Sunday, September 28, 2014

She's a Natural?

Conversation with Baby:

Me: I'm going to play the piano.  Any requests?
Baby: Frozen!  Here's the book.  Play Let It Go.
Me: Ok.  Will you sing it?
Baby: No, I'm going to play it.
Sister: You don't know how to play piano.  Let Erin play it.
Baby: NO!  I'm going to play.  Erin can sing it.
<She plays something on the piano and I try to sing along without the words, mind you, because she insists on having the book open to the wrong page>

After we're done:
Baby: Mommy, did I play it nicely?
Sister: Yes, you did.
Baby: Did I play it correctly?
Sister: No.
Baby: That's just because you couldn't hear it.  Erin sang too loudly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Foolish Vanity

I had just finished giving Baby a bath and we were talking with her mother on the phone when we ran into this picture:
It's from a dance recital, taken by our grandfather.  I was always jealous of my sister's blue sailor's outfit.  It was so pretty and well, she was always so pretty.  Without thinking, I expressed this to Baby.  She kept insisting that her mother was beautiful too, which I agreed with.  "Between Sarah and I, though, she was always the prettier one."

Later, Baby pulled out her dolls to watch part of a movie with me.  Carefully, she pulled out her Anna and Elsa dolls and placed them beside us.  Stroking Anna's red hair, she said.  "Elsa is always, always the prettier one.  But today, Anna is the prettier one."

I smiled at Baby.  "Are you trying to make me feel better about not being the pretty sister when I was younger?"

Baby nodded.  And then she continued, "But, Erin, not everyone gets to be the prettiest.  Someone has to be prettier.  Why not let your sisters be prettier?"  (Almost as though she was telling me that I don't always get to play with the toys; I have to wait my turn)

Essentially, why not just be happy to have such wonderfully beautiful sisters?  Why not rejoice in their admirable qualities rather than fume that I don't possess those same qualities?  Why couldn't I have learned this lesson when I was younger?  Still working on learning this lesson today...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Temporary Leave

I'm at my sister's house, spending several hours each day sorting through my boxes of stuff, ruthlessly tossing out things that, only six months ago, I insisted on holding on to for sentimental reasons.

Besides, do I really need to have proof that I was on my ninth grade Geometry team or that I drew a picture with red objects on it in eight grade?

My niece only eats a few bites of anything I make for her and insists that she's full.  But then I buy three pounds of watermelon and I barely manage to save a piece for my sister while watching in awe as Baby inhales the rest of it.

Baby and I practice spelling words on the fridge.  We practice our tap shuffles in the entrance of the grocery store.  We practice our ballet positions next to her mother's bed before we call it a night.

Baby's angry when she's tired.  My mom has a sore on her leg that makes me worry.  And I'm pretty sure the cat (Riley) hates me but is willing to be bribed by food.  

This isn't really me facing a new future away from Cville.  It's me just checking in.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Weather is Gorgeous

Perfect swinging weather.  

One of the highlights of visiting the park: My sister and I were playing London Bridges with Baby and five other little girls randomly joined in the game.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sports Enthusiast

Spending time with my niece, Gwiyomi lately and it's been a lot of fun.

She has a small vocabulary and all her word sound the same.  I honestly can't tell the difference between "Daddy," "keys," "paci," "Ruby," or "carrots."

Imagine my surprise then watching TV yesterday when our conversation went something like this:

Me: Gwiyomi, what do you want to watch?
Gwiyomi: Football!
Me: Football?! <looking through the TV guide> How about a movie instead.  <I flip to a random station>
G: NO!  Football!
Me: Wow, ok.  <looking through the TV guide> What about baseball?
G: No, football!
Me: <not finding football> Soccer?  Yeah, it's like the same thing.  She won't know the difference. <turn to soccer>
G: No!  Football!
Me: All right.  I get the hint.  <praying to find football on TV>  <switch to a very random game between teams I don't know anything about> Here you go
G: Yay!  Football!

She then proceeded to cuddle up on the couch and watch.  Every so often, she would sit up and raise her hands in the air and yell, "Football!"  just for good measure.

I can't tell the difference between when she's asking for her bear or her dad but she has a very clear pronunciation of "football," "baseball," and "basketball."

I'm pretty excited to see how this one turns out.

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Vulnerability

If you were to go to William Wei's website ( and go to his profile page, you would find a question posed to him: What is the hardest thing for you to forget?  I know you can do this because I have done this.  Just last week, in fact.

I wonder if your reaction at his answer would be similar to mine: surprise.  

Some context.  For years now, William Wei has made various appearances on my blog.  Or rather, his videos and the occasional picture has made his way onto my blog.  He's a sort of self-made, self-promoting artist.  A foreign language (English) major at the Taiwanese equivalent of Harvard, he was the winner of a music TV show called Happy Sunday and started producing his own music and posting it on a website.  Everything I've seen from his appearances on TV as well as his early Youtube videos are what one would expect from a kid with his background making his foray into music - confidence, poise, charisma, good looks, music skills and that enviable ability to make people laugh.  He's so great that I've tried multiple times (on my blog, of course) to set him up with my sister who at one time only demanded that he own guitars and have arms.  Check and check.  

So, this is what he wrote in response to the before mentioned question.  The thing that he finds the hardest to forget (read: most memorable) is that for 6 long years, he had such severe acne that he was afraid to leave his house.  

When I read those words, I thought I had misunderstood them.  They are in Chinese, after all.  Did a famous singer really cite that as the most unforgettable time of his life?  It seemed like a very personal thing to share, baring one's soul, so to speak: Here is the most painful thing I've ever endured. 

 I'm sure it was the thing that helped shape him into the impressive person he is today.  I'm interested though in understanding how that transformation occurred.  How did a boy who was afraid to go out in public learn to stand confidently on a stage?  How did he learn to be poised and charismatic?  When did he learn to charm a crowd?  Also, does the pain of his past still linger?  Does he look in the mirror and see only scars?  Or does he seem himself for the attractive man that he is?  (inside and out attractiveness, thank you very much)  I want to know because I want to learn from him.  I already marvel at his courage.  

We have a tendency to believe that putting our best face and best foot forward is the only way to make it in this world.  

Brene Brown who gave excellent Ted talks on shame said, "If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself,I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly." (Listening to Shame, 2012).  

Her thoughts have a valid point.  Humans want to connect; we want to care.  We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences but we all know in our own spheres what it means to be imperfect and we all know that universal inclination to hide our weaknesses from others.  The courage to share gives others the courage to connect.  

Thank you, William, for sharing a piece of yourself.  Let's be friends.  No,  really.  Really, really.  


Saturday, September 6, 2014

In Case You Were Wondering

Staying up until 2:30 am the night before you don't have to work is only a good idea when there is not a baby in the house.

There is no sleeping in...ever.

In other news, yesterday I found this in Harris Teeter!

Also, my boys sans Hasebe (who withdrew due to knee pain) played a friendly against Uruguay (but we lost).  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Japanese Particles

Scanning - ugh.  I don't know if I can say enough bad things about scanning this week.  It wasn't just mindless, it was frustrating.  You had to scan a group of documents and then count them to make sure it matched with what you had in your pdf because the scanner was liable to skip pages.  And if it did skip pages you had to redo it and sometimes scan each page by hand.  It took hours and hours and hours and every time I got near an end, my desk would get piled up with more scanning.  I learned to work faster and faster but I also got more and more frustrated and so quickly descended to the point that today, I was doing nothing more than spinning in circles and jumping up and down to burn out my frustrated and nervous energy while waiting for the scanner to run through the pages.

During my healthier mental moments of scanning though, I used my time to study Japanese particles using a workbook I picked up at the library.  I've spent the last two or three years in my self-taught Japanese state thinking that verbs were the key to understanding Japanese properly.  I'm starting to change my tune - particles make a world of difference and understanding particles will help you progress from the ".... is" speech pattern to meaningful conversation.


Who did she/he kiss last night?
Kinou dare ga kisu o shimashita ka?

He/she kissed no one last night
Kinou dare mo kisu o shimashita.

She/he kissed someone last night
Kinou dare ka kisu o shimashita.

He/she kissed more than anyone else last night.
Kinou dare yori kisu o shimashita.

Ok, so funny weird made up examples (that may or may not be correct - but I think they're correct) but you can see how one word change can a person's dating reputation pretty quickly.

 But in all seriousness, I went from being able to say, "I bought a book at the store" (mise de hon o kaimashita) to "I bought a book called Persuasion at the store" (mise de Persuasion to iu hon o kaimashita) to "I went to the store to buy a book called Persuasion something or other"  (Persuasion to ka iu hon o kai ni mise ni ikimashita) I could keep going.  I feel like my narrative ability in Japanese has been thrown wide open.

The moral of this story then is this: scanning is not as evil as I originally thought before beginning this post.  :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Planting

Isaiah 61:1-2 - hands down, my favorite scripture. I like to think of it as "Christ's mission statement." This was the scripture passage He chose to read in the synagogue when He started His ministry.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord..."

Preach good tidings, Bind up broken hearts, Free people from their personal prisons...if this was the kind of stuff Christ was doing - and it was - then I wanted to be a part of it. For the record, I'm pro-healing, pro-good tidings and pro-freedom.

Thus motivated, I dived in and worked and worked and worked. I spent one miserable summer a few years ago trying to repair broken relationships and help heal wounds. The result of my efforts was making everything I got involved with much, much worse.

Frustrated and worn out, I turned back to my favorite scripture and realized that the sentence doesn't end where I thought it did.

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."

What I took from this scripture was two things. (1) Christ is the one who does the healing and the binding and the freeing. (2) My role is to be His tree.

What exactly, though, does that mean? To be the planting of the Lord?

After years of mildly wondering and wrestling with this question, one while while reading my scriptures, these words caught my attention: (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.
For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."

I love this clarification and the imagery.  I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.  

But let me add this:  I am well aware of the things I don't have in my life right now.  In case I ever forget, there are these three children I see and help take care of during church who never let a week pass by without going through the gamut of things a person my age should have.  "Do you have a car?"  "Do you have a husband?"  "Do you have a boyfriend?"  "Do you have any kids?"  "Do you have a house?"  Etc.  As far as these kids are concerned, I have nothing of any importance - I'm in a drought so to speak.  I am very grateful though for the people in my life who have helped me these past few months when I also didn't have an income.  My friends and loved ones have sustained me and helped me, have fed me and house me (literally) and encouraged me.  Can the plantings of the Lord do good and bring good?  From the receiving end, let me assure you: YES.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

I pray and hope that I may return the favor.  

Figured It Out

I've been away from Pretty Boy for days now.  I walk into the house and he practically runs towards me, shirtless, his face dirty from feeding himself and a recent fall on the sidewalk.  In fact the only spotless thing about him is that smile of his, a big toothy grin.  "Hi!"  He says excitedly.

I beam at him.  "Hi!"

Without missing a beat, he continues. "Ball?"

For weeks now, "Ball?" has been his usual greeting for me.  I could never figure it out.  His mother insisted that he knew that my name wasn't 'ball'.  He uses the phrase though in places like church or daycare or outside where no ball is readily available or in sight.  Always, the moment he fixes his eyes on me, he asks earnestly, "Ball?"

I'm sure it's taken Pretty Boy a while to figure me out.  I'm not his mother or his father but I see him on a daily basis.  I'm not an aunt or a Lovey (grandmother) but I find everything he does is adorable.  (Well, almost everything, the crying at 2 am is still not a favorite)  At some point, this little 14 month old decided that I was his friend, his playmate.  And so, of course, every time he sees me he asks about a ball.  It's the only way he knows how to ask, "Want to play with me?"

I'm always happy to oblige.

Today, while reading through his books, Pretty Boy's mom was going through the pictures of the animals and repeating them in French.

"Renard" (fox)
"Kangourou" (kangaroo) 

Then she got to the next picture and paused as she tried to remember the correct word.
Pretty Boy looked at the picture and then at her, before clearly stating the animal for her  "Owl..."  

His mother and I both laughed.