All by Myself

I’ve been running on empty for a while now. I looked at the calendar;  the last time I was by myself was three weeks ago when I had a doctor’s appointment. Before that, it was another 3 weeks for my previous appointment. For three straight weeks, I’ve been in the company of and responsible for somebody. As a couch potato who loved living alone, this has been very draining for me. I need alone time to recharge, even when the babies are asleep, and I get to do my own thing, I still have to be on guard and I don’t feel really relaxed.

I’ve read different articles and such about having a large family and they will list “your child never has to look far for someone to play with” as a positive for having more than two children. But what they don’t say, and what doesn’t become painfully obvious until after you’ve already had three children is: THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE AROUND. Sure it can be a positive thing for your children with their siblings. But what about parents?

Because Ryan is the selfless, caring husband and father that he is, devoted to the mental health of the household, he has made the offer many times that when I need a break, a real break, we could make it happen. I tried to last until Thanksgiving break, I really really did. But Evangeline’s latest…ahem…developmental milestone, has been exhausting and infuriating. Finally at the end of last week I had to send up the distress signal. I needed a break!

The grandparents responded in full force! My mom took the girls Saturday afternoon and kept them until after naps on Sunday. Ryan took Reuben to stay with his mom after class on Saturday. From 8:00 pm on Saturday until about 5:00 pm on Sunday I was by myself! Almost a full 24 hours with just me!

So what does a mother of three small kids do for 24 hours by herself? What does she appreciate the most about the solitude?

I cleaned the kitchen, and it was still clean 12 hours later!

I painted my toenails and left the polish sitting on the coffee table all evening. It didn’t get poured out!

At midnight I was watching tv and I couldn’t hear the dialogue. So I turned up the volume. Just like that. When an action scene came next, I didn’t turn it back down, because I’m crazy like that!

SLEEP! I turned off every single light and electronic device in the house. I turned down the thermostat and put a box fan at the end of the bed. I slept like a bear in hibernation for 12 straight hours! In the middle of the bed, no less.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I turned over and picked up a book and just read for another hour!

When I got hungry. I ate! Right then and there.

Mostly I am thankful for my little village that banded together to give me a true and wonderful break. I am thankful that when I woke up on Sunday, I missed my kids and couldn’t wait to see them again.  I am thankful that I have a husband who can shoulder my burdens. I am thankful for this upcoming week; I get to spend time refreshed and renewed with the kids and getting ready to celebrate Evangeline’s birthday.

And the clean kitchen and sleep. I don’t think I can say enough about the clean kitchen and sleep.

The Cuckoo’s Calling or Cormoran Strike is My New Favorite

I recently finished The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling. I have been a Rowling fan since The Sorcerer’s Stone and was excited to hear her career would continue past Hogwarts.  I anxiously grabbed up The Casual Vacancy. I wanted to read it just because it was written by Rowling. Big mistake. If it weren’t for the authoress, I wouldn’t have been piqued by the story what so ever. I also would not have read past page 15.  Ultimately, I put the book down at page 50 disappointed and wanting to shower. The Cuckoo’s Calling, however, was a different experience all together! It sounded like an interesting story AND it is written by J.K. Rowling.

I love 1950’s/60’s detective stories. I’ve read nearly every Nero Wolfe story written, a good deal of Ellery Queen and most of Dashiell Hammett. I love me a gumshoe! But I haven’t read many modern detective stories. I’ve read spy and espionage a la Jeffery Archer and John Le Carre, sure, but not detective series. When I think of a private detective, I think typewriters, ceiling fans, contacts at the Gazette and a lot of puns. For Cormoran Strike, the main character of The Cuckoo’s Calling to ask his secretary to Google search and pull up a Wikipedia page made me giddy with giggles.

The story is pretty straight forward and typical of the genre: struggling private detective, down on his luck, is hired to investigate the suicide of a famous super-model. His investigation takes him all around London, limping in and out of social classes, always in search of the illusive missing clue.

I had so much pure, unadulterated fun reading The Cuckoo’s Calling. It mostly reminded me of Dashiell Hammett. Cormoran Strike is Sam Spade in Nick and Nora’s world. It does have, what I call, British-level cussing, but if you can look past that, it is a good, old-fashion detective story with a modern twist. The book is titled The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1). I sincerely sincerely hope that means there’s a Cormoran Strike #2 in the works! Even though I didn’t care for The Casual Vacancy, I am continually impressed by Rowling’s range as an author. I hope she’s having as much fun writing as I am having reading.

Reminded me of:

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Excerpts from Evangeline

My daughter Evangeline’s namesake is the heroine of an Acadian folktale. The story of the Acadian people expelled from their villages in Nova Scotia by the British and the two lovers separated by bayous and time in the southern swamps of Louisiana is now best known through the epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I have read this poem nearly every year since I was in high school and I love it. I have three passages marked which I go to more often when I just need a little dose of Evangeline. I thought I would share because, well the world could use some more good poetry.

                    ——————————————————————

From the First Part while the men of the village, obediently gathered in the church, nervously await the orders the British soldiers will bring them. The words of Father Felician:

“What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you?

Forty years of my life have I labored among you, and taught you,

Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another!

Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations?

Have you so soon forgotten all the lessons of love and forgiveness?

This is the house of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane it

Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?

Lo! where the crucified Christ from his cross is gazing upon you!

See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!

Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer ‘O Father, forgive them!’

Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us,

Let us repeat it now, and say, ‘O Father , forgive them!'”

Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people

Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak,

While they repeated his prayer, and said, “O Father, forgive them!”

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After years of waiting and hoping to find Gabriel, Evangeline begins to second guess the loving faithfulness she’s shown her love. Again the words of Father Felician:

Thereupon the priest, her friend and father-confessor,

Said, with a smile, “O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee!

Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;

If it enrich not the heart of another, its water, returning

Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;

That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.

Patience; accomplish they labor; accomplish they work of affection!

Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endurance is godlike.

Therefore accomplish they labor of love till the heart is made godlike,

Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered more worthy of heaven!”

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**Spoiler alert** This last passage is from then end when finally Evangeline and Gabriel meet again after some 40 years. This is my go-to passage to read when I need a good cry:

Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever,

As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had besprinkled its portals,

That the Angel of Death might see the sign, and pass over.

Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay, and his spirit exhausted

Seemed to be sinking down through infinite depths in the darkness,

Darkness and slumber and death, forever sinking and sinking.

Then through those realms of shade, in multiplied reverberations,

Heard he that cry of pain, and through the hush that succeeded 

Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender and saint-like.

“Gabriel! O my beloved!” and died away into silence.

Then he beheld, in a dream, once more the home of his childhood;

Green Acadian meadows, with sylvan rivers among them,

Village, and mountain, and woodlands, and, walking under their shadow,

As in the days of her youth,  Evangeline rose in his vision.

Tears came into his eyes and slowly he lifted his eyelids,

Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline knelt by his bedside.

Vainly he strove to whisper her name, for the accents unuttered

Died on his lips, and their motion revealed what his tongue would have spoken.

Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline, kneeling beside him,

Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her bosom.

Sweet was the light of his eyes; but it suddenly sank into darkness, 

As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a casement.

All was ended now, the hope, and the fear, and the sorrow,

All the aching of heart, the restless, unsatisfied longing,

All the dull, deep pain, and constant anguish of patience!

And, as she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom, 

Meekly she bowed her own, and muttered, “Father, I thank thee!”

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100 Things for the 100th Post

This is my 100th blog post!! I think that means I can go into syndication now, right? I racked my brain trying to come up with something knock-your-socks-off fantastic for this post. Maybe we could remodel our entire kitchen…Maybe Evangeline could learn to scuba dive…Maybe I could read Crime and Punishment or cook a souffle!

When I came back to reality, I thought what do my readers really want? But of course: to know everything there is to know about me! So for my 100th post, I was going to tell you 100 things about myself and my family, but geez louise, there aren’t 100 things to know. So instead, here are a smattering of things about me and my family. You can thank me later.

  • I was born, raised and am currently living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • I don’t like jambalaya
  • I have listened to every episode of  Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey from the beginning through the year 2000
  • I wrote a fan letter to Dave Madden the voice of Bernard Walton

  • I played soccer for a team called The McFlurries; My high school bowling team was called The Holy Rollers. I was co-captain
  • At the age of 5 I broke my arm after loosing my balance standing on an upside down trash can lid
  • I was standing on an upside-down trash can lid waiting my turn to jump on a trampoline
  • The trampoline had a hole at one end and was deamed unsafe to have more than one jumper at a time
  • Once upon a time I could play the clarinet and oboe
  • I miss playing the clarinet and oboe
  • I went through a “British phase” in junior high
  • I still have (and listen to) a Herman’s Hermit’s record from my junior high “British phase”

  • Also in junior high,I read the poem, Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the first time and fell in love
  • I decided to name my first daughter Evangeline when I was in 8th grade
  • I have a collection of various editions of Evangeline that have been given to me as gifts over the years
  • Every year I re-read the poem Evangeline from the $1 copy my best friend bought me in junior high — the first edition I was given. I have three of my favorite passages marked
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  • I have been to Mexico in the spring, Italy in the summer and Russia in the winter
  • But I’ve never been to Boston in the fall
  • I became interested in Russian history only after visiting Moscow and Siberia
  • My senior prom date is a year away from being a Catholic priest
  • He is godfather to my two daughters

Baptism

  • I played a character named Captain Hooker in a skit for my high school’s chapter of The Governor’s Program on Abstinence
  • I looked smokin’ hott
  • In  hindsight, I realize that may not have been a great idea

  • The summer after senior year, I got my nose pierced after work one Friday afternoon
  • I have never felt more bad ass
  • I did not tell my parents
  • They noticed…
  • Sunday morning…
  • During church…
  • At the altar…
  • While taking communion
  • I read Pope Paul VI’s Humane Vitae as a part of my senior research paper; it lead to my current stance against the use of contraception
  • This stance came in handy three years later when the man I wanted to marry was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church
  • I was accepted to Tulane, but chose to attend Louisiana State University instead
  • I dropped out of LSU after failing German for the like third time

football

  • I have looked deep into the black voids of an LSU squirrel’s eyes; I have seen pure evil
  • LSU squirrels can shoot their teeth, you know
  • If I had it all to go again, I’d drop Psychology and peruse a degree in civil engineering
  • I broke up with Ryan at the beginning of summer when he told me he wanted to discern a vocation as a monk
  • We got back together at the end of that summer when he some how managed to convince me “we can work around that”
  • While we were broken up, Ryan rescued a dog.
  • I don’t much care for the dog Ryan rescued while we were broken up, but I didn’t really get a say
  • I have had two hamsters: one named Sargent Pepper and one named Boston Blackie; Ryan’s damn dog kept trying to “catch” Boston Blackie
  • I took my nose ring out for my bridal portraits
  • The night before our wedding, I went and had it put back in to surprise Ryan
  • He didn’t notice

  • Evangeline calls me M’Dear and I kinda like it
  • I never look good with bangs
  • I have been teaching myself calligraphy for about 5 years
  • My birthday is September 11
  • I have a theory that whenever my birthday falls on a Tuesday, something bad happens
  • Since 2001 this has proven true
  • I don’t remember before 2001 but I bet that time I dropped all my cupcakes on the playground was a Tuesday
  • I have a fear of birds, rationalized by Ms. Daphne Du Maurier
  • A few months after Evangeline was born, a bird flew in the house; Animal Control wouldn’t come get it, so I locked myself and the baby in the nursery until Ryan got home from work

  • I secretly hope Ryan one day has a job where he can grow his out his hair again

  • I consider writing 100 blog posts a huge accomplishment

Things Are Only Getting Better

I know I know, it’s been a while. I’d like to say it’s because we’ve been totally wrapped up in some really awesome cool project that I’m now ready to show off, but alas. I have just been really tired. Isn’t exhaustion glamorous?

There’s not too many things to update you on, come to find out daily life in the Carruth home isn’t all that exciting. Mostly we’ve just been staying afloat and reading. But there are some new developments that are proving to make life easier, such as:

Reuben can give himself a bottle! Now I can have use of both my hands AND the baby gets to eat?! It’s like a dream come true. We have a theory that, so far, has proven true: After the second week, babies continue to get easier. Not that newborns are easy, but you, more or less, are working toward things getting easier. They start to sleep a little longer, eat a little more, be happy just a littler while longer. Now at 6 months, Reuben is feeding himself, putting himself to sleep (sometimes) and sleeping through the night. Things are not easy, but easier!

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Evangeline is nearly completely potty trained! We have just started not using diapers at night and so far (meaning the last two nights) it’s going…well ok. We haven’t had any accidents, but we have had a lot of unnecessary trips out of bed. Mostly it goes down like this:

(Hear Evangeline and Felicity both yelling at each other to be quiet)

Evangeline comes out of room: “Felicity is upset”

(Goes back into their room, where yelling continues. Finally they quiet down)

Evangeline comes out of room: “Felicity is happy now”

(Goes back into their room where yelling continues)

Bedtime takes about two hours now.

We got to visit our goddaughter for her birthday. Between our two families there were seven kids under 4 years old, including 3 babies 7 months and under. It was a lot of fun! Our kids don’t get to see each other very often since visits include over two hours in the car with small kids, so we thought they might be stand-off-ish at first, but they fell right into running around and playing. Although, I think Evangeline did lock herself up with their books at one point for some quiet time. It was so strange to watch Felicity playing with the big kids. I think she played with our goddaughter (same age as Evangeline) more than Evie did. Felicity followed her around mimicking everything she did.

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We’re a few weeks from Evangeline’s third birthday party. Even though I’ve been “planning” it for about 6 months, it’s coming down to the wire and I’m scrambling. It’s just family and friends, no pressure. Oh, but we did invite the Pope.

Dear Pope Francis

Evangeline watched him on the day of prayer for peace in Syria and said she wanted to invite Pope Francis to her birthday party. I promised her we could, so into the mail (with hopefully enough stamps) went his birthday party invitation. if he’s in the neighborhood, who knows, maybe he’ll stop by 😉

I’m trying to get back in the saddle writing blogs but I am le tired. Anything you want to hear or know about? Send me some suggestions to inspire me a bit!

State of Wonder

I was first introduced to Ann Patchett a few years ago when I read, Bel Canto, by far one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. I went back and read Patchett’s first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars and at that point, I was hooked on her story telling. Patchett creates such vivid settings and realistic characters, her stories come alive.

This is certainly true of her most recent novel, State of Wonder. Like Bel Canto, State of Wonder is set in South America, this time deep in the jungles of the Amazon. Dr, Marina Singh is forced into the jungles of Brazil in search of her co-worker who is reported dead after visiting the tribe their pharmaceutical company is researching. Dr. Singh must face the fears of the jungle and of her own memories to find out just what happened.

I’m not sure how else to put it but to say this was a weird book. The location and characters are vivid and believable; it is a plausible story, just a weird story. If you’re willing to suspend a little bit of disbelief, this is a truly well written and enjoyable story, tense until the last page.

I am now going on a fiction binge and trying to read through all those ” you should really read…” recommendations I’ve been getting.  Right now, I’m 3 books ahead of my goal.

Reminded me of:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean