Thursday, July 31, 2008

My August To-do list:

Anyone who would like to help will get free gingersnaps and coffee.

House chores:

  • Work on (not necessarily finish) brick pathway in backyard
  • Paint dining room
  • Clean walls (yucky dusty things)
  • Shampoo rugs
  • Maybe some artwork for our back fence? I want to hang a window and door frame on it.
  • Organize kitchen shelves

Youth Group:

  • Write out talent show skit
  • Plan construction for stage
  • Find someone to run sound for talent show
  • Schedule, schedule, schedule!


  • Write some short stories
  • Design some winter clothes


  • Buy new computer
  • Plan schoolwork


  • Plan Stuart’s and India’s birthday parties

Go to:

  • Venice CafĂ© with David (sorry, no one else is invited)
  • Magic House
  • Butterfly House
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Grant’s Farm

Everything else has to wait until September…

Monday, July 28, 2008

Humility is so…humbling

Today, I was in the trendy, progressive, upscale area of the city known as the Central West End. There they are, with their uptight attitudes, expensive clothes, stylish haircuts, and big, gas-guzzling SUV’s (though everyone is also very environmentally-sensitive, of course. Hah.), and there’s me in tie-dye, a ponytail, and bad-driving skills. Beware, my shiny vehicle. The weirdo housewife is careering toward us!

I don’t realize just how much pride I have until I am in humiliating situations like this (you know, trying to parallel park my mini-van while everyone is turning their nose up at me). Logically, it is obvious that if I’m embarrassed, it’s because I have Pride. If I am truly humble, without the need for others’ approval or admiration, than it doesn’t matter if I can’t parallel park worth a damn. Or that I sometimes go out looking scruffy. Or that I have a preschooler (I forgot to mention that the denizens of the Central West End also Disapprove of Breeding).

And so I revel in these moments of extreme humiliation. The shedding of pride is a horribly painful process, and one which I expect will not be complete until the next world, but think of the freedom that comes with it…the ability to do what I need to do, what I want to do, how I want to do it, without continually living with the fear of opinions. If I am already a laughingstock, what else is there to lose? Or, as Salvador Dali so eloquently stated it, ‘The difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad.’ And even better, ‘God resists the proud, but is near to those who are humble in heart.’

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Horse Camp and Modern Country Life

I’ll keep this post brief…I have just been too busy to sit down and write anything. Last week Malachi and Anastasia participated in a VBS and this week Stuart, Anastasia and Malachi are going to a Horse Camp everyday at Avalon Horse Farm in Milstadt, IL. Yesterday was the first day and it was wonderful. The kids cleaned stalls, rode horses, brushed their horses, cleaned stalls again- and had a good attitude the whole time. They are excited to go back everyday but have already informed me they are no longer interested in owning horses. It’s just too much work!

India is spending a couple days with grandma and grandpa so I took the time to wander around the farm, finish a book (The Gunslinger, by Stephen King) and then drive into Belleville to get a tolerable cup of coffee. I do love being in the country, but I would prefer to actually be in ‘more’ country- this area has nice rolling fields, open pastureland, and then suddenly there are these suburban-type neighborhoods popping out of nowhere, with a bunch of enormous, identical-looking vinyl-sided houses. If you’re going to make me live someplace far from coffeeshops and museums then at least give me decrepit old farmhouses and crumbling tombstones. Oh well. That’s progress for you. It’s always…progressing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Mean, Green Mother

This morning my offspring informed me that I was ‘tough’. The conversation started with the boys commenting on how firm Anastasia is with her guinea pigs- she’s just like me, they informed me. India too. We’re ‘tough’ women. We have grit. I asked if that meant I was mean; Malachi immediately said no but Stuart wavered for a moment before agreeing with Malachi. Both the boys were quick to point out that being a tough woman is better than being the stereotypical swooning female. I don’t know if that makes me feel better or not. I mean, it comes to no surprise that my children view me as, ahem, firm. But now of course I have to worry- are they just being polite? Are they really afraid of saying what they think? Am I ruining my children by my lack of female tenderness? I don’t know, but I will never forget the face Stuart made when I asked for his opinion- eyes open wide, eyebrows raised, oh yea mom, you’re tough.

Monday, July 14, 2008

this week in the Life of the Holdens…

Another busy week of birthdays, grandmas, and VBS. David’s birthday was Friday so we spent a couple days celebrating that (Botanical Gardens and Grandma Peggy’s) and this week Malachi and Anastasia are attending Vacation Bible School at Memorial Presbyterian. Apparently I’m raising little rebels here. The boys are plotting a strike against the VBS since one of the activities encourages competition between boys and girls, which we strongly discourage in our household.

Stuart, India and I hung out in the Loop while the other two kids were doing expressive dance to cheesy kids songs (Sorry, I have a bad attitude toward VBS). I definitely think we had more fun- Bread Co, Plowsharing, Sunshine Daydream, and Bubble Tea. Plus a beautiful day with lots of walking.

Now we’re home again, doing some laundry, playing some computer games, and basically just chilling. Hopefully the rest of the week will go as well!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mosh Pits, Pow wows and Christians

On Sunday, we returned from our somewhat annual trek to Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, IL. It was a good Cornerstone. The weather was amazingly beautiful- a storm threatened one night but miraculously split and went north and south of us (very thoughtful of it- storms and tents just don’t mix well!) Other than that, the skies were pretty clear and the thermometer never topped 85.

There is a lot I could say about the strange mix of people and events that comprise Cornerstone. But for now I’ll stick to the highlights-

Some Native Americans (mostly Crow, I think) shared their drumming and dancing. It was beautiful and inspiring. Because they are Christians, they are ostracized by their own communities (even a lot of other Christian Indians disapprove of the preservation of their traditions mixed with the Christian faith. Sigh).

The Imaginarium section of Cornerstone, which usually focuses on fantasy/sci fi, had a ‘British’ theme this year. Our kids got to play Cricket!

Over the Rhine put on their usual fantastic midnight, electrified concert. David and I dragged ourselves there with our friend Bob Havens while Gail stayed at the campsite with our sleeping children. It was definitely worth it. Karin threw in the f-word in the middle of one of their songs. I was so feckin offended.

Poor Stuart. The children were given more freedom this year, as long as they stayed together or stayed in the spot we left them. All Stuart wanted to do was hang out at some of the noise stages to hear people growl along to distorted guitars and drum-pounding. Mind you, these tents/stages are ALL OVER the campgrounds and can be heard anywhere at any time of the day. But every time we left him at a tent and told him to ‘stay put until we returned,’ something would go wrong and the band would stop playing, or the tent would take a break, or whatever. So there he was, surrounded by loud music for three days, and never got to enjoy it. Is that irony or what?

Speaking of irony, the last day we were there Anastasia turned to me and said, ‘I noticed that a lot of people here are Christians!’ Well, yea, that is typically what happens at a Christian music festival.

And I could go on…but this post is long enough, so I’ll have to continue on another day!