Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

March 31, 2004

Serenity Lady gives birth

Suzanne grilled me about labor the other day, and I got to thinking about it. Here's what happened. (this is my longest webble yet!)

After going through labor, and coming back for more, I finally think I've come to some understanding of what it means to me to deal with the pain of giving birth. Not that I have tested this new understanding, mind you. But here are my musings.

I saw this TV commercial when I was pregnant with Maya, I think, for Thermasilk (this shampoo that activates when you blow dry your hair, or something of that nature) where this lady is in dry-hair land and she's in a desert and her hair is all sticks and hay and is breaking off- it's so dry. Then she turns and sees this doorway of fire and through the doorway is this lush green pastoral scene with a stream- the image of moist paradise. And she walks right up to the burning doorway (and I'm thinking, 'NO, DON'T GO IN THERE! YOU'LL BURN UP! RUN AWAY! STOP DROP AND ROLL!) and serenely walks right through and the fire doesn't burn her up, it makes her hair all (insert good hair adjective) and life is good and she's in moist pastoral paradise. I know, it's just a commercial, but you know, video is such a powerful medium that sometimes it can transcend even its most superficial uses and really mean something. And to me this meant a lot. Pregnant people that are nervous about labor, like I was, will find encouragement anywhere they can.

So here's what it means to me. The desert place is the first parts of labor, the parts you can sort of deal with by using techniques that you learned in classes and strategies that you figured out ahead of time, and tools that you brought with you. All intellectually based, reasonable things. But then you see the door of fire, and you realise that it's going to hurt more than you can reasonably handle and you don't want to go through any doorways of fire thank you very much I'd like to go home now and you did this to me, etc. The doorway of fire is the transition phase of labor and the green scene is, of course, having given birth and holding your amazing miracle of a baby. So the big question is, how do we get through that doorway? How is it possible to endure the fire? Maybe it's by tapping into that serenity.

Serenity Lady beleived, and staked her life on it, that she would not burn up in that fire. I didn't burn up either, of course. But that kind of pain usually means that there is something seriously wrong with you and you just might not make it, like multiple stab wounds or a heart attack or serious poisoning, and if you do, you will be seriously scarred or impaired in some way after the fact. I've got thirty years of conditioning in my mind and body that says that if I feel pain, that I am hurt in some way, that something is WRONG. And my body jumps into action and responds to that stimuli with the adrenalin I need to either fight or run away from that pain that's coming at me. And my whole self is whipped into action to deal with the emergency.

But then there's labor. Nothing is wrong when those contraction come on strong; I am not hurt, I'm not burned. And there's noone to fight, and I can't run away. My natural response is totally wrong for labor pain. (I fought it every second of the way. I was not the serene lady, confident in the end result, willing to go through the fire.) The first time, I tensed up at every contraction (fight), and in the second labor, I tried to avoid getting to the end by not doing things that would make labor progress (flight). When I would tense up, my doula would instruct me: Relax! Put your shoulders back down. But I didn't know how to relax when I was in pain. It just didn't seem possible. I didn't know any other way to respond. I've been told that tensing up during a contraction actually makes it hurt more, but maybe I didn't understand why at a deep level. It's so hard to beleive that something that seems so passive (relaxing) could deal with something so intense. I think I beleive it more now, though, because during transition with Maya I really did relax in the sense that I didn't fight against it. After the midwife finally decided with me to break my water completely, the serious get-the-baby-out contractions kicked in. And it really felt like fire, white hot, but I knew that I was going to be ok at the end, and I knew deeply that a baby would come out of all this. It took a great deal of concentration to stay calm and not flail when I felt another contraction coming but it was entirely possible to do. I can't really say it took all I could give, because I don't really know what that is, but it took a whole lot.

When I think of how Serenity Lady comes by her transendence, I am reminded of the real life martyr, the famed Mona, who was killed by hanging in Iran not too long ago for being a Baha'i and teaching children's classes. She didn't fret about physical pain, she kissed that dern noose and put it around her own neck. The physical pain and even the assurance of death were completely irrelevant to her goal of living according to her beleifs. No flames were too high or hot for her. She was focused somewhere else entirely. On Baha'u'llah- her heart's desire and her goal. She was HAPPY to walk through fire for Baha'u'llah.

And I wonder if I were to go through labor again, if I could focus on the fact that everything worth doing requires me to walk the path of sacrifice. Would I get that serenity and transcendence? Could I become like a spiritual warrior whose weapon is their submission to the will of God? It seems to me that practising that in the other areas of life would be a good preparation for trying to be detached from labor pain. From what I've read about the sympathetic nervous system, there is a mechanism in the body that will respond to that serenity and make contractions hurt less, be more effective at pushing the baby down, and go faster, as well as giving the baby more oxygen. So it could actually happen that spiritual understanding could be an effective way to deal with labor pain. But I haven't actually tried it.

Labor always felt like a testing ground for myself, where I could see my character as it really was, without masks or walls to hide behind, so I tend to think a lot of how my character can be improved in relation to labor. It's like a analogy for all the tests of life for me, and so I tend to get intense about it. But another less critical part of me says: it doesn't really matter what I did in labor or how much it hurt or what the state of my character was, as long as the baby came out alright, it was a completely successful labor. And I beleive that too. And why is it so important for me to judge everything anyways? But that's a whole other webble.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:24 AM | Comments (5)

March 29, 2004

Jane Austen rip offs

Thoughts from trips to Blockbuster:
Have you ever noticed movies that lift the complete plot of a Jane Austen novel but don't give her even a passing nod of credit? Maybe they assume that their audience already knows the connection, so it would be stating the obvious- those that like 'light chic flicks' also read Austen? It's possible; I fit into that category; but the reasoning is kind of thin. I would think it would give the movies more credibility and be good publicity to acknowledge that it's a modern rewrite of a much older story. Am I wrong? Well, you can see them for yourself- 'Clueless' is the exact plot of 'Emma' (the book. I know it's also a movie), and 'Bridget Jones's Diary' is an fun rewrite of 'Pride and Prejudice' (I saw it for the first time last night and laughed out loud a lot). That's what I've noticed so far. Any others out there?

Posted by Bahiyyih at 01:44 PM | Comments (5)

March 28, 2004

girls vacation

It was just the girls, out on a boy-sponsored (and suggested) road trip. I was sick of sitting around waiting for spring to let us out of the house, so we drove south and with every hundred miles, we got a week farther ahead into spring. There was forsythia blooming in Kentucky and daffodils and peach trees blooming in Tennessee. I got to see lovely hilly country and the soil as orange as Georgia's hair and lots of cows, horses and emus grazing along the way. I tried to make the trip as kid-friendly as possible, since it was our first big road trip together. I wanted them to have positive associations with traveling with mom so we could do it again someday soon. And Georgia asked today if we could live at the campsite instead of our house, so I think that worked out alright.

We started out going to the Indy Zoo on Monday, and Georgia saw her beloved penguins, Maya enjoyed the baboons (especially a baby baboon that peed on a rock, Beep! Beep! Potty! Potty!, she yelled excitedly as I smiled at the fellow onlookers and tried for nonchalance about the whole thing), and I loved the giraffes. They are so beautiful and graceful. And there was a very cute baby giraffe. That night we stayed at the elegant Omni Hotel ( for $45, thanks to priceline) and enjoyed the pool and cable TV. Tuesday was driving day down to our campsite at Cedars of Lebanon where we pulled in after dark and made a bed in the back of the van and looked at the stars. Maya was discombobulated about such strange sleeping arrangements, but she woke up happy. Georgia thought the whole camping thing was really fun, she had her own lantern and when we set up the tent the next day, she liked running in and out of it. On Wednesday we played all day and slept in the tent at night. Maya was, again, not too pleased with the new sleeping arrangements, but the other parts of camping she enjoyed very much. All the running around outside, playing with RV people's dogs, and a beagle from the subdivision that was out slumming at the campgrounds became her companion, even though she stole Maya's corndog, and a playground with a really fast slide. We all thought having a campfire was fun, especially roasting marshmallows and warming up soup and baked beans in the fire. We all thought said beagle howling all night because we wouldn't let her into the tent to sleep with us was not fun. Another camper tried to lose her, driving her far away, but she just found her way right back to us and started scratching at the tent right by my head for me to let her in. He finally locked her into the bathroom, so I eventually got some sleep. The girls slept right through most of it, thankfully. The weather was really fine for us, just gently warm all the time. And I've never camped without bugs before. I did not miss them. I was really happy to bring out my trusty REI tent that I love but which has been collecting dust for years. It reminded me to be confident in myself, knowing I can make a place for myself and my kids that we can live and thrive in. I think Georgia and Maya both felt braver too, talking to strangers and trying new things. The drive back was less fun for all of us, but we had a good time at the Indy Children's Museum on the way back (the biggest in the world!) and staying at another fancy hotel for cheap.

I put up the tent in our living room to air it out but also because I don't want to forget the things I learned on this trip: I really enjoy living with my kids at their pace and really listening to what they want to do, hugs and kisses go a long way in preventing conflict and encouraging good behavior (longer than I previously thought possible), I really like my kids as people- they're hilarious and good-hearted, and I like places that have hills! I miss the orange dirt and every stranger trying to help me because (with southern accent), 'looks like you gotch yer hands full there'.

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Kentucky rest stop

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Name that flower!

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superhelper putting up the tent with mommy

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looking fly

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Maya-beagle smooch

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Georgia chasing the beagle who was madly chasing a rabbit

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Maya not thrilled to be going to bed in the tent

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Indy Children's Museum water clock- mesmerizing to watch water move through all those tubes to measure the time

Posted by Bahiyyih at 06:44 PM | Comments (2)

March 25, 2004

Camping and Museuming

Regular readers may have noticed that Bahiyyih has not been updating lately -- she's out of town! Camping! With Georgia and Maya! They took off Monday afternoon and plan to get back tomorrow (Friday) night, after a tour of the Indianapolis Zoo and Children's Museum and a three-day stay in Tennesee's Cedars of Lebanon State Park.

Bahiyyih reports that they're enjoying themselves. She says it's a vacation for Georgia and Maya, since Mommy isn't making them run around doing chores and errands -- no twice-daily round trips to Georgia's school, etc.

We'll have to get some pictures up when they get back.

Posted by Billy at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

Comfortable Pajamas

Here's Georgia's chosen place of rest one recent evening. She found an old sweater of Mommy's that had had a bad experience in the washing machine and is now no longer poofy and roomy on any adult in our household. But there's plenty of room in it for Georgia!

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A cozy sweater and a place of one's own.

Ooh, ooh, and I got to try out the manual settings on our camera, since (as you can tell from the picture) nobody was in a hurry for me to finish. I used the back of a dining-room chair for stability, and it worked surprisingly well for a one- or two-second exposure.

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Maya and Grampy's kitty, Fiona, are mutually entertained.

Maya and I ran some errands a couple of weekends ago, including dropping off a small item at Grampy's house. We stayed for a while to hang out with the locals, who were having a very relaxed Saturday morning.

Posted by Billy at 07:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 17, 2004

a mouth study

Based on the qualitative data of casual observations over the years that Billy can eat twice as fast as I can with seemingly few trips from plate to mouth, he came up with the hypothesis that his mouth is bigger than mine. He suggested testing this hypothesis by gathering quantitative data concerning actual mouth capacity, number and size of teeth, and size of tongue. His methods for the mouth capacity study were for each of us to take the biggest mouthful we could from measuring cups filled with 1 cup of water and see what each of us had left in the cup. The results from this study (Bahiyyih- 1/4 cup per gulp, Billy- 1/2 cup per gulp; number of gulps needed to drink 1 cup of water: Billy- 2, Bahiyyih- 4) prompted us to reject the null hypothesis that there is no significant difference between our mouth capacities. The results were confirmed this morning by the counting of our respective teeth with the following results: Billy- 34 teeth, Bahiyyih- 23 teeth. Billy's tongue is also about 1/3 bigger than Bahiyyih's. The one result that may shed doubt as to the verity of our conclusions is that Bahiyyih's teeth are bigger than Billy's. Further study as to the surface area available for chewing in each of their mouths needs to be done before these results can be conclusive. However, years of participant observation by Billy and Bahiyyih regarding who steals food from whose plate because their plate is empty already before the other is half done would suggest that the surface area issue is not terribly significant. I think we can safely say that Billy has a big mouth, and though I have big teeth, I have a relatively small mouth.

Just in case you were curious.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:24 PM | Comments (7)


Yesterday was a superb day. It was a weird winter wonderland and it put the kids and I in a good mood for playing. We got all bundled in snowpants, etc. and went sledding and building a snowman that Georgia sat on and declared a snowseat. I pulled them in their sleds (Maya has a toddler sled) to the Nature Center and we said hi to the turtles, toads and sleeping bees. Maya and I had a very cooperative grocery shopping experience after dropping Georgia off at Montessori where she dropped tomatoes and parsely in bags and picked out her own pasta and helped push the cart in her determined, athletic way. Later I made homemade salsa and was pleased that it came out somewhat like the stuff at Dos Reales that I based it on and was still hankering after weeks later. Billy and I had talked a while ago about how he liked to play boat or spaceship or other travel adventure make beleives when he was little so I tried that with the kids in the late afternoon/dinner time before daddy gets home period of our day and they were still in such a good mood from the snow that morning that they went with it with only a one sentence prompt from me, "Let's pretend we're in a boat" (so creative, I know). Then Billy came home and hungrily ate up my tacos- I love that. Then we went to hear about Globalization from Husayn at the Baha'i Center and it seemed really interesting but the kids wanted good-mood mommy to keep playing 'boat', so I did. That's ok. I'm reading my handouts from the discussion today and getting plenty to think about. And that whole day, I had this really interesting movie "The Object of my Affection" in my head because I had watched it the night before and the plot was just interesting enough to give me something to think about in the moments when I was doing the boring parts of home with kids- something to chew on. And underneath all the details of the day, those nagging questions that usually drive me a little crazy about the choices I've made in life and the inequities of motherhood and the future education of my children were not nagging or crazy. They were real things that had names and other people thinking about and affirming and the possibility of solutions appearing on the horizon when spiritual powers are tapped and applied. I think that's the feeling of being a part of a community that is asking hard questions and looking for real answers and doing the real answers. Thank you God.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2004

How I pick out toys

I was recently asked how I pick out toys for my children and what I look for. Here's my story. Way before I was married even, I started collecting books for my future children. My huge love for children's books made them seem indispensable, and I couldn't wait to share them and carry on the literary tradition in our family. That's still my favorite toy for my kids because it does great things for them on so many levels- from giving them more lap time to accustoming them to reading left to right, not to mention the actual content of the books, which is a whole world unto itself. So I started with what I love. When it came to the barrage of input from media sources, though, I started to quaver (a mix of quivering and wavering). I felt insecure by all the flashy commercials on TV and in shiny catalogs, etc. "If my child didn't have the Fisher Price Kick Start Gym, would her gross motor skills be forever impaired?" was an actual thought process I went through when Georgia was a baby. I bought the dern thing and the tinny 'music' that it played was SO irritating to me that I winced every time Georgia cutely kicked at it. What was the matter with me? Rosie O'Donnell swore by this thing. She assured me that it was the very best thing for my baby. I was a sucker. I got played. My insecurities led me down the wrong road.

I've tried to learn from lessons like that. Now I try to keep up with the cognitive and motor developments that come with each stage of their growth and try to assist them through play (Dr. Sears' books explain these stages very well and how to play with your small children with things you can find around the house), and I try not to let advertising connect with that process too much. I learned from Dr. Sears and other down-to-earth types that a child's favorite toys are her parents. My kids want me more than any toy I could buy them. Isn't that a boost to the ego? This has two implications for me. The first is that the pressure is off for me to find them the ultimate toys and make sure I can afford to keep up with getting them all. The second is that whatever toys I do buy, I better love them myself, since I'm going to be playing with them, teaching with them, learning from the experience of them, living with them sitting in my house, and picking them up off the floor repeatedly.

The toys that fit that description for me are usually made of wood or are muted, lovely colors (or both). They are relatively simple things that inspire imaginitive play. They are beautiful. They are often things that build a bridge between the child and adult worlds. Things that fit this description are sometimes very expensive (large and beautiful wooden toys, child-size furniture, Montessori-type 'works'), and sometimes they are almost free, they're so cheap (a ribbon on a stick, a little rubber ball, fruit scented soap, office supplies, etc.).

My continuing challenge is just to relax and have fun when I'm picking out toys and imagine what it would be like to play with whatever it is with my children. It's a place for the limits of my own imagination to be tested and to grow.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 08:54 PM | Comments (3)

March 14, 2004


I was sitting in Lenscrafters waiting for the sales guy to type in all the pertinent information for me to order new glasses (Maya snapped mine apart while 'trying them on' yesterday), feeling totally uninspired by the experience, when out of nowhere came this big feeling of: I feel totally and completely happy in my life right now. It whacked me on the forehead and I looked up at the guy stealthily thinking 'did you see that?' but he didn't notice anything. Wow. I think it's all this rethinking my kids' education and how well my family has been getting along and how great it is to stay in touch with people by webbling and having good talks with Billy all rolled together.

This reminded me that Buddhism teaches that happiness is not something fleeting that you have to long for when it's not there and guard jealously when it is, trying not to think too hard about others' unhappiness lest it rob you of yours, but is always there inside us, waiting to be acknowledged and is also in the connections that we make with everybody, whether they are in pain or not. Min, did I get that right?

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:48 PM | Comments (3)

March 13, 2004

look inside

Here's my all time favorite quote from the Baha'i writings. It never gets old for me:

"God grant that all men may turn unto the treasuries latent within their own beings." -Baha'u'llah (from Gleanings)

To me, it's a promise that there is always more to learn and discover and grow. That each person has a beautiful potential, and that, in order to be selfless and full of love for others, you have to know yourself first and be aware of your purpose of developing spiritual qualities through love and service to God and humanity.

And the context of this quote is great too. It's in a passage where Baha'u'llah is asking people to not be the cause of strife, that 'leads to bloodshed' and which 'religious difference provoke', but instead to look inside and use their heads and hearts to figure out what is real and good, and they all have the potential to do that!

It's a great call to thinking for yourself and trying to figure out how to have a positive influence in the world, which have been my great topics of interest lately.

What's your #1 inspiring quote? For all you people fasting, have you found any new ones this year? I would love to hear it, and why. Let a little of the fast rub off on me.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2004

revolution in my head

Here's my reading list of the past few (and next few) days:

Raising Children As Peacemakers, by Peggy Goding
Dispatches From A Not So Perfect Life... by Faulkner Fox
Motherhood and its discontents by Judith Stadtman Tucker
No More Prisons by William Upski Wimsatt
Schools That Learn by Peter Senge

I've managed to read a chapter of at least one of these books or articles every day for the past several and my head is very full. When I dive into non-fiction, it takes me a long time to assimilate the knowledge that I'm receiving because I really want to take it in, digest it, and let it work on all my thoughts and shake them loose. I feel very alive and interesting inside my head, but so far I'm having a hard time forming words or coherent ideas about it all because it is challenging many of my long-held and acted on assumptions.

For example, I've spent 22 out of the 30 years of my life in public school, taking it as it is dished out , tolerating its ill-fittedness to my self and personality, trying to jump through all the hoops, not without serious rebellion (I left high school for a year in Guyana and dropped out of college too, only to come back in the end), but never with any hope of another way- and then here come Mr. No More Prisons saying school is a drug and you can break free of the 'addiction' and educate yourself. And I have whole books full of stories and memories in my head of the nightmares of my schooling, more than I can even start recounting here. Twenty-two years is a long time- it makes me shaky to think how long that is. And only now that I have a master's degree do I feel like I can do any serious questioning. That's so like me- just get through the awful thing and you can reflect and kvetch about it later. Is that discipline? Sometimes it is, sometimes it's just fear of failure and dishonor, I think. Questioning can be dangerous- it leads to thoughts of rebellion and living outside the system that, while it takes away spirit and independent thought, is also part of the system that gives life and hope for your future (hey, my mother sent me to public school, so it can't be that bad, she loves me and wants the best for me. this I know). But question I shall. It's my mantra and my most highly valued intellectual goal- Ask the right Questions and all will be Opened unto you. To be fair, I must compile a list of the things that are good about a public school education for my children- but so far all the items on my list are motivated by fear:
1. What if there are things I learned in school that I don't know I know, so how can I judge whether any other system has that, and what if it was something essential that without, will keep my children from attaining their highest potential (or pass society's tests)?
2. What if I can't find any alternatives that I can live with? It terrifies me at this point to consider taking full responibility for my children's education, although I guess it's my responsibility anyways, in the end. But I've had all this training to do other kinds of things that are going to affect so many people, not just my own kids. I've been counting on going back to work when Maya hits preschool. But part of that assumption is just a superficial idea of how one can make a difference in the world, and that you have to have a well-defined 'career' that has nothing to do with your children in order to be a good contributing member of society. And I don't like the isolation of being at home with the kids- how could I homeschool them and condemn myself to a lifetime of this? But then again, how could I condemn my children to be locked up in the prison (I've called my high school Buffalo Grove High Jail since before I graduated from that place) that I was in for so many years, just so I can go out and do acceptable wage-earning things by (again) someone else's standards?
3. Surely public school can't be all bad because life is not all bad and people are not all bad so I must be feeling negative and pessimistic about it because of my current literary influences or something. (I AM very impressionable.) And also from the flattening effect of time on years of memories all stacked on top of each other that makes them seem one-dimensional (very bad or very good) and without depth and context. And I know I do have some really good memories of public school, although in my discontented fervor only a couple are surfacing.

Whatever. If I had to synthesize what I've learned so far about discontent from White middle class mothers and the idea of self-education, it would be that mothers are unhappy because they are at the very center of a very messed up system, and when they buy not only themselves but their children into this system (or, if I was going to be harsh, 'sell' them into this system) it makes them die inside. But that's not my final analysis by any means, only having read a little bit of each of these few sources. I could be completely off, but, then again, I could be dead on.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:40 AM | Comments (4)

March 10, 2004

liking that

Today I'm going to list some of the things that I like to do:
1. Find the perfect gift for someone I love.
2. Write out recipes and draw little pictures of all the ingredients.
3. Find a really good book that changes the way I look at life and my own experiences.
4. Braid thngs.
5. Dream of a cozy, welcoming garden that Billy and I will create out of this bramble and scrub of a yard.
6. Find books that introduce Georgia to parts of the natural world that are new to her and explore them together.
7. Webble.
8. Cook for really hungry people.
9. Discover more bulbs coming up in our yard than were there last year due to being trampled or covered up during remodeling.
10. Make Georgia and Maya laugh really hard.
11. Demonstrate jumping really high on request. (guess who the requesters are)
12. Know that there is the possiblility of traveling with the kids this spring and summer as they get more tolerant of the car and we all get more adventurous.
13. Find out if Suzanne is having a girl or a boy!!!!
14. Find the patience within myself to teach Maya to wash her own face that is completely covered in spaghetti sauce instead of grabbing that washcloth and doing it myself, quick and neat.

So those are a few immediate things that I like to do this week. What do you like to do this week?

Posted by Bahiyyih at 10:00 AM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2004

24 hours

We're back from our whirlwind trip. We were there for almost exactly 24 hours. The drives went very well. They both napped for a big chunk on the way there, lulled by french fries. And when they woke up cranky as we got onto the last stretch of highway (as they always do, like some alarm goes off- we've hit Route 47, the three hour mark is hit, and we ain't takin' no more) we got off right away at a Jewel-Osco (the grocery chain of my childhood) and after a happy potty break, bought raspberries, blackberries, and gum. The gum and 'Come and Sing' played over and over got them through the overtime and we pulled into nana's a happy bunch. We all loved seeing our Nana, Layli, Lucy, and Khalil (who introduced us to Strindberg and Helium- very morbidly funny). But Maya woke up the next morning in a fighting mood and proceeded to attack Lucy at every opportunity until she got what she wanted, which was to go back home to Daddy. We didn't leave till 7:30 pm, due to Georgia's pleading, so you can imagine what kind of day I had trying to keep my little dominator in check. That girl is fast! I had fun cooking a big dinner for a bunch of starving people though(they're all fasting). It makes them so appreciative, very satisfying for the cook. Then off we went. Maya fell asleep immediately (with gum in her mouth, even!) assured of our destination. Georgia fell asleep after playing with the magnadoodle for a while and eating 'heart cereal' which is a Lucy's house treat. They both slept the whole way home, and I got time to think at bit. That was refreshing. I get the payback for such an easy return trip today though as both girls woke up at 7:30 ready to go, and I have to ask them to be patient and wait for my eyes to get the will to stay open. They are very good alarm clocks.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2004

little trip

The girls and I are going to visit nana for a few days. We'll be back soon.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

A Raisin in the Sun

I went to see A Raisin in the Sun tonight at Krannert Center since our friend Nate Davis was in it. He did a great job getting his tongue around a Nigerian accent to play the role of Joseph Asagai. He had this great speech where he was explaining his life goals and how he fit into the cycle of social progress and he got REALLY loud for this emphasizing part, and I felt it. It was powerful. And really loud. He can really carry his voice.

The acting was very compelling and involving and very cleanly executed, and I could feel the audience holding their breath in a couple parts because it was so intense, but I was most taken by Lorraine Hansberry, the writer of the play. It's an amazing play. It was amazing when she wrote it in 1959, so much greater and truer and more respectful than other depictions of African Americans in theatre at the time (according to the little introduction in the program, and from what little I know about it, that's true) and it's still amazing today. There are great life lessons all over the place, and such true depictions of family dynamics. And I just agonized over the griefs that the characters carried, and hoped with them, and thank goodness there's a happy ending. I can't take another Lord of the Rings kind of ending. I read the book in school, and saw the movie several times, but that was a long time ago, and I didn't really remember the storyline, so I was on the edge of my seat until things were resolved at the end. It's such an intimate portrayal of life too, I felt by the end that I knew them all, having lived with them in their house for several weeks. Watching them make scrambled eggs and do the ironing and all.

The life lesson that really hit home for me was the great climax at the end when Walter looks at his son and realizes that he has to see beyond his own unbearable pain and he finds a reason to connect to the world again because he has to show his son how to be by his own example. And so he doesn't sell their house to 'the man' that wants to buy it out from under them so they won't move into his white neighborhood. Instead, as his sister says, he became the man and did the right thing. And that turnaround gives all the other characters hope for the future, that their dreams will be able to grow, "a struggle inextricably linked to to the more fundamental dream of realizing equality in America" (from the Krannert Center Program Notes).

How that translates for me is that I need to see how I'm doing in the following of dreams to make sure that my daughters know that it is rewarding for women to work really hard and strive in their education and that they can also strive to be mothers and that those are not contradictory goals. You can be a mother and do other things, have other jobs that fulfill you too. You don't have to pick one or the other. And your education can serve both. I'll have to try and forward that goal as much as one person can, for their sakes as well as mine.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:23 AM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2004


Today is a sleepy day for me and Billy is being very accomodating. He's off with the girls at a lumber yard- one of his favorite play places, and the girls usually have a good time too. He's all charged up to make a table for the laundry room, and a platform to stand on in the laundry room when the basemenst gets water in it (like now for instance). My big accomplishment for the day was folding four baskets of laundry. Oh, and I took Georgia out on a date to Dos Reales, which neither of us have been to, and we had a great time. We were in the noisy lunch rush and had fun people-watching together. We watched the waiters whisk out arm-loads of hot dishes impossibly stacked from silver-mitted finger tips to hard-working shoulders. And we saw the Monticello Sages high school? (maybe junior high) girls basketball? team. Georgia was impressed. I had the Pollo a la Parilla. It was muy bien. But it has put me to sleep.

As you may have noticed, I'm not fasting this year. I'm still nursing Maya at bedtime. At first, I was thinking that I could swing it anyways because it is not very much nursing, but then I read that fasting releases toxins into your bloodstream at dangerous levels for nursing babies, so scrapped that idea. Even if I can handle it, she can't. Oh well. Some day.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:13 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2004

garden wisdom needed

I've figured out what my first big gardening project will be this year. I'm going to divide the perennials that need it, and use the divided parts to create a few new beds. But I've never divided anything, seen it done, or read descriptions of it. How does one go about this? I've got hostas, day lilies, peonies, daffodils, and and those lilies that I call suprise lilies because they have leaves that come out in spring, and then that wilts, and in summer they send up this green stick that has these pink flowers popping out of the top like loudspeakers. I don't know their real name though. But all the plants have been sitting around for many years without any care and they're pretty smashed together. Thanks in advance!

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:56 PM | Comments (4)

March 02, 2004

new hero

I have a new woman writer hero. Her name is Faulkner Fox. What a name. She's the mother of two small children, a professor at Duke, and she just wrote a book I can't wait to read about what happens to your 'self' when you become a mother. It's called 'Dispatches from a not-so-perfect life, or How I Learned to Love the House, the Man, the Child'. She's funny and clear-sighted and she asks really good questions like why do mothers feel so judged and guilty for all their choices, and how much of your selflessness is good for your children? She doesn't provide answers, which I appreciate- only asks questions. I'm sure everyone will have input into how the questions should be answered and so does she. I just read two of her essays, which were funny and true and really valuable to me- 'Get a Wife: Confessions of a Slob' and 'What I Learned From Losing My Mind'. And I found all this good stuff from The Mothers Movement Online which was a link on the 'mothering down the bones' weblog which Husayn told me about because he knew I was loking for mothers online. The online connections are really working for me!

Posted by Bahiyyih at 05:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2004


I had an intense talk with Husayn and Suzanne about the different forms of early education- homeschooling, charter schools, magnet schools, public schools. It made me think a lot about my own primary school and the experiences I had. The more we talked about the possiblilty of school not being a prison-type experience, but being self-directed and really meaningful, the more agitated I became. I felt like I imagine someone that has just heard of a new religion that they always needed and hoped for but could never find would feel when someone first told them about it- that their deepest hopes and thoughts about life could be realized and were being realized by a whole group of people. It brought up new anger at the system that I was subject to as a child in public school, which I think is pretty typical when injustices are realized. (Sorry for being so intense in my questioning, Husayn!)

And with a little reflection later, I thought how valuable it is to be that seeking person, so you can feel what it's like and then to know what it is I needed at that time so that I could give that to someone later on down the road that seeks something important from me. Got that? What I mean is, I could see that when someone first comes upon a new idea, that's not really new but is a renewing of a long-cherished but down-trodden hope, they may not seem happy at first to be finding the thing that they are seeking. It causes agitation, lots of big feelings come up, memories too, and you feel excited but shaken up- not sure how to integrate this into your idea of what the world is like and can be. So that was fun and intense to think about.

But back to the content of the conversation, I really want to figure out what form education should take for Georgia and Maya. What will be best for these two souls? What needs to happen in an educational setting, what are the possiblilties for educational settings in the first place? What educational settings and socilaization do I feel are worthwhile and which do I want to avoid at all costs? I feel like the hardest part is being willing to ask the questions because I've always felt like the public school system was not something that you should question if you want to be a part of it- you just have to accept it the way it is and go along with however it is. And the alternative is then to be completely separate and against public school in it's current form, and to have valid arguments about why you don't support it, and to have found a system that's markedly better. It's the lack of dialog- and all the politics- that make a real investigation seem impossible to me. I don't want to look at a school's test schores. Tests are not the reason for education to occur- I spent my whole educational career jumping through the hoops I was told to jump through for lack of a beleif or confidence that there could be a better path that I would be allowed to take. But I hereby allow myself to take any path in my children's education that is in their best interests. So there! I already like Montessori philosophy- it's very self-directed, non-test driven, really understanding deeply what is going on in a child's development and responding to that wholly, not just superficially, respectful (to children!) teachers and directresses. It's good stuff. I don't know yet how well it translates to older children- I know Montessori herself didn't create her system for older children, and I would guess that there are some deep changes that would need to happen to cater to their developmental needs. I've got a short list of books to start looking at- does anyone know of books that helped them look at these questions? Has anyone dealt with these questions and want to tell me about their journey?

Posted by Bahiyyih at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)