Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Peek...

(Our first Feliz Navidad at the Snyders!)

(Christmas PJs, 2011.)

(Surprise mini Lego people were hidden in the tree waiting for us to find and assemble on Christmas Eve.)

(The girls were so excited about the gift they found Daddy at RAYGUN.)

(Chatting with Uncle Jason.)


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Iowa I Know and Love...

Now that the pressure valve has let off some of the steam that had built up and resulted in yesterday's pot of sarcasm, I thought today I would post links to a few additional articles posted at the Atlantic that describe the Iowa, and rural middle America, with which I am much more familiar.

In Defense of Iowa Food
by Kurt Friese

Look to Iowa's Future, Not its Past: A Response to Bloom by Bernard Sherman

And quite possibly my favorite response that you simply must read with a bit of a southern accent, sugar...

What Stephen Bloom is Missing About Iowa by Lynda Waddington

Sure Iowa has its problems...just like each of the other 49 US states and the nations beyond our borders and across the oceans. But let's face it, the life my family lives as Iowans in a small town once built on the back of agriculture and industry is one mostly of comfort and privilege. We live in a beautiful old home with a history of its own that I hope will continue to be written well after our time here comes to an end. We are fortunate to be surrounded by caring neighbors who keep an eye on our girls as they walk to school or play for hours on end in our unfenced back-yard. Neighbors with whom we have traded snow shoveling duties, a quick friendly wave in passing, or a beer (or bottle of wine) on the patio at the end of a beautiful summer day.

It's no secret that I have my own grievances with the community we now call home. Carlisle has had a tough, tough job in becoming a place that I embrace as much as I did (and still do) the community of Grinnell. That being said this town is full of what helped make Grinnell the community I loved so much...real, caring, and amazing people. Some who have lived here their whole lives, have raised their families here, and who still choose to be active promoters of this community. Some who, like me, are transplants looking for a good school district and affordable housing in a small community near the employment opportunities of the big city. We have different religious practices. Different political affiliations. Some of us hunt. Some of us don't. Many of us have grown up in rural communities and now see the benefits of raising our kids in a similar small town. Some have transplanted from a larger urban area in search of a simpler life. Yet in the end, despite our differences, we all seems to be working towards the same goal: creating a community in which we can all live rich, safe, long, healthy, engaged lives.

That is the Iowa I know and love. It's the part of being a proud born and raised Midwesterner that will ALWAYS bring out the "mother bear defending her cubs" side of me when someone bitterly judges the blessed, simple life I have made a very conscious decision to live...right here in the middle of good old rural Iowa.

Now with that all said and put out of the way, it's back to the more immediate task at hand: giving this old house a good cleaning so we can get down to the business of fun filled holiday activities such as pizzelle making, gift wrapping, and scrabble playing. (Thank goodness I don't actually have reason to figure out how to creatively wrap a shot gun!)


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I live in Iowa. Oh the horror!

Earlier this month U of I professor, and author, Stephen Bloom posted an article in the political section of the website the Atlantic addressing the upcoming caucus season and his observations about Iowa, and Iowans, from the past 20 years as a resident. Being a busy time of year, and as one who tends not to pay much attention to politically focused matters, I didn't get the urge to read said article until I started seeing frequent references to it on my friend's Facebook feeds. So last night just before bed I set aside some time to sort through Mr. Bloom's many, many, MANY thoughts about the state of our state.

Today I wanted to take a little time to write this post to thank Mr. Bloom for sharing his wisdom. Until I took the time to decipher his big, fancy words I didn't realize I was doing this whole "living in rural Iowa" thing (or by extension my whole existence as a lifetime rural Midwesterner...minus those 15 glorious months of living in civilization in the KC metro area) COMPLETELY wrong. As someone who graduated from both high school and college with an A average, I can't stand the thought of not performing to the best of my abilities. Luckily I have a few days off over the next few weeks so I can make some adjustments to our lifestyle to better conform to the Mr. Bloom's picture of rural Iowa.

Apparently when Scott and I decided to leave the civilized world of the Kansas City metro to start and raise our family in rural Iowa, we were unaware that we were dooming ourselves to a toothless, digitless, meth addicted existence where instead of using, and even quite possibly extending, our education for gain and betterment of the world around us, we are simply expected to sit around waiting for death to relieve us of the horrors of our life. Today I informed the girls that, like it or not, their Christmas wish lists were to be adjusted to include nothing but hunting riffles, shot-guns, and camo-wear. I mean we are currently living in a state of emergency being as we do not possess one single gun, or ounce of deer meat, in our house so we must all put aside our personal interests for the good of the whole. Instead of going to the traveling Mummy exhibit at the Science Center next week, we'll need to take time to learn how to use our new gifts, so I guess I should probably get out my knitting needles and make up some new cation orange trigger-fingerless gloves to help us stay warm. I'm sure the dogs will be quite surprised when they find themselves in canine hunters' boot-camp, as apparently they can no longer get by on their existence as loving pets alone.

While we are on the subject of food, I can't believe how many years have gone by without someone fully explaining the rules of acceptable potluck participation to me. I now know that the olive-cranberry-walnut tepenade with herbed goat cheese on French bread crostinis and the chicken-quinoa-root vegetable stew that I took to recent potluck events were in clear violation of the "must contain jello, pork, or meat shaped like a loaf" rule, and I will be sure to mend my deviant ways from this point forward. And let's not forget the famed Red Waldorf cake, a delicatessen I can not BELIEVE I have not had the honor of ingesting. I'm thinking I'm not the only one who didn't received a Potluck Participation Guidebook in my new rural Iowa resident welcome packet. I'm not sure how my vegetarian daughter will take the news that she will now be expected to ingest an acceptable number of factory farmed pork chops each month, but maybe the introduction of hard drugs to her system, and the slow subtraction of digits from her limbs, will eventually break her spirit enough that she will agree to conform.

As for me personally I will be looking for a 12-step-program to help me end my yoga practicing/teaching, gay marriage supporting, spiritually tolerant ways. I now understand that I was wrong to think that Christianity was one of many ways for a soul to find spiritual peace, one that until this point I haven't felt was the right spiritual practice for me personally. Apparently I don't get that choice as a rural Midwesterner. I feel fortunate that we don't have to venture out onto a highway to get to a number of places of worship close to our simple, drab home, though I'm not sure our employers are going to quite understand why Scott and I can no longer make it into work since the use of highways must now be reserved for rare and special occasions. Plus, as new residents in THIS rural Iowa town, we need that extra time we would spend at work getting to know each local resident (as not to be strangers) and trying to figure out how we can form a web of family relationship with someone around these parts.

Mr. Bloom's article was so enlightening I could go on and on here about how much we are going to have to change our lives to fit the definition of rural Iowan, but before we have to give up our high speed wireless internet, laptops, and smart phones to conform to the bleak life we are suppose to be living (which is just as well since it's gonna become very hard to type once we start our accelerated digit removal plan), I thought I would share one last picture here on my blog about my life in rural Iowa. The girls and I went out for sushi today while we did a bit of last minute Christmas gift shopping in the heart of Iowa's biggest city.

It will be a wonderful memory to take with me as I slowly slip into my standard issue rural Iowan meth induced haze...


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cheap Therapy...

*** I've been writing this post on and off for over a week. I've decided it's just time to put it out there and move on.

It's that time of year. The time when days are getting shorter. And colder. The time of year when we move our activities inside and have a tendency to become a bit like hermits snuggling up with movies, knitting, board games, books, and cups of warm beverages. And it's that time of year when I find myself making my way back to the gym to pound out the miles on the hamster wheel known as a treadmill for some heat creating, calorie burning and cheap mental therapy.

Every year I think OK, I'm ready for this. I know what to expect. I have the tools needed to handle the variety of emotions I find myself facing this time of year. This year IS going to be better. Despite my attempt at positive thinking, I'm amazed at how easily my optimism can be be derailed.

I have a lot of random thoughts running through my head these days. I have a hard time defining them all. Maybe that's my problem, maybe definition is not what I need. I'm trying to face them in a way that both honors my inner being and keeps perspective on the privilege that is my life. In one word I'm feeling...unsettled. And as we have established before, that's not a feeling with which I can sit with very well.

Hence the trips to the gym for cheap therapy.

This too, as the seasons always do, shall pass.