14 June 2011

Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see!

My name is Saralynn, and I used to be an avid watcher of The Office.

Used to be.

And before I go on, please let me emphatically state that this post is about me and my convictions, not about you. I don’t mean to seem egotistical or anything, but I want to make it clear that I’m just describing my own experience and my own reflections, and I am in no way commenting on your experience. All clear? Ok.

That being said, if you identify with this post, feel free to comment.

So I used to watch The Office on Netflix. I never saw it on TV, but I could sit down and watch it for a couple hours at a time when I had nothing better to do. It’s been about a year now since I watched it, and this is why:

I don’t think I could have invited my Savior to come watch it with me.

I could hardly call myself spiritually mature, but I was so convicted over this that I just had to stop watching it. I’d started watching it because it had been recommended by a co-worker back when I worked in an office in 2005. And when I first started watching it in 2009, I thought it was hilarious. I identified with some of the characters and fell right into the storylines. (Dwight reminded me of someone I knew in college. Scary, I know.) But the more I watched, the more uncomfortable I became during episodes. I thought I’d be embarrassed if my husband were to watch it with me, let alone my parents. There was an excess of sexual humor, and most of the non-sexual humor was put-me-downs. Funny? Yes! But that just shows how twisted my sense of humor has become.

Finally, one day when I sat down to watch it, I had to turn it off. I just felt guilty watching it, especially when there are so many better things to watch – more wholesome. True, there are better things to do than watch TV, but even if I’m going to watch TV, I could be watching much cleaner things.

I hadn’t really thought about it again for many months. Then a few weeks ago, a few friends were talking about having seen a new movie in the theater, and they agreed it wasn’t the type of movie they’d take their moms to see, that the moms would be embarrassed.

And I thought, Why would I want to see a movie that I couldn’t share with my mom? Yes, I’ve seen those sorts of movies before (and sometimes realized too late that I shouldn’t have shared them with my mom!), but when I sit down and think about it, why? Why would I waste my time with a movie that is not clean enough that I would not be embarrassed to watch it with my mom? I’d like to think if Jesus were alive today, he’d occasionally be OK with kicking back with a bowl of popcorn and a flick. What would he want to watch? Would I have to stand in front of the TV so as not to embarrass him or myself with scantily clad women/men? Would I have to mute the sound so as not to offend him with the language? Then what’s the point?

So I’ve decided to challenge myself to really think about that every time I pick a TV show or movie to watch. If I’m going to watch something, I might as well make it something wholesome and worthwhile… Scoot over and make room for Jesus on the couch!

14 May 2011

Spring photos

 kiddos on the quilt 4-19-2011 6-28-11 PM

Timothy and Anna on Anna’s quilt, courtesy of Grandma KathyTimothy 4-19-2011 6-34-51 PM

My goofball

  Easter egg hunt 4-23-2011 10-22-59 AM

At my aunt’s church for the Easter Egg Hunt

 Neges at the cross closeup 4-24-2011 12-06-08 AM

Timothy, Anna, and me in front of the blossoming cross on Easter morning – April 24, 2011

  birthday lilies with Timo 4-24-2011 7-31-22 AM

Timothy and me with my birthday lilies

looking at photo 4-24-2011 1-39-27 AM

My cousin Alyssa’s birthday gift was a framed photo she took at Thanksgiving of Timothy and me when I was pregnant with Anna.

mama & anna 4-24-2011 1-57-16 AM 

Anna the cutie! She looks so much like Timothy when he was this age!

anna petting a bunny 4-25-2011 5-30-36 AM

We got to visit a small animal farm with my aunt – bunnies, chickens, goats, and ducks!

timothy & goat 4-25-2011 5-42-12 AM

10 April 2011

Where does the Easter bunny fit in?

This year I am realizing that I need to figure out how to address some cross-cultural complications like the Easter bunny and Santa Claus. When I say cross-cultural, I'm not talking about the difference between my American culture and my husband's Nigerian culture. Rather, I'm talking about the difference between my American culture and my Christian counter-culture.


When I was a kid, we did absolutely nothing with the Easter bunny and next to nothing with Santa Claus. They weren't forbidden or anything, but I don't remember a time when they figured into our celebrations. As far back as I can remember, we knew that our Christmas presents were from our parents and other relations. And I don't have a single memory of the Easter bunny at all.


Don't get me wrong. we still celebrated American aspects of Christmas and Easter. Every Easter when I was little, we decorated Easter eggs, and we had egg hunts. Mom would put little treats in the eggs, but usually fun or healthy things like sugar-free gum and whistles.


But we were at the mall yesterday, and Timothy saw that there was a display set up for having your photo taken with the Easter bunny. And I'm just not sure if I should go there.


So I guess I am wondering what some of you, my friends, do to balance the American celebration of Easter and the Christian celebration of the resurrection. Do you celebrate them as two separate entities? Do you nix "Easter" altogether and just celebrate the resurrection? Do you do both and just explain how they fit together? Or do you figure Easter is just a fun little holiday for kids and let them enjoy chocolate and bunnies? I am super curious how you all do it. Please comment!

28 February 2011

Arkansas

The only reason I have ever gone to Arkansas intentionally is to visit my friend Micah. I was fifteen the first time I set foot in Arkansas. I was home-schooling that year (by my own choice), and my parents took me on a month-long tour of the southwestern U.S. to visit family friends. It was wonderful! Our furthest stop East was going to be in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but I encouraged my parents to visit fellow missionary friends in Arkansas, so we drove a few extra hours into Arkansas to see our friends. They’d left Nigeria almost five years previously, so it ended up being a nice reunion.

hazy Ozarks

The thing I remember most about Arkansas, though, is the way I felt driving through the mountains. It was a late wintry afternoon, with the sun barely above the horizon, and the Ozarks were hazy, as though covered in a blanket of mist. I’m a sucker for mountains, and these took my breath away. They were that gorgeous. Although this is not my own photo (http://arkansastravelnursingjobs.com/regions.html), it is exactly the way I remember the Ozarks.

So thank you, Micah, for living in Arkansas – for a couple of great visits and for introducing me to the beauty of your home state.

14 February 2011

Lots of babies – a plea

First, let me say that I am so grateful for MOPS in all three locations I’ve attended – for wonderful people like Christine, Marcie, and Paige. They are all wonderful women of God, and I am so blessed by their leadership. It was through MOPS (and library story time)in Visalia that I met my dear friend Heather. And here in Hinesville it’s been a lifesaver with play dates and all.

I am really grateful for MOPS!

So when I found out that a young lady at my table here is having quadruplets this spring, I really wanted to help somehow. I’ve let her know I want to help in all the conventional ways – babysitting her toddler, bringing meals, buying groceries, etc. But I wish I could think of unconventional ways to help. I am open to suggestions.

Needless to say, I can’t even imagine how stressful it must be to have quadruplets, nor the pain and inconvenience related to the pregnancy. It just isn’t within my realm of comprehension. I’m having enough trouble with my two kids; what would it be like to have five kids ages two and under?

I know I have a lot of friends out there with babies, so you can relate to my feeling of being at a loss.

I know we’re all hurting for cash these days (well, most of us), so can you imagine having to buy diapers for four babies at once? We’re talking about forty diapers a day, at least at first. Uh huh. Forty.

So I am sending out a plea for coupons. I know many of us can use diaper coupons ourselves, but imagine how much this friend needs them. Would you be willing to donate one or two coupons if you receive them?

And I’m starting to collect other things, too – clothes, bibs, white onesies (all sizes), preemie clothes, etc. – so if you feel burdened for this friend of mine, please let me know. Let’s rally around my friend and make this time less stressful for her, even though you don’t know her!

Oh, and by the way, all four babies are BOYS!

10 February 2011

Arizona

Grand Canyon 1998.bmp  I have lots of memories of Arizona, mostly because it is right next to California, so I’ve driven through it many times, both as a child and as an adult, although more as a child, I suppose. I’ve had great experiences and awful experiences in that state. My highlights include ice-skating when I was 15, eating at Chretin’s Mexican Food (YUM!), seeing a full rainbow over Tucson, tubing down a creek, and watching a game during Padres’ spring training when I was 11. On the other end of the spectrum are my memories of getting stuck for a week when my car broke down, getting my first and only ever traffic ticket, getting dehydrated while on a forced hike to build “teamwork” during orientation for a mission trip, and being sick at my mom’s cousin’s house. Oh yes, lots of wonderful memories.

But I think my favorite memories are those when we were camping at the Grand Canyon.

I’ve never hiked the Grand Canyon, as my sister has, but I have enjoyed it from the top.

Wow.

God certainly has an artistic flair.

When I was 18, my aunt and uncle took me camping on the North Rim, and I remember hiking along the edge one afternoon by myself, listening to a tape (yes, a cassette tape) of Christian contemporary music. It was one of those afternoons you never forget, between the scenery and the meditations…and calling my pseudo “boyfriend” in Nigeria only to have him “break up” with me on the phone.

I am laughing about it now. Oh dear. What a sorry little sap I was as a teenager. I am so thankful for God’s grace – and His sense of humor!

So yes, I have fond memories of Arizona.

at the Grand Canyon 2008.bmp

(The photos were taken in January 1998 on the South Rim. The stuffed lion, TJ, went with me everywhere. Can you see I’m wearing a Wheaton sweatshirt?)

05 February 2011

Alabama

What a difficult state with which to begin! Although I’ve been to Alabama several times, I don’t have any memories that are really worthy of a short memoir, unless you count going to the playground after dark when it was in the 40s F, without winter clothes on. That was definitely exciting.

But no, after this past Thanksgiving, when I think of Alabama, I think of my first full football game.

Granted, I did see bits and pieces of a football game when I spent Christmas with my friends the SIngers in Delaware my first year of college. But at the time, I was trying to avoid the game, concentrating much more on the people I was with.

This time, I actually tried to pay attention to the latter half of the game. Alabama was playing Auburn, and my uncle and cousins were watching the game on DVR, after our having been out all day doing Black Friday shopping.

I know zero about American football except that it’s brutal to the body and takes FOREVER. Most of the game is time between plays, which drives me bonkers. I’m of the opinion, as with real football, that games should be continuous. There should always be something to watch. But anyway, there I was, watching my first football game. I even asked a few questions as I tried to figure out what was what and how the game worked. Not that I really care, but I had nothing better to do, since Timothy was in bed already.

So I’m afraid that is my Alabama memory. In years to come, I can say I saw my first American football game, featuring Alabama, on Black Friday 2010.

And no, I will not be watching the Super Bowl!

20 January 2011

Flexing my wings

I am sorely out of practice in writing creatively. When I was younger, most of my work was fictional, but I began to realize at first in high school and then throughout college that my best writing is actually creative nonfiction. So it made sense to try a blog. I had some great material when I first started it while I was in Nigeria, but here, I’m subject so some censorship when I write about my own life and family, so for a few weeks, I’m going to get some practice writing here with a series of posts to keep me disciplined. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, but a simple one to begin with is writing a brief piece somehow related to each of the states to which I’ve been. Since I don’t have the energy to think of any particularly interesting order in which to arrange them, I’ll just go with alphabetical. So let’s begin with Alabama.

18 January 2011

Another day in the life of a MOP

Today is my first day of “real life,” that is, being home alone with my two kids. After spending four weeks visiting and helping me out, my mom has traveled back to Nigeria, and after paternity leave and several long weekends in a row, my husband is back to a regular schedule at work.

So how has it gone so far?

Good question.

I was supposed to be up around 0745 to run an errand but couldn’t drag myself out of bed until 0945. Our nights with Anna have been weird anyway, but especially the last few days. We’re dealing with some sort of virus in our family, and Anna’s symptoms are eating less and spitting up more. Lots of fun, let me tell you. So I was still tired when I forced myself to get up at 0945. By then, Timothy – who had probably been awake for at least an hour but who is trained to stay in bed until I tell him to get up – had gone pee-pee in his “big-boy pants” (training pants/Pull-Ups). Not a big deal, but definitely not a step in the right direction. For whatever reason, no matter how many times I tell him, he doesn’t understand that he can get up out of bed to go potty without asking or telling me. *sigh* So wet jammies into the hamper, a clean big-boy pant, and clean clothes for Timothy. Anna, meanwhile, was being a little angel and just sleeping peacefully.

We all packed into the car… Hang on. This seems like a good time to gripe about the car for a minute. Our wonderful little Forester has been great to us. It’s gotten us where we’ve needed to go and has never broken down in the middle of a drive. We’ve tried to maintain it well and spent a bundle on new tires and a new timing belt. It’s seen its share of scrapes, but it’s been a trusty little trooper.

But it has its drawbacks. We didn’t really realize these when we bought it, but now we know what will be different about the next car we buy. There are two main concerns: First, the backseat is too close to the front seat; and second, the middle belt in the rear is not retractable. These seem like tiny gripes, but they have presented a whole lot of problems to us. The most immediate of these problems is that we cannot put Anna’s carseat in the center of the back seat, where it is safest. She has to sit on either the driver’s or passenger’s side in the rear. The trouble is that because of not enough space between the rear and front seats, her carseat doesn’t actually fit on either side. It is uncomfortable for me to drive when she is behind me; I have to push my seat all the way forward, and my legs are all cramped and tight. And I’m only 5’6”. You can imagine what it’s like for David, who is 6’2”. But if I put her on the passenger’s side, when I drive and my husband is a passenger (which is often the case, since I’m a control freak when it comes to driving), it’s the passenger seat that has to go all the way forward, and my husband gets cramped. So it’s a real problem. I never would have guessed when we bought the car that there would not be enough space for a rear-facing carseat, but I guess we learn something new every day.

So there we were, somehow fitting into our car. We ran our errand and then came back home to eat breakfast. No problems there. Timothy and I were both happy, and Anna ate afterwards, so we were just peachy. Timothy sat down to watch a movie, and I – still battling this virus – also sat down at the computer to watch something while I burped Anna, knowing she would spit up in a fountain if I didn’t thoroughly burp her. I knew we needed to go to Walmart, but I also knew that we had an errand to run at noon, so I figured we’d kill two birds with one stone and go in one trip. We’d had breakfast so late I figured we could just eat a snack while we were out and then have something more substantial when we got back home mid-afternoon, before Timothy’s nap.

So around noon, we completed our errand with the car and then headed to Walmart for a mid-week shopping trip. I have started to make shopping lists, but somehow, I still end up going to Walmart pretty much every other day. But today it was serious. We are out of milk and almost out of fruit. I can hardly believe it, since I bought a whole lot of fruit just this past Friday. There must be a wormhole in our kitchen specifically for fruit…and pens. We keep losing pens.

By this time, Timothy was getting hungry, so I went through a Wendy’s drive-thru to get us a snack. Very healthy, I know, but please don’t judge me. I have a newborn and a three-year-old. After we placed our order, while we were waiting to pay, Anna woke up in her carseat and started screaming. So instead of heading straight into Walmart, I parked in an out-of-the-way space and took her out of the carseat to feed her if she was hungry. First, though, she needed a diaper change, for she was leaking. But it was drizzly outside, so I got Timothy to sit in the front seat so I’d have room in the backseat to change Anna.

And that’s when Timothy decided to be naughty. Nothing serious, but enough to drive me crazy. Now, mind you, the last two times I’ve been to Walmart with Timothy, he’s been a menace. While my mom was here, I tended to leave him at home with her during his nap and do a Walmart run on my own. But I can’t do  that anymore, so I figured I’d have to try taking him. But when he started misbehaving before we even set foot into Walmart, I knew I was doomed. So I told him if he touched the emergency brake one more time, we were going home. Don’t you know it, he touched the brake, just to see what I’d do. Well, I am true to my word when it comes to threats. I got him back into his booster seat, put Anna back in her carseat (after she’d finished her meal), and I took away Timothy’s milkshake. We were going home. Timothy immediately unbuckled himself and lunged for the milkshake in the front seat. So I told him that when we got home, I was going to have to put his carseat back in and take out the booster until he learned that he can’t unbuckle himself without permission.

The whole way home, Timothy whined that he wanted his milkshake and the book he’d dropped on the floor of the car. I told him he could have his milkshake after his nap only if he behaved. So then he said he was thirsty, so I said I’d get him a drink of water when we got home. But he said he wanted milk.

As I mentioned earlier, we have no milk.

But he didn’t believe me and started crying snd screaming that he wanted milk.

We got home, got his shoes off, and gave him a cup of water. But he refused to go potty before his nap. So he was punished and finally agreed to go potty. When I started this post at 1417, he was finally in his bed, and I heard him whining that he wanted his milkshake…

I’d forgotten another errand I had to run at 1420, so I had to get Timothy up from his bed (in which he was anything but napping) and back in the car. Ten minutes later, we were home again, and he was sent back upstairs to nap. Now, at 1510, he is singing Christmas carols, after having been in his bed over 40 minutes.

And Anna, meanwhile, has been a perfect little angel – sleeping peacefully or quietly looking around, watching everything. And she’s the one who’s sick!

Whoever said the threes are worse than the twos was definitely right. Lord, help us all.