Sunday, December 22, 2013

40 Acts of Service

I've been very bad about blogging our 40 acts of service in honor of my 40th birthday. I haven't been as bad about actually doing them, though.

During the past three months we've hauled bags of food to the food pantry, shoveled snow for neighbors, donated money to help other families adopt, and babysat for friends, to name a few.

I'm giving up right now on recapping all of them here, though we did indeed finish our list.

My focus is the takeaway from this little project.

Sometimes I think that I am one of the most obtuse people on the planet. So many of my friends seem to have a knack for noticing the needs of those around them, and finding ways to help. Me, I'm the clueless one on the sidelines who stands and watches, and thinks of opening the door for you after you've already struggled through with four kids and ten bags. This whole charity thing is just not hard wired into my brain and heart.

It's something that I pray for, and work at, and try to do better. And that's been the best thing about our 40 acts of service. For the past three months my mind has been focused on ways to serve people, and I've felt myself actually becoming the compassionate, kind person I want to be.

The 40 acts themselves were wonderful. I'm almost more excited about the smaller kindnesses that popped up because my mind and heart were in charity mode.

The miracle was that for the past three months I've actually noticed. The woman clearing six inches of snow off her car in hose and heels. The mother with more crying children than lap space. The woman with her arms loaded up between buildings. The elderly gentleman who needed a listening ear. This 40 acts project we took on finally succeeded in breaking down some walls of self-absorption around my heart so my eyes could see more clearly.

That is a gift. That is an answered prayer. That is my favorite thing about this experience.

The challenge now is to keep those walls down. I want to keep seeing with these new eyes of charity.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's All a Matter of Perspective

Grace: "What is the definition of 'obsolete?'" 
Me: "Um, old and doesn't really work anymore." 
Grace: "You mean, like, Grandma Sherry?"
Me: "Oh, BURN." 
Grace: "WHAT?!?! I meant, that she's retired and doesn't have to go to work like you do. What did YOU think I meant?" 


Mia: "Mom, what's this picture?" 
Me: "That's when I was in college." 
Mia: "WHAT?? I didn't know they had fridges when you were in college!"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saving Batman

Someone asked me the other day why I was adopting another little one.

That's a big question, with lots of big answers. But I think I can summarize.

Last week Eric had a friend over to play. Between the Legos, movies, and candy, they perused comic books and discussed subjects near and dear to little boys' hearts. Like Batman.

"Do you know something really, really sad about Batman," Eric queried.

"Um, I guess," replied his friend.

"Did you know that his mom and dad were killed? They got shot, right in front of him. When he was just a little kid."

Unintelligible grunt from friend.

"So, he has no parents. And he grew up without a family. Isn't that totally the worst thing you can imagine?"

Another unintelligible grunt from friend.

My kids are a big part of the reason that I'm going for one more. They have been pushing for this for years. There has never been any doubt in their minds that there is another child out there meant to come home to us. They are exceptionally kind and compassionate kiddos, it's true. But I think it's more than that.

They get it. When they hear stories of kids growing up in orphanages and kids without families, there is an element of "there but for the grace of God go I" for my kids. They don't take it for granted.

Eric loves to sneak into his room when no one notices and come out wearing a superhero mask and cape. He'll race around the front room and refuse to answer to "Eric."

"I'm ChinaMan! How did ChinaMan get into the house? No one knows!"

I'm doing this again because I know the joy that one little masked crusader brings to a home.

I can't save the estimated four million orphans in the world. But I can make sure that one more little superhero doesn't have to find out how sad it is to grow up without a family.

Saving the world one Batman at a time.

Kindness Thing 5, For Real This Time

Kindness Thing No. 5 was Mia's brainchild.

We bought a package of mints. Mia wrote a note:

Dear mail carier, thank you for brngingus our mail evry day.

We put it in the mailbox with the note peeking out. It took four days before the letter carrier took it. I think he didn't read the note the first three days. Either that, or curious neighbor children went home smelling like peppermint.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Kindness Thing 5 (Almost)

One of the things on our Kindness list was to go out to eat and pay for another family's dinner.

This was more of a challenge than we expected, as the restaurant was nearly deserted. By the time we picked a group of diners to treat, it didn't seem that dinner would be appreciated, but perhaps buying dessert would.

We called the waitress over to ask if we could buy dessert for the next table. She bustled over with a twinkle in her eye. Before we could ask our question she informed us that WE were being treated to dessert!

You can bet there were some happy kids at our table.

So, we still have to do number five. But, on the plus side, isn't it so wonderful to see how kindness comes back to you?

People are just good.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Kindness Things 3 & 4

As noted earlier, the kids and I are carrying out 40 acts of kindness in anticipation of my 40th birthday coming up--and I'm chronicling them here (since I'm too lazy to keep a separate record).

No. 3

We wrote thank you notes to teachers who we love. It was sweet to see my kids' sincere appreciation for the little things their teachers do. It spurred me to do the same. I hunted down the address for one of my old professors, now retired, and wrote a note thanking him for being such a positive influence in my life.

Gratitude just feels so good.

No. 4

I have been hesitant to post this one. It seems kind of private and sacred to our family. But I also can't imagine leaving it off the list.

Last week I got a really awful text from someone our family loves very much, telling me that her newborn son had only lived a few hours from birth. Instead of coming home with her new baby, she and her husband were planning a funeral and trying to figure out how to tell their little daughter that her baby brother wouldn't be coming home.

My kids LOVE babies. Head-over-heels-obsess over them. My kids love R and her family. They have enjoyed loving on her first baby since birth, and have adored watching her grow from newborn to toddler to big girl. When I broke the news to the kids the car went absolutely silent. Then Mia said, "That is the worst thing you've ever told us." I agree, baby girl. It sucks.

My kids also have very big hearts. In the eight minutes it took to get home they had unanimously decided to forfeit our family pizza money and send it to R & her family to help in whatever way it could, with medical bills, funeral costs, or even just grabbing pizza themselves on a night they were too tired, too busy, or too sad to think about dinner.

Love those kids of mine. They are keepers, the whole lot of them.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Working with What You've Got

Mia has a lovely doll named Sophia Merida, and true to her maternal little heart, Mia plays with her, talks to her, takes her places, makes clothes for her, sings to her, and generally considers Sophia to be her very own child. 

In an unfortunate accident, Sophia recently lost a leg. 

When Mia showed me the problem and I determined that replacing the leg was extremely unlikely, I began thinking about how soon we could get Mia a new doll. Christmas? Should I make her a deal that if she saved half the money I'd kick in half? Should I just buy a new doll right now, since I know how much Mia enjoys playing with her precious Sophia? 

I tentatively posed the question of whether we should start looking for a new doll. 

Mia made angry eyes at me. 

"It's just a LEG, mom," she retorted. "Sophia is still Sophia; just without one of her legs now." 

She left my room, darting backward glances as if daring me to even try taking Sophia out of her arms. From her room I could hear her reassuring Sophia that she would never, ever give her up. 

When I called the kids for dinner, all four of them came running in the kitchen with great enthusiasm. 

"Look, mom! Eric solved the problem! Eric found a way to help Sophia since her leg is gone!" 

As you can see, Eric created a Lego-wheelchair so that Sophia will barely notice the absence of her leg. All four children are extremely proud of their innovative solution; Grace: "now we don't even have to save our money for a real wheelchair!" 

Gulp. I was thinking saving money for a new doll; they were planning how to save for a real wheelchair. 

People just aren't replaceable. Even doll people. And everyone has value, even if they look less than perfect to ignorant outsiders like me. Even doll everyones. 

What would the world look like if we all saw people through Mia's eyes? Lucky me, to be so close. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

To the Rescue

Yesterday our Sunday School lesson focused on the experiences of some early Mormon pioneers, specifically, the Willie & Martin handcart companies. When the Mormons were migrating to the Great Salt Lake Valley, there was a point where handcarts were used instead of the usual oxen, horses, and mules. Handcarts could be produced at a much lower cost, were lighter and faster to transport, and helped facilitate the journey for thousands of Latter-Day Saints.

Many companies of handcart saints made the trip uneventfully.

Then the Willie & Martin companies came along and a series of mistakes, poor timing, and accidents set in motion catastrophic events (see more here:"
Early snows came and hundreds of saints were stranded across Wyoming, unprepared for the weather and extremely low on supplies. A  few church members returning from a scouting trip came across the struggling, dying saints and rushed to bring word to Salt Lake City of the desperate straits. Upon hearing of conditions, Mormon church president Brigham Young dismissed a general church conference scheduled for the next day, saying that the only text and the core of their religion was to get their brothers and sisters home.

Those early settlers in the Salt Lake valley had only been there for a couple of years. The previous summer had been one of drought, and people were ill-prepared to survive the winter, let alone receive hundreds of starving, destitute immigrants. Yet they brought out their own reserves of food, gave up their own horses and wagons, packed up blankets from their own bed, and then sent husbands, sons, and brothers out to rescue their fellow saints.

To say that it was not an easy rescue is to dramatically understate the case. Conditions were so severe that many of the rescuers died from complications of exposure, as they battled blizzards and blinding wind, and crossed freezing rivers over and over again, carrying weakened pioneers on their backs.

Before reaching the safety of Salt Lake City, more than two hundred people died, most of them on the frozen plains of Wyoming. While the suffering was extreme, so was the heroism, and that compassion, bravery, and unselfish love for fellow man is what we remember and venerate of the Willie & Martin handcart companies.

As we reviewed the stories that came from these experiences, one thought jammed itself in my brain and won't let go.

For many years after--and continuing through to today, really--folks hotly debated who was at fault for the suffering and death that came to these unfortunate companies. Many people were deeply critical of church leadership, at every level, for allowing so many errors to be made. Some or all of that criticism may be merited; I don't know. Determining blame isn't the point of this post.

The thing that struck me is that in all the written records, we don't see the names of the rescuers among the names of the criticizers. Conversely, we don't see the names of the criticizers among the names of the rescuers.

I can't help but think there is something here worth noting.

Mother Theresa is credited with saying that if you judge people, you have no time to love them. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of love many, many times, because I happen to have a life filled with gracious and loving people. I've verified the truth of the statement over and over again, too, as I take fumbling steps to follow the example of these good people and step beyond judging into loving. It's a kind of miraculous thing, when loving takes root in your heart and the judging glasses just fall right off.

The rescuer-Saints could have rationalized, and they would have been completely, perfectly correct. "It's not our fault that they started so late in the season. That was just stupid!" "Our first responsibility is to care for ourselves. We can't jeopardize our own children to go save someone else's." "Um, everybody knows that you don't cross Wyoming in a handcart in October, and if you're dumb enough to try, you deserve what you get."

What a gift, what a blessing, that they looked beyond and just saw people hurting and in need of rescue.

The thing is, we all--and I mean ALL--do stupid things. We all put ourselves in danger. We all screw up royally. We all suffer from poor choices of others, and hurt from actions that are not our own. We all fall short of grace, and we all desperately need rescue.

In one of the most beautiful paradoxes of this human experience, we also all get to help rescue each other.

Or, we can stand on the sidelines and point out the mistakes. We can take cheap shots at the leaders. We can tell the struggling rescuers how they could do it better or why the rescue isn't worth it. We can step away in smug self-assurance that this rescue was undeserving of our effort.

Meanwhile, people are freezing to death in the cold hell of addiction, poverty, war, violence, disease, and hunger. Millions of children are languishing in orphanages or living on the streets. Just last week a little girl in my son's orphanage died while she waited for medical care that never came, and a family that never claimed her. Millions of people a continent away are dying of famine and disease, and it doesn't even make headlines in the U.S. because they don't look like us.

Just like for the handcart pioneers, these are issues of life and death, and our rescue efforts have long-term, even eternal, consequences.

We all make our own choices. I'm not advocating for renouncing our first world lifestyle and heading out to a life of humanitarian service abroad--though I love and honor those who are called to that work. I'm posing the question, to myself as much as to anyone else: am I criticizing or am I rescuing? Am I saying "this man hath brought upon himself his misery" or am I rushing to the aid of a fellow traveler?

What rescue means and looks like is different for every single one of us. Rescue means inviting widows living alone to have Sunday dinner with your family. Rescue means writing out a check, even if it's a very small one, to an organization that supports efforts you believe in. Rescue means smiling at the harried mom in the checkout counter and making silly faces at her screaming baby so he'll stare at you instead. Rescue means listening to a suffering friend on the phone when you really needed an early night. Rescue means acknowledging and bearing witness to the images of death and violence that flood the news, instead of shutting our eyes and hearts. Rescue means taking a moment to say a prayer for the victims. Rescue means gathering up food for the food bank, even if all you can spare is two cans. Rescue means refraining from making snide comments about lazy people on welfare because you don't know if the people who hear you might be struggling to stay off the streets, and desperately need to validated for their efforts to keep their family fed and housed in spite of repeated job losses and illness and cycles of poverty. Rescue means inviting the weird kid to sit next to you on the bus. Rescue means forgiving your friend for mean things she said on the playground when she was trying hard to look cool. Rescue means listening to your daughter read her book report aloud one-more-fricking-time-even-though-your-head-might-explode, because she's worried that her teacher won't understand it and needs to be assured that it makes sense.

Only God can direct where your rescue efforts are most needed. Once you know, though, nothing else matters. The lovely thing about Godly, passionate rescue is the criticizers on the sidelines become nothing. You can't hear the shouting voices of the naysayers when you are battling the fierce winds to reach a suffering soul.

Really, I suppose this post is an invitation. Come, join me in the trenches. We have so much work to do.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kindness Things 1 & 2

In honor of my fortieth birthday quickly approaching, the kids and I have decided to celebrate by doing 40 acts of kindness. Today we kicked things off with our first two celebrations.

First, we cleaned out the garage and held a "Free Sale " with all the stuff that we hauled out to the curb. I posted an ad online and within an hour most of the stuff was gone. I've still got a 1970-era mustard yellow toilet in good working order, though, if you want it. I can't figure out how that little gem escaped notice.

Second, the kids packaged up fresh raspberries and brought them to people around the neighborhood. I was up in Logan yesterday for work, and on the way home I picked up a flat of Cache valley raspberries and a bag of fresh peaches. Oh my goodness, so yummy! It was fun to share the bounty.

We are beyond blessed with many good neighbors, including lovely people who treat my yard like their own. They are the reason my yard is anything other than a dirt patch. One particularly diligent gardener is a fellow adoptive momma, though her children are all grown and now giving her lovely grandchildren. She takes a special delight in my kiddos.

This morning she was the very first person to get raspberries. Mia came back from the delivery this morning and said, "Mom, she was sitting on her front porch reading Calvin and Hobbes. I knew I liked that lady!"

Me, too.

Our first acts of kindness were woefully inadequate thank-yous for people right around us, who bless our lives every day--but the thanks is heartfelt, and kindness begins at home.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Yes, It's True

You may have heard the rumors. You may have even seen my big announcement on facebook, or heard the shrieks coming from our house a couple of months ago.

Yes, it's true.

I'm adopting again.

He's three-and-a-half years old. He's absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. He's got an impish grin, and multiple reports describe him as a mischief-making little snuggle bug. In other words, he'll fit right in with the rest of my little snuggly scamps.

He's waiting for me in an orphanage on the coast of China. I am madly trying to wade through the mountains and mountains of paperwork required by his government and my government before I can scoop him up and bring him home. It's overwhelming, honestly. In the six short years since Eric came home from China it has become insanely more complex. Thank you, Hague Treaty, for much of that.

Mentally and emotionally, this was a rough journey. It took years and a lot of patience on God's part to bring me here. If I gloss over it and don't go into detail here, it's because it's too private and too sacred. This call to adopt another child, from halfway across the globe, as a single mother to four other kiddos--ultimately it was between me and God. It involved a lot of tears, arguing, whimpering, and whining before I was ready to align my will with His. I'm not proud of this, and I'm not excusing it. I am deeply and profoundly grateful that He was willing to walk with me until I came around. I think He knew I'd get on board eventually. But that is my rambling way of saying that if you've got anything negative to say about this plan, if you want to question my sanity (way ahead of you on that one, trust me) or give me religious reasons why, as a single mom, I shouldn't do this, or tell me that this is a bad idea for any can say it, but God and I aren't listening.

Oh my goodness, we are so excited! I can't even really put into words. This has been a long time coming. My kids knew it long before I did. I was a tough nut to crack, but they kept working away at me. There was never any doubt in their minds that there was another "China Boy" meant for our family.

That's him. That's my boy. Gotcha Day can't come fast enough.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

New Favorite Things

In no particular order, here are some of the things that are adding a little bit of extra happy to my life right now:

  • Momastery. Because Glennon just gets me. 
  • My new, retro, totally manual, completely funky & totally awesome push lawn mower. It is so cool! And it works--really well! Even the kids can help mow the lawn. Eco-friendly (no weird gas combinations, no smelly fumes), lightweight, sturdy, and extra bonus--it's a nice upper body workout AND cardio. I keep the rear bag off and mulch my lawn at the same time I'm trimming it. 
  • Godiva Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels. Um, that probably offsets the calories burned from the aforementioned lawn-mowing, but it's oh-so-worth-it. 
  • Shawn & Gus. As Sindea says, "'Whimsical with a touch of constipation'--quotes like that make Psych pretty alright." Amen, sister. 
  • Word Chums. One of my coworkers got me hooked. Blame her that I've become one of those uber-annoying people who is always looking down at the phone now. Sigh. I'm a geek, but at least I'm a geek who can win word games by using sophisticated words like "fart" and "dork." Which implies that I win the games. I do. 99% of the time, according to my Word Chums profile. Okay, take that 9 and move it down several digits and you've got my actual percentage...and now you know why people like playing with me. I make them look gooooooood. 
  • Noosa yogurt. Made from happy cows at a happy farm in Colorado. Whatever. All I know is that it tastes A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Mia & I have enjoyed exploring all the funky flavors. 
  • Sushi. Anytime, anywhere. Yes, more food. I'm not going to apologize. Food makes me very happy. If you disagree, you must not be eating the Good Stuff. 
  • Good Luck, Charlie. Hooray for a family-friendly TV show that makes me laugh right alongside my kids. 
  • Bright pink nail polish from OPI.
  • Roasted carrots., so, so yummy. Mercie is my only child who will eat them with me, and sometimes we fight over the last few, though of course, since I am the mature grownup mother I always selflessly let her have them. Of course. 
  • Amazon Prime. It's a love-hate thing. 
  • Eric's new chair named Elroy. Yes, there's a story there, but it's so much fun to let you make up your own instead.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The L Word

Shortly after arriving home from their dad's house last weekend, I commenced the dreaded hair-combing event with my girls. About halfway through Grace's tangled afro, she said, "Mommy, did you and Daddy get divorced because you are a lesbian?"


Comb paused, hand frozen in the hair. Oh boy, their daddy is going to get it with both barrels if this is what he's telling the kids. 

"Well, is it?"

"No. Grace, where did you get that idea, and what in the world made you think of that?"

Shrug. "Nothing. I knew it would surprise you and I thought you might stop combing my hair for a minute because you were so surprised, and then I could have a break. It worked."

Heaven help me. Literally.

Fast forward an hour. It's Mia's turn now, and she's yelping in time to each tangle. After a few minutes:

"So, mom, are you a lesbian?"

"Nice try, kiddo. Grace already tried that one."

"Dang it. Grace thinks of all the good ideas."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Privacy is Overrated, Anyway

For some reason the concept of maternal privacy completely and utterly eludes my children. This is most especially true when I am doing anything in the bathroom. It could be 3am, all four kiddos sound asleep--and if I step into the shower, in the downstairs bathroom, at the opposite end of the house, all four will magically appear, with urgent business that has to be addressed I.M.M.E.D.I.A.T.E.L.Y.

Tonight Grace set a new record for number of interruptions. 27 times during a 20-minute shower. I know this because that is the exact number of math problems in her homework, each of which had to be shouted at me through the shower curtain, along with the answer she had solved, to verify that they were correct.

No. 27 came as I stepped out of the shower and grabbed for a towel. With more than a little exasperation, I said, "Grace, someday you are going to be a mother, and you are going to try having a little peace and quiet by taking a shower ALONE, and your children are going to come in the entire time and bug you, and then you will think, 'my poor mom. Now I know how she felt.'"

For a split second Grace looked chagrined.

Then her face split into a huge smile.

"No, I won't," she announced confidently. "I will just be so grateful to have children that I won't even be mad when they bother me in the bathroom. Just like you. 'Cause I know that really you're super glad to have us and you totally love us, even when we're annoying."

I take three things away from this conversation. One, she's not even ten and she's already seriously outsmarting AND out-schmoozing me. Two, that girl has a future in sales, because I'm pretty sure she could talk Kim Jong-un into reciting the Pledge of Allegiance whilst tap dancing to "America the Beautiful."

And three, if my kids have even an inkling how strong and true my love for them is, I am clearly doing something right. Amen, and amen.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Sex Ed at the Dinner Table

If you are easily offended or squeamish about human reproductive issues, please stop reading now. Really.

One of my loftier and more idealistic parenting goals prior to actually becoming a parent was to be very open and forthright with my children about all issues related to sex. I felt sure that my openness and candor would create an atmosphere of trust where my children could come to me, their all-knowing and all-loving mother, with any and all concerns that may arise, and, under my careful guidance, would thereby avoid the pitfalls of STDs, teen pregnancy, and backseat French kissing with acne-scarred, greasy –haired teenagers.


The jury is still out on STDs, teen pregnancy, and horny teens, given that we haven’t hit adolescence yet. But I can safely say that the missing ingredient I failed to consider in my careful sex ed plan was my children. Who would’ve thought that they’d have their own ideas about how sex ed is supposed to go?

Consider last night at dinner:

Mia (out of the blue): Do all girls HAVE to do that thing where you bleed out of your privates?

Me: Yep.

Mia: Gross! I don’t want to do that.

Me: Sorry. It’s actually pretty normal. All girls do it. You get used to it, and it’s really not that bad.

Eric: Hahaha!!!! All the girls have to do something disgusting, and I don’t because I’m a boy!

Me: Well, boys’ bodies go through some changes, too.

Grace: Oh yeah, oh yeah, let’s hear about the disgusting stuff boys have to do!

Me: There are just normal things for boy bodies. When a boy’s body is getting ready to help make babies, when a boy becomes a teenager, he sometimes has nocturnal emissions--
(here follows a fairly graphic description, followed by lots of repulsed and fascinated questions, and even more detailed answers. I will spare you all those details. You’re welcome).

Grace : Oh. My. Gosh. That is the worst. Boys are definitely the most disgusting. I am SOOOOO glad I’m not a boy. At least I never have to do THAT.

Eric: Nu-huh, girl bodies are WAAAAAYYYYY more disgusting! You have to do the bleeding thing every single month. That’s D.I.S.G.U.S.T.I.N.G!!!!!

Me: It’s all just normal, guys. This is the way Heavenly Father made your bodies to work. It’s actually kind of cool.

Mia: Whatever. You say cool; I say disgusting.

Mercie: I am NEVER doing that when I’m a teenager.

Me: Um, I don’t think you have much choice.

Mercie: Trust me, I am never doing it. Ever.

Me: Okay, good luck with that.

Grace: The thing I don’t get, is why on earth does anybody do this when it’s SOOOOOOO gross?

Me: What do you mean?

Grace: Sex. Why would anybody even have sex when it’s so gag-gag-gag?

Me: Uhhhhh……well, uhhhh, um,……..okay, I know! Uh, so you know how when you touch your privates it’s kind of a good feeling?

Grace: Not really, it just tickles.

Me: But it’s a good kind of tickle, right?

Grace: I dunno. I guess.

Me: Well, Heavenly Father actually made it that way on purpose so that sex would feel good. That way husbands and wives would want to have sex on purpose. Sometimes they make babies when they have sex, and sometimes they just show each other that they love each other by doing something that makes each other feel good. 

(Oh, Mommy is patting herself on the back with this brilliant teaching moment. My kids are going to have such healthy, mature attitudes about sex. Go, Mother of Year Me!).

Grace: You mean, like when you rub my back for me and it feels good?

Me: Sure. Except, not really.

Grace: Like when I get a footrub?

Me: Um, maybe? Sort of, I guess. It’s hard to explain.

Grace: Sorry, I think a penis going inside of you sounds way yuckier than a footrub.

Me: Just keep thinking that for now. You can change your mind in twenty years or so.

Grace: Huh?

Mia: She’s saying she wants you to not like sex because then you won’t want to date anyone until you’re old, old, OLD.

Me: Yep.

Grace: MOM! That’s so rude!

Me: Grace, what are you doing?

Grace: Nothing.

Me: Give me your phone. What the flipping #$%^??? You were recording all of this???

Grace: Haha.

Me: WHY?? Why did you record this conversation? I don’t think this is something that needs to be recorded.

Grace: No, don’t delete it!!! I want it!

Me: WHY?

Grace: It’s going to be my new ringtone. I want you to call me at school so my phone will say “Heavenly Father made it so that sex would feel good,” and talking about touching privates and blood and stuff. It would be SO hilarious. My teacher would freak out, and the other kids would laugh sooooo hard.

One thing is clear: the parenting books I revered pre-children never took into account that I would be parenting prepubescent warped geniuses.

The parenting experts clearly never met Grace.

PS—all incriminating recordings have now been deleted. Except this blogpost.

I can’t imagine where Grace gets her perverse sense of humor that manifests itself by publicly sharing grotesquely embarrassing family moments. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Boy

Tonight during "snuggle time" (our pre-bedtime ritual), Mercie & Eric asked me to tell the stories of how they came to be in our family. So I did. As usual, I got a little teary. Okay, I bawled so hard one of my contacts flipped out of my eye and off the bed. All by itself.

The miracles that brought each of my babies home bring out the most tender feelings.

The thing is, my daughters, for some bizarre reason known only to them, find nothing else quite so funny as mom getting emotional. If they hear even the teensiest hint of a quaver in my voice, the glint of a tear in my eye, or even a few rapid breaths as I try NOT to cry; they start laughing hysterically and calling each other to come see, and let me tell you--THAT kills those tender feelings dead, yessiree bob.

Note: I feel compelled to state, for the record, that I am a somewhat remarkably UN-emotional woman, who does not tend to get choked up or teary, especially compared to many women I know. Nothing against them, and sometimes I wish I were more easily moved, but I am what I am, and that makes my daughters' response all the more baffling.

So, here we are, telling stories and I'm crying my eyes out (literally) and I'm bracing myself for the loud disdain and uncontrollable laughter, and instead I get--

A little pre-manly arm wrapped around my waist, and a little recently buzzed head tucked onto my shoulder, while a little boy hand pats me. "It's okay, mom, I don't care if you cry."

I gulp back sobs (in a very elegant and graceful way, of course). "I'm sorry, guys. These are happy tears. It just makes me so happy to remember how happy I was when you came to our family."

"Don't worry about it, mom. You can cry here with me." Pat, pat. Sob, sob.

People, I love my girls. Passionately, thoroughly, eternally. I love the frilly, froufy parts of having girls, I love their high spirits and strong characters, their scary smarts and their fun personalities.

And oh my merciful heavens--and yes, it was through that Merciful Heavenly intervention--I love, love, love my boy. Cannot even put it into words how much I love this precious boy.

Someday he is going to make a very special woman very, very happy and very, very lucky. I know this, because I'm the Other Woman in his life, and I can attest that the qualities she'll fall in love with run deep in the marrow of his soul, manifesting even from the time he was a tiny boy.

It's a very good thing to have a boy.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Favorite Things, Winter Edition

It's been zero degrees around here (I'm not exaggerating; that--or lower--has been the temperature every morning when I awake) for a couple of weeks now.

I'll be happy when it comes up just a titch; even 30 degrees sounds warm right now. But cold weather does have some perks, and those are my Favorite Things right now.

  • Warm tea. I've got mono and I'm cold all the time, a common symptom, I hear. I'm chugging liver cleansing teas & immune boosting teas, and they feel sooooo good this time of year. 
  • Maggie's Organics cotton socks. I know I've put them on the list before, but they're just so comfy, snuggly, and warm! 
  • A new red wool shawl/wrap from Smolly for Christmas. It's very pretty, and even better, it's WARM. 
  • Pedicures with Betsy. Because hobbling out to the car in flimsy flip-flops in a foot of snow & ice is totally worth it when you have bright green glittery toes. 
  • FamilySearch Indexing! I haven't been to church since early December. My ward (congregation) is heavily comprised of elderly folks and young families with brand new ones, and I don't think anyone wants my mono around. So, I'm home on Sundays, plus I'm spending a little bit more time in bed than usual, which has made this the perfect time to take up indexing. It's fun, totally addicting, and lets me be useful. Win! 
  • Sleep. It's on my Favorites list all the time, but when it's 0 degrees outside...yeah, it's hibernation time. 
  • Personal finance blogs. I subscribe to several and get daily updates. I'm such a geek. 
  • Andrea Bocelli & the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "The Lord's Prayer." Love his entire Christmas album, but this song especially gives me goosebumps. 
  • My $4, brand new, perfectly beautiful duvet cover. The only thing I like more than pretty things are bargain-cheap pretty things!
  • Neighbors who clear my walks & driveway. I live by such kind people. 
  • "Blessings" by Laura Story. Love that song, I do. I also love my kids telling me that I sing it better :). 
  • Season Five of Merlin starts now! This eases the sting of waiting an eternity for new Sherlock, though it does not touch the pain of this being the final season of Merlin. Poop. 
  • Pilot G-2 gel pens & refills. No matter what else I try, I always come back to these favorites. 
  • My new iPhone! Oh man, am I ever converted! I put off replacing my old cell phone until I was charging it 2-3 times/day and getting only pieces of texts from people. This was a bigger investment than I would normally do for a phone, but it's so much more than a phone. My kids like it for Angry Birds; I like it for cool apps. Bonus--I can Skype from my cell phone, which makes international long distance FREE. 
My world outside is freaking cold right now, but it's still a warm & happy place inside.