Monday, March 15, 2010

Good excuse.

Yes, it's been a while.  But not without reason ...

So, if you haven't yet heard Madeleine is going to be a big sister this August!  I am 4 months pregnant and we are so excited to welcome our second child into the world.  As with most pregnancies during the first trimester, I have been quite sick and incredibly tired ... hence the lack of blogging.  I hope I have rounded that "morning sickness" corner and will be feeling more myself in the next few days/weeks.

This has been quite an interesting pregnancy.  At a 6 week ultra sound the doctor informed us, quite nonchalantly, that we might be having triplets, but it was too soon to tell for sure and that I would have to wait until my next appointment in four weeks.  Imagine waiting 4 weeks to find out if you are having 1, 2 or 3 babies!  Needless to say it was a stressful few weeks.  After thinking about the necessary mini-van we'd have to buy, or the average 60+ lbs that women pregnant with triplets gain, or the impossibility of trying to nurse 3 babies, we were quite relieved to find out that we are indeed having ONE baby.

Children are such a blessing, and we have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

dust bunnies and laundry.

If you think the upkeep of this blog has been bad, you should see the state of my house.

new posts/updates forthcoming.  i promise.

Monday, January 4, 2010

On Sentimentality: A Christmas Essay

Once upon a time – (last year) – I was having drinks with a friend.  It was Advent, we were talking about music, and I asked him ‘Hey [friend], have you ever heard [band name]?’ to which he curtly replied, ‘Yes, but they’re a bit too sentimental for my taste’.  My spirits were quietly deflated.

They’re sentimental?
I like sentimental music?
I have a kitschy taste in music.

It was not unlike the moment your older, more mature friend informed you that, well duh, of course Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

Mr. Webster defines sentimental as ‘marked or governed by feeling, sensibility, or emotional idealism; resulting from feeling rather than reason or thought; having an excess of sentiment or sensibility’.  In the mid-18th century, the word ‘sentiment’ commonly meant ‘a thought colored by or proceeding from emotion’.

It would seem, then, that this vicious attack on the sentiment and all things sentimental is yet another iteration of the age-old war between Plato and the poets.  The poets kept putting the (philosophical) cart before the horse(s).  Plato had had quite enough of the spontaneous overflow of their powerful feeling.

But haven’t we, as good postmoderns, moved past all that tripartite soul rubbish, giving up the grail-quest for the rational man who dispassionately governs his passions?  Can we remain so conspicuously aloof to the human mind in the wake of Nietzsche and Freud?

Or perhaps pursuing that line of argument is to overshoot the target.  Maybe the fact of the matter is that the ‘war on sentiment’ is being waged not on thoughts proceeding from emotions per se, but thoughts proceeding from emotions that have no basis in reality.  As we are in the midst of the so-called ‘holiday season’, I present to you a very relevant Exhibit A: the song ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.

I would not be overstating my case were I to maintain that the lyrics of this song are the very essence – nay, the quintessence – of what is both loved and loathed about sentimentality.  This ubiquitous ditty is not to be avoided in the month of December, even by the mighty rigors of the strictest anti-sentimentalist.  Not one verse of this holiday jingle lacks a sentimental touch: ‘From now on, our troubles will be out of sight’, ‘From now on our troubles will be miles away’, ‘Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore’, even the closing verse ‘Through the years we all will be together’.  No basis in reality at all.

Its excess is enough to make us laugh, were we not stayed by the quick realization that these lines audaciously skim over the weighty pangs of human brokenness.  This is not to say that the song doesn’t have a catchy tune, or that I don’t sometimes enjoy singing it; rather, when you extract the holly-jolliness from it, the words on the paper do not seem to mesh very well with the ‘situation on the ground’, as it were.

This has always been the case, but it is especially keen this year.  There are those of us who have lost homes, jobs, and insurance against astronomical medical bills.  Some relationships have ended in divorce, or fester in silent bitterness.  A close friend, relative, or spouse has died.  Those who have suffered in these or other ways have no use for pep talks, nor should they be encouraged to repress their grief with a bit of ‘holiday cheer’.

That there could be a connection between sentimentality and wickedness had never occurred to me until I read Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.  Early in the book, the narrator calls the debauched father Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov ‘wicked and sentimental’.  His ability to loose chaos upon his family in one moment and utter drunken, repentant inanities in another is the hallmark of this arch-buffoon.  While the sentimental Fyodor Pavlovich may not resemble most of the people we encounter in reality, his character highlights the quality of surreptitious carelessness that can accompany sentimentality: empty nostalgia combined with a willful ignorance of others’ pain.

If there is the need to unmask sentimentality as apathy with a , there is also the need to protect certain things from being masked as sentimentality.  In the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, protagonist George Bailey struggles to save the family business providing home loans for the working poor from a takeover by the avaricious slumlord Mr. Potter.  Potter insists that the services of the Bailey Building and Loan result in ‘a discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class’.  George lambasts Potter’s view as smoke in mirrors, concealing his motive of financial benefit at their expense:

Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community.  Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?  Anyway, my father didn’t think so… people were human beings to him.

Potter’s retort is a crisp two words: ‘sentimental hogwash’.  And so it may be, for a business to forsake the precepts of profitability to invest in the common good.  Such a suggestion is about as foolish as Jesus’ call to love one’s neighbor as oneself.  Is charity tantamount to sentimentality?  Perhaps it is.  After all, since when was caring for your neighbor as much as yourself a maxim which proceeds coolly from reason or thought?  Out in the world, beyond the confines of this essay, such a suggestion is just plain foolish.  If that’s what sentimentality is all about, maybe what’s needed is to restore it to its rightful place; write it on a banner and carry it around with us; parade it about for all the world to see.

At this point in the essay, I might be expected to conclude by picking a side, and stake my claim unequivocally either for or against sentimentality; hot or cold, lest like lukewarm holiday eggnog I am spat from the mouth, spurned by all.  But based on what has already been said, I see no way of proclaiming judgment one way or the other, but only on certain kinds of sentimentality; hardly a categorical imperative.  Perhaps coming to this conclusion is merely a confession that, in these thousand words, nothing of substance was actually accomplished.  Even so, at least I can go on living with the knowledge that I apparently enjoy sentimental music – so long as it’s not that kind of sentimental.
– D. Moore

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Meeting Katherine Anne Witmer!

Two weekends ago I had the privilege to visit our dear friends the Witmers.  Their daughter Katie was born on 11/10 and it was so wonderful finally getting to meet her.  She is absolutely precious and Moe and Andrew are already the best parents.  As always I had a great time with them; it is so special having friends that are more like family.  Here are a few photos.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kristin and Madeleine Go Global.

When I was pregnant and also when Madeleine was 6 months old we had the awesome opportunity to take photos with a NYC stock photographer Jamie Grill.  Stock photographers take "stock" photos that are often seen in advertisements, books, magazines, etc.  It was a great deal for us because we got all these beautiful photos for free, and were even paid for the job!  The only thing is that once the photos are sold to various stock photography agencies it is very difficult to know if your photo has been published.  My sister did a similar photo shoot with her daughter and randomly saw her picture in a Woman's World magazine.  So needless to say, we have been keeping our eyes peeled to see if any of our photos show up anywhere.  Every so often I would type in "Jamie Grill Photography" into google images to see if any of our photos came up.   The only thing I had found until a few weeks ago was a Spanish website that included this picture in an article:

But then a few weeks ago I got a surprise package from a dear friend who is living in China.  She had been shopping at their equivalent of Wal-Mart when a book on a display shelf caught her eye.  She looked a bit closer to realize that she wasn't seeing things, but she really DID know the people on the cover.  Turns out that there is a pregnancy/parenting book in China with Madeleine and I on the cover!  This wonderful friend sent me three copies (one for us, and then each set of grandparents) much to my surprise and delight :) I laughed out loud when I saw it, how completely funny and random.  Here is the original photo, and then the photo featured on the book.

Apparently the book is from a series of Chinese "How to" books (think What to Expect When Expecting), and the title is something like Pregnancy, Delivery, and Nourishment: Intimate Guidance to Help Young Parents Raise a Smart and Healthy Baby.

Photo Shoot with the Haley Family

A few weekends ago we got together with our friends Gabe, Jane, and their beautiful daughter Vesper.  Jane and I did a little photo swap and we had a great time.  I learned a lot from her (she's a great photographer) and here are a few favorite photos from the day.  (Obviously, the one's of our family were taken by Jane, and the one's of the Haley family were taken by me.)

Turkey Troticello 2k9

This year marked the second annual Moore/Sandberg Thanksgiving event, the "Turkey Troticello."  Our family gathered during the early hours on this festive day to walk/jog the Monticello trail before commencing with the usual gluttonous activities of the day.  It was great fun.  For more information on the event check out the offical website here.  And check back next year because the little Troticello might be expanding beyond our little family.  I just so happened to sit next to the event planner at Monticello the other night at a dinner party and she liked the idea of making the Troticello into a community event.

One fast runner nearly breaks the speed limit!

It was a beautiful, foggy day and we all had a great time!