A little bit softer now

Have you ever been out in public with a friend who speaks too loud? I was talking with our housemate and her fiance about the fact that there are people out there in the world who have these strange habits when they talk to you. Some of them can be cultural; for instance there are cultures that do not make a habit of looking people in the eyes when they speak to them because it’s considered arrogant. Then there are others who won’t do it because they are intimidated by the person they are speaking to. There seem to be so many unique variations of folks in the world who have different idiosyncrasies making it sometimes a bit awkward and humorous to carrying on a conversation. But the one that I just never understood is the individual that speaks at a decibel level high enough to make your ears bleed. Think Will Farrell playing the man with a condition known as “voice modulation”.

This attribute seems like it would make a great Seinfield episode; like the episode where Judge Reinhold is “kind of a close talker” who gets inches away from your face just to ask what type of cereal you like. They should have had the episode with the loud talker as well. The one that allows everyone in an 8 block radius to hear the personal conversation you two are having. Those type of people seem to cause me to speak very quietly, in hopes that I can somehow provoke them to do likewise. I guess my thinking is that they will eventually make a distinction between our differing volume levels and begin to connect with the idea that they should be speaking a bit softer about their painful upbringing or about their most recent, and highly invasive, doctor visit.

My husband is a bit of a high volume talker. There have been times where the house is totally quiet, kids are in bed, not a is creature stirring yet he’s explaining something to me as if I’m running the lawn mower and he is in a competition to be heard. Through all of my misunderstanding of loud talkers I must admit that I do find it rather fetching to be around them. They tend to be gloriously boisterous and highly enjoyable in the personality department. They are usually the type of folk that laugh at most things people say, making others feel like amateur comedians, one of which I consider myself. I don’t play for pay!

Once I figure out how to not let my face turn red whilst in public with a loud talker I’m sure I will have achieved a harmony with these gentle giants of phonation. Until then I will just have to find a nice corner to sit in a public place as they pour out their personal life to me at a level loud enough to make my head fall off. Ricola anyone?

I heart boys!

The first time I found out I was having a baby I just knew I would be having a boy. I grew up with all girls and,as a child, only had women in my life. Even when I was a nanny I took care of two little girls. I felt I understood girls better and that I would, obviously, have more in common with them. When I was taking care of the two girls we would be at the playground and the kids would be swinging, twirling and building sweet little sand castles in their cute pastel outfits with butterflies on them. Suddenly, a little boy would come along and romper stomp all over their castle as machine like sound effects came from the depths of his little being; then he would run away, or should I say aggressively plow away, leaving the girls with confused looks on their rosy faces. So when i found out I was pregnant I just knew that I was entering into a world of boogers, poop talk and loud machine noises. We wouldn’t want to disappoint Murphy and his laws.

As I’ve had Oliver in my life I realize that I really like boys. I have loved having testosterone in the home…for the most part. He is such a ball of energy who doesn’t walk anywhere; he runs! Why waste time, right? Some things are just cuter with boys as well. It’s one thing to have your daughter clomp around in your red dress shoes but it takes on a whole new level of cuteness when your son is clomping on the hard wood floors saying, “Oh, mommy shoes!”

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When you hear loud clatter noises for most of the day and then it suddenly goes quiet you must peak around the corner to make sure everything is up to snuff. Today Olivier was running around the house, making tons of noise, laughing and pretending to be a truck. All of a sudden all was silent. I went into the kitchen to find him taking off the lid to my finger nail polish. I didn’t even know he knew how to unscrew one of those! Did I mention that the polish was blood red in color? I grabbed it just in time and thanked the heavens that this was not a huge mess.

As I walked him into the living room I could still smell that distinct fingernail polish smell. I believe that is formaldehyde I was smelling. I checked all over his clothes and found nothing. Then I looked on this side of his cheek and there next to his milky white skin was a swirl of crimson finger nail polish. My son was wearing “night out on the town” by Maybeline on his face! It was actually the cutest thing he has done in a long time. Next to the time he popped a few chocolate covered espresso beans in his mouth and kept saying, “Ohhh…nummy?”

I love boys! My son is a weapon of mass destruction as far as the living room is concerned but he has so much life and curiosity inside of him. He makes us laugh almost on a daily basis and my life has been enriched ever since we brought him home from Meriter Birthing Center. Thank heaven for little boys!

Created or constructed?

This is from a previous post on our last website, posted August 16, 2006. I wrote it while I was still pregnant with my daughter. My husband moved the website and didn’t take my writings with so now I need to cut and paste quite a few. Here is one I was very proud of…PS- there are suppose to be links but our new site isn’t quite as straightforward as the last one so I’m unsure how to set it up….

This is an excerpt from a very interesting article that a friend sent me. The author is commenting on the new book Captivating by Sheri Eldridge. You may have heard of her husband John Eldridge who wrote Wild at Heart, the book that made every man want to wrestle a bear. But for those men who love to bake and play with children you may have found yourself questioning your gender identity. Did I just write that? Perhaps I have strong opinions on books like this.

Agnieszka Tennant writes:

I may not be an Eldredge kind of lady, but I know beauty when I see it. And the most regrettable failure of Captivating is its tame idea of beauty. “Beauty is core to a woman—who she is and what she longs to be,” Stasi Eldredge writes. “Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman.” She gives examples: “Pioneer women brought china teacups into the wilderness, and I bring a pretty tablecloth to eat on when my family camps. We wear perfume, paint our toenails, color our hair, and pierce our ears, all in an effort to be ever more beautiful.” Sure. But there’s so much more.

If you want to read the article and let me know your thoughts I am very curious. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/008/25.60.html

I really appreciated Tennant’s commentary and I must admit that I haven’t read the actual book yet so perhaps I shouldn’t even have an opinion on such topics. But I do! I have been frustrated to no end on the stereotypical, evangelical construct of gender roles in this culture.

As I see it God made man and woman with an equal mandate, to rule and take dominion. I don’t see Him establishing roles, in the traditional sense, or even portioning out character traits that are specific of one particular gender. “Women are more emotional so they will always ‘feel’ more. Men are more visual so they will always struggle to some degree with lust.” How many people have comments such as this set up for a life of constant defeat and unending struggle?

While I do agree that genetic make plays a role in gender behavior (i.e. woman have more estrogen so therefore their emotional hormones can come into play while men have more testosterone and different “bits” that keep sexual desire at more of the forefront) I do not at all believe in attributing certain personality traits to one gender or the other. Nor do I believe that we are locked into our genetic make up. If the cross is to give all authority then surely our daily physiological struggles can bend their knee as well. I believe that such a dogmatic approach to defining gender “roles” has led to sexual confusion on a massive scale, specifically in Western culture which makes such absolute distinctions.

What does a man do if he has no desire to marry and loves art and beauty; if he loves to garden and bake? What category does he belong in if he has no desire to rescue a damsel in distress or to overtake the powers of a wild animal then eat it’s heart for dinner?

Likewise, what category does a single middle aged woman who enjoys reading or watching movies like Jackass rather than The Notebook, and never desires to have children so she owns a cat, or 10 of them? Where does she fit? You all have seen them…these are the women most of us “wonder” about when we see them walk into Starbucks with their tapered jeans, mullet hair cut and stone washed jean jacket. Are these women less beautiful and less of a woman because they do not fit this “role” of womanhood. Is it curious to us if they don’t break down and cry when watching a romantic movie? Is it eyebrow raising when a man does?

Are women really more emotionally driven and therefore need a practical man to “balance” them out. Dude, if I hear the word “balance” again while referring to men and women….well, I guess I’ll just deal with it. Probably not the best thing to scream and beat my breast during a sermon.

What about a man or woman who remains single forever? Are they not balanced? Do they have no other relationships in their lives to “balance” them out; anyone who will challenge and quicken their maturity? Are they incomplete because they do not possess “both aspects of the character of God”? Well if that is the case then all of you parents with a brood of children who are all boys need to have a girl soon so as to create some balance in the home.

Recently I had a discussion about the role of the Elder in a church and asked the question of why women aren’t allow to be Elders. Again, I am not interested in equality because everything has to be “fair”. If that were the case Matt would be having this baby. I had the last one! I was just curious as to why this group didn’t feel a woman could be an Elder of a church. Remember an Elder is someone who is committed to the spiritual journey of the church and who is there to pray and counsel the members in times of need. In my mind both men and women would be, as John Bender put it, “outstanding in that capacity”. Shouldn’t a role be based on qualification rather than gender? I sure am grateful that my pastor isn’t threatened by my physical design and has asked me to teach on Sunday morning. I even got through it without crying. Just kidding.

The question I have asked over the past few years is whether or not our gender views are created or constructed, a title I borrowed from a fascinating book I read. I highly recommend it. I wonder where we get such views of men and women. Are they created by our maker who put certain characteristics in us from the beginning? Or are they constructs of our culture that either affirm or shame us in our journey through the adventure we call life? Both? Which ones? Who defines them? The Eldridges?

Have these “roles” perhaps created confusion in those who do not fit into the specific box or caused others who do fit to judge and repel those who do not? Have they created more walls and barriers than entry ways of understanding and affirmation? I have my opinions but maybe not the answer. Just a line of questioning to make us all think.

Do not misunderstand me. I see there are differences. My son is already playing with blocks just for the sake of knocking them over and stepping on them while our friend’s daughter draws and colors quietly in the background. She is happy to sit with her mum in a strangers house while Oliver has already touched everything in the house that he isn’t suppose to and yelled at the items that he has fondled. However, my son also loves animals and flowers. He loves being outside and doesn’t just want to kick something. He cuddles, kisses and caresses a newborns face. He even comes to put his bare cheek on my tummy and sweetly says, “Baby!” He is who God made him to be. It will change and morph as his life matures but I want to see who he becomes rather than making him into the traditional image of what a male should be and I fear for him growing up in a culture that ostracizes someone who refuses to bend to the stereotype. This is most likely, for our kids and any of us on this journey, the road less traveled.

Only Seven more weeks

This is another post from the latter stages of pregnancy with Chloe. I’m still retrieving old blog entries.

I have reached the point in this pregnancy where the reality of actually having this child into our home has finally sunk in. During the entire 9 months of pregnancy it’s easy to just go about life getting bigger, experiencing back pain, preparing a room or getting your house ready for the new arrival, and various other projects that lead up to the big moment. Then there comes a point that you realize this baby is actually coming into your home and you will see what she/he looks like in a matter of weeks.

I have never been one of those women who sits and rubs her belly all day and talks about the magic of pregnancy. I’m usually the one that comments on back pain and the ever growing butt that still tries to cram itself into pre pregnancy trousers. I actually do love to hold my tummy and feel the baby kick. I also love the beauty of the pregnant belly, as well as the pregnant butt for that matter. However, I did not with either pregnancy put head phones on my belly to allow my child to hear the melodies of Bach and I didn’t rub my belly with cocoa butter while reading a bedtime story to my developing child. Rather I stared at the movement going on inside there, wondering what body part I was witnessing and flashing back to scenes from Alien. I also watched, to my amazement, the popping out of the belly button the way a turkey thermometer does when the turkey is done. What the heck? I just missed out on sitting in forest shaded under the willow tree contemplating what my son or daughter would be like and if I could name them something earthy like Shadow or Whisper. I guess I never had that type of connection.

But now that she is coming into our home soon I find myself wondering what she will look like. How often she will wake up in the middle of the night. If she will have the hiccups as much as she has in uetro (she’s actually having them now). What life will be like with two children and how Olivier will react to her in those first months.

For the past 8 months Matt and I have been busy with our work and very busy with remodeling our home. We want to finish a few projects in these last weeks so that we don’t have to worry about our house in the fall or winter. September will mark the end as well as a beginning for the Bonjours. The end of intense home projects but the beginning with life as a four person family. I hear once you buy a home the projects never end, there is always something else to work on. The same applies to raising children. There is a constant that we can always count on….change!

Giving Thanks

Another archive post, dated November 21st, 2006…

Soooo…

I was on my way back from the newly opened and much anticipated Trader Joe’s. It is the first one in Madison and if you have not been to one you are missing out. The sauces! The jams! The chocolates! The samples!!! I was picking up a few things for Thanksgiving dinner because we’re having some friends over for the special day. I got to thinking after I drove off with a sample in my belly of bagel spread with pumpkin butter and cream cheese. I really have so much to be thankful for. This holiday tends to stress most people out, especially if you have a lot of family to entertain on that last Thursday of the month. For some of us we’d rather order the pies from Denny’s or Perkins rather than bake 7 pies, all different flavors. And then there is waking up at o’dark thirty to put a huge bird in the over…unless you’re a vegetarian. Then it’s more like your oat loaf or your lentil pate. Yummy! Some folks are glad when the day is finally over.

For others Thanksgiving is a time when they are all the more painfully reminded of just how alone they are. Nothing highlights loneliness and isolation more than a national holiday devoted to getting family and friends together. Speaking of Denny’s and pies, I actually remember pulling up to a Denny’s on Thanksgiving a few years ago and I parked the car just to see who was inside. There were quite a lot of people sitting alone in their booth! Man!

This is our first year together as a family of four and this past year Matt and I are realizing more the importance of family and the raw power that it holds to bring people in communities together. But more on that in another email. I guess this is all to say that I am so thankful for family and friends. I’m thankful that we don’t celebrate one another just once a year on “turkey day”. How did it resort to that? As a teenager I couldn’t wait until dinner was over so that I could finally hang out with my friends. Now I’m older, have my own family and I realize that this is such a holiday of celebration. God gives life, grace, hope, family, friends, gifts, joy, and plenty. Yes, plenty. I was teaching in Hawaii a few years ago (before children) and my friend said that his son was in a prayer time with him, praying to God and saying, “God is good to us. He just wants to give his kids good toys”. Out of the mouth of babes….How profound they can be! I believe it though. God is good to His kids and He wants to give freely to us.

Enjoy what He has given you this year. I want to share just a small list of what I’m thankful for. If you want to post a comment with your own list I would LOVE to read it.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tracie

I am thankful for:

Matthias

Chloe

Olivier

My sense of humor

My house

A car that runs well

I knew Francine

Fondue

Truffles

My mother and brother

My life with YWAM

Living in Madison

Our friends all over the world

The nations I have traveled to

Our church and how much they support us in what we do

Claude, Marie and John, Sam and Beth (plus Adi and Emma)

This year is Cyprus, UK and Switzerland

Trader Joe’s

Finally, I’m writing!

This is my first blog post ever! It happened in July 2006…..

This is my first entry into any sort of blog spot and let me explain why I have fought the initiation into the 21st century.

I , firstly, am ignorant of “techy” stuff, for lack of a better term. I get stumped and frazzled, sometimes to the point of wanting to kick something…or someone, if I cannot figure out computer issues that arise, and they always do. I am the type of person who has to fully understand why something is the way it is. This is why learning another language has also been my nemesis, just one of many nemesis (”nemesee, nemesi, nemesisis, what’s the plural on that?”- this is only funny if you’ve seen Mystery Men). But I digress…

My doting husband has tried many a time to help me understand the ways of a computer (While I try to help him understand the ways of a pregnant women. Yes, we do have a higher body temperature and that’s why I get ridiculously hot and need the fan on when we sleep). But to my disappointment, and his, I have frustratingly failed to understand how things with buttons, nobs, “links”, “properties”, and “options” work. What does “properties” mean anyway?

I empathize with the senior citizens, or pensioners if you’re English, of today. You all know who I am referring to. These are your grandparents or your older aunts and uncles that say things like, “when we first had a TV there were only 13 channels, plus that U channel that no one ever knew what the hell it was for. Now there are three remotes here to turn the station and 411 stations to choose from!”.

We make fun of them and swear that we will never utter such phrases but I sympathize with their frustrations of the 21st century. I too will chime in that I know not why we must use a road map of sorts to change the TV station. Maybe that’s why Matt and I don’t have cable.

Recently I was at a friend’s house for the weekend and saw that they possessed a plethora of remote controls for the “entertainment center”. My friend Beth went to take a shower and said, “Watch whatever you want. I’ll be down in a bit”. Well, already I knew I was going to have problems. I proceed to hit a button with an “up” arrow in order to go one channel up. Afterward it all went to snow. I wasn’t at all surprised. Next I hit the “down” button and still saw snow. There was no turning back. I was lost and unable to find my way back to the lame episode of This Old House. I chuckled the way you do when your mind is saying, “I knew this would happen.” It’s not a funny chuckle but it’s almost amusing.

Beth comes downstairs and I tell her my story of screwing up the whole TV. She hits three buttons, switches a lever on the stereo, uses a pully and rotates the house just to get the channel switched. I’m being a bit dramatic except for hitting three buttons and switching a lever on the stereo. Wow! That was just so obvious! I can’t believe I didn’t figure that out! Now I’m sounding like someone over the age of 65. Is there anyone out there who understands?

This post is a small victory and I sure hope you’re proud of me. With much trepidation I decided to embark today. I’ve entered my first piece into our site and now you know why you haven’t heard from me yet. Hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.