Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hard Labor

I had to stop reading this book at least for the time being because I was starting to have pretty stressful dreams about it. It is extremely interesting, fascinating really, but not necessarily a good read for someone who, like me, will be giving birth in the next three months. If you are not in that category and like reading real stories about childbirth you may find it very enjoyable. One word of caution though. It is surprisingly rife with profanity for a book on this subject. I am not naive enough to believe that an awful lot of cussing does not go on in delivery rooms, but it seemed a little over the top and unnecessary to me. I don't know, maybe I am just not "raw" enough. I also haven't read the whole book so I can only speak to pages 1-91. Within those pages, however, I found some of the best advice about approaching the childbirth experience that I have ever read. I thought I would share it here:
Bring your written birth plans to the hospital, review them frequently with your OB in your weekly visits, go into the experience with all your hopes and dreams, but always be ready to go with the flow and cooperate if there is any untoward event that challenges your plan. In this way, you establish yourselves as informed consumers who can participate in the the team effort at the hospital, while allowing yourselves the necessary flexibility to deal with unexpected events, without wrecking your self-esteem and your dreams about this birth.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On the Golden Rule

One of the things I hate most in life is being misunderstood. I hate saying something the wrong way and sounding cold or rude or unconcerned or indifferent or angry or annoyed know anything that I actually am not trying to be at the time. I hate the feeling of knowing what someone thinks I think or feel and knowing they have it all wrong. I especially hate the feeling of not being able to explain myself well enough to be understood. I hate being sized up and mentally classified by someone I know sees me all wrong. I hate people thinking they know my motives or intentions or what I will do next when they really do not know me at all. I really, really hate these things. I hate being misunderstood.

Why am I bringing this up in a post about the Golden Rule? Well, because when I really sit and think about the Golden Rule, when I think about what I wish that others would do to me, this is what I think about. My ultimate wish for how I would like others to treat me is that they would really listen and take the time to understand me and until they do they would assume the very best of my motives and intentions and give me a huge benefit of the doubt and tons and tons of room to grow. Humble mercy, I guess, is what I would call it.

So with that in mind, how am I doing at following the Golden Rule? In a word? Horribly. I pride myself on being an excellent judge of character. I size people up in a moment and almost irreversibly make my mind up about them. I have never met a stranger I couldn't almost immediately classify. I am no better with non-strangers, with friends and loved ones. I assume I know them so well that I know their every reason for doing something and exactly what they will do next. I have a terrible habit of jumping to conclusions and leaving no room for the chance that I may be wrong about someone. This is a sad, sad picture of myself I am painting. But it is an all too accurate portrayal as well.

How ironic that the kind of treatment I desire most from my fellow man is the kind of treatment I can be so very stingy with; the exact kind of treatment I find it so difficult to offer to others. It reminds of a quote I heard once that was something like the sin you despise most in others is often the one you struggle with the most in your own life. That is not the exact quote, but it was something like that. I am wondering if anyone else has the same struggle. When you think about how you want to be treated by others, does what comes to mind kind of mirror one of your biggest struggles or weaknesses in the way you treat those around you? I would be interested to hear.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Downtown in Springtime.

This is the view from our apartment this week. I adore these candy-coated trees! I am so fortunate to love where I live. Being right in the center of a beautiful, thriving town is such a fun chapter in our lives right now. I am looking forward to living in a house in the country one day, but for now I couldn't be more content anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"I had only one choice and that was to chop its head off with a hoe."

This is a story that you just have to read! I am so impressed with my cousin-in-law Tracie and I assure you that you will be too!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To the Person Who Took My Wet Laundry Out of the Washer and Tossed it Aside

Dear Sir or Madame,
Forgive me. You are obviously very important and I didn't take that into account when I left my laundry in the washer for a few extra minutes so I wouldn't have to leave my bawling baby unattended. Don't worry I am not as important as you, so it doesn't matter if all my towels air dry in clumps and smell like mold.
Your friend,

I wanted to write this note out on a 3x5 card with a sharpie and tape it to the wash machine. Ron wouldn't let me. He said I would be embarrassed if anyone ever found out it was me. I am not sure I would be, but I am pretty sure I should be. See, I told you he is good for me.

The funny thing about me getting so mad about this situation (Oh and I was really mad. The first note I wanted to write can't be reprinted here.) is that just this morning I was listening to and I thought really learning from a sermon on humility. The crux of it was that humility means considering other people (their hopes, dreams, feelings, needs, desires to do their laundry) as more important that than yourself. That means that while I wanted the unknown launderer to be considerate of me, to think that perhaps I had a good reason for not returning to the laundry room the minute my final spin cycle ended, the right and humble way for me to look at it would have been for me to consider that perhaps they had a good reason for needing to start their laundry without delay. You know, maybe they had to leave suddenly for an unexpected trip and had no clean clothes. Maybe they hated to take my wet towels out of the washer, but saw no other option. Maybe not. The point is I don't know why they did it, but the humble and Christlike response would have, funnily enough, been much like my letter - minus all the sarcasm. It is hard not to think of myself as the most important person in the universe. It is something I hope I can learn to do.

My towels are fine to by the way. The world did not end. I found them very soon after they had been taken out and cast aside (see, I was trying to come back as fast as I could) and was able to put them right in the dryer without having to wash them again. I made sure to be back to retrieve them from the dryer the moment it stopped. I may have a long way to go towards humility, but I know how to take hint.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buy Good Books and Read Them

For the past few weeks Ron and I have been enjoying Charlottesville's annual Gordon Avenue Library book sale . It is something we look forward to every year and is definitely one of our favorite things about Charlottesville. This week is 75% off week which means that patrons of the sale can buy good used books for ridiculous prices. By ridiculous prices I mean they are actually selling books you would want to read for 12 cents. It is quite absurd. Absurdly awesome!

Anyway with all of the books we have been buying lately I want to recommend a couple of jewels that have blessed me in one way or another.

I didn't buy this book at the book sale, but I did read every word of it. Yes, I am proud to say I read all 976 pages. Granted I started in December of 2006 and just finished this week, but nonetheless I read it all. What is more is I thoroughly enjoyed it. It starts in 1580 and finishes in in the late nineties. I heartily recommend it to anyone who loves history or America or both. You do not have to be a hard core history buff, however, to enjoy it. It reads more like a story book than a text book. I think that is how I managed to finish it!

I haven't read this book in its entirety yet and I don't always agree with everything Miss Manners has to say, so this is not a full on recommendation. I am just saying so far I have really enjoyed this book. One thing I like about Miss Manners is that she makes me want to live a fine and beautiful life. That is not the same thing as an expensive life. She inspires me to thoughtful, considerate, tasteful living, which I think is a good thing. I purchased her Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior at the book sale two years ago and found it delightfully entertaining. When I saw her child rearing book at the sale this year I had to get it! So far I like it even better than the first one. Not only is it entertaining, it also seems to contain actual wisdom and insight that I think we will help me as a mother. Consider what she says here:

Miss Manners' dear mother, a teacher, often heard the parental lamentation of "But we give him everything" from those whose children confided in their teacher, separately, how much they cheerfully hated their parents. The parental complaint was followed by a list itemizing valuable goods given.
"I could never find a correlation between the parents' generosity and the child's feeling about them," noted Miss Manners' mother. "Then I began to notice a connection between the child's feelings and the parents' facial expressions when they came to pick him up at school, or even when they just talked about him. The parent who beamed at the child had a loving child, and the one who didn't, didn't. After that, it didn't seem to matter what else the parents did or didn't do."
Miss Manners is happy to present such unmaterialistic news, although she does not deny that many people's fondest childhood memories have to do with toys or other presents. Yet the parent who gives whatever is asked, when it is asked, seems to get no return except increased expectation. The generally sensible parent, who restricts giving to fixed occasions and choice of presents to items that are educational, useful, or apt to be of lasting, rather than fleeting enjoyment, will give enormous pleasure by a rare wild deviation from this policy.

I don't know about you, but I feel wiser for the reading of that.

I read this book when I was engaged and I thought it would really help me as a new wife. I am sure it did, though not nearly as much as it is helping me now on my second reading of it. By helping I really mean giving me a much needed kick to the behind. It was one thing to read it with stars in my eyes and my wedding day and honeymoon ahead of me. It is quite another reading it again with those things, as well as three and half years of marriage and one and two thirds children, already under by belt. True, it is not the inspired word of God, but it does seem to be pretty adept at cutting through to the true thoughts and intents of my heart. Very convicting, but very, very inspring and instructive. I ardently recommend to any woman who has a husband.

Friday, April 11, 2008

101 Things I Admire/Appreciate About My Husband

Ron Babington

1. He once spent the last $12 dollars we had in our checking account to buy me fancy J. Crew flip flops.

2. He always, always, always assumes the best of people.

3. He calls himself a perfectionist, but mercy is his strong suit.

4. He likes to think.

5. He works hard to put others at ease.

6. He honestly pursues excellence in all he does.

7. He does what is right without ever drawing attention to himself.

8. He is wise with money.

9. He loves kits and I think that is adorable.

10. His passwords are adorable.

11. He is good to others.

12. He is ravenous about learning.

13. He bears with me.

14. Children adore him because he knows how to have fun with them.

15. He has an opinion.

16. He loves discussion.

17. He knows how to deny himself.

18. If I were more like him I would be more like Christ.

19. He isn't afraid of hard work.

20. He likes my cooking.

21. He is patient with me.

22. He will help anyone in need.

23. He doesn't write people off.

24. He will admit when he is wrong.

25. He is fun to hang out with.

26. We both hate the same foods.

27. We both love milk.

28. He loves our daughter with all his heart.

29. He cares about me.

30. He is merciful with me.

31. He learns everything he possibly can about the things he is interested in.

32. He tries to make things easier for those around him.

33. He goes the extra mile.

34. He spoils me in his own sweet way.

35. He misses me when I go out of town.

36. He plans little surprises for me for weeks in advance.

37. He aims to please.

38. He *never* really complains. (Is that even possible?)

39. He is good to his nieces and nephews.

40. He is kind to my family.

41. He knows what is funny and what isn't.

42. He doesn't give up.

43. I know if he set his mind to it he could climb Mt. Everest. He might be surprised to know that I really admire that about him.

44. He gets involved.

45. He is not selfish with his time.

46. He tries hard to see other people's points of view.

47. One of his favorite words is "charitable" and I think that describes him perfectly.

48. His vocabulary.

49. His smile.

50. His kindness wrinkles and the kindness that caused them.

51. He does not influence me to evil.

52. He brings out the best in me.

53. His eye lashes.

54. How much I want my sons to be like their father.

55. Knowing our daughters will always be secure in his love.

56. How much he loves having a beard.

57. His polished manner of speaking.

58. His eagerness.

59. His caution.

60. His kindness to strangers.

61. His ability to make friends.

62. His evangelical heart.

63. His willingness to question the status quo.

64. How much fun it is to what T.V. and movies with him. I used to hate watching movies until I started watching them with him.

65. How much fun it is to travel with him. Same scenario as above!

66. I know I can trust him completely.

67. He once biked across town to bring me eye drops at work.

68. He once brought me home a half gallon of milk during the middle of his work day.

69. He always sneaks me pizza and bagels when they have them at his work.

70. He is kind to my friends.

71. He is respectful to service personnel.

72. He does what he has to do without grumbling.

73. He takes time for people.

74. He absolutely does not hold grudges.

75. He got be to actually love sports.

76. I learn from him all the time.

77. He buys books we can go through together has a family.

78. He always has New Year's Resolutions.

79. He has the purest heart I have even known. It is hard for someone to know you really well and still you think you have a pure heart. I know him really well and I still think he has a pure heart.

80. He forgives easily.

81. He proudly wears the scarf I made him.

82. His is not easily influenced to go against what he knows is right.

83. He has firm convictions.

84. His warmth of heart.

85. His humility.

86. He appreciates fine things, but doesn't need them to enjoy life.

87. He enjoys life.

88. He takes care of things for me.

89. He is not easily spooked.

90. He is stable and dependable.

91. He is always trying to better himself.

92. He is anything but a downer.

93. He is very generous.

94. He is not a fool.

95. He puts up with a lot from me.

96. He tries to always ease my burden.

97. He loves books.

98. He is a very good neighbor/tenant.

99. He is my most tangible reminder that God really, really loves me and hears my prayers.

100. I know there is absolutely nothing he wouldn't do for me.

101. He is the best husband I have ever even heard of.

Ron Babington

Shark Week

This email I sent to my husband pretty much sums up what our week has been like around here:

We are home from Java. Thanks so much. I had a cheese danish. You know, for protein. Afton and I shared an orange juice. It was nice. I realized on the way there this is pretty much the worst week of my life not including a tragedy. I particularly mean as far as my performance as a wife and mother goes. Culminating in me accidently stepping on Afton's arm and breaking her heart. All I can say is TGIF! I love you soupy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Count Your Blessings ABC

With the whole thankfulness topic fresh in my mind from yesterday and with me needing a fresh perspective after a tough week I thought it would be fun to play an old game I learned in high school -- listing something I am thankful for every letter of the alphabet. The only rule for this game (and I do realize I am using the word game loosely) is that is has to be the first thing that comes to mind. Sometimes it can be really surprising actually! It is fun at the end to see how much more I have to be thankful for than the tons and tons and tons upon tons of things I already know about. Oh yeah, and Q, Z , and X are freebies! Just in case it doesn't come up in my alphabet soup I want to mention that I am incredibly thankful that Ron's family is coming for a visit today. I actually can't wait until they get here. Well, since as of now we have no clean towels, I guess it is a good thing I have a little time! But I am thankful that they are on their way and that the wait won't be long!

Here goes:

A. How much Afton love applesauce.
B. The Babingtons.
C. Comfy-ness
D. Having my sweet Aunt Debby while growing up.
E. Everything being in God's hands.
F. A few faithful friends.
G. God.
H. My home.
I. How much Ron loves ice cream.
J. Jesus.
K. Kindnesses.
L. Love.
M. The privilege of being a mother.
N. My Nana.
O. Onions.
P. My Papa.
Q. Ron Harvey Babington
R. Ron Harvey Babington
S. September.
T. My brother Tim.
U. Umbrellaless rain walking.
V. Voyages.
W. Western culture.
X. Peace and quiet.
Y. Youth.
Z. Grace.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Whistle While You Work

We are on our third day in a row of intense separation anxiety around here. It is the kind where even the simple act of carrying my coffee cup from the living room to the kitchen sink is met with huge tears and terrified, heartbroken wails of protest. Excusing myself to use the bathroom is, of course, much, much worse. It is also a variety of separation that is not particularly particular. It doesn't seem that separation from me personally is what causes distress (that would be kind of flattering and precious) but separation from people in general. If anyone else is here I am completely dispensable, but when it is just me and Afton here my presence seems to rank in necessity right up there with oxygen. What makes this kind of separation anxiety (aloneness anxiety I think describes it better)so trying for me is that it lasts for most of the day, because for most of the day it is just us around here, and it vanishes as soon as Daddy gets home. He never really gets to see it and so of necessity it is a burden I carry alone.

But this post is not really about that. Another post will be soon. I have a theory that separation anxiety is much like puppy love, and will perhaps elaborate on that when I have more time. This post is to be about music, so let me get to that. This morning my frazzled nerves and I visited a sweet blog that asked its reader's what they were thankful for today. The most honest answer I could come up with at the time was easily summed up in two words. Nap Time. I have tons and tons and tons upon tons of things to be thankful for but today, at least at that moment, nap time was topping the list. I wished I had an answer that would be more profound and heartwarming, but if I was being honest that was what I had to say.

Later on, at the commencement of blessed nap time number two, I looked around at the state of my house, which has become an innocent victim of our aloneness anxiety crisis, and felt I had so very much to do before tomorrow, when all I wanted to do was sit down and soak up some silence. I knew that wasn't the best option, that I would feel much better if I reclaimed my living room from its occupiers (toys, pajamas, old magazines, and yes, more than a couple dirty diapers). Before I tackled this I turned on my iPod, something I usually do while cleaning but have neglected in the past few days of survival mode. As soon as I did that everything changed. Birds started chirping, the sunshine poured through my windows, a tangible peace settled upon my living room. I was going to make it and cleaning was going to be fun!

I am so amazed by and so thankful for the transforming power of music! It does many things, but what I am most thankful for today is its power to make mundane tasks more pleasant. Its power to get you through what you've got to do. God didn't have to bless us with it, but I am so glad he did. So to nap time, I add music as the things I am most aware of being thankful for today.