bitchy–in general, I hate presents.  The only thing I hate more is a surprise present.  If you’ve been reading my somewhat irregular Sunday posts, you know I struggle to keep possessions to a minimum.  It’s the rare person who can find an all-around useful gift for me.  That black patent-leather wallet that my awesome friend gave me for Christmas–you know who you are–THAT was the perfect surprise gift, especially since I adore anything that comes in “shiny black.”  My husband informed me tonight that I have a surprise coming soon, but I appreciate that he gave me a heads up.  He’s been married to me for 17 years, so I think that he knows how to pick ’em.

The gifts that mean the most are the ones that can be used up, such as a nice food or toiletry item. Time with a friend having coffee or through a handmade gift is the most valuable.  Plants are awesome, although I have sadly allowed many of them to die.  Kids’ gifts are a whole ‘nother thing.  Partly, I don’t want to add more stuff to my house.  Partly, my kids don’t need anything and millions of other children worldwide do.  Partly, and here’s the bitchy part, I don’t want to be involuntarily overrun by someone else’s bad taste.  I’m picky. Even when it comes to my kids’ stuff.  I know what I value and what I don’t.  More importantly, my kids need to know that just because they like something, it doesn’t mean it owns a spot in our house. Really, if you are out and about and see something on a store shelf that reminds you of any of us, please do the following: SAY A PRAYER FOR US AND PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF!!!

(Unless you are at the car dealership and see a lovely 7-seater SUV in shiny black that would look smashing on me.  Love you, Babe!)

Throwing Out, Growing Up (better than the reverse)

Here is my Sunday post on Monday.  We’ve been cleaning out the garage some more.  My husband and I were watching a Hoarders episode the other night and he mentioned that it might be good it to show our girls.  He thought it might give them a better understanding of why we don’t allow them to keep everything they’ve ever loved.  The episode I showed them focused partially on a child who had started to hoard.  The girls were definitely affected by the glimpses into lives of those people.  For our whole family, it is a good, strong reminder of how we could turn out if we don’t restrain ourselves.

On a similar note, I found this on YouTube today:

I have always admired those who can make small square footage work so efficiently.  Granted, our family is twice the size of this one, but it makes me wonder what’s possible.  We’ve recently decided not to enlarge our 2500 SF home into a 3500 SF home (Go, us!)  I don’t think I’d miniaturize our life permanently, but it does encourage thoughts of our family living overseas one day.

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