SugarHouse Mama

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg


I picked this book for many reasons: it's on the 'best books' list of a few websites I browse when I'm looking for some literary inspiration, it's about family relationships, healing and forgiveness, the title alludes to sewing, AND it has a beautiful cover. It's not true, you know, you can - and often should - judge books by their covers.

Anyway, it's a fast read. I'm talking a 1-day read here, people. I had a really hard time putting it down, and my Saturday housework suffered.

The basic story is about a family, long grown, that has a secret. During a family reunion the secret comes out and all of a sudden family members have to accept, forgive, and love each other in spite of the secret. That is a trite summary, I know.

There are several quotes the author uses before the book begins to set the tone. I loved one, in particular:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
There is a field. I'll meet you there.
- Rumi

Exploring forgiveness is always an interesting topic for me. I suppose because it's never very simple. Just as with everything else in life, there are multiple stops along the way - various destinations you can reach. All too often I think we stop at acceptance. It happened. There's nothing you can do. Move on. The thing is, if you stop there, you risk losing the rest of the journey. There is so much more beyond acceptance.

The narrator, a self-proclaimed obsessive domestic, admits she loves certain home-making tasks. Among them is mending:

As for mending, I think it's good to take the time to fix something rather than
throw it away. It's an antidote to wastefulness and to the need for
immediate gratification. You get to see a whole process through, beginning
to end, nothing abstract about it. You'll always notice the fabric scar,
of course, but there's an art to mending: If you're careful, the repair
can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its
worth.
And of course, that is the point of forgiveness. There might be a scar, but if you see the process through to the end, that scar becomes a testimony to the value of the relationship.

In my mind, true forgiveness is atonement. And that's rare indeed. I think it takes a lot of work and many years to reach a point where you don't even see the scar anymore. And of course, it takes a power that we just don't possess.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and I've already recommended it to others, so I guess that's another testament.

And I hear Berg's Open House is even better - consider it added to my "on hold list".

Saturday, July 26, 2008

GAL

So on Wednesday (I know, I'm a little late) we had our first Ghana Adoption Lunch. It was really a lot of fun to meet all these women I've been emailing and calling. Jenifer (in town from CA visiting family), Stephanie and her friend Jennifer, Shelley, Jill, Lois and I were all in attendance - along with an occasional spouse and many children.

Pictures, stories, and adoption information were passed along and shared. The next phases of the adoption process were outlined - tips and suggestions were shared - and we talked about how those with recent additions are adjusting. It is so great to have people close by that are sharing this experience.

Lois updated us on Kingsley's progress - he is currently working on adoptions for Jenifer, Stephanie, Lanae (not at our little lunch) and us. We learned that the money we sent to Kingsley via Shelley has paid for all of our adoption paperwork, travel expenses, feeding the children at the orphanage, and...Kingsley was even able to buy a car! It will be so much easier for him to do all of his traveling for adoptions and the orphanage now that he has a car. He will not need to rely on other people or the 'public transportation'. He will be able to accomplish a lot more a lot faster.

We were thrilled to learn how far the money went - I believe it was even used to help get other adoptions rolling so Kingsley doesn't have to wait for their money to arrive before he can get started collecting the paperwork.

Anyway, that's the update :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


I recently finished Love in the Time of Cholera. It was pretty good -mostly I love the way Marquez writes, weaving stories together. His writing style so closely connects the characters that you can't help but understand the relationship of the characters. I think, more than any other writer he beautifully and effectively binds the characters' lives and displays the inter-connectedness of life - the delicate way our lives join together, weaving in and out - that 'thing' that binds us all to each other.

Still, my favorite Marquez novel is One Hundred Years of Solitude.

But back to LitToC. What is most fascinating to me is the novel's discussion of love: what is love, what is true love, can two people create true love or is it something we have no control over? How is love manifested? What is fidelity? Is there a difference between emotional fidelity and physical fidelity? How does love fit into 'real life'?

I don't think there are any hard and fast answers to those questions, but that's the point of great literature, isn't it? I haven't seen the recent film adaptation, but from what I have seen of it, I get the feeling that I wouldn't like it. I think it simplifies the story. I think it glorifies Florentino as a true representation of love. From what I've come to understand about Marquez and his writing, that's too simple.

The basic story line is a nice, sweet enticement. Florentino's pretty prose and ideals of love don't hold any substance and he seems to contradict himself many times throughout the book. He picks and chooses which laws of love he will follow and then creates fantastical arguments to support his actions. He clearly lies to himself and the woman he loves. (A side note: it seems to me that Florentino is the only person in the novel who believes in 'true love'. And, his definition of love is based almost solely on romantic stories and poems. Literature created his world and influenced all his choices. Another interesting topic that I don't have room to explore).

Instead, I think Marquez sets up the characters - every character in the book, in fact - as a person who falls somewhere along the line. Each has a different definition of love. Each will sacrifice certain things in the name of love (and some sacrifice love for other things). I think the novel is more an examination of what happens to people along the way - depending on what they are willing to sacrifice. It doesn't seem to be just a pretty story about waiting 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days for the chance to declare love, but rather who sacrificed what during that time. All in the name of love. And then the reader is left to decide if it was worth it.


So. What would you sacrifice for love? And what would you sacrifice love for? Does your answer change depending on the person (child, spouse, parent, etc.)?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cute Little Ghanaian Faces

Andy and Jessica (the Provo couple volunteering at Lucky Hill this summer) took some fantastic pics of the newly placed children. And yes, Sarah was included!

Lois forwarded them to me and they are soooo cute! Thought I'd share....
Prince and Matilda: Adopted by Jenifer & family. Look at Matilda's HUGE smile! She looks like the girl who will always be making everyone smile - hers is so contagious! It makes me laugh along with her every time I see this picture.

Brian and Josephine: Adopted by Lanae and family. Brian looks like such a sweet little gentleman! Josephine seems a little shy in pictures, but Andy and Jessica got her to smile in one!

And the rest are all of our little Sarah! Here's what Jessica said in her email about Sarah:

Can you please tell Jessica that Sarah has a very cute personality. She is shy at first but when she warms up to you, she is happy and sometimes even mischievous. She got the books Jessica sent her for her birthday and I have read them to Sarah. I think that Jessica will just love Sarah - she's so cute!
Hanging out with Jessica and Andy:

Peek-a-Boo!

Big Brown Eyes and Eyelashes to DIE for:

New Hat:

Lois also spoke with Kingsley today. Sarah's traditional name is Adwoa (Ah-jew-wa) and that's what they call her at the orphanage. It means, basically, 'girl born on Monday'. Ghanaian's typically give their children an English/British name and a traditional name as well. There are specific names for girls and boys for every day of the week, so yeah, it's not unheard of for families to have children with the same name. (Although they usually add prefixes to help distinguish). I knew a family in Ho that had 3 boys - all born on Saturday. They were all called Kwame! I guess it makes for easy remembering if you have a lot of kids! :)

What's Your Ghanaian Name?

Ok. I couldn't help myself. Here's more info on the Ghanaian names I was mentioning in the above post.


"The Ghanaian Day Name is the name assigned to the child born on a specific day of the week which also includes characteristics of the child born on the specific day of the week. This day name also, called the Kradin name, is carried on throughout the life of the child, and amazingly accurate as horoscopes in the western world."

To find out what day of the week you were born on click here.

I was born on a Thursday (no surprise once you read the meanings)

Day of birth Name

Monday
Female: Adwoa, Adzo, Ajoba, Ejo
Male: Bobo, Jojo, Kobie, Kojo, Kwodwo
Tuesday
Female: Abena, Abla, Araba
Male: Ebo, Kobena, Kwabina
Wednesday
Female: Aku, Akuba, Ekua, Ekuwa, Kuukuwa
Male: Kuuku, Kwaku, Kweku
Thursday
Female: Aba, Yaa, Yaaba, Yaayaa
Male: Ekow, Yao, Yaw, Yokow
Friday
Female: Afi, Afua, Efie, Efua
Male: Fifi, Kofi, Yoofi
Saturday
Female: Ama, Awo
Male: Ato, Atoapem, Kwame, Kwamena
Sunday
Female: Akosua, Esi, Kisi
Male: Akwasi, Kwesi, Siisi


Day of birth Description

Monday
Calm, tranquil, and cool (like icewater), skillful and adept under pressing conditions
Tuesday
Warm, gentle, eloquent and compassionate
Wednesday
Mischievous, vicarious, vigilant and daring
Thursday
Eager for battle, a big rock in one's pocket, skillful in dealing with people
Friday
The wanderer, adventurous, wisdom and tenacity
Saturday
Possesses the medicine for snake bites, able to reverse crisis, thorough and painstakingly scrupulous, Saturday is also God's Day
Sunday
Tail of the Animal, protection from flies and danger, very protective of others and patient

What day were you born on?
Which Ghanaian name would you choose?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

PSYCH Sing-Along

Psych starts up again Friday! (Along with Monk). We live for these two shows at our house during the summer. Shawn and Gus are the only way to make it through the tv drought that is the dreaded "off season".

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wall-E

Let me begin by telling a story:

Shelley took her newly adopted daughters (from Ghana) to see Wall-E a while ago. A whole new experience for them - they had no concept of a movie theater. About half way through the movie, the younger (?) one turned to Shelley and said "ok. Let's go home now."

Shelley tried to explain to her daughter, "no. We stay and watch the whole thing because we paid for it." Her daughter just couldn't comprehend it. I thought this was really funny when Shelley told me about it. I thought, "one more thing to adjust to, I guess." You know, a culture shock sort of thing.

And then I saw Wall-E. About half way through the movie I thought, "ok. let's go home now." Yeah. It was so boring!

Besides that, it was WAY too preachy for me. Don't get me wrong, I love doomsday Vonnegut stories just as much as the next guy (maybe even more), but seriously, I just can't take it when the only dialogue in the entire movie is 'oh, poor earth, you just need someone to take care of you and by golly, we are finally going to step up to the plate and do it because earth is so great and Wal-Mart is of the devil'. Side note, I have to agree with them there, Wal-Mart is of the devil. I hate that place.

Maybe some people need to be beat over the head with a giant, feature-film, didactic hammer, but I prefer a little subtlety.

So why didn't I just walk-out? Well, that would be wasteful.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Update!

So. As many of you know we have been sweating the arrival of Robert's "invitation to be fingerprinted". That's what I've been calling it, anyway. We sent in a form requesting a background check &etc. and sent in money (of course). The state agency then sends out an "invitation" to be fingerprinted within a certain time frame.

Well, days passed, followed by weeks - still no "invitation." Our SW was finally able to track down the paperwork (I guess that's the good thing about the government: always a paper trail). Robert's paperwork was sent to the wrong adoption agency. Since the fingerprinting police (FBI???) can't have more than one copy of the invitation out at a single given moment, they had to wait for Robert's letter to be returned. (I hope everyone out there always returns mail that is incorrectly delivered!)

The returned letter in question finally arrived, and the office sent out another letter to the correct agency. whew. It arrived in our mailbox Saturday. Robert dropped in at the West Valley office to be fingerprinted Monday morning.

On a whim, later that afternoon, I emailed our SW with a brief update: "Robert went this morning to be fingerprinted." She promptly responded with something along the lines of 'oh I already know, he was cleared, and the woman at the office gave me a call, and I've already forwarded your Home Study on to our approval board."

What?!?!? Who has ever heard of that kind of turn around? I mean, we are talking in a matter of hours Robert's fingerprints were electronically submitted, they ran them and came up with a positive report (or perhaps it's considered a negative report since nothing came up), and then that report was already relayed to not only another government employee, but also our Social Worker! Crazy.

So I am in a mad dash to get everything ready to submit our I600-A and our dossier. The good thing is that, mostly, I just need to make copies of various items I already collected for our home study.

Also, Kingsley should be taking Sarah to get her passport any day now. I can't get over how cute that is - little Sarah with her own passport! lol. I was about 15 before I had/needed a passport!

Anyway, things are moving right along. Keep your fingers crossed, and your prayers aimed heavenward that everything will continue to go as smoothly!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was Sarah's 2nd birthday! Robert and I went to the Decker's house to celebrate. We had yummy strawberry boston creme cake and we played some games.

Lois gave us a birthday card for Sarah and a cute little necklace that says "I am a Child of God" on it with Sarah's birth stone.

Happy Birthday Sarah! We can't wait to celebrate next year with you!

Friday, July 11, 2008

SYTYCD - Chelsie and Mark - Bleeding Love

Ok. So for some reason my old post of this dance isn't working :(

If it happens again, here's a link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5mUv3_2Qig&feature=related

So You Think You Can Dance...a little late

Ok. I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in SYTYCD this week. I' haven't posted any video clips of dances because I just wasn't floored by anything, really.

Don't get me wrong, there were some really good dances, but nothing that left me thinking "WOW"; nothing that made me want to run to my computer and post. It was just ho-hum.

I don't know if it's because I'm expecting so much from the dancers this year or if it was just really that boring. Part of the problem, I believe, is that they have greatly reduced the number of choreographers. Mandy Moore, for instance, who is sort of a boring choreographer anyway, did 2 routines last night. Having one week to come up with 2 dances that everyone is expecting A LOT out of is hard. Apparently these guys just can't do it anymore. Besides that, most of them have been on the show for several years now.

The judging was crazy, too. It really bothered me that Kherington and Twitch were such a let down and then all three judges chose to "ignore" the fact that Kherington really dropped the ball during the second half of her routine. Then they attack minor flaws in other's performances. (I'm thinking of when Mia tore Joshua Allen apart because she wanted to see more 'movement' from him... something along the lines of "your head was going and your body was going, but I wanted to see more movement") It was crazy and poor Joshua was just plain confused by her comment. He (and I'm pretty sure everyone else) had no idea what the heck Mia was talking about.

Oh, and then there was Mia's really bizarre method of complementing Chelsea: "you're so beautiful I want to stab your face". Really? Wow. Anyway, I think I need to watch it again to try and come up with at least one dance to post....

All in all it was a pretty disappointing show this week. :(

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

This is another book that is part of our church book group. It's a children's book, but one that is great for all ages. The best part: it only took a day to read!

The basic premise: Young Esperanza, her mother, and grandmother are forced to leave their home when the father dies. Esperanza and her mother head to America to start a new life. The challenges they face as Mexican immigrants in the 1920's and the hardships of leaving a wealthy life behind make up the majority of the story. Esperanza doesn't stay spoiled and haughty for long. She learns that work and family, not wealth and privileges constitute true happiness.

It's a quick read, fast paced, and has a great moral. Ryan does a terrific job of making the characters identifiable and lovable right away. Ryan's writing style is consistent, smooth, and clear. It was a nice, refreshing book to spend an afternoon on.

The issues it raises are great for a family to discuss together - I highly recommend it, especially if you have young readers in the house. It provides an avenue to discuss work ethic, fair treatment of 'people' (the farm employees), race, discrimination, class distinction, and the Great Depression. It's one of those books that makes you wish you were a teacher so you could share it with students and *hopefully* keep them interested in reading!

I enjoyed the book so much I also read Becoming Naomi Leon; another quick read by Ryan. BNL is more of a rite of passage story. Again, the main character is a young girl who was raised with a difficult family life. Her mother suddenly appears and Naomi must choose what kind of life she will lead and who she will become; a tall order for a 5th grader.

For me, the best part of the writing was the chapter titles: a rabble of yesterdays, a lamentation of swans, a murmuration of tomorrows. I loved it. Anyway, both were great stories; both provide topics to discuss with kids, and both are entertaining and captivating.

Overall, I'm very glad these books were recommended to our book group. I look forward to discussing them with all the girls in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Digital Immigrant

Through a series of fortunate finds this morning, I came across a very interesting article.

The author, Marc Prensky, is an internationally acclaimed thought leader, speaker, writer, consultant, and game designer in the critical areas of education and learning. He graduated from Harvard and Yale (which means what he writes must be both good and accurate, right?). Anyway, the article is short and easy to read. It's premise is that teaching methods and content are no longer effective for the new generation of digital natives.

He starts off by defining Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives. Digital Immigrants are those, like me, who were introduced to technology (computers, email, cell phones, etc) after their formative years. Digital Natives are those K-college students today who grew up with the technology.

Remember when your computer class in school consisted of a 30 minute trip to the computer lab where you played Oregon Trail? Remember when calculators were not permitted in the class - remember being taught how to use a calculator in math class? Remember when Zack Morris' mobile phone seemed totally far out? lol. If you do, you are a Digital Immigrant.

Prensky goes on to state that the way teachers teach and even the content they teach does not appeal to Digital Natives. Not only that, their brains have been formed differently and it's probable that they can't "go back". That means education needs to step up and meet the demands of the Digital Native; content and methodology need to change.

We need to go faster, use less step-by step, more in parallel instruction, with more random access. Our content needs to include all of our traditional curriculum: reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking, understanding the writings and ideas of the past, etc; and we need to add "future" curriculum. The things that are interesting and intriguing to Digital Natives: software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc. it also includes the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them.

The problem is, of course, who is going to teach the new curriculum, and how do you successfully adapt the traditional curriculum to the new methodology?

As a Digital Immigrant whose first email account was set up in college, I'm pretty sure I don't have the answers. But I do know I'm eagerly awaiting the people who do, and I'll eat up every bit of it in an effort to teach my children in ways that are meaningful to them.

To read the article click here.

To visit some of the educational gaming sites Marc has created click on the links below:

Social Impact Games
Department of Defense Gaming Community
GamesParentsTeachers
MarcPrensky.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Video Clip of Sarah!

Shelley and Lois spent hours yesterday trying to email me this video! lol. After many failed attempts (the file was too large) Lois compressed it so it finally got through this morning. I already watched it about 10 times this morning, so I figure it's time to share it with you all.

I *think* my favorite moment is right at the very beginning when Shelley calls out to Sarah and Sarah whips around, all alert and eager and her eyes are sparkling. It's soooo cute!

Shelley is trying desperately to get Sarah to talk - she was limited on battery life, so she only had one shot. I'm pretty sure Sarah sneaks out a couple "hello"s at the very beginning (you can see her mouth move, but you don't hear anything). Then she just seems to be like "hey crazy lady, I already said hello twice and that's all the talking I feel like doing right now." (I get that look a lot from Robert).

I'm not sure if she says "Sarah" or not when Shelley changes tactics. You can definitely hear a little girl say "Sarah" but I can't really tell if her mouth is moving!

Oh, and for some reason, Shelley flips the camera so you have to tilt your head to view it properly. Shelley apologizes for that.

Here is our first video of Sarah, enjoy!
video

On another adoption update, we are STILL waiting for Robert's background check. :( Our SW called the state office and the woman there said it was sent out on June 26th! Mine came, but still nothing for Robert. We paid extra for electronic fingerprinting because it was supposed to be faster, yeah right! It's been 3 weeks and we don't even have the card they send that allows Robert to be fingerprinted! Hopefully when he actually gets fingerprinted, that will be fast!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Color Me Frustrated

Apparently it's time to update everyone on the walkway/patio we are *still* working on. We've been getting a lot of questions about the progress of it all.

Here's what it looked like after Jaron worked his magic - he created each "tile" by hand! Can you believe it?


He wasn't quite done with the patio area when I took these pictures.

So, on to the frustrating bit. After Jaron spent 3 or 4 days adding the stain (again, by hand) the concrete just wasn't taking the color correctly. Typically, he can spray the color on, but because we needed to have a slope for water drainage, the spray would just run off too. So, Jaron was forced to apply the stain by hand, that way he would be able to contain the color better.

Well, after 4-8 (that's right folks, in some places there are 8 coats!) the color still wasn't absorbing correctly. Jaron was applying color for 3 days! He decided to take a different approach and ordered more materials. They will take about a week to get here. In the mean time, here's where the coloring is right now. It's not perfect - but it's getting there... I think!

The border will be a dark charcoal color, and the inner tiles will be lighter.

Anyway, let me know what you think! P.S. Please ignore the torn-up, dead lawn. We have decided there is no way to save it (it wasn't really worth saving, anyway) and plan on replacing it all next spring.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Will/Jessica Lyrical Jazz - Alone

Soooo glad I feel like I can finally put Will and Jessica up on my blog. Will is AMAZING! And really, you can't go wrong when you are dancing to Heart, right?

Katee and Joshua - Contemporary - Hometown Glory

Another Mia fav. She was awesome tonight. I love the power behind this one. The strength of both dances is really showcased. I love it when Katee dives through Joshua's arms - and then when they do the assisted run across the stage and she is just FLYING. It's awesome.

Kherington and Twitch - Contemporary

Mia did an awesome job with this routine; It was incredible! I just love Twitch and Kherington! I love it when he's diving onto the bed trying to catch her - but then she's not there. It's so great.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shelley is back from Ghana!

So I got an email this morning from Shelley and...you guessed it, she sent a picture of Sarah! Hang on to your boot straps boys and girls, Sarah is about to melt your heart! (ok. I know that was really poor writing - what with the mixed metaphors and all, but you get the idea!)

In her email, Shelley described Sarah as sweet and shy. Sarah wouldn't really talk to Shelley, but she held her hand and walked all around the orphanage with her as Shelley was taking pictures for Lois.

Shelley said she has more pics AND a video! I have to admit I like that she's giving them to me a little at a time. It totally makes my day to see a new picture of her!

Enjoy!