Friday, December 26, 2008

Breaking Dawn with the Red Cross, or the Twilight of My Blood Donor Experiences

The day before Christmas Eve I found myself, for the first time ever, strapped down to pseudo-military style cot, with a needle stuck in my arm, watching my blood flow down a little tube into a freakily-largish bag.

I've never donated blood before, for a few simple reasons:
  • Most of the time I do required blood draws at the doctor's office (or "blood drops," as Grace and Mia call them), I pass out. And that's embarrassing.
  • I'm a complete wimp.
  • I'm paranoid about catching some weird disease that won't be discovered and identified for another 20 years, and it will come out 20 years hence that said disease was spread through blood drives.
  • Blood is just icky.
But every time our stake hosts a blood drive, I feel guilty. Especially this time, since we were told that not enough people sign up at Christmas time, blah, blah, blah. In a moment of insanity I signed up. And forgot. No worries, though--there are people assigned to call and remind you, and track you down, and haul you forcefully down to the stake center, tie you to aforementioned cot and plunge the needle in.

My sole thought through the whole experience was how to avoid passing out in front of people I know and go to church with every Sunday, especially the children people, of whom there were several because apparently watching Mommy or Daddy donate blood is a sweet holiday bonding experience.

There were several close calls but I managed to stay mostly conscious. I was doing okay right up till the end.

When my huge ol blood bag was almost full, I happened to glance over at the neat rows of filled blood bags stacked on the table. For some unaccountable reason specific and graphic sections of Stephenie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn" flooded my mind. You know the ones--the first time Bella tastes blood, the gory birthing scene, the medically-sanitized blood provided for Baby Bloodsucker... all those pages soaked and saturated in blood splashing.

I bolted upright, gagging and choking. My assigned bloodletter came running over excitedly. "See! I told you--getting a good cough helps with the lightheadedness,"" he exulted. I couldn't respond--I was too busy trying to keep the vomit down and thinking that I just could NOT puke in front of my Primary kids.

And mentally cursing. Only mentally, because if puking in front of my Primary kids would be bad, swearing would be worse. But believe you me, I was thinking all kinds of bad words about Stephenie Meyer and those bloody, bleeping books.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

They Said What?

Mia: I need to go potty! I need to go potty! I really, really need to go potty!

Grace: You can do it, Mia. I know you can. Good for you, Mia.

Mia: Shut it, Gracie. I don't need any more cheers for my poop. MOM!!! Gracie's cheering for me pooping!

[Note to other parents--what exactly is the appropriate parental response to that one?]

Monday, December 22, 2008

Confidential: To My Students

It says "confidential," and I bet the rest of you are all still reading this anyway. Suit yourself--it's a completely boring, only-of-interest-to-my-students post.

1.) You were right. The scheduling office messed up for 2010 next semester. I can't teach during that scheduled time, and I didn't want to take anyone else's class, so I won't be teaching at all next semester. Don't run down and complain to the dept. office--it wasn't their mistake and they feel really badly about it. I'm supposed to tell you that the person who is teaching a late T/Th class in LA is a great instructor and you'd enjoy him a lot (as per John Goshert).

2.) Final grades for this semester are up and posted. I'll keep all papers, exams and misc. rubbish from the class through the end of next week, then they'll be recycled for scratch paper in the tutoring center. Call or email me if you want to stop by and pick things up so I can make sure I'm here.

3.) I was looking forward to seeing so many of you again next month. Sigh. But we can still be friends! And you can still come talk books with us, because that was great fun and I think you'll love the January picks :). Watch for info...

4.) Have a super Christmas. Be safe in all this snow (especially if you insist on late-night sledding trips--people die in sledding accidents! I'm serious! Protective headgear, my friends).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Revelations

Last week the kids did their own gift shopping, followed by marathon sessions of gift wrapping. (THANK YOU Adri, Erynn, and Emily!). They were strictly warned about peeking under the wrapping, opening presents early, and especially about keeping gift contents secret.

The following comments were overheard 2.8 seconds after gift wrapping was completed.

Mercie: "Grace, here is a present for you. You will love it. It's a soap, like a Hannah Montana soap."

Mia: [holding out a flat, book shaped package] "Mommy, Mommy! Look! I have a present for you! It starts with a "B", like a B for book. And that's what it is! A book!"

Grace: "Can Eric open his fire truck now?"

Ahh...Christmas: the season of surprises.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The List

Several of my friends have posted The List, which is apparently making the rounds of Bloggersville, to the merriment of B-town populace. If you haven't seen it, The List is a list of 100 things you may or may not have done in your life, where you highlight/italicize/underline the things you have done and leave the rest for your readers to suppose that you'll check those next adventurous projects off just as soon as you get back from the African safari and finalize your next appearance on Oprah.


Since I am ornery and sport a perverse non-conformist streak that will not be quieted, I've decided to post MY version of the list, all 102 of them.

Bold = things I've done multiple times, usually too many to count
Italics = things I've done once, and once was enough, thank you very much.
Plain red text = things I haven't done yet but definitely plan to after that safari and Oprah appearance.
  1. thrown up in my office garbage can
  2. thrown up in the gym garbage can
  3. thrown up and missed the garbage can by a couple of inches
  4. sewn a wedding dress. Not mine. And once was definitely enough.
  5. pieced a quilt
  6. hand-quilted an entire quilt
  7. signed an eviction notice
  8. enjoyed a full body massage
  9. enjoyed a 3-hour full body massage on a balmy, breezy balcony in Maui overlooking the ocean...Mmmm.
  10. found out how long I could go without cleaning a bathroom before it became too gross even for me. I won't say how long that was because you'll be shocked and appalled. And for any of my former roommates, no--this did not take place when I was living with you. Honestly.
  11. cleaned the bathroom religiously (and thoroughly) every single week
  12. Danced in the rain
  13. Sang in the rain
  14. Kissed in the rain (in another 39.5 years or so)
  15. risked losing a good friendship over something stupid and petty
  16. been forgiven when I really didn't deserve it
  17. sliced open every single chocolate in a 3-pound box to find the ones I like (coconut and maple cream) while leaving the rest (anything fruity, nutty, or caramel) in halves for the kids. "Mommy, why are all the chocolates broken?" "Mommy cut them up for you so you could see what kind to choose" "Wow-thank you, Mommy!"
  18. put up my Christmas tree on November 1st
  19. left my Christmas tree up year round
  20. adopted a child
  21. fostered a child
  22. loved other people's children
  23. birthed a child (yes, I know I have at least 39.5 years before this is even a possibility, but if 60 is the new 40, I'm guessing in 40 years or so 70 will be the new 40, and we all know women in their 40s who pop out kids, so I'm keeping it on the to-do list)
  24. sang a solo in front of lots of people
  25. gave a talk in front of lots of people
  26. made up my own recipe and created something unbelievably tasty
  27. made up my own recipe and created something unbelievably horrific
  28. written a sincere apology letter
  29. written a sincere condolence letter and cried all the way through it. Hard.
  30. shaved my legs
  31. suffered through electrolysis
  32. suffered even more through laser hair removal
  33. waxed (gotta try it--it can't be worse than what I've already done)
  34. played the organ for Sacrament Meeting
  35. played the organ for the funeral of someone I loved
  36. played the organ for the wedding of someone I loved
  37. played the organ for Stake Conference
  38. played the organ at the temple (okay, I've kind of done this in a pinch-hit kind of way, but I want to do it in an official kind of way)
  39. said a bad word in church
  40. said a bad word during a visiting teaching visit (yep, when RS really needs someone to bring the Spirit into a home, they just send me)
  41. said a bad word to a church leader
  42. heard my two year old use that bad word and never used it--or any word like it--again.
  43. donated to a political campaign/cause I believed in
  44. participated in a political party convention (once was enough--bleck)
  45. managed a political campaign (is it weird that I have zero desire to ever run for office myself but I get a huge kick out of making things happen behind the scenes?)
  46. kept a journal
  47. burned a journal
  48. traveled outside the U.S.
  49. traveled to Europe
  50. traveled to most of the 50 states
  51. realized home is where I like to be best of all
  52. ran a 5k (and completely bombed it)
  53. survived a 1/2 marathon. August 2009, Green River, WY
  54. been proposed to while walking in a snowstorm
  55. been proposed to on a Colorado freeway
  56. been proposed to in a sandwich restaurant
  57. been proposed to by my 5-year old nephew
  58. been proposed to in a little Mexican restaurant with a name I've forgotten (the restaurant, not the person doing the proposing, although it did take me a couple of days to remember his name)
  59. been proposed to on the couch in my living room--the one and only proposal I said yes to, not that it worked out so well a decade later. Live and learn.
  60. [40 years from now] be proposed to in a way that actually involves some thought and creativity and a small amount of effort on the part of the proposer.
  61. Be the one doing the proposing
  62. acted in a play
  63. directed a play
  64. written a play
  65. stage-managed a play
  66. dramaturged a play (I think I just made that word up)
  67. designed props for a play
  68. run lights for a play (okay, Ms. Theatre major, this is just getting redundant)
  69. designed costumes for a play
  70. Read the Book of Mormon in 40 days (takes about 1.5-2 hours of solid reading each day, and its totally worth it, if you're wondering)
  71. Read the Book of Mormon in a weekend
  72. visited someone in jail
  73. volunteered in a hospital
  74. served a welfare/humanitarian mission
  75. serve any kind of mission, again and again!
  76. written a silly, badly done poem for someone I love
  77. made up a semi-serious, halfway acceptable song for someone I love
  78. created a real, 100% sincere song for something that matters
  79. laughed so hard my sides ached
  80. laughed so hard I cried
  81. laughed so hard urinary incontinence began to seem like a distinct and real possibility
  82. thanked Heavenly Father for the funniest friends ever
  83. learned a new language
  84. taught ESL
  85. been kicked in the face by a child who had a nightmare and ended up sleeping with me
  86. cried when I realized that I only get a limited number of those thrashing, kicking nights, and that someday I'll give just about anything to have one more night with a soggy-diapered, softly-snoring, limbs-akimbo toddler curled up against me
  87. had my written work published in a periodical
  88. had my written work published in a book
  89. had a copy of my published work interred in the cornerstone of an LDS temple (Denver, CO). Really.
  90. authored and published an entire book as sole author
  91. won a beauty pageant
  92. fell off a parade float while performing official beauty queen duties
  93. won a "most embarrassing moment" contest with my most em"bare-ass"-ing story that involved full rear nudity
  94. revealed Too Much Information on a blog
  95. revealed Too Much Information on national TV (well, when I do that Oprah spot...)
  96. dated someone who turned out to be gay--and was so relieved at how everything made so much more sense...
  97. almost dated someone who went on a crime spree a month later and is currently serving a life sentence for attempted murder (Oh my gosh, I totally should have said yes--I could have saved him--the love of a good woman could have saved that troubled soul!)
  98. Made out in the front/back seat of a car
  99. Went all the way in the front/back seat of a car, and no--despite all efforts, conception did not result. Apparently that only works if you are 15, slightly drunk, unmarried, and in your parents' car. Legally married grownups never get so lucky.
  100. Had prayers answered with exactly what I wanted
  101. Had prayers answered with exactly what I DIDN'T want
  102. Had prayers answered perfectly, gloriously, far beyond my best imagining and most deserving

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I like Lightning McQueen. I want a fire truck. I like Daddy. And Mommy. And Mercie. And Grace and Mia. I want a stocking from Santa.
Love,
Eric

Dear Santa,
I love to get a game for Grandpa. I love to get toys and tap shoes. I love to help Mom. I want presents! I want 3 kitty cats. I'd love to get a pen.
Love,
Mercie

Dear Santa,
Please give me a Feliz Navidad dress and I want roller skates and I want Cinderella tap shoes. I got a lot of stuff. Happy Christmas.
Love,
Mia

Dear Santa,
Please give me a present with a Feliz Navidad in it--a big skirt. Please give me an ice skating thing.
From,
Grace and Santa [Mommy lost the battle explaining to Gracie that the letter was TO Santa; she insisted it had to be FROM Santa as well]
PS: and Cinderella tap shoes. That's all.

Dear Santa,
I would like a nap.
Love,
Mommy

Friday, December 12, 2008

Women Who Know, Part One

This post is my (partial) response to www.womenwhoknow.org.

The site was created in response to a talk given by Sister Julie B. Beck, General Relief Society President, in the October 2007 General Conference.

I hesitated to even include the link in this post; actually, I questioned whether I should even offer this rebuttal. Sometimes the best rebuttal is a refusal to dignify the opposing viewpoint with the courtesy of acknowledgement that is implied in a response. Perhaps I've heard one too many criticisms of general church leaders recently and this was the final straw, or maybe this is pure self-indulgence of my own need to articulate where I stand. Whatever the reason, step back, 'cause it here it comes, point by point.

1.) "Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture." Nowhere in Sister Beck's talk does she state or imply that nurturing is the sole province of women. Her address is to women and about women; it is not addressed to men or about men. In discussing the God-given role of women as nurturers Sister Beck reiterates truth as revealed in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, that mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture and teaching of their children. If we accept that the Proclamation is the word of God, given through His prophet, how can we be offended when His word is quoted to us? I could take this thought even further, that if we believe in and sustain our prophet as the one authorized to exercise all priesthood keys and to lead the church under the direction of Jesus Christ--a fundamental tenet of our religion--then we also believe that Sister Beck has been called of God and is speaking through the guidance of His Spirit.

Splitting hairs over gender divisions has long been a favorite tactic of those who feel the need to criticize the Church, and to be honest, it's one that I don't understand. Far too often the arguments end up based in semantics rather than ideas, and I suspect this is one of those times. Divine truth--God's truth--is timeless. Attempts to put His truth into words are as successful as the mortal lips forming them or fingers writing them. Sometimes we come pretty close to capturing pure truth in words. Sometimes we fail miserably. The efficacy of our efforts doesn't negate the Truth we're attempting to tell. "God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost..." (Doctrine & Covenants 121: 26). Truth can only be comprehended Spirit-to-spirit, so it behooves each of us not only to seek the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit in receiving truth, but to actively pursue confirmation of truth spoken or shared by other imperfect mortals like ourselves.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland warned about attempts to apply worldly wisdom to gospel truth: "In matters of religion a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart, and analytical deconstruction in the field of, say, literary fiction can be just plain old-fashioned destruction when transferred to families yearning for faith at home" (Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Prayer for the Children,” Liahona, May 2003, 85–87).

Using feminist rhetoric or gendered discourse to debate revealed truth seems to me to be something like attempting to dissect a cadaver with a steak knife: when you use the wrong tool for the job you wind up frustrated, making a big mess, and inevitably hurting yourself and others around you.

2.) "Individuals and relationships flourish when we are able to share not only our strengths but also our mutual imperfections and needs." Apparently the website creators take issue with Sister Beck's call for latter-day saint women to strive for the best--to be the best homemakers, the best mothers, the best in the world at supporting and strengthening families. In her call to step up and do what the Lord would have us do Sister Beck is once again building on restored truth. The Proclamation urges both men and women to devote their best efforts to supporting and strengthening families. Anyone who has been awake through even a few LDS ward, stake, or general meetings can't miss the emphasis on families. This is not a cultural expectation; this is revelation from the Lord.

I believe it's important to make clear that Sister Beck asked us to BE the best. Not act the best, not look the best, not project the most perfect image, which seems to be the website creators' concern, if I'm understanding them correctly. Far from being a 'narrowly prescribed list,' the realm of what constitutes 'best' in motherhood, homemaking, or womanhood in general, is as unique and perfect as each woman.

In calling us to action, Sister Beck is doing nothing other than fulfilling her divine mandate to lead the sisters of the church. Recently in the 2008 General Relief Society Conference she said, "You are doing a magnificent work. Yet we feel impressed to say that there is more to be done. We have sought inspiration from the Lord to know how to assist the priesthood in building up the kingdom of God on the earth. It is time for Relief Society to fulfill its purpose as never before" (RS General Meeting, September 27, 2008). If she has been called of God, if she is speaking under the direction of His Spirit, clearly we as sisters have work to do.

When we allow cultural or self-imposed expectations to guide our behavior or understanding of what "best" is, we set ourselves up for failure, resentment, envy, and unhappiness. When we humbly seek the Lord's guidance to follow His counsel, guilt falls away. Happiness results from doing His work, in whatever sphere He sets us to labor in the vineyard. As I ponder Sister Beck's injunction to be the best--or any other counsel given by any other leader, for that matter--I'm reminded of the scripture verse my children are learning right now: "...I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (3 Nephi 3:7). We can argue with counsel given or we can roll up our sleeves and, with His help, go to work.

3.) "Cleanliness depends upon access to resources and has more to do with priorities than purity of heart." I have to admit to being genuinely puzzled by this one. After reading and rereading Sister Beck's talk I can't find any references to cleanliness. She discusses the importance of having an organized, orderly home, but other than mentioning washing dishes as part of homemaking, no specific mention is made of cleanliness. Last night I taught my English class about the importance of avoiding common fallacies in constructing an argument and I'm tempted to use this as a perfect example. Muddying the waters might score an emotional point, but it ultimately undercuts the argument, and more importantly, is not truthful.

In urging women to create a climate for spiritual growth in their homes, in part through keeping an orderly home, Sister Beck is, once again, only teaching and testifying of gospel truth. Doctrine & Covenants 88:119 is oft-quoted on this topic: "Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." If anything, Sister Beck was more general and vague about how to accomplish this than others have been in the past.

She did not establish minimum standards of organization or cleanliness, or imply in any way that some sisters were better off spiritually than others because of greater organizational or homemaking skills. We do those kinds of destructive comparisons ourselves. Given the diversity of our church sisterhood around the globe, Sister Beck's counsel seems to be a wise and careful call for improvement for all us, each in our own homes, with our own unique set of skills, challenges, and blessings.

4.) "Housework is something that grownups do and that children learn by example and instruction." The primary complaint here seems to be gender-based, so I refer back to number one. However, for reasons I can't quite fathom, the authors also seem to take issue with Sister Beck's counsel that we teach our children homemaking skills by working side-by-side with them together in our homes. If children learn only through 'example and instruction,' when will they ever DO the things they are 'learning'?

It seems to me that what Sister Beck is suggesting is a teaching/learning model similar to what the Savior uses; that is, that we learn by doing. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17). In the prophet Alma's great discourse on faith (Alma 32) he counsels for a similar investment of work in order to gain the desired knowledge and skill.

If our goal as a church and as individual men and women is first and foremost to build, strengthen, and defend families, and teaching our children to work or keep an orderly home is secondary to that primary goal, or only one part of a broader purpose, it stands to reason that achieving that broader purpose side-by-side, hand-in-hand with our children is the very essence of what the Lord is hoping for us.

5.) "We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents." Ah--I was waiting for this one! From the moment I heard Sister Beck boldly proclaim that "mothers who know bear children" I knew Satan would be pushing buttons to get women riled up.

What a silly one to be upset about! I burst out laughing when I read that part of the counter-response to Sister Beck's address was based on the validity of adoption and fostering as viable means of mothering. To put it in the most intellectual terms I can think of: DUH!

We've been reminded several times lately (the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting in February comes to mind) that the Lord's commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We've been reminded that creating bodies for His spirit children is a divine mandate. It was Sister Beck who lovingly taught everyone in the Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting that the desire for children is part of our divine nature as women, and our ability (or lack thereof) to bear children or opportunity (or lack thereof) in this life in no way diminishes the reality of our eternal identity.

Bringing children into the world and into a family is perhaps one of the most personal choices we ever make. Sister Beck didn't tell anyone how to make those choices. She simply reiterated what we should already know: that mothers who know bear children. They don't avoid mothering for selfish or silly reasons. Those who are unable to physically bear children aren't under condemnation. Those who prayerfully and carefully, together with their spouses, create a family as they feel led by God to do, are doing exactly what they should be doing, whether that family is a family of two or twenty.

Last night I talked on the phone for awhile with one of my daughter's birthmoms. She doesn't share my specific religious faith. She conceived my daughter out of wedlock, which, from a religious standpoint, was certainly less than ideal. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that, using Sister Beck's talk as the qualifier, she is a "mother who knows." She knew this baby deserved life, and she sacrificed considerably to provide it. She knew this baby deserved a family, and she sacrificed even more to ensure that my daughter got it. She knew that God had a plan for this little baby, and she sought and received direction and confirmation in bringing that plan about. She is no less a "mother who knows" because of her pivotal role in my daughter's life than I am less of a "mother who knows" because I am merely raising my daughter without conceiving and birthing her myself.

'Mothers who know' support the Lord's plan of happiness for His children. Families are pivotal to that plan, and mothers are pivotal to families.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The December Top-Ten (okay, let's make that 12 for the 12 days of Christmas...)

My Top Favorite Things Right Now:
  • Playing games with the kids! They are finally old enough to play real games. I've waited years for this part of motherhood :). Watching them catch on to the fun of card games, board games, and active games (hide-n-seek, anyone?) is such a blast. Last night for FHE we unwrapped a gift under the tree, from mommy to the kids. It was Twister. When we finally put it away, 45 minutes past bedtime, Grace sighed and said, "This is the most fun night EVER." Amen, baby girl, amen.
  • Warm socks!
  • Rolling out sugar cookies. Is there anything more quintessentially Christmas? Any other time of the year I absolutely loathe any recipe that requires rolling pins. This time of year, it just feels right.
  • Grown-up Princess Parties! Even better, amazing and inspiring friends who provide excuses to have them.
  • The semester is almost done!!! Happy thought.
  • Christmas music on nearly every radio station. I listen to it year round; I like this one teeny little month when the rest of the world joins me.
  • Dr. Nord and his sweet & super cute staff. Braces stink. I don't know why on earth I thought this would be a good idea. But the nicest people are helping me endure the trial.
  • Facebook!
  • My sisters. They are always some of my favorite things, but here are some specific reasons why: 1.) Becca sent me a gift card that enabled Santa to do a last-minute delight for the kids' stockings and something for me, too. 2.) Carole sent me a birthday package a whole month early, even though she knew that it is completely impossible for me to wait an entire month to open a present that is right in front of me and therefore was giving tacit permission by the act of sending it so early for me to open it early as well. It was an adorable blouse that I never in a million years would have bought for myself because I am Style-Challenged and need serious help in the fashion department AND it had matching earrings. I don't think I've ever had earrings that match an outfit--as in, intended to match a particular outfit. I rotate between two pairs of very safe, pretty boring, go-with-anything silver sets. I feel so unexpectedly glamorous. 3.) Holly wants to run a 1/2 marathon with me. She is so brave, not only to run the marathon, but to do it with ME. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, and was secretly hoping someone would join the adventure, and Holly volunteered! This is going to be so fun. Well, actually it's probably going to completely suck, but at least we'll share the experience and have stories to tell later--really crazy, awful and awesome stories, going off past experiences with Smolly. 4.) Emma drew Mercie's name for Christmas this year and she wanted detailed info about Mercie's likes and dislikes so she could get the most perfect thing for Ms. Mercie. Loving my kids puts you on my good side for eternity, but since I kind of feel more maternal than sisterly toward Emma most days, she's guaranteed to always be on my good side forever and ever.
  • Quiet evenings to sew. It's been WAAAAYYY too long since I made time for stitching therapy. Ah, the bliss! Save the bubble bath; just give me an hour or two with my sewing machine, a steam iron, and a pressing board. Heaven!
  • Christmas lights. Even better, driving around with the kids to look at Christmas lights.
  • Countless miracles and tender mercies, daily, hourly, minute by minute. I worry about money, the house, the car, keeping everyone fed, clothed, and happy, and the Lord provides. I worry about my kids and the Lord answers my prayers with strength for them and peace for me. I worry about too little time and too many things to do, and the Lord keeps His promise that if we put Him first, everything else falls into place. Daily I work on turning things over to Him, and faith slowly replaces worry because He is so good. Yay for undeserved, unconditional, unlimited love!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Grace, Glamour, and Growing Pains

Like so many other pint-size princesses, Gracie had a thing for twirly skirts, anything lacy/satin/shiny/sparkly/rhinestoned/bejeweled/ ruffly/flouncy, or glamorous.

Every morning before school Grace would rummage through closets, drawers, or laundry hampers to find the most “beautiful” outfits possible—generally hand-me-down dance costumes covered in lace and sequins, combined with Sunday dress shoes, and the random white t-shirt or fleece pullover thrown in for warmth, modesty, or some fashion plan that only made sense to Grace. And every morning, as she headed out to meet her day, Princess Grace was gorgeous.

Recently Grace hit a rough patch in her kindergarten world. Friends who used to be her friends weren’t. Skills that formerly came easily were a struggle. The class that used to be fun wasn’t. Dressing up in the morning didn’t seem to matter.

She cried before school; she cried after school. Sometimes she cried at school. As a mama I held her and worried and soothed and prayed, and sometimes when she didn’t see me, I cried, too.

We pulled through it, because rough patches have a way of smoothing out, given time and hard-earned wisdom (even the kindergarten variety), and tender mercies in answer to prayers.

It took a few days for me to realize that something had changed.

Every morning before school Grace bypasses the shiny, twirly skirts and rhinestone studded tops in favor of jeans and sweaters. The coat she’s been intentionally ‘forgetting’ all year long (because none of the princesses in the movies ever wear coats) is a sudden must-have because her friend Joselyn has the same coat and they like to match every day. Instead of the colorful mismatch of prints, solids, florals, stripes, in every shade of the rainbow that used to comprise Grace’s daily outfits, now she carefully plans out matching shirt, socks, and shoes that all work well with her basic blue jeans. She’s put away the Sunday dress shoes in favor of the tennis shoes that are like all the other girls in her class. Instead of perusing fairy tale books to show me the most amazing princess dresses, Grace brings me ads for Hannah Montana merchandise, with awe in her voice as she describes how very cool Hannah Montana is, and she wishes she could be just like Hannah Montana.

This morning I thought she was back in form: she pulled a pink plaid twirly skirt over her jeans, topped by a Hawaiian print dress and pink flip-flops (yes, it was snowing this morning). Eyeing herself in the mirror, she cracked up. "Oh my gosh, this looks disgusting," she announced. " I thought it would--I just had to check."

I brought her to the bus stop where she bounced away, grinning, looking just like all the other kids, in her skinny little jeans, shiny athletic shoes, puffy coat, and pink backpack. I love that she’s happy, that she’s confident, that she’s brave and loving and smart and sensitive and full of faith and constantly teaching me how to be good. I’m proud of how she’s growing; happy for the little glimpses I see of the stunning young woman she is becoming.

But already I miss Princess Grace. Something tells me that years and years from now, when my little Grace is a big, grown up lady who has princesses of her own, I’ll still be missing my little girl who twirled out the door in a cloud of chiffon and sequins, dancing her way to the bus stop in her best Sunday shoes with velvet straps and diamond buckles.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Drumroll Please: New Blog Announcement

In order to avoid boring people--and scaring them away from this blog--I've started a new blog re: my attempts to read Jane Austen. You can follow the adventure/nightmare at

http://janeaustenexperiment.blogspot.com

When I snap out of my lazy funk I will post a permanent link on this blog.

Still looking for book suggestions that will spark some genyooine romantic feeling in this cold, cold heart...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Dinner at our house last night:

Mercie is bumping her sippy cup against Eric's sippy cup in a way that can only be described as "flirtatious."

In a high, falsetto voice she said, "Hi, my name is Princess Serafina. What's yours?"

Eric looked at her like she just lost her marbles. "Nothing," is his well-thought out response.

Mercie persists. "What is your name, prince?"

"Nothing," Eric growled.

Mercie tried one more time. "I said, my name is Princess Serafina. What is your name?"

"Sippy cup," says a resigned Eric.

"Oh no," says Mercie, in this same falsetto voice. "Your name is Prince James Eric Potato Head Sippy Cup."

This speaks volumes about gender relationships through the years. Poor Eric.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thinking Ahead

Grace: Oooh! Look at the Christmas lights! Mommy, do we have christmas lights?
Mom: Yep.
Grace: Can we put them outside like that house?
Mom: Sure.
Grace: Like up high, like that house?
Mom: Hmm....we'll see.

Mia: You'd have to climb up on the roof.
Mom: That might be scary.
Grace: You might fall.
Mia: Then you'd be hurt bad. Or you'd be deaded.

Grace: Huh. If Mommy was dead us kids would have a LOT of work to do.
Mia: Grace, I could lift you up to put the clothes in the dishwasher.
Grace: We'd have to make all the dinners, always.
Mia: I can use knives.
Grace: I can open mayo.
Mia: Blech. I hate mayo. Only you like mayo.
Grace: You can have PB & J.

Grace: We'd have to walk to the bus stop all by ourselves.
Mia: Or you could just walk to Timmy's house and go with his family.
Grace: I'd be scared to walk all by myself.
Mia: I'd go with you.

Grace: We'd have to change Eric's diapers. Don't worry, Mia--I'll change him. Except the poopy diapers. You can change the poopy ones.
Mia: Eeewww! I don't want to change the poopy diapers!
Grace: You'd have to. Mommy would be dead; you'd have to change Eric.
Mia: FINE.

Mom: You know, you could do more work right now. You don't have to wait until I'm dead. You could help do more work at our home and maybe then we'd have more time to do fun things, like go to the park or play games, if you helped me do things like laundry.

Loooooooooooooooooooooong, eternally loooooooooooooong pause:

Grace: Nah.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Now Why Didn't I Think of That?

Apparently my jammy problem is solved, thanks to my good friend's husband.

It does bring up a new point, however. My friend (we'll call her Etsy) and I have a running competition for the Queen of Bad Fashion Taste crown. Self-proclaimed title, since I've never actually seen Etsy wear anything that would give her claim. After seeing the creation above, I'm pretty certain we were both off base, and the real Queen of Horrendous Style is her husband, who for the sake of blogging anonymity we'll refer to as Eve.


Just to head off the squawks of protest I can already hear floating down the street (that would be Eve squawking, not Etsy, who is probably snickering into her hand as she reads this post while choking out reassurances to Eve that he is actually a paragon of male style and really, honey, you look even hotter than Edward or Barack or Johnny in a suit), let me make just one succinct point:


Red Sweat Pants. In public.


I rest my case. One thing still puzzles me, though. How did the man whose brain came up with the revolting image above manage to spawn Elise? Now, Emily & Ethan, on the other hand--that makes total sense.


I hereby formally renounce the crown and pass it along to a much more deserving recipient. In the echelons of Bloggersville Warped Style Sense, you reign supreme. Long live Queen Eve.









Monday, November 24, 2008

The Jammies Dilemma (Warning: contains bear nudity..a little bare nudity, too)

Item no.2458 that you didn't know (and probably didn't want to know) about me:

I have this thing for cute jammies. They just make my little heart all fuzzy and warm. For real. It's a very simple, tiny thing that makes my life happier. I get very attached to Cute Jammies and everything related--robes, snuggly socks, and adorable slippers. My mom sent me the Cutest Ever Jammies 17 years ago and I wore it down into tatters. Literally. I couldn't give them up. I finally held a retirement ceremony and cried when I put the tissue-thin rags in the garbage. My sister Smolly gifted me the World's Bestest Snuggly Socks for Christmas a few years ago and I was still wearing them when they were threadbare and full of holes.

Why bring this up?

Because apparently "cute" and "warm" don't belong in the same sentence within the minds of current sleepwear designers. Living in the midst of the Rocky Mountains as I do, this is a problem.

Judging from the offerings in the store, sleepwear manufacturers assume that when we women ask for warm jammies, we mean this:


Not so. No warmth factor here.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, that we must be hunting for this:

Warm it may be. Cuteness leaves something to be desired.

What is a girl to do?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Adoption Month

It's no secret that my family was formed through adoption--when both parents are white and the children are all African-American, biracial, Chinese, or some combination, it's pretty obvious and often garners unwanted attention. We're used to it by now. Okay, not really, but I'm getting better at not kicking strangers in the grocery store. From time to time someone makes a sympathetic comment about how sad it is that I don't have any of "my own."

I have a range of replies to this, most of which are very civil and polite and involve no eye-rolling, and a very few of which pop out of my mouth at certain times of the month when Witch-Wendy surfaces. Lest you think I overreact, I ask how YOU would feel if total strangers regularly came up to and questioned the validity and realness of your family relationships, right in front of your impressionable small children. I thought so.

In honor of National Adoption Month, which, coincidentally, is the month that two of my four had their adoptions legally finalized, I'm going to turn the tables. I've always felt a little sorry for all those poor people whose lives aren't touched by adoption. So, in no particular order, here is my list of reasons that I LOVE adoption and wouldn't in a million years trade the way my little family was created:

1.) I can brag all I want about my kids and it's not an ego thing--those aren't my genes that created those brilliant, talented, loving, gorgeous little people.

2.) Knowing firsthand, in the most personal, down-to-the-bone kind of way, that love is thicker than blood, blind to color/race/ability or any of the other divisions society puts on it.

3.) If someone gets tired of hearing me blather on about my kids, or tires of seeing yet more pictures of said kids, there's always someone else! Birthfamilies exponentially increase the number of people who love my kids, trulymadlydeeply love them. Can a child ever have too much love?

4.) An excuse to immerse myself in new worlds. I've discovered that I love African-American literature and Chinese peasant art, and have a thing for black history. Who knew?

5.) Validation of my ability to parent! Yes, the endless round of social workers, attorneys, and judges is beyond annoying (although we had the very BEST attorney in the world through the whole journey, duly noted). But unlike most parents, I've got at least ten different homestudies that pronounce me a fit parent--heck, most of them say all kinds of nice things about my mothering. And four times a judge has concurred, signing documents that make my relationship with my kiddos legally binding and real. On bad days I've been known to go through some of those documents and read them aloud as a reminder that once upon a time, at least one person thought I was up to the task.

6.) One word: cornrows.

7.) Having each precious one sealed in the temple. It doesn't get any better.

8.) Connections. My children's birthfamilies have become part of my family. I am so blessed to have them in my life. Through the adoption and infertility groups I've been a part of, I've found some of my dearest friends, friendships that transcend our common experiences in adoption and carry over to the rest of life. And because adoption is such a visible, public thing for our family, I frequently get sweet experiences of proud grandparents showing pictures of their adopted grandbabies, or whispered conversations--punctuated by tears and lots of hugs--with relative strangers who placed a baby for adoption months or years ago and felt the rightness of that choice confirmed when they saw our family together.

9.) I've learned things I didn't know about myself. I can survive things I didn't think I could survive. I can love a baby and say goodbye to that baby and know that I'll do it again even though it will hurt again, because even if it's only for a day or a month or a year, it's still worth it to love that baby. I've learned that I can wait. I've learned that I can give up control--yes, even a control-freak like me. I've learned to let go of my plan and let God accomplish His purposes.

10.) I've learned things I didn't know about God. His plan is always better. Newsflash to me. Several times now I've watched mothers say heartbreaking goodbyes to a child they carried, birthed, and loved, goodbyes made possible only because that love was strong enough to do the impossible. I understand the Atonement a little better than I did before. I've sat with women who placed a child for adoption thirty or forty years ago, who remember every detail as if it were yesterday, who tell me that a day has not gone by that they haven't thought of that baby. I understand in a deeper way Isaiah 49:15-16 and just how much God loves us. And I should correct no. 9 above. I can't survive anything on my own. With God, I can come through anything. He's been with me through every loss, every goodbye, every magical and brand new welcome, every moment of connection. I know that He keeps His word, that "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up" (Doctrine & Covenants 84:88).


Happy National Adoption Month,
from a very happy adoptive Momma.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Darcy, O Darcy, Wherefore Art Thou, My Hunka-hunka?

It has been brought to my attention by my friend Becky (and in all fairness, by my friends Julie N. and Julie R. and Alicia and Jen and Melissa L and Melissa D....we'll just stop there before I get depressed) that I am a bit lacking in the romance department.

We're not talking the actual romance department, in which case my response would be a big, fat DUH, since it's only been a few months since the Man Formerly Known as My Husband officially became the Man Formerly Known as My Husband instead of my actual Husband. Since I plan to start looking for the Man Who Will Be My Forever Husband in approximately forty years--or the onset of the Millenium, whichever comes first--it would be safe to describe my life as void of romance.

However, the romance my friends are referring to is the fictional variety, the type that has 99.9% of the fairer sex swooning over Darcy and his fellow lover-boys. For some bizarre reason I'm lacking that Jane Austen gene.

I've never worried about this teeny little character deficiency until today. Becky asked what other romantic heroes I have, from any other books, and I was stumped. I've been racking my brain all day and I still can't think of a single literary hunkaburninglove, out of the thousands and thousands of books crammed into this brain of mine over the 29 years I've been alive and on the planet. Or has it been 27? Michelle worked it all out for me the other night.

This is a concern. How will I know what I want in The Man Who Will Be My Forever Husband if I can't even point to a pretend, made-up Romantic Ideal and say, "That! I like that! I'll take one of those to go, please!"
Here's my plan: since I have approximately forty years to figure this out, the reading begins now. I just went to the library and brought home three JA novels. I believe I mentioned in an earlier post how I'd rather have a colonoscopy than read JA again. Still thinking that. Bring on the snake tube. But hey--29 year olds don't get routine colonoscopies, so I'm stuck with JA. I'm appealing to all my friends here--please, please give me some romantic book suggestions that might actually work, that might actually make me think "oohlala" and feel all twitterpated. I need a LOOOOOONG list to get through 40 years.

On or before November 14, 2048 I will get back to you with my discoveries. Until then, here is some nice eye candy, which reassures me that I am capable of thinking "oohlala," given the right impetus.






Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reminder--Friday, Come, Talk, Read, Blah, Blah, Blah

Friday (that would be tomorrow), come talk books. My house, 8 pm, "Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. Bring food if you want. Bring random thoughts and questions about the book. Bring a friend. Bring yourself. See you there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Royal Momminess

It is a well established fact that I am raising three genuine princesses. Sometimes four, depending on the day--Eric hasn't quite been won over to the "prince" concept and sometimes insists that he is also a princess. Whatever. Some battles aren't worth fighting. Besides, those pictures of him in full ballerina getup will be priceless blackmail in his teens. Or not. Knowing him, he'll use it against me by threatening to leave the house in pink princess dress at age 14, and he'd have no qualms about doing it.

But I digress.

Being princesses is not an abstract concept to my girls. It is a definite reality of their lives. This was brought home last week at the dentist's office. Mia had lots of questions about how things worked, and Dr. J finally suggested that maybe she could be a dentist when she grew up. I was chagrined when she looked at him like he'd just suggested she could become a slimy green alien when she grew up. "NO WAY," was her emphatic response. "I am NOT going to be a dentist when I grow up." Silly mommy, trying to show that my child did in fact have nice little dreams for the future, had to ask, "What ARE you going to be, Mia?" Poor, longsuffering Mia gave Mommy the 'you-are-dumber-than-a-rock-but-you-are-my-mommy-so-I-will-humor-you' look and informed us that she will be a princess when she grows up because, duh, she already IS a princess.

But I digress again.

This is the real point of my post: Mia finally figured out that if she's a princess--and she absolutely, truly is--than that must make me...yep, you got it. Okay, she did have a little help figuring this out. Not that I'd have any motive for wanting my kids to believe I'm an Absolute and Supreme Ruler.

For the past three days I haven't been Mommy. I've been Queen. My word is law because we all know that nobody disobeys a Queen. Instead of loud and impatient screams for Mom I've heard sweet little petitions:
"Queen, queen, could I please have more milk, your majesty?"
"Excuse me, my Queen--would you scratch my back?"
"Queen! Queen! I need to go potty NOW" (Even queens run for that particular call).

It's a bit scary how naturally being worshipped, adored, and unfailingly obeyed comes to me.

I could so get used to this.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reneging Once Again on My Vow to Leave Politics Out of My Blog

In the past 24 hours I’ve seen many posts and comments online with the common thread, “I’m terrified for our country” because of one or another outcomes of yesterday’s election.

I’m bewildered. I feel many things about our country, about this latest election. Fear isn’t one of them.

Last night when I stepped into the classroom I was greeted with a chorus of voices asking if we could get out early. Several students were hoping to get to the polls before they closed; the rest wanted to watch election results. During the short forty minutes we held class laptops and cell phones were open and every few minutes someone would call out the latest updates from the polls.

I teach at a university that had the second-highest voter registration in the country. Only Berkeley beat us out. Far from being manipulated by a liberal media—an accusation I’ve heard leveled at this new generation of voters—these “voting virgins” are engaged, sophisticated, and thoughtful citizens. They think carefully about the issues facing our country. They listen to their parents. They look to history and ahead to the future. They are deeply concerned with the long-range ramifications of political process, for their children, our nation, and our world.

When I voted yesterday it was a quick and painless process. I didn’t have to travel long distances to exercise that privilege. I wasn’t afraid of violent reprisals against me or my family. There weren’t any soldiers with machine guns standing guard. What an incredible country!

We’re living in economic uncertainty and troubled times. Given our national lack of financial responsibility it’s quite likely to get worse before it gets better. We’ll survive. We’re living with increasingly polarized tensions over civil rights and religious liberties issues, and there don’t seem to be any easy answers. We’ll survive. We’re engaged in a global war on terrorism that is pointing out previously unimagined vulnerabilities in our national security. We’ll survive. In fact, we’ll thrive.

This isn’t a starry-eyed Pollyanna complex. Like most citizens, there are social and political issues facing our nation that concern and worry me. Yet I see so many more reasons to rejoice.

Who would have thought that less than a century after women won the right to vote, we’d be in the middle of an election year with an unprecedented number of strong female candidates, for nearly every office, including the vice-presidential ticket? It’s a far cry from the days when medical textbooks taught the ‘scientific fact’ that women’s brains were incapable of intellectual thought because they were smaller. And just forty years after desegregation, who could have imagined that we’d elect our first black president? I tucked my babies into bed last night with the realization that the world Martin Luther King dreamed was so much more a reality than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

That’s what it’s all about, I believe. We live in a nation that constantly seeks to become better, to learn from the past, to learn from mistakes, to improve upon what we have. It might take a long time, it might be painful, but we never quit trying. We’ve survived Republican leadership; we’ve survived Democratic leadership. We’ve survived hostage crises, economic depressions, energy shortages, world wars, and 9/11. Heck, we’ve survived O.J.’s glove, Monica Lewinsky’s dress, and Paris Hilton’s videos—we’re not about to fall apart because of one election.

Our future is incredibly bright. I look at my students, my children, and I know we are in good hands. More importantly, I look to Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, and I know we are in good Hands. How can I feel anything other than hopeful?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Costume Craze


We actually made it out the door on time this morning--a minor miracle, considering that I was shepherding two butterfly princesses, one kitty princess, and a junior missionary out the door. Yes, Eric is a missionary for Halloween. That's what happens when you have three older sisters who run your life for you.

I did not dress up for Halloween. I am a Grown Up. I am a Professional Woman. I have Very Important Things to do all day long, and I can't do them if I'm wearing a tiara or a pointed hat or glitter makeup. That, and I spent so much time on the kids' costumes that I ran out of time to scrounge anything up for myself.

No need to worry, though. I dressed myself in what I thought was a nice, conservative work outfit. When I walked out of the closet Grace's eyes lit up. "Oh, Mommy! You found a costume, too!" I looked down at my very dull black skirt and black shirt. "Uh, what am I dressed up as?" "A weird lady!"

I thought you'd enjoy the picture of me crying my guts out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Second Career as a Salonnière

"A salon is a gathering of stimulating people of quality under the roof of an inspiring hostess or host, partly to amuse one another and partly to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation and readings" (Wikipedia)

Mark your calendars, boys and girls. Friday, November 14th, 8:00pm let's meet at my house to talk "Till We Have Faces" by C.S. Lewis. Rumor has it there are a couple of copies available for borrowing, if you can pry them away from those of us who are enjoying the third or fourth time through just as much as the first.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Recess Games (Tagged by MK)

My beautiful friend Mary Kate (if you don't believe me, check out the picture on her blog: http://thevillamorfamily.blogspot.com/ ) just tagged me as follows:

1.Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share 6 nonimportant things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag 6 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

The Rare Dose of Random Wendy Trivia:

1.) I sleep with my feet sticking out of the covers--I can't stand sheets tucked in at the foot of the bed. Blech!

2.) My housecleaning music is Erasure, Shania Twain, and Johnny Cash. Sometimes Alanis Morrisette, too.

3.) I was named after the Beach Boys song. Really.

4.) When I was six my friend Karen and I decided to be famous writers when we grew up. My pen name was Wanda Greek.

5.) For Christmas this year Santa is bringing me power tools and a pedicure at Remedez Salon & Day Spa.

6.) I'm a fast food snob. I haven't eaten at McDonalds in over twenty years and I plan to go at least another twenty or so.

Isn't your day better for knowing these things?

I tag:

Jestina (http://salonetity.blogspot.com/)

Shanna (http://3cutekids.blogspot.com/)

Rhonda (http://rhondasrugrats.blogspot.com/)

Melissa (http://yinyanggirls.blogspot.com/)

Carole (http://pcedmanfamily.blogspot.com/)

Becky (http://mutterdrei.blogspot.com/)

Enjoy, my dears!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leaving the Party

http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/283362/17/


I'm breaking my vow to never mention politics in my blog (stating that Barak Obama is hot is not political, just factual) in order to comment on the above article. Some people seem to be vewy, vewy sensitive about political 'stuff'--one of many reasons I've resisted the urge to blog about it.

I'll just say on my blog what I already told Dean on the phone: my friend, you are a man of integrity and you've got guts.

There. Political post over.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Booby Post (yes, Betsy, the title is for you)

Today Mia tripped and fell. Reaching out, she caught herself on a part of my anatomy that, um, is not designed for such things.

I sat up and hollered, "Ouch! Mia, watch it! Don't grab the boobies!"

Mia apparently had never heard the term. Not wanting her to latch on to it and start using it indiscriminately, like in church for example, or with her teacher at daycare, I explained that it's a pretty silly word some people use for breasts, but in our family we don't say it. Yes, I am a complete hypocrite.

Mia looked down at her own chest thoughtfully. "I think I will call my breasts the 'Cinderellas.'"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Something for Sunday


I was going through pictures on my computer and found this. It's the daughter of a friend, in the Mesa Easter Pageant a couple of years ago. When I picture Christ this is exactly how I see Him. 3 Nephi 17:21.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tummy Trouble

Over this past week--

Mia: "Mommy, your tummy is SOOO big, it is like a trampoline for jumping on."

Mia: "Mommy, you must have been eating a LOT of sugar because your tummy is VERY big."

Mia: "Are you SURE you don't have a baby in there?" [oh, if you could only understand all of the reasons I'm so certain that's not a possibility...].

She's still alive. For now. I can't say the same for my ego, which is smooshed thin and flat, very unlike my tummy, apparently.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Things I'm Most Thankful for Right Now:


  • finally, finally, after years and years, finding a lipstick shade that I actually like and want to wear! (Avon Beyond Color Plumping Lip Color with Retinol in Bordeaux, for any of you lip-goop junkies) Of course, now that I've discovered it, the manufacturer will probably discontinue it next month. This might finally cure me of my preference for naked lips. Or not. I'm still pretty partial to naked.

  • Christmas music!

  • children who mostly sleep through the night

  • The Wiggles, Arthur, Disney, Pixar, or anything else that buys me extra sleep on a Saturday morning

  • a bed :)

  • a four-year old who likes to hold me like a baby, snuggle me and pat my head. She's such a little mommy at heart.

  • Great thinkers and writers who challenge me to view the world--and myself--differently and in better, finer ways. Best of all, those who do so from a foundation of faith.

  • Emily, who really deserves a post all to herself, extolling her praises and expounding on her many virtues. Anyone who can stay with my kids for upwards of a week, keep them clean and fed and extremely happy, plus getting the house in better order than it was to begin with, then leave me a note thanking me for the privilege (!!!)....and then to have those four crazy kids ask when I'm leaving again so Emily can come back--well, you just can't put a price tag or adequate label on a blessing like Emily.

  • curling up on the sofa with the kiddos at the end of the day for bedtime stories

  • working with truly wonderful people--intelligent, interesting, efficient, caring, and decent colleagues makes work more than enjoyable

  • the scriptures

  • being surrounded by friends; rediscovering old friends and treasuring new ones

  • watching the sunset across the valley from the temple. It never gets old. It always feels like home.

  • having perhaps the best students yet this semester. I think I say this every semester, but this particular crop is especially delightful. I love rubbing shoulders with bright, motivated, inquisitive, thoughtful young scholars. I actually get paid for this!

  • Marina, the very best stylist in the world

  • Hummus, pita chips, chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, and "bubbly"! Even better, the bestest (and Betsyest--sorry, couldn't resist) friends who shared them with me

  • Fool, I'm a Woman, by Sara Evans. He he.
  • Thermacare heat wraps and ibuprofen. Don't need 'em often but when I do, nothing else will do.
  • a three year old little man who has to keep coming back for one more bedtime kiss from his 'bootiful' mommy. Am I the luckiest mama or what?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Prayer for the Children

In scrounging around online over the past week or so, hunting for a quote that I (still) haven't found, I came across this little treasure. I've already read it through several times and I suspect I'll keep reading it a few hundred more. For those of you who are LDS and, like me, wondered why you don't remember seeing this article, apparently it only appeared in the Liahona magazine, not the Ensign. I'm doing my part to share the good word. Here is a link to a wonderful article by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=6d2fee9ba42fe010VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1

If the link doesn't come through you can find it through searching lds.org. It's in the May 2003 issue of Liahona magazine, titled "A Prayer for the Children," by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. Enjoy the feast! P.S.--don't you just LOVE having living prophets and apostles who speak for God??? As the first day of General Conference draws to a close I'm feeling especially grateful for the blessings of the Restoration!

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Good Reason to Fly United Airlines More Frequently

The last leg of my flight today was hands-down the coolest, most super fun flight EVER, and this is coming from someone who isn't much of a flying enthusiast.

One word: Paul.

Paul was the flight attendant assigned to this particular flight. Paul was very funny. Paul was stationed at the rear of the plane. I was sitting in the rear of the plane. The very rear of the plane. As in, I didn't even need to really stand up and go to the bathroom; I could just shift in my seat slightly and I'd be there. IN the bathroom, not actually going to the bathroom...is this too much information? For 3+ hours we were relatively stuck back there. It could have been just another monotonous flight. Did I mention Paul was very funny?

Anyway, Paul. You've gotta love someone who begins the opening scripted pre-flight announcements by thrusting the mic at me saying, "Here, she'll finish up for me." Or offers a glass of water and says with a straight face, "We're right next to the lavatory--I can pop in and get you as much more as you'd like." (Did you know the lavatory sinks have signs that tell you not to drink that water? I didn't know that...). Or grins at me and says, "Hey, let's lock this lady in the lavatory!" and then actually does it (Who knew there were external locks on lavatory doors? I'll think twice before using an on-flight bathroom again). When I accidentally signed to him at one point he jumped into the seat next to me and began enthusiastically signing back, which was probably something like two-year olds trying to speak pig latin. On the descent he entertained us with stories of the worst drunken messes he's seen in-flight, which led to stories of his own worst drunken messes, which was almost funnier.

The best part of all: I got to hold an honest-to-goodness, real Academy Award Oscar! The real little gold statuette, which in real life isn't so little, and is so freaking heavy it could seriously take someone out. Permanently.

Long story: someone up in first class had it and our lovely flight attendant brought it back so we could ooh and aah and take pictures and 'touch' fame. Yours truly was too lazy to get my camera out of my carry-on that was safely stowed overhead, so alas--no cool pics of me holding an Oscar, in what is surely the one and only time in my life that I will ever be that close to the Academy Awards.

For you sicko minds out there, Paul is young enough to be my child (granted, if I started REALLY, really early), and there seemed to be a pretty good chance he's gay. I'm not devoting this post to him because he was a hunkaburninglove.

Did I mention Paul was funny? 3+ hours giggling on an airplane: priceless.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

Last night I took a much-needed hour to enjoy my favorite time of year (love, love, love that crispy-cool-breezy-snappy-nippy early autumn season!) after the kids went to bed. While I am sorely tempted to lock them in their rooms, lock the front door, and see if anyone notices I'm gone, I did the responsible mommy thing and had a neighbor stay with them.

Apparently Grace had a bloody nose while I was gone. I checked and rechecked the facts, as Grace is my only child who, to date, has never had a bloody nose. Mercie gets them regularly (that happens when you fall asleep picking your nose each night), and Mia is prone to them (that happens when you throw such freaking huge tantrums that you break little blood vessels in your nose), and even Eric has had a couple. But not Grace. Until last night.

This morning I saw the evidence on the blankets. Mystified--but not really expecting an answer--I asked Grace why her nose bled.

Very matter-of-factly she clued me in: "Well, I was picking my nose to get some boogers out and I had my finger in it like this [demonstrates], and Mia just banged my hand very hard and my nose started bleeding."

Mia indignantly corrected her. "I did NOT bang you very hard; I slapped you very hard."

Just so we're clear.

Mia may not always be my most obedient, thoughtful, kind, or well-behaved child, but she is rather insanely honest. Ya gotta kinda like that in a kid. I'd like that in more adults.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Ramble with Mia

Today we went up to Bridal Veil Falls. I realized this morning that the kids have only seen BVF from their car seats, which hardly does it justice. Plus, our FHE lesson this last week was on the beautiful things Heavenly Father created for us, so it seemed like a good idea to throw a little field trip in there and drive the point further home.

Judging from the splashing, rock collections, mud stomping, and near drownings, it was a huge success.

As we were ambling down the trail back to the car, Mia shared her observations:

"Wow, Jesus is pretty good at making stuff. I didn't even know Jesus made all this stuff, like trees and streams and waterfalls. He must be smart, like me. I am smart, and I am good at making stuff. Me and Jesus match. But not Eric. Eric is not smart. Sometimes Eric is smart, but not like me and Jesus. But I love Eric. He is cute, and he's my little boy. But he's not smart."

I'm thinking next week's lesson might be on the virtue of humility...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Gospel(s) of Grace

Tonight Grace climbed up on my bed, pulled my scriptures onto her lap, and began to "read." Verbatim, here is her account:

"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and threw out all of them people who bought and sold in the temple, and threw the tables and chairs of those people. And He said to them, 'my house shall be called a house of prayer. It's a happy place. You have made it a den of badness. In my house, as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.' We believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost. Amen. And the blind and the lame comed to Him in the temple, and He healed them."

Not bad for a five-year old budding theologian.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Have a Bed, I Have a Bed, I Have a Bed!!!


Sing it with me: I have a bed, I have a bed, I have a bed! It's a very good thing, this having a bed.


In the emotional aftermath of my very recent divorce, the bed was one of the first things to go, for a variety of reasons, most of which should be rather obvious. And for many reasons, most of which are far less obvious, I didn't get around to replacing it right away. In fact, Grace recently announced that for Christmas she was going to get me a bed.


She doesn't need to now because I HAVE A BED, I HAVE A BED, I HAVE A BED!


Even better, I have friends. I didn't think through the whole getting a bed thing very well, and wasn't exactly prepared to cart it home and up the stairs. I had a fuzzy idea of somehow doing it all myself. This was at least semi-plausible because A.) I've been obsessed with proving that I can do really hard, tough things as a kind of psychological knee-jerk response to the inevitable vulnerability that comes with divorce, and B.) I HAVE done some really hard things, like moving a 7-foot leather couch up the stairs all by myself, so theoretically a queen size bed shouldn't be that far from feasible.


Theoretically. In reality I'd been up since 2 am and I couldn't even think through my barely-fleshed out plan of tying the bed to the top of the Suburban (if that's even legal...).


But I didn't have to strain my brain or my back--much--because I have friends. Having a bed is a lovely thing. Having friends is better. Having both is perfect!


Lesson learned: being tough and doing hard things all by yourself is a good thing. Letting people help you sometimes is also a very good thing. I'm counting myself lucky to be surrounded by friends and good people, as this is just the latest of many, many, super-many times I've been saved/aided/rescued/assisted/helped/relieved/supported/served and oh-so-blessed by them. Caring for my kids, bringing us dinner, choosing my clothes (if you know me IRL you understand what a service this is), mowing the lawn, letting me vent, telling me I'm stronger and smarter than I think I am even when it's sometimes a charitable fudging of the truth...
Most times I feel pretty certain that I know what heaven will be like because I already live among angels.
It certainly helps me sleep better at night (pun fully intended).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beards, Booze, and Zoobies

I think my hearing is going out in my old age, which isn't nearly as annoying as it could be, mostly because it leads to so many unintentionally amusing moments.

Yesterday a group of the best and the brightest young minds at my school crammed into a room for a training meeting. In the pre-meeting buzz someone mentioned another school up the hill that shall remain nameless, and one of the quirks of said school, the infamous beard card.

For those who are not familiar with Zoobie-land, this is an actual, real thing, where in order to wear facial hair you must have written permission from various higher-ups. I can vouch for this because in the course of directing plays at the aforementioned school I have signed these strange documents and forwarded them all the way up the chain. I'm pretty sure they eventually land on the prophet's desk, where he ultimately gives the thumbs up or thumbs down, probably dependent on whether the Lord has any plans to call the hapless victim as a bishop or stake president, in which case facial hair would be slightly more serious than an ongoing tobacco addiction but not quite as serious as say, committing adultery or cheating on your income taxes.

Enter my hearing problem.

I didn't hear "beard" card. I heard "beer" card.

The students corrected me, but I begged them to stick with my version instead. Beer card is much funnier. I'm pretty sure several of my friends from college days, and at least one or two ex-boyfriends, would have been lining up for that one. Yes, K, I'm thinking of you. All those nights you locked yourself in the bathroom and chugged down a bottle of Ny-Quil...a beer card would have been so much cheaper, and probably safer, too.

I vaguely recall that the beard paperwork required reasons for the facial hair exemption, like medical problems or religious beliefs or being cast in a theatrical piece portraying someone like, say, the school's founding prophet.

I'm highly entertained by imagining the checklist of allowable reasons for a beer card.

I'm even more entertained by imagining all the other exemptions it could lead to. In short order we could see the fornication card, the porno card, the 'they're-not-really-drugs-because-they're-prescriptions' card, the high-stakes poker card, maybe even the free-pass-on-home-teaching card (easy medical exemption there--I've had home teachers who I swear were allergic to the whole home teaching thing. A long time ago. Not my current ones. Just so we're clear). My personal favorite would be the cuss card. As a lover of all things wordy, I admit that some of my top choices are words that I can't use around church people unless I'm quoting J. Golden Kimball or the bishop I had as a teen. I'd get a lot of mileage from a cuss card.

Although come to think of it, if people had to go through a multilayered and complex authorization process in order to commit a sin, they'd probably give it up and decide no sin is worth that much. It's probably good that this rigorous procedure is reserved for the truly serious issues facing universities today.

No hearing aids for me; just bring on the bleeping beer-d card.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Day of Remembering

This morning when I hassled all the kids out to the car they were delighted to see a flag on our front yard. This happens on select days of the year, compliments of our local Boy Scout troop.

For the kids this is a joyful occasion, since anything bright, large, colorful, and blowing in the breeze--on your very own front lawn--is reason to celebrate. President's Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day--each one is an excuse for my darlings to dance around the flag pole and comment enthusiastically all day long. They've recently figured out that there is a method to the madness, and so on each magical day that the flag appears they ask me why we are "celebrating."

When Grace innocently posed the question today I was stuck. The only thing I could think was that awful moment when I watched a plane fly into the second tower, watched the first and then the second tower fall from the safety of my living room, in the comfort of my pajamas, knowing that nothing would ever feel truly safe or comfortable again.

How do you explain that to a little girl who wasn't even born, who hasn't known anything different than this post-9/11 world she inherited?

Tonight as I taught my latest crop of bright young thinkers someone offhandedly made a comment about hoping that 9/11 would soon become a 'real' holiday so we could have the day off and actually celebrate it. I was surprised by the vehemence of my own reaction.

It's not a day to celebrate. Ever. On this one issue I actually agree with George W. It's a day of remembrance.

I know the arguments. We combat terrorism by going forward with life, even celebrating survival and resilience, the human spirit and the greatness of America. We celebrate our unique American culture by wallowing in commercialism and running up our credit cards and eating too much and lighting lots of dangerous explosives that look really cool. Celebrating lets us thumb our noses at those who tried to knock us down but only made us stronger.

I know the arguments; I just don't agree with them.

A few days ago a colleague sent me a provocative article on how digital media is influencing the learning and thinking patterns of young students. Embedded in the article was the idea for a 'wonderful' virtual reality game that would simulate concentration camp experiences so that students could learn about the Holocaust in a powerful way, without even realizing that they were learning about it because it was all in a game.

My gut response was that some things just aren't meant to be games. In that same vein, some things just aren't meant to be celebrated.

Every September 11 I remember. I remember that hate and intolerance carry a high price, and very often innocent people pay that price. I remember that this country has a remarkable potential to come together when we need to, and an unmatched capacity for compassion. I remember stories of heroism and selflessness. I remember lists of names on the television screen. I remember unending photos of people who were loved, prayed for, and desparately missed.

I cried when I watched the towers come down. All I could think--and not very coherently--was how many thousands of families would never forget this day, would have it seared into their hearts and woven throughout the reality of their lives in ways that I can barely imagine.

The least that I can do each September 11 is remember.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Weighty Matters

My best moments since losing nearly 70 pounds:

1.) Carrying my very heavy 50+ pound daughter up the stairs and realizing that I used to carry MORE than this much extra weight ALL THE TIME! No wonder I have more energy and stamina. No wonder random aches and pains have disappeared. No wonder I can move faster and more easily and life is just a heck of a lot more fun!

2.) This moment has happened a few times, and I enjoyed every single one: running into former students who don't recognize me! What a happy reason to get a second glance from friends.

3.) Shopping for normal size clothes! I forgot how much pure fun shopping can be when you can pick up pretty much anything on the rack and it fits. Lane Bryant can kiss my smaller (and slightly more toned) butt--I've rediscovered the joy of shopping.

4.) When a grocery store checker was skeptical that I was truly the person in my driver's license picture. I could have smooched her right there in the checkout aisle.

5.) I swung Gracie up for a big hug and she wrapped her arms and legs all the way around me! Yay for great hugs, made better, in Gracie lingo, "because Mommy's tummy is waaaay smaller."

I'm less of a person than I used to be, and as Martha Stewart would say, that's a very good thing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photographic Evidence





that I am the luckiest momma on the planet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Found the Yearbook Picture!

I found the yearbook picture! See post below. Yep, that is one sexy sneer.

A Response to a Response to a...whatever the heck it was

http://itonlyhurtsinmybrain.blogspot.com/2008/08/response-to-smuts.html

1.) I didn't use the phrase "nintendo playing couch potato" three times. It was at least seventeen times.

2.) Yes, women are just as shallow as men. Sometimes even more so, especially if shoe shopping is involved.

3.) If those yearbook pictures of Mr. McDreamy Debate Man should show up, say on your son's blog (since he has nothing better to do right now, judging from his last blog entry), it might be worth his time posting them. I assume it would pretty much nail my point home, a picture being worth a thousand words and all that.

4.) "There seemed to be a subtle implication that somehow I'm only mad about this because I'm not as hot as Edward is portrayed to be..." Yeah, see number three. However, I do give you a teeny bit of credibility on this one, at least the claim that you had a few years of adequate 'coolness'--or should that be 'hotness' since my argument was based on the relative hotness factor of Edward vs. other men? Anyway, since you did manage to score a wife who is both pretty and smart, I begrudgingly concede this one. Honesty compels me to point out, though, that this same intelligent and beautiful wife of yours is known across thirteen states for her compulsive need to bring home sick, deformed, and universally pathetic creatures, and I've noticed that the more pathetic they are, the more she loves them. Draw your own conclusions.

5.) Bald men ARE sexy, but that's another post entirely. Um, make that "SOME bald men are sexy."

6.) Vampire light bulb jokes? Groan.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Organizing the SMUTS, or In Defense of Vampires

Ladies, a few of the Nintendo-playing couch potatoes we know have wised up to the unnatural pull that a certain pallid vampire exerts. They are organizing. This isn't necessarily a worrisome thing, since men organizing themselves tend to be about as effective as you would expect a bunch of Nintendo-playing couch potatoes to be.

http://itonlyhurtsinmybrain.blogspot.com/2008/08/hes-freakin-vampire-you-idiot.html



I tried to let it go, but ah, the pain! From lame acronyms (GAVEL, seriously???) to gender generalizations to misinterpretations of the text...Mr. Brain-Pain's argument contains a few logical fallacies that are making MY brain hurt, and in defense of my gender I've got to let it fly.



Let's deal with acronyms first. I propose a more descriptive name for GAVEL. SNOUTS--Sleepy Nintendo Obsessed Underwear Tugging Slobs. Or maybe CRANKAS--Crabby Regressive Anal-Retentives Not Known As StephanieM Super-fans. Since women are far better at closing ranks, we could come up with an acronym of our own. SMUTS, Serious Matrons Under Twilight's Spell. Or EDWARDLUV, Edgy Daring Women Advancing Righteous Desire Lusting Unbridled for Vampires.



I planned a careful literary analysis that countered Mr. Lame-Brain's description of Edward as a 'bad boy,' pointing out that you could make a solid argument for Edward as the moral center of entire series. It was brilliant--pulling in Kierkgaard, C.S. Lewis, and Virginia Woolf to support my thesis. However, I realized a careful literary analysis would be a mistake for two reasons:



1.) It would reveal far, FAR more of my inner geek than I care to show, and



2.) It would be a waste of good typing time, since Mr. Brain-Strain apparently HASN'T READ THE BOOKS! I quote here from the eminently quotable Orson Scott Card, who said, "Freaking idiots who don't even read books are not allowed to offer any kind of criticism of said books." Okay, he didn't say exactly that--he was referring to an opportunity to review a particular book, an opportunity that he declined because "the book was clearly not written for me--I was not part of its natural audience." According to Brain-Drain's wife, "In order to appreciate Stephanie Meyers' books you have to channel your inner teenage girl. S doesn't have an inner teenage girl, not a teeniest little bit." And to quote his teenage daughter, who is in the throes of page 600 of book four, "Dad won't read the books because it would be an affront to his masculinity." Uh-huh. I'll save the complex character analysis. For you women out there, I'd be preaching to the choir. For anyone else--READ THE BOOKS! Then we'll talk.



Now to sweeping gender generalizations: myth one, women like bad boys. This seems to be stated as fact only by those same Nintendo playing couch potatoes, and ladies, it's an excuse. It lets them off the hook. It's not their fault that women don't fall for them--in fact, it's honorable, because it demonstrates that said men must be the opposite of 'bad boys', otherwise women would be falling all over them just like they do for Johnny Depp. I know, I know, my first response was also "And have you SEEN Johnny Depp? With or without eyeliner, he's nice brain candy anytime." If it makes you feel better to assume that women are only attracted to Johnny Depp in pirate costume, that's okay. We women usually keep our fantasies a little more private than men do. I think it's more accurate to state that women like hot guys, bad or good being a separate consideration. We can discuss later to what extent relative goodness or badness plays into hotness; the point is, you can tell yourself women blew you off in order to hunt down some leather-clad bikers running from capital murder charges, but it won't change the fact that really hot accountants and computer geeks and Silicon Valley millionaires have no trouble getting women.



Myth two, women eventually give up lusting after cage fighters and settle for regular schmoes in favor of a regular paycheck and in spite of the incessant video gaming. I'm not sure who looks more pathetic in this scenario--the men who sit on their butts until a woman gets desperate enough to take them, or the woman who lets a bitsy little paycheck win her over to someone who falls asleep on the sofa drooling in front of the TV. Oops, sorry--I didn't mean to make this personal. Here's the real deal: for some unexplicable reason that I can't begin to understand, let alone verbalize, we women actually sometimes find pathetic-ness CUTE. Cute is closely related to Hot (see above), so it happens from time to time that a regular, nerdy, even pathetic schmoe will luck out and end up with a real live woman. This is not because the woman is settling; it's because miracles happen ['fairy tales do come true, it can happen to you' as the song goes] and she somehow sees beyond the drool and the glazed-over eyes and imagines to herself that there is an Edward lurking beneath the boring exterior. Men, when this happens to you, thank your lucky stars and worship the ground that woman walks on for the rest of your natural life.

Myth three (closely related to myth one): In order to capture women's hearts and/or imaginations, it's not enough just to be 'bad.' The danger and bad-boy factor has to consistently rise, otherwise women will be bored. Hence, if a pirate is exciting, a vampire is even more exciting. Let's see--my first response to this generalization is READ THE BLEEPING BOOKS! Bella doesn't fall for Edward because he's a vampire; she falls for him because he's hot--okay, technically he's very cold, but hot in a sexually attractive sense--and the fact that he's a vampire is rather a complication to her attraction. I feel myself falling back into literary criticism mode, that conflict is the first rule of fiction, and placing seemingly insurmountable challenges in the path of true love is cliche, true, but consistently effective nonetheless. Guys, it is fiction. Female fantasy in vampire form. Really smart men would be reading the books themselves and taking notes, looking to unleash an inner Edward.

And for a post bashing female fantasy, dare I comment on the irony of supplicating Buffy in conclusion? If ever there were a poster girl for male fantasy, in all her blond perkiness, Buffy reigns supreme. Not only is she buff and kicks butt in her sports bra tops and tight pants, but she kicks VAMPIRE butt. Men get to watch their fantasy woman engage in a smackdown with the object of their wives' lust, and Buffy always wins. Male fantasy squared.

Ugh. I'd write more but I've still got 140 pages to go in Breaking Dawn and I've got to finish in time for the first meeting of SMUTS. In true female fashion we've already organized ourselves into twenty committees and sub-committees, and I'm in charge of refreshments ("all chocolate, all the time" is our motto). Eat your hearts out, couch-potato boys.