Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!


"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men."
Luke 2:14

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Handel's "Messiah" Scriptures

Recently, I found all of the scriptures used in Handel's "Messiah" listed in a performance program (When my dad was on his mission, he found these scriptures on his own!). Here is the cheater list, for my reference, as well as anyone else interested:

PART 1
Isaiah 40:1-3
Isaiah 40:4
Isaiah 40:5
Haggai 2:6-7
Malachi 3:1
Malachi 3:2
Malachi 3:3
Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23
Isaiah 40:9
Isaiah 60:1
Isaiah 60:2-3
Isaiah 9:2
Isaiah 9:6
Luke 2:8-9
Luke 2:10-11
Luke 2:13
Luke 2:14
Zachariah 9:9-10
Isaiah 35:5-6
Isaiah 40:11
Matthew 11:28-29
Matthew 11:30

PART 2
John 1:29
Isaiah 53:3
Isaiah 50:6
Isaiah 53:4-5
Isaiah 53:5
Isaiah 53:7
Psalm 22:7
Psalm 22:8
Psalm 69:20
Lamentations 1:12
Isaiah 53:8
Psalm 16:10
Psalm 24:7-10
Psalm 2:1-2
Psalm 2:3
Psalm 2:4
Psalm 2:9
Revelation 19:6
Revelation 11:15
Revelation 19:16

PART 3
Job 19:25-26
1 Corinthians 15:20
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
1 Corinthians 15:52-53
Revelation 5:9, 12-13

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tradition!

"Traditions are important, but it's also important to know that traditions don't happen without a lot of work and preparation. You have to recognize that once you make all this effort, you're not going to be appreciated. There are going to be children misbehaving, and it's never a perfect setting. You just have to set the table. When you invite people to that table is when you share experiences, you share life, you share love, and you start to share stories. That's the fabric of life that brings us so much joy."
-Ann Romney, LDS Living Magazine, November 2013

High expectations can be my enemy, so I always like realistic outlooks from seasoned mothers that reassure me that my experiences are normal.   

Being the tradition maker is a tough job- in fact harder than I initially expected going into parenthood. I think I expected traditions to just happen naturally and easily. What I didn't realize is that creating traditions is another example of parents' love and sacrifice for the good of their family. Being in the driver's seat (when you're used to being a passenger) can be kind of frustrating because the effort you've had to make, or battling grumpies, sometimes spoils the magic... especially when things don't go as planned

Luckily, most of the time you get to enjoy the magic too. And those magical moments are priceless. But, I guess we can hope that regardless of how smoothly things go, it's all contributing towards a beautiful finished product- which won't happen on its own.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2 Startling Discoveries Made This Week

  1. Christmas is next week! Ack! 
  2. According to Ebay, the 80's are now considered "vintage".

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas is the New Easter

At the beginning of November, immediately after Halloween, I set out to buy some Thanksgiving decor. I learned very quickly from the scanty inventory in every store that I was a month late. Stores were already decked out in full Christmas glory. While ridiculous, I wasn't surprised. Thanksgiving was late this year and the stores wanted to get a jump start on their holiday sales. I'm no stranger to holiday sales timing. We all know Christmas is the big sales Kahuna for stores. Soon, Bryan Adams' dream of celebrating Christmas every day will come true. I think we're half way there. But....

What I didn't expect, is to find stores already breaking down the Christmas stuff in the middle of December! This weekend I was shopping in a store that had already consolidated its Christmas items to a section, put them on sale, and had busted out their Spring inventory! I'm sorry but this is getting beyond ridiculous. Can we please shop for things in their relevant season? What's next? Breaking out the bathing suits in the middle of winter? Ok, bad example. What's next? Pushing winter clothes in summer? Another bad one. What's next? Celebrating Easter in December?

Perhaps in 100 years, stores will have pushed Christmas sales so much earlier each year, that they'll actually get back to selling things in December. 

Until then... Have Yourself a Merry Little Easter!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gift to the Savior

The last two years, I have wanted to find a way to help our family remember the true meaning of Christmas throughout the month. Last year, we did a Service Challenge.

This year, I was inspired by the words of President Thomas S. Monson during the 2013 Christmas Devotional:

"As the Christmas season envelopes us with all its glory, may we, as did the wise men, seek a bright particular star to guide us in our celebration of the Savior's birth. May we all make the journey to Bethlehem in spirit, taking with us a tender, caring heart as our gift to the Savior."

I had the idea to wrap a box and cut out a slot in it. From now until Christmas, we will focus on doing something each day that shows a tender, caring heart. We'll write our good deed on a piece of paper and put it in the box. On Christmas, it will be the last present we open and we can read together our gifts to the Savior. I'm pretty sure this is an idea I heard somewhere and filed away. I'm just glad it resurfaced! Would it be too ambitious to hope this might become an annual tradition?


Things of this nature can be abstract/intimidating to children (and adults) so we have a list of ideas to help us remember the simple things we can do:
  • Thank you letter
  • Temple service (visit temple, family history, etc.)
  • Pray for someone
  • Random act of kindness
  • Serve neighbor
  • Watch a Mormon message
  • Share your testimony about Christ
  • Food drive
  • Share encouraging words (missionary, military, sick, etc.)
  • Secret service
  • Volunteer to give a prayer in a church meeting
  • Make copies of family recipes and give them to friends
  • Forgive someone
  • Say thank you to someone that helps you
  • Say hi to someone new
  • Spend personal time with your children
  • Return your grocery cart in the stall
  • Call or write a distant relative
  • Hug someone
  • Pick up litter
  • Donate clothes
  • Let someone go in front of you in traffic
  • Help a child memorize the Articles of Faith
  • Be patient with someone

Monday, December 9, 2013

He Shall Feed His Flock

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings this song ("Consider the Lilies" album), but it didn't occur to me until yesterday that it might be scripture. It's a beautiful verse:

"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." -Isaiah 40:11

 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pilgrim Pilgrimage

Like I said, we were recently out of town for Thanksgiving. We went to Utah to visit lots of family which was lots of fun. But, as all trips to Utah are for us, it was exhausting. The time change alone sets us up for that. I didn't realize how exhausting the trip was until I was running errands yesterday and actually felt glad to be running errands. Here is our trip in a nutshell:

  • Day 1-  Flight out. My husband graciously takes the kids so I can sit alone. Heaven for 2 minutes. Two drunk men sit next to me and proceed to: attempt to flirt with me (my husband has never been less threatened), color with crayons bummed from the kids in front of us, accuse passengers seated around us of passing gas, and solicit my advice concerning one's fertility woes. I found myself actually pining for kid duty. Everyone complains about crying children on planes, but no one talks about the drunks. I decided I'd take a crying baby over two drunk men any day. I changed seats when the guy next to me spilled his ice on me.
  • Day 2- Swim at rec center. Baby blessing.
  • Day 3- Son and Husband are sick with stomach bug. Quarantined from relatives.
  • Day 4- Son and Husband well. Daughter comes down with stomach bug in middle of the night. Lots of laundry. I stay with her while she is quarantined from relatives. Take a much needed nap with her. I go to bed that night dreading my number is next for the stomach bug.
  • Day 5- I sleep all night. No stomach bug! It feels like Christmas morning when I wake up. We are now free to proceed with our plans. Visit more family all day.
  • Day 6- Meet friend for lunch. Cram in shopping. Visit BYU with kids and reminisce about our carefree days (why didn't we appreciate those days more?). MOA exhibit. Cram in shopping.
  • Day 7- Tour of MTC by in-laws.
  • Day 8- Trip to Trader Joe's for Joe-Joes so as not to burden family or friends with my habit- er- tradition. Walk around Temple Square. Flight home. My daughter refuses to wear seat belt. I make her. 30 minute crazy tantrum. Nothing will calm her down. Reconsider which is worse on a plane- a crying child or 2 drunk adults.
Lots of fun. Lots of craziness. Not good sleep = Family bond forged by fire!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Kick-off!

Black Friday has come and gone (as well as Cyber Monday), but I was out of town for Thanksgiving and unable to post this ad to kick off the season. An ad that beautifully encapsulates two great American traditions- Black Friday and humanizing animals.


That poor dog. That sweater does no favors for its figure.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creative Labor

Surprise! A new post! Lately, I've had a lot of ideas of things I want to blog about but not much motivation to sit down and hash it out.

This is a quote by Ira Glass, a storyteller, that I read some time ago and it really resonated with me. As a more creatively minded person, it can be very frustrating to have an eye for something or a vision but fail at creating it the way you envision it. When learning another language, reading comes before speaking. As strange as it sounds, grasping ideas and getting them out of my head and into reality sometimes feels a lot like trying to speak a foreign language. It doesn't help if it requires learning a new skill, like say, software or lots of time that you don't have. (I admire women who can work on their craft/art/whatever with their children alongside them. I can not.) I was comforted to learn this "translation problem" and accompanying frustration is a part of the creative journey. Persistence is the key. I'm not sure how to reconcile this with perfectionism.

(I've included the cool video format, as well as the text).

"Nobody tells people who are beginners, I really, really wish somebody had told this to me... Is that, all of us who do creative work, like y'know we get into it, and we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there's a gap. That for the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good, ok? It's not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you, y'know what I mean? A lot of people never get past that phase, and a lot of people at that point they quit. And the thing I would just like to say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn't have the special thing that we wanted it to have. And the thing what to do is... everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you're going through it right now, if you're just getting out of that phase you've got to know it's totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. Because it's only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions. In my case, like I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I've ever met. It takes a while. It's going to take you a while. It's normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that. Ok?"

-Ira Glass

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Recap

After two Trunk or Treats, a Halloween Party, and a costume parade I certainly felt like we had given Halloween it's share of celebration. But, we finished it out with a final Trick or Treating "Hurrah" last night. After bedtime, my husband and I remarked on how many Halloweens/costumes my son already has under his belt, which was a sobering realization. This year my daughter was old enough to actually understand the experience, and this morning asked where the Trick or Treating had gone.

Highlights:
  • Our annual dinner of wild monster feet (not farm raised)
  • My daughter being spooked by a trick or treater's witch mask and telling me it was scary. When the witch passed us with her mask off, she garnered the courage to proclaim, "I don't like you."  Better be careful who you cross...
  • My daughter eventually claimed her independence and asked me to wait for her and my son at the street, instead of walking her up to each door.
  • I then got to watch my son step up and take care of her at each door, even carrying her heavy bucket for her. My heart swelled.
  • While I made the rounds with the kids, hubbie handed out our treats. I received this text, "I love watching the adults pulling the wagon [full of kids] in one hand and a beer in the other." I got to tell him about the people sitting in their driveway handing out candy while drinking wine. As non-drinkers, it's always interesting to see how different our lives are without booze.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cheese, Wine, and Motherhood

Some time ago I was researching an entirely different topic when I happened across an article in the  March 1976 Ensign entitled, "When You Feel Inadequate as a Mother", by Claudia T. Goates. I was intrigued by the suggestion made by the title (you mean, feeling inadequate as a mother is not a feeling unique to mothers today?) so I read on to discover what the advice was 37 years ago. Surprise, surprise, it's completely relevant today!

Things I liked:

  • Factors that may cause feelings of inadequacy: 
    1. Comparing our weaknesses to others' strengths
    2. Tension between motherhood/women's lib
    3. "...[W]e all begin motherhood inexperienced and unprepared. ...I didn’t realize that there are maturing stages of parenthood and that I couldn’t become a mature mother without passing through the intermediary stages of childhood and adolescence. I wish I had known that the mothers I admired also had frustrations and discouragements."
  • Maturing stages of Parenthood: 
    • Infancy- Naive confidence of knowing everything.
    • Childhood- Realization that book learnin' isn't going to cut it and need advice from others' experiences.
    • Adolescence- Mildness, length, and and timing of this stage vary for all. Feelings of tiredness, impatience, incompetence, etc.
    • Maturity- "This ultimate stage of development is marked by a real testimony that perfection is a process that takes a lifetime, by truly internalizing this feeling and feeling comfortable with it, by accepting a problem and calmly working on it rather than fighting it and feeling frustrated and inadequate." This stage was reached by 1.) Time- "learning from living" and seeing the fruits of your labor ripen, and 2.) Fasting, Prayer, and Scripture study. 
  • "[I] can testify that the true joy of motherhood awaits those who do not retreat from their commitment. The Lord gives no commandment unless he provides a way for us to accomplish his desires."  
  • "My life as a mother changed because my attitude changed. ...I no longer focused on my failures, but rather on my successes."

Monday, October 21, 2013

2 Steps Forward, 3 Kicks in the Pants

This would summarize the process of my current sewing project.

I was overcome by an unusual spirit this Halloween and decided my husband and I would actually wear costumes. I decided we would be Snow White and Prince Charming- I know, I know, not much of a costume for my husband. I found a killer deal online for the only modest Snow White costume manufactured and patted myself on the back for avoiding the time/effort that making a costume would take.

Unfortunately, the costume arrived and I looked awful in it. As in, it looked like I had instantly gained 10 15 pounds. {shudder}. After much indecision, I decided to return the costume and urgently conjured a simple costume idea together in my mind. I went to the fabric store, picked out my supplies and got started. Things were looking good at the beginning, until the day I shipped my costume back (which was ironically addressed to "Fulfillment"). Once my back-up plan was gone, the sewing project hit some turbulence. Not much unlike the time when my first child was born and hospitalized 2 days after my mom flew home.

The sewing gods reminded me that there is no such thing as a simple sewing project and that they require a sacrifice of my sanity. In my calculating, I had naively forgotten to account for extra time volunteered by Dumbness that eats your precious time and kills your morale. Things like:

1. Machine mysteriously jamming and requiring 1/2 hour of troubleshooting
2. Fabric fraying like none other
2. Bobbin thread running out mid-stitch
3. While winding bobbin, thread coming off the bobbin and winding itself tightly around the rod a bajillion times.
4. No time to work on it

Long story short, my simple costume is requiring much more time than I had intended. This is exacerbated by the fact that I insist on doing it the "right way"- even though it is only a costume- because I hope to use this costume a lot for future Halloweens. Luckily, my mom has patiently helped me troubleshoot things and it looks like I'm on track for getting it done this week. So... using the Sewing Estimation Formula:  

estimated time x 3 (Dumbness) = 3 Weeks

And that is an example of how I use math in my everyday life.
And why I will never be able to sew things for etsy.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Despicable Me

Agnes: Why are you wearing your pajamas?
Vector: They're not pajamas! It's my warm-up suit.
Agnes: Why do you need warming up for?
Vector: For doing stuff
Agnes: What kind of stuff?
Vector: Super-cool stuff you wouldn't understand.
Agnes: Like sleeping?

This is the conversation from the movie that came to mind when it occurred to me that I had become too liberal in wearing my "exercise" pants. The great thing about exercise pants is that they are so comfortable and yet make anything you do feel like exercise. But, oh, what a slippery slope they can be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Sparkling Home

My daughter just received a Disney princess costume for her birthday. The tag includes the following warning:

"CAUTION: During handling and play this garment may release particles of glitter."

Now, I am new to the princess/glitter arena, but my observation is that this disclaimer is a tad on the weak and misleading side. In my experience, the following warning would be more accurate:

"CAUTION: During handling and play this garment WILL release particles of glitter. In fact, glitter will rain constantly from this garment during handling, play, and at rest. Glitter will cover every surface, nook, cranny, crease, and crevice of your home- including the bodies of anyone living therein- whether or not they have come in contact with this garment. You will find glitter in places we can not mention. Furthermore, please understand that glitter will shed from this garment for an indefinite amount of time. Once introduced into your home, glitter will resist all cleaning efforts. A locked and sealed room is not safe from glitter. There is no escaping the glitter. The glitter has won."

I'm guessing they had to shorten the warning for cost?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moments That Matter Most

I swear I saw my daughter in slow motion after I watched this: 

 

"... [W]e would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most. ...

"Strength comes not from frantic activity but from being settled on a firm foundation of truth and light. It comes from placing our attention and efforts on the basics of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes from paying attention to the divine things that matter most."
-Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf


(And I must say, the Church's cinematography has come a long way from the days of Cipher in the Snow, The Mailbox, and Uncle Ben. )

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mickey Who?

While at Disney World a few years ago, I found myself negotiating with my son about the souvenir with which he wanted to remember his magical day- a Darth Vader helmet. My goal was to help him forget the prize he was holding and consider a character that he had actually SEEN at Disney. For some strange reason, Star Wars and Spiderman were a healthy presence in the souvenir stores. Personally, I thought characters who were not conceived by Disney nor had any presence in Disney World (no special ride, not even a spot on the Main Street parade) should not be allowed inside Disney gates. I had half a mind to call security about these intruders. 

I have noticed Mickey's shrinking presence, and I had a suspicion as to why, but today I learned the answer. According to this Motley Fool article, "Why Disney Buys All The Premium Character Collections It Can Afford", it is because the Mickey Mouse copyright is expiring in 2018 and will become public domain. Knock-offs will abound and Mickey's value will be diluted. 

"...Disney is diversifying into a number of clearly defined niches. Each one comes with a central cast of characters that can carry Disney's branding flag when Mickey steps aside. In-house princesses from Snow White to Merida cater to a mostly young, female audience. Marvel's superheroes and villains do the heavy lifting for older boys, with Darth Vader and Yoda coming up behind them. The Pixar stable has something for everyone." -Anders Bylund

It's kind of sad to see behind the curtain of what makes "the happiest place on earth" tick. So, Disney is evolving and I am pretty sure I don't like it.  First they get rid of "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride", next they tailor the Pirate of the Caribbean ride to include Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow, and now Mickey Mouse is being edged out by Darth Vader and Spiderman. Not to mention all of the immoral, misguided, girls that are being groomed and held up as role models for our daughters... but that's a topic for another day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scientific Method

Recently, I was on a morning walk with my daughter and passed a group of middle school kids waiting for their bus. A group of 6 boys were in a circle watching swarming fire ants on the ground, and I was reminded of the first step of the scientific method for boys observing anything unusual: Spit On It. 

I'm not sure what this step teaches them, but it seems to be a universal instinct observable from a very young age. I would hypothesize that there are probably other unspoken steps I am not familiar with, but that is an experiment in which I have no interest in learning a conclusion.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Battling Feelings of Inadequacy

"When in situations of stress we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacity perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and we were found equal to our tasks; and, therefore, let us continue, but with a more determined discipleship. When we feel overwhelmed, let us recall the assurance that God will not overprogram us; he will not press upon us more than we can bear (D&C 50:40)."

-Neal A. Maxwell, "Meeting the Challenges of Today", Oct. 10, 1978 BYU Devotional

Monday, September 2, 2013

Meet the Flintstones

Friend (new in town): Want to get together this week?
Me: That'd be great. I know I put your number somewhere (searching my smartphone)
Friend: I have your number, why don't I just text you mine?
Me: Sure.... (searching my smartphone) Oh, you know what? I think I wrote your number down somewhere. Go ahead and text me. What number did I give you?
Friend: (shows me number in her contact list)
Me: Oh, that's our home phone. Let me give you my cell.
Friend: Wow, you still use a land line?

Yes, we do. Because life without a land line seems strange and scary.

And I still use a pencil and paper too.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kitty de Ruyter-Bon

The other day I was working on a sewing project and decided to listen to another conversation on the Mormon Channel. I selected Kitty de Ruyter-Bon (ep. 12), a woman whose name I did not recognize, but whose story looked interesting. She was born and raised in Indonesia, and put in a Japanese concentration camp during WWII with her family when she was 8 years old. I was surprised to discover that she was the source of a story (about a decision her mother made to protect the virtue of some young women while in the concentration camp that resulted in harsh punishment) I had heard in my youth and have remembered all these years, but could not remember where I heard it or if it was even a true story at all. I'm guessing I heard her speak at EFY?

The faith, strength, teachings, and example of her mother is great evidence of the impact mothers have on their children. Kitty's family was not LDS when she was growing up, but her mother's faith made a huge impact on Kitty and her ability to endure the tragedies of war with hope. She encouraged her children to pray despite it being forbidden at the camp, and also taught them as much as she could about the scriptures, science, math, etc. during the 3.5 years at the camp because they were provided no education in an attempt to override their culture (i.e. education is more than just a back-up plan for stay-at-home moms). Here is an article in the Deseret News (Oct. 31, 2010) that gives a brief background on her.

Below is a portion of her interview that I liked.:

What have you learned about war?
"War is a horrible thing to go through. And yes, atrocities are committed. And it seems to be that people only make war either for land or for an ideology or a religion. And I'm afraid that they still haven't learned that even though war is a horrible thing if you stay with the teachings of Jesus Christ and you let that influence your soul, then you can overcome all things."

What do you tell groups to whom you speak about freedom?
"...I tell them this is the best country in the whole world. That freedom is something to be cherished. Because people take freedom for granted; it's freedom of speech, it's freedom of movement, it's freedom that you aren't being confined. And here in America you are not going to be put in prison for no reason at all. You will have your day in court. Because the law protects you this. And so many other countries you don't. That's what I usually tell them. And I tell them also, we are so grateful for the Allied and the American armed forces that delivered us and what they are doing for us. And that they bring liberty for so many, so many people."

What do you say to groups about faith?
"I always try to be a missionary, and when I speak to non-LDS groups I tell them about my mother's faith. But faith is something that you have to work on, you have to give your whole soul to it, that Heavenly Father will be there to help you, that he answers prayers, and that all blessings are predicated on laws that you follow, and commandments that you follow."

What do you say about courage?
"Courage comes from deep inside of you. And sometimes it is difficult to be courageous, but you always have to remember when you do something that the Lord will walk before you on your right hand and your left hand and angels will uphold you. And so you never have to be afraid. I've seen my mother be very courageous and I like to be courageous as well."

What do you tell them about fear?
"Fear is something to avoid. Always know that fear comes from the adversary. Fear is not something that Heavenly Father puts into you, yes, sometimes the scriptures say 'Fear God' but it means 'Worship God and obey Him'. Fear comes from the devil and it's darkness. And I always say turn your face to God and you'll receive light."

What do you say about strength?
"Strength is something that you develop. You have to overcome shyness. Build on your self-esteem. Always know that you are a daughter of God and that He has made you in His image and he has given you the strength and the power to overcome any adversity any trial that you have. And then you'll find strength."

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Math War

School is back. My son's homework on his first day of school? A discussion with us about how we use math in everyday life. This was a hard topic for me to discuss, as I consider math a foe more than a friend... an animosity that dates back to my middle and high school days. But, I swallowed my pride and admitted that I used it when I sewed, and cooked, grocery shopped, and scheduled my day- and I think I even successfully hid my scowl and acted positive about it. 

I did not inform my son that in a few short years he would take math courses that have no relevance to everyday life except to be able to pass tests and that it would be a bur in his pants every night during homework and I have the picture my parents took of me solemnly laboring over my math homework to prove it. But then, some things in life are meant to discover on your own.

Unless he's one of those people who actually likes math. In which case, that would be my ultimate triumph over math.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mixed Messages

I'm confused.

Is buying products made from trees responsible because it is a renewable resource and biodegradable? :)

Or, is buying products made from trees irresponsible because it is wreaking devastation on rain forests and their species? :(

Somebody please clarify.


Monday, August 5, 2013

A Divine Work

On days like today, when motherhood involves a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and an infectious case of the grumpies (that even yourself is not immune to), it's good to remember the eternal perspective:

"Motherhood thus becomes a holy calling, a sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for their second estate ‘to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.’ (Abr. 3:25.) To lead them to keep their second estate is the work of motherhood, and ‘they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.’ "
– Spencer W. Kimball, quoting First Presidency in Deseret News

Yes, it's good to remember the eternal perspective... as well as the power of Quiet Time. They might not be sleeping, but at least it's quiet.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

This summer the books I chose for my son and I to read together were, "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame, and "Ribsy" by Beverly Cleary. The former, a classic fictional story, the latter, a book I read as a child that I knew he'd enjoy because of his love for our new pup. We are still in the middle of "Ribsy".

"The Wind in the Willows" took us about 4 weeks to read due to various camps and summer fun. It is a very sweet book about friendship and devotion, and includes some very fun characters and plots (why, oh, why did Disney have to deconstruct Mr. Toad's Wild Ride?). It can be very descriptive and abstract at times, which would sometimes lose my son, so I would have to check in with him every now and then to make sure he was following the story. As a warning, the animals often call each other an "ass" (kind of surprising, but I believe that was not a curse word at the time), drink beer, and smoke. Makes for some good discussion.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from "The Wind in the Willows":

Mole, on leaving work behind to explore above ground-
"It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting- everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering 'Whitewash!' he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working."

 ***

Water Rat, the unapologetic homebody, not understanding a desire for change in migratory animals-
"O, we're not off yet, if that's what you mean," replied the first swallow, "We're only making plans and arranging things. Talking it over, you know - what route we're taking this year, and where we'll stop, and so on. That's half the fun!"
"Fun?" said the Rat; "now that's just what I don't understand. If you've got to leave this pleasant place, and your friends who will miss you, and your snug homes that you've just settled into, why, when the hour strikes I've no doubt you'll go bravely, and face all the trouble and discomfort and change and newness, and make believe that you're not very unhappy. But to want to talk about it, or even think about it, till you really need--"
"No, you don't understand, naturally," said the second swallow. "First, we feel it stirring within us, a sweet unrest; then back come the recollections one by one, like homing pigeons. They flutter through our dreams at night, they fly with us in our wheelings and circlings by day. We hunger to inquire of each other, to compare notes and assure ourselves that it was all really true, as one by one the scents and sounds and names of long-forgotten places come gradually back and beckon to us."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birthday-Funny?

Exactly how large is the demand for greeting cards containing naked bottoms, girls in bikinis, middle fingers, and swear words? Judging by the large percentage of these cards in the greeting card aisle, I would guess that it's pretty big. It's sad when buying a birthday card with your kids requires a defensive strategy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Great Minds Think Alike

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.

-A.A. Milne

Monday, July 15, 2013

I'm Only One Woman!

"We are told that women of America have much leisure time but I haven't yet met any woman who thought so! Here the mistress of the house must do all the work that the cook, the maid and the housekeeper would do in an upper class family at home. Moreover she must do her work as well as these three together do it in Norway."

-Gro Svendson, Norwegien immigrant, 1862

This quote has made me ponder a lot about the expectations we place on ourselves as homemakers. Should we be able to do to the work of a cook, maid, and housekeeper (not to mention nanny) as well as the four, or is that plain unrealistic? 

Certainly we enjoy a lot of luxuries that homemakers did not 150 years ago (i.e. dishwasher, washing machine, indoor plumbing, etc.), and there are a lot of chores they we do not have to worry about (i.e. candle making, spinning, etc.). On the other hand, modern circumstances brings its own unique difficulties (i.e. balancing schedules, deadlines, junk mail, monitoring children outdoors, etc.).

Certainly I believe that housekeeping is an important job that helps contribute to an atmosphere of order, peace, and love at home. But what are realistic expectations for a housekeeper? And in a DIY culture, is it weakness/laziness to hire help?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm Not Worthy

Here is an essay my son wrote in school that I found amongst a pile of work he brought home on the last day.:

"Have you ever felt like giving something special to someone you love? Then you feel just like Rosa from the book A chair for my mother, by: Vera B. Williams. It is about a girl and her mother and her grandmother. They save for a chair, for her loving, caring, working mother.

"The book A chair for my mother reminds me of how hard my mother worked just to buy a puppy. She was constantly on the computer looking for the perfect puppy. Eventually 3 or 4 weeks ago our dog Pepper (the miniature schnauzer) was adopted.

"I think this book teaches a good lesson on how no matter what familys will always back-up eachother when something goes wrong."

I thought I had shielded my children from the obsession that overtook me while hunting for a dog, but apparently I failed. I wish I could revel in my sweet son's compliment, but I don't feel worthy. The juxtaposition in this essay is blinding! The behavior of one of these moms seems a bit less noble and a little more neurotic than the other. It just goes to show that no matter what, family will always back-up each other when something goes wrong.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills.
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above!

Our father's God, to thee,
Author of liberty,
To thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light.
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, our King!

-Samuel F. Smith, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" vs. 2,4

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Swinging on a Star

This is a song that I often heard my Grandma sing when I was little. It's got a great message, a catchy tune, and has been sung  by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and others:

Would you like to swing on a star,
Carry moonbeams home in a jar,
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long, funny ears
Kicks up at anything he hears.
His back is brawny but his brain is weak.
He's just plain stupid with a stubborn streak.
And by the way, if you hate to go to school,
You may grow up to be a mule. 

Or would you like to swing on a star,
Carry moonbeams home in a jar,
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face,
His shoes are a terrible disgrace.
He has no manners when he eats his food,
He's fat and lazy and extremely rude.
But if you don't care a feather or a fig,
You may grow up to be a pig.

Or would you like to swing on a star,
Carry moonbeams home in a jar,
And be better off that you are?
Or would you rather be a fish?

A fish won't do anything but swim in a brook,
He can't write his name or read a book.
To fool the people is his only thought,
And though he's slippery he still gets caught.
But then if that sort of life is what you wish,
You may grow up to be a fish.

And all the monkeys aren't in the zoo.
Every day you meet quite a few.
So you see it's all up to you,
You can better than you are,
You could be swingin' on a star.

-Johnny Burke

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Animal Sacrifice

My daughter's nap time has always been a bit more exuberant than a nap time should be- usually consisting of singing, jumping, and/or playing and not much napping. The other day, I found evidence that nap time had decayed into something worse than I had supposed:



Apparently, things got a bit "Temple of Doom". I guess that explains the face paint and torches...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Father's Day! (Belated)

The importance of fatherhood. A sentiment I am grateful that my children and I are able to share:

"My father was a pattern of our Heavenly Father. His love and acceptance for others was unbounded. It was a simple and natural transfer of the love and trust I had for my earthly father to trust and love my Heavenly Father." 
-Neill F. Marriott, May 2013 "Ensign"

"Dads, is it too bold to hope that our children might have some small portion of the feeling for us that the Divine Son felt for His Father? ...[W]e do know that a young person's developing concept of God centers on characteristics observed in that child's earthly parents." 
-Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Hands of the Fathers"

Monday, May 20, 2013

Karma Strikes Again...

Just in case you thought I was exaggerating about our vacation karma, I have included two pictures from our recent overnight trip to celebrate our Anniversary:

"We'll walk in fields of foam..."


Obviously, our plans to bicycle on the beach at sunset took a rain check...

We couldn't help be reminisce about the weather we were experiencing on an Anniversary trip exactly one year earlier:



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Right Dog Breed For You!

As mentioned in my previous post, Step #1 of buying a dog is researching the breed that's right for you. If you do your research, you will find many sites that help you find the right dog for your family, and they all loosely mention the same list of considerations. Here are some additional tips that I developed from my personal experience:

1. First, and most importantly, what dog do you want to look like? Everybody knows that- just like married couples- dog owners begin to resemble their dogs. Additionally, in the short time we have had our dog, I have found that people will often refer to you as the animal's mommy or daddy (obviously, these people were educated by preschoolers).

2. Do you have children? If this is true, it is best to analyze their personalities and match them as closely as possible to a dog breed. Then decide what you can handle. Can you handle another Border Collie, who are very intelligent but become destructive when not challenged sufficiently each day? What about a West Highland Terrier, who have little interest in cuddling? If you have kids hanging on you all day long, are you sure you want to add a Whippet to the home who are known to be like Velcro to their owners? You might not be able to pick your children, but you can pick your dog.

3. What size dog do you want? The size of a dog is directly related to the size of their output. How much dog job are you comfortable picking up and bagging when you're out for your walks?

4. Do you have realistic expectations for your dog's role? Dogs are only good nannies in Disney cartoons... dang.

5. Does the dog shed? Or, rather, do you shed? Personally, I decided I can hardly keep up with the amount of hair I alone shed. I didn't need another animal that sheds in our home.

Well, after research ad nauseum (as my hubby coined it) it turns out the answer for us was a miniature schnauzer. Naturally, I matched her coat to my hair color: black with silver. 



So far, she's been great and is a little sweetheart. Except at 4 in the morning when she shrieks like a monkey. But, that's a story for another day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I heard this essay read in church some years ago. It is a very touching way to describe a mother's love for each of her children.

I've Always Loved You Best 
by Erma Bombeck

It is normal for children to want assurance that they are loved. Having all the warmth of the Berlin Wall, I have always admired women who can reach out to pat their children and not have them flinch.

Feeling more comfortable on paper, I wrote the following for each of my children.
 
To the First-born: I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage, the fulfillment of young love, the promise of our infinity.
 
You sustained us through the hamburger years. The first apartment furnished in Early Poverty … our first mode of transportation (1955 feet) … the 7-inch television set we paid on for 36 months.
 
You wore new, had unused grandparents and more clothes than a Barbie doll. You were the “original model” for unsure parents trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb and three-hour naps.
 
You were the beginning.
 
To the Middle Child: I’ve always loved you the best because you drew a dumb spot in the family and it made you stronger.
 
You cried less, had more patience, wore faded, and never in your life did anything “first,” but it only made you more special. You are the one we relaxed with and realized a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married, and the world wouldn’t come to an end if you went to bed with dirty feet.
 
You were the continuance.
 
To the Baby: I’ve always loved you the best because endings generally are sad and you are such a joy. You readily accepted the mild-stained bibs. The lower bunk. The cracked baseball bat. The baby book, barren but for a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone jammed between the pages.
 
You are the one we held onto so tightly. For you see, you are the link with the past that gives a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us humor that security and maturity can’t give us.
 
When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your children tower over you, you will still be “the Baby.”
 
You were the culmination.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How To Buy a Dog in 12 Easy Steps!

This weekend, our family added a puppy to our home! This is a project that I've been working on for quite a while, and finally the stars aligned. Plus, my daughter finished potty training a few weeks ago and I decided that there was no better way to enjoy my new freedom than to teach something new where to go potty.

My family had two dogs in my youth. The first was acquired for free through one of my dad's patients, who's dog had a litter of puppies they wanted to get rid of. Our second dog was the offspring of a friend's dog, which they did pay for. My mom's childhood dog was also a freebie.

Our dog acquisition story was completely different, as we did not know one person with puppies to dispense to friends. I found that seeking out your own dog is much more complicated than getting a freebie puppy. Maybe I made it more complicated than it needed to be, as I was determined to be educated and responsible about the whole thing. I learned a lot, so I thought I'd pass on my experience in 12 easy steps to prepare/help another novice for the process.:
Step 1. If you want to buy a dog responsibly, you will first research what breed best fits your lifestyle (For example: exercise needs, shedding, and size of dog). Stay tuned for an upcoming post on this step alone!

Step 2. Become familiar with your state lemon laws on buying a dog... like if the seller is legally required to provide you with a state health certificate. Other good protections are a contract allowing you a few days to have the animal checked by your own vet and a health guarantee (1 year, 5 year, etc.) on the animal.
Step 3. If you want to buy a dog responsibly, there are two paths of purchasing a dog. 
  1. A responsible breeder who adheres strictly to the AKC breed standards, tests their animals' health rigorously, and ideally shows their dogs creating "champion" lines... which seems kind of obsolete since it will be a family pet and you'll be neutering it but, hey, you want a healthy dog
  2. The animal shelter. 
There is no responsible middle ground. Of course, if a pet store puppy winds up in the pound then you have the green light! 

Step 4. You will soon discover that breeders who adhere strictly to the AKC breed standards, rigorously test the health of their animals, and show their dogs creating "champion" lines, have waiting lists months out for expected litters and charge more than a mortgage payment for their puppies. Budget and common sense will prevent you from forking out the money. Instead, you will obsessively contact every breeder of your Step #1 breed you can find within a 6 hour radius, in hopes of finding a puppy that comes close to your budget. You will not. You will wonder who all the people are that are paying for dogs at these prices. Don't they know our economy is in the tank?

Step 5. You will then move your search to the local dog shelter. There you will discover that the majority of the dogs available are: Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Pitbull/Rotweiler mixes, Bulldogs, or Bulldog/Pitbull mixes. None of the dogs here are on your Step #1 list.

Step 6. One day, in a moment of weakness, you will visit the website of a local pet store. And then again... and then again.... Soon you will become comfortable with the idea of irresponsibly buying a dog from the pet store. Upon inquiry, you will learn that they also charge the equivalent of a mortgage payment for their dogs. Their dogs are supposed to be inferior. Apparently, they don't know that. That's okay, because puppy mill horror stories have been haunting your conscience anyway.

Step 7. One day, in a moment of desperation, you will search for puppies on a local ad website. You will find that the majority of dogs available are: Yorkies, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, and Pitbulls. None of these dogs fit the list you created in Step #1.

Step 8. Your local news channel will play a segment on people who are burned after buying dogs from ad website sellers. This will scare you back to responsible puppy research.  

Step 9. The process of finding an affordable Step #1 dog from a responsible breeder has become like an addiction for you. It is the ultimate puzzle to be solved. Your husband will become overwhelmed by the blackhole you have fallen into and declare he is willing to share a home with any breed of dog, in hopes that this will facilitate a decision and he will soon have his wife back.

Step 10. Your parents will not understand the trouble you are having (see second introductory paragraph), and wonder why friends with puppies aren't knocking down your door to get rid of them. You will curse Bob Barker and the spay/neuter campaign, resent that your friends aren't overburdened with puppies, and wish that your streets were filled with stray dogs to take in. You recognize the irony of being so selective about buying a dog, when you wouldn't care what breed a stray dog is... But you can't help yourself. 

Step 11. After weeks of research with nothing to show for it, you will decide that maybe you have been too close-minded in your breed criteria and consider new breeds. Repeat steps 1-10. This will always lead you back to your original list. 

Step 12. Finally, when you can't take it anymore and you think you're brain will literally fry, through divine intervention you will find your puppy (responsibly or irresponsibly- it's your choice)! You welcome your sanity back, your husband will welcome his wife back, and your children will be elated with their new furry friend.

Now, you just hope your puppy will live up to all your expectations after spending the best years of your life on researching and hunting for the "perfect" dog.
So far, she is.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seed Bouquet

"If plants could be credited with reasoning powers, we would marvel at the imaginative ways they bribe or ensnare other creatures to carry out their wishes. And no more than when we consider the strategies devised for the dispersal of their seeds." -Jane Goodall



I was reminded of this sentence as my family took a walk one fresh, clear, spring evening. No child (or adult) can resist the whimsical lure of the dandelion to send a puff of seeds sailing into the air like little, miniature umbrellas. Especially, my sweet, little girl. Weeds are her bouquets of choice these days, and each little yellow flower she spots in the grass is a treasure to be picked.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Air Fare

Included services for a single $700 plane ticket:
  • Flight across the country
  • A seat on the plane
  • An additional charge if you actually want to bring stuff
  • Mandatory pictures taken of you naked
  • Frisking (if you're lucky)
  • Body search and delousing- oops- wrong list
  • Peanuts 
  • Random searches of your stuff (if you're lucky)
  • Luggage being handled with the utmost care and respect



Isn't flying the best? It's the only service in America in which you pay hundreds to thousands of dollars to be treated like an inconvenience.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Madness

This was my daughter's 2013 NCAA Tourney bracket. It gave my bracket stiff competition- and yes, I actually filled one out. How'd your brackets do?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

Last night, my son was reading to me out of "The Book of Mormon". He read a verse that contained the word 'idleness'. The footnote for the word led him to the Topical Guide. When we looked up 'Idleness' in the Topical Guide, the words 'procrastination', 'apathy', and 'laziness' were suggested synonyms. These are words that make me uncomfortable. Then my son started asking questions to obtain a better understanding of what qualifies as idle behavior. Questions like:

"Say you're one of those people who likes to sleep a lot. (Done) And say it's the weekend and you don't have any special occasions. Would sleeping in the morning be idle?"

or

"Say you're up all night working on a science project and you don't go to bed until 1:30. Would it be idle to sleep in really late?"

I will not lie. I had no idea how to answer these questions. I wondered why my son was condemning me. I honestly wanted to teach my son good values. On the other hand, I wanted to reserve the right to sleep in every now and then on weekends without answering to my son. 

We had a good discussion about how important sleep is for our bodies, and times when it's good to sleep a lot- like when you're sick. But then he wanted examples of when sleep is idleness. I was not ready to betray my good friend Sleep. Nor did I want to take on the title of Hypocrite. I lamely responded with indirect answers. It didn't work, my son was on a quest for truth. Then, I realized it was way past his bedtime and informed him that he needed to go to bed and we could talk about it later. What a wonderful lesson in procrastination.... I'm concerned that my name might be included next to it in the Topical Guide.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

"He is not here: for he is risen..."
-Matthew 28:6


 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break

Last weekend, our family decided to travel south and take in a Spring Training game. This is something we've been meaning to do for a while, and since our son is obsessed with baseball, and our daughter is too little to care, it seemed like perfect timing.

As expected, our family trip was accompanied with a modest dose of rain. This rain karma has haunted our trips ever since we took a day trip to Tybee Island 2 1/2 years ago. (I think we may need to revisit the site and chant some spell to cleanse us of this bad karma. I'm not a witchcraft sort of person, but I'm getting desperate). The rain has dominated an anniversary trip, a trip to the desert, and now this one. Or spontaneity may be the key to enjoy good weather on our trips. In this case, I will need to prepare 72 hour vacation bags... ("The forecast says clear skies for the next 3 days. Grab your bags and get in the car now!"). 

For the first 90 miles of our trip, we endured crazy heavy rainfall. The next day, the sky was overcast but it behaved long enough for us to fit in our morning activities, which included walking around the temple grounds with our kids. I love to see the temple...


By lunch time the sky unleashed its fury. We were in the grocery store at the time. We heard much thundering, the store's lights flickered and went out, and we witnessed crazy hurricane type rain/wind in the parking lot. It was very exciting. We were very glad that we were not driving at the time.


There was a break in the weather, and we booked it to our hotel. As we drove, we were witnesses of the toll the storm took. Ten oak trees along the road had been completely pushed over, roots and all. (Note: this picture was taken the next day, sans rain).


We bunkered down in our hotel and watched a movie together on my husband's laptop. The weather cleared enough for us to go downstairs and take advantage of the pool. This  consisted of sitting on the edge of the pool with our legs in the water because the water was so cold. Apparently, outdoor pools need the sun to warm them. Imagine that. Even the spa/hot tub failed us, though my daughter enjoyed playing with the foam it made. I'm not sure what to think of that foam...

The next day- the day that really counted- was perfect! We enjoyed our game in sunny and comfortable conditions. Our daughter preferred to sit on any row but with us (already?!) and was done with the game before the first inning ended, and the home team lost. But, my son soaked in the baseball, my daughter learned how to do the Braves' "Chop", and they both got to run the bases when the game was over. This was perhaps the sweetest moment of our trip. As I stood in line with my son, he excitedly plotted to slide into home plate. As we got closer to the field, my husband met us and handed our daughter to my son so that she could run with him. He dutifully took her by the hand and carefully jogged around the diamond with her, holding her hand the whole way. He didn't even complain that he didn't get to slide. He was a true Big Brother looking out for his sister. 
Despite the weather, our family trip was a success!
 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Speed


This above blur is my son's Pinewood Derby car. My son and husband carefully and thoughtfully crafted it for weeks- sanding, painting, resanding, weighing, etc. It was fast. In fact, it was so fast it won the second place trophy!

I wish the story ended there. His car's placement meant it qualified for the District Pinewood Derby- which we didn't even know existed and (in complete honesty) kind of spoiled the win for me. I waffled as to whether I would take my son to Districts, since my hubbie was working that day and my son also had a baseball game that day. In the end I cast aside my doubts, sucked it up, and committed. I should have listened to my doubts. Districts was a Fiasco. The races were running behind when we arrived for our race time. We sat in a gym of chaos for 2 hours waiting for the first race to finish. We were the third race. We ultimately ended up leaving my son's car, drove home for him to change uniforms, relaxed a bit (sitting in a gym of chaos for 2 hours is exhausting), and returned at my estimated time of his race. From there we would drive to his baseball game. We completely missed the race! At some point during our absence, they figured out how to speed the process up. And to add insult to injury, his car didn't even place. A double whammy for my son. He cried as he grieved the death of a dream... and I suffered from excessive guilt.

Luckily, his baseball team had an awesome game (thank heavens) which helped ease his pain. But not completely. A few days later, in our calendar where I had written "Districts", my son crossed it out and wrote, "I did not go." Ouch. What a way to turn an initial sweet victory into a bitter memory.