Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Buckley O'Weaver

As we lead up to St. Patrick's day, I felt it appropriate to do a tribute post to the Irishman in the house....our dog.

Here reads the description of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier from the AKC website (emphasis added): 

A truly Irish breed, the "Wheaten" has a special connection to St. Patrick's Day, having first appeared in the show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937. The name of this breed describes the characteristics of the coat–soft, silky, with a gentle wave, and of warm wheaten color. 

Underneath is a formidable dog that enjoys plenty of exercise every day. Most Wheatens are natural greeters towards people, and extremely alert in their surroundings. They are quick learners and love to travel with their owners. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was first recognized by the AKC in 1973. 

Known for more than 200 years in Ireland, the "Wheaten" shares common ancestry with the Kerry Blue and the Irish Terrier, but was not owned by the landed gentry. They were the poor man's dog, an all-purpose farm dog, given to patrolling the borders of small farms, ridding them of vermin, herding sheep and hunting with his master.

Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other terriers but they are true terriers and will be more active than many other breeds, enjoying plenty of exercise every day. They relate well to children and can adapt to city, country, and suburban life. The Wheaten is single coated and sheds minimally, but needs regular grooming to keep its coat mat free.

Clearly we picked the right breed for our family since we are not, in fact, landed gentry (despite the fact that we currently own 2 properties. Ugh. More on that another time).   Buckley has been a fantastic dog for us, first as a newlyweds, then as parents of a baby, now toddler.  He is exceptional with our little girl, and she loves him.  In fact, every morning, when her fussing gets loud enough to rouse me from slumber, I go into her room, pull her out of her crib and the first thing she says is not "mama!" or "baba (bottle)", it's "woof woof." 

Descriptions are correct that this breed needs lots of activity.  Even from his youngest days he has been a great walking, jogging and hiking companion with seeming boundless energy.  The downside to that energy is that he has always been a leash puller, despite our best (well, sort of ) efforts at training.  And his energy is only limited by the temperature and length of his coat.  See, Wheatens, or at least our Wheaten, get uncomfortably hot pretty easily.  One sunny Saturday, we took young Buckley  to a hike up Blood Mountain.  Once we'd reached the top, poor pup was hot and thirsty, seeking water at any cost.  He found a small, stagnant mud puddle and proceeded to roll himself completely around in the gray soupy muck, much to the chagrin of passers-by.  We were frozen, wanting to pull his squirmy body out of the nastiness, yet entranced by the spectacle.  Gosh he was dirty after that. That's our Buckley, sad eyes, playful heart.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to our little Irishman.  Maybe we'll give him a sip of beer tomorrow....just to watch him sneeze.  Works every time.

Will you be celebrating your Irish Heritage on the 17th...or just wearing green so you don't get hassled by co-workers and store clerks?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Woman Vs. Nature

The weather was stunningly beautiful in Georgia this weekend.  It's that time of year here when the mornings and evenings are cool enough where you wish you had an extra layer when you go to your friends house for a cookout.  The days are warm in the sun, cool in the shade, and the pollen isn't so thick that you feel like you're breathing through cheesecloth. That time will come...soon.  For weeks in the spring, and a few weeks in the fall, my husband and I quell our "Atlanta sucks" grumbles and enjoy weekends like this one. 

After a couple hours of pick-up soccer with our regular Saturday crew, my body ached a bit, yet somehow because of the blissfully sunny, temperate day, I was motivated to do yard work.  I have an odd relationship to yard work, not unlike my relationship to running, I suppose.  I feel good and satisfied when it's over, but I don't really enjoy myself while I'm doing it.  I so want to be the person whose soul is deeply satisfied by digging in rich soil, pulling weeds, mowing lawns, raking leaves.  I want to love nature and feel in harmony with it, not at war, as I often do when I'm bagging endless piles of leaves.  On paper, I should really enjoy yardwork:  I'm a self-confessed tough-girl, love the outdoors, hiking, etc.  I grew up in the country (that is now more suburb than woodlands, but that's another story) running around barefooted in creeks and leafpiles.  I love sports and physical exercise, but doggone if working in the yard doesn't just make me feel itchy and sweaty.  My husband would be the first to attest at my absolute prissy attitude toward anything resembling outdoor chores.  I huff and puff with the lawnmower cutting uneven rows, grumbling about how sweaty I'm getting.  I hate getting scrapes and burns from pulling underbrush and thistles.  My back aches after planting flowers.  Bagging leaves, the chore which I so heroically took on Saturday, is a total drag.  But, determined to conquer my bad attitude, I marched up the hill like the Grand Old Duke of York, hoping and praying Jeff would see my self-sacrifice and be impressed with my valor.  Trying to look muscly and tough, my workrate was really quite paltry. I think I filled 5 or 6 bags, but not without knocking them over, bending the sides with the rake so the big bundle you have squeezed between rake surface and (elbow-length gloved) hand goes careening over the side of the toddling bag and back to the ground.  Boo. 

I hope I will grow to appreciate tilling the soil and working the land.  It's quite Biblical (like as in, God cursed Adam with the duty after he ate the dadgum apple and blamed Eve).  But perhaps I need a few more years of wisdom.  I think of my grandparents and how Grandpa Evan would spend hours chopping logs.  He built up a woodpile the size of a school bus and he must've figured axe therapy was a hell of a lot cheaper than paying a shrink. AND, you could have endless hours of warmth in the hearth. My Oma in Michigan had a cherry tree in her back yard that she would tend to and yield gorgeous fruit from. She took pride in her beautiful rosebushes that lined the fence.  Yes I hope for that patient wisdom that desires to garden, with all it's joys and frustrations.  But for now, I just have to confess that this prissy missy would MUCH rather be playing soccer on Saturdays than getting pesky dirt under my fingernails.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Theology Thursday: Lent and Parenting

I remembered! It's Thursday, and while I'd planned to do some sort of more focused Lent-related post today -  You know, why do it, some good resources, etc. - I will instead share a journal entry I made this morning.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. - Prov 3

One of today's readings, and SUCH a familiar passage, but one we need to say to ourselves every hour probably.  There is too much that I fret about, try to control, or think I am wise about.  Yes, He has enabled me some wisdom, but His is infinitely greater.

Parenting is humbling, and an arena wherein I trust God too little, nor do I trust myself much, honestly.  The past week or so has been trying as our little 15 month old has more an more of a mind of her own, and has been especially whiny and needy.  Her naps have been sporadic, and her night sleep on occasion as well.  Of course poor sleep begets poor sleep and makes little babies fussy.  Whether it’s teething, pollen, bad parenting or just a phase, I have felt anger well up in me this week that has surprised me.

Yesterday, the first day that we took on the discipline of our Lenten fast, is of course when I was stretched by her.  It was rainy and gloomy, I was hungry much of the day, Jeff had a late meeting so was not home until after she was in bed.  At some point in the afternoon, I attempted (for a second time) to put her down for a nap.  I KNEW she was tired, and I had loads of things to do but she just cried and stomped and would NOT sleep.  I jerked open the door to her room and yelled “what!” We were both taken aback I think, She stopped her whining for a moment and I felt immediately awful and morphed into kinder tones. But inside, oh inside my blood was boiling, and I'm pretty sure I hated her in that moment. 

Whether it was the enemy’s temptations on our first day of Lent, or God’s tender discipline and exposing of my heart I know not, but I am yet again reminded how much I need Him.  Later we took a trip to the gym just so I could put her in the childcare and get a breather for an hour. When I picked her up she started crying and didn’t stop until we were home.  The anger and bitterness started to well up yet again, even after listening to an hour podcast on the Purpose of Lent and getting me all pumped up!  Of course in hindsight, it seems one of the purposes of Lent is exactly that, to expose our hidden anger, bitterness and pride.  But dang, day 1, really!?  

I dreaded the evening ahead, counting the hours until Jeff got home and I could shower or just be away.  But you know, after she had a snack and some milk, she turned a corner.  Suddenly she was my sweet little girl again and we just rolled on the floor and I tickled her til she couldn’t control her giggles.  It was incredibly sweet, a moment of clarity within my little doom loop.  Despite the struggles, she brings us great joy and I’m so thankful. 

Lesson learned. For now.  I'm sure it will be promptly forgotten if the same thing happens next week. So a final Theology Thursday point to that ends:  we need Lent, and other holidays and feasts that happen every year, over and over again like the seasons.   Our memories are incredibly short, at least mine is. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Jeff and I got married seven March 6ths ago.  While we've never been big on celebrations, we felt like this one needed some extra love.  Seven years and one baby in we decided on a little getaway.  Not too far, so as to burden any friend or family member with caring for our baby for too long, but away enough to feel...away.  It's amazing what thrills you when you become a parent, and this anniversary weekend for me, was completely emblematic of what its like to celebrate US as we are now, still in love, but in very different ways than we were 7 years ago. 

What Would You Do With a Free Day?

Our actual anniversary fell on Sunday, so we decided to celebrate Saturday night.  But first, the weekend kicked off with me getting a day to myself.  Jeff took off work and agreed to keep Hadley all day Friday.  I left fairly early,  contented to sip coffee and read the paper in peace at a local coffee shop (insert quick trip to tag office - a day cannot be entirely non-functional).  I then meandered to the mall to make some returns and try on a bunch of clothes at Anthropologie (long story). I took FOREVER.  If you've ever shopped with me (that's you mom and sister!) you know it can be laborious. Well I could think of nothing better to do without the encumbrance of time constraints than to shop for clothes.  WHY do I take so long? Because I don't like doing it. I'm too analytical about purchase decisions, I'm not entirely comfortable with my body or how I look in clothes and I hate spending money.  But anniversary Friday, I psyched myself up and I actually enjoyed the pampering of the dressing room attendant (well, "enjoyed" may be a strong word, lets just say the whole thing didn't make me all sweaty red-faced.  I think mostly because I had the luxury of time. ).  I even ended up with some clothes that I (might) like.

After a fairly successful shop stop, I got my eyebrows waxed. That's pamper-ey right? Then, almost thoroughly me-ed out, I went home, even managing to ignore the whines of my girl as I whisked back out the gym.  As evening drew near, I took a long long shower, then the three of us went out for Mexican food.  It was fun and by the end of the day I felt incredibly relaxed.

Will Trade Childcare for Laundry

View of Atlanta from our room
As for Saturday night, an oh-so-generous friend volunteered to watch our daughter for the night, under the condition that she could do laundry at our place.  Uuuh.  Deal.  She said that theyhad a grand old time, and Jeff and I, well we did too.  While the fancy hotel and overpriced sushi place were amazing, I truly think we enjoyed the little things with most pleasure.  We sat in the hotel's lovely lobby sipping 5 o'clock beers, reading the paper and joking with each other about what conference must be in town to gather the odd variety of people milling about.  I took a LONG bath in the incredibly comfy big bathtub in the hotel room. We pulled back the curtains and just stared at the Atlanta skyline, gray and rainy though it was that dusk.  We took our time at dinner, ordered expensive things (I had to breathe deeply and be re-assured by Jeff many times that this was okay to do once in a while).  We walked arm in arm to and from dinner, through the chilly rain, and it was lovely.

When in Buckhead....Act Like You're in England

One of the delights of being "away" was the prospect of sleeping in.  Given that our little bundle of joy has a bit of an early waking habit, sleeping in past 7, and waking of our own volition was a luxury to anticipate.  Unfortunately, Jeff was up at 5, and I at 7, unable to get back to sleep.  BUT, at least we were able to just relax.  We sipped hotel-room coffee and read the paper propped on cushy feather pillows.  It was fabulous.

Our kind babysitter took Hadley to church Sunday morning, so we knew we were free until noon.  But rather than visit a museum, or pop over to Lenox to shop some more, we felt it fitting to enjoy our child-free time together by going to a nearby pub to watch an English League soccer match.  This is another luxury which we don't enjoy very often, watching those 8:30am European games in a pub setting.  And after our lean, hip sushi night, there was nothing we craved more than a big greasy Irish breakfast and some footie.  And it was a fantastic match. Wins all around on that windy, gray anniversary morning.   We truly enjoyed each other last weekend, and the fondness of common rituals that in our current rhythm of life are not so common.  An anniversary well spent.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Oh What a Universe

"Wouldn't it be a lovely headline... ' Life is Beautiful ' on the New York Times? "
- Rufus Wainwright, "Oh What A World"

Last Saturday I had some restless sleep. At about 1am I took at peak at Twitter and was surprised to see author / pastor / speaker Rob Bell as a top Twitter trend.  Okay, I know this story is SO last week, but since reading about Bell's forthcoming book "Love Wins....,"  I've been doing a good bit of reading and stewing on the issues of Salvation, Heaven, Hell and bathroom renovations (but that's a separate issue).  Critics quickly pounced on the "universalist" implications of his book promo video.  Bloggers called for calm.  Tweeters wrote Mr. Bell off. The New York Times picked up the story.  It's been a fascinating week if you're into this sort of thing.

Among the things I've been reading:
Greg Boyd's take on the  "Is Rob Bell a Universalist" issue.  Hint: He's actually read Bell's book.

A thorough article on hell from Tim Keller. 

And, because I am a confessed quote-o-phile, I will leave readers with this thought-provoking little gem from Bishop Kallistos Ware, Orthodox Author and Theologian.  (h/t theycallmepastorbryan )
How are we to bring into concord the two principles, 'God is love', and 'Human beings are free'? For the time being we cannot do more than hold fast with equal firmness to both principles at once, while admitting that the manner of their ultimate harmonization remains a mystery beyond our present comprehension… Our belief in human freedom means that we have no right to categorically affirm, 'All *must* be saved.' But our faith in God's love makes us dare to *hope* that all will be saved… Hell exists as a possibility because free will exists. Yet, trusting in the inexhaustable attractiveness of God's love, we venture to express the hope – it is no more than a hope – that in the end… we shall find that there is nobody there. Let us leave the last word, then, with St Silouan of Mount Athos: 'Love could not bear that… We must pray for all.'
        - Kallistos Ware | The Inner Kingdom

Is there something worth adding to my reading list? Have you heard about this hullabaloo? Bathroom renovation suggestions? j. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Theology Thursday

Maybe this is the start of something wonderful...a way to focus my blogging energies toward topical posts, since the more I live I discover that I like the rhythm of routine.

So for this inaugural Theology Thursday post, I will simply post some quotes that have struck me this past week.  I don't know what it is about quotations that can so often capture the essence of a thought or idea, be it absurd (see any number of the latest Charlie Sheen interview quotes), or profound. Here are a few for today, hopefully they venture closer to profundity

"Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" - Finley Peter Dunne, as quoted by journalist (and Furman Graduate) David Gibson when asked what he hopes to accomplish in his work.

This quote challenges me because I am sorely lacking in both comforting afflicted, and being willing to disrupt the comfortable. Probably because I'm too often one of the comfortable.

"Divine Zeal is as a fire, but it does not heat the blood, it cools it and reduces it to a calm state. The zeal of the carnal mind is always accompanied by heating of the blood and by an invasion of swarms of thoughts and fancies." - St. Isaac the Syrian

I find this quote particularly poignant in light of today's reactionary society. The boiling blood of anger and self-righteousness can be particularly evident among Christians, and particularly through blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. While I am not prone to angry outbursts in person or in print, I am prone to judging those who are, and for that, my own "Divine Zeal" need not lead me to "needless swarms of thoughts," but to contemplation of my own heart.

And to that end, I would be remiss to not point reader(s) ;-) to a blog post I found most illuminating this week, from a blogger who is a new favorite.
Read How to Write a Controversial Blog Post With No Regrets. It's a good primer for avoiding saying things with heated blood in most online contexts.

Any quotes that have struck you this week (they needn't be theological in nature)?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Signs of the Age

10 Signs that I'm Old(er).  In no particular order.

10.  We just got our "Willmaker Plus" software in the mail. Blech.
9.  I've been to bed before 9:30 twice this week.
8.  The show Parenthood makes me cry, like weekly.
7.  I thought The Hangover was pretty funny, but was NOT amused by all the baby shenanigans.
6.  When I see teenagers at our local park, I sort of grumble to myself, "hmph. crazy teenagers...go somewhere else to smoke and makeout."
5.  I *sometimes* turn it to B98.5 (easy listening)..just for nostalgia. (But if I listen too long I feel like I'm at the dentist. )
4.  I met an acquaintance for lunch this week.  We talked a lot about home improvements.
3.  When the local highschool lets out and I see kids (yes, I said "kids") walking home, I sometimes think "how did your parent let you out of the house wearing that!"
2. I always regret not bringing ear plugs to concerts.
1.  I recently spent way too much (by my meager standards) for a way-to-little container of "facial creme." Because that's what one does when one becomes an adult. I think.