Saturday, February 27, 2010

You ask, I deliver

I prefer wordy posts over picture posts, and if I visit a blog to find that the latest post consists only of pictures, I must confess that I feel a teeny bit disappointed. But I know that a lot of people are the other way around, disappointed when there aren't any pictures. Hence, last week's poll: should I post more pictures?

A few of you were so kind as to share your opinions with me by voting, and as I suspected, the majority would prefer more pictures. :) Well, I aim to please, so this afternoon when we headed downtown, I grabbed the camera (and even remembered to check if the batteries were charged.)

Our usual Saturday routine: meet at a park downtown, transfer boys and carseats to their dad, and then take off to run a few errands; a few hours later, pick up boys and head home. However, today, Mike was ill, so I sent him home. The boys and I stuck around for a while, and soaked up some sunshine. It was a nice day.

We went to the Williams Waterwall, in the Galleria area on the near west side. At one end of the park is the Williams Tower.

At the other end is this horseshoe-shaped wall with water cascading down over it. Sorry about the boys' goofy smiles; they tend to go all out when I say "cheese."

To one side of the waterwall. I think Noah looks so cute in this sweatshirt; I just want to pick him up and squeeze him.

Look carefully--there's a rainbow behind Elijah. This waterwall puts off a lot of mist, which was quite chilly today, but I bet it would feel great in hot weather.

I hope you all have a restful Sabbath and a great next week. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Running Blues

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I was posting about my struggles figuring out what to wear while running. A few kind readers suggested (both in the comments section, and privately) that I try something like a split skirt, or culottes, or gauchos, the idea being that they are garments which are still modest and distinctly feminine, but a bit more practical for running than a skirt. However, along with those suggestions came a bit of hesitation, and I gathered that not all would agree with the idea.

Well I didn't want to start running in gauchos (I liked this pair) only to find that I was offending somebody, especially if I were to post a picture on my blog, you know, like when I run that half-marathon someday. So I decided to investigate a little farther, and asked a person whom I thought might have a more authoritative answer: If I wear culottes for running, am I breaking any rules? Am I going to cause offense?

Well he didn't know, but he was so kind as to talk the matter over with a few other people. The long and the short of it is, I have been advised that while there are no hard-and-fast rules about the subject, in order for me to play it safe and not cause offense, I should not wear anything other than a skirt for exercise.

To clarify, the FP stance (that's the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland) is that women should wear women's clothing and men should wear men's clothing. And FPs believe that skirts are women's clothing and pants/trousers are men's clothing. I guess culottes or gauchos or what have you are seen as sort of a gray area that is best avoided, at least in our local congregation.

Now before those of you who are not FPs start thinking "Aaack! Legalism! Run away!" I must express some sympathy with the principles being defended here. Those principles are distinction in dress, modesty, and the avoiding of worldliness. I appreciate that my church takes those principles seriously, and it's definitely a blessing to attend church services where the women are all modestly and soberly dressed.

That said, I'm a little bummed that the "rule" trumps practicality and even modesty in some situations. I mean, generally speaking I am happy to wear skirts as I do think it's easier to be modest in a skirt. But there are times when a skirt is not as modest (I'm thankful that no one I know has seen me running lately).

So I'm feeling kinda blue about running. I've given up on it for the moment, actually, as it's frustrating and exhausting to be fighting with my clothes the whole way. I wish I could just relax and run without having to think about my clothes at all. Maybe soon I'll gather the courage to give it another try.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Of Romance

I realized somewhat belatedly that last Sunday was Valentine's Day.

I'm not big on holidays (that's a topic for whole 'nother post) and, generally speaking, I think that not celebrating holidays is freeing. Celebrating Christmas or Easter or Valentine's Day means taking on a lot of obligations...I must buy gifts, I must dye eggs, I must buy expensive flowers and eat out at an overcrowded restaurant; and if I don't, I'm a Scrooge, or un-Christian, or un-romantic. Bah humbug, I say. I don't celebrate most* of the holidays as a matter of principle (to explain this would require the 'nother post) and therefore I'm free of the obligations and free of the guilt. I like it that way.

But I digress. What an overused phrase, "I digress." I wince to hear myself say it. But to continue, it's hard to make it through a Valentine's Day season, with all its attendant marketing, without thinking of romance. I came across a "how did you meet your spouse" conversation recently (online) and that reminded me of a recent trip to Walmart.

It was a Friday night and I was in the pasta aisle. I passed a woman and her friend selecting spaghetti sauce. They were dressed to the nines in stiletto heels and trendy outfits, hair and nails perfectly done. Behind them a few paces was a tall guy pushing a cart full of frozen TV dinners and ice cream.

"Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?" the guy asked.

The prettier of the two women looked back over her shoulder. "Who, me?" she asked, casually leaning on her cart (I bet those stiletto heels were killing her feet).

"Yeah. What's your name?"

She turned around and looked him over carefully from head to toe. (Her not-as-pretty friend politely examined the label on a jar of sauce.) Inspection complete, she gave him her name and asked for his. Formalities out of the way, he got to the point. "So, uh, are you married?"

"No," she said, then asked suspiciously, "Are you?" When he shook his head, she asked, "How old are you?"

And by now I was farther down the aisle and was mercifully spared the rest of the conversation. The whole thing struck me as being bizarre. The really bizarre part was their body language. Neither one of them smiled, at all. Both of them seemed hesitant, and wary.

And rightfully so, of course. I mean, seriously, who thinks that they are going to find that special someone in the pasta aisle at Walmart on a Friday night? Seriously? It was almost kind of funny.

But the sad thing is, I don't think that this sort of thing is all that uncommon. A few words about the weather or class or something equally trivial, then phone numbers exchanged, perhaps a date set up. How can those brief few moments possibly be enough to tell you whether you've found that special someone? What are the odds, really, that the random guy from Walmart (or class, or the bar, or wherever) is going to be the one for you? Not good, right? What a recipe for disappointment.

So, then, how do you find that special someone? You know, the one to grow old with, the one to stick by your side through thick and thin, insert heart-warming cliche here? Hmmm...well my experience renders me more qualified to speak about how *not* to find that special someone, I'm afraid. So I can't answer that question for you.

(A very good answer, of course, would be "at church." And that's how my two happily-married siblings, and most of our married friends, found their spouses. But small churches have their limitations.)

Feel free to comment to share how you met your spouse or significant other. I love hearing those stories.

*I do celebrate Thanksgiving and don't think it's a burden. :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Poll

Hi friends,

I put up a poll in my sidebar. Your votes would be appreciated. Feel free to leave a comment on this post if you'd like to share (or if you don't like the options); otherwise, your vote is anonymous. I'll refrain from commenting until voting is complete. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


We love doing puzzles. Here are the boys with their latest favorites. Elijah is working on a 600-piece train puzzle, and Noah has just completed a 24-piece of Winnie the Pooh.

Now before you get too impressed, I must point out that the boys get a lot of help with these puzzles. I help Elijah by sorting pieces and by giving him verbal cues when he gets stuck, like "Where does that piece go, Elijah? Look at the picture on the box--see here? I think it's part of the blue train's wheels," etc. I help Noah by handing him the next piece that he needs, and by identifying pieces, as in "Here is Tigger's hand," though once he's done a puzzle a couple of times, he doesn't need so much help.

I have a hard time getting pictures of moments like these, because my camera's flash isn't working. Pictures of little boys indoors often turn out blurry. This one isn't too bad though.

EDIT: After a couple of days, the boys are on their own with these puzzles. Noah breaks his up and re-does it over and over, and Elijah sorts his own pieces and comes running to tell me when he finds something important. I think it will take him a couple of weeks to finish the whole thing. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Great Old-House Blog

Hi friends,

You might know that I am a big fan of older houses, especially those built in the 1940s or earlier. They just don't build them like they used to, I'm afraid. I am especially fond of houses that have "good bones" but need a little work to bring them back to their original character. Houses that are all done just don't have the same appeal to me. If I could choose where to live, I would choose an older home that needs work over a finished newer home, any day. :)

When Mom and Dad lived in Indiana, I got to help them work on their 100+ year old farmhouse. Mom and I stripped off layers of wallpaper, patched holes in the plaster, and applied fresh paint. I loved every minute of it. I'm a little sad that they chose to purchase a brand new home when they moved to Texas, though I can understand their wish to avoid another "project." Old homes can consume a lot of time and money.

I used to read a blog which chronicled the adventures of a guy who was painstakingly restoring an 1895 Victorian in Eureka, California. Somehow I managed to completely forget about that blog until just the other day, when a Google search revealed that his blog is still up and running, and that he's made a lot of progress in the last couple of years. If you like old houses, you'll love this blog.

The Petch House

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I mentioned recently that I'll be spending more time downtown lately. That's because the ex-husband has finally moved from Indiana to the Houston area. So twice a week, I take the boys to see their dad. We often meet downtown because it's a good half-way point between my place and his, and there are lots of things for little boys to do downtown with their daddy, like Hermann Park (great park, by the way), or the Children's Museum.

Rather than drive all the way downtown (half an hour), turn around and come home, and a few hours later make the same trip all over again to pick the boys up, I generally try to save myself half the driving by finding myself something to do downtown while the boys visit with their dad. Sometimes I run a few errands, sometimes I go for a run, sometimes I find a good place to sit and crochet.

Despite my attempts to conserve gas, I still drove four hundred and ten miles last week. Assuming an average speed of forty miles an hour (a generous estimate, I think), that would equate to over ten hours of driving. Ten hours! A full day's work! (Well, not for a mom. :p ) That's a lot of driving for someone who doesn't work outside the home!

I drove to church and back three times, to the grocery store twice, to visit with friends once, and to take the boys to their dad twice. I could cut out the driving to the grocery store by combining those trips with others; and I suppose visiting with friends isn't a necessity. But those were the shortest trips. If I cut those out, I'm still left with a lot of driving.

As I've mentioned before, when I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, everything I needed to do was within two miles of my home. Church, grocery stores, library, bank, you name it; everything was within two miles. All of this driving in Texas seems kind of insane to me. But it seems to be the norm. Oh, and it seems that most people drive gas-guzzling SUVs or pickup trucks. I don't get it!

Are you wondering what the point of this post is? There isn't one. I'm just complaining. But to end this post on a more positive note: I am thankful that my trusty old Nissan (14 years old, 130k miles, still going strong) gets well over thirty miles to the gallon. And ultimately, I am very thankful that I have a comfortable home to stay in free of charge, even if it is rather inconveniently located. Thanks again, Mom and Dad. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fund-raising Letters

Every now and then we get these fund-raising letters from political parties that are a real insult to one's intelligence. You know the kind--one-sentence paragraphs and lots of underlining and bold type and capital letters and exclamation points. The kind that is often accompanied by a "political survey" with not-so-subtly loaded questions.

I was going to write a blog post about those fund-raising letters--something about the dumbing-down of American politics--but then I discovered that Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes has already said what I have to say, and said it more succinctly. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Researching Women's Dress

Hello again. I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about men's and women's clothing lately. I think I'll probably be writing several posts on the topic, but I've been learning so much, I hardly know where to start! For the time being, I thought I would share some of the links I've found most interesting.

These are in no particular order.

Firstly, here is the Wikipedia article on trousers. It gives an overview of their history, and includes an interesting paragraph about women in trousers.
You might also find this one interesting:
Women Wearing Pants--Wikipedia

Here is an old book which has been put online by my alma mater, Indiana University. It includes interesting photographs and color illustrations of historical garb from various parts of Asia.
Oriental Costumes--Their Designs and Colors

A few early feminists started the "dress reform" movement which was considered quite radical in its day.
19th Century Dress Reform, In Pictures
Be sure to check out the additional pages--all quite interesting.

In 866, the Pope was asked whether or not the women in Bulgaria needed to cease their custom of wearing pants in order to join the Catholic church.
Responsa Nicolai I ad consulta Bolgarorum
The interesting element of this link is not the Pope's opinion on the matter, but the fact that Bulgarian women in 866 wore pants.

In many cultures today, men still wear skirt-like garments. Here is a site that lists traditional male unbifircated (undivided) garments from around the world. The kilt is the most obvious example, but there are a number of others that I wasn't familiar with.
MUGs Around the World
Note: The rest of this site is questionable, but this particular page is interesting.

Here is a link with illustrations of what men and women probably wore in Bible times. I'm not sure about everything described here--for instance, the author seems quite sure that Jewish women wore makeup. But I can't find a better link with illustrations of Bible-era clothing. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Living in Bible Times

Here is an article by a family friend that represents probably the more conservative end of the Free Presbyterian view.
Christian Clothing--Scripture Standards for Dress and Conduct

*****PLEASE NOTE*****I am NOT endorsing every opinion or article of clothing presented in the links above.

In case you're wondering "What exactly is Sharon advocating here?" ....I'm not advocating anything (yet). I'm just sharing some of what I've learned about what it means to dress as a man or a woman in different cultures, and what it meant in days past.

I may post other interesting links as I come across them. Happy reading!