Monday, September 25, 2006

Lily's eight months pictures (September 4th)

For Lily's eight months pictures we went to "Manito Park". This was at the English garden by the fountain. Lily LOVES water!!! You know how some kids cry when they get water on themselves or especially on their face... she just blinks it away (and sometimes gasps).

One of the last hot days of summer too... though not hot enough to let her get into the water! (though I know she wanted to climb in)

She liked crawling on the grass and feeling the texture of it. I really like the lighting in these pictures.

These next ones are in the rose gardens... I sometimes have to play "peek-a-boo" to get her to look at me long enough for a picture! She's so curious about everything.

Pulling the petals off of the roses didn't last long, but she enjoyed it before I stopped her...

So then she and I strolled to the Orientel gardens and enjoyed the waterfalls and walked across the bridge (again... she loved the water)

In this picture it looks like the water fall is really far away or something, but actually it just wasn't very big...

The next picture with the rock she has an interesting expression I think. Actually what happened was that she turned around to look at something and almost fell and that face is the "wow/gasp/I'm ok" look.

Daddy's favorite spot in the garden is the place with the water carving a spot out on the rock (though Lily just likes it because she can splash in it.)

At about this point in the day I fed Lily and she fell asleep in the stroller.... so I called Youssef and asked if he'd want to come out for lunch. I fed the ducks at the duck pond while I waited for him to show up and then we walked to "Rockwood Bakery" a REALLY spiffy place!

We sat outside on the patio area under the awning... very romantic. Lily ate with us too and her Daddy got a break from work for a while. We all enjoyed a kitkat together (Lily would have put the whole thing in her mouth if I let her! ... is that a mark of a true woman... to love chocolate?)

She posed quite well for this picture... all she needed was a journal or Jane Austen book and she'd be all set. ;)

(She liked chewing on the straw... no teeth yet though... just lots of chewing.)

On the way back to Manito Lily lounged in the stroller (notice the foot)

Youssef left to go back to working and Lily and I stayed longer for some more pictures!

(This is a picture of her as she's standing and just about ready to get down to crawl.)

Oh!!! Is that a fairy that I see?

There's one peeking behind that tree!

I think this one must be a really unlady like fairy? Oh.. she's just wondering what sort of terrain I've placed her on.

(The nice thing about using the fairy wings for pictures is that it's easy to get cute pictures even if she's crawling away!)

(There were some gardeners working at Manito and saw me taking pictures of her with the fairy wings... they smiled. If I were them I'd feel really glad to have someone take pictures amongst all the work that I did!)

These flowers were so big that it made her look like a real fairy!

Now just a few weeks later Lily is WALKING (really well infact.) She has been walking along furniture for a few months now and has even stood up in the middle of a room (even in the bath only using her legs! ... maybe she'll want to do Irish dancing with such leg power.) I really like that she's walking so early. She gets into a lot of stuff, but now she can follow me around and I don't have to hold her ALL the time (which.. I like to hold her, but it's nice that she can entertain herself better.) She says "MaMa" if I leave a room and is learning how to just follow me (sometimes she forgets that she can do that now.) Yesterday, we went to a "Corn Maze" and after wandering through the maze till the end we picked pumkins! Lily liked to toddle around the pumpkins and pat them.

More pictures to come later!

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Complexities of Men

I've been thinking about "respect" today.

In the book that I'm reading "Married But Not Engaged," the author explained a bit about what respect means to a man. Now, I've always known the verse in the New Testament that tells men to love their wives and women to respect their husbands. The problem is that I was never taught what respect means to a guy and really what it should look like coming from me!

I'm going to explain some of what I've learned (but please.. if I say something about men that you guys out there disagree with, please excuse me: I'll be relating what I've read... and though I might have been conceited enough before to presume that I could know any of the inner workings of a man, I will humbly take any correction that you guys can give me about the complexities of men.)

First off, the book mentioned a pole (which I can't seem to find in the book right now, but I can remember it! If anyone cares, I could find it later). Men were asked to choose between two situations. "Would you rather be alone and unloved or disrespected by everyone?" An overwhelming number of men said that they would rather be alone and unloved! When I thought of how I'd answer, it took me quite a while to decide (this is a really tough question, I thought) I think I've come to the conclusion that I could live without respect but to be alone and unloved by anyone... to me that seems harder. I asked Youssef that question (before telling him what other people had said) and he hardly had to take long to think about it. He'd rather be alone and unloved than disrespected!

Wow! (says my womanly perspective.)

Another eye-opener to me about respect is the "unwritten rule" that men have with each other to leave the other man with his dignity. For instance, the guy in the book gives fly-fishing lessons. He said that when he notices one of the guys making a mistake, he'll help him out by telling him how he can make a better cast, but if the guy keeps making the same mistake, he will leave him alone! Men would rather make a fool of themselves in public by doing something poorly than to have another man be condesending to him and disrespect him as a man by pointing out his failing!

I'm sure most men are thinking this is really dumb for me to point out, but women don't innately have this "code of honor" built in!

Women (at least from my experiences, and I do have a little more expertise here) have the code of conduct that I've just now decided to call... fresh off the cuff... wait for it... the empathy code.
If a woman was in the place of the guy giving the fly-fishing lessons and saw another guy who kept messing up, she would probably think to herself what he must be feeling at this point and want to make him feel better. 'He's probably embarrassed,' she says to herself and maybe he just didn't hear her rightly when she told him the first time. She might say something to give him encouragement, tell him a story about when she first learned to fly-fish. She might even suggest that he watch how the other students fly-fish, maybe watch how Cindy Lou right beside him baits and casts. (I'm sure if you are a guy reading this and have put yourself in the place of the unlucky fisherman, you are cringing as you hear what the woman is doing to this poor guy.) And if this happened to a woman learning to fish, not only would she accept the public correction easily -- she'd most likely feel grateful, glad that the teacher is understanding her troubles!

Here's a fictitional scenario (though very much like several Youssef and I have experienced lately).

The husband is home from work and his wife is making dinner. The kids are running around the living room fighting again about the same toy, one might be trying to make the other eat a bug or something, perhaps there is a baby crying and she's wanting to be held. The wife is trying to make a delicious meal. Everything is bubbling and boiling, and she's trying to keep the fish from burning, set the table, yell at one child to stop jumping on the other and hold a baby while stirring the sauce (trying to do so without the baby being able to reach the pot and burn itself).

The husband is exhausted from his day and sits down for a minute to rest. The wife, naturally, is also exhausted from her day, but unfortunately her day hasn't ended yet. She thinks to herself...

Doesn't he see that I need help! Why doesn't he offer to help me...
Several things could be going through the wife's head at this point (perhaps all of them)... she might be thinking that he's stupid for not noticing what is happening all around him. The main thing that probably will bother her is that she will probably think that he doesn't love her enough to make the effort to help her with something that he obviously must see.
(and guys.. help me on this, do you see this usually? I might be wrong, but perhaps guys sometimes miss seeing what women think is obvious because--if a man were in her shoes--he would ask for help if he needed it or wouldn't if he didn't. Maybe women are suppose to notice more... anyway, back to the story.)

He doesn't love me. (she thinks) He could help me, he's just being lazy. He's stupid for not noticing. (did I leave anything out ladies?) Her respect for him at that moment is plummeting.

Now after much thought like this, then the wife starts to get angry at her husband's supposed stupidity. She might say something snappish. "Can't you see I need help!?" "Why don't you do something about your sons!" Or perhaps she won't say anything right then, but the snappishness will come out when she tells him to take out the garbage. Or perhaps she doesn't get angry at his seeming stupidity, perhaps she becomes depressed thinking that he really doesn't love her, that he married her just so that she could cook and clean for him and "do everything".

So.. that night he wonders why his wife isn't in a congenial mood and when he wants to kiss her she pushes him away and says that she is tired.

Now coming from her point of view, he has violated the code of empathy that most woman show to one another. He failed to notice what she was going through, failed to offer his help, and if she asked for help--even if he helped her with a smile and attitude of love (which won't nessesarily happen especially if she is asking in a nagging, snappy way) --she feels that, by her having to ask him, his help means almost nothing because he couldn't figure out the workings of her mind for himself.

You see where this is going...

He didn't offer without your asking because to a guy that would be disrespectful!!! AND possibly in the past when he did offer to help you, maybe you said "That's all right" wanting him to ask AGAIN (!!!) to show that he really, really loves you.

Actually, what is happening (a lot of the time) is the husband respecting the wife by waiting for her to ask him, and the wife is disrespecting him because she acts like he is stupid (even if she doesn't come out and say that)!

Another example of a wife disrespecting her husband could be just in how he does something with the baby or how he does the dishes. Her tone of voice is condescending as she says that "No, you do it like this" .. and perhaps (shame on me, for I know I've done it) she keeps correcting him, possibly the entire time he changes the baby's diaper (Youssef does a fine job at changing diapers by-the-way.. that was just an example. ;)

The great thing is that if woman knew this how foundational code of honor is to men (that maybe you guys thought was too obvious to share) EVERYTHING is better! Just in the past few days, I've realized so much of what I was doing was so unfair to Youssef. He was showing his love all the time that I thought he wasn't "understanding" me. Actually, I was not understanding him! Now I respect him SO much more because I understand where he is coming from... I don't think he's irritating or dumb for not noticing that I need help. Consequently, I'm showing him more respect, and in turn, he's showing me more love and appreciation!

Oh! Another thing that's really helped me to understand my husband: Think of the requests that your husband has of you, list them even, now look at them as if they are a need from him that only you can fill... he wouldn't think of asking for those things if it weren't really important! One very small thing (small to me) that Youssef had asked me to do was to buy his deodorant for him. I thought was silly that he couldn't do it for himself, but for some reason, it put a big stress on his life. Usually those small things have to do with buying something (or writing a thank-you letter, or some such thing) for him.
Now.. come on, who really would mind going shopping.. especially to be a huge help to their husband!

(Now at the risk of embarrassing conservative Christians, a brief talk of lovemaking) Here's the thing, (great beginning, I know) when your husband asks if you two can make love that night, it's a big deal. To us women, it might seem more like a fun thing like "Honey, do you want to dance tonight?"
To them, it's a much bigger deal (don't ask me more; I'm not a guy), but the thing is that's okay! (A woman who has had the thought that her husband doesn't "understand" her, and that's why he didn't offer to help her can feel a bit used when he wants to make love. She might think that he doesn't love her, and that he's using her just for some selfish pleasure.) For the Christian man that has saved sex until marriage (even a non-Christian man who chooses to be monogamous) and been bombarded by our culture, comedy, magazines, girls walking down the street--he's saved himself from all of that for his wife, as God intended, and is showing his love for her in that way, a need that only his wife can fulfill. When we women use our handy empathy, we can see how he is showing a deep love for us. If we see that he is cherishing us in all of that, we women then want to respect him even more for his sacrifices to be pure for us in everyday life. Even those sacrifices to be pure before we met, all culminating into his need, the need that he dares to express to us even in the face of possible rejection and ridicule! What brave men to stand before our misunderstanding eyes!

... It makes me want to respect them even more! ;) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we wives could start that cycle of respect and love in our homes? In fact, it's the only way to make our marriages spiral upwards. Compare the two codes of honor and empathy. If the man understands the women's code of empathy and acts on it, he can never get it right. His empathy would be trying to guess what the woman wants, thinking, "Well, if I were in her shoes, I would want this." His guess at what she wants would come from his code of honor and respect. It's hard to guess what someone wants. It's even hard sometimes for women to guess what other women want, or what they themselves want! You can imagine the situation where he does something that is wrong, and he says, "I thought that's what you wanted." And she gets mad for that, and disrespects him more!
But! if the woman understands and acts on the code of honor, the respect builds from understanding his decisions that spring from the code of honor inside. She understands that he will come when she asks for help. And that asking for help does not ruin his expression of love. When I wanted Youssef to help with the dishes, I felt it would ruin it (the act of him showing his love) if I asked. if you think about it, how can he come help if he is respecting me by not helping and I don't ask for it! If you try to complete the logic, it springs up an infinity or Error answer on the calculator! That's why the woman has to begin respecting her husband!

When I saw Youssef after he came back from the trip, he seemed like a new man in a way... Actually, he seemed like his old self like when I first fell in love with him (only even better.) He seemed to walk taller. His eyes were bright. He was truly happy. He said that he felt like I listened to him now and could feel a rest in my company. That's because I wasn't expecting him to be or do a certain thing, and my emotions didn't go on the impossibly-too-complex-to-follow rollercoaster. I'm really happy too, because I do know that he loves me, and now that I'm showing him the respect he deserves and longs for, and then he is striving to show his love for me even more!

May the circle remain unbroken... ;)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This is Lynné ... I've had a revelation and even though I've already talked to Youssef about this I don't think he'll mind if I write it all down so that I'll remember what I've learned... (Most of this I copied out of my journal.)

I bought a book called "Married but not Engaged" (I heard about it on the radio and what I heard seemed to fit really well with some problems that Youssef and I were having that I couldn't, until now, describe well.) Youssef thought it was another thing to point out how he was wrong or should change in some way... but it's me. I'm the one that's been at fault... I knew that I was doing something wrong but I didn't know what or how or anything... I felt crummy and Youssef felt worse (normally he's very open to talking and lately I'd ask him what he's thinking and he'd say "nothing" which he told me a long time ago that he hated it when people said that... there was something wrong...) Recently I've been conserned because things haven't been right between us and being me (with the memory like an Elephant, as they say,) drug things up that he thought we'd worked through (which we had). I'd wonder and sometimes say, "But when you did -this and this- it hurt me so that's why I get frustrated and think you will mess up when you do -this and this-" I feel like the mirror that I was looking at myself in was fogged over and blurred my vision and now I can see clearly what I've really been like to him.

I wrote several months ago about how I'd get annoyed and how that was wrong and silly and that I shouldn't do that... but how does that help? I didn't know why... the book that I'm reading has helped me to understand where Youssef might be coming from so that I can change how I talk to him (I highly recomend this book "Married but not Engaged" by Paul and Sandy Coughlin to anyone who is married to a guy who tends to be more of the easygoing, passive, possibly reserved type.. or perhaps if you find that he lets you do all of the talking .. this book might be helpful to give you a taste of his perspective.)

It sounds really silly when I come out and say it but I think what was happening is that I got frustrated with him because he... well.. he wasn't me. He didn't do things the way I would do whatever.. from the dishes, lawn, to taking care of Lily. Some things that I had to say might have been valid, but the way I was saying things and my attitude was so totally wrong, (Youssef must have felt like Benedick in "Much Ado about Nothing" When Beatric let her tounge fly at him like darts and he was the mark.) I kept thinking the typical cultural response that I've heard everywhere all my life to the adtions of men... "He's stupid".. "Doesn't understand me"... "Doesn't really listen"... (just watch most "sit coms" and you'll hear those words... "Everybody loves Ramond" is a good example of one.)

I think that most woman now (maybe without realizing this) think that men in general (and probably specifically their husband or boyfriend) are pretty dumb half the time. That is so totally wrong yet we hear that everywhere! One to two hundred years ago the opposite was said.. then women were thought to be not as smart as men. Women couldn't go to college, usually used a man's name if they wanted to publish a book... many things that men did and said were demeanind to women.. they were unfair and untrue, but now we women are doing the same thing to men!

Men and women aren't ment to be rivals.

We are not, and shouldn't be, the same!

That should be as obvious as saying that the water is wet.

Without knowing I was doing this I was trying to make Youssef more like me!
When I come out and actually say that and realize how I've been treating him and what I've been getting angry at, I'm appauled. I didn't marry him so that I could have a clone with me always... I married him and fell in love with him because he's uniquly Youssef - quirky, kind, romantic, strong, imaginative, intelligent, my knight in shining armor... if I know he is those things how could I think that he's stupid for not remembering where, say, the can opener goes! Now really who cares? Or... when we drive somewhere, so what if I want him to park in a certain spot - I'm not him.. I really don't want him to be me and if he's the one driving I should trust him to be intelligent enough to make his own decisions about where to park. I thought I was just telling him an idea or voicing an opinion, the problem was that It didn't come across that way- my voice sounded sharp and when he didn't do what I'd say sometimes I'd get annoyed at him (which was totally inapropriate for me to do). Dishes and parking are both really small examples. I won't get into the bigger issues but the small things tend to come from bigger problems (or they'll make them.)

When I talked to Youssef about this yesterday (he's on a bussiness trip now) and I tried to explain my "self-revelation" and appolagized he kept telling me that it was ok, but it's not ok! We'll be alright (which I think is what he ment) but it wasn't all right that I was essentially trying to remake him. I didn't go into our marriage wanting to "help" or change him like some women, but that's what I was doing! What right do I have (what right do any of us have) to even presume to change or "improve" another human being when I am so imperfect myself?
Now that I realize this, I'm shocked at the oddasity of most woman. I'm shocked that men can endure to hear the slander about them on TV, radio, magazines, even T-shirts (have you seen the T-shirt that says "boys are stupid- throw rocks at them"?) and the worse part is what woman say about thier husbands.

I'm trying to think if I've ever seen an example of a husband and wife who work together with their differences .. respecting their different oppinions and abilities (whatever they may be). Does the husband or wife show contempt for the other when he or she makes a mistake. I realized that that's what I was doing... unjustly annoyed... and whether I say something sarcastic or don't say anything I know that my attitude will be seen and felt by my family. Unconsiously of why Lily would probably grow up being annoyed at the mistakes and supposed "dumbness" of boys and men. Youssef would be totally burned outwith carrying the burdens of us both... especially when he keeps hearing so much "christian" advice telling him that whatever happens between us is ultimately his fault - It's not! I can see how ultimately it's his responsability in leading our family through our problems and even into certain directions that I don't agree with at the time (which will enevitably happen), but our problems aren't his fault. He's been doing so much, wearing himself out trying to carry his own burrdens AND mine. The last several months when he was done with work it was like he couldn't STOP working. He couldn't just sit by me or stand in the kitchen with his hand on my shoulder while I stirred the pasta sauce anymore. I've missed him. Sometimes I'd try to get him to stop and rest, but "No" he'd say "I just need to finish this project" or "I thought you'd want me to do _____" (fill in the blank) and then when the check list was done - his list and the one to keep me "happy" - then it was 9:00 and I needed to put the baby to sleep. Then we'd either stay up too late sleepily talking about nothing or watching a movie we didn't really want to watch right then.. or we'd go to sleep and it would just all start over again.

What do I really truely want from him?... what do most women want from their husbands?I want him to love me and appreciate me. I know he loves me when he stands up for me (and stands up to me when I need it), talking openly with me. I want him to be bold and listen and I want to do things together. All of those things that I listed and more wonderful things too Youssef has done, but as I look back from when we were getting to know each other till now I can see how I've actually discouraged him from being those things! I think Youssef tends to be more of a non-confrontational, somewhat passive, person, but when I met him (even though that was his tendency) that's not who he was!

Even though Youssef was trying to do so much for me ... trying to be what everyone expects... doing everything he possibly could humanly do for me (exausting himself) to make me happy.. I was depressed. Why? I miss him. (N0... you read that as if I'm saying I MISS him, but I really truely miss HIM)

Where is the man I married?
Oh, you mean the Youssef that you criticized, were annoyed at, tried to change, and were demanding to? That Youssef?
... I think I drove him into hiding.
(I was crying when I wrote all this in my journal)
I don't want to be like that anymore. I want him to be free to breathe again... I want Lily to love and respect her Daddy without me interferring.. I want Youssef to be able to rest with me... to be free to be himself, and feel able to make choices that he knows he should make even if I don't agree with them... he hasn't felt free because I haven't created anykind of room, any respect, for his different way of doing things.

I feel like a worm right now.. but happier because I know things will be better.
I love Youssef so much...

To share a couple of quotes from the book I spoke of-

"Included with women's greater verbal skills are more highly nuanced observations: they also use more words. Talking is one of their power centers, just as physical strength is generally a power center for men. Men have rightly been encouraged to restrain and donate their physical power in order to create greater equity and harmony in marriage. Like-wise, women can restrain and donate their verbal acumen in order to create a more level playing field.... IN this essential area, by and large, wives hold the pwoer in their relationships. They help grow intimacy when they use their power justly.... Using your power wisely can help countless circular arguments reach resolution."

In my opinion for a man that does talk of his feelings and seeks to be more intimate with his wife, expossing his vulnerability to her, is not a man showing his femanine side, but rather, a man showing his courage, humility, and bravery.

"The ultimacy of intimacy is two souls
risking vulnerability and weaving a life
together that couldn't be made without
the congealing of wills."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Most Recent Thoughts of Any Importance to Me.

What I'm posting today is a letter I wrote to a friend of mine named Shane. He and I used to work at Starbucks together. He and I enjoyed philosophy-chat while cleaning and slinging coffee. Then, in the space of 2 weeks, Shane and I left the store for our own little destinies. We wrote to the other to see how each was faring. The response I wrote back was so good that I thought it made up for my having not written any thing in two months.

Hey Shane,
How I envy you. The scholarship you're about to encounter is certainly going to sharpen your wits. This new job has nearly the opposite effect. I just received my first salary check, which was my first ever 4-figure paycheck. (I would have framed it if I didn't need to pay for food!)
Obvious benefits are hard to disregard. I'm writing to you on my new tablet computer, connected to a wireless Internet. My new phone, which is waiting for a call, is quite, technically speaking, spiffy. Bluetooth headset. Touch-screen. Enough memory to allow me to recover from a complete mental breakdown.. .
But Stuff isn't always the answer to the problems of life ... That's an answer I've memorized.
So. let me tell you about my lunch hour today. At about 12:30, I figured I needed some food. Old pasta salad in the fridge. Of course, for the time being I'm working at home. Munching on chips. Crunch. Crunch. Lynne calls. She's at Manito and she wonders if I'm free. So I drive out at 1:00. She knows of a cafe that we can walk to. I think she's nuts. We walk. Then, out of a grove of old houses, we find Rockwood Bakery. I've never been there before, so we wander in. Because we have the cash, we can order a lunch item of our own and a drink each..never before could we do that. We approach the counter and the lead barista, register position, is spouting off three interjections as answer to each question of the customer ahead of us.
"Can I get a shot in that?"
"Definitely. No problem. Yeah. Um..."
Some of those words-no, not the words, the intonations are so familiar to me.
"Take debit?"
"Yep. You got it. Awesome."
Awesome? There it is. The tale tell word, beating like Poe's heart beneath the floorboards of the conversation. I haven't said any of these words he's saying in over a month. Now, I really am on the other side of the counter.
We go up to pay. For Some reason, I'm a victim of "Customer Idiocy" ,and I ask "Take Debit?"
Lynne chimes in. " No, I've got it."
"You sure? You had to buy batteries earlier."
"No, I've got it."
And I suddenly realize we are the arguing couple. The people that I used to say, sarcastically, "How about you arm-wrestle over it" -We are those people! I start to get dizzy. I pay and we sit down outside, taking pictures of my daughter sipping-not really- from my italian soda. We are the yuppies, I'm thinking. We are the people I used to hate. The people whowere never really going to contribute to society the way that Eisenhower, Carnegie, and Von Braun contributed. These people-- these people are cogs in the wheels of society. they don't strive to be anything more than the one who has taken the most advantage of the society, eaten the most pie, made a place for themselves, in their time. Not in timeless-ness. Now, am I of them?
I just read a booklet, a pamphlet published by a New York teacher. It's titled "What's Really Wrong with our Schools?" You can imagine whatit's about. But his main point is the value of self-directed study. that one loans best Via one's own direction. I should send you a copy of it. Instead, I'll send you my after-reading notes. That might give you an idea about what a tablet computer is.
Until I recover from my sudden thrusting into Yuppie-dom,