Friday, March 27, 2009

The March List

What I'm thankful for this month:


We have the very best home teachers, for lots and lots of reasons. See the sandbox above? It is filled with sand, with a lid to cover it, thanks to our home teacher Keith. Oh, and all the sandbox toys, too. The best part? As Grace said, "They sneaked to our house and put sand in the sandbox while we were sleeping! Home teachers are so sneaky!" The kids played in the sandbox for FOUR hours last Saturday (which gives Mommy a whole new list of reasons to be thankful...). When I called to thank Keith and Susan for not only providing the stuff, but also doing all the work, Susan said that Keith loaded the sand up after dark so the kids would be surprised the next day with their new sandbox. It worked!

A few weeks ago we went out for a Sunday afternoon walk. The kids were running far ahead when one of the girls accidentally bumped Eric and knocked him down. In what looked like something from a Three Stooges movie, their friend Adalyn couldn't stop her bike in time and ran right into Eric as he bawled on the ground. I ran for him, but our home teachers got there first. Lindsay was down on the ground, Eric in his arms, wiping his face and telling him he was a brave boy, letting Eric wipe his snotty, teary face all over his suit.

My favorite thing about official home teaching visits is watching my kids dogpile the home teachers. Once upon a time we started out with Mom and kids on the long sofa, and the home teachers sat on the loveseat. It has now become Mom alone on the long sofa, with two home teachers on the loveseat, wedged in all around and under small children. If one of my kids can't find a lap, she will drape herself across the top of the loveseat, just to be close to the home teachers.

A recent conversation with Mercie:

Mommy: Who are all the people who love you?
Mercie: Gwace and Mia and Ewic and Mommy and Daddy.
Mommy: Who else?
Mercie: Gwampa and Aunt Sue!
Mommy: Who else?
Mercie: Gwampa Bob. And Emily.
Mommy: Anyone else?

For some reason lately I've been thinking a lot about the term "ministry" and how we don't often use it to describe what we do in our family relationships and in our church responsibilities, and how maybe we should. The most important ministering seems to be the personal, one-on-one ministry that constituted so much of Jesus Christ's life.

I'm counting us lucky-- okay, blessed-- to have home teachers who follow His example.

Here's to wonderful, caring, "sneaky" home teachers!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Defining the Terms

Grace: Mommy, what does "adore" mean?

Mommy: Love something a really, really lot, like more than anything else.

Grace: Ah. So that's why you say you adore me.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Babies
Abandoned newborn found alive in clothes dryer
March 18th, 2009 @ 9:44am
By Phil Archer, NBC Newschannel
A newborn's cries may have saved her life. The baby, who was just about an hour old, was discovered stuffed in a trash bag and left in an old dryer in southwest Houston, Texas on Tuesday. Investigators said the baby is safe, but they are worried about her mother.

I know, I know, this is an all-too familiar story. Abandoned baby story always make me teary-eyed, and this one was no exception.

The baby weighed six pounds 12 ounces. She was taken to Texas Children's Hospital. The hospital's staff is calling her "Mia."

That's where I started sobbing.

Five years ago I was sitting in my doctor's office, listening to him tell me that a routine pregnancy test (years of infertility and assorted hormone-type drugs make pregnancy tests routine for every dr. visit, regardless of how inane and pointless they may be) was, no shocker, negative. My cell phone rang. It was Yvonne, a caseworker for the agency where we'd adopted my then-9-month old daughter Grace. "Are you sitting down?" She proceeded to tell me that Grace had a biological sister due to be born in a couple of weeks, and their birthmom wanted us to adopt her.

Of course we said yes.

I love telling this story because, really--how often do infertile women do a pregnancy test at the dr's office, read a negative result, and leave the clinic expecting a baby in two weeks?

On April 6, 2004, at just over 6 pounds, my little Mia entered the world, with a full head of fluffy hair, beautiful almond skin, a perfectly shaped nose, and a ferocious stare that has only been honed with time.

And oh, there just aren't words to tell how this girl has blessed my life. I love her big, generous grin that mirrors her birthmom's gorgeous smile. I love her belly laughs. I love her excited giggle when she figures something out or learns something new. I love the way she headbutts me when she wants a hug. I love watching her pull Mercie onto her lap and stroke her hair & face & back and call her "sweet baby." I love Mia's magic 'looking eyes'--that girl has an uncanny knack for finding lost objects. I love telling Mia she's beautiful just so I can see the embarrassed grin pop out on her face. I love spelling out words to her so she can write letters. I love Mia's bravery, doing things that her older sister is too scared to do. Even when it exasperates me, I love that Mia can't bear to see anyone else scared or hurt or sad, and that she'll sacrifice her own treats or comfort or safety to make the world right for someone else. I love her tender heart. She has a gift for kindness, a gift for peace.

I want to say all of that to the other Baby Mia's mommy. I want to tell her that this is what she threw away. This is what she literally tossed in a garbage bag and nearly took away from the world. I'm guessing there's a load of hurting behind a choice like that. Just like my little Mia with her younger sister, I want to hold Baby-Momma on my lap and rock her back and forth and stroke her hair and sing lullabies and call her "sweet baby" and tell her that there is hope, and there is redemption, and babies don't have to be left in garbage bags in abandoned dryers, and even if she doesn't know love in her life, she can choose to give Baby Mia a life filled with it.

Thanks to alert strangers and a civic structure that does still value life, even small six-pound, hours-old life, the other Baby Mia will be fine. I will sit at my computer and say a quick prayer for Baby Mia and those caring for her and loving her, and a little longer prayer for Baby-Momma, because wherever she is, she needs it.

I'll wipe the tears away and go back to the birthday party I was planning for my own precious Mia, thanking God for the gift of this sweet girl and the daily miracles she brings into my life.

The name Mia means "much-longed for child."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Corpse in My Closet

Warning: photo illustrations in this post are not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

I have a little secret, which up until now was only known to one other person. Why I'm broadcasting it to all of bloggersville I do not know...therapy? sympathy? snickers? boredom?
Here's the deal: I hate mice.
I mean, I really, REALLY loathe mice. A lot. More than just about anything.
This is not a problem so long as mice obey the rules and stay in their wild and natural OUTDOOR habitat. Unfortunately, some maverick mice exploited a small crack they found in the garage floor and ended up INDOORS, specifically, inside my basement food storage room. And let's face it--a basement food storage room is pretty much Mouse Nirvana. Just like Lehi called to all of his family to come taste the fruit of the Tree of Life, my rodent invaders apparently invited the clan over for a tasting fair, compliments of Wendy's grocery stash.
My specific complaint with mice is their tendency to bring out the most freaky aspects of my character. I pride myself on maintaining control in all situations, keeping a cool head under stress, and dealing with life in a mature fashion. Mice blow that all to heck. Even dead mice. The one and only time I dealt with a dead mouse in a mousetrap all by myself was not a pretty scene. It took me three days to talk myself into doing it, which was enough time for the mouse to start decomposing and smelling rank(er). I changed into old clothes that could be thrown away afterward. I tied plastic grocery bags over my shoes so that I wouldn't accidentally track rodent-germs anywhere else. I used three garbage bags--one to put the mouse & trap in, another to put the first bag in, and yet another to hold that double-packaged parcel before dumping it all in the outdoor garbage bin. I used latex gloves, but still couldn't bear the thought of picking up the mousetrap, so I found kitchen tongs--very long kitchen tongs--and tossed them in the garbage after The Deed was completed. If I'd had a spare Hazmat suit sitting around the house, you can bet I would have suited up. It took ten minutes to get down the half-flight of stairs into the basement, mostly repeating positive affirmations out loud, like: "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this--for crying out loud, Wendy, get a grip! It's just a dead mouse. YUCK! A dead mouse!!! I can do this, I can do this..." By the time I got to the mouse I was hyperventilating. And crying. And feeling extremely grateful that no one could see me. I only screamed a tiny bit, though, so I think the positive affirmations worked.
Loads of De-Con and cases of mousetraps later, not to mention several sealed-off holes in the garage floor and the passage of nearly a year, I have just recently started to feel semi-comfortable going down to the basement again. It's been about ten months since the last mouse sighting; I'm starting to hope that my home has been taken off the list of top-ten rodent vacation spots. The thought of cleaning out the room is a bit overwhelming. For the past few weeks I've been making a weekly trip down to the storage room, filling one garbage bag at a time with junk, and hauling it out. Just knowing that mice have been there is gross, but since there aren't any actual mice, I've actually been handling the cleaning task with a modicum of maturity and sanity.

Until today. I pulled out a bag of pasta and came eye-to-eye with this:

Yeah, that would be a mostly-decomposed mouse corpse, surrounded by mouse feces and I-don't-want-to-know-what-else.

You bet your sweet booty I screamed. Loudly. I made it up that half-flight of stairs in one leap, and that's no small feat for a chubby, huffy, nearing-middle-age Mommy.

I won't tell you what it took to get me back down there to take the picture, but it involved ingesting pills that made me feel all floaty and nice and even able to think about mice with only a little bit of shuddering and whimpering. This is SOOO not cute.

On the other hand, these folks have the right idea. If only their aim were better.

I think my plan at this point is to lay big ol' cinder blocks across the doorway to the storage room, with thick layers of mortar between them. The mouse vault can be sealed off from the rest of the house. I'll keep food storage items in the laundry room. The rodents can rest in peace and I can give the happy pills back to B.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Little Women

Mark your calendars and start brushing up your snobby pretentiousness--Friday, April 24th, 8:30pm, my house: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. A brief stint on Wikipedia has me far more interested in Louisa May than before. This will be fun!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Eleventh Commandment

Thou shalt not eat thy boogers. Thou DEFINITELY shalt not eat thy sister's boogers.

Chalk up another on the list of things I never thought I'd hear myself say...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The New Commandments

As any parent knows, there comes a time when the family rules have to be updated, expanded, clarified, and otherwise revised to meet the changing needs--and outrageous imaginations--of the family. We have reached that point. Here are a few of our New Commandments.

1.) Thou shalt not open the blinds in Mommy's bedroom to see if it snowed when Mommy is getting dressed. Especially during the split second that she is completely naked. And most especially if the next-door neighbor has just stepped out to let the dog out a mere four feet away from said window.

2.) Thou shalt not take it into thy little heads to go play at the park without first consulting Mommy. Same rule applies for going to Jackson's house, or Adalyn's house, or Timmy & Hallie's house, or ANYWHERE outside the boundaries of our yard.

3.) Thou shalt not yank down the window coverings in thy room and use the curtain rod as your weapon in a 'swordfight' with thy sister, especially when the sister is an unwilling participant in a one-sided swordfight. Nor shalt thou use this same curtain rod to gouge long skid marks in the wall after Mommy puts an end to the swordfight.

4.) Thou shalt not tell the babysitter--or anyone else--, "I like to tickle my privates because they are so tickly, but Mommy says there is no tickling privates until we are married. I'm going to get married when I'm very old, like fifteen."

5.) Thou shalt not strip down naked, put a bookshelf on the bed and climb on it to reach the ceiling fan, use the ceiling fan to swing out into the room and drop onto a pile of blankets and pillows in the middle of the floor. And when Mommy breaks up the party, thou shalt not threaten to move to Daddy's house, because honey--if you think Mommy didn't go for the ceiling fan gymnastics, just try it on Daddy's ceiling fan.

6.) Thou shalt not attempt going to the temple on a special date with Mom looking like the Whore of Babylon after pilfering Mommy's makeup bag to score glittery purple eyeshadow, clumpy mascara, and bright red lipstick.

7.) Thou shalt not wake up at 3 am and whine & cry to sleep in Mommy's bed. And when Mommy takes pity on you, thou DEFINITELY shalt not pee all over Mommy's brand new sheets that she just put on a few hours earlier, most especially when she was waiting until the next paycheck to get the waterproof mattress protector.

8.) Thou shalt not tell the daycare teacher that Mommy got divorced so she could marry Grandpa.

9.) Thou shalt not steal all of thy sisters' money. When Mommy catches you, thou shalt not quickly stuff said money down thy diaper in a desperate bid to keep it safe.

10.) Thou shalt not refer to thy mother as "Oldilocks," no matter how accurate or how tempting it may be.

Just another fun-filled week at our house.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Slightly Snooty Event

This Friday is the monthly snobby get-together. Just to clarify, ANYONE is welcome to attend. You don't even have to RSVP; you can just show up. It's not snobby because it's exclusive--it's snobby because some of us are good at pretending to be smart so we can hang out with people who are genuinely smart. Both types are usually represented at these shin-digs.

I have to grill lots and lots of chicken and pork (like, 30-40 pounds worth) before our salon. Consider this an open invitation to come early and help grill, if you'd like. You can even bring your own meat to throw on, or anything else to feed your face. I am lazy to the max--I'm not going to plan so much as a potluck; if you want dinner, bring it. I'll probably start around 6:30-7pm-ish. You don't have to 'help--' if you want to just stand around and laugh at me & Betsy trying not to burn the garage down, that's okay, too.
We'll still talk books or something around 8:30, if you need to put kids to bed or squeeze in a hot date before the 'salon.'

PS--for those in the dinner group, did you get that all this grilled meat means Grilled Chicken Pesto Pizzas for March? I'm so excited!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Deconstructing Gender Difference, Part Two

A.) Eric is my only boy. Eric also refuses to potty train. At all. He's going to be the only kindergartener still in diapers, but that's a different story.

Yesterday while getting ready for church--

Eric (dancing around the room naked): I have a penis! I have a penis! I ha-a-a-a-ve a penis!

Mommy: Yes, Eric you do have a penis. Now settle down and come get dressed.

Eric: Mercie has a penis, too.

Mommy: No, Mercie is a girl, so Mercie has a... (wait, let it come)...

Eric: A penis!

Mommy: No, girls don't have penises. What do girls have that boys don't have?

Eric: Underwear!

Only at our house.

B.) After church we went for a walk. Everyone was still in their Sunday clothes, so the girls were twirling around and pretending to be princesses.

Mommy: Wow, Mia, you look just like a princess in that twirly dress.

Eric: (pouting) I want to be a princess, too.

Mommy: How 'bout you can be a prince? A very handsome prince who fights the bad guys and saves the princesses?

Eric: No! I just want to be a princess and twirl!

Mia: Mommy, I think Eric is not exactly a boy.

Mommy: What do you mean?

Mia: I think he is like a girl-boy.

Mommy: What is a girl-boy?

Mia: It's like a boy, because he has a penis, but it's like a girl because he only wants to be a princess and stuff. So he's a girl-boy.

Seriously, with kids like these, who needs cable?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Poop Story

For those of you who asked...

One day my sister Carole decided to make brownies from a mix. She tossed the mix box in the garbage and poured the brownie batter into the pan. While the brownies were baking, my brother Dan, who was two and potty training, had an accident on the living room floor. A stinky accident. As the oldest, it fell on me to clean up the accident, which I did, depositing the uh, deposit in the garbage, where it happened to land right on top of the brownie box.

12-year old Rob came by to put something in the garbage. When he saw poopy sitting on top of a brownie box, he assumed it was actually brownie batter, so he hooked a big ol' fingerful and popped it in his mouth.

Yes, he realized right away that it wasn't brownies. He spent the next half hour in the bathroom, gagging, retching, throwing water in his mouth with both hands--and he told us later that the taste still wouldn't leave for hours. Poor Rob. Only I wasn't saying "Poor Rob" at the time; I was standing outside the bathroom door laughing my guts out. Not so much standing as falling over with hilarity.

It definitely didn't end there, as the story entered that realm of family lore that ensures it will never die (and posting it on my blog is now further enhancing the immortality of Rob's poop tasting). At any family reunion someone will inevitably take a bit of something and announce that it tastes like crap, to which someone else will promptly call Rob over to determine whether that's a fair judgment. When Rob became engaged to his beautiful wife Teresa his beloved sisters tried to talk her out of it by pointing out that not only was she too good for him (true), but also that, given where his mouth had been, she might want to think twice before signing on for a lifelong relationship with Rob and his poopy mouth. And when someone once called me a potty mouth, my sister Carole didn't skip a beat in responding, "No, that would be Rob."

On Sunday I shared this story with the Primary kids. As you would imagine, they loved it. Afterward we talked about how Satan lies to us, and many of his lies are attempts to feed us crap, making us believe that really yucky and nasty things are actually something good. The latest issue of the Conference Ensign had some excellent examples of ways that Satan tries to deceive us.

The scary thing is, if you keep eating it you start to acquire a taste for it, and pretty soon you can't tell the difference between poopy and chocolate.

No matter how much it looks like brownies, it's still just a pile of crap.

It Warms This Writer-Mommy's Heart...

Last night I found this note on my pillow. For those of you who cannot read kindergartenese, I will translate:


In literate adult speak, that would be, "Gum. Mom, give us gum."

Yes, I am reinforcing a shameless lack of civility (you'll note the lack of "please" anywhere in the note), but I promptly slipped gum under the bedroom doors.

You're never too young to learn that written words are powerful things.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The March Non-Book Snobby Book Thingy

March is proving to be slightly chaotic. With apologies for the semi-later-than-usual notice, here's the deal:

Friday, March 13, 8:30pm, my house. No book this month; we're talking Important Issues & Stuff.

I tried to nail it down to a specific topic, most especially because Eric had a very compelling argument for the role of media in civic involvement, and he used so many big words in persuading me that he proved himself a lifelong member of the snobby & elite salon group. But even as I typed out a blog post detailing the topic, I knew in my heart of hearts that we'd probably meander all over the universe, as usual, and so it seemed pointless to dictate a central theme.

If this sounds too dull, consider this: I thought about doing a group viewing of the Emma Thompson/Hugh Grant Sense & Sensibility, but I think even being surrounded by favorite people wouldn't make that more palatable.

For April--Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I haven't read it since I was ten or so. This should be fun.