Monthly Archives: April 2007

Why is my name so difficult for you to understand?

Dear Dry Cleaner Lady,

You seemed intelligent enough, so I’ll put this gently. It’s Jordan. I used to get Jordon a lot. I’ve gotten used to that one. I know the girl on American Idol spells it Jordin. Heck, the girl working at the grocery store spells it Jordyn. My great grandma made me a piggy bank when I was born and spelled my name Jorden.

And yet, it’s Jordan. Like in the Bible. And the River Jordan. And the sovereign state. It’s been in the top 100 most popular girls’ names for 18 years (top 100 boys’ names, 25 years). Better yet, the English form is from the Latin Jordanus. LATIN. Do you know how old that language is? Yeah, it’s thousands of years old. Spelled with an a.

So, for future reference, it’s probably safe to assume that it’s spelled Jordan, no matter what happens on American Idol.

Sincerely,
Jordan


Dear One Third of the People I Have to Introduce Myself To,

Jorda? You seriously thought I said my name was Jorda? What is that, some sort of speech-impaired version of Georgia? JordaN. N. Now I don’t even care what vowel the lady at the dry cleaner used; this is a major consonant here! In fact, it’s an entire syllable of my name that you didn’t even come close on.

Did you get bored halfway through my terribly long and uninteresting name and decide to tune me out? I know it does take nearly one second to say my name. I apologize.

The thing that really baffles me is that I don’t say ‘Jorda-n’ and you’re just missing the last part. If I’m really honest, I think this is how I say my name:

IPAjordan.png

That question-mark-looking-thing isn’t a vowel; it’s a glottal stop. (It’s the non-vowel sound in ‘Uh oh.’) It means that I cease to vibrate my vocal chords. It’s the opposite of a vowel. And then I go straight to the ‘n.’ No vowels in the second syllable.

Maybe you are Catalan. If that’s so, you must already know that Jordà is Catalan for Jordan. That must be it.

I speak English. Jordan.

Sincerely,
JordaN

Six of one, half a dozen of the other VI

Since last week I covered motherly chores that I like and don’t like (and since we’re in serious need of more Hayden pictures here!), here’s six chores that Hayden likes.

Six chores Hayden hates
Diapers. We have something in common!
Getting dressed. He does like it, however, when I let him walk around naked (diaper-clad) in the middle of getting dressed. Lately he’s started standing up, giving me a sly smile, waving bye bye and heading for the door.
Post-meal face washing. ‘Nuff said.
Vacuuming. Actually, he really likes me to hold him while I vacuum, but he can’t decide whether he’s thrilled or terrified.
Following Mom around while she does chores. What about me, Mom? Can I help? Can I have your duster/vacuum/broom/hands/attention/every waking moment?
Errands, although he does like his new big boy car seat:
Hayden in car seat

Half a dozen chores Hayden loves

Hayden 13 months 083.jpg
Sweeping.
Hayden dishes
Dishes
.
Hayden dusting
Dusting.
Hayden bathing
Bathing
.
Hayden watering the lawn
Watering the lawn. See how he’s standing in the sprinkler path and has water all over him?
Laundry. Sorry, no pictures of him pulling the clean clothes out of the basket or getting caught in his hamper. Okay, okay, scroll down to the third picture in this post to see Hayden trapped in hamper.

My house should probably be a lot cleaner than it is with a little boy so obsessed with instruments of torture tidiness.

Life is rough, and then you die

At the recommendation of a bookstore manager, I picked up a book the other day. I recognized the author’s last name as the maiden name of one of my church youth group leaders. Turns out, not only was the author the mother of my youth group leader, but my former leader had been instrumental in editing that book for publication. I really enjoyed the book and marked several passages to delve into further on MamaBlogga.

How many times have I told my tantruming toddler, “Life is rough—and then you die”? At least a few. But is this something I really want him to internalize?

Marilynne Todd Linford takes aim at this popular teaching in her book We Are Sisters:

To say that life is difficult or suffering or filled with unyielding despair is as erroneous as saying life is easy, carefree, or filled with continual bliss. (132)

Yes, life is rough, but it trivializes all life to say that all of life is suffering. I make no secret that I think that motherhood is difficult. (Frankly, anyone who thinks otherwise is probably crazy or should be having (more) kids, because they’re obviously doing better than I am with my one.) But, like life, motherhood isn’t endless drudgery (at least once a baby can start responding to you, in my opinion) and pain.

Life is not just rough. Unlike C-3PO, we are not made to suffer. While some suffering is our lot in life, it’s not the be-all and end-all of our existence. After all, as the Apostle John quoted Jesus Christ, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Linford continues:

Does it matter, then, if you think life is difficult? Yes, because it is a half-truth, and by acting on a false foundation we build on shifting sands. When you realize that life is not difficult but made up of opposing forces, the precious gift of agency becomes even more crucial. (133)

Yes, life is sometimes rough, but I need to remember that we can choose to look at the positive or dwell on the negative—and dwelling on the negative aspects of life won’t bring happiness. I need to remember to highlight the good things in my son’s life—and mine.

How does this post make you feel?
  • Encouraged (0)
  • Fulfilled (0)
  • Informed (0)
  • Smart (0)
  • Entertained (0)
  • Amused (0)

What’s RSS?

RSS is an important acronym in the blogosphere. It’s usually interpreted as Really Simple Syndication, so we’ll start with the really simple and work our way up. I think we have something for even the most seasoned blogger here.

Basic
First, an excellent explanation of the easiest way to keep up with dozens (hundreds!) of blogs from Common Craft:

Also under “basics,” your blog generates an RSS feed automatically (unless you’ve disabled this feature).

Novice
FeedBurner “burns” your blog feed for you, making it easy for your readers to subscribe in any feed reader. If you click on the green “Subscribe” button in the sidebar, you’ll be taken to a page to choose your feed reader.

FeedBurner can also add a lot of cool features to your feed. You can add information at the end of messages in a feed reader like copyrights, number of comments, social bookmarking stuff—there are more than 100 “FeedFlares.” FeedBurner can also track visitors to your site and show you how many subscribers you have.

Intermediate
Many people use only partial feeds for their sites, sending only excerpts or summaries to their readers. There are a few reasons for this; among them is the legitimate concern about unscrupulous people republishing your blog with zero effort—and making money off your hard wraught writing.

However, the benefits of full feeds outweigh the risks. [UPDATE: the full story on full feeds] Also note that many people publish excerpt feeds believing that more people will visit their site to read their full posts—but FeedBurner CEO Rick Klau says they’ve seen no evidence to support that. See Partial Feeds Don’t Draw Visitors at Marketing Pilgrim for more on the subject.

In Blogger, you can switch from excerpts to full feeds by going to Settings > Site Feed. From the pull down menu, select “Full.” (If you’re in Advanced Mode, the second and third options are at your discretion.)

bloggerfullfeedsss.jpg

In WordPress, select Options > Reading.

wpfullfeedsss1.png

Under “Syndication Feeds,” for the option “For each article, show,” select “Full text.”

wpfullfeedsss2.png

See Semantically driven for details on how to switch to full feeds in TypePad.

Advanced
Make sure your readers find your FeedBurner feed (instead of the default, less user-friendly feed Blogger, WordPress or Typepad creates). You may have to code it into your site. For example, in Blogger, go to Template > Edit HTML. In your code, find the line:

<b:include data=’blog’ name=’all-head-content’/>

Delete it and replace it with the following (after you’ve customized it):

<meta content=’text/html; charset=UTF-8′ http-equiv=’Content-Type’/>
<meta content=’true’ name=’MSSmartTagsPreventParsing’/>
<meta content=’blogger’ name=’generator’/>
<link href=’http://feeds.feedburner.com/YOUR FEEDBURNER FEED NAME HERE’ rel=’alternate’ title=’YOUR BLOG NAME HERE RSS Feed’ type=’application/rss+xml’/>

Blogger now offers integration with FeedBurner. Here are the instructions on integrating your FeedBurner feed with your Blogger blog. TypePad also features this capability.

WordPress has a handy FeedBurner feed replacement plugin to do that heavy coding for you.

Total pro
If you’re comfortable in Apache, consider Daniel’s strategy for making sure that your subscribers are using the correct feed even if you leave FeedBurner (from Daily Blog Tips). (To tell the truth, I can only vaguely understand this one.)

Also, look at another post from Marketing Pilgrim (and no, this one’s not by me, it’s by Jeremy Luebke) on why you should not use click tracking on FeedBurner (read on the comments to see how to fix that).


Anybody out there quite proficient in MT/Typepad? I started on Blogger and had to learn WordPress for work before I made the switch to WordPress here on MamaBlogga. If anyone can give some pointers on the same issues on TypePad, it would be appreciated!

UPDATE: A big thank you to Jen once again at Semantically driven for explaining how to set your feed to full posts on Typepad. She had got screenshots and everything. Man, I should’ve thought of that. I’ll have to fix this. Screenshots added. Thank you, Jen!!

How does this post make you feel?
  • Encouraged (1)
  • Fulfilled (1)
  • Informed (1)
  • Smart (0)
  • Entertained (0)
  • Amused (0)

Interview with Sheila Wray Gregoire

tolovehonorandvacuum.jpgToday I’m privileged to host an interview with Sheila Wray Gregoire, the author of To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother as part of her April Blog Tour (I love that idea!)

I got to “chat” with Sheila via email about her new book, motherhood, housekeeping and fulfillment. I really think her responses to my questions are not only spot on, but insightful.

1. Why is it harder to be a mom today than it was fifty years ago?

A lot of us think life was idyllic back in the Leave it to Beaver days. Mom stayed home and looked after the kids; Dad had a good job, and always came home to be the man of the family and discipline the children. One of the chapters I have in my book, though, looks at how family radically changed even before that, and so it’s no wonder we’re often frazzled!

I think the ideal time was really over a century ago, when families tended to work together. They farmed together, or they owned a shop together. The kids participated in the work, and everybody was near each other. It was a family enterprise.

What I try to show in the book, though, is that today we’re scattered. Dad’s at his job. The kids are at school. Mom often works, too, at least part-time. It’s all these separate lives, and it’s Mom’s job to coordinate it. And because so many people work, there’s not the same sense of community anymore. Instead of kids playing on the street, we have to sign them up for soccer or gymnastics to get any sports or interactions with other young ones. And that takes work and even more scheduling! Our lives are, quite simply, more complicated.

Add to that the strangers that keep coming into our house through our screens—the computer, the TV, the video games—which give our kids morals that we don’t approve of, and it’s even worse! We’re fighting an uphill battle, and it’s one that if we don’t fight, kids will definitely lose. If we don’t closely monitor what they watch, they will start to believe things that just aren’t true or just aren’t good for them.

I have a 12-year-old daughter who is in a youth group at church. She feels like she doesn’t fit in, because she doesn’t watch TV. Instead, she reads, plays the piano, plays sports, and plays with her sister. The other girls are really into celebrity magazines and make-up. My little girl is at a loss and doesn’t understand why the other girls are in such a hurry to grow up. But they have entered the media culture. My daughter has not. And she is just who I want her to be—but it’s really, really hard.

Life is more difficult. It’s more complicated. It’s more isolated. And it’s more dangerous. So give yourself a break if you don’t manage to accomplish everything your grandmother did! You’re living in a different world, and we’ve got to make our own paths.

2. Why do we get so guilty and upset about the state of our homes?

Because we’re not eating enough chocolate! Or, to put it another way, we’re letting ourselves get too tense about stuff that ultimately is not the most important thing in life.

I think many women believe that their houses truly reflect on them. And, in churches, we think of it as almost a spiritual issue: if I’m a good Christian, I’d be able to keep my house and my kids and my garden and my dog and my lawn under control. So when things get out of control, what do you think about yourself? You think you’re a failure.

But is anybody’s house ever going to be perfect all at the same time? Of course not. You’ll be vacuuming and turn around to find your 4-year-old has been trailing you eating crackers, leaving crumbs in your wake like Hansel and Gretel. Or you’ll have the laundry almost all done only to have a child suddenly get the flu and throw up on every sheet in the house. Nobody’s house will ever be perfect, and when we aim for perfect, we feel defeated. And who can clean when we feel defeated? I think that’s one reason things get so out of control. Since we can’t get it perfect, we lose hope.

Your home, though, is supposed to be comfortable. That’s all. And comfortable doesn’t mean perfect. It means you shouldn’t have to fear catching a communicable disease in your kitchen, but it’s okay if the kids toys are piled up in a corner, or if your knitting is on a chair. You just want it to be a home where people can relax and you can have people over. And you can never have anybody over if you’re aiming for perfect!

Look at what has happened to our homes in the last thirty years. They’ve doubled in size. Entertainment centers are the rage. We’ve got stenciling and stamping to make everything coordinated. It’s no good to simply paint your whole house beige like people used to. It has to be decorated to perfection. But before you start on that silly road, ask yourself why? Why are you doing all this? And I think that naturally leads into your next question.

3. How would you define ‘fulfillment’? How do you find fulfillment as a mother?

I think fulfillment is when we feel as if we are partnering with God, and that He is working through us. We feel as if we’re aiming for what God would have us aim for. And what is that? It’s quite simple. He wants people to be transformed into Jesus’ likeness. (Romans 8:29). He wants people to look more and more like Him. That’s our job on earth. To make sure that we’re growing more like God, and to lead others in the same direction.

So you’re going to feel fulfilled as a mom when you take time to get to know your kids well. When you’re able to do things with them so they’re not being raised by the television, with all its wrong values. When you make meals so that you can all sit down as a family and start a tradition where people actually talk to each other. When your kids can have friends over without enduring your wrath in case they mess up the house. When you can have neighbors over and share a cup of coffee and chat, just so that you’re connecting with people.

Life is ultimately about relationships, not things. Instead of thinking about our home as a status symbol, think of your home as a tool to use as you get to know others. Let it be a place where you can relax, where your husband can relax, where your kids can have fun. Let it be a place where people want to gather. That doesn’t mean you have to clean all the time. In fact, what I recommend in the book is figuring out what does need to be cleaned on a daily basis (like sweeping the kitchen floor), a weekly basis (like cleaning the bathrooms) and a monthly basis (like cleaning the ceiling fans), and then assign tasks for each day. Once they’re done, you’re done! The other stuff will get done in its time. Your cleaning schedule is organized so that you free up time for yourself to do the things that really do matter to you.

As moms, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. There’s a doctor’s appointment today. I have to get to my part-time job. There’s a meeting at the church. But if we’re not purposeful about putting our relationships with our family members first, they can easily fall by the wayside. So every morning, before you get out of bed, pray and ask God to show you something fun you can do to build your relationship with your kids today. Maybe it’s read them a book, take them to the park, play a board game with them. But do something just for them, and make that your first priority. It’s amazing how much better we start to feel about our lives when we know where we’re heading, and when we know it’s somewhere God wants us to be. And He’s going to help us get there!


Thank you so much, Sheila!

tolovehonorandvacuum.jpgTo find more encouragement to get your kids to help at home and make your marriage less stressful, you can pick up To Love, Honor and Vacuum ($13.00) at www.sheilawraygregoire.com or at Amazon.com(aff).

WIN A BUNDLE OF SHEILA’S BOOKS! Sign up for Sheila’s free weekly parenting and family ezine, and you’ll be entered in a draw to win a bunch of Sheila’s books and audio recordings! Sheila’s Reality Check covers everything from flatulence at the dinner table to same sex marriage and the effects of divorce. Sign up here. She’ll make the draw April 30.

How does this post make you feel?
  • Encouraged (0)
  • Fulfilled (0)
  • Informed (0)
  • Smart (0)
  • Entertained (0)
  • Amused (0)