Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Waiting

I'm sitting here in the living room, laptop perched on what's left of my lap, while Little Man plays on the floor and Trig-Dog noses around the Christmas tree, making the tiny jingle bells ring nervously. It's grown dark suddenly, and the only light in the room is from the tiny white lights on the tree. I feel no need to change that. The house is cozy, and I am thinking of good things: the love of friends and family, the celebration of Christ's coming, the goodness of being home and together (even though the Man is passed out cold in the bedroom after a long two weeks of pre-Christmas work), and, of course, the anticipation of Tiny.

I've been bad about blogging lately for the sole reason that I've wanted to spare you the roller coaster of pregnancy hormones that my poor husband has been subjected to the last month (he maintains that I could've been a lot worse but I see that panicked look in his eyes that says, "When do I get my wife back?"). But today is an up day, and so I thought I'd stop in to say hi, especially since Tiny could be here any day now, and I don't remember being the best blogger in the first few months of Little Man. For now, though, we're waiting.

It's those last few days when everything that has to be done has already been done and you sit around looking at the pile of freshly laundered and folded burp rags, the empty crib which is quickly collecting cat hair, and the mostly packed hospital bag. Of course, it seems in that moment everyone else but you is having their babies, and facebook is quick to confirm this, so you quit getting on facebook but then your only distraction from the wait is gluing yourself to the kitchen window in the hopes that something--anything--exciting will happen outside. I tried to bribe the Man's cops to start arresting people in front of the house, but they didn't go for it. But underneath it all, there's that little tremor of excitement every morning when I wake up and wonder if today could be the day that Tiny comes. And that makes me think about Jesus (because if I woke up every day and made my To Do list based on the idea that Jesus could show up today and lived with that undercurrent of anticipation that I have for Tiny... well, who knows what my life could turn into?).

In the meantime, I plan to enjoy Christmas and all it entails and try to let the waiting be a good thing. At the very least, I can thoroughly relish that as a nine months pregnant woman no one is going to stop me from sneaking into the fridge and "evening up" the fudge. And it sure is good...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Little Women Time

Almost every year around this time, I watch Little Women. It's my birthmas movie. The thing is, it has so many nice Christmas themes so it's perfect for this time of year, plus, it's about an all girl family (which reminds me of mine) and is based around one of my all time favourite books. This year, in addition to reading Louisa May Alcott's biography, I also reread Little Women (picked up at the same bookstore at the same time in October). May I just say how thoroughly I enjoyed rereading it this week? Even though I didn't realize that I'd only bought Little Women and not Little Women and Good Wives... I was already planning on tracking down a copy of Little Men (which is much more applicable to my current life), and now will diligently add Good Wives to the list.

Anyway, due to the aforementioned cold (see earlier post), I spent today resting and finishing up Little Women in between playing legos and letting the dog in and out for potty breaks (I swear, he pees more than I do--and I'm pregnant!) and then at lunch, I decided to make Little Man watch the movie with me (he's too young to over rule me right now--it's great). We made it to Sally Moffat's ball and then I finished the rest of the movie this evening after putting teething child in bed (he tried to throw a fit about not being allowed to sleep on the couch with the Christmas tree...seriously). It was fascinating reading the book and watching the movie back to back. I don't think I've ever done that. In fact, confession, I'm not completely positive that I've ever read the unabridged version of Little Women because, prior to this experience, the only copy I'd had was the battered old one we had growing up, and I'm pretty sure not everything was in there. Then again, I have pregnancy brain and could just be forgetting.

Regardless, it was fascinating picking up on a lot of changes that were made by Hollywood (I promise I didn't plan to turn this week into a movie bashing blog week--reading two books and watching their respective movies back to back was not something I did on purpose). For one, the movie completely obliterated the Pilgrim's Progress theme that is so central to the book, which wipes out the moral heart of the story. Secondly, they almost completely rewrote the characters of Mr Laurence and John Brooke, making them less sympathetic characters. I have to assume that this occurred solely due to the current trend seen in modern media of running down the male characters in order to draw a sharper contrast against the liberated and high-minded females. I'm not a huge fan.  And yes, I say this as somewhat of a feminist.

The last thing I want to say is that this was definitely the first time reading the book as a military wife and mom and may have been my first time watching the movie since then as well. I'm not sure I managed to fit it into my packed holiday schedule the last two years (having babies does that to you). I was surprised by how applicable the book was to me as a military spouse. I never really thought of Little Women as a war novel, but it is. It chronicles the home front during the Civil War during what we would term as a deployment (they didn't really have deployments back then--it was kind of an all or nothing deal--and we think we have it bad). Anyway, it gave me a whole new emotional connection to both the book and the movie, and before anyone makes any cracks about me being pregnant and emotionally whacked out (which is true), there were no tears shed during the reading or the watching, but there was a sizable lump in my throat. And I suppose that's okay.

Tea and Moonacre

This year my birthmas present from "me to me" was a package of decaf P. G. Tips. I love coffee, but when I'm sick--and the sore throats have been piling up towards the end of this pregnancy thanks to the constant fluctuation of the weather and the fact that I'm tired and my immune system has gone to pot--when I'm sick, all I want is tea, endless cups of tea to be precise. And that was difficult because I'm only allowed limited amounts of caffeine, and my favourite tea was no where to be found in a decaffeinated version. So I found some online, bought it, and waited for it to arrive the week of my birthday. Incidentally, just in time for sore throat number 3.

This year my birthmas present from my best second sister was Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse, which I had shamelessly hinted about wanting. The proof is in the blog. So this weekend as the Big Man studied away diligently (in spite of also having a cold), I drank tea and read The Little White Horse. Honestly, I think it would've been a bit sacrilegious to have read such a blatantly British book without tea, so it's a good thing that I gifted myself.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed The Little White Horse, being somewhat of a sucker for British children's fantasy, and it was much better than the movie, which had taken out all the meat of the tale (it was probably too much for P.C. Hollywood to handle). An enchanting story that covered such interesting topics as generational sin and the idea of looking below the surface to find true value, it is one that should be in every children's library. The adults, though fallible, are worthy of respect yet don't mollycoddle the children. The children are capable of being heroes in their own right, though still dependent on wise advice from their elders. And there was plenty of food description, which if you enjoy British food (and I do, with certain exceptions--steak and kidney pie did me in) will probably make you hungry. At any rate, I can understand why several of my most read authors rank The Little White Horse on their list of favourites: it was absolutely charming.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Look at Louisa

Last night I finished reading the biography Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen. I have to say, the timing was fortuitous. Although I bought the book while I was in San Antonio in October, the little bits of reading I've managed to snatch here and there let me finish up just in time for my annual birthday watching of Little Women. That's going to happen at some point this week. Probably. But this is supposed to be about the book, not the movie, and not even specifically the book of Little Women but rather the book about the author of Little Women. Whatever.

Let me start by saying that I've always been a fan of Alcott's work. As a child, I devoured Little Women and Little Men as well as Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, but I'm not sure I ever got much past that. I do have a vague recollection of reading Jo's Boys, but I don't think I could give you a plot synopsis if my life depended on it, just that it was darker than I expected and someone died. I think. That said, prior to reading this biography, I had a hazy knowledge of Alcott's life. I was aware that she was strongly involved with the Transcendentalist movement and that she had modeled the characters of Little Women after her own family. After reading Reisen's work, though, I now know more details than I might have wanted. Let me explain.

Reading Alcott's biography almost a year after I read L.M. Montgomery's journals has forever disabused me of my notion of the heroic authoress. I came away from both experiences a little jaded and sad. It made me wonder if such a gift comes at too great a price. Then again, maybe grief and emotional turmoil are just part of life, and it's only when we really dig into the thoughts of a writer who can adequately express them that we are able to understand and process someone else's struggle. Who knows. Still, Louisa May and Lucy Maud (I have a thing for L. M.'s, it seems) had some pretty unbalanced moments... more than I was expecting, to be honest. I did, however, come away somewhat in awe of Louisa's work ethic. Sure there were gigantic periods of burn out, but good grief, when she sat down to do something, she did it. I wouldn't mind being that cool, but then I remind myself that having a toddler doesn't allow for periods of burn out. Ever. Oh well!