Wednesday, April 18, 2012

count it all joy

Our first year here, Kuwait had novelty on its side. Last year, I had Grant and kept busy enough with two little ones at home. This year I want to escape. I like the life we have here. And I don't know when it started, but I have been itching to leave. I'll come back. But as mentioned previously, we aren't traveling this year. That might have been a mistake, and Justin will be happy I put that in writing because though I first sparked him to the idea of living abroad, he is the one who suggests we visit places that would turn his parents inside out. So while I have not had to overpack for a trip this year, we haven't arrived anywhere either.
We've stayed. We have been creatures of habit, circling our trips between Fahaheel and the Avenues. Grilled cheese is my default meal. I used to dress up our grilled cheese in fancy bread and fancy cheese but sometimes I just butter up the Kuwait Mills loaf and slice some good ol' Heritage Farms. For a stretch we ate grilled cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks once or twice a week because I just didn't care to spend an hour in the kitchen putting together a real meal.

Telling it like this is a little alarming. I want to wake to something new. I also want to not count the years until diapers are done. Is it such a contradiction to be present and enjoy playing with my kids, and at bedtime wish for the night when we aren't crowded in the bathroom, pottying and dressing and brushing teeth for bed, because they will do it on their own? Every inch of being alive has something I want to keep and something I want to hurry.

I've been studying the book of James with a group of women here. The first chapter begins with this challenge: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Can I count it joy? My trials of various kinds are so small, but can I count them joy? If I cannot count grocery shopping and cooking a joy, how will I count learning to forgive a joy? If I cannot count being patient with three-year-old a joy, how will I count the joy of encouraging and correcting that same girl when she is fifteen?

I have stayed in one place this year staring at what I want to count joy: all of it. Sometimes the choice of it - counting this joy or giving way to apathy - the choice of attitude is excruciating.

I am cooking vegetable pancakes tonight. Not grilled cheese.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


And already I am not sure what to lead with: knee, break, cooking? My right knee is injured/ healing/ growing stronger. I still don't know what happened but suspect that a very tight quad overzealously stretched near the end of February turned to me and said: don't ever ever do that again. Oh, the pride I am letting go of this year. Just falls off me, all this pride. In college I ran through crazy injury and pain and not because I was really competitive but because I was really dumb about taking care of my body. Five years ago I decided to be reasonable and have remained so, to a numbing point of boredom. There are no challenges in my running world until summer.

The pride part: taking care of my body. I stretch using yoga poses. I prided myself on having good knees and being a diligent stretcher. And then there was a week or two when I neglected all my diligent stretching and my quad got tight; when I figured that out, I stretched it mercilessly. Don't do that. Just don't. The next day or two my knee swelled. I went in for physical therapy which I tell myself is a good thing: I'm now strengthening my quads to help both kneecaps track properly.

Really I just want to be able to head out for hour and a half early morning runs this summer, stock up my outside running before returning to the treadmill. Really I just want to keep my body running so that one day when we are living in green again, I can eat up all those long wandering runs before breakfast. So I am running sloooow.

Okay. Knee, check. Break. We had spring break last week. Continuing with my Year of Not Traveling With Kids Because That Isn't a Vacation, we didn't go anywhere. We had a good time. Justin built stuff and painted more stuff. We went to the park Easter morning to let Claire and Grant hunt melted chocolate. I finally finished a short story that wasn't too short at the end: needs revision and a final edit, but the structure is pretty set. I think. Okay. Break, check.

Cooking, I don't even want to talk about. Last night Justin and I had one of those morbid conversations couples have. (I'm assuming all couples talk dying and one or the other being left alone). So I asked Justin what he would look for in a woman if he had to remarry. Essentially wondering if I was falling short anywhere. He mentioned a few standards and then said he appreciated my cooking and would want someone who could cook well. I said, "Me too." And it's true. I would look for a cook.

And right now, I need to go cook dinner. When I get whiney about cooking I go Pollyanna and remind myself that I have an abundance of food I can cook. Even though, lately, I'm mostly in the mood for cold cereal.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I am a longtime fan of This American Life. This morning I listened to their most recent episode, "Take the Money and Run for Office," a look at congressional campaign funding. Listen to it if you get a chance. Sometimes it seems that politics is just a branch of consumerism. So be a smart consumer. At least be aware.