Saturday, June 5, 2010

Muffins and Mom

I miss my mom all the time (she's in TX/I'm in CA), but I think I miss her most in the summertime. Not at birthdays, not at holidays, but summertime. Mom is a piano teacher and has her piano studio at home, so even though she worked, she was also a stay-at-home mom because she worked from home. It was wonderful to know that we could count on her for everything. Mom took us to our ballet lessons, our piano and violin recitals, our Girl Scout meetings and campouts, our fundraisers, our church activities, everything. She was always dependable, and she was always there.

Mom used to take my sister and me to the library several times a week when we were kids, and then we would play together, read together, take day-trips to museums or the Discovery Science Center together. We picked a book that we would read together as a family each summer. One year it was Cheaper by the Dozen. Another year it was a big book about the seven wonders of the world, and other world wonders. I also remember the Bobsey Twins and Hans Brinker and other amazing literary characters showing up during the summer.

We would cook or do special Girl Scout projects for badges. We would watch the French Open and make Wimbledon predictions in June. We would watch Wimbledon and make special Breakfast at Wimbledon meals for the championship matches (strawberries and cream!). The three of us (Mom, me, big sis Christy) were a great team and a great family. And when Dad would come home at night after a long day of working, the four of us would watch movies and eat meals and have great conversations about life, music, religion, books...and he would take care of us and make us all feel loved and safe.

(Family 1983)

(Parents’ 30th Anniversary; 2006)

My mom is an amazing woman. She's strong and intelligent. She's high-stressed and high-energy. She's full of nerves but full of love in every ounce, every nerve. She cooks homemade and knows where every good recipe is, even though she knows most of them by heart. She taugh her daughters how to cook with the same care and creativity (and generosity) that she does.

(Christmas Cookies in 2006, nowhere near Christmastime)

Mom bakes cookies and caramel popcorn for her piano students. She makes birthday cakes for the family. She cooks breakfast every morning (it is the most important meal of the day). She has “piano parties” at the end of every school year for her students, and one year she made this:

(It’s a piano cake! White sheet cakes with Twix bars for the black keys. YUM. I think I’m five in this photo, 1987-ish)

My mom was there for my recitals and concerts when I started playing violin in middle school.

(Fall 1995, age 13)

And she was there for my recitals and concerts in college (driving from three states away)

(Senior Violin Performance Recital poster/postcards, taken by my friend Nick Choy in 2004)

She was there cheering for me when I graduated as Valedictorian from my high school (while I was thus rewarded by having to wear a hideous orange robe instead of the classy white of my classmates)...

(June 3, 2000, age 18)

…when I graduated from college at Azusa Pacific...

(May 2004)

and when I graduated with my master’s degree from Texas Tech.

(May 2007, age 25. My fiancĂ© at the time, Scott’s wearing a tux because he was in the graduation ensemble…Scott, Me, Dad, Mom, Grandfather)

Mom was there on the day of my first ballet recital.

(Karen Beth age 5, big sis Christy age 9)

She was there on the day of my wedding.

(Wonderfully windy day, August 4, 2007. Grandparents, Scott’s Parents, My parents, Me; Photo by Anna Hinds)

So, now that I’m in my (gulp) late twenties, trying to accomplish all that I can before I get too old for adrenaline to work properly, I just want to say Thanks MOM. You may never read this blog. I know you’ll probably never know how much I cherish the small and big moments. But you’re great and I love you and Dad with all my heart.

What brought this all on? Well, I was at Molly’s blog reading her muffin recipe, which got me thinking about my muffin recipes. This past Christmas, when mom asked what I wanted, I told her a muffin cookbook. I expected something like one of the hundreds of cookbooks I had recently browsed at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Instead, I received a homemade cookbook in a big blue binder filled by my mother with copies of all the muffin recipes she could find from all of her books. But what’s more, she had written a letter to General Mills asking for their best muffin recipes for her daughter. And she included their several pages of response in the binder. Now, would a muffin cookbook from a bookstore have achieved the same result as far as recipes go? Yes, I’m sure. But do I cherish my mom’s homemade Christmas muffin binder more than life itself? Yes, I am sure.

The next batch is for you, Mom.

(Mom and KB, Christmas 2008)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Proposal

Writing my dissertation proposal was exciting for me. Completing it and turning it in were serious accomplishments in my semester. After completing my film article and setting that aside, I was *finally* able to focus on the BIG PICTURE of the dissertation rather than worrying about this source or that source or this article or that bibliography. Of course, the proposal needed to talk about many of those itty bitty things, too, but at least I finally saw structure to the dissertation rather than some HUGE, amorphous blob of stress-induced writing.

My dissertation proposal has sketches of chapters (Hallelujah!), a tentative table of contents (minus the pg numbers, of course), and a massive bibliography that I've been honing for about two years while writing seminar papers on this same topic. It also has an abstract and justifications for why I'm writing on certain texts and excluding others. It was actually a very interesting document to create. Looking at the big picture has already helped me. I added two chapters that I wasn't even expecting (but now am really excited about), while scratching another one that wouldn't have worked out with the argument I'm proposing. I also combined two others.

When my advisor handed it back to me (luckily it was done before he resigns on July 1st--don't even get me started on that subject...), I was surprised at how little he actually wanted me to change. The abstract needs to be revised to fit within the graduate school's guidelines because mine is too long and not focused enough. Also, my introductory chapter needs to encompass a broader survey of my topic rather than jumping so quickly into my argument. But, other than that, it seems that everything is a go. Green light, KB!

My first chapter after the intro will be on Jane Eyre. I am excited about diving in to JE again. LOVE it.

In other news...I bought our 10-year high school reunion tickets this week. I'm actually getting pumped for it. I need to go shopping for some cute dresses. Does anyone know what is in style right now? I have had my head buried in books too long to have any idea. But I know who all the hot literary critics are right now. Does that count for anything at a reunion?