Thursday, August 30, 2012

To the Mother With Only One Child

This article by Simcha Fisher was passed on to me some time ago, and quickly got buried in my email. I was thinking about it recently and realized I never posted it. It speaks to moms of one child as well as moms of many, and beautifully describes the metamorphoses that takes place when you become a mother.   

"Dear mother of only one child, don’t blame yourself for thinking that your life is hard.  You’re suffering now because you’re turning into a new woman, a woman who is never allowed to be alone.  For what?  Only so that you can become strong enough to be a woman who will be left." -Simcha Fisher

Monday, August 27, 2012


I found the following quote by Brigham Young concerning the eternal principle of work:

"We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold. The angels that now walk in their golden streets … had to obtain that gold and put it there. When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves. When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory [which we’re looking forward to], it will be when we have built it. ..."

Wait a minute! There will be road construction in heaven?! This I would not have supposed. (But, that explains a lot about Utah and its extensive, never ending construction on every road or freeway you want to use, including your "back way". It's closer to heaven than I thought.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


My son has never liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His disdain for this childhood staple led to some head scratching on my part when packing his lunchbox for school, as tuna fish and egg salad are also on his 'no' list. Many days, I sent him to school with just a plain jelly or plain peanut butter sandwich...and I secretly felt guilty for feeding my son second-rate sandwiches. And then over the summer for no apparent reason, my son unexpectedly gained a taste for peanut butter AND jelly. He would happily eat one and even two PB&J's for lunch. I was delighted! I could pack my son's lunchbox with pride!
Our jelly jar was running low, so I decided to buy the squeezable kind. I figured that would make it much easier (and less messy) to add the jelly. No more spoon handle getting all sticky. Well, Monday afternoon I opened his lunchbox to discover a whole sandwich and most of his lunch untouched. He wasn't feeling so great, so I chalked it up to his sour tummy. Tuesday, was more of the same. I asked my son about the sandwich, and he made some offhand remark about the jelly looking strange. Apparently, squeezable jelly does not look the same as jar jelly when it is smashed between two pieces of bread. Who knew? I assured him that if he gave it a taste, he would find that it tastes just fine.
I needed to go to the grocery store, so I brought my son along to help me pick out some lunch foods he would eat. As we walked through the entrance, my son asked, "At lunch time, when my friend and I look between my bread slices, do you know what we say?" "What?" "Peanut butter and NASTY!" 
We are now the proud owners of a new jar of jelly.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Boys & School

Last February, Deseret News ran a story entitled, "The War on Boys". The first series covers how boys are losing ground in education, emotional health, and jobs . The second series covers the effects of sex, media and violence on boys. I found the article to be eye opening. In its introductory paragraphs it states:

"Boys are losing ground in schools geared to how girls learn and too many are growing up without male mentors in either homes or classrooms. Name a daunting number — higher suicide rates, how many drop out of high school or graduate from college or even take medication for attention deficit — and girls fare better than boys. It is not deliberate, but society seems to have declared a war on boys."

I was also shocked to learn that, "For every 100 women who earn a bachelor's degree, only 73 men earn one. Women outnumber men obtaining master's degrees by more than 30 percent."

As the mother of a boy, I am very interested in his academic success- for his personal happiness as well as for his ability to fulfill his divine responsibilities. I do believe that there are inherent differences between boys and girls and their development, and it seems a shame that our education system can not teach students in more flexible or custom approaches. It is great that girls are making such educational strides, but I don't think boys should suffer as a consequence. In our culture of equality for everyone, I think it is also wise to acknowledge that a "one size fits all" approach is not always best. The approach may be "equal" but certainly the results are not. 
As a mother, I hope that if I am aware of what challenges my children may be up against I can do the best I can to help compensate for what is lacking. If potential problems are on my radar, I can be on the lookout and seek to gain inspiration on how to navigate those challenges. At least that is my hope. Knowing is half the battle!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mrs. Hughes

Recently, a friend shared the first two seasons of  "Downton Abbey" with me (yes, I was late jumping on the bandwagon, but I usually am). For two weeks, my life was consumed with the series as I played each episode any chance I could get. I was basically MIA.
I found myself fantasizing about what it must be like to have a whole staff of people taking care of the chores. I wondered what it must be like to leave a room and return finding the pillows plumped, the floors cleared, and everything in its place- as if by magic. Perhaps, I even became a little bit resentful as I considered such a life of ease...
So, to help tame the green monster, I decided to name my washing machine "Mrs. Hughes". When I consider that 150 years ago, I would also be the one scrubbing my laundry clean, my appreciation for the maid I keep in the garage increases. I just pile clothes in and say, "Mrs. Hughes, my knickers are in need of cleaning. Please wash them delicately so as not to distress the fabric." And then I walk inside and nibble a little bit of chocolate on my couch until it is time for me to get dressed.... which I have to do by myself, but I get by. Upon returning to the family room I find the pillows on my couch piled into a fort and toys strewn across the floor. The children are hungry and Mrs. Patmore is nowhere to be found. I guess I'll have to make the sandwiches again. Mrs. Hughes is done washing, but failed to rinse the soap completely from the clothes. They stink. This is not the first time this has happened. She will just need to rinse them again and remember that a tablespoon is really all that is needed to get the water mildly sudsy. And for pete's sake, how long does it take to dry a blasted load of laundry? I don't have all day. Lord Grantham's trousers need to be mended, but have sat untouched for weeks. And what on earth is my toothbrush doing on the floor?
It really is hard to find good help.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer Reading

Last year was my first summer break entertaining two kids all day long. At that point, my daughter's waking hours demanded much of my attention. When my son would have been otherwise occupied at school, he patiently played alone while I tended to her needs. So, I tried to make a conscious effort to initiate one-on-one time with my son when my daughter was napping. I was surprised to realize that while he appeared to be contently playing alone, he would eagerly drop what he was doing at the invitation to read a book with me. He would play alone as long as I let him, but he was still craving attention- he just didn't demand it. (This is tricky, because it takes incredible self discipline on my part to seek him out because he is quietly playing vs. hanging on my waist begging for me to play with him).
While we have lots of books at home that we read, I decided that I would choose books from the library that I could read to him during the break. The school year required him to read to me a lot, so I figured he would enjoy the change. I specifically chose books that were much longer and would require days or weeks of reading to complete.  
Sometimes he is so wrapped up in a project I have to prod him to read with me. Often though, he happily drops what he is doing and sits by me on the couch while I read. This is the second summer, and I hope to keep it up as long as he'll tolerate it. I love that it gives us something to talk about, and I especially love when he shares his perspective on different characters or plot lines, because I can tell that he's really been thinking about it. Books introduce us to lots of different characters and how they react to their challenges. They provide incredible teaching opportunities.
Here are the books I have read to him so far (I would love suggestions too!):

"Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White (Newberry Honor)
A classic. A great story about friendship and sacrifice. 
"James and the Giant Peach" by Roald Dohl
A quirky but fun adventure.

"Abel's Island" by William Steig (Newberry Honor)
I had never heard of this book, but I picked it up randomly at the library. I'm so glad I gave it a try. Wordy and deep. I am convinced it inspired the movie "Cast Away". We were so gripped by the story, my son and I finished it in a day.
"Gentle Ben" by Walt Morey
I remembered this book from my childhood when my dad read it to us. It is an adventurous story set in rugged Alaska. The book was almost too old for my son. It has a lot of descriptive paragraphs that stray from the plot, so it helped to pause occasionally to talk about what was happening.